Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A few last things.

Thank goodness its Wednesday, the day we celebrate that we made it halfway through the work week. Ohh what I would do to have one random day through the week off! Who had the bright idea of working 40 hours a week anyway!!?

Onto happier (and less grumpy) things...I stumbled across this blog this week and found a post I quite liked. I thought I'd try it out...and I give full credit to miss Danielle for this post idea.


From top left to bottom right...row by row :)

Last thing you cooked; This Cheesy Caprese Quinoa Bake. Holy yum. I mean honestly, you'd better click that link instead of finishing this blog post! Its so so yummy, and I'm proud to say it turned out perfect!! YAY!

Last thing that made you smile; Obviously my husband...but other than that, a giraffe had her sweet baby at our local Zoo yesterday! She's so darn precious, and I think she looks like a Cece. Agreed?!

Last place you vacationed to; Punta Cana with our best friends! Trip of a lifetime, lemme tell ya!!

Last gift you received; Other than the incredible vintage camera's my grandpa's wife recently gifted me after he passed... I'd have to say the Disney plush characters from my man as an extra V-Day present! He knows me so well (yeah, were 7 years old...I won't apologize)!

Last song you listened to; Difference Maker by my favorite, Needtobreathe. I'm 900% serious when I say they are better live in person than on their CD. This video of them performing in Austin is just amazing.

Last thing you splurged on; I don't know if I'd call $20 "splurging", but I bought new running leggings for my first half marathon this weekend (excuse my work top)! 

Last time you were moved to tears; having to say goodbye to my Grandpa last week (that picture is from back in January, though). He was absolutely unresponsive, but being able to say goodbye to him, and squeezing his hand one last time meant the world to me.

Last person you texted; My soulmate. I mean, isn't she the sweetest? I got this after a horrible day, and I'm so happy she sent it. Little things like that mean the world to me.

Last voicemail; my friend (who is also planning a gorgeous wedding!!) Renee left me the sweetest voicemail yesterday. She absolutely made my entire week just with her sweet words. I cannot thank this blog world for bringing her and I together. I was lucky enough to meet this gal last fall and I am happy to say my life is brighter because of it :)

What are your "last things"? Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You're gonna want to bookmark this. {yum}

Last week, I mentioned wanting to push myself and actually cook again. I'm embarrassed to say that my definition of "cooking" is throwing plain chicken in the oven, and making vegetables in the skillet. No recipes, no fancy ingredients, and definitely no spices. I'm also embarrassed to say I can count on one hand how many intricate meals I've made since we've been married (meaning, following a recipe)...so I decided it was time to dive deep into my Pinterest boards and find me a winner!

{insert most amazing dinner ever from my favorite new food blog and who I give full credit for this recipe; Half Baked Harvest}


You will need;
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup mozzarella, divided (we used fresh rounds)
1/3 parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 large bunch of basil, cut into ribbons
1/2 teaspoon crush red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper



First, you'll want to preheat your oven to 350 (do that first -- don't be a crazy like me and forget until after your meal is ready to go in the oven to do that!). Then, you'll want to hit up both the tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large pan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.






Once blended, remove from heat and add in the cooked quinoa. After, fold in half of the mozzarella and half of the tomatoes. Then chop up 6 leaves of basil and add those bad boys in too! Once its all combined, spray an 8x8 (you can also use 9x9) baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire mixture into the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds (or shredded mozzarella) and the remaining tomatoes. Bake for 10-15 minutes, and then turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes (or until cheese is golden). Once its done, add a few basil ribbons on top, then ENJOY!

I'm so excited to say it turned out amazing, like...I was actually so proud of myself!! I freaking used my BROILER! I didn't even know our oven could do that.

Please do yourself a favor and make this TONIGHT...oh and while you're at it, make every recipe from this blog, where I found this incredible recipe :) enjoy! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why hangouts are awesome.

You know those weeks when you just NEED some girl time?! That was me! So, I'm so thankful I got to have a few of my favorite ladies over on Saturday...and any excuse to make buy some adorable cookies makes me one happy girl!

Although we didn't take any pictures (except for before everyone came over, Erin and I snagged one or two), we had a blast for hours. We laughed so hard we could hardly talk, and we played games that had us rolling. That's what I love about my friends...we try our hardest to see each other as often as possible, and we want to be intentional with our friendships.

