Yep. Its week 3 of the New Year and I’m already quitting on my resolution. Well, to be completely honest I didn’t make one and haven’t for a few years now. In the past I’ve… More
I think I was about sixteen years old when I watched my first full season of the Bachelor with my mom. She had been a die-hard fan since I could remember. But Bailee and I were only allowed to watch the premiere and the finale every season, because the in-between was not kid friendly! When we finally did start watching the whole season, I was embarrassingly hooked. Since moving out and getting married, I have started hosting my own viewing parties. A show like The Bachelor isn’t meant to be watched alone!
For last season’s The Bachelor, I threw a little shindig – Before the First Rose. We sipped on mocktails, ate lots of yummy snacks, and started our Fantasy League! Seriously, if you are a Bachelor watching fiend like us – this is an easy party to throw, it’s loads of fun and cost effective! Check out some of my tricks for hosting your own party in two weeks for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette!
I’m a sucker for cute decorations. Couple that with the fact that I dabble in graphic design and “voila!” I didn’t love any of the printables that I found online, so I whipped up a couple of my own based on some inspo from other parties I had seen. You can snag this printable for yourself it you want!
The balloons were super easy – just some cheapo pink balloons from the floral department ($9.00) and a sharpie! I opted for some cute Bachelor phrases:
“Ladies, this is the final rose tonight”
“4th Time’s’ the Charm”
“On the Most Dramatic Season Ever”
“For the Right Reasons”
“Can I Steal You For a Sec…”
Next up was the flower wall (totally a Pinterest steal!) Again, on the cheap, I found these roses in pink and red ($5 @ Dollar Store) . Using gold washi tape ($1 @ Target), I adhered them to the wall. Something to note: my washi tape was NOT strong enough to hold up the flowers. So I taped them first with scotch tape and then covered it with the washi tape.
The banner was a DIY using a kit ($3 @ Target). Using gold stick on letters I just added “The Bachelor.” Super easy! ($5 @ Target)
Tablecloths were just made from scraps of old fabric that I had in my garage! And the little chalk “Fantasy League” sign was a cheap DIY ($1 @ Target)
Total cost for decor: Only $24.00!
I decided on “mocktails” for our party – because that fits our style best! The drinks were super tasty and adorable. If you’re throwing your own party – you can use the below recipes and this drink menu!
We didn’t get too crafty here – one for cost and two for time. Also, it was the start of the year and everyone was on their “resolution” kick. Which means that sugar and carbs is a no-go! Put out a basic chips and dip, because you CAN’T go wrong with Pico de Gallo! Also included are pink frosted cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and a gluten free cookie option (because I’m from Seattle where everyone is GF, including my dog.)
The cupcakes were a basic vanilla. I added a piece of strawberry and sprig of mint to the top, with a drizzle of red icing to get that rosy look!
Fantasy Bachelor League
Who said that fantasy leagues are limited to sports?! This is my second season doing a Fantasy League, and it really is fun with a group. If you’re thinking of hosting viewing parties for the Bachelorette, use this draft card and these game play instructions, rules, and scoreboard to give your guests something to do while watching the show. This is especially helpful if not all of your attendees are former Bachelor viewers and are just coming for the food (who can blame ’em.)
Let’s face it.. if you live in the PNW, you can wear shorts and a tank top comfortably during one, maybe two, months out of the year. It’s just something you have to get used to when you live here.
Even during the summer months, it’s freezing in the morning. By noon you’re sweating because you decided to wear a sweatshirt because you were cold. It’s not easy, but you can adapt!
Here are some things I’ve learned to do while living in the PNW;
Layers layers layers
In the winter, this is a no brainer. You’re cold, so of course you’re going to want to bundle up. It’s nice for when you go in somewhere that is warm, and you can take layers off.
Same goes for the summertime. Mornings are cold, so use layers! It gets hotter in the afternoon, so you don’t want to be stuck in a sweater all day.
