Probably a little TMI…

Every morning, when I wake up, I walk around my apartment getting ready, or when I am in the middle of doing chores on the weekend, I remind myself that I need to get back on my blog and make a life update. Since I was last here, I have traveled and got a new great job. So, friends, tuck in and let’s chat. It’s going to be a long one.

Things have happened since I have talked to you all. I spent a great week in Michigan, and a great week after with my cousin, Maiya, for her 18th birthday. We spent time at the beach and then in New Orleans. I also was able to find an amazing job, that I feel so lucky to have, after looking for only a couple weeks. I cannot say how lucky I feel.

Now, for what has been on my mind for a little while. This is what I wanted to write about for two weeks, but I have felt like I don’t have quite enough information to feel like I can write about it.  I have started and restarted this post several times, and I just do not know where or how to begin.

For as long as I can remember, I have had irregular cycles, unless I was on birth control. I thought that was normal. Sometimes I would have two cycles in 30 days, sometimes I would skip a cycle altogether. My previous gynecologist looked at a record of my cycles and said she wasn’t worried, so I tried not think about it anymore. I also suffered from severe cramps for a very long time, the worst was when I was on the Nuvaring birth control. I used that for a little less than a year, and every month, I would call out of work at least once because I would be in so much pain that I couldn’t move, let alone work. So I stopped using it. The severity of the cramps lessened, but were still painful, although after experiencing that, I have been able to tolerate what I do have for the most part. I had cystic acne, oily skin, and had some hair growing under my chin. That sucked. Since I stopped using the Nuvaring, I gained a lot of weight, although I have always struggled with my weight, and have had the hardest time losing it.

I came up with every reason to excuse away my symptoms. Maybe my cycles were irregular because of stress, or I was traveling, or my weight, or just because. The acne? It was because of my diet, maybe. Or, maybe I just wasn’t taking good enough care of my skin in general. My weight was also because of my diet, and the fact that when I changed my job, my activity level went down. The cramps, well some women just have that. I was the master of making up excuses. But I was also one of those WebMD people looking up all of my symptoms on the internet. I found that my symptoms fit best with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. The only symptom I didn’t have were cysts on my ovaries, so I was always unsure.

Also, I was scared to ask the question. If you ask the question, you may get an answer that you don’t like.

But this summer, after finding out that I have family members who have PCOS on both sides of my family, I decided it was time to officially ask. In the beginning of September, I talked to my doctor. She chuckled at me good-naturedly when I listed my symptoms and said that I wanted her opinion on whether or not she thought that maybe I had it. She asked when my last cycle started, which had been a week or two before and I gave her a history of my cycles for the last year and a half. She said “It sounds like you’ve done your research.” I had. My doctor said that given my symptoms, it was possible, but that she wanted to run blood work to check for diabetes, which goes hand-in-hand with PCOS sometimes, and to check my hormone levels. She said that sometimes PCOS shows up in a blood panel. Sometimes, it doesn’t show up. Sometimes, you will have blood work done one month, and it will be negative, and then the next month it will be positive. That was not reassuring. She said after we get the blood work back, if it was inconclusive, we would do a pelvic ultrasound. I left the doctor’s office uneasy and anxious. Because the appointment was in the middle of the day, and in all the research I had done, I never checked how they diagnosed PCOS, I didn’t anticipate needing to have blood work done, so I hadn’t been fasting for it. I went home without going to the lab and pushed it out of my mind.

A thing you should know about me: I hate needles and having my blood drawn. I put getting blood draws off as long as I possibly can. Which is why it took me a month to have the blood work done.

Well, fast forward a month, and I had, again, skipped a cycle. I was sitting on the couch, and realized “Holy cow, it’s October 1st.” I checked the app on my phone to see if I had cycled in September, and maybe forgotten it, and saw that I had not. I told myself “Well, I just started a new job. Maybe my body is just stressed from the change in my schedule. Maybe that’s what happened.” I knew I was just trying to make myself feel better. Remember, friends. I like to make excuses! I looked at the lab order sitting on my kitchen table, because I still had not gone and had my blood drawn, and knew it was time to go in. That Friday, after work, I went to the lab and let them take my blood. The following Thursday, after waiting anxiously for a week, my doctor finally called me.

My blood glucose levels were normal. No diabetes. I am also not pre-diabetic. That’s the good news. But – it seems like there is always a “but” – my testosterone levels were high. Really high. Sky high, honestly. She also said that my sex hormone binding globulin (which I had never even heard of) was very low. This is how PCOS shows up in blood work. My doctor told me she could give me a prescription for a medication to combat any hair loss and the small amount of hair growth under my chin, but I told her that the hair growth is manageable on my own. It’s not bad enough that I feel like I need a medication. And the only option I have been given so far to combat all of my other symptoms is birth control. This is the common treatment for women with PCOS who are not actively trying to have a baby, which my husband I are not. But since we got married, we have not been actively avoiding pregnancy. We have operated under the idea that, if it happens, it happens. I explained this to my doctor at my initial appointment, and again over the phone when she gave me my diagnosis. She didn’t say anything when I said that. That dead air on the phone was pretty deafening. She told me to call the office if I had any other questions. That was the last time I talked to her, almost three weeks ago.

