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that awkward moment when you forget to blog

61c83377-cd68-473b-8668-568120bb54e3As I write this, our sweet little girl dog Delaney is trying to use my lap and arms as a dog bed… which should be reason enough to explain my brief absence from the blogging world. Lately, I’ve been all over the place- beer fests with friends, bridesmaid dress fittings, work trips that extend to much-needed R&R. Most of 2019 has been the antithesis of me being in front of my computer!

Read on for a couple of additional things that have kept me away from my blog!

Setting up a Qapital account
I love the concept of set-it and forget-it. All of our charitable donations are done through recurring monthly gifts, and I love how easy it is the use small gifts to make a big impact. I love saving money in this same way. Brendan and I set up a joint Qapital account to save towards a trip, build a nest egg, and reward good habits with money toward things we want to buy.

Saving with Qapital www.deniseadelek.comI turned the round up feature on, and all transactions on my card get rounded up to the nearest dollar, and that change goes into our travel slush fund account. Every time we use our debit cards, a dollar goes to our nest egg. Additionally, whenever I hit 10,000 steps, or enter the geofence I made for the gym, I get $1 toward the Louis Vuitton Neverfull I’ve been lusting after.

It’ll feel so rewarding to press buy on the purse after I “earned” it, as opposed to just buying it straight up. Get your own account here.

Still doing WeightWatchers
I started doing WeightWatchers last fall as an opportunity to be accountable with my nutrition, and also try to lose some weight. I’ve had a great time discovering low-point treats and making fun substitutes. Who knew that cauliflower crust pizza could be so good? The new SmartPoints (SP) make it really easy for me to load up on zero-point veggies and save my points for yummy cider and champagne.

My favorite treat is to whip up a batch of sugar-free vanilla pudding (1SP per serving), throw in some slices bananas (0SP) and top it with a dollop of Cool-Whip (1SP for 2 tablespoons). You can sprinkle graham crackers on top for another point or two, and it feels like a really decadent dessert.

Reading a million ARCs

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I went a little crazy over on Netgalley and ended up with 12 books to read and review for the first half of 2019. I’m on a book buying and library book hiatus until I can make a dent in these reviews, but naturally this hasn’t stopped anything. Books keep showing up at my doorstep!

I recently read and LOVED American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton. I’ll be sharing a review of it soon, but it comes out next Tuesday and is worth tracking down. I’ve been on such a historical fiction kick lately, that I couldn’t resist!

Booking a bunch of trips
Nothing is more satisfying than putting a trip (or three) on the calendar! This spring and summer, we are going to be traveling all over. My mom and I booked a girls weekend trip to New Orleans (of course) to celebrate a few milestones. Brendan and I will be heading to Austin and Des Moines to visit friends and family, then we’ll end the summer with two weddings in Denver and Milwaukee. Nothing like getting those hotel and airline points!

Now accepting any and all Austin & DSM suggestions in the comments below! Happy Friday Eve!

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November Update

It’s been a moment or two since my last post, and as I sit down to write this I’m coming up with exactly zero good excuses as to why I haven’t been posting… rather than come up with a good story, here’s what I have been up to:

Trying (and succeeding) to eat healthier
Back in August, I bit the bullet and admitted that counting my macros was not for me. I downloaded the Weight Watchers app, and after seeing my mom almost effortlessly lose 25 lbs over the summer, I decided to give it a go! I consider myself a reformed candy queen now, which is saying something, and I’ve cut out alcohol during the week. It’s easy to be accountable, but also to eat/drink out in moderation. The programming is definitely worth checking out, and with their new re-brand, this is not the Weight Watchers of the 1990s.

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Taking advantage of weekend getaways
A few weekends ago, my husband and our friends took advantage of Nashville only being a few hours down the road and took a weekend trip. Lately a lot of our trips have involved flying somewhere warm when it’s cold, but there are so many great cities within driving distance from the Midwest. We’ve really been feeling a trip out to Kansas City to check out the brewery scene out there, and I’ve been dying to make an Art Deco pilgrimage out to Detroit. Anywhere else we should add to our list?

