Dec 31, 2013

Sallie & Perkins: 2013 in Review


As we say goodbye to the year 2013, Sallie & Perkins wanted to take a quick look at what they were able to accomplish in this roller coaster of a year. Looking back at all these numbers and adding things up felt like the end-of-the-year report card or an annual review at your employer… a little stressful, but at the end of it you felt more excited about what you're doing. June is the first month we really took control of our finances, started a strict budget and really focused our efforts on paying off as much debt as possible.


I have to say, looking at that number feels pretty freakin' good. When you factor in our minimum payments we made the 5 months prior to that, it would tack on about another $700, plus the remainder of Jared's car loan, an additional $1,000. That would put us over $15,000 paid off in debt in 2013!!!

While that is fantastic, we have tons of room to improve and have big plans for 2014. We didn't pay off much in December, as Christmas took a large chunk of our money and we didn't want to feel like we couldn't enjoy giving to our family and friends. We also received monetary gifts and work bonuses right at the end of this month which will all go towards a very large debt payment in January to start 2014 off right! Stay tuned for that!!

Don't forget- we're cohosting a no-spend January and we'd love to have you join in! You can check out our original post on it here, and then mark your calendar to post about your results on February 4th.

Wishing you ALL a very happy, safe New Year!!!

Dec 30, 2013

It Will All Be Worth It


I'm sure by this point in the year I sound like a completely broken record. It's a wonder I ever come up with anything to say on this blog during football season… but most days I still find myself landing here and typing out whatever comes to mind. It might not make as much sense as it does in the off-season, but I'm here, nonetheless.

I've lost count of the hours I've put in at work this month or even this week; there is no end in sight and although that's incredibly scary to think about? It also means we're winning. My Bengals ended their regular season at 11-5 with a big win over the dirty birds of Baltimore yesterday afternoon. This city is pretty excited and we are headed into the playoffs at full-steam.

This means even LONGER hours than I've been working, even MORE work than I've already been putting in…. and even LESS sleep than I've been semi-functioning on. I'm embarking on a stretch of at least 16 days straight of work, possible more. That pains me a little bit to even type that! So bare with me as my life revolves around the men in orange and black for a little while longer… hopefully until February 2nd

In the meantime, I'll be greeting the gorgeous sunrises in our city each morning, and leaving long after the sun has set each night. The work'll all be worth it as long as we keep winning. Bonuses and a shot at a super bowl ring? Count me in! So if your team is out of the playoffs this year? Go ahead and cheer for the Bengals, for my sake, of course ;)

Dec 27, 2013

My Theme for 2014

It's no secret I'm ready to say goodbye to 2013 and get on with a new, fresh year. A year that I'm determined to make the best yet. And I don't say that in the cliche way we all usually do when we ring in the new year at midnight on 12/31. I say that with meaning.... with purpose. I'm so ready to accomplish the things I want to, and I want 2014 to be the year I look back on in ten or twenty years and can truly say that's where I took control of my life.

Do you ever pick a 'theme' for your year? Going into 2014 I have such high hopes and so many goals and dreams that I can't help but have a theme. It's simple, it's weird, but it's my pick and I'm sticking to it:
Finish It. FINISH IT. That's my 2014 plan. There are just so many things I feel I start that I never follow through on. Be it my book I'm still writing, be it plans to keep in touch better with friends, be it a home organization project... so many things get left undone. Sure, I claim I'm busy and I definitely am- but who isn't? And let's be real... I still find time to watch Netflix or waste an hour on Pinterest, so I'm pretty sure there are better uses of my time. This year will be the year I FINISH things, and lots of 'em! :)

I asked my sponsors to join in the fun and pick a theme for the new year. I thought it was pretty interesting to see how different everyone's themes were. Check out what they had to say and be sure to leave a comment here with your theme for 2014.

My theme for 2014 is STUNNING. It's one of my favorite words and it refers to more than just physical appearance. I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, but basically in 2014 I want to be the best me I can be!

My motto for 2014 is "I can do this!" Whether it's adjusting to single life or paying off some serious debt, I'll replace doubt with this simple phrase. It turns everything around!

