Friday, August 18, 2017

Unique Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but I love giving gifts. Finding that perfect gift for someone is such a great feeling. But sometimes you have those people who are just plain hard to buy for. Maybe they have everything (parents for example, I feel like they have everything). Or maybe you don't know them that well, so you're not exactly sure what they might like. Today I thought I'd share some fun, unique gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life. (In case you haven't noticed, Christmas is only about four months away!)

Candles - Personally, I love candles and can never have too many. They make great hostess gifts and are perfect for any occasion. Finding candles that fit someone's personality or their interests is even better. These candles are perfect for anyone on your list. Yoga lover? Beer lover? Why not get a candle that reflects those things. A candle can be generic, but finding candles that relate to a person shows you put some thought in to it.

Yard/Garden Decor - I find myself getting my mom flowers a lot, because it's something I know she'll like and it won't be a gift that just ends up in a closet somewhere. Sometimes it's a fresh bouquet of flowers, a hanging basket, or a potted plant. Getting her something to go out in her yard with those flowers is such a great idea that I had never thought about. These wind chimes, decor, planters, and bird feeders are just a few of the garden items I know she'd love.

Desk Accessories - Pens, paperweights, and gadgets are great ideas for co-workers, husbands, boyfriends, dads, friends, etc. My husband would think a pen made from his favorite baseball team is awesome. Your co-worker would probably get a kick out of a fun desk accessory, like a Playable Art Cube or a Decision Making Top. You can find more fun desk accessories here. You might even want to snag a couple for yourself!

All of these items are from Uncommon Goods, a website that sells unique gifts for any occasion. Not only do they have really fun items on their site, they are also a company that I would want to give my business to. Uncommon Goods works to be more sustainable, not only by being "green," but also by treating their employees well. They feature products that contain recycled components and have never sold products that contain leather, feathers, or fur. And one of my favorite things about Uncommon Goods is that they give back. When you checkout on their site, you select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation from them. That's pretty awesome in my book.

Hopefully those ideas help when you're can't figure out to get that certain someone. What are your go-to gifts for the hard-to-buy-for people in your life?

(This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods, but all opinions are my own.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Running Story

Last week I said I was going to start a running series on my blog. Today I'm starting by sharing how I got started with this whole running thing in the first place.

I've always considered myself athletic, but I was never a runner. I started playing sports what I was young, and continued through high school. I played softball, basketball, and was a cheerleader all four years of high school (and all the years leading up to high school). In middle school I played volleyball for a year and was on the track team, along with basketball, softball, and cheerleading. That still doesn't mean I was a runner. In track competed in two field events (long jump and high jump) and one track (running) event. And it was the shortest running distance in track, the 100 meter dash. So I was definitely never a runner.

After high school, I played on my church basketball league for a couple of years and played some slow pitch co-ed softball. I still play softball, but if you know much about co-ed, slow pitch softball, you know it doesn't involve a ton of running (at least in the leagues that I play in). 

After I had been in Grand Rapids for a few years, some of my friends convinced me to sign up for a 5k race (you can read about it HERE). The longest distance I had ever run before that was one mile, and I'm pretty sure that was back in 8th or 9th grade when we had to do it for gym class. But I downloaded the couch to 5k app and started training. My first race was a fun Halloween 5k with three of my friends. After running that first race, I was hooked. I wanted to get faster. So I kept signing up for races. Being signed up for races is what motivated me to run and train. 

before my first race
After running a few 5ks, I decided to make it my goal to run one in under 30 minutes. It took me about two years to reach that goal. Once I did it, I decided I'd try to run a 10k. I ran my first 10k in May 2016. After my first 10k, I realized it was that bad and I thought maybe I could do a little bit longer distance. So I decided to sign up for a 10 mile race, since it was only 4 more miles. After that race, I figured a half marathon was only 3 more miles, so what why not try it? So I signed up for my first half marathon, which I ran in October 2016. It was the hard, but I wanted to beat my time, so I signed up for another half marathon in April 2017 and then the Riverbank Run 25k in May 2017. That race is still the furthest distance I have ever run: 15.5 miles. I can't believe I came from barely making it 3 miles, to 15.5 miles and now training for a marathon. 

Running was so hard for me in the beginning but I have grown to love it. I never feel bad after going for a run, but I definitely regret the runs I skip. 

And that's pretty much it. My friends convinced me to do a race, and the rest is history. What's your story? Are you a runner? How did you get started? 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Blog Series

About seven weeks ago, Kevin and I "officially" started training for a marathon. The race is in October and we have nine weeks of training left to go. We had been running before we started this training, but not as often and definitely not as far. Since it feels like my life currently revolves around running, I thought I'd start a little running series on my blog. 

