My Favorite Halloween Tradition

Trick-or-treating was always pretty fun growing up. Getting dressed up in costumes (my all-time favorites were Dorothy, a 50’s girl, and an Oompa Loompa!) and going out with family and friends – what’s not to like! Besides it being super cold and having to wear a winter coat that covered the amazing costume. That was always kind of a bummer. But while walking around and going house to house was great, my very favorite part of Halloween happened AFTER trick-or-treating!

My favorite Halloween tradition: trading candy with my sister!

Every year my sister and I would come home, get into our pajamas, and immediately spread ALL OF OUR CANDY on the living room floor. Then the sorting began. The sorting was the most important part. We would get all of our candy into neat little piles so we could assess how many Skittles, Snickers, etc. we had. Then it was time to look over all of the candy, decide what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to give away.

Now the exciting part…. the TRADING! My sister and I would spend SO MUCH TIME bartering back and forth, trying to get rid of the candy I hated (like Nerds and gobstoppers) and get more of the candy I loved (like ALL of the Reese’s cups!) We would also eat some candy here and there during the trading, but it was very important to focus on the task at hand.

Finally after a while when we both felt satisfied in how we had changed up our candy situation, the trading floor would close, the candy would go into the pantry, and we would go to bed in a slight sugar coma.

So that’s the best thing about Halloween in my eyes. I can’t wait for my nephews to get older so I can make sure that this tradition continues with them. I’m sure my sister will teach them the importance of trading candy, but don’t worry, I’ll be there to make sure.

Random Ramblings

Do you ever just have SO MANY THOUGHTS swirling around your head that you can’t seem to concentrate on anything else? I’ve been feeling like for the past few days. It’s gotten to the point that the things I’m thinking about have started popping into my dreams at night! (That usually happens, anyway, but recently it’s been getting very specific.)

I know a lot of people are big fans of doing a “brain dump” before going to bed, and I think I might have to start doing that, too. (Brighton Keller has a good post going into more detail!) It sounds like a good way to kind of help get your brain organized, but for tonight I’m just going to spill some of my random thoughts out here. Cool? Cool!

A lady in the WalMart parking lot stopped me in the middle of the aisle and asked “Are you a teacher? You look like you teach small children!!!” And I think she was genuinely disappointed when I told her no.

I spilled an ENTIRE bottle of nail polish last night (thankfully it was on the bathroom counter and none of it got on the carpet) and it made me so sad! It was a pretty sparkly orange, so I guess I won’t be wearing that color for Halloween this year. Black it is.

I went to Chick-Fil-A a few days ago and at the drive-thru speaker, I asked “…and with 3 Chick-Fil-A sauce packets, please!” and the worker confirmed “…and with 3 Chick-Fil-A sauce packets.” And then I got up to the window and the worker AGAIN confirmed “…and with 3 Chick-Fil-A sauce packets” and then I get all the way home and there are ZERO Chick-Fil-A sauce packets in the bag and I had to eat a dry sandwich and dry French fries like a peasant. I was very disappointed!!!

I think that people crunching and chewing on ice all day long is the most annoying thing. There was a lady at my last job that did it nonstop, and now I sit near someone who crunches on ice all day again. Doesn’t that make you so cold?!?!?

I decided that I’m going to get Netflix again – but just for one month! I want to see the next installment of the Stranger Things saga, and if I wait a little bit to watch it, I can also use Netflix to watch all the cheesy Christmas movies that I love.

I’ve had ONE smart phone my entire life, since I got my first one in 2014, and it’s been an Android Samsung Galaxy S4 (which was the older model at the time). I’m terribly cheap so I don’t want to get a new phone until this one craps out, but I think I’m going to get an iPhone next… and I’m already excited about it!

I’m pretty sure that my apartment complex is going to raise my rent A LOT when my lease comes up in the spring and I’m already not looking forward to making some decisions. Do I stay and pay more than my apartment is actually worth/above my budget? Do I move AGAIN? Do I sneak all my stuff into my sister’s house and hope she doesn’t notice and then go over there for dinner and just never leave?!?!?! (Just kidding… kind of…)

Well I think that’s pretty good for one night! I put a notebook and pen on my nightstand so I can jot my thoughts down before bed – hopefully that helps me get a little more organized and keeps me a little more sane!

