Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Favorites

It's crazy to think that I started this blog just a little over a year ago. With the end of the year right around the corner (read: tonight), I wanted to recap my favorite moments and posts of 2014! 

My first resolution last year was to start a blog, which I clearly did. I tried to write a hip and/or rad introductory post. You can be the judge of how that turned out. 

I met one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, listened to her speak in Athens, OH. She signed seven of my books, and now I can die happy. 

I turned 22 and the world didn't end. I checked another item off of my New Year's resolutions when I finished my T-shirt quilt

I purged my closet and took a giant box of clothes to Goodwill. Yes, I did have a minor panic attack as I walked away. Soon after, I fought a spring cold. Shouldn't karma have been on my side after donating all that stuff?

I went through the five stages of finals week as I wrapped up my first year in my master's program. 

My blog got a beautiful makeover, and I discovered how delicious dragonberry screwdrivers can be. An entire month off work gave me some much needed perspective on my obsessive need to plan everything. 

I GOT ENGAGED! Some other things happened too, but this was obviously the most exciting and important. 

I wrote one of my favorite posts about my (imagined) perfect day with Taylor Swift. I bought my first new car, named Lucy. Ryan and I celebrated our four year anniversary. Some time around here I got hooked on Kim Kardashian Hollywood. 

Wedding venue was booked! 

We road-tripped to visit one of my bridesmaids in St. Louis for Labor Day weekend. I wrote another one of my favorite posts wondering how to plan my life when I won't have Rory Gilmore guiding it

My parents and I visited our favorite fall festival in Eastern Ohio. I was obsessed with Gone Girl, and I got completely hooked on Scandal. 

I spent Thanksgiving with Ryan's family for the first time. I STILL played Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Taylor Swift's music video for Blank Space struck a nerve

Ryan and I attended three Christmas parties in one day. I opened up about why I want to work in reproductive health, and I bought my wedding dress! 

Happy New Year everyone! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lately Lately

This past Christmas week absolutely flew by. For the first time in a long time, I spent an entire week up in Cleveland with my family. Among many many other fun things, this is what I've been up to this past week! 

- I bought a wedding dress! (!!!!) And had the most amazing experience. More on that later. 

- I had a sleepover with my best friend in the whole world, and we listened to Jealous on repeat and watched this TED Talk before bed. 

- Ryan and I attended three Christmas Eve parties for our different families. (Talk about chaos.)

- I read Amy Poehler's book over the course of 24 hours. 

- My first friend from high school got married and he and his wife had their reception. It's starting. I'm going to be the best line dancer by the time I'm in my 30's. It's electric! 

- This was the first year that I was genuinely more excited to give presents than receive them. 

- That being said, I'm so glad Ryan and I created our wedding registry before Christmas - we got such fun things!! Like this giant Mason Jar pitcher and this iced tea maker, which is brewing away as I type. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Survive Holiday Shopping + a Giveaway

Real life - I've been working on my Christmas shopping since July. That's not even just the crafts that I give myself months to make; I've actually been slowly ordering presents on Amazon for months! (It's easier on my bank account this way, but mostly I just get so excited to give presents!) Anyways, there's always at least a few presents that I need to buy once it gets to be December, but I absolutely dread hitting the stores this time of the year. Today I'm sharing my tips for how to survive holiday shopping without going too crazy! 

Start early and buy online. Try to minimize the number of store that you need to visit. Shoppers and store employees always seem to get more and more angry/stressed the closer it gets to Christmas. Try to get as much done early and online to avoid the bad attitudes!

Wear headphones. I know that some people think this is rude or distracting, but I love shopping with headphones in. It puts me in my own little world, and I don't have to listen to babies screaming or people arguing over the last something at a store. (Normal people would listen to Christmas music while Christmas shopping, but I usually put on some Kanye/Jay Z/Beyonce and I'm good to go.) 

Look for little ways to save. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't seen all that many in-store discounts this season. I use my Target debit REDcard to save 5% on every purchase. I love that it isn't another credit card - it's linked right to my checking account and doesn't accumulate a balance. 

If you can, avoid the busy hours. Between traffic, parking lot craziness, and in-store business, hitting the stores after 5pm or on the weekends can be a huge pain. If possible, try to do your shopping during the day during the week. This isn't an option for me, so I try to go shopping either early or late on the weekends! 

Treat Yo Self. I firmly believe that, as an adult, the holidays are a great excuse to treat yourself to a present or two. If you're brave enough to brave the overcrowded stores, pick yourself up a scarf or a bottle of nail polish. Only need $7 to get free shipping? Snag the book you've been dying to read before the New Year. (It's basically free anyways, right?) 

Don't always stick to your list. I'm such a planner, and I love making lists. I've found, however, that some of my favorite gifts to give are ones that I hadn't even thought of until I see them in a store! Having a list/budget is great, but be open to surprises and changes as well! 

