Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 6)

So Disney is all about planning - and now that we had our dining reservations, we had a few months to hang out and just wait for the next step.

We have the big spreadsheet that dictated which parks we would go to on which day, which was helpful. Looking ahead to the next step needed that info! Since the invention of the My Disney Experience app, you can now book up to 3 FastPass+ reservations a day - basically guaranteeing that you will ride your favorite three rides in any given day. Of course, some parks have rules about which rides can go together - there are tiers that prevent you from getting the most awesome rides in a single park each day. That means you have to strategize if you want to get all the rides in over a single stay, since they won't all be done in a single day.

With 23 people going over 11 days, it was going to be a challenge to get our rides booked. I read a bunch of blogs and got suggestions from the podcasts we listen to. They say to focus on the hardest to get rides or the ones of the busiest days. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (the new coaster in the Magic Kingdom) or the Anna/Elsa meet and greet (the new hotness) are the main ones you want to focus on, for example, since they are so hard to get at 60 days out.

I stayed up late on October 30 because I heard a rumor that the system opens up at midnight Eastern - or 11 pm central! Sure enough, I refreshed my browser at that time and the FP+ window had opened!

Since there were so many of us, I started booking a single FP+ for me for the rides on the busiest days, and for the 7DMT ride that we wanted both in the daytime and the evening. When I got all the days booked for me, I then started to copy those reservations over to the whole party. Which worked for a while.

And then we hit a roadblock. Apparently one cousin's annual pass expired before our trip started, so I couldn't book their passes. My in-laws weren't hooked up to my account appropriately in the system and so it didn't show them as eligible to get FP+ (since they didn't show as having a hotel reservation) and then something else went cattywompus.

UGH. So I did what I could and then went to bed. I woke up early the next morning when the customer service line opened up, I was one of the first to call. The lovely cast member spent over an hour on the phone with me to get everybody linked up appropriately (which I thought I had done weeks ago) and our cousin renewed her annual pass.

But it actually worked out in the end - the cast member was able to copy the FP+ I had for our family staying on property and then to those who are staying off property too! Plus, she was able to do the same for the family checking in later in the week who technically weren't able to get their reservations for a few more days. That was some Disney magic right there!

The planning is almost done at this point! Just a few more things to cross off the list now...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adventures in Saturday Evening Musings

This whole blogging thing is kind of amazing - I get to write about what is going on in my life, read about other people's adventures and make wonderful connections. I've even met some of my blogger friends in real life and attended concerts (hi Sonya!) as well as the St. Louis bloggers who get together every quarter for dinner and drinks (gals, are up for January?).

I even received a Christmas card from a few of those lovely STL bloggers. What amazing ladies I've been able to meet through blogging!

So when a few of them started getting products and tagging #influenster, I just had to figure out what was up! Liz from sent me a link and I signed up. 

And I just got my first box! It's the #FrostyVoxBox - and boy am I love with some of this stuff! Husband had opened the box when I got home, and the first thing we did was try the Fruit Vines® Bites. I'm in love with licorice and even with all the chocolate around for Christmas, it was the perfect snack after a really long day at work. We are going to be getting more of them later!
One of the other items I was really excited to see was the EcoTools hairbrush! How did Influenster know that I needed a new brush? This one is coming with me on the Grand Winter Adventure in a few days. 
And need I mention the tea? We visited the Celestial Seasonings factory a few years ago when we were in Colorado and had so much fun. It's one of my favorite brands of tea so the holiday version was lovely!
There are a bunch of other things but given that we have this crazy holiday coming up, I'm hoping I'll have a chance to use some of the other stuff in the box in the new year.
DISCLOSURE: I received the products described above complimentary to test and/or review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 5)

Disney is so much more than rides - there's all that FOOD! 

Our family loves to eat, and one of our bucket list items is to eat at every single restaurant on property. To that end, we try to pick a few new places each time we go down to the World.

Based on the schedule we created earlier, that helps us decide which places are options for dining while we are there.

I sent an email to the whole group to ask their requests - did they want a special character breakfast or a particular family favorite? I know that we don't necessarily have the most adventurous eaters (cheeseburgers and chicken fingers are usually the norm) but it's sometimes fun to try something new.