I Took a Baking Class (and so should YOU!)

I LOVE baking. It’s one of the first things that people find out about me – either because I tell them or because I shove baked goods in their face. Sometimes it’s both! I’m known as the “baking” friend in my little Dallas friend group and I love it – I always make the birthday cake for friends, I bake the pies for friendsgivings, and I’m expected (happily!!) to bring a delicious homemade treat to all of our get-togethers, no matter how casual.

While I feel like I have a handle on cookies and cakes and other various treats, there was one thing that I had always wanted to try and make myself but was kind of scared to try…. Macarons.

You know the ones I’m talking about? They’re so delicious and delicate and can come in so many colors and flavors – but they’re notoriously difficult to make. Everything has to be PERFECT. Beat the egg whites too much? Throw it out. Didn’t fold in the dry ingredients using the proper technique? Toss it. Made the batter too warm while piping out the shells? Ruined. I was so nervous to try it out on my own and ruin it and get frustrated, which was the most likely scenario.

There is a macaron shop (Savor Patisserie) in town that offers baking classes and I’ve wanted to take one there… basically since I moved to Dallas. I was finally tired of saying “I should” and I went ahead and signed myself up for one of their macaron baking classes! And it was…….. AWESOME!!!

Seriously – it was so great! I showed up at their new classroom (by downtown Dallas) and the space was perfect. I met all the other people also taking the class, and we were divided into tables. I was at a table with 3 other ladies, and together I think we did a pretty good job making these little treats!

The owner of Savor (also named Kelly) led the class and helped us step by step as we followed along with the recipe page we were given. There was plenty of room on the paper to take notes – and I took a TON of notes! She gave so many great tips and tricks and I’ll be glad that I wrote them down in the future.

There were a lot of flavor options that we got to choose from, and my table decided to make raspberry shells with champagne buttercream filling. There were also a lot of great color options, and we chose BRIGHT blue for the shells! The color was SO bright and So happy and I absolutely loved it. Piping the shells was more difficult than it looked, but I feel like I got the hang of it pretty fast and felt comfortable doing it. Since there were 4 people at my table, we all took turns piping out a few rows of shells and some of the ladies were…. less comfortable… with the process… so a few of our shells looked very “special.” They still tasted great, tho!

Even the baking process is extremely precise for these little goodies! The host took care of the baking for us, and we all sat together chatting and enjoying the DELICIOUS smells coming out of the oven.

Once they were done baking, we made the buttercream. Again, my table chose a champagne flavor, and I got to pick the color – so obviously I went with BRIGHT pink. I know I’m biased, but I think that our macarons turned out SO GREAT!!!!!

I had SUCH a great experience taking this baking class! It was my first time doing anything like this, and it definitely won’t be my last. I’m so glad that I learned how to make macarons from a professional first and I can’t wait to try making them myself at home! (Actually I’m going to try making them at my sister’s house because she has a nice new kitchen with a fancy new oven and my oven is probably 40 years old and it’s kind of terrible…)

Have you made these on your own before? Have you tried them? What’s your favorite flavor combo?!?

A Day in the Life of Kelly

One of my favorite blog posts to read from other people is when they share what a typical day is like for them. It might be because I’m literally the nosy-ist person ever, but I just love getting a little insight in to how other people spend their time, how they live their lives, and if they eat dinner on the couch just like me, haha. I thought it was about time that I did one of these posts, too, so here is what a typical day in my life looks like!

6:00 – Wake up! I’m terrible about staying in bed and accidentally falling back asleep, so I’ve been trying to force myself to physically get up and out of bed right away. I go downstairs, sit on the couch (which is still honestly someplace I have accidentally fallen back asleep), and try to get my quiet time in. Right now I’m going through the Jesus Always devotion (a gift from a sweet friend).