In case you're not in the mood to fight your way through stores, check out this amazing Kate Spade giveaway! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Traditions

I'm going to start this post by saying that I was blessed with an absolutely incredible childhood, especially around the holidays. Besides the traditional cookie baking and tree picking-out and decorating, growing up, my family's holiday traditions would start on Christmas Eve. We would (almost) always go to church on Christmas Eve, and when we would come home there would be a lone present waiting under the tree with my name on it - my parents gave me a new set of PJs every Christmas Eve! For a solid five years, I received a flannel nightgown covered with teddy bears, and then when I was older I got pairs of plaid PJ pants and a matching top! This is definitely a tradition that I want to continue when I have kids of my own! 

On Christmas morning, I would wake up sometime around 7, and my parents would have already made a roaring fire in our fireplace downstairs. I would sit on the staircase with my teddy bear and dog to take an annual "Christmas morning" picture in my new PJs with Mannheim Steamroller playing out of my dad's 100-disk CD changer. About halfway through opening presents, my mom would warm up her coffee, make my dad and I hot chocolate, and pop Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in the oven. (We would always have these on special occasions like Christmas or birthdays!) Every year, we would watch Charlie Brown and my all time favorite Christmas movie, Elmo Saves Christmas. 

Ryan's family has their own traditions as well, and we're slowly starting to merge the two and create our own! 

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?


Friday, December 12, 2014

You Want to do WHAT for a Living?!

Since the day I entered grad school, people have asked me what I want to do when I graduate. It’s felt a lot like the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, except now I am grown up, and I actually have to give up hope on the whole horse whisperer/ballerina thing.

For a while, I didn’t really know how to answer. I want to talk about sex for a living. Except you can’t really say that to your grandma or your boyfriend’s family because how awkward is that. So I’d say something like, “I want to work in public health,” which usually prompted the follow-up question, “why?” The why was something I didn’t feel like I could talk about either.

During my second and third years of undergrad, I spent a year volunteering in the wellness center on campus teaching fellow students how to properly use condoms and other barriers, about consent, and why/where/how to get tested for STIs. Almost every day, I was both impressed by how many people voluntarily came into my sessions and shocked by how many college-aged students, male and female, didn’t know how to use a condom. I loved it. I loved it so much I can’t even put it into words. Some part of me felt like I was making a difference on my campus, but mostly I just thought it was fun. I had two revelations of sorts during my time there: “This information would have been so helpful when I was younger,” and “I wish I could do this for a career, forever.”

It was around this time that I learned that reproductive health education/program planning/implementation was a legit career. Not like Coach Carr, I don’t want to be a health teacher, but I learned that I could take a very broad Master’s and apply it to a more specific area of health. So I applied, was accepted and enrolled. Somehow, some way, talking about sex was going to be my life because I thought it was fun.

Over the past two years, I want to talk about sex turned into I want to work to make sure adolescents receive comprehensive sex education to continue to decrease teen pregnancy and start to decrease adolescent STI rates. I want to ensure that adolescents today don’t receive the same, inadequate, incomplete sex education that I received. I want to create programs that provide access to necessary contraception. I could go on. What started as a selfish career path led me to a Master’s program that was about improving the health and lives of entire populations. This Master’s program led me to realize that, as fun as it would be to sit around and write a sex advice column for a living, Dan Savage has some very large shoes that I don’t want to try to fill. As nervous as I am to graduate and find a job, I’m so excited for what’s next.

 I’ve also found the perfect answer to the original question. When you simply respond that you want to work in reproductive health, people usually don’t ask why. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rustic Wedding Inspiration

It's been a while since I posted about anything wedding-related! As a quick update, we've booked our venue, videographer, photographer, and hotel block. 

As you might have guessed from the venue pictures, we're going with a more country, rustic theme. It sounds weird to say that we're not the fanciest of people, but we're really not! I never pictured my wedding taking place in a Disney-like ballroom, we both grew up (somewhat) in the country, and this more casual theme just felt very us. My Pinterest has been blowing up with wedding pins, and today I'm sharing some of my favorite inspirations as we plan more of the details for the wedding! 






It's important to me that we don't have a "Pinterest" wedding. (She said, after making an entire post dedicated to Pinterest inspiration...) All I mean by that is that I want to draw inspiration from these ideas, but I don't intend to replicate them entirely. I want our wedding to be unique and special, and I don't want all of our Pinterest-using guests to look around and see things that they've already seen a hundred times online. In some ways, this adds pressure, but in other ways it's exciting! 

Have you planned a special event using Pinterest? How have you made ideas your own? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

O Christmas Tree

I am absolutely obsessed with my Christmas tree this year. We decorated last weekend, and every spare moment has been spent staring at this space with the biggest heart eyes. I love how cozy our den feels with our tree, a roaring fire, and a mug of hot chocolate. Our collection of ornaments is slowly starting to grow, and it's so fun to pull them out and think of all the memories behind each one. Check out a few of my favorites! 

Can I just leave everything up year round? I think it's almost as perfect as Charlie Brown's little tree.