My theme: Go in expecting the worst. As INSANE as it sounds, I've learned over the past few months that for me to enjoy things to the fullest , I tell myself it won't be as good as I want it to be hence, low expectations. Low expectations = less pressure and more time to party it up with a large solo cup of happiness.

Jessica - Being Mrs. Beer
I've got a lot of plans for 2014, but they all center around GROWTH.  I want to grow in so many areas of my life - as a person, as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a blogger.  I'm looking forward to learning a lot about myself and my loved ones, and growing in my relationships and sense of self. Plus, growing the blog, can't hurt, right?

I've always wanted to participate in Ali Edwards 'One Little Word' tradition but never could narrow my theme or goals for an entire year into just one word. After failing to pick out a word each new year for 3 years I've decided instead to live by this mantra for 2014: 'She turned her can'ts into cans and  her dreams into plans'. I've always been a BIG dreamer but its time to take my own advice and start chasing my dreams!


 What's your theme for the new year???

Dec 26, 2013

Christmas was GREAT



Well, Christmas is officially over. Has there ever been a sadder sentence to write?? It's been a whirlwind of four Christmas celebrations in five days. Not to mention only one day off from work, not that I'm bitter or anything. I know most of the blogworld (and real world) have a bajillion more days off, but not this girl! Not the girl leading her team to the NFL playoffs ;) I can't tell you how many emails I've had to send in the past week and how many out-of-office replys I got back... depressing! 

Anyway, even though I'm back at work, it doesn't mean I've got it all together. There is glitter on just about everything I own, I'm exhausted and this blog has definitely been neglected the past week. But you know what? It's been nice! It was just a mini-break from blogging, but it was much needed. I squeezed as much as I could into this holiday season.




So now it's time to take down the decorations, to stop baking unhealthy things, to sort through hundreds of pictures of my niece (I'm not exaggerating) and time to get back to a little bit more "normal" schedule. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and I look forward to reading all about them soon! :)

Dec 23, 2013

We Deserve a Sitcom

This past Saturday had a ridiculous, horrible no-good start and finish to the day. All the inbetween stuff was fine, great even! I had to work that day which in itself was uneventful, and we had our first family Christmas get-together that evening. Ohhh, but the start to my morning and the end of the night were sitcom worthy, I tell you. Let me start at the beginning and paint this picture for you all.

Saturday morning's alarm went off way too early, as usual, but I hurried to get ready and get out the door. I was running maybe just a couple minutes behind, but I knew I had to stop at the gas station because 'ole Emma was riding on empty. It's a dreary, rainy day... the rainy type of day where even windshield wipers on the highest setting don't work that great. A lovely mess to be out and about in.

I pull into the gas station and when I pull the tank door release (I have no idea what the proper term is!) it doesn't work. Ugh. I try it a few more times and then get out to investigate. I tried prying open the door, tried sticking my key in the slot to pry it open... but all I managed to do was chip a little paint off the car. I alternate between the release lever and banging on the door itself but nothing is working. So I'm becoming later for work by the second... and there is NO ONE at the gas station. I've already dirtied up my hands and the sleeves of my shirt with black smudges from the car. The rain is practically coming down sideways at this point, and even though I was under the gas station overhang, the rain was blowing in, pelting my face, soaking my hair and making my mascara run. Great. 

And then it happened... I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I mean, there was no one there! I needed gas! What the heck was I going to do?! I sat in my car and texted Jared -who was also at work- and told him I was possibly stranded at the gas station. Thank the good Lord that right then another car had pulled up at the pump next to me and a nice man walked over and asked if I was having car trouble. I tearfully told him I just needed help getting my freakin' gas tank open and luckily with him prying and me simultaneous pulling that stupid lever... she opened up! I could have hugged that man. But that would have been strange, so I awkwardly gave him a high five (what?!) and thanked him a billion times. 

