Woodland Baby Shower

I am finally writing this post after 7 months, but hey, better late than never! ;)

Back in May of 2013, I helped a couple friends host a baby shower for our friends Seth & Kelly. We decided to have an open-house style baby shower at our house. There was subtle “woodland” theme to match their nursery theme. The decorations were pretty simple – a few buntings and pinecones here and there. They didn’t want a traditional shower (I don’t blame them) so we did things a little different than usual.

First off, gals & guys were both invited! People could stop in and go as they please. They could enjoy a taco bar and cupcakes, chat with the parents-to-be and friends, and participate in a few activities. We even had the backyard open for older kids to play. Since it was open house style, there weren’t any embarrassing games or present opening. Instead, we had a few stations for guests. I wanted to share these ideas in case someone wanted to replicate them. I made the graphics and Carrie framed them so we could set them at each “station.”

For the guestbook, Carrie had a tree drawn with no leaves. Guests at the baby shower left their thumbprints (no signature) on the tree with a couple different colors of green. She then framed it in an awesome wood frame and added the words “You Are Loved.” This served as a neat guestbook/decoration/gift for the baby’s woodland themed nursery.

Since Seth & Kelly opted to not find out the gender of their baby until birth, we had a little gender-guessing activity at the shower. We had pre-cut pieces of scrapbook paper so people could add a link (by stapling it) to either the girl or boy chain (that we started before guests arrived). It ended up being almost equal at the end of the night!

Another fun activity we had was for guests to write a message on some diapers that we set out (with sharpies). We figured it would give Seth & Kelly some entertainment or encouragement later. :)

Kelly was due at the end of June, so we had up calendars for July and August up where guests could sign their name on a date with what meal they would like to take to Seth & Kelly. I think the only thing I would recommend is to block out the first few weeks of when the baby is expected to be there if family is going to be around helping.

By the door, we had a little favor for the guests to grab as they left. Carrie bought a bag of wildflower seeds and divided them up into little bags. On the bags, we glued a piece of scrapbook paper and then a prayer request for Seth & Kelly. The guest could plant their seeds and hopefully be reminded to pray this certain prayer for Seth & Kelly as they watched the flowers grow.

The shower was lots of fun! Overall, we wanted Seth & Kelly to know how much they are loved and how excited we were to meet their sweet baby. :)

2013 in Review

Wow… 2013 is over tonight!!! It’s been a whirlwind of a year because it’s been so busy. Overall, it was a blessed & memorable year! Moving into our first home and going on our honeymoon were the top two highlights. I definitely feel grateful for everything we were able to do. I turned 25 this year (Ryan turned 26) and we celebrated 1 year of marriage! I am looking forward to 2014, after all it has to be our lucky year with the numbers 214 in it!


Here’s some of our highlights from 2013….

Closed and moved into our first house on the south side of Indy!!!


Moving to the south side meant I was able to babysit a little for a couple of our friends’ kids – Simon earlier in the year and Harry in the fall! It also meant that we grew closer to friends and made new friendships through a small group on Wednesday nights. So grateful!



Traveled to Atlanta for my first WordCamp with Ryan.


Adopted a Corgi –  named him Jasper! Became an official traveling circus with two cats and a dog.


Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law made us an Aunt & Uncle to Aubrey in May!


Experimented with a lot of new foods and recipes (like vegetarian biscuits & gravy).


Travelled to Michigan for a wedding (only my 2nd time there!)

Went to Indiana Dunes State Park on our way back from a wedding in South Bend.


We had several visitors this year – our Moms, Ryan’s Grandparents, my cousin Darah & friends, and my Aunt Marcie! We were able to see Darah & Marcie a lot this year, and even got to see my cousin Christy & her family over Thanksgiving.

Got a new bike – Cannondale Quick 4.


Got poison ivy for the first time. Itchy memory. :(


Rid our house/lives of toxins as much as possible. Still a work in progress. We now use simple cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, and Dr. Bronner’s soap for everything from the bathrooms to the laundry to the kitchen.