Beau and Delaney

Doubling the four-legged fun
We rescued the sweetest little angel, Delaney, last month from a rescue that is based out of the boarding and training business we take Beau to. Delaney had been found by animal control more than a year earlier and pulled in by the kennel’s rescue. Our timid, shy girl had been kicking it at the kennel living her best life, but was not fond of going to adoption events. The rescue had thought she would be the perfect kennel mascot, but when she tore her ACL playing (lol), they thought it might be good for her to have a forever home. Beau and Delaney are old friends from day care, and she’s fit right in at our house. She’s come out of her shell a ton and is the sweetest little couch potato around.

Hope you all are gearing up for a fun and relaxing holiday weekend, with lots of delicious Thanksgiving food to be shared!

-Denise

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a few things I’ve been up to

You may (or may not have, until I called it out) noticed that it’s been almost a month since my last post here. I wanted to share what I’ve been up to that has kept me off my laptop.

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Embarking on some low-key adventures
My parents and I took off on a short weekend trip to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin in their new home in northern Massachusetts and enjoyed a ton of delicious mussels, oysters and lobster rolls. We spent lots of time enjoying the many, many couches and reading nooks at my aunt’s house, and got to relax without feeling the pressure to get out and do a million things. My aunt lives in what I would consider the ideal reading retreat– very Walden-esque in a small country town outside of Boston.

I wrote the majority of this post on a cozy couch in New Orleans, where Brendan and I have joined my parents for a long weekend, that will probably be anything but low-key!

where the crawdads sing by delia owens | deniseadelek.com

Reading- of course
My snuggle buddy, Beau and I have have been tearing through books in the last few weeks, including a bunch of exciting advance read copies. I loved The Dinner List by Rebecca Searle, and Beau loved The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain so much that he left some saliva on it. I jumped right into Where the Crawdads Sing for my book club’s October pick, though I’m trying to take it slow and savor this beautiful title.

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Enjoying my husband’s extended and uninterrupted time home
Brendan was gone for an entire month earlier this summer, many of those days without a cell phone or a way to communicate. Since he’s been back in mid-August, I’ve loved having plenty of time to spend together without having to think about when his next drill weekend is, or my next work trip. We have almost two uninterrupted months and we’ve done lots of things! We had a concrete patio poured in our yard, perfect for hosting friends for dinner and using our new Big Green Egg to smoke and grill delicious meals.

Hope you’re having a wonderful beginning to an eventful fall! This week I’m looking forward to dinner with our parents, some much-needed yard projects and hopefully a glass of champagne (or two)

-Denise

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dabbling with Dabble

I think I can chalk it up to Emily Ley and her Ruthless Decluttering Challenge that was all over social media earlier this month, but I was really feeling the notion of “experiences not things” when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year. When Brendan was gone an entire month last summer for the Army, I didn’t wish that I had more jewelry, clothes or decor, I wished that he was with me. This year, it was a no-brainer that what I really wanted was to eat an awesome meal and find something fun to do together.

dusek's | michelin star restaurant in chicago's pilsen neighborhood | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

Using Dabble, my husband found an awesome recycled wine bottle candle-making class in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The class was run by Chicago Candle Company, a brand that I have seen in a local shops, and all over Instagram. We headed into the city early, stopping at Dusek’s Board and Beer on 18th Street, which may have been one of my best Yelp finds yet! We didn’t realize at first that this was one of Chicago’s Michelin star gems, but quickly fell in love with the menu, beer list and the ambiance. The location mixes old with new really well, and without being overly on-trend. I had oysters and a curried chicken salad, and Brendan had the “Juicy Lucy” burger, which looked just as mouthwatering as my meal! Worth a stop if you’re in the area, and Pilsen definitely warrants an adventure. We will definitely go back and explore more!

The candle-making class itself was the icing on the cake after our delicious meal. We learned all about how to select the perfect wine bottle to recycle as a candle holder, and our instructor took his time to make sure that everyone felt comfortable working with the glass cutter and open flame. The loft/warehouse space is their candle-making studio, and set up to be extremely efficient to make large orders, but we were taught how we could do something like this at home on our own as well.

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Using a special tool, you score the bottle lightly, which weakens the glass. You then use heat from a flame very briefly, and dunk the bottle in cold water. We got to choose from some of CCC’s most popular scents, and learned how to heat the wax, measure it, color and scent it. I struggled to narrow down a scent, but ended up with Mint Julep, while Brendan chose Whiskey & Sweet Tobacco, which was a really clean masculine scent.

chicago candle company candle-making class | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

As we waited for our wax to harden in the fridge, our instructor took us to see his favorite view of the city from the roof of the studio. Growing up on the north side of the city and then in the far north suburbs, I’ve never gotten used to seeing the city from a different approach. We had amazing un-obstructed views north to the skyline, and the photoshoot all of our classmates had killed the 20 minutes we needed to wait for our candles to cool.

