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From my Hart: Christmas Decor

Y’all! I’ve been waiting my entire life to decorate my very own home for Christmas. As I’ve mentioned before, our realtor was always sure to comment on two things: which wall did you want to knock down & where are you putting the Christmas Tree?

I’ve had such fond memories of trinkets passed down, Christmas decor & items that have gone to pass over the years; like the mechanical and musical Mr. & Mrs. Clause my grandparents had. As you may imagine, I’ve been stashing away a lot of Christmas decorations over the years. There is a lot I’ve not included in this post and a lot of items we didn’t even put out!

I am so excited to bring to you a compilation of how my fiance and I have decorated our home for our first Christmas! To kick things off- here’s a picture of my supportive fiance and I decorating 🙂

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First Floor

 

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Up the stairs we go!

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Other Highlights

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our mini tour! May all your days be merry & bright!

From my Hart: Mommy Guest Blogger!

Hi all! Today on the blog I am pleased to introduce y’all to my cousin Brittany! As if she wasn’t craft enough, she’d been writing her daughter letters! If that alone isn’t an idea for a blog post I’m not sure what is! So tuck that little idea away 😉

Today, I bring to you one of those letters written to her daughter! It’s a great reflection and lesson for all of us, Mom’s or not. We all are just out there doing the best we can, and at the end of the day, we’ve got so many blessings to count!

A Letter to my Daughter:

I love you so much. I’ve been meaning to tell you about this story, which took place about a month ago.

We were headed into JoAnn’s craft store for a quick pick-up. I just needed some pretty paper for a little engagement gift I was making for Cousin Jamie. I was armed with 6 peanut butter crackers – more than enough to get us through a 5-10 minute trip.

The issue: JoAnn’s was having a buy ONE get THREE free sale on their fall stuff. WHAT?! Yes, you read correctly. FOUR items for the price of ONE! I could hardly control myself. I decided that 6 crackers would be enough for me to grab a few extra items, since we were hosting our 5th Annual Friendsgiving in just a couple of weeks.

45 minutes later, I was out of crackers, but you were in good spirits. You liked exploring the store and touching the different textures on the items. At one point you found a pillow and put it on the ground & laid on it. This was entertaining for me and a few others in the store, though of course, some other shoppers turned their nose up at me in a, “I can’t believe you’re letting your kid do that” sort of way. Oh well. You were cute and having fun and not interfering with anyone or anything, and you were making me smile.

We made it all the way to the front of the checkout line (which was incredibly long) with very little fuss. You explored some of the “impulse buy” items they strategically put along the checkout line, but you weren’t phased by any of them….until it was our turn to check out.

You found something at the very end of the line. I didn’t even know what it was at the time, but you insisted on having it. “Open? Open? OPEN!” being hollered in the background while I’m working with the clerk to checkout. “No baby, that’s not ours. We can’t open that. We’re almost done and then we’re going to go in the car where we have other toys”. “OPEN! OPEN! OPEEENNNN!!!” The hollers turned into full-blown screams met with tears. “No baby, I’m so sorry, we are almost done, I promise!”

I’m half paying attention to you and half dealing with the cashier, who was so kind, but we were trying to figure out exactly how many items I had to be able to make their buy-3-get-1 deal work. I was one item short and realized I’d have to go back and select one more item. I told him just to scan a small bouquet of flowers twice, and that I’d re-enter the store after checking out to grab the matching bouquet. “OPEEENNNNNNN!!!” At this point, I could feel people staring at me from the checkout line. We were taking forever and you could tell that even the cashier, who was so polite, was getting a little overwhelmed with the constant screaming and me continually turning around to tell you that this toy was not ours and that we were going to be done any minute. I was starting to feel overwhelmed. Mind you, I was about 15 weeks pregnant with your sibling, so my hormones were kind of all over the place.

I was trying so hard to stand my ground, but I finally caved. We were REALLY almost done checking out and I just decided that it wasn’t worth the fight anymore. “How much is this toy?” “$8”. Ugh. 8 bucks was not a cheap toy just to keep you happy for the next few minutes, but whatever. “Yes, that’s fine, we’ll take this, too”. He scanned it and handed it back to me. I opened it and handed it to you. I still didn’t really know what it was, but figured it would make you happy & that was all I needed in that moment.

