Friday, November 29, 2019

2019 Gift Guides : My Wish List

Today's edition of my 2019 gift guides is all about me! I've posted a my wish list gift guide almost every year that I've been blogging and it's always fun to go back and look at what I wanted each year. Now it's fun because I can literally just send my husband the link to my list!

Those bowls are the only china items from my registry we didn't get a full set of, so I'd like to complete the set so we can start using them! I think I've included a Gray Malin print in just about every gift guide I've ever put together; I will own one one year! Burts Bees is such a great little extra gift and I love the holiday sets they put together each year. I'm dying for a fanny pack. It'd be so great for some of my work conferences and to wear on vacation; this one is water proof which would be great for when we go to Disneyland next year! I'm pretty sure that Cowboys t-shirt will be under my tree because it's killing my husband that I don't have one already to wear when we watch games.

What's on your list this year?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

19 things I'm thankful for in 2019

2019 has absolutely flown by and I think part of the reason is because it has been such a great year! Life has been so so good this year and I have so much to be thankful for in 2019. Here are 19 things I'm thankful for in 2019!

  1. My husband
  2. Purchasing our first home 
  3. Queso and chips 
  4. Disney+ 
  5. New Taylor Swift music 
  6. My sweet pup, Rebel   
  7. A job I genuinely enjoy 
  8. Schitt's Creek 
  9. Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers
  10. Generous vacation time  
  11. Loving in-laws 
  12. The public library 
  13. Job promotions and pay raises 
  14. That I never have to plan another wedding 
  15. Junior League 
  16. Good health 
  17. A college degree 
  18. Calling Texas home 
  19. Money Diaries 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2019 Gift Guides : Made in America and Small Shops

Every time you spend your money you have a choice about what you buy and who you buy it from. When possible I always like buying "made in america" products because I feel good about doing my part for the economy and keeping jobs here. I also feel good about shopping from small shops and local shops. Today's gift guide contains products you too can feel good about shopping!

L.L.Bean - boat tote and bean boots

Jon Hart Design - back pack and shave kit

Fiesta Dinnerware - Christmas platter

Evelyn Henson - personalized dog mug

Signet Sealed - city print

May Designs - notebooks

What "made in America" and small shops are you shopping this year?

Monday, November 25, 2019

2019 Gift Guides - $25 and under

I'm so excited to share the second installment of my 2019 gift guides today! If you've followed me for awhile you'll probably remember that $25 and under gifts are my favorite! I just love how versatile this gift range can be! $25 and under gifts are great for literally anyone, no matter your budget!

The blue light blocking glasses easily could have gone in my last gift guide because I love them and use them all the time! They come in a bunch of colors and are Prime eligible. Games and puzzles are great gifts for gift exchanges because they're things you probably wouldn't buy yourself but are still fun, and there are so many great ones in this price range. And yes, that is a Capri Blue candle; the mini size are about $15.

Looking for more $25 and under gifts? Here's my gift guide from last year for more inspiration! What are your favorite $25 and under gifts?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

2019 Gift Guides : Things I Own and Love

So excited to kick off the 2019 gift guides today! Before we start, a little note on gift guides. You absolutely do not need to buy anything for anyone for the holiday. Things are fun, but nothing beats quality time, even if it's just a nice phone call to say you care. I was really torn about putting together 2019 gift guides, but decided I wanted to do it this year because these are some of my favorite posts to put together. Yes, lots of these items are linked and I can make a small amount of money off the clicks, but it's not about the clicks. I genuinely love putting shopping posts together; I feel like I'm shopping without spending the money. I hope you like these 2019 gift guides as much as I like putting them together!

All these items in today's gift guide are things I own and love! The heated blanket and socks are good practical gifts while the earrings and card wallet are more fun. These are great items to add to your own list or to gift to someone else.

What's something you own and love that you recommend for gifts?

Want more ideas for great gifts I've bought and love? Check out this old guide and this one.

Monday, November 18, 2019

How to spend a layover at ATL

Have you ever found yourself with an exceptionally long layover and wishing for something better to do than eating fast-food and sitting at your gate? Well a few months back I found myself with about 4 hours to kill at ATL. I'd made a quick fly in and out same day work trip. Traveling for work is a fun perk I've started doing more often, but this was my first in / out in the same day trip. I was visiting to tour a few hotels for possible events in the future, to give me enough time to complete my tours I had to schedule a latish flight home, but in order to avoid the worst of Atlanta traffic that meant getting me to the airport extra early. Luckily the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport was the perfect airport to have this much time. Here are my tips on how to spend a layover at ATL.

