Monthly Roundup: August Favorites

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August, where did you go? I swear it was August 1st yesterday but alas, here we are, the end of another month.

This month was fun and crazy. There were many Firsts this month as you’ll see below. We also hit the “2 Months To Go” mark so the start of September is super exciting yet insane that our wedding day is almost here!

{ONE} Bloom Daily Planners

If you’re an avid reader or follow my social media, you know I’m a huge fan of Bloom Daily Planners. I’ve used their products for at least 5 years now and talk about them frequently on my social channels. This month Bloom surprised me by reaching out and asking me to visit their headquarters; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Their kindness was contagious and they graciously gave me products to give to friends and family. I even grabbed a new Vision Planner and it made me so excited to plan out the rest of the year! We had a lovely visit and I am so thankful for the opportunity to visit my favorite company. Thank you, Bloom!

{TWO} Spin Class

Another First that occurred this month was attending my first Spin Class. It was something I added last year in my 101 in 1,001 list and have kept an eye out for opportunities to try it out ever since. When my alma mater offered an alumni-only spin class at a discounted price, I couldn’t refuse! My friend and I went together and were sore for days afterward but I’m glad I did it and hope to attend another class soon!

{THREE} Pentatonix Concert

A coworker won tickets to a Pentatonix concert and couldn’t go so she gave them to me. It was such a lovely surprise and Pentatonix, as always, was unbelievable! We saw them back in December when they sang all of their Christmas hits but listening to them sing their other hits was a fun experience. Echosmith opened for them and they were also fantastic. Current favorite Pentatonix covers: The Evolution of Michael Jackson and Hallelujah.

{FOUR} Moving

HUGE First of the month was moving to our house (!!!). In a blur of packing and cleaning, the realization that I moved out of my childhood home into our future house didn’t hit me until I saw my stuff sitting in an empty room. Craziness. However, it has been a fun experience unpacking, settling in, and making a house our home. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more about that in the coming months!

{FIVE} Wedding Look

With two months to go, the to-do list should be dwindling down but it is, in fact, skyrocketing. All of the to-dos, however, have not been all been boring. For instance, this month I had my first dress fitting, found my veil, and had a hair trial! Putting the dress on again after a year was so exciting and made it all feel more real — I can’t wait to walk down the aisle and dance the night away.

{SIX} Date Night Diaries with Steve and Stacy Hart Podcast

I mentioned this podcast series in my recent post about my morning routine but I wanted to give it another shout out. Steve and Stacy discuss a variety of topics and keep Christ in the center of it. I love that. Each episode is between 30-45 minutes so it’s easily digestible and the perfect length to stay focused. Spoiler alert: Stacy is my wedding photographer!

{SEVEN} Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Don’t judge me but I totally purchased a PSL within 48 hours of Starbucks announcing they were back. I can’t help it — I love fall and everything about it. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. 😉 #SorryNotSorry

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5 Wedding Planning Tips From a Budget-Friendly Bride

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As some of you know, I’m engaged! So far wedding planning has been a whirlwind of to-dos, appointments, and meetings, but I’ve been having a blast dreaming and preparing for our big day.

It blows my mind how much money brides will spend on their day. I am all for big dreams and beautiful weddings, but I am also budget conscious and proud of it. It’s been a fun challenge to find creative ways to save money while also planning the wedding of our dreams.

Here are 5 ways I’ve stayed budget conscious as I plan for October!

keri engaged wedding planning

{ONE} Save-The-Dates

Save-the-dates were one of the first things I checked off my to-do list because… I’m not doing them. Many of our friends and family already know when our wedding is either by word-of-mouth or by asking us, so I’m saving money and only sending out official invitations instead!

{TWO} RSVPs

I haven’t officially sent my invitations yet, but I already know one thing I won’t include when I do: RSVP cards. Creating a wedding website where guests can RSVP, find location details, registry information, and more not only saves on postage, but it also keeps all of the RSVPs and necessary information in one place.

{THREE} Dinner

This is total preference, but I love buffet-style dinners as opposed to multiple-course dinners. It allows guests the flexibility to eat what they want while also making sure you don’t over-order and over-spend.

