Nov 28, 2013

Thankful

I'm thankful for this life I've been given today. I could sit here and list all the many, many individual things but that would take entirely too long and I've got some turkey and pumpkin pie to eat! The fact is though, I am a fortunate, blessed person. I need to be thankful for this life every single day, not just on Thanksgiving. 
I'm also so thankful (and shocked!) that today marks 2.5 years of marriage for Jared and I. Sometimes it feels much longer than that, sometimes it feels like yesterday- and all for good reasons. What an extra-special reason to feel thankful today!

So give thanks today, and lots of it. I hope you're spending time with friends and family and eating just a little too much ;)





Nov 27, 2013

Traditions

Ahhh, Thanksgiving is TOMORROW! That is seriously hard to believe. This time tomorrow I'll be watching the parade before heading off to my Mamaw's for some delicious food and time with the family. This week Jared and I were talking about certain holiday traditions we have, or the ones that have changed over the years, and it seems like ALL of them have changed. I guess that's part of the whole "we're adults" now thing, especially when our family grows yearly, it seems. Traditions get mixed up, old ones are forgotten and new ones are created.
Thanksgiving, 2011.
This year will be a first Thanksgiving we don't spend time with Jared's family, which seems so strange. They won't be in town this year, but will be here for Christmas, thankfully! Normally on Thanksgiving Jared and I stuff our faces with my family all afternoon, take a quick breath, jump in the car and drive to a dinner with his family. It will be nice to maybe only eat half the calories I did last year. Maybe. ;)

I'm just in a holiday/thankful/traditions/family mood today so I asked my 'family' of blog sponsors to share some of their traditions and memories of Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and be sure to stop by their blog and spread a little holiday love!

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Chelsea. A Little Bit of Heaven with a Wild Side
Our traditions revolve around football, competitiveness and basically laughing until our sides hurt. Every year, we go to my grandparent's house to eat. After dinner, we watch football and have a big Euchre tournament. This gets INTENSE because my family is so competitive and we are always coming up with outrageous handshakes and victory dances. All in all, our Thanksgiving is a blast!! 
Kayla. Keeping Up With K
As a Canadian, I celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago (crazy, right?!) Thanksgivings past used to be a HUGE family affair with my immediate family, grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles. etc. all gathered together in a tiny little house for supper. Now that our families have grown we all celebrate Thanksgiving with just our immediate families. This year my family had a delicious turkey supper with all the fixings, and then had a family movie night and watched 'The Conjuring' (and I screamed like a baby the entire movie...) We're definitely not the typical family but we wouldn't have it any other way! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 
Jess. Being Mrs. Beer
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and always has been.  I don't think our celebration is too different from others...except that my sisters and I are pretty fanatical about the parade, and always watch it together. We record it and have been known to rewatch it from the beginning in one of us has missed any. Since we won't head to my mom's until midday this year, we'll likely restart it when I get there. I mean, how can you not love the giant balloons and all the floats? I'm hoping my daughter gets the same love for it as I do, especially since my husband doesn't (silly boys)!

What are some favorite Thanksgiving traditions you have done in the past, have started, or want to start one day with your family??

Nov 26, 2013

If You're Sick and Know It... Make this Soup!

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Kleenex but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #KleenexTarget  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

This time of year is always toughest on my body. It's mid-football season and pre-holidays, the perfect time to snag a cold, right?! I'm telling you, without fail, I get sick once in the Spring and once about this time of year every.single.year. It could be worse, I know, so I won't complain too much. ;)

I always have go-to foods and drinks I "need" when I'm under the weather. Apple juice is a must, which is so funny because we don't buy it any other time. Just when I've got the sniffles or a scratchy throat. My other go-to item is cheesy cauliflower soup. Oh, goodness is this stuff good! I've talked about my love for cauliflower before, but this soup still wins first prize. It's just like eating potato soup, but cuts some carbs out... win-win!
So let's review. While I'm snuggled up on the couch looking my absolute worst, I have all the essentials nearby:
1. Mountain of blankets   (the more the merrier)
2. Delicious cauliflower soup   (scroll down for recipe)
3. Apple juice on the rocks   (the only way to drink it!)
4. Chapstick   (by the bucketload!)
5. Kleenex   (preferably with Aloe and Vitamin E)
I tell you what, if it weren't for Kleenex brand tissues, my nose really would fall right off when I'm battling a cold. We literally keep them in every corner of the house, at all time! Be sure to stock up on Kleenex now so you're ready if/when those nasty germs hit your household. You can grab a coupon for $1 off Kleenex 4 packs or larger coupon to shop at Target by clicking here! You know I always love saving money where I can!
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. Whip this up next time you're under the weather, or when one of your kiddos is sick and wants something other then chicken noodle soup. You will not regret it!
Cheesy Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients:
4 cups cauliflower, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon grated carrot
3 cups chicken broth (We used organic)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (Or Carb Countdown dairy beverage)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used reduced fat)
Cooked bacon and scallions to top
PS- Cauliflower is messy and there is a good chance a lot of it will end up on your floor while chopping ;)
 Put cauliflower, onion, celery and carrot in a large saucepan. Add the chicken broth, salt and vinegar; bring up to a simmer and let cook for 30-45 minutes. (I recommend closer to 45 so the cauliflower is the perfect texture.) Stir in half-and-half, then whisk in the cheese a little at a time, giving each addition time to melt before adding more. Top each serving with crumbled bacon and scallions if desired.

