20 Questions

A giveaway winner has been chosen and notified by email. Check back on this post to see who won!

Since it’s Good Friday and Easter weekend, I think it’s the perfect time for a fun survey. This one is from Christina’s blog!

1. What brings you the most joy? My husband. Family. Friends. Sunshine. Warm weather. A good workout.

2. What are your vices? Chocolate. Ice cream. Reality TV.

3. What is on your nightstand? Lotion. A cup of water. A book.

4. Do you have a secret talent? Most people know that I danced for many years, but many probably don’t know that when I was in high school, I took ballroom dance lessons. So, I know the basics. If they had a version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ for people who aren’t stars, I’d want to go on it!

5. What is your greatest indulgence? Travel. Thank you to my in-laws, my parents, my husband, and a flexible work schedule, I’ve been able to travel a lot over the past couple of years. Everyone tells me to travel while I’m young, and since I never studied abroad (something I regret), I don’t want to miss out on these opportunities.

6. What should every woman try at least once in her life? Traveling alone. When I went to Minnesota in the fall, I flew by myself for the first time, stayed with someone I’d never met in person before, and had to trust that everything would work out okay. It did, and I became a more confident person because of it!

7. What makes you laugh? My favorite sitcoms. My husband. Babies.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I had two editorial internships in college, and my first print pieces were published when I was a freshman. When I’m feeling down because I don’t have a full-time job in that industry, I have to remind myself that I do have the experience.

9. What is on your bucket list? Someday, I’d love to travel to Italy, New York City, San Francisco, Greece, and Germany!

10. What is on your feet right now? Fuzzy socks!

11. How did you make your first dollar? Babysitting. I started babysitting for the girl across the street when I was 12.

12. What superstition do you believe in? I can’t think of anything specific right now, but I’m sure I’ve believed in a few!

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most? Workout clothes. And I actually keep them in my dresser, so basically, I rarely wear clothes from my closet.

14. What is the best gift you’ve ever received? My engagement ring. I was so excited, I didn’t have an appetite for a week afterwards. I remember texting my cousin and asking her if I’d ever be able to stomach anything again (hahaha).

15. What is on your liquor shelf? A bottle of raspberry vodka that I bought to make sangria. We also have a few bottles of wine and some Skinnygirl.

16. What is on your kitchen counter? Bills. Keurig. An Easter basket full of candy. Toaster oven. Set of knives. Butter dish. A few jars of spices.

17. What would you never leave home without? My wedding rings. My keys.

18. What movie has the greatest ending? I’m a romantic comedy girl — ‘You’ve Got Mail,’ ‘Runaway Bride,’ ‘A Lot Like Love.’ I’m sure there are a lot more.

19. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party? Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Bethenny Frankel, Hanson, Jesse McCartney, Taylor Swift, and my family and close friends. It would be interesting!

20. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were younger? You ARE young. Don’t wish the years away. I thought I was “never going to meet anyone!” right before I met Jordan — I was only 20. Don’t try to rush to the next stage in life just because you’re a certain age.

Now it’s your turn. Answer some questions in the comments section, or fill out the survey on your blog!

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Managing Finances as a Couple (without a formal budget)

You still have time to enter my giveaway! Just a few days left!

I’ve heard that money and in-laws are two main reasons why people file for divorce. While I think that problems with in-laws can be prevented — you should get to know them before engagement is even in the picture — it isn’t always easy to practice the ‘managing money as a couple’ thing until you’ve already said “I do.”

Jordan and I didn’t live together before we got married, so we were one of the couples going into money management blindly. Beforehand, we went through premarital counseling where we talked a lot about our finances. What we discovered (and already knew without the help of a counselor), is that we have a lot of student loans, I need to be the designated bill payer (type A personality for the win), and we both have expensive tastes. The last one is probably what gets most couples into trouble, but my thought is, at least it’s a mutual problem?

We weren’t going to pretend like we could keep living the lifestyle that we had when we each lived at home with our parents and no big expenses, but we weren’t sure that a formal, written budget would work for us either. I know. Dave Ramsey would not be proud.

So, nearly two years into marriage, we still don’t have a formal budget. I know people who keep electronic spreadsheets, and have handwritten notes in planners, and have a certain allowance for each area of expenditure in life, and it works great for them, but my sometimes uptight personality just can’t take that kind of stress. It’s okay, because we’re still doing just fine.

