Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Ahead



While January may be my least favorite month - so cold, so dark, so much snow - there is something exhilarating about the start of a new year.  2014 was great to us but I still love the blank slate/fresh start feeling that comes with January 1st.  I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want to get out of 2015 and have come up with a few things that I think will help make this coming year the best it can be.  Resolutions or goals - whatever they're called - here they are!

ONE | House Crackdown
We've really been lagging on the home front.  It's totally because of the holidays and new puppy but it's time to get crackin' again.  I have a list of things I need to buy and projects I want to do - I just have major ADD when deciding what to do next and then don't do anything at all so I need to focus on one room at a time!

TWO | Give Back
We were doing this consistently at our church in Chicago but not having a 'home church' in Michigan (a 2015 to do, for sure) has kind of put giving back to a stop.  There are other ways than giving through a church but I just need to find one that Nick and I both support.

THREE | Blogging
Starting with the new design in January, I really want to take this little blog to the next level.  Not sure what that means exactly but I'm looking forward to blogging a bit more 'seriously'.  Maybe I should start with taking better pictures, not on an iPhone ;)

FOUR | Visit Europe
I'm still working on convincing Nick of this but I really want to do a London/Paris trip in the fall.  Neither of us have been to Europe before and now's the perfect time before kids are in the picture!

FIVE | Print Pictures
I still haven't printed my wedding pictures and literally all of my pictures from the last few years are just on my computer.  I need to print them off and start organizing them - heaven forbid something happen to my computer and I lose everything.

SIX | Be A Better Friend
We have seven weddings to attend this coming summer - so many huge, exciting things happening for lots of our friends!  I want to really be there for them and help in anyway I possibly can to make their celebrations the best they can be.  I'd also love to make some new friends here in Michigan!

SEVEN | Bye Bye Student Loans
Not sure if this goes well with planning a trip to Europe ha, but I'd LOVE to get rid of our student loans.  Or at least get rid of a good chunk of them.  Paying them off was a huge focus for 2014, too and we've made progress but how nice it would be to say goodbye to them forever.

EIGHT | Read More
Pretty self explanatory.  I love reading but only read a total of TWO books for fun this year.  I definitely want to change that in 2015 - at least one book a month.  Although, I did read the entire Bible in 2014, something I've wanted to do forever and am pretty proud of :)

But most of all, I want to live every single day to it's fullest.  Put down my phone more and live in the moment.  Be completely 100% present with whatever I'm doing and make lots of memories.  And just be happy.  Life is too short to be anything but happy.

I hope you have a wonderful and SAFE holiday!  I'll see you back here on Friday.  Happy New Year, friends!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One For The Books

What. A. Year.  I didn't think we could top 2013... getting married makes for a huge year after all.  But 2014 may have done it.

A big move and a new house, new car, new puppy and three vacations - we've been very busy over the last 12 months!  And also very blessed to have all of these things as well as our health, family, friends and happiness.  It's been another REALLY great year and I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for our little family!

Here's a recap of some of the highlights of the year...

January
2014 started off as "the year of travel" - but really turned into the year of buying a house - so we headed to Wisconsin for a ski weekend.  We also binge watched every season of Breaking Bad in the course of a month.  Best show ever.


February
February was a quiet month - Nick went on his annual guys pond hockey tournament weekend over Valentines so we celebrated a bit later than normal at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion restaurant.  SO good if you're ever looking for an amazing Chicago restaurant to try.  We also watched the Olympics 24/7!


March
I (accidentally) got a $300 haircut - that I will never live down - and Lent began so I gave up cheese for 40 whole days.  Cheese is a food group over here so to say it was a struggle is putting it lightly but I did it!


April
We spent a week in paradise (aka Florida) with my family!  We've been heading down there for Spring Break ever since I was a baby and it's always my favorite trip of the year.


May
May was a huge month because we officially made the decision to leave Chicago and move back to Michigan.  It was a hard one but the right one.  We also had a couple really fun Chicago weekends - my family came to town for a mini food/bar crawl and our friends, Dane + Tiff, came to visit one last time.



June
We started house hunting, celebrated my birthday and June 9th marked 10 years ago that we lost my mom.  A month filled with plenty of ups and downs!


July
In July, we celebrated Nick's 28th birthday and later spent a long weekend in Charleston to celebrate our first wedding anniversary :)


August
We officially became homeowners on August 22nd!  I quit my job, we started our (tearful) goodbyes to Chicago and did looots of packing.


September
We moved into our new house over Labor Day weekend - the same weekend that little Brady was born, too :)  We also visited New Orleans for the first time and I celebrated one year of blogging!



October
All of October was spent working on the house.  Mainly to prepare for our big housewarming/WMU Homecoming weekend at the end of the month!