What are your "must haves" when you aren't feeling your best??

Nov 25, 2013

Friendsgiving Success!


This is one Monday that I don't have to tell you how happy or how depressed I am about a recent Bengals game. The bye week was a nice change of pace… no stressing over 4 quarters of football for once! I gladly enjoyed the breather and just stalked my fantasy football team and bonded with my couch instead.

We held our first ever Friendsgiving this past Saturday and it was a blast! We originally thought we'd be hosting about 10-12 people, but ended up with just seven guests. Quite a few people had to cancel or couldn't come last minute, so we ended up with way more food than we needed. I definitely don't want to peel five pounds of potatoes again anytime soon.


I got adventurous and decided to make mashed potatoes in the crockpot which turned out to be a fabulous idea! They were so, so tasty- if I do say so myself! All the food we made and all the desserts our friends made were incredible. I totally feel like we could take on  "real" holiday now! Jared took care of the delicious ham; we chose not to do turkey because everyone will have enough of that this week. (AKA- we've never cooked a turkey and don't want to learn how just yet!)

And what's a holiday party without some fun decor??




Yes, we went ALL OUT with the paper plates & napkins ;)

It was great having our closest friends over for food, good conversation and games. I know we can't be the only group of friends that goes absolutely nuts over games… we are all too competitive for our own good, and many "arguments" over rules of Catch Phrase occurred. It was a hilarious night, to say the least! Oh, and the girls team WON!


Our conversation lasted well into the night and before we knew it, it was after midnight! I felt like such a party animal ;) I love having people in my life that are easy to hang out with. Easy to talk to, easy to laugh and have fun with even when we're doing nothing at all!! Friendsgiving, you win!

Have you hosted a holiday meal at your house? What's your favorite dish to make?? 

Nov 23, 2013

How I Learned About Hockey

I'm a girl who typically feels pretty up-to-date in the sports world. Football is clearly my first choice and I'm most knowledgeable about that sport, but I love my baseball and basketball too. So when I found the adorable Kym and found out she's an official "hockey wife" I was excited, yet intimidated. Crap! I don't know anything about hockey! Must stalk NOW! And stalk, I did..... and goodness, I learned way more than the rules of hockey (Okay, I still don't know them!) because Kym's blog is always a good read- making me laugh or think on a daily basis. Make this pretty lady feel welcome & be sure to stop by her blog! 

Hi there! My name is Kym and I blog over at Travel BabblesI was born and raised in Massachusetts, and I currently live in Denver, Colorado with my husband TJ and our tubby English Bulldog, Brutus. You can learn more about all of us here
I started blogging back in 2010 when we moved to Germany for the first time, and since then I've documented our travels between Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Texas, and a second stop in Germany. 
Travel Babbles is my creative outlet, my diary, my recipe book, my photo album, and my travel journal. It's a collection of my favorite things, pieces of my heart, our hockey life, our loss, what inspires me, and the many things that make me smile.
I hope that you'll stop by Travel Babbles to say hi, and that you'll enjoy my little space on the interwebs as much as I do. You can find me on  TwitterInstagram or Facebook, too - I look forward to chatting soon! xo

Nov 22, 2013

It's a GLORIOUS Friday!

