We're The Grumpy Neighbors

If you watch The New Girl at all (and if you don't- you should!), you know that one of the main characters -Nick Miller- is known as the grumpy one. His roommates are constantly telling him he's mean, he doesn't smile and he's going to become a grumpy old man before he knows it.

I think Jared and I are turning into Nick Miller. Tonight is Halloween and we will not be passing out candy. And we didn't pass any out last year. Are we bad people?? For not helping innocent little kids celebrate a holiday? Well, let me back up a minute before you judge us. Our first year in our house we spend probably $50 on candy, filled a ginormous tub with it and sat out ready to see cute little kids in costumes and hand out candy for a couple hours.

Now picture this. I'm pulling into my neighborhood after work on trick-or-treat night, about 30 minutes before it starts and there are just masses of people. Masses. Parking in other people's driveways, on side streets, in the abandoned building's parking lot. People, strollers and costumes are EVERYWHERE. Apparently our neighborhood is so large that everyone in town brings their kid to trick-or-treat here. Which would explain why we were wiped out of candy in 45 minutes. $50 only got us 45 minutes?! You've got to be kidding me!!

And don't get me started on the teenagers who smear black eyeliner on and pretend it's a costume and ask for candy. Or the parents with their 8 week old baby holding out a bag for them. I have to seriously put candy in there for your child who has no teeth?! Something is clearly not right here.

So we've officially turned into those grumpy neighbors. Last year we turned out all the lights in the house and hunkered down to watch some scary movies. Tonight? We'll be hitting the gym and then watching our Bengals in the primetime spot tonight against the Miami Dolphins. Sorry kids, we're the grumpy neighbors and we don't have candy.

Why I'd Like to Live in a Dorm Again

Less cleaning. I mean you only get roughly 200 square feet to share with another adult human. You could literally clean it top to bottom, deep-clean style in less than 20 minutes. Not that you're going to actually clean unless it's Parents Weekend-- you're in college. But, like I said, less cleaning.
Dorm, Sweet Dorm.
Speaking of less cleaning, that means no dishes. Okay, maybe one bowl, one plate, a fork and a plastic cup for those easy mac meals and Gatorade drinking. But other than that? You're eating the cafeteria 3x a day most days.

Which brings me to my next point. FREE FOOD! Yes, yes... it's no where close to free- in fact it's probably grossly overpriced, but you don't have to use "real" money while you're there, so it feels like you can eat for free. Just a swipe of that student ID and you've got access to dozens of options, all day long. Of course you'll have to master the art of taking food OUT of the cafeteria for later.... I've heard giant water bottles can be filled with fountain pop relatively easily. Just don't pick a clear bottle.

Less gas money. I know some of you went to mega-schools that I'm sure involved driving around to your classes, but at a small school? Forget it. You can walk the length of campus in less than 12 minutes. If you're lucky like me, you'll live, study, eat and work on campus meaning you stay skinny and your gas tank remains full.

The biggest wardrobe you'll ever have in your life. Don't have something to wear to tonight's basketball game? Just stop on over at your roommate's closet to double your options. Nothing working for you there? Make friends with as many people in your dorm as possible and soon your options will be endless. Just beware that when you do this, you're expected to open your closet up as well. You may not see some of your clothes ever again. However, this generally doesn't matter because you go home each Spring with a few "new" pieces yourself.
A social calendar. There is always something going on around the campus or even within your dorm. No stressing on what's going on tonight, check your campus email and random bulletin boards and chances are you'll always have something to do. No planning involved, just show up!

So let's hear it. Would you go back to dorm life or not??

Sallie & Perkins: October Progress…or Failure?

Guess who's back? Back again. Yes, we're back, this was the month of spend.

Yup, you read that correctly. This month was not our best. In fact, it was downright awful and we're not proud to tell you that. But, this blog is a real story about real people and we make mistakes and don't always stay on track. So yeah, we're a little ashamed to show our faces today.
It wasn't one big thing this month, it was those little things that sneak up on you. It's the crazy schedule of football season that causes us to cook at home less, and grab something "easy" while we're out. It's the birthday gifts we went a little overboard on, even though we had a specific gift budget we swore we'd stick to. It was a quick roadtrip with expensive gas prices & a hotel. It was purchasing a few Christmas gifts in advance-- while not a bad thing, it was an added expense this month. It was a blate with lots of awesome girls. It was an oil change and minor car repairs.

All things we had the money for, and all things that were relatively inexpensive, but we didn't stick to our budget like we'd been doing in previous months. So, how did we do overall?

Sallie & Perkins paid of $1,878.80 worth of debt in October 2013!!

