2018 + January Goals

I just love how hopeful the new year feels as the clock strikes midnight ringing in 2018. In the mere seconds of this new year, I always have a feeling of renewed hopes and dreams for the year to come. Similar to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, the new year tends to make me feel like there is a atmosphere of newness and joy ahead.

I firmly believe that you don’t have to wait until January 1 to make a change in your life, but it definitely serves as a good reminder of the light that change and growth bring. For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you know that near the beginning of each month, I share my goals for that month ahead, and my progress from the weeks prior. Sharing them with you helps me with accountability, and I hope they encourage you if you’re also exploring the world of goal-setting.

Admittedly, I struggled a bit deciding on my goals for 2018. I resonated well with the goals set in 2017, and generating new goals proved challenging.  I have been following Lara Casey’s Goal Setting Series since I started setting goals, and one thing that she encourages goal setters to do is to choose a word to describe what youre looking to achieve that year. In 2017, the word I chose was grace. With many life changes happening last year, I wanted to focus on facing all of them with grace and not expecting perfection. Choosing this word gave me courage to face the different challenges and decisions (especially in regards to planning a wedding!) with a calm and positive mindset, rather than trying to make my life Pinterest perfect.

In looking at my short list of things that I want to accomplish this year, I decided that I want to start off by digging deeper into the goals of 2017.  2017 was such a wonderful and busy year, and while I definitely scratched the surface on the goals that I had set,  I want to continue to grow them into something even more wonderful. Upon making that decision, that led me to my word for 2018 — steadfast.

steadfast (adj.):

  • firm in belief, determination, or adherence; loyal
  • unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence

So…why choose to focus on other things, when there is still room to grow with the goals that are already (most) important to me? I want to continue to remain loyal to things that mean the most by cultivating what matters; not trying to grow through other distractions that may lead me away from where I am headed. I want to grow my home, my marriage, my relationships, my faith and myself. In 2018, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

My 2018 vision board

2018 Goals

  1. Create and maintain life-giving home. Simplify, de-clutter, and learn to use our finances well. Focus on the people we host, rather than space limitations or other challenges. Cultivate a haven of rest, joy, friendship and warmth that will bless all who enters it.
  2. Grow deeper in a relationship with God. Attend church more often. Dive into the word through prayer journal and writing the word. Complete devotional series throughout seasons of this year.
  3. Love my husband well. Tend to our marriage with joy, grace, friendship, love and spontaneity. Say yes to new adventures together. Create memories to build our legacy. Relentlessly encourage him and live out the promises we made in our vows.
  4. Cultivate our relationships with friends near and far. Without a wedding to bring all of our family and friends together, find ways to encourage and love our community in different ways throughout the year.
  5. Invest in self-care to continue to grow as an individual. Find more healthy recipes. Drink more water. Exercise often. Take more pictures. Scrapbook the pictures already taken. Travel. Read more books and blogs.
  6. Grow Blissful Moments. Write content that encourages readers to celebrate all of life’s moments. Share the blog with friends. Learn to grow my blog through classes and guides. Focus on content rather than statistics.

January Goals

  • Help Jody set our 2018 financial goals
  • Make my reading list for 2018 (if you have any suggestions, send them my way!)
  • Get back into an exercise routine
  • Start my prayer journal
  • Create content schedule for the blog in January and February
  • Invest in updated necessities to encourage goals — order new glasses, buy a new water bottle, and purchase new laptop
  • Read “A Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  • Complete a purge my closet and sell or donate clothes I don’t wear
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2017 Year Review

 

What a wonderful, beautiful, crazy, emotional year. So so many good things happened this year, as well as some not so fun, but this definitely has been a year that has been completely full of life. When I think back on this year, all I can think is “I’m so lucky”.

While looking ahead to the new year is always encouraging and exciting, I love looking back at all that was accomplished and experienced over the past 12 months. For those of you who are new to this corner of the internet, I’m sharing a review of my 2017 (ahem, the best year ever). And for those who have been following, I hope you enjoy looking back at my year, and seeing about a handful of other things that I hadn’t shared!

January We kicked off the new year by checking wedding tasks off of our to do list, like mailing our save the dates and cake tastings. We hosted a fun cousin-friend visit, full of wine, cake and seafood (friends, we always promise seafood if you venture our way for  a visit!).

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Celebrating at my friend Olivia’s bridal shower!

February In February, we booked our honeymoon to Jamaica, as well as purchased our wedding bands, which made this whole experience even more real. Jody and I celebrated Valentines Day with a low-key afternoon of bowling and dinner at Olive Garden before heading home for a relaxing movie night on the couch. We even met our friends for a day of wine tasting in St. Michaels.