I didn’t have any questions at the time. I was at work and was still trying to process everything, as well as do my job. But the first thing I did when I got home, after telling my husband and my family my fun new news (listen for sarcasm there, friends.), I started my research. I spent hours on the computer over the next few days reading everything I could, and looking for other forms and types of treatment.

I experienced so many “Ah-ha” moments. I knew my acne was probably caused by PCOS, but my oily skin that I have been complaining about for years? That’s a symptom. Mood swings? Check. Dark skin in various areas? Yup. Hair loss from the scalp? Well, I thought maybe that was stress and because I wear my hair up too often or use too much heat, even though those had never really been issues before. But that’s a symptom too. All these little things I had noticed about myself, I had written off as normal, or stress related. Like I said, I am really good at making excuses for myself.

But now I have an actual answer.

I still have more questions than not. The biggest being: Am I going to have a hard time getting pregnant? PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women in the US, according to the many, many articles I read over the internet this weekend. It affects around 200,000 women each year nationally. I reached out to a couple friends, and it turns out, I know 4 other women who have PCOS, including two family members. It is so common, but no one talks about it.

Anyone who knows me knows how badly I have always wanted to be a mom. I have had baby-fever for years. Literally, years. Probably since my sister had her first, which was 8 years ago. Yes, I was 19. No, I was nowhere near ready to have a baby, but I would not have hated having one. (Don’t worry, family. I was not being irresponsible or trying to have a baby. I promise!) I love babies. The thought that getting pregnant will be twice as hard, and that I will be more likely to have complications during pregnancy scares the life out of me. I am a “worst case scenario” person. I assume the worst is going to happen so I can prepare. The last thing I want is to be caught off-guard and not know what my next step will be. Maybe I am an over-planner? But I don’t know how to prepare for something like this.

So before trying to start preparing for the worst case, I have decided to get a second opinion on what my treatment options are, and how we will proceed when Peter and I decide to actually start trying to get pregnant. Will they tell us to try naturally for a shorter amount of time? Will they immediately offer assistance? Or will it be business as usual – “Try for 12 months, and then come see us if you’re not pregnant.” How likely is it that I cannot get pregnant?

Right now, I have no answers. I hope no one came here looking for any. I am not an expert on PCOS, and there are far better sources to go to, if you are looking for insights. I am just another girl, joining the large group of women with a hormone disorder. If you are in the same boat, follow along. I will try to be better about updating my blog with news and how I am progressing and dealing with this. But I also do not want to turn my blog into a PCOS only blog, because I do not want my life to be about only that, even though for the last two and a half weeks, it is all I have thought about with my spare time.

This was not a fun post to write. But I do feel better after having written it. It has been on my mind for a little while now, and I just haven’t known how to write it. But, like I have said before, sometimes, you just have to start.

And sometimes, there is no good ending point for a post. So, like I have done before, I will just have to sign out.

Send some good vibes my way, friends.

Love,
Sam

 

Travel With Me

Travel With Me

Hey there! So I have been wanting to do a travel post for a while. I love to travel, and I am generally pretty great at packing a lot of things into a small bag. I had planned on doing a ‘pack with me’ type post when we were going to Disney, but I packed so far in advance for that trip, that I had forgotten to take pictures for the post until after we were on our way to Orlando. Needless to say, that post was never done. Therefore, I am writing about what I am taking with me to Michigan.

Ever since I have been married, 98% of my trips have been to Michigan, with the vast majority of those being for just long weekends – 4 days, 5 if I was lucky,which really is just a short week, no? And normally, when I went to Michigan, I flew on Spirit because you just cannot beat the flight prices. But, if you have ever flown with Spirit, you know that you have to pay for every additional thing. Like, say, your checked or CARRIED ON BAG. That was the only thing I didn’t like about Spirit – that I had to pay for a carry-on. So, to get around that, I would pack everything in my backpack from high school. Usually it worked out really well.

But now that Peter and I live in Pensacola, and Spirit doesn’t fly into our airport, I am flying Southwest this go-round. Which means that I get two checked bags, and my carry on for free! I love that. And because I am going by myself to Michigan, I have the entire suitcase to myself. That doesn’t happen terribly often.

So, what am I taking with me for a week, and how do I pack my bags, you ask? Well, I will just tell you.

I will start with my carry-on. Now, because I am taking a full sized suitcase that I am not sharing, and it is summer, I probably don’t need a carry-on. And if you have ever flown with Southwest, there is no guarantee that, if you use the overhead bins, your carry-on suitcase will be near you. For my carry-on, I am using my backpack because I know that it fits under the seat in front of me.

