Monday, March 30, 2015

5 Card Games To Play With Your Spouse

Lately, Ronnie and I cannot get enough of playing card games. All weekend long, whenever we had free time, instead of watching Netflix or playing on our phone, we were playing card games together and it was so much fun! We've been playing the same game for awhile now but then I remembered a game I used to play with family at Christmas time, and after getting a refresher on some of the rules, I taught Ronnie and we've been playing it non-stop. It has been so nice to sit and play a game and talk and be present with each other, and such a nice change of pace from our usual routine. 
Here are five awesome games you can play with just two people if you want to do something a little different with your husbands tonight or on your next date night.

1. Gin Rummy-this is one that we've been playing non-stop this weekend! Its so fun, and it works with two people or six people, it doesn't matter! You use a standard deck of cards here and try and create sets or runs and get rid of your cards as quick as you can. Full set of instructions found here. One of our current favorites.

2. Bohnanza-This is another one of our favorite games to play lately. Its a specific game you purchase and can find on Amazon where you can plant, sell, and trade beans with other players. Players try to collect large sets of beans to sell for gold. There is limited growing space and always new beans to plant. It is really fun with just two people, so we've been playing it a lot but the more people you have the more intense and exciting it is in my opinion so the next time you have company, you definitely should play this one!

3. Speed-This is a classic game played with a standard deck of cards.the object of speed is to be the first one to get rid of all your cards, and the first person to get rid of all twenty of their card wins. Detailed instructions found here.

4. Skip-Bo-I played this so much as a kid and still love to play it today. Its super simple and somewhat similar to Solitare. You try and get rid of your cards in sequence while blocking your opponent from getting rid of theirs. You can find this game at any Target, Wal-Mart or on Amazon and its a classic!  You can find instructions here.

5. Crazy Eights- This is another classic game using a standard deck of cards that can be played with as few as two people, or you can play with more as well. Each player takes turns discarding their hand to match the suit on top of the discard pile, and eights are wild cards. The one to discard all of their cards first, wins. Specific instructions found here.

Game nights are such a fun way to spend quality time with your spouse, and it can be a nice break from the same routine of eating dinner and watching TV in the evenings. Do you have a favorite game you play with your husband? I'd love to hear!

I've also teamed up with some gorgeous bloggers to give away $125 in cash money! I am pretty sure all of you could put this to good use and treat yourself to something great. If $125 dollars cash doesn't turn your Monday around, I am not sure what will!

post signature

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Letting My Husband Lead

There is always a moment in a conversation that turns the corner around adult conversation to arguing and accusing. I remember distinctly walking that line during a conversation with my husband last week, and I felt the tension and frustration in my own heart start to bubble to the surface. We were having the same discussion (that was quickly heading towards argument) that we have had at least ten times over the past few months and I knew that this was not going to be the time I finally convinced him to see my side or "won" the argument, but still, I chose to engage in the conversation and let my emotions dictate my thoughts and words. Distinctly, I heard a fleeting whisper in my heart to let it go, to let my husband lead. And my instant reaction of the flesh was to cringe and balk at the thought of giving up something that I wanted so desperately to control.

Real life: I struggle daily with letting my husband lead, and because of this, often times I don't show him the respect that God instructs wives to give their husbands. I often struggle with the "biblical submission" in the way that I am not quick to become passive or bite my tongue when I have an opinion. To be honest, I'm not sure that's what God is asking of me every time my husband and I don't agree, but certainly there are times when its painfully clear that He is asking me to let my husband lead, to show him that I trust him enough to make a decision that is best for our family. 

On my wedding day, I stood in a white lace dress, holding Ronnie's hands as my eyes threatened to spill over with happy tears and promised to follow him, to trust him, to respect him and honor him. I think sometimes, I fail at at least one of those things on a daily basis. I am strong-willed, I'm opinionated, I am competitive and I don't like to lose. (Trust me, you should see us play games together. Its not pretty!) But what I've realized is that when I do whatever it takes to win an argument, my marriage often loses. I never walk away from a disagreement with my husband that I've "won" feeling victorious, instead, I find myself with lingering feelings of discontent and shame.
In the moment I felt God's whisper to give up my need to "win" the argument, I had a choice to make. I could keep fighting for what I thought was right, or I could trust God with my marriage, with my circumstances, and my future and choose to respect my husband and his leadership. 

