Friday, November 16, 2018

Five on Friday - Gift Ideas for Every Single Person on Your Holiday Shopping List

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

Last year I’d say at least 60% of the gifts we purchased for Christmas were purchased from Amazon.  They have pretty much everything and they beat pretty much every other retailers’ prices, so it’s a no brainer to use them for the majority of our shopping. 

Instead of sprinkling a bunch of different gift guides on the blog throughout the next couple of weeks, I decided that I would just go ahead and put together one big round-up so all of the gift ideas would be in one place.  Consider it your one-stop shop for Christmas!  :o)

O N E – For Her



1 // Amazon Echo – Alexa is all the rage and who wouldn’t want to have her hanging around?

2 // Earrings – these earrings are made of faux leather so they are super lightweight.  You can’t beat the price point for these either.

3 // Yeti Tumbler – these tumblers keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours on end.  Perfect for the water drinker and they come in loads of different colors.

4 // 90 Degree High-Waist Leggings – almost identical to the beloved Zella leggings, these are less than half of the price.  Leggings perfection that any woman would appreciate.  I ADORE mine.  There's a reason why they have 4.5 stars and 4,000 reviews on Amazon!!!!

5 // Ruffled Buffalo Plaid Vest – perfect for fall and winter, this is one of my favorite items in my entire closet!

6 // The 52 Lists Project – I adore making a good list and this journal has 52 different prompts to inspire you.

7 // Cozy Slippers – my feet stay cold, so I live in cozy socks and slippers in the winter.  These come in many different color options and styles.

8 // Hunter Boots – a bit pricey up front but they'll last your entire lifetime and they are worth their weight in gold.  And did you know that Amazon sells them way cheaper than other retailers?

9 // Native Shoes – I have owned these for several months now and they were my most worn shoe last month.  They are seriously magical.  One of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I’ve ever owned and definitely worth every penny... which you'll save a few if you buy from Amazon vs. Nordstrom.

10 // Boot Cuffs – get the look of wearing stylish socks under your boots without actually wearing socks.

11 // Rose Gold Pop Socket – one of my favorite gifts from Christmas last year, my Pop Socket is still going strong and I use it all the time.  Amazon has hundreds of different designs to choose from, too.

12 // Cozy Socks – keep your feet nice and cozy all year round.

13 // Warm Hats – these are just as stylish as they are functional.  They come in sets of two for just $19.99 and there are loads of color combos to choose from.


T W O – For Him



1 // 50 States 5000 Ideas book – loads and loads of ideas for places to go, when to go, and what to see and do when you get there!  It's basically a bucket list for United States travel.  SO COOL!  I'd love to have this and see just how many of those things I've seen and done!

2 // Magnetic Wrist Band - screws and nails stick to the magnet on the outside so you never have to worry about losing them.  This is perfect for the handy man!

3 // If You Can Read This Bring Me a Beer Socks – well these just speak for themselves.  :o)

4 // Portable Bluetooth Speaker – lightweight and portable so you can take you music on the go.  Perfect for the traveler or music lover.  We have this exact speaker and we use it constantly.

5 // Yeti Tumbler – these tumblers keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours on end.  Perfect for the water drinker and they come in loads of different colors.

6 // Bluetooth Beanie Cap – your guy can keep his head warm while still listening to his favorite tunes.  This would be a great gift for a runner!

7 // Amazon Gift Card + Socks – perfect for the guy who is impossible to buy for... just give him something to shop with and he'll also get a pair of cool socks so at least you're including something thoughtful with the gift card!

8 //  Pizza Socks – because funky socks are all the rage and I’ve never met a guy who didn’t love pizza!

9 // Beer Chiller Sticks – freeze these prior to drinking and then slide one in a bottle of beer to keep your beer cold. 

10 // Original Ninendo Gaming System – because who wouldn’t want one of these?!  I didn’t even know they sold these anymore!

11 // Electronics Organizer – organizes all of the cords and accessories for the many electronics we all carry these days.

