11.24.2014

Thanksgiving Traditions

This year, Thanksgiving is going to be different. For the first time, in all my 27 years of living, I'm not spending it with my family in Louisiana. Splitting holidays is one of the hardest parts about marriage to me. Call me selfish, but I love my family traditions and I find it almost unbearable when I have to miss out.
But this year is different. Michael wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and our decade of dating by spending it in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico- just the two of us and the dogs. I thought long and hard about why we shouldn't go, but I decided to let Michael (finally) pick and make our own tradition.
One tradition we kept this year is Friendsgiving. This was the 4th annual Friendsgiving for our group and this year's was extra special. It also helped that Michael and I's anniversary fell on the same day.

Michael made a lamb roast and I made a twice baked potato casserole (highly recommend, carb and cheese loaded). Just like regular Thanksgiving, there were some hiccups. The gas stove wasn't working! The poor hostesses had to run next door to heat anything up.
Luckily, the Turkey was fried.
 
And I discovered my new favorite holiday drink: Angry Balls.
One part Angry Orchard cider, one part Fireball. Drink. Glass size, as shown below, optional.
I have to ask Michael approximately 3487 times to take a picture and then he will take them at odd angles until I yell at him.
 We even let the boys have a turn, so generous. (By a turn, I mean I forced them to stand together and smile.)
Like a big, happy family, we went around saying what we're thankful for. It's hard when there's so much, but I'm putting all of the above on my list. Especially Angry Balls.

P.S. If you have any recommendations for what we should see/do in Taos or Santa Fe, let me know! I haven't been since I was 14, so I have a lot to catch up on.

11.21.2014

A Decade Together

It was summer senior year of high school. I decided to blow off the college guy I was talking to and hang out with friends at a house party. My girlfriends and I piled into my 1996 white Honda accord and listened to Chingy and Snoop Dogg's "Holidae In" on the way. It was a normal weekend night, nothing special. We walked into the party and standing around, were a group of guys I'd never met. Which was odd because I always hung out with the same people and even in the big city of Dallas, everyone knew everyone at my all girls Catholic high school and our brother all boy's catholic high school.
One, in particular, was smoking a cigar and I thought he was fairly good looking. By fairly, I mean I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. My girlfriend and I went over to the group and we started chatting. All I could think was: How did I not know these guys? Why is he smoking a cigar? Is it weird if I give him my number? I can remember that night perfectly: my ridiculous flower mini skirt that was fastened with a pink ribbon, trying to hide my braces while speaking, his navy blue polo shirt, and the smell of cigar smoke that I didn't seem to mind at all.

My 17-year-old heart skipped a few beats when he asked for my number and called me to "chat" the next day. Flash forward to a couple months later, and I was crushing hard. We would talk every now and then and occasionally meet for coffee (aka hot chocolate because I hated coffee at the time). I was worried: Would he ask me to the homecoming dance? I wasn't the only girl pining for his affection, after all.
Word spread fast that I had a crush on him. And it also spread fast that he might not ask anyone to homecoming because he didn't want to spend the money (what can I say, I like them cheap.) I got in the car with my friend and carpool buddy, she could tell I was down as I slumped in the passenger seat. "Helene, I'm sorry but I have to tell you something."
"What?" I perked up.
"Well...he's going to ask you to Homecoming!"
I screamed so loud people outside the car turned around.
We spent homecoming hand in hand, or on the dance floor. I knew I liked him because he liked to dance more than anything. After homecoming, we spent a lot of time together, but weren't officially official yet.
On November 22nd, 2004 I went over to Michael's house to watch a movie. His head in my lap, I had on my light blue Abercrombie & Fitch Graphic Tee "If I Kiss Him Will He Stop Talking?" (hey, I was 17 after all). Michael looked up at me and smiled "Will you be my girlfriend?" That night I went home and called my friends to tell them the news.
I walked around my house and told my 10-year-old sisters "Are you jealous of me?"
"Why?" they'd ask.
"Because I'm dating Michael!"

Michael and I got serious, fast. We could talk about everything and I felt totally comfortable with him. We didn't talk about marriage but it already felt like forever. I just kind of knew.

Most people cherish their wedding anniversary most. But not me. While I love to celebrate our marriage every April 30th, my favorite anniversary is our dating anniversary. I look back to when we started dating, at the tender age of 17 and can't believe how much has changed, and how nothing has changed at all.

Tomorrow, November 22nd marks a decade together. A decade of dating each other exclusively- not another person in college or after. Saying goodnight every single night the exact same way. Keeping each other's secrets. Dancing til 2am. Hours where we only speak in song lyrics. Traveling 5,000 miles for a music festival. Buying a house together. Raising dog children. Crying together through numerous cancer diagnoses in both our families. Enduring his smelly farts. Baking cookies and trying out new recipes. Laughing so hard that I actually start crying.


I never thought that I would be one of the first people to get married out of my friends. I never thought I would commit to anything long term, especially a boy. I never thought anyone might change my mind, or my musical preferences. But when your with someone that makes you happier than you thought possible, you know.

So here's to a decade together, thanks for spending the money and asking me to homecoming, and being the best partner for this crazy dance through life.


You might like: The Story Of My Engagement Ring.

11.20.2014

Gift Ideas for Bloggers

On almost every blog there seems to be a gift guide of some sort. Gift guide for you man, bestie, mom, even your pets. But what about us? (or if you're reading this for your favorite blogger in your life.) Here's a few things we'd really love (hint hint.)
Can we pause for one moment because I took the picture above with my iPhone. I'm 100% glad I upgraded. (Ps you can sell your old one on ebay for $200!) 

