What’s Up Wednesday | Dec. 2017

Hello lovelies!  I meant to get this blog post up last week, but I just couldn’t find the time to write it.  Thus, here is this month’s edition of “What’s Up Wednesday,” one week late.

Though everyone else posts theirs on the last Wednesday of the month, I’m joining Shay at Mix & Match Mama.

I love “What’s Up Wednesdays,” don’t you?!  It’s always fun to read a recap of what fellow bloggers are up to lately.  Today, we’re talking about:

WHAT WE’RE EATING:

For months, I’ve been making these oatmeal energy bites into oatmeal bars for an easy on-the-go breakfast for my hubby.

Photo Credit: Hip2Save.com

Similarly, I’ve been enjoying overnight oats now that it’s super chilly in the morning and I don’t have time to make breakfast.  I just heat it in the microwave and I’m ready to go!

Photo Credit: EvolvingTable.com

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

Our anniversary vacation.  Though Joshua gets several long weekends off for working at a school, I’m always working late as well as on the weekend, so I’m definitely reminiscing about our vacation!  I don’t know when we’ll be able to afford another one, but I can’t wait!

WHAT I’M LOVING:

Everything Christmas!  I have been in the Christmas mood since November 1st (well, if I’m honest, I’ve been excited for Christmas since like, September), and I am just soaking it all up!  Christmas carols and holiday decorations are everywhere, and it makes my heart happy.  If only it was colder here in Arizona!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

Finishing our Tuesday night class last week, preparing for Christmas, and adjusting to my new work schedule.  I work from 7:30 AM-6:30 PM typically, which means I’m still working 2 1/2 hours after Joshua is off work since his hours are 7-4, so it’s been an adjustment.  I’m exhausted by then and our dinners are late, but to be honest, it’s all good and I am so thankful for the work.  I have such a blessed life. ❤  We just have to get used to the change, that’s all! 🙂

WHAT I’M DREADING:

An upcoming doctor’s appointment.  I mentioned last month that I was having awful side effects from an antibiotic I was prescribed at the end of August.  I finally decided to go to the doctor because it just isn’t letting up, so now I’m thinking it’s not just side effects.  I’m pretty anxious about it and what tests/treatment I might need.  It’s also a little scary since I can’t afford health insurance.

I’m also dreading a dentist appointment I have on the 21st.  Back in June, I had some cavities filled and since then, my floss has been catching between two teeth and I think it almost dislodged my filling once because it’s hurt since then.  I am not looking forward to getting work on it again.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

Getting into a consistent routine for my new job as well as preparing for school next month!  I’ve always loved coffee, but it’s my life saver these days.

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

Christmas, lol.  I know everything about this post is Christmas, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year!  I’m also excited to move in April, and I know that’s a while away, but I can’t wait and it’s something positive to look forward to!

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

Watching: “The Office”!  Joshua & I love it and even though he’s watched through the whole show a couple of times at least, I have never watched all the way through it.  It’s such a great show!

Reading: “All Rights Reserved” by Gregory Scott Katsoulis.  This is one of the books Joshua bought for me on my birthday and, you guys, it’s phenomenal.  I’m only halfway through, so I can’t attest to the ending, but so far it is one of the best books I’ve ever read!  It’s dystopian and the setting as well as the idea behind it is extremely intriguing.  It’s basically about a future world where citizens are charged for every word they speak and every communicative gesture.  In this restricted world,  a girl vows to stay silent in protest of the system.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

Christmas music!  Also, hubby bought me an early Christmas present of Skullcandy Crusher headphones, so I’m loving listening to music with them!  They are so helpful for working at home since Joshua gets home before I’m done, and I’m sure they will come in handy for starting school too.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

Basically the same as last month, lol.  Leggings, super-high waisted skinny jeans, hoodies, and now that it’s slightly colder, my leather jackets.  Also, I did happen to purchase a tunic and a sweater dress, so I’m loving those over my leggings!

