Monday, June 17, 2019

a weekend in San Antonio

Last winter the fiancé and I took a long weekend trip down to San Antonio, so needless to say this post was a long time coming. I'm not a "things" person so I suggested the idea of a weekend trip instead of large Christmas gifts, and because he loves me more than presents he agreed! San Antonio is about a 4 hour drive south of Dallas; it's kinda long but overall pretty easy.

Before we made it to San Antonio we had to stop at the famous Czech Stop in West, Texas for some kolachies! I had never heard of kolachies until I moved to Dallas and let me tell you that is a darn shame! The meat kind are essentially pigs in a blanket and the fruit ones pastries, but they're better than what those descriptions imply. After loading up a bag of our treats we hit the road again!


We stayed at the Courtyard San Antonio Riverwalk which was the perfect "home" for our weekend. It's right on the famous Riverwalk, but tucked around a quiet corner so you're out of the loud crowds but still right in the action. We were able to take a back door out of the lobby and be right on the Riverwalk allowing us to walk to all the fun! The room was basic, but perfect for what we needed. We booked a package that included valet parking, which I highly suggest if you have a car because parking alone is not cheap.

The first evening we went to Mass across the street at St. Mary, which is a beautiful church. When I picture a Catholic church this is exactly what I picture; high ceilings, stained glass windows and beautiful art. It was fun to go to a beautiful church like this because my fiancé had never been inside one like this.


The next day we visited the Alamo! This was the main thing we wanted to see, but honestly I was a little nervous because I've heard mixed reviews from people who've visited. This was seriously so fun and entertaining and something I'd 100% recommend to everyone! To just visit the Alamo is free or you can pay a small fee for an audio ($7) or guided ($15) tour. We opted for the guided tour and honestly that is a must if you visit. Our tour guide had a degree in history and you could tell she was not only knowledgable about the Alamo but really passionate about it. We essentially walked in a wide rectangle in front of the Alamo and learned all about the history of not only the battle of the Alamo, but the whole of San Antonio. Then we entered the Alamo and learned more about the history of the actual building. This is where our guided tour ended, but there are also a few museum type exhibits with artifacts to view. The whole thing was extremely educational, especially for a new Texan!

That evening we enjoyed one of the river cruises to take in the River Walk. We decided to do it at night because the River Walk was decked out in Christmas lights so we thought it'd be more romantic, which it was, but it was also a little chilly; I'd suggest bringing an extra jacket if you do it at night. This tour guide had the usual corny jokes, but also had some fun facts to share and places to point out. Did you know they shot scene from Miss Congeniality on the River Walk!?


This was the perfect weekend getaway! If we go again I'd like to explore the Briscoe Museum and visit some of the other Missions. Other long weekend trips I hope to make include Austin, Waco, and Oklahoma City! We're doing a lot of travel this year so I don't know we'll get to do anymore of these long weekend trips, but now that we're in Dallas for good I have no doubt we'll eventually get to them all.



Monday, April 29, 2019

Life Update : we bought a house!

Surprise! I'm now a homeowner, or a half homeowner, or half a mortgage holder technically. April 10th the fiancé and I closed on our first house and we've been living in it for the last week and a half.


To put things simply we had terrible neighbors at our apartment and were just never able to get the full warm fuzzies for our building because of them. At the beginning of year we started talking about what we wanted to do once our lease was up and both agreed we didn't want to resign to stay for a year. We started looking at other apartments and didn't find anything we loved so we thought we'd look for a condo or townhome to rent. After talking to a realtor and mortgage broker we realized it really just made more sense to buy since mortgage rates were lower than they'd been in the last year and we could get a jump on it before the market got super competitive in the summer.

So we started searching zillow and realtor.com for our dream place. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted; two bedroom 1.5 bath; 950+sq ft and in two specific locations in Dallas. We thought  these areas would have the best resale value once we started a family and needed something larger while still fitting in our price range. After a long afternoon of looking at about 8 condos we thought we'd found a great fit, but with one problem. This condo had been on the market off and on for almost 2 years (major red flag!) and had an insanely high HOA fee. We then decided to expand our search to single family homes where we wouldn't have an HOA fee and would essentially have the same monthly payment. This meant essentially starting the search over again with a whole new set of parameters.