In my carry-on I will have a book (Once and For All by Sarah Dessen – one of my all  time favorite authors), my sunnies (Target), my Sony camera, along with my extra batteries and charger, my camera case (Dooney and Burkes Disney Collection), my wallet (Target), and my purse (also Target). I will also have my phone charger, my chromebook, my toothbrush, contacts and solution, my glasses and case, headphones (Phillips brand, bought on Amazon), and my makeup- the orange makeup case American Eagle from 2000 maybe? And the navy case is from Ipsy sometime last fall. I don’t remember which month. Normally, I wouldn’t take my computer because I would be putting all of my clothes in the bag, but because I have so much extra space, I am this time.

In the largest compartment, I put my purse at the bottom (leaving my wallet out), then put my makeup on top of that, and then my camera, with my book standing up in front of it all. In the middle pocket, I put my computer and the charger for that. I wanted to keep that safe and cushioned on top of my other things. In the very front compartment, I put my headphones, contacts and solution, sunnies, my glasses, toothbrush and wallet. These are all things I want to be able to grab at easily and not need to dig or hunt in my bag for them. Not shown is my phone charger which will go in the smallest pocket on top of this pocket in front. I will also have a couple of those rechargeable battery packs in my bag as well, that way I don’t need to hunt for an outlet at the airport, because as anyone who travels at all will tell you, it is next to impossible to get a chance to use an outlet.

PRO TOP: Make sure that all of your batteries are fully charged for all of your electronics before you leave. You don’t want to go to use something and have it half dead or completely dead when you need it!

Onto my main suitcase. Honestly, taking this large of a suitcase by myself for a summer trip is overkill. But I plan to bring some things home from my parent’s house that I left there. Normally, I would still probably just take a carry-on size or a smaller case because I don’t even know if I have enough clothes to fill this case if I tried, after all of that purging that I did. (I should make a check in post on how that has been going.)

Because it is summer in Michigan (which will be SO nice after summer in Florida), I will have 4 tee shirts with me (from left to right: Southern Couture, HomeT, Torrid, Torrid), two tank tops (from left to right: Target – Ava and Viv, Torrid), and two pairs of capri leggings (black – Torrid, grey – Walmart).

I will have a pair of denim capris (Torrid), a swim suit (Torrid), and I have a some PJs (pink polka dot pj pants – Walmart, grey tunic – Amazon (though honestly, this top is a dress on me)).

I will have two dresses from Torrid for parties I am going to, along with a denim jacket from Old Navy. The last things that will go in the main part of my suitcase will be my blow dryer, flat iron, and selfie-stick. I am taking my Detroit hat, but I’ll wear that on the plane.

This is what it looks like when I pack my suitcase:

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I put all of my clothes in the bottom part, as well as my hair tools, and not shown yet, my flip flops. It’s nowhere near full yet. If Peter were coming, he could still put all of his things in the main compartment. In the top mesh zipper, I have all of my socks, underwear, and my swimsuit.

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In the outer pocket, I put all of my toiletries – all of the things that are liquid that I don’t want exploding all over my clothes. Starting at the top left: I have scrubbing cotton rounds, cetaphil moisturizer, Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser, L’Oreal Micellular cleansing water, Clear Scalp an Hair Conditioner and Shampoo, Aussie 3-minute miracle conditioner, Secret deodorant, Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar body spray (Yes I have been wearing this since I was 16. So what?), Venus razor, Dior J’Adore perfume (which I have also been wearing since I was 16.), Vanity Planet Spin Brush, toothpaste and my night guard. If I was just taking a carry-on only, I wouldn’t take any of this. Usually I just stay with my parents, so I would use my mom’s shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste, borrow a razor if I needed it, and would just not use any perfumes. Again, I am only taking all of this because I have the space. It’s overkill, really.

When packing any liquids, I put everything into zip top gallon bags so that if it does come open or explode, the mess is mostly contained. Then I put them in the pocket away from my clothes. You can’t be too safe.

When I am planning on a trip, I try to be very organized. I did laundry over the weekend and packed everything that I knew I won’t need before tomorrow. I always shower the night before, and then dry and flat iron my hair, that way in the morning I don’t need to worry about that. Wearing my hair straight is always easiest for me, because it stays detangled and is easiest to manage that way. I never wear my hair up when I travel, because I like to sleep on planes or in the car, and having a ponytail at the back of my head is not comfortable. I save my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and makeup for last, as I will use those the morning of my flight.

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When I travel, I try to wear super comfy clothes, and shoes that are super easy to get on and off. So I make sure to plan that ahead as well. I generally will avoid wearing any shoes with laces, and I will avoid wearing anything that I need a belt with. Comfort and ease are the keys when traveling. I also try to dress in layers. Airports and airplanes can be cold, so I like to have something to combat that, but nothing too heavy or bulky, because you’re never promised much space on a plane. Tomorrow, I have a 7am flight, with a layover. I really want to be comfortable. So I am wearing a chambray shirt (from Torrid), a black tank top (from Target) and a pair of black leggings (also Torrid). I will have on my boat shoes (which probably don’t really match, but I don’t care that much), and a hat. The shoes are great because they are slip on, but not flip flops. I don’t like walking through security barefoot, so I have some little no-no show socks I will wear with them. There are no belts or metal in this outfit, so there is nothing to trigger the x-ray scanners. And everything is easy to put on and take off. That is the key for me.

