Monthly Roundup: March Favorites

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My birthday month is almost over, but what a great month it was! The weather (slowly) got warmer and spring is definitely in the air. I got my nails done for my birthday and it made me so ready for shorts, flip flops, dresses, and all things spring fashion.

I’m also ending the month by heading to Florida for a few days with my mom and cousins. By the time you read this, I’ll be en route to the Sunshine State. I can’t wait to relax during the quick getaway before the craziness of April.

{ONE} Speaking at a Social Media Conference

This month I had the opportunity to speak at a social media conference. I wrote all about it in a recent blog post so you can read that for more information. The conference was a definite highlight of the month!

{TWO} Daylight Savings

It’s a bit weird that daylight savings is a monthly favorite, but I am loving the fact that we have more sunlight in the evenings. During the winter, I struggled with staying productive after work because it was just so cold and dark. Now I’m getting home when it’s still light outside and it makes the evenings so much better. It’s just another reminder that summer is coming.

{THREE} Rita’s Water Ice

Not gonna lie, a mango gelati from Rita’s Water Ice is one of my favorite summertime treats. There’s a Rita’s close to our house (a blessing and a curse) so Luke and I enjoyed our first Rita’s of the season one night this month on our porch. It made me so excited for summer and spending more time outside. I captured the photo above when I noticed our dog Thalia living her best life that night, too.

{FOUR} I Turned 26

I turned 26 this month and felt the love from friends and family. My mom and I had a girls day that included coffee, getting our nails done, lunch at Panera, and shopping. It’s turned into a tradition of sorts and I love that. Luke and I also went out to dinner and it was delicious. If you haven’t already read it, I wrote a post about 25 things I learned from Year 25. You can check it out here. 

{FIVE} Becoming Mrs. Lewis

I like to include at least one book in my monthly roundup because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to read at least 35 books this year. (Check out the progress here.) I read 4 books in March, which isn’t terrible considering how busy this month ended up being! One of them was Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a non-fiction about C.S. Lewis’ wife. I love the Chronicles of Narnia series and the rest of C.S. Lewis’ work, but I didn’t know anything about his wife until this book. It was dry at times, but overall really interesting and definitely a recommended read if you are a C.S. Lewis fan.

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2018 in Review: Change, Do, Joy

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Can you BELIEVE 2018 is pretty much over? This year flew by way too quickly but honestly, it was by far my favorite year so far. I’ve never felt so strongly about a year ending but 2018 was really one for the books so it makes me sad that we’re nearing the end.

At the beginning of the year, I chose three words to theme 2018. A lot of my New Year’s Resolutions fit under the three words: Change, Do, and Joy. Man oh man did these words truly embrace what 2018 ended up being all about. SO much change. SO much doing. SO much joy.

Take a look at my 2018 in review and comment down below what your 2018 highlights are!

Change.

Less coffee. slowly decreased the amount of coffee I consumed in a day to {on average} 16 ounces. This is truly a miracle because at the beginning of the year, I drank close to 40 ounces a day at least!

More water. One change I made in 2018 was that I told myself I couldn’t drink coffee unless I drank at least 8 ounces of water first. Doesn’t seem so hard, right? Wrong. In the morning, the last thing I wanted was to drink water first but slowly, the habit changed. I also started actively tracking my water intake with my Fitbit app and realized I wasn’t drinking as much water as I thought I was. I now consistently aim for at least 64 ounces a day and it makes such a difference! I feel healthier and more energetic.

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More reading {and audiobooks}. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least 25 books, and thanks to apps like Audible and Libby, I was able to achieve this! A list of my 2018 books can be found here but a few favorites included The Paris WifeThe Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Lilac Girls.

Less TV. At the beginning of the year, I realized I spent way too much of my free time watching TV and/or Netflix. I would complain I didn’t have any time but when I started to list what really was taking up my time, I realized I could make conscious decisions to truly open up my schedule. One of those changes was less TV. I watch Netflix occasionally but I wait until the rest of my to-do list is complete before I do. Fun fact: Luke and I don’t own a TV so that definitely helps!