In a few months my best friend (since middle school), Lyndsie, is moving away to Nashville, and I'd be lying if I said I won't shed a tear or two. I know she won't be on the other side of the world, but still, 5 hours is hard for me when she's right down the road from me now. But what I love about her, and all my closest friends, is that no matter where we go in life, or where we are...I know we'll always have each other to call, visit, and lean on.

Speaking of AMAZING friends...I love her to pieces. Erin, thanks for all you do for me...you're the best sister I could've asked for!


If you haven't been able to see friends in a while, there's no better time than now :) call 'em up!
Happy Monday. Make it a great one.

Friday, April 25, 2014

You should probably start dancing.

It's Friiidaayy! You know what that means...DANCE PARTY.

No but really {cheese alert}, Caleb has ABSOLUTELY taught me what it means to "dance like no ones watching". I've always loved to dance (I meaaaan, I WAS a ballerina!)...but it wasn't until we got together that I really decided to be the first one on the dance floor, all the time. He is a great dancer. Like, he actually, really has good moves (we did win a dance competition on our recent trip)!!
Hiiii wedding ring.

I had always been an outgoing person, but he has really brought more out in me. I think what made me so drawn to him -- besides his good looks ;) -- is his free spirit. He just absolutely has a blast all the time, doing the most simple things, and doesn't have a care in the world how silly he looks while doing them, and I just love that.

Another time, Caleb made me dance with him in our kitchen when I had a really bad day. You're thinking "Aw, how sweet! To a slow song?"...no. Pretty sure it was a Jason DeRulo rap single... baha, but I loved every second.

Also, the other day, someone totally caught me jamming out to my new favorite song in my car. A few years ago? I would've been slightly embarrassed, but you know what I did? Turned it up, and rolled my window down even more...and kept on rockin' out. 

Life really does pass us by so quickly...so dance more, sing louder, and love harder!

:) Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cheers!

Today, I'm choosing to raise my glass (more like my ice cold water, in my cubicle at work) to many things today.

Cheers to my husband, who kisses me even when I feel ugly.

Cheers to best friends, for sending me adorably cute animal pictures, for listening when I need it, and supporting my love for mountain dew when they know I'm trying to eat healthier {whoops}!

Cheers to this recipe...for real though, look at that!!! I've only used quinoa in a recipe once, and it turned out amazing, so I have very high hopes for this! Hoping to make that either tonight, or next week!


Cheers to this weather. Finally, Ohio is getting its crap together and bringing on the sunshine.

Cheers to late nights, and forgetting about a "bedtime". I hate the whole "YOLO" saying, but its true. You only live once...stay up late with your hot husband ;)

Cheers to my family, they are coming over tonight...which means I'm officially hosting a dinner party...which means I'm kind of freaking out. I hope the food is tasty!

Cheers to my pastor...for always being a constant source of encouragement. He is always there, and Caleb and I are so thankful for his presence in our lives...and for taking hilarious pictures with us at our wedding...oh and for bringing the hope of Jesus every Sunday morning in church. We're so grateful for you, Mike!

Cheers to Velveeta Shells, for being my excuse for dinner when I've had a long day. You may judge me, but macaroni and cheese never will.

Cheers to Anna! She and I somehow connected in this blog world, and I wondered why we hadn't "met" sooner?! This girl and I talk almost daily, and although our lives are very different, we are somehow like twins at times. I'm so looking forward to meeting her in a few months!! She's just the sweetest, and if you don't already know her -- well, you're missing out.

Cheers to Emily! She sent me the sweetest email last week during the difficult loss of my grandpa, and I'm thankful for the many things we have in common. She's so darn sweet, and I kinda like her! ;)

Cheers not Jeers

Seriously loving this fun link up, its a great way to uplift each other and make someone's day. Join in, won'tcha!? :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cash vs Cards

One way that Caleb and I keep our spending down (like crazy) is by carrying cash. When I tell people this, they usually think we're crazy. Now there is no right or wrong way to pay for things! We'd just rather save up and pay for something we really want in cash, than be in more debt to someone. I have a tall, red wallet from Dave Ramsey just like the one below...and its incredibly organized. Everyone is different, but we keep our envelopes in four sections; Groceries, Fun, Tithe, and Gas. I'll keep my debit card sometimes for gas, but I notice when there is cash in my checking account, I'll try to spend it.


So why do we believe in using cash only?

It's emotional. Spending $4 at Starbucks doesn't hurt near as bad when I use my debt card, because I don't see the money physically coming out of my bank. When I use my $20 bill that I give myself once, maybe twice a month...I don't want to break that bill. I think twice about what I spend because once its gone, its GONE. 