{FOUR} Cake

Do you remember the cake from the last wedding you attended? Probably not. Instead of cashing out tons of money for an extravagant and multi-tiered cake, I will order a giant sheet cake and serve it pre-cut to our guests. To keep up with tradition, we will most likely still order a smaller cake for photos and tasting, but since my fiance isn’t a huge cake person, stay tuned for possible alternatives. 😉

{FIVE} The Dress

love my dress for many reasons but one of them is the fact that I didn’t spend thousands of dollars on it. I watch TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and am baffled by the amount of money some brides spend on a beautiful dress they will wear once. Don’t get me wrong, I think the dress is extremely important, but will I spend a down payment’s worth on it? Absolutely not. I’m a witness to all you brides out there: It is possible to find your dream dress without breaking the bank!

Do you have any budget-saving tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them so comment below!

7 Tips For Your Morning to Maximize Workday Productivity

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It’s already March?! It seems like yesterday was January 1st. Time flew and now we’re a quarter of the way through 2018. Craziness.

If your work week is anything like mine, the days blend together with meetings, tasks, emails, assignments, due dates, projects, and more. So much to do, so little time!

It’s easier said than done to stay organized, but I kickstarted these habits during my college years and never looked back. If you’re looking for ways to start your day organized and mentally prepared to tackle your to-do list, you’ve come to the right place.

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{ONE} Start The Day Before

The process from waking up to arriving at the office is a couple of hours of pure craziness for me. The last thing I want to do is try to remember everything I have to do that day.

Instead, I start the day before. Before I leave the office, I clean up my desk and write down all the tasks and meetings I have for the following day. I even write reminders to drink water, walk, eat lunch, and skim news articles. It may seem like a silly exercise, but cleaning my workspace and jotting my thoughts on paper before I head home relieve stress and serve as visual reminders of the next day’s priorities.

{TWO} Make Your Bed

It’s a simple trick that many fail to do, but when I make my bed, my morning is instantly better. It takes only a few minutes and once it’s done, I feel accomplished because I’ve already checked an item off my list. Plus, my room looks and feels cleaner because the pillows are off the floor and the blankets are folded neatly.

{THREE} Eat Breakfast 

“Hangry” is definitely a thing. Not only does eating breakfast give me the necessary fuel my body craves in the morning, it also brightens my mood and releases those hangry tendencies. I typically eat eggs and sausage for breakfast, which give me a quick boost to make sure I’m mentally and physically ready to tackle the day ahead.

{FOUR} Drink Water Before Coffee 

I am a huge coffee lover. I drink at least 24 ounces every day, but I try to drink even more water. Before I drink my first cup of coffee, I sip water first. It not only helps me start the day healthy and hydrated, but it also gets me in the right mindset to tackle the day head-on. Plus there are tons of health benefits on why drinking water first thing in the morning is good for you so it’s a win-win!

{FIVE} Check Emails

Once I arrive at the office, I sip my coffee, check my to-do list, and dive into emails. I don’t typically check my emails first thing in the morning. I wait until I am at my desk before I open my inbox so I can give myself enough time to sort through, read, and respond to them all at once.

While I check my email, I write any additional to-dos to the list. It kills two birds with one stone because I’m keeping my list updated while also trimming down the number of emails in my inbox.

{SIX} Stick To A System

I’m a color-code, check-everything-off kinda girl. You may be like me, or you may not be. Whatever works for you, stick to it.

For me, I check things off as I go so I can visually see my progress. I have a notebook dedicated to my daily lists, a planner for important dates and reminders, a monthly wall calendar, and a pad used only for weekend goals & tasks. I’m a bit Type-A, can you tell?

You don’t have to manage the same system I do but find what works for you and stick to it. One major way to stay organized and ensure you’re ready to take on the day is to find a system that works for you and do it until it becomes a habit.

{SEVEN} Just Do It

Similar to the organization system, stop avoiding the unavoidable and just do it. Know when you’re most alert and productive and do the harder tasks then. For me, I write better in the morning so I try to do a lot of my writing when I first arrive at the office. I also am more creative in the afternoon so I try to plan in a way that allows me to tackle creative projects then. However you operate, try to accommodate your to-do list around it to ensure you are creating your best work every day.

The time is now.

Well, it’s been a minute.

Actually, it’s been many minutes because I took an unplanned blogging hiatus as life continued around me.

I do not regret it…not one bit.

You see, I hadn’t realized this, but I was wearing myself thin. My brain was constantly in “work hard” mode and I mentally succumbed to this thought process that I had no time to “play hard.”

What exactly is “play hard?” You hear all the time this motto many proudly state as their own: Work hard, play hard. However, for me, as a Type-A perfectionist with a tendency to over achieve at whatever I do, “playing hard” does not always come easily, or naturally, to me.