Most of this could easily be pared down to fit into my carry-on suitcase or my backpack if I needed it to. I’d ditch my hair tools, and just use my mom’s, as well as my shower toiletries,and I’d only bring one dress. I’d leave my computer at home and carry my purse on it’s own with most of those things currently in my backpack in there. If I did that, I would really only need one small case. Things would be rolled up and come out a little more wrinkled than they will in the larger case, but that is what an iron is for, right?

Next time I take a short trip, I will show how I pack for short trips. If you have any tips, leave them in the comments below.

I’ll try to update my blog when I am in Michigan as well. Hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Sam

Disney will always be magic.

Disney will always be magic.

Hi friends! I promised that I would share with you our trip to Disney World, and here it is! It may get a little lenthy. I can gush about all things Disney forever. It’s one of my favorite things ever. If you don’t know that yet, you will. I promise. 🙂

So Disney World. The place where all magic happens? Yes, indeed. The place where I met my husband, which makes it even more magical? Also, yes. Is it my favorite place in the world? Absolutely.

Way back in March (I think? Correct me if I am wrong, Ashley.) my older sister asked me to help her plan a trip to Disney World for her kids. She and her husband, Dennis, wanted to go all out, and because I worked there, they wanted my help. And, because I love Disney almost as much as I love them, I had to help without a doubt. I know a few insider secrets and things that they absolutely had to do while they were there, although a lot has changed since I worked there in 2010. And then, my sister, being the awesome and amazing big sister that she is, asked if Peter and I wanted to come with them. She offered their hotel room to us so that all we would have to do would be buy park tickets and get ourselves there. She said we could come for the entire week they were there, if we wanted, or just part. Whatever worked for us. We couldn’t turn it down! There was NO way I was going to miss Alex and Juliana’s first time at Disney World.

So, Ashley and I had many phone calls and texts back and forth, and finally, we had their entire trip planned out. The hotel was set; They were staying on property at The Art of Animation, because they decided if they were going to do Disney World, they were going to do Disney World. They had a couple reservations set, they had their park tickets, and their flights. They were excited.

Pete and I were excited as well. As it was a closing week at his job, he couldn’t take the full week off for the trip, unfortunately for me. But we were able to go Thursday through the following Monday. We would be able to spend Friday and Saturday with Ashley, Dennis and the kids, as they were leaving on Sunday morning. But it allowed Pete and I to have a day at the park just the two of us to really hit the park as hard as we wanted to. And man, did we hit it.

Once the decision was made, and all of the tickets and everything were purchased, my sister and I started counting down days. Literally.  Did I have my suitcase entirely packed two weeks before our trip? Yes. Yes, I did.

My suitcase to Disney
This was my suitcase for Disney. And yes, I wear that HomeT all the time. It’s amazing.

Finally, the end of May rolled around, and it was time for our trip. Pete and I drove for about 6 or 7 hours from Mississippi to get to Orlando, which wasn’t too bad of a drive. By the time we got there, it was around dinner time. We managed to get into my sister’s hotel room so we could change our clothes, then we drove over to Disney Springs for dinner at Earl of Sandwich, where we used to frequent. We wandered around for a while, taking in the new sights of the shopping district of Disney. That has been built up so much since we lived in Orlando! We got shakes at Ghiradelli’s, which if you haven’t done, oh, my God, go get one. What are you doing with your life?

By that time, Ashley, Dennis and the kids were on their way back to the hotel, so we drove back to meet up with them.

Let me tell you: This trip was perfect. My niece, Juliana, and nephew, Alex, are at such a great age to experience Disney World, and I felt so lucky that I was able to see them there. They are 6 and 8, respectively.

Alex, J and myself
I have to tell you guys, in this picture right here, I was in absolute HEAVEN. These two are my favorites.  (photo credit: my sister)

Our time with my sister’s family was precious to me. It had been almost 6 months since I had seen them, so I was just soaking up all of the love and cuddles and giggles that I could. We went to EPCOT first. We went on a couple rides and saw a few characters, which was really cool. I won’t lie to you: I almost cried a couple times. Ashley kept teasing me about it. Oh well. Then went back to the hotel and swam in the super cool pool at The Art of Animation Resort. We ate dinner at the hotel and then headed back to EPCOT to watch the fireworks. The next day, Alex HAD to go on Tower of Terror with me and Peter, so we went to Hollywood Studios. It was awesome. We also managed to get into The Little Mermaid show (which is like a 10 min musical show that has live actors who just sing the songs from The Little Mermaid, which happens to currently be Juliana’s favorite princess movie right now). The cast members saw that she had a birthday button on, as she turned 6 while she was at Disney World, and asked her to open the show for them. That was pretty cool.