It speaks louder than a credit card. When Caleb and I made our first big finally-married purchase together (our couches), we were paying with cold, hard, CASH. We weren't financing, we weren't talking about interest rates, and we definitely weren't going in debt over it...having cash in hand helped get us about $300 off the total, and guess what? It was actually OURS when we took them home, not "until we paid it off".

It's convenient. Sometimes I'll run into a gas station just for a $2 pop, and they won't accept a debit card on purchases under $5, etc...so every now and again, those situations pay off to have cash.

It makes you feel awesome. When you can decide that you're going to SAVE for something, and not just charge it to a card because you think you deserve it...it gives you a different outlook. You have a sense of accomplishment when you can EARN something and say you paid for that in full. No strings attached, no interest rates, no worrying about minimum payments, etc.

Some people will never agree with this method of thinking...and you know what? That's alright. Just because it works for us, doesn't mean its the ONLY way to live. Now, don't get me wrong...we still use our debit card, but keep in mind, that's coming straight out of our BANK account. Obviously, we plan to have a mortgage someday, but we'd like to save a huge down payment first - so we aren't stuck in an apartment for life! ;)

I do have to say, stalking Etsy for cuter "cash envelopes" gets me pretty darn excited. #nerdalert Like this one;
image
Or to go the cheaper route (which I recommend) you can order directly off Dave's website and get paper envelopes that fit inside a long wallet, like me!

image

Or buy these cute little printable dividers!

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Whatever you decide to do...or are already doing, just be sure it works for you! :) do any of you use cash only for certain purchases?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Candy coma.

This weekend? PERFECT...and filled with TERRIBLE food. 

Friday - celebrated my soulmates birthday with Mexican food and amazing laughs...oh and a couple super cute gifts we got her {isn't she straight ROCKING that summer scarf!?}


Saturday - Caleb and I cleaned our place, got lunch with family and then relaxed by the lake and hung out all day and evening.


Sunday - EASTER. & Erin's REAL birthday. Celebrated both, all day long! Warning...my family is kind of awesome and these pictures are so fun.

Typical bro-in-law stuff....

husband. broseph. 
my Nanny rocks.
our attempt at a normal picture. 3 generations :)
Then we headed to Caleb's parent's house. Did I mention they moved back from Arkansas yet? Well, they did! :)


I hope this little lady knows how much I love and appreciate her...every single day...but especially on her birthday. She's one of the best friends I could ask for, and I had so much fun celebrating HER this weekend! LOVE YOU, ERIN!

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

5 happies to get me through.

I cannot thank you all enough for the love, support, prayers, and random emails/tweets/etc this week as I mourned the loss of my Grandpa. He's the first person in my family I've ever lost, so I didn't know how to deal with it...but with the help of my husband, family, best friends, and all of YOU... I somehow managed to pull through. So today? I'm choosing to focus on the happy things in my life...Grandpa would want that.

Happy #1. Flowers from all of my best friends. This particular bouquet is from my sweet Erin & Jared. I also got a gorgeous bouquet from two of my best friends, Lyndsie and Angie. Coming home to these sweet little surprises made my week a heck of a lot easier.


Happy #2. After the very emotional funeral, my Grandpa's wife gifted me all of my Grandpa's old vintage camera's. Turns out, he was quite the photographer, too. It's too bad I hadn't known that before he passed, or I would've dragged him among with me on some fun photo dates. But for real, these old camera's are insane, and I'm in love.



Happy #3. Seeing this picture for the first time ever. My Grandpa's wife told me he had this one, and also one of he and my brother, by his bedside. This absolutely made my day. It was so fun seeing old pictures of him in high school, he was such a handsome man!


Happy #4. Onion rings from Red Robin. My entire family got together for lunch after the funeral, and it was so fun just spending time together reliving memories from my Grandpa's life.


Happy #5. My sister-in-love has a birthday this weekend, and I'm so excited to spend time with her this weekend. I truly can't imagine my life without her daily emails, constant support, and our hilarious inside jokes. I hope everyone has a friend like her!


I'm glad my week got better, and I'm thankful for all of love and support from everyone. I hope you all have a good weekend ahead of you. Happy GOOD Friday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gone to soon.

My grandparent's at a younger age. 
Monday evening was supposed to be normal for me. Go home, eat dinner with Caleb, go for a nice, long run...and sleep. Monday was not supposed to be the night I went to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa. He was supposed to go home, and into hospice care...but the doctors wouldn't release him. He was going downhill, and fast.