12 //  Hangry Man Kit – another gift that’s perfect for a guy who’s hard to buy for.  All guys love snacks and this kit will keep him satisfied for a long time!


T H R E E – For the Kids

1 // Hedbanz Game – fun for the whole family!

2 // Kinetic Sand – this stuff keeps our kids busy for HOURS on end.  And it sticks together so they can play with it inside.  It’s the perfect rainy day activity.

3 // Stomp Rocket – this has always been our gift of choice for birthday parties for boys and girls.  Our kids love theirs!

4 // Foam Pogo Jumper - these are already on our shopping list for our kiddos.  They are super popular and highly rated on Amazon and they hold up to 250 lbs. so Momma might just have to have a turn.  ;o)

5 // Karaoke Microphone - your little ones can sing along to music straight from your iPad!  No big karaoke machine to sit around taking up space.

6 // PlasmaCar - there's a reason why this item is a best seller on Amazon... they are SO COOL.  My aunt and uncle have one of these at their house for the kids to play with when we visit and it is definitely a hot commodity.  And it holds up to 220 lbs. so they'll never outgrow it!  This is high on our list for the kids and I'll be trying it out, too!  Haha.

7 // Hot Wheels Ultimate Car Wash - our kids have already asked for this and I'm just shaking my head because HOW MANY HOT WHEELS SETS COULD WE POSSIBLY HAVE?!  Lol.  But seriously, it's supercool and I'd totally be on board if we had a place to put it.  The play room is currently overrun with The Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage!  Ha!

8 // Tent with Projector - my parents got this for our babies last year and they still play in it constantly.  It comes with a projector wand so the kids can see stars in their tent.

9 // The Wonky Donkey – have y’all seen the YouTube video of the grandmother reading this book to her infant grandbaby?  If you haven’t then you must look it up immediately.  It’s hysterical.  Our kids love watching that video so much so they are going to flip when they get the actual book!

10 // Play Doh Sweet Shop Cookie Creations – another item that keeps our kids occupied for hours on end.  Another perfect rainy/cold day indoor activity.

11 // Lego Ship in a Bottle – what on earth will Lego come up with next?  Just when you think they’ve thought of everything they go and invent something awesome like this!  This is going to be one of the hot toys of 2018 so better get yours while it’s in stock!

12 // Water Beads – yet another activity that keeps our kids busy forever.  And this set comes with special tongs which would be nice to have!

13 // Yeti in my Spaghetti – fun for the whole family!  Every time our kids see this commercial they always talk about it so I’m thinking of adding this to my shopping list.


F O U R – For the Babies


1 // Xylophone – babies can make their own music and pound the balls with a hammer.  

2 // Teethers – how adorable are these?

3 // Hip Hop Dancing Goose - it dances and raps, y'all.  Absolutely precious!  I wish this had been around when our kiddos were small!

4 // Car Seat Hanger - hang these colorful characters on baby's car seat to keep them busy.

5 // Play mat - lay and play, tummy time, and sit and play all in one!

6 // Star Projector Night Light - we've had a version of this in our kids' rooms since they were tiny and they still want their stars turned on every night before bed.  This is definitely a gift that will grow with them for years to come!

7 //  Balls, Blocks, and Buddies Play Set - the best of all worlds, balls, blocks, and little characters to play with!

8 // Poppity Pop Musical Dino – this was one of our kids’ favorite toys EVER!  They both played with it tons when they were small.

9 // Sit-to-Stand Walker – this is perfect for the little ones who are just learning to stand and walk.  It’s sturdy enough for them to lean on and walk behind even if they can’t completely hold themselves up yet.  We had this for Olivia and I loved it so much I saved it for our future grand babies!

10 // Ball Pit – another one of our kids’ favorite toys was their ball pit when they were smaller and this one looks awesome! 

11 // Headband Set – these are darling and you can’t beat the price for this eight-pack!

F I V E – Dirty Santa/Gag Gifts

I didn’t originally plan to have this as one of my categories in this post, but as I was browsing Amazon I found some of THE funniest gag gift ideas and I couldn’t not share them!  Some of these are R rated, so just make sure you don't have your babies nearby when you read this part!


