Friday, August 29, 2014

How We Saved For Hawaii on a Budget



Our anniversary is rapidly approaching-in just over a month, we will be celebrating our first year or marriage. I cannot believe how fast time has flown by. “The days are long, but the years are short” is SO, so true. I am SO excited because we are going on a dream anniversary trip to Hawaii to celebrate our first year.

 We made the decision we wanted to go to Hawaii right after we came back from our honeymoon. At that time, we didn’t know Ronnie would be going back to school this fall and were blissfully unaware of how tight our budget was about to get. We decided we wanted to go this year because we wanted to do as much travel as we could before babies come. We knew that going on a big vacation would just get more complicated and expensive once babies change our lives, so we decided we’d go for our  first anniversary.

 The first thing people usually say when we talk about our upcoming trip is “Wow! How do you afford that?” And althought part of me is shocked that people are bold enough to ask about other people’s finances, the other part of me wants to tell everyone you CAN go to Hawaii too! Its possible!

Here’s how we did it: 

We planned our trip one year in advance.
This gave me time to watch for the best deals on airfare and hotels. It also gave us time to SAVE. That’s the key here. You have to be willing to sacrifice some material things you want and see the big picture. I have to ask myself all the time what I want more. Another pair of sandals or a trip to Hawaii? The easiest way for me to figure out how much I needed was to add up the costs and divide it out by twelve months so I knew exactly how much I needed to be putting in our "vacation fund" each month.

We used a credit card for EVERYTHING to rack up airline miles. 
When I say everything, I mean everything. We used it like a debit card. We paid for our wedding expenses with it, and then paid it off. We pay our bills with it, we pay for Ronnie’s school with it, I pay for my six dollar bottle of wine with it. Then we pay it off. That is the key though-I paid our bill each payday in full. I’ve made the mistake before of not tracking what I was putting on the card and not paying it off in full, and before long I found myself owing WAY more than I expected. So every payday, we pay off our credit card in full, and don’t pay a penny in interest. When it came time to buy tickets, I watched for a great deal, and we were able to use our airline miles to pay for our plane tickets.

We saved our tax return. 
Now, I know not everyone gets a tax return, or sometimes its not much, but for us, we did get a decent tax return and it was really tempting to spend it, or at least part of it on things we wanted. The second it went into our bank account, I moved it over to a savings account so we weren’t tempted at all by that extra money. That tax return paid for our entire hotel stay + rental car! We booked our hotel+car through Costco Travel and got quite a discount doing it that way and our car ended up almost being free when compared to booking directly through the hotel and rental car company.

We picked up extra hours at work and extra side jobs. 
I have been babysitting on the weekends, and have started babysitting two to three times a week in the evenings, and Ronnie picked up extra hours at Starbucks. Every extra penny we make, we are putting straight into an envelope for spending money for food, activities, etc. in Hawaii. We have a goal amount that we want to bring with us, and between house sitting, babysitting, and Ronnie’s extra hours, we are almost to 50% of that goal. We just started saving in that envelope about a month ago, and are going to work extra hard to reach that goal amount so we can have a stress free trip and not come home with that post-vacation regret from overspending.

 Going on vacation IS possible, even on a very tight budget. Our budget is stretched thin with paying for school without financial aid, but vacations are important to us. They are the way we relax, recharge and escape from the chaotic, busy life we lead. They are memories we treasure and look back on, that give us more joy than a new material item ever could. I believe that you should make room for whatever it is in your budget that you love. Whether that is vacations, or dinner dates with your girlfriends or hubby, or going to concerts, its possible to do those things you love while still being financially responsible. We make sacrifices in our every day life in order to treat ourselves to vacations we will love and enjoy, and if you feel like a vacation is out of reach, I promise, its not!


S P O N S O R 
S P O T L I G H T 

Rebecca from Living Lavender



Today's spotlight is a gorgeous southern lawyer, Rebecca from Living Lavender. I've been following her blog since she started it and I absolutely love it! She is a great writer with insightful posts that make me think, like this post "Is It Worth Using Facebook For Your Blog?" I have not done the best job of growing my blog's Facebook, so I thought the discussion it prompted was amazing! Her Closet Clean-out post not only motivated me to clean out my own closet but also to help me let go of my emotional attachments to my clothes and shoes, even the ones I NEVER wear! If you offer Sponsorships on your blog, you have to check out her results of her Sponsorship Survey she shared. It has some amazing insight to what people are looking for when they buy an ad on your blog!
Rebecca is an amazing blogger and I'd definitely recommend you go stop by and say hi to her!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Love Your Locks [Product Review]






I've tried so many different brands of shampoo and conditioner in the last few years, trying to find a perfect fit that moisturizes my long hair without leaving a lot of build up or residue which weighs it down. I am picky, because my hair is prone to tangles and my scalp is almost always dry and itchy. My husband will attest to that because I am constantly asking him to give me head scratches!