Thankfully on Friday, my uncle got to go and spend a little time with him. They hadn't talked much anymore, so this was pretty awesome. They talked about the fun memories from when my uncle was just a boy. My Grandpa also found out that my mom would be flying in Tuesday evening to see him and take care of him at home (she's a nurse) for the week...my uncle said his face just lit up and he even gave a few fist pumps in the air. He was so excited to see his daughter. I hadn't planned to see him until Tuesday, and even then, I thought he'd have a few more days left.

In a matter of two days, his body began quickly deteriorating. His face sunk, and suddenly, he couldn't speak, or move. I thought I could hold it together...but when I saw him I just sat with him and cried for hours, holding his still hands.

Although he couldn't blink, he stared up at the ceiling, and I held in front of his eyes the bracelet he gifted me at my graduation. Engraved on it said "Love, Grandpa Phil". This is something I'll forever treasure, and I know he was smiling in his own way when he saw it.


Saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Caleb prayed over us and also gave me a few minutes to be alone with him, after the hours of being with every visitor in the room. I said a lot to him in those moments, and it broke my heart that he couldn't respond in any way...but I just know that he heard me.


3 hours after we left the hospital, I got a call that my Grandpa had taken his last breath. I sat in bed and just wept. I can't thank my husband enough for fighting through his tired eyes and just holding me through this. My mom, unfortunately, wasn't able to make it in time. But the fact that he knew she tried to make it home in time, is peace enough for my heart. The next few days will be spent in tears, and we'll be grieving the loss of my Grandpa Phil. I hope to see him again someday.

Please keep my grandpa's wife, Carolyn, in your prayers. She's got to be one of the strongest women I've met before.Your happy thoughts for all involved mean more than you'll know. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{Punta Cana}

{Get ready for a picture filled, vacation extravaganza post}

Where do I even begin? Last week was incredible. If you read my surprise post last Friday, you know that Caleb and I snuck away with our best friends for a week in the Dominican Republic...Punta Cana to be exact. We scored an INCREDIBLE deal on a resort recently and honestly expected it to be a pretty basic resort. Boy were we surprised!

So I'll start from the beginning...We left last Saturday, and had a less than perfect experience with a delayed flight out of our airport in Cincy, but nothing could bring us down knowing we'd be near the beach by early evening. So, Erin and I took it upon ourselves to try out my floppy hats!

When we finally landed, we were able to get a quick bite to eat at the beach side pizzeria...#nobigdeal. The next day (and every day after this) we hit up the beach, did lunch, went to the pool, and then ended our sunny day in the hot tubs! 


 *Not so fun fact of the day - this was the day I got the worlds craziest arm burns...I straight up looked like a tiger. This was also the night that Caleb unknowingly (until the next morning) got terrible food poisoning. I was burnt, so between the two of us, we really needed a day out of the sun.






Best pictures of us, ever.
After some time relaxing, we hit up the fun little dance club they had there and danced our little hearts out for a solid 20 minutes! We just got too excited when they played our American jams.
Probably a new favorite of us :)
Honestly, each day was a little similar with our routine of breakfast, beach, laying out, pool, lunch, hot tub, dinner, etc. So I'll give you a ton of pictures to gawk at from our entire week. Enjoy!



This was on the beach!






This next shot is one I'm definitely going to print on canvas. It's just my favorite.






When people ask me how we liked the DR, I cannot say enough awesome things about their culture. This trip legitimately made me want to come home and learn to speak fluent Spanish.

This guy was part of the entertainment team...and actually spoke the best English of any employee their. He was also fluent in French, which was crazy impressive. Made me feel a little silly, but that didn't stop Erin and I from taking a picture with him! Earlier that week, he convinced us to play balloon darts (then make fun of us both for how horrible we were at it), and also to take the "stretching" class. It was great fun!







Caleb and I also, somehow, got roped into a dance competition one evening...and we actually WON! Caleb blew my socks off and I was so impressed. We won a fun DR painting, but weren't able to bring it home with us, so we struck a pose with it right before we left instead.

Last night.



I honestly couldn't have asked for two better people to go on vacation with. The four of us had been talking about doing this for years...and it was so surreal to finally make it happen. The Dominican Republic will always hold a special place in my heart! I can't wait to go back one day. The memories we made on this trip will not be ones I forget easily. So many hilarious things happened, and many more "inside jokes" were made. I love my people!

If this didn't give you a travel bug...I don't know what will :)
*congrats to anyone who made it this far.