Gratitude Challenge Week 27

Well week 27 is an awkward coincidence since we are looking at yet again moving…this week I am supposed to be talking about my favorite spot in my city. I shared this funny little bit of irony with my husband and he laughed then said”are you going to blog about Babalu?”

Yes, actually, I am going to blog about Babalu. Because that is my favorite thing about Memphis. Babalu is a tapas restaurant in Memphis. They have the best guacamole I have ever had in my life. I love going and ordering three plates of food to share with my friends. The food at Babalu is fantastic and every time we go we share great food with good friends. It easily has become my go to restaurant. That’s pretty impressive since Memphis has tons of amazing restaurants to eat at. I love how many diverse food options I have to choose from. I am so grateful for a good food scene in Memphis and if we choose to leave it’s what I will miss the most.

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Gratitude Challenge Week 26

It seems that I am starting to make a habit out of this but I am behind on gratitude. It actually has been because we have been traveling to a few weddings. I decided to almost completely unplug at these weddings and just enjoy the company of old and new friends. A few weeks ago I was supposed to be grateful for someone I have met. I still cannot just chose one person. I always have believed that every person you meet teaches you a lesson. I have learned so much from everyone in my life. I have learned new meanings of love; I have learned how not to be a bad manager from a few past examples; and I have learned even how to enjoy the little things in life from others. Everyone is a learning experience if you pay attention. Instead today I am going to share a story from a wedding we were recently at. I have not yet met this person, but I am so touched by the lessons I have learned from meeting their loved ones.

We recently attended a wedding where the mother of the groom had passed away a few years prior. In honor of his mother the groom walked a single white rose to the front of the church and placed it on the alter. As the groom was handed the rose he completely broke down. There wasn’t a dry eye in the Church, in fact I am crying now as I currently type this out. It was a beautiful moment. On a day that was meant to celebrate a new beginning and love, you still saw raw real life. You saw the love between a mother and her son. You saw the sadness that she wasn’t there to celebrate, but also the pride that her son had to be marrying someone who she also would have loved.

People shared with me a few memories of the groom’s mother. I learned she had a hard life where she battled some demons and turned to some unwise vices. However while she had this personal battle, I learned she never let it ruin her relationship with her boys. She taught her boys to be thankful for what they had. She taught her boys to be loving. She taught her boys to be outstanding men. While I never met her, I met her greatest legacy, her children. The love her children have for her and the love many people had for her is something that I took away. I am so grateful to have heard such wonderful stories and to have witnessed a truly beautiful bond between a mother and son.

Navigating a Crossroads…with a Partner

This is probably an overused title for a blog post, but honestly, I don’t really care because that is exactly where I am standing in life right now. A big opportunity has just fallen into our lives. With this opportunity though comes a lot of changes. Because my blog doesn’t really have a true niche area and I have decided to take you all on my life journey with me, I figured I could write a blog post of exactly what my husband and I are talking through and thinking through (this is why I have been so absent lately). I guess you could say this is my real time relationship advice post on how to tackle a life altering decision together. Basically, it will be me almost thinking out loud.

Background: My husband is a mechanical engineer. His specialty is drivetrain engineering and power systems. I am an accountant, who has spent most of my career in different areas of manufacturing accounting. My husband and I met at our old company in a factory that we both worked at. I then moved to another state, and we entered a long-distance relationship. We got engaged after 1.5 years of dating with most of that being 8 hours apart. He then moved an hour and a half away from where I was living. We got married, and I started commuting the distance from where I worked to where he lived. It sucked, I was miserable, we made the decision to move to Memphis when we both got jobs at the same company. His position was in Research and Development as an engineering liaison, I was tasked with being controller. We were sent to Germany for three months for training with our new company. When we finally settled back down in Memphis in January, he started travelling all the time for work. He has been travelling so far 70% off the year. There have been some changes in management here, which has changed the vision of the company. While we are not 100% sure of the new vision yet, my husband has had a new job opportunity open up in engineering. This new opportunity requires a move and comes with a 30% pay increase. The kicker is I don’t have a job in that area, I have room for growth in my current position, and it’s a move to a place neither of us have ever been.

