4 years

Today is my favorite day of the year! On May 28th, 2011 I promised forever to the man of my dreams and now here we are, celebrating 4 years married! It's cliche and I know it but I've still got to say it:  WHERE in the world does time go? It just goes so fast that each year I'm in disbelief that another wonderful year has come and gone.

Four years ago I was a nervous-wreck. Not nervous to marry Jared, just nervous about all those people looking at me walk down a long aisle and nervous about the crazy wedding coordinator and wondering if she would ruin anything ;) But once I saw my groom all the nerves were gone and I just ready to be his Mrs! I wish I could go back and relive our wedding day and soak it in even more because that day went by too fast!

Luckily, we have forever together and I can't explain the joy that brings me. I think about all the fun and love we've experienced in just 4 years and can't imagine the joy that's still to come in our life. Sure, there will be heartbreak and pain and tough stuff too- but there's no one I'd rather have by my side in all circumstances.

Happy 4th Anniversary, Jared-
I cannot wait to spend all day celebrating with you and taking our annual pictures together. 
I love you! 

Questions for Me, from You


One of my long-time bloggy friends Samantha tagged me a in a fun get-to-know you post (a couple weeks ago- oops!) so I figured I'd participate. ;) Aka- I always need blog topic ideas. Here are the questions she gave me- maybe you all will learn a thing or two about me. Or maybe I've shared just about all I can share about my life on this blog... I've been blogging a long time you guys!
You guys already knew I don't do normal pics very well, right?! ;)

1. What's one thing we will always find in your purse, besides the basics?
My Erin Condren planner. It's huge, but so are all my purses; and a multitude of colored pens and Sharpies. It's a running joke in my family about how seriously large my purse is and how I have to go elbows-deep at times to find what I'm looking for. I'm pretty confident there is a photo floating around of me digging in my purse but I'm sorry I don't have it to share today. ;)

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Let's see... I'll be 33 (wow!) hopefully in a career I love (whatever that might be!), maybe a kid or two, preferably in the midst of building our "forever" home and having a hand in the drafting of the plans! I'm a wannabe-architect, I seriously think I missed my calling in life!

3. Which show on TV should we all go binge watch immediately? Who's your favorite character on said show?
I know a lot of you probably already watch it, but if you don't already, get on Netflix and watch New Girl. It's impossible to pick a favorite character because it changes every episode. I equally love every character on that show because they are all so uniquely hilarious! 

4. Chicago Deep Dish or the New York Slice? (getting real deep here)
I've never really had either one I don't think.... Oh, the horror!! Guess that means I need to get myself to each of those cities in the near future. For research purposes, of course.

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
Italy is my dream vacation. I'd love to the touristy gondola ride in Venice, explore art in Florence, see the museums, visit the Pantheon in Rome, eat all the food I can, you name it- I want to do it. I could happily spend a month over there if I had the means to. AND if I wasn't terrified of the flight.

6. What's your favorite blog post you've ever written?
Tricky question... am I supposed to have one all lined up? I mean, screaming "We're Debt Free" in blog world felt pretty awesome. But then again, we racked up that debt having a blast in college because I'd go back to living in a dorm right now. PS- Every once in awhile I write a pretty fantastic poem about Christmas or football- I think I might have to make this a monthly thing ;)

Anything else you guys want to know about me? I'm a (fairly) open book! Happy Tuesday!

The Absolute Best Pulled Pork Recipe

I can take no credit for what I'm about to share with you- other than the fact that I'm married to the creator of this delicious recipe. Pulled pork is a regular menu item in our house and we've made it various ways but Jared has come up with THE winning recipe for it. It seriously is so good- and Cincinnati people? I swear he might have unlocked some secrets of Skyline Chili's recipe because it's got a similar taste, I kid you not.

So don't wait, save this, write it down, pin-it - whatever you need to do, don't lose this recipe! It might look like a long list of ingredients but most of them are spices/seasonings you'll already have.

