Sunday, December 4, 2011

12 Dates Of Christmas

John and I love spending time with each other - just like any other couple.
John and I also love watching TV and surfing the web and playing on our phones - just like any other person.

So we struggle with fighting to put our electronics away and having quality time with each other. It seems like quality time can often mean spending money. Gas is so expensive that even driving to our local park to walk seems to cost five dollars or so.

I decided to come up with a fun Christmas idea that would get us off the couch and not cost a lot of money. There are so many inexpensive and free things that you can do around Christmas time.

  • I cut out 12 flag shaped pieces of Christmas themed scrap book paper.
  • I hung them up with glittered clothes pins on a piece of twine.
  • On each of the flags I wrote a lyrics to a Christmas song or Christmas carol.
  • Each lyrics coordinated with a Christmas themed surprise.
  • For example : "The three words that best describe you are as follow, and I quote, stink stank stunk" from the Grinch. For this activity I got a free one day pass to our local gym. 
  • If John could the name of the song then he got the coordinating surprise.
  • I hung it up on December 1st and he gets to pick one each day (sometimes 2 cause I'm a sucker for him).

Some of them were easy like - "Feliz Navidad" for a date out at Mexican restaurant.

And some of them were harder to guess.

We have had so much fun making gingerbread houses, Christmas dinners and cookies, looking at lights, etc. And it has been so fun to watch John try and guess the songs on the flags.

Other than a few supplies and one date out we have had 12 really inexpensive dates that have gotten us in the Christmas spirit!
Next year John is going to do it for me and some day we will do it with our kids.

What fun Christmas traditions or activities do you do with your family?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Keeping Up The House

John and I get really busy in the winter. It seems like we are running everywhere and we hardly see the inside of our house. This also means that cooking and cleaning go by the wayside.

I am all for having a "lived in" home. I like a little mess here and there and I do enjoy take out. However, sometimes we get into seasons where we have gone weeks without cooking a single meal and spiders have built resorts in my corners. I have found that a couple of little things (along with a really helpful husband) keep things from getting too out of control.

I'm only going to be home for 30 minutes. I just want to sit on the couch and catch up on Rachel Zoe.
Instead I take 5 and do what I can with that 5 minutes.
In 5 minutes I can put away the clutter on the kitchen table or load the laundry and start the dishwasher.
In just 5 minutes I can give the kitchen and bathroom a wipedown.
Take 5, take 10 - just take a little time and do what you can! You will still have 25 minutes to watch some trashy tv.

I try and schedule days for certain tasks. For example - I try to wash and change the sheets every Sunday.
Monday - groceries.
Tuesday - dusting and sweeping or kitchen and bathroom.
Wednesday - pick up what you can.
Thursday - dusting and sweeping or kitchen and bathroom.
Friday - just relax.
Saturday - laundry and dishes.

This does not mean that these things get done every time or that I don't mix it up but it makes life seem less overwhelming for me. Find what works for you.
Maybe you are really organized and you would like a chore board.
Perhaps cleaning is boring and you need to spice it up making a short "cleaning playlist" with your favorite upbeat music.
I know some people that write down chores and projects on small pieces of paper, put them in a jar and then pick one out when they have a little time.

John and I love eating fresh produce and fresh meals. It seems by the end of the week we have run out cucumbers, salad, fruit, fresh meat and all that is left is dry goods and freezer items. It makes me want to go to the grocery early or go out to eat. So I try and do a freezer/pantry clean out. Bust out the frozen stir fry and brown rice or the quinoa and frozen veggies. It doesn't have to be a perfectly cohesive meal. Sometimes it's fun to have a hodge podge shmorgishborg!

I try to buy products that help me out when I'm cooking meals. I like to buy the premade turkey meatballs at Whole Foods and just add italian breadcrumbs. Cook 'em up in a pan and add some of their tomato basil sauce. It has whole chunks of basil in it! Delicous. Try the recipe on the back of a box. I finally got the nerve to try "French's Crunch Onion Chicken" recipe. It was so good and reallyyyy easy. You don't have to spend hours to cook a delicious and fresh meal. I usually cook dinner in under an hour!

