Monday, July 21, 2014

Progress Summary: Low Carb Round 2 - Week 1

Okay, here's the deal. I thought I was going to totally going to track these carbs like a pro this week. I tried really hard and did alright. I am not eating a ton of times so it's kind of easy to remember what I had yesterday. The real kicker was recipes, which is totally normal, right? It wasn't until the week was over that I really counted the carbs in my three recipes I made, and, well, that was a no-no. Thank goodness my chocolate torte {pie} was only 3 carbs per piece, but my two others could get a little high in carbs if I didn't watch it. And I didn't watch it. Totally my fault. Lesson learned. Will do better next time!!

Now, here ya go! My week. My carb intake. As well as what I did for exercise. My goal was 15ish carbs per day. You can see that some days were spot on, some better than I expected, and some, well, went a little pretty overboard {by accident}.

Day 1: Total Net Carbs: 15 12
Breakfast:
3 eggs (scrambled) - 3 carbs total* 0 carbs
1/4 cup of Kraft Three Cheese shredded cheese - 1 carb.
1 tbsp. of "Real Bacon Bits" - 0 carbs
1/2 a can of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

**Depending on your resource, eggs vary in their number of carbs, anywhere from 0.4 to 1 each. I know that's not a HUGE difference, but it's the difference in 2 for 1! To be fair, I just said each egg was 1 carb and called it a day. 

Edit: I have no idea where I got 1 carb per egg for these eggs. The nutritional facts under the carton lid & My Fitness Pal both clearly say 0 carbs per egg. So... I guess I did better than I thought!! :)

Late Lunch/Pre-Workout Snack:
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

Exercise:
30 minutes on the elliptical at levels 5 and 10
Biceps and Abs for another hour, rotating with my new gym buddy, Whitney :)

Dinner:
Small-sized Low Carb Wrap - 5 net carbs
with Ham, Mustard, & Mayo - 2 carbs
Salad: sliced almonds, bacon bits, shredded cheese, EVOO, & red wine vinegar - approx. 2 carbs?

Day 2: Total Net Carbs: 15 11
Breakfast:
3 eggs (scrambled) - 3 carbs total* 0 carbs
1 Slice of American cheese {tasted better than the shredded cheese yesterday} - 2 carbs
1 tbsp. of "Real Bacon Bits" - 0 carbs
1/2 a can of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

Lunch:
1 pack of Starkist single-serve Light tuna....add mayo - 0 carbs

Pre-Workout Snack:
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

Dinner:
Texas Roadhouse's grilled chicken salad {chicken, cheese, eggs, & bacon**} - MAYBE 7 carbs {I would have said 4 before I added the ranch dressing but I do enjoy me some salad dressing!}

**I took off the tomatoes due to preference, and the onions and croutons to lessen the carbs. However, the amount of onions I would have had on there would have been "low carb," since 1 "medium slice" (1/8 inch thick) is 1.3 carbs and I don't douse my salad in onions. Nonetheless, the hubby was thankful! ;) 

Day 3: Total Net Carbs: 21 {higher than I'd wish}
Breakfast:
1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs

Lunch:
Salad: Lettuce, cheese, ham, turkey, chicken, tomatoes & ranch dressing. - Maybe 4 carbs?
Coke Zero- 0 carbs
1 single "Everything" flavored Pretzel Chip - 2 carbs... had to try just one, and I promised I would count it in my total....not worth it.

Exercise:
30 mins on the elliptical, at levels 5 and 1
30 mins on the treadmill at level 10 incline

Dinner:
Creamy Salsa Chicken Breast - 4 carbs guesstimate
Salad: cheese, bacon bits, almond slices, & leftover "cream" from the chicken recipe as my dressing - 6 carbs guesstimate
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Day 4: Total Net Carbs: 28 25 {Oops!!}
Breakfast:
3 fried eggs with bacon - 3 carbs 0 carbs
Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry - 0 carbs

I think I was full from my late breakfast, or forgot to eat lunch or something...

Snack:
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Exercise:
30 mins of elliptical, primarily on level 1... I was beat! 
30 mins of biceps

Dinner:

Shredded Buffalo Chicken w/ Mexican Cheese & sour cream - 14 carbs guesstimate {total low-carb mistake}
Brocolli & Cheese - approx. 5 net carbs
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Day 5: Total Net Carbs: 21 {dang it!}
Breakfast:
6 sausage with maple syrup links with mustard- 4 carbs
Coke Zero - 0 carbs

Lunch:
1 slice of my new Low Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte - 3 carbs

Exercise: 30 mins of cardio, then weight lifting {abs & legs}

Dinner: some more of that buffalo chicken from Thursday night... - Guessing another 14 carbs :(

Day 6: Total Net Carbs: 39 {toooo many!}
Breakfast:
Leftover buffalo chicken {don't judge me...it was brunch!} - Guessing another 14 carbs :(

Lunch:
A burrito bowl from Salsarita's {beef, cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream} - approx. 5 carbs?

