Thanksgiving in 2020!? SLNW?

Hey, friends!

I hope last week treated you well, and this week treats you even better – with mimosas, green bean casserole, and dairy-free pies!

This Thanksgiving is looking a little different than any other.

Instead of embracing others with hugs, we’ll probably be FaceTiming, skipping on the turkey, and seeing some family members from six feet away.

This Thanksgiving should be more stress-free than others; however, there are some essential tips to remember.

First, eat the damn pie!

Or whatever it is that has your mouth watering – peppers are usually what get me. Forget to count your calories on Thursday, or even all week. One bad week of eating isn’t going to be noticeable to anyone else, your jeans will still fit, and you’ll always look phenomenal!

Shoot family members a text, even if you can’t see them. Sadly, we never know when our last holiday with someone may be. Let them know you miss them or that you’re thinking about them.

On Black Friday, buy something for yourself if you want it! This year has been a challenge, and we all deserve kindness – especially from ourselves. If you really want those fancy bralettes, the Ugg boots, the Yankee candle, or several boxes of DeBrand, buy them! You deserve it. Just don’t buy every single thing you want because some gift-givers *not looking at you, men* don’t have a billion ideas.

Don’t feel the need to be a people pleaser. This one always gets me! A Barb can talk crap about me the entire time, and I will smile at her and ask her if she wants another piece of the pie – wishing this was The Help. Stick up for yourself! As long as you aren’t a jerk for no reason, no one can hold it against you.

Sit down and enjoy the day. Not everything has to be flawless; this isn’t a Hallmark movie, a magazine shoot, or a wedding. It’s okay if the wrench in the garage is on top of the toolbox and not in it, it’s okay if there is a thumbprint on the dishwasher, it’s okay if you haven’t plucked your eyebrows in three weeks, and it is okay if your house doesn’t look straight out of a HGTV staging. Expecting that from yourself is way too much pressure and takes away from your day – the one you are working relentlessly at creating.

Remember to help others. Pitch in a pie, give a helping hand, let Grandpa George tell you a story for the 716th time, and take turns petting the dog.

2020 has been a wild ride.

2020 has tested us all.

We have all grown from this experience, we have all struggled this past year, and we all need a day of pumpkin pie, mimosa’s, and carbs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When they ask you to say what you’re thankful for, remember there is so much to be grateful for…even in 2020: an incredible God, all the carbs, sugar-filled alcohol, the strength you’ve earned, your health, your family, advanced technology that allows communication, and that this pie isn’t from The Help.

Have a great Thursday. You’ve earned it!

Yeah, I’m A Female. So What?

Recently someone tried to make me look inferior in a public setting.

It threw me off guard, and I just laughed, but it continued to consume my thoughts.

Maybe I did something to make him or her mad? I had never really interacted with them before, but perhaps I offended them in some sort of way?

No, that can’t be it. I’ve only ever treated them with kindness and respect.

Maybe I am taking it too personally and misinterpreting it?

No, that’s not it. Others who witnessed it talked about how rude it was, and some felt the need to stick up for me.

These thoughts played in my head over and over again. I wasn’t sure why I was so upset about this incident, but I was.

I was talking to my therapist about this encounter and my thoughts. She told me that the way I was perceiving it was correct and that I was trying to see the good in them by making excuses.

She proceeded to say that I was the third person with this issue this week.

It was Tuesday.

That’s three people in 2 days.

That’s when it hit me.

I love being relatable – it is one of my favorite things! Unfortunately, that isn’t always a great thing. Like me, many others experience belittling, negativity, and unfairness.

Yes, I dance like a forty-year-old whose trashed on wine coolers, I rock the tassel earrings, it’s safe to assume that sparkle will be involved if I’m near, and I scream Taylor Swift lyrics like my life depends on it.

Yes, I am a twenty-something individual. I enjoy White Claws more than most would admit, I cry at predictable movies, and I am always thinking about the most Instagrammable picture.

None of those things make me irresponsible.

Yes, I will be your biggest cheerleader, I publicly rock Christmas sweaters, and I keep my face highly animated.

None of those things make me less of a person with genuine feelings.

Yes, I take classes online with virtual textbooks, online lectures, and have a lax schedule.

None of those facts mean that I am lesser than past students.

Yes, I love scrolling through Twitter, watching Instagram Stories, and Snapchatting my friends.

None of those things mean that I have never had struggles.

Yes, I am twenty-something and began my career where I indulge in chocolate-drowned coffee, craft social media content, and work on several other projects.

None of those things make me less of a hard worker.

The truth is that I do not know what is on anyone else’s plate, and others don’t realize what all falls on my plate.

Yes, I enjoy my personal time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t dedicate hours to my career, growing as a person, furthering my education, or establishing genuine relationships – it just means that I know how to live a balanced life.

Yes, I will always welcome you with a pink piece of clothing, an enormous smile, and enthusiasm straight from the North Pole. That doesn’t mean that my feelings don’t get hurt, that sometimes I feel off, or that I should be looked down upon – it just means that I will put my feelings aside to have the best experience with others.

