Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finally, Mark & Delora's Wedding Day Video!

It's here! It's here!

To make a long story short, my spare time and energy was completely non-existent for a (longer than I had wanted) while, so I unfortunately have taken WAY longer than I had expected to finish my first video. I recently began a new job (which is going AMAZING by the way) and my prayer is that I will regain my life, energy, time, and positivity very soon for my next two brides awaiting their videos!

I know I said this was my first video, and it was, but I have just finished my first video from scratch! I did the shooting AND editing. So, it's technically MY first. I am proud of it yet realizing where to improve with future videos.

Alright, so... Delora was the bride of the first wedding I shot. I have to give a shout out to Delora for allowing me to be a part of her big day! I did not charge her because I had no earthly idea what I was doing, but the experience was definitely needed and I now have one more video under my belt! :) And thank you, Delora, for being so amazingly patient with me! I hope your video is at least something you can keep to help you reminisce whenever you want about one of the happiest days of your life. :)

I also want to give a shout out to ANYone who does videography (or even photography) as a hobby or a part-time job. Man oh man oh MAN did I underestimate the insane amount of TIME that it would take after the big day. I was with Delora from the time she began getting ready until my camera died (lesson #1) pretty late into their reception. I had a few hours of film to review, crop, edit, and put to about 15 mins of music. Seriously, one of the hardest parts is cutting so much footage. I will definitely be giving her the raw footage so she can hear her guests' comments/well wishes & seeing what isn't included in the video.

Without further ado, I present to you my first made-from-scratch wedding video, the video of Mark and Delora Benfield's very special day!


Mark & Delora Benfield {06.08.2013} from Nicole Mullen on Vimeo.

Please let me know what you think- while remembering...
I'm not a professional.
I had no idea what I was doing.
This is solely a hobby.
& I am open to any advice! :)

Also- I have yet to figure out why the video, which was shot in HD, looks grainy the bigger the screen gets. I haven't tested it on the TV yet, but the bigger the player (for example: straight off of Vimeo's website) the worse the quality looks. If anyone wants to help me with this, I would sure appreciate it! I've Googled it a lot and it appears that my settings are what they should be (94% sure of it) but the quality still looks worse in bigger video players! :( I am sorry about that! AND, I apologize for any darker scenes... the lights are typically dimmed during receptions and I don't have an additional light. (Reminder: this is just a hobby for me!)

If I can get the problem solved I will re-upload the video & let you know! :)

,
Nicole


Monday, January 20, 2014

Lightening my load...plus extra random tid bits on my mind

Sometimes I find myself creating a really long, random Facebook status/post about five different things. Sometimes I actually do think before I post and delete, telling myself: A) that was going to be way too long & B) who cares?

Sometimes I want to post like five different things back to back. I guess that's what Twitter is for. But I just cannot manage the 140 or less character limit. Nor can I stand checking Twitter. And I don't know who I actually know that's on Twitter that isn't my Facebook friend. Facebook's way easier. I really don't even know why I have an Instagram. (Oh wait, yes I do) - because everyone I know posts their IG pics on IG & on Facebook. And then there's those 2 friends who are on IG but not on Facebook (hey Ashley & Julie!)

Anyways. I'll resort to vomiting my random thoughts/feelings on HERE instead of on Facebook. That way, only those who stumble upon my blog will read it...and if you're this far into the post & still reading, it's because you want to. I may or may not post a link on my FB wall to check this post out *if you want*.. get it? That way you can only say you know because you went that extra click to see what I had to say. Because you care. Or because you're super nosey, but whatever.

I can really get off topic. What I was GOING to say was... (a few different things I feel like bullet-listing today)...
  • I am so thankful for a day off work. I put my notice in a week ago and it felt SO good. Only ONE more day of evals & 4 more workdays! Thanks be to God! I had a nightmare last night about doing evals...and how my 1 eval turned into 1 with their 3 kids (making it 4 evals) and I had an allergic reaction and my mouth and tongue swole up and I could hardly breathe. And I was told to figure out how to get them all done anyways. Even knowing I'm on my way out and I'm still having work-related nightmares. This is not okay. 
  • On that note, I am so excited to start something completely new and challenging. A healthy kind of challenging. I am so eager to learn and get my feet wet. I am so excited that I get to begin my school counseling career at a high school. While I would have taken any job and made it work, high schoolers are my thing! Don't get me wrong- I loved doing therapy with my middle schoolers last year, but I kept finding myself thinking, "I'd love to talk to you in three to six years." :) 
  • I am off work today (I think I said that already) but I am doing what I can to take some weight off my shoulders....and the rest of my body. I am letting this unhealthy breakfast settle (don't judge) and then I am getting my butt to to gym for workout #1 for the day. Then I plan on coming home, parking myself at the dining room table (where I feel I will be most productive) & getting as much wedding video editing done as possible today. I hope to reveal my 2nd video to you super soon! Here's mine/my first. :) THEN I will be attending my first ever yoga class this evening! More on that later...
  • And I have to figure out how to drug myself & with what to get myself asleep at like 9pm tonight so I can get on my new crazy sleep schedule. I'll have to be at work at 7:15. While means I need to leave the house at 6:45. Which means I need to wake up at like...5:15 to be safe. Which means I need to go to bed at 6pm. (just kidding....but seriously, have to figure this thing out or I will die.)
So many thoughts...so little time! I hope you are having a wonderful day, whatever day you read this! Do something today to lighten your load...your physical or your mental load. Either way, weight's hard to carry. 

,
Nicole





Saturday, January 18, 2014

Starting off 2014 a little more positive

So the last time I blogged I think I was having a nervous breakdown. I was completely overwhelmed and that was mid(?) November. Fast forward to mid January. It's 2014. It's a new year. And I am working very hard to make this year better than the last. I think that should be a general rule: Try to make this year better than last year.

I think some work-related depression coupled with my anxiety just spun things out of control. Any small task seemed like the end of the world and when I'm overwhelmed, well, good luck. I am glad I am a therapist and know "the secrets" of what to do in situations like that. Not that I readily use said skills, but I know what to do in case I want to do what's best. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes, or sleep, or cry, or just watch The Mindy Project on the couch with my favorite husband while I eat whatever I want. And that's okay!

