Goodbye, 2014

It might be cliche to post a look-back at your year, but when you're stuck at work with nothing else to do but make paperclip chains, why wouldn't I?! ;) Last year I wrote a post about how 2013 just didn't seem to be my year, although there were still plenty of greats parts of it. I weirdly feel the exact same way about 2014. There were ups and downs like any year, but there is just some funk I seem to be in with life and careers. This year I've really struggled with patience and have stressed myself sick wrestling with the fact that life isn't exactly what I want it to be right now. I hope in 2015 I make more strides toward the things that make me happy and do more of the things that make me ME.

But enough of that depressing talk, right? That's what the new year is for- a clean slate to start those fresh lists and goals and be the best you can going forward. But before I can go forward, I wanted to look back at a few highlights of 2014-- so I can remember that there was definitely a lot of good that came from it.

January - I spent a lot of time recovering from football season so I cooked a lot and made yummy soup and experimented with quinoa. This month one of my very first blog friends got engaged, too! :)

February - Jared won all-time best Valentine's Day and we celebrated 6 years of being together. We also jetted off to...

March - ...Disney! I also got to meet  Becky this month and my mom and I attended a really cool women's conference.

April - Vacationed in Punta Cana and celebrated my 27th birthday ON Easter this year.

May - Celebrated our 3rd anniversary and road-tripped to visit my sister and to celebrate my niece's 1st birthday.

June- Attended a super fun Ohio blogger meet-up in Columbus and got to meet so many great ladies.

July - Celebrated the 4th with lots of family, my niece's adoption became (finally!) official, hung with tons of Cincy bloggers, and donated an entire foot of hair to Locks of Love.

August - Sallie & Perkins narrowed down their loans to ONE and did a music video to celebrate it; football season kicked off and life got busy so I shared all about my freezer meals.

September - I got a sewing machine that still remains in it's box, I made the most perfect fall soup, and Jared and I got to attend our second-ever Ohio State football game.

October - Jared and I kicked off fall and did more festive things than ever this year! We also traveled to a new NFL stadium to see our Bengals lose in Indianapolis, (THAT WILL CHANGE THIS WEEKEND!!!! #whodey)

November - We attended a late Halloween party, and celebrated Jared's 29th birthday with a weekend in Louisville. We also saw one of Jared's cousins get married and hosted the 2nd annual Friendsgiving at our house.

December - We've been celebrating hardcore for 4 solid weeks. Christmas productions, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a day of holiday baking, celebrating Christmas at least 5 times, and of course making that final debt payment.

Happy New Year, friends! Cheers to 2015 :)

Sallie & Perkins: WE'RE DEBT FREE

It's here. It is actually, finally, really HERE. The day that we've  anticipated for so long; the day we've cried and stressed over; the day we never really knew could feel so good until it was actually here. In case you're not sure what we're talking about let me spell it out for you:

After 18 long months of aggressively paying down those student loans of ours, they are finally gone forever. It's been surprisingly a lot of fun documenting our debt payoff on this blog. We remember when the idea for Sallie & Perkins came to us and we hit publish on that first post. We were putting it all out there for the world and tackling a taboo topic in what we hoped would be a fun way. We shared our ups and downs, the struggles and the silly ways we stayed sane while we lived on only a tiny portion of our take-home pay. We were never perfect and messed up plenty of times along the way- but that all went on the blog too. This is real-life after all!

Sallie & Perkins paid off right around $45,000 in 18 months. We made a goal and we stuck to it, even when it wasn't exactly fun. We could never even begin to describe the feeling we had when we clicked "submit" on that final payment just last week. The weight has been LIFTED from our shoulders. We don't owe anyone anything (yes- we do still have a mortgage but in following Dave Ramsey's baby steps, we'll be working on that in due time, don't worry!) and can finally experience what life is like with two incomes!

We shared our journey with student loans to motivate ourselves to stick with our plan, but also to motivate anyone else who feels like they are drowning in their own debt. Small changes over time can add up to huge savings, a better life and an even better future for you! Don't be scared to sit down in the new year and make a plan for your finances! We will never, ever regret paying down our student loans like we did- the only thing we regret is not starting even sooner!

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this silly, crazy journey. Now if you'll excuse us- we've got a dance party to attend... And maybe a Disney trip to plan?! ;)

Christmas Whirlwind

When you've been Christmas-ing for an entire week, you tend to lose track of what day you did what. Tell me I'm not alone on this one? Jared and I celebrated with various groups of family for a total of 5 celebrations this year so excuse us while we still attempt to recover from the madness. It was crazy and chaotic so this post might just end up being that way too. After sorting through these photos too, I'm thinking I need a new camera- mine just cannot handle low-light situations! =\ Anyway, onto the ever-so-easy Christmas photo-dump post!

First up was Christmas at our house with Jared's immediate family. The day included massive amounts of food, Christmas Bingo and lots of fun and creative gift-giving.
Christmas Eve I was lucky enough to get out of work a couple hours early so Jared and I were able to make it to our church service around 4. I've been to a lot of 'candles and carols' type of services in my 27 years, but I'm pretty confident our church rocks at it. One of my favorite services of the year! After church it was off to my Granny's for a fun evening with tons of extended family.

