Live Your Best Holiday Life Finale

As I mentioned earlier this month, Alexandra and Shea hosted this mindful month-long challenge and I decided to participate. Their LYBHolidayL challenge was a relaxing and healing way to take on November and the holidays 🙂 Now that it’s over, here’s how I finished the month out! (Check out the first half here!)

To kick us off, here’s the second half of the gratitude log:

November 16 – Set a bedtime alarm to prioritize sleep.
We dropped the ball on the 16th because we were catching up on the last few episodes of The Mindy Project, but we’ve been going to bed around 10pm every night which has been good for us!

November 17 – Share a gratitude quote on Instagram that speaks to you, inspire others!

November 18 – Take a load of items you no longer use to Goodwill/another thrift store!
After the move I made a pile of donation items. Of course I haven’t done anything with them. Until today 🙂

November 19 – Go for a fall walk
This day was m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. I definitely didn’t go on a hike. I went shopping. Ha. But next month I’m doing a girls’ weekend at a cabin with my friends & I’ll take my fall/winter walk then!

November 20 – Allow yourself a small indulgence this week (a sweet treat, a long bath, an item from your wish list)
I might have grabbed a Three Musketeers while checking out at the grocery store.

November 21 – Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
My nails are partially gelled (because I picked some of it off), but my toes were holding on to polish from… September? I didn’t repaint them, but I did strip the polish off my feet and give my toenails and cuticles some love.

November 22 – Unexpected color combo: pumpkin & blush
I had no blush items in my closet. K and I tried to take a mirror selfie just to record my outfit for the day, but we obviously need some practice. Lylee looks straight up lost.

November 23 – Put your phone away and just be present today… Facebook and Instagram can wait
Sooo… I kept my phone away as far as texting, IG, and FB were concerned… but Animal Crossing just released their Pocket Camp app and I’d be lying if I said I avoided that all day 😉 In my defense, I bonded with my cousins and K’s siblings and cousins over the app!

November 24 – Take a few minutes to look at old photos and reminisce
I’m in the process of setting up my office at home and every time I open a box or folder I find senior pictures of friends or prom pics of K and me. So sweet 🙂

November 25 – Have a hot cocoa date with your significant other, best friend, or other loved one
K and I woke up early to hit a hardware store. We swung by Starbucks for some cocoa (for him) and a latte (for me) before we made the trek!

The gel on my thumb is still intact so it makes for good pics 😉

November 26 – Call, text, FaceTime, etc. a friend or family member that you are not able to see this holiday. They’ll be glad to know that you are thinking of them!
As strange as it sounds, almost all my family lives near me. My uncle lives in St. Louis but he was home and we had a Thanksgiving lunch with him this day! Coincidence? I think not!

November 27 – Hand write a letter or note telling someone how grateful you are for them & why
Done!

November 28 – Discuss with family existing ideas for new holiday traditions, planning ahead will make pulling it off next month easier!
My brother & his wife live two hours away but come home for Christmas Eve and morning. This month we discussed his plan and now I know when he’ll be around and what dates we’ll have him in town for celebrating! (They head to her family for Xmas night and the days that follow.)

November 29 – Schedule 15 minutes to de-stress, break out that grown up coloring book
These are my favorite kind of puzzles to do. I can sit and fill these in for hours. De-stressing with a fill-in puzzle is the perfect 15 minute break!

November 30 – Try a new coffee, tea, or coffee creamer
I bought a new amaretto creamer! I don’t usually put anything but milk or half&half in my coffee, but it’s been a nice treat!


Thank you so much, Alexandra and Shea, for hosting this challenge! I definitely fudged some stuff in the second half, but the daily challenges were a reminder in self care and preservation. I definitely needed that this month.

Next month they’re keeping the fun going with these prompts!

I’m excited to join in when I can 🙂

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Live Your Best Holiday Life Update

(or LYBHolidayL from here on out.)

Alexandra and Shea are hosting this wonderful, mindful, month-long challenge and I’m doing my best to slow down and participate. October was a hectic & rough month for me. I had fun, but it was at the expense of my patience and sanity. I’m determined to finish out the year in a better state mentally. Alex and Shea’s LYBHolidayL challenge has helped so much with that. Since we’re halfway through, I wanted to share an update!