Our friends Seth & Kelly had their baby Eden, and we filmed an awesome family documentary for them. Coming soon!


Went on our belated honeymoon! It was so so awesome. Road tripped to North Carolina; spent half of it in Asheville, NC and half of it in the Outer Banks of NC. That was my first time to both. Also – first time in a lighthouse. First time seeing wild horses and wild bears. First time using AirBnb (we’re hooked!). First time exploring the mountains. Probably more firsts that I’m forgetting. :)



We returned to Asheville in September for the 1st Annual Sole Hope Ambassador’s Retreat. The next month I was able to help with a huge shoe cutting party in downtown Indianapolis and meet Asher, the founder of Sole Hope. :)


Renovated our office from the ceiling to the floor! Other home improvement projects: whitewashing fireplace, tearing down the shed and building garden boxes, putting in a Nest and a new garbage disposal. 





Shot my first wedding without Ryan while he was on a WooTrip! A great friend filled in for him thankfully.


Speaking of weddings,  we filmed/photographed 16 weddings and officially focused our business on videography. We loved working alongside The Parkers at 3 weddings and met many other awesome people this year!


On the same note, we switched our gear – no more DSLRs!


The Parkers took our photos this fall!


Made gingerbread cookies for the first time (they weren’t just any gingerbread man cookies though, they were ninjas!)


Sole Hope Ambassador Retreat

September 13th-15th was the 1st Annual Sole Hope Ambassador Retreat in Asheville, North Carolina! Ryan and I were fortunate to be able to go, even though we had just been in Asheville about a month ago on our honeymoon. We went back and forth a lot on whether we could/should go, but I’m so glad that we did. Ryan was so sweet to spend his birthday at a retreat with me. :) But – I think he thought it was worth it when we snuck away and had delicious dinner & dessert in Asheville on Saturday night.

The retreat really motivated me to continue to be involved with Sole Hope – which is why I really wanted to go to the retreat. I knew it would help me feel connected and inspired. I’ll be the first to admit that I have been super busy and Sole Hope has taken the back burner. I have been an ambassador for a little over a year, and was a roll for a while making videos and graphics for Sole Hope. Now I plan to get back to that and dedicate consistent time to it again.

Before we left to the retreat, I (finally!) had my first shoe-cutting party. I’ve attended several of Ashley’s parties, but never had my own. I had it during our regular small group time on Wednesday night and the ladies loved it! Not everyone could come because toddlers & scissors may not be the best combination, but that’s okay! ;) With 6 of us, we made 13 pairs of shoes and sponsored 6 of them – yay! Everyone was already talking about having another shoe-cutting party and I’m so glad they’re on board.





I feel like I learned SO much during the short time at the retreat. We talked about shoe parties, brainstormed, and made monthly ambassador goals for the year. A professional talked to us about fundraising, a man from Uganda told about his first hand account with jiggers, and we heard about the medical clinics that Sole Hope is hosting in Uganda. We even got to video chat with Asher & Dru (the founders) in Uganda! With every session and discussion, we were able to ask questions. Oh and – we took a barefoot hike -uphill on rocks, sticks, etc – to put ourselves in the place of the shoeless. It was eye opening and painful! The trip ended with a “tour” of the Sole Hope office in downtown Asheville.

This week I will be helping with a huge shoe-cutting party at the Influence Conference in downtown Indy. I’m really excited about that and excited to continue to spread the word about Sole Hope. :)

Right now Sole Hope is trying to raise funds to buy more sewing machines and hire more shoemakers in Uganda. A sewing machine costs about $1,000 and will enable Sole Hope to produce and give away even more shoes. Consider buying this t-shirt from Chrome Buffalo and $11 will go to Sole Hope. The fundraiser ends in one week.


