100 Days Until Summer – A Fitness Goal

So, if you haven’t heard the news already, there is only 100 days until the first day of summer!  I realize it seems kind of silly to be setting summer timelines when we haven’t even celebrated the arrival of spring [which is next week – yay!] but there are so many great things that come with summer so I really need the reminder!  I think of wearing shorts, and sundresses, skirts, and the dreaded bathing suit and I realize I need to desperately think about this countdown as if my self esteem depended on it [and it does].

So, why is this such a big deal you ask?  Well, starting today I’m kicking off 100 days of physical activity.  Yep – I’m saying it here so it must be true and I must be held accountable.  So, let’s set some parameters around said goal, because obviously the body needs rest and working out hard for 100 days just isn’t realistic.  So pretty much what that means is that I need to get up off my ass and do something!  I’m talking going for walks, doing crunches during the commercials of the TV shows I’m watching, going on a bike ride, taking a new workout class I haven’t tried before or trying a new at-home workout if I can’t make it to the gym.


So tonight I’m starting light [way to make an impact, right?] so I’m finding a quick at-home workout that I can do before heading to bed for another long day of work tomorrow.

What are you doing to get your body summer-ready?



Nearly to Newly Awarded – The Liebster Award

Happy, happy Saturday! As much as I hoped to squeeze in a few more posts this week, it just didn’t happen.  Much like last week, it’s been crazy [although not quite as crazy] and it’s just so hard to post after work when it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open long enough to make dinner.  I have to do my domestic duties, ya know!

I was super excited to log-on a couple of weeks ago and see that Amanda from Notes from a Newlywed nominated for a Liebster Award I got really excited.  I think I was most excited to learn that someone other than my co-worker and cousin are reading this little blog of mine.  Of course I didn’t follow the rules and repost the questions that went along with the award so maybe I didn’t really deserve it?  Then I logged on again on Monday and saw another blogger, Vanessa from Burn Bright also nominated me.  You ladies are just too sweet.

For those who don’t know what the Liebster Award is [to be honest, I didn’t until I was nominated], it’s awarded from bloggers to other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. It’s pretty much a great way to get to know others and recognize and share other up-and-coming blogs.  Super cool if you ask me!  So what are the rules?  Each bloggers asks 10 questions to their nominations, posts 10 random facts about themselves and then nominates 10 other bloggers and asks 10 new questions to them.

So, are we ready to get to know me a little bit better?  Let’s do this.  Oh, and be prepared for a lengthy post! 🙂

10 Random Facts about ME!

– My mom, sister and cousin are my best friends
– I love setting goals [I love more when I achieve them]
– I’m obsessed with stationery and my dream job would be to start my own stationery line [and blog all about it, of course]
– I used to hate the color gold and now I’m obsessed with all things gold
– I’m a super picky eater
– My dream job used to be an event planner but after planning my wedding I realized I liked my weekends too much to give them up
– If I went back to school for anything it would be for graphic design
– I’m a firm believer in lists – to-do lists, bucket lists, travel lists, grocery lists… you name it, I’ll make a list of it
– I love to sleep… it’s one of my absolute favorite things to do
– My favorite outfits consist of skinny jeans, an oversized sweater and a cute scarf

Now – to my answers from each blogger who nominated me.  Let’s start with Amanda from Notes from a Newlywed:

1. What makes you happiest?
Being with my family, friends and dog, Pebbles.  Also, spending time doing things I love, like reading, blogging, photography, etc.

2. What’s your favorite musician or band?
I love Eric Church!  He’s such an amazing artist and entertainer.

3. What guilty pleasure TV show do you watch?
Sadly enough it has to be Teen Mom 2 on MTV.  It’s only that season though [not the cast of Teen Mom 1 or Teen Mom 3].

4. In high school, who were you? [nerd, athlete, etc.]
I’m not sure what I would classify myself as?  I hung out with all different groups of people… so I guess you could call me a drifter?

