Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Goals Revisited.. How'd I Do?

26 Goals for 2013:
1) See an ocean. {no the gulf didn't count}
2) Attempt to make my own Macarons.  Surprisingly successful & easy!
3) Learn to use my sewing machine & make something cool with it.
4) Visit 5 new places.
5) Open my Etsy store.
6) Read at least 25 books, 5 of which must be classics. (15 & 2)
7) Upgrade my blog.-{photo label, new topics, better design & layout, ads for other bloggers etc.}
8) Visit a BIG flea market, the kind where you need a wagon!
9) Start buying all organic butter, organic cage free eggs, organic half and half and creams.
10) Actually make green cleaners and clean with them.
11) Start more "upcycling" crafts.
12) Try 25 family recipes and learn a story about them.
13) Buy and care for 2 house plants. 
14) Set up an emergency savings account. 
15) Clean out everything that is underneath the bed, and then use that space in a more useful storage way.
16) Start using eco-friendly laundry products to take when we do our laundry.-{no, we don't currently have a washer/dryer} :(
17) Learn to arrange flowers.
18) Floss & Use Fluoride Rinse 3 X's per week.-{did you know? Flossing regularly is said to help your immune system enough to add years to your life?!?}
19) Make a cleaning schedule.
20) Move More.-walk 3 x's per week after dinner, do yoga 2x's per week, do other workouts {belly dance, Kristi yamaguchi, just dance on the wii} 1x per week
21) Learn to do my hair-{use my diffuser, try blowing out my hair, other styles besides my typical ponytail}
22) Start sending more mail and giving more gifts just because.
23)Host 12 get-togethers.
24) Drink no more than 3 sodas per week. {Seriously, I drink WAY too much soda}
25) Make a menu-making and grocery shopping schedule to ensure less eating out and better budget meeting.
26) Reach 75,000 blog views.

Even though I didn't check off as many goals as I would like, it was an incredible year! I feel like I got to do so many great things!

Other Accomplishments:

Finished the Divergent book series

Finished the Hunger Games book series
Checked several things off of my 2022 list (Still coming soon!)
Moved to a bigger, nicer apartment
Got a furry friend
Beat my blog view goal by A LOT! (almost 95,000!)
Sat front row at a Celtic Woman concert!
Traveled A Lot (both near and far)!
Saw more concerts than any other year!
Did some seriously successful thrifting on many occasions!
Celebrated second great year of marriage!
Started working on my wardrobe development more.

My goals for 2014!

How did you do on your 2013 goals?

What are you planning for 2014?

Thank you for reading!! 


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where to begin.... ? // Goal Setting for 2014

I'm a goal setter. Always have been. Always will be. But it can be tough! How to decide what you want to accomplish in a year? How to set yourself up for success? How to evaluate your past goal success/ failure? 

Every year I think I know what I want and what works best, and right at the end I realize that every year is different for a reason. And all of them are wonderful! Even when you don't complete even 50% of your goals.. you probably still accomplished more than you realized.

I'm in the process of working on my goals for 2014... so in the meantime here is a great pin I found that is inspiring my outlook on my goals for 2014 & some links to previous posts featuring goal setting tips and some of my past goals.

I could not find the original source for this image, but I think it is great. It really helps to make your goals diverse and all-encompassing! I usually like to pick more than one book for example, but it's a good place to start thinking!

2012 Goal Review

7 Tips for Goal Setting Success

26 Goals for 2013

Daily Feats: Helping People Do Good

What are some of your goals for 2014?

All for now,


Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Belated Christmas! // December 2013

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

 Hot 'schnappslate'...mmmmmm

 Vintage Santa thrifted from Goodwill for just $.99! :) 

 Christmas bar for our 'friendsmas' party!

Baby sis & Baby dog... :)

We spent a lot of time with family and pets this year. It was so nice to eat, drink and play games with our busy families! We also had a 'Friendsmas' party that came with a huge snow storm.. but it was still a fun tradition to start. :) I got to go on my annual 'ladies of the family shopping trip' minus a few of the ladies ( :( ) but still had a great time! 

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday too!

