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Recently, Well-Being

Be Somebody Who Makes Everybody Feel Like A Somebody

February 6, 2015
Be Somebody Who Makes Everybody Feel Like A Somebody

Happy Friday! I just wanted to share this quote because I’ve seen this more than once and it’s always resonated with me. (Kid President popped up when I googled the source, so he’s a pretty cool kid if he is indeed.)

You know that woman who looks beyond stressed behind you in line at the grocery store? Or your elderly neighbor you only catch a glimpse of when they’re collecting their mail? Take a minute to say hello to them, or happy Friday, or just smile! We’re all busy, but it’s equally rewarding for you to make someone else feel special by simply acknowledging them, complimenting them, or starting up small talk, as it is for them.  Think about when something like a simple “hey” or an “I like your dress” turned your otherwise crappy day around.

This is something I’ve been working on over the last few years. I’m easily affected by seeing others who seem lonely and worry about people who may not feel as loved as they should. It doesn’t mean I try to become best friends with these individuals, but I firmly believe that a small gesture is worth twice its weight in gold. You never know what someone else is going through and how much of a difference you might really make for them.

I chat with my coworker who has a bit of a language barrier and is super shy because she came over from Russia in her adult years. In doing so, I found out she loves cats just as much as I do and obtained two degrees when she got here because education is extremely important to her and her college credits weren’t worth anything in the US. She’s pretty funny too and now when I see her in the hall, it brings a smile to both of our faces.

Without some small talk, we wouldn’t get to hear all the wonderful stories and experiences others have to share. It makes you more well-rounded and makes them feel like somebody pretty special too. Plus, you might end up with you making some pretty great friends in unexpected places and it only costs a minute or two of your time.

be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody_1

How are you somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody?
Recently, Well-Being

21 DSD: Weeks 1 and 2- The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

February 2, 2015
21 DSD Weeks 1 and 2- The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Happy Groundhog Day! Well, maybe not so happy. Good old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today and we all know what that means… 6 more weeks of winter. I don’t know how that’s even possible because all we have in my part of PA today is clouds and rain, but it is what it is!

Now, on to the 21 Day Sugar Detox. Week one went really well and all of my prepping paid off. I was super excited to begin the program and kick butt. I even started feeling more clear-headed and despite some (major) irritabilty, I was able to resist any urges for sugar, mostly chocolate…all the chocolate.

Adrian had decided to give up alcohol, fast food, and soda for these three weeks, which was very bold of him. After the first week, he allowed having a beer or two back into his mix, but has successfully stayed away from the McDonald’s and Coca Cola. I think that still makes a huge impact on his health and am very proud. Yay for him!

When week two rolled around, days 8 and 9 passed by okay, then on day 10, I was making Adrian a peanut butter sundae and I. Licked. The. Spoon. Peanut butter got me. I somehow resisted a huge chocolate cake at my mom’s in the first week, but an innocent bit of peanut butter got me… What a letdown. To top it off, on day 11, I woke up grumpy, having had less sleep than usual and not wanting to go to work. When I made my coffee, I reached for some of Adrian’s heath bar creamer instead of my half and half. I don’t know what got into me. I just don’t enjoy my favorite start to the day as much when it’s just the cream. So I messed up again there, continued on with a healthy day, and then slipped again after work with a gluten free granola bar. Sigh.

The guilt set in then and I was really disappointed in myself. Part of me feels like the first week was a major eye-opener for decreasing sugar consumption and that should be enough, but the other part of me knows I set out to do this for a reason, and I need to continue despite my setbacks.

So here’s what the last two weeks looked like:

21 DSD Weeks 1 & 2

This obviously isn’t all 42 or so meals, but I often ate the same things for breakfast and lunch each week and more than once forgot about taking a photo of each meal or it was just pretty awkward to snap a pic of my packed lunch with a bunch of coworkers around.

I made different batches of “noatmeal” and will probably continue making them after this is over. The way I make it is super easy: just an egg or two, a tablespoon of almond butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and any other mix-ins you desire, all scrambled up in a skillet or sauce pan and topped with almond milk. I mixed in a granny smith apple and shredded coconut or some chopped walnuts. It would taste even better with maple syrup, but it was honestly quite tasty on it’s own.