We really thought the second house we went in was the "one." It had a fabulous screened in sunroom addition plus a large family room, and was much closer to both our jobs. I could picture our future in there and how we'd update it short term and long term. After talking to their agent and looking at a prior inspection report we decided there were just too many problems that we didn't want to fix as first time buyers. So back to the drawing board we went. In the middle of this I had a super crazy work/life schedule where I had 3 trips in less than a month. We took a mini break from looking while I was out of town for a week and decided to go look at three houses the day after I got back into town. At that point I was honestly a little over looking. Even though we hadn't been looking for that long, it was emotionally exhausting to think we had found the "one" twice already only to realize it wasn't a good fit once we looked more closely. I had accepted that we weren't going to find anything and would just need to sign a 9 month lease and start looking again in the fall after the competitiveness of summer was over. But then we walked into this house and knew it was perfect!

It has 3 bedrooms and two baths, a large laundry room, two car garage, and a nice fenced in backyard for the pup. The street has a cute name and we're in a good school district. No farther from work than we were before. Hot water heater, roof, and HVAC are all new within the last 3 years but the house still has some the original elements giving it charm. Gas stove and updated countertops and flooring. And the most adorable guest bathroom. Honestly it's everything and more that we wanted in a first home.

We put in an offer that day. The next morning we got a call from our realtor to let us know we were in a multiple bid situation and the owners were asking for everyone's best offer by 5pm. We went to church and prayed about it and then put in our offer. Later that evening we got the call that the owners had decided they wanted to work with us but countered our offer. After double checking with the mortgage broker we decided to accept there counter and officially said yes to buying the house! The rest of the process was true whirlwind. I kept waiting for the hammer to drop and something to go wrong, but we got lucky and the whole process went really smoothly.

When the year started I shared that one of my 2019 intentions was to be aggressive with saving because we wanted to buy a house in 2020. Reaching that bigger goal of owning a home a year early is so surreal. I realize I'm very fortunate to be in a position where this is possible and I owe a lot of thanks to my parents who not only always stressed the importance of saving and living within your means, but also allowed me to graduate college debt free and then live at home to save for 2 years. I truly feel like I'm living the American dream, and for that I am thankful.



Monday, April 22, 2019

Why I miss blogging and why I don't

The other day I tweeted that I really miss blogging, but then I think about what blogging has become and realize what I really miss are the old days of blogging. When I started writing on this space back in 2013 blogging was WAY different. For starters this blog looked completely different. When I started blogging I blogged at FromMississippiWithLove.blogspot.com and my page was bright pink and orange, then to a chic black and white floral print, and finally to red, navy and white. I started it in part as a way to teach myself basic coding to add a skill to my resume so I did all the coding and design. Along the way I changed the name and design (again) until I curated a space I'm still really proud of.

I recently reread this post I wrote after my first year of blogging and the nostalgia really hit. Blogging was so simple back then. The majority of people blogging were doing it for fun, not to make money or become an influencer. We wrote fun how to posts, weekend updates, and silly prompted linkups. We formed real connects and read each other's blogs and left meaningful comments; not just "cool post!" People spent time writing out posts with real content instead of spending all their time on photo shoots and linking products. Your blog was your priority, not your Instagram follower count. I miss the age of being a blogger instead of an "influencer."

When I started blogging I published 5 times a week. Sitting down for blogging time was my favorite part of my day. I not only wrote each night, but spent time reading so many blogs. Slowly that went down to posting 3 times a week and now I'll go weeks without even thinking about my blog. Part of that is that I'm in a totally different place in my life now. I now have someone to share everything with and don't have to rely on writing down my thoughts to share them. But the bigger reason that I've become so distant from this space is that the blogging world is just so different now. The "influencer" bubble will eventually burst, and when it does I hope we all go back to being just bloggers.


Monday, February 4, 2019

5 ways to refresh for a new week

Weekends are just too darn short! Even though I love my job Monday mornings are hard and I often wakeup wishing the snooze button on my alarm were a time machine to redo the weekend. I have realized that the best way to get through a Monday is to take time on Sunday to prepare for it. In the past few years I've fine tuned my tricks to making Monday mornings more bearable. Today I'm sharing 5 ways to refresh for a new week! 


1. use a facemask - Obvisouly I wish I could end every weekend with a spa trip, but until I win the lottery that just isn't an option. A good at home facemask is the next best thing! There are so many in a wide variety of price ranges you're sure to find something great. I have a drawer full of these from Target; at about $2 each they're a major steal and really help me feel refreshed. If you aren't a big facemark fan doing at home manicure works just as well! 

