Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homemade gifts!

This year for the Christmas season, I decided to make something for a few friends, neighbors and coworkers. I found this great homemade hot chocolate mix recipe on my fav site (Pinterest) and knew it was the perfect idea.

Next, I wanted to make cute little custom labels. On a day I had time to browse, I wandered around Michaels to get inspired. Ended up finding label stickers in the bridal aisle and found some supplies to make cute little tags. See the finished product:

I was so happy with how they turned out and really loved making something for a few of the wonderful people in my life. 

Do you make homemade gifts? My mom makes homemade Baileys every year and it's DELICIOUS. Will have to get a picture to share! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

This New Life = Productive

It's amazing how much you can do in a day when you don't spend 3 hours of it on a bus..... Seriously, though. There were multiple times today I actually asked Brian if it was the right time. I went to a meeting over breakfast, painted my nails, assisted my mentor with 2 showings in a town 20 minutes away, downloaded new music and created a couple playlists, kicked my own ass in a workout, watched a documentary, did a little searching on the MLS and attended a 3 hour Real Estate class 45 minutes away. Got home from that and just spent an hour working on my business. I'm even still up to watch Jimmy Fallon. I mean, WHAT?! 

This new life is here to stay. L.O.V.E.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On leaving my job...

Today marks the end of an era. Today, I said goodbye to the successful women who chose to bring a fresh college grad onto their team. Today, I said goodbye to the building I still remember walking into for my interview while dreaming this job would become a reality. It was my very first "real job" at my absolute dream company. 

Earlier this year, I figured out what it is I want to spend my career doing and made the very scary decision to leave my stable, comfortable job at a world-class company to pursue it. 

Today, as I live out this decision, I'm excited, scared, anxious, nervous, determined and a little sad. I'm walking away from a team environment where people cheer each other on and walking into a very competitive, sometimes cut-throat environment where everyone is trying to sell more than the other guy. I'm walking away from a salary and cutting my family's monthly income almost in half. I've been told it takes months and months to start making money in real estate and that's referring to the really, really great agents. That's pretty nerve racking to say the least. 

But, making a huge change is always scary. I think the scariest changes most of the time yield the greatest results. So, I'm jumping in with both feet. Can't wait to write this next chapter of my life. 

So, here it goes....

Sunday, November 24, 2013


For Mother's Day, I did something a little different this year. My mom and I both have one tattoo already and as most people will agree, once you have one, you want another! I made a little booklet of different tattoo pictures.  Here's what it looked like:
A few weeks ago, my mom made an impromptu decision to accompany my dad on a business trip and instead of going all the way to Chicago, I picked her up to spend the day and night with me. It was an awesome spur of the moment plan! While running a few errands that afternoon I jokingly suggested I could make good on my gift and we could get tattoos. After I said it, I got all chickened out and nervous. 

We stopped at a tattoo parlor and as fate would have it, the guy was booked straight for a month but just had a cancellation that Monday afternoon and had the hour open. So, we did it! 

Let me just tell you, getting a tattoo stings!  I can't imagine getting a sleeve of them or lots of big artsy ones. Thankfully, both of our tattoos took less than 5 minutes. Whew! You sure do feel like a badass afterwards, though! 

Here's my mom's:

And here's mine:

I wanted a visual reminder to keep things into perspective, with God at the center which is symbolized by the cross coming off the e. I just love it! Easily cover-up-able with long sleeves, a watch or bracelet. But still, something I'll see throughout the day reminding me to slow down, pray and be thankful for the incredible life I have, no matter how stressed I feel.

Do you have a tattoo? Did yours take longer than 5 minutes? Ouch.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ebates: Give a little, get a little!

Though I refuse to listen to Christmas music, buy a peppermint mocha and decorate my house for the best holiday of the year, I will soon start shopping for Christmas presents. This year, I think I'll be shopping a little differently....

Have you heard of ebates? WELL, allow me!

