Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Club: Ready Player One

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

What I Didn't Like:
So this book is chock full of movie, music, tv and pop culture references from the 1980's. I wasn't around for the 80's, but I did manage to understand a good chunk of the references. I am usually a book skimmer, so I know if I hadn't listened to the audiobook I would have skipped over a lot of the arduous details. For example, many references are made to specific types of computers that were invented in the 80's, including details about the model numbers and capacities. Not really my thing. 

There were also a few rants in this book that while mildly important to the world building, I found them annoying. Kind preachy, I guess. 

What I Liked:
This was a really fun book! I thought the concept was awesome and I know it will make a great movie. It's set in our not too distant future, so a lot of it really seemed possible. I'm not really into video games, but we did the Star Wars VR experience at Disney Springs earlier this year, and so I think that helped me immerse myself into this book. 

A note on the audiobook: I really enjoyed listening to this one. The whole book I was trying to place the familiar voice reading to me! I had to laugh when the credits said performed by Wil Wheaton. He must have had a fun time reading his own reference in the book! 

Overall Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars (1: hated it, 2: didn't like it, 3: liked it, 4:liked it, 5: loved it)

So, this is a book for nerdy people. In fact, people who love video games, movies, books, pop culture, etc, will love this book. I know my husband is going to love it. I more than mildly enjoyed it, as a person who is, admittedly, partially into nerdy stuff. In fact, almost all of the references I did know were because of my husband. It's a cool book that marries the past with the future. I do think, though, that this is going to make a much better movie than book because of all the references. 

Leave a comment below if you've read Ready Player One! I'd really like to know what you thought of it and if you understood all the references. Planning to see the movie? And tell me what you are currently reading! Follow along on Goodreads!

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Favorite and Trusty Decluttering Principles

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!

"Does it spark joy?" 
Full transparency: I haven't read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's popularity was soaring enough, though, that I got the main idea. (And the folding technique! Game-changer!) The idea is that you should not keep items unless it makes you happy. I found that many items in my house instantly sparked happiness and it was a no-brainer to keep those things. Other things didn't. I had a picture frame that had to be propped up just right or it would fall over-I was always annoyed with it. So, why would should I keep it up? 

Some items aren't as easily identified as being joy-sparkers. For example, wearing a pair of socks might not exactly make you happy, but you'll see that there are pairs you always reach for and some you don't. The ones you always reach for are obviously favored, so keep those and toss the rest. 

TLDR: If it makes you happy or has a purpose, it's serving you just fine and you should keep it! 

"Is it a Just-In-Case item or a Just-For-When item?"
I heard this principle on The Minimalists Podcast. It made perfect sense to me, and I think it really marries well with the sparking joy principle. 

There is a big difference between holding on to an item 'just in case' versus 'just for when...'. Let me try to explain. You may have a snowboard, gloves, a mask and a ski jacket. If you are holding on to them just in case you might go snowboarding one day, you can probably get rid of those items. But, if you and your family go snowboarding every year, then you have those items just for when you go on your annual vacation. In that case, you can probably hang on to that stuff. It serves a purpose, it's not there just in case. 

This step actually requires you to go a little deeper than surface level. It causes you to really analyze why you are keeping things. It helped me to see reality versus what I would like to do in a fantasy version of my life. 

"Would I Buy This Again?"...At Full Price
If you were in a store right now, and saw your item on the shelf, would you buy it again? And if you aren't positive, ask yourself if you would buy it again, at full price. I found this question very polarizing! It helped me to decide whether to keep something or not very quickly, because the reality is most of the time it's a no. 

There are those favorite things that you have, though, that you know you'd scoop up ten of if you had the chance. I'm one of those weird people who finds a pair of pants that I like, and then buys every color they make it in. (True story. I have 6 pairs of the same ankle pants from Old Navy.) That's what I want my life to be filled with-my favorite stuff! Nothing I'm not completely happy with. 

"Organized Clutter Is Still Clutter."
My house was always neat and tidy, and people complimented how organized things were before I decluttered. So, why did I need to declutter an already organized house? Because, the clutter was hiding in about 100 bins throughout my house. Everything was tucked away or neatly spaced in cabinets. 

