Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I so excited for this weekend.  While I haven't been at my condo long (it'll be a month on Monday!), this is the first weekend I feel like I can really relax there.  Moving weekend was a lot, then I was actually home the following weekend, but it seems like I was recovering from being super busy at work (while having just moved), then I was on the road for a wedding, and this past weekend my parents were in town.  Which all weekends have been great, but I am looking forward to something a little more low-key!

1.  First up for my favorites, is the board and batten wall in my kitchen.  I shared some in progress pictures on Monday, but here is one of the finished product.  I LOVE it.  I plan on getting a little wooden bench to go under the hooks - I think it would be cute and useful as a place to put on shoes.  My mom and I are also going to try to spray paint the intercom box to hopefully have it blend in a little bit.  I still have a bit to do in the kitchen (rugs, decor pieces), but overall I think it is really coming together!

2.  On Tuesday, I posted my monthly book review.  It seems like I was in reading rut not too long ago, and now it seems like there are soooo many good books, I just can't keep up!  I am pretty sure I am going to have to pay my first fines at the library...whoops!  Right now I am reading When Life Gives You Lululemons, and while there is one part of the story line that I am not necessarily crazy about, overall it really is good.  And the book I read before that was good, and the one before that...just lots of good books!

And speaking of books, I had a question.  Does anyone have good fall related books they would recommend?  I feel like there are oodles of Christmas books out there, but I don't really see many Halloween / Thanksgiving books, or even just like a 'fall' book, although I don't know exactly how that would work, haha.  But if you know of any type of Thanksgiving or Halloween book (or fall - again not sure how that would even qualify, haha), please let me know!  I realize fall is still a bit away, but this way if I have titles I can request them from the library ahead of time!

3.  Thursday was our monthly Girl Chat, and the topic was quotes to live by.  I really enjoyed reading the posts, and in doing so I came across one that I couldn't believe I didn't include myself.  

Wall Quotes for the Home Recycled By:  Texas Butter 

This one really spoke to me a few years ago.  The story behind it really is sad, so that is obviously not a 'favorite', but I wanted to share why I like this quote so much.  Someone I occasionally hung around with passed away.  I would call us acquaintances, because we ran around in the same circle, but I wasn't really that close to him - he was more just a friend of friends that we saw out.  He was someone so full of life, and when I heard that he passed away, I didn't believe it.  I mean we literally just saw just could not be real.  Sadly it was.  That specific incident had a really big impact on me, and made this quote a whole lot more meaningful.

I suggest checking out some of those posts if you haven't already, because I feel like we could always use a reminder of certain things.  I know through a lot of them I was nodding my head, or thinking 'that's such a good one!' as I read along.  And there are some funny ones in there, too!

4.  I have been needing a new lunch bag for a longgg time now.  It's kind of embarrassing how long I went with having a rip in mine.  I finally decided to get one, and initially looked at the neoprene ones.  I had heard good things about them, but I didn't realize like the style of them.  As I was checking Amazon, I came across this one.  I just got it in the mail last night, and it's soooo nice.  It seems to be the perfect side - I take multiple tupperware containers, and usually a bottle of salad dressing, plus a few other things, and this seems plenty big for all that, while not being too extremely big. 
BALORAY Lunch Bag Tote Bag Lunch Organizer Lunch Bag Women Perfect Work Women(Upgraded Version) 

5.  My fifth favorite is one I am SO excited about.  In years past, Sarah @ Meet the Shaneyfelts and I have hosted a fall link up in September, and I am happy to say that this year is no different!  We both share a love for all things fall, and what better way to kick of the season than fall posts?  This year's Fall Favorites link up will be every Wednesday for 3 weeks.  First up, we have favorite crock pot recipes (yum!), then it's all about fall fashion (I am soooo ready for the cooler weather!), and we will end up the fun few weeks with sharing our fall decor (cannot wait to add fall touches to my condo!).  We'd love for you to join us!

Linking up with AndreaErikaAndreaand Katie. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Girl Chat: Quotes To Live By

Honestly, this month's Girl Chat snuck up on me.  Thank goodness Danielle posted a reminder for it on Monday, because I totally thought I had another week.  I swear my mind will just not keep up with me this year...I am so forgetful!  But anyways, it's time for Girl Chat, and this month we are chatting about our favorite quotes.