I just found out about this site through a co-worker. This website has been around since 1999 and here's how it works:
1) Use this link to sign up:
2) Click on various store website URLs to shop
3) Shop. Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, house goods, clothes, Christmas cards even!?
4) ebates tracks your purchases and even gives you between 1-8% cash back for your purchases (each store varies)
5) Once a quarter, ebates literally PAYS YOU for shopping!


Use the link I put above to sign up. I'm already loving this site - you will too!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Fam Photos

Before this beautiful season turns to a freezing cold winter with bare trees and grey skies, I wanted to get pictures taken. I love when colored leaves are everywhere and the crunchy sound made when your boots walk over them. Plus, fall weather is cozy and romantic. Anyway, a good friend agreed to follow my little family around a local park and take pictures for us. Of course, the idea was to get one great photo for Christmas cards, but I also think it's lovely to just simply get nice pictures taken each year. Hopefully it's something we can keep up each fall.

I'm so excited with how they turned out!!! Below are a few of my favorites :)

Can you feel the love?? There's a lot of it between the three of us. We sure are lucky. Thanks to my beautiful friend Stacy for taking our photos! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Twenties.

Today, I had lunch with a beautiful friend. I mean, she's the kind of person who truly has a beautiful soul. Every time I walk away from spending time with her, I feel refreshed and like I just spent time with one of God's angels. I can't say I have too many other friends like her and I think her kind are rare but I feel very blessed to know her. 

Among many things, we chatted today about the twenties. This time in life that's full of changes both big and small. It's also full of many questions, doubt, worrying and wondering. There is a lot of dreaming but then reality is right there, smacking us in the face. 

The two of us discussed the many changes happening right now in our lives. We have both been fully open to change, embracing it and letting it envelop us.  It's incredibly scary, but it feels exciting and adventurous too. 

I'm not even halfway through my twenties yet, and there have already been lots and lots of life changes. So here's to seeing what the rest of these years bring, and facing anything new head on with an open, willing and trusting heart. 
As Romans 8:28 says:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

From Drab to Fab: Home Office!

Ever since I decided to pursue real estate, I knew I wanted to turn part of our basement into a home office. I'm pretty sure that's what the space was intended for but given the disgusting brown laminate flooring paired with the grey wood paneling, it didn't make for a homey, inspiring space.

I'll be working out of my home a lot- whether it's paperwork or computer work. I knew I wanted the space to feel bright, cheery and as un-basement-like as can be. 

Here's the space before we worked our magic:
I believe the word "dingy" comes to mind? Yes, I agree. Gross. 

First thing first: paint. I chose a very bright, pale blue. Lucky for me, I timed this little painting job on a weekend that Sherwin Williams had a 30% paint sale. Woot! Here's what the sample looked like:

Now for the more obvious, the desk. I didn't want a stuffy Office Max type thing, I wanted more of a table. I like the surface space and don't care as much about shelves. Plus, the lack of shelving means no junk drawer! I found this little gem on Craigslist for $50. 

My big splurge was the desk chair. Check out this beauty I found at a local furniture shop: 

It's the tufted back that gets me! It was discounted heavily since the right corner was a bit frayed. I didn't mind that at all- gives this piece some character!

Alright enough of all the one-off pictures. Here's the after pic! 

And another angle:

Here's the before and after right next to each other:

I'm in love. Being in this room just makes me happy! It's girly, it's bright and it's not boring. 

Can't wait to work here full-time!! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Most Incredible Pumpkin Cookies

Warning: I will be tooting my own horn in this post. Why? Because these cookies are absolutely phenomenal. Honestly, they taste like a tiny piece of heaven and it's 100% fitting Better Homes & Gardens calls them "Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies".

Here's what mine look like:

Are you drooling?

I first made these little beauties 3 years ago with my good friend Cate. We were looking for a Fall-inspired recipe and found these on Pinterest. Well, I have made these every Fall since. I just love hearing people rave about them - there's something so rewarding about someone enjoying your baked goods. It makes my heart happy. I think the ultimate compliment is when people ask about them the next year: "It's pumpkin season. Are you making your pumpkin cookies soon?" And guess what? They're actually VERY easy to make and one batch yields over 65 cookies!!! Talk about worth your time!