1 // What the FXXK Should I Make For Dinner Recipe Book – real recipes that are perfect for the non-cook!

2 // The Official BS Button - my old boss used to have one of these sitting on his desk and he'd pull it out during meetings sometimes just for fun.  Lol.  Maybe you don't work in that kind of office, but if you do, these are hilarious!

3 // People of Walmart Adult Coloring Book – y'all, I had to do a double-take when I saw this.  Lol.  This is absolutely hilarious.

4 // Toilet Coffee Mug – a great novelty item that would be a hilarious gift for a Dirty Santa party.

5 // Beer Belly Fanny Pack – can you even imagine if you saw somebody walking down the street wearing one of these?!  Lol.  Love this!

6 // Prescription Pill Bottle Drink Koozie – another funny one... you have to read the actual label... it's hilarious!

Happy shopping, y’all!  Knock it all out!!!!


*Linking up with A Liz Adventures and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday, A Little Bit of Everything for Friday FavoritesMeet @ the Barre for Friday Favorites, and Cup of Tea for High Five for Friday.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Girl Chat – Tips for Juggling the Holiday Season

We are almost in the thick of the holiday season and preparation has been underway over here for a few weeks already.  With so much going on this time of year, it’s easy to drop the ball on something so it’s important to stay organized!  Here are a few tips from me, the organizational queen (as I’ve deemed myself – hehe), to ensure that your holiday season runs smoothly.  Y'all know I love a good post about organizing!  

Keep One Calendar of Events

With school events, Christmas tree lightings, dinners, holiday plays and shows, parties, get-togethers, traditions, bucket list to-dos, and loads of other events to attend this time of year, it’s so important to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.  I cannot tell you how many events end up overlapping for us this time of year so it’s of utmost importance to use the same calendar to write down all events so you don’t double-book.  Just the other day I went to write down a new event that we wanted to attend, but when I went to put it on my calendar I saw that we already had an event planned for that evening.  Now we just have to decide which one is more important and make a choice, but at least we didn’t commit to something only to realize we couldn’t attend.



Keep a Master To-Do List & Start Checking Things Off Early

I’m a MAJOR list girl so I have master lists for each month of the year (I’ll elaborate more on this when I do my planner/how I stay organized post soon).  My December list has every single thing on it that I could ever need to remember for the month of December including important to-dos, Christmas traditions, and Christmas bucket list items.  Some of the items on my list include:

-          Christmas shopping
-          Christmas tree lighting at B’s work
-          Christmas tree lighting downtown
-          Watch Christmas shows
-          Watch Christmas movies
-          Visit Santa
-          Drive around and look at Christmas lights
-          Plan annual girls’ Christmas Scarf Exchange
-          New Christmas PJs for kids
-          New ornaments for kids
-          Outfits for entire family for Christmas Eve mass
-          Plan Christmas breakfast menu
-          Christmas dishes I need to bring for family get-togethers

And the list goes on… and on and on and on.  :o) 

I pull this list out each year and transfer all of the events and to-dos to my planner which ensures that nothing is forgotten.  This also enables me to spread stuff out evenly throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas so that way we’re not trying to cram everything in at the last minute.  I love having this complete overview of the season and spreading everything out over the 6-8 weeks before Christmas significantly cuts down on stress. 



Make a Gift List and Check it Twice

I don’t know about you, but we have a ton of people who we buy gifts for every year… parents, siblings, the kids, the kids’ teachers, kids from our outreach program at church, etc.

Each year around September, I make a list of every single person for whom we have to shop.  I leave a few blank spaces in between each person’s name so I can write down gift ideas in pencil, and then when I actually purchase the gifts, I write them down in pen along with a running total in pencil of how much we’ve spent on each person.  Once I'm completely done shopping for someone I cross their name out in pink highlighter.  This method really comes in handy for the kids since we are buying stuff for them for several weeks leading up until Christmas.  This ensures that we don’t overspend and it also ensures that we spend around the same amount of money on each of them. 