I get stuck in the “work hard” cycle and rarely allow myself to “play hard.”

This does not necessarily mean I am a workaholic. I love my job and I love what I do every day. Coming to the office is not the issue.

The issue is the thought that I do not deserve to step away from whatever is considered “work” to instead, once in a while, focus my attention on spending time on myself.

Unfortunately for over a year that meant blogging was pushed to the back burner, as well as, a few of my other hobbies. I always said, “It’s not the time,” or “I don’t have time today,” or “There’s something else I should be doing.”

I made excuses for all the reasons why I shouldn’t or couldn’t.

Well, that’s changing. The time is now.

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The other day, I needed a break from whatever I was doing (I don’t remember what). I decided to log onto my website for the first time in over a year. I decided to click “Drafts” and read all of the blog posts I was always scared to push live.

That’s when it hit me.

I missed blogging.

I missed getting my thoughts on paper because I wanted to, not because I was expected to.

I missed making time in the day to write, about anything, to no one in particular. To the digital space in the hopes that maybe someone out there would read it, but maybe not.

That’s when I realized that it was time.

The time is now.

To start again. Maybe not as frequently as before, but maybe. Who knows.

I am fighting against my instincts right now to not create a content calendar. You laugh, but I shake my head. I am not going to make this a “work hard” thing. A content calendar and lists and to-dos are part of the “work hard” mentality.

Maybe one day I’ll switch to that, but for now, I will not.

“Play hard” has no restrictions. So therefore, blogging will have no restrictions (for now).

We’ll see how this works.

Maybe I’ll start by finally publishing a few of the drafts…

Or maybe not.

Whatever happens next, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just do it. No overthinking, no worrying, no unrealistic expectations put on myself by me.

The time is now.

Several Months Later

* Several Months Later *Several_Monthes_Later..._

I feel like I am living a Sponge Bob episode where time races forward and the next scene occurs months after the previous scene. AKA I have not written a blog post in several months and a lot has happened since my previous one.

A few months can change a lot of things. For example, my role as a student took its final bow and I received a college degree as proof. My role as job searcher ended, as well, and I accepted a post-grad job with great excitement. My role as Smurf-owner changed, because I bought a new {silver, not blue} car.

If you do not stop to take it all in, life goes by pretty fast. It feels like just yesterday I wrote a blog post about the anxiety I felt before entering college and here I am, * four years later * reflecting on the truth that I left it.

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Life goes on after college. That is one fact I had a hard time grasping throughout the last semester or two. It was difficult to imagine a world without homework, exams, group projects, and presentations. To be honest, it has been challenging to get out of the mindset that I start school in the fall. I’m relieved, of course, and very excited — still, it is bizarre to embrace the idea that I’m actually done. Eighteen years of school and *snap* – it’s over.

Life goes on — a truth, a revelation, a promise.

An adult. A real one. I am a full-fledged adult now, but I still feel {sometimes}
like I am 12. Maybe it is because I have not grown since my pre-teen years, or maybe it is because I do not feel “old” like I once thought adults should feel. Nevertheless, it’s official. I’m a college graduate and a new member of this much-talked-about place called, “the real world.” Ready or not, here I come.

In the beginning of the year, I chose three words to help guide me through the next 365 days: First, Risk, and Joy.

My oh my, how perfect those words have been to summarize the many joys, struggles, difficulties, and blessings I have experienced thus far this year. In just these seven months of 2015, I feel like I have been stretched in ways I did not anticipate. Stretched in patience, faith, love, and joy. Stretched in trust, work ethic, focus, and determination. Stretched, stretched, stretched — but stretched in ways that always pointed me towards focusing on the God who gives me strength.

Without firsts, without risks, and without joys, life is pretty dull. As a girl who usually loves routine and order, the idea of risking a comfort zone to try new things can be a true test of what I am made of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.42.51 PMI have a lot of adjusting and stretching to do. Obviously, I am not nearly as stretched as God wants me to be. Every day of life stretches you a little more towards Him. I’ve been stretching my identity to be more then just a piece of resume paper. My identity is more then the tasks I perform, the activities I participate in, and the motions of everyday life. My identity is through Christ, in Christ, alone.

A professor said to my class two weeks before the semester ended this past spring. He said to me, to us, “Stop thinking about what you want to do after college. Who do you want to be?” It struck me. Not because of the question, but because I realized how often I think about the things that need to be accomplished that I often forget to stop and really enjoy the moment.

