Monthly Roundup: February Favorites

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I’m officially ready for spring. After a glimpse of sun and blue skies, I’m ready for a change. It’s odd when you get springlike weather in the middle of winter, but I’m not complaining!

Delaware weather is especially odd. One day it’s 60 degrees and sunny and three days later, it snows 5 inches. How bizarre

I discovered a lot of favorites in February and I’m excited to share them with you below.

{ONE} Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Netflix series

Have you joined the #SparkJoy club yet? As if I wasn’t already obsessed with cleaning and decluttering, the Tidying Up with Marie Kondo series came out on Netflix and I’m hooked. I refolded all of our clothes and threw things away I’ve been keeping for no apparent reason. It feels so good and has sparked tons of joy already 😉

{TWO} The Swans of Fifth Avenue

I’m making steady progress on my reading goal for the year! I feel inspired in the winter to read as much as I can because free time in spring and summer tend to be filled with outdoor activities. This book was especially fascinating because it’s based on a true story so I liked doing my own research as I read to learn more about the characters and overall plot.

{THREE} Stuff You Should Know Podcast

I’m on a podcast kick, as I’ve mentioned before, and am always looking for new podcasts to try. A Stuff You Should Know podcast episode titled, “How Central Park Works,” caught my eye because 1) I love Central Park, and 2) I don’t know the history of how it came to be. I loved it because it was both educational and entertaining to listening to.

{FOUR} Insanity

Insanity is back. I completed the nine-week HIIT-inspired workout challenge a year ago and it kicked my butt! This time around, Luke is doing it with me so although it’s challenging, I feel more motivated since I have a workout partner.

{FIVE} The Last Lecture

Another great book from February. This is another true story that tugs at the heart strings on every page. A professor is asked to give his “last lecture” and then finds out he has terminal cancer with only a few months to live. The book outlines his thoughts and lessons about life and it truly is an incredible story.

{SIX} Broccoli and Cheddar Soup Instant Pot recipe

I’ve been really into making soup lately. I blame it on the cold weather. I always crave warm, cozy meals for dinner. The other night I was craving Panera’s broccoli and cheddar soup so I decided to try making it at home! My mom gave me an Instant Pot recipe to try and it was delicious! I definitely will make it again.

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The Truth About A Long Engagement

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I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile because people always asked me while I was engaged, “Do you like having a long engagement?”

The short answer is no, of course not. We were engaged for almost two years (1 year and 10 months to be exact) and our wedding day felt like forever away.

We decided on a long engagement for many reasons but at the time, we didn’t realize just how long it would feel. We stand by that it was the right decision for us but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

I break down the pros and cons below, but my overall feeling is: I loved being engaged and I loved the whole process of wedding planning, but it was challenging staying focused and not getting discouraged when time seemed to stand still…until two months before our wedding day anyways, and then BOOM! Time flew.

PROS

{ONE} Enjoy wedding planning without stress.

I didn’t relate to people who said wedding planning was stressful. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and easy to maintain. Maybe it’s because I’m Type A so organizing multiple projects and to-do lists gives me immense amounts of energy, but wedding planning was a really fun process.

{TWO} More time to research, save money, and prepare.

Having a long engagement means more time to research options, save money wherever possible, and prepare for different situations. I loved researching florists and looking for bridal gowns because I didn’t feel rushed to make decisions, and therefore compromise what I wanted. This was a big pro for a budget-friendly bride like myself!

{THREE} You can procrastinate and it’ll still all work out.

I know I just said I’m Type A, but there were times when I procrastinated. Thankfully, even though I procrastinated on a few tasks, it all worked out in the end. (Hallelujah.)

{FOUR} You can choose any date you want.

For “regular engagement time” brides, finding a wedding date can be tricky. You may settle on a date you didn’t want because of availability or budget. When you have a long engagement, however, the calendar is open! We chose the date we wanted without having to “fight” for it. If you’ve ever watched Bride Wars, you know what I mean.

CONS

{ONE} Literally everyone will get married before you. 

