Photos of the Day:#46

August 2, 2010 at 8:05 PM (Friends, Photo / Video of the Day, Relationships, Wedding)

I recently had the privilege of snapping engagement photos of two of our best friends, Gary and Jenna.  They will be getting married in September and we can’t wait!


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2009 in Review and Looking Ahead at 2010

January 2, 2010 at 11:16 PM (Fitness, Gaming, Healthy Living, Home Improvement, Inspirational, Saving Money, Travel, Wedding, Weight Loss)

My what a year!  Ben and I have much to be thankful for this year.  We have been surrounded by awesome friends and family every step of the way.  We became Mr. and Mrs. this year and have loved every second of it.  We are super excited about 2010.

Before looking ahead to 2010, we want to examine some of the goals that we made for 2009 and how we did with them.  You can view the full list of our 2009 goals here.  We’ve included the condensed list below as well:

  1. Continue eating away at our non-mortgage and non-student loan debt.
  2. Continue saving for a Roth IRA for each of us at Vanguard.
  3. Weigh significantly less at the end of 2009 than we do now.
  4. Get married and have a fabulous trip to Alaska!
  5. Stephanie hopes to officially graduate with her Ph.D. by December 2009.
  6. Ben would like to get 1-2 career related certifications this year.
  7. Get a termite treatment, bedroom furniture, and a fence for the house.

Job well done… Well, we officially became credit card debt free in August which was a huge accomplishment that we are super proud of.  Our remaining debt has been reduced to our car loan, mortgage, and student loans.  While we have come far, we still have a long way to go!  We managed to save up $3,000 and opened a Roth IRA for Stephanie at Vanguard.  We have yet to open one for Ben.  We had a beautiful wedding in Alaska that we paid for without going into debt.  You can read about our wedding in detail and view photos here.   We also accomplished some of our house related goals including getting a termite treatment and getting bedroom furniture.

Job yet to be done… We dropped the ball on a few goals.  We do NOT weigh significantly less now than we did last year.  Stephanie has not graduated from school and Ben did not get his certifications.

One of the things that we learned last year while trying to accomplish goals was that we defined them poorly in some instances.  We have decided to follow the SMART goal method this year which involves creating goals that are:


Without further ado, here are our 2010 goals.  We’ve included links to a goal tracker for some of the goals below so you can follow along each day/week/month if you’d like.

Goal #1 (Both): Pay off the RAV4 by December 31, 2010.

Now that we are credit card debt free, we will be aggressively paying off the RAV4.  We estimate that if all goes well, we will have the car payed off by November, but our goal is by the end of 2010.  If we are successful, we will have paid off a 5 yr loan in 2.5 years.  Woohoo!  It won’t be easy and will require a lot of focus.

How are we doing?

Goal #2 (Stephanie): Track calories consumed every day from January 1, 2010 until April 1, 2010.

In an effort to eat consciously, Stephanie is going to track her calories consumed every day for 3 months.  Her hope is that if she can track calories daily until April, it will become a habit that she will just continue even after April.  She wants to stay below 2000 calories but the primary goal is to just keep track and eat consciously.  She wants to get rid of the “ignorance is bliss” mentality.

How is she doing?

Goal #3 (Ben): Be a full-time non-smoker by April 28, 2010.

Ben has struggled with smoking off and on for several years.  He wants to “be able to hug and kiss my wife without her making a face because I smell like cigarettes.”  He is already registered for a free quit smoking workshop at the end of January and he hopes to get a prescription for Chantix when he goes for a physical next week.

Goal #4 (Stephanie): Graduate on May 7, 2010!

Stephanie WILL graduate this year.  She is shooting to graduate on May 7, 2010 so mark your calendars (it’s a Friday).  🙂  She’ll know by February / March if the goal is doable.  Worst case, she’ll graduate in August but won’t “go there” without a fight.

Goal #5 (Stephanie): Get a massage by September 2010.

Stephanie has never had a massage mainly due to financial reasons and because she is a little weirded out by the idea.  She hopes to get an upper body massage by September 2010.  Her shoulders and back always feel super tense so she knows that she would really enjoy it.  She has sensitive legs and is really ticklish though so she’ll stick with upper body for now. 🙂

Goal #6 (Both):  Have our yard fenced in by July 30, 2010.

We have been saving money to have our yard fenced in.  We haven’t bothered getting quotes or anything yet because Stephanie is trying to stay focused on school.  But, at some point we have to buckle down and get some quotes and have some consultations.  We want to create some stone beds before the yard is fenced in as well.  So, it’s a multi-step process…and a very expensive one.  It’s something easy to put off so we need a goal date.  Hopefully finances won’t get in the way.

Goal #7 (Both):  Have Stephanie’s mom moved and settled by December 31, 2010.

As some of you know, Stephanie’s mom will be moving to GA.  We have offered to let her move in with us, but we are also exploring other options like her getting her own place.  None of that will take place until after Stephanie graduates but it’s a big deal emotionally, logistically, etc.  After Stephanie is done with school, her attention will be shifting to this hard core.  Of course this goal involves other people besides us so we’ll see how it goes.

Goal #8 (Both): Open an IRA for Ben by December 31, 2010.

As we already mentioned, we recently opened a Roth IRA at Vanguard for Stephanie.  We chose to open one that required a minimum of $3,000 so we had to save up for it all year.  We’ll continue contributing to hers but we also need to get one started for Ben.  So, we need to save up another $3,000.

How are we doing?

Goal #9 (Stephanie): Walk 1 mile per week with Arya.