Yes, I am pursuing a college education online. No, that doesn’t mean that I am any less of a student. In fact, I take twenty-four credit hour semesters, am an honors student, earn all A’s (except for personal finance), and have worked hard the past 2.5 years to stay away from a loan. Earning a degree online means that I am gaining work experience and an education.

Yes, I spend a considerable period on social media. That doesn’t mean that I have never felt sad, dealt with struggles, or had insecurities. When looking at mental health issues, it is quite apparent that this generation has faced several struggles.

Yes, I am in my twenties working. No, that doesn’t mean I’m any less responsible, dedicated, passionate, or willing to give it my all – it just means that I was ready to spend my time working with a team, challenging my skills, and testing my abilities.

I am a female in my twenties, and that does not make me lesser than.

Apparently, people must think it does.

Yes. I will be the first to stop at a boutique, threaten to kiss a puppies face off, spend all day at a winery, throw up the Christmas decorations, talk you up as I take 30+ pictures of you, quote Elle Woods, go hard at arts and crafts, and angrily tweet during The Bachelor.

But don’t, for a second, think that I am not a hard worker, a passionate employee, an intelligent student, or a badass.

Because you’ll be sadly mistaken when a lady like me shows you just how inferior you can be.

We Want An Un-Traditional Thanksgiving!! SLNW!?

Have you ever polished off the fried onions on top of green bean casserole, fished to get the crumbs out of your blouse, tugged at the Spanx that are rolling up, and anticipating the time for another Tums because your anxious stomach is sure to blow?

Welcome to my perception of Thanksgiving.

The question I get asked the most is about Thanksgiving. I am an open book about how Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday, which seems to offend some people.

Let me clarify: I love the concept of Thanksgiving, the purpose behind it, and seeing so many that I love – but I hate what the day has turned into.

At some point in my life, I became the pickiest person alive. Not because I was banning carbs, sugars, or unhealthy foods from my life – but because my taste buds changed. Now, all I wanted was fries, chicken fries, hot fries, and strawberry shortcakes.

When I went to Thanksgiving, I would scarf down the green bean casserole, shovel in the cream pie, and eat the corn casserole faster than people slide their credit cards on Thanksgiving.

I was content with these food items; however, I could only indulge once or twice. Unlike others, I pretty much disregard leftovers (terrible habit), but I get sick of food quickly. Except for fries, obviously.

Once I got into college, my body was like,

“You like milk? Sad story, bro. Now, you’ll gag when you taste it, run to the bathroom between thirty-minutes to two-hours, and miss the good ole days.”

My lactose intolerance isn’t too severe. I can still have a little and be okay. However, it is hard to measure how much is tolerable. On Thanksgiving, I don’t want to push it with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, or creamed pies because who knows where I’ll be or if I’ll be in the car!

On Thanksgiving, there is so much traveling. Everyone seems to have three-five Thanksgivings, drive time, time to get ready, etc. It makes it merely impossible to spend decent periods at each Thanksgiving, which rattles my anxiety and people-pleaser side.

All these Thanksgivings tend to be around the same time on the day, and then friends want to go Black Friday shopping.

At what point in that day will I have time to grab a coffee!

Many argue my feelings toward Thanksgiving, but those who experience similar struggles agree. A holiday that is intended to celebrate our lives, make our hearts warm with gratitude, and bring us together tends to be stress-filled, beyond busy and rushed.

For those of you who adore Thanksgiving, but want it to be less stressful, and are wondering

So, Like, Now What!?

Here are some alternatives to the traditions:

Brunch

Thanksgivings seem to begin around 12:30 or 1, which makes for plenty of room for a brunch.

A mimosa bar, a light breakfast – maybe it’ll be warm enough to pull out the grill – and some laid-back chatter.

While everyone is unwinding, their stuffing can be in the oven, and they can head back home for a power nap or to freshen up!

This would be perfect for intimate families who may see each other throughout the day but have entirely different schedules. This allows them to spend time together and prepare for the day ahead.

Make-Shift Winery

This idea would work best on Black Friday or the weekend after Thanksgiving.

All the men could bring their beer, get some pizza or bring leftovers. There would probably be some sort of game on that all of them would love ‘bro-ing out’ to!

The women could all bring their favorite bottle of wine and an item for a charcuterie board. The wines could be lined up, and the food could be set on a counter lined with craft paper.

This would create a winery atmosphere where everyone could chat or shop while sharing sales and bargains.

Thanksgiving on A Different Day

If you want to keep Thanksgiving exactly how it is but make sure more people can attend, here are some different days.

A week and a half before during the weekend. This would be far enough away that it wouldn’t stress the guests out, and they’d likely be able to stay the whole time!

The first weekend in November. This would probably be open for most, and the weather would likely still be nice. Maybe you could grill the turkey – is that a thing?

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I attended a gathering, and almost everyone invited came. This idea seemed to work very well with everyone’s schedule!

Black Friday would be a great day to host Thanksgiving, especially since there is a pandemic, and most will be shopping online.

The weekend after Thanksgiving would be great too! You could even have a leftover party if you don’t like having leftovers.

