We have such a busy and exciting month ahead of us! We have been saying “June is going to be so busy” for about eight months now and I am so so excited that it is here. Between school ending for my students, a short work retreat to the beach, my birthday, celebrating father’s day, hitting the one year mark since Jody and I got married, and our vacation celebration in Italy, we have a lot to look forward to!
Even though this month will be so busy (and the first six days have already gone so fast!), we are looking forward to living in the moment and soaking up every ounce of goodness this month has to offer. June is the official start to summer — my favorite time of year — so here’s to long days, warm nights, and hopefully getting my hands on some peonies before the end of the month!
Complete the office with new desk and functional decor
Celebrate spring at our Cinco de Mayo party with friends
Spend some happy mail to a few secret people 🙂
Join Tone It Up’s Bikini Series and actively complete workouts, daily moves and walking
Go on a new-to-us date night with Jody
Start working on our Honeymoon album
Set aside specific time to work on creating meaningful content for my blog
Growing up so close to the beach, I never traveled anywhere for the long Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day these days tends to signify the early beginning to summer, especially as thousands of people make their way towards the coast for the weekend. But for those of us who live along the crossroads to the beaches know better than to try to go anywhere due to the sheer amount of traffic that has begun to control our roadways from now until September. For us, it tends to signify the “and so it begins” mindset.
Nonetheless, I have always been one for celebrating any occasion, especially when it has anything to do with being patriotic (after pink, I think my favorite colors quite possibly may be red, white and blue!), so I keep an arsenal of ideas for a last minute cookout. I tend to put more of a “summer kickoff” spin on things, just to keep the day separate from the Fourth of July — both wonderful holidays but for very different reasons.
What I love most about Memorial Day parties is that they are typically outdoor cookouts — a first of the season for many. A wholesome vibe can easily be achieved by a simple-but-delicious menu, showcasing many foods and fruit that are fresh during the season. Keeping the decor bright, light and colorful in the most subtle of ways can create a laidback but festive feel for the entire evening. I especially like when the decor is paired with some everyday items, like linen napkins. I have all the heart eyes for these buffalo check napkins!
While cooking out with friends and family over the unofficial kickoff weekend to summertime is something that many of us look forward to, we can’t forget the reason behind the holiday. While you’re enjoying your long weekend, be sure to thank the men and women that protect our country and the families of those who gave their lives. I know that I am grateful!
Last weekend, Jody and I spent part of our weekend camping at a state park for the first time together. I had gone camping with my family when I was little, but it has been years since we’ve been so admittedly, I was a little nervous about how this was going to go. We aren’t the biggest outdoorsy people (ahem, spiders and snakes), but we genuinely like spending time outside hiking and relaxing. However, 48 hours before our reservations, the forecast changed from low 80’s and sunny to mid-90’s with a chance of severe storms. Nonetheless, we packed up the car for our night away with the realization that this experience could go really well, or really bad where we would probably never find ourselves in a tent again.
The park where we camped is only about 30 minutes from our house, so after lunch, we headed to the park to set up camp. We first decided to tackle the tent — it was what I was most nervous about setting up. Thankfully, our Ozark Trail tent was the perfect tent for beginners! It only took about 15 minutes to set up, and the most challenging part was hammering the stakes into the ground under the hot sun.
After we got the tent set up, we walked around the loops and started to explore the campground to find our bearings. We then decided to hike the Pondside trail, a 2.6-mile hike with a number of scenic lookouts around the pond, before we started to get ready for dinner. We wandered through the woods and enjoyed several breaks to take in the beauty of nature. We were thrilled when we completed the trail, partially because it checked one of the spring activities off of our bucket list, and partially because it gave us a sense of accomplishment. We had successfully set up our tent and campsite and completed a hike in hot and humid weather, all with a smile on our faces!
When we got back to our site, we relaxed a little before lighting the fire for dinner. I decided to do something easy for our first night “roughing” it, so we made hot dogs over the fire, pasta salad I had prepared at home, and chips and dip. I used my picnic basket, which has a built-in cooler, as well as places to store cups, utensils, and plates. Being able to keep all of the cold food together with the serving utensils made dinner a breeze!