The main question we are both asking now is which career do we follow. I once received some career advice that we pondered over when we made the decision to leave our first company. This advice was: “when you leave a job, make sure you are leaving for something to get to the next level, not running from something.” Leaving our first company allowed me to both run from something and get to a new level of responsibility in my career. This was a wise decision for my career. Unfortunately, the move to the new company while not bad for my husband wasn’t the best. His current job is more focused on reporting the problem to engineering not actually engineering. However, this new opportunity allows him to be (as the hiring manager put it) “a cornerstone for the company”. This new opportunity would be the next level for him, whereas I am already on the next level here.

Not only is the new opportunity the next level for him, he is so excited about it. When he started telling me about his interview, he was gushing. I honestly laughed at him, he was as excited as a teenage girl who had been asked to the Prom by her crush. I could tell though that he was way more excited about the type of work he would be doing at this new company than the work he is doing here. Here he doesn’t have the opportunity to create and add innovations, there not only is it encouraged, it is rewarded. For a guy who already has 7 patents, he needs to be creating. On the other hand, accounting is basically accounting wherever you go, and I am not that passionate about it. There are areas of accounting that I enjoy, but I don’t dream about balance sheets.

While I am not passionate about the work I am doing, I am passionate about maintaining a good work life balance. I have a work life balance here in Memphis. I am able to do more of what I love while being here. Plus, the weather is so mild compared to where we came from in Iowa that I can even enjoy outdoor activities in the winter. On the flip side my husband is always travelling. He is always on call for customers. Basically, his work life balance is nonexistent. The new opportunity for him would require 10% travel compared to the 70% he currently is at. He would have a life outside hotel rooms once again.

It seems like a no brainer. It seems like I need to not be selfish and allow us to pack up our lives and move. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. I don’t have a job in the new place. Not only that but I don’t have enough experience in my current role to get an equivalent position. I would most likely be taking a step down in accounting. We also have to sell a house after only being in it for less than a year. That means we might take a loss on the house. Which ultimately means me not having a job would be more of an issue. Basically, our no brainer decision is really mostly can we even afford to do this? This is when it was a good decision on my husband’s part to marry an accountant…

Taking into account, all of the financial aspects (additional taxes, moving expenses, insurance expenses, job loss, renting or buying expenses, etc.) I am budgeting it all out. I am trying to figure out how long we can be with me being jobless. We also are planning on visiting the new area to see if we even like it. Whichever decision we make regarding this, we need to make sure we are making it together. We have to just keep talking, thinking what is best for us both, and deciding what we want out of life. Making lists is great for helping make those decisions, sometimes you can trust your gut, and sometimes you have to turn down something amazing, but when making that decision with someone else you have to make sure you both are on the same page. I will keep you all updated on what we decide, and what our next adventure will be!

Ten Tricks to Beat the Summer Heat with Your Dog

Rachel loves going on walks and exploring the dog park. The only issue is it is very hot here in Memphis in the summer. We have consistently been in the low 100°F temperatures with 40-60% humidity. With Rachel being a black lab, she gets hotter faster in these temperatures. We always try to be conscious of when we are out with her and how long we are out with her, but even then, she still gets hot. Below are some ways we beat the heat of the dog days of summer with her:

  1. Plenty of water – this is the most important tip! We bring a foldable bowl and two water bottles with us when we have her.
  2. Plan routes or activities later in the day – it is always the hottest from 3pm to 6pm. After those hours it starts to cool off some.
  3. Plan shady activities – if you cannot work around the hottest times of the day, make sure your walk or activity has plenty of shade.
  4. Regular brushings – Rachel sheds a lot but brushing out her undercoat of fur helps with shedding and helps to keep her cool.
  5. Feel the path – this is so important to feel the ground or path that you will be walking on. If your feet or hand cannot stand to be on the ground for 10 seconds, it is too hot for your dog. You do not want to burn their paws.
  6. Wet rag cape – this is my favorite trick we use on Rachel. I wet down one of those flour sack dishtowels, throw it in the fridge, and then drape it over Rachel when we come back inside from a walk. She loves it. I have adapted this to even have a cold bandana tied around her neck on walks.
  7. Cooling mat – pretty self-explanatory, but it is a mat she lays on that cools her down. You can get them on Amazon but ours is from Bed Bath and Beyond.
  8. Wading pool – We have a real pool, but chlorine is not good for dogs. Rachel loves the water though, so we bought a small kiddie wading pool and it is hard to get her out of it!
  9. Frozen treats – when Rachel was a teething puppy, I would put peanut butter and a little bit of water in an ice cube tray and freeze it. This helped her sore puppy gums as well as gave her a cool tasty treat. I still give her the same cool tasty treat today.
  10. Timed outings – We really try to make sure that her outings where we are running or walking fast are only 30 minutes or less.