November
The best month of all... because Brady boy joined our family!  We also celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with Nick's side of the family.


And in December, we successfully checked everything off our holiday bucket list and had a wonderful Christmas :) Cheers to 2014!
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Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Vacation


Another Christmas in the books.  It's still hard to believe that it's already over!  I'm not sure if it was the weather - it's been an unseasonably warm December in Michigan - or the fact that we're still settling into our new home and it's all we think about, but it never really felt like Christmas this year.  Either way, we still had a great holiday and I hope you did, too!

Some of the highlights included watching Brady shred tissue paper like it was his job, my new Barefoot Dreams robe (it feels like being wrapped up in heaven), playing Cards Against Humanity with my family and visiting with my grandparents.  A couple of firsts happened as well: bowling after church on Christmas Eve has become a new family tradition and I held/shot a gun for the first time in my life!


There was also so. much. food.  Over the last 5 days, I've consumed my weight in Christmas cookies, chocolate pie (so many of you made this as well which made me SO happy!), sushi, ribs, deep dish pizza and a ham dinner to name a few.  Excuse me while I go on a run right now.


Although Christmas is over, our Christmas vacation still continues.  Nick doesn't have to go back to work until January 5th so pretty much everyday is Saturday to us right now!  I'm sorry for rubbing that in if you're currently at work ;) We've got big plans for the week including getting started on our built in bookshelves that we'll be DIY-ing in the living room and heading to Detroit with some friends for New Years Eve.  On the road again!

Enjoy your last Monday of 2014!
Linking up with LeeannBellaCarlyBiana and Ashley
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


Well, the big day is finally here!  Nick and I did our own little celebration last night - we made dinner, exchanged gifts and then drank eggnog and watched my favorite Christmas movie of all time, White Christmas, by the fire. Pure holiday perfection.

I'll be taking the rest of the week off of blogging as we're heading to my hometown to spend the holiday with my family.  Tonight we'll do our big dinner and attend our candlelight church service - it will be the first time that Nick and I have been back to that church since we got married in it!  On Christmas day, we'll open presents, have cinnamon rolls and then spend the afternoon at a family party and visiting with my grandparents.  It should be a good weekend - make sure to follow along on Instagram :)

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday surrounded by friends and family, lots of good food, laughter and a few of those presents you've been hoping for.  But I also hope that you'll celebrate the real meaning of Christmas - a baby in a manger that came to save the world from our sin.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.  And his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Merry Merry Christmas!
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Last Minute Gift Ideas

2 days to go... is your shopping done?  Thankfully I'm finished but that's not usually the case.  Last year I was one of those crazies still shopping on Christmas Eve!  For anyone who's scrambling, here are a few last minute gift ideas. They can all be found at your local mall since we're past the online shipping deadline :)  Good luck!


Kate Spade Monogram Mug @ Macy's // Hunter Boots (on sale) @ Nordstrom // Give Me Some Lip Set (just got this and love it) @ Sephora // Cable Pom Beanie @ Topshop // Crystal Drop Earrings @ J Crew // KitchenAid 7 Cup Food Processor (perfect for your Oreo Balls) @ Target

And in case you missed my previous gift guides...






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Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekending & Christmas Cookies

Happy Christmas week!  Pretty crazy that it's already here.  We had a good weekend filled with lots of holiday fun... but only two pictures to prove it.  And you've already seen both of them if you follow me on Instagram, sorry for the double dipping ;).  But, I promise this is worth the read because I'm sharing my favorite Christmas cookies below!

Friday night was date night for Nick and I.  We headed downtown for dinner and to check out all of the decorations, specifically Candy Cane Lane if you remember from my holiday bucket list.  It was just as adorable as I thought it would be!  Afterwards, it was back home for a fire and a couple episodes of Dexter - our favorite way to spend a night lately.


We were up early the next morning to head over to Nicks families near Detroit to do our Christmas celebration with them.  It was a really fun day with lots of great gifts and a delicious spaghetti dinner - their favorite Christmas tradition.  No pictures because Brady was being a MAD MAN all day.  Combine a 3 month old puppy with a new house to explore, Christmas trees and garland, lots of wrapped presents and little children to chase around and it's basically a recipe for disaster!  Seriously, I can't believe he didn't get sick from the amount of pine needles he consumed throughout the day.

Sunday was a lazy day.  We basically had to drag ourselves out of bed - flannel sheets have to be the most comfy thing in the world.  Not much to report besides there was a lot of couch time on Sunday :)


And now, as a thank you for sticking with me through that riveting recap... my favorite Christmas cookies!  Pretty much all of us will be baking this week so give one of these a try and I promise you won't be disappointed :)


1// The BEST Snickerdoodle Cookies I've ever had.