So, all in all? Not too shabby, and that's still almost an extra $1,500 over our minimum payments. Did we wish it was more? Absolutely. Are we ready to attack November like never before? You know it. Seeing our "failure" this month has motivated us more than ever to spend as little as possible next month, especially in preparation of the holidays which will inevitably cost more money than other months.
This post today, is mainly to motivate anyone out there who is struggling to start a budget, stick to a budget, stick to a no-spend month. Anything at all. Just know- you aren't going to be perfect every single month or week. We could have went spend-crazy once we realized we were over budget this month and just said "screw it!" but we didn't. We kept at it, even though we knew we were going to come up short of our monthly goals. It was still a step forward, just a smaller one than most months. No need to dwell on it, no need to get down on ourselves too much- it was still progress.

Most of the time it can easily take 2-3 months to get into regular budgeting/spending habits anyway! So keep at it! Don't let one splurge make you feel like you ruined the whole thing. Don't let one unexpected expense get you down. Keep working. We're still on our path to becoming debt free and one "failure" of a month won't get in our way!

A Weekend of Food

I'm a big fan of any weekend that involves food. And football. And fun. And I guess fitness too, if we really want to try to use all the f-words we can think of…… We spent our Friday getting our sweat on at the gym. As much as I feel like I don't want to go to the gym, especially on a Friday, it's always worth it afterwards. Plus the gym isn't nearly as crowded like it during the week, so that's an added bonus. 

Saturday my day revolved around food. I woke up feeling refreshed (for once!) and hurried downstairs to make Jared and I a tasty breakfast. Try not to be impressed with how amazing my pajamas are, and how great Jared's slippers are. My thoughts are, as long as you what you make turns out delicious, you're allowed to cook in whatever kindof get-up you want.
After we stuffed ourselves it was onto the next item on the agenda - party prep! 
We helped my SIL Kayla throw a surprise party for Caleb- Jared's brother. I made my mom's pasta salad that is a great crowd-pleaser and I also made this DELICIOUS spicy cheeseball thanks to Ashley's recipe. Definitely a new favorite of mine- plus, how adorable is it for fall??
So we snuck into Kayla & Caleb's apartment, set up the decorations and food and welcomed Caleb's friends as they showed up. Surprise parties don't always go as planned, but at the end of the day, it didn't matter. It was a fun night with friends, both old and new, all there to celebrate how awesome Caleb is. So much fun that once the party started I forgot to take any pictures really, but that's okay. Those are some of the best nights if you ask me.

And as if my weekend hadn't already been fun enough? The Bengals put a beat down on those stinky New York Jets. 49 points people….. 49 POINTS! 6-2 and feeling good! Let's just not discuss my fantasy team. Ouch.

How was your weekend?? *Linking up with Sami today*
Sami's Shenanigans

It's a Costume Party!

Normally this time every year Jared and I are scrambling around for last-minute Halloween costumes. We always claim we'll start earlier and come up with some AMAZING, elaborate idea.... but most years? That couldn't be further from the truth. We are famous for going to dozens of stores the day of his family's annual Halloween bash in search of all the items we need for our thrown-together look. Somehow, we make it work though.

Our most famous/favorite costumes did require a little prep work in 2010. It was well-worth it. If you've read my blog for any length of time you've probably seen these pictures floating around, but in case you're newer- enjoy Willy Wonka & his Golden Ticket :) By the way, if anyone has an idea for a way I can wear those metallic gold leggings again- please let me know.

We've also done the pirate thing--- more than once. I'm sure Sarah is not-surprised and not-impressed. ;) 
Yes, Jared looks so much like Jack Sparrow it's scary!

This year? No party for us. The usual party we attend was last weekend, the weekend we visited my sister so we missed out and I can't find anyone else having a party that we can crash. If you're hosting one in my area- let me know ;) So, since we're boring and without costumes, I'll let a few of these lovely ladies tell you about some of their favorite Halloween costumes. Be sure to comment and let me know about the best Halloween costume you've ever rocked.

Not If….When.

Yesterday was kindof a "blah" day at work. Not a bad one persay, just one that seemed to drag on forever, one full of tedious projects I had no interest in. That doesn't exactly set a person up to be excited about hitting the gym right after work. I texted Jared, trying to wimp out and cancel our gym date, but he convinced me we both really needed to go. I knew he was right, darnit. So as I finished up my work for the day, I snuck over to Facebook for some motivation.

