Category Archives: Other Stuff

Christmas 2014 Recap

Team Christmas Party

I simply can’t believe that the Christmas season has already come and gone. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s totally a reality here in my neck of the woods. The holiday season is always a blur for Matthew and I. I thought I’d take a moment to recap what our Christmas season was like this year.

Ernest's ( Black Velvet Dress Outfit )Ernest's Group Picture
We began the month with our annual trip to Ernest’s in Shreveport with Matthew’s grandmother and cousins. This is a tradition that she’s held for several years and everyone always looks forward to the event. We dress up, ride over, and eat lots (Seriously….lots.) of fantastic food. This year, I wore a black, velvet dress and a gold, vintage belt that I hadn’t had a chance to wear yet. Velvet is one of my favs, so I was pumped about the outfit. We were missing a few cousins this year, but we definitely had a blast catching up with the ones who were able to make it. (Holly, I’m still laughing at Tanner’s plunger stories…too funny!)

Next up on the Christmas agenda was Amanda‘s birthday. We went to Cotton for her birthday dinner and ate all of the duck wraps. Then, that weekend we had a small game night/marshmallow roasting party at our house for her. I was blown away that Amanda and I have been friends since 2006 and I had no idea that she has a SERIOUS love for toasted marshmallows. You learn something new every day!

Christmas Recap (3)
The weekend before Christmas turned out to be quite a busy one for the Petruses. (Side note: I just learned that this is the correct way to spell our last name in this context. Maybe December was the month for learning new things!) Friday night we attended the Keller Williams Parishwide Partners Christmas party at a new downtown venue that I hadn’t been to yet. I’m now considering it for possible location for my 30th birthday party…more on that later. Matthew and I enjoyed the party. It’s always great to get together with colleagues in a non-work environment. I also starting working on some of my 2015 work goals while at the party, which made me happy.

Saturday night, we had our real estate team Christmas party at the new Doe’s Steakhouse in downtown Monroe. I work closely with 9 or so agents at Keller Williams through the Shane Wooten team (plus several assistants), so this was our chance to celebrate a successful year together. I prepped centerpieces and little bags of peppermints for each guest. My mom is great with flower arrangements, but it’s never been a prominent skill of mine. I think these turned out pretty well for how quickly I threw them together though! It was a lot of fun getting together with everyone and recapping memories from the past year. Plus, the food was outstanding!

Sunday brought along two more Christmas events for Matthew and I. For lunch, we gathered at our house with Matthew’s mom, step-dad, little brothers, and grandparents. Matthew made a delicious roast and the most amazing mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. We enjoyed catching up with family that we don’t see often. Then, we took a quick (and much needed) nap, and headed over to my father-in-law’s for dinner. We had a great dinner there and then watched the kids open a few gifts. (Jordan and Roxie, you were missed!) I just realized that we didn’t get any pictures from dinner here, which is a bummer. By this time next year, this side of our family will have grown and that’s exciting! Our newest niece or nephew will be making his/her debut next month!

After a fun-filled and crazy weekend, Matthew and I spent Tuesday night opening a few gifts for each other and looking at Christmas lights. I’m excited to see what next year will be like without Matthew working retail AND being in nursing school. We both worked retail our first Christmas together, and it was exhausting. I’m excited to see what next year looks like for us, even though I’m quite nervous about our daily routine changing completely.

Christmas Eve we hosted my side of the family at our house. Hosting gatherings is one of my favorite things to do, so I was excited to have everyone at our new home for Christmas. I also baked my first turkey, and it turned out edible…I’ll take that as a win! Basically, the night was filled with lots of jokes and candy-eating. What more could you want??

Christmas Pup
After my family left, we headed out for Texas. We arrived a little after midnight and spent Christmas Day opening presents there and playing board games. We got to spend some time with Matthew’s step-sister, Jenna, that we don’t see often. We had a blast learning to play Killer Bunnies (Such an appropriate game for Christmas, right?!) and having an easy day with family.

All in all, this Christmas season was a success. Matthew and I were really busy towards the end of the season, but I think we still enjoyed the hustle and bustle and made some great holidays memories. (I also got lots of pictures of us in front of our Christmas tree, which makes me happy!) In case you missed it, you can see some of our Christmas decor here  and details about our Christmas card here.