I prefer to use the paper/pen/pencil method for my lists, but an Excel spreadsheet would be great for all of you e-list makers.  Either way, just be sure to keep track of everything!  Having a complete list of everything we’ve purchased also serves as a reminder of everything that I have hidden away.  If it’s all written down then Santa knows exactly what he needs to leave out on Christmas Eve and he doesn’t forget anything!  ;o)

Below is an example of my list from last year.  I blocked out how much we spent on each person because there's no need to put our business out there.  ;o)



Set Reminders

Now that you’re organized to the max with all of your lists, you just need to make sure that you stick to the plan!  You can be as organized as you possibly can and still forget something.  That’s why it’s important to set reminders!  When in doubt, put a reminder in your planner (or set an alarm on your phone) a couple of days before something important has to be done and then set one more reminder that day to ensure you don’t forget. 

Anybody else receive visits from that pesky little elf?!  Haha.


ENJOY!!

It's the most wonderful time of the year and it'll be over in the blink of an eye so enjoy it to the fullest!  If you find yourself getting too stressed just try to remember the real reason for the season.  :o) 

I have used this method for several years now and it really works for me.  How do you stay organized this time of year?


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*Linking up with Home of Malones for Thoughts for Thursday.




Wednesday, November 14, 2018

One Year Later – How We’re Doing Financially After I Quit My Corporate Job to be a Stay at Home Mom

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

This Saturday will officially mark one whole year since I quit my corporate job to be a stay at home mom.  While one of my long-term goals in life was to get to a point where I could eventually stay at home, it was not one of my goals for 2017.  Heck, it wasn’t even on my radar for 2018.  But due to circumstances at work, an opportunity presented itself, and after a lot of discussion and even more praying, B and I decided that I should take a leap of faith. 

And I did. 

And it has been the absolute biggest blessing.


This past year I have been to every single one of the kids’ class parties, I’ve been on loads of field trips with them, I spent an entire lazy summer off with them, I’ve volunteered countless times at their school, I’m rocking the room mom gig for Jacob’s class this school year, and B and I haven’t once had to scramble to figure out who was going to watch the kids on one of their many days off during the school year.  Gone is the mom guilt for missing any of the kids’ activities, and gone is the corporate employee guilt for having to take another long lunch or leave work early one more time.

Can I get an amen?!

However, along with my newfound freedom has also come new responsibility – cutting back on our spending and watching our money even more carefully than ever.  Before I get into the details, here is a little bit of background information on Brian and me…

B and I were both born with the gift of financial responsibility and both of us were well into our careers before we were engaged, so we both entered our marriage with zero debt (aside from B’s home mortgage, which is now our mortgage for the home we built together) and decent-sized savings accounts.  Because of this, we have been very blessed to be able to live comfortably since day one of our marriage.  Had circumstances been different (lots of debt, no savings, just out of college and starting our careers), I’m sure we would not have felt comfortable enough for me to take such a drastic leap like this. 

Before I quit, B and I looked at our monthly income, deducted my salary, went over our budget, decided where we could make some cuts, and we knew that we could swing it before I ever quit.  I NEVER WOULD HAVE QUIT MY JOB IF THERE HAD BEEN ANY UNCERTAINTY!! 

Now that you know a little bit about our financial background, I’m going to share all of the ways that we have cut back this past year and then I will answer the question about how we’re actually doing overall. 

How We’re Saving Money

(Please note that some of these figures are exact, but most of them are estimates and they do vary from month to month):

