Tag Archives: 2014

2015 Goals

Today's GoalsIt’s that time of year again….the time to set goals for the upcoming year. Once upon a time, I had a serious problem with setting “new year’s resolutions.” I talked about that a bit in last year’s goal post. As a matter of a fact, I still don’t like that term. However, I do like setting goals. 2014 was a big year for goal setting for me. I set several goals for the year. I even ended up setting goals for the month, for the last part of the year. What I learned from my obsessive goal setting in 2014 is that I love setting goals. Turns out, I respond really well when I set realistic and manageable goals for myself. I quickly learned that making these goals public gives me just the push I need to actually make big things happen. In thinking about what my goals would be for 2015, I knew that I’d end up sharing them here with you.

I actually started lining out my 2015 goals in October. Yes, that’s a tad crazy. Nonetheless, I was getting very excited about wrapping up 2014. There’s just something about the fresh start that a new year brings that gets me excited! I started getting a little carried away (too many goals), so I spent quite a bit of time trying to narrow them down and make them more realistic and specific. Remember, a good goal must be realistic and attainable. Setting a million goals for one year was neither of those things, so I had to force myself to pare themdown a bit. I decided to approach goal setting a tad differently this year, so I broke my goals down into three different categories: personal, business, and home.

Without further adieu, here are my personal goals for the year:

  1. Maintain a regular fitness plan. – My goals is to do something active at least three times per week.
  2. Be up by 6:00-6:30 every weekday morning. – I’ve never been accused of being a morning person. I tend to wake up just in time to get dressed and make it to where I need to be. (I literally count this down to the second sometimes.) Instead, I’d like to be up early enough to have a few minutes of quiet time (sipping coffee of course) before starting the madness of my day. I might have to increase my coffee intake a bit.
  3. Blog 2x per week. – This was one of my goals for 2014 too. While I didn’t quite make it, I did definitely feel like I improved on posting regularly here. I’m going to do even better this year! (Fun fact: I made 50 posts in 2014. Doesn’t that seem wild??!)
  4. Have monthly quality time days with Matthew. – We’re busy people. Sometimes finding time to really spend together is tough. I didn’t want to say “date nights” here, because some of my favorite times together are days that we take off and do something special during the day. The goals here is to be sure we disregard everything else and actually spend time together at least once a month this year.
  5. Complete three random acts of kindness per month. – Last year, I wanted to say more nice things. I definitely did better at this, but sometimes I’d forget. Life gets busy and it’s sooo easy to forget to do little things like this. This year, I want to continue trying to say nice things, as well as doing other random acts of kindness. I hope to do this at least three times per month.
  6. Volunteer 4x. – I love to help people. Sometimes that’s actually a flaw of mine…I get too involved. However, my good intentions sometime get the best of me and I don’t actually make it to helping out causes that I care about. This year, I want to be sure to volunteer my time at least four times throughout the year. Four doesn’t sound like a big number, but I know that a quarter of the year will pass before I know it, so I’ll have to be very diligent on this one.
  7. Host at least two parties/events. – There were several times throughout this last year that Matthew and I would run into old friends. I felt like we were constantly saying “we should get together soon,” and yet not actually doing it. This year, I want to be sure to host people at our home at least twice. These can be big or small gatherings…I just want to be sure to focus on spending time with thepeople we love.
  8. Replace 3 mediocre things with 3 beautiful things. – I talked about living a beautiful life before. I’ve been working hard to put an emphasis on surrounding myself with things that I love, but it’s a daily battle. This year, I hope to replace at least three things we don’t love with things that we do…big or small.

Make29 ProductAmanda  and I starting meeting in late October/early November to talk about goals for 2015. (We had regular goal tracking meetings in 2014 but sort of dropped off later in the year.) We agreed that we needed some sort of way to track our progress this year since we both love that feeling of marking something off a list. We decided that we’d create some sort of spreadsheet to track things quarterly and then meet back up to talk strategy. Then something magical happened. Elise released her December Make29 product.