Husband and I decided that we were going to splurge and have a date at Victoria and Albert's, the only five star restaurant in Orlando. We cannot wait! 

When I got the requests from the family back, I went to town with the schedule. Since we are in Magic Kingdom on December 30 for the pre-New Year's Eve fireworks, Liberty Tree with the whole family is the perfect option.

Then again, we look to when my family joins us - my cousin loves animals, so we wanted to have a sit down dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where they are staying. So since Husband and I haven't been to Jiko and my mom loved Sanaa the last time we were there together, we picked Jiko for the six of us for dinner one night. That plus a few other favorites, and our schedule was set! I'm so hungry just looking at this list... 

  1. Liberty Tree
  2. Via Napoli
  3. Crystal Palace
  4. 50’s Primetime Cafe
  5. Victoria and Albert’s
  6. Jiko
  7. Rose and Crown for Illuminations
  8. Spice Road Table
  9. Chef Mickeys
  10. Be Our Guest (dinner)

The next step is the reservations themselves. Dinner allows on-property guests to book ADRs (advance dining reservations) up to 180 days out from the first day of check in. The little known fact is that those reservations open up for your whole trip, up to 10 days. So you can make reservations almost 190 days out from your trip! Since we were hoping for some hard to get reservations like Be Our Guest, we focused on those first.

I got up early on that 180 date and got online. You can make reservations online or on the phone, but online opens up a bit earlier. We had a bit of a hiccup because I can't remember my time zones - it's in Eastern time zone and so I got up extra early. But after a few calls and a hour of work and we had our reservations!

I had to make some additional ADRs when my family decided to join us, but those were relatively easy to get. 

And now I'm crazy hungry...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 4)

The hotel choice is always a big one for any trip, but especially for Disney. Once we decided where to stay, we started to look at our dining reservations.

However, we thought we knew who was coming on our big trip, but apparently we didn't get everybody! A few weeks after we had settled the dates of when we were going and after we had made our dining reservations (more info on that in a bit), my mom and brother started talking about going.

Then my cousin and his wife started asking questions. Before we knew it, we had added more hotel rooms for them and added them to our dining reservations!

So now we're up to something like 23 people coming for portions of the long trip.

That's a lot of people to organize for meals!

When Husband and I start our planning, we look to the park hours of operations as a starting point. We have a big ole spreadsheet that is color coded and everything! Every day we're there has a column, and each hour of the day has a row. We start with the park hours and mark those, plus the Extra Magic Hours for each park. Each day one of the parks is open early and one is open late so we try to arrange our schedule to make one of those extra times in the park. You can ride a bunch of rides in those extra hours when (in theory) the park is less crowded. We also pay for a membership in, a website that helps us in the planning process.

It may seem like a bunch of work, but it really is fun for us and the family! The schedule of the park hours allows us to choose which day to tour each park.

We use this schedule to figure out where to eat and when.... but that's for next time!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 3)

So there has been a lot going on since we decided who was coming on our big family trip.
Now that we knew who was coming, we had to decide where to stay. For most people, this is a big decision to make because it's such a huge chunk of change, next to the park tickets.

One of our Disney Bucket List items is to stay at each resort on property at some point in our lives. This trip allowed us to get one new property - the Boardwalk.


We decided that since it was such a long trip and because the Boardwalk is so expensive, we will start the week at All Star Sports.

My MIL is a Disney Vacation Club owner so we can get our stay at the Boardwalk for a bit less - but we still need to split the stay to make it work for the points we have.

Staying for ten nights is kind of a long time, so splitting the stay will be a good break. Some of the extended family won't stay on property with us, so we'll meet them at the parks most days.

I cannot wait until we get to experience the Board Walk during this trip!

Next up... dining reservations!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The 2014 Directive - August Update and September

So apparently when I unplug, I go all the way.

With the trip to Seattle at the beginning of August, I've been unplugged from most social media for the rest of the month. Not checking in at every single vacation stop along the West Coast and into Canada was liberating.

Coming home and checking Facebook wasn't as much of a need as it was before. There weren't a ton of pictures posted on Instagram. I was checking Twitter but not putting a lot out there. Breaking the addiction was refreshing.