I’m sort of sad to wrap up the 2014 holiday season, but I’m definitely excited about 2015. I have a gigantic list of goals and plans for the year, and I’m expecting big things to happen. I hope you’re wrapping up 2014 with lots of great memories and equally great plans for this next year. Here’s to 2015 being a fantastic one!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card Front



Christmas Card Back



Matthew and I wish you the merriest of Christmases! We hope that this holiday season has been splendid and that you’re looking forward to a spectacular new year!

A word on this year’s Christmas card:
I mentioned that this card wasn’t “perfect” but that I was on a time crunch. I had big plans for this year, but time got away from me, so I had to settle for the quick and easy route… I ordered both versions of my Christmas cards (business and personal) from Walgreens this year, and was rather pleased. I chose this “year in review” card from their website for our personal card and plugged in some photos. Then, I created this graphic with an app on my phone and put in on the back of the card to update everyone on the biggest events of our year.

The photos are from (in order):
1. Matthew’s Birthday at Landry’s Vineyard
2. The Color Run in Ruston (my first 5k)
3. Our mountain hike in Gatlingburg
4. Halloween as Little Red Riding Hood and the woodsmen
5. Our last trip to Nashville
6. When we bought a house!
7. At Puckett’s Grocery in Nashville
8. At Ernest’s in Shreveport with family
9. Getting out the Christmas decor this year!

Again, I hope you’ve all thoroughly enjoyed this magical season. Best wishes from my family to yours!

Happy Halloween!

Audrey HepburnThis year’s Halloween plans were rather tame. However, I made sure to take full advantage of our Halloween event at Keller Williams. We had a potluck lunch and costume contest at the office, coupled with a baby shower for two of our agents.My first instinct was to go as a mermaid, but I decided on Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…it would be much easier to work in after the party. Do you know anyone who has their hair professionally done for a Halloween costume? Yeah…probably not.

Halloween HairI should point out that it was literally FLOODING  on Halloween morning. Of course it would be, considering I had a legit hair appointment for this costume. I had my hair done first thing that morning which means I wore a shower cap and sweat pants to take my mom to treatments. It was a lovely sight! Then, I rushed home and changed. It was tough not to look like a drowned rat by the time I made it to the party, but somehow I pulled it off!

Audrey Hepburn and a BallerinaMy new assistant started her first real day on the job, so she joined us as a pretty ballerina. Doesn’t everyone wear a tutu to their first day at the office?? There were witches, a banana, a pirate, Captain America…you name it! Courtney made the most adorable homeless person…her sign really made the costume. It read, “Homeless. Need rich husband.” What a fantastic solution!
Audrey Hepburn helps the HomelessAudrey Hepburn and Brett MichaelsBrett Michaels even made a star-studded appearance! I should mention that his vest and leather pants were from my garage sale stuff. No joke. My Mom made that zebra vest for my senior prom date to match my dress. Again, not joking. This was before zebra print was everywhere…I was making a statement!I think my most significant accomplishment this Halloween was mastering cat eyes with liquid eyeliner! Makeup is not really my thing, and I was terrified of that liquid liner. Now I think I might rock it everyday! For inspiration on Audrey Hepburn make up, this 12 minute video was pretty detailed! You can also try the scotch tape trick, but I failed at this one…I taped my eye shut!

If you want to see what Audrey Hepburn looks like in the morning, click here!

Audrey HepburnSo, how do you think I did?? I simply love dressing up!

The Proposal

It’s obvious when I’ve been busy at work…my blog posts are fewer and farther between. Nonetheless, here is our proposal story that I promised. I hope to find a better balance between working and managing this space very soon!

Earlier, I talked about how Matthew and I got our start. The post mentions that we had the wedding of our dreams in just a few short weeks. This is not a joke. Matthew proposed on July 12 and we were married on July 28, 2012. I should also mention that this was after dating for only 3 months!

Our first engaged photo

Before you starting thinking that we were complete idiots, refer back to the beginning of our story. During those three months, we spent every single day together. Not only were we together, but those days were filled with tons of teamwork and learning experiences. We weren’t skipping through fields of flowers. We were working hard…together. Nonetheless, I don’t have to explain myself. When ya know, ya know, right?