Salads were one of the easiest options as well and I used whatever I was in the mood for that fit the plan. Usually chicken, bleu cheese crumbles, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and then olive oil and lemon for dressing. Chipotle is a great option for a salad out and Panera Bread has some awesome Power Bowls that fit the bill too! Easy breakfasts each week were a batch of egg muffins or a large frittata for Adrian and I. When I ran out of eggs, I had full fat yogurt and a green-tipped banana, or an avocado and some a grapefruit.

Twice, I opted to have breakfast for dinner, making almond flour pancakes (plain, but savory) to go on the side one night.

I found a recipe for an awesome pizza crust that I’ll share with you because it’s too good not to. I admittedly made pizza with it three nights last week. Adrian loved it too, which is a win for sure and there were enough leftovers to have it for lunch as well.

Overall, it’s been a fun experiment so far. Despite my failures, I have managed to stay away from alcohol, soy, and gluten still. I was majorly tested with a gigantic chocolate cake for a post-birthday dinner at my mom’s and I stood my ground. I even blew out a candle from the center of my grapefruit instead. If she reads this, I’m sure she’ll be furious I went for the granola bar over this cake, because I wouldn’t restart the detox in favor of having a slice, but she did freeze some of it for me to have a taste some other time.

All American Chocolate Cake

Have you tested your willpower lately? How do you move forward after a setback when you had higher hopes?
Decor, Organize

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

January 24, 2015
Functional Entryway Design Inspiration_Feature

Shoes and mail are my ultimate clutter issues… Do you have this problem? Do they have a support group for this?

To be honest, email and snail mail are both equally a mess in my life. At work, I have a filing system to be able to respond to directors efficiently with the information they are seeking, but a couple of weeks ago, I started getting daily reminders that my Outlook inbox is almost full, forcing me to delete a bunch of past messages before I can even send a new one. At home, my personal email situation is atrocious. I just reviewed my gmail account and there 5,046 messages in my inbox, with no filing system set up, aside from the “Primary,” “Social,” and “Promotions” tabs that Google appointed. I never keep up with deleting old messages and just skim through the new ones each day, starring those I want to get back to and replying to others immediately. My blog email account can use a little work, but thankfully isn’t the worst of the bunch. I have folders set up and was good about sorting everything in the first month, I just let it go over the last few weeks, and need to get back to it there.

Now, snail mail. [deep breath] Somehow, I have gotten so bad with my paper mail, that unless it’s a package that I’ll tear open immediately, I won’t even open it for a week, sometimes even two. In my early twenties, I used to just avoid bills  because I thought that would somehow make them disappear, but now I’m just flat out forgetting to bring it all in the house, or I put it down on a surface and forget to go back to it after taking Archer out for a walk. I don’t end up getting back to it until Saturday or Sunday when we are cleaning up the house and then I have a huge pile to sort through, giving Adrian and I each a mound, and tossing all the ads in the recycling bin. That means I didn’t get to lovely birthday cards right away and those would have made me smile sooner, especially after the work day.

As far as shoes go, you can find six pairs of shoes of mine at any given time downstairs in our home. I leave them by the door because it was wet after walking the dog, or i scatter my dress shoes after work in favor for slippers, or sneakers if I’m running errands. Then I forget to take them upstairs. Sometimes there’s a little pile of things to take with me on the bottom step, other times I have to go room to room to collect it all.

This needs to end. It’s also a step towards one of my resolutions, to  keep our house in tip top shape without the stress of tackling it all at once, because little tasks get pushed back over time.

So now the plan is to have a command center/drop zone built in to our entry way to keep things organized as soon as we walk in the door. I’d like a place for shoes, something to hold one week’s worth of mail only (junk mail should be recycled immediately and not included in this bin), a spot for doggy toys, hooks for my purse and coats, and a place to lay our keys.  I’d like to have a board for notes to one another, our weekly meal plan listed with an ongoing shopping list, and a shared calendar. This will require storage, as I’d like to keep the boards, mail, and calendars discreetly hidden from guests, but in the open enough for us not to avoid it.

So I’ve gathered up some inspiration. If you’re anything like me or have your own clutter issues, maybe these will help you too, or maybe just an aesthetic redesign is in order!

(Click images for their source)

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

Functional Entryway Design Inspiration

This last entryway is the one I am leaning towards. I’m hoping to come up with an Ikea hack to help us complete the project within a decent budget. I love all of the storage, but may have to reduce the upper cabinets and seating by half, since I only have four feet of wall space to work with on each side of the door. I like that the calendar and note system can go on the inside the long cabinet door, where they’re not in plain sight for visitors and that our puppy gear and mail can be out of view too.