Holiday Gift Guide for Bloggers

-Blog design. Spruce up the ol' girl with some of Social and Chic's blog design and super economical templates. 
Pictured Happiest of Hours

-Planner. We all need to write out when we're going to schedule those brilliant posts or a space to write out the best ideas. Love this one.

-Pencils. You have to write stuff in your planner.

- T-Shirt. Bloggers are self proclaimed Wine-o's. This is the perfect shirt for the wine lover in your life. Just saying.
wine not t shirt
Use code "HOLIDAY" to get $5 off your order!!  Coupon expires at midnight tonight.

- Photo editing software. I prefer PicMonkey Royale ( here are tips on how to use it) or go for broke (and more professional) with Photoshop.
picmonkey royale how to

-Books. When not blogging we're reading. (Here are 5 books I recommend to read this year).
- Consultation. A great way to get your blog in gear for the new year. (I just rhymed!) Take 25% off with code "HOLIDAY" here. Coupon expires at midnight tonight.
Blogging consultations
- iPad/Tablet. So we can take our blog wherever we go.
- Coffee and a cute mug. We NEED caffeine.

A DSLR . So we can really feel professional with beautiful pictures to prove it.

What would you put on your list?

 *****
Today I have the gorgeous Jenn from Hello, Rigby! on the blog today. Jenn writes all types of different posts about fashion, lifestyle, and of course her adorable dog Rigby! I have her on today asking some questions all about her blog!

1. When did you know you wanted to start blogging?
 I actually had wanted to start a blog while I was in college (so about 7 years ago)! I went to school in the middle of nowhere and other than hanging out with friends and going out, there wasn't much to do. Blogging would have been a great hobby then, but I was too scared! I finally got up the "nerve" to start my blog last year, and I'm glad I did!

2. Why did you choose to make your precious pup Rigby, the title of your blog?

I had written down a lot of names over the years, and one of the hardest things was figuring out the name! I'm pretty sure a post from The Londoner helped inspired me to name it after Rigby. I had been thinking I wanted to include him in some way in the blog, so having him in the name made sense. I then started playing around with words to go in front of or after his name, and hello just seemed to fit best, plus it's the same amount of letters as his name.

3. About how long does it take you to write/edit a post?
 It definitely depends on the post! I generally spend the most time and energy on sponsored posts, to be honest. I never want them to seem artificial or fake (because really, who likes reading a boring ad right?) so I go out of my way to make sure they're something I can be proud of and not feel icky about. There's a weird stigma in blogging to feel bad about making money here and there. I don't think there's anything wrong with making money for your time, but I do think it's important for it to feel genuine.

4. What's been your most successful/popular post?
My most popular post by statistics is my One Year Ago Today... post, celebrating my first year of blogging. I think people liked that I was giving away presents, but I'd also like to think that they enjoyed getting to know me again too! I've also heard a lot about I'm Not Skinny, I'm Not Fat, and I'm Okay with That. It's something I almost never posted, just because it felt uncomfortable to me at the time. I think it ended up resonating with others because I was just being honest about body image.

5. Where do you see yourself (and your blog) in 5 years?
 I hope I'm still writing this blog! I definitely don't ever want to blog full time - this is my hobby, and I'm enjoying it as a fun thing to do. I think I'd begin to resent it if I was forced into writing, you know? I'm sure it will grow and change as I do in the next 5 years.

6. Where do you get inspiration?
I'd say the majority of my inspiration comes from other bloggers and writers. Not to say I rip posts exactly from them, but I remember reading something about how someone was binge watching Gilmore Girls, and I was too, so I wrote 10 things Gilmore Girls has taught me about life. Or I may like something a fellow fashion blogger is wearing, and so I may grab something similar out of my closet and style it in a new way, like adding a moto vest to my swing dress.

7. If you could offer one piece of must-have advice to an aspiring blogger, what would it be?
Just be yourself. Seriously! Write like you would talk to one of your friends. I think one of the biggest compliments one of my IRL friends gave me after I "came out of the blogging closet" to her was that my blog sounded just like me. Here's some code for my social links:  

Follow Jenn: bloglovin / twitter / facebook / instagram / pinterest / g+ / youtube
And check out her giveaway and gift guide going on right now for $175!

11.19.2014

Let's Talk About Free

I'm frivolous to a fault. If you tell me there's a discount I'm likely to consider buying it approximately 87% more than I would otherwise. But when you tell me free, I'm all in. Especially when it comes to cupcakes. Cupcakes are all the rage these days. For a special gift for a friend, a gender revel party for the baby, and even as a wedding cupcake cake.

This Friday, in Richardson, Cupcake By Design is at it again with FREE cupcakes. I've posted about their beautiful cupcakes and cookies before, and I can tell you, these are delicious! Grab your free cupcake this Friday (November 21st) at the Richardson Cookies by Design: 1920 M Coit Road, Suite 211 in Richardson Texas.

I love learning about local woman run businesses in Texas and Cupcake by Design is a wonderful story. Gwen Willhite was a single, unemployed, mother, with a great idea: make cookies into a bouquet of flowers. Everyone will love them- men, women, and children. The business quickly caught on, and now it's headquarted in Plano! Cupcake by Design is the latest invention, and they have something for everyone's sweet tooth- even sugar free!

Cupcake by Design has partnered with the North Texas Food Bank to help feed families during the upcoming holiday season. The Richardson Cupcake by Design location is urging residents to stop by and drop off a can of food, and in return will treat you to a free cupcake sample!  So, stop by on Friday from 11am to 5pm for your freebie, I'll see you there!

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