Let’s talk a little about how this plan to marry came to be. One Sunday afternoon, we were sitting on my bed chatting away. (We had likely just finished hanging or unpacking something, as I had just moved into a new rent house.) We were both off work the following Monday, and one of us jokingly said we should go to Arkansas and come back married. This was another one of those moments where we both laughed and then suddenly got serious. (Like the one mentioned in the puzzle/rug discovery…there’s currently a puzzle under my living room rug by the way.) Why Arkansas you ask? Well, Arkansas and Vegas are the only two places that I know of that you can show up, get a marriage license, and get married that same day!

After a few minutes of testing the waters to see if one or the other were indeed serious, we came to the conclusion that we were both ready to commit to spending the rest of our lives together. Not the rest of the year…the rest of our lives here on this earth. We also decided that we loved the idea of shocking the world by just showing up married one day! We both love to do things to defy the norm. However, we decided that we wouldn’t break our poor Mamas’ hearts by not telling them ahead of time. Plus, Matthew insisted that I have a ring and a “real” proposal story to tell. Rather than going that next day in secret, we decided we would tell our friends and family first and go later that month. We spent the next week telling our loved ones of our plan to get married in just a few short weeks. I should mention that prior to this day, there had been no direct talk of marriage. While we both knew it was coming, we hadn’t spoken a word of it. Talk about zero to sixty!

The first ring photoI spent the next week scouting for the perfect vintage engagement ring. (Would you really expect me to have anything else??) I found hundreds that I liked but couldn’t commit to any. Of course, I’d be able to pick the man, but be unable to decide on a ring…so very typical of me. Matthew and I went to Baldwin’s Jewelers, an estate jeweler in a neighboring town, and found the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. I looked through the cases and found 20-30 that I wanted to try on. After trying them all, Matthew said he found one that I should try. As soon as I put it on my finger, I was in love. (With him AND the ring!) I wanted to “think about it some more,” so we walked some through some of the shops downtown while we talked. After being gone for less than 5 minutes, I started to panic! I was so afraid that someone was going to buy that ring before we got back! (No kidding…I started to sweat. That could have been the July heat in Louisiana, but I think it was from fear of losing my ring.) We knew right away that it was the ring we wanted. I should also mention that it fit my size 4 finger perfectly! Sadly, Matthew wouldn’t let me wear it until he actually proposed. It was terrible knowing that my beautiful ring was sitting in the console, and I couldn’t even wear it!

Me and my beautiful ringWe had agreed to host a party when we returned home to celebrate this special time with our friends and family. On the way to show the ring to my mom, we stopped at his family’s lake house to scope it out for a potential party venue. As we walked around, Matthew told me stories of his childhood. I looked at the stained glass door showcasing a “P” for the family’s last name. It immediately hit me that Petrus was about to become my last name too. The stories Matthew was telling were going to become my stories too. This name that he was so proud to bear was going to become my name too. What an amazing, profound moment! As we stood on the balcony of the barn, overlooking the lake, Matthew continued to tell stories of Easter egg hunts and family gatherings. Next thing I knew, he was down on one knee, asking me to be his wife!

Luckily, I only had to wait 2 hours for the proposal!

From day one, a girl envisions what this day will be like. You think about where it will be and what he will say. It was nothing like what I had imagined…it was even better! I was so happy to leave that lake house with a gorgeous ring on my finger and a plan to marry the most amazing and inspiring man I’d ever met.

Ring and laceAnd that’s how Matthew Petrus and I decided to get married in 12 days after dating for only 3 months. If I could go back and do it all over again…I wouldn’t change a thing! Some may think it was crazy idea…I think it was fantastic! Our one year anniversary has been a wonderful time to reflect on this special time in our lives. Thank you for reading along! I’ll try to post more about the actual wedding and our one year anniversary soon. If you missed Part One of our story, read it here.