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

Possibly going to the doctor, shipping Christmas presents, watching Christmas movies and there’s a high probability of a library trip as well.  Maybe hiking?  I still want to try a new hiking trail before the year is out.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:

Getting back into shape!  We bought a rowing machine the last week of October and I got to use it for a solid week before I caught a stubborn virus that gave me a painful sore throat for three weeks, thus deterring me from working out.  When I was finally better, I got about another solid week in, and I pulled a muscle in my leg, which is still healing.  Whenever I think it’s better and happen to run or skip, the next day I’ll be limping.  Meanwhile, holiday calories are beginning to show.  Ugh, you guys, the struggle!

Also, I’m looking forward to starting school!  A little nervous, but I always loved school, so I’m excited.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:

We sent out our first family Christmas card this year!  It was so much fun to get a picture of Joshua, Zelda, and I, pick our Christmas card, and get them all sent out.  We haven’t done one as a married couple/family before this year (#newlywedbudgetprobs), so it was wonderfully fun!

In other news, we attended the APS Light Parade here in Flagstaff and it was a blast!  It gets better and more creative every year with all the vehicles decked out in lights.

Also, Joshua’s 26th birthday was on Monday!  We both took the day off work to just enjoy time together celebrating his birthday, sleeping in, going out for brunch, getting coffee, going to Bookmans, getting sushi, spending the evening with his parents for presents & cake, and then ending the night with him playing Super Mario Sunshine (a game he got as a birthday present).  It was wonderful!

Love him so much. ❤

That’s it for this month’s “What’s Up Wednesday”!  I hope you all are having a fabulous week.  🙂

Until next time,

-Tialla ❤

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Christmas Decorations!

In the past couple of months, I’ve been in the habit of posting a blog every Friday, and I’ve loved it!  It’s been nice posting consistently and getting feedback on my posts, which I didn’t have for a long time (honestly because I wasn’t involved in the blogging community, so you know, I wasn’t helping my own blog).  Of course, feedback encourages me to keep blogging, so it’s a cycle of positivity! 🙂

I missed posting last week because of all the Thanksgiving and Black Friday wonderfulness, and I feel pretty okay about it.  As much as I love blogging, spending time with my husband when he has extra days off work is more important. ❤ Also, I was just far too busy and exhausted to blog!  Additionally, I missed this week, because as you’ll read, I was completely overwhelmed with work.  Here’s a rundown on what we’ve been up to lately:

–Wednesday: I was cooking/baking all day until my feet were hurting from standing so long.  Note to self: wear sneakers next year while cooking.

–Thursday: Thanksgiving was a full day with more baking and then just enjoying time with family.

–Friday: A packed day of Black Friday shopping with my husband & in-laws (literally from morning ’til dark).

–Saturday: Finally relaxing with Christmas decorating (yay!!).  You better believe we had the works with Christmas music, cozy pajamas, and hot cocoa. ❤

–Sunday: Helping get up my in-laws’ Christmas tree, work, & shopping

–Monday: Meeting with my college advisor and registering for school (also yay!)

–Tuesday: Joshua & I dove headfirst into the work week.  I basically tried to hit the ground running.  My entire week was SLAMMED with work.  It’s wonderful that work is picking up with my new job, but it’s also a slightly overwhelming adjustment.  I may or may not have ended up with a few tears of stress on Friday evening, had to finish up work on Saturday, and had an acne breakout from the stress.  On top of it all, I pulled at least one muscle, if not two or three, while rowing this week, which not only prevented me from working out the rest of the week, and also from walking on Wednesday and Thursday.

It’s been busy, lol. 😉 I haven’t had a chance to read anyone’s blogs–I’m so far behind!  My email inbox is filled to the brim with blog posts that I’m itching to read.