Shed Demolition & Garden Bed Creation


When we bought our house, it had a huge, ugly shed in the backyard that was falling apart. We asked the sellers if they would remove it after our inspector said it wasn’t worth keeping, especially with all the termite damage. However, they denied our request, as they must’ve thought it was in good shape because they had just repainted it (a horrible paint job, may I add). The shed had an addition that didn’t even have a floor and was never built correctly. What would we have used it for anyway?! We have a huge addition on the back of our garage that is great for storage and it opens to the backyard. The shed was just an eyesore in our backyard – and pointless. So.. we thought we would  knock it down, haul it out, and be done with it. Easier said than done. :)

You know how things never go as planned with home projects…. Well, demolition was fun at first and then became a pain. Poor Ryan was really sore from swinging the sledgehammer and axe. We thought we could rent a moving truck and take everything to the dump and it would be cheaper than renting a dumpster. Well, after renting the moving truck and throwing a bunch of the shed in there..we found out 1) it wouldn’t all fit in there and 2) it would cost $200+ to take it to the dump. The plan failed big time. I guess that’s what we get for planning poorly and trying to a take a shortcut.

So we unloaded everything out of the truck, took the truck back, and rented a dumpster. Take our advice – just rent the dumpster. ;) Oh and we even burned a little bit of it because the dumpster wasn’t quite big enough. Go figure. We also gave away the huge roof that was on the addition of the shed. It felt good to finally get everything in the dumpster and have a huge area of our yard back.

With the newfound space, we decided to build six 4×4 raised garden beds. The size of the garden boxes was determined by what size boards fit into our car. ;) At the time, my cousin and her friends were visiting so they actually kind of took over the building of the garden boxes. That was so awesome and helpful!!!

We secured them into the ground and our yard took on a much better look!! We wanted to get dirt and start a somewhat late garden (in June), but then that was a huge expense to buy it and have it delivered. So instead, we thought we’d find some free dirt on Craigslist (yes, that is listed a lot from people building pools, etc), rent Menards pick-up and go get some free dirt. Well.. unfortunately we never got around to it. Plus we were gone a lot over the summer and didn’t want our garden to dry up. So – next year – we will have six awesome raised garden beds with a bountiful harvest! Wishful thinking?! :)

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Aunt Mindy & Uncle Ryan!

As of yesterday, we are officially Aunt Mindy & Uncle Ryan! Ryan’s brother and his wife welcomed their first baby, Aubrey Marie, into the world! She was a perfect and healthy 8 lbs and 20 inches long! We cannot wait to meet her when we go back home and visit! We’re so happy for their new little family. I love how proud Ryan’s Mom is as Grandma too. :)

Look how cute and sweet she is…





Cooking Inspiration

Ever since I caught the (respiratory) flu two and a half weeks ago, I’ve been in a cooking and eating funk. I kind of lost my appetite and desire to cook. When I was feeling really yucky, I ate vegetable soup and oatmeal. Once I started feeling a little bit better, the only thing that sounded good was cereal and nuts (which always sounds good to me). We even got some delicious pizza one night and it really wasn’t that great to me.

Yesterday we made our weekly/bi-weekly trip to Trader Joe’s. That’s our regular shopping spot even though it’s about 30 minutes from us. When we were making a list and meal planning, nothing sounded good to me. Honestly, I just wanted to buy frozen convenience meals and call it good. Well after some bickering between Ryan and me, we finally decided on a grocery list. We were also starving and grouchy while making this list and that’s never a good idea. Hah.

Here are a few items that are usually always on our list… I always think it’s interesting to see what other people buy.

  • Mac & Cheese
  • Bananas
  • Cheese
  • Pistachios
  • Cereal
  • Coconut Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Crackers
  • Salsa
  • Tortilla chips
  • Black beans
  • Vegetable broth
  • Bread

We ended up filling our cart to the brim this time around. Of course, we ended up getting a few more things than what was on our list. ;) Like a chocolate bar filled with cookie butter (OMG), frozen vegetable samosas, and orange juice.