The thing is, organized clutter is still clutter. I had to go through everything! I can't even tell you what random junk I found hiding around the house. Scraps of cardstock were nicely placed inside my craft supply rubbermaid. Those scraps were literal garbage that I thought I'd keep 'just in case'. For what, I dunno. No one knew they were there, except me. The crazy thing was after my big purge, I had and still have several empty rubbermaids and bins that I was able to eliminate because of decluttering and consolidating.  

"Do I Already Have Something That I Could Use Instead?"
The cherry on top of organizing, is organizing without spending any money. I am huge proponent of shopping your own house first! This principle can be applied to little things, like kitchen tools. If you already have a good knife set, the chances of you needing an avocado pitter or melon baller are lower. (Except, I definitely kept my grapefruit knife..that thing is totally worth it.) If you have something that can do the job already, eliminate the extra. 

This is a great money saver too! About a month ago, our ottoman in the living room pretty much bit the dust. (#puglife) Before we went out and bought a new one, I remembered I had a small bench under our guest room desk. Because no one really uses that desk as a desk, I decided to shop our house first and move it into the living room. We will get a new one eventually, but only when we find the perfect solution. 

And because everyone loves a good before and after, I thought I'd share a little project my mom and I worked on this month! We were able to overhaul my parent's walk in closet, dresser, linen closet and bathroom cabinet. I haven't gotten to declutter in awhile, since my house is pretty much finished. Although, it's never going to really be finished! You do have to constantly reevaluate so that you can stay clutter free!

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!

Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!Trusty Decluttering Principles and Ideas!
We were able to collect and donate 5 full black bags, an air mattress, and a bookshelf after just a few hours!

Okay everybody, leave a comment below if you love before and afters! Do you struggle with decluttering, or are you happy to get rid of stuff? What questions do you ask yourself when deciding whether or not to keep something? 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spring Cleaning & Recent Home Purchases

It's amazing how different I begin to feel when it warms up! I really don't feel like myself when it's cold. The warm sun makes me feel alive! One way I know that's true, is that at the first sign of spring I start to feel the need to spring clean. Our spring started really early this year! It was downright hot the second weekend in February. (Although the temperatures seemed to level out again, and we are back down to the 70s/40s.) 

Since my BIG declutter in 2016 I really don't have a ton of stuff anymore. In fact, I hadn't really purchased anything decor wise for our house in a long time. When I got my new letterboard I did swap a few things around to give it a perfect home. That also inspired me to swap out our living room throw pillows for the ones in our office. Just that simple act of rearranging a few things made our house feel fresher! (And I ended up finding a trunk load more of things to donate!) 

Let's Stay Home
When we were in Lowes last month, I couldn't resist this adorable "Let's Stay Home" sign. It's meant to look like painted wood, and I've had a few guests think it was something I whipped up myself. I can't seem to find it on Lowe's website, but if you love the sentiment as much as I do, Amazon has some great options

Let's Stay Home Sign // Pugs & Pearls Blog

The Shed
So, we have an abnormally huge shed. It's really more of a workshop, but it also houses our laundry room and has plenty of room for our ping pong table. Yeah, it's that big. When Blake bought the house, there was actually a kitchenette and bed out there-someone was living in it! 

The shed has sort of been neglected. When I started moving in, we spent a whole weekend gutting it and cleaning it out because I had the grand idea of making it an art studio. It needed the clean out, but I quickly realized we should be spending our energy and money on the inside of the house first! Since then it's been a catch all. We did drywall and finish the laundry room/ping pong table half, so that looks decent. The other half houses all of our tools, yard equipment and odds and ends. I would show pictures, but you know-robbers. 

For our anniversary, Blake's gift from me was a new tool box he had been eyeing for months. It's actually beautiful in person, and he had a blast sorting his tool collection. It sort of inspired a complete declutter/organization of the whole shed. It turned out SO nice. It's still a shed, but I don't get the heebie-jeebies out there anymore. 