Excited to celebrate KC and I's second wedding anniversary and ring in the new year! :) 

& to start thinking about goals for 2014!

How was your holiday season?! 

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2014?!

Thank you for reading!,


Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Favorite Christmas Albums

I love Christmas music. I didn't always, but I have really started to in the past few years. Summer trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army ended in many unexpected $2 additions to my collection!

In the meantime, here is a post dedicated to my favorite Christmas albums. Listed in no particular order. Most of these are older albums, and sadly many bands that I like don't do Christmas music.. which isn't surprising. But hopefully someday I can get genre playlists up here for the holidays, because 'cool' Christmas music does exist. :)

Keep in mind, this particular post is dedicated to favorite albums, not albums with favorite songs.. so there are of course some essentials being left out here! :) And a lot of the more unique stuff... 

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker

Genre: Classical

A classic in my book. As a child I loved the nutcracker story and the first year I saw the ballet I was mesmerized. Two years ago Kyle took me to see it again and it was just as wonderful. The music is beautiful. I love it in the car or in the background for decorating the tree. 

Favorite Tracks: Waltz of the Snowflakes, Pas De Deux, & Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.

A Christmas Celebration - Celtic Woman
Genre: World / Classical / New Age

This is Celtic Woman's first Christmas album. Of course I love Celtic Woman, but this album is so fantastic that it would be a great addition to anyone's Christmas music collection. This album is fairly soothing and calm, it is all amazingly beautiful. 

Favorite Tracks: Ding Dong Merrily on High!, Christmas Pipes, Carol of the Bells, Don Oiche Ud I Mbeithil (That Night In Bethlehem){amazingly beautiful!}, The Wexford Carol{amazingly beautiful!}.

Home for Christmas - Celtic Woman

Genre: World / Classical / New Age

This album was just released last year but it is already a favorite of mine. This album is much more lively than the other one and recorded with a symphony. I will admit that I like the first album more so far, but this album has so many great songs on it that it can't be left out of my list. 

Favorite Tracks: I'll be home for Christmas {amazingly beautiful!}, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Mary's Boy Child, Auld Lang Syne {amazingly beautiful!}.

Acoustic Hearts of Winter - Aly & AJ
 Genre: Pop / Early 2000's Pop

This album is fairly short, but possibly my all time favorite Christmas album. I grew up with this one! It's very simple and acoustic but for some reason it's just really special. Their voices are beautiful and the music is simple and fun. The classic hymns are gorgeous and the more modern Christmas songs are fun and upbeat. There are also a few original songs one is very upbeat and pop-y very early 2000's and the other is about a year when their grandmother died during the holidays and they didn't want to celebrate. Overall it's really simple and a sentimental favorite of mine, I'm a sucker for early 2000's pop! 

Favorite Tracks: Joy to the World, We Three Kings, I'll Be Home for Christmas, Let it Snow, Deck the Halls, Little Drummer Boy.

December - Chris Botti 
 Genre: Jazz

This album is largely instrumental but contains one original song where Botti sings. He is a fantastic jazz trumpeter. Many of the songs are very lively, others as expected are more simple and slow. I really love it as background music. It would be great for a cocktail party or dinner party during the holidays!

Favorite Tracks: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, Perfect Day, Winter Wonderland, Little Drummer Boy.

Santa Claus Lane - Hilary Duff
 Genre: Pop / Early 2000's Pop

This one is definitely a classic for me. You are probably reading this thinking.. "seriously? Hilary Duff makes your list?" And yes, she does! I admit it! This album was my very first Christmas CD of my own. I was a tween and it was perfect at the time. So anytime I listen to it I get really excited and nostalgic. It's very fun and upbeat. Not really quality music, but it's cute and fun. Definitely what gets me pumped up for Christmas. 

Favorite Tracks: Jingle Bell Rock, Sleigh Ride, Wonderful Christmastime, I Heard Santa on the Radio, Same Old Christmas, Tell Me a Story.