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I’m already scheming making more recycled wine bottle candles on my own, and of course I’m prowling the Dabble website to see what other cool things we can try. I hope this post has inspired you to try a new hobby or pursue an experience the next time you have a gift to give or receive!

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what I’ve actually been doing

Lately I’ve been dreading clicking “new post” and trying to come up with words to put here. I’ve been feeling like I have 9 balls up in the air and I’m trying to juggle them all, but when I sit down to create a post I feel like I haven’t been up to anything!

I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right? So because of feeling a certain way, this post is not about a specific topic, but a wrap-up of the things I’ve been up to in the last two weeks of radio silence on the blog!
deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I placed a few holds on some library books, and promptly forgot about them. Conveniently, everything seemed to arrive at the same time, and I found myself under a lot of pressure to get them read and returned. I read the ebook version of An American Marriage and think that I missed the hype surrounding that book. It was an easy page turner, and wonderfully written, but something about it just didn’t do it for me. I would absolutely grab another book written by this author down the road in hopes that it was the end-all-be-all.

Right now I’m about a quarter of the way through This Is How It Begins and feel like it’s a page turner, albeit a slower one. I’m having a hard time keeping track of some of the names, but can tell this is building up to be a great read.

hello emily makes at the spring vintage market | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

Considering that Facebook is mostly click bait, MLM crap and acquaintances oversharing, I will admit that I’ve found a ton of fun local events because of Facebook. Last weekend, I found an adorable vintage market a few towns over, and hit up the event with my mother-in-law. We loved all of these beautiful handmade items, especially these hand-painted wood signs by Hello Emily Makes.

In addition to shopping for home decor, I’ve been noodling over picking up a right-hand ring to complement my engagement ring and wedding band. I really love the look of these three bands together, but love the idea of accumulating them slowly and for special occasions. Believe me when I say I am the least patient person ever, so this would end up being three special occasions that I create in the span of a week!

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Thanks for hanging around! Let me know if you’ve read This Is How It Begins, or if you think I should snag one band first and wait for the others, or honestly if you’ve even read this far down 🙂

-Denise

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3 good habits to get into (and one you must ditch)

As a habitual candy eater (many times, before 10:00 AM), some might say I am not the pinnacle of good habits. I have a hard time passing up a Tuesday night glass of champagne, even if my rule is no cocktails on weeknights, but at least I don’t bite my nails!

I’m definitely not going to be found on any self-help bestseller lists anytime soon, but this post consists of three good habits you should be doing if you’re not already, and one thing that we probably all do and shouldn’t! As a bonus, I added an extra habit at the bottom of this post for a laugh.

page a day journal and 3 habits you must try and one you must ditch asap | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

  1. Keep a journal, even if it’s just a single sentence a day.
    Every single July 18th I’m shocked to see it’s been another year in the books- literally- of this page a day journal. I have my fair share of bad habits, and a decent amount of good ones too, but this has got to be one of my best. This journal has traveled with me to 8 countries and 25 states, and I’ve gotten to write down so many incredible highs, as well as some lows, all within these 365 pages.
    No matter what my day has been like, it doesn’t feel complete until after I’ve gotten the chance to write it down on these pages. I think sometimes we rely too much on what social media and technology will memorialize for us, that we overlook the value of tangible memories.

  2. Plan ahead for lunches and dinners

    Nothing is more frustrating that coming home after a long day of work and the gym to standing in front of our fridge and not knowing what to make. 9 times out of 10, the ends up in pizza or carry out that we didn’t actually want or need. My husband and I share a Google Doc (I know, very romantic) where we plan out a week’s worth of dinners, make a list of what we need, and add recipe links for suggestions.

    We end up eating (mostly) healthier than if we were rummaging around for a box of mac and cheese at the last minute, and we’ve gone grocery shopping a lot less often than we used to. It’s been a lot of fun getting to choose and cook the meals together, as well as figuring out hidden talents.