Shortly after we started dinner, we began to hear rolls of thunder in the distance. As I checked the radar, I received a notification that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch. By the time we had finished eating, the wind had begun to pick up and blow through the trees. We began to quickly pack up all of our picnic supplies and put it all, with our chairs back into our car. I was hoping the storm would blow through quickly and we would be back to our camping adventure in no time.
Once the rain started, it pretty much never stopped. We stayed in our car to wait out the storm, partially to make sure we didn’t lose our tent (or the things in it) and partially to have a quick getaway in case things took a turn for the worst. Thankfully, the threat of a tornado never came true, and after two and a half hours of lightning and some serious thunder, most of the storm had passed, so we finally made our way to our tent.
I was incredibly impressed that nothing in our tent was wet. Especially after how hard the rain was coming down, I was sure our pillows and blankets would be drenched. Once we made it to the tent, the exhaustion from the day had finally caught up with us and we called it a night.
The next morning, I was awoken by rain bouncing off the sides of the tent. While the storm had passed, the rain did not. We ate cereal in the tent while we waited for the rain to die down. We had planned to leave early anyway since it was Mothers’ Day, so knowing there was supposed to be a short break in the weather, we wanted to take advantage of it as we packed up our campsite.
As sad as we were that our quick getaway was over, we couldn’t stop talking about the next opportunity that we will have to go again. We were honestly surprised by how much fun we had, despite the storm that cut short our night. We figure if we had that much fun in the humid, muggy, stormy weather then we are bound to have an even better time when we actually are able to have s’mores by the fire. 🙂
Have you been camping before? What do you like to do when you go? I’d love to hear some ideas so we can have a list for this fall when we go again!
One Taco Tuesday many weeks ago, Jody and I started throwing around the idea of hosting another party. We had such a blast hosting our Housewarming Party back in the fall so we felt like it was time to consider hosting friends and family again. We had a busy couple of months coming with the end of the school year and vacation, so we felt like if we wanted to have one before summer begins, early May would be our best bet. Inspired by our dinner choice the night this idea came to, and by Cinco de Mayo falling on a Saturday, we decided on our next gathering.
Considering no fiesta is complete without tacos and margaritas, I wanted the main event and focus to be on the food and drink. However, I felt like it wouldn’t feel like much of a fiesta surrounded by the neutral colors in our home, so I wanted to find one or two bright-colored decorative pieces to really pull the party together. I found a mini pinata to add to one of the bar carts, some festive cocktail napkins, and paper straws, and a pennant banner to line the porch. Between the pops of color, tequila themed playlist and food, it felt like a celebration in Mexico!
The textile fabric I added as a table runner is actually from Peru; it was the fabric that was sewn into my wedding garter and Jody’s bracelet that he wore!
Two weeks before the party, I found the most adorable little cactus toothpick from Target. I’m not sure anyone actually used them, but they were too cute not to get!
Our menu consisted of ground turkey tacos and all of the toppings, chicken fajitas, Mexican rice, pico de gallo, taco dip, Mexican street corn salad, guacamole, pineapple salsa, queso, cornbread muffins, watermelon, pineapple and seafood nachos. We also had a bucket of tortilla chips, which were enjoyed all night long. On a sweeter note, we also had margarita bars, key lime poke cake, and margarita cheesecake bites for dessert.
Of course, we had plenty of margaritas to go around, plus a few Coronas (and limes!) for those who didn’t want to brave the tequila. Thanks to some help earlier in the day, there wasn’t a lot of work involved in the moments before guests arrived, other than taking the few things out of the oven. It was so relaxing to be able to enjoy the party, not just be running back and forth from the kitchen the entire night! I was also a little nervous about the weather — even though the party was inside, I still wanted to utilize our porch and after a week of temperatures in the 90’s, I was afraid it was going to be too hot for anyone to stand sitting out there. On the night of the party, however, it was the perfect sitting on the porch kind of weather. It was almost as if I had dreamt that we were on a beach in Mexico. 🙂
As I sit here writing my goals for the month of May, I can’t help but check the calendar to make sure April is actually over since I feel like I had just set these goals! Even today, a full week into May and I’m still not convinced (I also had to go back and edit this paragraph because I kept writing April instead of May).