A Few of the Newer Additions to My Collection:

Winter Magic - Hayley Westenra

Genre: Classical / Pop

Hayley Westenra is not super well known in the US, but she should be! She is a New Zealand native and was briefly a member of Celtic Woman. She has a fantastic voice so I decided to download her Christmas album this year. So far I really like it. It's not your typical classical type album like you would think. Parts of it are very fun and modernized, but not silly pop like some of the albums mentioned above. Many of these songs will probably make it onto my classics list in the future! 

Favorite Tracks: Veni Veni Emmanuel, River, Corpus Christi Carol, Peace Shall Come.

White Christmas - Brooke White

Genre: Indie / Folk/ Pop

I love Brooke White. If you don't know who she is, you should. She was a former idol contestant the one year I watched. Now she is not only a singer but a mom, a blogger, a part of a group called Jack and White, and one half of the girls with glasses. I really really like Brooke White. So of course her Christmas album is a favorite too. It's a little pop-y, a little folk-sy and a little indie. My favorite song is probably Christmas Card, an original.

Favorite Tracks: Christmas Card, I Love Christmas, pretty much all of them.. :)

Holiday Spirits - Straight No Chaser

Genre: A Capella

If you haven't heard of Straight No Chaser, again go look them up. They are so talented and funny to listen to. Much of this album is funny and really really well performed. 12 Days, will have you laughing out loud! This is a great one for the car and for sing alongs.

Favorite Songs: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Jingle Bell Rock, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Angels We Have Heard On High, Little Saint Nick, The 12 Days of Christmas, Carol of the Bells, Africa {bonus track on itunes}.

So there you have it, a few of my favorite Christmas albums. Some are modern, some are classic. Some are well known others are guilty pleasures. I love them all!

I hope this post puts you in the holiday spirit whatever your musical tastes!

What are your favorite Christmas albums?

All for now,


Monday, December 16, 2013

My Wishlist & Holiday Gift Guide 2013

I LOVE giving gifts, so Christmas is heaven for me! Here are some fun things I've found online, all on my own wishlist that would make lovely little gifts for the ladies on your list this year!

It's not too late to order online for Christmas yet, and some of these items are available in stores!
1) Bee Bobby Pins, $18 via Etsy. Buy here.
2) Love Letters of Great Men & Women, Various Prices via Amazon. Buy here.
3) French Lilac Art Print, $26 via Etsy. Buy here.
4) Soy & Natural Fragranced Candles, $18 via The Honest Company. Buy here.
5) Red Blazer, $69 via Piperlime. Buy here.
6) Necklace, SOLD OUT! :( via 31 Bits. Buy & Browse Others here.
7) Hello T-shirt, SOLD OUT :(  via Piperlime. 
8) Downton Abbey Nail Varnish, $15.50 via Marks & Spencer. Buy here.
9) Braids, Buns and Twists, $12.44 via Amazon. Buy here.
10) Bra Travel Case, $37.50 via Beleza Boutique. Buy here.
11) The English Major Print, $26 via Etsy. Buy here.
12) Golden Wine Rack, $30 via World Market. Buy here.

See the rest of my wishlist and get more ideas here.

What are you excited to give this year? 

What is on your wishlist?

9 Days Left!



Friday, December 13, 2013

Snapshots of Bastille // December 2013

Why I LOVE Twitter

As soon as I downloaded 'Bad Blood' I was in love with Bastille. Every song on the album is incredible, I have trouble choosing favorites! I quickly searched for upcoming shows, only finding sold out and far away ones. I was bummed because I prefer to catch a band I love on an album that I know so well, rather than waiting for the next round of touring... when I may not like the music quite as much.

Just a couple weeks later I saw a tweet saying that Bastille was playing in Omaha this December, a mere 3 hours away! I immediately texted Kyle to check if it would be ok with him, and soon after spent the $45 on tickets (including fees!). I am soooooo glad that we went, I think it was the best concert I've been to so far this year! With only one show coming up the rest of the month. Thank you to Twitter again for leading me to a THIRD amazing and incredibly cheap event!!! :) 

Omaha & Dinner

We left right after school and drove straight to the hotel. We checked in, changed into concert attire and drove to the venue. After we sized up the parking situation we tried to eat at an urbanspoon find, but it was closed. So we went to the King Kong restaurant near the zoo. It was fast and decent. Then we drove back down, parked on the street and shivered as we walked through all of the snow! It was so cold!

