Friday Five {Bye, February!}

This week has been chaos at my office. My boss is on vacation, it's the end of our fiscal year and there are tons of staffing/departmental changes going on. While it made for some crazy days- the week as a whole actually went by pretty quickly and somehow I got everything done. I will be happy to see my boss on Monday though, we need that guy!! Not to mention the fact that he spent a week in Disney with his family and I want to live vicariously through them ;) But let's get on with things- here are my Friday 5!!!

- O N E -
Jared and I officially have all our travel plans booked and paid for. A couple of new cities and a little time at the beach as well. I'm so excited for all of our upcoming adventures! 
Last year in Punta Cana!

- T W O - 
I've been on Pinterest a lot more lately. Does anyone else go through waves where they totally forget Pinterest exists, and then other times they just can't seem to stop pinning? I am obsessing over house updates and trying to decide what room to focus on first. I'm ready to finally put our spin on this home we've lived in for almost four years.

- T H R E E - 
It's the end of February, hooray! Tomorrow is our dateiversary so of course it's a great day, but other than that? Good riddance! I know March doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to be wearing flip flops and picking fresh flowers quite yet, but it does mean we're one step closer to that. I cannot wait for warmth. And no, I'm not that person who will complain the second its "too hot" because there is no such thing to me!

- F O U R -
I've said it before and I'll say it again- my niece is the most perfect, adorable child on the planet! She lives far away from me but Skyping with her is the most fun thing ever and I am so thankful for technology! She's almost 2 so I feel like every time we chat she does/says something new. Being an Aunt - even from afar- is the best thing ever.

- F I V E -
I'm excited to announce that Kristin and I are hosting another #4WeeksFit Challenge!! We want you to set a 4 week fitness related goal and link-up with us TWICE. This coming Monday, March 2nd, post what you'd like to accomplish this month. It could be getting to the gym a certain number of times, cutting something out of your diet, setting a PR, drinking more water, losing a certain amount of pounds- anything at all that you want to challenge yourself with in March. Then, on March 31st link-up again and share what you accomplished!
Love, Fun & football

Kristin made the awesome button for you to share and let everyone know what you're a part of! :) Feel free to use the hashtag #4weeksfit so we can cheer each other on all month long. I hope you'll join us! :)

Linking up with Darci and Amanda! :)

Throwback Thursday - Dating Days

This Saturday will mark 7 years since Jared and I 'officially' became a couple. Even though one could argue we were already exclusive before that, February 28th is still our special day that will always hold a piece of my heart. For this special edition of Throwback Thursday I dug deep into the archives of college pictures (a scary place to go, whew!) to find some hilarious cute embarrassing photos from our dating days. How in the world do these photos feel so outdated already?! It has not been THAT long since we were roaming the campus hand-in-hand... right?!

Many dates consisted of watching our tiny college's basketball team practically every weekend, while other times it was the big off-campus get togethers where I learned to love college football, surrounded by Buckeye fans ;)

There were hours upon hours spent in the computer labs "working on projects" but really we'd waste time on the computer's photobooth and try not to crack up in the middle of the library. Then when we were able to scrape up a little loose change, we'd venture off 40 minutes to the nearest Applebees with friends for half-price appetizers since it was really all we could afford.

And boy, did we love a good theme date or party. That certainly hasn't changed over the years!

I love that even though we grew up in the same general area, we had to drive almost 200 miles away to meet each other at college. Graduating college and coming home was a pretty easy transition for us, after all we loved all the same things and learned some new things together as well.

It's hard to believe so many years together have passed- it might be cliche, but it's so true that time flies when you're having a blast. I'm so glad things work out the way they're supposed to in life. I couldn't imagine life any other way! Thanks for letting me steal your sweatshirt, and for giving me a life full of laughter and fun.

Sallie & Perkins: What We've Been Up To

Greetings, friends!! It's been quite a while since we've stopped by LFF but it's because we have been BUSY! After being stuck on Baby Step #2 for soooooo long, it's amazing how fast we've been able to accelerate through the next few steps. We are really beginning to see the impact of the sacrifices we've made in the past couple of years. Let's catch you all up, shall we?

We saved up 3-6 months living expenses to check off Baby Step #3. This honestly didn't take much time at all. Now that we weren't making mega-payments on our loans, we had plenty of extra cash to put away into a savings account we won't touch. It was hard at first to see that chunk of money sitting in our bank without being able to "use" it, but it's ultimately there for any large emergencies like home/auto repairs, the loss of a job, unexpected medical bills, etc. It's comforting to know that we have real cash to use if/when we needed it, not a credit card!

