Sunday, December 31, 2017

My 2017 Highlight Reel

Man, 2017 was a year I'll never forget. Aside from the obvious part where I got engaged and married, I also quit my job to freelance full-time. There were lows, of course, rocky seasons and adjusting to transition, but overall 2017 was a year where a lot of dreams I had been dreamin' came to fruition.

The above image is my 2017 top nine posts on Instagram, so I'll share a little about those and a few other highlights below:

- Austin proposed on March 5 of 2017. What a day! He surprised me with an engagement photoshoot immediately afterward; our friend Joe Bulger snapped our photos (and caught my surprise in the middle square above)! Above, photos 1, 5 and 7 are from this day.
- Not pictured above, but I said goodbye to my day job about two weeks after Austin proposed. Between adjusting to being a full-time freelancer and planning a wedding, this was a huge season of transition for me. Like all changes, I had some good days with it and some not-so-good ones. Overall, I learned a ton about myself during this season.
- Not pictured in the Instagram top 9, but Austin and I got to go to Hawaii with his family in May. It was such a relaxing trip and definitely in my personal top 9 memories of the year.
- In July, I entered my late 20's. Not pictured here, but it happened!
- In August, I had two bridal showers — one thrown by my great family friends, and another hosted by three of my bridesmaids and best friends. This was such a sweet experience (more on that in this post), and photo 6 above is from that day.
- October 21, 2017. We had the wedding of my dreams; seriously the best day we've had to this point. After our ceremony, our friend and wedding photographer Kinsey Mhire found the most gorgeous field for some portraits. I've shared a couple previews of that on Instagram, and I'm excited to share more about our wedding in the coming months!
- Our honeymoon was so wonderful (more on that coming too), and photo 4 is from one of my favorite locations — the Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Overall, 2017 was full of a lot of love. Not sure how 2018 can top this one, but I'm willing to stick around and find out!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Why I Make Goals Instead of Resolutions

“Goals” versus “resolutions” may seem a lot like “tomato, tom-AH-to” to some people, but I think there’s a legitimate difference between the two. A lot of times, New Year’s resolutions sound like a list of don’ts for the upcoming months. And once you break them, you’re toast. Oh, and speaking of toast, remember that “no carbs” resolution? No toast for you.

Personally, I think making goals instead puts the focus on a more positive approach to the new year. Instead of saying everything you’re going to cut out, you get to dream (and dream big!) about what you would like the year to look like. I talked about it in this post, but research says people who write down their goals are 80 percent more likely to achieve them. So, last year, Austin and I had a date where we went to one of our favorite local shops, got cozy and dreamed big for 2017. It was so simple, but it might be my favorite date we’ve ever had. We both took our own journals, lined out a few things, and then collaborated on a list of goals together. We’re planning to do it again this year.

So, here’s the other thing: We didn’t hit every goal on our list last year. But honestly, that makes me even more excited to rethink our purposes and goals for 2018. Maybe we’ll bring some 2017 ones into 2018, or maybe we’ll reconsider whether those goals were the right ones for us. Making new intentions for the year should be things you want to do, not things you just feel like you should do.

If you want to make goals but don’t know where to start, here’s my 2 cents:
  • Think about the type of person you want to be, on the whole. Don’t just write down weight loss goals or career goals, consider how you can be a more intentional friend or family member.
  • Consider what actions represent your aspirations. Instead of writing down “lose 20 pounds”, a better goal would be “cut out processed sugar”. It can be hard to figure out how to get from point A to point B without a clear roadmap.
  • Give yourself grace. In my opinion, resolutions are strict and goals are all about grace. There’s that saying on a poster in 5th grade classrooms that says, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you fall, you’ll land among the stars”, and while it’s cheesy, I think there’s some amount of truth to it.
Going to write down some goals and gettin’ all excited about the year to come! xo!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

7 Supplies for Last-Minute Hosting

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — that sacred week between Christmas and New Year’s — where old friends are in town and nobody remembers what day it is. Naturally, if you live in the town your friends are visiting, the likelihood is high that you’ll be opening your home to unexpected guests.

So, if you’re like me and prone to inviting people over last-minute, here are seven things to have on hand this weekend.

Sparkling water or a warm beverage
I like to keep items stocked that won’t go bad, so you can use them when company comes without having to make a special trip to the store. A can of LaCroix or a mug of hot tea is a welcoming gesture for any friend who walks through the door.

A good candle or diffuser
You know how the smell of an Anthropologie wipes away every care or concern you’ve ever had? That’s my goal with the candles I buy for my home. A nice, clean scent can really make all the difference in atmosphere! And if your plans are last-minute, that candle can make it seem like you just vacuumed five minutes ago even if you haven’t vacuumed for a week.

Timely reading materials
Whether it’s a current magazine or a unique coffee table book, it’s always fun to see what other people have in their homes. And bonus, if the conversation stalls, you’ll have something to fall back on.

Supplies for a quick, simple cheese board
OK, so I realize cheese isn’t exactly an easy pantry item, but if you don’t have cheese in the house between Christmas and New Year’s, might I ask: What type of person are you? Oh, a healthy one? Oh.. well, OK then.

A clean kitchen/living room
I’m not sure how this one is so far down the list… who wrote this blog post? But, really, clean common spaces are a necessity unless you’re hosting your family or closest pals. When you’re having guests over who you haven’t seen in ages, just throw all your junk in the bedroom or office and shut. the. door. Otherwise they’ll talk about how messy you are when they leave, oops!