Do you have a system in place to keep your mail, shoes, and every day clutter under control? I’d love to hear some of your tips too!
Well-Being

Prepping for the 21 Day Sugar Detox

January 19, 2015
Prepping for the 21 Day Sugar Detox

Today is the day I begin my battle with sugar by starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox! My goal is to find a healthy balance, where I don’t need that little something sweet each day… or let’s be honest a lot of something sweet some days. I’m also interested to see how removing sugar, along with alcohol, grains, and soy affects the way I feel. If it’s a positive change overall, I would like to keep some of these practices in my regular diet after the three weeks are over.

The first and most important thing I did leading up to today, was prep. To start, I read Diane Sanfilippo’s book The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally cover to cover. There is a lot of great information, recipes, and resources included that I am sure I’ll be referencing more over these three weeks.

There are three levels of the program you can choose from, varying in strictness. You can complete a quiz in the book to help you decide what’s a good starting point. I did take the quiz and the results were to try level one, but I opted to start at level two because I feel comfortable giving up more than level one allows. Level two allows full fat dairy products, while level three does not. I plan to limit the dairy, but will be adding full fat half and half to my coffee each morning and may have another full fat dairy item once or twice each week, likely at dinner time. At some point, I may complete this program again, (assuming all goes well!) but try it at level 3, without the dairy.

The next thing I did was choose all of the meals I will be having this week from a mix of Diane’s recipes, Pinterest recipes, and my own based on the yes and no food list she provides per each level of the plan. Diane does include a full 3-week meal plan for each level for those that prefer to have everything written out for them, but I like to use that as more of a guide and try to get creative, while using that as a guide. When I decided to try this program out, I got excited and started a 21 Day Sugar Detox board on Pinterest, for inspiration and references. If you are at all interested in the program, you should check it out! I decided on 21 meals and will carry over any we do not use for next week, in case we have to grab a bite out- Chipotle all the way if we do!

After the meal planning, Adrian I went shopping to get all the goods we didn’t already have. This meant mostly a lot of produce and meats. We made an effort to be smart about the shopping to save money where we could. We went to Produce Junction, which is in walking distance of our home now, yay! I got all of the produce shown here for $30, which is a steal compared to shopping for all of this at our usual grocery stores!

Finally, I cooked all of our breakfasts and lunches for the week and divided them into containers to save me time in the morning. I made a big batch of soup for lunches. I whipped up the book’s Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins for our breakfasts. Over the next three Mondays, I’ll be showing you what my meals looked like each week too. Adrian will be eating all of the meals I make as well, but hasn’t decided yet if he can fully commit to the program. He loves his beer and take out! I’m just happy he’s willing to go along with this much of it, so I don’t have to cook us entirely different menus each week!

I’ll be tracking my meals on My Fitness Pal during this journey. I won’t be doing it to count calories, since that’s not the point of this detox, but would like to keep  track of everything to look back on when I finish. If you use this app, send me a friend request and we can support each other! My username is jackiep187. Just write me a message about the detox or this post, so ya know, I know you aren’t a creeper.

I have to admit, I am a tad nervous about how this will go, but I’m confident this planning will make the experience easier overall. I’m going to be drinking lots of water and herbal tea today and will adjust things as I go wherever necessary to stick this through, even if that means missing out on my beer or glass of wine for 21 days! Boohoo.

P.S. I’m still looking for a buddy to get on board the program fully with me if you’re interested!

Prepping For The 21 Day Sugar Detox

Have you ever completed the 21 Day Sugar Detox or another program, like Whole 30? If so, what were some of your strategies? If you haven’t completed something like this before, is it something you’d consider trying?
Recently, Well-Being

2015 Resolutions: Bring On the New Year

January 2, 2015
2015 Resolutions

Does it feel like 2015? I can’t get over how fast the time passes the older and busier I get. I’m sure I feel this way every year, but it’s just not something I am ready to accept! It scares me really, but I like to think of that fear as fuel.

I’m starting off the year with a cold. I was so excited for the new year and now this head cold is sucking the motivation out of me. Never fear, I’m stocked up on meds and tissues, so I am pushing through. I really do feel good about this year’s open floor plan and I can’t wait to turn it into something great. I have my husband, our home, our fur babies, a huge and supportive family, and me!