Different Food

If you aren’t a huge fan of Thanksgiving food, especially since it is usually present a month later, here are some alternatives:

A dip party where everyone brings different dips! There could be buffalo chicken dip, hazelnut spread, hummus, everything spread, cheese balls, regular chips and dips, and so many other Pinterest finds. This would be filling, and something people would probably enjoy planning!

A stir fry gathering, where there are different noodles and rice’s, various meats, vegetables, and sauces. This would be like a Flat Top Grill atmosphere – only the food would already be cooked, and it would be added to a bowl – extra points to whoever can make that bread.

An Italian theme! There could be delicious rolls, boring salads, several different pasta’s, and maybe pizza. Of course, there would be wine, too!

A wing theme! This would be a favorite for many people and children! There could be wings, fries, hamburgers, maybe fried vegetables, and beer. Everyone loves a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings, Wings Etc., or Applebees – this would be legendary, mostly because whoever didn’t want to cook could order a side from a restaurant.

A soup gathering. There could be different kinds of breads, salad options, and everyone could bring their favorite soups. I love a good chili, potato soup, or any other soup!

Chinese food is good for the soul, so having Chinese food at a Thanksgiving would be delicious!

If the only thing you want to ditch is the turkey, go with meatloaf, a brisket, or a pot roast. These are all beyond tasty and would stay fall-themed.

No matter what you do this Thanksgiving, remember not to be too stressed, to thank God for the life he’s given you, to not worry about calories, and to treasure your time with everyone.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

All The Details on Our Engagement Pictures!!

If you are friends with me on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or stalk my Pinterest, you probably know I’ve been obsessing over engagement photos for months on months!

We got our sneak peek back this week, and I’m in love! I cannot wait to get the rest back. The other outfit is my favorite thing I’ve ever worn.

If you are like me, you want all the details on everything.

Here are all the details on our engagement photos that we have so far.

Once we get the others back, I will share the details on those, too!

The blog website may make the pictures lower resolution.

The Photographer

The inner struggle was real when picking a photographer for our wedding.

Two photographers are very special to me, Hannah Ruth Photography and ASOT Photography. Their photos are phenomenal, their personalities shine, and they both mean a lot to me!

Because I know these two personally, I really wanted to invite them to our wedding with their families – as guests.

When making this decision, I didn’t know if they’d be offended. That was the last thing I’d ever want to do! Of course, they’d both be flawless, but I want them to enjoy our wedding with their friends and family.

Once my friend posted pictures from her sister’s wedding, I felt God easing my worry.

Hannah and Amanda would both understand, and I know they’ll love attending the wedding as guests!

The photos that my friend posted were stunning. As I stalked the photographer, I realized that she photographed my cousin’s wedding as I attended my sophomore prom! Her wedding reception was also where ours is. This felt meant to be.

That is how I selected the incredibly talented, sweet, and hilarious Breely with Tailored and Kind Photography.

The Vibe

When considering the vibe that I wanted for our engagement photos, I knew exactly what I wanted.

Those photos are coming later, and then I’ll spill the tea on what was going on in my mind when contemplating those pictures.

Hint: The fashion for those pictures is from a very famous TV show that is done airing. The editing style and location were inspired by a still-running show that will be returning to TV shortly.

When picking the other photos’ aesthetic, I started thinking about what would look good framed in our future home. Our colors will be gray, black, and yellow for ‘you are my sunshine.’

That is when I decided to have our photos taken in October because fall coordinates well with yellow!

Breely suggested the Green Hurst Commons in Auburn, which was perfect for a decked-out fall scenery.

The Fashion

Immediately, I knew that I wanted Dawson to wear burnt orange. He lives in fall colors all year round, and he looks like a HUNK in burnt orange. This sweater is from AMAZON, and he threw on a pair of American Eagle jeans.

When coordinating my outfit with his, I kept leaning towards neutral colors. That is when I found the perfect bodysuit from AMAZON. Man, Amazon has all the things!

To match his sweater, I purchased a pair of tassel earrings from AMAZON.

When picking out pants, I wanted a pair that was lighter and classy. That is when I found the chicest pair on sale from LANE 201 BOUTIQUE.

Once I tried this outfit on, I knew I needed a sparkling necklace. Walmart (sorry – no link) had a simple $8 necklace that was perfect!

Extras

When I prepared for our engagement session, I knew that I wanted a great day! We would only do this once, so it’s best to enjoy it.

The night before our pictures, I applied the cutest press-on nails. These are the best invention ever!

The day of, I woke up, and can anyone guess what was next?

Yes! I went to Starbucks!

Next, I went to Fort Wayne to have my makeup done. MADE UP BY CELENA VADA did airbrush makeup as she will for one of my bridal showers and our wedding! I have seen her work on various people and was in love. She did such a perfect job, was uber fun to talk to, and took all the stress away of matching eyeliner!

From Fort Wayne, I blasted Crime Junkie and drove to Auburn. I went to my longtime hair salon, MIRROR IMAGE, and got my hair curled! I usually go to Jess, but I went to Bailey this time. All three stylists are fantastic: Jess, Courtney, and Bailey! I’d recommend going to them if you need a place that can do anything and makes your appointment feel like a mini-vacation.

