Monday, August 26, 2013

The Spare Bedroom Project: Part 1

Yikes...I know it looks really bad but this is our "toss all storage room."  We need to turn it into our spare bedroom for when we have visitors so we got to rearranging and organizing!  I couldn't help but look at all of the things that were actually in the room since our move from California.

 Box from Marshall's...

 Convenient for carrying all of my paint and some crafting needs.

 Badger baby booties which were part of a deployment promise that Ryan and I made to each other. I kept one and he took one to Afghanistan to remind him not to take too many risks because I wanted him safe at home to start a family.

 What Ryan carried in his baby booty while deployed.

 When I joined my sorority, we were given "Bigs" which are kind of like mentors.  Our Big reveal was a scavenger hunt with clues throughout the house and I saved mine from my Big.

 Each of her clues were so cute and creative!

 One of deployment mementos from when Ryan was in Afghanistan.

 A stuffed animal box filled with memories!
Bucky Badger (so maybe Becky...) in a wedding dress is from my sorority sister and childhood friend Jenny.  She is one of the sweetest people I could have ever met and she made me this Build-a-Bear and a scrapbook before Ryan and I got married.  The Marine bear was when Ryan was stationed at Camp Pendleton and was part of a photoshoot that I did for Ryan before he went on his second deployment.  One of my friends did a photoshoot when her partner was deployed and she used this popular bear in her pictures.  It turned out so fricken cute, that I wanted one immediately. I look so young but remember, I was 21 :P

 I picked this up at Michael's (on sale!!) and it's the Wedding Edition of the Smash Books Collection.

 If you've never used or heard of a Smash Book, it's a way to keep mementos in a very casual scrapbooking fashion.  You're provided with a glue pen and you can buy additional accessories.  It's meant for pictures, ticket stubs, concert bracelets, etc. 

 I picked it up because I want to use it to plan our wedding vow renewal because we never had a big ceremony with our family and friends.  Although I love love love Pinterest, I really liked the idea of having a tangible account of some of the ideas that we like and maybe even inspired by Pinterest.

 Then I came across my Catholic Teen Bible which traveled with me to conferences, to college, and went to so many worship services.  I have a thing for Bibles and I just really like picking up different editions.  People have suggested so many different Bible studies and I really want to start up on one again.

 Of course it wouldn't be a cleaning fest without coming across Christmas decor :)

 I have a huge collection of books on our first floor but I even have an additional tub of books upstairs, many of them being absolute favorites of mine :)

 Holly was clearly very busy helping me ;)

 And here is my gratitude journal which I referred to in my post, Practically Imperfect in Every Way or My Flaws Through the Use of GIFs.

I think this is the perfect way to end this post because we can't wait to put this room together.  We are blessed with extra space in our home to welcome family and friends as guests and we can't wait!

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Sunday, August 25, 2013


Y'all I need your help!  
My blogging goal right now is to reach 300 followers on Bloglovin.  That can be pretty tough since many blogs out there cater to one specific crowd or the Holy Grail of em all...aka the Lifestyle Blogs.  I feel like The Simplicity is a dash of a Lifestyle Blog with some activism wearing a fiery bra of women's rights and maybe some DIY because I love sparkles.  

With that said, I really do want to up my readership.  I've read probably every blogging eBook out there, and many of them from the greats!  However, a lot of the stuff included in them are things that I already know about.  I really would like to hear from the people who visit my blog but maybe don't leave a comment.  What would you like to see improved on my blog?  Is the font too small?  Is something difficult to read?  Are there topics you would like me to cover more?  Should I use more pictures?  

I also would like to start sponsoring again but I don't want to waste my time.  I'm also kind of just figuring out the new Passionfruit Ads dealio (any good posts on what's going on with that?).  The biggest blogging tip is that you can't just simply be hanging out in the sidebar, you gotta get some individual post action.  The problem is that people tend to get annoyed with guest posts.  Have you sponsored a blog and received fabulous results?  I've done the $20+ ads before but really just got stuck in the sidebar and it didn't do me much good.  I'm really aiming for $5-$15 range with a blogger who is attentive to those who sponsor him or her.  If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them! 

Feel free to post below, leave a comment on Instagram, or send an e-mail to!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Creating Your Own (Olli)Blocks with Caravan Shoppe

Despite not having children, Ryan and I love kids and we're especially looking forward to the first birthday of Halo, the little girl of one of our good friends.  The thing about being a blogger in this big ol' bliggety blog world is that you become introduced to so many awesome kid products.  I feel like I'll be fully prepped in terms of baby products, baby showers, and the best stuff out there whenever Ryan and I have our first kid.

One of these awesome shops that I've come across is Caravan Shoppe.  It's a site that offers a ton of printables for purchase and the best part is that they're super affordable!  I've stocked up on printables for Christmas and I also really love their Olliblocks.  They're these mix-n-match printables for blocks that allow kids to use their imagination.  I love them!

This is not a paid review, nor was I given these products for free.  I found their shop, really like the type of products they have for sale and I think it's something for your $$.
 I purchased the Winter Olliblocks combo pack and the Monsters & Superheroes pack.

