30 Before 30

It hit me this past weekend that I’m almost 30. For so long, 30 seemed old. Now it’s kind of the new 20 (but you go to bed earlier and can’t drink as much). It’s funny that at 18, I thought I would have been married for at least 5 years by now, and have a couple of kids, living in Raleigh, NC, and have a house-full of dogs, too. Even at 22, I thought I’d have kids by now.

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But we don’t. Instead, we have our two furbabies that I treat like kids (we celebrated Tucker’s 8th birthday this weekend with a trip to Petsmart for new toys that he picked out, a big belly rub and cuddle-sesh mid-morning, a long walk with the whole family and then cupcakes after dinner).

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At almost 30, I think we’ll definitely have a kid by the time 32 rolls around for me (35 for my husband), maybe even two – but we’re not in a hurry. First we want to travel more, starting with our European vacation this summer and South Africa next spring. Knocking a few more things off the list before we change up our lives completely.

birthday1I have always LOVED celebrating birthdays (or any other random holiday, or reason I can find to celebrate). Some of my favorite birthdays have been spent having large gatherings with friends, or visiting beaches with my husband (this year we did Key West). I was inspired by a few lists/challenges I’ve seen others doing to knock things off of a somewhat “bucket list” before they turn 30.

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Emily Thomas, author of Em For Marvelous is doing a 60 before 30 list. Some girls I went to college with are trying to rack up 30 race medals before they turn 30. I think I’ll stick with being my random self and doing just 30 different things before I turn 30.

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30 before 30

  1. Do 3 more 10k runs (equaling 30k) — 2nd goal? Get my sister-in-law to run one with me.
  2. Volunteer for 30 hours with a charity (or multiple charities)
  3. Do 30 hours of yoga
  4. Visit Paris
  5. Visit London
  6. Visit Ireland
  7. Foster (3) dogs (if I said 30, I might be getting divorced before I turn 30, so we’ll stick with 3)
  8. Go to Charleston
  9. Go to Savannah
  10. Read 30 books
  11. Write 30 blog posts
  12. Go on a tropical vacation (I’m thinking Costa Rica, Belize, Turks & Caicos, San Juan…)
  13. Take a cooking class
  14. Help 5 more items be crossed off the Pretty in Pink bucket lists
  15. Celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (and 6 year dating anniversary)
  16. Visit Tonya in Colorado
  17. Go zip-lining
  18. Have an album with our wedding/anniversary pictures created
  19. Run another half marathon | Hokie Half | Jekyll Island Half | Savannah Half
  20. Pay off another student loan
  21. Re-organize our master closet
  22. Get a porch swing (or my grandfather’s glider)
  23. Learn how to use my SLR in manual
  24. Learn how to do calligraphy (I have the class paid for, all the materials…. time?)
  25. See Florence + the Machine in concert
  26. Spend a weekend with my BFF Sarah
  27. Meet my BFF Brittney’s new son, Holden
  28. Go whitewater rafting
  29. Eat more tomatoes from our garden than the squirrels do this year
  30. Get my thesis published

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I know some of these items are technically already planned, and that’s okay. I need to follow thru with them. I’m excited to tackle these things in the next 10 months, and to continue working on saying ‘yes’ when people ask us to do things (instead of eating in our neighborhood and binge watching House of Cards), being more patient with people, trying to be more timely / not 5 minutes late to everything in life, and crushing it at work.

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The last one is tough for me because I’ve gotten in a groove and I feel pretty good at my job, I’m recognized for doing a good job and I’m in a good place. There have been some opportunities lately that I’ve looked into but they’ve all asked that I move to Boston if offered the job and I just don’t want to move to Boston. I LOVE Charlotte. I love our life here. I love our friends here. I love our house here. I love how close we are to both of our families. And I know that if I move there, I won’t have the chance to move back here and stay with the same company (most likely – things change!). NC feels like home to us. For the right opportunity, we might consider moving, but right now I’m in a good spot, and I’m okay. I don’t need a career change. So… yeah. Onto tackling my 30 before 30 list. I will update as items are able to be marked off.