November 1 – Make an effort to write down one thing you are grateful for every day or week

November 2 – Read this article about raising Thankful kids

November 3 – Do something to welcome the Thanksgiving season
I packed up the Halloween decor and brought out the fall and winter stuff (but nothing too Christmasy yet). We have some Thanksgiving-themed decorations so I’m letting those hog the spotlight for a while. 🙂

(also includes day 1 & 2 of gratitude!)

November 4 – Make pumpkin waffles for breakfast/brunch/breakfast for dinner
Kyle doesn’t like pumpkin flavor so he got french toast.

November 5 – Shop your closet and try to come up with a couple of new outfits from old pieces
I’ve seen other bloggers try this. It was fun to take the time to put these together!

November 6 – Give back this month: decide as a family how to “give back” to your community
It’s not much, but this year when Christmas shopping I will say “yes” any time a cashier asks if I want to round up my change or donate a dollar to xyz organization. Also, our holiday cards came from paper culture and they plant a tree for every order 🙂

November 7 – Schedule in 30 minutes to curl up with a good book
This was great timing. We left on the 8th for a business trip so I needed the reminder to just STOP and relax for a bit with a book.

November 8 – Take a Break: Get your Hygge on
I bought both the Hygge book AND this activity book a while ago. I worked on some puzzles during our drive to Indy since I couldn’t do anything in our home while on the road.

November 9 – Let go of one thing you feel obligated to do, attend, or complete this month.
There’s a Christmas tree festival in my town that happens every year during this week. I try to go every year and I feel like I missed a crucial party of preparing for Xmas when I forget about it or don’t have time to go. This year I’m just saying the heck with it 🙂 I don’t want to go so I’m not gonna.

November 10 – Treat yourself to a new, yummy-smelling candle
I had to postpone this one until we were home, but I finally lit my new Spiced Apple Toddy candle from B&BW!

November 11 – Clean out your fridge & get it holiday food influx ready!
I actually did this one early! Before we left I cleaned out the fridge for the house/dog sitter!

November 12 – Give someone an unexpected gift
We came home from Indy with extra stickers and lanyards so I took them to my grandma’s house and gave my cousins some of our new merchandise.

November 13 – For today, clear your to-do list of all the non-fun things unless they are absolutely essential!
Since we spent 5 days on the road with customers and clients we decided to nix the alarm clocks this morning. I consider waking up to an alarm to be very un-fun.

November 14 – Start making a holiday gift list
Already started the list AND the shopping 🙂

November 15 – Get started on an Advent calendar, or a similar project for another holiday celebration!
Stephanie shared some AWESOME advent calendars… so I think I might need one of those. I’m also brainstorming some other cute Advent or Christmas countdown activities!


At the end of November I’ll share a final post 🙂 Until then, I invite you to join in (even just for a day or two) and slow down this holiday season!

Halloween Housewarming Party 2017

I like to share and record our Halloween party every year. This year I abandoned the theme and didn’t implement the mandatory costume rule due to the housewarming-nature of the party, but we still had some dressed-up guests and obviously it was a good time 🙂 So without further ado…

My brother and his wife arrived Friday night and we each carved a pumpkin. (Can you guess whose is whose?) K and I spent most of Friday and Saturday preparing the house for a party and hiding not-yet-unpacked boxes and random objects 😉

On Saturday one of my best friends arrived around 3pm and helped me get last minute things done. Our first guests arrived at 4:30! (We started the party at 4 so our parent-friends could bring the kids and hang out for a bit before bedtime.) The majority of guests arrived around 8.

We had +30 people show up from 4:30 pm to about 2 am. (It was a looong night.) Some of our guests dressed up and some came as they were. Regardless, it was a fun & busy night!

The ghostbusters also had a little slimer with them but she wasn’t feeling the costume. I’m still dying over Tobin’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume.

My brother and Christina were Scooby-Doo and Shaggy!