I’m going to be completely honestly with you. This is the biggest con in the entire list. I admit I had difficulty staying positive as people got engaged and married all before our wedding day. It was really easy to fall into the “Seriously!? Wait your turn” mindset. Reminding myself that every love story is different helped me keep it in perspective. At the end of the day, I would be married to my best friend and all the waiting would be totally worth it.

{TWO} You just want to get married already.

This is an obvious one, but as the months *slowly* passed by, the more we really wanted to be married. We were in the process of decorating and preparing our house, thinking about the holidays and beyond, and it made me so freaking excited to be married to Luke. It felt like time was standing still and the wedding was still so far away for our next chapter to begin.

{THREE} Things you like when you first get engaged won’t be in style or “on trend” by the time you get married.

From wedding colors to flowers to music, everything will change from the time you get engaged to the time you get married. Colors we loved at first were no longer what we preferred later so our theme changed drastically. Another aspect of this was the whole “people getting married before you” thing. One of the things I had to be okay with is that just because we got engaged first, didn’t mean we got first pick. For example, if someone got married first and chose the same song for their grand entrance that we were thinking of using, we were back to the drawing board for Plan B, C, D, E, or whatever it may be. (For the sake of argument, we could’ve used the same song and probably no one would’ve cared or noticed, but you get the point.)

{FOUR} Your guest list changes a billion times.

People you are friends with or work with at the time of your engagement will most likely change by the time you get married. Meaning, the guest list (which was already a very stressful part of wedding planning!) changes a lot.

 

Long engagements are not for everyone. Although it’s difficult to wait to marry your best friend, if it’s the right decision for you as a couple, then stick by it! I have one tip for long engagement brides: Be flexible. There are going to be times when you are frustrated or feel like time is standing still. Believe me, I get it! However, it will all work out and at the end of the day, you will get to marry your best friend and that’s all that really matters ❤

My First Month of Bullet Journaling

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One of my goals for 2019 was to start bullet journaling. I received a bullet journal and supplies for Christmas so come January 1, I was more than ready to get going.

I knew going into it that I was not your typical artsy person. I can’t doodle to save my life and staring at a book filled with blank pages was a bit intimidating at first. Thankfully, Pinterest is a thing and I quickly got inspired when I found a bunch of minimalist spreads that I could easily replicate.

Before creating my first monthly spread, I knew I wanted to create a few yearly spreads at the front of the bullet journal: Year At A Glance, Future Log, Movies to See in 2019, 2019 Bookshelf, and Blog Post Ideas…just to name a few. These are yearly spreads because they’re not tied down to a specific month so I can easily update them whenever I want.

When it came to setting up my January spreads, I kept it simple. I didn’t go *too* crazy since I wanted to focus on the actual habit/act of bullet journaling. By creating just a few spreads, I was able to see what I did and didn’t like so I could adjust accordingly for February. Here is the recap.

Things I Liked.

Habit Tracker. One of the things that attracted me to bullet journaling was the Habit Tracker. If you know me, this doesn’t surprise you. I’m obsessed with list, habits, and tracking literally anything I can. My January Habit Tracker was the first spread I created for the month and it ended up being one of my favorite spreads (shocker, I know).

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Netflix Tracker. I try not to watch tons of shows on my own, but Luke got me into Chuck and we’re both hooked. To be honest, I realized AFTER I designed the header for this spread that Chuck is actually on Amazon Prime 😐 …but I kept it anyways. Shh…don’t tell 😉

Highlight Of The Day. Another spread I loved was Highlight Of The Day, a one-page spread where at the end of the day, I wrote a quick sentence about the best thing that day. Some days were pretty nonchalant, but it was a fun challenge to find the little joy in each day.

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Things I’m Changing.

Weekly To-Do Lists. Ironically, the one thing I’m changing for February is how I did my weekly to-do lists. I still have my Bloom Planners’ Vision Planner and I track a lot of my daily to-dos in there. Halfway through January, I tried creating a weekly to-do list in my bullet journal but I wasn’t a fan of how it turned out. I think switching from a horizontal layout to a vertical one will do the trick.