This year I want to put more emphasis on me. Not in a selfish, I-don’t-care-about-anyone-else sort of way, but a need-to-fix-and-make-me-the-best-I-can-be way! I’m turning 28 in less than two weeks and I am not waiting around until I’m 30 to jump on the bandwagon of change. If it sounds cliché that I am putting these resolutions out there now, I’m sorry, but I’m actually not sorry. People find motivations in all different places and if this January start is where my inspiration lies, then so be it! I’m working on a solid approach with a follow through plan to help these stick because this year, it’s about the why not the what.

2015 Resolutions: Bring On the New Year

Be more mindful and present

I’m a very reflective person. I spend a lot of time thinking about the past or what others are going through. This isn’t all bad because I have learned many lessons this way from past mistakes or positive changes and my concern for others helps me grow my relationships and understanding of others in general. In addition to the past, I also tend to look forward to upcoming happenings, which can be nice because it’s good to be excited about what you’re working towards or what’s going to bring a smile to your face. As the years go by, I have stopped countdowns for major events and this became especially last year with the house and wedding because I know the time is going to pass faster than it should anyway, but I still let my mind wander forward to those events from time to time. I’m a big day dreamer and always have been.

The downside to my past and future fixations is sometimes I forget about the here and now. I want and plan to soak up more of the day to day joys. I remember as a kid, stopping to stare at a sunset on vacation, and hoping if I looked just long enough, I’d be able to come back to those moments like a catalog in my brain. I want to add more of those moments to my catalog because these day to day, minute to minute occurrences are just as important as the big things. We just need to pay a bit more attention.

Improve my health

It is so easy to let our health fall (or get pushed) off the radar. I will strive to lose some weight to get more energy, confidence, and boost my overall mood. To do this, I have some sub-goals to reach the big goal:

  • 21-Day Sugar Detox: I’m going to ease into healthier eating over the next couple of weeks, then begin the 21-Day Sugar Detox after my birthday. It’s no secret I have a major sweet tooth, so I want to kick start things by getting that issue under control. I ordered the book off Amazon and it will be here Monday, so I will do some major planning then. If you are interested in doing this with me, let me know! (It would help keep things even more accountable.) After the detox is over, I will be cutting back on alcoholic beverages (there will be zero consumed on the detox), working on eliminating refined sugars and incorporating them in my recipes instead, and following the 80/20 rule to keep me on track without having a small slip up derail my efforts.
  • Get back in shape: There was a time where I got into running, participated in some 5k’s and 5-milers and really felt good about myself and my achievements. I’d like to bring those feelings back by getting back to running, beginning with 3 workouts per week. I also really want to try yoga to improve my flexibility and use it to assist my first resolution of mindfulness and being present more.
  • Meal planning: I partially do this now to make things a bit easier, but there are some weeks where I have no plan for meals and then we tend to order out or go out. To improve this in our home and to help me reach my goals, I will work out a system that works for me to pack daily lunches for work, without scrambling before I run out the door. I also want to have at least 4 dinners at home decided before Monday each week. This will have to be flexible, with our ever changing evening schedules, but I’m hopeful we will manage well once a system is in place.
Blog On

I just started out in the blogging world about two months ago and I’m still every excited about my little corner of the internet. That being said, there is a lot of improvement to be made here and I’m ready for the work ahead.

  • Create a schedule and post consistently: I am learning to juggle working full time and having a social life while blogging. Since this is something I chose to do because I love the creative outlet and connecting with readers like you, I plan to carve out some designated time to write and engage each week to achieve a balanced lifestyle. I would like to get myself on a schedule where I post three times each week as well.
  • Become part of the community: I am happily overwhelmed with the community bloggers live and work in. It’s so wonderful seeing relationships between people from all over the world with common interests and goals. I would really like to immerse myself more in this community and open myself up to making new connections.
  • Improve photography: I have become interested in pursuing photography as a hobby and enhancing the images for my posts in the process. A picture tells a story on its own and I want mine to really speak to you throughout my posts. I put a lot of effort into my recipes and having photos that match that effort would give me an especially warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
Budget

Budgeting is something that I adjust every year, as spending requirements never tend to stay the same. We have our old home to fix and rent out and are currently covering both mortgages in the process, so there is definitely always room for improvement. Adrian and I will sit to down discuss our budget as a newly married couple and I will reevaluate my personal spending to allow for extra savings to purchase things on my wish list and rainy days.

