There's a Koala in my Post.

We made it to Friday, friend! The Friday of a long-weekend, at that! I feel like Labor Day weekend completely snuck up on me this year somehow. Must be that whole 'time is going entirely too fast' feeling that we all constantly have, right? Regardless of how it got here, I'm looking forward to a long weekend with some gym time, relaxing, fantasy football drafting (Sign up here, it's not too late!) and that's about it! Bring it on weekend :) Linking up with Amanda today.

Favorite Moment:  Last night's preseason game being OVER! It was game 4 and that means the REAL games can get underway now. As an employee, there is just sooooo much work that goes into these early games that don't even count... it's exhausting! But I survived :) And now all the hard work will actually mean something. Let's go Bengals!!

Favorite New Snack: Just discovered these bad boys at Costco. Oh, yeah.... Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Snappers. Basically everything that is right in the world is in this snack ;) I'm not always a huge sweets person, but the perfect mix of sweet AND salty?! Oooooh I'm in trouble! These are seriously delicious and were a huge hit for our first football-watching party!

Favorite Recipe: I love a good quinoa dish and finally made this delicious Buffalo Chicken Quinoa my SIL and some friends have been raving over. Yes, you need to add it to your weekly menu. Yum!

Favorite Funny: I love both of these entirely too much!

Favorite Workout: Pretty much every Friday is my favorite day to workout. It's funny because I'll leave work feeling soooo drained but by the time I get to the gym I'm psyched to be there. I think all my frustrations from the week have built up and I end up having the best workout of the week. Tonight, we're killing our arms and I.CANT.WAIT.

Hope your week was full of a zillion favorites! Enjoy your Friday and your long weekend! 

Dinner with Straight from the Grill Flavor!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewFromHormel #CollectiveBias

I'm sure I sound like a broken record many times during the fall months, but when your life is a continuous stream of late nights, weekends and football games things start to run together so much that I can't always form an original thought on this blog. You understand right? Not only is it tough to form an original thought, but it's this time of year that I struggle the most to have delicious dinner options for Jared and I that also have high quality ingredients
ready-to-go proteins #shop

Hormel's new Everyday Scratch and Hot Sandwich Meats have been a huge time-saver, if you ask me. It's nice to have a versatile protein that I know has ZERO preservatives in it. I can't tell you how many late nights I've run into Kroger, just scrounging for something to whip up for dinner and have ended up purchasing something totally unhealthy just because it was more convenient. Now my local Kroger is carrying these bad boys and I am thrilled! You can find them in the refrigerated entrees section, fyi... so you don't go wandering around aimlessly near the pizzas like I typically do.
High quality ingredients #shop
Straight from the grill flavor  #shop
Low-carb dinners are pretty much what Jared and I strive to serve each night. When I plan ahead and we use our crockpot, this typically isn't a problem. But it happens without fail that there are nights we just didn't plan for and it's all too easy to grab something unhealthy in the drive through. Hormel's ready-to-go proteins have made this much easier. I'm loving their Rotisserie chicken that is vacuum sealed and takes just three minutes in the microwave. Throw in a side of veggies and you've got a complete meal!
Straight from the grill flavor

Jared particularly loves the Philly Steak hot sandwich meat that is #NewFromHormel. Again, just a few minutes in the microwave! I'm sure it would be delicious on a bun (for all you carb lovers!) but it's just as delicious and filling on a bed of lettuce and topped with cheese!
made from scratch cooking

If you want to try these tasty new products yourself use this coupon for Hormel's Everyday Scratch to save $1 off any variety or $1 off their Hot Sandwich Meat

A Little Life Update

I totally skipped out on a Monday post... which felt weird and good at the same time. Life is charging ahead faster than ever, that's the plain and simple truth. Football season always brings about more hours and obligations and unfortunately I already feel myself falling behind on life. So what does that mean? It means my blog posts may get a little less frequent, but don't give up on me or get offended if I take a bit longer to get back to emails and tweets. I'll be here when I can, but my career is just more important right now. I know many of you can relate!
Football Season 2010! Throwback! :)

In the spirit of keeping things simple around here I figured a life update in list(ish) form was easiest and best for us all. Here goes nothing:

- Jared and I had our first ever yardsale over the weekend! We were ridiculously last minute throwing it together but it ended up being a big success. We priced EVERYTHING Thursday evening and got about 4 hours of sleep before we woke up to haul everything outside, put our signs up and get to work. We got rid of a good amount of junk and will be donating the rest this week. Sallie & Perkins were happy to hear about the extra cash we pocketed, too.