Now, even though there are a ton of events screaming for my attention every second of the work day (and then some), I've started easing back into social media. After all, it took me over a week and a half after coming back from vacation to post pictures on Facebook. My friends thought something had happened to me! :)

I'm still going through those images to decide which ones to share here, but my monthly directive for August was apparently to unplug!

For September, I think I'm going to focus on being the best employee I can be - we have at least 8 events in the month and they're all big and important. So I'm going to focus all I can on those tasks ahead of me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adventures in an Unplugged Vacation?

I love the time of year when I'm planning a Disney trip plus getting ready to visit friends on a totally different vacation. DH and I truly enjoy spending money on experiences and trips are one of our love languages. I love traveling!

I also love sharing my travels on social media. I totally believe the studies that show a dopamine spike when you get a "like" or a comment on Facebook from a photo you just posted. I love the comments I get here when I post trip reviews. I love Twitter and Instagram for the same reasons. Being connected to people through my phone is my favorite reason for having one.

But I'm wondering if it's gone too far. I truly love my friends in person and I'm wondering if spending too much time in my phone is hurting those relationships. My husband would say it is.

We're getting ready to visit friends in Seattle this weekend and I was preparing my packing list. I put in my iPhone, our two DSLRs (his and hers) and the point and shoot, plus my Macbook (in case I have to work) and my iPad and my nook for the flight. Oh yeah, and my Fitbit. That is a ton of electronics to take for a five day trip with friends.

I was wondering how I can decrease the technology for this trip. I can put a book on my iPad and leave the nook at home. And I can make a concerted effort not to "live blog" our trip.

I mean, I'll take pictures with both the iPhone and the DSLR and maybe even the point and shoot camera. But maybe this is a trip to enjoy being with friends and not worrying about updating my Facebook by "checking in" at every different spot along the trip. Or maybe holding off on posting every sweet treat that we get in Seattle.

You know why I think that it's a good time to try an unplugged vacation? Because even writing the paragraph above makes me nervous. Not checking in? How will I know where we were each day? Not adding a photo of a funny sign? How will I get someone else's approval on that particular funny joke? I think it might time to try enjoying the trip as I take it, remembering the good parts and have fun with friends. Then when I get home, I'll update those pictures and tell the story here of our trip.

But I think this might be for the best this time around....

Have you ever had an "unplugged" vacation?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 3)

So we're going to Disney. We know when we're going. And we know who we're going with!

Those are some pretty big decisions that are already made. There are a ton more things we will have to figure out over the next few months, such as where to eat and what parks to visit each day.

But first things first - we had to come up with a hotel option for the stay. This always causes lots of discussion amongst the family members. My husband and I like staying at new and different places, but my BIL has one or two resorts that he loves to stay at and doesn't like to switch it up.

When we were trying to decide the dates of our trip, we thought that we might do a split stay. That means we would check into one hotel for the first part of the vacation and then at some point we would check out of that hotel, move our luggage to a new one, and check in there for the rest of the trip. This is relatively common in the hard core Disney community of fans so we've heard a lot about it through blogs and podcasts. We were eager to try it and this was the perfect opportunity!

Back in my first trip to Disney since childhood, we stayed at the All Star Spots. This is a value resort (read: cheapest) and there are LOTS of people who stay there due to the price and number of rooms available. Since husband and I are going to pay for this trip on our own, we told the family we needed to stay in this category of resort this time around.

My BIL requested the All Star Sports instead of the music or movies themed version of the resort. So that was settled - All Star Sports for 11 nights was booked.

However, we have another option. The in-laws purchased a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership a few years ago. This is Disney's version of the timeshare. They have a certain number of points that they can use each year, plus move some points around one year in either direction. The DVC resorts are a bit nicer than the others, more expensive, have more amenities, and are usually bigger rooms. You don't get housekeeping each night but you do have a mini kitchenette which makes the stay very nice.

We didn't have enough points to do the full 11 nights at one of those DVC resorts, however. We're going at high season which means increased crowds (so no availability) and increased prices (don't have enough points). We also needed three rooms - MIL/FIL plus cousin's family, me and my husband, BIL and family. That's a lot of rooms for the whole stay! So we decided that 5 nights at a DVC resort might be a bit easier to get.