I follow Elise’s blog religiously, and I think she might be the master at getting things done. (She’s releasing a Getting Things Done workbook/calendar later this year and I can’t wait to see it!) As I looked over her December product, I realized that this was exactly what I needed to track my goals for this year. As soon as it was available, I purchased the PDF and began printing sheets for each of the items that I wanted to track. I knew that I might get a little carried away (with too many sheets tracking too many things), so I decided to combine some of the smaller, more yearly items on one sheet. For example, I have just one sheet for all of my home goals. (More on that later.) If you’re looking for a way to track your goal progress in 2015, I highly recommend purchasing this file. It’s a mere $4 to get an instant download that you can print as many times as you need.

I ended up with eight sheets tracking some of my personal, home, and business goals. I envision these being marked up, tattered, and stained (most likely with coffee) by the end of the year, and if that’s the case, I’ll be thrilled. I love how these trackers focus on the big picture. You can miss days here and there. Not every circle has to be filled. Instead, the goal is to see that you have 365 days to work towards something. If you fill in even half of the circles, that would be an amazing accomplishment! If you feel overwhelmed by goal setting, pick a few simple goals, purchase these sheets, and then begin chipping away at it one little bubble at a time.

It’s not too late to set a few simple goals for this new year. After all, it doesn’tmatter when you start working towards something….it only matters that you do start. What are you hoping to accomplish this year? I’d love to hear about your plans. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a great year!

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….Walgreens.com. 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!

Deck the Halls

Deck the HallsChristmas is in full swing at the Petrus household, and I only barely got the Christmas decor up before the madness of the season arrived. Christmas tends to be a little hectic for us with so many places to be and things to do, but I love every minute of it.

Themed TreeHodgepodge Christmas Tree Hodgepodge Christmas Tree Vintage Santa PRESENTS!For the past couple of years, I’ve put up two Christmas trees and since the new house has more space, it was even easier to do this year! The big tree is my “themed” tree. Everything matches, and it’s more decorative. (Shout out to my sister for making me that “P.”) The second tree is more of a hodgepodge of old, sentimental ornaments…most of which were made by my mother. I also put my retro Santa with this tree that I’ve had since I was a little girl and used my Grandmother’s quilt as the tree skirt.

Vase with Mini OrnamentsI snagged those Southern Living books at the Nashville Flea Market. Long live the 80s! The jar sitting on top was given to me by my mother-in-law and is filled with mini ornaments that were my grandmothers. I loved finding a way to incorporate those into the decor this year. That vase was something Matthew and I picked up on our trip to Memphis, and he surprised me with those flowers (and strawberry shortcake!) when I got home from a work trip recently. Using the vase here gives me a good excuse to keep fresh flowers through the season!

Deck the Halls (9) MantleIt took me what feels like forever to decide on mantle decor that I was somewhat happy with. I just couldn’t quite get it right. Those stars are from the same flea market as the books. Thanks to my sister (again) for the “Noel.” I really do hate that my sweet niece got the flu, but I certainly don’t mind all of the handmade decor I ended up with from my sister being trapped at home. Let’s call that a silver lining.

Our Christmas Cards Christmas Cards Galore I wish I would have had a little more time to decorate this year because I would have loved to go “all out” for our first Christmas here. No worries though…I’m still happy with the decor that I was able to do and it’s plenty to enjoy while I drink all of the hot chocolate. (Seriously, check out my Instagram feed. I’m literally drinking all of the hot chocolate.)

Chalkboard TreeI hope your Christmas season is off to a wonderful start! And remember, be sure that you don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle…it’s time to enjoy this magical season!

P. S. If you’re looking for fun Christmas things to do around the Monroe-West Monroe area, be sure to check out the Christmas on the River website.There’s still a ton of fun Christmas events on the agenda. Oh, and shop local when you can!


On waiting for perfection.

Ridiculous BeginningsI stewed over starting a “what I’ve learned series” for months before actually doing it. I think my desire to write about things I’ve learned comes primarily from the fact that I feel like I’ve learned so much lately. I also feel like our entire lives are based on learning. With each passing day, we learn something new. With each passing year, we grow into better versions of ourselves (hopefully). We are constantly learning new things about ourselves and this world we live in, and that’s something that I’ve felt called to talk about.