2. tidy up the house - Let's be real, cleaning the house is not fun, but I always feel way better once it's done. Spending a few minutes on Sunday to tidy up helps me feel relaxed and ready to tackle the week ahead. It's not fun now, but come Monday morning I'll be thankful. 

3. get a good night's sleep - Probably the most important thing on this list! I think the sleep you get on Sunday night sets the tone for your sleep the rest of the week. I always feel more refreshed the morning after an early bedtime. 

4. plan out your week - I'm a planner so knowing what I have ahead is comforting for me and planning my week is a must! If you're not a big planner this could be as simple as planning out your meals for the week and going grocery shopping to stock your kitchen.

5. take time to relax - Enjoy the last of your weekend! Sunday Scaries are real, so make sure to take some time doing something you enjoy. Maybe it's watching a couple hours of mindless Netflix or maybe it's taking your pup for a long walk; whatever helps you feels relaxed and refreshed!


What's your secret to refresh for a new week? 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Current Playlist

Happy Friday!

Can you believe it is finally February! Every year it seems like January is 500 days long. I think it's the combination of the cold weather and finally getting back into work after the holidays, but making it to February 1 seems like a serious accomplishment. Today I wanted to kick the month off by sharing my current playlist that I've been listening to lately.




What songs are you loving lately?

Want some more songs? Check out my Valentine's Day playlist post here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wedding Wednesday - My Ring

It's been a while since my last Wedding Wednesday post, but that's because I've been so busy wedding planning! I'm going to a bridal fair and dress shopping this weekend, so I promise the next post won't be so delayed. Today I'm so excited to share the story behind my favorite piece of jewelry! Even though I've been engaged a little over 5 months I still find myself getting distracted by this shiny ring on my finger.



If you'd asked me to describe my perfect engagement ring I would have described something totally different, but now I can't picture anything else on my finger. I always pictured myself with either a pear or marquise shape diamond and a simple band, and I have a Pinterest board full of those rings to prove it. Before I got engaged I'd joke that my biggest fear was to one day discover my engagement ring was the same as every other mom in the car pool line; that is something I 100% do not have to worry about now!



My ring is actually an antique, originally belonging to my fiancé's grandmother. My future MIL graciously allowed it to become mine when I mentioned how much I love family rings. Whatever ring my fiancé gave me would obviously be special, but the fact it belonged to his grandmother makes it that much better. He doesn't really remember his grandmother because she died when he was little, but the fact his mom let me have something so precious to her is really touching. They always say when you get married you're marrying the entire family. I'm so fortunate to have amazing future in-laws who have loved and welcomed me from the start. Having this beautiful antique ring on my finger reminds me how lucky I am to have found someone who I love with a family I love as much as my own.




Monday, January 14, 2019

a breakdown of what I spent this weekend

Anyone else obsessed with MoneyDiaries on Refinery29? I seriously could sit and read them all day. When I first started reading them it was because I was nosey and find it fascinating to see how people spend their money. I also like to see how much different things cost in different parts of the world. And while I still like reading them at this surface level I've starting analyzing them a little more and reading into the deeper content. The Money Diaries series are a great first step to really thinking about how you spend your money. I've never really been a budgeteer. I know how much money I have in my account and I just don't spend more. But one thing I really want to work on this year is budgeting, and the first step is seeing how I spend my money. I thought a breakdown of what I spent this weekend would be a good first step in really looking into my spending habits.

Money Diaries are always anonymous and the photo is a random item they bought that week 


Friday 4pm- It's been a long week so I leave work an hour early and head home hoping to beat the traffic. It seems like everyone else had the same idea because I sit in traffic anyway. I get home and take the puppy out letting him run around extra long in the bark park at our apartment. Shortly after my fiancé gets home we head out to grab an early dinner. First we stop at Target to pick up an electric toothbrush he's been wanting. Electric toothbrushes remind me too much of the dentist so I don't get one, but I'd pre purchased it for him with the pick up in store function so I pay. We leave and head to McAlisters for dinner. I've been craving their chicken salad sandwich and sweet tea. He buys because I bought the toothbrush.
Total Spent : $42


Friday 7pm - Back home we decide to watch all the shows we've recorded during the week. We hardly ever watch anything live preferring to record them to watch later all at once. I decide to do some online shopping while we watch. Our engagement photos are scheduled in a couple of weeks and I can't decide what to wear. Last weekend I ordered a couple of party skirts from Amazon but didn't realize my shipping defaulted to my old Vail address until I received the shipping notice. My old post office is forwarding the box to me, but couldn't tell me when it'll arrive. These photos are obviously important so I don't want to wait and try to scramble a couple days before to find something. I order 3 dresses that I think will photograph well, hoping one will work and I'll return the rest.
Total Spent : $312