Besides being moisturizing and not leaving buildup, I also want my hair products to smell amazing AND be cost effective. Recently I tried Head & Shoulders, with the new Fresh Scent Technology. Beautiful hair has never smelled so good! Head & Shoulders Fresh Scent Technology is a breakthrough formula to leave you with 100% flake-free* hair that smells amazing for an improved in-shower scent experience. I loved how fresh and clean my hair smelled, even after I dried and styled it. I also could feel how well it moisturized my scalp almost instantly.







Sofia Vergara is also a fan of Head & Shoulders. Head & Shoulders has been part of the Vergara family for over 20 years because of the product's surprising benefits. You can have a chance to meet Sofia Vergara and become #PartOfOurFamily! Just follow these simple steps:

 1. Follow @HeadShoulders on Twitter
2. Post a photo of your gorgeous flake-free hair tagging #PartOfOurFamily #sweeps and @HeadShoulders in your tweet

The Sweepstakes will run from August 18 – September 1. The winner will get to meet Sofia at an upcoming Head & Shoulders advertising shoot. You can find out more information about the sweepstakes here!



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Business Trips Aren't So Bad



Another week has begun and I'm at the airport, heading on my third business trip in the past three weeks! I am a homebody and really miss my home, but there are perks to traveling for work, even if I don't get to go to the Bahamas for my job. (Ahem, Ashten).



1. First of all, you get a big king bed all to yourself. Is it just me or is this a real luxury? I love sprawling out in the middle of the bed and having all those fluffy pillows to myself. It's the little things.

2. You get to discovering local  restaurants and coffee shops. When I was traveling a few weeks ago, I found an amazing little coffee shop that had Cookie Dough lattes. I went their twice one day because I just couldn't stay away. I also found this little local restaurant that had homemade ice cream and I had the most amazing Coconut Almond Fudge ice cream and it was HEAVENLY.

3. Someone does all the cooking and dishes for you. I always try and stay in hotels that have continental breakfasts and nothing makes me more happy than to not have to worry about meal prep, grocery shopping, and having to cook after a long day. Not having to clean up and do dishes after is also a gift.

4. At the end of your work day, you have an entire evening with little responsibility. I love that I don't have to worry about folding that basket of laundry that awaits me at home or do other chores at home. Most evenings when I travel I can either sit near the pool/on a balcony and read, write, or go over presentation if I am teaching a class. I can also choose to go to a restaurant and eat a nice dinner and have a glass of wine, or sometimes, I just bring dinner back to my room and eat it in bed while taking advantage of the cable TV. The possibilities are endless!

5. Although business trips are busy, I love exploring new cities. Even when I go to small towns in Idaho, my favorite way to explore the town is go for a run or walk. Its nice to get out of my every day routine, work from a different office, interact with my colleagues who are in the District Offices I don't get to see at Headquarters every day, and see new things. Its a nice change in scenery, and keeps me from getting burned out on the same routine day in and day out.

Today I'll be interviewing job candidates for most of today and tomorrow, and then I'll head home tomorrow evening just in time to go babysit. Its another busy week, but they sure do go fast this way!

Do you ever travel for work? Do you love it or hate it?


Guest Blogger: Megan from Arroway

Its Tuesday and I have another gorgeous blogger taking over my space here today! I am so thankful to have someone to help me keep y'all entertained, especially when my week is crazy busy with travel and work commitments! Say hello the the ever lovely Megan!


Hello! My name is Megan and I blog over at Arroway. I just LOVE people. I am the true extrovert at heart. So we should become friends because that's what bloggers do right? they make friends with errybody!

Let me tell you a little bit about myself! In two weeks my husband and I are celebrating ONE year of marriage! It's been a fun year! That's for sure.




We live in the great state of Montana with our two doggies! This state has brought me such a great sense of adventure and love for the outdoors! If you ever get the chance, come visit! Our house is on the way to Glacier National Park! Some of our hobbies include, rock climbing, skiing, biking, boating (hello laketime!) and so much more! So if you're ever up in the area, we will take you for a fun tour!