But this is 2014 and I'm doing things differently like everyone else, right? Fingers crossed! I got together with some work gal pals a few weeks ago and it turned into a self-help group. We all work(ed) together so we felt each other's pain and could vent and laugh about our frustrations and just how low things had gotten. We made a self-help plan if you will, which we called Operation 4-3-2-1. This was primarily for me & one other gal pal, and the other two used their therapeutic skills to help us make realistic, small, obtainable, measurable goals...because that's what you do as a therapist. Right? Right! I was supposed to make sure I did the four things however many times a week I was supposed to. Well, so far not so great but dang I'm trying! I have increased my exercise, cooking, vitamin-taking, and ... other things :) & that's what matters! I am on my way! Wait on me...I'm coming!

I really do want 2014 to be better. 2013 was my best year yet. SOOO many amazing things happened in 2013. God rained down blessings upon me & for that I am thankful! 2013 was also pretty difficult for me and I could have done some things better. I really shouldn't beat myself up, but when you have anxiety brain like I do...guilt and shame typically follow. I am working on it!! :) I just started the book Grace For The Good Girls: Letting Go Of The Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman. A local church just began a Bible study on the book last week (& I missed it! Ugh!) but I plan to join them next week. The book was recommended to me by a few friends after they read my last blog post/meltdown.

I am extremely thankful for my gal pals that have supported me lately. I have felt the love, y'all. You ROCK!

As A-MAZING as 2013 was, I have a feeling 2014 will be even better!! Don't ask me how because it's got some big shoes to fill! But a new job, having my summer off (and all other school scheduled breaks), celebrating our one year anniversary, turning 2-7 (yikes), and whatever else 2014 has to offer won't hurt!

{Insert your thoughts about the fact that 2014 may include a baby Mullen....you all do that to me any time I talk about good things happening, haha.}

Hopefully with the new job I will have some more time to do life. I already have a pending to-do list and have made the executive decision to not add any un-needed responsibilities on my plate until I get my life back together. That's a start, right??

Wish me luck!!

,
Nicole

Insert random pic of me & my favorite husband ~ Happy New Year!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Crazy Mind: This Is Not Okay.

I love to read blogs when I get a minute. I've fallen in love with Candace Cameron Bure & I read all of her blog updates. Her latest one was a guest post talking about "Finding Rest in the Midst of a Busy World" and it read my heart exactly. I yearn for spiritual (and literal) rest lately. This isn't going to be an encouraging, tip-giving blog. Not that I "do those" but I do typically like to provide solutions to problems instead of just complain. I actually prefer to solve problems ASAP but, nevertheless...

I kind of wanted to throw my thoughts out there in the blogosphere, let it all out & hope that maybe I'm not the only one or, if I'm lucky, get some tips or some encouragement back.

I like to think of myself as independent, determined, and a problem-solver. Realistically, I am EASILY overwhelmed and depressed. This is not okay. I can't remember a time when I was bored, or didn't have the weight of a large to-do list on my shoulders. The to-do list could vary from things others are depending on me for or crazy things I mistakenly add to my own plate. If I sit, I feel guilty. But ironically enough, I find absolutely no guilt in napping. Crazy how that works. Sleep is one of my top five favorite things in this world and I am not ashamed to admit it. I used to nap a lot...but with marriage and working a full-time job, I really don't anymore. Maybe that's the problem. ;)

I just wanted to give you just a glimpse of maybe an hour-long span of my crazy personal thoughts lately so you can see where I am coming from:
I am so behind at work. I must work a little bit from home, even though I vowed I was going to stop doing that. If I work a little bit later, I'll get more done. I have SO many evaluations to write. I'll never be caught up. There's no point in even trying. The 10% paycut doesn't help. My student loans and medical bills are outrageous! That. Is. Not. Fair. Why did I even go to graduate school? I need to go see Mawmaw in the hospital. She's lonely out there in Mount Holly. She's one of my most favorite people ever. I don't want her to be lonely. MY HOUSE IS A DISASTER. There are boxes everywhere. My husband hasn't thrown anything in his nightstand away since high school...or before. I cannot deal with all this clutter. I should have taken a week off work to deal with this. I can't put anything up until the paint's done. The painter's not done yet. Where is our {fill in the blank}? I hear animals in the attic. We probably should do something about that. What are we doing for dinner? I will be home late. I don't have the energy to cook. I don't know how to cook. I want something quick, cheap, and yummy to eat. But fast food's horrible for you. And I've only been to the gym once in 2-3 MONTHS. I am gaining weight again. But I don't question why. But I feel bad. But I'm busy. But I am gaining weight. Do you know how hard I worked to lose the weight I did lose? I don't know if I want to do low-carb or low-calorie. Either way, I'll have to go back to the gym. But I'm tired. And I didn't get home until after 8:00. But I'm gaining weight. But fast food is so yummy. But my house is a wreck- I really should be fixing that. And wedding videos!! I am so behind on wedding videos. I had no idea they'd take this much time after-the-fact or I would have never signed up for this. But I enjoy doing it. But I have zero time to finish the videos. And thank you cards! I have not finished my thank you cards from all the amazingness I received for our wedding. I feel so bad about that. I really am thankful. I need a shower. But doing my hair is so annoying. I could go to bed with my hair wet. I don't think Alex likes it when I go to bed with my hair wet. What am I going to wear to church tomorrow? What'd I wear to church last week? I don't want to wear the same thing 2 weeks in a row. I dread getting up early in the morning. I'll probably want a nap tomorrow. Who has time for a nap? I have so much to do here before I go back to work Monday. I am so behind at work... 

And the cycle continues. I feel like I need to do as much as physically possible to fix the problems that I can, and am willing to, fix. I have spent every waking moment unpacking, organizing, and cleaning in the "simple" attempt to get this house under control. I think if I can get the house under control {when has that ever happened?} then I will feel innocent enough to sit and work on wedding videos or write thank you cards. The only reason I sat down to blog was because I am too tired to stand any longer. I have been working like a crazy lady all day and I simply need some R&R. But then the guilt set in and I was all like, "This is not okay."