 Upon purchase, I was sent an e-mail with the printable files.

 I then prepped with Matte Mod Podge, 1.5" wooden blocks which I got off Amazon, scissors, a small paint brush, and the printables.

The two biggest labors of this project is the cutting and then pasting- it's really that simple!

 Caravan Shoppe provides instructions with their printables and they're incredibly easy to follow.  Heads stay on the same block, toes on the other block, etc.

I had my pieces laid out and waiting as I added Mod Podge to each of the blocks in nice even coats.

 Then I added the pieces to each block and added another coat of Mod Podge.

 Here are some of the monsters from the Monsters & Superheroes Collection.

 The Winter Olliblocks are just as cute and I just love the reindeer and nutcracker!

 I highly recommend this product! The only thing I would have done differently would be to get them printed at a print shop instead of my home printer.  However, these printables were done on my home printer and they look great still so it's really up to the crafter on his or her preference.  I'll let y'all know how Halo, the birthday girl, likes her gift =]

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Friday, August 23, 2013

I Got Married at 21 When Everyone Else Was Getting Chocolate Wasted

Our first New Years where he wasn't deployed and he falls this is what happened #marriedlife
While perusing through the blog posts of Avoiding Atrophy, I came across a post called Progressively Married at Twenty-Two.  Shock and surprise, I got married at 21 and I immediately clicked on that link to read more.  I totally understood what she covered in every aspect of her post.  One part particularly resonated with me,
Avoiding AtrophyThroughout our first year of marriage, it has become more and more clear that there exists a kind of quasi-prejudice against women who marry out of college. It’s not so strong that it keeps us from getting work (unless you want to be a nanny for that one lady’s kids, I guess) or that it infringes on any basic human rights, but it is enough to make me, and others like me, feel sort of dismissed.
I totally understood where she was coming from.  I'm finally at an age where the rest of my friends are starting to become engaged and some of them even have kids.  However, I soon found myself unable to attend events or was just at a different point in my life because I was married.  Basically I wasn't heading to Kollege Klub to get wasted and pick up a football player.
Being in the military kind of created more of a safe space for those who are young and married.  It was a quality of military life that I really appreciated but when you return to "civilian" life, it does become very apparent how young you are and how other people your age are getting wasted chocolate wasted.