5. What is a little known fact about you?
I’m one of the least athletic people you’ll ever meet.

6. What do you think is your best quality?
My work ethic.

7. In three words describe your everyday style.
Laid-back, comfortable, understated

8. All time favorite restaurant?
Oh, that’s a toughy because it consistently changes.  I’ll say Ichiban’s is one of my favorites. [it’s a Japanese Steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis – a must try for anyone visiting the Twin Cities]

9. What is the ultimate date for you?
Something that involves a little adventure or activity.  In all honestly, I’d rather be in jeans and t-shirt than dressed up in a dress and heels.

10. Do you cook?  If so, what’s your go-to, favorite recipe?
I’m trying to cook more, which means trying new recipes.  Right now I’d say my “go-to” recipe would be Chicken Wild Rice soup… it’s the perfect winter recipe!

11. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Another tough question! Right now I would probably say Australia or the Greek Isles… or really anywhere that’s a warm climate sounds wonderful!

And now to Vanessa from Burn Bright‘s questions:

1. Who is the biggest influence in your life, and why?
I’d say my mom.  I look back on how young she was when she had three kids and how hard she and my dad worked to make our lives so great growing up.  She didn’t have a college degree and is one of the top employees at her work.  She’s also the nicest person anyone will ever meet – she has a heart of gold.

2. If you could sing one song, and sing it incredibly well, what would it be?
Can I just say I wish I could sing every song well?  I have no musical talent. Period.

3. What do you most want to learn how to do before you die?
How to live for today instead of always thinking about the future [I spend far too much time focused on the future instead of always being present in the now].

4. What is your most prized childhood memory?
Boating on the St. Croix River every weekend in the summer.  That is my absolute favorite pastime and I hope that I can offer my future children the same type of memories.

5. What’s your favorite meal to make, and your favorite meal to be served?
My Chicken Wild Rice soup recipe is my favorite to make… I also like making my grandma’s barbecues.  Favorite meal to be served?  The perfect steak with mashed potatoes and fresh, steamed veggies. Yum!

6. Describe your perfect day.
Sleeping until I wake up without an alarm and getting out of bed when I’m ready… followed up by a stroll through the farmers market, exploring the city and taking tons of photos… enjoying a coffee at a cute little coffee shop and blogging for a bit. Taking in a bike ride and then cooking dinner on the grill, eating on the deck with a glass of wine and ending the day with a good book before calling it a day and heading to bed.  Aww…. if only every day could be like that. [can you tell I’m excited for summer to get here?]

7. What was your last dream about?
Sadly enough it was a work dream.  I can’t recall all the details but I remember waking up in a panic that I forgot to do something.

8. Why did you start blogging?
I just love the idea of having a creative outlet and writing about topics that interest me.  I’ve always loved writing so a blog was the perfect way to keep me encouraged to write.  Plus I LOVE the design aspects of blog and hope to eventually meet with some other bloggers.  It’s such a fun community of people who blog!

9. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done on purpose? [skydiving, asking your crush out, etc.]
Sadly, nothing scary or crazy comes to mind.  Skydiving is on my bucket list so hopefully that gets checked of in the next summer of two [it’ll have to… I only have a little over two years before I turn 30].

10. What’s the one question you would never want to answer honestly?
What my worst trait is! 😉

So here’s the list of blogs I want to nominate for this award:

Live More, Love More
Our Detroit Wedding
Must Have Boxes
The Party Girl
Idyllwild Designs
Ashley Ella Design
Melissa Faye
Chelsea and the City
Kory Woodard
Love Grows Design Blog

My list of questions are:

1.  If you could have any career in the world [regardless of money and any skill you have] what would it be and why?
2.  If you could have lunch with any person [living or deceased], who would it be and what would you ask them?
3.  If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be?
4.  What are your 5 favorite blogs to read?
5.  Why did you start blogging?
6.  What’s one skill you wish you had?
7.  What’s your favorite recipe to make?
8.  What’s your favorite book/series?
9.  If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
10.  What’s your favorite topic to blog about?

I can’t wait to get to know some of these ladies a bit better and I hope you have a chance to check their blogs out, too!



Blog Me: A Week of Good Reads

Well, another weekend has come and gone and we’re staring at another work week.  How is it that those two glorious days off can go by so quickly?  Last week was a real doozy at my full-time job – like a 70-hour doozy, which is why things were pretty quite around this little corner of the internet.  I’m anticipating it to be another crazy week so today I’m parked at a cozy local coffee shop trying to plan out the upcoming week’s post.  I find that I’m most productive when I’m away from the distractions of home [cough, cough, Pebbles and the hubs].  Does anyone else feel this way?