So here we have it…a post that’s hopefully a part of an ongoing discussion about what I’ve learned and what it means. Today, I want to discuss what I’ve learned in regards to striving for perfection. I have been known to wait to do things until it’s perfectly planned out. I may or may not have proofread things to death before ever letting them go. It’s possible that I’ve avoided certain things altogether because I didn’t feel like I had time to do it to its absolute best. I’ve definitely been called a perfectionist a time or two, and while having perfectionist tendencies can be a good thing, it’s certainly not a title that I love. Actually, I’ve found that the goal of perfection is often debilitating. Often, this mirage of perfection sucks up tons of valuable time or worse, prevents us from accomplishing anything at all.

I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point in the past year, I finally realized that I had to let some things go. I needed to learn to delegate tasks in order to grow my business. If I spent less time perfecting every little thing, I could get so much more done! Sure, every single person that I know might not get a beautiful birthday card with a wonderfully scripted message, BUT if just a handful of the people I knew got a card, that was better than none. If the card was basic and simple, it was better than no card at all. I finally realized that I was spending way too much time trying to do everything perfectly, such that most of my good ideas weren’t being implemented at all. A church sign once read, ”The smallest deed is better that the grandest intention.” I was full of intentions…not deeds.

If you, too, suffer from dwelling on perfection, what do you do to overcome it?? That’s a hard question and my solution isn’t too elaborate. You just start doing things. I had to learn to just throw things out there. Within the last couple of months, I’ve “just done” several things that would have normally taken me months and months to implement. For example, this year I mailed a Halloween letter to anyone I had a mailing address for. I ordered the supplies, drafted the content, and then basically turned the rest of the project over to my assistant. I didn’t even see them before they were mailed! (Those of you who know me pretty well know this was a HUGE step for me.) I did something similar with a Thanksgiving promotional piece. I created the plan/content and then handed over the reins. These were prepped and delivered while I was in another state! To take this a step further, I began working on and produced two different Christmas cards in less than 24 hours. Something of this nature would have normally taken me months!

Here’s the deal though. I accomplished four tasks in a short amount of time that I wouldn’t have otherwise done if I’d approached them with my usual mindset. I’ll admit, these four tasks could have been done better. However, with my usual approach, they likely wouldn’t have gotten done at all. This is especially true for our personal Christmas cards. I had to settle on something less than perfect because of time constraints. If I hadn’t sacrificed perfection, we wouldn’t be sending a card this year. Which is worse – a less-than-perfect card or no card at all? We all know how much I love paper products. For me, it was no card at all.

I did something similar with this blog. I spent months and months toying over the idea of starting a blog. I was doing all of the “research,” (In many cases, “research” is code for avoiding the jump.), but I was so caught up in knowing how to do every little thing, that I postponed starting it. Finally, I dove in head first with this post. If I would have known everything there was to know before making that first post, it would have never happened. Most of the time starting it the hardest part. After that, the pieces tend to fall together. Actually, I struggle with this on a daily basis with this blog. Most of the time, I have to make myself hit the publish button. Usually it’s with my eyes closed and a cringed face. You know…that one that looks like you’re about to get hit with a bat. The reality is, some of my posts have typos. Most of them could be written so much better. However, if I read every post 30+ times, nothing would get shared here. I’d change something every single time I read it and eventually I’d be so burdened by the roughness of it, that it would never get posted. Instead, I write, proofread a few times, and then cringe while clicking submit. I take a gamble with every post that it’s poorly written, no one will relate, and I spelled every single word wrong. However, it could be my best post yet. It could really make a difference for someone, and I could be thrilled to come back and read it years from now. (That’s a truly scary thought.) It’s worth the risk.

Is there something you should just hit “publish” on? Is there something that you’re waiting to do until you have a perfect plan? Is there something you haven’t been able to mark off of your list because you keep analyzing it from all angles? If there is, take some time to really think about the time you’re wasting. If you jumped in head first today, would you really regret it? Would it be detrimental to your life? Most likely not. Instead, we’ve been wasting valuable time waiting. Waiting on the right time or the right plan. Waiting on perfection. Well, I’ve decided that imperfection is beautiful. Imperfection is real. Maybe, just maybe, putting things “out there” without them being perfectly polished might make you more relatable.  (Please say that my typos make me more relatable. I’m counting on that.) I haven’t mastered this yet, but I’m going to keep working on putting more things on the “deed” side of the balance and less on the “intention” side.

“Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.” – Isabelle in Downton Abbey. Don’t be afraid to look a little ridiculous sometimes. That’s just life.