A link to the recipe will be included below. I'd like to add that I do not use 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of nutmeg spices in the cookies but instead 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. I think it adds a little something extra! I do, however, sprinkle cinnamon on the top. Also, it says they bake for 10-12 minutes but I have found 13-14 works better in my oven. They're still the softest cookies ever, but under cooked if I follow the timing directions. Of course, this will be different for everyone depending on your oven.

Okay, okay. Here's the link:

Happy baking!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

1st Anniversary!

Today marks our first wedding anniversary!! I feel like this day was just yesterday - I remember it so vividly. Spending the day with my favorite women, feeling the most beautiful I've ever felt, wrapping my arms around Brian during our "First Look" and being so incredibly nervous/anxious/excited when the doors opened and I took my first step down the aisle. Here are a few pictures from our day:



Everyone who's been married says the same thing: "Your wedding day will go by so fast!" I got to the point where I was so sick of hearing that, but it helped me truly focus on each part of the day and take in each moment. I remember telling people after "I felt like I milked that day!" It was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.

Check out the following to see more about our wedding day:
- Our Wedding Trailer via Jet Kaiser Films (you just might shed a little tear, too!)
- Rustic Wedding Chic Wedding Blog
- Mandy Leonards Photography Blog 

This first year of marriage has been fantastic. Full of all the paperwork it requires to successfully change your name, full of "so when will you guys have a baby?" questions, full of stupid made-up songs to make each other laugh, full of saying "husband" and smiling a little on the inside each time I do and full of discussions about life and what we want out of it. We expanded our little family of two by adopting Bosley - a dog we are so completely in love with that I actually almost understand how people could just have a house full of dogs with no babies - almost. He's brought so much joy to our life and has helped make our house a home. And to answer the baby question, we can't wait to someday bring a child into the world, but that day won't come for a few years. Boz is quite enough for now, thank you.

As for my husband, I'm not about to write a love letter in this blog. But I will say that I have fallen in love with him over and over and over again this year. I actually like to imagine that when God was writing my life into being, he was also writing Brian's. We are so ridiculously perfect for each other and he is completely my other half. I am thankful beyond belief for him. I get so excited thinking about all the things we'll get to experience together in this life.

Here's to a phenomenal first year, and here's to many, many more. I love you, Brian!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Our First Anniversary Vacation

Vacation is good for the soul. Getting away from work, email, all the worries, the to-do lists, all the things that need to be done around the house is just what we need once in a while. Add in a sandy beach, hot sun, dinners out and some frozen alcoholic beverages and you've pretty much got the perfect vacation. 

Brian and I decided on Hilton Head Island for our first anniversary trip. It's close enough to drive (though still brutal) and far enough away to feel like you're really somewhere else. We even said yesterday that it feels like we're in Mexico or the Caribbean. Sans the language barrier, bad water, expensive flight and lack of an internet connection. If you have never been here, add it to your list! Especially the first week of October. There are enough people where you don't feel like its a ghost town, but you also feel at times like it's your own private place.

We've done all kinds of things. We've biked 12 miles on the beach, explored Harbor Town where the famous lighthouse is, dined at some of the local establishments, shopped at the outlet mall, jumped the Atlantic Oceans's waves and spent entirely way too much time in the very hot sun. Here are a few pics to share:

My absolute favorite thing we've done so far is going out to the beach one night late after dinner. Brought red wine, chairs and peanut butter m&ms and stared at the star-covered sky while listening to the crash of the waves. There were no lights and no other people around and it was just the coolest thing. 