I turned back to the cashier and noticed he was looking behind me, at you. He was making a very curious face. “Ma’am, um…she’s trying to eat it”. I turn around and realize the toy you had picked out was a squishy, very realistic-looking sandwich/pastry thing. You had it in your mouth and you, too, were making a very curious face, as you realized this toy was not edible. “Oh no, baby, this is not food, this is a toy. You can’t eat it.”. “Eat it?” “No baby, it’s a toy, it’s not food.” EAT IT!!” The sobbing and screaming began again. I was so overwhelmed. The staring eyeballs from other patrons – which honestly, should not have bothered me – were starting to feel like daggers. We finally checked out, but you were still screaming – and then refused to leave the store. After a short stand-off, I finally scooped you up in my arms and we left.

But — I had to go back in to get the other bouquet of flowers. I could have just left it, but decided that with such an exhausting trip, I at least owed it to myself to make it complete. As I re-entered the store, I heard mumbling from the other patrons, who were probably realizing that the initial relief felt after we finally left the store was only short-lived. Among them, one yelled, “No, don’t come back in here!” I couldn’t believe someone actually said that, intentionally loud enough for me to hear. If I didn’t feel completely deflated by the last 10 minutes, I would have thrown some shade and made some evil glances and eye rolls, but I just stayed focused, grabbed my flowers, and left. (They weren’t even the right flowers, but I was over it!)

At this point, you were done screaming. Maybe just happy to be held in my arms? I couldn’t help but think that if I had just picked you up from the beginning, maybe I could have avoided the meltdown? Who knows. We made it to the car, I unloaded you, your strange squishy sandwich toy, and my new (cheap, but perhaps unnecessary) fall decorations. When I finally sat, alone, in quiet, in the driver’s seat, I just sighed. Then laughed. Then cried. Then repeated the process one more time.

It was my first time feeling, as a mom, like I needed an escape of some sort. Not from you, of course, just from the moment. But, in my reflection as I sat in my car, I realized – it was all so trivial. You were screaming, people were staring, I was frustrated – so what? I am so incredibly blessed for each moment I get to experience as your mama. The good, the bad, and the incredibly overwhelming.

I cried because, well, I was pregnant and exhausted and overly sensitive to everything, and this felt like a high-intensity moment. But I laughed because… this is life. A beautiful, amazing life that I feel fortunate every day to have. I am so incredibly grateful to be the person you call “mommy”. To be the one who gets “stuck” in a store with you screaming your head off while people stare.

I feel beyond blessed to be the person with whom you let your guard down – in the rawest & purest ways. I love you with my whole heart. I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to have you as my daughter. No matter what, I’ll love you forever, my sweet, beautiful baby girl.

From my Hart: Our First Thanksgiving

Hello all! I’m sorry to be coming to y’all on Small Business Saturday instead of Black Friday but I’ve had so many wonderful things going on, this is the first time I’ve gotten to sit and relax.

On Thanksgiving we hosted my and my fiancé’s immediate families. It was a wonderful time!! We all mixed, mingled & enjoy delicious food together!

With a bit of rearranging, we were able to extend our dinning room table to fit everyone! We leaned on our families to help bring side dishes & cooked the big bird!

I got some wonderful table setting items from Walmart & Amazon, a new tablecloth from HomeGoods & the table was set!

I made my go-to appetizer: bre with caramel topping served with ginger snaps. We got Wegmans mashed potatoes because they are a top favorite in our family, and also served mac’n’cheese, brussels sprouts & rolls.

We had the most wonderful time with everyone & think we’ll be making this our tradition for the years to come!

From my Hart: Thanksgiving Prep

Hey y’all! Can you believe that this time next week, Thanksgiving will have come and gone and it will be Black Friday?

I personally, cannot wait so that I can deck our halls. In every house we looked into purchasing, my realtor was sure to comment on two things: “Okay which wall do you want to tear down & where are you putting your Christmas tree?”

Since I was little, I have always envisioned myself decorating my own home for Christmas- so this truly is a dream come true. My fiance and I stood outside on Halloween night and planned out how we would add wreaths and lights to our home. But I digress- that will be another post 😉

We, in the sweet exhaustion of moving, decided to host Thanksgiving! I wanted to quickly share with y’all some tools that I’ve been using to help keep ourselves from going insane.