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Once she saw Cinderella, Juliana couldn’t take her eyes off her until she finally made her way over to our table. It was perfect.

For Juliana’s birthday, we went to the Grand Floridian Resort for dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Tremaines. Seeing my niece interact with my favorite princess was the best thing that I have ever been able to see. That little girl did not want to stop looking at Cinderella. It was precious, and, while I was close to it, I did not cry. I swear.

After dinner, Peter, Dennis, and I went to Animal Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours (which is when the park closes to everyone, except those who are staying on Disney property at one of the designated Disney hotels) in hopes of getting into the new land Pandora, which is based off of the movie Avatar. Peter was extra excited to get back to Animal Kingdom because that was where he used to work. When we got there, the line to go into Pandora was already obscenely long; Peter figured it probably had about 10,000 people in it, and the park hadn’t even closed yet.  The opening of Pandora was for people staying at Disney Resorts first. It opened to the general public the next day. So we decided to wait to jump in line at Pandora until the park emptied out a little more. Instead, as much as I hate it, Dennis and Peter made me ride Dinosaur: The Ride. If you’ve never been on it, it’s awful. It’s loud, and dark, and it throws you all over the place. But not in a fun roller coaster way, because I love roller coasters. But in a way that you feel like you might fly out of the car you are in. I hate Dinosaur. But I was going to be a trooper. We made it onto the ride just in time, because they were getting ready to close. Then we ran over to Mount Everest and walked onto that ride. Literally, there was no line. It was awesome. And if you have never had the chance to ride Everest at night, oh, my God, do it. It is 100% better at night than during the day. We managed to get onto Everest twice before we investigated the line for Pandora again. By this time, the park had probably been closed to general guests for about half an hour. We jumped in line, and as all of the guests filtered through the park towards Pandora, we found out that, yes, we would get to walk through the new area, but the lines to the rides were already closed because there were too many people. The three of us decided that wasn’t worth it to us, as Dennis had an incredibly early flight in the morning with two kids, and Pete and I were planning to run around Magic Kingdom all day the next day. So we decided to head back to the hotel.

Saying goodbye to my sister’s family is never a fun thing. But I knew that I would be seeing them again this summer, so it wasn’t too bad.

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Yes, I made my husband wear a matching shirt with me. He didn’t want to. But he loves the shirt and wears it around the apartment often now. So, in the end, I was right, and that’s all that matters, right?

Peter’s and my last day was spent at Magic Kingdom. We went to dinner at one of our favorite date night restaurants, Tony’s, watched the fireworks and ran all over Magic Kingdom, just the two of us. It was pretty wonderful. It was the first time we had been back since the Fantasyland Expansion had opened up, and I was ecstatic to see that. I worked in Fantasyland when I was on my internship, and I saw them doing something of the building, so I was over the moon to see it finished. It was hot as all get out, because Florida in basically June, duh. But I loved every second of it.

As we walked around Magic Kingdom, we talked about eventually getting annual park passes, because Orlando is only around a 5 hour drive for us now that we live in Pensacola. We haven’t bought them yet, much to my chagrin. But eventually, maybe. Leaving Disney World was a sad day, because it will always hold an incredibly special spot in my heart, but we will be back.

So that was our short trip to Disney World (because in my opinion, a trip to Disney is never long enough).

 

I am still alive. I swear.

I am still alive. I swear.

Oh, my gosh. Wow. It’s been so long. I honestly don’t even have a good excuse for you guys. I just got lazy and felt like I ran out of things to write about. I am alive, I promise.

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Y’all, the SnapChat filters are my jam. I will be really sad when they go away.

But, hi. How are you? I’ve missed you! What is new? It’s summer, now. In some places that’s a wonderful thing. But I live in the south, and I am not by any means a summer baby, so it’s just hot to me. That’s not terribly fun for me. But what about you? Do you love summer? Have you done anything fun? Have you gone anywhere? I haven’t but I have plans. More on those later. Fill me in on all of your fun news, dear reader. Tell me everything! I am sure it is way more fun than I have had.

So, new with me. Well, not much. Oh! Since I saw you last, I went to Disney World! That was fun. I hinted at a trip in a previous post, and had planned on showing you how I was going to pack for that trip, but never did. Over Memorial Day, Peter and I drove from Mississippi to Orlando, FL to meet up with my sister and her family for a few days at the parks. I was going to put all of that into this post, but it was getting to be pretty lengthy. Honestly, I could talk about that trip for hours, it was just so perfect. So I decided to put that into its own post. I will include pictures, because obviously you guys want to see those, right? I am going to assume you said “Obviously, Sam! Duh!”