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Less clutter. WOW. I had a LOT of stuff! I love decluttering but in the process of moving to our house, I realized I had too much clutter. I read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up which really helped me truly take a look at what I was keeping, understand why, and if it didn’t spark joy, I tossed it!

More budgeting. #Adulting at its finest. We have a budget and we stick to it. I’m sort of a nerd but I actually love the excel document that tracks what we spend and how much we save. Highly recommend.

 

Do.

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Get married. I mean, this is the biggest DO on the list! For most of the year, I planned for our wedding day. I absolutely loved the whole wedding planning process and loved getting married (and now being married) to Luke even more. ❤

1-Second Every Day Challenge. This has been one of the BEST things about 2018! I started the 1-Second Every Day video challenge on 1/1 and never stopped! I will definitely post it once it’s completed on 12/31. It’s been such a fun way to capture all the little moments throughout the year in an easy-to-execute type of way. HIGHLY recommend downloading the app and joining the challenge in 2019!

Social Media Marketing Certification. This one has been on my goals list for a while so this year I decided to finally take the 10-week course and get certified in social media marketing and content strategy. It was a fun experience/challenge and I’m glad I finally took the time to do it!

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Run a 5K. I am NOT a runner. I’ve written blog posts about this before but running a 5K has been a goal of mine for some time. This summer I had the opportunity to run a 5K for someone who means so much to me. I was honored to run in memory of my mentor. It made the whole experience mean that much more to me.

Read 25+ books. I love to read but in years past, I never made it a huge priority. It was something I did if I had time. In 2018 I decided that not only would I make it a priority to read more, I would set a goal to read at least 2 books a month. Thanks to LibbyAudible, and the Goodreads app, I did it!

Learn to cook. This was sorta, kinda mandatory when I moved out. I received an Instant Pot as a wedding gift and it is amazing! I’m slowly but surely experimenting in the kitchen and I have a feeling that 2019 will definitely evolve my growing love for cooking.

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Travel more. I traveled to New York, Boston, and Aruba this year. All were amazing experiences in their own unique ways and I’m thankful for the memories!

Pay off student loans. GOODBYE, STUDENT LOANS! 👋🏽 As of a few weeks ago, I officially paid off the rest of my student loans and it feels sooo good.

Move into our first house. We moved into our first house! It has been a blast decorating and making it ours. I’m SO excited for our first Christmas together. Here’s a quit snapshot of our tree (before we purchased a tree skirt).IMG_9190.jpg

Joy.

Unlike Change and Do, Joy is not a list of accomplishments, achievements, and milestones. It isn’t a specific lesson or goal. It is a mindset and a way of viewing the world. Joy is not a temporary feeling like happiness or excitement.

The Lord says to “Rejoice!” and so this year, I aimed to do just that. In every situation I tried to seek out joy. Rejoice in the Lord. Consider it pure joy when we face trials. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Again and again, God reminds me that in all things, He is in control. The joy of the Lord is our strength. While Joy was my third theme word of 2018, it is never truly complete. Joy continues and so, seeking joy is never something that is finished. Finding the little joys of life, like waking up to sunshine or drinking your favorite coffee on a Saturday morning, is an every day choice. We have to CHOOSE joy. It does not come naturally. One of my favorite quotes is “You have to CHOOSE joy and keep choosing it.”

Let 2018 be a reminder of the joys you chose. Let it be a reflection of the person you grew to be this year, regardless if 2018 was good or bad. Let joy be an ever-present thing we continue to choose in 2019 and beyond. Let the joy of the Lord consume you as you live every day to its fullest. Joy is a choice so let us always, always, always keep on choosing it.