March We kicked off the month of March by celebrating our 100 day mark to the wedding with dinner in Annapolis. We travelled to Virginia later in the month to stand by one of my best friends as she said “I do”, and had the best weekend celebrating their love. On the way back, we stop in Richmond for a mini surprise birthday party for Jody with our friends at his favorite brewery in the city. On his birthday, we went to dinner and came home for cake and celebratory drinks with my family and some friends.

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So honored to be one of Olivia’s bridesmaids. Such a beautiful wedding! Image is by Sharon Elizabeth Photography,  Associate Ashley

April This month started off in the sweetest way. My family and friends threw me a bridal shower that so many special women in my life were able to attend. It was extra sweet to see so many people all in the same room — a taste of how our wedding would feel! A few friends and I surprised one of my bridesmaids with a bachelorette weekend to celebrate her upcoming wedding with a trip to the National Harbor in Washington D.C. I finished out the month by celebrating Easter with family and traveling to Pennsylvania to watch my sister’s Senior Day for her college’s tennis team.

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Easter Morning
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My sister’s Senior Day at her last home college tennis match.

May Life threw a few curveballs at us this month. Just two days before my grandfather’s memorial service, his wife — my grandmother, passed away suddenly. We were able to celebrate their lives together, and were able to spend some time with family in Pennsylvania and Ohio that we don’t get to see that often. My family and I attended my sister’s graduation from college, while Jody was the best man in one of our good friend’s weddings that same weekend. Towards the end of the month, just four weeks shy of our wedding and the day after we signed the lease on our apartment, I unexpectedly lost my job. This month was challenging, but I’m grateful for family and friends that sent their love and support all throughout this month!

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My sister’s college graduation day!

June This may be obvious, but June was most definitely my favorite month of 2017. My bridesmaids threw the best bachelorette party I could have imagined. Jody and I got our marriage license, and then we celebrated my 24th birthday with wine and pizza. We welcomed our family and friends to the Shore for wedding weekend. On June 24, I said “I do” to my best friend and then celebrated on our honeymoon in Jamaica. I would repeat this month every single day, if I could!

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Celebrating my 24th birthday at St. Michaels Winery

July After returning from our honeymoon, we celebrated the 4th of July with some family for a cookout and fireworks. I started a new job and Jody became a manager at one of the stores he was working at. We went on a weekend getaway with family friends to Kerr Lake, which was one of the most fun weekends of the summer! At the very end of July, after a brief illness (and overcoming a stroke to attend our wedding!) my great-grandmother Nettie passed away at the age of 99. She lived such a full life, and I am forever grateful to have her in my life as long as I did.

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A day on the lake

August Due to our opposite work schedules, Jody and I didn’t see a whole lot of each other this month, but we made the most of the time we got. We had dinner together every time it worked with our schedules, including Jody as the chef a few of those nights! We tried a new winery, and relaxed for a few days by the pool, and took a weekend trip to Richmond where we planned most of the trip around trying out a new place for brunch!

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Visiting friends while in Richmond

September Over Labor Day weekend, I took a trip to the Big Apple to visit my sister, who moved there in late June. Later in the month, we also went to Ohio for one of my cousin’s wedding and completed the trip by swinging through our favorite wineries on Lake Erie. Jody and I also started making real progress on our porch update, and enjoyed a few last days of the summer breeze.

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There always laughter involved when the whole family is together, especially for weddings!

October After many prayers, I started a new job with Maryland Business Roundtable for Education. I went on my first overnight work trip for training, which was fun and rewarding! We spent a weekend in Pittsburgh to celebrate my cousin’s wedding, where we were able to finally able to convert Jody into the “Steel City” fan that I always knew he would be. 😉 We returned to our Alma-Mater for homecoming and completed the trip with a swing through Carter’s Mountain for apple picking — a four year old tradition!

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Viewing the Pittsburgh skyline from the incline

November Jody and I hosted our warm and cozy Housewarming Party on what was most likely the warmest day of November. We took a short weekend trip to visit some friends in western Maryland (check our Big Cork Winery if you are ever in the area). We spent most of Thanksgiving week in Richmond with Jody’s family, but was back home with enough of the weekend left to cut down our first Christmas tree the old-fashioned way!

December With the holiday season in full swing, December is always a favorite month for me. I had so much fun decorating our home for the holidays, baking Christmas cookies, and choosing new traditions for Jody and I to start together. We took a quick trip to Richmond to celebrate one of my beautiful bridesmaid’s birthdays and say “see ya later” as she and her hubby prepare to move to Arizona for her new job. Christmas brought us so much joy to celebrate our Savior’s birth with family and friends, and we had the best Christmas as newlyweds. We hit the six-month of marriage mark on Christmas Eve, and we took a weekend getaway trip over New Years weekend to Charleston, SC to celebrate the best six months (and year!) that we could have ever imagined.

