Let's Be Addicted Together

Some people never tell ANYONE they know in real-life that they blog. Which blows my mind. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't set up a blog and instantly blast it out to the world, or announce it on Facebook or anything like that. I blogged sporadically for awhile, trying to figure out what the heck Blogger even was. But as I blogged more and more, I started telling people about it. First just a couple close friends knew about it; they basically looked at it, said "that's weird" and we moved on. Then family started reading it, and friends of the family and now it's no secret to anyone that I have this blog now.

So since I'm out of the bloggy-closet and have been for QUITE some time now, I'm determined to get everyone I know blogging. I don't think a week goes by that I don't tell a friend or a cousin that they should start a blog. If anyone I know even so much HINTS that they're interested in blogging, I offer them my services and tell them I want to teach them everything. True life, I'm addicted to blogging and want everyone else to be as well ;)

I say all that to say that it makes me SO excited when a "real life" friend starts a blog. It's like a blogfriend/realfriend jackpot when that happens. Chelsea was one of my great friends in college and she's unfortunately probably got more dirt on me than any one person should have ;) Our college years were awesome and as life goes, we drifted apart after we both graduated. We kept up on Facebook, sure, but it was rare for us to chat and it had been a looong time since we'd really caught up. Basically? Blogging brought us back together and I couldn't be happier to share this sweet girl with the rest of the world!

So Chelsea, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you pick your blog name?
The name of my blog, A Little Bit of Heaven with a Wild Side, fits me perfectly. I am a stubborn, opinionated and strong-willed sinner saved by grace.

How about sports? You into those?
Sports are a BIG deal in my house! I love the Bengals, the Reds, Michigan football (I know, I know, I can hear the haters now) and Duke basketball. Seriously, JJ Redick will forever be my favorite person on Earth. Not many people share my love for Michigan Football and my Dukies, right Erin? (<--- For the record, I hate Duke. -Erin)
Favorite college memory with Erin, go.
Haha, oh man! I could name quite a few, but for the sake of our reputations I will say my favorite would have to be: Toga night at the basketball game, along with MANY other theme nights, OR belting out "Nobody's Supposed to be Here" at the top of our lungs in the apartment bathroom. Really, why didn't we get invited to the Grammy's?! 

Your a busy, working momma. What's your go-to weeknight meal?
I have two "go-to meals": Baked Penne (you can never go wrong with carbs and lots of cheese, right?) and this fantastic, super easy chicken, potato, and green beans dish that I found on Pinterest. It's very simple: put chicken breast, green beans, and red potatoes in an 9x13 dish and cover it with a little bit of butter and a package of Italian dressing mix. Ta-da!

Favorite blog post of yours that you'd like everyone to read?
This is a tough question, because many blog posts are very dear to my heart. However, if I had to choose, I would say this one right here. This post came straight from my heart and is one that I go back and read time and time again.

If you want to read more about Chelsea's adventures in life, teaching and as a momma- check out her blog here! And then immediately go make all your friends a blog and get them started ;)

The ABCs of Erin

Lots of fellow bloggers have done a post like this (including my SIL, Kayla) so I did what any awesome blogger does... I stole it. I tried to think of adjectives for each letter of the alphabet, which proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. But with new faces showing up around here all the time (Hi, by the way!) I figured this spin on an 'about me' post would be perfect. Enjoy... hopefully you'll learn something new about me today.

A. Type-A, all the way. I annoy myself sometimes with it!

B. Bengals-lover. Whodey, whodey!?!!
bengals engagement picture

C. Christian. God Rocks :)

D. Driven. I feel like when I want something I go after it. I know I'm in charge of my own successes or failures.
nelson mandela

E. E is for Erin... I think I went through a phase where I didn't like my name, but as an adult I really like it. Thanks, mom and dad ;) Good choice!

F. Football-Obsessed. This is not anything new, of course, but my life is slowly being consumed with it again. Yes, it's still July but training camp has started and things are in full-swing!