Oooh and I know this is random, but can we just talk about how it’s finally time for the WordPress snowflakes again?!  I love when my blog starts snowing!  It’s admittedly my favorite WordPress feature. 😉

Even with how busy it’s been, I still wanted to post about our Christmas decorations.  I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas much as a teenager, so I am absolutely loving everything Christmas!  The Christmas music station became my go-to channel on November 1st, and I could hardly wait to put the tree up right after Thanksgiving.  We like decorating on Black Friday, but this year was just too packed, so we waited until the next day.

As we have a tiny apartment, a pencil-tree was a must.  We love our little tree, though, and I’m sure even when we have room for a bigger tree, we will always have fond memories of this one as our first Christmas tree together.

We bought a cozy Christmas sign from Michaels for 50% off (#BlackFriday), and wrapped it with round-wire fairy lights.

Also at Michael’s, we were planning on getting a wreath, but we ended up with this super cute snowflake instead!  We fell in love with it since both of us love snow.  It’s perfect for us and is a fun reminder that it’s the most magical time of the year!

Before I continue…I have a confession.  It will be revealed in two ways in this post, so I might as well share it now!  (I’ve been considering sharing for a while anyway, and I think it will make things easier in the long run.)

Tialla is my middle name, and Rising is my maiden name.  I published my first book when I was still a minor, and my parents insisted I use a pen name.  Now that I’ve already published with that name, I feel like it makes since to just keep it up as a pen name for consistency.  However, I don’t mind people knowing my “actual” name, as it’s bound to come out eventually.  So, my name is…

Courtney Tialla Newman

I’ve never mentioned it on my blog before, but I feel like it’s about time.  Letting you guys know that my first name is Courtney doesn’t make Tialla Rising any less of a pen name, it just makes it easier for me to share my lifestyle posts!  I still plan on using Tialla Rising in my published works for the sake of consistency, but now I can also feel free to share a few more lifestyle things that happen to say “Courtney.”

Oh, and as a side note, lots of people still call me Tialla or Tia–including my own brothers–so it’s not like it’s never used in “real” association with me.  🙂

Anyway, our stockings have our initials, so I didn’t want it to cause confusion.  😉  Of course, our darling Princess Zelda must also have her own stocking, because we are totally those people.  #PetParents

I mentioned about registering for school earlier, but I wanted to revisit it (now that I’ve talked about my name).  I’m registered with payment in full, which means I got my student ID!  Not only does it make me feel official, lol, but I’m super excited about getting student discounts with it! 😉

One last thing before I sign off.  I was completely planning on participating in #BLOGMAS this year, but I’ve realized I just can’t with working full-time.  This week alone proved that with me working from 7:30 AM-6:30 PM every day and still having extra work to finish on Saturday.  Even today, I barely found time to get this blog up after work.  If you don’t know, BLOGMAS is where bloggers post every day of December up to Christmas.  I was planning on using a Pinterest photo challenge as my template for BLOGMAS, but it’s just not going to happen this year.  That’s okay, extra work is good, and I’m trying to remind myself of that.

My husband and I have yet to find an advent calendar in town and it’s already December 3rd!  We’re a little behind, lol.

That’s it for now!  I’m hoping I’ll have time to throw together a “What’s Up Wednesday” post this week for the first of December!  Fingers crossed, haha. 😉

Until next time,

-Tialla ❤

My Placement Test

Hello friends!

I am here today with great relief, a weight off my shoulders, and floating on Cloud 9, because I took my placement test this week!  It’s over.  *throws confetti*

In my “What’s Up Wednesday” post, I mentioned the test was the biggest thing I’ve been dreading.  It’s been about a solid three weeks of studying, nerves, doubt, panic, and more.  I hate feeling so nervous about something that I’m unable to enjoy anything else until that event is over.  Other than the past three weeks, it’s also been a solid six months of underlying apprehension since I decided to go to college, knowing I would have to take this test.

For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from high school about 4 1/2 years ago.  If I had gone to college full-time right after high school, I’d already have my bachelor’s, lol.  Better late than never, right?