  3. Get something out of spending money, no matter what. This seems silly, but bear with me. I love a good deal, a yummy dinner, or a cute dress as much as the next girl, but I also love knowing that my money spent is also money saved. I downloaded the app Acorns last year and opted to round up to the nearest dollar on every purchase that I make. Acorns puts the pennies into a savings account, and invests your rounded up purchases. To me, this is a no-brainer. If I’m going to buy a coffee for $3.72, then I for sure have the extra $0.28 to spare to go into savings. A swipe here and an automatic payment there have the potential to add up, without being front of mind at all.In about a year, my acorns (ha-haaaaaa) are well on their way to growing into a big oak tree. I’ve saved an extra $1,000 without even thinking about it. By no means am I a financial advisor, and of course you should be saving much more than $1,000 a year, but Acorns is a great way to turn pennies into something with potential.

And last but not least, the habit to ditch- in my opinion- is bringing your phone or iPad into bed with you. I’ve slept with my phone off for the last ten years, and have to say that plugging it in and putting it to bed for the night is a really freeing feeling. Many times my phone *goes to bed* an hour earlier than me, eliminating one major distraction that’s standing between me and good night’s sleep. It’s easy for me to switch off for the day when I transition from looking at a page in a book to lights out, as opposed to going from a brightly lit screen to darkness with no time to acclimate. My husband and I both like to read ebooks on our tablets, but even switching the wifi off helps bridge the gap of overstimulation and bed time.

What’s your best habit that you currently are doing? Let me know in the comments below if there’s a routine I need to get into, or some habits I need to break! If you made it this far, here’s another great habit that was deemed not cool enough for this post: Continuing to wear your retainer so that your mom and dad did not waste thousands of dollars on orthodontia, even when your husband makes fun of you because it glows in the dark and you lisp.

 

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4 book suggestions for spring

Suggesting a book to someone is a tricky, vulnerable situation. Making the perfect recommendation can be hard; am I going to traumatize my mom by suggesting this psychological thriller? Will my friend like the dysfunctional family in this book as much as I did?

4 must read books | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I’ve rounded up my four favorites books to suggest, in hopes that one (or all four!) makes it onto your to-read list. As always, if you love getting books delivered right to your door, be sure to check out Book of the Month. Many of these great reads came from there, and you can’t go wrong building your personal library!

#1 Two Girls Down by Louisa LunaTwo Girls Down | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

I feel like psychological thrillers are a dime a dozen lately, but this book did not disappoint and its original plot was refreshing. Two Girls Down was definitely a page turner that left you guessing up until the very end. I devoured this on a plane ride recently, and was so happy to have snagged it from my Book of the Month box.

I also liked that this book wasn’t too-too scary, because as someone who is home alone at least one weekend a month when my Army officer husband is away, it’s important for me to not feel like I have to have every single light in our house turned on!

 

Nine Women, One Dress | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

#2 Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen

This book was the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for the mid-twentysomething girl who is all grown up. Nine stories are told from the perspective of the must-have dress of the season in NewYork, and the way that the characters are connected is perfection. I must have suggested this book to every female that I came into contact earlier this year, and can’t stop raving about it!

This is great to take on a vacation or to read on a rainy afternoon… I don’t enjoy taking baths, but I feel like this would be a great read with a bubble bath and a glass of wine!

 

#3 A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissnera fall of marigolds by susan meissner | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

This was such a sweet story, told from two different time periods about women in New York experiencing great losses. A nurse at Ellis Island who has exiled herself following the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and a 9/11 widow who is struggling with the approaching anniversary.   This was beautifully woven together, and was such a quick read.

Her most recent book, As Bright As Heaven, was another terrific read. I always enjoy reading historical fiction where I learn a little bit about what life was like, especially in times and places that I’m not entirely familiar with.

 

the last mrs. parrish | 4 go-to book suggestions, spring 2018 | deniseadelek.wordpress.com

#4 The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

This book was intense. I downloaded this as an audiobook for a long car ride based on a recommendation from a friend and was not disappointed! I’m nervous to explain too much about the plot for fear of ruining it, but this page-turner is about a couple who seems to have it all, and a woman who is dead set on breaking their lives apart. I couldn’t get enough of this book; I listened to it at 2X the narration speed on my phone, and ended up downloading the ebook so I could read it even faster.

 

Which book is jumping out at you to grab? Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!