My MIL is still on the waitlist with DVC, awaiting confirmation on three rooms for this family. DVC has told us they are hopeful in us clearing the waitlist sometime soon-ish. We can only hope for a little bit of pixie dust!

In any case, we have a place to stay, albeit not so fancy. This may change as we get closer! But at least we have a hotel. :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 2)

So we're going to Disney. And we know when.

Now, we had to decide who was coming.

This trip was going to turn into something big, I had a feeling. Some of my husband's cousins haven't been on a big vacation in a while, and we all love Disney, so I thought this might have a bunch of people add on.

I told my MIL that I was going to take care of the planning for this one, since she's worked on so many in the past. And while it's fun to plan, it's also stressful. I thought I'd take the stress for this particular trip which means corralling all the family and making sure everyone has everything they need. Given that I'm an event planner, I didn't think it would be too hard, but would require patience and organization. I'm only a few weeks into it, so we'll see how it goes!

So for this trip, we have upwards of 19 people joining us over the 11 nights. They include my MIL and FIL; my husband's brother and his girlfriend and their two year old nephew; a cousin and his wife and daughter who live in the Orlando area (they're staying at the hotel with all of us); another cousin and her brother and two daughters who live in George; another cousin with his wife and two sons who live in southern Missouri; and finally, a cousin who goes to school near us in St. Louis and will join us for the last part of the trip. There are 10 of us who will be there the entire time and the rest of the family comes and goes as their vacation schedule allows.

Planning for this big group of people won't be easy! But that's who is coming with us on this crazy adventure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The 2014 Directive - July (update)

This month, I'm working on relaxing.

I think I'm doing pretty well at it! I've finished the third Game of Thrones book, read Alyssa's book and now I'm on to the Fall of Giants. It's been a good few weeks!

I've also been working on keeping the house clean and doing the top few items on the to do list each day to stay on top of things. Plus working out! I'm exhausted. :)

But things are good. How's life in your world?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Adventures in Big Family Vacation Planning (part 1)

And here we are again. It's time to plan another Disney trip!

We are planning a very long trip to Walt Disney World in Florida to celebrate the New Year with a big old family trip this year. Our last Disney trip was in December 2013 with just me and my husband, to celebrate the craziness of law school and him passing the bar in 2013 and starting his new big job after graduating law school.

This upcoming trip would make my 11th to the World - I've had to start a spreadsheet with a list of the times that we have gone to keep track! It goes back to my first trip in (about) 1993 with my family. I really started to fall in love with the Mouse when I went with my husband's family in 2007 for New Year's. My mother-in-law and father-in-law went for their honeymoon in the early 1980s and have been every year since. The boys have grown up at Walt Disney World and they have so many memories from all the parks and resorts. A few years ago, they purchased a piece of the magic and now we can stay at the Disney Vacation Club when we go. It's becoming a bigger and bigger piece of our lives!

After seeing Sonya's planning of her Disney trip, I thought I'd start a not-so-regular blog series of our planning of our big trip coming up in December.

So first thing up, when to go?

When you're planning any kind of vacation, whether you have a location in mind or not, the first step is to determine WHEN to go. Do you brave the crowds on the busiest weekend of the year or do you save some money by going on an off-week?

We are the crazy people who throw in our lot with the unwashed masses for New Year's Eve. Out of all the 365 days on the calendar, this one would rank the top in their crowd calendars. Imagine the most packed outdoor festival you have ever been to, and add 10% and you're getting close to what it seems like. I mean, even the bathroom gets a half hour wait on this night. Everything is busy. Everyone is hot. EVERYWHERE you go there is a line.

But that's half the fun! Seeing all those people in one spot getting to experience a shared moment during the fireworks is pretty amazing. There are always tears in my eye when I ring in the new year at the parks. We love it and that makes it worth all the stress.