 After partying way too late, we hurried home to get some sleep before Santa came the next morning :) This year I got a little creative and gave Jared his gifts as the 12-days of Christmas; each gift was opened in sequential order and had something to do with that number. Jared spoiled me to death and got me a Garmin runner's watch which I am SO excited about. I think that makes me legit, right?! ;)

After we cleaned up it was off to my other Grandma's for a great afternoon. We draw names for gifts here and always have a blast exchanging them and seeing who got who. Of course my baby cousins stole the show for most of the day- they are so stinkin' cute!

 Last, but certainly not least, Jared and I got together with my parents before the Bengals game to celebrate one last time before we officially brought Christmas to a close.

It might have been a chaotic week, but I'm thankful I have so MANY people to celebrate and share this time of year with. Hope to see lots of photos from your celebrations this past week :)

Happy WHO-li-DEYs!

Hi, my name is Erin and if you weren't aware-- I'm addicted to football. What? The title of this blog hasn't given that away yet? Or the posts that seem to pop up almost every week about a celebration or a depression, brought on by this sport? Well just in case you're new around here...WHODEY!
My Bengals are IN THE PLAYOFFS! The huge Monday night win meant everything for our team. It clinched a spot in the playoffs. It shook off the "they can't win in primetime" curse. And better yet, it secured a post-season bonus check for yours truly. There really isn't any better Christmas present than that! :)
At this point every year I am just tuckered out. The hours catch up to me, the grumpy customers start to get to me and a lot of times I'm just ready for football to be done. Then we pack a stadium with a record-setting attendance and prove to the world why we're such a great team. And suddenly the 15-hour day I put in seems just a little bit shorter. And my alarm that will go off in 5 hours won't seem quite so annoying. And hopefully customers are just a little bit nicer tomorrow.

Working in sports isn't for the weak. It's a lot of work, for typically not a lot of money. You truly have to work, work WORK to succeed in this business and it's not always fun and games like it sometimes seems. There are SO many days that I feel like the bad outweighs the good, especially this late in the season. I have to sacrifice time away from my family, I don't get much time off (if any!) for the holidays and that can weigh a person down.

So will I work in sports forever? There's no telling. At one point I thought I'd work for the NFL forever and retire from the same place I got my start at. Now, I'm not so sure. Who knows what the future will bring? For now though... I'm going to embrace the chaos and celebrate that win. I'm a part of a playoff team, no matter how small my role might be. WHODEY.

Runners Tell All: Reflections and Goals

I haven't linked up with my runner friends in awhile, so I thought what better time than the end of the year? This year was a huge rollercoaster for me, as far as running goes. I started consistently training for an actual race early in 2014. I was a novice runner and signed up for my first ever half-marathon. Jared and I trained together most of the time, which helped a lot. He kept me motivated and pushed me when I needed pushed. I was seeing differences in my speed, as well as my mileage, and I was getting excited about accomplishing a huge feat I never thought I would.

Sadly my new found love for running wasn't easy on my body and I didn't take care of myself as I probably needed to. I rarely stretched or cooled down after a good run and one day, sure enough, I pushed a little too hard and hurt my hip pretty badly. I thought a week off would be plenty, but that first run I tried? Still excruciating pain. I took 3-4 weeks off, only walking here and there when I could, everything else was too painful. About three weeks before the race I started back into some super slow jogging and even that was tough. I knew the race would be a monster to accomplish.

But I did it! I recapped everything about that race here, but it was the hardest and most painful thing I've ever done. Crossing that finish line was something I will never forget. I will also never forget the pain I felt for weeks afterwards. I swore I'd never do another half-marathon, I swore it was a one time thing.
After I'd recovered from the race Jared and I got back into somewhat of a routine, lifting weights and running here and there, but running eventually got put on a back burner. And now here I am at the end of 2014 realizing how much I've missed it. I haven't made running a priority lately, but the few runs I have gotten in? They made me feel alive again! Cheesy, sure... but it's the truth.

So looking forward to 2015, I have high hopes for myself as a runner. Jared and I are signed up for two half-marathons in the Spring already, and may even add another one later in the year. I learned a lot this year about running, about my body and what I'm capable of, too. Going into 2015 I want to proudly take on the title of "runner" ... not just, a wanna-be who doesn't know what she's doing but sometimes moves her feet on the pavement ;)

'Twas the Weekend Before Christmas

'Twas the weekend before Christmas, when all through the house
Erin was running around like a mad woman, enough to scare a mouse.
A stocking was hiding in some forgotten box somewhere,
At least they didn't have kids expecting St Nick to be there.

Jared was nestled all snug in his bed,
While Erin made sugar-plums, fudge, and pumpkin bread.
Her outfit was a fright, gosh how she needed a nap,
But all she could think about was how to hide all this crap?!

When out on their tiny lawn there arose such a clatter,
Erin sat down her spatula and sat down her batter.
She marched to the front door, quick as a flash,
Knocked those silly bells off the door and then threw them in the trash.