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I’m still trying to raise money to help cancer champions mark items off of their bucket lists, you can read more and donate here. I heard about another lady in NC trying to do a similar thing (on a larger scale) and I am going to try to combine forces with her. Stay tuned!

Saving Stella

On Friday, I decided to meet my old neighbor at Char-Meck Animal Control to check out a dog she wanted. That was probably mistake #1. Animal control is a bad place for me to go for a number of reasons: 1) I will inevitably leave crying (which happened); 2) I will want to adopt/save all of the dogs – and won’t be able to(which happened); 3: I will feel helpless (which happened).

I walked through the kennels and let the dogs sniff/lick my hands, all while my heart was breaking. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I met Stella. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. She looked like she was ashamed of being there. Hopeless. Lost. Confused.  Sad. Her eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I lost it right there.

I made another loop through the kennels, falling in love with Casper, the white boxer, Cooper the small shepherd mix, Jimmy, the border collie, Choppa, the big bully mix and Calley, an adorable pointer mix (all pictured above). I stopped to talk to Stella again. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned into the kennel to let me touch her as I sobbed about the situation these dogs were in. I promised her I would do all that I could for her and I would be back. That was a big promise, especially for a dog that I knew nothing about. I had no idea how she was with kids, dogs or cats. She wasn’t overly friendly. She wasn’t a puppy. She was a pit bull, for Christ’s sake. I got it together long enough to walk back through animal control, past the officers and then sobbed all the way home. Falling into my husband’s arms when I walked into the door and mumbling some non-sense about quitting my job to save dogs full time.

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I posted the video publicly on Facebook and asked friends and family to share her story far and wide. I tagged my friend, Laura, who founded a foster non-profit in Charlotte, (Dog Days of Charlotte) who I know loves pit bulls and she immediately started helping me find rescues to save Stella. We had a rescue (Catering to Cats and Dogs) within half an hour of posting and then we just needed a foster and/or donations for medical care. Some incredibly generous soul donated $160 right away. While a wonderful lady volunteered to foster and/or adopt Stella. We worked until about 11 PM solidifying details and once the plan was set, I cried some more. We were going to get this sweet girl out!

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On Saturday, my husband and I drove to animal control and busted Stella out. I had prepped him that I had no idea how she would be out of the kennel. I told the foster she would probably need a few days to decompress in a quiet place and realize she was safe before introducing to other dogs/kids. She probably wouldn’t want to give attention or play much those first few days. And then she came out, and she was… amazing.

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She gave us hugs and kisses. She took treats gently and let us put the collar and leash on her with no issue. She even played with the leash for a minute. She walked happily out of AC and hopped in the car and I swear she knew she was free.

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She took lots of opportunities to give us more kisses and rest her head on us. I may or may not have cried a million more times.

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We stopped at Petco to grab something from the rescue and let a few gals meet her and I grabbed her a stuffed squeaky toy and a bone to take to her foster’s house. She LOVED her toy.

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She was super sweet when meeting her foster family (and they hope to adopt her, too!). She was gentle with the kids, and didn’t want to put her toy down. The hardest part was saying goodbye. She kept pulling on her leash to come with us, which made me run back and hug her a few more times and tell her to be a good girl. We waved from the window and then drove off and as soon as we were driving, she turned and walked happily with her new family into their home. And yes, I cried again. Happy tears, though. I am so grateful for everyone that helped save her and that she will now live a happy life. I encourage everyone to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders. There are a million dogs like Stella out there.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison

Also, I know spending the morning at Animal Control, saving dogs, transporting, stopping by an adoption event and meeting fosters wasn’t my husband’s idea of a great Valentine’s day, but to me, it was perfect. I’m so glad he was with me for all of those moments yesterday. I think Stella was glad he was there, too. ❤

Find these amazing rescues on social media: 

Dog Days of Charlotte: Facebook and Twitter

Catering to Cats and Dogs: Facebook and Twitter

Happy Spring!

The past 5 days have felt like Spring and have gotten me wishing that winter was really over. Alas, we are right smack dab in the middle of winter and according to our trusty groundhog friend, it will continue for 4 more weeks? (I know it’s six, but I’m about two week reporting on his shadow being seen). So, I’m making Spring happen anyway! On Sunday, we went hiking at the USNWC (whitewater center) and then I took our older dog, Bud, for a quick run.

