Much to Be Thankful For

I hope everyone had an enjoyable, festive long weekend! I worked Wednesday, Friday and Sunday but had Thursday and Saturday off- it made for a very confusing and odd schedule but we still snuck in plenty of fun with family and ate entirely too much food.
Love this woman so much!
We spent most of Thanksgiving day at my Mamaw's house- for the first time without Papaw. It was strange not to have him sitting at the head of the table, hollering down for us to fill our plates with seconds and thirds but we still enjoyed being together so much that day. Although we missed him, there are so many amazing things going on in our families to be thankful for. Life truly does go on and we can cling to the happy memories and enjoy our time together. I loved getting to see my cousins and their kiddos and was proud to see my dad who has lost 30 pounds since his birthday in September!!
My Papaw actually made that house! We played with it as kids :)

We rounded out Thanksgiving evening by heading to Jared's parents house for even more delicious food. I only snapped one photo that night- proof that we were in food comas and I pretty much parked it on the couch to watch football after dinner ;)

Our house is almost ready for Christmas. We got our festive candles out and the initial decorating started but Jared came down with a fever over the weekend and wasn't feeling so hot so we'll have to finish up the tree this week once he's on the mend. Hopefully soon!

Jared actually stayed home from a Bengals game yesterday, so you KNOW he must not have been feeling well. At least he got to watch that win from the comfort of our couch- WHODEY :) 

Plan In Color - SALE!

Hey all! I know most of you are out and about shopping or just enjoying the long weekend, but since I'm in the office I figured I'd shout out a quick reminder. Our Etsy shop has a great Black Friday deal going all day today, the biggest discount we've offered yet! 

Now's the chance to stock up for 2016 and have your planner stickers ready for the new year.

Enjoy :)

Thankful Heart

A lot of you might not be around today or the next few days but I still wanted to post about the things I'm feeling especially thankful for this time of year. I hope you're getting more time off than me and spending quality time with all your favorite people :)

Though I'll get just one quick day away from this job, I AM thankful for it. It pays our bills, it's helped us pay off our student loans, the benefits can't be beat and the job security is incredible. 

I'm thankful for social media. Sure, it can be a negative thing if you make it- but it's nice to have information, people, stores, brands and opinions at your fingertips - when you want it ;)

I'm thankful every day for the safety and health of my family. I don't take either of those things lightly in the crazy world we live in today.

I'm thankful for my network of connections. It's amazing how someone you met years ago will be that missing link to getting something done, making a deal come together, etc! Pretty cool how that works sometimes.

I'm thankful for Amazon Prime. Lazy/busy person's dream come true.

I'm thankful for Jared and for our marriage. It is constantly growing and evolving into something better and better.

I'm thankful for a church that challenges and inspires us week after week. I'm thankful it's a place that gives us opportunities to give back in our community as well.

I'm thankful for mashed potatoes--- there, I said it. I've been daydreaming about the ones I will be eating tomorrow for about two weeks now.

I'm thankful for the 28 years I had with my Papaw. This will be our first holiday without him and I've been thinking about him a lot lately. I miss him but I'm so glad I had years and years of amazing memories with him.

I'm thankful for this blog. For the opportunities it's brought, for the friendships it has created and for the creative outlet it provides.

I'm feeling extra thankful this week for all that has been given to me in this life. I need to remember these little things a little more often, I know. I live an easy life and know I'm too quick to complain about minuscule things. Here's to being more thankful year-round.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, friends! 

Jared's Nerdy 30

When I was planning a surprise for Jared's 30th birthday it involved a lot of scheming, a lot of trickery and a little bit of creativity. He'd already made me promise not to do some huge party and I'd assured him I wasn't. I don't think 12 people out having fun together is a huge party, do you? ;) After tossing around a zillion and one options, I landed on hosting a "Nerdy 30" at a local place that just opened up in Cincinnati - Scene75. It's got arcade games, laser tag, mini-golf, bowling, food- you name it, it's there! 

Jared had mentioned this place a couple months prior to it opening so I knew he'd be excited to check it out. I told him we were going on a double date with his brother/sister-in-law and that it was nerd themed. Side story- in college, Jared and I went on a handful of themed dates together. We were poor and there was nothing better to do in our tiny college town so we'd dress up like nerds, emo kids, etc and go out on the town. So, it wasn't too difficult to convince Jared to throw on some nerdy gear for a night of fun.

Once we got there I quickly chatted with a host to "get a table" but then we headed back to a private party room and "SURPRISE!" - Jared didn't see it coming at all, which made me SO happy. It was the perfect group of friends and I know he loved getting to catch up with some buddies that we don't see all that often. All our friends were awesome and got into character as well- I was so proud :)

We had about an hour in the party room to enjoy the (delicious!) food and a cookie cake before we headed out for a round of laser tag and an insane 9 holes of glowing, 3D mini-golf. 