- I am obsessed with my niece. Okay, this isn't news... but Skyping with her just gets more and more fun as she gets older! She is starting to recognize us (I think!) and has fun waving to us, playing peekaboo, showing us books and anything else cute you can think of. I love that little girl so much! Being an Aunt is honestly THE coolest thing ever!

- The gym is seriously getting addicting. I have waited for this feeling to hit me for SO long and it finally has. I am loving the regular routine Jared and I have gotten into and the fact that I can tell I'm getting stronger. The feeling of adding weights to a machine and being able to rep it out? I feel like super woman!!!

- One of my cousins just found out she's having twins and I'm entirely too excited for her! TWINS! Can you imagine? I think I would be all about that 2-for-1 deal! ;)

- I have been a cooking machine lately. Between the freezer meals I've stocked us with and trying some new recipes here and there Jared and I have been eating pretty darn well! My goal is going to be to freezer cook once a month to give us those 10-12 meals to have on hand for our busiest nights. It makes life easier and I'm all about easy.

- I haven't gotten my camera out much ately, but I have been working on my Shutterfly photobooks still. I'm slowly organizing my digital photos along the way and it feels nice to be cleaning up my computer while I make something cute, too! I randomly came across these pics Kayla DropBoxed me from their wedding (yes- over a year ago) and I kinda' love them. Even though someone was creeping on Jared and I ;) These are the moments that matter in life!

That's all folks! Hope that was enough of a life update. Thank you all for always reading and commenting 
and supporting :) You're the BEST.

Football Friday {Come Link Up!}

Football season is here, people. Whether you're a diehard college football fan, a faithful NFL tailgater every single Sunday (...and Monday ...and Thursday) or just a casual fan who's in it for the social aspect... I think we can all agree this is the absolute best time of the year. Link-up with me and all the other football-lovin' gals and be sure to hop around and meet from new friends or talk some trash. Whichever you prefer ;)

Orange and black, it's what I bleed,
No other colors will I need.
The Bengals are my team through and through,
If you aren't a fan, well psh- forget you!

Just a little original poem by yours truly to kick things off. It's not like I need to announce who my favorite team is. I'm pretty sure it's evident in 9/10 of my blog posts. I'm a Cincinnati Bengals girl for all of eternity and I've got a wardrobe of black and orange to prove it. I just naturally gravitate toward anything orange. I'm serious.

Just in the past couple of years I've become interested in college football. I know, I know... what's wrong with me?? Who doesn't love college sports?? I've just always been an NFL girl, but since I now have a client who passes some Ohio State tickets my way each year, I've come to appreciate college ball a LOT more. Go Buckeyes! 

Since I'm always working and don't get to enjoy the home games much, I bask in the weeks of away games. I LOVE hosting our friends on a Bengals away week and making all kinds of delicious appetizers for everyone to inhale enjoy during the game. Some of my favorite game-day food items can be found on my Snacks & Apps board on Pinterest. The below is my all-time favorite though. Easy and addicting, so I recommend tripling this recipe for a crowd!

Jared and I also have made it to a couple away games in the past few years, and we're hoping to add a new NFL stadium to our list this year when we make a weekend trip to see our guys play the Colts. One day I hope to see EVERY NFL stadium. And potentially the University of Phoenix stadium on February 1st next year... just saying ;)

And I still love the fact that Jared and I got engaged on a football field. I still love looking back at the pictures, remembering how COMPLETELY caught off guard I was. I mean, for goodness sake, I didn't wash my hair that morning! But I love that "our story" is so tied into football. It's seriously so much of how Jared and I got together, our dating years, our engagement and continues to be a huge part of our lives now. It may just be a sport to some, but to us.. it's a way of life :)

Do Something Big Today

I legitimately thought about not posting today because my shoulders and arms are that sore. Like, it feels like it's taking a ridiculous amount of effort to keep my fingers on the keyboard and hammer this out. No, I was not in a car accident and no Jared doesn't beat me. (Except at cards, anyway) But I have been working out pretty hard over the past couple of weeks. Jared is an awesome trainer, seriously. He probably hates working out with me because I complain a lot, but I'm always so geared up once we're done. I feel stronger than ever and I'm loving it!

While I'm feeling stronger physically, I've felt pretty worn down emotionally and mentally lately. Maybe it's the extra hours at work, maybe it's the constant thoughts of our debt and how close we're getting to the end. Whatever it is, I've just felt an overwhelming sense of stress lately and I can't put my finger on the why. It's times like these all I can really do is spill my guts to Jared and I'm always so thankful for his input. He just seems to know exactly how to encourage me... whether it's making a list of pro's and con's of a situation, or sometimes it's just having a pack of peanut butter M&M's waiting on me when I get home from a rough day.