1. We ask before we spend. If Jordan or I plan to buy something over $100, we talk about it first. If it’s something smaller (like a pair of running shoes), we’ll just send a quick text. If it’s something bigger (like our kitchen countertops, or a new couch), we’ll spend a few days discussing it and picking it out together. This way, we can keep each other in check and avoid spending more than we should.

2. I check our online bank account weekly. I’m the one who pays the bills, so I’m the one who checks the bank account regularly to make sure that everything looks okay. It reminds us where our money is going, and how much we have available. This is how we keep track of everything.

3. We have one joint bank account. Going along with #2, we have one joint account, keeping everything organized and in one place. This is where all of our money goes in, and where all of our money comes out. When we first got married, I still used my own bank account for direct deposit, but it got confusing when it came time to pay the bills. What’s yours is mine, right?

4. We splurge, occasionally. Jordan doesn’t get upset with me if I go get my nails done, and I don’t get upset with him if he buys another video game (opposites attract). We think that it’s okay to treat ourselves every now and then, especially now while we don’t have kids. If we never let ourselves have fun, we would both go crazy!

5. We don’t go into debt. The only credit cards that we have open are store credit cards, and we only use them for the discounts, paying them off as soon as the purchase is made. Instead of credit cards, we use debit cards, meaning that we can only live within our means.

6. We pay ourselves first. Every week when Jordan and I get paid, I transfer a portion of our paychecks into savings. The number varies a little from week to week, but it’s nice to know that our savings account is growing.

7. We give. We believe that what you give comes back to you. This shouldn’t be the sole reason for donating money, of course, but we’ve never gone into debt over a donation. If we have enough money to go out to dinner a couple of nights per week, we have enough to give back to those who need it more than we do.

8. We’ve gotten a second opinion. During our first few months of marriage, we met with a financial planner regularly. At the time, it stressed me out (he liked to bring up worst case scenarios…a lot), but now I’m thankful that we went. He helped us figure out where our money should be going — how much to keep in savings, how much to invest, how much to spend on a house, etc. You have to take some advice with a grain of salt, of course, but it is helpful to get a professional opinion.

9. We try to choose experiences over material things. If we’re going to spend money, we like to spend it on something that will leave us with memories, rather than something that will end up on the floor in a closet. This is probably why a lot of the walls in our house are still bare, yet we’ve traveled a lot in the past two years. Sorry, walls, we’ll get around to you!

10. We drive old cars. I drive a 20 year old car that I’ve had since I was 16, and Jordan drives a hand-me-down from his parents. Because of this, neither of us has ever had a car payment, and I feel very fortunate for that. Sure, some people might be embarrassed to drive the car that I do, but I don’t mind. This will be changing very soon when I get my new-to-me car (!), but it’s still used and the payment is low. As long as we can get from point A to point B safely, we’re good.

So, there you have it. It’s not fancy, but it works for us. If you’ve been questioning how to budget, a system like this might work for you too!

Do you have a formal budget?

What are your tips for spending money wisely?

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My Sister’s Shop {Matted Print Giveaway CLOSED}

The giveaway winner is entry #3, Alli O’Neill! Please check your email and respond as soon as possible!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have two sisters. I talk about Molly a lot, but I don’t mention Hilary as often. The reason for this isn’t bad or dramatic, it’s just that for the past few years, Hilary has been working long hours opposite of my schedule, and we haven’t been able to spend much time together.

The good news is, things are changing. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hilary made a big decision that will bring her down a new, very exciting career path. She took a leap of faith and quit her full-time job to open her own Etsy shop, My Crafted Life. I’m so proud of her!

Of the three of us, Hilary has always been the artsy one. She’s a little more mellow and free-spirited, and her artistic talents are a good representation of this. She’s been painting and drawing for years, and every time she gifts a family member or friend with one of her pieces, that person usually says, “You should sell things like this!” I’ve always agreed.

For my wedding, she addressed all of the wedding invitations by hand, wrote all of the table numbers and escort cards, and painted all of the glasses for the bridal party. She made all of my ideas come to life!

Now that Hilary’s shop is open, she has generously offered to give away one free print to a lucky reader, and a 15% discount to all readers!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me which print you’ll choose if you win. The thing that I love most about her shop is that all of the prints have a story behind them — read them by clicking on the links above — and each one comes matted and carefully packaged. I have a few of her pieces in my house, and I love them!

To use the 15% off coupon code* in her shop, enter the word HAPPY2 at checkout. The giveaway will remain open until Friday, April 18, when I randomly choose a winner. Good luck!

* Coupon code is valid through May 10, 2014.