Home Improvement

This one I am excited for! We put any home changes on hold because of the wedding and then the holidays, so now I am ready to get into things! I plan to start working on each room of the house, one by one, until our lovely house is truly our home! I also want to establish a cleaning schedule, so there are no more big cleans necessary when we are having company over. Plus, a clean space is so nice to come home to and really takes the unnecessary stress out of daily life.

Marital Bliss

A happy marriage doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s something that always requires effort from both individuals in order to really succeed. We signed up for this, so it isn’t really a chore, but still falls into an ongoing resolution for me. Adrian and I plan to:

  • Establish date nights: Adrian is incredibly ambitious and it’s something I always loved about him, but between his ongoing projects and goals and my own, we sometimes forget to make time for each other. A date night will allow for serious quality time and a break from our current gigs to enjoy one another. It might not happen each week, but the goal is at least twice a month.
  • Communicate: Everyone has heard that communication is key in a relationship and I couldn’t agree more. This is another one for us that can always improve in some small way, so I will be working on this year round as well.

2015 Resolutions: Bring On the New Year

Phew. I seriously feel better, even with this awful cold, just by writing all of this out. I hope this will motivate you to consider your own goals, if you haven’t already. It will take work, but everything worth having does!

What are your 2015 resolutions? Do you have any tips for achieving your goals?

 

DIY, Organize, Recently

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

December 21, 2014
His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

I’m so excited because Adrian took some time out to join me in today’s post! (I’m hoping he’ll start stopping by more often. 🙂 ) Not only did Adrian work on this with me, but Man Crates reached out to us to share their awesome and unique gift offerings for the men in your life! We are down to the wire, with Christmas just a few days left, so we wanted to share with you our holiday essentials and give you a peek at what Man Crates has to offer!

(We were not at all compensated for this post and all ideas are our own. We just think Man Crates is really onto something with their mission to provide dudes with perfect gifts!)

His

 

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Hey! Jaclyn usually asks me to proof-read her posts, but this is the first one I get to help write!

I always forget about my vacation days until the end of the year, and I have to use them or lose them. This year, I used a bunch for our honeymoon, and now I’m using the rest of them for a sanity break. I figure I’ll finally get to unpack from our recent move and put all of my things away in my “man cave”, play some video games, and write some songs.

Here are a few things I need to keep me from going nuts!

  1. Amazon Prime: This isn’t just for the holidays, but Amazon Prime really comes in handy for last-minute gifts! $99/year for two-day shipping of purchases, and tons of shows and movies I can watch to keep myself sane while I holiday shop at home.
  2. A New Guitar: I love to play guitar! Every guitar sounds and feels different based on how it’s put together, and a diverse sonic palette inspires creativity, so I always like to add to my collection. I have been looking at four or five different guitars to gift myself this season. The most unique model I’m looking at is the Kenny Hickey (of Type O Negative fame) signature model Schecter C-1 EX S. Its most unique feature is a “Sustaniac” pickup in the neck position, which is used to create an electromagnetic feedback loop — you can create feedback without going deaf standing in front of a cranked amplifier!
  3. Event Tickets: The holidays can be festive and social, but sometimes I feel “stuck” at home. Winter is cold, it’s dark, there’s snow and ice on the ground, and it’s hard to find the motivation to do anything. Tickets to a concert, a sporting event, or a show are opportunities (and because they cost money, obligations!) to go out and have fun. Every year, Jaclyn surprises me and takes me out to something fun: rock concerts, basketball games, professional wrestling, the list goes on!
  4. Guitar Strings: If you play guitar, you always need a good supply of strings on hand. I usually tune down to CGCFAD or DGCFAD, so I need a thicker string with good tone, but I don’t want them to feel like power cables. My string preference is Ernie Ball Coated Electric Titanium RPS Power Slinky — the coating keeps them sounding good for a long while!
  5. Guitar Picks: I go through picks like crazy. I like Jim Dunlop Gator Grip picks at .96mm, sufficiently heavy while able to provide some nuance.
  6. Beer: I am a craft beer enthusiast — not a beer snob! — so I enjoy drinking different styles and brands in my search for “the perfect beer”. (I also like getting Jaclyn to try them with me!) My palate changes with the seasons, so I’m not sure I will ever find “the perfect beer”… but it sure is fun to try! An annual favorite of mine is the Sly Fox Christmas Ale.  It’s a “winter warmer” type of beer, slightly heavy, a touch of malt, spicy and flavorful, and delightful for cold weather and relaxation.
  7. A Christmas Story: It’s just not Christmas without this classic movie! It has a special place in my heart, because I watch this every chance I get with my father, and we still laugh like idiots every time. “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”
Hers