Sometimes it seems like such a simple answer. And it usually is. Just take it one thing at a time and it will all get done :]

What little things do you do around your house to make the cooking and cleaning easier?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do The Thing That Scares You

My last post was about *that room*. The room that is a junk room that you have high hopes for but just holds your wrapping paper, out of season clothes, and luggage.

I'm turning it into an office.

In order to do that we needed to clear it out. I got all these great frames to put pictures in and make a collage out of once we got married. Then we signed the lease and paid a security deposit and I freaked out about putting holes in the walls.

So I put it off for over 5 months (yes, we just celebrated our 5 mo. anniversary. time flies). I was terrified. I know it sounds silly but I would pick up the frames, obsess over them, clean them and then put them away. I had such anxiety about finding the right pictures, arranging them and hanging them so they were even. So I just didn't.

Until this week.

John helped me with this project. We traced the size of the frames on white wrapping paper and then arranged how we wanted them on the wall above the couch.

However, we didn't have any tape. So we improvised. The first week we were married John and I were unpacking stuff when I cut myself on our knives. John rushed out to get bandaids. He came back with a box of 500.

So we used bandaids to tape up the wrapping paper.

I was so excited. We got on Shutterfly and ordered some pictures. It was kind of stressful trying to figure out sizes we needed for the frames but we kept pressing forward.

Withing just a few days the pictures arrived and I started filling the frames. Then I bought the nails and picked up the hammer. I think I had an anxiety attack when I made the first hole. I hung the frame, stepped back and saw it was crooked. I made six more holes all around the same spot until I got it right. My anxiety started to melt away. I put up the next frame and the next and started feeling...good!

I know I may sound a little dramatic to some. Perhaps you are a DIY Queen and you're going to laugh at my pathetic wall. But I am not a domestic goddess or super confident in my abilities in general.

Maybe you are afraid to finally paint that one wall red.
Or maybe you're afraid to buy that eccentric chandelier.
Maybe it's a recipe you think you can't cook, a new hobby you think you can't do.

Maybe you don't want to to tap into that artist within because you are afraid that failing means you aren't perfect.

Do the thing that scares you. Nail a hole in the wall. Put up beautiful memories of your families all over your walls. Give your home life and love and in the process give yourself grace.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Marianne Williamson

Monday, October 3, 2011

*That* Room

John and I have an extra room in our apartment. It's the room that everyone has.

The one I apologize for when we are showing guests around.

The one I tell people "We just haven't had the time to do anything with it".

The one I call the guest/storage/office/junk room.

The one I crack the door to, throw some odds and ends in, and shut the door without looking.

I always feel so sorry for this spare room.

This fall I am finally going to clean it up and make something of it.

We decided that the best thing for this space to become was an office.

I am so excited and so nervous. I really want this space to work. We are going to try to do this on little to no money. I can't wait to get started.

 my ideal color scheme

I've got a little wooden table desk that I'm going to pain teal.
Hopefully add some mirrors, a couple prints from Etsy.
And maybe a cute printed or white leather high backed chair.

So here's to my hopeful little office. I will keep you updated as things progress.

Thoughts? Ideas? Websites? Or if you would like to donate to the "Emily Wants an Office Fund" just send a check in the mail...just kidding

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Very Merry UnBirthday To Me

It has been raining - no - POURING since yesterday. My mood is always deeply affected by the weather. I was not looking forward to a day of gloom and rain on my technical "vacation day".

I woke up craving birthday cake.
So naturally, I decided that today would be my "unbirthday"!

My actual birthday is not until December 27th but I wanted cake today. And if you're going to eat birthday cake you might as well pretend that it's your birthday!

So John and I went out to eat to celebrate! I got to pick and I chose a brand new place called
Scotty's Lakehouse. Delicious!

John surprised me with a massage at Massage Envy. It was perfect since I've been feeling sick for over a week now.

After a nice, long nap and listening to the rain we got up and went to the store to get my birthday cake!

