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I Did Something Crazy This Weekend

February 19, 2018

I did something crazy this weekend.

With an unexpected day off from my day job, my husband and I went on a day date: bowling, window shopping and lunch out.

“We used to do so much during the weekends, but we haven’t been as active lately.” My husband said this as we were talking about how much fun we’d had during the day and it struck a chord with me. For about the past year, we hadn’t spent a whole lot of time adventuring together, something that I love doing on the weekends.

Now, all of that being said, my husband and I do spend time together, but with busier professional lives, the weekend excursions have taken a backseat. Usually I am fitting a week’s worth of content creation into a few days while he recovers from a very exhausting week.  Granted, we do it while sitting near each other, but it’s just not the same is it? Then when you fit in regular house maintenance, any sort of personal maintenance (like the gym) and regular adult errands (laundry and grocery shopping), there has been a shortage of fun.

That’s what made Saturday so wonderful.

There are a lot of things we both probably SHOULD have been doing, like finishing the yard work or getting ahead on blog posts, but it was nice to put the to-do lists away for a little bit and have some fun.

And that got me thinking: why was this one afternoon so unusual? Isn’t the whole point of working this hard to give ourselves the freedom to enjoy life? Certainly that’s the idea of trying to run my own business and be my own boss, so why is it keeping me from doing things?!

Answer: because I’m letting it. I’ve allowed myself to stop making my personal life a priority and no matter how much butt-kicking I’m doing professionally, I just don’t feel whole when my personal life slips through the cracks.  I need to make it a “have to” instead of just a “want to”.

I mentioned on Instagram last week that I felt like I needed to recharge. In reality, I think I needed to reprioritize.  Do I have to put out three new blogs posts a week? Probably not. Do I have to launch a new product twice a month? Probably not. Do I need to push my business to grow so hard that I forget to enjoy what I’m doing? Definitely not.

What do I need to do? 

I need to workout regularly for my physical health.

I need to soak up the precious time I have with my husband right now.

I need to seek out opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally, but not at the other’s expense.

I need to set limits for my professional endeavors so they do not consume my entire life.

That’s it. When you really narrow down your to-do list into the true have to list, it suddenly doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

So what does that mean for Countdowns and Cupcakes?

It means I’m not going anywhere, just slowing down a bit. There will still be care packages, deployments and dogs (the most important one, clearly). I will still be on social media connecting and engaging with you all.  I may post on the blog a little less frequently, but the content I do post will be better and not written at 11 pm when I’m half-asleep. I may not add as many new products each month, but the ones I do add will be the ones I feel really good about!

And most importantly, I will get better at this whole work-life balance thing.

Have you ever had to slow down in one area of your life in order to give much needed attention to another area? How did you do it?

Lifestyle

Six Last Minute Date Ideas

February 14, 2018
Easy and quick last minute date ideas perfect for Valentine's Day

How many of y’all had Valentine’s Day sneak up on them? Yeah, I understand. Even with all the in-your-face advertising, so many folks find themselves scrambling to put together an evening for their significant other. So you come home with some wilted grocery store flowers and that’s the end of it, right? It doesn’t have to be! Even the biggest procrastinator can put together one of these last minute date ideas.

The key with these last minute date ideas is that they don’t need that much planning, but are still impactful. You will likely need to pick up a few items on your way home from work, but these ideas don’t require reservations or tickets. If you aren’t normally a Valentine’s Day rockstar, break out one of these ideas and step up your game.

Last Minute Date Ideas

1. Pop some popcorn, break out the chocolate and have a movie marathon. Choose a theme like romantic comedies, musicals, super heroes or even thrillers and try to pick movies neither of you have seen.

2. Have a super fancy dinner…at home with takeout. Seriously, go all out. Break out tablecloths and candles, the fancy dishes and get dressed to the nines before having pizza or Chinese food.

3. Have a board game night and place a friendly bet on the winner. Try classics like Monopoly and Battleship or new favorites like The Oregon Trail card game or Catchphrase. You could also invite another couple over to up the fun and the stakes.

4. Write and exchange love letters (bonus if you read them out loud to each other). Ok so this one will require a little work on both of your parts, but it’s such a sweet idea that I couldn’t skip it.

5. Candlelit floor picnic. How romantic would this be?! You could eat takeout, make something fancy or just have a regular weeknight dinner. The idea here is to have an indoor picnic full of candlelight (and maybe a glass or two of wine), conversation and together time.

6. Have an at-home chocolate tasting. People are all aboard the wine tasting train and it’s ok, but show me a place where I can try like 12 different kinds of chocolate without judgement and you will have my heart forever. It would so cool to bring home a bunch of different brands and types of chocolate to find your favorite. You can find some variety at the regular grocery store, but I am always impressed with the selection at World Market. They have so many different flavors!