Eat at One Flew South - A good sit down restaurant in an airport, does such a thing exist? It does in terminal E at ATL! This restaurant was suggested by one of the hotel sales managers I met with and I'm so glad she told me about it. One Flew South has been written about in numerous travel magazines and food blogs and was even named one of the top 10 airport restaurants in North America this year. They describe the menu as spirited global fare, which I think if a good description for anything from sushi to an open faced meatloaf sandwich. I ordered the pulled duck sandwich which had a delish fig and peanut relish that really made it special! I usually try to avoid a layover at ATL but this sandwich alone has me rethinking that.

Walk between the terminals - You could ride the train from security to your terminal but I highly advise skipping that in favor of walking. Not only is walking a good idea when you're about to hop on a plane, but you get the added bonus of exploring some very cool exhibits. I don't know if the exhibits change periodically but when I visited there was an African art exhibit, jungle themed installation, and Georgia history exhibits. It was a kinda long walk to walk between every terminal, but you could always hop on the train if you get tired.

View the art at the gates - Not only does ATL have art exhibits between terminals but they have pieces at different gates. When I first realized I was going to have this long amount of time to burn at ATL this was my original plan of what to do. My aunt is an artist and actually has her art on display at one of the gates in the E terminal! On my way to find her piece I got to see some other really cool pieces. I couldn't find anything on the ATL website about the art so I don't know if they ever change it out or how they picked what's on display. But if you ever find yourself with a layover at ATL this is such a great way to spend your time!

Have just a short layover at ATL? Be sure to make time to grab something from The Varsity! This Atlanta institution has a few locations in the airport so hopefully you'll have one close to your gate. I grabbed a fried peach hand pie and a frosted orange. I highly recommend both!

Friday, November 15, 2019

my don't list

I'm totally stealing this idea from Lindsay today who borrowed it from this article. In a world where there is so much pressure to seem picture perfect I love the idea of embracing the don'ts. We can't do everything, and that's okay!

  • I don't always clean the dishes the same night as cooking
  • I don't eat organic or clean or fair trade 
  • I don't make my bed daily 
  • I don't use fancy face serums or creams to prevent wrinkles 
  • I don't condition my hair enough 
  • I don't exercise regularly 
  • I don't wear a size 0 
  • I don't get up when my alarm first goes off 
  • I don't start the day with a healthy breakfast, most days I don't eat any breakfast 
  • I don't deep clean my kitchen or bathroom or baseboards 

What's on your don't list? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wedding Wednesday : everything that went wrong with planning

I want to start this post by saying my wedding day was perfect and I wouldn't have changed a single thing. But along the way I hit quite a few bumps in the road, by the end the only thing I could say when something went wrong was "add it to the list!" We got married and honestly that's all that really matters. I kept saying as long as we sign the marriage license the day will be a success, and you know what it was! All these bumps in the road were just constant reality checks and reminders that it's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage.

How much could really go wrong planning one day you ask? Well a lot. Here is everything that went wrong with planning

1. My engagement photos outfit was lost in the mail - I ordered the most beautiful blush pink tulle skirt that would make me look like a fairy princess. And my shipping accidentally reset to my old Colorado address. I ended up finding a different outfit that photographed beautifully and everything was alright.

2. Half the apartment numbers weren't printed on the save the dates. We used Minted for our save the dates and overall I would recommend them because the process was fairly simple and very cost effective. The problem we had was that when we uploaded our list of addresses we didn't realize the column with apartment numbers didn't import. So after we dropped them in the mail my parents received a handful back for incorrect address.

3. The post office gave us incorrect information about needed postage on the invitations. I decided to go with these all in one invitations from Minted because I loved the idea of a wedding invite with less waste. I did all the research and everything said they only needed 1 stamp; I sent T to the post office with one to double check and the mail clerk confirmed just the 1 forever stamp. So we mailed them and again about a week later my parents started receiving them returned for incorrect postage. My mom took the returned invites to her post office and they explained that while they did qualify for just the 1 stamp someone looking at them quickly could easily think they needed 2 because they were very close to a square shape.

4. My dress shop went out of business and the owner was almost deported before I could pick up my dress. I loved my wedding dress! I found a small local shop that custom makes every single dress so there's low overhead cost and prices are actually lower than I found at any off the rack stores. About a month before I was set to pick up my dress the shop was vandalized, destroying the few stock dresses they do have; this caused her to miss the big summer bridal shows and have to close. Luckily my dress wasn't in the store yet so it was spared, but we had to move up my final fitting appointments because she was closing her doors. Then the last week she's open when I'm supposed to be picking up my dress she has to keep rescheduling. It turns out she had a traffic ticket (that was getting throwout!) that was holding up her application for citizenship and she had to be available to her immigration attorney.

