Feb 24, 2014

Happy Thoughts on a Monday

      

Today I was thinking about what topic to post on. Sometimes I just need to stop and take a minute to remember some of the things I'm happy about ïevery day. The things that make me happy may not always be the same every day so it's worth the time to write them down. That way I can see how they change after awhile. So here are 25 things that I have to be happy about right now! It's not a link up but if you want to post on the same topic, I'd love to read about what's making you happy too!

1. My best friend being home again.
2. Gage snuggles every day.
3. Visiting home to see our family.
4. Friends who make an active effort to be in my life.
5. Full time job to keep me occupied and help pay bills.
6. Yoga pants- it's so hard to get on the floor and play with kids if you're in anything else.
7. Fresh banana bread.
8. Learning new "adult" lessons every day.
9. Clean water to drink.
10. Living in a time where I have the ability to make my own choices.
11. Getting bills paid long before they're due.
12. Having my iPad and not regretting the purchase.
13. Teriyaki chicken for lunch.
14. The "photography eye" I've started to develop. I catch myself thinking an ordinary scene would make a really pretty picture.
15. Overtime pay. Not very excited about all the overtime I'll be working the next two weeks but I don't hate the pay.
16. Taking the leap of faith to stop forcing myself to follow the norm (college) and start following my dream.
17. Making lists. I'm not always Type A but something about checking things off a list makes me happy.
18. Boyce Avenue Pandora station.
19. Dreaming big even though it's scary.
20. Developing vacation plans.
21. Disney Pandora station.
22. Blog friends who are more present in my life than real life friends. They are a huge blessing!
23. Pinterest recipes. Though I have to simplify some of them, it gives us variety in our meals.
24. An Iowa sunrise and sunset.
25. Passing my CPR certification this weekend.

What is making you happy today?

Love,
Mandy

Feb 21, 2014

Home!

He's home! He's home! I finally brought that husband of mine back home!


It's amazing how I feel at home in my own apartment again. That one person makes all the difference! I feel safe for the first time in months! I can breathe at night when I hear a strange sound because I'm not alone anymore. I have someone to talk to every day! My best friend is back!

It was a quick trip to Missouri this time and I think the exhaustion is really taking its full effect today. It's so worth it though! After work Tuesday, I ran out to pick up an outfit for graduation. I ended up with two dresses and a new pair of heels so I had options! I packed up the car quickly and hit the road! I stayed in a hotel about halfway there and it was so nice to not drive all 7+ hours in one stretch! It gave me time to relax and spend the next morning getting ready calmly.

I headed out for the rest of the drive and made it to Fort Leonard Wood about 2 hours before graduation. With my history of getting lost, I figured I should be there early. After standing around for a few hours in the museum where it was being held, they finally let us in. The ceremony was short and I'm thankful for that! It was so cool seeing M graduate at the top of his class with honors! He got to lead a few things during the ceremony which I enjoyed watching. Finally they were ours again!

I met all of his buddies and snapped some pictures of them together. I felt like I already knew them because I've heard so much about them over the last few months and sent them food in M's care packages. After the pictures, they headed outside to march back to the barracks one last time. I don't know about anyone else but I love listening to them as they march back! Then everyone stood around while they packed up and said their final see ya laters!



We did a little shopping before left post, then we changed and had a nice, "quiet" supper together! We hit the road and drove straight through, only stopping once! It rained really hard a few times but thankfully that was the worst it got on the drive home! We got back around 1:30am and I had to be to work around 7 that morning.

We ended up with a thunderstorm followed by thundersnow that turned into a blizzard yesterday. It was beautiful to watch from the warm house but I'm ready for this winter to be over with! I was giddy to get off work and head home to my husband for the first time in forever!

It's really hard to grasp the concept that we made it to the other side. It's done! I just think it will take a little while to fully realize that he's not leaving in two weeks like he did after the holidays. I've been thinking about this time since he was sworn in last June! We talked about it on the drive home, how it feels to be done with training. Some days we both struggled, some days really sucked. We made it through stronger than ever though! I'm so appreciative for all the friends the military has brought into my life!

The time apart has made me treasure our time together a lot more! We can put down our phones and really be together now. I, for one, am really looking forward to being less attached to my phone and more in tune with what is going on in my life! Now we get to settle into our new life for the first time and see what it's like to live as a military family.


Thank you so much for all the love and support you have given me through this journey! Some days when I was really struggling, y'all helped me make it through more than some of my IRL friends did. I appreciate it so much!