Yes, folks. If you've ever gotten married and put on 30 pounds in 2 years? Go ahead and look at your wedding pictures and honeymoon pictures for some instant shame motivation. My jaw was literally on the floor, looking at how much I'd changed in two years!
Two years ago? I was confident in the way I looked. I didn't immediately look at every picture of myself and see my double chin or my clothes pulling too tight. What happened to that girl? This isn't a pity-post, or a post to have you disagree and say I look "fine" so don't let it seem that way. This is a post to say I've finally taken control again and it feels good emotionally, even when it doesn't feel good physically.

It's been a little over a month since Jared and I joined a gym and I'm sloooowly seeing some changes in my body. It's hard, because after a month I want the scale to just say I'm 20 pounds lighter and I want my old clothes to fit perfectly again. But it's not that easy, and it doesn't work that way. It was 2 years of bad habits that got me where I am today, so nothing will just change overnight. It's about making the effort, putting the time in at the gym and focusing on what I want out of this journey.

I want to be the best, healthiest version of myself I can be. I want to see what my body can do; I want to see my running improve. I want it, and I'll get it. It might take awhile, but I'm not stopping until I get there. Who's with me??

Smiles & Snuggles

Sometimes I skip a Monday post just to be a rebel in the blogging world. Mondays are like the prime real-estate in all of blogland. No one is doing anything at work but goofing off and reading blogs, everyone has fabulous pictures to share and brag about… Monday morning posts are where it's at, so I skip them from time to time…

What I mean to say is that I was way too tired and lazy to put together any type of Monday post yesterday.  You see, Jared and I did a crazy little roadtrip this weekend that I didn't tell you all about. Yes, bloggers keep secrets from time to time. We hopped in a car after work on Thursday and drove close to 9 hours to spend roughly 48 hours with my sister, brother-in-law and the most amazing niece/baby in the entire world.

The whirlwind weekend was totally worth it though. Quality time with my sister and her hubby and lots of snuggles and giggles with my favorite baby. We got to see their new place which was so nice! Their neighborhood had an awesome walking/biking trail along it that we took full advantage of.

The beautiful fall weather was calling our name so we got a nice, long walk in the first day we were there. I was loving that fresh scent of the leaves and the crunch of them under my feet.

It's nice when you're "vacationing" and your hosts are amazing cooks. Not only were we fed well while we were there, we were fed healthy, yummy things! We are staying on track and even got to work out with them at their local gym while we were there. Somehow we've turned into those people who can't go so many days before they start really, really missing the gym. I'm definitely okay with feeling that way. Especially when I see these pictures and still feel like a whale---- baby steps! We'll get there! :)

You know how much it pains me not to be able to post the millions of pictures of my niece, but again, let me just reiterate how adorably perfect she is. She is such a smiley, happy baby. I swear, she makes me feel like THE most entertaining person in the world. One little song chorus, a few whistles, clapping my hands? You name it…. she loves it. She loves me, I should say ;)

So this weekend was full of smiles and laughs and love. I loved on that baby as much as I could, trying to make it last for another 2 months until I'll see her again. I melted into a pile of mush every time Jared held her and tickled her and made her laugh. (He's going to be one hot dad one day! ;)) I loved watching my sister be a mom for the first time and looking like a complete natural. I loved it all, every last second of our way-too-short visit.

Although I'm almost in tears every time I look at her adorable pictures, and even though I wish I could see my niece every single day, I'm so happy. Who knew such a little person could bring me so much joy, and in such a short amount of time?! Aunt Erin is a role I'm taking on proudly.

Friday Love

Friday, dear Friday: Thanks for being awesome, even though you just started.

Dear friends: I was kind enough to NOT blast on twitter yesterday, "Today's my Friday!" because that's just mean and I hate it when anyone else does it. ;)

Dear Long Weekend: you are about to be AMAZING.

Dear Jared: Thanks for singing, rapping, dancing and laughing with me on long car-rides. I don't think it's possible for us to travel anywhere without all the aforementioned things.
Dear Carters, Children's Place, Baby Gap, etc: Now that I have the world's cutest niece, please stop sending me so many emails with "great deals" in them. I'm convinced this little girl needs everything you sell. I mean, how do you realistically think anyone can say no to stuff like this or this??

Dear Body: Please keep working hard at the gym. I know there have been small improvements, but I'm ready to be back to my skinny self!
Skinny Erin via July 2011
Dear Bell: Thanks for being unique in this blog world. A farmer's wife, a girl who writes how she wants and doesn't say/do things just because everyone else is? So refreshing.