  1. Moved Olivia from daycare to Pre-K4 at her new school.  Her new school is a private school so we are still paying tuition, but we are saving money each month since it is no longer considered daycare. – Total Monthly Savings $323
  2. Took Jacob out of after-school care since I can now pick him up in the car line – Total Monthly Savings $112 ($135.00/month x 10 months during the school year = $1,350.00/12 months per year)
  3. Took Jacob out of summer camp since I can now stay home with him – Total Monthly Savings $108 ($130.00/week x 10 weeks during the summer = $1,300.00/12 months per year)
  4. Cut our Netflix DVD subscription to 2 DVDs instead of 3… yes, I do realize that DVDs are super old-school, but Netflix streaming doesn’t always have all the movies we want to watch, so we do still have a DVD subscription – Total Monthly Savings $4
  5. Got rid of cable and home phone and switched to Sling TV and HD antenna – Total Monthly Savings $100
  6. Got rid of Sirius XM Radio – Total Monthly Savings $13
  7. Got rid of Tivo Mini in master bedroom – Total Monthly Savings $5
  8. Brian started taking his lunch most days instead of going out to eat every day – Total Monthly Savings $75
  9. Started eating Mexican more when going out to dinner as a family because it’s SO CHEAP!  – Total Monthly Savings $20
  10. Stopped ordering drinks we have to pay for and started ordering water at restaurants more often, kids included… we still splurge on wine, beer, and margs, every now and then, though – Total Monthly Savings $20
  11. Started shopping at Walmart for certain items rather than Publix… now that I have more time I have been buying a lot of the expensive items at Walmart (Halo Top, waffles, cereal, chips, etc.) and only shopping at Publix for certain things – Total Monthly Savings $50
  12. Started shopping at Fresh Market for chicken on Tuesdays when it’s on sale… again, now that I have more time, I can go to multiple places for groceries if it means saving money.  Every Tuesday, Fresh Market puts their boneless, skinless chicken breasts on super sale and I only purchase from there now. – Total Monthly Savings $35
  13. Started shopping at Trader Joe’s for wine… we used to purchase all kinds of different brands at different price points, but now any time we’re near a TJ’s we load up on their $2.99 Charles Shaw wine so we always have it on hand.  No more spending $10-$15 per bottle. – Total Monthly Savings $35
  14. Started buying gift cards on Raise for every day use.  Raise is an app that you can use to buy gift cards at a discount and sell gift cards you are not going to use.  B has started purchasing gift cards for all of our frequented places (Starbucks, Old Navy, Carrabba’s, Five Guys, Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, etc.) when he can get them for a good discount.  The gift cards are purchased for anywhere between 5-25% off, so we save money on the things that we’re already going to purchase.  See my detailed post about it here to see how you can get started and save $5 off of your first purchase! – Total Monthly Savings $20
  15. Started using coupons for things we already buy – Total Monthly Savings $10  (I obviously need to step it up in this department because this number could be a lot higher!)
  16. Started using cash back and rewards apps (Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Ebates – see this post here) for things we already buy – Total Monthly Savings $20
  17. Started buying more things (stocking up) when they are on sale Total Monthly Savings (not really sure how to calculate this)
  18. We are now buying fewer nonessential items and waiting for sales/deals when buying nonessential items – Total Monthly Savings (not really sure how to calculate this either)

Total Savings Each Month – $950 (+ whatever we're saving on the last two items)


How We’re Making Extra Money

  1. We got lucky with the timing of the raises at Brian’s job because they switched from giving raises in the fall to giving them in the spring this year, so he got two back-to-back raises, one in fall 2017 (right before I quit) and one in spring 2018 (right after I quit).
  2. If we’re not using gift cards from Raise, we pay for every other expense with credit cards that earn points and give cash back.  This can be a dangerous game for anyone who is tempted to spend beyond their means, but B and I are always very careful to only spend what we can pay off each month and therefore, we don’t ever incur interest.  Instead, we pay every balance in full each month and accumulate points that can be redeemed for cash back.  We don’t use any credit cards that don’t have some kind of cash back or rewards program.  If you do, you’re leaving money on the table! 
  3. I have more time to focus on my blog now, so I’ve started dedicating more time to affiliate marketing and sponsored content.  This blog post has been viral on Pinterest for several months and it has been generating a decent income in affiliate sales, so this has been very helpful financially.  Other collaborations with brands also bring in income and/or save us money on the things that we would have needed to buy anyway.  For example, this month we are saving almost $250 because we’re getting our Christmas cards for free due to a collaboration I was able to snag.  Post is coming soon!
  4. I was also recently accepted into the Mediavine family.  In case you’re not familiar with them, they are a full service ad management company for content creators like me.  All of the ads you see on my blog are now managed by them and I am now making more money per day with Mediavine than I made in an entire week with Google Adsense.  Fingers crossed that my passive income continues to grow each month!
  5. We had a yard sale back during the summer that generated a nice lump sum for us to put away.
  6. Brian has been focusing even more on stocks/trading/investments and they have been generating a decent income although there are no guarantees for the future.
  7. We switched banks for a higher interest rate on our savings account.
  8. We started selling things we don’t need on ebay and FB (CDs, toys, various household items) which has generated a small side income.