We found some RANDOM stuff in the shed. Including a box of Blake's childhood stuff. Trophies, pez dispensers, and legos just to name a few. My niece and nephews loved seeing some new stuff in their toy bin here at our house. A lot of the stuff had to be tossed, but most of it came clean enough to have a new life. 

This nail organizer was such a game changer! We have quite the collection because of DIY projects. Now it's all sorted out and we are ready for our next project. 

Garage Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Garage Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

My New Garden
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be growing a garden, I'd laugh. I was raised in the city, so when I first moved here and all the people I met had gardens I felt left out! I had a pretty successful garden the first year we were married. It was just a rectangle, with 2x4s as the frame. There were lots of problems with that garden, namely that it was too shallow and that it got in the way of mowing the yard. 

This time we were going to do it right! We followed this tutorial, which we actually found very confusing. They say "I'm making two tables so you won't need this many [boards]" but then proceed to give us the correct amount of boards. Anyways, we managed! 

This thing is SOLID. It isn't going anywhere, especially now that it's filled with dirt. I'm growing tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, and some herbs. We will see how it goes! I'm out of practice. 

It's killing me that the rest of the yard needs attention. We have 2 large oak trees on one side of our house that drop leaves every spring. It's absolutely pointless to do anything until that's over with. I hate when everything is brown! I can't wait for everything to come back. 

Raised Garden Bed // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Raised Garden Bed // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Color Printer and Paper Cutter
Alright, you know how excited I get about office supplies! I'm not sure how we made it this long without a color printer. I'm obsessed! We also bought some photo paper, and I've really enjoyed printing out some new photos to hang up around the house. (Again, it's those little things that refresh a space!) 

I replaced the prints in the frames on the shelves in the guest room with some photos from the beach trip we took in 2014. That was one of my favorite trips! It was a close tie with some pictures from  our Jamaican honeymoon, but that's the cool part, I can easily do that if I want to later on.  

 Canon Color Printer // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Guest Room // Pugs & Pearls Blog

So, I've also been dabbling in invitations. I made the invitations for my sister's baby shower, and I also just made one for our congregation fish fry. It's been SO fun to do. But, a paper cutter is essential!! I don't know how I lived without one. 

Invitation Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Car Diffuser
I kind of felt silly buying this, but I love it so much I'm glad I did. Groupon has this great diffuser that fits perfectly in your car's cup holder. I love diffusing peppermint in the car because it helps keep me awake and headache free. This one also comes with a regular power cord so you can plug it in inside. I brought it into the kitchen when I accidentally burned (or is it burnt?) something!

Essential Oil Car Diffuser // Pugs & Pearls Blog

I may have never wanted anything more in my entire life! My parents, grandparents and siblings all went in to buy us a Roomba for our anniversary! With 3 pugs, you do a lot of floor maintenance. I was sweeping basically every day. I pride myself in having a home that doesn't look or smell like dogs live there. 

This could not be more perfect. Roomba has a schedule, and our floors are always cleaned before we get home. It's legitimately life changing. Bailey and Delly don't really pay attention to it, but Winston still barks at it occasionally. He's a mess. 

By the way, everyone I know who has one of these gives it a name. We went with DJ Roomba because of Parks & Rec. :)

Roomba // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Roomba // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Props to you if you stayed until the end! I am obviously long winded when it comes to cleaning and organizing. It's something that I'm actually passionate about. Hopefully as it warms up some more, we can get some stuff done in the yard and I can continue minimizing our home!

Leave a comment below if you are as crazy as me and actually love spring cleaning! Let me know what projects you've got in the works!
Affiliate Links Present!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Letter Board Letter Organization

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Just popping in to share a simple solution to organizing all of those teeny plastic letters for your letter boards! I've been coveting a letter board for so long, and I'm just thrilled to have one! When I was popping out the letters for it's maiden voyage at my sister's baby shower, I knew I was going to need to come up with a good way to store them. A plastic baggy was not going to work!!

Amazon to the rescue! (What did I ever do without prime?!) I found a perfectly size tackle box, that I think was intended for bead storage. It has 36 slots, so just right for sorting and storing letters and numbers. I may even get fancy in the future and slap some labels on this thing! 