Jared is my #1 fan and I can't imagine going through the up's and down's of life without him. He encourages me daily, but also challenges me daily too. He knows what I want out of life and he pushes me to get there. He convinces me to do things that are risky, when he knows I'll be better off because I tried. I needed a big reality check this week and bless Jared for giving it to me. So no more sitting around letting time waste away. Go out and do something big TODAY. I love this quote and reminder from Coach Lou Holtz and it's one I want to live by!

PS- No, I am not a Notre Dame fan. And don't forget Football Friday is THIS Friday, 8/22!!! Come link up :)

Football Friday

I Wanna' See it All...

The past few years Jared and I have gotten to see quite a few new places. We've done a fair share of traveling within the U.S. and also have been to Mexico and the Dominican Republic which were both incredible. My vacation window is pretty small because of work, so I'm always looking pretty far ahead on the calendar and thinking about where and when we can get somewhere next. Just having that next getaway booked makes me so excited. I love having something to look forward to, especially something as fun as visiting a new place with my man.

The only "problem" now is that Jared and I can't seem to narrow down where we'd like to visit in 2015! There is so much that sounds fun and exciting and we just really wanna' see it all. A few of our top candidates right now are:

Grand Canyon/West trip:
I went out West once as kid and loved it, but neither Jared or I have either one seen the Grand Canyon. We'd love to plan a trip out West that let us see the Grand Canyon and possibly another national park. I've also had my eye on Lake Tahoe ever since a few blogs I read have traveled there-- I've fallen in love with their photos!

The Bahamas:
I just can't help it, I love a good beach vacation and will never get sick of gorgeous waters, soft sand and lots of sunshine. What's not to love?! My parents got to swim with dolphins here a couple years ago and I've been jealous ever since ;)

And then to completely go opposite from the beaches... an Alaskan cruise is something that has always interested me. I can't even imagine how awesome it would be to see views like this out your window!!

And then again... there's always Italy ;) #dreamvacation

We also hope to get some weekend trips in next year that only require a few hours of driving. Chicago has been on our list forever and I'm trying to convince Jared to take me for my birthday next year ;) So where should we go? Have you been to any of these places or have recommendations? It's so hard to narrow down the choices when everything sounds fun and exciting, but there's only so much vacation time (and moolah!) to use.

Friday Favorites + Link Up Announcement!

Happy Friday! :) Although this begins the period of "But it's not a Friday for me because I work weekends not too" I'm still happy to have a weekend ahead of us. Linking up with Amanda for a quick recap of my faves this week!

Favorite Recipe: Shelby's poppy-seed chicken. It's getting added to my next day of freezer cooking, that is for sure. It sounds like the perfect comfort food for fall ;)

Favorite Funny: Jared and I made an evening trip out to WalMart this week and as always, the people watching was phenomenal. I only wish we'd run into this gal! O.M.G.

And you know me... I always want a bargain! ;)

Favorite Workout: Jared and I have finally settled into a routine at the gym and I love it. A couple days a week we're dedicating to lifting weights, a couple times it's strictly cardio and I'm still attempting that 30 day challenge as well. I feel like I've turned a corner with working out. I've went through ups and downs for way too long, but now I'm pushing just a little bit each day. Inch by inch I'm getting better, getting stronger and making less mistakes. I'm actually starting to look forward to going to the gym after work. That's not something I thought I'd ever experience!
Sweaty selfies & pictures of my first 1/2 marathon -- whatever motivation it takes!

Favorite NEWS: Football Friday is baaaaack! :)

Get your jerseys on. Get your face paint out. Crack open your beverage of choice. It's FOOTBALL SEASON!!! I love, love LOVE how many football-lovin' gals I've met in the blogworld. Regardless of who you're cheering for, it's fun to get pumped about the upcoming season, swap tailgate recipes or even talk a little trash when needed ;) So what better way to round up all the super-fans out there than a Football link-up?

Football Friday will be August 22nd! You can link up ANYTHING football related but here are some ideas to get you started. Write a whole post on one them, all of them, post your favorite football-fashion, do whatever you want! Just link up anything football related and you're in.

Tell us what colors you'll be bleeding this fall. What team are you rooting for?

Who's your biggest rival? What team would you never be caught dead rooting for?

Show us your favorite team gear! Is it a cute, sparkly top from Victoria's Secret? Or a throwback jersey you can't part with?

How do you watch your games? Are you there in the flesh week after week? Or are you the one hosting a big get together in front of the biggest TV you can find?

If you've got tailgating food or party food... you better be sharing those recipes. I mean it.