Before coming to HHI, we detoured to Nashville to break up the trip and spent a night in that fun city. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were upgraded to a gigantic corner suite. Felt like my dad! That kind of stuff just doesn't happen to mid-twenty-somethings!! Even though it was a Sunday night, there was lots of activity downtown and we spent the evening in three different bars listening to live bands, drinking whiskey and loving life. Here are a few pics from this fun evening:

We have one more day today to enjoy it all. Tomorrow, we leave bright and early and drive the 14-15 hours home. We're very excited to see our pup and have a day at home before a busy week starts. Plus, Sunday's our actual anniversary!!
I will be writing an anniversary post so more to come on that later. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Today is a gift"

I must admit that while I enjoy having a blog, at times I feel that my life is not so much blog-worthy. I do not have one negative thing to say about my life - I love this life I've been blessed with!! But when I sit down to write a blog entry that other people may or may not read, sometimes I get that "what the heck do I write about" feeling.

Recently, my bible study group just wrapped up our second book. This lovely read was "Cold Tangerines" by Shauna Niequist. It's the most darling collection of short stories and the perfect read when you lead a busy life. It allows you to read for 5 minutes if that's all the time you have. Since each story is its own, you'll never forget where you left off or feel the need to "just get one more chapter in" and find yourself at 2AM.. been there, done that. 

This book captivated me. It's all about finding the little moments in life and learning to love and appreciate the things you may not take the time to acknowledge. Like that feeling when you hug someone and neither person lets go for a's as if you're letting someone see straight through you in that moment and he/she's saying "I see you- all that you are - the good, the bad and wow, you really do have some ugly parts. But I don't care, I love you anyway." Life is about those moments. 

Here's an excerpt from one of the last chapters: 
"Today is a gift. And if we have tomorrow, tomorrow will be a gift....We could just live our normal, day-to-day lives, saving all the good living up for someday, but I think today, just plain today, is worth it. I think it's or job, each of us, to live each day like it's a special occasion, because we've been given a gift. We get to live in this beautiful world." 

So, to anyone reading this, I say the same thing that a Dunkin' Donuts employee said to me a few weeks ago, "Enjoy your day." Not the obligatory "have a good day", but she told me to enjoy it. I walked away, coffee in hand, thinking about that phrase. It's a charge to get the most out of the day - this day that you and I have been blessed with. It doesn't matter if it's a regular Tuesday or a particular Saturday you've been looking forward to for weeks, we woke up this morning, thanks be to God. We got out of bed on two feet, thanks be to God. We opened our sleepy eyes to see the world around us, thanks be to God. So let's not waste this blessing of a day - let's not spend it thinking about tomorrow or  dwelling on yesterday, let's dive deep in whatever today will bring and live in this moment. 

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Start of September

Ahh, September. It's here. The best time of the year, in my opinion. Sweater weather, boots, colored leaves,  scarves worn dozens of ways, pumpkin cookies, chilly nights and our anniversary. I just love Fall and everything about it.

This year, the first few days of September were incredibly eventful. I passed my real estate exam (!!!!), Brian and I each attended a wedding in the same weekend and my family celebrated my Dad's 50th birthday with a well-planned surprise party. My Mom did an awesome job. I don't think there are too many things better than surprise parties. All the thought, all the work, all the hushed words and hard-to-keep secrets just to show someone how much you care about them. My Dad was genuinely surprised and it was wonderful seeing so many family members and friends spending their Labor Day Sunday toasting to my Dad. The day after the party, we went to see Mumford & Sons in concert which was quite possibly one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Perhaps our 7th row center seats contributed to that.

Check out my happy parents at the concert. And doesn't 50 look awesome? 

In other news, I've officially given notice at my company and have told everyone that I'll be practicing real estate full time come mid-December. You may be wondering why on earth I told my work that I'm leaving months in advance. Well, you don't work with the people I work with. I knew it was the right thing to do. Plus, I'm not a big fan of the "two weeks notice" thing - I feel it can be inconsiderate when you work for a good company and with a good team of thoughtful people. Well, my co-workers reacted even better than I could have hoped. Completely supportive, excited for me and willing to work through the timing. I tell you what, I am truly blessed. And that God of ours? He provides.