Tip #1: DELEGATE

I must have been somewhat in my right mind when agreeing to host Thanksgiving because I told my fiance I was on board- so long as we delegated. I have been using this lovely sheet to help me keep things organized! We are going to prepare the Turkey, drinks, table setting, etc. and have asked others to fill in the gaps! This really has helped alleviate the stress.

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Tip #2: Stay Organized

I’ve also printed off a guest list tracker & a timeline to help. I tend to get up in my head and panic, and these help me see exactly what needs to be done when, and for exactly how many people.

 

You can find them here, and I keep everything in a nice folder right in our kitchen so we can access it easily!

Fun Things:

We got an adorable table setting, complete with a fresh new tablecloth from HomeGoods! I’ve kept our fall decor out & my fiance ordered us a fresh bird from the butcher around the corner. I cannot wait to show you all next week how it all turned out, but hope these items help you stay calm and collected during Thanksgiving! Remember, it’s all about being present, not perfect, and enjoying time with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

From my Hart: 40-Hour Work Week

For the entirety of my career, there has been an undercurrent of communication on the topic of the 40-hour work week. I’ve had four jobs since graduation and each tackled the 40-hour work week differently.

First job:

Here there was no overtime & I was hourly; we had to manipulate our hours so that we didn’t go over the 40-hour work week, which was both a blessing and a curse. With constant events at varying times, my hours were long and often kept me away from normal weekends.

Second job:

No overtime once again, however I was switched to salary! The office closed every Friday at noon. We were still paid, and accrued PTO based on a 40-hour work week. At first, I was curious how this would work since everyone else we dealt with, the government and other businesses, did not follow this schedule.

It went so smoothly! We were more productive during the week as to meet this Friday by noon “deadline” and were never met by any opposition, only jealousy, from the groups and businesses we worked with.

Not to mention we were able to accomplish so much more in our personal lives and hardly ever had to miss work Monday-Thursday for personal appointments. We gave it our all Monday-Thursday and Friday until noon, and were able to enjoy our little extended weekends.

Third job:

This company was a very unhealthy place for me. It started out as the golden opportunity, but I quickly learned this to be a “front.” Not only was the pay, environment, morals, and daily tasks, not as advertised, the work schedule was not either.

I was told that you could come and go as you please- but this only held true if you were one of the two owners. The other employees, myself and one other person, were to be on call at all times, with no guarantee of work. So, while this company pitched a great work schedule, it- like so many other aspects- did not pan out.

Current job:

I am officially a year into working at my current company however on day one I was asked what hours I wanted to work. Shocked doesn’t begin to cover it haha.

What’s interesting, and nice, is if the job gets done, they don’t care what hours you make that happen in. For me, I started as an hourly employee working 32 hours a week and worked my schedule depending on other appointments, etc. throughout the week! If I had a doctor’s appointment on a Wednesday at 2 p.m., I could work longer on Monday perhaps, to offset the time away for the appointment. This also allowed me to nanny a few times during the week.

I quickly learned the ropes and moved into 40 hours each week. I’ve decided to work 8-4 to beat traffic on Monday-Friday. However, this week (thanks time change) I’ve been in the office earlier and earlier each day and choose to shave time off of my Friday so I can get to my weekend sooner.

For a more direct representation: I’ve worked a variation of times between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and will be off work at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Most of my coworkers work remotely on Friday’s and some other’s work 2 to 3 days remotely as well. Some managers will even tell their employees to sign off and enjoy the weekend early… just because.

Co-Worker chat:

Throughout my career, as I said earlier, there has always been an undercurrent of chatter regarding the 40-hour work week. Below, I’ve outlined the most recent chat I’ve had.

A few of my co-workers, past and present, don’t feel that a 40-hour work week is necessary! Additionally, the pull to work remotely has affected this decision. By cutting the work week down, and allowing employees to work remote, this forces stronger communication between employees.

How you ask? Think back to a time when a co-worker of yours was going to go out on vacation. You knew you couldn’t stroll into their office at any time and ask a bunch of questions. The time you had with them became more precious and you kept the conversation concise, I would assume.

We become happier. Think about how happy you are walking into a three-day weekend. Memorial Day perhaps! You are more rested, accomplish more at home and enjoy your time. Just like a much-needed vacation.

