Published September 1, 2014 by

Finds Wishlist

Published August 29, 2014 by

Image c/o of Finding Beautiful Truth

Savor summer a little longer with this strawberry peach jam recipe and this country fair lemonade recipe.

Learn more about the Love Your Body Revolution a fellow blogger of ours is starting.

Think you’re a great packer?  Read The Redd Blogger’s post on 10 travel essentials you always forget to pack.

I N   C A S E   Y O U   M I S S E D   I T   O N   T C   / / 

Finds Friday Finds Reads

Published August 28, 2014 by

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

End of Summer Bash

Summer is coming to a close.  I don’t know where the time has gone!  We kicked it off finding out we were pregnant, spending a week in Vegas and California, celebrating both of our birthdays and our second wedding anniversary, I started a new job as an RN, and we took a babymoon to Puerto Rico.  Sounds like a whirlwind, right?  Well, it felt like it!  Now that I’ve passed the halfway mark with a little girl in my belly, I think it’s time to savor the last bit of summer.

I’m going to host an end of summer bash by throwing a cook out at a beach on the lake.  There may be small fireworks, there may not be.  What there will be is a little something for everyone.

Getting ready and preparing for that requires a little planning, and here are some tips for doing just that:

End of Summer Bash-2

Plan your menu.

The key to a great menu is not to overdo it.  Serve one or two great key items and then make your life easy and keep it simple for the rest.  I’m not going to lie, I’ve made homemade BBQ ribs with a fantastic homemade BBQ sauce and then just bought the family size Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese for a family dinner I hosted.  Stouffer’s just has the best Macaroni and Cheese, everyone loves it, and it’s not like I didn’t spend a lot of time making sure the ribs were done right.  Paired with a fresh homemade broccoli salad from my mother-in-law, lemonade, beers, and some homemade brownies from my mom and it was a very successful dinner party.

On a sidenote: Husband won in a cooking competition at work (say what, right?) this recipe book by Richard Blais.  It’s by far the only recipe book worth having (because face it, can’t we all look up recipes on our phones / tablets / computers).  The recipes in the book are sure to be really conversation starters and are actually pretty fun and easy for the most part.

Delegate the menu.

Also, let’s be honest, we don’t have all the money and time in the world.  Do delegate and make it more of a potluck.  Usually, I’ll take on the bigger items and ask others to help with the side items.  I’ll maybe provide a few essential beverages, like some sodas, lemonade, water, and the alcoholic beverage that best goes with the guest list or menu (be it a specific beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail – this one is a signature cocktail/punch in my family).  But then I ask others to just bring their favorites if they are really particular.

Get organized.

I use Evernote on my tablet to get everything organized for anything that I’m planning, whether it’s blog related or just random thoughts and plans for life.  I plan just about all of my parties, vacations, etc using Evernote on my tablet.

So I’ll put my entire menu, grocery list, guest list, and any other ideas I have about the occasion all in Evernote.  It’s so nice having it compiled in one location where I can easily have access to it either via my phone, computer, or tablet.

Download Songza.

Save time by letting Songza take care of your music playlist for the party for you.  Songza is great because you can listen and play it from any device and you can search for playlists by genres, decades, activities, or even moods.  For this party, try listening to the following playlists under “Activities”: Barbecuing, Cooking with Friends, House Party, and Pool Party.  Usually there will be some seasonal playlists in the concierge and all you need to do is plug your fully charged tablet into some portable speakers, select your playlist from Songza, and you’re good to go during the party!

 What are your tips/plans for a great end of summer bash?

Entertaining Seasons Sponsored Posts

Published August 27, 2014 by

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own.

PR snaps

At the end of June, Mr. Charming and I went to Puerto Rico.  It was a vacation we desperately needed to take together and it most likely will be the only one we get together until well after the baby is born.  I had a gap of five days from work and we went for it.  Could we afford it?  Technically yes, though we weren’t planning on it so we did take a wee hit in July making up for it. But, hey, we have to live sometimes, right?!

I still feel regenerated after that trip.  I was desperate for a relaxing vacation and we got one together.  We relayed on the beach all day one day, we had a few adventures, experienced some Puerto Rican culture, had some delicious food, and have wonderful memories.  Now, I can check spontaneous weekend getaway off my list of things to do (does it still count as spontaneous if you booked it ten days prior?).

Why Puerto Rico?

We chose Puerto Rico for three reasons: the flight was under 4 hours from Atlanta, there was a rainforest (El Yunque) there for us to trek through, and they have something called Bioluminescent Bay where we went night kayaking and experienced these little microorganisms that lit up the water and made it shine like diamonds.

