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.

Our DIY Fireplace Facelift

Life update: We bought a house and moved in at the end of January! It was easier said than done, as our closing date got moved last minute and blah blah,typical house buying drama. But the important part is that it all worked out in the end and we became home owners. :)

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There are so many things we love about it! It makes more financial sense to own rather than rent – our mortgage is cheaper than our rent was and it’s double the space! Plus, we get a yard! We love the freedom of being able to do what we want to make this our home. The problem? There’s so much we want to do and not enough money to make it happen! It’s okay though – we can take it slow because it’s just things we want to do to make it our own.

So, with that being said, one of our first projects made a big impact but it didn’t cost too much money. In our family room/lower level, there is a brick fireplace and mantle that takes up the entire wall. When we moved in, we knew it had a lot of potential but it needed a little work. Here’s the before photo:

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We decided to white wash the brick first. White washing is a lot easier than it sounds. You just mix 1 part water and 1 part white paint and slap it on the brick! Use a cheap paintbrush because it will be rough on your brush. We did two coats, but you can do as many as you want depending on how much brick you want showing through the paint. Make sure to get paint into all the little crevices as well.

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Next, we sanded and stained the mantle.

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The firebox still needs a little work (a little brick and mortar work and a paint job), but that will come. For now, it works.

Finally, it was time to decorate!! It took a little bit of rearranging to finally get it how we both liked it. It’s subject to change at any time, of course. ;) One of my favorite decorations is this old wooden ladder that I painted and am using it for a succulent display.

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Ah, who am I kidding?! I love every decoration from the plants to the globe to the vintage cameras. A lot of them our Moms helped us collect, which is awesome!

And last but not least….We added some string globe lights onto the mantle that we had left over from our wedding. Ryan hammered tiny staples into the mantle (very tedious work) and secured every light onto a staple (using clips that were already on the string of lights). Then he just cut the extra length off at the end. Of course, now I have to do something with that extra length he cut off – marquee light project coming soon!

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Anyway, day or night, it looks awesome if I do say so myself. ;) Now we just need some extra money for some furniture and paint in this room. The white washed brick will look even better against a wall with color.

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Giving Gifts Pt. 1

Although neither of our “love languages” are gift giving, we do enjoy giving each other gifts on Holidays. How we approach gift giving is a little bit different, however. Not only the types of gifts themselves are different, but also the way that we present the gifts. Things may even change more now that we share bank accounts and can’t exactly “hide” any purchases from one another.

She says….

I love giving Ryan gifts almost more than receiving them! After 6 years together, I feel like I know what types of gifts Ryan likes and I haven’t run out of ideas yet! Well, I should say I think he enjoys the gifts I give him – or he might be good at faking it! Either way, I usually have a gift in mind before the holiday even rolls around. A little confession ~ I had his engagement gift bought months before he even proposed! Hah. :o)

Normally, I am a mix of a practical & fun gift giver. Sometimes I can do a combination of both like a wooden spoon for the kitchen that is also a drum stick. Or lumps of coal for his stocking that is actually soap. (Yay for handmade gifts!)

However, I really enjoy giving non-practical, fun items because I know he would never buy them for himself. I also like the surprise factor that comes with it. For example ~ his engagement gift was a framed print for our room.

I especially love fun gifts for Valentine’s Day, which also happens to be our anniversary. For Valentine’s Day last year, I got him magazine subscriptions. Not exactly practical, but not totally non-functional either. I also had to make him a little Valentine’s mailbox too. ;o)

But I also know that he likes functional things – so I try to mix those in as well. For his 24th birthday, I got him a coffee grinder and electric kettle. He was sort of expecting them & of course loved them! I leave the more practical things for his birthday or Christmas.

Another more recent trend is giving him a gift that I also like or can use. Hah, I guess that comes with living together and sharing the same things. For Christmas, I got him shower curtains – which of course is practical for both of us. Oh and a scalp massager – hint – that he can use on my head!

He says….

Gift giving isn’t an area I have great expertise or experience in at all. I more closely resemble the person that would rather do something for someone or spend time with them than simply give them a gift. I have nothing against gift giving at all, I just seem to be wired differently. With that said I do have fun giving gifts, but when I have a gift to give I can’t help but be practical with it.

I hope this doesn’t sound bad, but just to show you how I think – I had a hard time getting an engagement ring for Mindy. I knew what she was after, at least had an idea. When it came to going to buy it though, I was more inclined to spend that money on business expenses like another lens or camera body. Something that had more tangible results in my mind.

Like I said, don’t take me wrong. I know the significance of her ring and what it represents, and really appreciate the symbolism. I also think I got her a nice sparkler, and it was awesome to give it. So I think I did good! I really like her ring, it just doesn’t connect the same to me.

One Valentine’s Day, I bought Mindy a wireless mouse and put it inside a chocolate box. Hah. Mindy hates chocolates anyway! If I got her chocolates I’d have to eat them all.

Now, even though you may think I hate gifts I promise I don’t. I often feel bad when people get me gifts and I haven’t even thought to do the same for them, woops! It makes me feel inconsiderate that I’m not a good gift giver. But I always come back to telling myself any relationship isn’t based around the gifts, and can’t be bought off a shelf.

With that said I do like to show my appreciation to my friends and family, just apparently not through gifts!

——

What kind of gift giver are you? Which do you enjoy the most ~ giving or receiving?

Stay tuned for Part II when we contrast our ways of presenting gifts. :)

Guide to the Perfect Cup of Coffee

We may have our fair share of differences as any couple does, but one thing that we have in common is our love of coffee. It’s our morning ritual that we share together, rain or shine. We even have a corner of the kitchen dedicated to making the perfect cup at home.  Our Starbucks gold cards are proof that it’s a frequent stop when we’re on the road. We’d probably open up our own shop if we had any spare time (ha).  Any fellow coffee lovers out there?

It’s taken us a few years to find the recipe to the perfect cup of coffee, but we think we’ve mastered it. All of our guests who visit us seem to enjoy it too. Come on by and we’ll make you a fresh cup.  :o)

Or – just take our word for it, and go ahead and make the jump! Here’s what we recommend:

1) You need some good coffee beans to begin with! We love Trader Joe’s coffee and of course, the tried & true Starbucks. Their new blonde roast is great!

2) The Adagio electric kettle – Believe it or not, boiling water will burn your coffee!  Sadly, you’re probably accustomed to the burnt taste. For the best brew, you want a water temp around 180-200 degrees. The Adagio kettle allows you to control the temperature of water and heats it up quickly.  How’d we ever live without it?!

3) The Bodum coffee grinder – Beans start going stale the minute they are ground. Do yourself a favor and grind your own beans for the freshest beans possible. With this grinder, you can adjust how much coffee you want + the type of grind.

4) The Chemex coffee maker – Set aside your automatic drip or your Keurig and use this simple piece of glass to make your coffee. No electricity required – just a paper filter. You have control of how much you make (a cup or a pot) and how strong it is.  In just a few minutes, it comes out tasting smooth with no hint of bitterness. Even our friend Carrie, who drinks coffee with her creamer, drank this coffee black.*  A how-to post coming soon!

*Add a little bit of half & half to top it off if you don’t like your coffee black.

Did we convince you yet?

Now, all we need is this coffee print for our kitchen and our coffee station will be set!

Source: etsy.com via Mindy on Pinterest