So, we knew New Year's was going to be the one for us this year - the in-laws went in March without us and we've been planning since our December trip for a big one with the whole family. Husband and I wanted to the day before New Year's, December 30. Disney has two nights of New Year's fireworks (as they do for the Fourth of July). If we saw these fireworks on the 30th, that allows us the 31st to spend in Epcot. This park isn't as family friendly but they celebrate the new year with the different countries around World Showcase Lagoon. You get to see one of the evening spectaculars in the early part of the evening and then another huge fireworks show at midnight. We haven't ever experienced that, so going down a day early allows us to accommodate both shows. It's a win-win, even though we do have an extra night in the hotel at the most expensive rate.

We had our arrival date - Tuesday, December 30. Now, how long to stay?

Traditionally, we stay in the World for one week. That would be checking out on Tuesday, January 6. When we started talking as a family, my husband and I floated the idea that we would stay an extra night, to leave on the 7th. When my MIL heard that, she thought they could do that as well. So now we're leaving on the 7th.

When we looked at the calendar, we realized that it was two days before my MIL's birthday. We've never celebrated her birthday in the World before and she thought it would be fun to do so this year. So since we couldn't leave ON her birthday (where's the fun in that?), that meant our check out date would be January 10th. Yikes, 11 nights?!

With lots of activities coming in the next year or so with jobs and other vacations, there may not be another time for a good long trip so we are going to seize the opportunity and make this happen! 11 nights in Walt Disney World, here we come!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adventures in Colorado

In May, Mom and I traveled to Colorado for a few celebrations with my cousin's family. We had such a good time seeing family members and hanging out for a birthday and then a First Communion.

Since we didn't let the family know that we were staying through Monday for some strange reason, we were left with a Monday without family and without plans (since they had to work).

So Mom and I decided to take a trip up into the mountains and see some fun tourist-y stuff. Without a lot of time and since both of us wanted to see the scenery, we bought a package tour on Grey Line for the morning. It worked out great!

The first stop on the tour was up in the mountains, to Red Rocks. This is an amphitheater from the 1930s that has hosted concerts and other presentations since then. In the mornings, lots of locals come to work on the rows and rows that have been built into the side of the mountain.

It was such a beautiful morning to be outside, I can totally understand why these locals wanted to work out in the sunshine!

After we spent a bit of time enjoying Red Rocks, it was time to set off for the next stop.

This is postcard point, or something like that. All the postcards in the Denver area that have the mountain range on them were supposedly taken from this overpass on the way out of town. Not sure how true that is but my goodness, it is pretty!

The next stop on the trip was Buffalo's Bill grave.

Buffalo Bill had a simply amazing life story. He had such grand adventures! There's a museum at this site that documents everything he had accomplished and then some. His grave is on Lookout Mountain along with his wife, in Golden, CO. It's a gorgeous view.

It's awesome to note that there is also a fake buffalo on the grounds, but like the signs says, we couldn't get on it. :(

You can see all of Denver and the suburbs from up there.

That was the last of the big stops on the Grey Line tour, so they took us back to the mall where we had started. Since Mom and I had a few more hours to kill before our flight left Denver, we did some quick googling of other fun things to do in the area.

We found out that Hammonds Candy Factory gives free tours frequently! Done and done.

 This is a family-owned candy company (until very recently) that's been making candy canes and other yummy things since the early 1920s.

They make everything by hand in this factory and it shows. They give samples at the end of the tour and it is quite good!

Of course, you finish the tour by entering a gift shop. There were so many sweets to try it was almost impossible to choose! We ended up with some truffles for the flight home, and of course some of their famous candy canes for the family we were going home to.

I love trying out little local gems when we travel. Going around Denver with my mom for the day was so much fun - I hope I can vacation with her again sometime soon!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The 2014 Directive - July

I'm working along with a few other bloggers on these directives along with Jessica from Kate and Trudy. More info on the Directive is here.

Kate & Trudy The 2014 Directive

During the month of June, I was focused on my Rosetta Stone and learning French. It went pretty well and I'm happy to say I've completed a few of the lessons! When asked, I can also say a few short sentences and I'm starting to learn about animals and personal pronouns. We are on our way to learning a new language!

For the month of July, I want to focus on relaxing. There's so much going on with the summer schedules and busy events at work so when I come home, I just want to enjoy a chapter or two of Game of Thrones and learn French on my iPad. That combined with all the things that go along with owning a house and being a human being in this world and that's a bunch of stuff.