I am sure...or at least I hope that I am not the only one that feels like this. I'm sure I'm not. The internet is full of women who protest social media because all it does is make you feel inferior. Inferior as a wife, mother, homemaker, clothes-wearer, whatever. I 100% believe it does, but for different reasons. The internet especially has made me realize that some women seem to get more done in a day than I do. Why is that? I have no idea. They probably sleep less. They probably wake up super early in the morning, chipper, ready to take on the day. They probably have super high metabolism and don't need to work out to stay attractive. {I tell myself that a lot to make me feel better but I know that belittles their physical effort so I take it back.} I am sure they have money and can delegate some duties out, or don't feel obligation to work 45-50 hours per week to try to stay on top of things. Again. I don't know..just throwing some guesses out there. I read someone say recently, "We all have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce." How ridiculous for someone to even think that, let alone say it! Beyonce has a ton of MONEY, and a TEAM of people to help her get it all done. She BETTER get a lot done!

My dad always told me growing up that I cannot do it all, as in...things cost time and money and you only have so much time, money, energy, and resources. I think he was teaching me a lesson in prioritizing and the value of saying no. I have obviously not learned that lesson yet, but I already appreciate it.

And of course, when your brain is chaotic, and guilt-ridden, and you just have a million things to do, but you're tired, and exhausted, and hungry, and haven't spent any time with your husband yet today...what's the first thing to go? If you're anything like me, it's probably your relationship with Christ, which I feel the most guilty about. I try to find ways to connect with Him throughout the day, but it's not enough and it's exactly the problem. If I was as God-centered as I should be, I highly doubt I would be driving myself this crazy. But would I find more time to do things? I don't know. Would my house be any more cleaner or organized? I don't know. Would I be able to spend time with my family, husband, friends, God, and get my work done? I obviously don't know. But I would have more of a peace about things. I am horrible with commitment, so I'm not going to make any promises. But I just want you to know that I know that's the problem. And I really want to solve that problem, as soon as possible. I'm going to take my sleepy self upstairs, open up my Bible, and hope time stands still for a while so I can still get maybe seven hours of sleep.

Am I crazy? Am I normal? Do you feel like this too? What do you do to pull yourself back together? I obviously am welcoming any & all suggestions. ;) 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Wedding Day Video

Well, the day is here. And it's about time! Over four months later, I am completely finished {as much as I'm going to be for now} with our wedding video. Cut me some slack, please. I know I've been talking about it since we got back from our honeymoon in the beginning of May. But it wasn't until mid-June that I was introduced to some amazing video editing software from my lifesaver, Travis. I don't know what my plan was before I was introduced to the software {Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum} but I am just thankful to God above that Travis saw that the software was being offered on Groupon and gave me the heads up. I didn't get the software in the mail for another three weeks....so really I have been holding on to this project for only like, two months, right? I did have a LOT to learn, teaching myself the new software. I am so thankful for Google and YouTube tutorials. Without them, I would have been completely dumbfounded. And going back to work a week earlier than I had planned really threw a kink in my summer plans, which was to not do anything all summer and complete my summer to-do list in the last week of summer. Duh. But anyways, two months isn't bad, right? Right! I am busy working 40+ hours a week, juggling two to three positions at work right now depending on the day, and still adjusting to being / attempting to figure out how not to be the world's worst wife ever. Oh and doing crazy things like taking sewing  classes and being consumed by all things Jen Hatmaker and adoption. But the wait is over!

First of all, I want to say that I cannot take the credit for this video. Yes, I put it together. But of course I did not video our wedding day. The ever-so-gracious Preston Springer {husband of the fabulous Deedie Springer, owner of Springvine Design- check her out} videoed the day for us. Bless his heart. I also incorporated pictures from our special day that helped tell the day's story. Our photographer was the awesome Kerri Crutchfield with Lillian Grace Images.

I really enjoyed watching the video clips and stringing them together to tell our very special story. So much in fact that I got the notion that I might want to attempt to try videoing other brides' special days! I bought the camera for Preston to use on our wedding day. I bought the fancy software. I figured out how to use it as much as my brain will comprehend. So I thought I am already invested so I might as well give it a try! Therefore, I now have two other videos to show you... as soon as possible! I promise! ;)

So... if you have 16ish minutes of time to spare, please take a look at our wedding video! It's a behind-the-scenes or an in-case-you-couldn't-make-it look at our special day.  I worked very hard on putting it together. And it's my first video baby. I know it's not perfect. But it's my wedding video and I will cherish it forever. I am so grateful I have footage of our day. Photography was top on my list but videography adds that special something extra.


Please let me know how you like it! Or that you watched it! Ensure me it was worth taking the time to figure out how to compress the file size and upload it online! It's something personal, of course, that I want to keep for myself, but I also wanted to be able to share the joy of the day with you as much as I could! And I'd love any positive, constructive feedback you have to offer because like I said, this is my first video and I still have a lot to learn.

I hope you like it!

,
Nicole

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Obsessed with...Adoption???

Something is stirring inside of me. I can't exactly tell you what it is, because I don't know. But God is at work. I have a passion stirring inside of me and I don't know what to do with it. God has placed something on my heart and it is consuming me. {Ask my husband for confirmation. He is borderline annoyed.} And I have no idea why this is happening. But one thing I do know is that God is at work. I can just tell. Call me crazy, but I am so consumed.

What is consuming me, you ask?

The idea of, concept of, process of, transparency (and lack thereof) involving, act of, positives and negatives of....adoption.

I want to know so much about it right now. I want to know it all. I want to figure it all out.

I have been completely obsessed with Jen Hatmaker. I mean completely. My "lunch breaks" at work since school has started back has consisted of scarfing down a Tupperware container of yogurt & fruit while reading a new blog post of hers. I could spend hours reading her posts, as well as the thousands of comments her readers post. Some are about her life. Some about her children. Some about her job. Some about her passions. But a lot are about her adoption story. I'm honestly obsessed with her in general because she is completely hilarious and I think we have a lot in common, BUT- I am so into reading her blog posts about adoption because they are honest. They are transparent. They are heart-wrenching. They bring you joy. They make you want to cry (sad and happy tears). They are so realistic. They give you hope. They inspire you to adopt. But more importantly because they are realistic in a scary way and still inspire you to adopt.

I'm going to do myself you a favor and one day {soon} compile all of her adoption posts into one, chronological list of posts. By the way, Jen, there's these things called "tags" that you can categorize your posts with. PS, I love you. 