2// Oreo Balls are a fun (and really easy) mix up to your Christmas cookie tray.

3// Grinch Cookies are minty, melty gooeyness.

4// The traditional Peanut Butter Blossoms - but here's a recipe that only makes 30 cookies, not the usual 64.

And while we're on the topic of baking... it would be silly for me not to mention my chocolate pie one more time ;) Enjoy!


Linking up with LeeannBellaCarlyBiana and Ashley
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Five on Friday 12/19


The last Friday before Christmas... eeek.  Where did the time go?!  Thankfully I'm 100% done with my shopping but only 50% wrapped so far.  Good thing I still have 6 more days ;)  Here's what we've been up to this week...

Puppy Teeth
Brady lost his first puppy tooth this week!  He's really growing up - as much as I'd prefer him to stop it.  It's so funny because his front teeth haven't fallen out yet but the adult ones are coming in right behind them so he has two rows of front teeth :)


New Year, New Blog
The blog is going to have a new look come January and I'm so excited about it!  I'm working with Erin from Two Thirds Hazel and while we're still in the beginning stages, this is the mood board that the new look will be based off. Can't wait to see what she puts together.


Holiday Red
I'm looking for the perfect holiday red nail polish.  I want that true, bright, Christmas red - any suggestions?  Here's a good collection of Essie reds... but I just can't make up my mind!

ICYMI
Yesterday, I shared a post on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog.  Check it out HERE!


Sparkle Drop Chandelier
I need this in my house.  Somewhere, anywhere, all over the place - I love it!  Who knew Pottery Barn Teen had so much good stuff?


We're headed to Nicks families tomorrow to do Christmas with them so let the festivities officially begin :)  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Linking up with KarliLaurenJennieRebecca and April
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Using Pinterest To Grow Your Blog


Disclosure: I am not a blogging expert.  I just wanted to share a couple tricks I've learned about blogging + Pinterest.  

I'm just going to jump right into things... because who doesn't want to grow their blog via Pinterest?  First things first, make it EASY for your readers to pin your content.  This means you should have a hover 'pin it' button - a real technical term I'm sure ;)


Here's how to do that...
((Note that this requires editing your blog template.  Make sure to back up your template first!  If you don't know how, see super easy instructions here.))

1.  Go to your blogger dashboard.  Click on Template, then Edit HTML.

2.  Use the CTRL (or CMD on a MAC) + F buttons to locate </body>

3.  Paste the following code ABOVE </body>

<script>
//<![CDATA[
var bs_pinButtonURL = "http://i1374.photobucket.com/albums/ag436/sliceoflifechicago/259_zps207cb4c5.png";
var bs_pinButtonPos = "center";
var bs_pinPrefix = "";
var bs_pinSuffix = "";
//]]>
</script>
<script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.2/jquery.min.js' type='text/javascript'/>
<script id='bs_pinOnHover' src='http://greenlava-code.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/publicscripts/bs_pinOnHoverv1_min.js' type='text/javascript'>
// This Pinterest Hover Button is brought to you by bloggersentral.com.
// Visit http://www.bloggersentral.com/2012/11/pinterest-pin-it-button-on-image-hover.html for details.
// Feel free to use and share, but please keep this notice intact.
</script>

4.  Preview blog to make sure everything is still in tact.  If something is out of whack, this is when you'll be happy you backed up + saved your template!

5.  If all looks good, hit Save Template.

And you're done!

Now that you've made it a billion times more easy for your readers to pin things from your blog, let's see how YOU can track what's actually being pinned.  All you have to do is type in your browsers address bar: www.pinterest.com/source/yourblogurl -- replacing yourblogurl with whatever your blogs address is.

So for instance, to see what's being viewed from my blog, I'd to go: http://www.pinterest.com/source/katieelizabethchicago.blogspot.com/

Pretty cool, right?  Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try and help ya out!  Otherwise, enjoy the extra traffic from Pinterest :)

Linking up with AnnieNatalie and Joey
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Loving Lately

Tis the season to shop!  And I've been doing a lot of it lately - for my friends and family of course but also a little bit for myself.  There's a whole lot of wonderfulness that I've recently discovered and what better way to share it than through a loving lately post?


This Tarte Power Pigment Lip Pencil (in Exposed) was a part of the Tarte Makin' Waves kit I ordered a couple of weeks ago.  Love the entire set but my most favorite thing may be this lip pencil!  It goes on super smooth, is really moisturizing and the color stays put for quite a while.  I've been using it daily and have plans to pick up another color soon.


West Elm has THE cutest lamps!  My favorite is this Mini Abacus Table Lamp.  It's so mini that I'm not sure where I would put it but I just love it.  It's adorable.


Michael Buble's Christmas album makes me happy happy happy.  It's played pretty much 24/7 from October through January.  No shame there.