When we arrived at our photo session, we were greeted by Breely. She was so amazing! She told us exactly what to do, made us laugh, and helped us have the best time.

We are so excited to work with her on our wedding day.

After we wrapped up photos, we headed to Mad Anthony. Here, we decided to go big or go home, and both ordered appetizers and a meal.

WOAH! We went hard.

These pictures are lovely, and I will treasure them forever!

Be sure to check out my blog in a few weeks for the rest of the pictures and details.

Quick story: On our engagement session day, I found out that Breely (the photographer) takes Celena’s (the makeup artist) photos, and Celena did Jess and Courtney’s (hair stylists) wedding makeup! Small world!

I Can Only Spend $150 On A Christmas Tree!! SLNW!?

Hey, Friends!

Sorry for standing you up on Thursday – I was sick last week and slept more than Sleeping Beauty!

Now, I’m good to go and decided to get a little controversial this election week

by putting my Christmas tree up on November 1st

Dawson and I snagged this tree at Good Will two-years-ago for $20.

The other two times, I decorated with the cheapest, tiniest ornaments. The thinnest – like thinner than my hair, thin – garland. A Dollar Tree topper that I couldn’t stand. And I called it a deal because, including the tree, I probably spent $25.00!  Winning, right!?

Wrong. I forgot that I have standards.

This year I decided to go chic with my Christmas tree. The goal was a Hallmark Christmas movie vibe with a touch of Blair Waldorf!

Disclaimer: Chic isn’t my favorite Christmas tree theme. Commercial Christmas is, and I have an abundance of ornaments ready for that tree, but I’m saving that for a flocked King of Christmas Christmas tree that will be my main tree when I have a home.

First, I grabbed my 7.5-foot $20 Good Will tree out of the attic. Well, my dad grabbed it while I watched.

Yes, I know my eyebrows need waxed. I’m not feeling this 2010 Joe Jonas look.

7.5 feet??? Did the box mean 5.7 feet because this tree is my height!

First, I fluffed the tree. Which, admittedly, sucks.

Next, I wrapped lights around the tree. I purchased 300 mini white lights for $16.

Sidebar: when I was shopping for lights, I was standing next to a guy around my age browsing lights. He picked up huge lights intended for the outside. He just stared at them the entire time I was in there. Later, I was in the ornament aisle, and he came in with an empty cart and confused expression. After a few minutes, he went to get past me, but my cart was in his way. I apologized, and he said, “You’re fine. But do you know why it’s so hard to decorate a Christmas tree? I’ve never done this, and I have zero decorations – this is hard!” Like, dude, if only you knew who you were talking to!

Once the lights were wrapped around my tree, I placed the tree topper on top. Dawson likes Christmas gnomes and wants us to have a ‘gnome on the shelf’ when we have kids. I got this Christmas topper on sale from WAYFAIR for about $30. There are similar ones that are cheaper at Walmart and Dollar General.

When the gnome was sitting comfortably, ruling the tree, I started throwing on my white garland. One of the gifts Dawson’s parents got me for my Birthday was $50 to AMAZON. I used this to buy three rolls of the garland. Only 1 of the rolls were necessary for my tree – the reviews demanded three rolls were required – and I ended up using the other rolls for something else.

After the garland was applied, my dad peeked his head in and exclaimed

“Looks like a mummy tree.”

Thanks, dad. Go back to the attic!

In total, my ornaments cost $26, and they are from Dollar General and Walmart. First, I applied the ice sickles, the snowflakes, the gold pine cones, the big ornaments, then all the normal ones.

Once my tree was decked out, it was time to add the Christmas tree skirt!

After vacuuming of course.

Dawson’s grandma had a tree skirt made for her when she was younger because she loved Christmas so much. Last year, she boxed it and gave it to me because I adore Christmas so much. This skirt means so much to me, and I feel incredibly blessed to have it. It’s at Dawson’s house with our commercial ornaments, snow globes, and other décor for our future home.

In the meantime, I bought two mini tree skirts from Walmart for $8. When I unwrapped them to put under and realized that clearly, I didn’t use common sense.

Still, I tried channeling my inner-Pinterest skills by cutting and placing them around the tree.

Fail.

Instead, I wrapped the two extra garland packs around the bottom of the tree. This took a surprisingly long time, but it turned out so cute.

This $20 tree that is clearly lying about its height to get all the ladies, broken in some parts, and looks like a balding male – looks chic!

All supplies, including the tree, only cost $150. Now, that is what we call a win, Chloe.

A friendly message to all the Barb’s:

Please don’t come after me. I understand why you disapprove of putting the tree up before Thanksgiving. Honestly, it brings me so much joy, but I may not do that when we have young kids. That might make them feel like Christmas is right around the corner when it isn’t.

Just remember:

It’s 2020. We need some joy up in here.

I dislike Thanksgiving – sorry!

I understand where you’re coming from, and kindly, I don’t care.

So, like, that’s as controversial as I’ll get!

I Binged Crime Junkie!! SLNW?

Four times a year, I spend a solid month working in Excel.