To see what else we have chatted about this year - check out the links below.

I love a good quote.  It's amazing how just a few words can really touch you and make an impact.  Even if it is things you already know, or are feeling, sometimes seeing it in word form really hits home.  I love browsing different quotes on Pinterest - I even have a whole board dedicated to them!  And way back when I would occasionally post some of my favorites.

My very favorite quote has got to be from my dad.  I don't know whose quote this actually is, but I first heard it from my dad, and that is who I always associate it with.  

I think I first remember him saying this when I was in college... probably while he was hanging something in my dorm/apartment/townhouse during that time.  Basically it just boils down to always do your best.  And it really applies to everything!  I repeat it to myself all the time, especially those times when I may don't want to do something, or feel like slacking.  It's also turned into a bit of a joke in our family, too.  Like if someone says, oh it's fine, then the reply is usually something along the lines of 'are you autographing your work with excellence?'.  It's definitely my very favorite quote.

Another is one I really like is one that my mom shared with me from The Lettered Cottage blog (quote by Jay Danzie).

It's really interesting to think of things in that manner.  It makes me pause for a minute and think about how I am and if that is how I wanted to be thought of, if that makes sense...if I am proud of myself in a sense.  Just allows me to reassess myself a bit.

I have a few quotes that I turn to, if you will, when I am worried or going through hard times.  

One quote I have been trying to abide by is...

Let go and let God. :) Would you like it framed? Click on this link to purchase: ----------------------------------------------- Interested in a different quote on this background? Click here: Each print is professionally printed on bright white 67 lb. high-quality archival acid-free spec...

I am a worrier by nature.  Like really bad.  I get anxiety about so many things, it's a bit ridiculous.  So when I get too in my head about things, like something big at work, I just pray and repeat that over and over again.  I am definitely not as good about this as I should be, but slowly, at least in some situations, it's really been helping me.

And then when things really get hard in life, I turn to this quote...

God will never give you more than you can handle

I never know what the exact wording of the quote is when I try to tell someone, but the thought is something I turn to often.  I actually debated on including this, because when I googled it, I came across a lot of negative articles regarding this saying.  Not that alone would keep me from sharing, but I did read a few and can see people's points.  However, I still find comfort in these words.  To me, this is just an affirmation that you are stronger than you might think - that you can get through this, whatever it may be, and even more so, to have faith. 

Now for the link up - can't wait to discover new quotes!     

To link up - just grab our graphic, link up and let's get to chatting!  Make sure to stop by a few others linked up for an extra bit of girl chat! 

Danielle - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

Emily - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lindsay - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lizzie - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Sierra - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Quick Reminder: Girl Chat Link Up

Hey all!  Just popping in real quick with a reminder for tomorrow's girl chat link up.  The topic is quotes to live by - we'd love for you to join us!

To link up - just grab our graphic, link up and let's get to chatting!  Make sure to stop by a few others linked up for an extra bit of girl chat! 

Danielle - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

Emily - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lindsay - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lizzie - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Sierra - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 2018 Book Review

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a few cents of commission at no additional cost to you. 
Camino Island by John Grisham.  This was my first John Grishman book in a lonnnnnggg while, but when Chelsea mentioned it was a book about books, well that had me requesting it from the library immediately.  It's about a writer who is trying to find out who has these manuscripts that were stole from a college.  It was really interesting - definitely a different type of book than I feel like I normally read, but not in a bad way.  Obviously, I enjoyed it because I cracked up another John Grisham book immediately after!

The Rooster Bar by John  Grisham.  This one I think Owen mentioned, and had me wondering what it was all about.  It's quite interesting - these friends who are in law school and up to their eyeballs in debt have this hair brained idea on what to do next.  It had a lot of twists and turns, which again, was interesting.  I remember the end made me feel like it was lacking something, but I don't know exactly what I was expecting.  Still a good book.  I will definitely be checking out some more John Grisham when I need a break from some of the more 'girly' books I read. 

