The 25 in 25 List

48371899_10157093152533296_2916686997651193856_o

This week I turned 26 and as I turn another year older, I keep thinking about all the memories and lessons from Year 25. As I began to write them all down in my bullet journal, I decided to make a list (go figure), so here is my 25 in 25: Lessons and Memories from Year 25 (in no particular order).

  1. I got married. (Woo!!)
  2. We moved into our home.
  3. I started cooking regularly (thank goodness for the Instant Pot).
  4. I traveled out of the country for the first time.
  5. I became debt-free thanks to paying off all student loans.
  6. I established a morning routine.
  7. I fell in love with bullet journaling and the limitless possibilities of organization because of it.
  8. I started drinking at least 72 ounces of water a day. (Lemon water is the best.)
  9. I created a budget and learned more about finance.
  10. I learned to appreciate quiet time and time alone. (As an extrovert, this isn’t easy!)
  11. I ran my first {official} 5K.
  12. Put the phone down and pay attention to those around you.
  13. Read books, it’s fun to get lost in another world.
  14. Turn off the TV. There’s a whole life to live out there.
  15. A healthy life is way more than just exercising and eating right.
  16. Take time to reflect on the joys in life.
  17. Push your comfort zone.
  18. Take time to blog regularly, because it’s therapeutic and fun.
  19. Change is good (and normal) to continue growing as a person.
  20. Handwritten cards never go out of style.
  21. Pamper yourself once in a while.
  22. Be flexible with plans; they won’t always go as smoothly as you want them to.
  23. Stand as much as you can, because sitting isn’t good for you.
  24. Save your money and brew coffee at home (so buying coffee becomes a treat instead of a necessity).
  25. Laugh at yourself; it’s okay to not take yourself too seriously sometimes.

 

I can’t wait to see what Year 26 has in store!

Advertisements

The Truth About A Long Engagement

KeriandLuke_StacyHartPhotography-441

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 ❤

Monthly Roundup: October Favorites

IMG_8627.JPG

WEDDING MONTH.

That was the theme of October. Tons of checklists, meetings, last-minute fittings, packing, coffee…

And then finally…

OUR WEDDING DAY.

By far, hands down, 100% no question about it, October flew by faster than the rest of 2018 put together. I will have to write an entire blog post on just the wedding day because how can one sum up the best day ever in a single paragraph? It’s impossible.

Below are a few of my October favorites.

{ONE} Milburn Orchards

One of my favorite memories of October was my bachelorette-ette party with two of Luke’s younger sisters. We planned an entire “basic white girl” themed day complete with Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, leggings and boots, and a trip to the local orchard. It was a blast and I’m so excited to call these two my sisters!

{TWO} The Paris Wife

I finished The Paris Wife this month, which is a historical fiction novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. I borrowed it from a friend because I loved the cover (yep, totally judged it by the cover) and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a bit dry in some parts and a little risque at times, but overall it was a good read.

{THREE} Wedding Day

The best day of my life!!! It went by way too quickly and was filled with my all-time favorite things and people (duh!). It was a rainy Saturday in October so a lot of our photos were in the rain. Honestly, even though we didn’t get the beautiful golden hour with fall lighting that I had envisioned for so long, it was still a day to remember and one that we will cherish forever. I got to marry my best friend, how cool is that?! Check out the hashtag #PapiliEverAfter for some guest photos while we eagerly await the professional pics together!

{FOUR} Aruba/Renaissance Island

We went to Aruba for our honeymoon and oh my goodness, it was stunning and we cannot WAIT to go back! There are so many things we wanted to do that we didn’t have time to get to so we will definitely be returning in the near future. A few highlights include beautiful sunsets over the ocean, Flamingo Beach, chilling in hammocks, and seeing beautiful fish swimming in the crystal clear blue water. Paradise.

{FIVE} Lilac Girls

I can’t put Lilac Girls down! I started it on our flight to Aruba and read it any chance I could while chilling on the beach. I love learning about American history, especially World War 2, and this book is about three girls from three different countries with three different experiences that occurred during World War 2: one from Germany, one from Poland, and one from America. Incredible read so far and I already highly recommend it.

IMG_1773.JPG

Monthly Roundup: September Favorites

IMG_7897.JPG

This month was the first full month living at our home. (To clarify, Luke will move in after we’re married in October!) One of my favorite things about our new home is how close I am to work; my commute is 5-10 minutes now instead of 45-60 minutes. It’s ah-maz-ing and honestly has positively impacted the quality of life. I do not miss sitting in traffic at 8am!