On Travel, Experiences, and Other Frivolous Purchases

Vacations and experiences (concert-going, football games, date nights) are very much a priority for our family so we make sure to set aside money each month for those.  We made it to several concerts this year (Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Dave Matthews Band, Ed Sheeran, etc.) and continued to purchase season tickets for the Georgia football games as we always do, so our experiences were not compromised when I quit since they have always been factored into our budget. 

With regard to our Disney World trip earlier this year, that trip was already paid for before I quit my job, so that didn’t affect our budget for the year at all.  We all know how expensive a Disney trip is, so that would have been a tough one to budget for, and that’s why we are already thinking about a 2020 Disney trip.  It’s never too early to start saving! 

With regard to our beach trip, we still went and did everything we would have done before I quit my job, but we did try to save money where we could.  For example, we did downsize our condo for the beach this year to save money.  Instead of getting our usual two bedroom condo, we just booked a one bedroom and the kids slept on the living room floor in sleeping bags.  They’d prefer to sleep in sleeping bags anyway, so it just made sense, and it didn’t decrease our overall experience in any way.  As a matter of fact, I think this was one of my favorite beach trips ever!  And we were still able to save a good chunk of money!

With regard to our mountain trip that we take every year, we are very fortunate to have family members who own a house in the mountains and they graciously let us stay there for free.  Therefore, we were able to take a trip this fall and not have to pay for a place to stay.

How We’re Actually Doing

While making all of these changes has saved us a decent amount of money each month, it honestly hasn’t affected our overall quality of life very much.  We are still going out to eat, attending concerts, going on dates, traveling, and having fun… we’re just being smarter about saving money wherever else we can.  I honestly don’t miss that third DVD from Netflix, the Sirius XM radio, the Tivo Mini, the more expensive wine (TJ’s is the best anyway!), or any of those other things we cut back on… well, maybe I miss having cable a tiny bit.  But only this time of year because I can’t watch Hallmark Christmas movies.  Haha.  I’m perfectly content with my Christmas music or Christmas movies on Netflix anyway!  Don’t ask me to give up Netflix! 

For me, one of the harder things has been curbing my shopping.  I definitely wasn’t a shopaholic or anything like that prior to quitting my job, but when I saw something I wanted I would buy it without thinking twice.  Now that I’m not working, I’m way more intentional with my purchasing. 

If you’re a long-time reader, then you know that 2018 has been the year for me to simplify, and even if we hadn’t gone down to one income I had already planned to be more intentional with my purchases.  Not buying tons of new stuff has significantly cut down on clutter and excess, and this whole experience has changed my overall mentality for the better.  There is less to tidy up each day and I feel like we’re no longer drowning in clutter.  That has done wonders for my mental state. 

And let me go ahead and say, I haven’t stopped shopping altogether.  I will always and forever love fashion and I will always and forever buy a few new pieces each season, but putting this simplifying mentality in place has helped me to realize that I should only purchase things that I absolutely love.  I no longer purchase anything if I just kind of like it or am on the fence about it.  If I don’t love it to pieces, then I do not waste money on it.  Simple as that. 