Until then, check out this awesome canvas art I found at a store in Wilmington, NC in December 2012 and just had to take a picture of.  I wish I would have bought it.


I just wanted to throw this all out there, just in case one day I'm wondering, "When did this all begin?" or something of the sort, I can take an ol' looksie through my past blog posts and figure it out. Because I do tag my posts for easier findings in the future. ;) 

I have so much going on in my head & it's just so hard to even get it all out.

Don't expect Alex and I to surprise you tomorrow with news that we are soon-to-be parents of a 7 year old boy or anything...but something is going on. I'm sure of it.

I want to help in more way than one. Adoption is too hard and there are too many orphans in this world.

I just don't know what to do with my thoughts yet. So I'll wait and see where I'm led. But when that time comes for an answer, don't say I didn't warn you!

If you are in the process of adopting a child/ren, holler at me! I'd love to chat with you!
If you've adopted a child in the past, holler at me! I'd love to chat with you!

,
Nicole


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall Wreath Fail

So much going on in my life and in my head. I wish I could share it all with you! 

And no, I'm not pregnant! ...That I know of. Ask me in a couple days.

But I just wanted to say this...

My sweet baby fall wreath I made last year has made her appearance for this year! 

...And as I find myself finding that link for you I noticed something VERY important. 
Here's my girl last year, in all her glory...
And here she is this year...

Um. I know it's been a long year, but GIRL! I'm convinced she fell apart in the closet, or I had her on backwards, or something because she's all kinds of twisted & naked!

I am off to solve this mystery. 
You know, instead of doing my three service notes due in the morning.
Or finish my wedding video that I was really really really excited about.
Or go to bed because that's what I really should be doing.

This is my life and that's what I blog about. 

,
Nicole

Edit: Problem solved! I can sleep soundly tonight, as I won't have to dig in the closet for a flower that's not there. She was just put on backwards! She is still as beautiful as ever! And yes, my wreath's a she. I should really do those service notes. Also, I can't remember what I was going to blog about to begin with. {ADHD much?} It was obviously super important. Guess we'll never know.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Weight Loss Journey: 9 months later...

In the beginning of November, I "went low-carb." Read all about it here.
To make a long story short:

  • I started in the first week of November 2012.
  • I had 12 cheat days over Christmas break {and was already/still down 8 lbs!}
  • I started working out in January 2013
  • I remained consistent with my low-carb diet 
  • I was down 25ish pounds on my wedding day!!!!! {04.27.13}
Thanks to some great friends and their help/advice with their successful experiences losing weight/living life eating low-carb {shout out to Samantha & Laura!}, I learned a thing or two.
I learned it was possible & did not have to be excruciating!
I learned I could have one cheat day a week & it wouldn't hurt me at all.
I learned I can still have pizza, and ice cream, and chocolate, and cheese, and bacon, and a ton of other yummy things! 

In January, I also learned that somewhere along the way my pancreas decided to {hopefully temporarily} quit working.
A high-fat diet was the only *guess* as to what could have caused it.
Just for the record, the medical bill was not worth sticking around for the specialist to come take a guess at the cause.
Lesson learned. 

I consistently ate under 20 carbs a day for six days a week.
When I tell people that, it blows their mind!
Apparently that's not a lot?! 

I now know that everyone's carb tolerance is different.
One person may be able to consumer 60 carbs a day & maintain their weight, another person may be able to eat 80, while some may only be able to eat 40.
Everyone's different & I was recommended to slowly start introducing carbs back into my diet and figuring out what my specific carb tolerance was.
I didn't do that. 

After our wedding day, we went to Jamaica, and ate, and ate, and ate.
And we went home, and didn't really look at what we were eating.
Then we semi- counted our calories, but weren't doing anything specific.
...Okay, Alex counted his and I didn't. :)

Meanwhile, I was working out 3-4 days a week consistently, mostly running on the treadmill {2ish miles a day}.
I am proud to say that I have maintained an approximate 20 lb. weight loss!! 

If you know me, you know I'm a picture freak.
It didn't take me long to find some "before" & "after" pics.

Here's some before pictures...yikes! 





I will say it warms my heart to know that Alex proposed to me at my largest. He must really love me! ;)

And now, my "current" pictures...
{I'm hesitant to call them "after" pictures. Hopefully I will be able to do that after this next go-round!}
the night before our wedding

hottie hubby lost 20ish lbs too with low-carb pre-wedding! proud of him!

Yes, that's a bikini! I hadn't worn one of those in 2+ years!

So I said all that to say this...
I am starting round 2 tomorrow! 
I had so much success during round 1 & I've binged long enough to start feeling blah & seeing the number slowly increase. 
For some reason, I have such motivation this time! 
I am not even worried about missing my daily Mello Yello(s) or not eating fast food.
Now, I will have to grocery shop tomorrow.
And I am dreading that more than going on a diet. 

I'll let ya know how it's going and will be posting on Instagram {@nsmullen} some of the yumminess I make! Follow me! :)

Wish me luck & feel free to comment with some advice or encouragement! :)
,
Nicole

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Truth about the Titanic

I have sucked at blogging lately. But from time to time, I come across funny stuff on the internet and I thought I'd share it with you, just in case you need a laugh, or smile, or chuckle, or if you just want to stare at the computer screen and "LOL" internally. {I do that from time to time.}

So, here it is... the cold hard truth about the sad fate of what was Jack and Rose: 


Haha! I thought that was funny! 

Make sure you LAUGH today! I have found myself LOLing a lot on buzzfeed.com if you want to check that out. Just a suggestion! ;) 

Enjoy your day!

,
Nicole

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Today's Pinterest Project: DIY Cornice Boards!

So today my friend Ashleigh & I tackled a Pinterest DIY project! I have been wanting to make my own cornice boards for the living room window(s) for a while now and knew of the perfect fabric I wanted to use at Hobby Lobby.

FYI: In case you didn't know, Hobby Lobby is a Christian company {which I love!} and they offer *about* everything in the store 50% off every other week. So if you go in there & fall in love with something, come back next week & you can get it for 50% off! If you absolutely have to have something and it's not on sale that week, you can go to Hobby Lobby's website on your smartphone & show the cashier a 40% off {one non-sale item} coupon on your phone off their website {or print one off before you get there.} They always have one on their website & it's bound to help you on something. :)

I looked on Pinterest to find a tutorial on how to make my own cornice boards. I first found this one, which is great and practically the same thing my friends Becky & Randall did for their DIY cornice boards. The only difference was that they bought the wood at Lowe's {or wherever} and had them cut it in the correct dimensions there so no power tools were needed, except a drill to screw the brackets into the wall.