April was such a fast month. I’m not sure if our busy work schedules made the month fly by or all of the other things that we did on the weekends like festivals, trail walks, beach day, wine tastings and one spontaneous overnight trip. Needless to say, it was a good month spent (mostly!) at home as spring finally came into season.
To be completely honest, I was kind of dreading writing this post because I knew I wasn’t as successful in achieving my goals this past month, which is why it has taken me nearly a week to finally get it finished. I felt discouraged; mostly because I couldn’t check off what was complete. Sometimes I feel like I can’t move on to the next thing unless everything is completed to my standards. And if we are being totally honest, at that rate, I would never check anything off. I tend to want to make things, even tasks as simple as printing out a spring cleaning checklist harder than they need to be by spending all of my time planning versus actually doing it. Like my spring cleaning list — I spent so much time looking for the perfect one, it took me almost the whole month to find one. And ultimately, I ended up making my own in the end to simplify the list so that the only tasks listed were specific to our home.
Even so, I still felt discouraged. I felt like I could have done a lot of things better. I could have worked towards these goals more often, more enthusiastically, more attentively. But as I think that and look at my goals I had set at the beginning of the year, I can see progress has been made. That makes me think of a few phrases from Lara Casey:
Progress not perfection.
It’s okay to grow slow.
I’m still growing, even if I didn’t complete these goals to the standard I had hoped to. At least I’m working towards them. Not every month will go as I planned, but sometimes that okay. I spent a lot of time outside. I enjoyed some quiet moments to myself and some quiet moments with God. I was able to explore local trails with my husband on some days, but on other days, we began watching a new TV show together. I was able to prepare my home to host our friends well. And if that doesn’t show how my goals for 2018 have made an impact on my life, I’m not sure what does.
Clean out our office and make it functional for both of us to use Technically this isn’t completed because part of my desk that I bought from Ikea was out of stock, but the room is ready for the new desk!
Joyfully host friends for Jody’s birthday celebration this coming weekend
Print and post our Spring Cleaning list and clean our home
Complete two Tone It Up workouts a week, and walk as the weather improvesI’m super proud that I walked almost every day in April. I also did four TIU workouts plus a few daily moves workouts throughout the month so definitely pleased with my progress on this goal!
I was scrolling through pictures when I realized that it has been a year since we mailed the invitations for our wedding! In an earlier post, I had briefly mentioned that my mom and I actually ended up creating and printing our wedding invitations. I thought I would share my process in case you were interested in learning how I decided to do them myself and how I did.
After much indecision when it came to our Save the Dates, I ended up choosing a cheaper print, solely to have more room in our print budget for the invitations and all that came with that. Initially, I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted the invitations to look like, but I knew I wanted more than just an invitation and response card. I also knew, as long as it took me to pick the design I wanted for our save the dates, I needed to start the process of designing my invitations early.
Not long after the save the dates were mailed, the search for the invitations began. I started by looking through the real wedding features in my magazines for inspiration and look at online companies, such as Minted and Wedding Paper Divas. I thought I would find what I was looking for on Minted since it is one of the most well-regarded companies in the wedding industry and their designs are truly unique and customizable. This was helpful in figuring out what I didn’t like, but didn’t get me any closer to finding my invitations. Here is what I had decided I liked and what I didn’t:
What I Liked:
An actual suite with the invitation, detail card, weekend timeline, response card, etc.