Don’t be a Valentine’s Day dud this year! Even if it’s last minute, you can still put together an evening for you and your significant other that’s fun and unique. Do you have any suggestions for last minute dates? Add them in the comments so all the procrastinators can benefit!

Lifestyle

Galentine’s Day Ideas

February 9, 2018

When you’re not in a relationship (or if you’re a military spouse separated from your loved one) it can feel like there’s nothing for you on Valentine’s Day. I beg to differ. If celebrating with a significant other isn’t an option, you should celebrate all the other people you love! There are ways to share the love with family, co-workers and neighbors, but the most popular non-romantic Valentine’s date has to be friends. Luckily there are so many wonderful Galentine’s Day ideas that will have you and your best friends feeling the love on the 14th!

My husband and I have spent a lot of Valentine’s Days apart throughout our relationship and I’ve always been lucky enough to celebrate with some fantastic friends. While it won’t take the sting out of missing my husband entirely, celebrating Galentine’s Day certainly puts some of the fun back into the day.

The key to any of these Galentine’s Day ideas is that they’re fun and different from the normal Valentine’s Day romantic activities. Ultimately, just about any activity can work for Galentine’s Day as long as it’s something you and your friends enjoy. You could even combine some of these ideas and make a whole day (or evening) of it.

Galentine’s Day Ideas

Take a class

I’ve found the best way to avoid focusing on missing my husband is to try something new that’s just for me. If you add in a friend or two, that makes it even better.  Class ideas include cooking, painting, pottery, workout, photography or wine tasting. If you opt for that last one, definitely plan to take a cab or have a designated driver!

Have a fancy donut date

And I mean super fancy: try one with funky toppings and unique flavors. Sit in the donut shop, savor your treat and enjoy the conversation. You could also do the same thing at a coffee shop, ice cream store or bakery. The point here is to treat yourself and slow down long enough to enjoy it.

Do something physical

If you’re feeling down about not spending Valentine’s Day with a significant other, you may really want to spend all your time on the sofa, watching Netflix and eating candy. But I don’t think you should, instead get a Galentine and get moving! Go for a run, take a nice long walk, take a yoga class or try rock climbing. Not only will it keep you from wallowing, but you may even enjoy yourself.

Have a spa night

Spa days are popular Valentine’s Day gift ideas, but turning it into a spa night makes it great for Galentine’s Day. After the day is over and the little ones are in bed, give yourself a little pampering. An at-home manicure, pedicure or facial are all nice Galentine’s Day ideas, even if you do it solo and FaceTime with friends!

Don’t act your age

I think when women reach a certain age, we make ourselves a list of things we’re “too old for” and it’s not always fair. So in honor of Galentine’s Day, think of things you enjoyed when you were and do them again! Maybe it’s having a slumber party complete with staying up too late and laughing too hard. Maybe it’s going roller skating and rocking out to all the top 40 hits. Maybe it’s eating dessert for dinner. Whatever it is that you think you’re too old to do, go for it and drag your friends along with you. Let yourself go for just a little bit and you’ll be amazed at how much fun you actual have.

Valentine’s Day may be marketed towards couples, but it can still be fun if you’re flying solo. Hopefully these Galentine’s Day ideas have gotten you excited about celebrating a different kind of love on the 14th!

When you're not in a relationship or if you're separated from your loved one, it can feel like there's nothing for you on Valentine's Day. Luckily there are so many wonderful Galentine's Day ideas that will have you and your best friends feeling the love on the 14th!

Lifestyle

Winter Date Ideas

February 7, 2018
Winter Date Ideas

I know spring and summer tend to get all the date attention with their warm weather and outdoor activities, but winter deserves more credit! The cozy blankets, warm fires and the romance of snowy nights are truly the makings of a picture-perfect date. If you’re willing to get creative, you can come up with so many fun winter date ideas!

A lot of winter date ideas focus on the holidays or snow day activities, but let’s be honest, that only covers a small portion of the winter season. There are so many winter dates that aren’t holiday-themed or snow-dependent, even a few that you can do outside! The key to a good winter date (or any date for that matter) is lots of time spent together so ultimately it’s important to do something you both will enjoy.

Winter Date Ideas

Living room camp out

Drag all of the blankets, pillows and sofa cushions into the living room and set up camp for the night. Watch movies, eat snacks and snuggle by the fireplace.  This is a great, low-key date idea that won’t break the bank and still allow you to reconnect. You can also add in little ones fairly easily.