After that we all wandered from game to game, area to area and honestly just had fun attracting a few stares and being the grown-up nerds that we all are. 

The night couldn't have been more perfect. My favorite part of the night was honestly just watching Jared laugh and have a great time with all his favorite people for a few hours. I was so glad everyone was able to come and that Scene75 was so much fun! We will definitely go back again, even if we aren't dressed as nerds next time ;)

Jared is 30!

My best friend in the entire world- aka Jared- turns 30 today! I know plenty of people freak out over turning 30, but I think it sounds pretty legit if you ask me. Thirty means you're an adult that kinda has your life together, but you're still young and really good at having fun ;) I love looking back at birthdays through the years and seeing how fun and different each celebration has been. We've been celebrating his birthday together since he turned 22, crazy!

There's so much I could say about Jared, but I'll save that for the mushy card I'm going to give him today once we're home from work. It's so unfair to have to work on your birthday, a milestone one at that. Don't you think everyone should get the day off when it's their birthday? Let's work on that! ;)

Jared- there's no one I'd rather be doing life with. I can't imagine life without our kitchen dance parties, our ridiculous made-up words and our ever-changing adventures. You are truly my better half and I can't wait to see what year 30 brings for you and us. I know it's gonna be a good one- Happy Birthday!!

Being an Aunt is the Best

I'll never forget the day I officially became an Aunt. It was 2013 and I was standing in the Orlando airport with Jared. We'd just finished a Disney vacation and were waiting to board our flight home when my sister called me and said, "We've been matched with a two-day old baby girl, we're picking her up tonight!" I think I screamed, cried and almost dropped my phone simultaneously. The day we'd all been waiting for had arrived! Adoption is awesome.

Now, my sweet little niece is two-and-a-half years old and somehow getting cuter by the day. She can call us "Aunt Een-En" and "Un-uhl Ja-eed" and sometimes I hope she never learns how to correctly pronounce our names ;) She might live miles and miles away from us, but we utilize technology to chat and catch up and I always squeeze every second out of our time together when they're in town.
Isn't she the cutest?! ;)

I really can't remember our family dynamic without her. She might be little, but that girl lights up a room and lights up our lives. It's always a party when she's involved and I'm always counting down the days until I get to see her again. Any family get-together involves lots of laughs, plenty of toys and snacks to go around. At two, my niece is a graham cracker fan (but who isn't?!) so I wanted to make something sweet, but not too unhealthy for us to enjoy at our next get-together.

Enter Banana Cream Pie Dip. Just combine:
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
& 1/2 cup banana instant pudding mix (use sugar free if you can find it to make it even healthier!)

Mix until creamy and smooth...which will be a workout if you're like us and don't own a mixer ;) Once your arm feels like it's going to fall off, add the mixture to a serving dish and top with extra banana slices. This dip is super light, absolutely delicious on a classic graham cracker and kid-friendly as well! For another idea for a HoneyMaid recipe, click here.

Did you know nearly 40% of children in the U.S. don't live with both of their biological parents? And that over 1.5 million American families have been impacted through adoption? HoneyMaid recognizes and celebrates that families come in all shapes and sizes which is why I'm happy to be partnering with them this week- in honor of National Adoption Day which is November 21st. They are all about the wholesome family connections as well as their wholesome snacking- and they stand by both! It's good to support companies who also have a heart for adoption. I know I do :)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Celebration Weekend

This weekend was all about the partying in our family! It's always good when there are lot of things worthy of celebrations going on. It might get a little chaotic, fitting everything into the schedule- but you can't be mad when you're celebrating a new baby or a couple of birthdays! Saturday we celebrated one of Jared's cousins, Tara. She's having a little girl, in case all the pink didn't give it away ;)

Tara is such a sweetheart and I wish they didn't live an hour away, but it was good to spend a little time with her, "oohing and ahhing" over all the tiny gifts she opened. Baby Josie is set to arrive just in time for the Super Bowl so I just know she'll be a Bengals fan. Tara's sister Calena did a fabulous job with the party and it was just a really fun afternoon with family we don't see all that often.

Jared and his dad's birthdays are just one day apart (this coming Thursday and Friday!) so we celebrated them together on Sunday. A day complete with lots of delicious food, some games and a serving (or three) of  a double-decker cookie cake. Jared is turning the big 3-0 this week and I can't wait to continue celebrating him all week and weekend long.

All this partying has left me worn out and I've got another insane day at the office. My Bengals play the Houston Texans tonight! I always feel the need to let you guys know my team's schedule- in case you don't follow football (gasp) or in case you just need an annoying Bengals fan constantly talking about their team ;) J.J. Watt- I like you, but not tonight. You're going down... WHODEY! 