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More spreads. Now that I’ve mastered a few of the spreads, I’m adding a few more in February. I like the idea of a “Monthly Goals” spread and a “When Did I Last___” spread to keep track of when I last did something (like get my car’s oil changed, clean out the fridge, etc).

Here’s to Month 2 of Bullet Journaling!

Monthly Roundup: January Favorites

I took a little break from these monthly roundup posts because life got cray.

When I realized it was time for a monthly roundup post, I did a double take at my calendar. To be honest, January went by sooo slowly that it seemed like it would last forever. I think it was the cold weather and gloomy days. When it’s dark by 3pm every day, night feels like it goes on forever and it can be hard to push through!

However, here are a few things that I’ve deemed my January favorites because each helped me get through the long weeks.

{ONE} The Woman in Cabin 10

At the beginning of the year, I resolved to read at least 35 books this year. I’m 5 books in and by far, The Woman in Cabin 10 has been my favorite {so far}. I’m a huge fan of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, so I’m used to a bit of suspense. This book was a bit slow at first but after a few chapters, I couldn’t put it down! Check out my 2019 Bookshelf here. 

{TWO} Hallway Update

Oh, adulting. It’s funny what you get excited about once you have your own house! This month Luke and I finally repainted our downstairs hallway from a dusty brown to an off-white. Radical, I know, but it’s crazy what a difference a little paint switch does to a space! It also feels good to check it off the project list, so it’s a win-win.

{THREE} Bullet Journaling

Month 1 of bullet journaling was a success! I absolutely love this style of organizing and planning because it combines a few of my favorite things: lists, grids, and trackers. I’m not your typical bullet journal-er, though. I still have my Bloom Planners’ Vision Planner to plan out my monthly/weekly events and goals and I bring that with me to work every day while my bullet journal typically stays at home. I’ll be writing a full blog post on how I bullet journal but for now, I’ve grown to love my habit trackers, reading list, and spreads for monthly/yearly goals and events.

{FOUR} Bevgo Infuser Water Bottle

I’ve mentioned this water bottle already this month, but I feel like it needs another shoutout. No lie, it makes drinking water so fun. Before, I had trouble drinking even 32 ounces of water day, but now I can easily finish 64. A few of my favorite additions are lemons, limes, and strawberries.

Podcasts To Listen To Right Now 🎧

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, podcasts are amazing. I started listening to podcasts regularly last year because I was so sick of listening to the radio/music during my daily commute. There’s only so much you can take before you start going crazy!

There are a few podcasts I was instantly addicted to but since then, I’ve discovered more that are now added to my {ever-growing} library. You’ll notice there really isn’t a theme to the podcasts I listen to. There’s a little bit of everything – faith, business, lifestyle, professional tips, and current events –  but that’s why I love the line up.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for recommendations so below are some of the podcasts I’ve been loving lately.

Reach Sermons

  • I may be biased, but I love this podcast. This is the church we regularly attend and they upload sermons weekly. I especially love listening to this when I’ve skipped a service due to sickness or volunteering in the children’s ministry.

How I Built This with Guy Raz

  • If you’re interested in learning how companies and products came to be, this podcast is for you. I find people’s stories of how they got to where they are fascinating and Guy Raz interviews famous entrepreneurs and CEOs of successful companies. A few of my favorite episodes: Home Depot, Kate Spade, SoulCycle, and Instagram.

Date Night Diaries with Steve and Stacy Hart

  • Love this duo! Steve and Stacy share real-life tips and stories about marriage, owning your own business, and family. They always relate it back to Christ and I always end each podcast encouraged.

Somebody Knows Something

  • This is a very dark topic so listener discretion is advised. In this podcast series, the host tries to solve one missing person case per season. It’s both sad and intriguing as you listen to witness accounts, family interviews, and the host trying to solve each case.

Hannah Ashton

  • On a much brighter note, Hannah Ashton is a new professional who created a podcast to interview other professionals, talk about daily life, and share professional advice. I found Hannah through her YouTube channel and recently discovered her podcast. It’s great for college- and post-grad-girls because the content is relatable and interesting.