Happy GLORIOUS Friday!!! Today marks the 12th day in a row I have worked so you KNOW I am ready for this weekend ahead. You'd think someone with this crazy of a schedule would keep their calendar free and open after working such a long stretch. Nope, not me. I am seriously insane and I don't know why we did it, but Jared and I will be hosting our first-ever Friendsgiving tomorrow for roughly 10-12 people. Oh, and if I've never mentioned it before, we live in a fairly small tri-level. Tomorrow's party may violate some type of room capacity law. So if you need me Saturday, I'll be elbows deep in mashed potatoes and likely wearing an apron, because that's what hosts do, right? ;)
{1} Friendsgiving, duh! As crazy as it might end up being, I'm excited to have lots of friends over for an evening of good food.

{2} Free printables on Pinterest are truly the best thing that ever happened to holidays. Decorating is SO EASY now! I'm loving all the Thanksgiving ones and i'd be lying if I said I hadn't peeked ahead at Christmas ones, too.


{3} Skyping with adorable little babies. Thank goodness for modern technology, seriously! I don't know how I'd be able to survive without seeing my niece's face and hear her adorable babbles regularly. The day she can start saying my name, I will flat-out die.

{4} The ridiculous fun Jared and I can have at a grocery store. I found this guy during our power outage last Sunday when we ventured out to Kroger. Can someone please let Santa that I would 100% love for this to be under my tree this year??
It's after 10pm and I had worked all day. No judging.
{5} Friends. The friends that know how to comfort you when you're down. The friends that send you THE funniest snapchats ever that no one else in the world would understand. The friends that text you when they hear your favorite song in a store, just to let you know they are rocking out along with it. Those are the friendships that make the world go 'round.

And *BONUS* I have a winner of the 50 Christmas Cards from Cardstore! Congrats to  Lisa!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov 21, 2013

Simple Is Okay.

It's been one heckuva' week so far, that's for sure. I'm not even sure my head is on straight at this point! There have been many bumps in the road this week-- too many to count, in fact, but I'm pressing on. I will be honest and say that there are so many of my family members that could really use your prayers right now, they are appreciated more than I can even describe.
In the midst of the chaos, Jared and I found time to celebrate his 28 years on this earth and have a fun birthday celebration together. A night eating entirely too much sushi (if there is such a thing!) followed by Amish pumpkin cookies (they were drool-worthy), gifts and snuggling up to watch a new movie. Jared got spoiled in the gift department from parents, grandparents, siblings and of course, me!
Seriously? Sushi must be an art-form, I'd love to watch them make it sometime!



Part of me felt guilty this year that I didn't have some big, extravagant birthday celebration planned for Jared. Last year the Trans-Siberian Orchestra fell right on his birthday weekend, and the two years before I'd surprised him with parties with friends. We've been doing lots of fun little things in the past few weeks and declaring them part of Jared's birthday month, but no official big birthday celebration was planned. This year? This year was simple. And I realized that simple is okay.
The faces of two very-tired, very-overworked people.

Jared had a blast just doing dinner with me and loved opening gifts at our house later that night. We spent the evening talking about his goals for 'the year of 28' and what we would do, see, accomplish in the coming year. It was the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, if you ask me. Elaborate? Not at all-- but still, a worthy celebration of an awesome guy.

How do you choose to celebrate birthdays?

Nov 19, 2013

Jared

You know what I haven't done in awhile? Gushed about my husband. He's pretty fantastic, if I haven't mentioned that a time or twelve. I know, I knowwww..... quit it with the mushy crap, right?! Wrong! Jared is my absolute best friend, my rock and all those other cliche things we married folk use. Cliche or not, they are true and I'm gonna' use 'em.

Are we perfect? Of course not. Not even close. Do we still bicker over silly things? Absolutely. Who keeps losing our tubberware containers at work??? Jared. Whose gym shoes are smelling up the room?? Sadly- Erin's. But the important thing is that we work together on the big things. The trials and problems life throws at us. The ups and the downs. The good, the bad, the ugly. We're there for each other, and I couldn't imagine my life without Jared in it and honestly can't remember much of life before Jared!

It's pretty crazy to me that I've found this awesome man who never gets tired of hanging out with me. Who texts me throughout his busy day just to say he's excited about our date that night, or that he's proud of me. Going through life with Jared is incredible and almost too difficult to put into words. Whether we're traveling the world together, or sitting in our worst sweatpants watching Netflix, I'm always just comforted that he's the one by my side.

I love that man, and want to wish him the HAPPIEST BIRTHDAY today! Happy 28th, babe... I hope this birthday and the year ahead are the best yet. I love you!!