This goes along with layering your clothes. If you don’t have many cardigans, get some! They make such cute outfits and are super practical. In the winter you can wear more sweater type cardigans (my personal favorite because they’re just oh so cute), or you can wear light ones in the summer! You can get some super cheap ones on Amazon. I got the same cardigan in a few different colors. That way you have a cardigan for almost every outfit.
Jean jackets are a must-have! They’re something you can wear all year long. With a cute summer dress, or with a sweater underneath with the hood popped out – super cute, comfy, casual outfit.
Yes, this is more for the colder seasons of course. But again, there’s really only 2 months that are warm here in the PNW. I have acquired a lot of scarves over the years. Big ones that cover basically my entire neck, and lighter ones for the slightly warmer -but still cold- days. They can be made into stylish outfits so easily. Patterns, or basic colors. They’re all a necessity 😉
Okay, these are just so cute. And they keep your legs so warm! I suggest wearing them only with taller boots. Unless you get short boot socks.
On those days when your hair is just a mess, wear a hat. It covers up your crazy hair, but also makes a good outfit. Even if your hair looks awesome, hats can make it look even better. They’re basically magic. Sometimes I decide my outfit based off the hat I want to wear. Beanies, baseball caps, floppy hats. All of them! They keep your head warm too, which is a definite plus.
Staying cute and warm is easy! You just have to have the right clothes. But honestly, somedays we don’t want to look all that cute. A sweatshirt and jeans are just enough sometimes. And you can rock it all! You do you, girl.
Its the first day of May. It may sounds a bit conceited, but I love May because it is my birthday month. I love my birthday – always have. Its is a day of celebration, presents, spending time with loved ones, and seeing a new Marvel movie (for the last seven years there has been one that opens in theaters on my birthday weekend!) This year, I am using May as a time of reflection as well.
I am turning 24. I’m not sure what it is, but this year feels like I’ve finally transitioned to adulthood. I think maybe its because I bought a fridge in cash. That feels really adult to me. I know I’m not even near knowing everything. I like to say “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m also not where I was and I’m glad I’ve made it this far.”
As I reflect on this last year, here are some things I learned:
I hate being a slave to my money.
Ugh. Money is the worst, amirite? Kidding…mostly. I did the typical “turn 18, get a credit card, rack up debt buying stupid stuff (mostly food,)” thing. When Tony and I got married, we would use our credit card under the notion that we would “pay it off next paycheck.” We didn’t. And we didn’t. And we didn’t. $5,000 later and we couldn’t.
I know $5,000 isn’t an insurmountable amount of money, but it had us by the throats. So, we buckled down. We budgeted, we sought mentor-ship and counsel, and we paid every single penny of it off in six months. Now, I’m cannot claim to be a money expert, but I am excited about the freedom that this gives us going forward – the freedom to save for new adventures, make smart and long lasting financial decisions, have zero guilt about our spending, and give even more generously.
I won’t be content with the “promise,” until I learn to be content with the wilderness.
There’s a story in the Bible about a guy named Moses leading the nation of Israel and wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Check it out in the books of Exodus and Numbers. Basically, God delivers his people from slavery and takes them on a journey to a new home – the “Promised Land.” On the way there, they spent time in the wilderness. They whined, complained, turned from God, didn’t trust Him, and were overall just kind of angry.
I spent a season this year as a whiny, complaining Israelite. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was in my life and I made sure people knew it. In the midst of that season, I felt God say to me – “Ariel, if you can’t learn to be happy wherever I ask you to be – you will never be happy in where I’ve destined you to be.” Ouch. Talk about a Holy Spirit gut punch.
The same week that I decided to choose joy instead of self-inflicted suffering – things in my life started to shift. Incredible and new opportunities rose and I stopped wandering and started walking towards the “promise.” I’m deciding that even if my season is unfavorable, I will choose joy.
My personal growth is MY choice.
We’ve all heard that saying “you get out of it what you decide to put into it.” Well, I’m learning that for my life. I will get out of life as much as I choose to. I can choose to veg out and watch teenie-bopper TV shows (and trust me, I still do that sometimes,) or I can choose to invest time in loved ones, a good edifying book, and time outdoors! I get to choose whether to eat fast food, or plan ahead to cook a decent meal. I choose.