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer.  I feel like this was a typical Thayer book, which is a good thing in my mind.  The sister dynamic was interesting, as was the past.  I liked the little love stories intertwined.  Perfect summer read!

My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan.  I had HIGH expectations for this book, and I have to say, it started out a bit slow for me.  I was struggling through it, but I would say a fourth of the way in or so, it got good and continued to get better and better as I read - I was totally hooked!  It wasn't what I was expecting at all from this book and it had me crying through good chunks of it.  But sometimes you just need a good cry, and even though it was sad, it had the ending I was looking for, which always makes me happy!

Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer.  Out of the two Thayer books I read - this was probably more my favorite.  Although the main character kind of annoyed me sometimes.  It was obvious what was going to happen, and she just needed to give in.  But her husband passes away unexpectedly, she is left with no money and turns her huge family home into a bed and breakfast.  Something I would love to do myself, so I think that is part of the reason I liked it so much.

Envy by Sandra Brown.  I always get so excited when I find a Sandra Brown book I haven't read on the shelves at the library.  This one had me confused for a bit, and again at the ending, which I really enjoyed.  A prologue is sent to a publishing house, where a woman finds it.  She is instantly enthralled and has to find the author and get the rest of the book.  You learn that this is something that was intentionally sent for her to find, and the story goes from there.  It was good!

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand.  I had heard so many good things about this newer Hilderbrand book, and with good reason.  It totally lived up to the hype for me.  It may be my favorite book of hers!  There is so much going on in this, so many different things, you keep thinking on this is what happened, and then it's like oh, no, just keeps going.  The ending was a little soft for me...I kind of was waiting for a bigger end - something more definite, but the entire story leading up to it was my favorite.  You get insight from a bunch of different characters and little stories, but it isn't confusing at all, which I feel like can happen in this case.  It was just really good!

Right now I am reading When Life Gives You Lululemons, which already had me intrigued by the first few pages.  This seems to be another popular book for the summer, so I am hoping it lives up to expectations.

Linking up with Steph.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Weekend Recap: A Weekend Well Spent...

...brings a week of content.  At least I think that is how the saying goes.  And after this weekend I am ready for the week ahead!

As I mentioned in Friday's post, my parents came to town this weekend.  I took half a day from work, and headed home around lunch.  My parents had just gotten to my place, so we ate a quick lunch and got down to business.  Our main goal for the weekend was to add board and batten to a wall in my kitchen.  My dad and I had purchased some of the materials when I first moved in, so that the wood could get acclimated, and then he got the other things and brought them down.  I plan to do a whole post on the process, so I will just share a few pictures today.  We got the two horizontal boards up, then my mom and I headed out for a few things, while my dad worked on measuring out the spaces for vertical pieces.  We ended up going a different spacing route, and during that time it start downpouring.  Luckily my dad had moved the saw from my deck to the garage!  He headed out there to cut the pieces, while my mom and I took care of a few things inside, and got dinner (pulled pork) together.  I really need to share that pulled pork recipe, because it seriously is soooo good.  After we got the little pieces up, it was pretty much time to call it a night. 

 all the pieces are up!

Saturday we were up early to finishing prepping for paint - caulking and patching.  My mom made us a yummy breakfast, and then it was time to get to work.  We divided and conquered - my mom outside and my dad and I inside.  A few of the plants that my mom transplanted from her yard didn't make it, so she brought new ones along.  These seem much healthier and knock on wood, are already doing a whole lot better than the old ones!  She tackled a portion of my yard that we hadn't worked on as much during their very first visit, and got that all good and cleaned out.  My mom is a big gardener and loves working in the yard, and always stresses to us that importance of upkeep.  And after dealing with this backyard, I cannot agree with her enough!  

My dad and I headed out for the actual paint and a few other things, then I moved outside to help my mom, while my dad took care of the priming inside.  It was time to eat lunch, then clean up before shopping!  My dad stuck around and worked on things, while my mom and I hit up Hobby Lobby, At Home, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Home Goods.  