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Letter Board Letter Organization // Pugs & Pearls Blog

I already have several phrases and quotes that I want to spell out on my letter board! I think that if I had to go digging and searching for letters I'd be less inclined to change it out often. But, this makes it easy! 

Leave a comment below if you are an organization junky like me! It's even better when it's an incredibly simple solution isn't it?! If you have a letter board, tell me what you've got written on it! 
This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Thoughts On Our 8th Anniversary

Today is our 8th anniversary! Blake and I met in 2008. So while we got married in 2010, we've now been part of each other's lives for a decade. I remember seeing other couples celebrating their 10th anniversary and thinking just how far ahead that would be. Now it's sort of staring us in the face! 

We always start celebrating our anniversary early. On our first anniversary I'm pretty sure we gave each other gifts in December because we couldn't wait until February! I kind of love that though. Anniversaries are something we always made a big deal about in our family growing up. I had so much fun decorating cakes for my mom and dad. They ended up hideous, but my parents loved it. 

This year we are keeping it semi-low key because we are taking a bigger trip in June. Spring is just a little too busy this year, so we will just keep celebrating on into summer! No complaints here. 

I always get super nostalgic around this time, so I dug up a few pictures that tell our story:
On our first official date! Disney // January 2009
Hanging with friends at Olive Garden // October 2009
After he proposed! // October 3, 2009

Our Wedding Shower // February 7, 2010
Our Wedding! // February 27, 2010
Honeymooning in Jamaica // March 2010 
Did you know that each anniversary has a traditional gift associated with it? Year 1 is paper...year 5 is wood...etc. Like most traditions, the idea of giving someone a year themed gift hasn't really translated into 2018. But, just for fun I like to read the descriptions and find out why each year has been designated as that theme. 

Year number 8 is the bronze anniversary. While I don't intend to give my husband a bronze statue as a gift, the description of the year fully resonated with me:

Blended of two elements bronze molds into a single entity that is durable enough to last a lifetime. Much alike this long term marriage where the blending of two personalities united by common interests and goals their loyalty to one another is by this point solidifying their trust into a strong and enduring bond. (source)

This is exactly how I feel! There is so much love and newness when you first get married. It's great and essential to start your life together. I just had NO idea how much more you can love a person after time. I no longer feel like my own person. My identity is completely fused together with his just like bronze. 

This past year was SO interesting for us. After reading my post last year again, I realized just how much had changed. We had a tougher beginning to 2016, so we ended that year with some lifestyle changes to fix it. So 2017 was all about reaping the benefits of those changes! It was definitely a harvest season. (Part of the reason I made my mission statement for 2018! It works!)

Last May we moved to a new congregation to be more useful. That was definitely our big adventure in year 7. It was one of those things we had the completely wrong idea about. I thought we'd be helping them, but it was the opposite. We were the ones to grow. Funny how that works. It's ALWAYS a good thing to step out of your comfort zone. Of course, it's even better when you have someone to jump with.

When I look at those kids in the pictures above I'm just mesmerized. How on earth could that be us?! Despite that weird disconnect, I'm SO happy with who those 2 became. Blake and I have complete opposite personalities, but we absolutely have the same mission in life and those goals make me feel more than ever that we are a team. I really think he is the best thing about me.

Happy Anniversary Blake! 
Original Post

Leave a comment below if you feel like time is slipping through your fingers! Do you feel weird when you look at old pictures of yourself? Do you pay attention to the themes of each anniversary? If you do, do you feel like they ring true to your relationship?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Top Golf - One of the most fun things I've ever done!

Anytime we've visiting the Town Center in Jacksonville or driven past on 295 my eyes have gone wide when we see the giant nets surrounding Top Golf. Every time go by we always said we should go one day! Well we finally did, and now I'm wondering what took us so long. 

FAQ (aka Questions I had Before We Went) 
How it works: Basically it's bowling meets golf. You hit golf balls from your group's bay and try to hit the targets. The balls have chips in them so you know where they end up. There are multiple styles of games you can play, so the targets vary in points. But, essentially the further your ball goes and the closer it comes to the flags equal more points. 