When I quit my job back in June, job hunting showed me just how much employers don’t want to hire anyone without a college degree.  There are numerous reasons why I’ve decided to go to college now, but the lack of inclusion in the job force was certainly a motivation.  I also absolutely love learning, and I don’t just want to stop at my high school diploma!  I still have to work full-time, but I’m starting with taking one class at a time.  Even if it’s slow progress, it’s still progress.

So, back to the placement testing.  I took the ACCUPLACER at the college for the math and English sections.  Again, math and I get along just as swimmingly as oil and water, so I expected to not do well.  That’s okay, because the whole point of the test was to place me where I should start.  I didn’t exactly want to do well if it meant being placed in a class beyond my skill.  I definitely don’t want to drop a class, or try to push through and fail.

English is my best friend, so I wasn’t very concerned about it, other than the essay portion.  I don’t mind writing essays at all; the part that made me nervous was anticipating the unknown prompt.  I was scared the prompt would regard something I didn’t know much about, which would have made it infinitely harder to come up with sources, proof, or logic for my argument.  The day before the test, I reviewed my essay writing technique and practiced with the outline and everything, which helped build my confidence.  You guys, I totally lucked out with the prompt.  It basically wanted me to write on whether or not I believed fiction books can teach values and helpful life lessons.  I nearly giggled when I saw the prompt because it literally couldn’t have been more perfect for me, a bibliophile.

The best part (other than it being over, lol) is that my scores are so much better than I could have hoped for!  If you don’t know, the essays are graded on a score of one-eight, with eight being perfect.  I got a seven!!  I was shocked!  I love writing, but I was still intimidated before the test because I had reviewed their standards of grading each essay score, and they seemed harsh.  I was hoping for at least a three, so I am ecstatic.  My reading comprehension score was also two points from perfect, which made my day.  I’m definitely not trying to sound braggadocios or anything…I’m just ridiculously excited since I haven’t been in school for 4 1/2 years.

As for math, I placed way higher than I expected.  There were two sections: Elementary Algebra and College Math.  There were plenty of problems I didn’t know in Elementary Algebra, so I was stunned when I finished it and they moved me onto College Math.  Students have to earn a high enough score on Elementary Algebra to move forward.  I practically didn’t recognize anything in the college math section.  Like, they had entire words over numbers as fractions in the algebraic equations.  I was lost, haha, but that was okay because it just means I need to learn it.  That’s the whole point of college anyway. 😉

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I placed higher than I should have.  On the test,  they don’t have an “I don’t know” option, so when I had no idea, I just chose the first answer.  (And secretly hoped it was wrong, so I didn’t place higher than I should.)  I have a feeling I accidentally got more correct than I should have, and therefore placed higher.  It makes me laugh, because that’s what any student wants on a test, but not a placement test!

According to my math results, I placed high enough to only take one math class for my degree!  That’s amazing to me.  With my dislike of math, I almost feel like getting a tutor and struggling through.  As long as I pass, I don’t really care.  Getting math out of the way sounds fantastic!  But then again, I don’t want to start something I’m going to fail, and I’m certain I didn’t know enough math to place that high.  I should probably start about two classes lower to work my way up.  I suppose, though, deciding all of this is why my next step is meeting with an advisor!

My husband was so proud of my test scores that he took me out for lunch afterwards!  It was such a nice surprise.  He let me choose anywhere I wanted, so I picked Pato Thai–a delicious thai restaurant downtown.  I love their sushi, so we got their crunchy roll, which had crab, cucumber, shrimp tempura, and other ingredients I can’t remember.  😉  We also ordered Pad Thai with shrimp.  I got a Dr. Pepper and hubby tried their Mango iced tea, which was amazing.

All in all, I’m just so happy it’s done and now I have a plan for where to start!  All I have left is meeting with the advisor, registering for class, and getting my student ID.  🙂

Until next time,

-Tialla ❤

Super Easy Poached Eggs

I have always loved poached eggs.  I order them at restaurants whenever I get the chance.  For the longest time, though, actually cooking poached eggs was a vast mystery to me.  I loved these eggs that came out soft and perfect, with runny yolks and set whites, but the cooking process was beyond me.  It seemed like this style of eggs was only something expert chefs prepared.  Something I could manage at home?  Pssh.  No way.  I have never known anyone who’s made them at home, and some places like IHOP don’t even serve them.  The cooking process was obviously complex and not to be dabbled in.