We did SO well at Hobby Lobby, getting everything we went there for...and more.  It's been awhile since I had been there to really look at decor items.  We took our time, going up and down all the aisles, which was such a treat.  I feel like I don't often take time to really browse stores anymore, especially with my mom, and it was just fun to look at all the things.  I had heard some really good things about At Home, and since there was one kind of close, we went to check it out.  My goodness, is that place overwhelming!  It was my first time going and honestly we just stood inside the entrance for a few minutes, because we had no idea where to go first.  I feel like it's Home Goods on crack almost, haha!  I don't know how often I will shop there, but we did walk away with a big flameless candle for a really good price.  I also noticed the prices on their really big mirrors were good - at Hobby Lobby some were $300, while these were all around $80!  If anything, I will be back to have a closer look at those.  We were on the hunt for something specific for my bathroom, so we decided to check out Bed, Bath and Beyond.  They didn't have what we were looking for, but I did grab another hand towel for my half bath, AND I found two bed sets I just love.  I didn't actually get them (I didn't have any of my coupons for there with me), but I may be back soon!  It was on to Home Goods, which was a bust, then back home to help my dad get the first coat of paint on the wall.  

While we were gone, he was busy working on some other projects.  All the knobs throughout my condo were gold, which isn't really my style.  My dad has this black spray paint that he uses on stuff, and my mom had the idea that he could spray paint the knobs.  I am so glad she thought of that because they look SO good.  My mom had put those up the night before, and then my dad sprayed the toliet paper holders to match.  After the first coat of paint was on, we had dinner (shells) and hung a few things.  A new hook in the bathroom, and a clock above my mantle.  I had the bright idea that I wanted to organize ALL my decor items, so my mom and I put everything out on the floor, grouped them by like items and then went through and put things away.  And when I say bright idea, I am being sarcastic, because I was plum worn out by the time everything got spread out, and a tad bit overwhelmed.  Thank goodness my mom is like the energizer bunny, though, because she is the reason that all got done, haha!  She kept me on task, and did a lot of the 'heavy lifting' so to speak.

first coat on!

mantle decor

We ended up having to do the final coat of paint Sunday morning.  We originally thought the primer would only take 2 hours to dry, but it ended up being 4, which pushed things back a bit.  My mom finished boxing up some of my decor items, and cleaning things up, while my dad and I got the final coat of paint on.  Oh, and we had to rehang that clock, again.  We used 3M strips the first time, and well, they didn't quite work, haha.  Luckily the clock caught on a nail and kind of just sat on the mantle.  So my dad ended up drilling some screws in there.  Then it was time for breakfast, packing up the truck, and saying good bye to my parents.  I am just thankful that they give up their weekends to come down and work hard to help me make this place my home.  While we were outside saying good bye, one of my neighbors came out and introduced herself.  A sweet older lady, who was so nice and welcoming, even though I looked like a total mess.  After my parents left, I relaxed a little bit before heading out for a walk.  Then it was time to catch up on a few TV shows, laundry and blog.  

It was such a productive weekend - I plan on adding the finishing touches to board and batten wall today and I cannot wait to see how the fully finished product looks.  Things are really starting to come together!

Linking up with Biana and Lindsay. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Favorites: A Random Mix of Things

Happy Friday!  I was a little MIA this week - for the life of me I could not remember what I wanted to post on Wednesday (only to remember half way through the day), and then I got taken down by a stomach thing and Thursday's post just was not happening.  Luckily, it is the weekend again and while I have some big plans for my condo, I am hoping that I can also get a little rest and relaxation in.

1.  Early this week, I shared a little 'ode to my apartment'.  I want to go back in and add some pictures to go along with things (not sure why I didn't think about that until after the fact), but I wanted to share it with you again, because it is probably one of my favorite things I have written this year.  

2.  My parents are coming down this weekend, and we have one large project I am really hoping we (and by we I mean my dad) can accomplish.  I may even have a room to share with you soon!  I actually really wanted to wait to start sharing until I could do rooms on consecutive weeks, like a 'home tour tuesday' series, but I feel like it is going to be awhile before things are done to the point where I am happy and want to share.  Or maybe I will do something like this is how things look 3 months in, or 6 months in to show progress...I don't know.  All that said, there is one room that I couldn't be happier with, even in its state right now, and that is the dining room.  I had a clear vision for it in my mind - I wanted a blue and white plate wall, I knew the furniture that was going in there...things just really came together.  I am hoping that my mom and I can add some finishing touches - all the 'big' stuff is there but it needs the little decorations added in.  I am hoping to use what I already have, too!  Fingers crossed it works out that way!