The Phone Photography Project

Day 1: From Where I Stand
Day 1: From Where I Stand – a photo of your feet showing where you’re at that day

Here’s a little secret. I hate to take photos. I hate to be the subject of photos, just as much as I don’t like actually taking them. This presents a little problem for this online space, because photos are such a big and important part of having a successful blog. It’s no secret that I love the writing aspect, but not so much the photography part. On top of that, photos are important for sustaining memories and documenting the adventures of everyday life. Even though I don’t particularly like it, I have been making a sincere effort to take more (and better) photos of our experiences.

Day 2: Monogram Collage
Day 2: Monogram Collage – capture a photo of yourself and your initials
Day 3: Summer Projects
Day 3: Summer Projects – a collage of items you’re working on this summer. I plan on going on more walks with my husband!

I came across the online Phone Photography Project on one of my favorite blogs and signed up earlier this summer. I take practically all of my photos with the camera on my iPhone 5. Being that I already don’t like taking photos, hauling around a hefty camera just isn’t for me…not at this point anyway. So, if I can get some tips for making better use of my phone camera, then maybe…just maybe…I might learn to not despise the process quite so much.

Day 4: Summer Harvest
Day 4: Summer Harvest – photos of your food as you prepare it

Here’s how it works. Everyday, they post a new photo challenge with instructions and reviews of their favorite apps. You go out and capture what that challenge is asking for and upload it to the classroom gallery and to Instagram with the #bpcphonephotographyproject hashtag. (My apologies to those who follow me on Instagram and have been confused by the random photos.) In an ideal world, I would have more time to search out interesting shots for each of the photos, but the real estate world has me pretty busy right now. Nonetheless, I’ve already learned a ton and I’m slowly starting to develop a more loving relationship towards photography.

Day 5: Family
Day 5: Family – non-staged, impromptu photos of your family
Day 6: Hometown Tourist
Day 6: Hometown Tourist – a photo of something cool from your town…something that isn’t usually photographed

What have I learned so far? As of today, I’m 12 days in to the project. (It lasts the entire month of July.) The first thing I’ve learned is that it can be tough to search out photos to fit a certain theme if you’re a busy girl. I’m sure photos don’t have to be posted on the exact day that the challenge is issued, but I just can’t deviate from that way of thinking. So everyday, I snag whatever spare minute I can and try to capture that day’s photo. For example, I ran out of daylight night before last and had to take that day’s photo at night. It wasn’t ideal, but like Tim Gun says, I “made it work.”

Day 7: Sunrise/Sunset - photos showing the light at different times of the day. My photos were taken within 10 minutes of each other.
Day 7: Sunrise/Sunset – photos showing the light at different times of the day. My photos were taken within 10 minutes of each other.
Day 8: Summer Colors
Day 8: Summer Colors – a full frame photo of bright colors

The second thing I’ve learned is the value of editing. Other than slapping on a filter in Instagram, I’ve never been one to really edit my photos. However, the reviews of all of the wonderful apps have forced me to download and try some of my options. I’m still not an expert, but doing a few minor edits have proved to make a huge difference in the quality of my photos. I know this is a mute point to all of you photographers out there, but I always maintained that I “didn’t have time” to edit photos. However, with some of the new apps I’ve been exposed to, I can see that it doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process and makes such a big difference. Here’s to me learning how to edit!

Day 9: Jump
Day 9: Jump – an interesting photo of someone jumping
Day 10: Clouds
Day 10: Clouds – a photo focusing on the sky

I’m happy to share my photos of the project so far. We also completed a photo scavenger hunt, in addition to the daily projects, that I’ll try to share soon. You can see the daily tasks by following me on Instagram!

Day 11: Perspective
Day 11: Perspective – taking a photo from a different angle than you normally would

Also, here’s a special thank you to my husband for being willing to be the subject of my “jump” photo. I love that he doesn’t even ask many questions when I say, “Hey, will you come outside and jump so I can take a photo?” Thanks for being such a good sport, honey!

Let me know your thoughts of my progress so far by leaving a comment below!

Family Reunion at the Lake

Lake D'ArbonneThe past several days have flown by, while also feeling incredibly long…the sun will do that to you. Our Independence Day weekend surrounded a family reunion for Matthew’s side of our family. We spent three days at the family lake house on Lake D’Arbonne doing all of the usual lake activities…boat riding, swimming, riding the tube, eating, and a very serious horseshoe tournament. (I’m not kidding when I say this horseshoe tournament was a big deal!)