G. Girly. Yes, I love sports, but I also love the color pink, glitter, sappy chick flicks... Definitely no tomboy here.

H. Hugger. I just like them a lot, okay?!
This is me giving a REALLY good hug. FYI ;)

I. Imaginative. As an aspiring writer, I definitely don't always feel my imagination is awake, but I know it's in there, and when it's on, it's REALLY on. I also have some of the wildest dreams ever, which I credit to my imagination.

J. Jared. My absolute best friend in the entire world. I love him more every day, truly. So glad he puts up with me!
photobooth picture

K. Klutzy. I didn't use to feel this way, but over the past couple of years I feel more like a klutz all the time. I cannot tell you how often I stub my poor little baby toes. Ouch!

L. Learner. I love to read both fiction and non-fiction. I love watching documentaries, learning about new things and new places. I miss school and catch myself thinking about going back 'just for fun' sometimes!

M. Married for 3.167 years now... and it's pretty freakin' awesome.

N. Nerdy. Helllo, I have an alter-ego to explain this.
Nerd Sallie and Perkins

O. Organized. Nothing makes me happier than a decluttered, organized space.

P. Planner. Constantly... over everything. I'm SO not a go with the flow kinda' person... sorry!

Q. Quirky. I'm pretty weird...end of story.

R. Runner. I may not be the best, but at least I'm trying!
half marathon race

S. Singer. I sing all day long. In my car, in my office (quietly, of course) at the gym, at home, while I blog.... you can't shut me up!

T. Talkative. Hours can pass by with me and a friend and we barely take a minute to take a breath! I've come home hoarse from a girls night before because I've just talked nonstop. Yikes! I promise I listen, too!

U. Unique. But aren't we all? ;)

V. Vivacious- full of life!? I think so! 
swings at the park

W. Wanderlust. Traveling is always on my mind. I have so many wish-lists and must-see places... I hope I can get to them all in my lifetime.

X. Xavier U graduate! Woop, woop!

Y. Years of age -- 27... and honestly? I've never felt better! I used to freak out over my age but I think I'm over that now. Gotta' embrace every age.
This is me embracing my most recent birthday :)

Z. Zany. Which is basically the cousin to Q = Quirky, but hey... I'm running out of adjectives and options here ;)

Cross It Off The List! {Hair Donation}

If you missed my Instagram from over the weekend, you missed the big news that I'd crossed something off the 'ole 30 before 30 list. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I chopped off my hair to donate to Locks of Love. It's something I've thought of doing for years, but most of the time I was never able to grow my hair out long enough to actually donate! This time, I had right around 12 inches of hair to send off!
before and after hair

It's crazy how we are about our hair sometimes, isn't it? I wasn't nervous until I sat in the chair and all of a sudden realized I was about to do something "drastic" to my hair. But really, should cutting our hair ever be considered drastic? It's just hair- it grows back!  I took a deep breath, remembered how awesome it was that I could do something to help these kids, and gave my hair dresser the go ahead and we were off! My adorable sister-in-law came with me in case moral support was needed and she snapped all these shots.

donating hair at salon

donating to locks of love

I honestly haven't had my hair this short in YEARS; I really can't remember the last time... probably early college years, so it's a big change. I'm still getting used to it, I think. My head and neck feel naked and I think after a few days I'll like it even more. For now though, I'm already loving the reduced amount of shampoo I need and the hair drying time that instantly got cut in half! I'm off the post office first thing this morning to put my hair in the mail and it makes me so happy to know it's going to a good cause.
hair cut and donation

Have any of you ever donated hair or done something drastic??

Seriously Fabulous Favorites

I'm so glad I discovered Amanda and her Friday Favorites link up. It just really ends your work week on a happy note, thinking about all the things you loved about the week! Even if you feel like you've had a crummy few days, I bet you can think of some good things to post about link-up :) Join us!

Favorite Moment: Even though I can't be there, my niece's adoption is being 110% finalized in court today. It's the final signing of papers and she gets to finally have the same last name as my sister and brother-in-law. I could cry just thinking about it! Our family is so happy!

Favorite Meal: Duh, my amazing Mexican casserole I whipped up. If it's not on your menu sometime soon you're missing out, I'm serious. I'll probably be making it weekly now.