3.  This is an old favorite, but one I never got around to sharing.  I think I have mentioned a few times that my dad has an old, classic car.  He rents out a shop a few miles out of town, and before we were going on vacation, he was taking his car back out there to store it.  That way there was room in the garage for my car (so nice!).  He drove out, I followed him and it was just the most picture perfect day.  I had the windows rolled down, the radio up, and just enjoyed the little drive.  I couldn't help by snap some pictures of the corn fields - the colors were just so vibrant.  Some people kind of find it surprising, but I would absolutely love living out on a farm.  And while my parents live in town, the city is surrounded by farm land and I try to soak it in every time I am home.

4.  I am still loving Lara Bars.  I tried a new flavor this week - Chocolate Chip Brownie, and it's another winner!  So far I have tried the Carrot Cake, Banana Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  They are all sooooo good.  I have also tried the Peanut Butter Cookie one, and while it isn't my favorite of the bunch, it really isn't bad either.  So glad that I finally gave them a try after hearing Lindsay rave about them.  I stocked up this week at Target since they were on sale and on top of the sale price, you can get 15% off with your Cartwheel app.  Can't beat that!   

5.  I mentioned I wasn't feeling well earlier, and since I couldn't have my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup, I got the second best thing...Chick fil A's chicken noodle soup.  If you have not tried it yet, I highly suggest it.  Especially when you aren't feeling well.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Linking up with AndreaErikaAndreaand Katie.        

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

An Ode To My Apartment

A few weeks ago, I was starting to feel a little emotional about moving out of my apartment.  While I had wanted a place of my own for ages now, actually taking that step was kind of bittersweet.

I moved into my apartment while I was going through my divorce.  I literally looked up apartments over the weekend, visited my complex that Monday, decided not to mess with looking at other places after that, and moved in the following weekend.  It was FAST.  And just what I needed at the time.

It was a little place - just a small one bedroom, but I feel like I really made the most of it, and turned it into a home.  The first days were almost like camping - I literally had two air mattresses.  One that was my bed and one that was my 'couch' if you will.  Things really did come together quickly, though, and that, of course, had lots to do with my family.  

When I actually moved the majority of my stuff in, it was freezing rain.  My dad and I literally were checking the temperature every few minutes to see if we could make one more trip.  A close friend helped me get the last of my things later on, and I will never forget her carrying one of the rubbermaid tubs in that was so heavy and her saying - 'what's this full of - books' in a semi joking way only for me to tell her, yea it is full of books, haha.  Whoops!

I had some of the best times living in that condo, and some of the worst times, too.

I bought a new car, and got a different job.  

I finally got a library card (after waiting wayyyy too long), which is one of my very favorite things.

I had mice...eeeek!  And raccoon issues with the trash...another eeek!  I also locked myself out on my balcony once...and then proceeded to hardly ever go out there again, haha.  

I decorated for my favorite holidays each year, falling more and more in love with fall and Christmas each time.

I spent days at the pool, but never as many as I should have.

I spent lots of mornings / evenings taking walks around the neighborhood, walking to the park, and even the library.

I made a ton of new recipes in my tiny kitchen - the majority of them good, although some were major fails.  My collection of cookbooks grew and grew, even though my space just seemed to get smaller and smaller. 

I organized, reorganized, and organized things again.  And did lots of shopping...then more reorganizing to fit everything in, haha!

In that apartment, I started this blog.  Something I had wanted to do for awhile before, but never got the courage to start until then.

While there was lots of laughter, there were also tears.  There were times of loneliness, and times were I felt so full of hope and love I could have burst.

I feel like I proved to myself that I CAN do things myself...things that gave me anxiety before (and let's be real, still do), but I could and I did do them.  On the same note,  I realized how important family and good friends are...and that it is ok to lean on them when you need to.

I really could go on and on...

I stayed there longer than I planned - I initially signed a 6 month lease, not knowing what was next, and ended up staying 4.5 years.  That number seems like forever, yet it also seems like it wasn't all that long ago.