I'm definitely not a pro, but I've been running for several years now, and wanted to share everything I've learned so far. I'll share my story of how I got started running, how it's been going, and where I'm at now (you'll learn that I was definitely NOT a runner when I started). I'll follow up with posts about technology & apps, shoes/apparel, fuel/hydration, races, and everything in between.

I know not everyone is a runner, and not all of this will be focused on just running. A lot of it could be applied to many different types of exercise. I'll share playlists and songs that motivate me, what workout clothes I like best, other types of exercise I do besides running, and more. So if you're not a runner, you might still find some of the information interesting and useful.

I'll plan to do these running posts on Wednesdays, so look for the first post coming your way next week. And if you have any questions, ideas, thoughts, comments, etc. that might be helpful for this series, send them my way!

After my furthest run to date (25k = 15.5 miles).

Friday, July 28, 2017

Five on Friday

Yay for Friday! I felt like this week just kept dragging on, so I'm glad that Friday is finally here.

ONE. A couple years ago I made Sangria for the first time and it was delicious. Such a perfect summer drink. I think I'm going to have to make some more soon, before summer is over!

recipe HERE

TWO. If any of you follow @shaeffertoldmeto on Instagram (or read her blog), you might have seen that they recently got TWO adorable Golden Retriever puppies. And the adorable pups have their own Instagram account that you should probably go follow right now (@ourgoldenpups). Talk about cuteness overload!

THREE. I'm in the mood for another house project. I can't decide if I want to work on our upstairs guest bedroom and sitting area or our basement bathroom and laundry room. I mean, I know I want to get them both done, but not sure which one to tackle first. The upstairs guest room is definitely less work, because it's mostly just removing wall paper and painting the walls and trim, but we are in the basement way more often. Decisions, decisions. 

FOUR. I was looking up bottle openers (hoping to DIY one) and saw this one on Pinterest. I love it. Too cute!

FIVE. Our weekend plans consist of playing in a softball tournament tonight and tomorrow, and doing our long run on Sunday morning. I'm pretty sure I'll be planted on the couch watching tv and napping for the remainder of Sunday after all of that!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekend Recap

This past weekend was busy, but fun. It started with one last 30th birthday celebration at my parents house on Friday night. We did dinner with family and then invited more family/friends over for a bonfire. The weather didn't cooperate, and it was rainy and super humid, so we didn't do the bonfire  but we still had a good time. I'm seriously so lucky to have such great family and friends in my life!

Saturday morning Kevin and I did our long run for the week. 12 miles. I was pretty much useless after that, but we went out and did some quick batting practice for softball before heading to a friend's surprise 30th birthday party. We were pretty tired by the time Saturday night rolled around, so we headed to bed fairly early.

Sunday morning we headed to Lansing with Chris & Lisa (Kevin's brother and sister-in-law). Lisa, Kevin, and I ran a 5k race in Lansing that morning. It was our first chance to wear our matching shirts that Kevin made for us (see pic below). I wanted to beat my fastest 5k time, but was worried that my legs would be too tired after running 12 miles the day before. But I guess all the interval/speed work we've been doing paid off, because I beat my best time by about 1:45! I finished with a time of 26:34, which I was really happy with. Kevin got a new PR too...I think he was around 25:20.

The Capitol building in Lansing.

(I took first place in my age group...but it was a really small race and there were only 3 people in my age group! Kevin also took first in his, but again, there were only 2 people in his age group. But we'll take it! lol)

After the race, we headed to the Potter Park Zoo for a couple hours and then had lunch before heading home. Sunday night was spent catching up on laundry and watching the start of Shark Week. Looking forward to a fairly quiet week before another busy weekend!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Thoughts on Being 30

Last Sunday I turned 30. Everyone has been asking me how it feels to be 30. Honestly, it doesn't feel any different than it did to be 29. Or 28. It all just feels the same. Except now I have to check a different box for age groups when I enter races. But that's about it.

Even though I don't feel different, I definitely feel like the last 10+ years flew by. I mean, has it really been 14 years since I got my driver's license? 12 years since I "officially" became an adult? 9 years since I could legally drink? What have I been doing all of these years???

Then I thought about it, I did a lot during my twenties.

Moved to a new city.

Became a fur mom.

Got engaged.

Bought a house.

Got married.

Changed jobs a few times.