And so I did. I told him I would drop it, and not continue to engage in the same conversation over again, and I apologized. And honestly? It didn't feel good! Right in that moment, I still felt frustrated and it felt so very unnatural. But over the next few days and through a lot of prayer, God softened my heart and gave me peace about the situation. I feel lighter now that I've given up the need to control this situation that has been out of my control the entire time. Choosing to step back, give up the reigns, and let my husband lead in this one area has not only established a healthy pattern in our marriage, but its also shifted something in my heart. Choosing obedience to God in this area of my marriage has not only impacted our marriage, but it has allowed God to prune out the ugly weeds in my heart as well.

Is letting your husband lead a struggle for you at times like it is for me? How do you show your husband respect and trust when your opinions differ on a subject? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
post signature

Monday, March 23, 2015

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins
I am so excited to kick off a new series this week where I will be highlighting some of my favorite shops & handmade items as I prepare to bring home baby Rasmussen. Is there anything sweeter than a little babe in teeny tiny baby moccasins? I really don't think there is. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I was already scouring the Freshly Picked website, trying to decide what color(s) baby moccs I wanted for our little one. 
Baby moccasins are all the rage because not only are they adorable, they also are comfortable for little babe's feet and are simple to slip on and off their little wiggly piggies. Freshly Picked is an amazing company you may have seen on Shark Tank and they offer the highest quality baby moccasins in every color you could imagine. I absolutely love their story about how Susan started the company at her kitchen table with a teeny tiny budget and has since grown her business and now creates some of the most sought after and desired shoes for little ones! 

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins

If you are a mom or a mom-to-be, you absolutely have to check these baby moccasins out. If you don't have little ones or expect to in the near future, trust me when I say that receiving a pair of baby moccasins as a baby gift would absolutely light up any new mom or mom-to-be's eyes! I can't wait to see our little guy in a pair of these when he comes in June. Turns out, dressing a baby boy is way more fun than I ever expected! I swoon over tiny plaid collared shirts, skinny jeans, moccasins, and printed leggings.  These are the "With Cream and Sugar" moccasins and they  have sizes from newborn up to toddler sizes!

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins

Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins

Freshly Picked is generously offering one pair of baby moccasins to a lucky winner. Even if you don't have kids, if you know anyone who does or who is expecting, you should absolutely enter and make their day with this amazing baby gift! I know I have at least five other colors I am swooning over and wanting to order for our little guy. I think need at least one pair in every size! There are so many colors great for boys and girls, and if you are like me, the hardest part will be choosing just one color if you win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner has been emailed and notified!

Freshly Picked Policy: Winner can not have won any other giveaway including a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins within the last 60 days. 

 All entries will be verified, so no cheating. Winner will be chosen at random by the Rafflecopter on 3/31/15 and will be emailed. Winner will then have 48 hours to respond by email before another winner will be chosen.

post signature

Friday, March 20, 2015

Grace in the Storm

After just about a week away, it feels so good to have this space up and running again, and with a fresh new look and name as well! Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts did the design for me and she was absolutely a gem to work with and I couldn't be more pleased with the results! 
Today, I just wanted to pop in and say hello real quick. I have more fun posts planned for next week, but today, my brain is a little fried, my body a little worn down, and this girl is ready for the weekend. We've had a whirlwind couple of weeks in the Rasmussen house including a huge work project that consumed all of my time and energy and had me putting in long & hard hours at the office, guests in from out of town staying with us, late nights, and a pregnancy complication that had me going in for an MRI and feeling the weight of anxiety. I feel really drained by the constant activity, and mentally, physically and emotionally I am ready for a weekend to recharge.

The happy news though is that even though the past few weekends haven't been the easiest for us, God has shown up in our lives in huge ways. I've been reminded over and over again just how faithful He is, and how He really is the one who holds everything together. God cares so much about us, and our lives and He has really answered some big prayers of ours, but I've also been reminded how he cares about the smallest details of our lives as well, the things that feel less important or not as big. 