Aside from being a slight adrenaline junkie (I say slight because I am a pansy sometimes!!) I am a hippie at heart! I love all things all-natural, growing my own herbs, not showering (kidding...kind of), clean eating (and cooking!!!) and attempting to make my own stuff!




Earlier this summer I opened up my Etsy shop as a way to have a more artistic outlet for more homemade products as opposed to just my normal business  and wedding clients (whom I love dearly!!).  I believe that a handmade home, is a happy home! More importantly, I want my art to display the love of Christ and  encouraging notes! I love filling my home with beautiful words and quotes that inspire and uplift. So come check it out!





Also, if you really enjoy my shop, I'm giving you the chance to win this print from it! So enter my giveaway to win this print (What I love most) and be my friend!











a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Things I'm Thinking About


Ohhh hey Friday. So nice of you to show your pretty little face. I am sure each one of you is just as happy to see this lovely day as I am. Its been another crazyyyy week, and I have another one coming next week, so I am going to attempt to have a quiet and relaxing weekend.

A few things on my mind today:

1. All the negativity on social media is really getting to me lately! I mean, no matter where you look there is negativity surrounding the Ice Bucket Challenge, comments from people about how annoying it is that everyone is pregnant or engaged, negativity about negative people, and the list goes on and on. Social Media is full of people just wanting to vent to their thousand closest friends, and I just wonder if society has always been so focused on the negative, and so quick to share their opinion regardless if it might hurt someone, or if now that people have a big audience and get immediate validation from likes, favorites, and comments, they immediately feel the need to share. I am guilty of this myself, but its been bothering me more and more lately. Maybe its time for another social media break?

2. Its no secret our budget is streched tightly with Ronnie in school, but it seems like we are busier than ever before! With all my traveling for work lately, and the babysitting I'm doing for extra money on top of Ronnie's school and two jobs, we have very little downtime. I've been thinking really hard about seeing if there is a way to stretch our budget, sacrifice a dinner out or my beloved Starbucks to hire someone to help us clean twice a month! My pal Ashten does this, and I thought to myself how nice it would be to not have to spend one of our few days off scrubbing the house every weekend. Its definitely something I'm pondering, even if I don't know if its do-able right now.

3. Speaking of being insanely busy, I've decided to take a little hiatus from offering Sponsor Packages for other bloggers. Rest assured, the ads that are currently running or are queued up to begin soon, you will get all the love and attention and perks you paid for. But, going forward, I think I am going to take a break so I don't have a huge weight sitting on my shoulders, reminding me that if I don't blog then my sponsors might suffer. Sometimes I get so anxious about making sure I am keeping up with all my Sponsors, and I feel so much pressure to come up with great content and do my shoutouts and spotlights, it sucks the fun right out of blogging. I have a lot of travel scheduled for the fall, and will be babysitting twice a week (or more) after I get off my regular job, I just dont think I can devote as much time to my Sponsors as I'd like. I don't want someone wasting their hard earned money on a sponsor package with me unless I can really commit to helping them grow their blog. Hard decision, but its just for this season while life is craaazzzy.

4. We're still debating the second dog idea. Part of me says yes, we NEED a protector in the family, and the other part of me realizes that A. Dogs are expensive and B. Puppies need a lot of time and attention, which you have probably gathered isn't something we have a lot of at this moment. Also, puppies chew and pee on the floor and I don't love that.

5. I AM SO READY FOR FALL SHOWS TO BE BACK. Hello Scandal, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, and Nashville. Looking at you. Come back to me.



S P O N S O R   S P O T L I G H T




Carlee is one of my new blogging pals, and I am so happy to get to introduce you to her! She is a fellow Diet Coke addict, so immediately I felt kinship with her. Carlee is also a student at the same school Ronnie is attending, even though she's attending on the other side of the country than he is! Bless you, online school! I think Carlee has the most kind and genuine heart. Even though she is young and in her early twenties, God has really laid on her heart a love and desire to adopt a child one day. Although she isn't to that point in her life yet, she's started to pray for that child, whoever he or she may be and I think that is SO incredible.

Her writing always makes me stop and think, like her post that reminded me that life isn't always about the plans we make for ourselves, but instead, to appreciate the unexpected way God changes our course for good. Carlee is a sweet and charming girl who I know you will love. Go stop by and say hello!



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Here Comes Baby...

Not for me, friends! HAH! Did I trick any of you, for even just a second? My gorgeous friend Maegen is the one who is expecting, not me just yet. She's here to entertain you while I recover from another work trip. Say hello to Maegen from the Modern Tulip and make sure you see what she's giving away at the bottom of the post. I wish I could win!