And now, here we are. I'm 30. My twenties were pretty great, so I'm looking to forward to what the next decade has to offer. Bring it on 30!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Quick & Easy Outdoor Light Fixture Update

Something I've wanted to do for the past couple of years is update our outdoor light fixtures. We have one by the front door, one by the garage, and one in the back yard. The two on the front of the house are just plain ugly and I'll have to buy new ones if I want to update them (I know what I'm putting on my Christmas wish list....). But the one in our back yard had potential. It wouldn't be my first pick in a fixture if I was buying one, but it'll do. When I saw how Serena over at Thrift Diving updated her outdoor light, I thought, hey, I can do that too! I figured the cost of a can of spray paint was way cheaper than a new fixture, so I gave it a shot. Here's what I started with:

The fixture was worn and rusted, and the glass was filthy. Also, the lightbulb inside was dull, so when you turned the light, it didn't really do much. I took the fixture apart, removed the light bulb, and removed the glass. I taped up some newspaper so I could spray paint the base without worrying about any of the electrical (I made sure to cover up the spot where the light bulb screws in so I didn't get any paint in there). I wiped it down, and sprayed away!

I cleaned the glass inserts with windex and let everything dry. After it was dry, I put it all back together, put in a new light bulb, and ta-da! So easy! Not only does it look better and more updated, but it gives off so much more light. I guess that's what clean glass and a new light bulb will do.

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Currently (A Life Update)

Once again, it's been far too long since I've blogged. So here's a post to catch up on all the things.

Celebrating: Kevin and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary last month. I can't believe how fast 4 years flew by! We kept it super low-key by just going out to dinner at our favorite Mexican spot. We decided not to do gifts because you know, adulting = bills on bills on bills. But of course, Kevin is a sweetheart and brought me home a gorgeous purple orchid (keep your fingers crossed that I don't kill it).

AND I turn the big 3-0 on Sunday! We're having a cook out to celebrate with all of our friends this weekend and I can't wait.

Training For: Our marathon training officially started a few weeks ago and it's kicking my butt already. The race in in October, so we still have a lot of work to do. I'm so thankful that Kevin and I are doing it together, because it makes getting up at 5:00 am to run just a little bit easier when you have someone else doing it with you. If you've ever run a marathon, I'd love any tips you have! Or if you have any suggestions for great songs to add to my running playlist, let me know.

Watching: Most of the shows I typically watch are on break, so I'm pretty much watching everything on HGTV, baseball, or realty tv (specifically Teen Mom and The Challenge). But I don't watch a whole lot of TV in the summer. It's too nice to spend all that time inside.

Photographing: I mean, if you consider snapping a quick pic on my iphone "photographing," then it would be flowers. I love seeing things grown and bloom. Spring and Summer are great for that! I'm slowly making our yard look a little better with plants, flowers, landscaping, etc.

DIYing: I've been on a role with some quick DIY projects around the house. I plan to share some of those soon. The most recent was a quick makeover of an outdoor light, which you may have seen on my Instagram.

Listening To: I've been to a few concerts this summer (Birthday Bash, Eric Church, and Tim & Faith) and hope to catch a few more before winter gets here.

And that pretty much sums up my life over the past few months: running, yard/house work, and concerts. Now if only I could update on a more regular basis :)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gallery Wall Update (& Keepsake Review)

You may have seen some updates on my Instagram stories, but I've been working on slowly re-doing the gallery wall in our living room. I love gallery walls. I think I have four of them in different parts of our house. I liked the one in our living room, but after almost 5 years, I was ready for a change. Here's what it looked like before:

I wanted something a little lighter and more my style. I had been thinking about changing it for probably a year, but just wasn't sure how to do it, what to use, etc. I had an old window that I wanted to use as the centerpiece, but wasn't sure what else to incorporate.

When Keepsake reached out to me about reviewing their service, I knew it was the kick I needed to get started on changing up this gallery wall. Keepsake is an app that allows you to get your photos printed, framed, and delivered to your door. So, I downloaded the free app, chose a photo and frame, and submitted my order (shipping is always free--score!). So easy. It even tells you if the photo you selected doesn't have a high enough resolution for the frame size you want. Here's what my finished print and frame look like:

When I got my framed print in the mail, I knew I wanted to make it part of my new gallery wall. I got to work collecting things I already had, swapping things out of different frames, and laying things out on the floor to figure out how I wanted to hang them. After a lot of debating, I finally started hanging things on the wall. It's definitely not done, as I need to had a few more things and fill in a TON of nail holes, but I'm happy with how it's coming together.

Framed Photo: Keepsake
Free Printable: Found on Pinterest (don't have the exact link, sorry!)
Print: ShelbyKregel on Etsy

As I said, still not done, but it's getting there. I'm loving the way it's turning out and can't wait to find some new things to add to it!