Nashville in November

Nashville in November (21)Matthew and I try to make it to Nashville to visit his family there at least a couple of times year. We’ve already made lots of great memories there, and this trip was no different. It just so happened that my friend Amanda was going to Nashville for a work event the same week as us, so we decided to carpool. I promise that Amanda was with us even if this photo looks like she was photo-shopped in!

Nashville in November (18)

As you’ve probably noticed, one of our main focuses during our travels is food. (Don’t judge.) This trip was no exception. We recently learned that Nashville is known for what they call “hot chicken,” sort of like Memphis is known for BBQ. We’d never had hot chicken before, so we made it a point to try some! After doing some research, we settled on a location called Pepperfire. We were told to order down two levels of spice from what we normally do, and I’m glad we heeded their advice. This was a very cool to-go style environment, and I loved that they text you when your order is ready. Also, the potato salad was phenomenal!

PepperfirePepperfirePepperfirePepperfireWe also met Amanda for dinner at our favorite, Puckett’s Grocery. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll stop by Puckett’s every time we’re in Nashville. Unfortunately, the scheduled artist didn’t show up, so “Zach the Server” stepped in to provide a show. I was very impressed!

Puckett's Grocery Puckett's GroceryDowntown NashvilleIn other food news, we stumbled upon a quaint little chocolate shop while walking around the Gulch. After chatting with the clerk at Colt’s Chocolates, we realized the shop was owned by a former Hee Haw cast member, which quickly gained my interest! I have the fondest memories of watching that show as a little girl. (The clerk had also worked in Monroe for a bit, which was cool.) The best part about this shop was that they had little tasting bowls in front of each item. After tasting them, we started filling a basket! FYI: The salted caramel butter bites are to. die. for. Also, you can order online…so dangerous.

Colt's ChocolateColt's ChocolateWe did quite a bit of shopping this trip, (Thank you, Matthew!) and one of my favorite stops was the Nashville Flea Market. I literally could have loaded up two truckloads of stuff! I made some tough decisions and only purchased smaller items that I couldn’t live without, including these stars. This resulted in me leaving behind several amazing finds, including two doors that I think would have made great sliding doors in our dining room and master bath. Sad face.

Nashville Flea MarketAnother favorite from this trip was a visit to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the center, but it was beautiful! The building was the old post office and was filled with art deco architecture and the original wood floors (which were cut ends of 2x4s). It was so pretty! We also thoroughly enjoyed the make-your-own-art section of the center and left with lots of new masterpieces. If you’re ever in Nashville, I definitely recommend stopping here for a bit!

FRISC Art Center

Before heading home, we made a quick stop in Downtown Franklin, which is always lovely. It was especially nice to see things decorated for Christmas and feel the holiday vibe there. We grabbed brunch at 55 South and did a bit of shopping before hitting the road. I could spend hours downtown!

Downtown FranklinFor the first part of the journey home, we drove down the Natchez Trace. We hadn’t been on this end of the trace before, and it was nice to see some new scenery. Eventually, we hope to travel the entire route. We made a few stops along the way to see a waterfall and the burial site of Meriwether Lewis (Lewis & Clark). The history along this route is rather interesting. Before we hopped on the Natchez Trace, we stopped for gas (and a bathroom break…I’m a joy to travel with) at another cute little general store. This one had raw woods floors and a very homey vibe. You can read my post about the gem of a general store we found on the begging of the trip here. It looks as if my new goal might be to find all of the cool general stores, and I’m totally ok with that.General Storegeneral store floorsNatchez TraceNatchez TraceNatchez TraceWe had a great time on this trip and can’t wait for the next one. If you’d like to see more from our travels, check out the travel category. You can see more of our trips to Nashville here. And if you still haven’t had enough of reading about my thrilling life, the posts from our trip to Memphis are good ones. Hopefully you’re planning some good trips for 2015. We certainly are. There’s an entire world out there waiting to be seen and explored!


Happy Thanksgiving – Take two!

Happy Thanksgiving - Take two!So, Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is in full swing. This is when I should start sharing Christmas decor galore and all things holiday related. Well, I’ll likely do that, but not just yet. I want to focus on being thankful a little more.