Exercise:
NONE

Dinner: Outback Steakhouse: 
A side salad with honey mustard dressing {no croutons} - probably 15 carbs? Honey Mustard dressing will get ya!!
9 oz. sirloin - 0 carbs
& the best broccoli & cheese I've EVER had. So sad that they quit selling green beans.. :'( Those were my favorite!! - 5 carbs?

Day 7: Total Net Carbs: 7
Breakfast: 1 Chocolate Premier Protein Shake - 2 net carbs
Lunch: Salmon & mayo mix {not my best idea} - 1 carb
Snack: Smokehouse flavored almonds - 2 net carbs
Exercise: NONE
Dinner: 2 bacon & cheddar-filled burgers {YUM!!} - 2 carbs

It will be a miracle if I can keep this up, the logging. I am not handing out false promises today, so, I will just try to do a summary of what I ate...and you trust that it's low carb. How's that sound? I'll try to guestimate the number of net carbs I eat in a day. Sometimes it's hard with recipes you're making with ingredients and serving sizes and blah blah. But I WILL TRY. But if I don't, don't judge me. But as you can see, I did not starve. And I'll be honest, I didn't really miss carbs that much. Until I passed Cold Stone Creamery, and a pizza restaurant. That is mostly thanks to my new love, Coke Zero. It makes me temporarily forget Mello Yello exists.

But, nonetheless, my low-carb diet was well worth week #1. I will definitely be keeping up the good work. Why, you ask? Because the scale was at onenumber on Monday when I was chatting with Whitney at the gym, and on the morning of day #8, the number of the scale was onenumber minus FIVE POUNDS!! Not even joking. I think it was a low-carb miracle.

So, wish me luck in week #2. At the end of week #2 I am having me a cheat day of all cheat days. Not that I think of it often or anything... :)

Have a great week!

,
Nicole

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe: Low-Carb Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffle Torte!

I posted a Facebook status and later an Instagram picture of my new favorite "low-carb chocolate pie" and afterwards had several people asking for the recipe. The recipe was found on LowCarb4Life. It's amateur videos of a normal person making yummy low-carb food in their home! So relatable! I haven't watched all her videos yet, but plan to watch more soon. She stopped making videos in 2008. I really wonder where she is now. The video is at the bottom of this blog post if you're interested in watching! This is my to-go-to this week as I begin my low-carb journey again. It's sugar-free, low-carb, and will most definitely give you your chocolate fix with just one piece. LowCarb4Life doesn't listen a ton of nutritional value in her videos, just uses low-carb ingredients, so I did the homework myself. Each piece of this yummy goodness is only 3 carbs! Try it for yourself!

Ingredients:
6 oz. sugar-free chocolate chips {WalMart sells Hershey's brand...Harris Teeter doesn't have them}
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Splenda {I used the Walmart's Great Value brand....same ingredients, way cheaper}
3 eggs
1 tbsp. of cocoa powder {I used Hershey's brand}
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla {I think vanilla extract, but I didn't have any, so I used Torani sugar-free vanilla syrup}

Steps:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Put chocolate chips & butter in a bowl & melt in microwave, stirring every 45 seconds.
Whisk in the cream, vanilla, cocoa, Splenda, and eggs. {Make sure it's stirred up good!}
Grease "torte/truffle" pan. {I used a pie pan}
Pour mixture into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. {It'll be jiggly on the inside when you take it out of the oven.}
Let chill in fridge for at least 30 mins.

Here is the video if you are interested in watching:


Entire recipe is sugar-free and each piece only has 3 carbs! ENJOY guilt-free!! :)

,
Nicole 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Here I go again...

personal thinspiration from our honeymoon
(April 2013) 
Last year, for a solid 5+ months, I "did low carb." Of course, getting married will kick any undisciplined person into high gear & the result of my dedication and sacrifice was a much needed 25 lb. weight loss. After the wedding & honeymoon, Alex and I kind of climbed off the carb crazy train, just tried to "eat better" and continued to exercise-- a.k.a. we introduced carbs back into our life. Please hear me when I say that introducing carbs back into our diet did NOT backfire. I often hear people say, "You can't go on a low carb diet successfully because when you stop you will gain all the weight back," and then some people finish that sentence with a, "Plus more." Yes, I kept exercising. No, I didn't gorge myself in sweets. I maintained a 20 lb. weight loss. But it wasn't until I went back to work, which was extremely stressful, and ate like straight up crap for weeks and did not exercise one time that I gained not only a few lbs. back, but every single pound that I had lost.