I was convinced "there was an easier/cheaper way" so I kept perusing on Pinterest and found this. I already had a hot glue gun, hammer, nails were only $1.30 at Lowe's {I got the tiniest "trim nails" I could find-- they come in different sizes}, & my fabric was 40% off at Hobby Lobby thanks to my trusty coupon!

I couldn't find the exact Styrofoam she used since I was at Lowe's and not Home Depot but they had something similar back where their lumber is. It was a huge piece!! The man at Lowe's cut it in two & I could barely fit it in the back of my SUV!

I tried to follow the directions to a T but had a couple "issues."

First, I have a double window instead of a single. I was afraid the inside would sink in so I had to put something in the middle to push against the middle window frame. I basically just made a frame/board like she did, and attached another top piece to the other side of one end and another end piece to that piece. {Gah, I'm sorry. I know that makes little to no sense.}

I also didn't think to cover the back as well as the front. This window is one that's in the front of our house and you can totally see the {currently} non-finished back when the blinds are open, and they usually stay open. So if you're going to do this, do back *and* the front!

We also didn't use a butter knife. Heck a butcher knife was difficult when you stood the thing up & tried to cut "down." The best way to cut the board is to lay it on the  ground, cut straight pieces one at a time {the slow but sure way} and when you're done, stand it up and fold the foam so it'll snap apart. One side will be crooked as all get out, but the other edge will be surprisingly super straight!

You can read the directions on the site yourself if you're super interested in how to do this project. But for now, I will leave you with an "after picture" of today's Pinterest project! I think Ashleigh & I did a GREAT job!! So what if it's not perfect? I love it!! {Just gotta fix the back...}


I figure this will be WAY easier with a single window and can't wait to try it in another room now that I think I've got the hang of it and some of the kinks worked out! 

I am just so tickled with it. I love me some DIY. I love me some chevron. And I love me some new home decor!! Especially cheap DIY chevron home decor! :)

Next I'll show you how we chevron'd my friend's wall in her future baby girl's nursery last weekend!! Now THAT was interesting... Stay tuned!!

,
Nicole


 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Info for Brides-to-be: Inexpensive Wedding Invitations

WARNING:  this got wayy longer than I intended. As always ;)

So, did I mention already that I was a bride on a budget?

Disclaimer: I had x-amount of dollars to spend, therefore I was on a budget. It was more than I thought it was going to be, but far less than some crazy folk I know who spend $15k+ on their special day. But hey, if you've got it... But please don't mistake me saying I was a bride on a budget for me not being grateful for the supreme generosity of our loved ones.

Okay, so, as I was saying... I was a bride on a budget! I tried every. possible. way I could to save money in the wedding planning process that would allow me to have "the wedding of my dreams."  Mind you, I did not have a thing pre-planned pre-ring. So, I made a LOT of decisions post-ring, and Lord knows there's a million and one decisions to make.

Wedding invitations are just one of those million and one decisions a bride-to-be has to make.

I was not about to pay an uppity company $3ish per invitation, needing 175ish invitations. That was just something I just knew I could save money by "doing myself."

(Enter Vistaprint)

I knew there are several online companies that can let you design your own invitations, whether it's wedding invitations, baby shower invitations, or whatever. Vistaprint just happens to be one of them. (Some others are Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Zazzle, and stores like Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS have some good options as well on their websites.) Anywho, I was looking for something specific. I wanted yellow. And I was determined to find me some yellow wedding invitations. I found exactly what I was looking for on Vistaprint. I was set to go already & had an Ah-Ha moment: "Try to find a coupon."

I don't know if you've ever heard of RetailMeNot.com, but whoever made the site is an angel. You can find amazing coupons for just about anywhere on the website. I have the app on my smartphone and use it whenever I go anywhere, looking to see if I can save any money... and I usually do. :) I just knew Retail Me Not would have a Vistaprint coupon, but I didn't know it'd have such an amazing one!

When you visit RetailMeNot.com & type in Vistaprint in the upper search bar, you get 19 results. The top results are obviously the best, but if there's something else in there that razzes your berry, by all means!

here's the top search results as of 6/23/13

I zoned in on the "50% off invitations and announcements + free shipping" and was sold! What's a little confusing about Retail Me Not is that there was no code to enter at checkout. 
You'll see this pop-up, need to click the link that says "Go to vistaprint.com," and the "code" is entered in already. Whenever you add things to your cart, it magically applies the 50% off so it shows you exactly what you're saving. I absolutely loved it! It'd be really great too if you wanted other things from the site & could use the first 50% off link on other things site-wide.

But anyways, back to my invitations...



They were exactly what I was wanting!! At now 50% off! I needed over 150, but knew I'd need some "just in case" so I ordered 200. Vistaprint supplies the envelopes which is another perk. (I'd hope all websites/stores would.)

I also made personalized RSVP cards. I'll be honest; I was pretty anal about my RSVP cards. Like I said, we were on a budget. We had to rent tables, chairs, have linens, decor for tables, food, etc. etc. per person so it was super important for me to know as close of an estimate as I could of the number of guest we'd be expecting. I cannot imagine how you folk host a wedding and don't ask for RSVP information. I would have gone cRaZy. Anyways, so Vistaprint lets you design your own cards/invites/announcements completely. So my personalized RSVP card looked a little something like this...

just kidding, this is the real deal...
I hand wrote each person/family's name at the top and pre-filled in the number of people that were invited. So, for example, I'd write "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" or when I got slack, I'd write "Brad and Angelina." (I wasn't a stickler for formality.) The hope was that they'd see the number of people invited and figure out that (for example) their children weren't invited or they were or were not allowed a guest. It'd also give people the opportunity to write in how many of the invited are attending the wedding or check whether no one's coming at all. The hope was that we didn't have the formal "M____________________" to fill in that nobody understands. I also gave guests an email option in case they didn't want to use the pre-stamped RSVP envelope via snail mail. (Those things always get lost or not turned in on time if you don't immediately fill them out & put them in the mail.) 