Ingredients
2-3 lb pork shoulder (or tenderloin works too- we buy what's on sale!)
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp(ish) season salt
+ a dash of garlic salt
+ a dash or two of BBQ rub if you have a favorite

Coat all sides of the meat with a tablespoon or so of molasses. Mix allllllll those spices together and cover the pork. Add 1/2 cup water in the bottom of your crockpot, put the meat in and crockpot that sucker on high for 4 hours and ENJOY IT! It's just as good the next day too, if not better.
crockpot-pulled-pork

And as always, keep it classy and use leftover paper plates ;)

Life on Crutches

As I'm nearing the 4-week mark of life on crutches, I thought I'd share my "wisdom" with anyone else who might find themselves in the same predicament one day. There are so many things I never even considered until I started crutching around- so you're welcome for these ever-so-useful tips ;)
Me and my besties for 6-weeks :)

1. Your wardrobe will become very limited while on crutches. Flats at work and sneakers for the weekend are basically your options. Heels are obviously out and wearing flip-floppy sandals is like asking to trip on a rug and injure your non-injured body parts. Stick to the basics.

2. You cannot carry anything. Let that sink in. Your arms are now carrying you from place to place so dig into that donation box before it goes out and salvage a backpack from cheer camp circa 2004. You'll need it every day at work to store your normal purse stuff plus your lunch and water bottles.

3. Try your best to bring lunches to work that do not need to be heated up. Otherwise you'll have to reluctantly ask a coworker every day to come with you while you make your lunch and then have them carry it back to your desk for you. They say they are happy to help- but you're annoying yourself already so just don't do it. Stuff your lunch in the backpack and be on your merry way.

4. Oh yeah, back to that wardrobe thing. You also have to be very careful what kind of top you wear. Nothing stays in place- it's either riding up or flapping in the wind. Even the most conservative blouse will suddenly turn PG-13 when you're crutching around at work. Just that slight hunch you have and the swinging of the arms/crutches and you'll be hearing from HR before the day's over. Cardigans buttoned all the way up are your safest choice.

5. For some odd reason, strangers act like they have never seen a person use crutches before when they see you. They will stare at you like you're actually a transformer, not just a girl trying to use an ATM machine who happens to be using crutches. You can ignore them and carry on, but I prefer staring back and saying, "Hi. I'm on crutches!" and waiting until they feel awkward and turn away. (Yes, I actually did this once)

6. Grocery stores are your nightmare. This also relates back to limited wardrobe and not being able to carry anything. Bring a buddy. Expect it to take much longer than normal. Stock up so you don't have to break a sweat picking out produce again for another couple of weeks if possible.

7. You will feel like an absolute waste of life at home. It's tricky to get around your tri-level home and even tricker trying to clean a toilet or sink. Apologize constantly to your significant other for being a piece of crap and then buy them extra of their favorite ice cream. You know, when they take you grocery shopping.

8. Attempt to embrace it- because after all, you'll get a blog post out of this whole ordeal ;)

Clutter

I know I talk about decluttering a LOT on this blog, but it's because I always seem to be doing so much of it! You'd think with everything I've thrown out/donated in the past year we'd be down to nothing- but the truth is, bags of STUFF leave our house every single month still. Lisa shared a few articles on her blog last week all about Americans as consumers. Here's the article that really stood out to me, but if you don't have time to click over to it- here's what it boils down to- WE ALL HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP! Jared and I have only lived in this house for 4 years but it's disgusting how much stuff we have. Stuff that we forget about because it's crammed into a storage bin in a closet or stuff that we complain we have no place for, but yet never MAKE room for it by removing other items. 

My thoughts on clutter have definitely shifted in the past year. We have stopped holding onto a lot of things for their nostalgic reasons, and have let go of clothes that even though they were once a "favorite" -they're now worn out and just need pitched. It's such a freeing feeling. Piling stuff into donation boxes is truly therapeutic to me. I'm one of those people that feels overwhelmed by too much clutter, yet I often let it build up around me. As soon as a box of stuff leaves my house? I instantly feel less stressed. There's something to be said about that!

I think paying off our debt plays a part in how I feel about stuff and shopping in general now. When budgeting became a huge part of our lives and we knew every penny we had needed to go to our student loans, there was no excuse to shop- ever! I used to be way more tempted to shop. Changing seasons? I wanted new clothes. Going on vacation? I need a whole new wardrobe. Oh I don't have a silver necklace I love? Then I NEED one. No! No, no, no to all of that. I hardly ever have that urge to shop "just because" anymore and if it ever is something I feel like I need? I think it through, I comparison shop online and I really think about that decision. I never stop in at stores 'just because' or to kill time since I know it would just be a trap for me to spend money on something I don't need.