 

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Here are some of my favorite things during the holidays, along with other things I couldn’t get by without!

  1. Coffee All the Time: This is a must year round, but I have to have my holiday specialty drinks this time of year.
  2. Cookies: I am a sucker for sweets always, but it’s 10x as bad during Christmas.
  3. Bottles of Wine: Wine is a perfect gift for neighbors, coworkers, stocking stuffers, you name it. I always have extras for anyone on my list I may have forgotten last minute, but I also like to have extra for planned (and sometimes unplanned) guests.
  4. Comfy Pajamas: When I come home from work, if we don’t have anywhere to go, I immediately change into my pajamas. It’s the best feeling in the winter!
  5. Target Boots (and Moccasins): I have to admit, I’ve never actually owned a pair of Uggs. I prefer to get boots and moccasins at Target each year instead. I’m notorious for stepping in unexpected puddles or wearing them in the snow, so I don’t have to stress when they get a bit beat up.
  6. Mad Elf: #6 and #11 go together here. They are my favorite holiday beers! I always get super excited to see them on the shelf at Wegmans!
  7. Repairing Lotion: My skin gets way too dry in the winter. I started using Vaseline’s intensive care lotion this year and it’s been wonderful. I never get cracked or dry skin now. (Tip: Leaving it by your hand soap in the bathroom reminds you to apply after hand-washing.)
  8. Jane Iredale’s Lip Drink: When I went for my wedding makeup trial, my awesome makeup artist took one look at my lips and knew I am not always the best at staying as hydrated as I should. She gave me a sample of this and I’ve been hooked ever since. I usually put in on first thing when I’m doing my makeup in the morning. You can add whatever you want over top.
  9. ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas: Whenever Adrian isn’t watching Football, I have this channel on. It keeps the Christmas spirit up in the house. My favorite Christmas movies are Elf, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (both the original and live action), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the 1964 version.)
  10. Amazon Prime: I started using Amazon Prime about two years ago because we learned you can share your account with another member in your household (so I of course jumped on Adrian’s) and it’s THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously. Last minute shopping is super-easy. I found a couple Minecraft items on my little brother’s Christmas list that I couldn’t find in stores and they arrived two days after ordering with free shipping. Sorry I’m so excited, I just don’t get how everyone doesn’t use this as much as I do.
  11. Southern Tier’s 2XMAS: This goes with #6 and although I thought it couldn’t be true, I actually prefer this over the Mad Elf if I was forced to choose. So good!
  12. Address Book: I procrastinate on writing out the holiday cards each year, so I have to have an address book to keep me organized and make the process of getting them out the door that much faster.
  13. Ugly Sweater Kit: We go to an annual ugly sweater party each year. The past few years, Adrian and I went scavenging at local thrift shops to find our beauties. This year we found these awesome Ugly Sweater kits with everything we’d need to create our own. So much fun! AND we won best couple at the party with them this year!

 

Man Crates

In addition to sharing our holiday survival kits with you, as I said before, Adrian and I teamed up with Man Crates to bring you great gift ideas for your guy! If you haven’t heard of the before, they design crates full of themed presents, that you open with mini crowbars! There is a fit for any of the men in your life! Adrian loves Man Crates’ style and I love that they take the guess work out of buying and deliver gifts your guy will actually want. Too good not to share this time of year!