6:30 – It’s time to start getting ready for work! I put on a playlist to help me get energized for the day and keep me be-bopping around my apartment! I showered last night, which keeps my morning easy – I just run over my hair with my flat iron, wash my face, put on makeup, and go!

7:25 – Now that I’m ready for the day, I head out to the bus transit center about a mile and a half from my apartment. My company pays for a yearly transit pass, so I take the bus to and from work every day. It’s an express bus (thankfully!!!) so the seats are comfy and there are no stops between Addison and downtown Dallas. I love that I’m not the one driving, and I get so much reading done on the bus. I started a new book this morning!

8:00 – I walk into the office, turn on my laptop, and head immediately for the Keurig on my floor. I don’t feel like I need the caffeine (and sometimes I don’t get any coffee or tea), but I kind of like the ritual of it. We just got pumpkin spice creamer, so that’s what I’m going with today. I sip my coffee and read TheSkimm for the morning before getting started with my work for the day.

10:30 – The hour-long meeting I usually have was cancelled (not mad about it) so I decide to take a little walk around the block instead. I haven’t taken a break yet this morning (oops) so it’s probably good to get up and stretch my legs a little. I pass by 2 construction sites, 2 churches, and a whole lot of smokers huddled in the one shady corner of the building.

11:30 – It’s lunch time!!! Aaaaaaaaaand ugh…. I just realized that I forgot to bring my lunch today!!! Thankfully it’s still in the fridge at home, so I’ll have it for dinner later. But for now, I go down to the salad place in my building and pay way too much for a salad. If you don’t get any meat, it’s cheaper, so that’s the route I’m going to take today.

1:30 – FIRE DRILL! That’s always fun and exciting, right? I’m on the “safety team” at work (I was somehow volunteered for it and I don’t remember how, but I get free CPR and AED certification so I’m ok with it), so once the strobes start flashing I put on my neon safety vest and walk the floor to make sure everyone evacuates 3 floors down as they should. It’s tricky as a grown-up because half of the company is on some conference call or meeting, so a lot of people didn’t want to leave.

3:00 – Time for my afternoon break! I try to take a little walk every day at 3, just to make sure that I actually get up from my desk between lunch and going home. My building is connected to a few others via sky walks, so I can escape the heat and walk a mile without actually going outside at all.

4:30 – Yay I’m done with work for the day!!! Basically everyone that sits around me has gone home for the day, so the office is nice and empty and super quiet. I usually try to stay for a half hour or so to work on the blog, my parent’s website, or anything personal I need to get done. It’s just so much easier to work on two HUGE monitors, so I don’t mind staying at the office a little bit later than I could.

5:00 – Now that I’m *officially* done for the day, it’s time to head down and wait for the bus to go home. Sometimes it pulls up right as I’m turning the corner. Sometimes I wait 50 minutes for a bus to show up. Thankfully today I only had to wait about 10 minutes! I’m kind of tired right now, so instead of reading I decide to listen to a podcast. I have a lot of episodes downloaded to my phone so I can listen without streaming and using data, and I start listening to an episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class (one of my faves!)

5:45 – I have an errand to run before going home, so I get in my car and head to the library. I need to drop off a book that I finished yesterday and I also pick up a new book, an audiobook to listen to in the car, and season 7 of The Good Wife on DVD.

6:30 – I’m finally back home and it’s time to eat dinner! Since I forgot my lunch at home this morning, I decide to have that as my dinner so I don’t have to cook anything – I’m feeling lazy. I got a meal from Snap Kitchen (again with the feeling lazy) so I heat that up and eat at my table, which is kind of rare! I’m eating at the table so I can watch my latest course and follow along on my laptop. I’m trying to beef up my resume, so right now I’m watching a course about the newest updates to Adobe Illustrator.

7:30 – Now that my food has had a little time to settle, it’s time to workout. I have a bunch of PopSugar Fitness workouts saved to the “watch later” section of YouTube, so I will pick one of those and get a little workout in. After the workout is done, I’ll cool down and do a serious stretch session.

8:30 – Now that I’m nice and sweaty from my workout, it’s time to shower! Once I get out, I put on one of my favorite charcoal face masks and let that do it’s job while I put some dry shampoo in my hair (I find that using it the night before really helps my hair look less disgusting the next day), brush my teeth, and set out my clothes for tomorrow.