Packing Lightly

I’m a believer in packing lightly anyways, but it isn’t as easy as you think to pack lightly for a five day beach trip.  We had a range of activities planned (yes, I know, we were supposed to relax, but we aren’t going to pay to go to the Caribbean just to lay around – we can do that at home!): kayaking, trekking, swimming, snorkeling, and a nice dinner out on the town one day.  Not too mention, I’m a photographer, I definitely brought my DSLR and two of my favorite lenses!  Personally, I’m a Nikon girl and I recently recommend this beauty to a friend as a starter DSLR.

Husband and I each had a carry on suitcase and a backpack.  His was similar to this SwissGear City Pack where it could double as anything we needed it double as and hold some of the non clothing items during the flight, like our snorkeling gear and electronics.  We always bring heavier duty backpacks like this when we travel.  Yeah, it may shout “tourist!”, but when you travel like us (I always plan perfect itineraries in my opinion) and like packing and traveling lightly and economically, it really is so helpful.  Plus, you want to protect your valuables, right?  Like my aforementioned DLSR and any tablets, e-Readers, phones, headsets, etc.

Why We Loved Puerto Rico for Our Babymoon

Day One: we got in late and just chilled at the resort and in the pool.  It was a one hour drive from the airport in San Juan to Fajardo.  We stopped at a spot for some lunch and tried some local cuisine that was definitely delicious.

Day Two: we went to the beach and just set up shop for the day.  It was also my husband’s birthday.  We did a little picture taking, read, did some snorkling (with our own equipment to save money – we dive/snorkel), had some drinks (mine were virgin), and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  Then we went back because we had reservations to kayak Bioluminescent Bay.  I do not have pictures from that because it isn’t wise to really bring electronics when you go kayaking, much less at night.  Friends, I tell you that was such an incredible experience!  I honestly think it’s a main reason people go to Puerto Rico and a must-do if you are ever on the island.

Day Three: we drove to the El Yunque rainforest and just walked around, doing some very light hiking because it was very crowded.  Giving up trying to find a parking space, we started to leave when we just happened to find a little beaten path at the very edge of the rainforest we thought we should explore.  This is where we set up shop along the river with the rainforest all around us.  It really was like a scene out of the movies.  The picture above with just me is where we were.  We spent the next few ours there where we chatted about our dreams and our hopes for the baby (not knowing the gender at the time).  That night we tried another restaurant around our resort that had the best piña colada I’ve had in my life.  Did you know piña coladas were invented in Puerto Rico?

Day Four: we had a lazy day, just wanting to spend another day in paradise on the beach.  Had an easy dinner at the resort and then retired early (because we were tired bums).

We left on day five relatively early (an hour to airport with a flight around noon).  We didn’t want to get in too late to Atlanta and home so that we could be well rested to return to work the next day.

So we created a lot of great memories and we didn’t even need our passports!  We had passed through San Juan together on a cruise a few years ago and though we enjoyed it briefly, we weren’t expecting to ever visit Puerto Rico again.  However, we both are so glad that we did.  This trip was perfect!

Quick Tips on Saving Money

  1. Definitely buy your airline tickets on a Tuesday morning.
    Never do it on a weekend.  There was a $150 price difference between Friday night and Tuesday morning.  Obviously, it’s cheaper to buy in advance, but we did it only ten days in advance so we did what we could.  What helped was that we use Delta 98% of the time (honestly, people, Delta is actually very competitive in pricing and is rarely more expensive than other airlines — at least for where we fly).  We used our SkyMiles for husband’s flight and I was able to book my ticket using something I have making it interest-free credit for six months, same as cash.  Maybe that’s ill-advised, but we always pay our credit off quickly, expect with these special offers in which case it’s just nice to not pay everything right away.
  2. Grab yourself a great, heavy duty backpack like this SwissGear City Pack, and bring what you can to save money while traveling.  
    Eg, we bring our own snorkeling gear (saved $20 per person), we bring our own sunscreen (you know sunscreen is incredibly expensive at tourist spots!), and we bring our own nonperishable food items for the plane/car ride/etc.
  3. Grocery shop.
    We always find a local grocery store and stock up on some food items and drinks to hold us over and lower the cost of spending money out.  And even just stocking up on water and bring your own snacks and drinks to the beach is so much cheaper than buying from the waiters in that tiki hut.
  4. Make your pictures your souvenirs.
    I used to buy things when I traveled, but it quickly became excess crap.  Then I just fell in love with taking pictures and stopped buying things.  I create photo books of each vacation and even blow up prints of my favorite photos from that to hang around the house.  It really does bring me back to that memory.  I refuse to put up pictures that weren’t personally taken by husband and I (unless it’s of loved ones or ourselves) because any other artwork just doesn’t have the same effect as a picture from the time we found a picturesque little spot nestled in the Puerto Rican rainforest.  Invest in a great camera, like this Nikon, and you’ll never really need to waste money on hoarding souvenirs again.