I didn’t do much beyond work this past week so I don’t have much to share for fun life updates.  I did, however, treat myself to a massage yesterday.  After working that amount of hours in a week I felt it was well deserved AND needed.  I couldn’t help but notice through my 60-minutes of heaven that there were some points that I just kind of tensed up and wondered if the massage therapist questioned who was on her table.  Let me caveat this by saying that I pretty much rolled out of bed, threw on some yoga pants, a t-shirt and sweatshirt and drove myself to the appointment.  So that made me think – what are those parts of the massage that jolt me out of relaxation?  Here are my top 5:

1.  Unshaven legs. OK ladies, I know you all know what I’m talking about.  It’s winter and I’m not wearing anything that exposes my legs so why not wait a little bit longer between shaving my leg days?  Well, it’s fine until you make an impromptu massage appointment and you all you think about during the leg rubdown is if your massage therapist thinks Chewbacca is on their table.

2.  Being Ticklish.  I’m not overly ticklish by any means, but there are certain spots that if massaged just right make me jolt and twitch until it’s left alone again. Usually these spots are on my back and feet, which is an area that I need massaging the most. [I blame it on the high heels and my 5’2 height.]

3.  Love handles.  Nobody, and I repeat nobody, likes to have their love handles pushed in ways that remind them they’re there.  Maybe mine are just getting bigger than in the past because I don’t think I’ve ever noticed how awkward and wide-awake I became when my masseuse started pushing my muffin top around.

4.  Unwashed hair.  Because this week was crazy, I hadn’t washed my hair for a solid three days [let me tell you how thankful I am for dry shampoo], so when it came to the head massage I wonder how much gunk got caught on her fingers.  This brings me back to point one and whether or not she thought Chewbacca was on her table.

5.  The awkward ending.  I’m not talking about happy endings here, folks [um… ew.]… but that awkward time at the end where the massage therapist asks how everything was and just kind of stares at you.  Toward the end I’m so relaxed that my brain isn’t usually firing on all cylinders so my answer may or may not make 100% sense.  It’s like suddenly getting woken up and being given a pop quiz; it’s best to wait a few minutes.

I hope I’m not the only one who has these thoughts/experiences.   Have you had an awkward experience during a massage?


:: I’m still trying to tackle some DIY projects soon and this tutorial for a mini leather wallet on Wonder Forest has made my list.

:: I’m trying to decide what to do above the bed in our guest room and think this starburst mirror would look perfect!  The tutorial is on the Sarah Hearts blog and can be done for less than $40!

:: I’m pretty obsessed with grilled cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup; it’s been a staple meal in our house this winter.  With that said, it should be no surprise that I love this post on Style Me Pretty made it to this week’s favorites.

:: I really liked this post on Notes from a Newlywed on the things she does differently to feel more grown-up.  It makes me think of all the things I do differently today than I did 5 years ago.

:: You read above about my lack of hair cleansing for a few days, so I’m thinking this hair trick posted on Stripes & Sequins is a must-try one night this week.

:: Do you ever talk yourself into buying something because the packaging is so pretty and irresistible?  I totally laughed about this post on From Roses because this girl is also an advertisers dream.

:: So spring is supposedly right around the corner [although Minneapolis’ forecast must not realize it] so it’s time to jump start that summer workout, right?  FitSugar posted 13 tush-toning exercises that I’ll be working into my weekly routine.  And even though I despise cardio, FitSugar also posted a good cardio workout for new runners.

:: Apartment Therapy posted these great tips on keeping your home guest-ready even if you hate to clean [I think this post was written with me in mind].

:: Even though I just talked about getting my body in bikini-shape, I can’t help but post a couple of yummy-sounding recipes.  I really want to try out these 4-ingredient brownies posted on A Cup of Jo and these brownie batter cookies posted on The Girl Who Ate Everything.

What were some of your favorite blog posts from around the web this past week?