Thankful on Thursday

For friends near and far. There's nothing like 'em... I'm biased, but I think I've got some of the best. Each friendship is so unique but fits perfectly into life. Cool how that works.

For those who serve or have served our country. Thank you ALL♥

For my health, and for my health insurance. It's easy to forget how good we have it sometimes, but then you see a bill with how much you would have paid without it... it's humbling!

For crockpots. Seriously- I love my crockpots (yes, plural) more than any human should. Last year's Friendsgiving I had both of mine going and could have used a third!

For inside jokes or memories that make me laugh time and time again. I love those stories or moments you recall with your friends that are just as funny as the first time they happened.

For football... don't judge me. It's a passion, a past-time and it pays the bills people!

For our supportive families. Y'all rock.

For our Etsy shop which gives me another creative outlet and for the success we've had with it thus far. It's fun to step away from the office grind and get to play with my design programs, fun colors and create new goodies to sell.

For gel manicures that last for weeks and the friends who treat you to them ;) I'm really thinking my nails deserve a manicure more often.

For delicious snacks that are better-for-you than the mainstream ones. CVS sent me their new line of chips and salsa and I've got to say, I was impressed.

Tastes just as good (if not better) than many big names brands and has no artificial flavors, no preservatives and their chips are all low-sodium as well! I've served the multi-grain and kale/spinach chips and salsa at our most recent football get together and got only good feedback from our guests!
I'll admit I was leary of the kale chips but they had a unique flavor that paired well with our mild salsa. Two thumbs up for Gold Emblem at CVS and for not feeling as guilty munching my way through each and every Bengals game ;)
*Not paid to say this, but I did get the snacks in exchange for an honest review!

It's good to be thankful for things big and small! :) Happy Thursday!

Making Travel Plans

Planning vacations is one of my favorite things to do. I'm typically that person who's planning their next trip on the plane or car ride home from the previous trip. However, that hasn't been the case this year for some reason. Our last trip was in May and until recently we haven't started planning another one yet! So unlike us. Jared and I have bounced around a lot of ideas so far about what we'd like our 2016 vacation to be and we think we've finally settled on heading out WEST!

The only problem? There is so much to see out West we almost don't know where to begin. The loose plan we're thinking about involves the Grand Canyon, a night in Vegas (convincing Jared I need to see Celine Dion in my lifetime) and then exploring southern parts of California. Neither of us have seen any of those things. There are just so many options and variations of this trip that we kick around weekly... we need help! 
For those of you who have been to California, what was your favorite part or must-do's? I'd love to be touristy and see Hollywood and L.A. and such, but possibly sneak down to Anaheim for a day of Disneyland fun as well. (Are you surprised?) I also really want to get to the coast since I've never set eyes on the Pacific Ocean.

It's tough, because I'd love to spend about 3 weeks out west exploring and seeing everything, but that's just not realistic. We're looking at next Spring but have no set dates and we're thinking our trip will be roughly 10 days. We're honestly just in the beginning stages of plans but I want to make them more concrete. Since my window to travel is so limited due to work, I want to request my time off as soon as possible.

Is our plan terrible? Is that a good time of year to visit or does it matter? Should we skip Vegas and travel somewhere else? Do we just need one day at the Grand Canyon? The floor is open- suggestions welcome :)

Weekend Happenings

Well, it happened. I got the weekend I desperately needed. So much rest and relaxation + friend time and a smidge of productivity. It doesn't get better than that! Lacey came down to visit Saturday evening and it was just what the doctor ordered. And as always, we failed at taking an updated picture together... these from JUNE are our most recent ones. We really should work on that ;)

I took her to our favorite mexican restaurant of all time, we did some Christmas shopping and ended the night with tons of girl talk and TV. Neither one of us had watched Once Upon a Time so we figured we'd give it a whirl. Well, four episodes later we both agreed it was awesome. I'll continue binge watching soon- does anyone else watch that show? I can't believe there are five seasons and it's taken me this long to get into it!!

Even though I missed seeing my Bengals on the field Sunday, it was a non-stressful day of football watching and catching up on emails, blogging and the Etsy shop. I also finally, FINALLY finished my 2013 photobook. If you've been reading awhile you know I do yearly photobooks (Shutterfly is my favorite) and man, they are a labor of love- but so worth it to have. Each year my books seem to get bigger and bigger; pretty sure I might need to split them into part one and part two each year. Up next is my Disney vacation book- they get their own separate one ;)

Other weekend happenings? Jared made another batch of his famous pulled pork, we started filling a couple of boxes for Operation Christmas Child through our church; stocked up on my favorite soaps since they were 5/$18; decided this year we won't be able to host our annual Friendsgiving :( A bit of a bummer but this month's schedule just isn't going to allow for it. However, I think maybe we'll make up for that and throw an ugly Christmas sweater party instead! Any reason to throw a good party!

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!