And while it was a little bittersweet saying goodbye, I know the move was a good one.  I have zero regrets, even when some of the issues have popped up (I am looking at you electrical box), and I am so excited to be moving forward!


Monday, August 6, 2018

Weekend Recap: My Best Friend's Wedding

Hey all!  This morning came wayyyyy too soon.  The weekend went by wayyyyy too fast and I am already looking forward to 4:00.  

I took the afternoon off this past Friday to head on up to my parents.  My jr high / high school best friend got married this weekend!  The wedding was in Iowa, and after checking out the drive, I opted to go home so I could ride, instead of drive.  The drive was relatively uneventful, thankfully, and it was nice to spend some time at home.  My mom has one of the greenst thumbs, and I couldn't help but snap some pictures of her flowers...and of course, one of the cat.  We all called it a bit of an early night since we would be leaving bright and early the next morning.

We were on the road by 7:00, exactly as we had planned.  My mom's best friend road along with us, too, which made the 5 hour drive go by a whole lot quicker!  It was a bit of an adventure, as the last two hours or so were on a 2 lane highway, but goodness is Iowa pretty.  So many well kept farms and rolling fields - just gorgeous.  We made it to the hotel shortly after noon, and had a short wait before our room was ready.  We set out to find some lunch before we needed to get ready for the ceremony.  The place we ended up at for lunch was BBQ, and so delicious.  It was kind of by accident - we originally planned to go to another place, but realized they didn't actually have food, but the BBQ place was right there, so it worked out.  We all got ready for the ceremony, then headed over and searched for a parking spot.  The church was right by a bunch of other churches, and there was actually another wedding going on!  It was kind of funny - a few people actually went to the wrong wedding on accident!  They made it to the right one in time, but made for a good story.  During wedding ceremonies, one of my favorite things to do is watch the groom as the bride walks down the aisle.  He was grinning ear to ear and it was just so awesome to see him so happy!    

After the ceremony, we went in search of a drink, and ended up at Pulpit Rock Brewery.  It was a really neat place, with a great outdoor area.  We ended up sitting around the bar inside, because right after the ceremony it started to rain.  It was back to the hotel to catch the shuttle, and catch up with a few old friends, too!  When we got to the hotel, we were kind of surprised that we didn't see anyone we knew, but as we were waiting for the shuttle, we ran into the other group of people from our hometown there.  Having the shuttle was so nice - it made things so convenient!

The reception was a lot of fun.  It was so nice to catch up with a few people, and of couse, to dance.  I took one picture with the groom (my old bff) and then a few of my parents and that was it - and I can't say those are worth sharing either, haha!  They had pizza brought in later in the night - it was sooooo good.  I always love when people do that - I was getting a little hungry, and it was like it appeared right at that time.  We didn't stay out all night, because we knew we would be up early to drive back.

6:30 and we were on our way home.  It was a rainy morning, and the temperature was only 65!  It felt like a perfect fall morning where you just want to stay cuddled up on your bed.  After getting to my parents, and getting a quick lunch in me, I headed back to St. Louis to the 97 degree weather - blah.  It was a longgggg day in the car, and I can't say I was too productive when I got back, other than getting a few loads of laundry done.

Being tired is a small price to pay for going to the wedding, though.  It brought back so many great memories seeing him and his family.  It's been awhile since we really talked, and it was like no time had passed at all. 

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Linking up with Biana and Lindsay.      

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Favorites: After A Blah Week, Things Are Looking Up!

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Happy Friday!  This week has had a lot of ups and downs, and I am not one bit sad to see it go.