Cinderella's Castle

Around the same time that we went to Disney, Peter was offered a new job in Pensacola, FL, which is where he is from originally. It was a really great opportunity, so he accepted it. Unfortunately, Pensacola is a bit of a hike from where we lived in Mississippi, so we have since moved. Leaving my job sucked, but I felt so lucky to have been there for as long as I had been. I learned so much, and I loved working with one of my oldest friends every day, but sometimes you just have to make a change. So we now live in Pensacola, Florida. We moved at the end of June, and we love it. We have a nice apartment and we live in a great part of town, so we are both really happy. I haven’t started looking for a job yet, because I have a vacation planned that will eat up about two weeks of August, so I didn’t want to accept a position and tell my new job “Oh, hey, by the way, I have a huge trip planned, so I need that time off. Thanks!” So, when I am done with my vacation, I will jump into job hunting, which I hate, but it is a necessary evil.

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Honestly. SnapChat filters give me life.

Okay. This vacation. I am so excited. Next Wednesday, I am flying back to Michigan to spend a week with my family. I have not been back home since January, so I am excited to see all of my family and some friends. I am looking forward to having a week to visit with people, as opposed to the long weekends that I usually have. 5 days is so much better than two. I will show how I pack for this trip. I promise! I am a master packer, although if you really want to see me do work, you want to see me pack for a long winter weekend. Usually for those trips, I would only take a backpack. And if you live someplace that there is actual cold weather, unlike what we have here, you know how bulky winter clothes are. That is a challenge. Anyway, I digress. When I leave to come home, I am bringing my cousin, Maiya, who will be turning 18 in August, home with me to Pensacola. I am so excited to be able to do this with her for such a milestone birthday. I will actually have her on her birthday, so I need to make it extra special. We are going to go to the beach, we are going to go to the zoo (because if you say you don’t like the zoo, you’re lying.) and then we are going to spend a couple of days in New Orleans. It’s about a 4 hour drive from here to New Orleans, so we are making that the end of our trip, as she is going to fly back to Michigan from there. She is pretty excited, and I am too. If you live in the Pensacola area and know of any super fun things to do, let me know!

Other than that, nothing is too new here. I found that even though I got rid of so much stuff, moving still sucks and no matter how much you get rid of, when moving, you always have too much stuff. 100% of the time. I stand by that number. We almost didn’t have enough space in our moving truck, but that also may have been because our movers kind of sucked, which I can say because we didn’t have friends help us load the truck up. So our movers were pretty terrible at packing the truck, in addition to being over an hour late. The whole moving an entire household experience totally soured me on the prospect of ever moving again. And that was just for Peter and myself! I cannot imagine if there had been kids involved.

Anyway, I think this is enough information for right now. I will come back to you with a post about our trip to Disney, and another about getting ready to travel, because I think that will be a really fun one to write.

Hey, thanks for checking back and reading this. I know I haven’t been active at all lately. I am going to try to change that.

Talk to you soon. (I promise!)

Love,
Sam

It’s been a while.

It’s been a while.

Hey there, stranger. I have been away for a while. Sorry about that. Life here has been crazy. Since we last spoke, I have gotten a new position at work and have been learning all that the new job entails. It is way more than anticipated. My sister and I have been planning a trip; Although, I’m not sure who all she has told about it, so I won’t say where. Oh, but don’t worry, dear friend – I will blog about it. I have in mind a packing post – what we packed and how we packed (I am a packing MASTER!) and I am sure I will post about the trip itself. I will be too high on it not to share it with you.

But, in the spirit of getting back to this lovely little corner of the webisphere, I thought I’d share with you a recipe that is probably overly easy and a combination of about a million other ones you can find on Pinterest, but why not.

In the hopes of making already busy mornings easier for Pete and myself, I pre-made breakfast sandwiches with the idea that we would just throw one in the microwave and run out the door. It was infinitely easier and cheaper than going to a fast food place, and this way, I know for the most part what is going into our bellies.

Bear with me, friends. I hadn’t thought of blogging this until I was into making the parts, so I don’t have pictures of everything, but who hasn’t seen eggs before they are broken and scrambled, anyway? I’m sure you won’t hold it against me.

You’ll want some refrigerated buttermilk biscuits – any brand, large eggs – I used 5, sausage patties – again, any brand, and whatever toppings you will like – I used shredded cheddar cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese as they are for my husband and myself and he is not a huge fan of veggies in anything, let alone his breakfast. But I am sure throwing some spinach and peppers in the eggs would be great! You’ll also need a cookie sheet, and a large muffin tin, a small bowl or large measuring cup (I used a 4 cup measuring cup), and a whisk.

Bake the biscuits according to the package instructions.

03. biscuits

I bought Johnsonville sausage patties from Walmart, but any sausage patties will work. To save me some time and make my life easier, I put the sausage on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cooked them at 425* in the oven. Put them in for 10 min, pull them out, flip them and then rotate the pan, then throw them back into the oven for another 10 min. It makes your life a million times easier, y’all. Trust me.

05. package

04. cooked sausage

I’m sure you could easily substitute the regular sausage for turkey or something else, but our house smelled so good when I pulled these out of the oven, that I wouldn’t use anything else.