5. 41 days before wedding day I got a call that the bakery was closing two weeks before our wedding.  To be honest this one almost sent me over the edge; we'd signed a contract over 7 months ago how could they be closing!? After having a legit freakout where I called T and my mom in tears I called another local bakery. We ended up getting our cakes from Panini Bakery and I could not have been more pleased with them! Their team instantly made me feel more comfortable about the situation and went out of their way to help me with this late request. Honestly this "went wrong" ended up having a better result than our original plan.

6. My day of coordinator moved out of state. Being a professional planner I felt pretty confident about planning my wedding, but I did need someone to be at the rehearsal venue while we were at the ceremony. I found a great day of coordinator when I went to the bridal show in January and we immediately clicked. About a month and a half before the wedding she let me know that her husband had gotten a new job and they were moving out of state. Luckily she made arrangements to come back on the weekends of her weddings!

7. My custom table markers were destroyed in the mail. We had a small intimate wedding so I really wanted all the details to be personal and thought out. Instead of traditional table numbers we labeled each with the name of a place that was important to us: our first date, first vacation, where we grew up, etc. I found an artist on Etsy who I hired to create custom watercolors for each, but sadly they were destroyed in the mail and never made it to me. Luckily I'd printed cards to go on each table explaining the importance of each location, so we just framed those and used them as the table markers.

8. My car battery died the afternoon of the rehearsal. I first had trouble with it Thursday afternoon when I couldn't get it to start leaving at the grocery store. T came to rescue me and was able to get it to start right away so we figured I was just stressed and hadn't put the key in all the way. But when I couldn't get it to start again the next day I knew there was an issue. I was able to get it to start and drove right home where I left it until Monday when I brought it to the dealership for a diagnostic check.

9. My hair and makeup team showed up late. I only had two bridesmaids, my sisters, and they stayed with me at my house on Friday night. I arranged to have someone come to do our hair and makeup at the house Saturday morning. They were scheduled to arrive at 8am to start setting up but the first didn't arrive until 8:26am; obviously I was freaking out. Luckily we had some extra time built in before we really had to leave for the church so it all turned out okay.

10. The Day of the Dead parade shut down the streets around my reception venue. At this point I really thought it was going to be smooth sailing. We had made it through the ceremony and only had the party time left. Well jokes on me because there was just enough time for one more thing to go wrong.  We had repurchased parking for our guests, but with the streets shut down it was impossible to get to it so our entrance was delayed while we waited for them to find other options. Honestly I'm still pretty upset about this one and not ready to laugh it off yet. I understand the venue had no control over the parade, but they gave me absolutely no pre-warning about it. I reached out the day before after the hotel where we had our block warned guests about valet availability and the venue told me I had nothing to worry about. I'm sure in time I'll be able to laugh this one off too.

Monday, November 11, 2019

5 best recent purchases

It's been a hot minute since I've done one of these posts so I thought this would be fun to share. In my option it's still too early for gift guides, but if you added any of these items to your Christmas list I wouldn't blame you!

1. Barbour Jacket - I bought this jacket specifically for our honeymoon and I'm so glad I did! It is such a classic look that I know I will wear for years. The pockets are very roomy so I actually didn't even bring a purse when we went to dinner each night I'd just put my phone and card wallet in the front pockets. Want the look for less? This quilted riding jacket from LLBean is a great option and is actually what I originally was going to order until I realized it was backordered and wouldn't arrive in time.

2. Bedspread - Technically this wasn't a purchase because it was a gift from our wedding registry but I love it so much I had to share! We've needed new bedding for a while but struggled to find something we both liked. I love feminine florals or fluffy white bedding; two things my husband absolutely did not want. This fun navy pattern is a perfect compromise! 

3. Maxi skirt - I love this skirt so much I actually have it in two colors; navy and this fun green. It's the perfect easy piece to dress up or dress down and I get so many compliments when I wear it. Wear it now with booties and again in the spring with gladiator sandals. Bonus it's a great piece to travel with because the accordion pleats hide wrinkles!

4. Sneakers - These were another purchase for the honeymoon in anticipation of all the walking we were going to do. I've been seeing so many bloggers rocking cute sneakers with jeans and leggings for cute casual looks but I didn't think I could pull it off until I found these. I wore these every day of our trip and had happy feet at the end of each day! 

5. Lip Balm - I picked this up on a whim when I was grabbing a few other drugstore makeup basics and I'm so glad I did! It's a tinted lip balm that moisturizes and has a SPF. It's perfect when you don't want lipstick but want more than your Burt's Bees. I also grabbed this nail polish that I think is the perfect fall/winter neutral.