Exercise….the necessary evil.  Stephanie wants to try and embrace exercising more this year.  Or maybe not even embrace…just do it.  She has purposely kept this goal very manageable so that she doesn’t have any excuse for not meeting the goal.  It will be good for her and for Arya.  She’s hoping that if she starts with one mile per week, she’ll want to get out there and walk more.

How is she doing?

Goal #10 (Ben): I want to have my MCITP Windows Server 2008 Admin Certification completed by November 1, 2010.

It’s always important to further your education.  IT moves too darn fast.

Goal #11 (Ben): I want to have my board game submitted to an agent and under review by August 1, 2010.

Ben has been working been on a Eurostyle board game since July 2009 and he has had a ton of fun doing so.  But the real test will be to see if he can get it published.  He’s very excited!

Goal #12 (Ben): By April 1, 2010 I would like to talk to an admissions counselor at a local university about what it would take to finish my bachelor’s degree.

Ben was very close to finishing his bachelor’s degree (18 credits away!) in Computer Science several years ago and not a day goes by where he doesn’t regret its incompletion.

Well, that is what we have up our sleeve this year.  What’s in store for you??

– Stephanie and Ben

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Random Week / Weekend Happenings and Random Thoughts

September 12, 2009 at 11:00 PM (Food, Friends, Home Improvement, Wedding)

  1. I had an awesome time babysitting on Thursday.  Mazie, Jon and Talissa’s baby, is incredibly precious.  Check out a few pics below!
  2. My dissertation is moving at a snail’s pace.  But, it’s better than not moving at all!  It currently looks like I’ll be graduating in May.
  3. Jenna and Gary are coming to visit next weekend and I can’t wait!
  4. Ben and I just had sushi for dinner and it was delicious.  We ordered way too much and brought some home.  Normally leftover sushi is horrible because the rice dries out.  I put the sushi in an airtight container as a test.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!
  5. Ben and I got a lot done around the house today.  I cleaned the disgusting trim / baseboards in our larger living room and it looks much better.  We also hung some wedding photos.  Yay!
  6. We’re going to Jon and Talissa’s for lunch and football tomorrow.  We are looking forward to hanging out since the 4 of us haven’t spent time together in quite some time.
  7. When I opened the garage door tonight on our way out for dinner, I saw 3 teenagers at the end of the driveway and they scattered when they saw me.  It’s too dark outside for me to tell if they did something to the house or mailbox.  I guess we will find out tomorrow.

What’s happening in your life?

– Stephanie

Talissa, Jon, and Mazie decked out in Clemson gear.

Talissa, Jon, and Mazie decked out in Clemson gear.

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Wedding Weekend Happenings

August 12, 2009 at 6:35 PM (Friends, Wedding)

Two of our best friends, Heather and Adolfo, were married this past Saturday. I was one of her bridesmaids along with Blair and Donna. Ben and I made our journey to NC late Thursday night. We arrived at Blair and Jamie’s house around 11 PM and went to bed soon thereafter.

Blair and I were up super early the next morning (5:30 AM). We left the guys to have a “guy date” and we met Donna and Heather at the historical house where we spent the night with Heather celebrating her last night as a single woman. The house is owned by Heather’s mom’s company and sits in Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC.  It was awesome and I am so grateful for the opportunity to stay there!  On the outside, the house appears small, but on the inside it has 3 levels and a ton of great qualities.  Some of the awesome features include 3 full bathrooms, a huge kitchen, 2 fireplaces, and 2 huge dining tables.

We then made a pit stop at Krispy Kreme before heading to the church.  What’s a wedding without Krispy Kreme?  😉  We spent the entire day decorating the church in preparation for the wedding reception.  The rehearsal dinner and the rehearsal itself was that evening.  I think we all got teary eyed at the rehearsal when we saw Heather coming down the aisle.  We spent the late evening goofing off at the house and watching an emergency dance DVD that was great entertainment.  I’m not sure how much we learned though.

We were all up bright and early on the morning of the wedding.  We spent a few hours at the hair salon getting our hair did.  Fun times! Before heading to the church, Blair and I hung back and left a little surprise for Heather and Adolfo.  We formed a heart on the bed using red rose petals and left a bouquet of flowers.  I think it turned out nice!

The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful.  I’ve never been to a Catholic ceremony or mass before Saturday.  The ceremony was delicate, tender, and very special.  Heather was beautiful and Adolfo was handsome.  None of us tripped or did anything else embarrassing, which is always quite the accomplishment.  The reception turned out to be awesome.  The atmosphere was romantic and classy.  We all shook our groove thang and boogied to the music.  It was truly a blast and we were so honored to be a part of it all.

On a negative note, Ben and I wear rear ended while in a traffic jam on the interstate.  The damage was minor and we were ok, but it still sucks!

– Stephanie

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Alaska On My Mind

July 29, 2009 at 7:07 PM (Food, Nature, Travel, Wedding)

I’m sorry to disappoint you Ray Charles, but Alaska is on my mind.

Do you ever have cravings? For the beach, for sand between your toes, for sunsets, for sunrises, for art, for travel, for food?  I had been told that after our wedding I would experience a sense of sadness or loss, if you will.  I’m happy to report that is definitely not the case.  However, today I have been having some serious “cravings” for Alaska–the drop dead gorgeous scenery, the fresh air, the wonderful people, the unusual lifestyles, the salmon, the halibut, the great outdoors, the wildlife, the rainforests, the glaciers.  I want it so bad that I can taste it.  I look forward to our next visit even though I have no idea when we will go back.

– Stephanie

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