The games: You select your game from the touch screen in your bay, and then when it's your turn you have to select who is swinging. We found it best to hit 5 balls at a time, because only hitting one at a time would take forever. When it's your turn you wave your club in front of a sensor and it spits out a ball. 

Each bay has: A set of clubs, so you don't have to bring any unless you want to. Each bay also either has a table or a couch for you to lounge on. It's also a full service restaurant, so while you wait your turn you can have a drink and snack on something! 

The food: If you didn't feel up to golfing, you could totally just go to eat! Blake and I ordered the Pineapple Punch, which was not only delicious, but it also came in a hilarious golf bag light up cup! We also ordered the cheese fries and the guacamole appetizer. It was so good and perfect for sharing. The real MVP were the donut holes...which came with filling injectors!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

How much it costs: So, this is what I had the hardest time researching! That's why I wanted to share, in case any one else is curious. 
- To reserve your bay: Some days of the week, usually peak times, require you to pay to reserve your bay. We went on President's Day in the afternoon and did not have to pay for our bay. But, a Friday night at 7:30 does usually cost something. You can make a reservation online though, which I thought was great! 
- Membership card: They do require that you buy a $5 lifetime membership card. You only have to buy it once. 
- You pay by the hour: Just like bowling, you pay by the hour. And the hour price is based on the time of day. Early in the day is $25/hour, noon to 5 is $35/hour and 5-close is $45/hour. You can have 6 people in your bay, and it's easy to split those fees from your touch screen. You'll get time warnings from your screen and you can easily add more time if you are having fun and aren't ready to quit! Which is what we did. I think we played for 3 hours! 

We had a blast. It really was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. The whole time I kept thinking about when we could go back and who else would love it! Even if you aren't a golfer you will have fun. There are several targets quite close, so it's easy for kids or inexperienced adults to get points. 

Leave a comment below if you've ever been to Top Golf and what you thought of it! If you haven't, let me know if you would consider it! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Sister's Bee Themed Baby Shower!

After months of planning, I was so so so excited to host my sister's baby shower this past weekend! It turned out beautifully and better than I could have dreamed. We did a bumble bee theme to celebrate the "mommy-to-bee" and "bay-bee" Lennox. 

This is her second baby boy, so she really didn't need a whole lot of stuff, but it was nice to get everyone together nonetheless. She loved it and they got all their baby supply bases covered for his arrival sometime at the end of next month. Can't wait to hold him! 

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

Bee Themed Baby Shower Inspiration // Pugs & Pearls Blog

That last photo cracks me up! All the kids LOVE to watch you open up presents anyway, but when Carter opened up his big brother presents they went bananas. I was also really tired at this point, haha. Thank you Chabeli for these great pictures!

My favorite touches:
The backdrop was a labor of love. Blake and Austin worked really hard to build it. It's pretty amazing, and kind of deserves it's own post! It's modular so it's easy to transport and it's also very secured on the back. Carter ran full speed right into it and it didn't budge! Big thank you to Staci for painting the hexagon design for us!

My friend Neena made the flower poms that hung over the tables. I'm positive those will be at every party I throw from here on out. Also, one of her students keeps bees, and he made us the bees wax lip balms and honey straws. It's legit better than Burt's Bees! (I made the gift tag cards using Canva.)

I'm SO happy we included a kid's area in the backyard. We covered their table in craft paper and they went to town coloring on it. I also bought a few dinosaurs, some hula hoops and bubbles. They loved it and it let their mom's relax. My gift was a teepee for the boy's room, which I added to the kids area. It was a cute idea, but 10/10 do not recommend putting it at a party. It's meant for quiet reading in a bedroom not for crazy kids chasing each other in and out of. 

The cake came from a local baker, and I added this cake topper. Not a slice was leftover! I also loved the way these wooden hexagons turned out and I can't wait to reuse them in my house. Most of the food came from Publix, including the cupcakes that I dressed up with sugar bees and dessert skirtz. The bee pillow and honey dippers turned out really cute too! I have to say that these feather winged bees were a great purchase too, because we were able to place them around the party to keep the theme going. 

This was such a fun party to plan, and it went perfectly. My only wish is that I could have enjoyed it as a guest!