This may sound like a lot, but trust me, it was worth the peace of mind I got when I got exact numbers in the mail. (Note I said "in the mail." The email option was utilized from approximately 2-4 guests. Yep, even in this technology-driven day and age, inviting lots of 30 & under folk, snail mail won fair and square! 

So, I ordered 200 invitations with envelopes, 200 RSVP cards with envelopes, and they offered matching labels for SUPER cheap (like less than $5 for almost all 200 or something) so I got some of those too! The 50% off was applied to shipping as well, so we got 3-day shipping for super cheap. 

And the invitation-stuffing party began!



We also included an insert with information about parking, guest accommodations, informed guest the wedding would be outside, and told them about our wedding website

OH and I also used Vistaprint for our Save The Dates. I made them myself as an image, and uploaded the image on a card/announcement template. They were two-sided & I loved them. :) 

the front of our Save The Date 
The back :)
The absolute only negative thing(s) I have to say about Vistaprint is that the yellow wasn't as bright as the template/picture online showed. That's probably to be expected, as colors are often a bit distorted online. The RSVP picture above is what I thought it'd be. The pictures of the invites are closer to what they really looked like. But I honestly loved the real color because my wedding color was more of a goldy yellow versus a brighter yellow. Also, there was no "inner envelope" as typical/formal wedding invitations include. We had one envelope (that came with the invitation) and put the invitation, RSVP card with envelope, and insert into the main envelope. So when you opened the envelope you had all the fun stuff, not another envelope to open. This was 100% A-OK with me. 

So, if you're willing to be okay with that, and want to save 50% on your wedding invitations, "now" you can! (You could before, but you might just now be learning how!)

High-five to you if you read all this, and a double high-five to you if you can take this advice and save yourself some major $$$ on your wedding invitations. FYI: I saved about $175. :) :) 

Holler at me in the comment section if you have any questions, comments, or to let me know you read this & took advantage of the super wise advice! ;) I'd love to hear from you!

,
Nicole

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Secrets of a Newlywed

Disclaimer: I surely have my own "secrets of a newlywed," haha, but this is not where I'm going. I'm sorry to disappoint if you've clicked a link and headed to read all my juicy newlywed secrets. ;) But don't go away! Keep reading, it'll do ya some good! ;)

I've stumbled upon a great (blog) read for you newlyweds, newlyweds-to-be, or marriage "pros" who aren't too big-headed to accept some possible tips or new ways of thinking. It's a Christian blog series (don't pre-judge!) on things you may or may not have thought about, things you think are issues only you and your new spouse are having, or things you're sure are things that need to be corrected in your relationship.

Secrets of a Newlyed by Life Blessons 

I love that I have time off to find new blogs to read. For whatever reason, I much prefer to read blogs than books. I think it has something to do with links within blogs. If you're interested in a subject, it'll lead you to what originally sparked the topic, or to another post, which will in turn to the same. I really could get lost in blogs for hours if I don't watch it. But I found this series really interesting, informative, and (actually) entertaining. She speaks of some taboo things (such as sex- ahhh!) that we in the Christian community don't openly discuss as much. More power to her!

But I just thought I'd share this tidbit today with "all you" blog readers of mine in case this sparks some of your interest & you want to click on over to the list of articles and read for yourself. :)

,
Nicole


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hello, I'm back!


Well guys, it's been a while. Almost three months actually. Believe it or  not, I've been busy. I went and got married and then worked on winding down my first year as a school-based therapist. As I type this, I'm officially enjoying my first of eight weeks off this summer. It's my first time since high school that I've had a summer off. I've spent my summers working, in school, or in Costa Rica, and I can't tell you how happy I am that I get this opportunity to get things done. Normally I'd joke about how I plan on doing absolutely nothing this summer, but realistically, I plan on doing all the things I already needed to do. I plan on catching up on some projects. I plan on doing housework on a regular basis. I plan on making our wedding album and working on wedding videos. I plan on organizing all the crap we've decided to keep in the house. I plan on going to the gym about every day. And don't get me wrong, I plan on getting tan. I also plan on seeing the ocean at some point. And spending some time with my mister mans. And at some point I need to catch up on Grey's Anatomy! So you see, I'll be busy. ;)

I am really really really working on simplifying everything around here. I've been super anal about getting rid of random paperwork laying around, donating clothes I we never wear, and finding a home for every little random thing I find. As you can guess, Alex has really been enjoying it. Haha!

I do plan on getting back to blogging. I really enjoy it...not quite sure why. I don't know that anyone really reads this thing, so sometimes I feel like I'm blogging for nothing or no one. But then every now and then I'll hear from a friend or stranger who comments about something I've blogged about. So, what the heck! I'll just keep on keepin' on and see what happens. I have some stuff I want to blog about, but I've learned from the past not to make any promises.

Until then, enjoy your summer day(s)!

,
Nicole

Monday, March 25, 2013

A rant about picture taking from a pathological picture-taker


Get ready to read... 


If you know me, you know I love to take pictures. I call myself a pathological picture taker and I am not ashamed to say that. Ever since I got my first digital camera that didn't even have a zoom button, I've been blowin' it up, taking as many pictures of me with my friends and loved ones. So bad to the point that one year for Valentine's Day, as part of my present, Alex gave me a HUGE pack of AA batteries. I later wised up & bought a fancier digital camera that doesn't take AA batteries. 

Anyways, we're playing a slideshow at our rehearsal dinner... don't worry, we're not going to stop you from eating to have you watch a montage of our entire lives while a song play that'll make ya wanna cry. But don't think I didn't think about it!! Yeah, so, we're playing a slideshow. And I knew this moment would come. The moment when I would "have to" {I really really wanted to} go through ALL my past digital pictures. All 39,482,384 of them. And MAN did I enjoy that!! It took me back. I love to reminisce & remember good times. It's crazy and awesome to see how much things have changed while looking to see what hasn't changed at all. I took pictures in those moments just for that purpose. And some precious memories I will never get back, and those pictures are all I have left. 

I just wish I had pictures from before 10th grade. I love my Mom but she is the worst picture taker. And while she loves pictures of us, she wasn't as picture crazy as I am. Therefore, 94% of the pictures of me and my friends growing up are either non-existent or completely chopping off a vital body part or something of the sort. Love you Mom! 