Last night we had breakfast for dinner. I made egg, veggie sausage, cheese on a biscuit and oh my goodness, did it hit the spot! I was so happy that something actually tasted good. Not only that, but the veggie sausage helped satisfy my craving for meat. It tasted like real sausage and had the same texture (Morning Star brand). Ryan made fun of me for enjoying my “Egg McMuffin” so much. Hah.

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With our leftover biscuits, I made mushroom gravy today for breakfast. This was my first time making mushroom gravy and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out! I used the gravy recipe from A Beautiful Mess. I tried mushroom gravy and biscuits at a restaurant in Louisville a few months ago and I couldn’t believe how good vegetarian gravy was! I really recommend it.

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Tonight we are going out to dinner with friends for Mexican food. YUM! For the rest of the week, we have a few dinners planned: veggie burgers, tempeh sloppy joes (will be my first time making these), and vegetable and noodle soup. For easier/lazier meals, we can do mac & cheese, grilled cheese, pb&j, etc. For snacks we have: crackers and cheese or peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, chips and salsa, nuts, and carrots and ranch dressing.

Grocery shopping and meal planning helped inspire me to cook and eat again. I think we have a good plan for the week. :)

Detoxifying Our Home

We’ve been on a mission to rid our home of toxic chemicals! It was one of those darn documentaries that inspired us again, ha. ;) We watched Chemerical back in the winter and have been detoxifying our home and learning more ever since. We chose to detoxify because it is safer for us, the environment, and easier on the checkbook!

Do you feel overwhelmed by the cleaning supplies aisles at the store? Not only by the variety of products and the high prices, but also the smells too? There seems to be a different cleaning product for every surface in your house and that can get expensive! Not only that, but almost all of them are toxic to us either through touch, taste, or simply breathing them into our lungs. For example – why would you eat off of a plate or wear a shirt that was washed with toxins? It doesn’t really make sense to me why we would pay all that money for products that poison us and the environment. The only reason I still go down those aisles is for a good brush, sponge, or mop!

I’m happy to report that we have replaced almost all of our toxic products, from cleaning supplies to personal care items. It was more of a gradual process for us. The very first thing we did was get natural bars of soap for the shower – ones with no artificial fragrances or unnecessary chemicals. Isn’t it sad that plain ‘ol soap can be tainted with toxins?! Ugh.

Since then, we have replaced our shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, face wash, lotion, etc. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s, as they have some awesome products! I still want to experiment more with these items and find even better and simpler solutions. We are also still working on finding a safer anti-perspirant/deodorant and makeup for myself. Makeup is a tough one so I really just haven’t been wearing it much at all.

For cleaning, sometimes all you need is soap, water, and a sponge. Who knew?!  Vinegar and baking soda are miracle workers as well. So simple, yet so effective. I have a spray bottle with one part vinegar to one part water and lemon essential oil in it. I use that for kitchen and bathroom counters and make a similar mixture to mop floors. I scrub toilet bowls with baking soda and scrub the shower with vinegar. Another product you could use is grapefruit seed extract and water. I use it for a produce cleaner, but it can be used to disinfect almost everything.

We have been using Trader Joe’s laundry and dishwasher detergent, but I am about to make my own! I bought the supplies and now I just need glass jars for them. Laundry soap will be: grated (pure) soap and washing soda, plus vinegar for the softener. NO dryer sheets – only lavender bags for smell. Dishwasher detergent will be: salt, washing soda, citric acid and vinegar for the rinse aid. If you want to clean your dishwasher or washing machine – just run a cycle with vinegar.

Like I said, I use lemon essential oil for the clean smell and because it’s also a disinfectant. You can also use tea tree oil as a disinfectant (which I should do!) There’s tons of essential oils out there that have many benefits and great, natural scents! I use lavender everyday on myself actually. :)

Don’t take my word for it. Do some research and experimenting. Here’s a great article on natural cleaning solutions to get you started! Give it a try and your home will feel fresher and cleaner than before!