Music to set the tone
A good playlist can instantly set the mood for any gathering. Want to have a nice, long conversation with old friends? Choose something with a lower tempo. Or, want to joke around and party like it’s 1999? Play the Spice Girls.

A coat rack
This feels like a bonus one because most friends I visit don’t have coat racks, or even a coat closet. But if you don’t want your friends to judge you for a messy bedroom, a coat rack is a necessity. Or I suppose it’s a possibility that you have a clean bedroom; in which case, you can put the coats in there. I’ll allow it.

These tips are particularly relevant throughout the holiday season, but I think they would work year-round, as well! Are you having friends over last-minute? Invite me!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our First Married Christmas

Who knew a married Christmas would feel so different than a dating Christmas?! Besides the obvious fact that Austin and I live together now, somehow Christmas this year feels so different than the last. It's fun to think of new traditions to create together and prepare for the season, until... dun dun dunnnnn... you realize you're newlyweds and don't collectively own any holiday decor. Ha!

It had really never occurred to me that someday you have to buy your own Christmas stocking.. something we haven't done yet because I'm hoping the pretty Anthropologie ones will go on super sale. Thankfully, Austin and I were able to borrow some fun holiday decor from both of our moms — in addition to a few items we purchased — and our Christmas collection is off to a good start. I posted about it on my Instagram, but even though we have the big tree this year, my favorite is this tinsel tree with inoperable lights. I just love the look of the wiry silver branches.

For an affordable "centerpiece" solution, I dug around in the pile of extra branches at Lowe's, and we used some ornaments we didn't hang on the tree. It's fun to watch the sunlight reflect off of them in the morning; it lights up the whole living room!

Our little nutcracker friend is a nod to Austin's childhood collection. He's received a nutcracker from his grandma each year for Christmas since he was born — plus a few others from family and friends — and now he has over 30! I think it's 34, if I remember right.

To be honest, my favorite trees are made up of memories shared over the years. Special places, an ornament you picked up on this or that trip, and references to traits or interests that make our loved ones unique. But those are the trees you have to earn, over time, and I'm excited to collect all of those experiences together. A funky tree is just evidence of a full life. 

So, here we are. New last name, new traditions. Gingerbread house making, prime rib on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve service at ET (my home church), stockings, egg nog, chicken cordon bleu on Christmas, and a nutcracker collection. Hey, I may be closer to that full, eclectic tree than I think. Merry Christmas, friends! I hope your holiday season is everything you wish it to be.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Queen City Gems, Vol. 2

Not to be overdramatic or anything, but every single person I know is really talented. Ha! That being said, I'm excited about this queen city gems post. If you missed my last one, you can check it out here. There are so many people doing cool things around this sweet little town of mine, and I love to see where we, as a community, are going. Here's some things I'm particularly pumped on this week:

Rove Coffee Opens in the Springfield Airport
So now there's at least 2 things to Instagram at the airport, by my count. The carpet (of course!) and Rove Coffee. I got to talk with their manager, Katilyn Palmquist, last week, and she so thoughtfully described the meaning of 'rove' that I nearly had to grab a tissue. Read what she had to say over on Feast.

Shailey and Katie on "Mixing Styles" in a Home
I've mentioned it before, but two of my great friends, Shailey and Katie have a podcast together. (In fact, they interviewed me on it recently!) But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Nope, in their most recent episode, Shailey deals with how to mix styles in your home. And you should listen, because she is an interior design wizard and really knows her stuff. It's true! You can listen to it here or on iTunes.

D. Clea Launches Single for 'Loyal', From Upcoming Album, In Health
Remember that comment on how EVERYONE I KNOW is talented? D. Clea released a beautiful new single today, with a music video shot and produced by Locke and Stache. If you're keeping track, my husband owns Locke and Stache with two fantastic business partners, so of course I'm biased toward liking their work. But Darien's voice is sweet milky honey, and I'm convinced you'll all like this video even if you're not as biased as I am. Below is a screenshot from the video, which you can watch here.

That's all for today! Let me know of any other cool SGF happenings here or send me a DM on Instagram. xo!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Easy Veggie Recipe for Eating In

Each year, millions of students head off to college, warned about the “freshman 15”. What nobody tells you about, friends, is the dreaded NEWLYWED 15. I’m kidding, of course, but gettin’ hitched and moving in with a man is a big lifestyle change! It takes some adjusting to. Since Austin and I got married in late October, we’ve been steadily approaching the coziest time of year, and snuggling while eating pizza just sounds more fun than snuggling while eating.. veggies.

But, we all have goals in life, and one of mine is to eat more veggies. SIGH. Pizza, don’t worry, you are still my first love. For this post, I’m working with Made In Cookware. In their own words, it’s “professional cookware at an amateur price.” And—hey—I think they’re right! I used the 10-inch pan to whip up one of my favorite easy, veggie-friendly recipes. (I made this dish once before on the blog, so you can find it in my ancient history archives from 2014. Aww! Here’s the link.)

In my opinion, the two best things about this frying pan are that it’s oven safe and dishwasher safe. Since it’s stainless, I won’t hesitate to throw it in the dishwasher. Usually, I like to hand wash my nonstick pots and pans, so the surface stays better longer. So, I feel like this is a “Made In” bonus! Less time washing pans; more time to make… out?

What easy veggie recipes are you making this season? Lemme know in the comments! xo.