While the sausage was cooking, I started work on the eggs. I broke all 5 eggs into my large measuring cup (or your small mixing bowl) and poured in some skim milk and scrambled the eggs. I noticed I was close to 2 cups with the 5 eggs and the small amount of milk I had in the bowl, so I just filled it up to the 2 cup mark, because I figured that was an easy way to divide the eggs evenly (8 sandwiches at 1/4c scrambled eggs makes for evenly – and easily – measured eggs.). Spray 8 of the cups in your large muffin tin with non-stick spray, and pour 1/4c scrambled eggs into each. Then add your tasty extras. I used two types of cheese.

01. scrambled egg

Once your eggs are ready, and your sausage is out of the oven, I put the muffin tin into the oven, still at 425*, and let those cook for 10 min. I wouldn’t put more than 1/4c of the eggs into each cup, because they will puff up and swell while they are in the oven, and you really don’t want to have to clean all of that up later, if they overflow.

07. cooked egg

Look at those two little guys on the left! They got pretty tall! But they do fall after a couple minutes of cooling.

Now, time to assemble! Cut each of your biscuits in half.

 

Put one egg on each.

10. assemble

Careful pulling them out of the muffin tin. Those suckers are slippery!

09. splat

Man down!

Next, put one of your sausage patties on top of the egg.

11. assemble

Add extra cheese or other veggies or toppings here, if you want. I did not.

Then add the top of your biscuit, et voila!

12. done

Breakfast!

I also got a little creative (I mean, I thought I was clever. You probably do this all the time though…) and used Glad Press ‘n’ Seal to wrap the sandwiches individually. I hate regular plastic wrap because it is annoying, and I don’t really like using foil because then you can’t see what is inside. First world problems, am I right?

13. wrap

Grab a piece of Press’n Seal big enough to wrap all the way around your sandwiches and wrap those suckers up.

14. wrap

And then you are done! Breakfast is ready for the week! Congrats, you think-ahead-er, you! It is one less thing you have to think about in the morning. Just grab one and go! Lord knows we all need just a little extra help in the mornings.

15. end

After wrapping mine up, I stored them in a gallon bag in the fridge so they’d all be together and easily found. You can freeze them, if you want. Ours will be kept in the fridge since they will all be finished this week between my husband and myself. But if they were going to be in the fridge for longer than that, I would suggest freezing them.

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe. If you decide to do something similar or have any suggestions, let me know!

I will endeavor to come back more regularly than I have been in lately. I am hoping that I will finally get back into a regular schedule at work and be able to make some extra time for my little blog.

Talk to you all again, soon.
Love,
Your Friend.

Slip ups are human.

This week I didn’t get rid of anything. I have been stressed out, and let’s face it, there is really only so much stuff you can get rid of. And, unfortunately, I can’t go through my husband’s closet, like I’d really like to, so now, I think it is just about maintaining what I have achieved so far.

That has been the easy part. I find that I don’t want to leave my things out, like I used to. I used to think that it was more convenient to leave my shoes by the door and my jacket over the back of the chair. I will need those things when I go to leave. And those jeans that I wear all the time? It’s easier to just leave them over the back of my vanity chair, or on the floor, because I am going to want them. But it is so much more satisfying to know exactly where my things are and to know that I am taking better care of them than I ever have. Bonus: Things that are cared for well last a lot longer than things that are thrown around like garbage.

So, let me give you some backstory: this past Saturday, the dental office I work for had tickets for all of us to go see Cirque Du Soleil in New Orleans. I planned on wearing this burgundy peplum top that I wear often and jeans. But I also have this really great salmon pink blazer that I wanted to wear out instead of my black trench coat, which doesn’t really match the top I had. So I convinced myself that I could go out and buy this black top that I had been loving for a while.

I started out telling myself that I would call Torrid, the store where the shirt was, and asking if they had it in stock. I know how I am when I go in that store, and I struggle with not buying things that I really don’t need when I go in. So, I figured I’d just remove the temptation from my path. Did I ever call them? No. I decided I’d just go and see if they had it.

I showed up at the store after work on Thursday, and as soon as I walked in, the salesgirl asked if there was anything I was looking for. “Yes,” I told her. “There is.” I pulled my phone out and pulled up the store’s website and showed her the shirt I was looking for. Unfortunately for me, they did not have it. The girls in the store told me they are a little ‘light’ on peplum tops right now, but hey! The clearance is all $20 and under! Dig through!

Well, impulse shopper that I am, those are the magic words. One of the lessons my grandma taught my sister and I growing up is that the four most important letters of the alphabet are S-A-L-E! I wandered around and picked up a few different things that I told myself I would wear often and then found a set of necklaces, which I decided I needed because my other go-to necklace broke. And this was a set of 3, so it’s a great deal, right? (Hint: Not really. $20-something for 3 cheap necklaces are not a great deal. Learn from me, guys.) I also decided that I need some new hoop earrings, because I don’t have any big ones, and I’ll wear them all the time, obviously.