There was a lot of change in September. I’ve loved settling into a new routine and *slowly* making our house a home. I’ll have to publish a blog post soon to show you all the DIY projects we’re doing around the house to make it our own, but for now I’ll share a few of my favorites below.

{ONE} Bridal Shower

My fabulous bridesmaids, mom, and friends threw the best bridal shower! I didn’t want the typical pink and gold theme that you see all the time on Pinterest so that was my only request. It was the perfect Breakfast at Tiffany’s-inspired shower complete with cake pops (Thank you, Po!) and the classic engagement ring balloon. I definitely felt the love and was so thankful for everyone who came on the rainy Saturday morning ❤

{TWO} House Update

I mentioned this a bit above but September was a huge month for our house. We continued painting, unpacking, and arranging furniture. We got a piano from a friend so a house isn’t a home until we have a piano, right? Right. After the bridal shower, we had a blast putting everything away. It really made our house feel like ours when things were in cabinets and we weren’t eating on paper plates anymore 😉

{THREE} Meal Prep

Two gifts I received at my bridal shower were an Instant Pot and Joanna Gaines’ cookbook. I absolutely cannot WAIT to use them and have slowly tried my hand at meal prepping and planning on Sundays. In typical Keri fashion, I created a Google Doc (surprise, surprise) on possible meals and when to eat them during the week along with lists of available ingredients at our house and what we need to buy. Adulting at its finest 😉

{FOUR} Bloom Daily Planners’ Vision Planner & Stickers

I can’t say enough good things about Bloom Daily Planners. They are, by far, one of my favorite brands ever. After visiting their HQ last month, I walked away with a lot of their products including this Vision Planner and a few sticker packs. Guys, I’m telling you – the Vision Planner is THE BEST. I love that there are weekly columns, to-do lists, meal and water trackers, and goals lists. It really has helped me keep everything straight especially as the wedding gets closer and closer every day!

{FIVE} Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words

As mentioned in What I’ve Been Reading Lately, I’ve been into audiobooks and the Libby app lately. One of my recent reads was Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words, a biography all about Princess Diana. Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by her and although the book is pretty long, I definitely recommend it. It was about 22 hours via audiobook but it goes by quickly especially while cleaning or working on mindless tasks.

Here’s to a busy, fun, and extremely memorable October! 🙂

Monthly Roundup: August Favorites

keri moving.png

August, where did you go? I swear it was August 1st yesterday but alas, here we are, the end of another month.

This month was fun and crazy. There were many Firsts this month as you’ll see below. We also hit the “2 Months To Go” mark so the start of September is super exciting yet insane that our wedding day is almost here!

{ONE} Bloom Daily Planners

If you’re an avid reader or follow my social media, you know I’m a huge fan of Bloom Daily Planners. I’ve used their products for at least 5 years now and talk about them frequently on my social channels. This month Bloom surprised me by reaching out and asking me to visit their headquarters; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Their kindness was contagious and they graciously gave me products to give to friends and family. I even grabbed a new Vision Planner and it made me so excited to plan out the rest of the year! We had a lovely visit and I am so thankful for the opportunity to visit my favorite company. Thank you, Bloom!

{TWO} Spin Class

Another First that occurred this month was attending my first Spin Class. It was something I added last year in my 101 in 1,001 list and have kept an eye out for opportunities to try it out ever since. When my alma mater offered an alumni-only spin class at a discounted price, I couldn’t refuse! My friend and I went together and were sore for days afterward but I’m glad I did it and hope to attend another class soon!

{THREE} Pentatonix Concert

A coworker won tickets to a Pentatonix concert and couldn’t go so she gave them to me. It was such a lovely surprise and Pentatonix, as always, was unbelievable! We saw them back in December when they sang all of their Christmas hits but listening to them sing their other hits was a fun experience. Echosmith opened for them and they were also fantastic. Current favorite Pentatonix covers: The Evolution of Michael Jackson and Hallelujah.

{FOUR} Moving

HUGE First of the month was moving to our house (!!!). In a blur of packing and cleaning, the realization that I moved out of my childhood home into our future house didn’t hit me until I saw my stuff sitting in an empty room. Craziness. However, it has been a fun experience unpacking, settling in, and making a house our home. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about that in the coming months!

{FIVE} Wedding Look

With two months to go, the to-do list should be dwindling down but it is, in fact, skyrocketing. All of the to-dos, however, have not been all been boring. For instance, this month I had my first dress fitting, found my veil, and had a hair trial! Putting the dress on again after a year was so exciting and made it all feel more real — I can’t wait to walk down the aisle and dance the night away.