Something holding all of the cards together
Traditional wording and design
Incorporating my theme into the invitations
What I Disliked:
Busy designs that take away from the wording
Invitations that weren’t printed on white
Designs that gave the “save the date” casual feel
I decided to book an appointment with a nearby design studio to customize invitations for our wedding. I brought my wedding planner with me for details and inspiration, as well as examples of what I liked and a list of what I had decided at this point that I didn’t. We spent almost two hours looking through their examples, discussing the color scheme and wording of the invitations, if there were any add-ons, such as a details card or banding to hold the cards together, and eventually designing my invitations. However, when I received the quote, (it was over $1,000!!) I was shocked, especially since I only had picked the basic necessities, and opted out of adding on all of the bells and whistles that truly make up the invitation suite. Even though I had budgeted to spend more on our invitations, I still wasn’t willing to dedicate that much to paper products, considering I knew most of our guests wouldn’t keep our invitations forever, and I didn’t completely love what we had designed. I left that appointment feeling a bit discouraged — I knew what I wanted but I just couldn’t put it into words.
I spent the next few weeks ordering samples from a couple of website and shops that I found on Etsy. After days of scanning page after page, I found a small company that had the simple, but elegant design that I was looking for. The traditional wording took center on the card and was adorned with a wreath at the top, with the couple’s monogram in its center. I immediately ordered a sample pack, with color samples and paper options (kudos to shops who do this — SO helpful!). Once it arrived, I picked out what I liked best and headed to their website to order! However, it was still more than I wanted to spend. While trying to decide whether it was worth spending or not, I headed back to Etsy for one last ditch effort before deciding.
My mom (bless her) had helped a lot, too. Even though I had started the process early, I was getting closer by the day to the date I wanted to mail our invitations. She was the one who ended up finding a downloadable jpeg of a wreath that was almost identical to the ones that were on the invitations that I fell in love with. Considering it was only $3 for the download, I went ahead and purchased it to test it out ourselves.
We then made a trip to almost every craft store in a 50-mile vicinity to view their paper selection. We bought several reams of different paper, from creamy cardstock to shimmery pearl, from thick to more flimsy. After collecting various types of paper, we printed the invitations we designed with our initials within the wreath at the top center and our traditionally worded invite printed in a taupe colored font on the different paper options. From there, we trimmed the paper to the 7×9 size that I liked. This was one of the best parts of doing the invitations ourselves because I could physically hold the different types of paper with our actual details printed on them. It was basically a pick-and-choose kind of thing from here!
Once we chose the paper I liked, we then began to design the rest of the suite. Since we had only spent under $50 on the paper, I could definitely now afford the entire suite that I desired. We created the response postcard (an easy way to avoid the cost of additional envelopes!), a details card with the information regarding hotel options, addresses of the two venues as well as a note about children, and a timeline of the day of the wedding. Another paper product that we were about to make was a program for the ceremony that matched the invitation suite; something I definitely would not have been able to do if I hadn’t purchased the jpeg.
Ribbons were a consistent theme throughout our wedding (as a nod toward the ribbon that I was wearing in my hair when Jody and I met) and our invitations were no exception. I knew tying a ribbon around the suite would be a perfect way to hold it all together. We did buy a few different spools of ribbon to test which one would look best. We ended up going with a gold sheer ribbon, which really complimented the entire suite without making too girly, a concern of Jody’s. We also lined our envelopes as well — gift wrapping paper is such an easy and inexpensive liner. I bought an envelope liner stencil and traced it onto the wrapping paper, and then all we had to do was cut it out and then glue it in. So pretty and such a nice little surprise when you open the envelope!
I know that this is a long post, but I would have loved to see someone share their experiences when it came to their wedding invitations when I was finding mine. Once you know what you are looking for, the process really isn’t that difficult, and it ends up saving a lot of money as well. I had budgeted around $300 for paper products, and I don’t think I spent over $100. Oh, and all of that paper we bought to sample didn’t go to waste; we ended up using what we couldn’t return for various wedding related products, including our rehearsal dinner invitations!
Even though I don’t plan to ever need wedding invitations for myself again, I definitely anticipate that I’ll be designing more invitations for future events — bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations and probably any type of party for our future children! Designing my own invitations was a great option to not blow our entire budget on some invitation that most of our guests don’t even have anymore, but it really was the best option for me to get exactly want I wanted. Paper is near and dear to my heart and I love the fact that I didn’t have to sacrifice anything I wanted for our wedding invitations.