My makeup is in need of some serious organization.  I love the clear acrylic boxes but I can't believe how expensive those things can get!  I'm leaning towards a couple of these stacking cases from The Container Store... my OCD self is already ridiculously excited.


These Vince Camuto Carleen over the knee boots.  In suede.  Does anything else need to be said?  They're on sale and have my size left... I think it's a sign.  Although Nick might kill me if I bring home another pair of black boots.


I'm probably way late - like the last person - to discover the photography app, VSCO Cam.  It makes my measly iPhone pictures look a million times better.  Hopefully this discovery will cool my "I need an expensive DSLR right now" thoughts.


This Gap pajama set has little umbrellas on it!  Adorable.  I love Gap's pajamas and they're almost always on sale (like right now) so I may have to pick these up for our new Christmas Eve PJ tradition.

And while there's no picture for this one, I am LOVING gas prices right now.  Ridiculously lame and I know I'm old but how great is it to fill up your car for almost half the price that it's been costing?!

Be sure to stop back tomorrow as I'm sharing ways to utilize Pinterest to help grow your blog :)
Linking up with Shanna and Liz
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Traditions {Holiday Link Up}


Welcome to the third and final holiday link up of 2014!  It may be the last one but it's also the best one - today is all about Christmas :)

Joey from Hodges Podges had a great post yesterday where she shared her Christmas essentials.  Things that she "needs" for it to really feel like Christmas.  It resonated with me since last year was my first married Christmas away from my family... and it just didn't feel like Christmas.  While it was fun to see how Nicks family did things and celebrate with them, it was a strange feeling to not get to do any of the things I typically do to celebrate my favorite day.  We did have a wonderful time but it made me realize how much I value traditions this time of year.


Today I'm going to share a few popular Christmas traditions.  Some are ones that I grew up with and others are new to me, things I want to start implementing with my little family.  There are so many great ones so feel free to share any I missed in the comments below!

CHRISTMAS EVE::

Candlelight church service/Midnight Mass

Receive a new pair of PJs

Read The Night Before Christmas before bed

Leave reindeer food out with your cookies for Santa

Open stockings

Host a family party and have "Santa" come visit

Go caroling in your neighborhood

Drive around and check out neighborhood light displays

Visit a nativity scene

CHRISTMAS DAY::

Designate one person to pass out gifts and make them wear a Santa hat

Gift each family member a new ornament

Throw some lottery tickets in the stockings

Have a family sleepover in front of the fireplace

Volunteer at a local soup kitchen to serve dinner

Watch A Christmas Story on TBS

Have a gingerbread house/cookie decorating contest

Set up a 24 hour hot chocolate bar

What's your favorite Christmas tradition from your childhood that you can't live without? And a big THANK YOU for joining us for our holiday link ups!  It's been a lot of fun and I hope we'll be back next year :)  


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekending: Monday Morning Gossip



Good morning!  I'm excited to be co-hosting the Monday Morning Gossip link up with Leeann and Kimberly, thanks so much for having me!  Be sure to link up with us this morning!

We had a good weekend, it was the perfect balance of relaxation/fun/accomplishing stuff on our (never ending) to do list.

Friday night was all about painting our master bedroom.  Finally!  Goodbye purple walls!  We put one coat up and then due to the fumes, had a family sleep over in the living room in front of the fireplace.  Check that off the Christmas bucket list :)



On Saturday, we did our second coat of paint and are sooo happy with how it turned out!  The color is Cedar Key by Benjamin Moore.  Love.  Now to get on with furnishing and decorating the rest of the room - aka the fun stuff!


Later that night, we headed to a friends house for a steak dinner.  Everyone brought their dogs so it turned into a fun little puppy play date.  Although none of the other pups were too fond of Brady, he was a bit energetic for them ;) They mostly growled if he even looked at them but he still had the best time!  He's such a happy guy - and we were pretty happy that the night wore him out and he slept in until 10am on Sunday.


I had also whipped up a batch of the Pioneer Woman's peppermint fudge that I had mentioned on Friday for my dinner contribution and it did not disappoint.  This was all that was left and everyone was requesting the recipe!


Sunday was reserved for a lazy day - besides locking ourselves out of the house while on a walk with Brady.  We ordered pizza, watched Dexter (our most recent Netflix obsession), tried out a new church and checked out the Christmas lights around town.  The perfect ending to a great weekend!


And speaking of Christmas... only 10 days to go!  I hope you'll join us tomorrow for our third and final - sad face - holiday link up.  It's our Christmas edition so be sure to join in on the fun!  I'll be sharing some of my favorite traditions :)  See ya tomorrow!


Linking up with LeeannBellaCarlyBiana and Ashley
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