For the first half of this year, I chose poorly (cue the old Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.) I binged a bunch of Netflix shows, spent frivolously, ate ice cream almost every day, and was just overall unmotivated. In January, Tony and I decided to set new goals for this year, and some five year goals as well. Since then I have read seven books, paid off our credit card debt, and lost ten pounds! I started this blog, spend time with friends and family regularly, and am more consistent in spending daily time with Jesus.
I’m not where I want to be, but I’m also not where I was and I’m glad I’ve made it this far. I choose to grow, or I am choosing to wither.
So here’s to 24 – to saving for a magnificent trip to Europe, moving towards my dreams, and choosing to grow closer to Jesus everyday.
The subscription box fad looks like it might be here to stay, at least for a while longer. From beauty products to food products – you can order just about anything for a monthly subscription. Out of curiosity, I went ahead and ordered a few boxes just to try them out.
HelloFresh – hellofresh.com
I was a little bit skeptical of this, if I’m being honest. What if I didn’t like the flavors? Would they really send me enough food for two people? How does it stay fresh? Well I have to say, I was completely floored by this box. They sent us three meals, Wasabi Lime Salmon, Pan Seared Chicken with Herbs De Provence, and Rustic Beef Ragu. All the meals were packaged in dry ice and insulated to keep them cool until we got home to open the box.
The first two were completely amazing. I can’t stop singing their praises and we are definitely adding these recipes to our repertoire. The third was our least favorite, but still pretty good! All of the meals take only 30-40 minutes to make and are super easy to follow. The ingredients are pieced out in exact increments, so there is less measuring to do. When HelloFresh says that it sends you “everything,” for a meal, they MEAN it. Spices, vinegars, seasoning, little tiny jars of mayo, soy sauce in a cute fish shaped container, literally everything. You only need to have salt, pepper, water, and olive oil on hand. We seriously loved this box.
You do need to eat the meals within the week. They are not designed to last because of the fresh produce and meats. Cost is also a factor – the box is $60.00 a week ($10 per person/per meal.) We got our first box for $20.00 – which you can too with our referral code. For $20.00 this was the most “worth it,” thing I’ve purchased in a long time. There are not any clear “lows” here; its just a matter of how you want to spend your meal budget!
Cost per week: $60.00
Value of Box: ~ 93.00*
- Wasabi Lime Salmon ~ $32.00
- Pan Seared Chicken with Herbs De Provence ~ 33.00
- Rustic Beef Ragu ~ 28.00
*Approximate value determined by if you had no items on hand and had to buy a full size of all ingredients. You could potentially make multiple batches of these recipes with store bought ingredients.
Discounts: Use our referral code: ARIEMATTA for $40.00 off your first box!
Datebox – getdatebox.com
This is exactly what it says – its a date in a box. For those of you who know Tony and I, we have a weekly date night scheduled into our calendar. Sometimes, planning an activity together is hard. DateBox sends you a fully planned date that you can do from home. If you have kids, this would be a total win when it comes to cost!
Our box was inspired by Japan! It included a sushi making kit, complete with bamboo rolling mat, recipes, rice, and chopsticks. Also included were sheets to do origami and two sudoku puzzles.
I loved that the box came with food and an activity – both are important for a date! It changed up our dating habits a bit and got us out of our comfort zone – big plus! Also – it was fun that the box had a theme to the night – it even had a Japanese inspired playlist for us, which was odd but super fun!
We like to keep our date nights to about $25.00 a week, so this as a monthly expense is about $15.00 over budget. Also – the box didn’t (more like, couldn’t,) include the fish for the sushi. So that was an added $15.00 expense. If you’re a family with kids, that $25.00 is probably less than (or equal to) what you would pay a babysitter, so it might be a great option for you!
Cost per month: $39.00
Value of box: $50.00
- Sushi for 2 – $30
- Origami Kit – $10.00
- Sushi prep materials – $10.00
Discounts: Use our referral code: d8P6x for $10.00 off your first box!