Favorite Workout: I got 2 really great runs in this week in addition to hitting the weights. I pushed myself and it felt great. Jared and I have been trying to decide what race we want to sign up for next. We're looking at some 5 or 10k's this fall. And to all you hard-core runners... yes, I'm CONSIDERING another half-marathon. We'll see ;)

Favorite Funny: Marcie sent me this and said it made her think of me. One- she's amazing and I'm glad tacos make her think of me. And two- I wish the child that wrote this was mine!
funny kids

Favorite Blog Design: I just re-did my sister-in-law's blog and I'm like... in love with it! Seriously.

Favorite Work-Related Thing: I had a really good meeting with my boss this week as well as a meeting with some important people from corporate; it made me feel reenergized about my role there and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time.

Favorite Sports Thing: Duh- training camp has officially kicked off and that means 'training camp casual' is our dress code for a few weeks which I will gladly take. Polos and khaki shorts? Yes, please. ****PS! Hoping to do a one-time Football Friday link-up soon, any interest?? :)
cincinnati bengals camp

Favorite Weekend Plan: Checking something off my 30 before 30 list... but you'll have to wait to find out what! ;)

Favorite Person: Duh! This guy :) We've had a really busy week with some late nights so I'm looking forward to extra time with him tomorrow and Sunday! Rumor has it he's cooking up some steaks for us. I'm hungry already!

A (Healthier) Mexican Casserole

I've talked about Mexican food hundreds of times on this blog. In fact, I may have recently set a record for days in a row I consumed it. No shame in that, right? But it's also no secret that most mexican dishes aren't exactly healthy so I've been experimenting and working on a good at-home dish that combines all the delicious flavors without being TOO bad for you and I think I've come up with a winner. This may be one of my prouder moments.
mexican casserole

You'll start by making 6 cups of cauliflower rice (1 head of cauliflower should do it!)
cauliflower rice
Let me just say that cauliflower rice is AMAZING and totally fools us into feeling like we're eating carbs. But goodness gracious, it's SO messy. I make mine in the food processor which is definitely the easiest way, but you still have to chop it a little to make the pieces small enough for the device. I swear, I'd made two clean cuts with my knife and there was cauli-crumbs everywhere already! Where's the dog when you need him??
cauliflower rice
It's totally worth it to make it- I'm just warning you that you're going to make a mess in the meantime. Anyway- put your cauliflower through the food processor; I used the 'shred' side of the blade. Then put it in a microwave safe dish, add a tablespoon of water, cover and microwave for about 6 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, get that dish out of the microwave and uncover. Letting it sit too long can make it mushy. NOT the consistency you want!

The other goodness you'll need:
2 lb ground turkey
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can diced tomatoes & green chilies
1 c. taco sauce (I found out Taco Bell's sauce is available in stores. I bought and used the mild sauce- so.good.)
1 c. cheese (I used a 3-cheese blend)
Garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder or even just 1 taco seasoning packet.
(You can't really mess up with the seasonings- just add to taste!)
ground turkey stovetop

Brown the turkey until done, then drain the liquid. Add turkey to a large mixing bowl and add your cauli-rice, and everything else except the cheese. Mix well, season it as you please :) 
mixing ingredients

mixing mexican ingredients
Then put everything in a baking dish, spread it evenly and sprinkle with cheese. I tried not to go overboard with it since I want to limit my dairy, but you can use as much as your little heart desires. Bake just 20 minutes at 350 degrees and VOILA! You've got yourself a lighter version of all those delicious Mexican flavors!
mexican casserole

Anyone else have any great mexican dishes they've successfully lightened up?? 
Because you know I'd LOVE to have the recipe! :)
healthy mexican casserole

Sallie & Perkins: A Challenge

Hi friends, it's us again! We've been busy little debt-slashers this summer and so our posts have been a bit more spaced out. But we've missing talking to you all and hope to have more fun and frugality packed into this blog going forward. Throughout the past year of posting all about our journey to be debt-free, I've talked to SO many of you about your own situations. Everyone's financial situation is different of course, but there seems to be an underlying theme I hear from so many of you.

"We've got too much debt… we don't even know where to start!"


"There is zero room in our budget to make extra payments!"

or even

"Isn't there going to be a government loan forgiveness thing?!" 
(For the record- very few people will even qualify for this, read your facts friends!)