Blog Me: A Week of Good Reads

Hi friends! Happy Sunday night.  I realize this post is a little later than normal but I’ve been recovering from last night’s festivities and didn’t feel up to staring at a computer screen!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  Mine went by way too fast and because I was nursing a hangover today I didn’t get much crossed off my to-do list.  This is why I try not to drink because I’m more than aware that I’ll feel it for a while.

Anyway, I’m hoping to have some good stuff for you to read this week, but in the meantime, check out some of my favorite reads from blogs around the ‘net from this past week.  And to make it better, you can imagine yourself reading these while sitting on the below, sipping your favorite drink.  Enjoy 🙂


:: Since I’m trying to develop some skills with my DSLR camera, I really enjoyed this post on Helena La Petite.

:: Keeping with photography, I enjoyed this post on Lipstick With Some Sunshine on improving the photos on your blog. I definitely know I need all the help I can get!

:: One of my goals for 2014 is to continue to decorate our house.  I enjoyed this post on Apartment Therapy with tips on developing your own decorating style.

:: Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins wrote a fun little post on how to style a nightstand.  I’m putting some of these suggestions to use when styling the nightstands in our spare bedroom before our out-of-town guests come in a few weeks.

:: One of my blog goals for 2014 is to start using social media to promote Nearly to Newly, so I enjoyed reading this post on Oak & Oats.

::  Melissa at The Inspired Room posted photos of a stunning home that might push me to start playing the lottery.

I hope everyone has a great start to the week!



Nearly to Newlywed: Choosing Your Wedding Vendors – Pt. 3

It’s another Wedding Wednesday!  That means we’ve survived another half a week of work… let’s all celebrate with a glass of wine!  Today we are picking up with the Choosing Your Wedding Vendors series and talking about photographers.  If you want my opinion, your photographer is one of the most important vendors, and investments, when it comes to planning your wedding because they’re the only vendor who offers a tangible product when the day is over.

Wedding Vendors

When I planned our wedding day I did more research for photographers than I did for any other vendor.  I also interviewed more photographers than I did any other vendor.  I had had a certain style in mind when it came to photographing our day and I looked at a billion local photographers websites to see if their style matched what I was looking for.  As I did for all the other vendors, I created a spreadsheet with the name of each potential photographer [or their company], their contact information, services offered, rate information, comments and whether or not they were a candidate or not.  From there, I narrowed down who I wanted to meet with.

To get to the point of putting everything in a spreadsheet, you want to make sure you start with the basics – what are YOU looking for in a photographer?  Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself to get your research started:

  • What style photographer do I want?
    • Photojournalistic – the photographer captures the emotions and events throughout the day, telling a story.  Photos tend to be more candid photos than the traditional posed photos.
    • Artistic – Photographer finds fun, unique ares, poses, etc. for photos.  Photos tend to be full of color, different angles and scenery.  A lot of posed shots but not the traditional shots your parents had when they got married!
    • Traditional – Focuses a lot on the formal posed photos.  Photographer is very involved in directing wedding party, families, guests, etc.  Not a lot of candid moments captured,
  • What can I afford?
  • What do I want included in my photography package?
    • Here are some options to think about:
      • Engagement session
      • Hours of service for wedding day
      • Copyrights to photos
      • Second Photographer/Assistant Photographer for wedding day
      • Travel costs

The answers to these questions should get you started to kick off your search.  When I was starting my search I knew I wanted a photographer who had a photojournalistic style because I don’t really love too many posed shots; I also knew that I wanted an engagement session, full copyrights to the images, a second photographer and at least 8 hours of coverage the day of the wedding.  So I made sure I looked for all these options in potential photographers packages before reaching out.  If they didn’t have information on their websites about the packages they offered, I would make sure the “must-haves” were included in my initial email so they knew exactly what I wanted.  I also confirmed that they had my wedding date available – if they were already booked they were no longer a potential candidate.

Once you have narrowed down the photographers that are potential candidate, set up some a meeting to learn more about them.  Because you are going to be with your photographer for most of the day, you will want to make sure you connect on a personal level.  You’ll also want to make sure they’ll get along with your family and friends.  For instance, when I was meeting with photographers, I liked to hear their background and interests.  I knew my wedding was going to be rowdy, probably a little raunchy, and full of late-night drunks [that was pretty accurate of the day, too] so I had to make sure the photographer who photographed our wedding could handle that.  I met with a couple photographers who were a bit too innocent and I think they would have been shocked at some of the things they heard or saw that day.