Netflix marathon

While you’re camped out on the living room floor, you’re going to need something to watch. Pick a TV series or set of movies on Netflix or AmazonPrime and binge watch all night long! Some recent favorites from my house: Psych, Bones, Downton Abbey or The Crown.

Ice skating

Ok so maybe this one does involve snow a little bit, but you can also find indoor ice skating rinks. Follow up your best pairs skating routine (or frequent falls) with a little hot chocolate (or adult beverage) and you’ve got a great date.

Watch a sunrise/sunset

Sunrise and sunset watching have long been a date staple and this doesn’t change during the winter.  With the shorter days of winter, you won’t even have to get up too early to catch a sunrise!

Board game tournament

This idea will be better if it’s a group date and a few couples participate. Pick games that aren’t too complicated and involve a lot of group participation. Options like Cards Against Humanity and Catchphrase will be sure to bring out the laughs. The Oregon Trail Card Game is also a good option, especially for those of us who played the computer game as children.

Visit a museum

Museums are great additions to your list of winter date ideas because they aren’t weather dependent.  Plus you’ll walk away having learned something during your date which is always nice. Admission varies on museum topic and location, but many are free or offer discounted tickets for students or military.

Go indoor rock climbing

Winter date ideas don’t all have to be inside and involve snuggling! This is a great time to try an indoor activity like rock climbing. It’s fun, gets your blood pumping and is something you can both learn together.

Go see a play

You don’t have to travel to New York City to see great theater. Most major cities play host to traveling plays throughout the year and the winter is a great time to see one! If ticket costs are a bit too high for your budget, consider going to a matinee instead. Same performance, cheaper tickets. Colleges and universities also frequently put on plays (or have traveling productions stop there) and those tickets are usually VERY reasonably priced.

Theme dinner night

One of my favorite winter date ideas is cooking with my husband, especially if it’s a new dish.  You could totally have a theme-dinner night (think Italian, French or even nostalgic comfort food) and make the cooking part of the fun.

Go to an arcade

Arcades are not just for teenagers. Places like Dave & Buster’s are more and more popular among adults, especially since they have adult-only hours and serve alcohol. Plan to eat and drink as you try to win as many tickets or points as possible. Surprise your loved one with a prize you won for a fun keepsake!

Go bowling

Bowling sounds a little cheesy when it come to date nights, but it can actually be fun! Make it a contest and have the loser buy dinner or drinks.

Volunteer together

There are so many great causes out there in need of donated time and talent. Choosing an organization that appeals to you both and spending a day giving back is a unique twist on the date night concept.

Test your teamwork at an escape room

I think my husband and I are going to give this one a shot! These escape rooms are all the rage right now and can be a bit pricey, but seem like a blast. This is also a fun group outing idea for multiple couples or even single friends to join you.

Rent a cabin and have a romantic weekend getaway

This is probably the ultimate (and priciest) winter date idea on my list, but it should definitely stay on your list.  A weekend getaway is kind of like two or three weeks worth of dates combined into one outing and it can be really refreshing! Check sites like Groupon Getaways for deals that can make it much more affordable.

Share your winter date ideas in the comments below! For more date ideas, check out some of my other blog posts!

Winter Date Ideas

Lifestyle

When You Stop Saying “Just”

January 31, 2018

“I’m just a military spouse.”

“I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

“I’m just a student.”

“I’m just a __________________.”

You’ve said some variation of these exact same sentences at least once, but probably even more often than that. You didn’t mean anything negative by it. You actually did it without thinking. You don’t even realize that you’ve belittled yourself.

But you did.

When you say you’re “just a military spouse,” you end the sentence before adding “and I work a full-time job and I’m getting a master’s degree and I manage to balance all of those things with taking care of kids/house/life while my spouse serves the nation.”

That’s a lot more impressive, isn’t it? It’s also more accurate.

But when you say you’re just that or you just do this, you don’t keep going and when you don’t keep going, you sell yourself short. When you say you’re “just” something, it leaves no room for all of the other amazing, wonderful things you are or do.

I too am guilty of selling myself short, usually in a misguided attempt to be modest or deferential to someone else’s accomplishments. But when you think about it, that’s absurd. I can be humble, modest and in awe of someone else for all their kick butt moments and still be dang proud of my own.

So in 2018, I’ve given up the word “just”; I quit it cold turkey.  Moving forward I will remember that I am a sum of many parts and seek to acknowledge all of them.  It will be tough some days, especially as my husband’s career forces me to adjust and reevaluate my own.  But no matter what, I’m worth a full explanation.

And so are you.

Join me in making 2018 the year of the full explanation. Stop selling yourself short because you feel like it’s something you SHOULD do. Stop saying that you’re “just” anything.

Give me your full explanation in the comments so I can get to know you better!