Dear Disney: Jared and I dream of you every day. Do you think of us, too??
Dear Fall: You've been pretty great so far. Looking forward to sneaking in a few more stereotypical fall-ish things in the next few weeks. Don't leave us too soon, okay! I'm not ready to start scraping frost off my car in the morning just yet.
Dear Blog Friends: You guys are all incredible. I just feel like the past week or so I've been blessed by so many of you, whether you know it or not. Your comments and emails mean more to me than maybe they should, but that's okay! I so appreciate every single one of you who reads this crazy blog of mine.

Cincinnati Blate

Me // Shelley // Allison // Kayla
You really can't go wrong with bloggers, Mexican food and cupcakes for dessert. That combination just can't fail you. With about three weeks of a ridiculously long email thread (71 emails… to be exact) we finally nailed down a date for a big group of Cincinnati bloggers to meet- up! I was really excited about this because although I'd met four of the girls previously, this was the first "big" meet-up we'd had a chance to coordinate.
Me // Allison // Jax
Dinner ended up being a 2.5 hour event, I kid you not. Time flew as we all chatted about everything from blogs (duh!), careers, high school, how who-knew-who, what Katie was going to name her baby (We couldn't pry it out of her!) and everything in between.
Katie, I can only hope I look half as good as you when I'm pregnant! Girl is gorgeous!
Allison was amazing and was able to score some delicious free cupcakes for us from Gigi's cupcakes. Oh. my. gosh. Gigi's is actually in twenty-two different states, but the amazing Kenwood location was the donor of these mouth-watering treats.

Allison // Brittany // Sarah // Katie // Elisa
Blogging is just such a weird thing. I was just telling someone this week how it's crazy to think all these amazing gals live in the same city, yet we might have never met had it not been for blogging! I'm so glad I started a blog two years ago and that the friendships through blogging keep on showing up. Cheers to blates!

Erin Gets Fit

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Tomorrow you will wish you had started today." Or perhaps this variation of it: 
These statements couldn't be more true for me right now. I mentioned a few weeks back that Jared and I joined a gym together and it's truly transforming me from the inside out. We're getting at least 4 workouts in a week, sometimes a fifth one if we're really getting after it. Jared works out right alongside of me, and he is awesome. Excuse me while I brag on him for a few minutes- but seriously, I don't think I could have done this without him. Those machines are intimidating! Jared has been the best trainer so far, and he knows when and how to push me.

I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable in the gym… like I belong there. Like I am someone striving to be healthy and fit. Like I am someone going after goals with everything in me. For the past couple of years, I've slowly but steadily packed on the pounds and it's time to get back to the best version of me! Although it's only been three weeks, I am seeing the tiniest of differences. There may actually be a bicep forming, but I'll keep you posted. There are "before" pictures, but no way I'm sharing those until there is a legit "after" picture to put right beside it.
Best of all? I'm SORE. Every single day new muscles hurt and I love it. I love knowing I'm pushing my body. Jared might argue that I don't love it, when I've got tears in my eyes at the gym, or when I tell him (daily) that I think I'm going to throw up. But I do, I love it. I love being in a gym surrounded by sweaty people all working on bettering themselves -no matter how awful it may smell in there! I love the feeling of adding weights to the machine and reaching a milestone. This week I was able to squat 95 pounds and I tell you, I felt like a freakin' Olympian. 
The protein I use!

Jared's gotten me hooked on protein shakes- something I never thought I'd be able to enjoy. In the morning I just add a scoop to my water and it's the perfect breakfast. Occasionally after a tough workout and after dinner, when I still haven't met my calories for the day Jared will whip up this "treat" that satisfies my sweet tooth.
-1 scoop vanilla protein powder
-Water & ice
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend it up in the blender and you've got yourself a delicious, protein-packed smoothie that feels like it should be a dessert.

Are you on a fitness journey? Any big goals for this year? I didn't want to be one of those people who waits until the start of a new year to get my health on track. There is no time like the present! Joining a gym has truly been a life-changer for me and I'm excited to see what my body will be able to do in another month, 6 months, a year. I want this to be a never-ending journey.

Sallie & Perkins: The Money You'll Save

We're baaaacckkkk! Correction- Sallie is back. Perkins has been working extra hard getting lots of overtime in, so he won't be joining us today. Sorry to disappoint you Perkins fans, it's just Sallie today ;)

I don't know about you all, but seeing "the numbers" is what really motivates me. Seeing the dollar amount we brought home, updating our budget spreadsheets and seeing where every last penny went. That's what keeps us on track and keeps us motivated. Our spending habits have changed so much in just the past 6 months! It's not fun to look back to earlier this year and see where way too much extra money was being spent.

So we're going to look at some numbers today- because hey, maybe it'll help one of you wake up like we did!