What's one of your best recent purchases?

Friday, November 8, 2019

money diaries

Do you read money diaries on Refinary29? I'm obsessed and have decided I want to submit my own! Below is my first attempt at keeping track; I clearly missed some details (and it's a few months old) so this one won't be submitted, but my breakdown of what I spent this weekend post is my favorite from 2019 so I thought this would be fun to share too. 

7:30am : Alarm goes off, and then again, and again. Anyone else set multiple alarms to wake up in the morning? I quickly get ready and grab a frozen Lean Cuisine before heading out the door.

9:05am: Finally make to my desk; traffic was horrific this morning! It's pretty slow in the office today because we were out last week onsite for an event. I work in a small office, but there are usually more than the 5 of us in the office today. We all get extra days off when we work weekends and it seems like most the office decided to take theirs today.

12:30pm : Finally made it to lunch! On slow days I always try to wait until later to eat lunch to help break up the day; if it's a busy day I tend to eat early. I heat up my Lean Cuisine in the break room and return to my desk to eat while I scroll Instagram on my phone.

5pm : After a quick stop to drop off some Amazon returns at UPS I'm home! It's amazing how easy it is to get home when it's not rush hour traffic! I take the pup out to play in the yard. It's too hot out for a walk but the yard has a lot of shade so I let him run around and play extra long.

6:30pm : T is home from work! We're both hungry and decide to start cooking dinner. The chicken we were planing to make isn't thawed out so we go for plan B with grilling burgers. I make some green beans with bacon, onion and garlic salt for a full meal.

7:30pm - It's still pretty early so I decide to run out and do a couple errands I was planning to do in the morning. I have to return a few things to Old Navy and exchange a registry gift that arrived broken from Bed Bath & Beyond. I'm feeling good about the refunds I did today so I decide to make one last stop at my favorite specialty grocery store. I grab scones for breakfast tomorrow, peach sparkling soda, and a bag of hatch green chili crips that I think will be a good snack with some cheese.

9:45 - I watch an episode of Jane the Virgin and then decide to head to bed and read a little. T falls asleep pretty quickly but I'm not as tired as I thought. I turn on Netflix and realize I never watched the last few episodes of Kimmy Schmidt when they got added months ago. I watch a couple of episodes and then decide it's late and I need to go to sleep.

Daily Total : $10.20

9:30 - Happy Birthday to me! I took today as my extra day off work and didn't set an alarm. It's so nice to sleep in; does anyone else feel like they sleep 10 times better when they don't have to set an alarm? I respond to a few "happy birthday" texts and then decide to get out of bed and take the pup out. I think he enjoyed sleeping in as much as I did because I have to wake him up! T is working from home today so he makes me coffee and we eat our scones and some pineapple together while I open the birthday gifts my family sent. Both my mom and dad call me; which is nice because I haven't seen them in a couple of months. I'll be home for a couple of days in a few weeks and we talk about how excited we are to see each other!

11:00am - T gets back to work and I shower and then watch a few more episodes of Kimmy Schimt. When we first moved in I didn't think we'd use the office that much, but now I'm so glad we have it. Both T and I have the option to work from home once a week and having that dedicated space for work is such a nice thing. Eventually we'll turn that room into a nursery, but that's a few years away, so we're enjoying it for now.

3pm - My only real plan for today was to get a manicure and pedicure so I head out to my local nail salon. I only get my nails done about once every other month at most so this always feels like a real treat! I realize I haven't eaten since my scone this morning and gladly accept the Diet Coke they offer! Because it's my birthday I upgrade to services with the hot towels, scrub, and mask. I pick a hot pink for my fingers and a deep pink for my toes.  $75 including tip

7pm - We head out for our dinner reservation. I gave T three suggestions and then he picked; I'm secretly really happy he picked this one because it was my top choice! I'm on a mission to try new restaurants instead of frequenting the same few ones and this one has great reviews. We order a few cocktails (Titos Moscow Mules), a crispy asparagus appetizer, steak frites (him), the daily special fried chicken (me) and a fried berry hand-pie. It's my birthday so he pays for dinner ($145) but I have cash to tip the valet for our car. $5

9pm - One last stop before we head home! We stop into Sprinkles to grab cupcakes for tomorrow. When we first moved to Dallas we lived a lot closer to the bakery and went all. the. time. Now we're farther away so they feel like a treat, but we still consider them "our" thing. We get carrot cake (me) lemon (him) and a pupcake! We put them on my rewards number but T pays. When we get home we take the pup out and get ready for bed, both sleepy and full from dinner. I read some before falling asleep.