My biggest struggle overall has been just knowing that I’m not contributing as much financially as I used to.  I’ve always been a very independent woman.  I have had a job since I was 16 years old and I have never relied on my parents or a man for money, so sometimes that guilt does creep up, but that also adds fuel to my fire to continue pursuing my blogging career.  I’m making more money as a blogger now than I ever did when I was working full-time at a corporate job, so having this extra time has literally paid off.  And let me also say that starting your own business from nothing and actually figuring out how to make your own money from it is so much more rewarding than making money at any corporate job!!  Or at least that’s how I feel, anyway.  :o)

Bottom line, I’m loving this opportunity to stay at home and I thank the Lord every single day that I was given this chance.  I feel like my sanity is more in tact because our house is cleaner than it’s ever been, B and I no longer have to waste precious weekend hours cleaning and doing laundry, we no longer have to scramble constantly to find someone to watch the kids when they’re out of school or unexpectedly sick, and I’m no longer in a CONSTANT state of rushing. 

I feel like I’ve been given the gift of time – more time with Brian, more time with my babies, more time to get things done around the house without sacrificing time with my family, and more time to pursue my dreams – and to me, that is the ultimate gift.  

Now if I could just figure out how to replace my entire corporate salary with blog income I’d be a happy, happy girl! 

Baby steps… :o)


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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Our Weekend – The One with Ed Sheeran and the GA vs. AU Game

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

Our fall weekends just keep getting better and better and this past weekend is going to be pretty hard to top.  Thanks to the grandparents, B and I were able to spend a weekend away together, first to attend the Ed Sheeran concert in Atlanta Friday night and then to attend the Georgia vs. Auburn game in Athens Saturday night.

My mom picked the kids up from school Friday afternoon, so B and I were able to hit the road by 2:45 to avoid the Friday evening Atlanta traffic.  Since we had tickets to the concert Friday night and the Georgia game Saturday night we decided it made the most sense to spend the night in Atlanta after the concert.  B researched hotels close to Mercedes Benz stadium and found a couple in walking distance that weren’t fully booked, and we ended up settling on The Westin in Peachtree Plaza.  If you’re not from the Atlanta area, then you may not be familiar with the iconic building, but if you’re from around here, you know how beautiful and adored it is.  It’s always been my favorite building in the whole Atlanta skyline and it’s been on my bucket list to stay there for years, so we finally made it happen this weekend and it did not disappoint! 



It was a drizzly drive to Atlanta, and we parked at the nearest parking garage and wheeled our suitcases to the hotel.  They were sold out for the night so the lobby and bar were both packed.  We ended up having to wait about 20-30 minutes for our room because it wasn’t ready yet, but the wait definitely ended up being worth it… they put us on the 57th floor of the 72 story building and the views were just breathtaking!  The hotel itself is round, and all of the rooms have an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows of the sprawling view below.  We were so high up that our room was in the low-hanging clouds and fog, which meant that our view was a bit obstructed when we first arrived.  Our room actually faced Mercedes Benz stadium (where we were heading for the concert) but we couldn’t see it because of the clouds and fog. 




After we got settled in, we both got changed and ready for the concert, and then we bundled up and headed out on the half mile walk to the stadium.  We passed the Atlanta Sky Wheel on the way and it was all lit up for the evening. 


The walk over was coooold and windy, and it was still misting a bit, so by the time we arrived, we were ready to get warm!  We arrived at the stadium with plenty of time before the show started, so first on the agenda was to meet up with my cousin, Shelby, who was also going to the concert.  Check!


Next up, B and I grabbed a couple of hot dogs and beers since we hadn’t had dinner, and then we made our way to our seats.  Our seats were excellent – 21st row on the floor, although they were nothing compared to our 4th row seats in Nash last year!


On the way down to the floor seats we got to walk by the Falcons locker room… so to all of you Falcons fans out there, this picture is for you!  Haha. 


The concert started promptly at 7 with Lauv as the opener.  I had no clue who he was at first, but I ended up realizing when he sang his hit “I Like Me Better.”  You would definitely know it, too, if you listen to the radio because they played it a ton this past summer.  I ended up really enjoying him and will definitely be checking out his album on Amazon.  I love it when I find new artists through concert-going!




Next up was Snow Patrol, which we all know, from their hit "Chasing Cars" back in 2006.  They were pretty good, too!