9:00 – I’m still not done with the baby blanket for my niece (I’m so behind, I know!!!!), so I need to sit down and work on it for a little bit. Since I picked up the last season of The Good Wife at the library earlier, I put on an episode to serve as good background noise while I focus on the yarn. I’ve seen the show once before, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I’m not actually watching the TV the entire time.

10:00 – It’s felt like a long day, and I am ready for bed! I stayed up WAY too late last night talking to a friend on the phone (it was a great convo, but I usually don’t stay up that late so now I’m feeling tired!) so I’m sure I’ll fall asleep pretty fast tonight. I try to read another chapter of a book before turning off the light and going to sleep. Goodnight!

There it is – a day in the life of Kelly! I didn’t really capture everything I was doing yesterday, but that’s probably ok because I realized halfway through that I chose a pretty mundane day to keep track of! But that’s kind of ok, right? Because not every day can be super packed full of fun and excitement and events and birthday dinners – some days are just “normal” and that’s totally ok. I hope you had fun following along with me!

Little Tips for Saving Big Money

It’s time to talk about everybody’s favorite subject on the planet – money. It’s not even fun to think about sometimes, am I right? Setting a budget can be hard, and keeping your budget can be even harder. Especially when life keeps getting more and more expensive, but you’re not making any more money.

A few months ago I decided to sign up for a Mint account and it was such a great decision. Actually, it was kinda terrible at first because once you connect your accounts and credit cards, you have to go through and categorize your transactions and that was… not very fun. It was very eye opening. And very not fun. Turns out I was going to Chick-Fil-A way more often than I realized, haha! But once I saw what my spending looked like and set a realistic budget, I was excited and motivated to save save SAVE!

I made a list of practical ways that I could save money to meet my financial goals, and I wanted to share some of the easiest ones with you all!

BRING YOUR LUNCH! There is nothing more expensive that buying your lunch at work. Especially if you work downtown in a big city and don’t drive to work, so your only food options are the expensive ones you can walk to. It really adds up to spend $10-15 every day just for lunch alone, so bring it as often as you can!

COOK AT HOME! The same thing goes for dinner – it really adds up with you just hit the drive thru on the way home. You might not think about it, but the cost certainly adds up. Cooking at home is such an easy way to save (and probably eat a lot healthier, too!)

GIVE UP CABLE! This might be a hard one for some people, but giving up cable can save a ton of money every month. Most of the shows you’re wanting to watch are probably available to view online.

GIVE UP NETFLIX! Why not take it a step further?!? Giving up your streaming service can save you an extra $10-ish a month and that can really add up in a positive way! Plus all the movies and TV shows can be rented for free at your local library!

RENT BOOKS! Speaking of the library… it’s so awesome!! Renting books instead of buying them new will save so much money if you’re a big reader! I can even put my name on waiting lists for books that are about to be released, so I can still read them right away!

SIGN UP FOR EMAILS! For the discounts, duh. If you are going to be shopping, you might as well be saving while doing it.

WORKOUT AT HOME! There are so many awesome boutique fitness places out there, and they are so expensive. SO expensive. Even the run-of-the-mill gyms can cost a lot every month. There are so many great fitness resources online and most of them are either completely free or pretty cheap!

SKIP STARBUCKS! This one might be hard for you, especially since it’s PSL season and all, but it is so much cheaper to make your coffee at home or wait till you get to work! Thankfully my office provides free coffee and there are tons of flavors to choose from. That wasn’t the case at my last office, and I definitely spent a pretty penny at Starbucks.

DRINK MORE WATER! This is great because not only will you be more hydrated, but you will also be saving money! Not buying soda or alcohol to drink at home will make your grocery bill a lot cheaper, and not drinking soda or especially not drinking alcohol while out to dinner will make your bill SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper.

SIGN UP FOR MINT! Or a similar service! Seriously – it has been so helpful to keep a detailed track of my spending and where I can be saving more each month. You’ll thank me, I promise!