Lylee was a cow. I think she might have lost some of her dignity… and her respect for me. Enzo’s costume was also a little degrading, but he makes the cutest little squirrel horse. 😂

Our food spread was on point 🙂 Guests brought taco dip, a veggie tray, a cheese ball-skull, jello shots, and a charcuterie board spread! On top of that I made…

Halloween cupcakes (just yellow cake mix with chocolate buttercream frosting), spinach and artichoke dip via Nadine, and my signature puking guacamole pumpkin. I also made this caramel apple dip and the world-famous Aubrey Johansen put together these incredible charcuterie boards!

We also ordered pizza around 9 pm.

The night consisted of laughing, talking, drinking, game playing, and eating. It was fun to see the new house- which was empty a month ago- filled with all our friends and family. Overall, we had a really good time.

I’ve said it before, but the calm next-morning is always my favorite part…

Another Halloween party in the books 🎃 Happy Halloween, my friends!!

Throwing a Party with +50 Guests

I was terrible about snapping pictures at Kyle’s 30th birthday party, but if you followed along on Snapchat you may have seen a few quick moments from the event. A few weeks ago I threw K a party and invited over 75 people. Roughly 50 to 60 showed up.

Only after I counted all the “yes” RSVPs did I realize that this party was going to be the size of a small wedding reception. (Whoops. ) I’m no stranger to throwing large parties, but it’s still a pretty daunting task. Just in case you were wondering, here’s how I did it and here’s how it went!

I made a Facebook event about 4-5 weeks in advance. While I love paper invites and prefer them 100xs over any kind of e-vite, FB was the way to cut costs and get the word out quickly.

We had the party in the company warehouse. Thank God for K’s employees Jake, Jordan, and K’s dad Jeff*. Together the five of us cleaned, rearranged, and set up the open space on Friday before the party. (It’s our slow-ish season so we were able to take a day and deep clean/set up.)

(* We only hire people with J names obviously, lol.)

This is how the warehouse typically looks. We cleaned and put everything in its place.

I sure wish I had an “after” photo. *facepalm* Anyway, we converted two of the workbenches into a salsa and taco bar and then set up another mobile workbench with the cakes (one decorated vanilla on vanilla and one yellow with chocolate frosting) and drinks (margaritas, beer, water).

We trailer-ed in three picnic tables and two long folding tables from my parents house for dining. We borrowed two sets of cornhole boards from my aunt and uncle, we borrowed a large backyard Jenga set from friends, and we set out Blockus, Twister, and domino men for the kids to play with. (Turns out the 2 to 4 year olds loved the domino men, I ended up playing Blockus at 12:45am, and no one touched Twister.)

We have a 20′ x 20′ tile carpet area that we use in the booth at trade shows so we broke it out for a seating area complete with couches, chairs, a TV and Wii system, and the little kids area. My brother-in-law also brought his Nintendo Switch for the teens/adults to use. And we definitely did.

I’m getting a little bit better about asking for help/delegating. My mother-in-law brought the margaritas and some queso dip. (Thank you!) My grandma and my mom made some cookies. (Thank you!) And K’s aunt, dad, and mom were on call when I needed anything. (Thank you!) The party would not have gone so smoothly without them.

I made a “baby chalkboard” for Kyle, I bought “3-0” balloons, and I hung a happy birthday banner for the event. Other than some table cloths and fabric to cover the warehouse mess, there wasn’t much decorating.

I made 20lbs. of beef, chopped 14 onions & 15 tomatoes, and bought 180 tacos (100 soft, 80 hard), four large bags of cheese, and 10 small bags of shredded lettuce. Also, I got 3 large jars of salsa, some store-bought guac, and 6 bags of tortilla chips. To be honest, we had WAY too much onion and tomato, but I only had 1/4 of the beef left over which impressed me. I could’ve cut the cheese and lettuce inventory in half, but who knew. I provided taco lunches for the warehouse guys in the days following the party.

All that remained of the party on Monday…

Our party started at 4pm and we had a steady flow of people all night. Some even left (and dropped off a kid or spouse) and came back. We invited family and friends and friends of the family, ha. Overall, we had a fantastic time 🙂 Our last guests left around 1:30am. I was so exhausted.

Seeing all our friends and family was fun, although I think I will request a vacation for my 30th birthday 😉 What are some fun things you’ve done for “monumental” birthdays?

Birthday Vibes

Today, twenty-six years ago, I was born. My mom was 27 years old and my dad was 25. Now I’m in the middle of that.