Hey y'all, I'm Maegen, the girl behind The Modern Tulip. I know guest posts are pretty boring. I mean, you didn't come here to see me right? BUT if you think about it, we already have something in common. A mutual love for Brittany am I right!? So I can go ahead and assume we will be great friends meaning you should probably stick around.


If you are still unsure let me give you the low down about me so you can and decide if we have a blogger friendship in our future.

I'm a southern gal with an alter ego for the 50's living in good ole' TN with my hubster of over two years. He makes my heart swoon!


I'm completely obsessed with humor and sarcasm. Just ask my husband, I'm pretty sure it's his favorite quality about me...

I own an online boutique which gives me the ability enjoy one of my passions, fashion.

I speak to my dogs like children. Don't tell me these faces aren't human. My great dane sits butt first on the couch like a human and my pointer demands cuddles before bed each night.

Speaking of babies, I'm having a real one in March! New pregnant mom here who plans on spilling the beans weekly about what I'm experiencing both good and bad.


Oh and I'm overly obsessed with Fall and everything that comes with it. Needless to say, I'm gearing up for all the goodness already!


I think that about sums me up. So what do you think? Have I persuaded you? Can we be friends? I sure hope so! If you still aren't sold... I'll bribe you. Come stop by for a visit after you enter my giveaway for a lovely geometric cuff!




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I Am Convinced I Need A Dog

Friends. I experienced the second scariest moment of my life yesterday morning about 2:00 AM. And I realize now as I am typing it out, it really might not sound scary, but my heart was racing and I couldn't sleep after said moment for hours.

Ronnie and I were dead asleep on Monday night (early Tuesday morning). I was all packed and ready to leave out of town Tuesday morning for a work trip with a colleague, and was in a deep sleep when I heard my doorbell incessantly ringing at two in the morning. It wasn't just a couple of rings-the crazy who was outside our door rang it for a good two minutes straight, over and over and over. Ronnie bolted up, but scaredy cat me wouldn't let him go downstairs to answer the door and see what in the hell that crazy person was doing ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night.  I've seen TOO many crime shows and know that when crazy people ring doorbells late at night, they either A. Shoot the person who answers the door or B. barrel past the person and rob the house blind or C. Shoot the husband and attack the wife.

Meanwhile, our precious guard dog Jak was racing around with his little tail wagging. He didn't bark or growl or even go downstairs. I know in his head he was probably like "Dad! Someone is hear to see us! Dad! Lets get the door!" Some guard dog he is!

So, I've decided he needs a partner in crime. A big dog pal with a loud, scary bark to intimidate any crazy people who think they might want to come scare me senseless and ruin a good night of sleep for us.

These dogs look like good candidates for the job, what do you think?






So, you agree with me right? A second dog with a loud bark is definitely the answer to avoiding any more terrifying situations like I experienced yesterday, yes?

And-are Australian Shepard dogs barkers? Because our Aussie isn't, but we aren't sure if it is a personality thing or  a breed thing. Anyone know? 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies


I didn't do a lot of noteworthy things this weekend. I had four days off of work, and one day I went to the Leadership Summit, but the rest of my days were spent resting, reading, relaxing, and baking these cookies.

I cannot turn down a cookie. They are kryptonite in this household because we both have a bad habit of binge eating them until we feel sick. Nevertheless, sometimes I get the urge to bake, and end up with these things calling my name until they're gone.

If you like your cookies soft, fluffy, and chewy, you should make these. And if you like your cookies flat and crispy, we can't be friends. Thats no way to eat a cookie.


Ingredients: 

  •  3/4 cup softened butter 
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup granulated  sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Directions: 


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Cream butter and sugar together
  • Add in egg and vanilla. 
  • Add  flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix. 
  • Add in the chocolate chips
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes


Thats it-you're done! Enjoy with a glass of milk!

I'm headed out of town for another work trip tomorrow, so forgive me if work takes away from my blogging time! And send coffee, its going to be a long week.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Refueling My Tank



Whoa-WHERE on earth did this week go? Actually, thats a silly question. I was only in the office two days this week, and the other three days I was scheduled to be at conferences. One was for work, and one, The Global Leadership Summit, I was attending through church. This morning though, I woke up, ate my breakfast and drank my coffee in bed, and realized what I needed more than anything was to have a few hours of quiet. Of stillness.

