Tag Archives: newlywed

Pumpkins and Puppies… the best of Fall!

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. I love the changing colors of the leaves, the cooling temperatures after a hot summer (especially a St. Louis summer), and the anticipation of the holidays coming soon. An added bonus is that my birthday happens to be in October, which is perfect timing: I take a short break from arranging gourds and baking pumpkin pies to eat cake and blow out candles. It works perfectly. 🙂 Fall holds so many of my favorite things, and every summer I find myself getting a little anxious around the end of August, wondering when the weather will start to cool down and the first signs of the changing seasons will appear.

IMG_0853This Fall has been especially special (that’s a mouthful) because my hubby and I welcomed a new member into our family… a sweet little 12 week old puppy named Peyton. She was abandoned and found on the side of the road with the rest of her litter and subsequently cared for by a foster mom who works with a local shelter.

We took her home with us on September 20th, and instantly fell in love. She is such a sweetheart with an incredibly fun and spunky personality. (Sometimes that “spunky personality” means she destroys our bathroom rug and leaves a nice little “present” behind to sign her masterpiece.)

Everything about fall seems even better with a puppy to share it with. Pumpkin patches, hiking through the woods; snuggling on the couch with warm apple cider. (Might I say again, fall really is the best season??!)

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The first couple weeks with Peyton felt a little like having a baby. We were always coordinating her meal times and potty times and making sure we had toys, bones, blankets, pillows, and every other amenity a puppy might desire. Some might say we spoil her, and I wouldn’t really try to argue with that accusation. From day one, she’s had us wrapped around her little finger paw. She’s definitely got a good thing going on.

IMG_1143We’ve taken her everywhere. One weekend, she went to a Jazz and Blues Festival with us; didn’t seem to be her style of music, per se, but she enjoyed smelling all the BBQ. A few weeks later, I had a mini dance party with her in the living room to PitBull and that was definitely her jam.

Whenever the weather is nice, we try to take her to a small park down the road where she can run off some of her endless energy. She’s getting faster every day and loves bounding across the field to catch one of us.

IMG_1167Raising a puppy seems like a small taste (very small) of what parenthood is like. Rob and I are always checking in with each other about how she’s doing, what she’s discovering (one day, he found her drinking water from the toilet) and I’ve definitely been reading up on dog training techniques in my free time. Of course, dog training is MUCH easier than child training, but I’m already nervous enough, having the fate of a four-legged cutie in my hands. This is good practice for real parenthood, whew.

We’ve had some scary moments, like when the incision from her spaying surgery got red and swollen (she reacted to the glue they used, apparently) and we rushed her in to the vet. Tough day for our little girl. They gave her some antibiotics, and she snuggled in Rob’s arms all the way home.

There have definitely been some frustrating times, too. Like when we went out the second week on a date night (our first time leaving her alone like that) and sat outside at a beautiful restaurant, sipping some red wine and trying not to worry about her. We came home to a house that smelled of…well, you get the gist. She’s had an explosive (sorry, TMI) accident in her crate while we were out, and also managed to walk through the whole thing. Rob and I looked at each other and he said, “You get her a bath, I’ll clean up this mess.”  (I felt like I got the better end of that deal. Hard to be mad at her when she looks so adorable, soaking wet in the tub.)

Peyton at the pumpkin patch. She tried to eat hay the entire time.

At the pumpkin patch – loved trying to eat the hay!

Despite the scary moments and the frustrating potty training experiences, Peyton has been nothing but a bundle of joy (now I really sound like a parent… 🙂 ) and we are so thrilled to have her as our little girl. Rob and I both grew up in families with dogs, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to us that we would get a puppy at some point. Peyton is such an amazing little blessing and constantly makes us laugh with her crazy antics. Like the time we were carving pumpkins and she decided to give it a taste…

So, for the near future, I’ve become that annoying person that is constantly posting photos and videos to social media about how my puppy is so adorable. No shame. She IS adorable, right?? How could anyone stare into those puppy eyes and not fall in love? 🙂

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Married Life and Meal Planning

Hi there!!

Can’t believe it’s already almost August! This summer has FLOWN by for me, with most of May and June focused on getting married and all the planning that came with it. We’re back from our honeymoon now, and settling in to married life. I love it!

As unbelievable as it may sound, I actually enjoy cleaning and organizing, so having our own little place has been a lot of fun. I’m sure there will be days that I don’t feel like cleaning the toilets or vacuuming the carpets, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying these little chores. I haven’t had my own place since 2010 when I lived down in Dallas, so it’s fun to jump back into that – and this time, with my hubby.