BarkBox – barkbox.com
This subscription is for your pupper! We love our dog and love to spoil him with toys and treats. This box comes monthly and includes two toys, treats, and a bone. This month’s theme was New York City. He got the cutest statue of liberty ball and a pretzel chew toy. It was actually super cute to watch him try to decide which toy he liked best!
This box is customized to your dog. Ours has a wheat allergy, so we were able to get treats to accommodate that. They also have toys and bones for strong chewers, and different toys depending on the size of your dog. Samson was a big fan and took everything out of the box on his own!
We just don’t need that many toys for our dog at this point. He has a whole bin full and its sort of a mess. There are no real “lows,” to this box if you are wanting to lump a few of your puppy costs together instead of buying things as needed!
Cost per month: $30.00
Value of Box: $41.00
- Lady Liberty Ball: $12.00
- Pretzel Rope Toy: $12.00
- Treats: $13.00
- Deer Chew: $4.00
Discounts: Sign up for their mailing list – they send out promo codes for $1.00 and $5.00 boxes for first timers!
fabfitfun – fabfitfun.com
Since my wedding is coming up fast, I needed a fast acting diet. So American of me wanting a NOW fix, right?
My mom had always done the Atkins diet when I was growing up and it worked quickly! So I decided to try it.
**Don’t do this diet if you are not planning on making a lifestyle change.
In the past, I pretty much lived off of only pasta. I am definitely trying to make a lifestyle change because I want to be healthier, and stay at a good weight. If you do this diet, and go back to old eating habits, you will gain the weight right back.
How does it work?
You can have up to 25 carbs per day. Since your body is used to burning off carbs, when you cut them out, your body will start to burn fat instead. This makes you lose around 1/2lb – 1lb a day.
**Sugar Alcohols do not count as carbs. For example, if something you are about to eat/buy has 12 carbs, but 10 sugar alcohols, you are going to subtract them from the carbs. So now you’re eating something with only 2 carbs.
Now, this is not the most healthy diet, nor is it a diet that you want to stay on for a long period of time. But it does work!
What food can I have?
Fruits & Veggies-
Surprisingly, most fruits and some veggies have carbs. So cutting out most of them is best. Personally, I cut out all fruit except for half an apple a day and watermelon -since it’s basically just water. With veggies, the general rule is if it’s not green, it’s high in carbs (carrots, corn, etc.) So try to stay away from the high carb fruits and veggies even though they’re good for you.
Eat all the meat you want!! Eggs, beef, chicken, fish. All of it. This helps a lot with the feeling of being hungry all the time. Without carbs, your body feels hungry. Protein helps with that!
Yep, eat it! All you want.
You can find them at most grocery stores. They are labeled “Atkins” so they’re hard to miss. I usually eat one for breakfast or just as a snack.
Always check the nutrition facts. If it is high in carbs, then it’s a no-no. Eat your carbs wisely because you have to go throughout the whole day.
Cheating without actually cheating
I have found a few loopholes that have helped me immensely! Some have very few carbs, but again, it’s choosing your carbs wisely!
Low carb tortillas–
You can buy these at almost any grocery store. It is 6 carbs for one tortilla. I use them for tacos, quesadillas, and even pizza (you can have a small amount of tomato sauce, just read the back of the jar)
We all get a sweet tooth every now and then. These definitely help! Don’t eat a lot of them in a day, or you’ll get sick from the sugar substitutes. My favorite are the sugar free fudgsicles!
It has no sugar! I use this in a couple ways;
-Normal lemonade, of course.
-Sparkling water, with crystal light and a little bit of lime is a great substitute if you enjoy carbonated drinks!
-Popsicles! Get a popsicle mold, make the crystal light like normal, and freeze it. Super easy and super yummy.
It’s a pretty simple diet when you get the hang of it. Figuring out what you can/cannot have is hard at first, but you will catch on fast. Just make sure to always read the nutrition facts.
In 2 weeks of doing this diet (with one cheat day on a holiday) I have lost 11lbs. So worth it! Give it a try if you’re wanting to lose weight fast.