I am happy to say I was definitely wrong.

A little while after we first got married, I attempted making Eggs Benedict.  I saw a recipe for cooking multiple poached eggs in a muffin tin.  Fill the muffin tins with water, crack the eggs in, bake until set.  Easy!  It turned out all right, but the eggs kind of soaked up the water and they ended up more set than I like.

A few months ago, though, I came across a life hack on Facebook that blew me away.  It absolutely revolutionized this process and I now prefer making these poached eggs more than fried.  It’s so quick and easy!  I’m pretty sure you guys will love it, so I wanted to share.  Here’s a screenshot of my Facebook post with the “recipe.”

Anyway, today’s post is a short one.  I’ve been wanting to share the recipe for a long time, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.  If you try this, please let me know!  I’d love to know what you think.  I have noticed the cooking time varies due to our older microwave, so just judge how long it might take to cook the whites of the egg.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

-Tialla ❤

 

What’s Up Wednesday | Nov. 2017

I’ve seen several bloggers participating in “What’s Up Wednesday” posts and I love them, so I figured, why not make it part of my blog too?!  The only difference is almost everyone else posts theirs the last Wednesday of the month to link up with Shay at Mix & Match Mama, and while it makes total sense to link up, my OCD is begging me to do it on the first week of the month.  So here I am, and happy November 1st!

If you don’t know, “What’s Up Wednesday” is basically just a fun recap on what’s going on this month in my life!  I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

WHAT WE’RE EATING:

I try to mix up our food as much as possible, and I rarely repeat a recipe.  Our staples are definitely ground beef and chicken, but I like throwing shrimp, meatballs, ribs, drumsticks, or kielbasa in when I can.  This week is a variation of Italian (homemade pizza), Asian (shrimp fried rice), Mexican (fajitas and huevos rancheros), and classic American (biscuits & gravy).  Regarding desserts, I made these pumpkin snickerdoodles on Saturday, and they are phenomenal cookies.  They stay soft and are mouth-wateringly delicious with white chocolate chips.

Photo Credit: Sally’s Baking Addiction

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

This is probably weird, but to be honest, I’m reminiscing about before August, when I had to take a ridiculously strong antibiotic–to which, it turns out, I’m slightly allergic.  I’m upset the doctor prescribed it to me because there was no reason I needed that strong of an antibiotic.  My body still hasn’t recovered from the damage it incurred.  I’ve been sick in various ways since then as it wiped out all the good bacteria and is still preventing them from creating new strains.  I experienced a range of awful side effects, and some still continue, and may continue for months according to the fine print.  I was on the antibiotic back in August and I’m still taking like 4 billion probiotic cultures a day to fix the damage it wreaked on my system.  So, beware of Clindamycin, my friends.  It’s not friendly.

Again, I know this is weird to “reminisce” about, but I feel like this is just life sometimes and I truly do miss how I felt before the antibiotic caused so much damage.

WHAT I’M LOVING:

Everything autumn.  Halloween, leggings, sweaters, boots, hot drinks, colorful leaves, the brisk air, fall baking….  I could go on and on.  The beginning of October felt wonderfully like fall with a huge temperature drop and trees bursting with color.  The sudden transformation felt as if we turned the page to a new chapter.  Unfortunately, around the second week, summer decided it wasn’t done yet and the temperatures soared again.  They haven’t quite gone back down yet, but I’m still choosing to love everything about the “season” of fall anyway.  It’ll be winter before we know it!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

Going on as many adventures as we can! This past month we had fun with the Snowbowl Sky Ride, got our very first tattoos, put up Halloween decorations, made Pumpkin Juice, explored the decorations around our complex, watched Halloween movies, got over (rather, we’re getting over) a flu bug from my husband’s work, continued to enjoy our weekly Tuesday night class, and more.  We also just invested in a rowing machine, so it’s been awesome working out at home.

