Tag Archives: Amanda

Ten Years!

Amanda 2008Amanda 2009Amanda 2010Amanda 2011Amanda 2012Amanda 2013Amanda 2014Amanda 2015It has officially been 10 years since I met my very best friend. (For the record, I have two best friends and I can call each of them my “very best friend” at any point. You have to keep up.) Amanda Quimby and I met at Old Navy. We were both part of the opening staff in Monroe, LA and spent many, grueling hours getting that store ready to open.

Since Old Navy, we’ve gone through what feels like a million different life stages together. We’ve done the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried. We’ve became adults right alongside one another and pushed each other along when we didn’t want to “adult” anymore. I’m beyond thankful to have such a fantastic, loyal friend, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years hold for each of us. I have a feeling it’s going to be awesome!

For the last several years, Amanda and I have celebrated our Frieniversary. (If you aren’t celebrating a Frieniversary, with your friends, you’re definitely missing out!) In honor of our 10 year milestone, I collected a photo of us from each year since 2008. We actually became friends in 2005. That was before cell phone cameras were a thing, so I’d have to dig a little deeper for those photos. (That definitely makes me feel old..) Happy 10 years, Amanda!

Photos are arranged in date order…2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015!



100 Days of Making

(photo via The Great Discontent)

When I saw details for #the100dayproject  (via EliseJoy),  I knew I had to participate! I’m always the first to get behind any sort of daily challenge. (I’m also probably the first to fall behind half way through…no judging!)

The premise behind this project is that you make something daily for 100 days. Can you just imagine what all you could get done by making something every day for 100 days?? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make something or do something…I just knew I wanted to participate somehow.

#100DayProjectI actually had quite a bit of trouble deciding which project I wanted to tackle. I made a rather lengthy list and then deliberated for hours on what to do. By deliberated, I mean practically stressed over it and sent waaay too many text messages to Amanda for her opinion.

Nonetheless, I finally made a decision! I decided to go with 100 days of crafty things! I wanted something that had a bit of flexibility, so I left my topic a bit open ended. (I didn’t want to have to work on the same type of project every day.) As of right now, I envision my daily tasks being a variety of things. Some days I’ll paint. Some days I might finish decorating an area of my home, make something new, or learn a new, crafty skill.

Regardless of what actual task I complete each day, my focus is to actually do something fulfilling each day. Most days I am completely exhausted by the time I get home from work, and I tend to put off all of the fun projects I’d like to do. By participating in the 100 days project, I’m hoping to reserve a bit of time each day for creating/doing something fun.

gift wrappinghandmade braceletCinderella quoteWhat have I done so far?
Day 1: wrapped a wedding present and made a gift tag for it
Day 2: made a bracelet
Day 3: doodled a quote from Cinderella for my mirror
Day 4: I’m planning to work on some crafty Lovely Lady Letters!

Think you might like to participate? It’s not too late! Go to the site and register. The project continues until July 14, 2015. You can play catch up if you’d like, skip a few of the first days, or continue on past July 14….whatever your heart desires! If you do decide to participate, let me know! I’d love to follow along.

If you’d like to keep up with what I’ll be doing through this project, you can follow #100daysofcraftythings on IG (@pamelapetrus). Happy crafting!

It’s My Birthday!

Bread PuddingLast week (January 9), I turned a whopping 29 years old. This post is somewhat of a recap of my birthday festivities. I’m a huuuuge birthday person. I proudly celebrate birthday weeks (sometimes months), and I take them very seriously.

Funny story: Once upon a time, my best friend gave an ex boyfriend a copy of The Breakup for Christmas. Attached was a note that read, “This is Pamela’s favorite movie. Also, here’s a tip…her birthday is a huge deal. Don’t forget that or you’ll most certainly ‘break up.'” I thought it was so clever and simply hilarious. He didn’t….which is probably why we broke up.

Birthday Eve Ice CreamThis year, however, was different. I wasn’t as excited as usual about my birthday, and it took quite a bit to get me in the mood. I attribute some of this to not feeling well and being incredibly tired. I also think that I’m so pumped about my 30th birthday, that this one feels a little blah. (I’m totally expecting my 30s to rock…not dreading that birthday at all!) Nonetheless, I finally got excited as the day rolled around. On Thursday, Matthew and I finished up work a little early, so we got ice cream, ran a few errands, and did a bit of shopping. I counted this as my birthday eve celebration, and it definitely helped me get in the mood.