We upped our 401k contributions. Everyone has different opinions on this, but here is ours. While working on our student loan payoff, we stopped contributing to our 401ks for a short time. Sure, it felt like we were missing out on "free money" from our company match, but we had a plan. The day after we made that last student loan payment? We started putting in 15% of our paychecks to our 401k to complete Baby Step #4. Um, that's a lot!!! We knew we'd have the freedom to save/invest more now that our debt was gone, so we didn't waste any time getting started.

We almost refinanced our house, but ultimately decided it wasn't the right path for us. Due to the type of mortgage we have, the amount of time left on our mortgage and the short amount of time we hope/plan to stay in this home, it didn't make that much sense to go through the entire refinancing process. Instead? We're going to work on making extra payments toward the principle each month. Although there are 26 years left on our loan- we hope to have our home paid off in 5 years or less. It's a huge goal, but we aren't planning to live "broke" like we did with our student loans. While we aren't going to be quite as aggressive, it's our main focus nonetheless.

And finally- we've been reading up on additional sources of income and how we can keep on moving forward in life. There are tons of options out there to made side income and it's just a matter of finding what works for us. For instance, my friends over at The Penny Hoarder just shared a great article about house sitting jobs and it's officially on our list of must-check-out now- there's never too many side gigs a person can have! We've also been keeping up with our Swagbucks and you should too. It's FREE money and if you've got a little time each day, you can rack 'em up too. If you want some tips and tricks on how we earn the most SB we can each day, let me know!

When you are in the right place financially, you can pursue anything you want- there is no burden of debt, there is nothing stopping you, the world is truly YOURS! Perkins is busy looking into the world of health/fitness possibilities... He wants to exercise his brain AND his muscles ;) Sallie, on the other hand, is elbows deep doing her research in the world of freelance writing.

So now that you know what we've been up to- let's hear from you! What steps have you taken in 2015 to get your finances in line? Where are you at in the process? We're all on the journey together, no matter what stage you're at! Financial freedom is real and attainable! :) We believe in you!!!

The Cold Never Bothered Us Anyway

Okay, I'm totally lying. Winter/cold/snow are not my friends, and they do bother me sometimes, but Jared and I didn't let it stop us from enjoying our weekend. Friday night Jared had a guy's night and I went to a going-away party for my coworker which was a lot of fun. It was at Ruth's Chris so I got to enjoy some delicious appetizers on the company's dime. I don't do much with coworkers outside of work, so it was nice to socialize and kick back a little with them. I didn't stay too late because I wanted to beat the snow home and I did just in time!

I've lost track of how much snow we've gotten in the past week- it felt like it just kept coming down at all different hours of the day! I was supposed to go to a friend's baby shower Saturday, but they ended up canceling it because too many people were driving too far, the roads just weren't that great. So Jared and I hung around the house most of the morning but knew we needed to get out. Luckily there is a really nice movie theatre just a few miles down the road from us, so we bundled up and very slowly made our way there.

We saw McFarland USA and I highly, highly recommend it. Kevin Costner stars in it and it's an incredible story. Not to mention it's by Disney, so of course it's good ;) We left the theater practically ready to watch it again- or at least pre-order it!

We stopped in at the grocery store on our way home to pick up a couple things and I was ENTIRELY too excited to see their giant Easter display. Even though I was bundled from head to toe and my boots were wet with snow, this little section of the store made my night. I'm an Easter addict, it's true.

Oh, and a puzzle addict. Jared and I spent the rest of our weekend inside putting together yet another puzzle. A person can only venture out too long in this weather before she realizes she is definitely with Michael Scott on this one. ;)

A Lot of Little Thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I have a lot of little things to say, instead a lot of things to say about one thing. Does that even make sense? I feel like I just want to ramble today about all the different things rattling around in my brain, and that's okay isn't it? Every once in awhile you just need to hammer it out like the LiveJournal days and pretend you're writing for yourself. But then go back and edit because this is the internet after all.

I had one of the best runs of my life this week, I'm pretty sure. On a treadmill, nonetheless. I can handle a little cold, but when it's going to be a high of 7? Yeah, I'm going to be indoors. Something just came over me and I focused, zoned everything else out and ran really hard. It felt good to push myself and realize how far I've come.

Foam rolling officially rocks. Last year when I hurt my hip, a ton of my awesome bloggy-runner friends told me I needed one, so I asked for one for Christmas, and it's truly my new BFF. I can really tell a difference in how everything feels! I feel like my muscles recover a lot quicker than they used to- all thanks to rolling! So thank you EVERYONE who suggested I get one. Looking specifically at you Tracy and Becky! 