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Christmas Eve with my hubby — so sweet!

We can’t wait to see what’s ahead in 2018! What was some of your favorite memories in 2017? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Favorite Reception Moments

We celebrated our six month wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve (that happened so fast!!) so I figured there is no better way than to end this series than sharing some of my favorite moments from our reception. While I would love to relive any part of our day, the reception is the one that I most often close my eyes and wish we were back at — surrounded by your closest 100 friends is a feeling that is hard to beat! I had so carefully planned each part of our day, but the reception was a little more laid back and so much fun! This post is a little photo heavy, but I didn’t want to leave out anything!

Jody and I were introduced by our DJ, following our parents and wedding party, and played “Brand New” by Ben Rector as we made our way to the dance floor — I love that we chose a song by Ben Rector because Jody had another song by him, “When She Comes Around” playing when he proposed!

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We made our way to the dance floor and shared our first dance to “In Case You Didn’t Know”, by Brett Young. This is probably the moment that I try to flash back to the most. I don’t remember a single thing from our first dance, expect the look on Jody’s face as we sang the song to one another and spun around the dance floor. We don’t consider ourselves dancers, so it probably got boring for everyone watching but I think it was just perfect. 🙂

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Following our first dance was the father-daughter dance. I was a lot more nervous about this one because I knew the lyrics of the song my dad chose made me cry just hearing it on the radio. We danced to “Tough Little Boys” by Gary Allen. I held it together better than I expected I would, but thanks to my sobbing bridesmaids, and my dad’s sweet words, I couldn’t help by tear up, but at least I held it together better than my mom did, who bawled through me and Jody’s first dance, as well as me and my dad’s.

Cox_0908Cox_0915Dinner came out after, and it was just amazing. I don’t actually remember eating any of it the day of, but the leftovers were still pretty tasty one week later. We kept the food as southern as possible: pulled pork, grilled honey chicken, mac and cheese (with all of the toppings!), seasonal veggies, rolls, and honey butter.

Following dinner, Jody and I were pulled away for a couple more portraits as the sun was setting over the vineyard. As we finished, a number of guests had migrated outside and all cheered as we kissed for one last picture. It was so surreal to have so much support all day long!

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One we made it back into the reception hall, the toasts began. We had asked our Maid of Honor and Best Man to give toasts and they were equally funny as they were sweet. My dad also gave an unplanned toast, which was super sweet as well! They all were so wonderful, filled with words that Jody and I will cherish throughout our marriage. Our wedding video has some clips in it as well, which you’ll be able to see on here soon!

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Our cake cutting wasn’t very long after the toasts. The cake was delicious; each tier was a different flavor. The top-tier was almond cake with lemon curd filling, the middle lemon cake with raspberry filling and we cut into white cake with a strawberry filling. Admittedly, we cut entirely too small of piece but luckily we had some sent with us when we left!

My dad then became the star of the show. After dancing on the table to “YMCA” at my aunt’s wedding 20 years ago (which I was a flower girl in), he brought the dance to our wedding. It was hilarious and everyone enjoyed it, although I was so worried the table was going to collapse!

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Although, we chose to not do a garter toss, we did do a bouquet toss. I chose to toss it to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. It felt like a right of passage to toss my bouquet, especially to a song I listened to endlessly in high school!

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I wanted to spend most of the reception dancing, and I’m so glad that’s exactly what I did! Thanks to our wonderful DJ, the dance floor was full for the entire night. I had so much fun spinning around the floor with my new hubby and family and friend who I’ve known for so many important moments throughout my life.

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Jody chose our last dance of the night with our guests, which was “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. That may have been the most magical three and a half minutes of my entire life. Having almost every guest circle around us, and dance and sing at the top of our lungs was such a beautiful moment. In a quick turn of my head, I could see every person in our lives who have cheered us on, laughed with us, cried with us and were celebrating the best day of our lives with us. I had to choke back tears as I was overcome with how incredibly blessed we were!

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As our guests lined up for our sparkler exit, Jody and I shared one last dance with just the two of us to “From the Ground Up” by Dan + Shay. There couldn’t have been a better song to end the most magical day to. The wedding was over, but it was only the beginning of the rest of our lives. And with that, as soon as the song ended, we took a deep breath and ran through the line of sparklers, hand in hand, straight into the next chapter of our love story.