I'm not just a crazy picture taker. I do have good intentions and a purpose for my picture taking. Get annoyed all you want, but you'll be sad when you look back and don't have any pictures of your happy memories. And by gosh, my kids {God bless their souls} are not going to regret not having any pictures of them growing up. 

Once I got my iPhone I completely ditched my digital camera. I somewhat regret this. Taking pictures with your smartphone is so convenient, but it really doesn't take the same quality pictures as my somewhat fancy digital camera. And when it comes time you actually want to print your pictures and enlarge them, you're screwed. Don't even get me started on this stupid Samsung Galaxy S3 I have. The thing's camera is a joke and it takes an act of Congress just to get it to take a non-blurry picture. And FORGET about asking someone else who hasn't got it's stupid ways down to a science to take a picture for you, because they will. all. be. blurry. 

I see myself getting super anal about picture taking. I am not in denial. But seriously, if the last picture you took with someone was a super messed up blurry attempt at a picture, wouldn't that break your heart?? It'd break mine! 

I say all that to say... I am back!! I am carrying my beloved digital camera around with me again and you better believe I am gonna be taking some pictures!! I had an awesome bachelorette party this weekend, and *I* got hardly ANY good pictures and it seriously makes me wanna cry. We looked so darn good!! WHYY did we not take more pictures?! And now I have to bother people to get their copies...'cuz y'all know saving them from Facebook is not the same. {Please tell me you know this.} Facebook completely destroys any quality you had in your picture if you want to reprint it. 

Am I the only crazy person thinking like this?? I am sure I'm not.
But I bet no one's willing to admit they're equally as picture psycho!! 

Oh well, I will say it loud & proud...
My name is Nicole
and I am a pathological picture taker!!!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Overwhelmed & thankful

I am overwhelmed.

Of course I am overwhelmed with work. What's new?

But- I'm also overwhelmed in a whole other amazing way!

I am finding myself surrounded by so many giving people who are willing to do whatever they can to help make sure our special day is perfect. I have some amazing showers lined up and from what I can tell, a very fun and original bachelorette party weekend! My bridesmaids are being so amazing and helpful. I cannot wait to have all my besties together under one roof!!

I have turned Alex into a wedding-planning helper and he is doing a great job! He has found us a honeymoon spot & it's going to be a surprise for me! I cannot wait to spend a week in paradise with my husband!!! Ahhhhh!!!

And I am just so overwhelmed about how God is working to prove to me that no matter what, our wedding day is going to be beautiful and filled with love! Of course I have a million details to stress about but God keeps showing me over, and over, and over again that He is handling all those details, and I need to quit freaking out.

I am so thankful for everyone who is offering to help us....whether it's financially, throwing showers, decorating, prayer, with alterations, giving us helpful tips, and putting in their time to be a part of our wedding! I cannot believe it'll be here in less than two months and I just hope I can get things ironed out enough to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this season. I have faith that it'll all get done, look great, and be a night we will never forget! We are so blessed to have so many family & friends supporting us. We are also so blessed because God is showering us with so many blessings along the way & we are so undeserving!! The little blessings along the way just showed me that even if I had all the money in the world and the best wedding planner ever, things could still go wrong and I just need to step back and give God my wedding day and let Him handle it. He is so much better at the little details than I am ;)

I am overwhelmed and I am glad.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Danita's Children

If you follow me on Instagram, or if you're my Facebook friend,
you saw this picture I posted today:


If you go to Covenant Bible Church, you probably know who this lady is.
But if you don't, don't you worry. Because I'm about to tell you...

In 2000, Danita Estrella-Watts founded Danita's Children, which provides a home for over 100 orphans, and provides a school, church, feeding program, and medical care for other impoverished children in Haiti. Our church loves us some Danita's Children and a group does missions there at least twice a year. Others who are able actually visit more often! You just hear wonder stories about the progress these children are making physically and spiritually! Danita is a true example of a Proverbs 31 woman & her team are nothing short of angels! 

Visit the Danita's Children website for a ton of information, pictures, videos, and to find out how you can help! I love how the agency & website is very transparent about their money-spending, saying:
"At Danita's Children, Hope for Haiti Children's Center, we value financial accountability, transparency and integrity in our practice of managing the donor's gifts to the highest good. Ninety-one (91) cents of every dollar given went directly to program expenses to rescue and care for the children."
Alex and I have decided to incorporate Danita's Children into our wedding day & I cannot wait to share with our guests! Ronda and I were going to talk to a few people who visit Danita's Children in Haiti often to see the best way to go about doing so, and low and behold... Danita herself was at church this morning!! We got to talk to her and Sheree, the U.S. Director of Danita's Children, and they were amazingly nice {as if I expected anything less!} and just so loving, congratulating us on our upcoming wedding and just being so thankful to us for thinking of them! I am hoping that Danita's Children will be blessed by our special day!

Until then, check out the website & check out these transformations that Danita's Children has help make possible...
     "Whether orphaned by a flood, abandoned in a trash bin, or left alone when AIDS stole their parents' lives away, the orphaned children at Hope for Haiti Children's Center find love and care for hope when they've had no family, no home, and no hope.
     We are more than a temporary home; more than a half-way house for children living between a childhood of suffering and an adult life of struggle. We are a family who believes there is always room for one more. We believe that love, particularly the love that comes from our Heavenly Father, is the single strongest force to combating the difficulties that these children face on a daily basis. We offer this love in the form of an open door, education, care for daily needs, and Christian teaching."

Jocelyn before

Jocelyn after
Lubenson before
Lubenson after
Rose Mica before & after


Loveka before

sweet Loveka

Loveka after


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sarah's Defining Wildnerness

My friend Sarah has been posting her testimony on her new blog. It's much more like a book than a blog, each entry being like a chapter in her life story. BUT it's definitely like a book you cannot put down. A book you can't wait to read the next chapter! She posts a new entry a few times a week and it drives me crazy when I get to the end & have to wait a couple more days to hear the next chapter. It's that good.

Check it out at My Defining Wilderness :) but know that you'll need to start at the beginning and work your way to the latest entry. And comment & let Sarah know you're reading her testimony! I don't believe she is sharing very personal details of her and her family's life for selfish reasons. I truly believe others are meant to hear, to understand, and to learn God's love for them while reading Sarah's story. It truly is an amazing personal story.