I'm sure I was a ridiculous sight to see once I got to work, fifteen minutes late. It's actually funny to me now though thinking about it. If anyone had seen this crazy girl at the gas station in the monsoon, I'm sure it was hilarious. Sitcom material, I'm telling you.
Luckily our fun Christmas party that night made up for the madness that occurred that morning. Jared's family all came over for dinner and gifts at our place. It was a fun night with entirely too much food and some amazing desserts. A night of awesome gifts and creative wrapping/pranks to trick each other. A night of entirely too much excitement over receiving a label maker ;)


A night that ended with a hilarious game of Hedbandz, have you guys played this before? It was our first time playing but I'm pretty sure we're all hooked now!

Oh! But the night actually didn't end with a game. Our night ended with a full-out search party in our front lawn. Let's just say a certain sister-in-law of mine tossed a key to her husband, in the dark, rainy night... in our front yard. And let's also just say that key didn't quite make it into his hands, but instead landed somewhere in our yard. And when I say somewhere, I mean... we didn't have a clue where it was. Just picture four adults, one with an umbrella and a cell phone light, one with a lantern, one driving a car around to shine headlights in different directions and one practically on hands in knees in a downpour, after midnight, looking for this key. We were not happy at the time, but after an insanely long time of looking, somehow Caleb saved the day, found the key and I could finally take my soggy body inside and get to bed. You guys.... We deserve a sitcom.

Did your family do anything sitcom worthy this weekend? ;)

Dec 20, 2013

A Pat On My Back

Can I take a second to brag on myself right now? It's not something I do often on here, but every once in awhile a girl just wants to pat herself on the back. I'm on track to put in a 60 hour work week (7 days... heyyyy, Saturday & Sunday office hours!). And while that's totally insane to think about, and most days my hair and makeup are a wreck... I have sortof rocked this week. 

I've made myself get to the gym a couple times- twice even before work! I've found time to clean my house - mainly because I don't have an choice since we're hosting family Christmas Saturday. I've shopped, wrapped presents, decked our halls and still watched a Christmas movie almost every night. 

No seriously… Monday was Home Alone, Tuesday was The Grinch, which we finished on Wednesday + A Charlie Brown Christmas and last night was It's a Wonderful Life. And tonight? We'll be going to an awesome FREE Christmas play with our faves. So excuse me while I treat myself to an extra cookie or two tonight, because although my life could be a wreck right now?? I grabbed it and hung on for dear life and still found a way to be festive all week long. 

I told Jared I wouldn't let our busy schedules and lack of time off work get in the way of doing all our fun Christmas traditions and I've stayed true to my word. Now I'm just excited to focus on our first family party tomorrow and then all the fun to come next week, too!

On a different note- my friends Sallie & Perkins have a pretty exciting link-up they are co-hosting next month with some awesome gals. Steph, Marla, Katie and myself S&P will be participating in a No-Spend January!! What better time to kick off a spending freeze than after all the holiday spending we've all been doing?? I personally have huge financial goals for 2014 and would love as many motivating friends along the way as possible!

And if a complete spending freeze isn't possible for you in January, that's okay! You can still link-up and participate if you set a personal financial goal. Some people need to focus more on debt, or more on building a savings up… I'd encourage anyone who wants some extra financial motivation to join in the fun! Keep track of your progress, your mistakes, etc and we'll link up in February. So put this on your calendar!! :)

Dec 18, 2013

2013 In Review

It's weird to look back over an entire year and see what's happened, where you've been, what successes or failures you've had... just to look at the past 12 months and really chew on that year you just lived.
Seriously- how were these pictures taken almost 365 days ago?!

This year? Was not my year. It's hard to admit that aloud, or try to explain to someone what I mean when I say that. People just assume either 1. I've had a horribly, tragic AWFUL year with the worst things you can think about..... or 2. That I'm just being a brat. Sorry but, it's neither of those. It's just been a year of trials. Of so many emotions. Of family-related heartaches and challenges. Of growing and learning, but stumbling along the way, and stumbling often. I've had my fair share of disappointments this year... more than my fair share I should say. But please know I'm not saying there haven't been any good things this year, because that's far from the truth.

I mean, that's life right? You take the bad with the good, even when it feels you're being dealt more of the crappy stuff than other people might be. Or stuff you don't want to deal with, or don't know how to deal with. You just have to keep searching for those good moments and remember those. 