He is faithful friends, and if you find yourself feeling like you're in the weeds today, just trying to dig and claw and find your way out, keep pressing on and pressing into the Lord because He has not left you there alone. Give yourself a little grace to leave a few things unchecked on your to-do list, to give yourself permission to lay on your couch and do nothing for a full day, and to take care of yourself as you muddle through the storm that has your shoulders sagging and your head hanging. There is hope, there is a light that is just around the corner, even if you can't see it yet. 

post signature

Monday, March 9, 2015

Surviving Pregnancy: The First 25 Weeks

While writing this post, I realized that maybe its premature. I am still in that so-called "golden stage" of pregnancy where I am not sick anymore, but not so big that I am walking around in pain and swollen, so maybe I haven't survived the worst of it yet! Even still, there are some items that have made my pregnancy more bearable and have been life savers that I would recommend to any new mom-to-be. And even if you're not pregnant or planning on being pregnant in the near future, any of these things make a great "congratulations you're pregnant" gift to give to your pregnant friends to help ease the discomfort that pregnancy inevitably brings.

The BumpNest Pregnancy Pillow
The BumpNest pillow was one of the first things I bought when I found out I was pregnant with an amazon gift card I received for my birthday, and as comfortable as it was, I slept with it one night, and it annoyed me because I wasn't big enough to need it at twelve weeks so I put it in the guest room. At about 20 weeks, I found myself uncomfortable at night, and I had a hard time avoiding sleeping on my back (which is not the safest for mama or baby as your bump grows) so I pulled it back out and I slept like a baby. Not only does it help keep me on my side, it provides the best support for my growing belly and it is SO comfy. If you are pregnant, I promise this is worth every penny and I couldn't sleep without it now. I am trying to figure out how to bring it with me on my mom + daughters trip next month!

MamaBee Belly Butter
The Burts Bee MamaBee Belly Butter is my favorite baby bump butter I've found so far. I love it because its thick and so far I haven't found a single stretch mark on my belly yet, and it has really helped with the dry itchy skin that I've been having over the past month or so. I don't know if it is scientifically proven to reduce stretch marks but my skin has never felt better so I am a fan. I put it on every day after I shower and before bed and my skin feels so soft and less itchy.

Belly Band
The BellaBand is a life-saver for helping you fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes just a little longer. After a while, my pants were either starting to feel uncomfortable and I found myself wanting to just unbutton them after an hour after getting to work, but that is actually frowned upon so when I found the belly band, I ordered a black and white one and wore it with almost every pair of pants until I finally gave in and bought maternity pants. I still have some pants that I can wear with the help of the belly band which just goes over the top of them and allows you to wear them unzipped/unbuttoned and looks like just a tank top underneath your clothes.

Preggie Pops
Preggie Pops are really just sour candy in a lollipop form, but they REALLY helped me when I was sick and miserable the first twelve weeks. I also loved Jolly Ranchers + lemon heads. I don't know what it was about sour hard candy but it made all the difference in the world when I was nauseated all day.

I do not go anywhere without at least a piece of fruit, a granola bar or string cheese in my purse if I am going to be gone more than an hour. Not only does it ward off the morning sickness, but even once I got past feeling sick 24/7, I transitioned into being hungry all the freakin time. I definitely find myself needing to eat more often now more than ever, so I always try and pack enough for work, meetings, and events after work so I don't get hangryyyy. My husband thanks me.

Tums + Prilosec/Zantac Heartburn Medicine
Not everyone suffers from heartburn, but over the past few weeks I've been hit with it pretty hard and even sent Ronnie out one evening because I wasn't sure I could survive without more medicine! Tums sometimes help but usually a 10 mg pill of Prilosec cures it within twenty minutes. I carry it in my purse now so I can stop it right when I feel it coming on!

Stretchy Pants
I basically live in my yoga pants when I am at home. Who am I kidding, if I am not at work, I am probably in some sort of stretchy pants. I had three pairs of yoga pants before I got pregnant but have bought at least three more pairs because I wear them so frequently,  and I don't enjoy doing laundry daily. I feel uncomfortable 90% of the time so I feel like I am totally justified living in my yoga pants whenever I can.