I don't think I'll ever become an actual minimalist, but it's something I strive to be more like, that's for sure. I only want to have clothes that I wear and love; I only want to keep the movies that are ones I'll watch time and time again. I don't want dozens of kitchen gadgets we only get out once a year. And I certainly don't want to add any impulse items into our house unless I've gotten rid of at least two boxes of them.

Did you know 1 in every 10 Americans rents an off-site storage location?! Because they don't have room for all the crap they've accumlated.... WOW! It seems overall our thoughts on needs vs. wants are so skewed and messed up. What about your thoughts on clutter? Some people like it, honestly. Some people can't stand any extra items in their house at all. I definitely fall in the middle but am pushing myself to continue minimizing my belongings- what about you?

Weekly Highlights

It feels like it's been taking me quite awhile to get out of the funk I've been in for the past month or so. When life gets hard and complicated it can take time to feel normal again. I just haven't really felt like myself lately, but this week has been really good. The best one I've had in awhile, in fact. Nothing out of this world or whatever- but just feeling happy and loved and content was a nice change of pace so I thought I'd share a few highlights of this past week with you all:

-- Getting dinner with some friends and eating out on the patio. I tried Firehouse Grill for the first time and I highly recommend it Cincinnati-area people. My food was delicious and everyone else's food looked great too so I need to go back and try more things! Their outdoor patio is huuuge and would make a great date-night spot all summer long.

-- Officially being halfway done with crutches. It's been a looooong 3 weeks, but knowing I'm halfway done -as long as I get good reports from the doctor- feels good. I am hopeful that a day without hip pain is coming soon.

-- Realizing vacation is almost here! We're headed to Hilton Head Island in a few weeks and I cannot wait to be back. It snuck up on me since we've had it planned for quite some time, but I'm excited now that it's right around the corner. My mom posted this photo on her Facebook page yesterday (because yes, she participates in every #TBT ;)) I was just 4 and it was our first family vacation to HHI.

-- Finalizing details for my 10-year class reunion. I've mentioned that I'm planning that whole shebang and it's been interesting, that's for sure. A few months ago I was stressing about it but everything is coming together nicely and I think I'm looking forward to it now. I go back and forth between being excited to see people from high school and being terrified of how they night will go. I will definitely be reporting back at the end of June ;)

-- FINALLY having a solution for all our blender bottles/water bottles. I can't stand the clutter that water bottles always make-- Do they go in a drawer? Do they go in a cabinet? Water bottles are one things I can't really get rid of, Jared and I use them constantly, everywhere. So let me introduce you to Zero G Storage, because if you love organization like I do, you need one of these bad boys. At least one!

They offer 2 different products which you can find on Amazon HERE and HERE. Plus- there are different sizes so you can store just about any "gear" you want with them. In a smaller house with an even smaller kitchen, Zero G has seriously helped us maximize space. Getting clutter off the counters or ground is a win-win-win for me! You can get 15% now through June 30th if you use promo code LOVEFUN1 on those links above. 


In addition to that Paul from Zero-G is very kindly offering one of his products to one of my readers.
Winner announced next Wednesday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where Hope Grows

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Godspeed Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #wherehopegrowsmovie http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
After the jam-packed stretch of weeks we've been having, it was so nice to just relax Sunday afternoon at home. I needed a few hours to prop myself up and rest this silly hip injury. It was the perfect day to curl up with a great blanket and watch a movie. And we all know no movie is complete without a few snacks. Salty and sweet- I've got to have them both!


Jared and I were able to prescreen the movie "Where Hope Grows" and I highly recommend it! It's a great new film that focuses on finding redemption through faith, hope, and love and comes out May 15th. Calvin is a former professional baseball player who's career ended shortly due to personal problems in his life. He's a man who is obviously hurting and in a rough stage of life when he meets and befriends a boy who works at the supermarket. He lovingly calls him "Produce" and the two become friends despite the differences in their lives. Calvin slowly begins to experience the world through Produce’s eyes. Faith, work, purpose and most importantly family, blossom into Calvin’s life as their friendship develops. 