From 2013, I want to remember...
In January I took this blog to the next level and bought a domain.

In February I scored free tickets to see Jesus Culture and we got to visit my sister in Philadelphia.

In March I threw a pretty awesome (if I do say so myself!) bridal shower for my sister-in-law-to-be.

In April we celebrated my 26th birthday in DisneyWorld. Nothing will ever top that birthday :)

In May Jared's brother got married! And we celebrated 2 whole years of marriage ourselves.

In June I started the Sallie & Perkins series and have enjoyed this journey on my blog so much.

In July we got to visit Jared's family in Arkansas and had a blast boating and sightseeing with his parents.

In August we hit up every local festival we could find and got to go to Memphis to see our friends get married.

In September we visited my first place of employment ever and also joined a gym for the first time!

In October I attended a giant Cincinnati blate and Jared and I visited my sister/BIL/new niece.

In November we tried an awesome new restaurant for Jared's birthday and hosted our first-ever Friendsgiving.

I don't want to remember 2013 as the year that wasn't my year, even though I do feel that way. I want to remember the good, and go into 2014 knowing I will make it better. I will press on, I will dream, I will achieve, I will succeed.

What will you do in 2014???

Linking up with Steph & Jen today!
That's What She Read

Dec 17, 2013

Spread some Cheer!

Over the weekend Jared and I enjoyed a waffle breakfast Saturday morning. We rarely do big breakfasts at our house, usually because we're just rushing off to another activity, another to-do list. So it was nice to take the time to sit down, watch a short Christmas show and enjoy some tasty, syrupy goodness together. Plus how cute is this smiley face in our bottle of syrup??
When I saw this smiley face, I told Jared to leave it out because I just had to snap a picture of it! (Typical blogger comment, right?!) Jared laughed at me, but responded, "It really is the little things, isn't it?!" And how true is that?? The littlest things can make me smile so quickly, especially at this time of the year! Just plugging our Christmas tree in when I get home from work, or just seeing a kid's face light up when they see the Santa at the mall- those little things are so precious around the holidays! We can't overlook them!

So Jared and I decided to do something we've never done -bake gingerbread cookies- and then share them with our neighbors -another something we've never done. We decided that if simple things could make us smile, then maybe we could spread a little extra cheer to our neighbors for Christmas-time too.

We made a huge mess, which you'd think wouldn't be possible in a kitchen the size of a postage-stamp, but ohhhh it is! I'm pretty sure there is still flour in random crevices by the microwave, but I'm working on that.

We iced them like pros (ha!) and of course kept a few "mess-ups" for ourselves as well. It was so much fun, just taking the time to actually bake and knowing we were going to share them with our neighbors too. We don't know many of them very well at all, but why not try to bring a smile to their face this holiday season? I know I'd love it!

So spread a little extra Christmas cheer this week- I dare you ;)

Dec 16, 2013

It Feels Like Christmas Now

Well, if it didn't feel like Christmas yet, it certainly does now! As you know, Jared and I got to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Friday night and the show was even better than I remembered! Maybe it was the excitement of being so close to the Christmas, or maybe the fact that Jared and I haven't went downtown for a date in who knows how long, but we had such a great evening together, I wish it hadn't ended!

We ate at the Moerlein Lager House downtown, which has been open for over a year but I had still never tried. We both opted for ginormous burgers and parmesan-garlic fries….. a good choice, for sure. Plus we had the sweetest waitress ever, that makes such an impression! We highly recommend this restaurant if you're in the area.

And then, because we clearly hadn't eaten enough, and obviously it was super toasty outside in the low 30's, we decided a quick stop for froyo was necessary, too. It's a good thing we were walking around town that night, I needed to burn off at least a few of those extra calories!!

The concert itself was pure entertainment for 2 and a half straight hours. Anyone who appreciates music would love to see TSO live. The talent that every single band-member and vocalist has just absolutely blows me away. Anytime there was a soloist performing I would lean over to Jared and say, "Can I just have one-tenth of the talent they do?!" Another time I found myself thinking, "Wow, I really should have never quit those piano lessons as a kid…" I just can't get enough of musical talent like this. I can't put into words how talented these people are!