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The sun felt amazing as we trekked through the trails. It was almost 70 degrees! In February! Reminds me of when I lived in Florida and it was so warm on my birthday in January that some of my sorority sisters and I went to sit on the beach and just enjoy the beautiful day.

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We are so fortunate to have the USNWC so close to home. It is such a great place to go for a run or hike or even mountain biking (although I’m far too scared of the drop offs to try it!). Plus, I love escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city. The USNWC is like a whole different world.

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Since it feels so much like Spring, I ordered a new workout which is going to help get me ready for the beach. I loved the original 21 Day Fix so much. I’m super excited to see how 21 days with Autumn Calabrese and the #21DFX go! (PS, if you want to join in, leave a comment and let me know! We have a great accountability group that will start on 2/16 and keep you on track with others who are doing the same program!).

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Yesterday, I scooped up these beauties to brighten up the dining room and also put a vase of them in the kitchen. Tulips are always our first sign that spring is right around the corner. Since we still have 37 days until it’s ACTUALLY spring, I’m going to spend my time enjoying the sunny days by being outside, enjoying bright flowers inside and dreaming of warmer weather.

#NONEWFASHION in January

I’ve mentioned once or twice how much I love shopping and new clothes. I’ve probably also mentioned how much my husband hates this shopping addiction of mine. So, I made a commitment in January to not buy any new clothes (inspired by Katie’s #NONEWFASHION post). Katie’s post is more about the ethics of the fashion industry (with stats to back it up), and I’m all for that, but I also wanted to try to just refrain from buying new things because I can.

Truth be told, I have more clothes than anyone needs. Especially since I “clean out my closet” every 4-6 weeks and take items to the shelter. The only compromise with this was of course, necessities. Which happened to be snow boots for those trips I was supposed to take to Boston and new tights.

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Instead of shopping online or in retail stores, I visited a local consignment store and bought two pair of Banana Republic pants (wool!) – and one pair was brand new, a Gap cardigan, and a super cute blue dress with the tags still on it, all for $52. Definitely a successful day of shopping, for me and my bank account.

So, I made it through the month of January without buying anything NEW, which was the goal. Consignment shopping is the way to go. Do you know how many people take NEW clothes to consignment stores? While I don’t think I could go the whole year without grabbing anything, I do plan to continue practicing some discipline when it comes to my wardrobe and ignoring those impulsive buys, so-called “good deals” and instead, seeking out only things that I need and checking out consignment stores more often. Will you hop on board with #NONEWFASHION, too?

Appreciation

Each year, I come up with a word that I’m going to focus on for the year. Patience was one of my harder words because I’m a very impatient person (admitting it is the first step!). This year, I chose ‘Appreciation.’ I once read that telling people “you’re welcome” when they say “thank you” has a totally different impact than if you were to say “no problem”, “sure thing” or “anytime.” So I want people to feel that. I want people to know how much I appreciate what they do – big or small. I want my husband to know how much I appreciate him. I want my co-workers to feel that. My goal to this point as been to tell people every chance I get how much I appreciate what they’re doing, and to definitely say it at least once a day. So far, so good. Only 352 days to go!
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I also decided to try this savings plan this year. I don’t have something specific in mind for it, but maybe I’ll put it towards a new car in a few years or towards a spontaneous trip (the hubs is not big on my spontaneous trip ideas, but if there’s random cash available, who can argue with that?). We’ve always talked about going to Red Rocks to see one of our favorite bands play.

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It will be a nice addition to my other savings accounts which will one day go towards things like college tuition for our kids (future children). We actually just had this conversation the other day about how much we would need to save to make sure our kids are stuck with student loans. Student loans are the worst. Speaking of kids, I got to see the most adorable ones (my neice and nephew!) this weekend and this girl was all smiles!

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I’m also continuing my goal this year to use more eco-friendly and non-animal tested products. I got some great suggestions from you guys last time, and I’d love to hear more. As I try new products, I’ll be sure to share my reviews! Have a great 2nd week of January!