We got to Marsh and I picked out the prettiest, pink cake with flowers. The lady asked if we wanted anything written on it. We asked her to write "Happy Birthday, Emily" on it. She double checked that my name was spelled E-M-I-L-Y.

However, when we got the cake it looked like this...

Perhaps she was dyslexic?

After we had a nice laugh over my name change we chowed down on cake and ice cream, chips and guacamole, and crab dip and crackers.

It was a perfect celebration for really no reason at all.

Life is too short to be serious. We must celebrate every day.

Even if we have to create our own reasons to celebrate - like an "unbirthday".

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tea for 25

I learned so much when I was engaged.
 I learned that if you keep a cool head and even temper people are much happier to do things for you.
I learned that being kind to your body rather than trying to force yourself into a size two dress will give you a more beautiful glow and a happier smile.
I learned that getting your hands "dirty" and making things for your own wedding is the best therapy for stress.
I learned that it's OK to be giddy and smile so much you feel like your face might crack!

But the most important thing I learned was how to throw a party. How to love someone in such an over the top way that they can't over look how much they mean to you.

I learned this from my sweet family and my dear friends who threw beautiful parties for me. I was surprised with beautiful showers that matched my wedding colors, an amazing cake from the best bakery, gifts galore, sweet and personal touches, a limo, dinner, drinks, and so much stinkin love.

All that to say, my baby sister turned 18 yesterday. And I wanted to love her in the extravagant way she and my friends and family loved me when I got married.

So my mom and I planned a surprise tea party. Erin was making such a big deal about "becoming a woman" and "not being a kid anymore".

So we had a "Welcome to Womanhood" Tea Party!

It was just what she wanted and so fun!

We chose Erin's favorite color - aqua, to accent with and used different shades of blue and pink to throw around.

We decorated with gorgeous, eclectic tea pots and a little girly ribbon down the center.

I made some super easy tissue paper flowers and we hung them around the room.

I made some flag garland out of different patterned card stock and ribbon.
We made tea sandwiches and some sweet friends made tons of AMAZING tea cookies.

She was shocked.

Everyone dressed up for the occasion.

We provided hot water and tea bags and everyone sipped some tea.

Erin got her own special chair and tea cup.

I asked a bunch of women in Erin's life to write her a little note of encouragement and piece of advice about "entering into womanhood".

And I made her a tea cup cake.

A lot of the decoration we used were pretty inexpensive and things you could find around your house. Some paper doilies from Wal-mart, a little ribbon, colorful tissue paper and card stock. Those were the main staples for the decor. Pretty easy. 

It such a beautiful evening. Not just because of the fun decor, the good food or the fancy attire - but because of the love in the room for Erin. Everything was pretty simple to do and I would do it again in a heart beat!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Living The Width of Our Summer

I got married May 13th, 2011 in case you didn't know. :]

So marriage is great. We have so much fun! Every day is a party. Going to the grocery is a blast. Everything is fantastic.

I have loved spending this summer with John.

We went on a beautiful honeymoon to Cancun, Mexico.

We spent a lot of time in our local parks.

As well as our apartment's pool

We got to do a little entertaining

And we were fortunate enough to take a couple trips. One to Holiday World with my family, one to visit John's family in Marion and one to visit a friend in Chicago.

We spent a lot of time at our favorite local Mexican restaurant and at Bub's Burgers in Carmel.
We were able to pour ourselves into our church and community.
We had rainy days and sunny days, lazy days together and days crammed full of fun.

This summer we celebrated love and life.

We thanked God for our bountiful blessing of family, community and stability.

We know there will be times where life is too fast paced and busy. Days will come where we can't go to Chicago or watch Cops all day on our couch. We wont always be able to wander around a park for hours without any cares. We know some day we will look back and long for this.

So we drink it in and remind each other "how freaking blessed we are".

I'm looking forward to another season of celebration. For Fall! To have bonfires and let the crisp wind hit our faces. To drink cider and stroll through a  pumpkin patch and apple orchard. To share meals with family and friends. To live and love and laugh til we cry! And to make the most of what we have been given.