It's My Birthday!

Social Bites CupcakeOn Friday, I woke up to tons of messages and facebook posts and that made me so excited! (Seriously, if you took time to message me, I totally appreciate it!) I headed over to Ruston and had lunch at one of my favorites, Beau Vines. That lemon cake is amazing! Amanda surprised me with my first Social Bites cupcake! After lunch I went for a quick massage, and then met a few folks for dinner at Cascio’s Tavern.  (The parmesan chicken and blackened chicken pasta are my favs there.)

Possibly the highlight of my birthday weekend is that my long term best friend, Naomi, got to come for a visit. I most definitely don’t get to see her enough and was thrilled that she got to come spend a few days with me for my birthday. Saturday, I had to work for a bit and then Naomi and I did some shopping. (I bought some Minnetokas from Salt & Pepper that I’m soooo excited about.)

Birthday CakePajama Party CrewBirthday Cake Saturday night, a few friends came over for a pajama party at my house. I had a million plans for this pajama party but didn’t really get to implement many. Instead, I decided that my birthday reward to myself would be to invite people over to a less-than-perfectly-clean home that still has Christmas decor up and not stress over that. I didn’t get to do many of the cutesy things I had planned, but I did get to take a breather and spend some time catching up with friends and watching girly movies. For the record, adult pajama parties are the way to go. We’ll be doing this again soon!

I’ll tell the next portion of my birthday story, solelyto make you feel good about yourself. Seriously, if you’re feeling a little down today, you should read on. It’s bound to lift your spirits. I’d like to say that we wrapped up my birthday weekend by arriving on time and perfectly dressed to my family birthday dinner on Sunday. Not quite. Instead, we arrived to family birthday dinner (hosted for me by Matthew’s parents) 40 minutes late with me rocking greasy hair and no makeup. Why is that, you ask? I put it on my calendar for the following Sunday. If I were being completely honest, I’d tell you that Matthew and I considered wrecking our car on the way over, just so the family might feel sorry for us and forget about the fact that we totally screwed up. I tell this story in a joking manner, but I felt absolutely horrible. I guess if there’s any party that it’s ok to show up late to, it would be your own birthday party. Lesson learned. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my schedule from now on.

The celebrating even stretched into Monday, as I had lunch with my real estate team at Waterfront Grill (and ate that amazing bread pudding shown above). Speaking of my real estate team, I stopped by the office to find 20+ of these “Happy Birthday Pam” signs spread throughout the office. On the front door…the coke machine…strategically placed on the top of the trash can…you name it.  However, my name isn’t Pam. It’s Pamela – all day, every day. I enjoyed searching for the signs, but if anyone starts calling me Pam from these signs, I might have to murder a coworker. (Thanks for thinking of me, Shane.)

All in all, I had a good weekend. I enjoyed time with friends and family and felt so thankful to have so many show that they cared. I didn’t do this birthday in my usual birthday style, but it’ll still go down on the books as a success. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

To-Do Notebook

Tennessee5Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much always going 90 miles an hour. I seldom slow down, and I always have a million irons in the fire. As I get older, I’m trying to really get a grasp on my daily life in order to take it a little easier on myself and eliminate as much stress from my life as possible. I hope that you’ll do the same because stress is really, really bad for you.

One thing that I’ve spent the last year or so working on is mastering my to-do list. One of the major productivity methods suggests that you write down every little thing that you need to do instead of just trying to remember things. It maintains that by not writing these things down, you force yourself to try to remember them wasting valuable brain space and increasing your stress levels. Once upon a time I was the person who never used a calendar or wrote out a grocery list…I did it all from memory. I shiver at that thought now!

Throughout this process, I’ve tried several different ways of organizing my life. I’ve used list software like Wunderlist. I’ve read pages and pages on processes like the Getting Things Done method. For a while, I used a combination of methods along with Wunderlist, and it actually worked pretty well for me. However, I soon fell off the wagon and quit using my newly developed system. I no longer had a grip on my days, and I didn’t have the desire to pick my old method back up. Then, I started using a little notepad to track my daily activities, and I felt in control again. Using this little notebook to keep track of what I need to do each day has made a profound difference in my productivity and stress level. Today, I’m going to tell you a little about my current productivity system and my beloved to-do notebook.