They have lots of awesome choices, including gadgets, gear, and video games. Here are Adrian’s favorites to give you a glimpse of what they have to offer:

The High Roller

This is classy and coordinated. Great for poker, drinks, and stogies with friends!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Original ‘Honor Guard’ Playing Cards Printed exclusively for Man Crates by the USPCC, Original ‘Generalissimo’ Playing Cards Printed exclusively for Man Crates by the USPCC, 2 Evil Genius Sphinx Glasses, 2 oversized whiskey soapstone rocks, 2 felt and slate coasters Stainless steel cigar cases, Evil Genius Sphinx black matte flask

 The Snack Pack

This has a ton of variety, and it’s not just candy, it’s substantial snacking!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

Oreos, Nutter Butter cookies, Chips Ahoy cookies, Theater Box of Starbursts, Peanuts in the Shell, Pringles Potato Chips, Nature Valley Granola Bar, Premium Popcorn, Corn Nuts, Rice Krispy Treats bar, Sunflower seeds, Hot Tamales spicy cinnamon candies, Cracker Jack box, Huge box of Crunch & Munch

 Super Retro Gamer Crate

… And there goes an entire weekend!

His and Hers Holiday Survival Kits + Man Crates

 

We definitely recommend checking them out for Christmas. If your guy’s already covered, they’d be the best just-because gifts or birthday presents too!

What would you include in your holiday survival kit? Which Man Crate do you think is the coolest?
DIY, Organize, Recently

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone

December 4, 2014
6-ways-featured

With all of our common personal goals to save for retirement, pay off debt, buy or renovate a home, or put kids through college, why is the holiday season such a money hole? Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts just as much as the next, but is that what the holidays are really about? It seems so. I read that it is estimated that Americans spent 602 billion dollars, on the winter holidays alone, last year!

I don’t want to give up gift giving completely, but it would be wonderful to just simplify things and bring holidays back to their core. Spending time with those that matter to us most is really what these celebrations should be about. It’s hard finding the time daily and even weekly to do so and this time of year means more to me than any pile of boxes could. So, I came up with some ways to limit the frivolous spending and still enjoy the holidays while doing so. This list is meant for the adults in the family, but if you want to instill these values early, kids can participate as well!

(Tip: Avoid gift cards for any of these options. If you’re limiting the giving, why take the easy way out?)

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone1. Play a Holiday Gift Game

Picking a game that requires one quality gift and another silly gift is probably the most fun way to go here. There are lots of different games to choose from and I’m sure you’ve already played them in school or at work before, so why not make it a new tradition with the family? Here are some of the most popular ideas that just require one gift and a hat:

  • Secret Santa/Pollyana: Each family member would put their name in a hat to be drawn. You have to buy a gift for whomever’s name you pick. The recipient will then try to guess who had them upon opening their gift. (Some versions allow you to write down 3 top gift wishes to make it easier, but I like the creative approach with nothing to go off of)
  • White Elephant/Chinese Auction/Yankee Swap: This one is my favorite. Set a price limit and have everyone bring one wrapped gift that would suit any participant in the bunch.  Have each person draw a number (from one to the total amount of guests present). The person with number “one” chooses a present to unwrap, then the person with number “two” has the option to choose a new, wrapped present, or they may steal the unwrapped present from the first person. If they take the present from the first person, person one chooses another present to unwrap. This goes on until all the presents have been unwrapped and everyone has a gift. The stealing here makes for lots of laughs and conversation!
  • Cakewalk Exchange: This is like musical chairs meets presents! Place numbered, random, holiday-type objects on the floor. Place corresponding numbers in a hat. Use music or a bell to have everyone scramble to an object of their choice, then draw a number from a hat, and whoever has it gets to choose their gift first. Give the option to switch positions or stay where they are until the remainder of the gifts are gone.
2. Volunteer or Give to Charity

6 Ways to Stop Buying Holiday Gifts for Everyone

There are plenty of great organizations in need, where you can volunteer or donate money this season.

  • Sponsor a child or family for the holidays to provide gifts they wouldn’t otherwise receive. I suggest a great organization called Soldiers’ Angels
  • Start or participate in a food, toy , or clothing drive as a family. You can even turn it into a competition to up the fun. There are tons to choose from, including Toys for Tots, Philabundance, and Cradles to Crayons
  • Serve at a local soup kitchen as a family
  • Give back to the animals too. Adopt a polar bear or another favorite, or donate some much needed supplies to your local animal shelter
 3. Nosh Instead

Skip gifts all together and go with food and drinks!