Love,
Mandy

Feb 19, 2014

Short Girl Problems

Today's post will be short and sweet! Sorry, there probably won't be any pictures because I have none worth using on my iPad. Hope you'll stick around anyway!

I've probably talked about this before but life as a short girl has it's challenges. Last night I rushed to the mall after work to find a dress for M's graduation. I hate last minute shopping, especially when I'm by myself! I walked into the first store and they had dresses right up front. Perfect! I spotted two right away that I thought I might be able to wear and I kept browsing. Two girls walked up next to me and we're looking at one of the dresses I had grabbed. Very loudly the girl says "that's not even a dress, it's a shirt. There's no way anyone could wear that as a dress, it's too short." Now these girls were barely taller than me and here I was holding the dress-turned-shirt. I headed off to the dressing room and would you imagine that the dress went almost to my knees? #shortgirlprobs

Then I went to look for a jacket or sweater to put over the dress because hello, the Midwest is still stuck in Winter at this point. Maurice's was having a pretty good sale so I headed there. Too bad all the jackets in my size were on the top rack. I couldn't get anything down because I couldn't reach that high. Pretty sure I heard a girl snickering at me, I was struggling pretty hard. #shortgirlprobs

When I sit in my car, I have to have the seat dangerously close (I've been yelled at a few times by my momma for sitting so close) to the steering wheel. I literally cannot reach the pedals if I don't sit that close. No one else can get in the driver's seat unless I put it all the way back. Don't even get me started on riding the bus. My legs dangle off the seat every single time. #shortgirlprobs

I got to my hotel room last night and thought I heard someone knocking on the door. I went to go look through the peep hole to see who it was. Even my tippy toes, I could barely see out! This has happened on multiple occasions! When I stayed on post for M's BCT graduation, I had to stand on a chair just to see out of the hole. I felt ridiculous! Do they think only giants stay in their hotel rooms? #shortgirlprobs

It's not all bad though! I've always been the "tiny" friend. This gives me an excuse to wear heels any time I feel like it and no one complains about me being too tall. I've never had to size up in clothes because something was too short. The opposite usually happens! I have several items of clothing that I've been wearing since middle school. My favorite pair of leggings are from the children's department! People offer to let me stand in front of them when I can't see something or even put me on their shoulders (thanks hubby!) just to help out.

Some days being short is rough but I honestly wouldn't want to be any taller! Embrace what God gave ya and learn how to live life that way :)

Love,
Mandy

Feb 14, 2014

Valentine's Past

Happy Valentine's day friends!

Today I'm going to sit back and laugh at the people who hate this day. You see, just because you're single, does not mean you'll spend the big love day alone. Contrary to popular belief, just because you're in a relationship does not mean you'll spend heart day with your valentine. I look at today as a day to tell  everyone I love just how much I love them! The Army has my husband still so even though he's my valentine, I'll be spending it at work and then the night with some old friends. Some of who are single. See! I told you that single people don't always spend today alone. And if no one else is your valeninte, be your own! Love yourself! If I was single, I'd buy myself chocolate and flowers and Starbucks with a smile on my face!

Since I've talked about my plans for this year, shall we take a look at Valentine's past? (I had to stalk myself on Facebook to find these pictures, you're welcome)

2010 -- The 1st Valentine's day with my love bug :) We went out for Mexican food, he opened all the doors for me, I stared at him with puppy love eyes all night. Real cheesy stuff, folks!

2011 -- Our 2nd Valentine's day, M's first year away at college. It was a year full of big changes and we'd made it to the day of love! We went out for Mexican food (again) and frolicked in the snow! Of course there had to be a ton of snow that night. I vaguely remember something about our waiter talking about me in Spanish and me nearly falling in the ice! A graceful one I am!



2012 -- Our 3rd Valentine's day, engaged and living in the same town for the first time in our lives! Too bad we were too broke to do anything haha. We got all dressed up, he walked me to class, and then we ate a spaghetti supper together in the dining hall. It was fabulousy romantic and I won't let anyone else tell me otherwise!


2013 -- Our 4th Valentine's day, first as a married couple! Too bad M had to work until late. I think we may have cuddled for a bit before hitting the hay! We went out that weekend to an Italian restaurant. The food was okay, the service sucked, but we had a lot of good conversation! Then we went to a movie (the vow?) and came home really late! It was also the first time I tried to wear red lipstick and clearly that needed to be documented!