With the start of a new season, I'm trying out some new recipes - like pumpkin scones with a maple glaze. They're actually pretty healthy too! 215 calories a scone. You know what isn't so healthy? the cheesy bacon potato bites I made tonight. They were to die for, as you would expect. Oh, and I found a fabulous homemade macaroni & cheese dish that's anything but healthy. However, it doesn't use velveeta or any type of fake cheese, so that's gotta count for something... Right? If you're interested, all of these recipes can be found on my "Yum" Pinterest board. A couple of pictures I snapped are below.

Pumpkin Scones with a Maple Glaze

Cheesy Bacon Potato Bites

This week, I'll officially become licensed to practice real estate in the state of Indiana. I absolutely cannot wait to start this chapter of my life. Also, I'm headed to Carmel next weekend to bridesmaid dress shop with my two oldest and dearest friends. I get to see the bride-to-be in her wedding gown and I just cannot wait!

September, welcome back.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

One silly question....

Yesterday was a big day in my life. I've been studying non-stop for the State Real Estate Exam. You must pass this exam to apply for a license - something I've been working on since March!

I've been worrying myself sick. I've been thinking negative thoughts - which is SO not me.

Well, I didn't pass, ladies and gents. Or, let me rephrase. I missed ONE too many questions on one of the portions which resulted in four black, ugly letters in all caps to appear on my result paper: FAIL. You have to get 75 questions right, I got 74 questions right. The silver lining? The test is composed of two sections, and I passed one of them. This means I only have to re-take the part I failed. As my glass-half-full husband said afterwards, "it definitely was not a wasted day!"

Can I just quickly comment on the word "FAIL"? What a disgusting word. I mean, really. It's so condescending and offensive. Even if the paper would have said "You suck at life" I feel like it would have been easier to read.

The earliest I can re-take this test is Saturday, Aug 31. This means two more weeks of studying. Two more weeks of delaying the fun and exciting stuff. Two more weeks of trying to push those negative "what if I FAIL a second time" thoughts out of my head. But, I can do it. I WILL do it!

Thankful for my Mom who drove up last night saying "I knew you'd need me either way!" and switched her shopping list from champagne to wine. Thankful for my friend Stacy who spent her evening with us. After eating through a table full of appetizers, drinking two raspberry bellini martinis and sharing lots of laughs, it ended up being a wonderful evening.

Thanks to all of you who said a little prayer or thought good thoughts for me yesterday. At least I passed half of the exam, right?! Brian was right - definitely NOT a wasted day.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Today was a hard day for me. It was also a day filled with happiness; for I was reminded of how blessed I truly am. Blessed to have friends and family who care for me, pray for me and think of me. Blessed to have coworkers who value me and want the best for me. Blessed to have a house to call home, a loving husband to share dinner with and a dog who actually trips over himself to greet me when I come home. 

For all these moments and thousands of other ones, I thank my gracious, loving, perfect God. It's a beautiful thing to have faith. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Midwestern Nice-ness

With all the crap that's constantly on TV or in the news, sometimes it's nice to be reminded of nice people doing nice things.

I've always lived in the Midwest. Born in Maryland, actually, but grew up in Wisconsin and Indiana. For the most part, people around here have always been kind. It wasn't until I moved to Valparaiso that I realized chivalry is alive and well. Not so much the "let me order for you" kinda stuff - this is 2013 and I can order dinner for myself, thank you very much - but the opening doors, or letting a lady go before a man kinda stuff is happening everyday around here. I hope God blesses my husband and I with a boy someday so that we can raise him to be one of those guys - the world needs more of them.

In other news, my Midwestern parents are doing something so great next weekend and I think it's fantastic. One Sunday at church, they heard the story of a Haitian woman living under a very leaky roof. She has multiple children living with her and cannot afford to fix the roof. My parents wanted to step in and try to help. They have organized a garage sale and will be selling their things and anyone else's things in hopes to fix not only 1 roof, but 3 as they want to help multiple families. Isn't that just cool!? I love it.

That's all I've got tonight. If I ever want to become a Real Estate Agent (which I'm currently working towards if you read my previous post), I've got to finish this online class and start studying for the state exam. So if you're looking for me these next 3 weeks, I'll most likely be studying. I apologize in advance for being boring or cutting phone calls short.