As I laid in bed on Thanksgiving morning, sipped coffee and read while Matthew slept peaceful beside me, I realized that I had so much to be thankful for. My Thanksgiving Day post talked about how much I love stationary and the new ABM Happy Mail program. While totally honest and true, this post was a little tongue-in-cheek. I wanted to post about something trivial and unconventional, because everyone else would be making posts about their families and such. (Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m definitely thankful for those things too.) However, I wanted my post to be different, and the timing was perfect with the release of something that I am so happy about.

While in bed Thanksgiving morning, I text back and forth with sweet friends and commented on lots of Facebook statuses and photos (something I seldom take time to do, unfortunately). Then I realized something. I was/am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to lay in bed, sip coffee (with a new creamer!) and have the time to catch up with folks I care about. I hardly ever give myself this freedom, and I loved it.

On this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for not feeling guilty for taking a day off. (I almost always do.) I was thankful for having such a huge group of people that I truly care about…even if I don’t tell them regularly. I was thankful for this house that I feel comfortable and safe in. I was thankful for the resurgence of creativity that I’ve had lately. I was thankful for how SIMPLY AMAZING this year has been for my career (more on that later). I was thankful for the ability to buy Christmas presents for my friends and family and for having made such a great start on my shopping. I was thankful for my abilities…for the things I’m both amazing at and not-so-great at. I was thankful for in-laws who welcomed me in to their family…some people aren’t so lucky. I was thankful for the realizations that I’ve had over the last year. My personal growth has blown my mind a bit, and I’m thrilled about that. I was thankful for this online space to talk about what I’m thankful for…ha!

Most of all, I was thankful for the opportunity to sit and think about all of the positive things in my life. It’s so incredibly easy to get bogged down by the negative sometimes. Having a day that’s focused on thankfulness is a good reminder to keep your life in perspective. If you didn’t get a chance to think about the things that make your life amazing, do it now! This doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) a one-day-a-year activity. We all have so many things to be thankful for, both big and small. Make a list if you need to. Turn you phone off for a bit and really sit and think about how lucky you are. If you need my help pointing out some positives, feel free to ask! I’d be happy to help you rediscover the brighter side of things.

Let’s use this holiday season to focus on how amazing our lives are and to share some joy with others. Happy Holidays! (That’s appropriate since it’s technically Christmas, and I’m still talking about Thanksgiving!)

Up next – something Christmas related, I’m sure!

December Goals

December GoalsWell, here we are! It’s the final month of 2014, and it just so happens to be one of my favorite times of the year! If you’re like me, you can hardly believe that it’s December, because it literally feels like this year just began. Nonetheless, December is here, and I’m ready to have all of the Christmas fun! Before I talk about my goals for this month, let’s review what I accomplished last month.

November’s goals were to:

  1. Purchase five Christmas presents. – Check! Actually, I bought more than five by November’s end and I don’t have many left to get!
  2. Spend a week in Nashville while working as little as possible. – Check! Well, except for that part about not working. There were a couple of issues that I had to handle from afar. However, I learned a valuable lesson this time. I need to be sure other people handle their business before I leave. Most of the issues that arose on this trip were due to someone else not handling their tasks in a timely manner. Next time I plan to go out of town, I’ll work harder to encourage others to take care of things before I leave. Nonetheless, we had a great time! (Read a little about our trip here. More to come later!
  3. Find a coffee to brew at home. – Check! I’m doing great at this! I’m still experimenting (and learning), but I’ve found a couple of creamers that I really like. I’m pleased with my progress.
  4. Review my 2014 goals. – I mentioned that I’d probably move this one to December, and I did. There was just no time for goal review in November!
  5. Finalize 2015 goals.- I wouldn’t say that these are finalized, but I did make some progress on deciding which would stay and go. I’ll continue to work on this in December.
  6. Enjoy this season. – Check! I’m happy that I gave myself a bit of a break in November. I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinners with family and prepping for the Christmas season. It’s funny though…even with less stringent goals for November, I still got a lot done!