The past few weeks have been go, go, go and I don't anticipate them getting any better anytime soon. I've been scheduled to travel three out of four weeks in August for work, and my days in the office are quickly getting filled with interviews, leaving little time for the rest of my work that awaits me. I'm supposed to start babysitting a couple nights a week at the end of the month, but my travel schedule is threatening to get in the way of that. Things that are important to me are getting pushed to the back burner, like running and spending time in God's word.

So this morning, I decided I'd take the morning off from the conference. It is an amazing conference, with speakers full of wisdom and insight, and learning and soaking it up is something I really enjoy. But today, I am going to spend a few hours on refueling my tank. I'm going to lounge in my pi's a little longer, and then I'm going to get up and spend some time reading my bible and journalling, and then go for a run along the river because its been too long since I've done that.

Hopefully by the time I head to the conference this afternoon, I am feeling like the load I am carrying is just a little lighter, that the chaos that sometimes feels so consuming is actually little and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

6 Leadership Principles in Blogging



I attended an amazing conference yesterday put on by the leadership of my organization. This is a leadership conference for leaders at my organization, and you have to be nominated to attend. You don't have to have a leader title such as a supervisor or manager, but instead, they were looking for people who positively impact the culture of the organization. People who have the ability to influence others, who help take strides to furthering the mission of the organization in a positive way, and people who are innovative and committed to personal development.

I was furiously taking notes, soaking in all the awesome speakers wisdom and knowledge. I had a list of ten things I wanted to share today, but then I realized if you wanted to read a book you'd download one from Amazon, so I thought I'd stick to just six points that really stood out to me. I really believe that no matter what we do whether its work all day in an office, take care of your babies as a stay at home mom, or work from home every day, we can apply and benefit from some of the leadership principles that were covered. I thought I'd share about how I think six of the principles that the speakers addressed affect us bloggers. This is more geared to bloggers who want to grow their blog and maybe even monetize it, but still even bloggers who blog purely for fun surely can find something in here that applies.

1. Understand who your customers are and meet their needs. 
In business, one thing I've learned through my three years in HR is that a customer is more than someone buying a product from a company. As a Recruiter, my customers are my hiring managers who I partner with to help find the best candidate. My customers are also applicants.

As a blogger- who are your customers? Maybe your customers are the bloggers who buy sponsorships on your blog. Surely, you should focus on them, support them, ensure that you meet their expectations and fulfill the promises you make to them when they purchase an ad. But I also think that you should spend some time digging in and figure out who is reading your blog. Are you a lifestyle blogger sharing insight, wisdom and tips on how to navigate  marriage to new brides? Are you a mom who is sharing the real mom moments instead of portraying a picture perfect life all the time? Who are you writing for? This is important because it will guide your writing and help you answer the questions "What do my readers want to hear from me?"

 2. Know what your competition is doing. 

As a blogger, I don't advocate copying another bloggers ideas or trying to be someone you're not. What I do think is crucial is to look at those blogs you love and admire, and figure out what they're doing well. Do they include amazing photos every post that inspire you to learn how to use your DSLR camera? Are they interacting with their Twitter followers and building real relationships? Maybe they just reply to every comment, so readers keep coming back because they feel valued and heard. There's a lot of awesome posts about how to be successful, but I've learned the most by watching and learning from more experienced bloggers, and then using what I learn to inspire me and help me grow.

3. Pay attention to the details. 
The little things matter in business. In order to be successful in HR and hire the right person for a job, I have to know what that person will do in their job. I have to know the good, the bad, the awful. I have to know what would make someone successful in a position in order to effectively recruit for it. Details matter in business in order to understand and execute the big picture.

Details matter in blogging too. Details affect your credibility as a blogger. If you want to monetize your blog, you have to pay attention to your spelling, your grammar, your blog design and your social media presence. You have to take the time to reply to reader comments and emails and keep a consistent schedule. You have to post your sponsored posts and social media shout-outs and do it on time. Details matter. Now, obviously real life comes first, and sometimes we all deserve a break from blogging, but if you are accepting money for blogging and sponsorships, you have to pay attention to details.

4. Learn everything you can about your profession.

In business, you should always be learning. You should soak up the knowledge of your colleagues, read business articles related to your profession, network with other professionals, and continue to develop as a professional.

You should do the same with blogging! In order to be great, taking classes, workshops, doing blog consultations, reading posts by other experienced bloggers, etc. are all great ways to continue to learn and grow as a blogger. I know a lot of us blog for fun, and maybe don't care about the number of followers you have or maybe don't care to monetize it. Personally, I just have the personality that if I am going to do something, I am going to do it to the best of my ability. I continually push myself to be better. Take a break when you need one, but to grow your blog and be successful, the best thing you can do is never stop looking for opportunities to learn and grow.