How's football a bigger part of your life? A good football story? Favorite moment in time? Maybe you got engaged on a football field? :) Like I said, anything goes! Football season starts now :)

Pin to Present {Freezer Meals}

My friend and fellow Cincinnati girl Anne is starting a link-up today and I have been looking forward to it for some time now! It's called 'Pin to Present' and you can link-up anything at all that you found on Pinterest and did yourself! Food, crafts, outfits-- anything goes!

One of my August goals was to make a batch of freezer meals and over the weekend I did just that. I know many people make and prepare 20 or even 30 meals at a time but I'm still newer to the freezer cooking process so I kept it simple and made 5 LARGE batches of recipes. Each bag will give Jared and I at least one dinner + leftovers for our lunches the next day. So technically, I prepared about 10 meals in exactly one hour! I also made a breakfast frittata/quiche/whatever you want to call it in the crockpot that has been supplying us with breakfast each day!

A struggle with freezer cooking is finding healthy stuff to make ahead of time and freeze, so I had to do a lot of digging to find recipes that weren't HORRIBLE for us. No, not every recipe I made is "clean" and perfectly healthy, but I did my best to avoid the casseroles that are just completely carb-loaded and a cheesy overload. While I'm sure those would taste delicious, those are things Jared and I try to limit in our meals.

freezer meal prep

Here's what works best for me. Label all your freezer bags FIRST. (They are slightly more difficult to write on once they're stuffed with food... not that I would know or anything...) Make sure you put the date, what's in the bag and any cooking instructions. Most of mine are crockpot ready, but a few of them need ingredients added the day of.
freezer bag labels

I like to add the meat to each bag first and get all that disgusting, slimy stuff out of the way as soon as possible. Raw meat is so disgusting!

Then chop chop chop ALL your veggies at once. I think this is the easiest method because then everything is ready to get added into the bags all at once instead of chopping, adding, chopping, adding, etc.

Then add seasonings and sauces last. Get all the air out of the bags to the best of your ability. Triple check that you sealed the bag tight, lay it flat and pop it in the freezer. Bam!
beef stew freezer meal
chicken cacciatore freezer meal

I also made these chicken breasts so the day-of they'll be ready to just pop in the over after thawing overnight in the fridge. Just dip each chicken breast in some olive oil, then coat it with a mixture of parmesan cheese, garlic and an Italian seasoning packet. Wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap and you can store them all in one freezer bag.

And probably mine and Jared's FAVORITE new breakfast? It's made ahead of time in the crockpot and we are recently obsessed. Sausage, spinach, eggs, red onion, bell peppers and just a little bit of sea salt and pepper! Cook 3ish hours in your crockpot, let it cool, cut it into individual slices, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Check out this easy, delicious recipe here. We will definitely be making these regularly from now on!
breakfast frittata crockpot

crockpot breakfast frittata

And now? My freezer looks like this! Stocked with:
-- Cilantro Lime Chicken (Similar, but I left out black beans)
-- Chicken Cacciatore (You can serve it over noodles, rice or our favorite - cauliflower rice :))
-- Beef Stew
-- Garlic Parmesan Chicken (Link takes you to the cookbook!)
-- Ranch Porkchops
and those tasty breakfast frittatas, too!

And I love it! I definitely plan to keep up with the freezer cooking. Spending an extra couple hours in the kitchen on a Saturday in order to have easy meals? Heck yes! I'd love to hear any favorite freezer meals you've made.

Sallie & Perkins: And then there was one...

July rocked. And it sucked. It's such a bittersweet feeling as we pay down our debt. Sending huge payments week after week to knock out our student loans really does get old! Becoming debt-free has been our ultimate goal now for roughly 14 months and we're so proud of ourselves most days. But then there are the days we stress and whine and complain to each other about how we want to go do more fun stuff and just spend money. We are truly living on LESS than one of our incomes, which is so incredible when we think about it, but it's also boring a lot of the time!

But we hung on, despite some meltdowns, despite some tears (Ahem...Sallie) and we made July the best we absolutely could and focused on our debt. And what do you know!? There were good results in the end.

We paid off $2,509.23 in July 2014!

Definitely one of our best months in awhile!! The goal was to have our second to last loan -the one and only Sallie Mae- completely paid off by the end of July. Sadly, we missed it by just a tad, but made the final payment on that loan on August 7th. Friends.... Are you hearing what I'm saying?!


We never thought we'd see this day. We have a tough few months ahead of us, as this last loan is a beast, but just knowing that every extra dime we've got can go to ONE loan now? It's surreal. This time last year we were still working on multiple large loans and knew it would be a long journey ahead of us. Now there is just the lone survivor and we won't be keeping him around too much longer.