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Do you ever sit and wonder what makes us us? I am fascinated by human behavior & thought. When I was a child a waitress was just a waitress, but now I look at people I interact with every day and wonder what their family is like, what do they do for fun, do they have dark secrets, why are they here and where do they want to be? It’s insane that each and every one of us has a complicated, diverse, unique web of coding that makes us (and our lives) so radically different. Even my brother & I are different despite the same upbringing. I don’t know- I just find it really interesting.

So today I officially have 26 years of life under my belt. That’s not much to a 76 year old, but a six year old would find me pretty ancient. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not doing much right now. I’m not climbing a corporate ladder, I’m not tracking my ovulation for babies, I’m not working toward a degree, I’m not planning a wedding or a vacation. I’m just kind of existing today. Surprisingly, I’m ok with that right now.

It’s odd to try to track how I got here… If my parents hadn’t made me march high school band I wouldn’t have met K. If I hadn’t joined an independent drumline and met a girl named Kelsey then we wouldn’t have Lylee. If we’d have listened to our realtor and not gone through our house (b/c it was in an old flood zone) then we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t have been ready for a second dog and Enzo wouldn’t be ours. Life is so darn weird. I’m sure there are missed opportunities that I’ll never  know about, but I’m pretty thankful for the taken opportunities thus far.

I have nothing witty or smart to leave you with today; I’m just reflecting on my existence. I’m very grateful to have been born to my parents. I feel so blessed to have been gifted a brother. When I think about the string of events that led me to K I honestly want to cry. In conclusion, I’ve just had a very nice 26 years.

I recognize that people are born into different situations. I know that some people make poor decisions or have tragic things happen to them. I know that my life could turn in an instant. So as a birthday gift to me, I ask you to do something nice today- whether for yourself or someone else. And extend a little grace when dealing with frustrating people and situations. Maybe pick up an extra bag of dog food when you’re at the store and drop it by your local shelter. Or just take 5 minutes out of your day to think about the things that make you happy.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Now I’m off to work with a birthday coffee in hand ❤︎

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Freddie Gets Married

I never talked much about my baby brother’s wedding so I figured I’d share a little bit today. Mostly it’s a photo dump with all untagged photos taken by Kylie Noelle Photography.

Fred & Christina got married on Saturday, July 23rd in Columbus, Ohio. They had a pretty large wedding party (8 and 8) but that made the set up and tear down a little easier. I’m sure it was different for other people, but I knew most of the groomsmen through Fred and I’d met all the bridesmaids during a shower or shopping trip, so the whole weekend was awesome. It’s way more enjoyable when you know the wedding group you’re a part of!

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*First Look* Christina’s girls included her two cousins, her sister, four of her closest friends, and me
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My handsome brother in the middle with the bow tie & my smokin’ hot husband to the left of him.

On Friday night all but one bridesmaid stayed at the hotel with Christina while the men crashed at Fred’s apartment. Our morning was laid back and included breakfast and primping. The music at the church didn’t start until 4:15pm so we had plenty of time to get (more) beautiful and excited!

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Christina is a fashion guru & she didn’t miss a single detail. We all picked out our own dresses and shoes but it came together perfectly under her direction & guidance. As avid F. Scott Fitzgerald fans and lovers of the Art Deco movement, Fred and Christina steered the style in a direction Daisy Buchanan herself would envy.

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The ceremony was spiritual and personal- a perfect balance that mirrors my brother & his wife’s relationship with one another and God. Apparently my family took bets as to if when I’d pass out in my heels. I’m happy to report I made it through the ceremony & out to the receiving line before I had to peel my shoes off. K was a sweaty mess in his heavy, burgundy tux… but damn he looked good 😉

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As much as I love a good wedding ceremony, I’m alllll about that party reception! A few weeks before the wedding Fred asked if I’d give a toast. I don’t shy away from public speaking and I am so proud of my little brother so I accepted and spent days perfecting and practicing.

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My favorite picture from the whole day!

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The reception was at a theatre/ballroom, originally built in 1896. (The Columbus Athenaeum.) It was pretty awesome. The head table was on the stage and then was taken down to allow for a large dance floor. Since my best friend lives in Columbus I told her to pull on a dress and crash the wedding. There are no pictures, but she showed up after the meal and danced all night with me, then came out with us!