Here’s to 2019 and everything that is to come.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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I’ve been on a huge reading/audiobook kick lately. I blame it on the grey, rainy days we’ve been having. They make me want to curl up on the couch with coffee and a good book for hours.

Since my evenings are dedicated to wedding planning and cleaning/organizing our house, I decided to download Scrib’d and Libby – two iPhone apps that allow you to listen to audiobooks for little to no cost. They have been life-changing (and I don’t like to use that phrase lightly).

I’m always on the hunt for a good book but don’t visit the library or the bookstore as often as I’d like to. Audiobooks have been a great compromise so I can continue enjoying my hobby without breaking the bank.

I recently added a section to my website called 2018 Bookshelf. In January, I promised myself I would read at least 25 books by the end of 2018. Reading was a huge hobby of mine in high school and college and I wanted to reignite that passion. My 2018 Bookshelf is frequently updated with books I’ve finished this year. I’m also on Goodreads so you can see what I’m currently reading there, as well!

A few recent reads:

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It – Lauren Graham – Anything by Lauren Graham is my favorite. This was a quick read and worth every minute.

What I Know For Sure – Oprah Winfrey – This was suggested by Scrib’d so I thought I’d give it a listen. It was interesting to learn more about Oprah’s background and some lessons she’s learned from being on TV for years.

Where There’s Smoke – Jodi Picoult – I usually love anything by Jodi Picoult so I decided to listen to this short story. I will be honest, I wasn’t a fan of it for a few reasons but the beauty of an audiobook is you don’t physically own the book once you finish it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo – It really is life-changing. While reading this, I found myself wanting to get rid of almost everything I own. It’s a quick way to get inspired and think like a minimalist. I recommend this to everyone and I might have to purchase this one because it is one I would definitely read again.

6 Books I’m Reading Right Now 📚

I don’t know about you but lately I’ve been on a reading kick!

Maybe it has something to do with my 3 words for 2018 and my desire to change a few of my habits, one of which is to read more books, but whatever it is I’m loving it.

Below are some of the books I’ve either recently read or that are on my list to read this month. I’m always up for suggestions so feel free to send them my way!

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{ONE} The Magnolia Story

I mentioned this book in a recent On My Radar post, but it is a fantastic read! If you’re into HGTV’s Fixer Upper, love the Magnolia line at Target, or just hands-down love Joanna and Chip Gaines, then read this ASAP. I finished it within a few days and loved learning about one of my favorite designer couples.

{TWO} Socialnomics

Calling all the social media marketers! This book is written by one of the top social marketers in the industry, Erik Qualman. In this, Erik explores the social trends, effects and implications of social media and how businesses and marketers can use it to their advantage.

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{THREE} Yes, Please

I’ve read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler before, but this is the type of book you 1) can’t put down and 2) can’t get enough of. It contains a mix of personal stories, advice, and humor…to name a few. Plus anything by Amy Poehler is awesome in my book so there’s that.

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{FOUR} Diana: Her True Story

I’ve always loved Princess Diana and learning about her life, style, and history. I’m currently reading this and have found it to be  fascinating because it unveils a lot of things I never knew about Diana. Especially now that her boys are grown and in the media a lot, this book has helped me understand more of the Royal Family’s history. Plus when I finish, I’ll be able to update one of my 101 in 1001 Day tasks: To read 5+ biographies.

{FIVE} Talking As Fast As I Can

I’m a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and of Lauren Graham in particular. Her character in Gilmore Girls reminds me of myself a lot of the time – always drinking coffee, always talking, always trying to take care of those around her. Lauren Graham talks all about being on set of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, growing up, her life now, and more. It’s an easy read and one I definitely recommend to anyone who loves Gilmore Girls as much as I do!

{SIX} What Lies Beyond

My brother wrote a book! If you’re into horror, suspense, mystery and love a little ghost story action, this is for you. It’s based in an eery haunted hotel in Kansas and let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down and I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother. It’s really that good!

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