Tennessee5First, let’s talk about my requirements for a notebook of this type.

  1. Spiral Binding: I like my notebooks to be spiral bound so they stay open easily by themselves. I can’t stand when a book closes when I don’t want it to!
  2. Size & Weight: I carry this notebook with me at all times, so it needs to be lightweight and not too large. Most of the times I prefer something around a 5×7 size…it’s not too big and not too small and can easily slip in my purse.
  3. Paper: I do not like recycled paper. (I know, shame on me.) In theory I’d love recycled paper, but in most cases certain pens and highlighters will bleed through the paper and that can make a mess quickly! The pages must also be lined…it just makes sense!
  4. Cover: The book itself needs to be very durable since I’ll be using it daily for months at a time. Furthermore, I need it to be fun and cheery. This book is what motivates me to accomplish my daily tasks every day. A boring, plain book is simply not going to do that for me.

Tennessee5-3I’m pretty sure that you don’t know many other people who are so peculiar about a notebook. You should discuss daily planners with my friend, Amanda, if you think I’m crazy! Honestly, I’ve learned a ton about productivity and organization from her, so don’t judge!

So now that we’ve thoroughly discussed my qualifications for a to-do notebook, let’s talk about how I use it. I have a few different to-do list pages. I have daily to-dos and overall to-dos. (While I’m referring to them as to-dos all throughout this post, I don’t actually use that term in my notebook. That term is known to cause some anxiety itself. I haven’t settled on another name for them yet, but “to-do” is never written in my notebook.)

The overall to-dos are things that I need/want to do eventually but aren’t time sensitive. For example, cleaning out the pantry and selecting a new rug would be on this list. These items don’t have to be done today or tomorrow, but I do want to get around to them soon. It’s important to write these sorts of things down because otherwise they’re clogging up your brain space and can cause anxiety when you suddenly remember that you needed to do something like pick up the dry cleaning. Ideally, you would transfer items from this list on to the daily lists as time permitted. You should reference this list often to be sure you’re working towards the things you want to accomplish. Be sure to understand that this isn’t the place where miscellaneous tasks go to die…it’s more like the waiting room.

Daily tasksThe meat of my to-do notebook is my daily to-do items. Each day I have a page where I write the day and date as a header. It’ll say, “Thursday, February 7th” on the top and that page will include everything that I need to accomplish on that day. One of the important things that I learned during my productivity research is to not write down big goals. Instead, your list should be full of smaller items that can be accomplished quickly. For example, your list wouldn’t include painting the bedroom. Instead, it would include taping the edges, picking a paint color, buying paint and supplies, covering furniture, etc. Nothing should go on your list that isn’t a specific action itself. Therefore, my daily lists contain items like sending a contract to a client, returning a phone call, etc. I put any and everything on there that I need to remember with the goal being to not retain any of that in my head. I even include calendar items there like “lunch with Sheila,” but that’s mainly for the satisfaction of marking it off after lunch.

Lists, lists, listsThe goal of this notebook is to keep me from forgetting important things, but it has so much more value than just that. It frees up my brain to focus on more important things than trying to remember what 17 things I had to do today. It also helps me to stay focused and productive. More importantly, it reminds me of just how hard I worked that day. I’m quite the workaholic and I struggle with guilt issues on a daily basis. When I wrap up a day with a full page of items crossed off, I can remind myself that I worked hard today and I deserve to take the evening off. I can remind myself that even though the day may have been chaotic, I still knocked it out of the park and got a lot accomplished. The value of this little notebook has surpassed what I ever thought possible, and while I may switch to another system eventually, this method knocks my socks off right now.

What system do you use to organize your to-do lists and stay productive? As you know, I’m very goal driven, so talking about productivity methods gets me excited! I’d love to hear about how you handle daily tasks…please share!

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!

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!


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.

What We Wore: ’90s Palooza

90s OutfitsLittle excites me more than ’90s music, so when Amanda invited us to come along to a ’90s Palooza last fall, we jumped at the opportunity! To make this event even more amazing, ’90s attire was required. Costumes and ’90s music…what could be more fun??

