Sneaky Ways to Burn Calories (Gym Not Required)

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Raise your hand if one of your new year resolutions was is to get healthier or get in better shape? Anybody? Taylor and I resolved to focus more on eating cleaner and sweating it out at least four days a week. Some days we’re AWESOME at this and then other days, when it’s 20 degrees outside and we’ve worked all day, take-out and Netflix sound way better than the gym. So I did some research – what are some ways I can burn some calories during my busy day? GOOD NEWS: Turns out, there are plenty of little ways to sneak in some calorie burnage while you’re just living your life, including:

Rise and shine and get that heart rate up: Jumpstart your metabolism by waking up a few minutes earlier than normal and do some light stretching and simple cardio (jumping jacks, crunches, lunges) before you hit the shower. Or sneak some squats in while you dry your hair or brush your teeth!

Sip on coffee: Or tea! Caffeine can help boost the amount of calories burned for up to three hours. It’s also nice to have a little bit before you go to the gym or for a walk because #energy.

Do your chores: Light housework – laundry, swiffering, cleaning the bathroom – burns an average of 170 calories per hour. Bonus is you’ll have a clean house!

Dance it out: Turn on your favorite tunes and dance around your house – maybe while cleaning? Just 40 minutes of dancing burns nearly 200 calories and you don’t have to be Beyonce to make those calories disappear.

Grab some gum: If you like to snack like me, try chewing some gum first. Odds are you’ll forget about that snack or will eat less of it.

Park far away: Forget trying to find the best parking spot! Park further away from wherever you’re going so you’re forced to walk. Same goes with taking the stairs. Easy way to get your heart pumping!

Remain calm: Stressed women are able to work off about 105 fewer calories than those who are calm, cool and collected. Take a few minutes, focus on your breathing, and focus on your blessings.

12 Thing to Cross Off Your Winter Bucket List

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Ah, Winter. As a girl who grew up in West Tennessee I rarely experienced more snow than a dusting. Anything past a couple inches and the whole city would shut down. Last year in Kentucky we experienced two separate weeks where we were snowed in thanks to 16+ inches and yes, my husband taught me to snowboard in our backyard with a snow ramp and everything. No matter where we live, winter makes its presence known through shorter evenings, lower average temps, and a sense of pause around us.

Animals rest in hibernation, trees shed all their pretty leaves, and we, too, are invited to take on a slower pace. Maybe it’s all the excess layers?  There is no better time for quiet moments, for hopeful dreaming, and for all the warm comforts of bundling up in our favorite blanket with a bowl of piping hot soup. Whether you prefer to stay in and keep cozy or get outside and explore, there are countless opportunities to soak in these colder days. Maybe you have your own list going – if so, please share! – so here is the running list of items to check off our bucket lists this season. xo

Cozy your home with fresh blooms and winter candles

Try a new recipe (and don’t be afraid to experiment)

Develop an indoor workout routine

Talk a walk in the snow

Grab blankets + friends + popcorn and have an at-home movie night

Read a book just for fun

Clean out your closet (donate anything you don’t need/want)

Make DIY Valentines

Do a random act of kindness for a complete stranger

Set up a blanket fort and “camp out”

Bake homemade bread or sweets and take to neighbors/shut-ins/friends

Host a big Sunday brunch or lunch

Sweet 16

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Well now that the Christmas decor is officially up and in storage and I’ve got a week of work behind me I feel like I’m ready to officially say hello to the blogging world once again. I had an epic holiday season filled with travel, family, great food, friends, tons of movies, a bed and breakfast and sweet surprises. I loved every minute and was sad to say goodbye to it all, but there’s something about starting a new year. A fresh start. A clean slate.

2015 involved a lot of firsts for our family: first year of marriage, first year with Icon for me, first year with Fairfield for us both, first year with Buddy, first year I cooked actual meals as opposed to baking all the sweets (and learned to love it!), and Taylor’s first semester of grad school.

While last year will be hard to top, I cannot wait to see what 2016 holds for us. God has blessed us in such incredible ways and I have no doubt in my mind that He will take care of us this year. Did you make resolutions? Since resolutions seem easier to break – am I right? – Taylor and I made goals together and thanks to the running list posted on our fridge for accountability purposes we will meet those goals this year.

Whether you made resolutions or goals or just promised yourself you’d try really hard at a couple things, let me remind you that we’re all in this together.  Whatever you want to accomplish this year YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR. Positive thinking and some hard work is all you need, my friend. Let’s get after it! xo

Favorite Holiday Movies

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DISCLAIMER: My family is a Christmas movie family – Dad starts watching them right after before Halloween usually and we can all quote about 90% of the holiday classics. Here is the short list (which doesn’t include all the Hallmark Christmas movies I also enjoy) and a summary of why I love them so…some I grew up watching and some are new favorites. Oh and please let me know what you will be watching these next couple weeks with your family – we’re always looking to add new films to our growing collection!