3 grande Caramel Frappucino's from Starbucks a week = $11.25
Do this for an entire year? You'll spend = $585

Drinks in general are actually a huge money pit. We as a whole are obsessed with beverages, but did you know 2/3 of American's don't drink enough water? Water is free people, and you need it! So drink less sugary soda pop, juices, alcohol, energy drinks, etc! Water is where it's at….whoops, I'm getting off topic here ;)

2 clearance clothing items at Target a month = Easily $16
Do this for an entire year? You'll spend = $192

You can look good on a budget. I promise you don't need every new seasonal trend, you don't need a pair of shoes for every outfit you own. Would it be nice? Sure! But if it's not a necessity, why waste your money on that instead of paying off the credit card you USED to get last month's "hot new item" ??

2 movies in a movie theater a month = Roughly $20/person (if you don't get any snacks!)
Do this for an entire year? You'll spend $240

This one is a hard one for Perkins, as he LOVES movies and loves going to the theatre. Not that I don't, but I'm okay with waiting a few months until it's available for $1 at RedBox. We've cut back on our movie dates and when we do go, we're sure to catch the early Saturday morning matinee that only cost half of what you would pay on a Friday night.

3 Chipotle burritos/Subway subs/some type of lunch out a week = $18
Do this for an entire year? You'll spend $936

It's VERY easy to join your coworkers for a lunch out multiple times a week. I can't tell you how many times I say "no" to Chipotle… and it pains me every time, trust me. And for Perkins? He was guilty of never bringing enough and raiding the vending machine every day for snacks that definitely added up-and fast! Packing lunches is so much cheaper than buying your lunch every day.

I won't even attempt to add up weekly/monthly costs of eating out in general--- just stop doing it so much! ;) The average person spends over $2200/year eating out. Yikes! You know from earlier posts this is one Perkins and I really struggled with for awhile. We LOVE going out to eat, trying new places, enjoying a local favorite, and just talking over dinner for hours. We aren't acting like it's been easy, but it's been worth it to eat at home the majority of the time.

Sometimes it's difficult when we feel like we're just nickel-and-diming ourselves. Deciding where to spend our money, deciding if a vacation paid in cash is okay or if it's too lavish. Deciding if we want to sacrifice one date night out to purchase something for the house this month. It's all about having a budget and tracking your spending. I can't say it enough, free resources like Mint.com have totally changed the way we look at our finances. We don't ever feel like we're living paycheck to paycheck, and at the month's end we're always able to sit down and see a good chunk of leftover money to put towards those stinky student loans.

I've talked about doing a no-spend month on here, and many of you have told me you're giving it a try yourself. If a month sounds too intimidating to you- try a no-spend week. Your bank account will look a lot more exciting at the end of that week, I guarantee it! ;)

A Simple, but Solid Weekend

Welcome back, my lovely readers! This might come as a shock to you- but I have a weekend recap to tell you about! With pictures, and everything! Pretty much as of late most of my weekends have been work, work, work, football, work, working for football and repeat. This weekend was a smidge different- I made plans and actually went places other than my couch and my office.

Well, okay to be fair, Friday night was spent with my couch. Since Jared was having guys night and since I don't have any friends didn't have plans, I decided to just embrace having the house to myself. After a sucky, painful workout (that I'm glad I did!) and a quick shower I successfully changed into my comfiest penguin pajama pants, my favorite sweatshirt of Jared's and the best fuzzy socks I own. Sexyyyyyyy! ;)

So my couch and I bonded and I watched all the silly shows and movies on Netflix that Jared will never agree to. I may have also simultaneously played CandyCrush and went a little Pin-crazy as well. It was glorious.

Saturday my sister-in-law and I officially started Christmas shopping! It may seem early but people, Christmas is ONLY 10 weeks away! And my great friend Sallie reminded me it's a lot easier on the budget if you shop throughout the year rather than all at once. So we snagged some awesome deals and it feels good to have a small chunk of my shopping done. Remember how I have a brand new niece? Yeah, it's impossible to NOT buy everything in site for her!

Jared and I met back up and he "approved" all my purchases ;) We headed to our Saturday night church service -always awesome- and then did a quick dinner out before calling it a night. Boy, we're a wild couple!!

Sunday we prepped the house for a few guests and of course, a Bengals Sunday. I swear, they never make it easy on us fans, but they pulled out a win in overtime, thankfully! It's not fun having a house full of guests over for a loss-- much better when we can celebrate together :)

So, how was your weekend? Was it football-filled? Did you catch up on Netflix like I did? I am VERY excited about a lot of fun things this week- so bring it on Monday! I'm ready to conquer you today.