It's not all about being showered with chocolates, flowers, and gifts. It's about letting someone you love know that you love them! Then they can give you all those things after. ;) I hope y'all have a lovely Valentine's day this year, no matter who your valentine may be! And I love all of you for stopping by my little space today! I'm also hanging out over at Wifessionals today!

Love,
Mandy

P.S. Happy Valentine's day baby, I love you! In just a few days I get to steal you back from the Army and I'm so excited! I'll see that bright smile soon :)

Feb 11, 2014

Bragging and A New Logo

Just popping in quick to brag on a designer friend of mine. Have y'all met Erin?

Love, fun and football

Not only is she one of the sweetest bloggers I've ever "met" but she has killer design skills! She put my blog design together and most recently, made my new photography business logo. She gave me a ton of options that I can use in any of my work without having to mess around with it first! Honestly, picking out the design was a lot harder than I thought it would be! I was pretty vague about what I wanted in the beginning and then I gave too many options later on. Hopefully I wasn't too much of a nightmare, Erin! 

Her prices are so affordable and I couldn't be happier after working with her! If you've been looking for someone on a design project, go check her out!

Here's my new logo in action on a recent engagement session!



Feb 10, 2014

When food falls off your pantry shelves..

..you realize you need to make a change. Over the past month, I've been working on organizing our whole apartment. I didn't care much about it last year because I wasn't sure where we'd be living this year. Now that I know we'll be living here until at least the end of Summer next year. Knowing we won't be packing up for quite awhile, I want to put some effort into how things look. It was going really well until I got that new job. Then every day when I got off work, I just wanted to sit and snuggle my Gage. When I ended up with a four day weekend, I knew it was time to get stuff done. I'd gotten all the closets but the pantry and our basement closet cleaned out before I started my job. I'm really embarrassed to show you how messy I've let our pantry get. We bought this shelving not realizing that the slotted shelves would make it a hassle to stack things. Eventually they just started getting piled on top of each other.




I was tired of things falling off the shelf constantly or not being able to find something I knew I had. Worse yet, I ended up with doubles of certain things because I thought I'd run out when really it was just buried. Originally I wanted skinny, woven baskets to organize the shelves. I checked a few places online but Target was the only one that had something similar to what I was looking for. I was not willing to pay the price for each basket separately so I looked for a different option.

I needed some larger storage tubs for our basement so I checked Walmart for those. They had a sale after Christmas so I was hoping to grab some of those. I discovered some Sterilite containers that I really liked. I found some with lids for smaller items and larger ones that were more like baskets. I ended up getting four or five different sizes to cover all of my needs. They are clear with a lime green handles. I wasn't a fan of the green but I can always spray paint those if I get sick of them!

I headed to Hobby Lobby after to pick up some labels. I spotted these chalkboard labels and with my love for chalkboards, I knew it was meant to be! I grabbed three different styles to use in different parts of the apartment. I already had some chalk on hand from other chalkboard endeavors. I just slapped the repositionable stickers on the side and wrote what was in each box. So far I haven't really smudged the labels but I think I'm going to look for some wet-erase chalk pens so I don't have to worry about it.



I was amazed at how much crap accumulated in there since we moved in August. There was some pretty outdated stuff that went straight into the trash. I was a little ashamed when I realized how much junk/processed food we had in there as well. Once all that stuff is gone, I'm going to be filling the tubs back up with healthier foods. 




My personal favorite tubs.. Chocolate gets it's own tub because I've got way too much of it. I need to pick up another container for the rest of our candy. Oops!

I'm really happy with how it all turned out! It's been so much easier to cook because I know where to look for something now. I think it will make meal planning easier as well because I will be able to better keep track of what we have and what we need. Now to organize the basement..

How do you organize your closets? Do you know of any wet-erase chalk pens that work well?

Love,
Mandy

Feb 6, 2014

Give respect, get respect.

Hey y'all, this is about to be a rant-y post just so you're forewarned!

I got home from work yesterday and the roads were still pretty crappy. It finally stopped snowing but the wind was causing big drifts everywhere. I walk up to my building to see that no one had shoveled off the entrance to our building. There are six other people who live in our building and out of all the times it snowed, I've only gotten out of shoveling it once. I usually wait a few hours before getting mad but the constant stomping of boots coming into the building gets old so I shovel it.