The Venue

We got to the Sokol Auditorium which looks a lot like an old school or community center and checked in. We grabbed our tickets and went inside. The place was already pretty packed! We found a spot on the balcony level near the railing where we could see pretty well. Before Bastille came on a very nice man offered to switch us spots because he was very tall. It was so amazing. I more or less had my favorite view (minus the guy near us's elbow....). It was perfect! For KC people, the venue reminds me of a grittier, smaller, more retro version of Uptown. It was very fitting for this show. Small, a little grungy and unique.

Wild Cub

The opening band was called Wild Cub, from Nashville, TN. We didn't hear their entire set, but they were pretty decent from what we did hear. The lead singer did some sort of drum solos... that were kind of improvisational. It was very interesting. I think I would need to hear recorded versions to get a better idea of how much I like them... But either way, I liked them more than I usually like opening bands that I hadn't already wanted to see. Which may not sound like high praise, but it is! Looking forward to exploring more of their music. :) -Update: I love Thunderclatter, but so far can't quite get into the rest of their album. -I'll keep trying.


To sum this up, I just kept turning to Kyle and saying, 'Holy Cow!' It never occurred to me that they could be bad. But I don't think I was prepared for how AMAZING they ended up being! 

Every song was fantastic. The stuff from the album I love, the covers, the new songs... The atmosphere was great and so many people there were just as excited as we were. (rare!) I really love their style of music, but also that they can pull off gritty 90's rap songs like City High's 'What Would You Do?' in their own style. So versatile. 

I spent the whole show in a state of giddyness. Singing, dancing, clapping, laughing.... just really absorbed in the show. I think it is definitely the best concert I've been to all year, and absolutely at the top of my list altogether. 

The frontman, Dan Smith was very cool, very interactive with the crowd. At one point he jumped off of the stage and wove himself through the standing audience with his corded mic. About 100 ladies down there shrieked! At first everyone was just pulling on him, but eventually he was able to walk more and dance and sing with the audience. It was all being filmed, so it will be cool to see what that ends up becoming. At another point he walked backwards into his mic stand and it fell over. He didn't trip too much, but kind of laughed at himself, picked it up and held it in the air triumphantly and then threw it back across the stage (all while continuing the song). When it had ended, he said something like 'well that was cool...' which got everyone laughing. But honestly, I don't think anyone in the entire place thought otherwise. 

They are playing in KC on Saturday at a sold out show alongside some other amazing bands for The Night the Buzz Stole Christmas. So if you are going, be VERY excited, and make sure that you get to be there when Bastille plays! I am a little bummed that we don't have tickets, because it would be amazing to see them again, and to see the rest of the bands, but I loved that we got to see them headline. I think this is the best type of show to see a band. Hoping to attend many similar shows in the future!

Have you seen Bastille live?

What is your favorite song?

What shows would you recommend to add to my list?

All for now, 


Monday, December 9, 2013

Love is an icy tumbler...

I woke up to the sound of Duchess rustling through the bedroom next to my bed very early this morning. It was hard to go back to sleep, and once I did I woke up to the very bright bathroom light. 

I am not a morning person. I want to be. I try to be. But I'm just not right now. 

So I woke up grumpy. 

I was thirsty from all of the sinus infection medication and I was feeling rushed.

Just seriously, seriously grumpy.

Kyle filled my tumbler and went out to warm up the car. I saw my tumbler up on the cabinet by the door, got my breakfast ready and then went into the bathroom. 

That's when I heard the crashing sound. My poor, poor tumbler, that had already been broken once by the cat, had hit the floor hard. I knew it as soon as I heard it. It was completely cracked and the lid was broken. Water all over the floor. 

It may seem really stupid to cry over spilled water. But I was SO thirsty, and that tumbler helps me make it through my day at school like nothing else. 

Not to mention, I was trying SO hard to be on time, very organized and to get myself well (once and for all!) that I just lost it. 