After looking through these goals and planning for December, I decided to make most of December’s goals revolve around the Christmas season. I’m already booked up for most of the weekends in December (and lots of weekdays), so my main goal is going to be being present at all of these parties and events. This is a lovely time of year, and I want to enjoy it! Without further ado, here are my goals for the month of December:

  1. Put up two Christmas trees. I’ve had two Christmas trees for the last two years, and I’ve love it! This may prove to be a little more difficult than planned because the legs to one of my trees seem to be missing. However, I think Amanda has saved the day!
  2. Host two Christmas events at our house. We have two events already on the calendar, so this shouldn’t be a problem. I’m excited to host events at our new house!
  3. Attend at least one public Christmas event. There are a ton of great holiday events around Monroe-West Monroe, and I want to make it a point to attend at least one of them. With so many private parties and family events, this might be a little tough. In an ideal world, I’d go to every single Christmas event, but I know that won’t be possible. Instead, I made my goal a little more realistic…I want to attend at least one. (But the more the merrier, of course!)
  4. Watch two Christmas movies. We kicked this plan off by watching Elf over Thanksgiving weekend. I just couldn’t wait to get started! It’s likely that we’ll watch way more than two holiday movies, but with such a busy schedule, I didn’t want to push it. Home Alone is my next pick. What holiday movies are you hoping to see??
  5. Finalize 2015 goals. Enough with the fun stuff. It’s time to handle up on my 2015 goals. I plan to make the final list and create quarterly tracking sheets for monitoring my progress throughout the year. Can you tell that I take goal setting pretty seriously?? I even ordered this shirt from Duck & Dressing this morning. Too funny! Side note: They’re having a pretty awesome Cyber Monday sale…you should check it out!
  6. Review 2014 goals. Obviously, I’m bringing this over from last month. I mentioned before that I’m pretty much over 2014 goals. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but I do want to spend a few minutes looking back over what I wanted to accomplish and how I did. I’ll be making time for that this month.

How about you? Have you started thinking about what you’d like to do next year?  How about this month? I hope your biggest goal is to have a splendid holiday season. If you’ve started working on your 2015 goals, share them with me! I love chatting goals/plans, and I’ll be happy to check in with you throughout the year. For now, let’s drink lots of hot chocolate and make Christmas lists galore. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Click here if you want to read more about my monthly and yearly goals.


Thankfulness (6)My sweet friend Amanda made a post this week about the miscellaneous and trivial things that she was thankful for, and it made me think of similar things. I started a category here on the blog for posts to focus on thankfulness and point out things of that nature…things that truly make my life more pleasurable but aren’t your average, everyday items to be grateful for.

Thankfulness (5)Of course, we’re all thankful for our homes and cars and food and heat. We do tend to take those things for granted, but I wanted to this post to be about something smaller. Something not so fundamental that brings a tremendous amount of joy to my life. I couldn’t have made this post in a timelier manner, as I just received my first delivery of Happy Mail. You guessed it…the thing I’m thankful for today is STATIONARY!

Thankfulness (3)I mentioned my love of paper products in the post about our moving announcements, but I didn’t mention how truly thankful I am for having beautiful/funny/witty/thoughtful pieces of stationary to send to my friends, family, and clients. The release of the A Beautiful Mess Happy Mail program might have been the happiest day of my life. Ok…I’m exaggerating a bit, but seriously. I was SO. EXCITED. I was also literally bummed when I realized that my first kit would arrive while we were in Nashville. I couldn’t wait to get home and open it to start planning what I’d use these beautiful products for. This post is filled with photos of the first month’s items, but feel free to watch their video if you’d like more details.

ThankfulnessAs I was thinking about being thankful for the small things, I pulled all of these new cards/items from the gorgeously designed mailer, and this post was a no-brainer. I am truly thankful for having access to such beautiful items, and I’m thankful to have the money to purchase them. I’m thankful for a husband that lets me sign up for programs like Happy Mail. I am thankful for having wonderful people to send these sorts of things too. I am thankful for a career in which I can use personal touches like this to grow my business. I am thankful to be able to show people that I care about them with heartfelt cards. I am also incredibly thankful when I receive mail like this myself. (Send me some!) I can spend hours and hours browsing the isles of stationary and journals, and I’m so thankful that people design such wonderful things.