The moon was bright that night but still no sign of snow,
If only the rain would freeze we'd be ready to go!
When, what did Erin's wondering eyes should appear,
But a delivery truck man with eyes like a deer.

Up to the house he walked, so rushed and so quick,
Erin knew in a moment it was from Amazon One-Click.
More rapid than eagles those packages they came,
The delivery man smiled and called out my name.

"Erin! Oh, how I sure hope that's your name!
You're my last stop of the evening,
so don't you dare play a game!"

He spoke not another word, but went straight to work,
Having me sign for the package, then turned with a jerk.
And waving his hand he quickly said goodbye with a wave,
And back to his truck, leaving behind a trail of aftershave.

Erin sprang inside to the house, so joyful she could shout,
For this was the last gift of the season, without a doubt!
She wrapped that package with haste and finally called it a night,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

Giving Back

Last week Jared and I ventured out after work one night to do a little Christmas shopping. Not just your regular 'ole shopping, but shopping for people we'd never met. Our church does one of those "giving tree" things around the holidays where they encourage people to take an ornament off the tree and help a family in need. Most of the families or individuals on the tree are in a tough spot in life and definitely don't have any extra money to spend on gifts. The gifts from others might be the only ones they get this year.

I don't talk about this to toot my own horn. In fact, I'm here to share quite the opposite. When Jared and I met up right after a long, pretty annoying, day at work I just wasn't in the Christmas spirit. I had been looking forward to shopping for this family, but once the time had come it was hard to feel excited about it. I was tired, I was hungry and after all- it's not like we have loads of extra money. We're trying to pay off our debt! We don't just have tons of extra cash, but here we are spending money on people we don't know.

What a horrible attitude right? Jared and I disagreed about what to get the family multiple times before he could tell something was up. I admitted that because of my bad day, my heart just wasn't in it that night and I felt like we were spending too much money at first. Jared, bless his soul, heard me out and spoke carefully but convincingly:

"You had a bad day, and that does stink. But you were getting paid for being there. And you had a car to get you home safely. And dinner waiting on us back at our house. And boots to keep your feet dry tonight."

My mind:  Crap. He's so right.

He continued, "It may seem like a lot of money right now, but think about this family actually opening these gifts. Think about how the very simple things they asked for will help them enjoy this season a little bit more."

It's true- they asked for socks, shampoo, aftershave, a new pan, some kitchen utensils. I was humbled as I realized that the things they want for Christmas are things I take for granted. Things I can easily pick up anytime I want or "need" them. It was the reality check I needed, for sure. I was able to finish up the shopping and wrap those gifts with a joyful heart that evening. I hope you'll use my bad attitude on that night to remember the families and friends that are less fortunate than you. I hope you'll give back in some way, no matter how big or how small this year. Tis the season!

Sallie & Perkins: A Holiday Greeting

Sometimes technology doesn't seem to work with us how we want. You see, Sallie & Perkins had worked long and hard to bring a holiday vlog to you all, seeing as how other than that one music video, we haven't done any "live" posts for our faithful readers and friends. Let's just say after one too many tangled up cords and "memory card full" error messages, we gave up. But don't fret- we've got something else for you instead ;) There's not a lot of news just yet from us so instead sit back, relax and enjoy the following. Just a quick holiday greeting to let you all know how things look in our world these days.

Fun-Filled Weekend? Check.

I don't know about you guys, but anytime I see a singer, a band, or just any musician in general who's really amazing at what they do... I get a tad bit jealous. I think back to the times I took piano lessons and hated them so eventually I quit. I think about how I played the flute for seven years in band, but eventually quit that too. At least I still have my flute- sitting up high on the top shelf of a spare bedroom closet- of course. Wow, what I would give to go back and really practice a craft like that. To be absolutely amazing at a musical instrument or have a phenomenal voice- Oh! I'd give anything!

But since I can't go back and perfect those talents now, I absolutely appreciate great musicians like the ones in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Jared and I got to see their all new show Friday night and it blew me away. I swear, they were thirty seconds into their first song and I leaned over to Jared and just said, "They. Are. So. Incredible." Their show goes on for two-and-a-half, almost three hours and it doesn't feel like it at all. I get so caught up in the music I barely realize time has passed at all! If you ever have an opportunity to see them, I highly recommend it. The ticket prices are absolutely worth it and they also donate a portion of all ticket sales to the military which is awesome.

But enough rambling... I'll let a few of these photos give you a sneak peek of what one of their concerts looks like. Music, lights, lasers, moving platforms and more. These photos hardly capture the entire evening, but it's the best I can do ;)
It was such a fun night out and even though we got home pretty late, I managed to get out of bed for a whole day of baking with Kayla and her family. She was sweet enough to include me with the other women in her family ;) Let's just say- I had some of the most delicious treats EVER that day and will definitely be sharing a recipe on Thursday with you all. Nothing says Christmas like putting on 10 pounds, right?!
And you all know I couldn't let this blog post go by without mentioning a big 'ole WHODEY!!?!?! Our guys needed to redeem ourselves this week and that 30-0 score did the trick. ;)

Hope you all did something festive or fun this weekend- tell me about it!