LESSON LEARNED. 

It's high time I get back some discipline. I did it before and I can do it again. I know the efforts will be worth it, I just need to get to work. And by get to work, I mean plan, and track, and avoid, and tell myself no. And pray for God to help me find the strength to not have Mello Yello or sugar. Sounds like a drag but I know I can still have foods I love, and I know I will see some results. I won't have to worry about calorie-counting, or SUPER restricting myself. So.... I am thinking positive thoughts! :)

In the mean time, I will be looking for new low-carb recipes. If you have any suggestions, or websites that give some *easy* (y'all know I'm no pro in the kitchen) options, please send them to me! And wish me luck!!

PS: I realize I said I was starting "Round 2" last August, but that's when I started my new position at work and started hating life SO- like I said... It's high time I get back some discipline. For real this time. I had an xL Mello Yello last night, and I am READY. Get ready for some #lowcarb all over the place.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alyssa & Joe's Wedding Video

Before I say anything, I want to say scream THANK YOU to Alyssa for being super patient with me. Her and handsome Joe got married October 26th and here we are, eight months later, and she finally gets to watch her wedding video! I started this "venture" last summer, having absolutely NO EARTHLY idea what I was doing. I had a "great" idea, a camera, some awesome editing software, and some time (then). I didn't think that booking 3 weddings would consume my time and emotions the way it has for the past 10 months. Yeah, I said it... TEN months!! To try to make myself feel better, I have only been working on Alyssa & Joe's video for less than two months (43 days to be exact). And that's not bad, right? :/ Yeah... again, I am sorry for the delay y'all!! I hope the wait was worth it when you see your video!

Okay, to the main point of this blog... Alyssa & Joe's wedding video is here, and done, and so so sweet!! Can I just say... Alyssa might watch this video & be like, "Is this the Joe Show?!" and the answer is yes. It kind of is. I say that because Joe was working it on his wedding day!! That man was a big ball of emotion and who doesn't want to watch a groom wipe tears away and laugh with his beautiful bride?? I love how mommas and bridesmaids and, again, the groom cried happy tears about the whole time! Alyssa, way to keep it together, girl! At least for the camera. ;) When they weren't laughing, they were crying. It was absolutely precious. And oh how I loved how the bridal parties prayed over the bride & the groom before the wedding. It was truly precious. I know I just said "precious" twice, but that's just how darn precious it truly was!! I can't wait for Alyssa & Joe to watch their raw footage. There was 2+ hours of footage that had to be cropped and fit to music. So much awesome footage "didn't make the cut" and that kind of made me sad. There were sweet clips of Alyssa's late grandfather, full footage of fun dances, and, of course, audio. :)

This couple loves them some Jesus and I loved filming their big day for them. Their wedding day was perfect and they are a blessed couple!  It's been eight months, but I still have four months of well wishes to send you, Alyssa and Joe. I hope the first year of marriage is treating you well and you continue to fall more and more in love with each other and with Jesus every day. Y'all are an inspiration. Keep on keepin' on!!

Without further ado, here is Alyssa & Joe's wedding video**...


Joe & Alyssa Martinez {10.26.2013} from Nicole Mullen on Vimeo.

**As always, view in HD, if you can, to improve image quality. Enjoy!! :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Holly & Clint's Wedding Video

3 down, one more to go!

I know Clint and Holly are glad to finally hear me say, "Your video is ready!"  They have been sooo patiently waiting on me as I worked on videos to do before theirs and ya know, did life in the mean time. They have been SUPER understanding and, for that, I want to shout a big THANK YOU to them!!!! 

Clint and Holly were my first paid "clients" so I wanted to do 110% for them. I knew I could/should not rush through editing their video to get one more thing off my plate (which is another reason this has taken me so long). As I started watching and cropping their (then 2+ hour) video footage, I fell in love with their wedding day. I guess I couldn't "take it all in" the day of, just because I was "working" and stressed about doing a good job, especially since they paid me. I was there as the girls began to get ready and left mid-reception once my lighting ran out. (Don't forget, I'm an amateur!) Therefore, I got to see the roller coaster of emotions throughout the day and love love loved that I got to capture most of it on video. 