 

PS – last day to enter the monogrammed guest book giveaway!

Good things and good reads!

On New Year’s Day, as we laid in bed, closing out the first day of the new year, we went through our “Good Things” jar from 2014. It was a nice way for us to remember and reminisce on all the amazing things we had done throughout the year.

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Throughout the year, we had slips of paper and a Sharpie laying by the jar so that any time, either of us could write down something we felt was good and slide it into the jar. The jar was QUITE full when we went to empty it out – and surprisingly, we only had a few duplicates!

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We went through them all, alternating who opened and read the paper and got to relive our excitement over moments such as promotions, certifications, being published, and finishing grad school. We smiled about our travels to St. Martin, Annapolis, Ponte Vedra Beach, Chicago and Boston. We high-fived for things like renting our townhouse out and buying a new house, fostering 7 dogs/puppies and seeing the very few wins that the Hokies had live this year. We talked about the best concerts we saw this year, the best weddings we attended, the friends we made. We added a new niece to our family this year and we BOTH added that into our jar.

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While we obviously enjoyed the moments as they happened throughout the year, it was so nice to go through each one together and take a moment to reflect on them. Once we finished, we talked about some of our goals for 2015 and moments we were excited to add to our next jar, like: the Cliff of Moher, exploring castles, seeing the Eiffel tower, spending a week at Cape Cod, running a half marathon in Key West, remodeling our master closet, celebrating our birthdays and our 2nd wedding anniversary and 6th dating anniversary. We guessed which friends are planning to or might tie the knot this year and discussed how excited we were to celebrate with them. I’m so grateful to have someone who makes life so enjoyable, even on the bad days. I am looking forward to everything that we will do together in 2015 (and the 60 years that follow that!).

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I read this book by Lara Casey to start the new year. Lara has a very inspiring story and lives to inspire others to chase their dreams and make it happen. I wanted to share a few things I took away from the book:

  • Don’t waste time laying in bed and playing on your phone browsing through Instagram or Facebook (or checking emails), get up and get your day started!
  • A reminder not to choose social media/phone over spending time with your significant other. It’s hard to put our phones down since they give us so much information but it’s really inconsiderate
  • Take time to lay out your outfit, pack your gym bag and lunch the night before, it makes the morning so much less stressful (does anyone else change outfits like 10 times??)
  • Prune your tomatoes. I had no idea that we needed to do this but am thankful for the information as we start to plan our 2015 garden.
  • Say “I love you” always. Even when it is hard. Even when you’re mad. Always.

If you need a push to take that leap you’ve been dreaming of or some tips for living your life on purpose and cutting out waste, it’s a great book and an easy read. I highly recommend it.

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To round out the New Year’s Day weekend, my mom adopted this sweet pup who was tied up at a rural shelter on a freezing cold night. She was literally being walked back to be put to sleep when a volunteer scooped her up and saved her. She’s a little shy but very sweet. I’m so excited that we got a chance to meet her!

 

Be kind, choose joy, find your love compass

The Pretty in Pink Bucket list giveaway is still happening! By donating, you’re helping someone mark something off of their bucket list and bringing a smile to the face of someone battling breast cancer. Donate – and then share it with your friends!

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There are some awesome prizes available for those who donate, including: Stationary products, Aprons and Dish towels, art prints, and these items for your home that I am swooning over!

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Fiber and Water

Fiber and Water donated one of their Love Compass pillows (valued at $35). I love the burlap and this classy design. Such a wonderful piece to have in your home, or to gift to a friend, or newlywed couple! They also have some adorable burlap prints in their shop too, you should definitely check it out!

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Simply Said Stitches

Simply Said Stitches donated this pillow (valued at $35), which I think sends a great message. Everyday we wake up and we can make a choice on how we’re going to tackle the day. By choosing joy, happiness or a positive attitude, you set yourself up for a great day. I think it also speaks to the holiday season which is always full of joy.

ShanC Studio
ShanC Studio

A new addition to the giveaway are these ornaments from ShanC Studio (valued at $28). Since everyone is decorating mode, what better thing to win than a set of these cute doves to hang on your tree?