So this month, I'm going to allow myself to read when I want, scrapbook when I want, or whatever seems to float my boat. This is after I've completed the top items on my to do list every day, though. That was a directive from earlier in the year and really did help clear out that list!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

“The Blessing of the Lord Be Upon You”


May you always feel as close to Jesus as you do today,


May you always count on Him to gently guide your way,


May you always trust in God to answer every prayer,


May you always feel Him blessing you with His loving care.




Last month, Mom and I were in Denver for a long weekend to see my cousin’s oldest daughter take her First Communion. She’s such a sweetie and was so happy to have the family there for the celebration. I also got to celebrate the birthday of her younger sister and my goddaughter. Mom and I also took a tour around Denver on Monday because we had a late flight. It was a lovely weekend away with family!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The 2014 Directive - June

I'm working along with a few other bloggers on these directives along with Jessica from Kate and Trudy. More info on the Directive is here.

Kate & Trudy The 2014 Directive


I know I say this every month, but I cannot believe it’s June already. The year is almost half over! Time flies when you’re having fun. :)

For this month, I’m going to focus on the French.

Husband has been telling me for years that I need to learn French. He speaks it fluently and we’ve always said that when the time comes, we are going to raise our children bilingually. With his job, there is also the possibility of a rotation in another office in another country. The first one he would be eligible for would be in Paris, maybe as early as next year but more likely 2016. For us to pick up and move to France, wow. What an adventure! Husband has lived in France and had a few opportunities to study abroad during undergrad and law school. I’ve only visited France and Spain on short trips so the idea of moving is crazy to me.

But as I’m a planner, I’ve got to get my ducks in a row. If we are going to live in France in the next few years, I’ve got to be able to speak the language! So, I ordered Rosetta Stone and I’ve gone through the first lesson today. It’s actually really fun, which surprised me!

So this month, I’m going to do a lesson per day to get me going on this new language!

Merci, dudes! What’s on your agenda for this month?

Friday, May 30, 2014

The 2014 Directive–May Wrap Up

It’s the end of May and I haven’t had a soda since last month. It’s actually surprisingly easy to do, until this past week when I started craving soda.

It hasn’t helped me lose any weight since I haven’t been really following a diet the past few weeks but still, I think I’m feeling better. I haven’t given up caffeine but not having soda has made me feel like I’ve accomplished something this month.

With the next month, I think I’ll continue without the soda and come up with another goal to focus on.

How is your month wrapping up?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adventures in House Tours, part three

The first two parts of the tour of the first floor are here and here.

The second floor of our house is what they call a half story – it’s set into the attic and into the dormers of the house which you can see from the front. It’s a neat way to get more bedrooms upstairs and get all your space. I had no idea that these types of houses existed when we started looking but we are so glad we found it!

Walking up the stairs, there’s a landing at the top that leads to three bedrooms and a full bath. Hubs has his office to the right…


Straight ahead from the stairs is my craft room and office. It takes up a majority of the back of the house and looks out onto the backyard. With the built in shelving, it is perfect for my crafting supplies and wedding biz stuff.



The full bathroom upstairs is decorated with a celestial theme with a bit of Disney thrown in for good luck.




The final room upstairs is the guest bedroom, which still needs some decorating help. You can see from a few of these pictures the dormer that both the guest bedroom and Hubs’ office has at the front of the house. It’s just perfect for a place to sit and relax. It’s one of the best places in the house!




We absolutely love our new home! We have already replaced a bunch of things that aren’t quite to our liking and started updating things that need some work, like the patio doors and the landscaping. It’s crazy to think that we’re heading into the summer and about to celebrate one year in our home. Time flies when you’re a homeowner!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The 2014 Directive–May

I'm working along with a few other bloggers on these directives along with Jessica from Kate and Trudy. More info on the Directive is here.

Kate & Trudy The 2014 Directive

So April just flew by, didn't it? I managed to get three things done from my master to do list - I organized under the sink and a few other things that I can't remember but I know I did!