Here are some of the questions to ask when you meet face-to-face, via Skype or over the phone with your prospective photographers:

  • How did you get started in photography?
  • How many weddings have you photographed so far?
  • How many photos do you usually take during a day?
  • Do you photograph any other events that day/weekend?
  • If my wedding goes longer than the hours I have booked, are we able to add extra time to our package?
  • What happens if you get ill and can’t photograph my wedding?
  • How do you usually choose a second photographer/assistant [if this is included in your package]
  • What’s your editing style?
  • Of the total amount of photos you typically take, how many of them are edited?
  • How long after my wedding with the images be ready?
  • What will you [and any second shooters/assistants] wear?
  • What’s the payment schedule look like?

These are just some questions to get you started.  The photographer should have some information to go over and questions for you too.  You’re sure to come up with some more questions as the meetings progresses, too.

Here are a couple of recommendations I have when you start thinking about your photographer:

  • I strongly encourage you to do an engagement session with your photographer.  Engagement sessions allow you and your fiance to get to know your photographer while also giving your photographer the opportunity to see how the two of you interact with each other and take direction.
  • Request a second shooter or assistant photographer because they can capture extra moments that your photographer might not [for example capturing the moment the bride and groom see each other when she walks down the aisle – it’s so special to capture the groom’s perspective that moment he sees his bride and vice versa with the bride seeing her groom]
  • If you think 8 hours is enough time on your wedding day, you’re wrong!  We ran out of time during the day and I totally wish our photographer could have stayed longer to capture more of the reception party!
  • Pin images on Pinterest like crazy and share them with your photographer.  I brought these images with me to the initial meetings with each photographers so I could give them a firm idea of what my style was.
  • Your photographer will eat up a decent portion of your budget – be OK with it because like I said above, it’s the only tangible product you’ll have when the day is behind you.
  • If you really like a photographer and they aren’t available on your date, ask for recommendations of photographers.  They almost always recommend photographers with similar styles and price ranges! [that’s actually how I found my photographer, she was recommended by another photographer I reached out to!]

I hope this information has given you the push to get started on your photographer search.

Photographers – what advice would you give couples looking to book the photographer for their day?  Married and engaged couples – what advice do you have?



Glam Squad: Ipsy’s February Glam Bag

Hi friends and happy Monday!  Minneapolis got hit with another half-foot of snow today.  It’s official: Mother Nature is on my sh*t list.  I can’t believe how much snow and cold we’ve had this winter and I know it’s not over yet.

Anyway, I know it’s been a little silent around these parts the past week so I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!  I spent it with my grandma, enjoying some DQ and watching the Olympics.  It was special to me to have her as my Valentine for the night, although I must tell you that my siblings and cousins definitely showed me up – she got spoiled but she totally deserves it!  The rest of the weekend was spent with the hubs, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  We went and saw the Lego movie with his brother and nephew – it was his nephew’s first movie and he did great!  It was fun to experience that with them.

So let’s get on with tonight’s post: my February Ipsy bag.  I posted January’s bag last month [yea, that’s a no-brainer] and talked all about why I like Ipsy more than Birchbox – if you haven’t checked it out, you can do so here.  This month I got some goodies that I’m really excited to try.  Take a look below to see the fun products in my bag this month and the great offers that come with the subscription.

ipsy glam bag

Pacifica – Hawaiian Ruby Guava Body Butter
[offer: 20% off any purchase]

Tini Beauty – Eyetini Cordial Cream Shadow + Base In One
[offer: 50% off any purchase + Free Nail Polish]

Zoya – Nail Polish
[offer: Buy an 2 Zoya Nail Polishes and receive 1 free Zoya Polish and free Zoya Remover]

POP Beauty – Plump Pout Mini
[offer: 25% off any purchase]

J.Cat Beauty – Eyelashes + Eyelash Glue
[offer: 25% off any purchase]

Since I just got these products over the weekend I haven’t had a chance to try anything.  I think I’m most looking forward to the Eyetini Cordial Cream Shadow stick and the eyelashes, although I’m absolutely terrible at applying those things.  I think I need to watch a YouTube video or something.