Daily Total : $80

8:15am - After my three alarms go off I finally get ready quickly and I'm out the door. I always shower at night so that my morning routine is minimal. I think about stopping for coffee and a donut on the way into the office but decide I don't really need it today.

1pm - Pack up my stuff and go meet T for lunch with plans to work from home the rest of the afternoon. Our offices are relatively close so we get lunch together occasionally; it's really nice to see each other in the middle of the day especially when he has to work late. We decide on a sandwich place that reminds us of college and where I have a free birthday meal. My salad is free with my birthday coupon and I pay for his sandwich combo and our drinks

2pm- I decide to stop for gas on the way home because I have less than a quarter tank. I have a favorite gas station that I try to stop at exclusively because it's usually at least 10 cents less than anywhere else, but because of this there's always a line. I really thought I'd get lucky and not have a line since its the middle of the day, but everyone else must have had the same idea because it's packed.

3pm - Make it home and the pup is so excited I'm here early! I check my work email and see nothing new so I continue working on the few tasks I had to finish from this morning. Still nothing new in my inbox so I decide to call it a day and do some wedding research. Our wedding is about 3 months away so it's mostly planned, but I still need to figure out a few details like a cake topper and veil. I spend a couple of hours on Etsy, but don't find anything I love. T calls to let me know he's leaving the office to head to his dinner meeting and we chat while he drives.

7pm - T calls to say he's bringing home dinner! I was planning to repurpose some leftovers, but this sounds much better! He has these dinner sales meetings a couple times a week and brings home extras about once a month. He comes home with a full meal for me; salad, bread, steak, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and peas.

Daily Total : $37.13

8:00am - I keep hitting the snooze button until T lets me know how late it is; I just don't feel good and decide to work from home today. I send a quick email to the rest of my team and update the shared staff calendar so nobody thinks I'm MIA. Let the pup out and feed him; I'm not really hungry so I just pour myself a glass of orange juice and move to the couch. I answer the few emails I received overnight and make a plan for what I really need to get done today.

10:30am - I decide a hot shower will probably make me feel better. I'm feeling congested so hopefully the hot steam will do the trick! I skip washing my hair, but do use my favorite body scrub. It was a great Amazon find in the spring. The shower does the trick and I'm feeling much better! I mix together the salad T brought home last night with a small one I have in the fridge and eat lunch. It's a lot of lettuce, but not very filling since I skipped breakfast so I grab a few of the green chili crips to snack on while I get back to work.

1:30pm - Nothing new has popped up in my in-box today so I decide to call it a day and will just keep an eye on my in-box. I feel a little bad I didn't put in 40 hours this week, but our office is very relaxed and we don't have to track our time so really nobody knows how much time you put in each week. I also rationalize that I put in over 60 hours last week so it's okay I took it a little easy this week. I find a movie to watch on Netflix write some thank you notes for birthday and wedding gifts.

Daily Total : $0

9am - Wake up feeling very refreshed! T is already out the door for work so I have a lazy morning after taking the pup out. I pour a cup of coffee from the leftover pot T made this morning and heat up a frozen breakfast sandwich. I snuggle up on the couch and turn on Netflix that I can mindlessly watch.

12pm - Talk myself out of going to get the Thai food I really want and settle for something at home instead. My options are a little limited so I plate up some tuna salad, pretzel crisps, and frozen broccoli. It's not what I really wanted, but knowing I saved money and ate something that was already in the house makes me feel good. I've gotten in a bad habit lately of eating out on weekends when T is at work and that is not a good habit to develop.

2:30pm - T is back home and we're out the door to go pick out my birthday present! I decided I wanted a real pair of boots, but obviously didn't trust him to pick them out himself. After trying every brown size 7 boot; I finally find a great pair; because they're a birthday present T pays. We decide to leave them there overnight to be gently stretched so they won't take as long to break-in.

5:00pm - T and I head to church; we usually go on Sunday mornings but decided to switch it up this week so we can sleep in tomorrow. Going to church together is one of my favorite things; I really love that it's something we can share. Our church is a little out of the way, but it's the one we started going to when we first moved to Dallas so we make the longer drive weekly. $10 for the collection plate

Daily Total : $10

Grocery Shopping -  I buy eggs, bacon, breakfast bars, salsa, frozen pizza, a couple lean cuisines, a bag each frozen broccoli, green beans, and a broccoli cauliflower mix, and Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer. I try to stock up on frozen veggies when they go on sale to avoid paying the higher price for fresh. I also always make sure to have at least one frozen pizza in the freezer for nights that get away from me and dinner is either that or fast food.  $67.64

Weekly Total : $204.97