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Styling a Holiday Bar Cart

 

Christmas parties are pretty much my favorite thing ever. I would not be mad about a mailbox full of invitations to fun holiday gatherings. However, hosting parties can be so hit or miss around the holiday due to people’s crazy schedules! With us being so busy this month, and our long weekend getaway quickly approaching (8 days!!), Jody and I decided not to have a Christmas party this year. With that being said though, we do expect to entertain guests over the course of the holiday weekend, so we wanted to be able to share the party atmosphere, even with our limited number of guests. That includes having a Christmas decorated bar cart!

Money always seems to be tight around the holidays so I came up with a couple of inexpensive tips and ideas for styling your bar cart this holiday season.

I honestly didn’t add too much to what we usually keep on our cart. I like a bar cart that is organized, practical and not too cluttered. I kept our bar tool set, with the mixing glass, strainer, muddler, corkscrew and citrus peeler readily available, as well as our monogrammed ice bucket. I also like to keep a matching set of glasses on the top shelf for easy access, and I decided on our Bride and Groom wine glasses, in honor of our six month wedding anniversary on Sunday!

When it came to adding the holiday decor to our bar cart, I started with what I already had. I found a cute little set of plates packed away in our Christmas boxes that say “Feliz Navidad”, which I think Jody received as a gift last year. I used to used the mini hand mitten stockings as garland at my old place in Richmond, and decided to use them similarly on the cart. I turned this old picture frame into a chalkboard sign a couple of years ago, so I gave it a fresh coat of chalkboard paint, added a fun holiday quote (you can’t go wrong with Christmas Vacation!) and hung it above the cart. I also added my favorite Christmas wine glass to the collection on the bottom shelf, although I’ll admit, it has seemed to spend more time off the cart then on!

After looking at what I had, I gathered a few ideas on Pinterest of what else I could add to up the holiday factor. An easy and practical decoration (my seasonal go-to) are festive cocktail napkins. I picked up these cute “Cheers!” napkins at Target, which are not only festive but will be appropriate to leave on the bar cart after Christmas. I ran out of room in my storage closet for the leftover gift boxes, so I ended up added those to the cart as well.  I also had been eying this flocked mini tree at Target for a month and I finally picked it up earlier this week. I love the height it adds to the top shelf, without competing with the height of the bottles of alcohol.

That’s pretty much it! Like I mentioned, I wanted to keep it simple, but festive and I love how it is one of the first things you notice when you walk into the room. I’d love to know — do you have any go-to decor items for functional spaces? Tell me in the comments below!

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Our Reception Details

Admittedly, as certain as I was that I loved all of the details for our ceremony and cocktail hour, I was still a bit nervous when it came to seeing how our reception design was going to come together. Thankfully, it all came together perfectly, and looking back almost six months later I still love every decision that we made! As I began to plan the details, I really wanted to showcase our theme and colors (rustic, southern romance and blush, champagne and gold) through the details of our reception.  Our venue provided beautiful rustic details throughout the venue, from wooden seating to the barn doors leading into the reception room, so we chose to let those details shine on their own. Our southern details were mostly represented through all of the meaningful and thoughtful details that we included. We wrapped ribbons around each napkin as a nod towards the ribbon I wore in my hair the day that Jody and I first met, our cake cutter was a family heirloom that my grandparents used at their wedding reception, as did my parents and aunts and uncle at theirs, and our speciality cocktail was named “The Honeybee”, which was whiskey and lemonade, a drink Jody and I drank in college as well as a nod to our Alma Mater, whose mascot is a yellow jacket. As for the romance factor, our centerpieces consisted of three pillars of floating candles, plus an arrangement of tea light candles scattered across the tables and on every window sill. Once the sunset that night, the room was glowing from the lights of the candles. My mom even made lace table runners for every table, which had a hint of shimmer to them. Those, with the candles, provided a warm glow that only added to the ambiance of the room.

In this post, you will also see our guest seating chart. I feel that place cards are a little old-fashion, but seating charts are helpful, especially as a guest. Jody and I have been to several weddings where there was not seating chart, and it was confusing to know where we were suppose to sit and what was reserved for family. I made our seating chart from an old, large picture frame with the backing removed, and I couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out. I wish I could display it in our home, if that wouldn’t be weird. We never ended up getting a picture of it, but since we had a buffet, I also made a sign listing the menu items, so guests could see what their options were before reaching the table. This saved on paper menus, but also provided a list of what each dish was for the guests. A big thought on our hearts throughout the planning process was the members of our family that were not able to share our big day with us. We created a memory table, which displayed pictures and names of those who were not longer with us, to acknowledge that while our day was full of laughter and love, we still held those people near to our hearts.