The ironic part of this sort-of epiphany is how often I have blogged over the years about learning to find the little joys in every day life. It is a constant, life-long battle, and one that requires me to be constantly stretched and tested.

All I know is that I’m excited… and ready.

Another chapter has opened, full of new firsts, risks, and joys.

Let’s do this. IMG_1385

Liebster Award Nomination

Happy Monday!

Last week, I was nominated for a Liebster* award by Haley from Honestly Haley, a talented blogger and photographer I met through the blogosphere. Go check out her stuff; she’s great!

You may be wondering what a Liebster award is, and that is a great question. Let me try to explain. In short, a Liebster award is kind of like a piece of chain-mail in the blogging community, but without the annoying ‘threats’ that can come along with it. You nominate other bloggers to get to know them, meet new people, and share the love. You receive 11 questions to answer and then you create 11 of your own to pass on to your nominees. Thank you for the nomination, Haley!

* My Mac keeps wanting to auto-correct Liebster to Lobster. Haha!

And so we begin…

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1. What is your favorite flavor of jellybean? 

I’m a jellybean lover, so this is difficult! I know I hate the white ones; those are nasty. Hmm… I’d have to say my favorite flavor has to be pink watermelon (Starburst jelly beans, for the win) with green apple as a close second. I like them all, though. Except the white ones.

2. What are 10 things you can’t live without?

Oh snap! 10? I’d say: my Bible, Mac, phone, planner (I do not go anywhere without it), coffee (well, Starbucks coffee to be exact), a book (more specifically, anything written by Jodi Picoult), my grey boots (I’m not a huge fan of the color black, but grey is definitely my favorite neutral– they go with everything), Essie nail polish (specifically, “Cute As A Button” for spring), The Smurf (my bright blue car), and infinity scarves (I wear them allllll the time).

3. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Jennifer Lawrence would be rad! She’s hilarious and I’m not, so it’d be a step in the right direction, I think. Either her or Karla Souza (the girl who plays Laurel on How to Get Away With Murder) would be awesome.

4. What would a perfect day consist of?

Any day at the beach or in New York City!

5. What are you most grateful for?

The fact that God loves me and died for me, even though I do not deserve it. His grace amazes me and I am eternally grateful for it.

6. What do you look for in a friend?

I can summarize it all in four words: Integrity, humor, encouragement, genuine.

7. What is your favorite food?

Grape leaves, which is a Lebanese dish I’ve eaten every holiday since I was young. Chicken and broccoli casserole is also a favorite of mine, followed by homemade vegetable soup. To die for.

8. What is your favorite season and why?

Autumn is, by far, my favorite season. I love watching the leaves change and the air turn colder. Football season begins and fall colors are everywhere. Throughout college, I’ve also noticed some of my favorite memories come from fall semesters so I have a lot of happiness in those couple of months. It’s also not too hot and not too cold, high 60s or low 70s and sunny. Perfect.

9. What is your dream job?

If you had asked me from age 5 to 15, I would’ve told you it was to work as a news anchor for Fox News. If you had told me last year, I would have said it was to become a sideline reporter for ESPN or for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, it’s public relations– plain and simple. I would still love to work in sports PR, but ideally, my dream job is to go into work every day loving what I do, and that is public relations, social media/marketing and event planning. Whichever job can let me do one, two, or all three of those is my dream job!

10. Where is your dream home?

Home is where the heart is, right? Cliche, but true. Where the people I love are, that’s where I want to be. But, that’s a cliche answer so I’ll give an unrealistic answer. I’d love to live in Australia or Hawaii, at least for a month or two– actually, I take that back. A vacation would suffice.

11. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or Oreo. I’m a fan of the chocolate-y pieces, but hate chocolate ice cream.

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Okay, so my nominations are as follows for the Liebster award… These are blogs I think are awesome and I read them almost every day. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting two and personally corresponding with a few, as well. Check out their sites– they’re fantastic, just like the authors!

Meagan at The Millenial Martha

Courtney at The Everyday Elegance

Carly at The College Prepster

Katy at Daily Katy

Laura at Center Stage: Communication

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Have fun! I can’t wait to see your posts.

Here are you questions…

1. When did you start your blog?

2. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

3. If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why?

4. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

5. Describe your dream day.

6. If you had $100,000, what would you do?

7. What is your dream job?

8. What are five things on your bucket list?

9. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

10. What social media channel do you check first when you wake up?

11. What is your favorite season and why?

January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?