WHAT I’M DREADING:

I’m currently studying to take a placement test at our community college.  I have always had a really hard time with tests, so I’m very nervous.  Math and I don’t get along well.  The worst part about it is I can learn the math and understand it, but I always forget the formulas and draw a blank when I need them.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

Other than getting settled at college to take classes in January, I’m working on my novel!  This has slightly been put on hold right now when I realized I needed to study math for the placement test to refresh my memory, but I’m biting at the bit to get back at it.  I love the story and I can’t wait to polish the first draft!  Unfortunately, the writing juices in my brain feel painfully sluggish, so I’m at a loss for how good this will truly turn out.

My husband snagged this picture of me while I was editing one night. 😉

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

The holidays!  I absolutely cannot wait for Thanksgiving and Christmastime!  It’s literally the best time of the year, and I’m giddy just thinking about how close it is.  I am ecstatic for Christmas and everything that comes with it!

I’m also very excited because I just got another job!  For those who haven’t been following my blog very long, I had two jobs at the beginning of the year and had to quit one in June.  I’ve been looking for another since then, and I finally found one.  I will be a content writer for a company called Textbroker.  I’m both very excited and nervous about starting!

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

Watching: “Glee.”  I started the show in 2015 and still haven’t finished it, so hubby and I decided to crack down on it within the last month and finally finish it.  Not only do I want to finish the show to see the ending, but I’m also nervous Netflix will take it off since it’s been on there a while.

Reading: “The Invisible Library,” by Genevieve Cogman.  It’s different than my typical style, but I’m a bibliophile, so anything about books and librarians is perfect for me!  It’s intriguing, and if you love books, you’ll enjoy it.  I haven’t had much time to read lately with studying for the placement test, but I’m trying to get through it as fast as possible to make my Goodreads reading goal this year.  I’m a slow reader, so I pledged twenty books this year and I’m currently three behind.  I don’t mind being a slow reader since I feel like I absorb more that way, but I’d really like to finish this challenge!

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

The pop hits station on our cable, lol.  I put that on everyday during work, so I typically just listen to whatever they play.  However, my get-ready music has been unashamedly my Disney Pandora station for several weeks, and I’m also loving whatever I can catch of Taylor Swift’s new album, “Reputation”!  It’s so good, you guys.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

Mostly leggings.  I really can’t resist them when they are on sale, and the sales are everywhere right now!  I especially love the ones with cute prints, though not necessarily seasonal because I’d like to wear them whenever.  I recently found a suede pair and a plush pair and they are amazingly comfortable.  Ooh, also, on the first of October I like to do a little shopping annually, and this year I bought two pairs of 50% off “super high-waisted skinny jeans” at Kohl’s.  I have been wanting high-waisted skinny jeans for a while, so these were a steal.  You guys.  I never knew how much more comfortable they were!  I am completely sold on them now.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

Sleeping, lol.  Truly, I’m not quite certain yet.  For several weeks, Joshua & I have wanted to try a new hiking trail, so we might do that.  I’ll also still be studying arithmetic and algebra to keep my memory fresh for my placement test.  (I cannot wait for this test to be over.)  We have church on Sunday as usual and we always do the music, so we’ll be preparing for that on Saturday.  Also, I will be working on Sunday afternoon like always, and we will go grocery shopping Sunday evening like always.  We are creatures of habit, lol.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO *THIS* MONTH:

Basically everything I’ve already mentioned, haha.  Thanksgiving, getting my placement test out of the way, meeting with a college advisor to create a game plan, starting with Textbroker, and enjoying fall!  Also, hopefully getting a lot more editing accomplished on my novel.