Nov 18, 2013

Mexican Monday

I made all of Twitter blow up with Mexican food cravings around 2pm last Friday. I publicly announced that it had been one month since my last taco/chips/queso binge and shocked the world. But then, shortly after the crowds died down and I assured them I'd be getting my salsa fix that evening, I realized something else. HOW ADDICTED ARE YOU WHEN YOU KNOW THE EXACT LAST TIME YOU HAD MEXICAN FOOD?! Like, down to the date and which restaurant!! I may have a problem...

So to say Friday night's dinner was delicious wouldn't even do it justice. I fasted that day in preparation of one of our favorite local joints. And of course Mexican food is even tastier when you make it a double date! We had a fun time hanging with our sibling-in-laws and having a mini-birthday-celebration for Jared.

And yes, that's the best picture of Jared and I from Friday night ;) I worked Saturday & Sunday both, but as always, still made time for tasty food, afternoon naps and plenty of good movies. Minus the whole, power going out for about 5 hours Sunday night, but that's a post for tomorrow. Thankfully we were safe and no damage to our house, so I'm definitely grateful for that!

Oh, and those Cincinnati Bengals I'm pretty partial too? Yeah, we're 7-4. #WHODEY!

Nov 15, 2013

What I Need

This is always the time of year I start to feel like a crazy person. My work demands pick up, the holidays are surrounding us and I just can't find the time to do it all. I'm on day 5 of a 12-day work stretch.... you remember those come up from time to time, right?! Last night I stressed over it, there were tears. I need more personal time! I need more time to make Jared's upcoming birthday perfect! I need, need, need!

But I don't need anything. What I NEED is to think positively about this life I've been given. To take life day by day. To appreciate the here and now despite the craziness of it all. That's all I've got for this pseudo-Friday but I wanted to share. My hope is that with a little more positive thinking, we can all evoke more happiness :)

Nov 14, 2013

Christmas Card Giveaway!

Happy Friday's Eve, friends! I was going to save this post for the weekend, but I decided I just couldn't wait any longer and I think you'll see why. Yessss, this post is about Christmas and Christmas cards and I know we haven't hit Thanksgiving yet-- but it takes some time to pick out holiday cards. Not to mention ordering them, addressing them and actually getting them in the mail!

So as a nerd who loves all things paper and notecards, I'm really exciting to be partnering with Cardstore for a second time- and I've got a treat for you all! :) Picking out holiday cards is always something I enjoy a little too much, I'm sure- but that's what this time of year is all about, right? Getting excited about the smallest of things, and soaking in all kinds of extra happiness!

I'm usually a big fan of putting photos in our cards, especially the ones we send off to family and friends that we don't see often. I'll admit though, not every year do we get a picture worthy of our card. Aka- last year! Cardstore has tons of options for photos and non-photo cards, in case you slack off like me or you just can't seem to get every kid looking at the camera at the same time ;)

Here are a couple of my favorites for this year! I love the brown paper packaged look of the photo card, and the chalkboard look of the other one.










Also, if you're a nerd like me, you have to check out their adorable Christmas Around the World infographic.

If you've ever wondered what percentage of the world celebrates Christmas, how many gifts per minute Santa has to deliver, what fun holiday customs are celebrated around the world or how to say Silent Night in a bajillion different languages- click over there!!

Okay, okay- I've saved the best for last! Cardstore is offering one of my readers 50 free holiday cards!!!! Good luck! Contest is open until next Thursday, Nov 21st, with the winner being announced the 22nd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov 13, 2013

Blogging is Weird

A couple years ago if you'd told me I would talk to people on a daily basis that I'd never actually met in person, I definitely would have laughed in your face. Like, an actual Laughing-Out-Loud LOL kinda' laugh.

If you had told me I'd write about my incredibly mundane, ordinary life and people would actually READ IT?! And sometimes comment, give feedback and support me?! I would have been totally confused.

If you would have told me I would meet some of the sweetest, most stylish ladies in all of Cincinnati-- simply by having a blog and having a group blind date I would have probably told you I was too busy for new friends ;)

If you had said blate, sponsor swaps, PassionFruit Ads, Rafflecopter or Erin Condren I would have looked at you with a completely blank, puzzled stare. Huh??

If you had said that occasionally I'd get to receive and review free products in exchange for my opinion I definitely would have started blogging sooner ;)

If you had told me I'd be on people's Christmas card mailing list -again, people I'd never met- I probably would have been alarmed that they knew where I lived and might have moved. Or at least bought a big mean dog.

If you had said that soon I'd be referring to my friends as Southern Alexa, Carolyn with the adorable puppies, Pittsburgh Cari, Classy Steph, etc... I'd say that sounds like the habit of a crazy person!