It's officially that stage in life where my weekend plans consist of baby showers. I went to one in January (for twins, at that!), we had one yesterday at work for a girl who is due any day now and I'm going to another tomorrow for a sweet friend of mine. Bring on the Spring babies! (For friends... not me)

The NFL Scouting Combine is going on and I not-so-strangely really love following along. Jared and I considered trying to get over there and get viewing passes, but we were a little too last minute by the time we thought of it. More than 300 top-class athletes working to get drafted... my football heart could explode with excitement. In my world, it's always football season: Combine in February, the schedule release and the draft in April and May, before you know it rookies are reporting and training camp is underway. I love it!!

I'm trying to do some end-of-the-season boot shopping. Yes, I am very much looking forward to the days of flip-flops ahead, but my brown boots have officially bit the dust. I wore them for the last time over the weekend... and as I felt the snow/cold seeping into my sock, I realized it was time to shop ;) Now to find the perfect pair at hopefully a great discount!

Today we're having a going-away party after work for my closest work buddy, which is sad, but she got a great opportunity she couldn't pass up. Luckily she'll still be in the area and she already told me I'll have to start actually taking lunch breaks so we could stay in touch. It's crazy to think she and I have worked together for over 5 years now-- she's actually the one who snuck around and got photos of our engagement.

I think my brain has officially been unloaded. Props to anyone who actually read this entirely random post. Happy Weekend!! 

I Must Confess

Today, I must confess...

... that I don't know if I've ever linked up my confessions before, even though I always mean to.

... that the ground and roads are absolutely covered with snow and I am over it. Why do I live in Ohio?

... that last night's workout I was lip-syncing every word to every song on my playlist, and didn't care how many people were looking. I was in the zone!

... that I feel really unorganized lately. I make my daily or weekly lists but can't seem to keep up with them for some reason.
... that I'm terrified of our upcoming half-marathon. It's getting here way too quickly!

... that Jared and I's half-marathon is in another city, but I don't plan to share that until afterwards ;) I'm a weirdo when it comes to sharing travel news.

... that I get so tired of eating healthy but not seeing much weight loss. Sometimes I'd rather just be fat ;)
... that I now have less than 9,000 photos on my computer and that's actually an accomplishment. Baby steps.

... that I can't remember the last movie I saw in theaters. It's been awhile, that's for sure!

... that I still play Candy Crush when I have downtime.

... that I've been counting down to my birthday and Easter already- even though both aren't until April. I can't help it, it's the best month there is!

... that I've been slacking on commenting/reading blogs lately, but hoping to fix that soon! :)

Making Melissa

I Love Valentine's Day

I feel like everyone's posts today will start out with "I'm not a big Valentine's Day person" but then their whole post will be about what they did, the gifts they got and the date they went on. So why hide it?! I'm just gonna' go ahead and say it- I love Valentine's Day!! Sure I love my husband every day of the year, but why not embrace a special day to celebrate our love and do something fun?! Any holiday is worthy of celebrating in my opinion!!

We had a really low-key Saturday morning/afternoon which was nice. Jared was planning on cooking for us that night so we lounged around watching a couple of movies before he got started on his dinner plans. During the afternoon we had a quick "blizzard" come through and since we had no where to be? I enjoyed it... a little bit! I kept trying to snap some pictures of the beautiful cardinals out back but of course they were not having it. 

Jared's dinner plans were nothing short of creative. I used to think I was the creative one, but I'm pretty sure his ideas beat mine most days. As Disney nerds, we have slowly but surely been collecting every Disney bluray we can as they are released from the vault. The Jungle Book just so happens to be one we didn't own yet so Jared got that for me and centered our date around it.
He made delicious grilled chicken and vegetable shish kabob's and roasted cauliflower poppers with a tasty, garlic-y dipping sauce. We "camped out" on a blanket for our dinner while the Jungle Book soundtrack played and while we had stars above our heads courtesy of a cool lamp he bought. I told Jared this is probably the closest I'll ever get to actually going camping with him. ;)
For dessert Jared recreated the delicious "Lefou Brew" that we had last time we were in Disney World. An apple juice slushie with toasted marshamallow syrup and topped with homemade mango-passionfruit whipped cream!! All I can say is YUM. We spent the rest of the evening playing a Wii game and watching the Jungle Book- we are party animals, I know!
I love celebrating any and every holiday with my man, and I'm so thankful for his creativity and his desire to always date me. We've been married almost four years now and he still surprises me all the time with fun, new ideas and I don't take that for granted. Here's to many more years of fun dates and Valentine's Day celebrations!