First of all, Clint and Holly had the good Lord above on their side on their special day. They got married at Vesuvius Vineyards in Lincolnton, NC ..... which translates to: they had their ceremony outside. Now, doing so in the late afternoon in July is 100% a risk. A risk I know all about, seeing as how I had just gotten married outside in April. It rained on my wedding day, resulting in us having the ceremony under the tent we planned to have our reception under. While my special day was imperfect, yet still beautiful and amazing, I didn't want Holly to have any regrets. About 45 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, the bottom fell out and it POURED rain!! As you will see in the video, Holly looked a little worried/stressed out/whatever you want to call it as she looked out the window, but like I said, the good Lord above was on their side and knew they were meant to have their ceremony as planned, because about 10 minutes before 6:00, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. The staff at Vesuvius Vineyards got to chair-wiping and we all reminded Holly to breathe, as her big moment was about to happen!! Holly, I want you to know just how blessed you are!! Clint, you too, but you could have probably cared less, haha! 

Second, Clint and Holly get the award for The Couple Who Kissed The Most On Their Wedding Day!! Have mercy!! :) You could tell they were madly in love and by gosh, that's what it's all about! 

And I love Holly's choice of music for the video. She picked music from their wedding for the video and I love her taste in music! While HelloGoodbye's "Here In Your Arms" is always fun, it made it a challenge to include her father-daughter dance as well as her stepsister's touching speech while it sang about lips touching and liking how you sleep next to me, but, my crazy perfectionist self made it work! (I told you...110%!) 

Without further ado, here's a link to Clint and Holly's wedding video... Enjoy! :)


Clint & Holly Hennessee {07.20.2013} from Nicole Mullen on Vimeo.

PS: I shot and uploaded the video in HD. The option was set to automatically view in HD, so you can see the video in its best quality. If you are viewing on a device that does not support HD, the video may appear a bit distorted- and that's why! 


Friday, April 25, 2014

Year #1: A Reflection

Today, as I reflect on this past year, learning to be a wife and to do life with someone else, I realize how beautiful of a day it is. I know someone's getting married today, and probably outside because they were a risk-taker like myself.  Well lucky for them, there's a 0% chance of precipitation today in this part of North Carolina. {As much as I want to "get over it," it's still hard. BUT} somewhere someone is getting married outside today and it will rain. First of all, I hope you have a plan B. And second, I hope your plan B is as beautiful as mine was. My plan B wedding was beautiful, but what made it the most beautiful was the people there. I will never forget that day as the day spent with all my loved ones, supporting Alex and I as we began our life together. The efforts from those who had to move things around at the last minute, get wet in the rain, and stress for me did not go unnoticed and I will forever be grateful. I promise you that. 

But, today I am not really reflecting on our wedding day, but the crazy year following that wedding day. 

They say the first year of marriage is hard. I'm scared to say it's the worst, because you never know what the future holds, BUT-- I can see how some people say it's the worst. As you may or may not know/care, Alex and I did not live together before we were married. So it went a little something like this: You have the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, followed by one of you moving (for us, it was me...fun), and then all of a sudden you have a roommate, who is not only a boy, but is now your HUSBAND! That's a lot to do and a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. The good news is, we have the rest of our lives to figure it out.

This past year, a lot has happened:
  • I moved (like I said) for the 11th time in eight years. (No joke. I am not a fan.)
  • We spent a week honeymooning in paradise. (We highly recommend Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.) 
  • I finished my first and (little did I know) last full school year doing school-based therapy at Bessemer City Middle School. I really miss the staff there and most of my kids. ;) That had the potential to be an amazing job. 







  • I spent two months taking a break from life, work, and stress. I consistently worked out, slept well, ate carbs again, and didn't gain any weight back from my pre-wedding diet. I had lots of girl time with my gal pals and spent lots of time at my in-laws' pool. It was amazing.
  • I started a new position at work in August. I absolutely hated it and unfortunately, it showed in and affected every area of my life. 
  • In September, we had less than a week to decide if we were going to move. An opportunity arose for us to invest in another fixer-upper and we jumped on the chance. I say that lightly, but putting our house on the market, fixing a house up for a month, and then moving (for my now 12th time in 8 years) was taxing. Taxing, but worth it. 