Saturday 9:30am - My favorite part of the weekend is waking up without an alarm. Getting to wake up when my body is ready does so much for my mental health. I eat a frozen breakfast sandwich and head out the door. I head to the post office to drop off my thank you notes from Christmas. I also need to buy stamps. Prices are going up this month and with my wedding I'll be using a lot this year. I pick out some pretty ones with hearts in the shape of flower that I think are the most wedding appropriate.
Total Spent : $100

Saturday 11am- I have a facial scheduled this morning. Spa days are a luxury I don't usually indulge in, but my parents gave me money for Christmas and a spa I've been following on Instagram was running a holiday special. I've already paid for the facial but the estonian convinces me to do an add on when I mention I want to focus on my skin care routine this year since I'm getting married. I also add tip and purchase a moisturizer she suggests that I can use for both day and night.
Total Spent : $129

Saturday 1pm - I call my fiancé when I'm leaving the spa to see if he wants to grab lunch before running some errands. He agrees so I pick him up and we agree on a popular brunch place in the mall since we needs to grab a few things anyway. We add our name to the waitlist and walk over to the shave store so he can buy some new shaving cream. Our table still isn't ready so I run over to pick up the book I have on hold at the library. For the last 5+ years I've been a big proponent of the library in an effort to save money and have less stuff; the Dallas library has a branch in the mall that's mostly used for children's story time but is super convenient for me to stop in and pick up books I've requested from other branches. Our table is now ready and I order a spicy chicken sandwich with pasta salad and a water; he has a cheese burger, fries, and coke. He buys because I'm going to buy the groceries later.
Total Spent : $0 

Saturday 3pm - Next stop is the grocery store. We always shop for the majority of our groceries at the same store to get the gas points. We make a quick list of what we'll cook this week and realize we don't need too much. We find a good deal on chicken breasts (buy one pack get two free!) and also decide to splurge and buy shrimp to eat tonight. Bacon, Sausage, a container of presliced veggies for roasting later in the week, a bag of romaine, orange juice, a block of cheddar cheese, and a bag of Smartpop.
Total Spent : $66

Saturday 4:30pm - Next month I'm going home for a mardi grass ball with my parents. I bought a new long dress but still need to get it hemmed. I take it to a seamstress with good reviews who will have it ready in a week. I don't have to pay until I pick up. Next I run over to DSW to return some shoes I ordered to go with the dress but don't love. While I'm there I decide to look around because I have a 20% off coupon and find some I do love.
Total Spent : $52  - $76 for returns 

Saturday 7pm - My fiancé cooks dinner (shrimp and grits!) while we watch the Cowboys game. The game doesn't end like we'd hoped, but dinner sure was good. I'm lucky to have a fiancé that likes to cook, and cooks things that I normally wouldn't. It really helps with the date nights at home. We also have a couple of beers we picked up last week on a liquor store run.
Total Spent : $0

Sunday 10am - I getting the start of a cold so we sleep in and skip church this morning. Sunday morning church is part of our weekly routine but we decide the extra sleep will be good for me and God understands. My fiancé cooks a big breakfast - pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs with pesto. I have chocolate almond milk and he has a mimosa.
Total Spent : $0

Sunday 1pm - The plan was to make crockpot chicken to go in a bag of tortilla soup mix I've had in the pantry for a while, but we realize we forgot to grab salsa at the grocery store. We decide instead we'll make burrito bowls and my fiancé runs out to grab a bell pepper and onion. He stops and turns in my winning scratch off ticket from the other week and also grabs some frozen cokes to drink while watching football. I do some laundry I've been putting off all weekend and roll spare change I've been collecting since I moved in April.
Total Spent : -$55 from my scratch off ticket and change 


Sunday 7pm - We make burrito bowls with grilled chicken, bell pepper, onion, rice, and frozen Mexican corn from Trader Joes. This is one of our favorite meals because we also have leftovers which reheat well for lunch the next day. My fiancé decides we should start watching Game of Thrones from the beginning since I've never seen it and he wants to watch the final season with me when it comes out. I shower (I usually shower at night to let my hair air dry) and head to bed early reading a couple of chapters of my book before falling asleep.
Total Spent : $0

Total for the Weekend : $570

Let me know, is this the kind of post you'd be interested in seeing more often? Have you done a similar breakdown of your spending?