Linking up HERE and HERE today! :) 

On Fridays We Blog in Lists

I've been a little MIA this week...again. It's funny, once I get one thing in life in order, I forget about another. For instance, Jared and I kinda' rocked this week getting to the gym, cooking healthy meals and getting stuff done around the house. However, that means I didn't have enough time for blogging or sleeping. There's no way any human can get everything done that they need to in one day. I refuse to believe it! Wake up, work, hit the gym, shower, come home, make dinner, clean up from dinner, take care of other odds and ends around the house... and BAM! It's 8:30 or 9 already. By that point I just want to spend some quality time with Jared and most nights, I do!

So another blabbering about nothing. I finally showed up today so here are five awesome things on this Friday:

- O N E -
This delicious turkey chili with sweet potatoes I made this week. It cooked so deliciously in the crockpot and it's got a kick to it which we loved! Perfect for these ridiculously cold days we're having. I just checked-- it's only going to get up to 18° tomorrow, brrr!
This wasn't cooked yet- I, of course, forgot to take a picture of the final product.

- T W O -
Speaking of cold temperatures, Jared and I have been obsessing over vacation ideas for this year. Usually we have our travels planned out pretty far in advance, but this year has been a little bit different. We're doing a couple long weekends away, but still keep longing for that week-long beach trip together. We're getting closer and closer to hitting "BOOK IT" and I can't wait!

- T H R E E -
My friend Lacey and I were able to grab dinner this week and catch up. I know I've probably said this before, but I don't have a ton of close friends. Lacey is that person who I can tell anything in the world to and never feel judged or feel stupid. In fact, she'll probably feel the same way I'm feeling ;) It's so nice to have a friend I can say that I've known for over 15 years!! She's truly my lifelong friend.

- F O U R -
A small part of me got excited about baseball this week. I know, I know- it's February. But once football is over I need SOMETHING to look forward to in the sports world. I'm crossing my fingers to get to opening day one of these days, but regardless, I'm ready for some hot dates at the ballpark.

- F I VE -
It's Valentine's Day weekend, of course! Jared won at life last year and I have no doubt he'll be adorable and creative again this year. We're all about staying in as opposed to hitting up an overcrowded restaurant these days and I'm looking forward to a fun night in with my man :)
Throwback to our first Valentine's Day together in 2008... On campus headed to a basketball game.


Most of the time I forget to upload anything to Instagram on the weekends, but I'm trying to get better about that... since I know you're all dying to see what I'm up to. (Not!) Sometimes I don't upload because what I'm doing is super boring to the rest of the world and not IG-worthy, other times I just plain forget. Don't worry, I still stalk all of you though ;) So today I thought I'd show you my weekend through Insta only. Prepare to be amaaaaaazed.

Friday night Jared and I tore it up at the gym and spent the rest of our evening icing every possible body part we could. (Try not to be too envious of my rockin' weekend outfit and slippers!) We've really gotta' take care of ourselves... we now have less than 5 weeks until our half-marathon. Runners out there- help! Any expert advice on what I should be doing at this point prior to a race? I'm following a running plan pretty well, but I still feel so behind some days. Tell me I'll survive??

Saturday was wonderful because we had no concrete plans other than just enjoying the downtime. I worked on my never-ending photobooks and finally had to make myself a cheat sheet with all my memory cards. I have way too many of them and swap them in and out of my two cameras all the time, so it makes things difficult when looking for a photo! I finally have them all in order as I upload and organize though so at least I've got a system, even if it's a low-tech one.

And maybe Jared and I had a little too much fun in Meijer Saturday night. After we picked up some groceries for some new low-carb meals for the week, we found frames for our Disney puzzles we've had sitting around for months now. I don't care how old I get, I'll always love all things Disney so these bad boys are going up in our office. Don't worry- the Spiderman mask did not make it's way home with us.

So all in all, a relaxing do-what-we-what kinda' weekend is perfect to me. I love that my calendar isn't overflowing with obligations or parties right now. I actually feel like Jared and I are in charge of lives and get to intentionally decide what to do each weekend now. I'm savoring these free days because we all know they won't be forever!

PS- I asked on Twitter... but thought I'd mention it here too. Is anyone out there interested in Sallie & Perkins updates still? Even though those student loans are gone, there are big financial moves in the works and I think they're itching to guest post ;)

Checking In On Those Goals

Good Morning! Today I'm doing a little goal check-in; I wasn't sure if I'd keep up with these kind of posts in 2015, but I can't help it- I love them. I enjoy writing them and also reading everyone else's to-do lists as well. It gives me ideas of things to work on and motivates me to work on my own. I feel like I really did good in January overall, but I majorly slacked on the goal I had deemed most important, so that part sucks. Let's review:

In January I hoped to:
Finish the book I'm writing. It's not done, and who knows when it will be done. Sometimes I get really disappointed in myself for not making more time for something that I claim is my "dream" ya know? Maybe I'm not cut out for it... or maybe I'll hit a wild streak of creativity next month, ya' never know, I guess.