About a week ago, we had our first taste of summer with two days of temperatures in the 80’s. After originally planning to go hiking that weekend, Jody and I decided to head to the beach instead to enjoy an afternoon in the sun. Knowing that the breeze off the ocean would still be cool, I suggested that we go to the nearby state park to wander trails leading to the coast before heading to what was sure to be a busy boardwalk.
Living on the mid-shore, we typically visit Rehobeth Beach in Delaware, which is just under an hour drive away. Cape Henlopen State Park is actually a bit closer to us, so after a stop for coffee, we headed into the park. It had been a few years since I had last been to Cape Henlopen so we parked in one of the first spots near the historical markers that we saw so we could explore the history that lies within the park. Fort Miles, a prominent coastal fort during World War II and through the Cold War, actually is located within the park. As I sipped on my iced coffee, we explored the artillery park, battery, and barracks. Being the history lover that I am and Jody’s interest in the military, we couldn’t have started our Saturday off in a better way.
Shortly after, we wanted to hit one of the trails before we headed to Rehobeth. We hopped on the first trail we saw (rookie mistake) and started heading towards the coast. We eventually came to realize that the trail that we had stumbled upon was in fact not leading us to the beach and was over four miles, just in one direction! After a bit of deliberation, we came to the realization that we were not prepared (aka hungry) to commit to that long of a walk. Luckily for us, we did find an overlook that was a great place for us to take a break, soak in the sun and appreciate how beautiful the ocean truly is.
After the hike back to our car, we left Cape Henlopen for our exercise reward of a beer for Jody and a cold glass of rose for me. Once we arrived at the beach, we wandered through some of the shops along the boardwalk before getting our obligatory cup of Thrasher’s beach fries. These were my first beach fries in over a year since I did not partake the week before our wedding, and I must say, they were every bit of good as they sound! We took our fries to the beach and found a spot to sit and relax before dinner. Admittedly, I was cold at this point, especially with the cool air coming off of the Atlantic. Even so, we were both so glad to have spent the day strolling through the park’s trails and the beach’s boardwalk on such a beautiful day.
What are some of your favorite things to do on a warmer than usual weekend? We would love to get some new ideas, so share what you enjoy in the comments below!
Happy Friday, y’all!! This is such a great Friday — The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and we are going to be in the 80’s today. After a cold March and start to April, this warm-weather loving girl is overjoyed to enjoy a taste of summer this weekend. Jody and I were originally going to go hiking this weekend, but with weather like this, we might just head to the beach!
I wasn’t planning to do another Friday Favorites post until later this month, but I wanted to share some of my favorite products that I have been using this month. These products definitely scream spring, which I’m all about. Without further ado, here’s a look at my favorite things this month.
Image by Fitbit
Favorite New Product: I bought Jody a Fitbit Charge HR for his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I knew that getting him one would mean I would have to get myself one as well so we can challenge each other to be active, especially as the weather starts to turn. I never liked the thick look of the Charge HR but have been eyeing the Alta HR design for a while for its slimmer look. The Alta HR does almost everything that the Charge HR does, including step tracking, sleep analysis, heart rate, calories burned, distance covered and active minutes with strenuous activity. One of my favorite features is the reminders to move — if I’m able, I try to meet the step challenge whenever it encourages me too! It helps remind me to stay moving, especially when I’ve been working at my desk for hours.
Image by Trader Joe’s
Favorite New Recipe: TJ’s Cauliflower Pizza Crust: If you’ve been following Blissful Moments for a while, you know that Trader Joes is by far my favorite grocery store. I’m always reading other bloggers’ TJ hauls to inspire my shopping list when I’m over there. I had heard great things about all of their pizza crusts, including this Cauliflower Pizza Crust. Jody and I decided to give this healthy alternative to our favorite food a while and we were not disappointed.