  • Have a potluck dinner. Go traditional or pick a theme and have everyone bring a side
  • Have a cookie exchange. Everyone brings as many dozen cookies as there are guests and everyone leaves the gathering with 1 dozen of each. You can do any sort of treats you prefer
  • Have a cocktail exchange party. Each family member (of age) brings the liquor and mixings for the cocktail of their choice and everyone sips the night away
4. Pair Up

If the adults in your family are all in relationships, here’s easy way to scale back is to just give and receive gifts as a couple. This is a great way to incorporate something they may need for their home or to get creative with date nights!

5. Vote For a Family Outing

Make memories each year as a family. First set a budget that’s comfortable for everyone, then pitch in for an event out together. Try:

  • A simple or fancy dinner out instead of cooking
  • See a Broadway show or concert
  • Head to the movie theater
  • Go all out on a family vacation together
6. Handmade Only

Forgo the shopping completely and make each other gifts. For the guys who aren’t so crafty? Make up coupon books!

 

I’d love to hear if you incorporate any of these traditions in your family! How do you feel about all the gift giving this time of year?
Organize, Wedding

Packing for Your Trip, Made Easy

October 20, 2014
Honeymoon Bound

We are off to the airport for our honeymoon! At 9:50 this morning our flight will take off with a new Mr. and Mrs. aboard, eager to flee to our private revelry. I have been looking forward to this for almost as long as I dreamed of getting married. I love to travel, but the honeymoon always had this dreamy allure of intimacy and seclusion for me that other vacations can’t quite achieve.

We gave ourselves a day to decompress before leaving. I initially planned to have our bags ready to go, so we could just slow things down the night before and get in vacation mode. That almost happened, but there were a few things I didn’t quite get to like I hoped, which left me with an hour or so of re-checking bags, lists, and throwing last minute items from the laundry into our luggage.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in that boat before too, so I gathered us all a few quick tips for getting it together for all the voyages yet to come!

 

1. Start your list early- Start the list early to allow time to add to it as you remember things along the way, since that’s the whole purpose of making one to begin with. Leaving the list to the day of packing will allow for things to get left behind. Sunscreen is super expensive at most tourist destinations and resorts!

2. Check you airline’s baggage policy- Avoid unplanned fees and hassles by looking up your airlines baggage policy ahead of time. Also, you should be able to bring a carry-on, along with your purse, so pack all of your absolute-must-haves, including electronics and valuable jewelry, to take on board with you in case of lost or delayed luggage on the way. If an item is irreplaceable or you’re worried about losing it, don’t bring it along.

3. Roll, roll, roll- I’m not the neatest folder to begin with, so folding clothes takes up way too much space in my luggage. Rolling them makes a huge difference when it comes to zipping that suitcase up. It also helps reduce wrinkles!

4. Leave some room- Don’t forget about the trip home! You’ll most likely need some space for souvenirs in your carry on or checked luggage.


Do you have any other time and space saving methods you swear by when packing for your trip?

Wedding, Well-Being

17 Days of Lovin’

October 1, 2014
Lock Bridge Paris

In 17 days, I will be marrying the love of my life! I don’t usually have a countdown going, but with today being the first of the month, there is no avoiding it! I am just so surprised by how this last year has slipped past.

It’s time for a confession: I have been so caught up in the to-do’s and stress of everything that I realized I’ve been slightly under-appreciating our relationship.  I thought this year of planning would only bring us closer together, but I feel guilty about focusing on the details of the wedding day, instead of the details that make us… well, us!

Despite the whole point of the event and why we’re here today, I let the real reason we chose forever get swept under the rug. I had gone through a stage where all I wanted was to elope, to avoid all the fluster of a big wedding. He talked me down, and I thought I was managing it all okay, but here I am swept up by wedding fever anyway!

So, I am now on a mission to shower him with 17 days of lovin’! (And onward) I want him to be reminded every morning through night of how head-over-heels I am for him, because that’s all I want him to think about in the days leading up to me walking down the aisle to his side, instead of what a maniac I can be when I’m stressed!

17 Days of Lovin'

Today, I packed his lunch, and when I see him after work I plan to start up with a daily 15-second long kiss– mandatory. It’s something I wanted to start a couple months ago, but we only made it two days before wedding overload took hold. I got the idea from this cute little story. I plan to make it an all-the-time thing though, not just a few days… gotta keep that spark alive!

I’ll definitely be looking for lots of creative ways to show my hubby-to-be how much I care. It’d be wonderful to hear how you express your lovin’ daily too!

Do you have any other advice for keeping your relationship strong when things are getting hectic?