5. You don't have to have all the answers.

At the conference, I was encouraged by the stories from managers and administrators who had the humility to go to their team with a problem or issue and tell them they needed help in finding a solution. I thought it was so important to be able to admit that we don't know everything, and we don't have to. We can't all be experts in everything! There are a lot of things I still need to learn and grow in in blogging, and its okay. I think one of the most amazing things about blogging is the relationships that we create with other bloggers, and I know that I don't hesitate to ask for advice from a blogging friend when there's something I am struggling with.
Whether its blog related or life related, I have a handful of blogging friends I have and will text with questions, prayer requests, or even to ask for favors like retweeting a tweet or helping me spread the word about a post.

 I've also realized that there are things I am just not awesome at or don't enjoy about blogging, and even if its what "everyone does" I don't have to do it too. Its important to realize that if you hate having to do social media shout-outs for your sponsors, you can take that option off of your packages. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing-be you and do what is best for you. Ask for help when you need it from bloggers you have developed relationships with, and know its okay to not always have the answers to everything.

6. Encourage and inspire others to be great.
This goes along with number five, but I think as bloggers, its easy to compete and compare ourselves against each other. Its easy to fall into the trap of comparing followers or judging others when what our community needs is more collaboration, more support, more encouragement. You don't have to hold a brand new blogger's hand when they ask you for help starting a blog, but I've always appreciated the people who point me to resources or encourage me when a post of mine I thought was the cat's meow flops. I don't have all the free time in the world and I am sure you don't either, but one thing I want to do better at is encouraging other bloggers. Blogging is hard, right? But the more we support each other and help each other grow, the more we receive from this blogging community. Less competition, more encouragement.


Like I mentioned, some of these principles may apply more to bloggers who are focused on improving and growing their blog, maybe monetizing it either with sponsorships or working with brands. Even if you just blog for fun and as a creative outlet, knowing who your readers are and encouraging others are a couple things that may help you.

 Tell me what you think, do you think that business and leadership principles are applicable to blogging? Did I miss any big ones?

PS: Don't forget that you can enter to win a bottle of my FAVORITE perfume JUST by liking my blog's Facebook page! Hurry, giveaway ends on Friday! If you're already a follower, you have a free entry and you can earn up to three extra entries by liking, commenting on the giveaway post, and sharing the post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wear Your Crown, Princess

Today I am spending the day at the Leadership Summit, a conference my work puts on. I am excited to have the opportunity to have been nominated to go and can't wait to come back to share what I've learned! Instead of a regularly scheduled post though I've decided to give away one of my signature scents as a thank you to all you. Thank you for reading, commenting, encouraging, and praying for me. You people are what keeps me coming back day after day. Vera Wang's Princess perfume is one of my absolute favorite scents, and to enter to win, ALL you have to do is like my blog on Facebook!



If you like and share this post, thats two extra entries-but to be entered to win, just go click like. Easiest giveaway ever. Winner will be announced via Facebook friday. No Rafflecopter or following 10 different bloggers-one blogger, one Facebook page. Liking and sharing the post just doubles your chances at winning.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Scenes From The Weekend


Happy Monday!! This weekend went by far too quickly, like they always do, but it was filled to the brim with really great stuff.

Stuff like:

A bridal shower for a gorgeous bride-to-be, also named Brittany. Her fiancé is one of Ronnie's best friends and we are absolutely thrilled to get to celebrate their special day with them next month. Her bridal shower was on a gorgeous patio overlooking the river with amazing food, conversation, and the best mini-cheesecake cups I've ever tasted. I know she's going to make the most beautiful bride and I can't wait for their wedding.

I also got the wild spur of the moment idea to finally re-do my gallery wall. We put one up when we moved in, but it was not as big as I had imagined and I kept telling myself I'd redo it one day. One day finally came along and I am just about finished with it. I used what we had already and spent under thirty dollars to re-do it, so I can't wait to share it with you once its final!

I also spent Friday evening curled up in the rocking chair on my porch, reading a new book, and enjoying wine on ice. I am not above putting ice cubes in my wine over here, thats just the kind of girl I am.  My mom and I also did some serious shopping and hit the summer clearance sales and got some great stuff. 

Some things I didn't do much of include cleaning, meal prepping and laundry. OOPS.