Monday, July 15, 2013

BIG Announcement!!!

Today, I have an announcement to share! Since March, I've been taking online classes for my Real Estate license. Yes! I'm going to become Valpo's friendly neighborhood Real Estate Agent! I cannot WAIT to get started as helping people buy or sell a home will be so rewarding!

Starting late August, I will be a nights/weekend Agent as I still have my full-time job at the wonderful Leo Burnett.

So there you have it!! I will soon be creating a Facebook page which will include posts with listings and updates with random homeowner tips and tricks- stuff relevant to everyone, no matter where you are in this world. I'll need all the "likes" I can get so stay tuned for that! 

Courtesy of 312 elements photography, here is my new headshot which will be on business cards, promotional handouts and online listings: 

Thanks for reading my news!! Please, spread the word! I will need all the PR I can get :) 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kitchen Projects

My husband, Brian and I became homeowners in May of 2012. You could say that 2012 was kind of our year - filled with celebrating our upcoming nuptials, buying the first home we saw and starting our lives together as husband and wife in October. 2013, however, belongs to my longest friend, Meghan. She got engaged, got the internship she's been wanting for 2 years and is house shopping. This is her year already!

Homeownership is the best. Well, most of the time. One of our first memories in this home involves me bugging Brian to put up a canvas piece in our powder room (and quick!) because our families were coming to help move and I so badly wanted one space (even if it was the smallest) to be finished. I'm a little crazy when it comes to projects, but more on that another time. Poor Brian was drilling into the wall until water started seeping out - he had hit a pipe!!!! Thankfully, his dad did some major surgery on the pipe that day and now, it's a heck of a when-we-first-became-homeowners story to tell.

One of our favorite things about homeownership is the ability to make changes - both big and small. Today, I'm going to share one of our newest projects. 

A few months back on a very cold winter Saturday, Brian and I decided to install a backsplash in our kitchen. While we were at it, we changed the hardware on the cabinets - from disgusting brassy handles to sleek black ones. The backsplash project was actually pretty fun. I'm all about projects that can be completed in 1 day. All about it. We got everything from our neighborhood Home Depot and went to town. There are definitely some imperfections, but hey, it's an improvement that is nice on the eyes! 

Then, two weeks ago I started collecting stuff to put on top of the cabinets. I was inspired on Pinterest (typical) and read somewhere how it's a forgotten space in many houses. I don't want to forget spaces in my home so I started looking around at what we had. Bought a few pieces at Marshalls & TJ Maxx and voila! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. 

Check out the before: 
Please don't judge me for not cropping out the crap on the island. It adds to the ugliness of the Before picture, okay!?

And after:
A little closer up: 

Notice the backsplash? How about the sleek black cabinet hardware? It was quite a game to get the top of the cabinets to look right and get a balance of just enough but not too much stuff. Overall, I'm happy with it. You'll notice I also removed all but one of the magnets and crap we had on our fridge. It was time, folks. I can't even believe I've lived with all that clutter smack in my face for so long - it had to go. I did leave one magnet that speaks volumes to me. This one: 
Isn't that just lovely? I don't mind seeing that every single day - plus it blends in with the fridge which is an added bonus. 

Have you decorated the tops of your cabinets? Are you going to? Do you have this same peace magnet? Leave your thoughts below. 

Thanks for reading!! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Inaugural Entry

Today, I decided to start a blog. Why, you ask? I'm not entirely sure. I'm not a photographer with incredible pictures to share and I'm not a writer with inspiring words to write, but I figured it would be neat to have an online presence where I could write about DIY projects, home improvement ideas, yummy recipes and share thoughts on random happenings.

The title of this blog comes from a silly phrase my husband and I made up one day - it stemmed from a conversation where we decided that sometimes, people or things are better than the best person/thing you could think of or dream up. How lucky we are to feel that way about each other and this life we are living.

Thanks for reading my little intro, and I hope you'll come back to view future posts! :)