If you had told me that my husband would gladly take pictures of me, Skype with blog friends and their boyfriends with me, dress up in ridiculous clothes and launch an on-going series with me in support of my blog….. I would have actually believed this. That man is pretty darn great.

If you had told me that I'd spend the first day of my DisneyWorld vacation meeting up with my bloggy bestie (those are real?!) I would have told you I thought I was going to end up the show Catfish.

If you had let me know I would be able to finally put my graphic design minor to use and also learn way more than I did in college by designing blogs I would have been relieved---- all those loans were WORTH it ;)

Seriously. I could have never imaged the way having a blog and "meeting" so many of you would change me. What started as a maybe-hobby-I'll-give-a-try, turned into so so SO much more. So today, thanks for being weird with me. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and for those who don't comment-- thanks for stalking, although I'd prefer to know who you are! ;) I am so encouraged by every comment, email, tweet, interaction. I'm at the point now that it's hard to remember life before blogging. 

Cheers to the weirdness that is blogging!!

Nov 12, 2013

Perkins' Picks!



I figured while Sallie is off being a keynote speaker at a coupon cutting convention I would fill in for this week’s edition of S&P.  I also thought it right that in honor of her I should engage in one of her most favorite activities in the world (wearing pigtails aside) making lists!  So without further adieu, “Perkins Random Top Picks to Stay on Track and Get Out of Debt Faster While Keeping Your Sanity and Yes, Possibly Even Having a Little Fun Too” or simply: Perkins List of Awesomeness.

1.  Money is a Tool.  It is just a means to an end and it is not our primary goal to obtain mountains of it ---although swimming in a seas of coins like Scrooge on Ducktales did always seem like fun.    

Nonetheless, our goal is a good ol’ cliché and that is to “control it instead of it controlling us.”  Ultimately reaching our careers goals, nurturing relationships with family and friends and helping others is far, far more important than mere wealth accumulation.  Money can be a very helpful resource along the way but most people don’t manage it at all, making all of us who do, WEIRD.   Like our boy Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else and then give like no one else.” Just a healthy dose of perspective on our journey!

2.  Patience with yourself and the journey.  This is easier said then done because I have personally realized that I have no patience whatsoever with even the most remedial things in life.  Maybe it is our instant gratification society we live in or maybe being impatient is just a character flaw, but whether it is waiting a whole 1 minute and 22 seconds for the old lady in front of me to get her price check on a bag of beets or the feeling of failure with myself over and over again when I tempt Sallie to go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant or go to the book store and buy new books… I rarely have patience with others or myself. That can be discouraging when you are trying to conquer Mt. Debt-erest!  Stay the course and do not become impatient when you slip up or when you seem like you are only flicking a speck of dust off of the mountain. 

3.  Creativity = cheap fun.   Saving money can seem like a complete buzz kill when it comes to having fun with your significant other.  It is possible and just for fun here is a list inside of a list to prove it! A list inside a list?! Sallie might spontaneously combust when she reads this! 

a. Go for more walks  adventures around small towns or parks nearby you have never been to.  

b. Play board games or video games you already own but probably haven’t played in 7+ years 

c. People watch…creepy, but fun! Festivals and malls are great starts and if you live on the edge of civilization as we do, even a WalMart will do!  

d. Invite some friends over who are also on a debt free journey and wallow in each others self misery!  Just kidding, you can put your heads together and come up with a cheap fun night which will probably end up looking like something from the college years with a night filled with laughs, Ramen Noodles and Monopoly. 

e. Clean house to awesome mix CDs of music you haven’t listened to in ages.  

f.  Whip up a batch of free ice-cold water on the rocks, plop on the couch and just talk to each other about things not related to your days.  Topic-y stuff kind of like a “date-esque” convo but from the comforts of your own couch with no sweaty palms or awkward silence.  
4.  Don’t Quit.    Oh thanks Perkins, that point really changed my life and inspired me down to the very fiber of my existence!  Well, it is obvious and is something that Mrs. Salli-licious and I tell ourselves each month no matter if we nailed it or failed it.  We will continue to repeat it as well because we each have given up on stuff in the past but refuse to this time. Even if you have been off the journey for a couple years you can always get back in control and on the right path.  Even if we take 10 steps forward and 9 steps back, we will climb out of this Debt-alanche we are buried in. 

The person who gives up accomplishes nothing and is only a hindrance. The person who does not give up can move mountains.”   ….of debt

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