So our date-night out was a success and it motivated us to get our shopping and wrapping done over the weekend too, once we got that little wake-up call of how close Christmas actually is!! Now our house feels extra festive with gorgeous gifts wrapped up and tucked under our tree.

And one last VERY important piece of news today…. It's my amazing mother's birthday today!!! As a bratty teenager rolling my eyes at her every chance I got, I never imagined the great relationship and friendship we would have today--- and she probably couldn't either ;) We have so much fun together and I'm so grateful for that. I'm so thankful for everything she does for me and couldn't have asked for a better, crazier momma ;) --- Love you!!!

Dec 13, 2013

I Made It!

One 12-day stretch of work is DONE.... well, almost, depending on when you're reading this. I survived and cannot wait for this weekend. We kicked it off last night with my work party where we ate some delicious food, took a picture with Santa and got to pet the live reindeer! Tonight Jared and I have a hot date planned downtown that we've been looking forward to for months. We've got reservations for dinner and then we'll be seeing the amazing Trans-Siberian Orchestra!! This is actually their final tour ever, so I'm sure it'll be even more entertaining than last year, which was already incredible.

The rest of this weekend we hope to get the remainder of our shopping done, get our Christmas cards in the mail and cross off a few other activities from our Christmas bucket list. They're calling for a little more snow this weekend, and this is one of the times I actually wouldn't mind if we end up getting snowed in. As long as I don't have to drive in it or sit on the highway in it for hours, I'm okay with a little white fluff.

On a different note, my 75-year-old Pappy is having surgery today that could possibly take up to 6+ hours. I'd appreciate any prayers you've got. Surgery is never easy, but I know he's a trooper and will do just great. I'm sure by Christmas Eve he'll be rocking silly hats and a tie and laughing it up :)
That's him in the middle-- isn't he adorable? :)

That's all for today, friends. I feel completely 'behind' in the blog world but hope to catch up a lot this weekend. Plus, I have some extra fun stuff planned for the rest of this month that I'm really excited to share with you all! Happy Weekend!!!

Dec 12, 2013

December's Past

Here it is! The final post in my "months past" series. If you missed November's past you can check it out here. Doing these posts has brought back SO many good memories... it's truly amazing how fast time seems to go. These pictures that are four or five years old?! Feel like they were taken last week. This must mean I'm getting old, dangit. Oh, well--that's life I guess! ;) Let's see what December has brought me in recent years.

December 2008
Jared and I graduated from college! We spent this last month studying living it up with our friends and saying goodbye to some amazing people. I graduated a semester early, so I was leaving my class, and a lot of friends I'd met all the way back at freshman orientation. Such a bittersweet time! 


December 2009
The Bengals were headed into the playoffs during my first season working there.... what an experience!! Jared and I also started an annual tradition with Caleb & Kayla. Attending a local, incredible (free!) Christmas show called Awaited. It's the perfect festive double-date and we look forward to it together every year!


December 2010
Attended Awaited again, this time the guys decide to rock the "short-ties" and embarrass us ;)
We also bowled into the new year with all of our favorite people. Such a fun night, one of the best NYE celebrations ever.


December 2011
The Bengals were headed into the playoffs and we were getting TONS of media attention due to our previous losing season and our rookie quarterback. I made it on every local TV station, I think.... It was my "fifteen minutes of fame" and I was loving it! We also celebrated Christmas with EVERYONE in town for once, which was so much fun. And this picture might still be our best family photo yet. I mean, seriously... how amazing are my grandparents?!


December 2012
We lost Jared's Grandpa very unexpectedly this month, and it was really hard around the holidays. He was such a great man, and I'm honored I got to spend as much time with him as I did. He loved to laugh and be the life of the party. I think Jared is a lot like him in many ways :)

December 2013
Here we are! I think this month will go down in the books for the craziest month of our lives so far. I'm sure I sound like a broken record, talking about how busy I am, but it's kindof all I know right now. It's a whirlwind, but somehow I'm holding on and riding it out. I'm hopeful about a lot of good things this month though too, I'm hoping the last 19 days of this month bring lots and lots of happy news!

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