May is almost half gone and I'm just now updating my directive. But since the beginning of the month, I haven't had any soda. I used to have at least diet one per day but with this month's directive, I'm going to focus on giving up all soda, regardless of regular or diet. I  have also started putting in at least 45 minutes on the treadmill each morning and both of these things together are making me feel really good.

Here's to going a full month without soda! Notice I didn't say caffeine - that I'm still getting through my daily coffee. Not sure if I'll ever be able to give that one up!

What's on your agenda for May?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Adventures in Finding Family Treasures



Spring cleaning is all over my blog reader. Everyone is opening up the windows, tossing out old prescriptions and redoing their filing after tax season. I did some spring cleaning of another type this weekend. My grandmother passed away a few years ago and now that my step-grandfather has moved to be closer to his children, the house that my mom grew up in is needs of cleaning out and getting ready to sell.

We spent three days going through each of the three bedrooms, the large living area with the dining room table/kitchen cabinets/curio cabinet that takes up a whole wall and has an amazing treasure trove of finds, plus the living room with the huge pottery pieces, and the extremely large RV garage in the backyard that had humpback trunks and shelves stacked to the rafters.

Needless to say, it was a long weekend.

It was me, my husband, my mom and my cousin (the only child of my only aunt). Lots of stories were told when certain things were brought out of boxes and we took each space piece by piece. There were three options – sell, keep or trash. Most of the things were pretty easy to figure out if they were trash or keep. One of us would make a sound or look longingly at the crystal from the dining room or a particular book, and that was that. We put all of our particular treasures into a pile in the living room to keep them separate from the rest of the house where the sold items stayed. Then at the end of the weekend, we edited our keep pile. I ended up with so much crystal, I put a few pieces back. One only needs a crystal serving bowl, a decorate blue crystal bowl, a celery server, a deviled egg plate and a vase. Any more than that would be silly, right?

Some of the only “fights,” if you could even call them that, were over a few of the humpback trucks in the garage and of course, those darn deviled egg plates. Grandma only had two and of course all three of us wanted them! It seemed like I ended up with a lot of things because “we entertain more often” – like the 40 cup silver coffee percolator that will come home with us the next time we’re in Kansas City. So now we definitely need to have a dinner party to use all of those things!

But the best part of the weekend was finding all of Grandma’s correspondence. She and Grandpa traveled a great deal in their time, from Grandpa going to Korea in the service and then all over the country and Mexico in the RVs they restored. Grandma kept all kinds of letters and notes and papers from 60 years. We found her “G” of her letter jacket. She was organized with paperwork from her collectibles and antiques she gathered  - Native American pottery, turquoise and artifacts. Amazing things, really.

The family bible was of course going to Mom. In it, Grandma has listed all her siblings birth and death dates, and moving forward to her children and grandchildren. I love that it’s in her handwriting. Bits of paper from a lifetime of accumulation had to be gone through, and stories resulted. Mom asked if I remembered that person or that story, and sometimes I had to hear the story again for old time’s sake.

I’m tasked with calling auctioneers to get a quote on what they think we can get for those items that we decided to sell. I’m not sure I’ll want to be at the sale or not, or have my cousin be there instead. Even though it wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated in going through all the things in the house, when I went to go load them into my car to drive home, I started to cry. By taking the things out of Grandma’s house, it meant that it was truly final and she really was gone. It’s been three years in September, and sometimes I forget that she really is gone. Taking some of her things that I can remember her having since my childhood, like the small wooden stepstool that was always in the kitchen because she was shorter than me, things like that, it’s hard to take them out of their home. We shall see if I can be there for the auction.

What pieces of your family have you inherited? How did you handle the emotions that come with inheriting things like that?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The 2014 Directive–April

I'm working along with a few other bloggers on these directives along with Jessica from Kate and Trudy. More info on the Directive is here.

Kate & Trudy The 2014 Directive

I’ve been working on my March objective of getting done the top level items on my to do list. If it says to clean the bathroom, I’ve been doing it. If it says call clients to confirm details for an upcoming event, I’ve been doing that! I think I’ve been pretty good at staying on top of those things. It feels really good to finish a day and know that I’ve been productive.