Coffee with Kalyn Nicholson

  • Kalyn Nicholson is one of my favorite YouTubers to watch for inspiration and motivation. She has great ideas and the overall aesthetic of her videos is calming and fun to watch. I started listening to her podcasts at work because they aren’t too serious in terms of having to focus intently the whole time. She sets them up so it feels like you’re just hanging out and talking over coffee.

Gals on the Go

  • To be completely honest, this is a “guilty pleasure” podcast to listen to. Gals on the Go is a podcast hosted by two college YouTubers, Danielle and Brooke. They talk about their lives, school, and current events. This is a podcast I usually listen to in the car or cleaning the house.

Stuff You Should Know

  • Disclaimer: I just discovered this podcast the other day so I haven’t listened to a lot of episodes yet. However, from what I’ve heard, I think this podcast is going to be beneficial and educational!

Little Joys Around the Web 💻

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Isn’t it awesome that we have the power to search and learn something new with just a few taps on our phones? It can be overwhelming knowing so much information exists online so you may not know where to start looking.

I have a few go-to websites and blogs that I check daily and to help us get through the week, I wanted to share a few articles and posts that especially jumped out at me. It’s a mix of fun, informational, and inspirational so I hope you enjoy!

On My Radar: 2019 Edition

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In my mind, this is the end of the first week of 2019. I don’t know about you, but the first couple of days in the new year don’t feel like a new start. My body is still in holidays-mode and it takes a few days to “wake up and reset.”

So this was the first full week back to the grind in 2019. Although a bit sad that the holidays are *officially* over since we took down our Christmas decor, I’m excited to get back into the swing of things. You know I love a good routine 😉

Here are a few things that are on my radar this week.

{ONE} Bullet Journaling

I’ve recently gotten hooked to bullet journaling. I started watching AmandaRachLee’s videos on YouTube and was instantly fascinated by how beautiful she made her planning spreads. It inspired me to try it out so I asked for a bullet journal and supplies for Christmas. It’s been fun trying my hand at being creative, and it’s also one of the goals under my “Learn” word for 2019. Let it be known I am not an artist; I cannot “doodle” to save my life. I’m still a newbie (the cover photo for this post is a snippet of my bullet journal) but it’s been fun to play around. As seen in the photo, my spreads are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the ones I pinned on Pinterest but check out the board to get a feel for the possibilities! A few of my favorite spreads I created so far: 2019 Bookshelf, Habit Tracker, Netflix Tracker, and 2019 Goals.

{TWO} Minestrone Soup

As I noted in my Three Words for 2019 blog post, one of my goals is to continue learning how to cook healthy meals. One of my favorites that I made so far is an Instant Pot recipe for Minestrone soup that I found when searching for quick and healthy meals. It’s the perfect cozy meal for cold winter nights and only requires a few ingredients. Best part about it? It takes under 30 minutes from start to finish. Check out the recipe here. 

{THREE} Bevgo Infuser Water Bottle

I don’t know about you but drinking enough water each day is a challenge. I get bored drinking plain water and let’s be honest, coffee is way more tempting. I start out the day motivated and drink a lot of water but by the afternoon, I forget all about my water bottle. Whoops. That’s where my Bevgo Infuser Water Bottle comes into play. I asked for this water bottle for Christmas and it has changed the game. I’m not kidding when I say this: Since Christmas, I have hit my daily water goal every day! Granted, it’s only been two weeks or so but that is an accomplishment, let me tell ya. I fill the bottle with fruit (lemon slices for now) and know that in order to hit my daily goal, I need to drink the entire bottle twice since it’s 32oz. The fruit makes it delicious and I can see the progress throughout the day, which keeps me motivating to keep going. I’m telling you, it’s great and I feel so much better when I’m hydrated and healthy!

{FOUR} How I Built This podcast episode: SoulCycle

I’ve mentioned before that How I Built This is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. Each week, the host interviews entrepreneurs of famous brands about how they got to where they are today. I love learning about how people achieved their dreams and the obstacles they faced along the way. This week I especially loved the episode about SoulCycle and I highly recommend it! It’s such a fun story about how two moms met in New York, hated the workout classes offered, and decided to do something about it. I’ve never tried SoulCycle, but now I definitely want to!