And to those things? I call Bullcrap. Now don't get me wrong… when we sat down to create a plan for our debt, and that huge number of almost $50k was staring back at us? We felt helpless and weren't sure that where we were starting even made sense. But we did it. We sucked it up, made the budget and worked to stick to it each and every month. And look where we are now! Well on our way to being debt free and our debt feels like NOTHING compared to what it was 12 months ago. So we're here to encourage you today because we KNOW you can do this!

Like I've said in the past, just because we've made it a goal to pay off thousands every month, doesn't mean everyone wants to, or has the ability to that. And that's okay! We live in a small house with an affordable mortgage, we don't have kids or medical bills, both of our old cars are paid off and we both have full-time jobs. Our plan fits us and our stage of life. Don't let what we do (or anyone else does!) affect your attitude towards your own debt. Comparison is a nasty thing and can happen with finances and debt, too. Maybe your plan this month can be just to pay an extra $100 on your smallest loan. You can find $100, I know it! Just look at those past 2 Target receipts.

So Sallie and Perkins are challenging you. Start thinking about your spending and try to pick one thing to cut back on, or completely eliminate this month. Make it your goal to put that money toward your smallest debt and get that snowball rolling. Cut back on the expensive coffee and make yours from home. Stop shopping online just because it's "on sale" or you have a coupon and keep that money in your bank account. If you've got kids, don't buy them any non-necessities this month no matter how "cute" it might be. They've got enough stuff, I promise.

Sallie and Perkins would LOVE to talk with some other budget-minded people and hear about what you're doing to give you or your family a sense of financial peace. If you ever post about debt-elimination, setting a budget- anything S&P would be giddy about, send it our way! We'd love to feature you in our series or just have someone to keep us motivated, as well. The more the merrier, we say!
Paying off debt makes us HAPPY!

Remember.. you're the only one stopping yourself!!

Still Head-Over-Heels

This weekend was an Erin and Jared kinda' weekend. We went to dinner and a movie Friday night and liked it so much we did it again on Saturday night! What?! One night was Chipotle (with a gift card) + the cheap dollar theater so don't worry, Sallie & Perkins approved of us treating ourselves to TWO date nights in one weekend. Life's been entirely too busy so it was nice to carve out the quality time for US and actually go do things together.

We were too busy having fun all weekend to take any photos, and I kinda' enjoyed it that way :) Sunday after church we definitely had more of a lazy-around kinda' day and I spent a ridiculous amount of time working on photobooks. I'm trying to organize/sort/delete photos from the computer as I go, to make things easier to find in the future so it's quite the project. It's easy to get sucked into the archives and waste a few hours at a time on it!
fall photoshoot

As I was sorting, I came across some pictures of Jared and I about a month after we'd gotten engaged.  It was early October, 2010. We'd set up a tripod in the yard and just had some fun taking pictures with all the freshly turned leaves and with our exploding happiness from the engagement. I look at these pictures and love that you can just see those cheesy grins of ours and see the happiness jumping out of the pictures. They make me smile to look back at them, remembering such a fun time in our lives- we had just started our wedding planning, we were thinking about honeymoon destinations and trying to decide where we wanted to live. 
fall photoshoot
fall photoshoot
fall photoshoot

But more than that? They make me smile because I feel just as head-over-heels for that man as I did four years ago. Actually more, because our relationship grows month after month in ways I can't even explain. I don't always get mushy on this blog, but I'm just feeling extra thankful for our marriage lately. My life is complete because of this guy :) God has truly blessed our marriage and I know he'll continue to do that if we keep Him first.

Alright, alright. Enough of all this serious stuff. Let's wrap things up in true LFF fashion. A fun picture, of course. Because no photoshoot would be complete without a classic Erin/Jared picture. Have a great Monday!
fun couple photoshoot

The Week That Got Away

I'm going to keep things short and sweet today because I'm just too darn tired to do anything else. There, I said it! This week got away from me a little bit. It's funny how weeks will go by where I do nothing but go to work and come home every day… and then all of a sudden a week like this happens and I barely have time to catch my breath!