I thought about doing a confessions post yesterday, which really would have just been me venting, but thought I would keep it more upbeat with my August Goals.  However, I still feel the need to vent, so here it is!  (If you don't want anyone being a Negative Nancy on your Friday, just scroll on down to my favorites - the happy stuff.)  Tuesday started off relatively well - I had made my lunch the night before (always a good start to the next day), and was ready for the day ahead.  I was feeling a tiny bit behind, because I saw that after I left work, I had a few emails from my boss of things to do.  Nothing urgent, but I just like to be timely and even though he knew I had gone for the day and likely wasn't expecting a response right away, I like to be on top of things.  But the night before I didn't even check my phone.  So there is that.  And I couldn't remember if I turned off my straightener after I had gotten out to the garage and ran back inside to check.  I really need to start taking pictures of that everyday, haha!  And speaking of my straightener, I was having a bad hair day.  I got my haircut yesterday, and I needed it for sure!  I got into work, only the realize the overnight update on my computer wasn't quite finished, so it was about 45 minutes before I could actually log on and do anything.  I ran out to pick up a donation for my company's United Way campaign, and it took way less time than I anticipated, so I headed over to my apartment for a walk through early.  Only to realize I forgot to put a book in my bag.  And I was about 25 minutes early!  I killed time on my phone, and 11:00 came and went.  I waited 12 minutes before calling the office, and then another 35 minutes for someone to actually come.  I was really frustrated at this point - I hate when people are late, and I was hungry.  The walk through took all of about 5 minutes, then I turned in my keys.  Pretty much took all the 'sweet' out of the bittersweet feelings I was having about leaving my apartment.  I was in a pretty sour mood the rest of the afternoon - ate lunch, but realized I forgot my dang Lara bar, which is always a little treat for after lunch or in the afternoon so that didn't help.  When I got home and went for a walk, I kind of got spooked in my neighborhood by some suspect looking characters (surely just my overactive imagination), and then I got rained on.  Things looked back up when I headed to a church meeting, which was a lot of fun (see number 3 of my favorites), but then when I got home, I got some bad health news about someone...and while I know I have so much to be thankful/grateful for (trust me, I tried to recite those things in my head to get out of my mood), and really in the grand scheme of things, all the little things that happened (except the health stuff) are so unimportant, it still just was not a good day.  But, it's the weekend, I have a wedding to attend, so it should be a good one!

Thanks for listening - onto the good stuff! 

1.  I started the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) program last week, and so far I have been really enjoying it.  It's quick - 3 days a week of 4 sets that are 7 minutes each for the 'organized' workouts.  It is TOUGH and by far the arms & abs days are my least favorite, but that is just because those are my weaker areas.  Give me a leg day any day!  There is some equipment required but I have just been making due with what I have (i.e. using my step stool instead of a bench to step up on).   The other days are to be some kind of 30-45 minute lower impact cardio activity, or a quicker high intensity workout.  I am going to with the lower impact cardio, and have been walking.  Gets me outside, and is a fun way to explore my neighborhood.  Starting BBG really has helped motivate me again.  I have realized after doing various programs that I tend to get bored after doing them for so long (I did Femme Fit for about 6 months, or so and just needed something different).  It's nice to have a few different ones I can go through when I need to switch things up.  

2.  Many of you know how much I love cookbooks.  LOVE them.  Two that I have added to my collection in the past few years are the Skinnytaste cookbooks - The Skinnytaste Cookbook and Skinnytaste Fast & Slow.  I haven't really made that many things out of them, but I recently saw one of her instagram posts, which led me to her website, and then led me to pinning away (you can follow me on Pinterest here) all these recipes that look so good and are on the lighter side.  I love that she posts meal plans for the week ahead of time (on Saturday) - along with the total calories for the full day, and for those doing it, Weight Watcher Points.  She even includes a grocery list, and little notes, like what to prep ahead.  I just think it's really handy and am surprised I have never looked at them closer.  Perusing her website also has me wanting to go through my cookbooks again soon!  With things finally settling down, and me back in a cooking mood (even though I don't go back to school, or have kids that do, the start of school just means fall to me, and the thought of fall has me wanting to spend time in the kitchen!), I really can't wait to try some new recipes out.  I plan on holding myself to it, and already have a Recipe Round Up post on my calendar...hopefully I have will have lots of good stuff to share!