Do you ever have those people in your life that just challenge you to be better, without them ever really doing anything specific? I've got a few people like that in my life, and this movie reminded me of them and how much they mean to me. Produce is so optimistic in all circumstances, even when he's picked on, even when he doesn't get employee of the month and even when those he loves don't reciprocate. Each day at his job he'd enthusiastically tell the customers to "Have a magnificent day!" And you know what? He meant it!
It reminded me of my own attitude at work sometimes, and how it's so easy to have a negative outlook. I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to go through life being that person everyone is happy to see. The person who finds good in each situation, the person that encourages others in every aspect of life. It doesn't matter who you are, what walk of life you're from, your age, your race, your job... You can impact someone greatly just by showing a little kindness and a lot of patience.


This movie has a little bit of it all. Family drama. Teenage challenges. Sports. (You local gals might appreciate the Louisville references!) But the one word that comes to mind is honestly just inspirational. I felt challenged to be a better version of myself. Be the friend who reaches out to the people in need and be the person who doesn't judge, no matter the circumstances.

Be sure to check out your local theaters for show times this coming weekend when "Where Hope Grows" is released on May 15th.

Catching Up

I hope everyone got to spend as much quality time with the mom's of their life as I did this past weekend. I'm so thankful not just on Mother's Day, but every day for what a great mom I've got. Saturday night I enjoyed dinner with my mom, grandma and aunt and then headed out to see a favorite comedian of ours- Chonda Pierce. It was so fun just being with the great women in my life and laughing our heads off all night long. I think we all needed it.
Selfies are really not my strong suit

The rest of the weekend I tried to catch up on life for a bit. Jared has been an absolute saint since I've been on crutches. I'm sure I've been less-than-pleasant to deal with many days ;) I feel so helpless a lot of the time. We have always split household duties pretty evenly but he has really had to take over just about everything. I absolutely hate not being able to grocery shop on my own (I refuse to ride a motorized scooter around Kroger) and a lot of the normal cleaning is too tricky while balancing on crutches.

As a small 'thanks' I managed to bake a delicious, but simple treat for us Sunday afternoon. Banana blondies. The perfect way to use up bananas that are brown and too mushy to eat. I'll direct you right over to the pin from the blog Cookies and Cups because my pictures don't do them justice.

I'm not a person who bakes very often, so I was pretty impressed with myself and how these turned out. I have NEVER made a frosting from scratch before so that was pretty fun. Thankfully, we're sending some of these off to Jared's work- otherwise I would eat every last one!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend :) I'm looking forward to lots of good things in the coming week.

I Highly Recommend

I find out some of the best stuff from blog friends. There are quite a few of my regular reads that always have great recommendations. Whether it's a new product to try, a company that's doing something cool, a book I need to pick up, a useful life-hack or just a good article to read- I always appreciate those kinds of posts. So I figured I'd give it a try today. A few recommendations for you on this Friday:

Go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. As a person who never thought they'd like these movies, I have been completely converted. I'm a nerd and Jared turned me into a bigger nerd with these movies. I officially love all of them and this one rocked. Anyone else hooked on all the superhero movies? Iron Man is by far my favorite.

I'd also like to point you in the direction of my newly revamped Design Site. I do blog designs, yes- but I'm also your girl for custom invitations, printables, thank-you cards, you name it! I'm quick and affordable and would love to work with you! Okay, sales pitch over.

I'm not a big beauty products person. I use my basics, don't mix things up a lot and overall just keep things pretty simple around here. Listen, I just don't have time to perfectly paint a face on or sculpt my hair into something magnificent every day! ;) However, I've officially gotten hooked on a dry shampoo and will be buying this regularly now. Holla' for two-day hair that looks great! I got mine from Ulta- and they are buy one get one half off right now.

When my sister was in town a few weeks ago, she made Cake Batter Blondies to celebrate both mine and my niece's birthday since I'm not a real cake-and-ice-cream kinda' gal. They were DELICIOUS and I've pretty much been trying to find a reason to make them again ever since. She got the recipe here- save it, trust me.

Is there anything better than the Clearance section at a bookstore? I highly doubt it. Come to find out they occasionally have gift bags tucked away there too- who knew?! Next time you're at Barnes & Noble take a second glance at this section and you might score gift bags for next to nothing! I am officially stocked up for a fraction of the cost. Remind me to tell Sallie & Perkins!