  • "Before"
    "After"
    • By November, I was looking for a plan B. I signed up to take the Praxis so I could obtain my school counseling licensure. Working in mental health was not what I thought it was going to be and I couldn't let the negatives of my job continue to affect the rest of my life. I wasn't even seeing clients anymore, so I didn't have much left to miss. 
    • I learned a great lesson. I learned that no matter how perfect something seems, if it's not God's will, you need to be able to walk away. I had the most amazing job interview. I nailed it, or so I thought. We laughed. I answered all their questions promptly and with ease. We discussed start dates and me having to put in a notice at my current job. They told me they valued my integrity. They complimented me often during the interview. And more importantly, I had connections. I was told I'd hear from them within 2 days as I was their last interview. I waited patiently to hear back. Christmas break came and went. I never heard another word. As perfect as it had seemed, I had to let it go. I was still miserable at my current job, but knew God had something better in mind. As perfect as I thought that job opportunity was, it obviously wasn't. (Note to employers: Don't say you'll notify an interviewee either way if you don't plan on doing so. That's just mean.) It's a perfect life lesson to take with me in all aspects of life: Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later. 
    • We celebrated our first holidays as husband and wife. We've been together many-o-holidays in the past 10ish years together; however, we've never actually celebrated all holidays fully together. It was awesome and different and a learning experience. I am grateful we have so many loved ones to visit. Balancing how to see them all in a decent amount of time without going crazy will be something we hope to figure out in years to come. :)  

    Merry Christmas from the Mullens!
    • I started my new job at the end of January. Saying "see you later" to my life working in mental health, and to my amazing co-workers was tough, but I knew it was necessary. I didn't worry about seeing my co-workers again. Almost all of us have left now and we get together on a regular basis to have girl time. Real friends stay in touch. I value my time, experience, and relationships formed from working in mental health, but now it's time to start new experiences and form new relationships. 
    • I have yet to complain about my new job. It may come in the future, but it's 10x better than the day-to-day I previously faced, emotionally speaking. It is absolutely draining to hate your job. Once I started my new job, I had to figure out how to get my life back. I (of course) had gained back every pound I had previously lost. (Stress and depression will do that to ya.) I had to get back to eating better, getting rest, exercising again, and trying to be the wife and friend I knew I could be.  That's tough--knowing you need to do better in 10+ areas of life and trying to improve in them all at the same time, knowing it's what you and your husband deserve. That alone is stressful, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to try. I am super grateful for Alex being as supportive as he has been. He is so thankful for my new job as well, and he tells me he sees a difference in my mood, spirit, and energy since changing jobs. He was there on days I needed him to give me a lift. He was there for me on days I needed him to hand me chocolate and just let me wallow. And that's reason #261 why I love being married, and love being married to Alex. 
    • We just spent our last week of year #1 in Mexico, celebrating our one year anniversary.




    • ...and Alex started his new job the day we came back from vacation.


    • That's a lot of big changes. That's a lot of transition, which brings lots of emotion. Learning to juggle those emotions with learning how to live with a new person and BE MARRIED is tough stuff, which probably has something to do with the fact that people say the first year is the toughest. But man oh man, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am eternally grateful to say that I am married to my husband, to his family, and to our life together. I am no longer me, I am part of an us. A for-real, legit, committed, signed and sealed official, and ready-for-the-long-haul version of us. That's scary but so awesome at the same time. I am no longer responsible for just me (which I have always struggled with), but I am also responsible for half of us (and sometimes both of us, haha) and that's something I need. It's good and healthy for me to learn to live, grow, and be with my favorite husband. It's good to have someone you can be 100% vulnerable with, and I think it's even better that we chose to wait to figure life out together until we were married. This way, there's no exit option. ;) Haha.... but really, we chose and vowed to not only live life together, but to figure out how to do it in a way that's best for us and hopefully glorifies the Lord along the way. We have learned a lot about life, each other, and what it means to be married this year. But all in all, we know we have a LOT left to learn. We are newbies at this. We WILL mess up but we WILL figure out how to fix it, some how, some way, at some time. We are in this together and for that, I am pretty excited to see what year #2 holds. I'm sure it'll bring some sort of transition. Each year seems to do that. But togetherness is what it's about. I am so thankful for the other half of my us. I feel secure knowing he tries to make every decision with my and our best in mind.

      I always hoped I'd get to marry my high school sweetheart; he had a lot of great qualities. Thank God we're not who we were in high school, but as we grew up, still gravitated towards each other. I thought I liked him when I was in 10th grade...but high school Alex has nothing on adult Alex and I am so thankful I got to marry adult Alex!! Like I said above, "Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later." 





      Staying tuned to see what favor we'll experience and lessons we'll learn together in year #2.....

      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
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