Oh, and it’s Zelda’s adoption month!  The 26th will make a full year since she became part of our family! ❤

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:

I’ve been getting a lot of books and movies from the library.  On my last trip to the library, I checked out a book for my husband, but when I looked at my account online, the book isn’t listed.  This has never happened before, so I’m not really sure what to do, other than call them and explain what is going on.  The detectors didn’t even beep when I walked out, so I have no idea how this happened, haha.

That’s it for “What’s Up Wednesday”!  I hope you enjoyed it and that I didn’t drag on too much.  Until next time!

-Tialla ❤

Halloween Decorations!

I want to share with you all how Joshua & I decorated our apartment door and porch for Halloween!  I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks since we totally decorated the last week of September.  I’m sure our neighbors couldn’t tell we were excited for Halloween at all.  What can I say, I love October and getting into the holiday mood, and Michael’s had decorations 50% off, lol.

We bought a glass lantern with a fun skull design, a little plaque that says “Come in and sit for a brew,” and an ornamental stack of books that totally gave me a Harry Potter vibe with “Curses,” “Spells,” and “Potions.”  Actually, all of the props felt like Harry Potter inspired to me and that was definitely intentional.  😉 #Potterhead  We’re nerds, and I feel like Harry Potter-anything is always acceptable.  In fact, I just made Pumpkin Juice last night using this recipe and it was beyond tasty!  I was pleasantly surprised because “pumpkin juice” doesn’t necessarily sound appetizing.  I figured, though, it had to be since the characters were always drinking it!

We also picked up three pumpkins on sale and wrapped fairy lights around the middle one.

Halloween was only something my parents let us celebrate for a couple of years.  When I was about seven or eight, they decided to no longer do anything with Halloween, and they would even turn the lights out to avoid anyone coming to the door.  They didn’t want to celebrate Halloween because it was such a “dark” holiday, yet we always spent Halloween in the dark to avoid it.  #Ironic

Anyway, my husband and I both enjoy Halloween.  It’s fun and I get super excited once October 1st hits.  Time to enjoy the creepy things, the freaky things, dress up and for once in the year not take things so seriously.  2015 was my first time watching The Nightmare Before Christmas & The Corpse Bride, can you believe it?  Also, Halloween is like the epitome of “let’s celebrate everything Harry Potter,” which I’m always down for!  We also ordered from Amazon a Harry Potter sign for our door and it’s perfect.  We love it so much, we are considering keeping it up all year after the holidays.

Since we started dating in 2015, our tradition has been to watch “The Corpse Bride” on Halloween night.  This year, we seriously considered handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, but then we realized we have class that night, which doesn’t get out until 9:15 PM.  We will just celebrate around class with watching The Corpse Bride as soon as my hubby gets home from work (early mornings means early evenings, yay!), with glasses of chilled Butterbeer in hand.  (Totally making this recipe.  I’ve never made it before so I don’t know what to expect.  Have any of you made it??)  We don’t have costumes for class unfortunately (#thebudgetlife), but it will be fun if anyone else dresses up.

Of course we had to get the $1 decoration tape for “Keep Out, Haunted House” and “Zombie Zone.”  It doesn’t go with the Harry Potter theme, but I like it regardless.  We wrapped it around our door as you can see in the above picture, and also across our window.  This picture was hard to get because we have trees in front of our apartment and in one way or another, there’s always shadows.

In case you can’t tell with the shadows, we hung a broom on the window trim.  I think it was initially intended for a witch, but it also goes with our Harry Potter theme.  I wrote “Firebolt” in gold Sharpie and drew the Deathly Hallows symbol on the handle to give it a little something extra.

All in all, we are really happy with how our decorations turned out!  Our apartment complex is having a decoration contest, so it’s been a lot of fun walking around and looking at what people have put up.  I don’t think we’ll win any prizes, but it has still been fun to decorate!

What are you doing for Halloween?  Going to any parties?  Are you dressing up?

Have a spooktacular holiday! 😉

-Tialla ❤

Soulmate Tattoos

Two weeks ago, my husband and I got matching tattoos on our arms!  After researching and asking around, we settled on Birch Avenue Tattoo, which is praised all-around as the best tattoo parlor in Flagstaff.