As for some other fun facts: My mom and I also DIY’ed our invitation suite and our favors. I had spent months looking for the perfect invitation that captured the simple but elegant look I desired but also fit into our price range. After meeting with several designers, and endless scrolling through Etsy, I found the perfect little wreath, which was a downloadable design, to head the invitation and be adorned with our initials. From there, my mom and I designed several option with various fonts and paper types until we decided on our favorite. Since we ended up downloading them and printing them ourselves, we ended up saving a ton of money, which allowed me to have the complete invitation suite I desired (invitation, response postcard (so easy!), wedding day timeline and a details card), as well as having all of our day of paper products coordinate with one another. I also wanted our favors to be little jars of jam, which just oozed southern to me as well as a symbolic gesture as Jody and I love to go to brunch. After finding the perfect sized jars and an easy enough recipe, we spent a day the week of the wedding mixing and pour these jams into their own little jar. PSA for all of you who also have this idea, this is a MESSY project. We ran into to a little issue in the process of sealing the jars — when we flipped the jars upside down to seal them, for some reason some of the jams got stuck like that so they only looked half-full! Bless my mom though, who woke up the morning of the wedding to make another batch so we didn’t give our guests these half-filled, pathetic, upside down jars (She really is the best, isn’t she?!). We still laugh about how awful that first set looked!

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The Cocktail Hour

It has been a few weeks since I last shared a bit of our wedding day with y’all so today I’m going to share our cocktail hour! After the ceremony ended, our guests traveled to Harvest Ridge Winery, which was about 25 minutes from the church, for the cocktail hour and reception. Ironically, even though we didn’t attend cocktail hour, it was one of my favorite parts to plan! We loved the location — it took place in the courtyard between the tasting and event room and the production barn. The wrap around patio overlooked the beautiful blooming vineyard, so we decided not to focus as much on decor, keeping it simple and focusing more one the food, drinks, and atmosphere.

While Jody and I took our portraits in the vineyard, our guests enjoyed our appetizers (fruit and vegetable trays, Pigs in a Blanket, Crab Dip, Shrimp Cocktail Shooters, Mini Grilled Cheese) and drinks (an assortment of beer, Harvest Ridge’s wine -Blue Hen Blue, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc, Rebel Seed Hoptimized Cider and our speciality cocktail, The Honeybee). We wanted to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere, just as if we were hosting our friends at our home for a summer soiree! We had corn hole boards available, which many of our friends enjoyed, as well as our guestbook to sign, which was a scrapbook of pictures from our engagement photos. As both of us are music lovers, we loved the idea of having live music, so we were lucky enough to hired to entertain our guests with folk and bluegrass songs for the duration of cocktail hour.

I had also seen a really neat idea of having a “Walk Your Story” display at a wedding before which inspired me to create one for our cocktail hour. I wrote a short blurb of each chapter of me and Jody’s love story and framed it, along with a picture of that part of our story. We had them placed as a centerpiece on the tables along the porch. It was a little too breezy that day for them to stand up, but guests still enjoyed reading each little chapter of our story that led us to our wedding day!

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December Goals

I always have the best intentions for the month of December, but it doesn’t always work the way I have in mind (ahem, post December Goals a week late). This Christmas season, rather than getting overwhelmed and frustrated when something doesn’t go the way I anticipated, I’m trying to embrace the change rather than letting it ruin the whole season. More so this year than years past, I want to wholeheartedly enjoy everything this season has to offer, which sometimes means letting go of the things that could be different.

Here is an example for you. Every year, I help in the process of the Christmas cookie baking tradition in my family. It usually takes place the day after Thanksgiving, but because Jody and I were celebrating with my in-laws, my contribution of the baking had to wait. The other night I mixed up my favorite Spritz cookies and when I went to mix the food coloring in, I realized my dyes got lost in the move. Admittedly, this was nearing 9:30pm and I was not thrilled about having to run to the store that late. After throwing my boots on and not-so-gracefully yanking my coat out of the closet, I made it to the sidewalk when I asked myself “Why are you doing this?”

“Because,” I thought, “We ALWAYS have colored spritz cookies”.

In that moment, I (thankfully) realized how silly that statement sounded. This is a different year, a different Christmas than before. I get to start new traditions with my hubby this year, and maybe that doesn’t have to include colored Spritz Christmas Cookies. It doesn’t have to include watching the same Christmas movie on Christmas Eve as I have in the past. All it has to include is family, my husband and celebrating the birth of Christ.

I shared that with the hope that my story helps to simplify your Christmas season. Rather than focusing on the materialistic wishes and unrealistic goals, I hope you focus on those around you and taking time to cuddle up on the couch with some hot cocoa (apple cider for me!) and watch every cheesy, beautiful Hallmark movie every created.