During this time, I scarf down chips and salsa, blast Taylor Swift, and drink all the strawberry lemonade. These actions make Excel a lot more fun – it’s almost like I’m hanging with my homies.

But there are only so many T. Swift jams. So, I decided to start a podcast to mix things up.

Then, I got addicted.

Then, before I knew it, I had listened to every episode within three weeks.

That’s hundred of episodes ranging from a half-hour to an hour.

So, like, now I’m officially a hardcore Crime Junkie!

Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat have opened my eyes to a world that I never knew existed; a side of our world. Three significant lessons that I have learned from them are to:

Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive.

That I most definitely need a taser as a stocking stuffer this Christmas.

To make an ‘If I Go Missing’ folder.

Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive.

When I make a quick trip to Cebolla’s at 4 pm in broad daylight, I practically run to and from my car. On my way back from picking up the order, I have my margarita mix in hand, ready to bash it over anyone’s head who tries to take me. When I finally make my way back to my car, I check the backseat before hopping in. Then, I lock my door faster than Cher can squeal,

“ugh, as if!”

Additionally, I have realized that I’m not obligated to acknowledge the creepy guy asking me questions, the woman trying to get me to follow her, or anyone who gives me a bad feeling – including police officers. No, really, so many people get hurt because people pose as police officers. When you are being pulled over on a secluded road or in the dark, I recommend calling your local police station and verifying the car before pulling over.

Taser

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Carry things on you that will protect you. Have pepper spray, have a tracker on your phone, have a taser!

Most importantly, don’t wait for bad things to happen for you to buy these things.

Ashley and Brit always stress the importance of getting security cameras and security systems installed before terrible things occur. Have them so you can prevent these horrible tragedies.

If I Go Missing

Something that Crime Junkie discusses is creating an “If I Go Missing” folder.

This folder contains information like your Apple ID, your phone information, physical identifiers, threatening people in your life, and other information that could help people find you if you go missing.

They created a template for this folder that can be found HERE.

Again, fill this out before bad things happen. I suggest giving one or two to trusted people – people that would never harm you. Personally, I’d give one to my mom, my dad, and my fiancé. That way, if any of them killed me, others would still have the information. (Not that I’m suspicious of them!)

Fieldwork

If you are intrigued and want to learn why all these things are critical, I’d suggest bingeing all of Crime Junkie in three weeks. You definitely won’t need to sleep with the light on, sprint to your car, share your location with everyone and check your coworkers’ drawers for cake – unless you’re a lot like me.

If listening to hours upon hours of a podcast is too much for you to handle, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite episodes of Crime Junkie.

After listening to these, I imagine you, too, will go down a rabbit hole listening to every episode, buying their Patreon content, and anxiously awaiting a merch drop so you can snag a sweatshirt.

Serial killers are sure to leave me alone when they realize I’m a hardcore Crime Junkie, rocking a hoodie. They’ll know I have an ‘If I Go Missing’ folder!

Here are thirteen episodes (I picked the spooky number) that are sure to make you question everyone in your life, order a taser, and get right on that folder:

WANTED: Robert Fisher

This episode was released on January 8, 2018. (Mine and Dawson’s soon-to-be wedding anniversary!)

Robert Fisher has been on the FBI Most Wanted list and has never been caught.

…maybe

I’m convinced that Robert has been caught but was able to alter his fingerprints and getaway.

This might sound totally bizarre, but listen to the episode and see if it still sounds far-fetched.

Listen to this episode HERE.

Spoiler alert: he takes the dog, which shocked me the first time I listened to it. I wonder why killers often harm animals early in their life but end up taking dogs when they become killers?

MURDERED: Karina Holmer

This episode often gives me ‘full-body chills’ as Ashley and Brit would say.

Anytime I think about it, I wonder if all dark art comes from inspiration or experience.

Looking back through my life, I realize that I wore statement clothing pieces, thinking that would help people find me if I ever got lost/was taken. This case shows me how truly mistaken I was.

Listen to this episode HERE.

Spoiler alert: this story will make you question ever stopping to pet a dog – even if they match their owner.

MISSING: Brian Shaffer

This case crosses my mind often.

So many corny jokes start with the words, ‘a guy walks into a bar.’

In fact, my all-time favorite song, sung by Tyler Farr, revolves around these very infamous words.

What if you heard that a guy walked into a bar, was the only person never seen leaving, and was never seen again in fourteen years.

That is the story of Brian Shaffer, which is beyond frustrating – I cannot imagine being his family.

Listen to this episode HERE.

SERIAL KILLER: Herb Baumeister

Earlier in the blog, I mentioned a man watching cake deteriorate in a drawer at work.

Who does that, you ask?

Well, a man who also parties with mannequins.

A man who pees on things when he’s angry.

A monster who lives a double life.

A family man. A businessman. A man who has his community rooting for him:

Herb Baumeister.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH: Kendrick Johnson

So many times, the media makes us think that villains aren’t brought to justice.

This case showed me that victims don’t ever get justice because no one is fighting for them.

Not the community, not the police, not their school – where they were killed.

This story makes me want to scream.

This case is one that so many view as an accidental death.

I’m convinced it was a cold-blooded murder.

Listen to this episode HERE.