Thankfulness (4)Cards are how I show people that I care. They’re how I say things that otherwise might go unsaid. They’re how I try to brighten someone’s day or how I send support. Granted, this is a bit unconventional for a Thanksgiving Day post. However, I thought this would be a perfect time to share just how thankful I am for items like these that bring joy to my everyday life. I also took this opportunity to really explore what paper products mean to me. I know that I love them, but I hadn’t thought much about why. (See above.) Today, while I’m thankful for my family/friends/home/career/stability, I’m also thankful for paper products and the opportunity to receive a delivery of new items to my mailbox every month. Thank you, A Beautiful Mess!

Thankfulness (2)P.S. If you want to get on my random-card-receiving mailing list, send me your address!

P.S.S. Here’s a link to what Matthew and I were doing last Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Simmons-Wright General Store

Simmons-Wright General Store (4)Simmons-Wright General Store (3)Sometimes on road trips you stumble upon a real gem, a hidden piece of wonderfulness that you’ll remember for years to come. This trip to Tennessee offered one of those experiences right out of the gate. While passing through Alabama, we stumbled upon the Simmons-Wright General Store in Toomsuba, a location that’s been in business since 1884 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

Simmons-Wright General Store (3)Simmons-Wright General StoreThe exterior looked just as you’d expect an old general store to look. The sign out front advertised the daily lunch specials and you could see a variety of antiques through the front windows. When you entered the store, you immediately felt like you were taking a step back in time. Antiques, jellies, and plumbing supplies filled the downstairs. The signs were hand written on cardboard, and the owner sat behind the counter talking about the weather and football. The guestbook made of loose leaf paper showed visitors logging in from all over the country. You could smell lunch cooking from somewhere in the back. When we asked to use the restroom, we were given a key to a door outside that they referred to as “the outhouse.” The entire experience was very nostalgic and captivating.

Simmons-Wright General StoreSimmons-Wright General Store (4)One of my favorite memories from this quick stop was Reba McEntire’s Fancy coming on the radio. Amanda and I immediately locked eyes from across the room and erupted in laughter. That song reflects one of our earliest memories as friends, and it was so funny to see us search the store for one another as soon as the intro began.

Simmons-Wright General Store (7)Simmons-Wright General Store (2)The building was a two story establishment with an upstairs filled with antiques. I was simply amazed by the collection of old shoes from as early as the 1920s. There were books, kitchen items, games, records, and even a large collection of 8 track tapes. At one point I looked across the store and realized that we were each in a corner of the shop that was so fitting for our individual personalities. I was inspecting every pair of shoes in the vintage clothing area. Matthew was looking through the old games and records, and Amanda was scanning the old book titles. “How appropriate,” I thought! As silly as it may sound, I stood there for a minute and reveled in the idea of how different we each are, but yet so similar. Sometimes it’s little, minuscule moments like these that really bring light to the things around you.

Simmons-Wright General Store (5)Simmons-Wright General Store (6)After making a few loops through the store, I selected a vintage flag mug and made our way to the counter. (I mentioned wanting cool coffee mugs here and since receiving a few cute ones from friends, I think I might start a collection!) It wasn’t quite time for lunch, but the home-cooked food smelled amazing. Matthew got a piece of cornbread and I had a glass of sweet tea. You can’t stop at a place with home-cooking in the south and not get a glass of sweet tea!

Simmons-Wright General Store (5)The best thing about this stop was that we were searching for the next spot to take a bathroom break. We saw the sign from the interstate and decided to give it a shot, even though it was a 0.9 miles from the interstate. We couldn’t have been happier with the outcome! I think the moral of this story is to take time to “stop and smell the roses.” Sometimes taking a small detour off the beaten path can provide you with an experience you’ll cherish forever. (And tasty cornbread!) Sometimes, it’s doesn’t matter how busy your life is or how big of a hurry you’re in. Taking a minute to explore something out of your ordinary path can become a something that you’ll remember for years to come. It may end up being a bust, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Simmons-Wright General Store (2)Today I challenge you to stop at a new store. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never tried, or take a different route home tonight. You don’t have to be miles from home to try something new. It’s okay to shake things up a bit on a random Thursday. Doing something new and different can be so rewarding and is often what keeps me inspired and motivated. What can you do to mix things up today? Try something different and leave me a comment here with details. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be spectacular, I’ll still be proud of you for trying. What ideas do you have for shaking up the ordinary? I’d love to hear them!

Here’s a post from the archives with a similar message.