White Christmas

I have watched this since I was a small babe and Mom tells me I would watch it every day so I could dance along to this scene. There’s nothing better than Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and a whole lot of snow.

Elf

Will Ferrell as a giant elf who falls in love in NYC. Enough said! #sonofanutcracker

Miracle on 34th Street, old and new 

There’s nothing better than Maureen O’Hara in the original but there’s also something magical about the updated version with Matilda. We watch both versions and love them both!

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Home Alone, I and II

KEVIN!!!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This one is truly the gift that keeps on giving since every time I watch it I catch something I never had before. If you love this movie, you’ll appreciate these fun facts about the movie.

The Family Stone

This is one of those movies that makes you laugh because you get the crazy family thing and then you ugly cry because it makes you feel all the feels. Even the trailer makes me smile.

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Christmas in Connecticut

Dad and I watch this every year – it’s black and white and full of old school magic. Every time I watch this I want to go back to 1945.

Jingle All the Way

Dad, my brother and my husband can quote this from beginning to end and I laugh the entire time with them. Make sure you watch this one with plenty of Christmas cookies on hand.

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It’s A Wonderful Life

If I had to choose this would rank as my favorite Christmas film of all time. It’s flawless from beginning to end, and if you don’t shed a tear during the final scene you might be a Scrooge!

Happy Holidays and happy movie watching! xo

I Choose Joy

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I’ve always loved the Christmas season. The magic and wonder of a time where it seems the whole world is full of joy and love always makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. To quote one of my favorites, Home Alone, “Christmas is the season of perpetual hope” and what a precious season it is.

With Christmas comes so much joy and yet for many, Christmas also brings sadness. Stress. Resentment. Loneliness. For many this has been a tough year – financially, psychically, spiritually – and who wants to reflect on all that when the rest of the world is singing Christmas carols and Instagramming pictures of perfect Christmas trees? Everywhere you turn it’s doom and gloom, shootings and sickness, political feuds and people letting people down.

Sometimes life robs us of our joy… but joy is a choice.

This Christmas season I choose joy.

I choose to focus on the good.

The lovely.

The little and ginormous blessings.

The love of family and friends.

Quiet mornings with a cup of coffee.

Precious memories of those who have gone on before us.

Santa who goes above and beyond to make the day of a child.

A smile and a “Merry Christmas” from a complete stranger.

Sure, we can choose to live in an attitude of worry, fear or anger or we can choose to pursue the joy that Christ gives! When our focus turns to gratitude, we find true joy that lasts long after the Christmas cookies are all eaten.

The magic of Christmas is found and shared through the joy that shines from person to person, friend to friend and sometimes, stranger to stranger. Take a couple minutes and let this video of brotherly love inspire you this season to give the gift of joy to all of those around! Will you choose joy this season? xo

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments on Our Tree

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[ our wedding cake topper doubles as an ornament ]

Our Christmas tree isn’t necessarily a themed tree, but it reflects the people and places we love. We decided on a red and gold color palette because it complimented most of the ornaments given to us by friends and family, as well as those we have bought together over this past year. I’m mesmerized every time I look at our first Christmas tree together and I keep asking Taylor if we can keep it up through January. Honestly though, there’s something magical about the lights and all the shimmery goodness that makes me feel like a kid again. I look forward to adding more and more ornaments to our tree each Christmas! What are your favorite ornaments on your tree? xo

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[ picked up from a great store here in town ]

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[ given as a wedding present from a dear friend ]

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[ my parents parted with this cardinal from their collection that’s been in the family since Mom was a kid ]

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[ hand crafted by a sweet friend ]

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[ snagged this on our last day at Harry Potter World this summer ]

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[ given to us at our holiday open house ]

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[ from The Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, TN ]

A Very Merry Holiday Home Tour

20151213_145842 (1)When it comes to the holiday season, there’s one thing that most of us can agree on: home is where the heart is. While last year was my first Christmas as a Mrs., this is my first Christmas in our own home so you better believe I have been looking forward to decking the halls since we moved into the bungalow. With my Mom aka my professional decorator’s help, our home is filled with all things Christmas cozy and I love every piece of holly and jolly in each room.

Yesterday we hosted our first, soon to be annual, Holiday Open Houses for our church so I took full advantage of documenting how festive the house looked. Also, as my husband so eloquently put it, “our house many never look this perfect again.” He’s not wrong! So without further adieu, here’s a glimpse into our little home this Christmas…xo

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The Newlywed Life: The Moment I Knew Taylor Was the One

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With our one year anniversary coming up – my how time flies! – I’ve been thinking back to the early days in our relationship. The time when everything was new and we were getting to know each other. Several people have asked me lately when I knew Taylor was the one. I think most assume there was this major moment or grand gesture from him that made me realize I was ready to spend the rest of my life by his side. I hate to disappoint, but honestly it was something small that he did on our first date that built the foundation for our happy marriage today.