3.  I mentioned earlier, that I had a church meeting this week.  It was a dinner at one of the ladies' homes, and it was so much fun.  I was told not to bring anything, that it would just be a light supper, but was that an understatement!  We had BBQ chicken, salad, these amazing little beef and cheese pies, fruit salad, ice cream, homemade sugar cookies...the works!  It was delicious.  It's a great mix of ladies - all ages, too, and one of them brought their little two year old and she was just the cutest thing.  She is always adorable in church, and much to my surprise and excitement, she took a liking to me that night.  While we were planning an upcoming lunch at church, she sat with me for a little bit and it was the cutest thing.  I have a picture of my nephew as my background on my phone, and whenever my phone would light up, she would squeal 'baby' when she saw the picture.  I found a bunch of pictures that we scrolled through over and over again of him, and she just kept saying baby, baby, or going awwww - SO CUTE!  The best, though, was probably when I turned on the camera and she saw herself.  Let's just say I have lots of forehead and one eye pictures of her sweet little face on my phone.  Nights like that just make me so happy to have found this church and gotten involved! 

4.  I say things are looking up in my post title, because after a crappy few days, I made a really yummy dinner this week, and had a super great shopping trip.  First, the dinner.  I have been hearing about Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi for about a week or so, so earlier this week I picked up some to try out.  I was so pleasantly surprised at how good it was!  It took a little bit longer to cook than what it said on the bag, but it was well worth it.  While I try to, I don't always like the cauliflower subsitutes, but this one was so good.  I topped it with pesto, and paired it with cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  SO GOOD!  As for the shopping trip, I have had my eye on some chairs for my living room from Pottery Barn.  I had some money to use for my first 'big' house purchase, and after some thought, I finally ended up deciding that chairs would be it. More about them below, but in order to choose the color / fabric, I headed to my local Pottery Barn.  It's located in my very favorite mall, so I was excited to go.  The person who helped me was just the nicest - I know that is part of her job, but it was really fun to talk with her and she truly seemed excited for me when I told her about my new place.  Since I was already going to be at the mall, my mom asked me to pick up a clutch for her.  I went to the store and they were just the nicest, too!  Again, I know it is part of their job to be friendly and helpful, but it was just a really good experience.  And then, as I was walking out to my car, someone else was leaving, too, and we had a nice little chat on the way to our cars.  Just very random, but so pleasant.  Everyone was just so friendly and pleasant (minus the people at Saks that pretty much ignored me - made me feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but that's ok), and really made a random weeknight trip to the mall just really good.

5.  I thought I would round up my latest purchases in one favorite.  The first two are all because of Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World.  Lindsay shared this green bell sleeve top from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale last Friday, and as soon as I saw it, I went and grabbed it for myself.  It came in this week, and after trying it on I can totally see why she liked it so much!  The material is fantastic, it fits really well, and the color is super pretty.  I can't wait for the weather to get a little cooler, because I think it would just be adorable with this blue button skirt I also got from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  
Bell Sleeve Knit Top,
                        color, Green Ultra
Button Front Skirt,
                        color, Navy Night

Then, this week, she did her monthly what I wore post, and shared the cutest scalloped tank from J.Crew Factory.  I loved it when she posted a picture of herself in it, and I couldn't get one for myself quick enough after realizing it was on sale.  I find myself reaching for tops like this more and more to wear to work - can't wait to try it for myself!  

Moving to my house purchase, the BIG purchase for me this week was two chairs for my living room.  I knew I wanted something to flank my fireplace, so when I was looking online, I came across these.  I love the classic look, and knew that they would be something I would keep and love for years.  Even full price (although the price does vary depending on the fabric), they were relatively in line with what else I was seeing.  However, some of them are on sale right now, making them each about $80 off.  I knew I wanted to take advantage, and since I wasn't sure how long the sale would be going on, I jumped on it.  I went with the Brushed Crossweave Navy, which almost looks like a denim - it's really pretty and the fabric is so soft!  It was a huge purchase, but one I am so excited about!

While I didn't buy this for myself, I wanted to share the clutch I got my mom.  She actually found it online, but I intitially told her I didn't think it would be good, because it seemed so narrow - kind of like an envelope bag.  Well, when I saw it in person, it widens at the bottom.  The pictures online just do not do it justice at all.  It's really the perfect black clutch - simple, sleek and so very classic.  I kind of wish I had been shopping for myself, haha.  I really liked it!                         

Hope you all have the best weekend!

Linking up with AndreaErikaAndreaApril, and Katie.