If you are interested in signing up for your own Ipsy bag, head over to their site and sign up now!

Are you already a beauty box subscriber?  If so, which box do you subscribe to and how do you like it?





Take Me Out: 10 Non-Traditional Valentine’s Date Ideas

This Valentine’s Day will be the 7th “anniversary” of mine and hubs first date.  Yep, that’s right, we had our first official date on Valentine’s Day at a little booth at Applebee’s..  But before you get all sappy on me, I must tell you that it had nothing to do with the holiday and everything to do with timing.  You see, we were both in college and working; I was taking 18 credits and working 25+ hours per week and he was in his senior year working at Target early in the mornings [we’re talking the 4 a.m. stock shift] so finding a time that worked for us both proved to be difficult.  Not to mention I was a little reluctant to go on the date in the first place [boy am I happy I did, though].

There’s something I should also tell you all:  we are not the couple who celebrates Valentine’s Day.  Yea, I get him a quirky little card every year [one that usually has to do with how studly he is], but we don’t go planning some extravagant dinner date to celebrate.  That’s just not our style.  I tried one year making a special little dinner and dessert with some wine, sitting together at our dining room table [which never gets used for eating] over candlelight and the response I got from him:  “oh this food is good but this feels a little awkward at the dining room table” as he finished his plate and left to play video games.  Because I know his style I wasn’t offended, but I’ll always remember that I don’t need to waste my time pulling out the fancy moves for Vday.

So, the point to that story?  Rather than sit down at a traditional Valentine’s dinner, where items are usually way over-priced anyway, we like the idea of celebrating with non-traditional date ideas… if we celebrate at all.  So here are some of my favorite “non-fancy dinner” date ideas for this Friday’s Hallmark holiday, also known as Valentine’s Day.  And just in case these don’t appeal to you already, most of these don’t require a reservation!

Valentine Date Ideas

1.  Pizza, beer and bowling – what could better than greasy pizza, gut-filling beer while wearing shoes and using balls that hundreds of people have touched before you?  If you’d like to spruce the game up a bit, make some sexy bets for your nightcap!

2.  Tour a local brewery –  we have had a couple new breweries open around the Twin Cities areas so sampling some local beer flavors would be a fun night out.  Because the holiday falls on a Friday this year, you won’t have to worry about curing a hangover for work the next morning.

3.  Dinner and a movie at home – if you’re looking to keep it low-key, why not stop at your local Redbox and pick out a movie together.  Order your favorite take-out and veg in front of the TV for the night, just enjoying each other’s company.

4.  Try your hand at mini golf and arcade games – remember how fun mini golf and laser tag was when you were growing up?  I bet it’s just as fun now that you’re an adult. Like bowling, make some friendly bets to make it a little more interesting.

5.  Set-up an at-home spa for the night – Spend a couple of hours pampering each other with a full-body massage and follow it up with some wine and apps.

6.  Go go-karting – if you’re both thrill-seakers this would definitely be a fun date night.  When you are done, head over to your favorite drinking establishment and consume a few adult beverages while you rehash who’s the better go-kart driver.

7.  Ice Skating – Minneapolis has this cool ice-skating ring in the heart of downtown that’s actually indoors so you stay a little warmer [which is perfect for the weather we’ve had] that would be great for a Valentine’s date.

8.  Create a picnic in the living room – I absolutely adore this idea!  Push the furniture to the corners and enjoy a night of picnicking together.  This is the perfect idea for anyone living in a cold-weather state who dreams of warmer days.

9.  Find some local live music – there’s no better way to prep for your Vday nightcap than getting all hot and sweaty together on the dance floor… if ya know what I mean! 😉

10.  Do a workout together and follow it up with making a healthy dinner – whether you take a class or plan a session that the two of you can do together, what a great way to spend some time encouraging each other than working out together.  Post-workout, stop at the grocery store and pick up items to prepare a healthy stir-fry or other meal and head home to make it together.

There you have it – 10 date ideas that don’t include an overpriced meal but are sure to be memorable!  I hope I’ve inspired you to step out of the “restaurant” rut and get creative with your plans.  If not, well, there’s always next year! 🙂