Favorite New Top: Bell Sleeve Shirt: Y’all, this shirt is my absolute favorite shirt! Between the bright spring color, to the lace bell-sleeves, to the bows mid-sleeve, this blouse is perfect for all occasions. My go to outfit with this shirt is to pair it with white jeans and my Jack Rogers for a weekend look, or pair it with flats and a pair of cropped ankle pants for a look for work.
Favorite Decor: This may seem a little like common sense, but I have been obsessed with my fresh bouquet of tulips that have served as the centerpiece on my dining room table and coffee table for the past week. Even when the temperatures dipped in the 30’s last week, I admittedly was surprised how fresh and springy our room felt. So easy, simple and budget friendly!
Favorite Music: So I couldn’t narrow this down to just one song because it is honestly the whole playlist that I’m obsessed with! I’m a subscriber of Emily Ley’s Simplified monthly newsletters where she includes a link to each monthly playlist, and I couldn’t have thought of a better combination of songs this month. It includes country, pop, and covers of different songs that will make for a happy April!
Happy Easter, friends! I hope you had a joyful weekend celebrating with family and friends. Jody and I had a wonderful and relaxing weekend; we celebrated his 27th birthday over dinner with family (more celebrating to come later this week!), went to see the movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ”, and celebrated Christ’s resurrection over Easter ham and my first attempt at my great-grandmother beloved deviled egg recipe 🙂
As I was preparing to set my April Goals, I was also preparing myself to not be discouraged by not making a ton of progress on my goals I set for March. As I spent a majority of my time in the past few weeks focusing on an event for work, I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I wanted working towards my goals. I knew going into March that it was going to be a busy month, particularly towards the end, and I didn’t want to lose the desire to continue to set goals, even in the busy months. Even though some of these goals will be rolled over into April or put off until a later date, I think that still shows progress as I am continually working towards these intended tasks. I’m looking forward to having a little extra time this month to really enjoy all that spring has to offer, especially fresh starts!
Continue to set aside time for my prayer journal and Lenten devotional to joyfully prepare for Easter
Celebrate Jody’s 27th birthday
Decide which scrapbook project to start and set aside time to work on it
Complete this Ab Challenge from Lauren Conrad and walk whenever the weather allowsI didn’t complete this yet as there were some days I didn’t get the workout in, but I’m continuing it until it is complete because I’ve noticed a difference!
Clean out our office and make it functional for both of us to use I’m considering this one half-checked. I spent some time this month cleaning and clearing out this room and considering how to make it functional. I ended up deciding that I want to get a new desk for my space, so I’m going to roll this goal to April to continue to work on it.
Find a way to ensure I’m capturing memories throughout this month through taking more pictures
Clean out our office and make it functional for both of us to use
Joyfully host friends for Jody’s birthday celebration this coming weekend
Print and post our Spring Cleaning list and clean our home
Complete two Tone It Up workouts a week, and walk as the weather improves
Despite the fact that this time last week, on the first day of spring, we were anticipating a snow storm, spring is officially here. I don’t think I have ever been more ready for spring than I was this year. I live for the sunshine and the warmth so the past few months have drug on and on for me. I have been anxiously awaiting the rise in temperatures, the budding flowers, and the blue skies for weeks now. And even though the temperature hasn’t seemed to get the notice that Spring has begun, I am soaking in the sun’s rays, the flowers that are beginning to bloom, and the pastels that are decorating our home.
Last Spring was such a busy time for us (ahem, wedding prep) that we really didn’t have a chance to do many spring related activities. For once, we don’t have any weekends completely booked for the next several weeks, so we are excited to get back outside and start checking some activities off of our list!
Go berry picking
Bake muffins As seen above!
Visit a Farmers’ Market
Plan a picnic date complete with food, drinks and a blanket!
Dinner on the porch
Celebrate Jody’s Birthday
Go on a hike
Host a party to celebrate this season
Start a mini herb garden on my porch
Purchase fresh flowers for our home
Spend a day at the beach before the summer crowds start
Try a new-to-us restaurant with outdoor seating
What activities do you have planned for this spring? Tell me in the comments below!