These are a few things that worked well for me, but I still have about fifteen weeks left! What am I missing? What items did you need for your last trimester?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Grace In Grey

Over the past few weeks I've been dreaming up a new vision for this space. I started Happy Is A Choice over five years ago and my life looked radically different than it does today. I used it more as an online journal and have since deleted many of those soul-baring posts (or at least made them private) and then I just kind of forgot about it and didn't touch the blog for a couple years. My blog has morphed into a lifestyle blog, one that doesn't always fit into a perfectly defined niche, but has been a place for me to express my thoughts, feelings, and creativity. Its also helped me grow as I learned to process life events through a new lens, and helped me to become more aware of every day moments and how sweet they are. I still believe with my whole heart that being happy is a choice-that we can always choose joy and find something to be grateful for. I believe that we don't have to be a slave to our emotions, but I also know that sometimes, life is hard, and its also okay to just be sad.

I've been debating doing a re-brand of the blog for over a year now, but I always got stuck on Step One, the new name. I wanted something that more reflected me as a person, that gave a picture of the woman I desire to be, and left room for the changes that God is constantly working in me, my heart,and my life. I turned to the one person who's way with words I admire more than anyone, Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me and after about twenty minutes of talking about me, my desires for this space + my life, and things that make my heart sing, the idea of Grace in Grey was born.

Why Grace in Grey?

Good question. First of all, this blog is going to have most of the same content. It will be a true lifestyle blog, but I want to continue to focus on the faith aspect of it and grow my skills as a writer specifically in this topic. I have found myself shying away from writing about faith more often than not because I don't want to offend anyone, or misinterpret something I read. I've also believed the lie that if I am struggling in a certain area, I certainly am not qualified to write about it and I want to work through that fear and embrace more vulnerability and authenticity in this space.

I want this to be a space where you and I can both come and see that there is grace to be found, grace to be given to others and grace to be received. Do you struggle with giving yourself grace as much as I do when you fail? Do you have a hard time having grace for people in your life when they hurt or frustrate you? Because I definitely do. I want to live my life as a woman of grace, and to do this, I first have to accept the grace our Father lovingly pours onto me every single minute of my life.

The Grey has two beautiful meanings to me-one is simply because I love the color grey and am drawn to it in my wardrobe choices, home decor, and even baby clothes/items. Give me a cozy grey blanket on white sheets and my heart has never been happier. Every grey and white baby item I see, I can't help but snag. Grey walls make my heart pitter-patter. But even more meaningful than that, is that I see as each year passes, the grey area, the area between black and white is the place that life happens. (Thank you Justin Timberlake for that wisdom.)

I've never been comfortable in the grey area. I've always wanted to live in the black or white, in the predictable, the comfortable, the known. I am the planner, the list maker, the one who wants to know exactly where the road is going to take me and what will be waiting for me around every corner. But God, in order to keep my focus on Him and Him alone, knows me far better than I know myself and knows how much growth happens when I am left in the grey area a bit. I've learned over the past couple of years what it means to let go of my own plans and my own map and let him lead me. I've had to ask myself really tough questions and challenge the beliefs and ideas I've held onto for many years and finally have realized that there is so much beauty in the grey area of life.

So, in the next few weeks, you may notice a lot of changes around here. I am working with the talented Rachel from Oh Simple Thoughts and she has some great things planned for this space, I can't wait to reveal it all! Bear with me as we work out the kinks. I will also be changing my social media names to graceingrey for brand consistency purposes so if you get confused about who you're following, its still me! I am going to continue to try and stick to my three times a week posting schedule, with some additional new content like more recipe posts with the help of my Top Chef Husband, some more house/home/DIY projects, and even some style posts here and there. Super excited about the new breath of fresh air this re-brand will bring to the blog, and I hope you enjoy it too!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Currently || March Edition

Dreaming // of a stay-cation. Lately we've been go, go go and I'd love to just stay home in my pj's for a week and sleep in, read multiple books, tackle some home projects and just have some down time.