SERIAL KILLER: Israel Keyes

Here in Indiana, all we expect is corn to grow, cows to moo, and Fort Wayne to rave about finally getting their own Trader Joes.

Most don’t expect or realize that a notorious serial killer visited here often.

In fact, it is assumed that most of his crimes have gone unnoticed.

Once, he even convinced a family that their loved one was still alive.

How did Israel Keyes do it?

A little stitchwork, a nice vacation, and a few dozen kill buckets.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MISSING: The Beaumont Children

Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing that parents lost their child.

This case shattered me when I realized these parents lost three children.

When I listened to this story in the shower – 10/10 do not recommend – I was devastated, horrified, and convinced one girls’ purse was found years later.

Not having answers is hard as a listener. As a parent, I can’t imagine not having answers still, over fifty years after their disappearance.

Listen to this episode HERE.

SERIAL KILLER: Shawn Grate

As I laid in bed one evening, in pitched black, I listened to a 911 call that chilled me to my core.

I was so frustrated with the operator but so terrified that when a fly landed on me, I flew out of my bed, screaming uncontrollably.

This episode is one that I think about often because of the 911 call that is played.

It is petrifying, but real life.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MURDERED: The Powell Family

While we are on the subject of terrible 911 operators, I must mention the Powell Family’s horrifying story.

Crime Junkie does an incredible job at relaying this story, and I’d highly recommend checking this episode out.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MISSING: Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone

Did you ever think two people could go missing in a truck?

For the vehicle to never be seen again.

For there to never be another sighting of them.

Yeah, me neither.

This episode is a must as it shows how mysterious this world can be.

Listen to this episode HERE.

SERIAL KILLER: Charlie Brandt

This story is truly terrorizing and makes me want to live in isolation for the rest of my life.

First, this story is scary because, again, it talks about Fort Wayne.

Secondly, it is terrifying because a man killed his mother, and no one ever told his wife.

She was married to a monster and had absolutely no idea – until she got a sneaking suspicion.

This story will make you want to get not a prenup but a thorough background check.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Phoebe Handsjuk

This story is one that will make you fearful of opening the door.

Like the death of Kendrick Johnson, this is one that is ruled an accident – kind of.

In a Patreon ‘Audio Extra’ of this story, Ashley reveals that a death similar to this one has only been reported twice.

Both of the other times happened in the United States – whereas this happened in Australia – it occured in the same hotel.

The exact same hotel.

The only other places it has happened in the world.

The same hotel?

This story is chilling and is one that had me talking nonstop.

Listen to this episode HERE.

MURDERED: Sylvia Likens

I’m not going to recommend everyone listen to this because it is deeply bothersome.

This girl was being watched by a woman who seemed caring.

Until she locked her in a basement and let several neighbor kids assault, beat, and harm her – while her parents had no idea.

Eventually, Sylvia died, and these people went on to be respected: a teacher, a pastor, etc.

Listen to this episode HERE.

There are hundreds of other episodes that I could recommend. They’d make you wonder if you have a friend like ED KEMPER, if the hunk on TV is another RODNEY ALCALA, and if all social media accounts are targeting children like KACIE WOODY was targeted (all teens need to listen to this.)

I’d listen to them all. I mean, I already did!

I worked in Excel while learning that this world is cruel, Googling statistics on serial killers, jumping out of my shoes whenever anyone came from behind me, and wondering if my Siri voice could be Ashley’s.

This podcast is phenomenal: it has won awards, it helps publicize real stories, it contributes to good causes, and Brit often sheds light on fostering and adoption – which I love, considering I was adopted.

Listen to Crime Junkie. It could save your life, and there are live shows that would make great date nights.

P.S. If you end up finishing all episodes and get Patreon, wait until you hear about The Elevator Game. I have never believed in anything paranormal, but nothing made my skin crawl quite like that episode.

I Met A Boy!! SLNW?

So, like, welcome back!

I did survive finals week, in case you were wondering.

I wanted to thank your understanding and patience with a frequently requested blog:

the story of how Dawson and I met.

Every Fourth of July, our hometown would host a festival called “Heritage Days,” and this 5k was the kick-off.

In 2014, the summer before my freshman year, I decided to support my dad and brother at the race. Running was my favorite sport to watch, and I loved aggravating my brother by cheering on my dad to dominate him.

That morning, I woke up semi-early and decided to get artsy. I threw on some eyeshadow, which I had no idea how to apply – thank goodness there are no pictures of that day. To emphasize how totally Elle Woods I was, I grabbed a hot pink sequin tank top and denim shorts.

When I approached my body mirror, I thought about how high school I must have looked. I mean, Taylor Swift would rock this look! Right?

Before I could dart out of the door, I applied buckets of sunscreen. So what if the sun wasn’t up – I could still get sunburnt.

Once I reeked of SPF, I knew I was ready to head to the East Side Park, where Heritage Days occurred.

I was running kind of late and decided to soccer mom it, which got me to a good cheering spot before my family would have passed it.

There, I saw my dad and brother and kept rooting for my dad to smack down Chance.

Comically, I attempted to catch them crossing the finish line. My thong sandals were putting in some work as I ran with a horrifying technique.