My week is chalk full of conferences though-I get to go to one leadership conference that only two people in each department at my office get nominated for. I was one of the people in my group who get the privilege to go on Tuesday. I can't wait to soak up some leadership wisdom and knowledge with my colleagues, but then our church also is a host of the Global Leadership Summit and I am going to that on Thursday and Friday.  It's going to be a busy, busy week but I know I am going to learn a lot and hopefully I can come back with some details about how I am putting some things into action in my every day life.

I hope you all have a excellent week friends! 




Friday, August 8, 2014

How to Handle Disappointment Gracefully



Friends-you guys sure knew exactly how to encourage a girl who was feeling a little beaten down earlier this week. Seriously, your sweet comments, emails, and text messages encouraging me and letting me know you were praying for me meant the world. If you missed it, I mentioned I was a little disappointed this week. We got some not so great news. It wasn't terrible, and I am not having a pity party for us, but we were a little bummed. And thats okay. We've picked ourselves up, brushed ourselves on, and put a smile on because we know who writes our story. We know who holds everything (including us) together, and we know who's plans are always infinitely better than ours.

Maybe you've heard some bad news lately, or gotten your hopes up for something that didn't quite go your way. And as a Christian, I have felt like I shouldn't be too upset or sad when circumstances are less than ideal, reminding myself that God's plan is better and He knows best and all in his timing and yadayadayada. Now-all of this is TRUE. God's plans have always, 100% of the time, been better than anything I could've dreamed up for myself. We could talk all day about all the ways God hasn't given me what I was asking for because really, he had something better for me.

But I think its okay to let ourselves be disappointed. Its okay to be upset, to cry, to mourn whatever it is that we lost. God isn't offended when we are frustrated with him or questioning Him. In fact, I think He wants us to go to Him with our masks off and not try to cover our pain with "Christanese" responses. Lets be real here-we aren't shocking God when we drop the spiritual religious correct responses. He already knows our hearts, he knows the sinfulness and the messiness that lie inside and He still loves us relentlessly. His desire is to have an intimate relationship with us and there's no intimacy in masking how we feel in order to try and please Him.

Disappointment, pain, brokenness, and hurt is a part of life. Its unmistakeable. Jesus told us that we WILL have trouble in this world.  We have to realize that disappointment doesn't equal the end of the world. And usually, at least in my life, God has uses every time that I felt disappointed or let down to help me grow. He's used it to teach me more of his character, to show me that I am not the one in control here, and to almost force me to depend on Him and Him alone.

If you're facing some kind of disappointment or pain in an area of your life please hear me: the enemy wants you to believe that God isn't listening to your prayers or that you aren't important to God. I've fallen trap to this mentality before, and it is a lie. God hears you. God cares about you, and He cares about the deep desires of your heart, and he cares about the little things that you care about.

When I face disappointment, I let myself feel what I am feeling. I cry, I pray, I yell, I journal and tell God how frustrated or let down I am. And then, after I get it all out, I release it. I tell myself, and God that I am not the one in control here, and I recognize that. I speak it out loud that I trust God's plans for me. And I usually pray and ask God to reveal to me what He is trying to teach me through it. It isn't a cure all, and I still get down sometimes, but I choose to believe that God is actively working in my life, even when I can't see it. This line in a song, "I Will Look Up" by Elevation Worship is my mantra in seasons of uncertainty, doubt, and disappointment.

I will look back, and see that You are faithful
I will look ahead, and see that You are able.

If you're struggling with disappointment right now, know I am praying for you as I write. I am praying that you can see how deeply you are loved, and know that God is for you. He is fighting for you, and even though you  maybe can't see the work he's doing, He is trustworthy. If you need prayer, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.




Because its Friday, and I have another awesome blogger to introduce you all too-meet my friend  Morgan from True Life KMK! Morgan is a trendy fashionista who has JUST graduated college and is working two jobs like a boss! Lets all give her a round of applause because that is no easy task! Morgan is wise beyond her years, and her post about her honest take on not quite being ready for marriage blew me away. She also shined a new, positive light on long distance relationships and reminds me of how mature she is for her age. I absolutely love reading her blog and hearing her wisdom she shares! If I could, I would invite her offer immediately for a coffee date because I just know we'd have a blast. Go say hello  to my girl Morgan and don't forget to say CONGRATULATIONS to this new college grad.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

What Marriage Has Taught Me

Hello class-today we have a new friend joining us! Let me introduce you to my friend Sam from the Samantha Life. We met last fall through the Cara Box Exchange, and I am so glad we did! Her blog is one of my daily reads, so I just know you'll want to hop on over to her blog right away. Just be sure you read her awesome post HERE today first and tell her how great she is. 