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It’s Good to Step Out of the Bubble

I’ve been blogging for 3 1/2 years. In those 3 1/2 years, I’ve written a lot about my workouts, I’ve taken a lot of pictures of my food, and I’ve talked a lot about my lifestyle. I’ve always classified my blog as healthy living/lifestyle, and I’ve always read a lot of healthy living blogs too.

I love having a little space in this healthy living blog bubble. I like talking about fitness and health, and I like being a FitFluential Ambassador. I’ve had so many great opportunities because of this space, and I’ve met so many people.

Sometimes, though, I feel like I need a break. In the healthy living blog bubble, there’s a lot of talk about calorie counting, body image, eating disorders, strange food concoctions, diet fads, workout regimes and comparison traps. If too caught up in it, it can drive a person crazy.

This is why, I think it’s good to step out of the healthy living blog bubble every once in a while. It’s good to learn from bloggers with other interests — fashion bloggers, design bloggers, parent bloggers, photographer bloggers, and general lifestyle bloggers too.

Over the weekend, I had the chance to attend another local blogger meet-up with Indianapolis bloggers. We’re all different ages, come from different backgrounds, and write about different things, but I’ve found the meet-ups so refreshing — it’s nice to share thoughts and connect.

When I left the coffee shop, I realized that we were able to sit around a table for over two hours and not once question another person’s eating or drinking habits. We never once mentioned the workouts we did or didn’t do that morning. We didn’t compare. We just talked. And it was nice.

We can deny it all we want, but the world of healthy living blogging can sometimes be mean. I see it on Instagram — comments like, “You look too thin!,” or, “I guess it’s a cheat day!” I see it on blog posts — comments like, “Seems like you work out way too much!,” or, “Wow, you ate all of that?”, or, “It doesn’t look like you’re eating enough!” I mean, enough already. It gets old.

While I don’t plan on changing the genre of my blog, and I don’t want to stop reading my favorite healthy living blogs either, I do want to start adding new blogs to my reader. Blogs that remind me that there’s so much more to life than green smoothies and six pack abs.

Just like meeting new people with interests different than our own is good for us in real life, I think it’s good for us in the blog world too. It helps us keep things in perspective and learn a thing or two.

What are some of your favorite blogs, outside of the fitness and healthy living genres? I have so manyMix and Match Family, The Small Things Blog and Cupcakes and Cashmere are a just few of my favorites!

Do we compare too much in healthy living blogging?

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Friday Things

1. I’m loving the conversations going on in the comments section on Wednesday’s post. Even if I didn’t reply to you directly, I’ve read every single one! It seems like we can all agree on one thing — change can be very hard.

2. Last week when I was in Aruba, I spotted a reality star. Melissa Ziegler, mom of the oh-so-loved Maddie on ‘Dance Moms,’ was staying at our hotel. I first saw her when we were both browsing the gift shop. We made eye contact and smiled politely at each other, but by the time that I realized who she was, it was too late to say anything. I saw her again at the pool, twice, but I never said anything. No one else seemed to know who she was, so maybe she would’ve appreciated if I had gone up to her!

3. I went back for another acupuncture session this week, and the doctor couldn’t believe how much I’ve improved since my vacation. He is now fairly certain (as am I) that I have a vitamin D deficiency. While natural sunlight is the best medicine (I learned that 15 minutes in the sun is equal to 10,000 IU of vitamin D!), he told me to start taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D in liquid form — I’m taking this Liquid Vitamin D3. I actually learned a lot about the deficiency; I might have to share in another post, if you’re interested!

4. Last Friday, we sat on the runway in Newark, New Jersey for over two hours before our plane took off for Indy. This was already after a one hour delay in the airport. Needless to say, we were hours late getting home. If I had been traveling alone, I probably would’ve taken the $700 travel voucher that the airlines offered to four people who volunteered to get off the plane (talk about overbooking…). It kind of seems like it’d be worth the delay in getting home, especially when we were already that late!

5. We have a high of 73 degrees on Saturday! According to the weatherman, it’ll be the hottest it’s been since October. I’ve waited six months for this, and I’m going to enjoy it!

6. In between my nannying shifts yesterday, I babysat for two little boys — I watched them occasionally last year. The youngest still likes to be rocked to sleep, and within minutes, he fell asleep on my chest. In my opinion, it’s one of the best feelings. I didn’t want to move!

7. This weekend, we’re celebrating my sister’s birthday, having an early Easter celebration with my in-laws, and hopefully tackling some yard work in order to have more curb appeal (wish us luck).

8. Have a great weekend!

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