 Planning // My blog' re-branding launch date! I super excited about the changes coming around here and we're getting closer to making it happen. My to-do list before we can launch is long, and time is quickly running out. I also have a fun baby series coming this month that I am so excited to start-I am hoping to launch the series the same week we launch the new blog design/brand.

 Making // Some super cute DIY decorations with my girlfriends for my baby shower next month. Stay tuned for a blog post and tutorial!

 Baking // I've had quite the sweet tooth, and I've baked a loaf of bananna bread and chocolate chip cookies over the past couple of weeks.

 Watching // Chicago PD, Greys, Nashville and How to Get Away With Murder are my top favorites right now, but I am devastated that HTGAWM is gone until September! What am I going to do with my life?!

What are you up to currently?  Linking up with Jenna and Anne for the monthly Currently Linkup.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Things I Wish I Learned In College

Its true, that you don't know what you don't know. That is, until you come across a situation and wonder to yourself how people just know this kind of stuff. Ronnie and I have officially started the search for our first vehicle purchase as a married couple, as a family.  I'm currently still driving my two-door sporty Scion tC that my parents generously bought me in college, and as it turns out, getting an infant carseat in and out of a two door car is no easy task. In fact, to get a carseat out you basically have to turn it upside down and sideways which is fine when you're practicing with an empty carseat but I am pretty sure its frowned upon when theres a real baby in there!  As we've started searching for my "mom car" I realized that it sure would've been nice to have an Adult Life 101 class in college to teach us how to buy a new car, and a few other things!

1. How to buy a new vehicle- Including answers to the questions like how you do a test drive from a private seller. I asked Ronnie if the seller was going to drive with us when we test drove his car, or was he going to just hand a stranger the keys to his car and say have fun?!

2. How to fill out a W-4- Because its not as simple as claiming "Married" with 0 deductions. Did you know that because Ronnie and I both work, one of us actually has to claim single to get taxes withheld at a higher rate to avoid owing money at the end of the year? ME NEITHER.

3. How to negotiate on your salary-The first time I did this, it was the most uncomfortable thing I've ever done and it makes me cringe thinking about doing it again. There is an art to negotiating with a potential employer on your salary, and sometimes the answer is no, but there is a way to increase your chances. One thing I've learned is that the answer is always no if you don't ask, but things like the right timing and right language would've been nice to know before I fumbled through it!

3. Home maintenance- We bought our house just under two years ago, and aside from the easy stuff like mowing our grass and washing our windows, our maintenance strategy has been a "fix it when it becomes a problem." Like, when I see three spiders in our house, Ronnie sprays the perimeter with bug spray. When we notice our air filter is looking black, it reminds us its time to change it. How do people just instinctively know all the different things they should be doing to keep their home taken care of? I googled it, and found this Seasonal Maintenance Schedule, and immediately felt overwhelmed because we've done maybe 1/10th of the recommended chores since we bought our home. #homeownerfail

5. Money Management- Its insanely difficult to figure out exactly what we should be doing financially. My whole adult life has been a lot of trial and error when it comes to my finances, and thankfully my parents are financially savvy and have shared that knowledge with us, but still, sometimes I wonder should I be investing more into retirement? How much should we save for home & auto repairs per year? How do we build an emergency fund while trying to save for a new car and a new baby and new tires? What takes priority? There's only so much extra money each month and it seems like there are a million good ways to save it but whats best? If you have all this figured out, please let me know!

6. Time Management-I have been out of college for three years now, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I still struggle every day with working full time and finding time for things I have to do like clean my house and do laundry and grocery shop while still finding time for things I like to do like spend time with my husband & family, invest in my friendships, exercise, volunteer, blog, and have downtime. How do you do it all? Maybe the reason they don't teach this in school is because no one really has the answer to this after all.

Maybe thats the beauty of our twenties, that we get to continually keep learning even after we leave college. These are the kind of lessons we will learn, most likely the hard way, in our twenties and then spend years trying to teach our kids these lessons, who inevitably will want to learn it the hard way themselves. What do you wish you would've learned in college?