Out of breath, drenched in sunscreen sweat, I made it to the finish line. Chance and my dad had already crossed and waited for me to catch my breath.

Once I recovered from my 50-yard sprint, that most would classify as a jog, Chance mentioned wanting a stack of pancakes. Disgusting.

As we headed towards the breakfast line, my dad saw someone he knew: Jon Furnish.

I knew Jon as a softball coach. His daughter, Reese, was on my All-Star team, where Makinnah and I would chant a Reese’s Puff song at her.

As my dad chatted with Jon, my eyes fell on a scrawny boy standing next to him.

The boy had stringy, long hair that was dangling over his head. His shoulders hunched over, his head ducked down, and his hands gripping to the bottom of his dingey, white t-shirt. He was sporting white socks that reminded me of my grandpa, paired with running shoes and uncomfortable looking gym shorts.

His legs were crossed, which looked kind of awkward. “Maybe that’s how high school boys stand,” I thought. Now, I realize he had the after run runs.

His eyes never looked up, and mine never wavered from him.

In that moment, as I stared at him, something washed over me.

I think it was God pointing me to him, some may argue it was a Joe Goldberg feeling, but I felt so content. My body flooded with warmth, my eyes got a little teary, my cheeks flushed as I became shy, and a smile curled on my lips.

This boy was going to be my boyfriend.

When school started two months later, I was on the lookout for Dawson.

Within the first week, I realized that I passed him waiting to enter class after my history class. He still hadn’t noticed me, but he was all I thought about!

Every day when I got home, I would pick out an outfit for the next day where I would maybe, hopefully strike a conversation with Dawson. This may sound like an easy or mundane task, but guys, does he want me to be the girl with the short skirts or the t-shirts? He needed to belong with me!

Finally, on August 12th, I threw on a black shirt with a back zipper and mesh sleeves (something that sat in my closet with a hole for years because of the memory tied to it.) I picked up a cross necklace, held it, and thought, “Chloe, you could die today. Do you want to die without talking to him?”

After history class, I walked up to him. He was staring down – why does this dude love the ground so much? – and hadn’t noticed me standing next to him.

My heart was racing; my palms were sweating; my friends were staring at me.

“I like your shirt!”

I blurted before I even looked at his outfit.

His head darted up, his eyes were wide, as he hesitantly replied,

“Uh, thanks.”

I giggled and scurried away, staring at my friends with excitement like I just kissed the guy. I mean, I did tell him his burgundy v-neck, probably $5 shirt, was nice! That’s probably almost a kiss!

When I caught up with my friends, they were chuckling while celebrating my victory. I looked back over my shoulder and noticed him staring at me with a confused expression.

My head flew back to point straight, and I thought about how that was straight out of a movie.

As the days passed, I would try to speak to him once or twice a week. I interpreted these conversations as me being badass, while he viewed them as talking to a girl with a humorous crush on him.

On my Birthday, September 12th, I curled my hair, danced my way into high-rise jeans, and naturally threw on a pink shirt.

That day, I had a field trip, and Dawson would be there, too!

All-day, I kept my eyes peeled for him.

When we went to lunch, I spotted him on the other side of Pizza Hut. “Hey!” I squealed, and he replied with a short nod.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

That same night, there was a football game. As my friends checked out the players’ butts, I was drooling over the band kid with a trombone.

We made eye contact, and my heart melted.

That encounter apparently pleased him – I knew pink was the way to go – because he asked for my number.

AHHH, this boy was going to be my boyfriend!!!

Only he wasn’t. Not yet, at least.

We texted over the course of a few weeks, but he wasn’t super responsive.

A few weekends later, Makinnah texted me and said she had terrible news.

Dawson had a girlfriend that was in the band with him.

When I read the text, I started sobbing to “Stolen Dance.” A song I wouldn’t listen to for years after.

I really thought he was going to be my boyfriend. I really felt God was leading me to him.

Maybe I’ll be the high school girl who eats next to a dumpster.

That week, I saw him holding a girl’s hand. That was his new girlfriend, Eslin (I think you’re awesome now, girl!)

She and I were wearing the same jeans. I had no choice but to burn them.

When the weekend finally arrived, I fully embraced my heartbreak. I ate ice cream and watched The Other Woman, then scarfed down Cheeto Puffs while cheering to John Tucker Must Die.

The one thing that I learned from that movie was that Dawson would get his karma. “I hope he feels as bad as I feel one day,” I thought.

Then, he got cancer, and I felt like the world’s worst person.

Every night, I prayed that God would heal him and pleaded that I’d do anything to bring back his health.

As my prayers continued, so did life, and eventually, we were both single again. Dawson’s cancer was gone, and I was still praying that God would maintain his health because I totally sucked by wishing him hurt, and we texted again.

And finally, two years later, he was my boyfriend.

There was an awkward first date, a we-should-have-flossed first kiss – after missing each other’s lips – and so much more.

But all of that is a story for another time.

Side note: it didn’t work out the first time because Dawson just viewed us as friends and had met a great girl. He thought it wouldn’t work with us because he was a band person who wouldn’t get along with a jock.