I told Sarah that the reason I don't blog a lot anymore is because I don't have anything interesting to say. Facebook is good for people that know me to know what I'm up to and to stay updated on my life. But for some reason, blogging isn't something I'm ready to quit yet. I love the idea of sharing your testimony on a blog for others to hear, but I don't know if I have a testimony quite yet. I told that to Sarah and she said it took her 30 years in the making to get hers, and I'm definitely not asking for a story like hers (Sarah I hope you know I mean no offense by that). So until that time comes, you'll have to like hearing random tidbits and updates, and checking out links I love. :)


Monday, January 21, 2013

Pancreatitis


Pancreatitis. Not a word that was in my regular vocabulary a week ago, but this week it's been on my mind every day. Last Saturday I woke up in the middle of the night and just felt horrible. It didn't take me long once I woke up to get nauseous and experience probably the worst pain I've ever felt. And I have Endometriosis, so, I'm used to pain! I couldn't move, sit up, or do anything. I had to yell for my Mom and she ended up calling 911 to have an ambulance take me to the ER. It took them 20+ minutes to get to my house {which is crazy} and by the time the ambulance got there, I could slowly get in the vehicle myself. By the time I got to the hospital I felt a little silly being wheelchaired in the room because I thought I could walk myself. They gave me Morphine and some medicine for nausea and began to run blood tests & gave me an ultrasound. Not long after my ultrasound, I was really surprised to have a doctor come into my room, tell me what was going on with me, inform me of their plans, and answer any questions we had {which I don't think we could come up with any at that time.}

"Has anyone ever told you you have had Pancreatitis before?"

Ummm, no. But I did just go to the doctor last week. And I've had blood tests done {for non-serious reasons} several times since October, and no one's mentioned anything other than "all my numbers look great."

"Well, you have it. Your lipase level is supposed to be around 100, and yours is currently at 4,000, so we're going to admit you to the hospital."

Honestly, I was telling Mom & Alex {who were so gracious to hang out with me for a few hours in the ER} that I didn't want to have had to call the ambulance to come take me to the ER if there was just going to be something dumb wrong with me like a stomach bug or the flu. Well, you get what you ask for!! Lesson learned. I asked the doctor how long he thought I'd be in the hospital & he said at least a couple days. Apparently a level that high is a big deal? Who knew?

All I could think about then {because remember, I wasn't in pain anymore} was what I wanted Mom to bring me to the hospital- starting with my shower stuff, I was having a bad hair night!

Honestly, besides the excruciating pain, the worst part was the next day and some change. They didn't let me eat ANYthing and I. was. starving!! I think I told every single visitor I had how hungry I was. I had thrown up my last meal, which was some chicken wings I raved about on Facebook, and didn't have lunch on Friday. So I was running. on. empty! It was horrible. I can't imagine how girls purposefully starve themselves. What a miserable way to live! Then I was "introduced" to clear liquids, which is jello {which I find disgusting} and broth- which, for the record, IS NOT FOOD. After my MRI came back fine, the doctor said it was okay for me to have "non-greasy, non-fried" foods.

So- what causes pancreatitis? Several things. You could have a family history of it. I don't. It could be caused by alcohol intake. I don't drink. It could be caused by gallstones, which I don't have. And it could be caused by some medications, which the medication I was on, isn't on that list.


So there you have it. The doctors could find absolutely NO cause for my pancreatitis, which makes it called "idiopathic pancreatitis." Great! So I waited about a day or so for the GI specialist to come give me his opinion, which was that he had no idea what caused it, that it "might not" happen again, but "if it does" there are some additional tests to run. Great! He suggested a low-fat diet, but did say he didn't think the low-carb diet I was on caused the attack, even if I was eating bacon & burgers on a regular basis.

So I have no cause. Which means I have no way to prevent it from happening again. And I am being "suggested" to follow a low-fat diet "for a week or so." Now let me tell you what-- continuing a low-carb diet, while needing to eat low-fat is a hard task! And eating low-fat makes me think I can't have ANYthing good, so I'm a little sad, especially because they can't say that eating fat made this happen to begin with.

So- with that being said, if you know of any good low-fat, or low-carb AND low-fat recipes, send them my way!! I do still have a wedding to plan & I don't have time to hang out in the hospital another 3 days. Also, the huge bruises on my hands, wrists, and inner elbow are scaring my clients and I'm pretty sure they think I'm in an abusive relationship. Seriously though, I thought these bruises would have gone away by now.

Thanks for reading my super fun story about my bout with pancreatitis!! You're a trooper!! ;)

,
Nicole

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Our Wedding Website

Instead of the typical "The Knot" website,
of course I decided to make my own look-alike
that  fit my crazy mind's preferences. 

Leave a comment in the guestbook if you want. 

,
Nicole

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 things...2012/2013

I heard of a great idea* & it totally inspired a blog post. Hooray!
{Can you tell I'm avoiding working from home?}

Here are 3 good things about 2012:

  1. Alex & I got engaged! {DUH! You knew that was going to be #1... ten years is a long time, people!} No but really, I OFFICIALLY get to begin planning my future with my best friend & that was amazing news! 
  2. All my grandparents ended the year in good health. 2012 was a hard year that included a lot of serious health scares. I want to thank the Lord that my grandparents are "home" and healthy. 
  3. I made new friends & reunited with old ones. My girlfriends mean a great, great deal to me. I love how we can spend however long apart & when we're back together it's like no time passed. 
And 3 things I am looking forward to in 2013:
  1. Being a bride! Marrying the love of my life and making him my roommate! ;) 
  2. Having the summer off work. {Sorry, I'm not sorry!} My brain requires a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's temporary, for me to somewhat function properly. I am so thankful my job is allowing me this opportunity! 
  3. Seeing the benefits continue of my new low-carb diet. :) Christmas break reminded me why I need to remain focused & how multiple {and by multiple, I mean 12}cheat days in a row can backfire on you. But even after Christmas break, I was still 8 lbs lighter so I am just going to keep on keepin' on! I might even work out in 2013 ;) You never know....
Doesn't it feel great to reminisce? And doesn't it feel great to have something to look forward to?

,
Nicole


*I completely stole this idea from my friend, Winter.
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