Christy from Avoiding Atrophy also introduced in that same post, a different author named Lauren Ambler, who wrote a post called I Married Young and I'm Ashamed of It.  It was one of those articles that resonates with you because it is that offensive.  To sum it up here's a tidbit from her post:
In fact, our marriage is largely a secret. I’m desperately afraid I’ll be lumped in with other child brides: chastity ball pledges, Mrs. degree recipients, aspiring housewives, shotgun wives and wedding attention seekers. I’m keenly self-righteous in my girl power. I have a college degree and no particular passion for gift registry small appliances (I’ll struggle on without a stand mixer and a wok, thank you very much).
I could understand Lauren's concerns with marriage at a young age, however, her post quickly hit a downward spiral and every aspect of her article caused me to wonder about her husband.  If I was her life partner, I would have been so humiliated to read that article, especially since it is dripping with her dislike of the sanctity of marriage.  Essentially they're openly dating but got married because of his visa.  So instead of saying we're openly dating because of these circumstances, she belittles people's choices to get married.  I was born outside of the United States and I definitely have some understanding of how marriage can be a large influencing factor when your partner isn't a U.S. citizen.  I didn't want to judge her because so many young couples have those moments where they feel really concerned about getting married young but I also identify as a feminist and she does everything in which a feminist would not do in this situation.
Marriage to me is a hangdog word of household drudgery and sexual captivity or the first chapter of divorce. It is also supposedly sacred to conservatives and all things the right wing holds holy -- school prayer, sexual ignorance, tyranny over ovaries -- I don’t want anything to do with it. That notion of marriage is far too serious, weighing down relationships with a religious and legal burden of “specialness.” 
I feel like this was such a slap in her partner's face.  Maybe her husband wasn't offended by this but in my opinion, I honestly felt like she was feeding into the concerns of other people, instead of focusing on her own marriage.  She belittled every other young marriage, besides her own, and proclaimed to her friends that they can still do drugs around them.  She got married for convenience, and people do that (totally understand), but we are still going through issues of equality in marriage and for her to belittle the existence of an opportunity to get married was definitely NOT okay by me.  The comments to that article definitely ripped her a new one, but my favorite said:
22 is not a child bride. I was married at 20. Still not a child bride. If you love this guy what is there to be ashamed of? For me, I really believe that feminism is freedom OF choice. To be married, or not. To work or not. The list goes on.
Yes, I struggled with the idea of marriage on the basis that people that I loved and cared about that happen to love someone of their own gender couldn't get married. But ultimately, it was about my husband and I. And what we wanted. And that is ok. And my marriage doesn't stop me from supporting those people - at all. It is a matter of perspective.
Don't get me wrong, marriage is hard work, particularly when you have been with someone from age 18 and all the change that involves. But the good days? When you are together and facing the world? Amazing.
And ultimately? A marriage is what YOU make of it. Everyone has different definition, based on THEIR experiences. But you can, and will, work out the worth/value of your marriage on the basis of your experiences - and that is fantastic. The way it should be.
 I could not have said it better.  When Ryan proposed to me, everyone had an opinion.  Whether it was a friend of my mom's, the boyfriend of a best-friend, or my sorority sisters, everyone had something to say.  Usually it was along the lines of me being pregnant, which I wasn't and it was also hilarious, since I worked for a sexual health organization and knew everything you could know about birth control.  That experience really put into perspective how I thought about people that I once respected.  People thought I was pregnant and getting married because of that, which couples do that but for me, I know I would not have done that.  The mom of one of my best-friends actually corrected people who were saying things like that.  It was awesome to have people supporting us but people also have a knack of inserting their opinion even if they don't realize it.  I got a lot of, "I could never get married at this age" and if people were willing to say that in passing conversation, I can only imagine what they were willing to say behind my back.  Even though I was and still am young, I made the conscious decision to get married.  I know that can bring up a lot of red flags for people, especially since the divorce rate in the country and in the military is so high.  At the time, I was balancing being completely independent, in ROTC (aka military training), working three jobs, and earning my college degree.  I may have been bold and a little presumptuous, but it's safe to say that I could handle myself better than many young college kids.  Not everyone understood or had the same type of responsibilities that I had at the time.  Now that's not to put myself on a pedestal because that shit was hard, but it did create certain opportunities for me to grow that others may not have gotten at the time.  When Ryan proposed to me, I knew that he was the one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  I loved how Christy covered this:
Where I differ most with Ambler, apart from the fact that I totally disagree on her stance that marriage should be open, is when she calls herself a “child bride”. This is the thing that we millenials are constantly criticized for: that we prolong our childhood in a way that makes us helpless even at an age where we should be considered adults. I am not a child. My married friends of the same age are, by no means, children. We are adults who have made a choice, and we are sticking by it.
I know there is a recommended path in life but Ryan and I didn't take that.  Not everyone should follow the path we took but some people are meant to find their person at a young age and some people are meant to be awesome single parents or CEO's of major companies without ever getting married.  All of these routes in life are okay and are filled with blessings.  I still graduated from college, I'm in a Masters program right now, we have a two-story house, we have two dogs, we have two cars, and we have a really great life.  Is my marriage challenging at times? Absolutely but it's caused me to respect and value all sorts of relationships and it has helped me mature as a person.  There are definitely times when an engagement is announced and I think, hmm that might not be a good idea.  But then I think about how people treated me and Ryan and instead of judging that couple, I usually pray for them because they love each other and all they need right now is good energy heading their way.  Marriage isn't for everyone, especially getting married young, however Ryan and I are in our third year of marriage and it has been awesome =] 

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Montana, the Museums Offer You Whiskey

My friends Matt and Ashton offered me to tag along with them on an exploration of the local area to find the "Lost Lake." After driving several gravel roads, taking lefts, rights, and going down into steep valleys we stopped and started walking.  I was talking, staring at my feet to avoid cow poop, and then BAM- this was my view.

Lost Lake is very briny and not really ideal for swimming, fishing, or boating, but it sure is pretty.
 We also kept talking about Game of Thrones and how that wall of rocks reminded us of the scene where Jon Snow was scaling it in the middle of winter.  Not the same wall of rocks, obviously, but still the fear of heights was still definitely there.
My Fernando Torres pose

Ashton asked to do a "sorority pose" but sorority poses are usually composed up of different positions to accommodate "going out" outfits and alcohol ;)
So I just decided to celebrate how beautiful the view was and that I was with awesome folks.

We then went to Fort Benton and ate at a great place called Wake Up. I had the most delicious wheat wrap with chicken, bacon, avocado, and spinach.  I also had a mango and orange juice blended drink that was sooo yummy! If you're ever in Fort Benton, Montana, I highly recommend that place.  Fort Benton also has a lot of history and several pretty solid museums.  The actual fort had several displays including the tee-pees above.  One of the displays was about trading and we were offered Trader's Whiskey.  No lie, I drank whiskey at a museum.

We also visited Fort Benton's Agricultural Museum which had a huge outdoor display that was like a mini town.  The creepy factor quickly set in as everything started to look like it was from 
Children of the Corn.

I was just waiting for his face to pop out of nowhere as we were walking through.

We also found a warehouse filled with different vehicles and there were hearses, carriages, and sleds.
Can't you just picture us in a wintery wonderland?
Conveniently, we thought the same and this has got to happen this winter ;)
The indoor displays in the museum were pretty good but we did come across the creepiest mannequin alive and it was a nurse from WWII who looked like she was plotting something.  So of course, we had to plot with her.

Since we are now children of the homestead, we thought it was fitting to join these little girls in celebrating the wild west.
If you visit my Instagram, you can see more from the trip :)
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