What tricks do you have to help beat the heat with your dog?beat the heat

Gratitude Challenge Week 25

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

I sat right next to a poster with that quote on it every day in 6th grade English. I know it was used in a speech he made regarding the launch of a group looking to improve education in Africa, however like many quotes, it can easily be applied to any situation. I know people can easily take words out of context and use them for harm, but sometimes a simple quote like that can be applied to so many broader situations to help people. I really love that quote because of what it means to me, and I am not sure what I think it means is as what Nelson Mandela meant for it to mean.

With a Master of Science in Accounting and two bachelor’s degrees, I have more education than most of my immediate family. While I worked hard for my degrees and they allowed me to get a good job immediately outside of school, I still feel that I am not smart. For all my time at college I focused mostly on accounting. I paid no attention to science or public affairs really. I just kept focusing on bettering my accounting education that I lacked the knowledge of what was going on in the world. When people at work talked about the market and how new laws would affect certain areas of our business, I had nothing to input. In fact, those conversations challenged me to grow more. For me it doesn’t matter if you have the most degrees, what matters is that you never give up learning in as many areas as you can.

My Grandpa, for example, is one of the most intelligent individuals I know. He just barely finished high school, however he has worked hard his whole life. He is a farmer and by reading as many articles as he could and researching he always new when the best time to sell his corn was. Furthermore, I have witnessed him grow on even more of a personal level. He takes his time researching political decisions and understands that the world is ever changing, and his thinking adapts to the world around him. I admire that about him.

Education is important, and I am so very grateful to have had a good one, but you can be successful in the world with minimal education. I come from a small town, most of the people I grew up with never got a 4-year degree. Many of them went into a trade, however that does not make them less intelligent than myself. Most of them are even more successful than myself. It is not the level of education a person has but the desire to never stop learning which drives change in the world. That is what I believe Nelson Mandela’s quote is getting at.

Ordering Clothes Online

A review of 3 popular brands found on Facebook.

I am a sucker for a sale, and with it being wedding season I needed to refresh my dress wardrobe. I started looking online at dresses to wear, since most of the weddings we are going to are within the same friend group and many of my old dresses no longer fit. I found 3 cute cheap dresses online that had great reviews! All three of them I could wear again for work, or even wear them to other weddings. Only drawback was I had never used these companies before, so I had no idea how good their quality was…so now sit back and enjoy my reviews of a few online popular clothing companies.

Retro Stage

Retro Stage

I loved this dress as soon as I saw it. Wrap dresses are my go to dresses. They usually fit my figure well, and I thought the print was nice. I also liked that it had a high low hem which isn’t something I usually go for. It would be a great dress for one of our June weddings, and for one of the rehearsal dinners. I did some sleuth work before ordering, I looked at the reviews for the company (I could only find reviews on Facebook). I saw pictures of people in the dress though on FB. I even found the dress on Amazon being sold in other colors at a similar price. I decided to order the dress in navy from Retro Stage though since I liked the navy the best. After one month of waiting for the dress to come in, I finally saw a shipping confirmation email and my PayPal account get charged. The tracking information though on my package was in Chinese. This made me worry that I did in fact get duped by one of those fake websites that send low quality items. Afterwards I went back to re-read reviews, and literally all the comments and reviews on Facebook were removed! However my dress finally came in. It took almost a month for me to get the shipping confirmation and then another month to get the dress. The dress was shorter than I anticipated, and the seams were wavy. The hole to thread the wrap string in was lower than it should have been so it did not lay properly. While the quality could have been a lot worse, it was not worth the wait, except it was cheap. Honestly I wouldn’t order from here again.