{SIX} Date Night Diaries with Steve and Stacy Hart Podcast

I mentioned this podcast series in my recent post about my morning routine but I wanted to give it another shout out. Steve and Stacy discuss a variety of topics and keep Christ in the center of it. I love that. Each episode is between 30-45 minutes so it’s easily digestible and the perfect length to stay focused. Spoiler alert: Stacy is my wedding photographer!

{SEVEN} Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Don’t judge me but I totally purchased a PSL within 48 hours of Starbucks announcing they were back. I can’t help it — I love fall and everything about it. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. 😉 #SorryNotSorry

The Year of 3 Words: A Mid-Year Update

img_5821.jpg

At the beginning of 2018, I declared this year a year of three words.

You may (or may not) be wondering how 2018 is shaping up to my three-word description. I decided to ease your minds and give you a mid-year update. It is June, after all, and the year is halfway over (whoa, that’s weird). It’s time for a little checkin.

Change. 

Change is inevitable and my Type A self can’t cope with it sometimes, but this year there has been good change, bad change, and uncomfortable change.

Changes in habits: less coffee, more water, more reading & audiobooks, less TV, less clutter, more budgeting, more time with people I love.

Changes in life: Updates at work, new house, new professional accomplishments, new friends, new perspectives.

Not to mention many changes that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Needless to say, change happens pretty much every day and I’m learning how to embrace it and trust God every step of the way.

Do.

I’ve written about wedding planning multiple times this year so you know how the “Road to I Do” is generally going, but just in case I haven’t made it clear, this is the biggest “Do” of the year and I am pumped.

At the beginning of the year, a few other “do” items included: complete my social marketing certification, buy a house, read at least 25 books, and write more letters.

So far, I have completed my certification, we found a house, I have read many books, and love writing letters when I can. I’ve also traveled to places like New York and Boston, worked on a few incredible projects, and have begun training for my first official 5K (a big deal for a non-runner like myself!).

“Do” encompasses so many things, so it has been interesting to see how 2018 has unfolded this way. It’s not always about checking things off. Sometimes a “do” is a mindset, just like my third word of 2018 is.

Joy. 

This is one thing that is not a “check off the list,” so to speak.

Joy is a choice and something that takes focus and practice in order to make it a constant part of your life. I have a post-it note on my mirror that says “Joy is a choice,” and this year, in the good and the bad, I try to focus on that mindset.

An easy way to do this is instead of saying, “I have to…” replace it with “I get to…”  A mindset makes all the difference.

So that’s a bit of a recap as the year keeps flying by! What about you? How are your three words going for 2018? This week I challenge you to revisit your goals and be motivated to keep going!

5 Wedding Planning Tips From a Budget-Friendly Bride

keri engaged coffee mug

As some of you know, I’m engaged! So far wedding planning has been a whirlwind of to-dos, appointments, and meetings, but I’ve been having a blast dreaming and preparing for our big day.

It blows my mind how much money brides will spend on their day. I am all for big dreams and beautiful weddings, but I am also budget conscious and proud of it. It’s been a fun challenge to find creative ways to save money while also planning the wedding of our dreams.

Here are 5 ways I’ve stayed budget conscious as I plan for October!

keri engaged wedding planning

{ONE} Save-The-Dates

Save-the-dates were one of the first things I checked off my to-do list because… I’m not doing them. Many of our friends and family already know when our wedding is either by word-of-mouth or by asking us, so I’m saving money and only sending out official invitations instead!

{TWO} RSVPs

I haven’t officially sent my invitations yet, but I already know one thing I won’t include when I do: RSVP cards. Creating a wedding website where guests can RSVP, find location details, registry information, and more not only saves on postage, but it also keeps all of the RSVPs and necessary information in one place.

{THREE} Dinner

This is total preference, but I love buffet-style dinners as opposed to multiple-course dinners. It allows guests the flexibility to eat what they want while also making sure you don’t over-order and over-spend.

{FOUR} Cake

Do you remember the cake from the last wedding you attended? Probably not. Instead of cashing out tons of money for an extravagant and multi-tiered cake, I will order a giant sheet cake and serve it pre-cut to our guests. To keep up with tradition, we will most likely still order a smaller cake for photos and tasting, but since my fiance isn’t a huge cake person, stay tuned for possible alternatives. 😉

{FIVE} The Dress

love my dress for many reasons but one of them is the fact that I didn’t spend thousands of dollars on it. I watch TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and am baffled by the amount of money some brides spend on a beautiful dress they will wear once. Don’t get me wrong, I think the dress is extremely important, but will I spend a down payment’s worth on it? Absolutely not. I’m a witness to all you brides out there: It is possible to find your dream dress without breaking the bank!

Do you have any budget-saving tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them so comment below!