I’m going to continue to do those things and focus on the top level items on the to do list. But I’m going further in April. My husband and I have a running Google document called the “Master To Do List.” Right now, it has 63 items on it and only about 10 or so are crossed off. We started the list when we moved into the new house and have been slowly working on completing it. I don’t think it will ever be totally done with the list, because we keep adding to it as we go.

But in the month of April, I’m going to complete 5 of the items still outstanding on there. Some of the items I think might be right for the picking – organizing under the sink, calling the companies to get a bid on mudjacking the back patio and reorganizing our file system to accommodate for the new house paperwork. So five items off the list of over 50. I think I can do it!

What’s on your to do list for April?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Adventures in Mentoring

As an event person in the non-profit field, it's hard to find the right networking opportunities. Some are geared at non-profits and nothing to do with events, some are event focused and feature things that are so far out of our budget that we could never possibly have them at our event. But it's all about networking, right?

I've been participating in a few non-profit networking opportunities and was introduced to a non-profit event planner in an organization sort of similar to the one where I work. She followed up and asked if I wanted to have lunch and talk shop. Lunch and talking, count me in!

We had a great conversation and at the end, she asked if I would be her professional mentor. I was absolutely flattered. I still feel that I'm new at this whole planning events thing and I am always learning. But looking at my 7+ years of experience, and the wide variety of events I've worked on, I guess that isn't anything to sell short.

So, how does one go about being a mentor? Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adventures in Concert-Going

I absolutely love a capella music. Back in college at SLU, I worked with the a capella group on campus as a Street Team member. I even designed lights for one of their concerts and stage managed that concert. I think I adore music without musical accompaniment because it is the farthest thing from what I can do. I cannot even carry a tune in a bucket. I do sing in church, but that’s only because God said make a joyful noise, not only to sing when we’re good at it. I enjoy singing but as my friends and family would tell you, it’s awful.

So of course when the Sing Off came on TV, I watched every single episode. I loved it. And when Pentatonix was in the third season, I fell in love. They’re from Arlington, TX, which is near where I went to high school for two years, so they felt like hometown kids to me. And there were simply incredible. The link above is their YouTube channel – if you don’t know who they are, you must watch some of their videos. The musical talent is stunning. My favorite video is their Evolution of Music.

Flash forward to when I had tickets to their concert at a small venue here in St. Louis. Something came up and we had to go out of town for the weekend and couldn’t attend the concert. The next time they were in town, same thing. So when they announced their concert at the Peabody Opera House for a date in March when I was available, I HAD TO GET TICKETS.

I put the time the tickets would go on sale (early for AmEx holders) and set an appointment with myself. I was even late to a meeting because the purchase wasn’t going through!

That is how I ended up in Orchestra Center, row R with one of my favorite ladies, M.

Selfie before the concert started!


The Peabody Opera House is simply stunning.




The 90 minute concert was so wonderful, so many fun songs.



And the lights just set a gorgeous backdrop for a capella singing.



Just these five singers, and no back up. It was amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Time flies when you’re having fun!

So the past few months have been fun. Here’s what’s been going on, thank you Project Life for my daily photo…




I had dinner with the most amazing St. Louis bloggers at the beginning of February. There’s quite a few who are expecting and one who has since delivered since this picture! Yay for babies!


I’m in love with my Jamberry Nails. It takes a few times of putting them on to really get it figured out but I’m getting there! It’s cheaper than a manicure and I can do it while watching the Bachelor. All around a good time.

01-29-2014   02-05-2014

Meet Minnie the Mazda. She came home with us in January and by mid-February already had 500 miles. I put way too many miles on cars way too fast.


Dates with my husband are the best. Dates at the beautiful Powell Hall are even better.


It’s sad times when I drop one of the most expensive toys I own. Sad smile




My mama had a big birthday. She came to celebrate here in St. Louis. I took off three days in a row to play and had a blast.


Verdi’s Requiem at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was wonderful.



The snow is (almost) gone and it’s pretty enough to open up the sunroof in Minnie! YAY for sunshine!


Three times at the gym in the past week is some kind of record. I’m starting to actually like working out, but my inner thighs may protest too much. But I’m having fun lifting weights with Husband and attending Zumba class.




What have you been up to the past two months?