I think that's all I've got for today. Any recommendations you have for me from this past week? Any good movies Jared and I need to check out via Netflix? Because I'll tell you right now, this week has worn me out and I'm ready to do nothing but veg out tonight! P.S. I also recommend you have a wonderful weekend! :)




Erin, party of 4

You know I had to jump in on the "4" game that everyone seems to be playing lately. I love any excuse to have a solid list as a post. Plus, I feel like it's been awhile since I did any type of 'about me' post and there are a few new faces around here, so why not?! Thanks to the 17 various bloggers I'm stealing this from... you know who you are.

4 Jobs I've Had
1. Concession Worker at a local amusement park (aka- cotton candy chef)
2. American Eagle Outfitters
3. 
Standardized Test Scorer (craziest temp job I've ever had)
4. NFL Ticket Operations

4 Movies I've Watched More Than Once
1. The Parent Trap (L.Lohan version)
2. Monsters University
3. Elf
4. Firewall (Jared does not get my obsession with this movie)

4 Books I Would Recommend
1. The Help
2. House Rules, Jodi Picoult
3. Anne of Green Gables
4. A Piece of Cake - talk about overcoming obstacles in life!

4 Places I Have Been
1. Mexico
2. DisneyWorld

3. Punta Cana
4. Canada

4 TV Shows I Watch (On Netflix)
1. New Girl <-- This is honestly the only 'current' TV show I ever watch!
2. Flip or Flop
3. The Office
4. Desperate Housewives

4 Things I'm Always Saying
1. "Sure, what's the account number?" My job- all day, every day.
2. "I'm hungry"
3. "I just wanna GO somewhere"
4. "We can do this!" My self-motivating talk

4 Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year (2015)
1. A beach vacation
2. Football season starting
3. 
Getting off these crutches ;)
4. Celebrating Jared's 30th

I think this was Jared's 27th bday




Four things about my appearance
1. Brown, never dyed hair (Unless you count those horrible highlights my friend gave me in high school once)

2. 5'4"
3. Baby blue eyes like my dad's
4. Ears that are double-pierced because I just had to have them done.

Four things in my purse
1. My Erin Condren planner

2. A multitude of colored pens and markers
3. Business cards that I never hand out

4. Notebooks. Yes, plural. I carry a big purse.

Four posts of mine you should check out
1. Why I Love Adoption

2. The D-Word (the first post about our debt)
3. An Ode to Football 
4. Why I'm a Weird Blogger
**OK, bonus post: If we Met For Coffee (even though I don't drink it)

Four things I couldn't live without
1. That planner I just told you about ;)
2. Disney movies
3. Mexican food
4. Football



A Cincinnati Zoo Date

Right before I got sentenced to six weeks on crutches, Jared and I ventured to our local zoo together on the most perfect, beautiful day. I'm so glad we went when we did! In addition to being crutch-free at the time, it was nice weather and early enough in the season that it wasn't very crowded, even on a Saturday. We did the "Disney" mentality and were basically the first people there that day. No lines to get in and fewer strollers to dodge.

I'm ashamed to admit that other than the holiday Festival in Lights they host each year, we had yet to visit the zoo together! I mean, we've only been together since 2008... just haven't had time to get there I guess ;) It was so nice to be out and doing something new and different together. I'm sure many of you can agree that it's easy to get into a dating rut and visit the same places/restaurants over and over again. We still have a blast at those 'regular' date night spots, but mixing it up keeps things interesting.

We both had so much fun playing around with my new camera- what a perfect place to try her out. We had a fun time laughing at the monkeys, being surrounded by butterflies and taking in all the gorgeous flowers and landscapes of the zoo! If only my yard could look like that. And if only my allergies could handle it.

How cute is he?! It's a Sumatran rhinoceros and I'd never seen one like it!

After a long, fun day at the zoo we ended with dinner and a walk along the river. It's the simple things like walking hand-in-hand, talking about life and laughing at our own nerdiness that mean the most to me. I could travel to the other side of the world with Jared or we could sit at home and watch a movie we've seen a thousand times together- I'd have the time of my life either way. It doesn't matter what we're doing- it just matters that we're together. Maybe I'm feeling extra sappy lately but gosh, I love dating this man. Hashtag blessed, right there! ;)