I realize other people have lives too but it really drives me insane that I'm always the one who has to shovel it. There are three other guys in our building (who are all in school so they come in and out of the building frequently) and I have not once seen them shovel. One is in the Army and has walked past me shoveling without saying a word. Sorry but from what M has said, they're taught to be gentlemen in the Army. It took me 20 minutes to shovel out the tiny space because people walked on it all day and packed the snow in. The wind hardened the top, too. It's a struggle for me to shovel it but eventually it gets done. 

What makes me so mad is that it seems like being a gentleman is unheard of these days. Guys rarely open the door for girls or hold it an extra few seconds for someone behind them. On the bus, I've frequently had to stand (I can barely reach the over head handle) while guys line the seats. I've even seen them pull that crap on old ladies and people with crutches who clearly need to sit.

Where are all the gentlemen? This is supposed to be the "manly" thing to do but I'm doing all of these things. I give up my seat when someone looks like they need it more than me. I always look behind me to make sure there's not someone coming before I close it. I open the door for elderly or people with their hands full. I smile at strangers. I wave at cars passing by! It's not hard to do, I don't understand why people act like it's such an inconvenience!

Think about that next time you see someone who could use some help. Maybe even help just because, even if they don't "need" it! My parents raised me right and I'll be damned if my kids don't grow up the same way. The only way to get respect is to give it people!

Rant blog over.

Mandy

Feb 5, 2014

No-spend January: Pass or Fail?

was really proud of myself this month. I'd been wanting to try a no-spend month for quite awhile but there was always some reason that stopped me. My friend Erin was holding a blog-wide no-spend month and I didn't have anything stopping me so I jumped in!

I did so well for 95% of the month. Not perfect, but pretty well! I only went grocery shopping once all month which is where I tend to spend a ridiculous amount of money. I did slip up and buy Starbucks once so I could stay awake on my drive back to my home town. I felt like that was justified even though it wasn't a necessity. I had a gift card that I used on pizza one night so I didn't spend any money there.


Then the big fail came. I've been planning on getting my iPad for quite awhile. It was something I felt was a necessity for my photography business. I wanted to use it during shoots as a back up when I blank out on new ideas which is something I really struggle with. Because I don't have a studio or place to takes clients to show them their photos after editing, I knew I'd need something that I could show them on. As I've said before, I don't have a laptop any more so that's not an option. The iPad was a necessity for my photography but I wanted it right that second so I could take it to work. I've been killing my phone by noon since I got this new job. Just a few days short of the spending freeze being over, I failed.


I'm not too hard on myself because I did so well all month and I've already used the iPad in a recent engagement session. Its being put to good use and when I get paid this week, it will be paid off in full. I'm going to try and continue this spending freeze this month with the exception of a Valentine's day gift. I'm going to get creative though so I'm not breaking the bank on that gift!

Have you ever done a no spend month? How did it go?

Love,
Mandy

Feb 3, 2014

Organizing My Goals

Can I just say that I was thoroughly unimpressed by this year's Super Bowl? I never really watch it for the game since I don't generally watch pro football but this year I tried to watch for a little while. I rooted for the Broncos (I have no valid reason for choosing them) and they. Got their butts handed to them. It wasn't any fun to watch! Usually the commercials save it but I think they were a flop too. Budweiser stole the show, they both put me in tears!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I can talk about something of real value in my life. One of the reasons I chose to be done with school was to start my own photography business as you all know. For the few weeks that I got to stay home, I had tons of time to read all the articles I've been pinning and do research for this business. My main focus during the day now is my job which takes a lot of attention and energy. Much more than I'm used to dealing with during the week!

This means I can't sit around all day reading photography blogs and studying other photographers. I can't run to the courthouse to file paperwork any time I want. I have to do my editing at night and on the weekends. Honestly, I'd rather kick back and relax!

I know part of starting a business is working less than favorable hours! So I'm going to need to stay organized if I'm going to get anywhere with this. I've found a new reason to use my life planner since it's not full of homework assignments these days! I'm going to make a list of all the things that need to be done and all the things that I should spend some spare time on. That way I can pick two or three a week, put them in my planner, and gradually accomplish things without being overwhelmed!

I think the hardest thing about this so far has been learning balance. Yes, there is always going to be something more I could be doing! If I don't take a break to relax and do my own thing or set a time limit, I'm going to get burnt out!

One of the reasons I'm putting this out there is because I saw a few of my blog friends start a new link-up today. Kaitlyn and Ashley are both organized and motivated in their goals this year. I'm hoping they will help keep me accountable! I know staying on top of what needs to be done and keeping it written down in one spot will really help me reach my goals!



What goals are you working on this month?

Love,
Mandy