So long, Summer 2011. Your days were well spent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creating Heirlooms

I'm probably breaking some blogging rule by promising a part two of my last post and not doing it. But I'm over that and moving on to something else. :]

I was feeling down the other day that I didn't have any really cool, meaningful decorations. I look at all these DIY and decorating blogs and they all use precious family heirlooms.

John and I saw this adorable headboard on House Tweaking. She tells a precious story of her husband's grandmother's old fence wood and how they took it from her farm that he used to play at. They ended up making a great headboard out of the wood and it has all this sentimental value.

John and I loved the headboard but we couldn't find any sentimental fence wood...go figure. So we settled for some new, cedar fence wood from Lowe's. It wasn't as rustic and it wasn't sentimental in any way when we bought it.

But we had a journey with that wood. We had to find the right boards, fit them into his little sports car, and take them to my parents. John had to sand them, cut them down to size, then mount them together. I free handed the word "love" with some left over paint and voila! A brand new non sentimental headboard. Hanging it was a whole other adventure in itself.

I don't have any old treasures to trove through and to make beautiful, new things out of. I have no heirlooms to hang in my halls. My children wont be dressed in a christening dress made from my great great grandmothers handkerchiefs. But I will make beautiful things with my husband. We will make heirlooms for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I made John a blanket out of his high school t-shirts. It was supposed to a Christmas present until the sewing needle went through my finger and I landed in the E.R. I had to tell him what I was doing.

I hope my kids and maybe my great grand kids can wrap up in it someday and tell the story.

John and I had this beautiful painting made with our vows incorporated into it. We signed the painting at our wedding and it hangs in our home.

I hope it passes down through generations and they see the love they come from.

And maybe someday our headboard will hang in my babies home. And then it will be a sentimental headboard.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Picking Wild Flowers

Like I have stated in my bio - I'm a flower lover. I have always loved having fresh flowers in the house. We had beautiful lilac and hydrangea bushes growing up. My mom kept tulips and lilly of the valley on one side of the house and roses on the other.

But now I'm married and live in an apartment with my sweet husband. Our budget does not allow us to go to the store and buy a fresh bouquet of flowers when we want them. And I'm guessing the apartment staff would not appreciate us picking their planted flowers in the landscaping. So we got creative.

John went for a run one evening and came back with the sweetest bouquet of mixed, wild flowers. They were precious and it was one of the sweetest gifts I have ever gotten. We arranged them in a few vases and they lasted a whole week! Now any time our flowers look droopy, we go pick a new bunch!

Our wild flower bouquet!

Some of them look like weeds from afar but when you get up close they are actually quite beautiful.

And my sweet mother let me take some of her Hydrangeas.

John and I can always look at our table and think about the nice walk we took together to find them. We love making different color combinations and trying to arrange them in new ways.

I think a bud vase filled with dandelions looks better than an empty vase.

This is hands down one of my favorite past times with John and way to decorate the house. And when winter comes - we will find some new nature to explore and decorate with! :]

What other flowers, branches, or nature items do you use to decorate with?

Happy Picking! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

the free life

I have been married for almost two months now and I have loved every minute of it.
This is my precious husband - John.

John works full time at Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, IN. We moved to Noblesville (20 minutes away from Anderson) and started our life together.

We are blessed beyond what we could ever dream. We live in a beautiful apartment and have money in the bank. But just like any other family, single person or couple we are on a budget. I was worried it would feel so tight. I won't lie, I love being spoiled.

My love language is gifts, so all the little surprises and treats meant so much to me when we were dating. I was worried I would have a hard time with this *budget*(insert disgust here). But to my delight it has been fun! I have loved surprising John with great dinners for under 5 dollars, picking my own flowers to decorate with, going on "one dollar shopping sprees".

These last two months have taught me that some of the best and most beautiful things in the world are free and ready to be taken. So while this blog is not all about free things - it is about living freely and enjoying your life with the resources you have.