Taylor and I met through my brother and my entire family loved him for years. We met while I was home one Saturday, high from pain killers after getting my wisdom teeth taken out. Luckily a few weeks later while I was in NYC for business he called and asked me on a proper date. I promised I would look presentable this time. He picked me up, knowing him now I know he was nervous but at the time he seemed the picture of confidence as he opened the door to my favorite Mexican restaurant. A month previously I had sworn off men after too many mediocre dates so I was a little nervous at how easily the conversation was going and how much fun I was having. Soon our food arrived and as I picked up my fork he said, “I’ll go ahead and pray for us.” I put my fork down, he grabbed my hand across the table and prayed.

Remember all those men I had sworn off? It was due to the fact that most didn’t act like the kind of me they professed to be, and none of them bothered to pray with me, whether it was before meals or any other occasion. Taylor praying for us on our first date brought me back to the real me, the me I had been making my way back to before he arrived. I don’t remember a word of that prayer but it was that particular moment that made me realize I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Since we first met and ever since, Taylor has prayed with me and for me, and not just before meals. xo

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Oh December how I love you! With just 14 days left until Christmas it’s officially the busiest time of the year and our social calendar is packed to the brim with friends, family, parties and a partridge in a pear tree! This season always flies by so I’m really trying to savor all the holiday goodness and not get lost in the busyness of it all.

It’s easy to do, you know, get lost in the hustle and bustle – worrying about if you’ve bought the right gifts, hung enough wreaths, made the prettiest sugar cookie or gotten enough recognition at your holiday Christmas party. I get it, seriously I do.

I came across a verse this morning I’m not sure I ever paid attention to before but this morning, ta da!, here is was. Psalm 39:6 tells us that “all our busy rushing ends in nothing.

There it is.

When life feels like a rush from one event/meeting/party to another I start to forget. If you’re like me you forget your keys and your earrings and your password for the Apple store – anyone with me here?! – but more importantly, I forget what’s most important. I forget the little things that make this season so magical.

Greeting strangers with “Merry Christmas” and seeing the smile on their face

Playing Santa for children whose parents aren’t able

Making Christmas cookies with my sweet husband

Dinners around our table with new friends

Watching Christmas movies with my family and quoting every other word

Rushing to check the mail every day because Christmas cards

Hot chocolate with the good whip cream and a candy cane

Nights spent with friends who are more like family and their sweet babies

Seeing acts of kindness at every turn and paying it forward

Decorating our house for Christmas for the first time as a Mrs. with Mom

Becoming a child again

Hanging ornaments on the tree and sharing memories

Quiet mornings spent counting my blessings and thanking God for this extraordinary life

Here’s to soaking in each and every moment of this holiday season and not losing sight of its wonder! Bring on the Bing Crosby and “Home Alone” marathons. xo

Halloween Weekend To-Do’s

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Whether you’re planning on spending the entire weekend cozy at home or hopping from party to your local trunk or treat, this weekend is sure to be filled with all the best Halloween goodness. Does the idea of dressing up and venturing out sounds scarier than the last horror movie you saw? Are you looking forward to starting new spooky traditions with your kiddos? There are so many aspects of Halloween weekend I look forward to each year – for my fellow Halloween junkies, check out some October 31st weekend to-do’s I highly recommend working into your haunted plans: 

Make a killer cheese plate

This is a little tradition Taylor and I started last Halloween when we were engaged. We picked all the best cheeses and crackers and fruits and some fruits we weren’t even sure how to eat, put it all on a pretty platter and feasted while we passed out candy to trick or treaters. I look forward to doing this again this year!

Have a movie marathon

Invite some friends over and bust out Hocus Pocus and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Hello, nostalgia! Turn off all the lights and watch the classics by candlelight.

Carve pumpkins

Even after 29 years I absolutely love everything about carving pumpkins and my favorite part, roasting the seeds after! Bonus points if you don’t get pumpkin guts all over you!

Host a costume party

We are super excited to have some couples over for an old fashioned costume party, complete with a grand prize for best costume. I cannot stress this enough: you don’t need a big house or Martha Stewart-level hostess skills to host a great party! Invite friends, get a great costume, make great food to munch on, add some spooky touches to the house and ENJOY!

Check out the local haunts

We’re excited to check out Halloween on the Square/Parade here in our town which is exactly our speed because I’ve never been able to work up the courage to get into a haunted house. Love to be scared? Grab a friend and brave the local haunted house – may you have more treats than tricks! xo