Now, friends, spoil yourself with a $25 giftcard to Target so you can go invest in your next trip by picking up a great camera, grabbing a heavy duty backpack, or even just getting some camping gear to really save money and just camp the island of Puerto Rico yourself! (I know someone who just camped throughout Hawaii for a few weeks and I’m totally jealous!)  There really is just so many ways that Target can help you on your next adventure!  Take a look for yourself on their registry here.

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My Life Sponsored Posts The Charmings Travel Travel Journal

Published August 26, 2014 by
Gender Reveal

We’re having a little Princess Charming.  She’s due December 30.  We are over the moon!  We already know her full name and actually had it picked out years ago.  Our daughter’s name was the only name we could agree on and were in love with.  Our future son’s name?  Well, it’s complicated and to this day we still can’t fully agree.  It’s safe to say we lucked out on dealing with that for a bit longer!

We told our families in kind of the same way.  I made a strawberry cake, cut in to individual slices, and put white icing on each slice with a green “?”.  Everyone had a slice and was able to dig in after first guessing.  In my family, everyone guess boy except my brother — who went on to tell me that he had a dream on my birthday that I was having a girl.  That was so perfectly special to hear!  In husband’s family, the girls guessed girl and the boys guessed boy.  Such sweet memories!  Of course, everyone is excited about a girl.  And I should include that technically my dad refused to play the game and guess saying he was happy to have either.  This is very typical of my dad.

How far along? 22 weeks today

How big is baby? Size of a spaghetti squash/papaya. 11 inches! and almost one pound!

Important baby milestones this week: sweet baby girl is able to hear when I play our song on my phone! She can hear what husband is saying now, too.  Also, she is sleeping 12-14 hours a day.  I guess that explains why for half the day I worry why she isn’t kicking…

Total weight gain: I’m not sure.  I haven’t weighed myself recently.

Symptoms: itchiness, hunger all the time.  I swear, I eat, then baby eats it all, then I need to eat again.  Exhausting.  Oh, and the toilet situation?  It’s real.  It’s not a myth.  I’ll find myself rushing to the bathroom only to barely do anything.  It’s also exhausting.

Maternity clothes? The love of my life after my family. Have you checked out the H&M Maternity line?  But I still only have a handful of dedicated maternity clothes, I can still get away with a lot of my older clothes and, hey, I wear scrubs to work anyways so I don’t go through a lot of clothes during the week.

Exercise?  I work 13 hour days on my feet.  My off days are now my off days completely.  As least for now.

Sleep? And now I’m starting to struggle.  Here’s the thing: I have an extra vertebrae in my lower back and I am supposed to sleep flat on my back with my legs elevated to help prevent extra arching and pinching.  But now, I’m really having trouble breathing when I’m on my back.  So, to breathe or not to breathe? That really is the question my friends.

Movement? Yes!  She’s kicking more and more and I can’t wait till we can start seeing the kicks.

Food Situation hasn’t changed from last time.

What I miss: being able to do things without thinking “Oh wait, can I do this? Let me do a quick Internet search…”

What I’m looking forward to: Baby.  I’m officially getting impatient.
But, the baby shower time/location/date/etc is set and I have two dear friends who are already getting things working on it.  I feel so blessed by them.  Especially since they still have two months… though, to be honest, I’d probably be two months early on it myself if I was planning someone’s shower.  But I just love event planning :)  I am surprised I’m not more opinionated about the shower.  I always thought that I would love a great Pinterest inspired shower in this really awesome theme with the fun games and stuff.  But now?  I’m kind of like, I just want all my friends and family there.  Put on the football game for the guys?  Sure!  I don’t care!  (Don’t worry, no important games are scheduled on the day though.)  Beer?  Of course!  No theme or games?  Whatever works!  I did have one condition: no creepy baby figurines!  Of course, if they do the games/theme/Pinworthy stuff, I would still love it, but it really is more about us being with family and maybe not having the guys come to a pepto-bismal pink girl baby shower and be uncomfortable.  I mean this is the first baby shower for both sides of our family and most of our friends.  Husband and I have no idea why we keep being the guinea pigs…

Milestones: No new milestones.

Say What? I’ve apparently “popped.”  It’s getting harder to keep a secret, not like it is a secret, but it just doesn’t come up in certain conversations.  Now, people at work are asking me.  I’m just waiting for the day a patient decides to ask.

Sweet Moments: every time baby kicks and husband is able to feel her.

Make Room for BabySo, we still have to fix up the kitchen and rework our garage, but we’re kind of not in a terrible rush.  The baby’s room needs to be decided upon for wall decor.  Which wall should have a shelf?  What should we put on the shelf?  I’m not stressed or anything, but I am getting antsy.  If I can’t have my daughter here, I want to at least finish her room.

Baby Charming Pregnancy The Charmings