Of course, I can’t end my last goal post of the year without sharing some of my “potentially attainable” goals for this season 😉 Happy Christmas Season friends!

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November Goals

  • Keep a list of what I am grateful for each day this month
  • Go to church, either a new to us one or one we’ve attended before
  • Pray over our Operation Christmas Child shoebox and send it off 
  • Get all of my Christmas shopping done (I only have a few things left to purchase so I consider this a half-success!)
  • Host friends for our Housewarming Party
  • Get back to the gym at least once a week

December Goals

  • Mail our first Christmas card
  • Stay active throughout this busy month
  • Start our Christmas ornament tradition
  • Love our friends and family well this season
  • Remember the real meaning of Christmas (this requires watching “The Nativity” at least once!)
  • Celebrate Christmas with our family
  • Celebrate six months of marriage in Charleston

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Newlyweds

Happy Friday and Happy December, y’all! If you’re anything like me, you had planned to be done with your Christmas shopping by now, but if you’re anything like me, you probably aren’t (hey, we tried!). So on this beautiful first day of December, I am sharing my last of my gift guides for this holiday season — for the newlyweds!

Shopping for newlyweds can either be super easy, or a little more challenging depending on what’s left on their registry. You may feel completely out of ideas, especially if you’ve been to more than one of their wedding events this year, but this list includes some other items that may not be on their registry. Of course, taking a look at their registry (most places keep the couple’s registry live for a few years!) is a great place to start.

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  1. Mr. and Mrs. Mugs: If you know the newlywed couple can’t start their day without a cup of coffee, a Mr. and Mrs. mug set is a necessity in their cupboard. These camper mugs are manly enough to make up for the hand lettering — the perfect combination of his and hers!
  2. The Newlywed Cookbook: We received this cookbook last year as a Christmas gift, and I just love it! The book is organized by type of food and occasion, and is perfect for couples look to spend time together in the kitchen. We turn to this book when our date night takes place in our kitchen!
  3. Ring Dish: Every newlywed (or even newly-engaged!) couple needs a special place to put their rings. These ring dishes come in a variety of sayings and make a cute addition to any vanity or dresser!
  4. Monogram Marble and Wood Serving Board: If your newlywed couple loves to entertain, this serving platter is just for them! It is practical enough to use at any type of party and the marble and wood design coordinates with many styles. Plus, the monogram shows the couple that you truly picked it out just for them!
  5. Personalized Wall Sign: Following a wedding, you can never have too many things with the new family name posted around. There are so many options and styles out their to match just about anyone’s design tastes, so you really can’t go wrong with one of these personalized wall signs. Any couple would appreciate a new piece of personalized decor to add to their new home together.
  6. Picnic Basket: Want to give a gift the couple is sure to remember? Gift them with an easy date idea, like this picnic basket. It already comes with flatware, plates, wine glasses, a corkscrew and salt & pepper shakers, so just add a bottle of their favorite wine and voila! They will be grateful for a reason to go on a date and are sure to think of you whenever they use their basket.
  7. CorningWare French Bakeware: Depending on what the couple had already registered for this CorningWare bakeware set is on just about every couple’s list. Durable and built to last, couples can use this set over and over again as they grow into their kitchen. While the first year may include a lot of takeout, they are sure to be grateful for reliable bakeware as their marriage continues.
  8. Flameless LED Candles; Candles are one of my go to’s for making a house feel more like a home and these flameless LED candles are a great addition to any couple’s home. They are battery operated, which makes them safer than real candles, and the realistic flame flickers soft and gently which ups the cozy and romance factor, as well.
  9. Badminton Set: If your favorite newlyweds are like me and Jody, you love games! From yard games to classic board games and everything in between, we just can’t get enough of it! This badminton set would be a great gift for game enthusiasts, or any couple with a little bit of outdoor entertaining space. While it probably won’t be used until spring, the newlyweds will definitely be thinking warm thoughts with this one!
  10. Just Married Ornament: Decorating for the holidays can be expensive, especially when just starting out. Remind the newlyweds of their best day with an ornament that they can add to their tree year after year!
  11. Love Story Journal: I have always been a fan of journaling my life experiences, and I truly believe journaling your love story is a beautiful keepsake. This particular journal prompts the couple through writing how they met, their first date, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, and then every anniversary through their 70th. How sweet to fill this in and be able to pass it down to the generations to come!