Ed came out just before 9 and he was phenomenal yet again!  I’ve been a huge Ed Sheeran fan since before he was uber famous, back when his first album came out, and I was pleased that he sang a good mix of songs from all of his albums, old and new.  As I said before, we saw him last year in Nashville, and this concert was similar, but he had changed up the set list a bit so it wasn’t the exact same show.  (And even if it had been I wouldn’t have cared one little bit!) 

One of the highlights from the evening was when he sang Justin Bieber’s hit “Love Yourself” because he is actually the one who wrote the song for Justin.  And I have to say, I liked Ed’s version better.  ;o)  For his encore, he put on an Atlanta United jersey and the crowd went wild!!  It was definitely a night to remember and he will forever go down as one of my favorite artists to see live.  He is just so, so talented and I’m thankful we were able to see him one more time before his tour ended, because it’s going to be a while before he tours again.  He even said so himself at the end of the show.  :o(













After the show we made the freezing walk back to our hotel and I was thrilled to discover when we got back to our room that the fog had lifted and the clouds had cleared, because we could see for daaaays from our hotel window.  There’s Mercedes Benz stadium where we had just been!  And we were up so high that we could actually see into the venue from our room!





We ended up getting to bed a little before 1 and then the next morning we slept in and awoke to this view:



A bright blue, cloudless sky!  Perfect football weather!

We got ready and headed straight for Sublime Donuts to grab breakfast before heading to Athens.  I opted for a s’mores donut and a cinnamon roll and B got the red velvet and the fresh strawberries and cream.  Their donuts are so good… if you’re ever in Atlanta and you’re looking for a donut, go there.  You will love it!



Meanwhile back at home, our babies were spending time with their cousins.  <3


We hit the road to make the hour drive to Athens after that and we arrived just before lunchtime.  My Aunt Joy and Uncle Greg have season tickets and both of their kids (my cousins) live in Athens so they go to most of the games.  My cousin Wil is the Assistant Director of Equipment for the football team and my cousin Shelby is a senior at UGA so they are always at the games, too, and we decided to join them at their tailgate for the day. 


They had a huge setup with loads of food, a TV so we could watch the other games, and a nice warm heater to keep us warm because it was COLD.  The Georgia vs. Auburn game is always my favorite weekend of the whole football season because the weather is always nice and cool (or in this case, downright freezing), the sun is always shining, and fall is always at its peak.  Man, the leaves were gorgeous!  Our game was a night game, so we had hours upon hours to eat, drink, and watch football at the tailgate before packing it all up to head to the stadium. 








We arrived at the stadium in time to watch all of the pregame festivities before the game finally started a little after 7.  One of my old coworkers and his friend sat with us at the game, and we had a blast cheering on our Dawgs and dancing and singing together.  You may have caught our Backstreet Boys karaoke sing along on my Instagram Stories this weekend?  Lol. 









Anyway, we ended up beating Auburn 27-10 and we are now 9 and 1 for the season.  We’re still one of the top five contenders for the National Championship Game, but we have to get through Bama to make that happen.  Eek!

Since we had already spent the night in Atlanta the night before, we decided to drive home after the game, so we didn’t make it back until early in the morning Sunday.  Since we had gotten in so late, we slept in until 9 Sunday morning and then we spent the morning snuggling our little babes whom we’d missed so much while we were gone. 

Olivia was in that Georgia spirit and she wanted to be a Georgia cheerleader for the day again, so I helped her get all dressed up in her cheerleading uniform complete with a ponytail and a G sticker on her face.



My MIL and step-FIL did their usual Sunday lunch at their house and my grandmother did Sunday dinner at her house to change things up a bit, and then we all went home and crashed again from the busy weekend. 

Monday, the kids were out for Veterans Day and I finally got my act together and got everything done that had been neglected all weekend – unpacking, laundry, dishes, homework, house cleaning, etc. 

We’re now counting down the days left in the short week until we get to go to Athens again… this time as a family! 

Happy Tuesday, y’all!