Work is really picking up and this may come as a shock to some of you-- but football season has basically started! Well, it officially will next week when we kick off training camp. So the office is a busy, busy place right now. It does make the days go a lot faster though, so I'm definitely not complaining. Just excuse my glazed-over eyes.

Besides being busy at work I squeezed in the Cincinnati blate, two of Jared's softball games and a fun night with my girl Lacey last night. It's made for some late nights, but they've all been worth it. I've been feeling some very real loneliness lately, but I definitely made up for lost time and crammed in all the girl-time possible in the past few days. I needed it in the worst way.

And now? I need some time with my husband in the worst way. As we were getting ready for bed earlier this week, we couldn't remember the last time we did a classic "dinner and a movie" date. That seems to be the opposite of other people… the ones who say that's all they EVER do. I think the last dinner/movie we did was Thanksgiving weekend when we saw Catching Fire in theaters. So tonight, if you need me, I'll have one hand laced with Jared's, and the other hand in the popcorn. Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Cincinnati Blate {Round 2}

It amazes me how many bloggers there are in the area! Cincinnati is clearly the blogging capital of the world ;) Last fall we had a fun get together with about 12 or so of us and we knew it was time for another giant blate. And since everyone loves Mexican food, we wound up at the same place as our last get-together! Oh, and I'll apologize now for the quality of most of these photos. Apparently lighting is not good at Mexican restaurants!
Becca  //  Ashley  //  Heather
Brittany  //  Meredith  //  Jessica
Kayla  //  Me!  //   Jax
Katie  //  Whitney  // Allison
This time there were 18 of us! Yes, 18 bloggers all in one place. I felt a little sorry for the other people in the restaurant… but only a little ;) It was great catching up with gals I'd met a few times, meeting girls I'd read along with but never met in person AND discovering some brand new bloggers and getting to know them.
Allison  // Brittany  // Emma  //  Jessica  //  Heather //  Me
Thanks Sarah, for the group shot!
It's amazing the friendships that have come from blogging. I know, I know- I've said that a zillion times, but it's true. I got to finally meet Whitney in person and she was just as sweet and genuine as I knew she would be. It was the first time we hugged, but I felt like we'd "known" each other forever. Plus, Allison and I have become good friends over the past year and a half and I'm so thankful for her friendship. She let me rub her adorable preggo belly last night- THAT is what kindof level of friendship we're on.
Love these ladies so much!!

I'm Bloggin' Like it's Hot

If you spotted me out and about this weekend I was likely rocking my new favorite tanktop. Whitney from I Wore Yoga Pants is the mastermind behind this neon-pink shirt and I couldn't love it more. It's so comfy that I'm pretty sure I wore it for the entire weekend. NO exaggeration. Jared snapped the picture in the kitchen Sunday night because, and I quote, "You couldn't look more like a blogger if you tried." I'll take that as a compliment :)
iwyp blogger shirt
The color of the shirt on the LEFT is accurate :) Bright and fun! Sorry, indoor lighting on the right.

So get on over to her blog and get your order in ASAP. This shirt is only available through July 22nd so don't waste any time! They are $25 and Whitney hand packages them in the CUTEST way, with a free koozie as well ;) If you need more details and the fine print, visit her blog and then use the order form here.

Other than obsessing over a new shirt, my momma and I got some quality time together over the weekend. The Princess Diana exhibit is currently in Cincinnati and we've had it on our to-do list for quite some time. 
cincinnati union terminal
princess diana quote
I was bummed that pictures were not allowed AT ALL, but trust me, the exhibit was 100% worth seeing. I learned so much about her entire life and getting to see her wedding dress (among dozens of her other outfits!) up close was one of the coolest things ever. Cincinnati is the final stop of the tour and I'm so glad we were able to go. Local gals- it's here until August 17th and I highly recommend you go if you get the chance.
Picture ℅ People.com
Other highlights of the weekend? I made my BEST meatloaf ever; I had the BEST workout I've had in while; I made dinner plans with my BEST friend for this coming week; I received some of the BEST customer service ever; And today? I'm trying to be the BEST I can be! What about you? :)

Linking up with Rachael today!