I called Kyle in the car and said/cried "myy tummbler!!" "I knew I should have moooved it!" "water everywhereeee!" and so on. Then I cleaned it up and finally made it out the door. 

I got into the car and calmed myself down. We were running a little behind but not too bad. I was just so mad. and SO thirsty. 

He wanted to go get me a water bottle, but there really wasn't time.

About an hour and a half into my morning he calls me and tells me to come outside. He's standing there with a new Starbucks tumbler FULL of icy water. :)

He just smiled and gave me a big hug. 

He makes my Mondays (and all days) so much better. 

(even, and especially when, I'm a mess)

Thank you my love for being so good to me even when I feel like I don't deserve it. 

You are the best. :)

Sometimes love is a smile. Sometimes it's a hug.

and sometimes it's an icy tumbler of water.

All for now,


Thursday, December 5, 2013

I LOVE 100 Percent Pure!!!

When it comes to makeup I have 2 requirements:

1) It's good for me and the earth. Free of nasty chemicals, non-natural fragrances and harsh ingredients.

2) It does it's job without a ton of work on my part.

And it doesn't hurt if it has pretty packaging :)

Upon a lot of research and investigation I found a company called 100 Percent Pure, and fell in love.

100 Percent Pure is a business dedicated to protecting the earth and our health by using chemical free, natural and gentle makeup, skin care and hair care products. They pigment and scent their makeup with things like fruits and chocolate which leaves you with really gorgeous hues and extremely yummy scents.

I have tried many of their products, and am ordering more all of the time. I thought that since this blog encompasses so many lifestyle topics, beauty might as well be another one! :)

I am looking forward to reviewing specific items in detail. But right now I'll just leave you with a taste of my top 3!

*all images (below) via 100 Percent Pure*

1) Luminous Primer Vitamins + Antioxidants With Resveratrol -$26

This stuff is AH-MAY-ZING. Changed my life. And since I favor tinted moisturizer to foundations, it helps it last all day! :) I cannot completely describe my love for this item. I was over-the-moon about the cyber Monday surprise that made this primer just $10(!!!) with free shipping! HOORAY! Buy it here.

2) Fruit Pigmented Raspberry Lip Butter -$1

This little pot of tinted gloss is so convenient and pretty. I am not a gloss girl by nature, but this is something that I actually use quite a lot! My favorite way to wear it is to layer it over a sheer bright pink lipstick! Plus, I can just throw it in my bag and not worry about it losing it's lid or breaking.. it's very easy. (makeup requirement #2... ) Buy it here.

3) Fruit Pigmented Cocoa Plum Eye Shadow -$15

This is my go-to eye shadow. I wear it quite a bit more than I had expected! I find myself wanting to wearing it to work several (if not every!) day of the week! This color is so gorgeous, a smokey bronzey plum that's not too dark and not too purple... but also not too brown! It's the best of all worlds and I will probably be wearing it for the rest of my life! Buy it here.

So there you have it! My top 3 from 100 Percent Pure. Check out their site they have so many amazing products all of which I feel safe and comfortable using! 

I am excited to start a little bit of beauty blogging here for you guys!

What is your favorite natural beauty product? 

Let me know in the comments!

All for now,


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

For All of the Brave Brides

Planning a wedding is hard.

Even if you love planning it, being involved, and can't wait to marry your groom.... it's hard.

You have to make a lot of decisions. It's not just deciding what you like; it's also deciding what you truly value and how you want to express that in your wedding. Often times having to convince others that these things truly matter along the way. It's hard.

Sometimes you have to barter, fight, give speeches, or upset others in the process of carrying out those decisions. It can often leave you feeling overwhelmed, misunderstood, and rather bridezilla-like. It's hard.

Take heart, knowing and sticking up for what you value is not being selfish, it is being intentional, careful, and often times extremely conscientious to those you love and the world around you. Be brave.

Do your best to communicate with those around you why you value what you do...be brave.

Tell them that you want to get married in a small town with no hotel accommodations because your grandparents did, and that's important to you. Or that you don't want to get married in a church because you have a diverse group of people attending your wedding and you want everyone to feel accommodated, which is why you want that untraditional outdoor venue.