Modcloth

Prices on this site were a bit more expensive, however I had an online coupon code! Plus, the reviews were amazing on the website, and the reviews included pictures of real customers. I felt confident ordering from this site. That is until I got my garments. I paid about $35-40 for each dress. Once I received the dresses, I wasn’t very happy with how much I had paid.  Quite honestly if I would have saw the dresses in a store I would not have purchased them unless they were $20 or less. The dresses are well made though, they all have true hems, and were true to size. My issue has been solely with how thin the material is. I will still definitely wear the dresses, and I like them both enough to not return them, but I just wonder how long they will last. I would order from Modcloth again, as long as I have a coupon.

Lime Lush

lime lush

In addition to some new dresses, I found a shirt for the summer. I know, I am trying to do a capsule wardrobe, but I need some new items to mix in once in a while and I couldn’t stop thinking about this shirt. Pus I am at that awkward in between my old size and new size situation now from working out regularly. The shirt was kind of expensive for a plain t-shirt, but the company sent me a 10% off offer. Then the shirt went on sale, so using my 10% off and the sale price I was able to justify it! The shirt shipped really fast. I loved the material, it was soft and slightly silky. Everything about this shirt was great until I washed it. Once I washed and dried it, it became misshapen and shrunk. I am currently in the process of trying to stretch it back out and that will be another blog post. I hope I can save it, because I liked the quality and still like the shirt! It was my own fault for throwing it in the drier, but I would order from them again.

Now some actual photos (except of the shirt since I ruined it in the wash)

Gratitude Challenge Week 24

Well, I am again a week off, so you will get two gratitude posts from me this week. I am not a week off due to being busy, I am actually a week off from being afraid to share this post with you all. I am supposed to be thankful for a book that taught me something. Honestly that is such a hard topic for me. I love to read and have learned so much from books. It isn’t hard for me to pick a book that has always stuck with me, but the book is what I am slightly ashamed of. I tried to think of so many other books that have taught me something such as Harry Potter, Where the Red Fern Grows, Of Mice and Men, or How to Kill a Mockingbird. But no matter what, I always went back to a book that slightly embarrasses me to choose.  No, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey…the book that has always stuck with me and taught me a lot was Ella Enchanted. It is just so weird to me that no matter how many different books I read or how much older I get, that my all-time favorite book was a version of Cinderella written for children. I want to portray myself as an intellectual and as a strong woman, so that is why it seems silly to say that is the book that taught me the most. I figured though if I picked another book and lied, that it wouldn’t be a real gratitude post and it wouldn’t be something I was proud of having written. So here I am a 28-year-old woman saying the book I learned the most from is Ella Enchanted.

I first read Ella Enchanted at 9 years old. I couldn’t put the book down! Once I finished the book I tried creating my own version of what happened next. The book just spoke to me. The reason this book spoke to me was, at 9 years old I had no confidence. I thought of myself as this fat child that was always in trouble for speaking out, and only had a talent for reading and school. Here was this book about a girl who was headstrong, she was smart, she was funny, and brave. When I failed my summer hostess class (don’t ask my mom signed me up for it…) it didn’t matter because Ella was still successful even though she was terrible at finishing school. When my best friend and I had a crush on the same boy, it didn’t matter that she was prettier, Ella got the boy by being smart and funny. As I got older, I started to see myself in other characters of the book. I was always teased by my brothers for being too empathetic and serious, like the loveable chef Mandy. When I did something without thinking and on impulse, it reminded me of Lucinda. If I was mean, I was Hattie. As I got older I realized the entire book is made up of strong willed women. All the women in the book had something to teach me. This book made the story of Cinderella more real and relatable. It took women helping women to overcome evil. It showed that people will take advantage of your niceness. It showed that women do not always support each other. It showed that sometimes a woman can save a man. It taught me learning other cultures and languages can get you farther in life. It showed that life isn’t fair, and sometimes you must let go of something you really want. The book I have learned the most from isn’t some amazingly popular, award winning book. It isn’t even age appropriate. However, it is a book that to this day still applies to my life in more ways I can count. I most likely will take it down off the shelf tonight and reread it.

 

What is a book you love? What is one you always go back to? What did it teach you? I would love to hear from you!