 Read 3 books. I read 2 and started on a third, so I'm giving myself credit on this one.

 Complete the first few weeks of my training plan. Yep, it has completely kicked my butt but I've stuck with it for the most part. I've been running a lot and also incorporating more stretching/yoga!

 Cross at least 1 thing off my 30 before 30 list. Technically I was able to cross off two! See that post over here.

Give up all pop/energy drinks. Not quite there... I think I only had a few this whole month, but cutting them out completely is the ultimate goal. 

 Send some snail mail to friends/family. Yes! Yay! It was fun sending a few just-because cards to people I love.

 Work on my photobooks. I worked on them! If I can get my 2013 book done by Spring and started on 2014 I will feel like I'm catching up, finally.

 Try 2 new recipes. I lost count of how many new recipes we did- seriously! This is the one goal I  really nailed :) 

In February I hope to:

- Lose at least 5 pounds. I really want to get back to a healthy weight. I'm tired of fluctuating!

- Work out at least 2x before work EACH week. I did this yesterday and it made my whole day better. I've gotta' remember that feeling!

- Read 2 books. I think 3 in a month is a little lofty for me, so we'll stick with two.

- Rework our budget and financial goals. We've talked a lot about our plans now that our student loans are gone, but I'm ready to put it all out on paper and really focus in on what our next steps are.

- Continue the decluttering. We did really good in the fall donating a lot of stuff, but didn't really do any of that last month. I'm ready to keep clearing out the junk we don't need and making our house more enjoyable to be in.

- Celebrate Valentine's Day. It doesn't matter how, but I just want to do something small/creative for Jared this year. Last year's $1 gift was a big hit so maybe I'll craft something again.

It's a short month so I don't want to overload myself with expectations, but I think these six goals are good ones to focus on for the next 24 days. I was talking to a friend recently and we both decided that since February is so short and there's really nothing going on (for me anyway!) this should be the month we get our lives in order. I'm ready to rock this month and set myself up for lots of fun in the coming months ;) What are you accomplishing in February?

We Throw a Good Party

I know I mentioned it last week, but seriously... today should be a holiday across the U.S. Bosses everyone know that we all stayed up way too late last night watching the Super Bowl and we're likely not going to be productive until after lunch today, so why bother? ;) It's nice to dream, isn't it?
We had a group of friends and family over for the game which I'd been looking forward to for awhile. Once our Bengals lost, there were no more Sunday football parties so it was nice to go out with a bang, but also not care about the outcome of the game too much. I tried not to go completely overboard with food, but that's typically impossible for me. For some reason I think ten people coming over to watch a football game actually means I'm FEEDING a football team. I'm not upset about leftovers though.

Thanks to affordable snacks from CVS/Pharmacy we stocked up on all the game-time essentials like nuts, trail mix, chips, pretzels, popcorn, beef jerky and sparkling fruit water to wash it all down. Jared and I are big almond-eaters and I am officially hooked on the Gold Emblem Buffalo Almonds. Holy YUM! I think their soft baked chocolate chip cookies were the first to disappear though- I even got asked if they were homemade! I wish I could have said yes!

Our Bingo boards were a big hit and we had small prizes for the first 3 guests to yell BINGO! Our cousin Calena had the closest game score prediction so she won a fun prize as well at the end of the night.

Dillan with his Bacon Soda prize, Joe intently playing some Bingo and of course the guest of honor- Katy Perry ;)

I won't lie... I am a huge football fan and love the Super Bowl every year, no matter who's playing- but Katy Perry was ROCKING IT last night! One of my favorite halftime shows in a long while. Now where can I get one of those lions like the one she rode in on? ;)

I wore the only items I have in Seahawk green... but unfortunately it didn't work. Can we all just agree that the ending of the game was one of the worst/anti-climactic/dumb endings in football?! All of us were on the edge of our seats waiting to see how things would pan out and then one play later, everyone was putting their coats on. What a weird way for the Super Bowl to end. Sorry, Seahawk fans... I can imagine the pain!

Did anyone use my Bingo cards at their party? What did everyone think of the commercials this year?

 I’m proud to partner with CVS/pharmacy as a Gold Emblem Super Bowl Party Host. I am being sponsored to help lead this campaign, but all opinions expressed are my own, and all  product claims or program details shared should be verified at or with the appropriate  manufacturers.