Piper and RileyWe had hamburgers and delicious catfish catered from one of our favorite restaurants, Catfish Charlie’s. The lake house was buzzing with people of all ages, happy to see one another and eager to catch up and reminisce. Children ran and played and meltdowns were few and far between. Our sweet nephew, Riley, rode the tube for the first time and is now hooked. He wasn’t very happy when his final ride of the weekend came to an end. He also got a kick out of refusing to share his chips with me. Luckily, I wasn’t depending on Riley for my sustenance this weekend, or I would have starved!

Riley looks at the boatMe and RileyAs always, I should have taken more pictures, but I was too focused on chatting the days away, not to mention that I was afraid of dropping my phone into the lake. Nonetheless, my first family reunion on Matthew’s side of the family was a huge success, and we more than enjoyed a few days of relaxing in the sun with our family.

Matt getting suppliesMatthew and IWe had to come back to the real world on Sunday, as we both headed back to work. I worked on listing my second house and showed a total of eight homes to clients on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, I’m exhausted! Matt went to work and then came home to study for a nursing exam. There’s nothing like finishing a blissful weekend with a large dose of reality! Nonetheless, we enjoyed a wonderful weekend together with family. Here’s to a busy week ahead!

the pier at Lake D'ArbonneI also spent a lot of my weekend snapping photos for the Phone Photography Project. I’ll tell you more about that soon!

Read about our last busy weekend here.

Our Wild Weekend.

This weekend was a busy one. We spent Friday night hanging out at the new River & Rail Cantina with Amanda. The outing originated from an excuse to wear new shoes, but we camouflaged it as an early birthday celebration for Matt. We sat out on the patio next to the fire pits, overlooking the Ouachita River and had the best time laughing the night away. The atmosphere at R&R is superb. (Pardon the water on Matt’s shirt. I couldn’t crop it out or only my head would be left..short girl probs.)

Amanda & I ready to go to R&RThe beautiful Ouachita RiverThe handsome hubby and I at R&RBest Friends Forever!Saturday brought upon a very special day in the Petrus household…Matt’s birthday! Poor thing had to go help with athletic physicals at 7 am (nursing school probs), but this gave me time to wrap presents and tie up loose ends for his big day. I decorated the house as if we were having a big party. Birthdays were always a big deal when I was growing up. My mom always did perfectly themed parties or special birthday activities, so I feel like you absolutely have to make a big deal of the day.

Happy Birthday, MattThe Birthday BoyBirthday decorSuch a handsome birthday boyEven though Matt wanted a quiet night at home, I just couldn’t help decorating the place so that he’d have something exciting to come home too. He grilled some of the most delicious steaks, and Amanda came over to play some board games. I hope he felt extra special on this day.

Blow out those candles!Me with the birthday boySunday was Mother’s Day, and we invited my family over for lunch. I offered to host the gathering, because I’m the only one in my family who’s not a mommy yet. Matt grilled burgers, which were delicious as usual. We all sat around a chatted for a bit. Of course, I forgot to take many pics, but I was excited about this get together, because it was our first family gathering for Matt and I to host at our home! (Again, the firsts are always special!) I did catch a picture of Dana (my oldest sister) with “check yes or no” written in the background. The girls lost a ball under the house, and I couldn’t resist a picture of their attempt to fish it out. (They taped a rake to the end of a 10′ pole!) We may have lost a piece of siding during the process, but that’s ok. Memories were made, and I have a handy husband who can fix it in no time. We enjoyed the chance to spend some time with my side of our family and are looking forward to visiting with Matt’s side of the family soon.

Me and my mommyMom's other presentMe with my oldest sisterMuddy girlsI hope everyone had as wonderful of a weekend as we did! We especially hope all of the Moms have a fantastic time (especially our moms/grandmothers…we love you all!). Now we’re off to another busy week!

You can read about some of our others “firsts” here.

Musings of a Monday Morning

Go confidently..I woke up this Monday morning at 3:30 am. This is NOT normal for me, as I’m the farthest from a morning person as you can get. Here’s what I thought about as I laid in bed for several hours wishing I could go back to sleep:

1. Our role: You should be the type of person that you enjoy being around. Furthermore, you should be the best version of yourself possible. There is always someone looking up to you and learning from you, whether you know it or not.