As usual, I waited until the night before to start getting my outfit together. Turns out, I had a much harder time than anticipated. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the disaster in my closet. I eventually settled on something and created a ’90s look from high-waisted cutoff Levi’s (that didn’t actually fit me) and a velvet crop top…oh, how I love velvet! I was rather brave to show my midriff, especially without a tan, but when a ’90s event comes around, you gotta make the most it! I’ve been looking for an excuse to wear that sequined choker…this was the perfect moment!

Matthew ripped up some old jeans, wore a flannel shirt unbuttoned, and a hat backwards. It took me a long time to get used to his new look…it was like I was back in middle school! Also, be sure to notice that hemp necklace I snagged at Goodwill. Amanda looked a little more “put together” than me. She wore shorts with tights and combat boots, a denim vest, and flannel…the epitome of ’90s grudge.

90s OutfitsOne of the highlights of the night was running into the Spice Girls!! You would have thought that they were the real deal if you saw how excited Amanda and I got over them. The Spice Girls are definitely on the top of the list of things I miss from the ’90s.

90s Palooza

Matthew, Amanda, and I are known to have a barrel of fun together, but we certainly enjoyed this evening at the Dixie Center for the Arts. We’re already planning for next year and can’t wait for more ’90s attire, good times, and fun music!

This sound like an event you’d enjoy? Feel free to join us this year!
Warning: you’ll leave with a sore throat from screaming your favorite songs. It’s all part of the experience.

Puzzles & Pajamas

I wrote this post several months ago (as you’ll be able to tell by the fuzzy pajama pants), but I never got around to posting it. However, after a slight mental breakdown on Sunday night, I decided this message was relevant again. I suddenly realized that I haven’t taken a day or even a few hours off, since I started this new real estate career. I was both mentally and physically exhausted, and I didn’t even see it coming. Finally, I realized that I have to be just as diligent in giving myself a break as I was when I was running Salt & Pepper. Therefore, I decided to come back to this unpublished post. It’s as much as a reminder for me as it is to share with you guys. So here it goes…

Puzzles in pajamasI have a habit of putting off things that I want to do in an attempt to accomplish more of what I have to do. Problem is, I’ll never finish everything on that must-do list, which means I’ll never feel like I can let myself have a little fun.In this post, I mentioned several little things that I wanted to do (like this blog) and said I was going to make a better effort to actually let myself do some of them. And I have!

One of those little things was wanting to put together a puzzle. My mom and I did puzzles all the time as a kid, and I loved them! I bought a puzzle probably 3 years ago and haven’t given myself the go ahead to do it at any point over the past 3 years. How sad is that?!

Soooo…I finally decided that life was too short to keep putting things off and made a goal to put my puzzle together. Turns out my BFF also enjoys doing puzzles! (We’ve been friends for almost 8 years. I can’t believe I didn’t know this already.) The puzzle I had was of a man and little boy propped up against a tractor in a field….not very exciting. Needless to say, we ended up with a whole lot of green pieces that all looked the same. Ultimately, I decided that “life is too short to waste time on miscellaneous greenery” and bought a new puzzle. (Amanda will appreciate this because it’s the exact text I sent her when I decided to give up on puzzle #1.)

Matt & I stumbled upon a cool Las Vegas puzzle, and it was perfect because Amanda and I had just returned from Vegas. We needed a good place to start the puzzle (other than my dining room table like before) and we didn’t have a big box or any of the other puzzle tricks, so Amanda jokingly suggested rolling up the living room rug and then rolling it back over the puzzle when we are done for the day. It was one of those moments where we all laughed and then simultaneously looked at each other because it was a great idea!

puzzle piecesfinished productWhile this puzzle story seems a little useless and trivial, it was actually a big turning point for me. A point where I decided that in order to stay sane and enjoy this ole life of mine, I’m going to have to sprinkle in things that I enjoy among the things life requires. Rather than puzzles waiting, clean baseboards can wait. Laundry can wait. It can all wait…and give me the opportunity to have a little fun. I already have my next puzzle lined out, and I will make a diligent effort to begin working on it as soon as possible.

Andy Warhol puzzleAre there any fun things you’ve been putting off? You’ll be amazed at the refreshing feeling that comes after you make a little time to enjoy yourself. What sort of fun activities have you been putting off? Leave a comment!