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Travelers

 

I’m a firm believer in the fact that traveling is good for the soul, and thankfully my husband does too. Ever since I was little, my parents would typically use the holidays to gift us with items that would be useful on an upcoming trip. I’ve received maps, cameras, memory cards (make a great stocking stuffer!), and travel books all about wherever I was headed. Travel has been such a huge part of my life since I was little, and something that I remain passionate about. If you’re shopping for a travel enthusiast this year, I hope this guide gives you some ideas, if not adds some ideas to your own list (guilty!).

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  1. Luggage Tags: This is such an easy gift for any one. There are a million options out there of different luggage tags you can get, so why not surprise your traveler with a new set that beats the paper tags from the airport. My go to would be one like this one — bright which makes it easy to spot on the carousel, but still stylish.
  2. Luggage Scale: A must for those who tend to overpack (ahem, hand raised over here). This scale provides high accurate readings of the weight of your suitcase, as well as temperature gage. It is small and easy to pack, which means it doesn’t add a lot more weight!
  3. Instant Film Camera: You definitely can’t travel anywhere without a camera. While I love my Nikon, this instant film camera by Fujifilm is perfect for anyone. It’s lightweight and compact, which is ideal for travel, and also produces bright images. They come in a variety of colors and are reasonably affordable for someone who isn’t into high tech photography.
  4. Portable Battery Charger: You honestly can never have enough of these portable battery chargers. Especially if you are using your phone as a translator, camera, GPS, etc, you’re going to need a recharge before the day is over. Travelers can easily toss this charger in their bag and pull it out whenever they need it. It makes a great stocking stuffer too!
  5. Peru: The Cookbook: One of the arguably best parts about traveling is the opportunity to experience diverse foods from different cultures. What’s a better gift than to remind your traveler of one of their favorite places by gifting a cookbook full of different recipes from that culture?!
  6. Space Bag Travel Bags: When I studied in Europe for a month in college, I used these space bags to save space in my luggage. These bags vacuum out all of the air, dust and bugs to keep your clothes as fresh as when you washed them. These are a must for anyone traveling to any cold-climate — it save a ton of space on sweaters and bulky outerwear!
  7. Carry On Cocktail Kit: Pre-flight jitters or a little rest & relaxation? That choice is yours, but either way this carry on cocktail kit comes in handy! Complete with a muddler and steel jigger, you can bring first class to economy seating.
  8. S’well Bottle: My brother-in-law got me one of these bottles as a gift a few years ago and it still is one of my favorite bottles to take with me whether on a day trip or a week long vacation. Its slim shape allows it to fit in a number of bags or backpacks (I always stick it in the outer pocket of my camera bag), and it comes in a ton of different colors and designs. I’m really loving the art on the one above!
  9. Scratch Off World Map: Between all of my family’s vacations growing up, plus the newer trips I’ve been on, I have a map of the United States that I color in when I visit each state. It has been so neat to see a visual of where I’ve been, and where I still have to go. However, since its only a map of the States, this world map may be my next purchase. I love the black background because once you scratch off the place that you’ve visited, the brilliant bright colors of the country below really pop.
  10. Travel Laundry Bags: I am all about organization, especially when traveling. If my belongings aren’t organized in tip-top condition, I am bound to lose them. I love this set because it not only provides separate bags for those random travel necessities, but also comes with a bag for dirty laundry. Now your dirty clothes won’t get mixed up with your clean ones, and your can just toss them in the washer as soon as you arrive home!
  11. Travel Coloring Book: Flights are boring to begin with, especially if they are transcontinental. Thankfully, most international airline provide some sort of TV or streaming service, but if you’re like me, that will get boring after a while too. Pick up one of these coloring books and a bag of pencils for a gift that is easy to pack and entertaining!
  12. Energizing Foot Lotion: Y’all, this stuff is the best. It is made of a cool and refreshing mint formula that soothes aching, tired feet and legs. After a day of exploring one of of the world’s oldest cities, to recovering from jet lag, this lotion is sure to be one of your traveler’s must-pack necessities!
  13. Travel Mug: These mugs by Evelyn Henson are just the cutest! Not only does she have mugs designed with famous landmarks from different touristy cities, but also from some of our favorite destinations from right here in the States! These mugs can serve as a great daily reminder of a favorite city or vacation.

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Happy Black Friday friends! I hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of laughter, love and good food. Jody and I spent ours in Virginia with his side of the family — it was great to see family that we don’t get to see all that often.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season is officially upon us! Between now and Cyber Monday, I’ll be sharing my gift guides filled with ideas while you start, continue or finish your Christmas shopping! Growing up, one of my family’s traditions was to spend all of Black Friday in the kitchen making all of our Christmas Cookies for the season. I still continue this tradition with Jody, but I can’t resist the opportunity to find some deals online! First up is my His and Hers Stocking Stuffers guide. This post is extra special as we have a guest blogger to share “guy-approved” stocking stuffers — my hubby! So give him a warm welcome and happy shopping!