2. Outsourcing: Everything that I’ve read about being a successful, productive person says that you have to learn to leverage other people. I struggle with passing tasks off to others, and the fact of the matter is, I’m going to have to learn to delegate and let go of things that other people can help me with. This is going to be especially important as my life takes on a new look in the upcoming months.

3. This blog: A lot of times I hesitate to post things here for fear of what other people will think/say. I can only hope that other bloggers felt this same insecurity in the beginning. However, I’ve decided that this is a place for me to clear my head. It’s a place for me to share my experiences and journal my place in this life. Certainly a few people will read along, but it’s primarily a place for me. I know I’ll continue to struggle with it, but I’m hoping to make some progress in not being so afraid.

4. Life in General: I’ve come to the harsh realization that life almost never goes according to plan. The things you plan on happening, don’t. The things you don’t plan on happening, do. The people who you know won’t hurt you, do it over and over again. The dreams you never thought you’d have, suddenly you can’t stop thinking about. This life never ceases to amaze me. You just never know what to expect. As for me, the girl who always had a plan, I’m not doing that anymore. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years. I don’t know where I’ll be within this next year! But what I do know, is that I’m along for the ride. “What will be, will be.”

What’s Been Going On.

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted anything, but it’s been a tad wild around the Petrus household. So, what’s been happening lately?

Salt & Pepper set up with the Monroe-West Monroe CVB — my old stomping grounds — at a show in Jackson, MS to promote shopping in our area. (Did you know Monroe-West Monroe has some of the best shopping in the state? There’s your fun fact for the day.) Anyhow, I spent the majority of last week packing, loading, and preparing for the show, and then spent Thursday-Sunday in Jackson. Our crew certainly had some fun times!

Salt & Pepper in Jackson, MSDuck Commander MerchandiseThe show was a success, and we talked to lots of people about making the drive over to Monroe-West Monroe. I’m hoping to see some of our new friends soon! We sold more Duck Commander tshirts than you could imagine, and people were amazed that we were from the same town as the Duck Dynasty stars. We answered all sorts of questions like, “Do Phil and Kay really live in that trailer?” And, “Do bugs grow in those long beards?” All in all I had a great time talking about my town and making memories with old friends.

Cock of the Walk, Jackson MSTaylor is a creeper. We're so tall.Me and Sheila Marie.Family dinner.What else has been going on in my neck of the woods? I just completed my real estate class! I was rather nervous about taking the finals after being out of pocket for the weekend, but somehow I pulled it together and aced both of them! After spending 2 full days confined to my couch with my head in a book, I deserve to brag a little! =) All that’s left before I become a licensed agent is studying for and taking the licensing exams. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

Real Estate FinalsEven with so much going on lately, I’ve still missed writing for My Neck of the Woods. One of my goals for this year was to give myself the chance to spend more time developing this online space, but sometimes real life gets in the way. Nonetheless, I’m not going to let myself push this project to the back burner as I’ve done for years. Now that things are a little more manageable, I hope to be back at it. Some of my upcoming projects include trying a new laundry detergent recipe and prepping for our garage sale. Keep checking back for updates!

Easter Goodies.

Rather than folding and putting away laundry, which was on the to-do list for yesterday afternoon, I decided to make some Easter goodies! Matt wanted to take Easter candy to the front desk folks at TP Outdoors, and I wanted to make some goody bags for our girls at Salt & Pepper.

Easter CandyI had an Easter pail, bags, and grass already, so I just ran and picked up some candy. Then, I pulled out some old scrapbook supplies and made tags. I took it a step further by making little eggs for each of the tags. I used butterfly stickers to attach the tags and flower stickers to close the bags. (I’ll admit that I got a little carried away…it’s what I do.)

Easter tagsEaster GoodiesSometimes you just gotta blow that to-do list and do something else that strikes your fancy. Today, I fancied making Easter goodies for people we love. I think it’s worth it, especially to put a smile on someone’s face. I’ll get to that laundry next week. I hope you all have a happy Easter!

Much love!
Matt & Pamela