I ended up checking out with 4 items, and when my total rang up at almost $100 I was shocked and ready to tell the girl to put some stuff off. But with her magic fingers, she was able to knock my total down to $70-something. I handed over my credit card and signed the receipt with a knot in my stomach and walked out to my car. I made the hour drive home that I make every night, and felt worse and worse about my purchases. By the time I got home I knew I’d have to return something. One of the things I bought, a set of PJs, I put on when I got home, and, while the pale pink color was lovely, and the fabric was wonderful, I really didn’t love it enough to keep. Back into the bag it went. I put the hoop earrings in, and they were way too heavy. I should have known that before I walked up to the register, but I didn’t care. Having them at home made them feel even heavier, and I knew that I’d wear them for an hour, maybe an hour and half before taking them out. Those ended up back in the bag for returning as well. One of the items, a bra, I kept, because I do love it, and you can never have too many, and then the set of necklaces I kept because I will get a lot of use out of them, until the fake silver wears off or the chain breaks.

The next day, I walked in with my bag and returned the items. It was only about $25 that I got back, but I knew I wouldn’t love the items enough to justify the purchase. Especially since I had walked into the store with the intent to purchase the one top, and if they didn’t have it to turn around and walk out. That did not happen.

Luckily, I partly learned from my mistake. My other weakness is makeup. One of the products that I use daily is almost out, and I knew that if I walked into Ulta on my way home, like I often do, I will end up walking around the store and find $50 worth of makeup to buy, when I went in for just the one item. So I ordered that online.

Unfortunately for me, that top was still stuck in my head, so I did order it online. And, those magic 4 letters were jumping out at me: S-A-L-E! Torrid was running an online sale: Buy 2 items, get a 3rd free! So I jumped on that, knowing that I can return anything I don’t like at the store. I ordered the top I have been in love with for a year, one I know will get a lot of use and wear, so it is actually a good investment, a pair of shoes that are pretty cute (If they don’t fit – because I am picky about how my shoes fit – I will return them. I swear.), and then I got some leggings for free.

So I am finding that this journey for me will be more of a cha-cha dance: two steps forward, one step backwards. And that is okay. As long as I keep up the work that I am putting in, I am okay with any progress I have made.

How do you deal with setbacks? Do  you beat yourself up, or dust yourself off? Leave me some comments down below.

It’s Monday, again.

Well, I had promised you (and myself) that my Minimalist Monday would be a series. It’s Monday again, so I figured I should probably get this back up. I didn’t do much to cut back this week, because I wanted to just live throughout last week with the cuts that I did make, and see how I felt about them. I also had to take a couple hours (an entire night?) to actually clean the apartment after all that tidying. In all, we had probably about 6 or 7 garbage bags full of trash, in addition to everything that was donated or given away.

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After pulling more things to donate, this is what is left on my hutch, all things I genuinely love or am sentimental about.

And let me tell you: I felt amazing great all week. There was half a second where I panicked that I had gotten rid of one small eye shadow palette that I love, but then I found it, tucked away where it was difficult to see, and breathed a sigh of relief.

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A week after tidying, my vanity is still clear. This is where I happily sigh, because it is so calming to see a clean table without clutter.

So, tonight, with the thought in mind that I was going to write this post, I looked around our apartment at all of my little knick-knacks and little things that I was afraid to give up. And I still felt cluttered. I knew that I really don’t need all of this stuff to make my home feel like home. I looked at all of the stuff taking up space and knew that I didn’t need it to make my home feel welcoming.

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After walking around my apartment, I was able to pull together another box full of little odds and ends that I have bought over time to just fill space. In the picture you will see a lot of elephants. I’m sure my husband is glad to see some of them go. I have been collecting them ever since I moved in, and I cut back to only the ones that I truly love. I went from having probably 10 elephants in different rooms of our small home to just the 3 that I love, all gifts that I have received. I actually think they are all from my sister, maybe.

Since decluttering, I have found it is so easy to keep my things cleaned up and put away. Getting dressed on casual days is so much easier, because all of the clothes that I have, I love and I feel confident in. Finding the few pieces of makeup that I wear is simple and quick each morning, which I am so grateful for. I find that I don’t want to leave things out on my table anymore or on my vanity because finding the place everything goes in is simple.

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Our dresser was built by Peter’s great-grandfather in the 1920’s, which is one of the reasons I love it. I love the history of it. And I am so glad that I have been able to clean it off and keep it that way.

And, the best part, is that after I posted my last blog entry, friends and family have all reached out to me or sent me pictures saying that they have started their own decluttering. I love that they read my post at all, but that it made them want to do a little of their own simplifying.

I hope that I can inspire more people to do this with me. If you have started cutting back as well, leave me a comment, or send me a picture! I would love to see what you are doing! Also, my husband isn’t as on board with this whole thing as I am, although he has done his part in some areas. But, he has this area, under the desk that is driving me nuts. He buys and sells things on eBay, so he has a bunch of shipping materials and some of his items that he is selling, and it is super unorganized.

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Do any of you have any tips on how to deal with this? Let me know in the comments below!

Talk to you guys soon!
Sam