Hi, friends! I'm Samantha and I blog at The Samantha Life. I have "known" Brittany for awhile now (we actually met through the Cara Box Exchange) and absolutely love reading her blog so I feel very lucky to be here today. I'm also in my mid-twenties with no kids yet so right now I just have to worry about taking care of myself and my husband/partner-in-crime, Parker.
 

We like to laugh, watch hockey games, be outside, spend time with friends and family, be at the lake, and take pictures for the blog - oh wait, that last one is just me. We officially tied the knot after over 5 years of dating and here we are, 3-1/2 years married, just lovin' life.
A lot of what I write about on my blog centers around our marriage. Since it's just the two of us right now the day I said "I do" was the biggest day of my life and our relationship is my number one priority every day. On my blog I like to write about the fun things that we like to do as a couple and lots of times catch myself writing about how he makes me a better person. We have been a part of each other's lives for so many years, and yet I feel like he teaches me something new every day. 
These are some of the things that being married has taught me:

01 || In fact, I am not the most important person every morning. I'm guessing this will change even more drastically once we welcome babies into the world. It's not always about me as it often feels like growing up or even in the college years. It's about us and marriage has definitely taught me to be a much less selfish person. This is mostly because there is a person whose needs, wants, and desires I now deeply care about.
02 || However, it's ok to be selfish sometimes. In a marriage, the husband and wife need to take turns being the "strong" one for each other. Sometimes I have a bad day, I want to be sad & depressed, and I don't want to worry about anyone else or anything. Parker does not tell me I need to grow up, move on, and get over myself (although he probably wants to). He's there for me, just like I am for him when he's having his own mini pity-party.
03 || Life isn't about winning, being number one, folding the most clothes, or cooking the best dinner. I can get (a little) competitive at times and marriage has taught me that competition isn't always fun for all parties involved. And it is definitely not a quality that strengthens a relationship.
04 || Trying new things can be fun. I didn't really like the venison steak he made but I'm glad I tried it. He probably didn't like that new salad I made for dinner or the task of hanging our diy headboard on the wall. But it's a little exciting to try new things sometimes.
05 || Sometimes we just do things because we love the person who asks us to do it. (see above) :)
06 || Dream. This is my biggest lesson learned so far, and I'm still working on it. I believe that a man and a woman who choose to be husband and wife must always keep each other's dreams alive. Thank goodness my husband makes me think outside the box and reach for things that may never seem possible.
I hope you enjoyed having me and would love it if you stopped by my blog to say hey!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Currently



Currently I am ...

Reading: I just finished the Real series by Katy Evans and absolutely could NOT get enough of those books. I LOVE to read and sometimes books just hit me right at my core and other times, I enjoy them and think they're good, but they're don't always have the the same gut wrenching, can't put it down til I finish, need more of this story feeling. Anyway, Real was one of those books I devoured and was heartbroken to see end, and now I am reading More Than Her, which is another great book but it pales in comparison to Real.

Enjoying: quiet time in my hotel room. There's something relaxing about being on a business trip because after I finished my work day of interviewing job applicants, I had about an hour and a half of work to finish on a presentation I am giving in a few weeks, but then I really didn't have responsibilities. At home, I feel like there's always a mile long to-do list where as when I'm away, theres no dishes that need put away, laundry to fold, or appointments I need to run to. I ate dinner in a little restaurant and read and then came back to my room to do some blog catch up and writing. Bliss. I do miss my cute husband though something fierce and am ready to kiss his face tomorrow.

Listening to: Taylor Swift old school-think You Belong With Me and White Horse. There's just something about old school Taylor that brings me back to my college days, when I felt all the feels and felt like she was writing the exact words in my heart I just couldn't say. Now days, I don't identify as much with her lyrics but I still LOVE her music. I may or may not have listened to her albums the whole 2.5 hour drive I had yesterday for my trip.

Photographing: All things coffee, my front porch, and moments I want to remember.

Feeling: A little discouraged. I am really bad at getting my hopes up. I try to not do that, because I always end up disappointed if things don't go the way I plan out in my head, but its a fatal flaw of mine. We got some disappointing news this week and I am pretty bummed about it. We know that God has already ordained every day of our lives in His book, and that we can make plans but HIS purpose prevails, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me. Today, I'm still reeling in the news but am remaining hopeful.