Some of our kitchen creations so far: Roasted Broccoli, Pesto Pasta, & BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza

Some of our kitchen creations so far: Roasted Broccoli, Pesto Pasta, & BBQ Chicken and Gouda Cheese Pizza

This first month and a half of marriage has been full of discoveries regarding grocery shopping, meal planning, and budgeting. My inner nerd has come out in full force, as I pore over budgeting blogs and scour the weekly ads for the best deals at each grocery store.  One week Dierbergs thought they could get me to pay $2.99 for strawberries. Little did they know, this girl reads her Aldis ad every week and got strawberries for $1.89 on sale. Aldis, 1. Dierbergs, 0.

I quickly realized about a week into married life that meal planning is a life-saver. I’ve always coached my clients to meal plan as much as possible, because it helps you avoid impulse trips to Five Guys or eating chicken pot pie every night of the week. And now I’m seeing just how much meal planning helps with budgeting, too! When I don’t have a meal plan for the week, I find myself wandering around up and down the aisles, with no idea what I’m doing. Every few steps, I take something off the shelf, look it over, try to think of a meal I could use it for, and then inevitably decide I have no use for it at all. Or, I panic because I don’t have any kind of plan and just start grabbing random things that sound good to me at the time and stuffing them in my cart. By the time I get home and start putting groceries away, I realize that nothing I bought will go together for a complete recipe. It’s not easy to make dinner with a can of kidney beans, California raisins, and macaroni noodles. Believe me.

So, the discipline of meal planning has become my friend in the kitchen. It takes a few minutes at the beginning of the week, but it’s so worth it in the end.

The way I see it, these are the top 5 benefits of meal planning:

  1. Save money by only buying the things you need for the week

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  2. Avoid ending up with random foods in your fridge that don’t go together. (see example above with raisins and kidney beans)
  3. Enjoy a variety of foods throughout the week and avoid getting bored with your meals.
  4. Eat healthier! By actually cooking a meal instead of scrounging around in the pantry for junk food, you can ensure that you get at least SOME veggies in your stomach every night!
  5. You won’t have to eat PB&J every night til the cows come home. (Although my husband insists that he doesn’t mind if we eat PB&J all the time, I’m pretty sure he’s just being kind. There may or may not have been one night last week where I started crying because I was so exhausted and didn’t want to cook anything for dinner…that might have prompted his PB&J comment. Maybe.)

As you can see, meal planning definitely has its benefits. However, there can be some pitfalls to this process, if you don’t know what you’re doing. (i.e. the first 3 weeks of my married life) Even though I’m rather a newbie to this whole process myself, I thought I’d share with you my tips for streamlining the meal-planning process. (that was a mouthful)

Tips for Awesome Meal-Planning:

1) Figure out which day you are going to grocery shop each week. Then, work on your meal plan a day or two beforehand. I like to meal plan on Sundays because I can look at our calendar for the week and figure out which nights I will be cooking vs. which nights we will be eating out, eating on the run, or be at a party with food.

2) Plan ahead for which nights you will have time to cook vs. which nights you will be rushed for time. If I have evening clients around dinner time, I like to do a crock-pot meal or a casserole that I can make ahead of time. This keeps us from eating at 8pm, which is what happened the first week of our marriage… oops.

3) Try to mix up your flavors and foods. This is pretty simple: don’t make chicken every night or green beans with every meal. Try a variety of meats, veggies, and flavors. As a general rule, I like to do a pasta one night, fish one night, and then fill in with chicken and pork meals.

4) Don’t make it too complicated. As much as it would be fun to mysteriously conclude, “There’s a fine art to meal planning,” …there really isn’t. It’s simple. Which is good. Pull out your cookbooks, search “dinner recipes” on Pinterest, or find a few cooking blogs you love. Ask your friends for their favorite go-to meals, and put together a binder full of your best creations. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If it’s awful, at least you can say you tried something new. If it’s amazing, then you’ve got a new favorite recipe to add to your repertoire. Can’t go wrong with that!

In closing, here are a few of my favorite resources for meal-planning inspiration:

My Pinterest Recipe Board
Real Simple Recipes
Cooking Light Recipes
A great selection of dinner recipe boards on Pinterest

Happy Meal Planning!!

pick up pizza