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  1. Movie Tickets:  While this can be a little subjective, if your guy is a fan of Marvel movies, it’s quite a time to be alive.  Ladies, if you’re feeling up to it, make a personalized voucher to gift him, to a movie of his choice.  
  2. Shaving Essentials Shaving cream can be one of those tedious expenses, so why not have one that works well, smells and looks good?  I switched from Gilette to these products from Harry’s and haven’t looked back. 
  3. Whiskey Stones Every guy needs a solid bar accessory.  Whether it’s a bespoke beer mug or a James Bond looking decanter, I’ve become fond of these whiskey stones my wife got me for all my fine whiskey on rocks needs.
  4. Lottery Tickets:  Big money! We hope haha! A classic in my family.  Before scratching we always loved daydreaming how to (ridiculously) spend our winnings. 
  5. Multi-Purpose Work GlovesGents, whether you’re a home auto mechanic, self-proclaimed professional house maintenance man, or just need a good pair of affordable gloves, Mechanix are proven to be a comfortable go-to.
  6. SocksLadies, look to your man’s hobbies and run with it.  I personally have far too many pizza socks and yet, not enough.  while socks were lame gifts when we were kids, every guy needs new socks. Always. 
  7. Ear Bud Headphones: Even though most people (maybe?) keep track of their original headphones just fine, I’ve found it useful to have a few pairs here and there.  I have a pair for the gym, for my car (since my AUX is no more), and general purpose. 
  8. Bottle OpenerThe world of bottle openers has gotten creative.  As far as bottle openers go, just use the same tactic as the socks and take note of his hobbies! Cheers.
  9. Pocket KnifeA good tool, safety measure, EDC (Every Day Carry) essential, whatever.  A Good pocket knife seems to be appreciated by most guys.  I’m by no means a knife connoisseur, but I’ve had no trouble using my Smith and Wesson with a serrated edge. 
  10. Favorite SnackSimple, effective, delicious.  Top it all off with his favorite snack.  Chances are he will munch on these while opening the rest of his gifts! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! – Jody

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  1. Nail Polish: Everyone knows about my nail polish addiction, so obviously I needed to start my list off with some color! The best thing about using nail polish as a stocking stuffer is its small enough to fit at the bottom or to slip in a small spot next to something else. Also, around this time of year, you usually can find set of mini polish in holiday colors!
  2. Bracelet: I’ve had my eye on this forever! This hair tie bracelet is perfect for any girl who is stylish, but always manages to leave their hair band on their wrist. You can keep your hair tie close by with this clever jewelry piece. 
  3. Fuzzy Socks: If you’re like me, you probably rush to see what’s under the tree on Christmas morning and forget to put something on your feet. A pair of fuzzy socks is such a cute way to add some additional cheer and warmth to your Christmas morning!
  4. Coffee Gift Card: One of the greatest gifts in life in a gift card for coffee. I have the Starbucks app, so I can easily upload gift cards right to my phone to use whenever I go to the store. Even if the people in your life aren’t coffee lovers, any type of gift card is an easy stuffer.
  5. Magazine Subscription: I love reading magazines. I could sit for hours in a bookstore flipping through various magazines from Bridal, to Home Design to Food and everything in between. A magazine can easily be rolled to fit in a stocking, and with a note about the subscription on it, it would be the perfect little gift for the reader in your life!
  6. Hand Lotion: Especially in the winter, there is nothing that feels better than lotion on dry, cracked hands. This Mary Kay hand lotion set is my favorite by far — it makes your hands so soft, which seems like such a treat in the middle of winter. Jody loves it too, so it can really be a gift for anyone!
  7. Stud Earrings: A girl can never have enough pairs of earrings, especially when they are this cute. With all of the parties that take place around the holidays, a cute pair of statement studs can be the perfect addition to any outfit!
  8. Lip Balm: Just like hand lotion, you can never have too much lip balm. I’m not particularly picky when it comes to my lip balm, but I love how soft eos makes my lips. The cute container is a plus too!
  9. Face Mask: When Jody is out late or gone for the night, my favorite way to relax by myself is having a glass of wine and doing a face mask treatment. Target is one of my favorite places to shop for facemasks because they have such a variety of types and scents. 
  10. Beanie: With winter officially starting just days before Christmas, a beanie is a great addition to a stocking! I just love these beanies — for every hat purchased, Love your melon donates one to a child battling cancer. There is absolutely nothing better than a gift that gives back!