Explain that the stone in your engagement ring is an emerald because it's your birthstone, or the color of your fiance's eyes, or less detrimental to the environment when it's being mined.

When asked why on earth you planned your wedding for a certain season, explain the significance. We got married in the winter because it's my favorite season, it's when Kyle and I met, and it allowed relatives to stay in town for Christmas and come to our wedding, which they might have missed otherwise.

Whatever your choices, they are important to you and your fiance for a reason, and that's nothing to apologize for. Just make your intentions known and communicate as best you can. Because in the end, you are the ones that your wedding should reflect.

via (broken) // via // via // via // via // via // via // via // via

So this one is for all of you:

To the snow brides, the ones making their own cakes, the purple-gown-wearing, the eco favor deliverer, the destination I-do-er and the sentimental ones.

To the barefoot brides, the lady with the amethyst on her finger, the food allergy accommodate-r and the one in her great-grandmother's wedding gown.

To the younger than average bride, the older than average bride, the Canadian diamond covet-er, the cupcake lover and the one wishing for rain.

For the ones with the visible tattoos, the perfectionists, the crown wearers, the I-don't-have-something-blue-and-I-don't-care-ers, the ones training their dogs to be ring bearers, and the civil ceremony celebrators.

To the nervous ones, the ladies who's man of their dreams didn't line up with everyone's expectations, the flip-flop wearers, the environmentalist, the bad dancers and the kids at heart....

You are brave. You are worth it. What you value is important. Be kind and make it known. Your day should reflect who you are, and you are the only one who knows the whole story. Beginning, middle, and end.

Take heart and be brave.

I guess I have been thinking a lot about weddings recently.

Kyle and I have almost been married for two years now (!) and I often find myself looking back at bits and pieces of our wedding and planning process both good and bad. I find myself reflecting on the decisions we made (or wanted to make) and why we did (or wanted to). What I always come back to is that we wanted our marriage to be more beautiful than our wedding... and it definitely is! :)

My sister just got engaged and is embarking on this exciting, strange, and sometimes overwhelming journey herself. So Jess, this one is for you too.

I would love to hear about your wedding and planning stories! 
Especially times when you had to be brave.
Leave a comment below or contact me via email to share it.

Thank you for Reading,


Monday, December 2, 2013

Snapshots of Our Belated Thanksgiving :) // 2013

Despite being at home for 5 straight days on some heavy cough medicine, our Thanksgiving break ended up being pretty nice. :) 

We spent lots of time cuddling and watching Christmas movies, we put up our tree and started wrapping presents. 

My family brought us Thanksgiving lunch on Thanksgiving and then Kyle's family brought us Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving. We even gave Duchess some turkey! She ate a few bites and proceeded to fall asleep for 6 or so hours.. and then didn't go back to it.

We did make ourselves a pumpkin pie... which we ended up finishing... let's be honest. I LOVE how easy pumpkin pies are to make! :)

We received our stocking names from his family's yearly drawing. And we are nearly DONE with all of our shopping! :)

On Sunday both of our families had a joint Thanksgiving so we could all be together and all have a 'real' Thanksgiving, which was so so so nice! It was great to get out of the house and see everyone. And it had been such a long time since both of our families were together!

Kyle and I made pumpkin pies and homemade cranberry sauce! The cranberry sauce was SO delicious! And Kyle should take most of the credit for the actual cooking of it... :) We used this recipe, via Pinterest....and I tucked it away!

My sister showed up all ENGAGED!?!?! :) So... we had a lot to talk about! 

I thought it was really fun that my mother-in-law put this turkey topper that we used to wrap her birthday present earlier in the month on top of one of her little Christmas trees for our Thanksgiving celebration! :) hehe

I went back to work today, and also found out that all of my lab results from my Dr. were negative! So I just had a nasty nasty virus, that is now mostly (I hope) gone! Luckily I did get a refill on my cough syrup since that isn't quite gone.

I also spent some time doing some Cyber Monday-ing. If you love 100 Percent Pure, hurry and check out their deals before midnight!! 

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thank you for reading!