And because sometimes Sallie & Perkins just need to have a little (cheap) fun instead of typing paragraphs and paragraphs about debt- we've got a little treat for you all today. Enter the original music video to celebrate our "One Less Problem" :)

It's Your Choice

As much as I love blogging, sometimes it's tough to log-in to Blogger on a Monday morning. Or check my Twitter feed for that matter. Everything seems SO negative and it can be really draining to read that at the start of a week. We all have our bad days, our down days, me included! And everyone is definitely entitled to vent from time to time when needed. But sometimes I feel like I just can't handle the negativity from the general population on a Monday morning. Why does everyone have to say today will suck? Why does everyone instantly want it to be the weekend? Why do people feel the need to be extra grumpy and rude to each other today? It has to stop! Our attitude is something we choose every day. Any day of the week can be a great day if you choose to make it one. 

I'm out there chasing my dreams every darn day... and not every day is easy! Trust me. It's a constant struggle to stay positive when things don't seem to be going my way. But I've found that the negativity can suck the motivation right out of you if you let it have that affect on you. Choose to have a good attitude today, it will make all the difference in your day-to-day life. I promise! So go have a HAPPY Monday :)
uplifting quote

Liebster Award

Two lovely ladies nominated me for the Libester Award this past week so I figured I should probably work on answering the questions Kat and Jamie had for me :)

Kat asked me:
1. If you could only eat one food for a whole week, what would it be?
Chicken tacos from my favorite local Mexican place- hands down! 

2. What is your biggest fear?
Umm... probably flying. I'm really, REALLY not a fan of it. Ask anyone who's ever traveled with me.

3. If a movie was made about your life, what actress would portray you?
How about Zooey Deschanel? I love her and we've both got the dark brown hair, giant blue eyes thing going for us.

4. How do you spend your ideal Saturday?
I love the Saturday's where we have nothing to do for most of the day and I can get up early and be productive around the house-- cleaning, cooking, blogging, whatever it may be. Then Jared and I can hit the gym, shower & go out to eat at a fun restaurant. The night generally ends with a fun Redbox rental and some popcorn. And yes, I realize this sounds like the day of a 72 year old.

5. What is your favorite movie of all time?
So difficult to pick because I love SO many different genres of movies. I'm not kidding, I just googled Jared to ask HIM what MY favorite movie was.
6. What is the most important thing you've learned since starting your blog?
Don't be fake- people will see right through that.

7. What is one item you're dying to have in your closet right now?
A cute, new dress that can go from work to date-night-out.

8. You are given a $100 gift card to Target. What do you buy?
The penny-pincher in me wants to instantly say groceries, but let's pretend it's not a Super Target and that's not an option. Hmm, then I'd probably buy some new home decor; I feel like we havn't updated anything in our house in years because we've been saving money but I've been drooling over new throw pillows.

9. Where is one place you haven't been that you'd love to visit on a vacation?

10. If you could only be active on one social media account (blog not included), which one would you choose?
Instagram for sure. Twitter and Facebook both annoy me regularly- Instagram is usually full of lots of pretty pictures and entertaining things!

11. Cats or dogs?
Well I'm allergic to both :( But I love, love LOVE dogs!

And Jamie's questions for me were:
1. What is your favorite season and why?
It's a tie, I'm sorry. I love Spring because of my birthday and Easter - but fall means football. So they both win :)

2. What inspires you the most in your daily life?
My pastor at church. His message each week keeps me going, encourages me and inspires me regardless of whatever else is going on in life.

3. If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you want to have with you?
Toothbrush/paste (can that count as one?), matches and a really, really realllllly big book.

4. Who is your hero?
I don't feel like I have one... Is that bad?

5. Are you a coffee person, a tea person, both or neither?
Neither! The only coffee drinks I get on occasion are doctored up and don't taste like coffee. Every once in a blue moon I'll have a chai tea- but that's about it.

6. What is your favorite thing to cook/bake?
Any type of mexican dish- duh! 

7. Best advice you've ever been given?
Even if you fail every single day, never stop setting goals for yourself. You'll get there eventually.

8. What is your favorite sport? Who is your favorite team in that sport?
In case you're JUST getting here.... FOOTBALL! And THE Cincinnati Bengals, of course.

9. You just won the lottery! What's the first thing you use the money for?
I'd paid off my student loans and our mortgage.
Buy new cars for Jared and I.
Take an awesome vacation.
Then Invest.
(Can you tell I've thought about this a time or two?)

10. What's your favorite way to relax?
Reading a great book and soaking in the tub.

11. Tell me something about yourself that people might find weird.
I can crack just about every joint/bone in my body... Jared hates it and get's so grossed out by it.