Before I get into the actual story, I want to note that yes, Joshua & I are Christians, and we are okay with tattoos.  I know a lot of people, especially Christians, have problems with tattoos and that’s okay.  We just happen to like them.  🙂

Joshua and I have both been interested in getting tattoos for a while now.  I hadn’t seriously considered getting one until Joshua & I started dating, and after we got married, I had hoped to get one for my 21st birthday.  I was going to get a paw print on my leg in memory of my sweet dog who passed away in 2014.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it work due to not having the money, so we put it on the back burner until we could allot funds for it.

I’m not sure when it dawned on us, but at some point in the last few months, we thought it would be pretty cool (and sweet) for our first tattoos to match, as well as to get them at the same time to share the experience.  It took us forever to settle on the design, size, and placement because I’m extremely picky when it comes to ink being etched into my skin for the rest of my life, lol.  It needed to be something I really wanted, something that felt perfect; a design meant to capture our marriage.

As you can probably imagine, it took a lot of searching “couple’s tattoos” to find it.  😉  This is what happens when you have OCD and you’re unfortunately a perfectionist.

Joshua had a far easier time deciding, giving a few suggestions and then trying to help me narrow down what I wanted.  He was much more easy-going with the whole process than me, haha.  Finally, after months of searching, contemplation, going back and forth, etc, we finally found the design.  A few more conversations decided how we wanted to customize it as well as the placement.

We settled on two hearts joined by a cross integrated in the heart pattern, with the verse Matthew 19:6 written inside the bigger heart.  If you don’t know, the verse says:

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mt. 19:6, ESV)

When we showed up the next week at our consultation appointment, our tattoo artist easily went with our ideas for the design, but then asked us if we wanted to do it that day.  Though I was excited, I was completely shocked, because I was not emotionally prepared to permanently change my skin that day.  Even though I wanted the tattoo, it was still overwhelming to suddenly know it was actually happening and my skin would be forever altered.  I don’t know if this makes any sense, because I still wanted the tattoo…it’s simply that, for things like this, I have to emotionally prepare myself.  Without being mentally prepared for going through with something big, I tend to get overwhelmed.   That’s just who I am.

We went ahead with it, because we knew we wanted it, we were there anyway, and he had an opening, so it didn’t make sense to come back another time.  Also, parking is terrible downtown with exclusively parallel parking, which meant we’d already hunted for a spot and fed the meter.  If we could avoid coming back again anytime soon, we would.

After we filled out our paperwork, confirmed the design with our artist, and agreed Joshua would go first (I was still freaking out a little bit), we headed to the back.

Joshua actually had an easy time with the pain, barely wincing and talking through the whole thing.  It didn’t bother him very much and he made it look quite doable.  In half an hour, it was done and looked incredible!  He was (and still is) so excited about it.  I’m pretty sure it made his week, if not month.

When it came to my turn, unfortunately, I was caught off guard because the pain affected me way more than Joshua.  I’m still surprised because generally, I have a higher pain tolerance than him, since he has zero pain tolerance.  (Or at least that’s what we thought.)  Yet, I had a pretty hard time with the pain.  You know how it feels when hot oil in a pan pops, splattering your skin?  That’s how it felt to me, except constantly.

It wasn’t fun, but in retrospect, I can say it was worth it.  It didn’t last very long, only about twenty minutes, and the permanence of the design is definitely worth it!  Even the first week of tenderness was worth it, and seems comparatively short when looking back on it.

We love them.  It was so nice to experience it together!  It really warms my heart to think about how we not only got the same design as our first tattoos, but we were there for each other when experiencing it for the first time, and we’ve been able to support each other through the healing process.

We are already looking forward to our next tattoos, and we’re pretty sure we want to make it a tradition to get our future tattoos together, not the same designs, but at the same appointment to make it just as fun.

Until next time! 🙂

-Tialla ❤