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Not so flattering for me, but I love that this pic has my four cousins in it.

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The party ended for most of the guests after the gorgeous sparkler exit… except my crazy parents and their friends and my in-laws; they took the party back to their hotel bar lobby with R. Kelly. And since we can’t turn down an invite from my dad we ended up at the hotel bar and then a late night taco restaurant. We finally hit the sack at 3:30am. (And then I drove Fred & Christina to the airport at 6am. WOOF.)

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So there’s the recap of our crazy, fun, tiring, sleepless weekend at my brother & sister (in-law)’s wedding. Of course there are millions of little stories and funny moments from the day, but it’d take months to blog all that. Suffice it to say, if Fred & Christina’s wedding is any indication of their marriage it’s going to be long, fun, full of love, and total unpredictable. But only the best things are 🙂

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*Like I said, kudos to Kylie Noelle and her gorgeous photography skills!!

Currently…

I always feel like I’m out of touch (in Blogland) when it comes to link-ups. I keep a calendar for my blog but I always forget to note the link-ups that go along with popular prompts… (If you can think of any offhand feel free to mention them in the comments! Thanks to Kristen’s reminder I did remember to link up with her & Gretchen.)

Currently

Since my last “currently” post was in April I figured I’m due for an update! (The photos are some favorite random pictures from my phone.)

Reading… Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver. I’m also working on The Royal We. (Is anyone else shocked by how thick that book is??)

Listing to… The Harry Potter soundtracks. K makes fun of me, but I love sitting and listening to the music from the movies. Order of the Phoenix is my favorite.

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a pic with my new sister-in-law hours before she became my new sister-in-law

Eating… Prepped carrot and celery sticks. When I got home from the store this week I actually prepped some snack food right away! Also, I made this recipe Monday night. It’s a little different, but perfect for my sick hubby.

Drinking… Lots of water. But also coffee 😉

Loving… Our Fur Babes. Ever since their mini-escape I’ve been much more vigilant. Also, posts from incredible organizations like this one make me hug my babies tighter and long to comfort other pups who’ve had a rough life.

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Planning… A Pure Romance Party. I’m not usually one to host these retail parties, but the brand rep is so funny and sweet- I think all my guests will get a kick out of her! Plus, PR has some really good smelling lotions and shower scrubs!

Feeling… So Tired. After vacations and weddings and overtime I just can’t find any energy. K is sick this week and the dogs are extra cuddly and there are a lot of dishes and clothes going unwashed right now. Whew.

Watching… The Newsroom. We’re on an Aaron Sorkin-spree right now. We finished The West Wing last month and we’re already in season two of The Newsroom. This is also detrimental to clean dishes and clothes…

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Wanting… Some nice, cool weather for the two 5Ks I’m in this weekend. (That makes me sound athletic… I’m actually just walking in both of them.)

Avoiding… The weeds in my driveway. Um… how is ALL MY GRASS DEAD but the weeds are thriving?! I need to set aside a few hours and rip them all out but I really, really don’t want to.

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I look ROUGH but Mom & I painted these tails for Reading Week at her school and we needed a picture of it…

Hating… Politics. Violence. Hate. D) All the above.

Missing… College. My oldest little cousin ships off to school this month and it’s making me all nostalgic for 3am coffee, quick ramon noddle lunches, and Panera or Sheetz dinners on the apartment floor with all my closest friends and roommates. *sigh*

Anticipating… My Volunteer Interview. Next week I have an interview with an animal rehabilitation/trail & parks center. I’m sure the interview is a formality, but I’m so nervous and excited!

Creating… A New Event on Facebook! October is less than two months away and Halloween is in October so you know what that means… OUR ANNUAL HALLOWEEN PARTY. I’m not kidding- I created the event and invited people on FB yesterday. I wish my blog friends could come!

Dreaming about… A Getaway. K and I just went on vacation with my parents last month, but I keep dreaming about clear beaches and white sand and a fruity cocktail. I feel like that might re-energize me. Hehe 😉

And that about sums it up. What are you currently up to?

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