If this was every week, not only would you maximize the time spent working, but I believe you would maximize the free time away from work!

So what are your thoughts?

Do you work a variation of 40 hours a week? Does your company take a page from a few European companies I’ve read about, and pair 40 hours down to 32-35 each week? What are your thoughts? What’s your dream? I’m eager to hear as we step into the weekend- don’t forget to make it a good one & enjoy!

 

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From my Hart: Whoops

Hey y’all, it’s Saturday! This week has been a lot for me… I was initially going to say it was a bad week, but that’s just not true!

I woke up Sunday with a migraine that lasted until Tuesday. Monday I tried to work from home but felt so sick I just laid in bed. I did force myself to go to therapy, which was well worth it as usual!

I’ve been jamming out to classical music in my car and it really is helping me relax during the ridiculous and unnecessary traffic Monday-Thursday mornings. It also is allowing me to work through my thoughts! I highly suggest it.

Instead of taking PTO for Monday, I put it upon myself (key words here) to work crazy hours the rest of the week to make up for the six hours missed. I purposefully didn’t work late on Wednesday and enjoyed our first Halloween in our new home! It was SO fun, and we had a blast.

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Thursday I worked until 9 p.m., ever thankful for a boss and company that doesn’t bat an eye. As long as the work is done, you work whatever schedule you need. They never pressured me to make up my time or take PTO for Monday, they really trust their employees and thus, allow us to be able to WFH, or any schedule, when necessary and we give it our all back!

Friday rolls around and I’m in by 7:30 a.m. and working until 4:15 p.m., cranking out all sorts of things! After work I met my Mom for a mani / pedi and dinner & got the wonderful news that Smyth is going to deck me out in jewelry for our wedding!

That being said, I still came home and had a panic attack; you can thank the dreary weather, and my every growing mental to-do list. And now here we are; I’ve woken up on Saturday and WHOOPS, forgot to blog yesterday!

The thought crossed my mind to just toss up one of my posts I have sitting, waiting and ready; but why when I can take this moment to be real with y’all again.

We’ve all got a to do list, we all handle things differently. I am okay! I’ve happy to be awake and here with laundry going, breakfast in front of me, a paper to write & friends stopping by later.

Wedding items are moving at a wonderful pace, the house is great, I’ve got blessings to count! Moreover, I’m aware of the things I need to work on: saying no, asking for help early, and scheduling some down time for myself.

I’m a work in progress- we all are! I hope you enjoy this weekend and find peace in all you do! Let’s enjoy every moment!

From my Hart: 27

Hello friends, today is my 27th birthday! I cannot believe it; no really, people kept reminding me it was my birthday. With moving and planning a wedding, my birthday was not on my radar.

I decided to do a mash-up post today. I am going to combine a year in review, with a things about me post. Below, I’ve pulled 27 things about me, and highlighted some incredible things that have happened over this last year! Let’s get to it!

1. I’m 27- late twenties- close to the big 3-0

2. I’m Christmas obsessed- even a little scary obsessed at times

3. We bought our first home

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4. I’m still starch free & loving it (sorry donuts)

5. I have two more courses to complete and I will have my masters degree

6. I love even numbers

7. I’m proud of all that I have been able to accomplish

8. I’m getting better at saying no, and taking time for myself

9. God is my rock, and I owe him all the glory

10. I’m learning new skills at work

11. I have four tattoos

12. I’m in bed by 9 p.m. every night, even if I don’t fall asleep until later

13. I’ve got anxiety and depression- and that’s okay

14. We got engaged this summer

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15. I’m still growing and working on myself daily

16. In my lifetime, I’ve had 11 piercings. I currently have 9

17. In a perfect world, I would have my own business of some kind that I could work from my home

18. I love creating a home- its so fun, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished

19. Did I mention I get to marry my best friend?

20. I will pick out a dog out of a crowd, and won’t calm down until I go meet it

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21. I didn’t realize how large of a number 27 was until I started writing this post

22. I am passionate about helping those I love reach their goals

23. I love to craft and create things

24. Purple is my favorite color

25. The Little Book of Hygge was my latest read & I highly recommend it

26. Sapphires are my favorite stone because of the movie The AristoCats & Princess Diana

27. This year is going to be the best yet!

 

Thank you all again for coming along on this journey with me, and cheers to 27 years!