Wait

A jock?

Me? A jock??????

Dude, have you seen my sports stats! I’m Taylor Swift with a pinch of Elle Woods, not Jenny Finch!

I Need to Kick My Starbucks Addiction!! SLNW?

Christmas is right around the corner, and our jeans are getting tighter, and our bank account is becoming a bit more depleted.

It is time to go from five weekly handcrafted coffees to three to save money and lower our calorie intake.

So, Like, Now What?

I am going to try to make my second favorite Starbucks drink: a caramel frappuccino! Only, I like them melted – like a weirdo – so I will make it the night before work, refrigerate it, then drink it the following morning.

Ingredients I Used for 32oz

1 Cup of Almond Milk

1 Cup of Starbucks Medium Roast Coffee with 2x Caffeine, unless you haven’t been sleeping a crazy amount lately. Eight hours doesn’t seem to be enough for me these days!

1/3 Cup of Torani Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup that I clearly got by accident

2.25 Cups of Crushed Ice

3 Tablespoons of Sugar

Steps

First, brew the coffee. On the Keurig, I selected the medium-sized mug, which measured out to be 1 cup. I would suggest this option because it makes the measuring process simple.

Before blending, the coffee is meant to be chilled. After it brewed, I kept it in the fridge for ninety-minutes.

After the coffee has chilled, blend all the ingredients – milk, coffee, ice, syrup, and sugar – to get a smooth consistency.

During this process, you may feel like a witch who has something brewing. After the blender stops

POOF!

You’ll have a frappucino ready to serve, unless you aren’t lactose intolerant, and choose to cake whipped cream on top.

My Rating

The texture of the frappuccino was great, and it melted perfectly.

For as much as I claim to love coffee, I’m not a massive fan of the taste. Strong coffee could be tasted in this frappuccino, making me want to buy light roast coffee next time. If you prefer strong coffee, this drink would be perfect for you!

As good as this drink is, it just isn’t a Starbucks drink. I’d probably rate it a 3/5 based on taste.

Overall, it would be a 4/5 because 16oz is about 200 calories with almond milk, which is low for a frappuccino – it also explains why it isn’t as good as a Starbucks frappuccino. Furthermore, these ingredients cost me $2.98 per 16 oz (not including the cost of sugar.)

So I won’t feel guilty about splurging on Hallmark wrapping paper, I will have a few of these. However, I will probably still order one or two Starbucks drinks every week.

Enjoy, and let me know if there are any recipes that you’d like me to try!

The recipe from All Recipes inspired this recipe.

I Need A Personal Assistant!! SLNW?

If you need a sign made, a gift wrapped, an Excel sheet crafted, a reference sheet drafted, or an invitation designed – hit me up.

So many people ask if I’ll help them with these things, and I’m willing! If you ever want help with something, just ask. I can usually do it, but sometimes it may be too much. Between working a full-time job, doing double the schoolwork, insisting on 8+ hours of sleep, and consuming as much drama-filled TV as possible – I sometimes get exhausted.

However, I am totally down for a craft, a calculation, or any other task. Feel free to ask me about anything, and I will let you know if I can do it. If I can’t, I probably will have a person or store recommendation.

The main question that I am asked is if I can make a sign and how much I’d charge.

The price depends on the sign and materials used (the colors, if there is glitter, if it is for outdoors, a specific font, etc.)

I do not make the actual signs, so click here to check out Bobier Woodwork’s signs. Check their size options and color. Once you select the sign you’d like, add it to your cart to see the tax and shipping price. After you do this, send me the information, and I can order the sign.

After calculating the final cost of the sign, here are my charges:

$5-$10 for vinyl material. The difference depends on the colors and textures used.

$5-10 for my time, as it usually takes me a couple of hours.

Then, if you want me to deliver, talk with me, and we can figure out a time I’m in the area. Or, I can charge $1 for every 5 minutes driven if you want it delivered ASAP.

$3 if you’d like it for outside, and I will seal it.

This price may seem a bit high; however, I am hoping to get it down soon. I am making these signs frequently enough that I am considering getting the materials to build them. That will save me, and you, a lot of money!

The first sign that I made.  This is for our wedding and house, and the words are from our favorite Goo Goo Doll’s song.
My cousin, Tori, is having her first baby this month!  For his Harry Potter-themed nursery, she wanted a sign for above his crib.
One of Liberty’s senior gifts from my family!  Signs like this are a bit cheaper.  I can personalize signs like this, other signs, mugs, etc.  Just send me your idea!
Not the best picture; but a girl I met at Purdue Fort Wayne sent me her idea, and I mimicked it!

If you want a sign made, I am willing to help you! Just hit the menu bar, select “Order,” and fill out the form. I’ll get back to you ASAP!

If you want a custom mug, calligraphy written on a chalkboard, a wedding budget sheet, presents wrapped and towered, or anything else done – fill out the form. I enjoy doing all these things and would love to help in any way that I can, even if that is directing you to someone else!

Have a great week: search Pinterest, sip coffee, and listen to today’s episode of Crime Junkie.

See you Thursday!

It’s Time for Fall Dates!! SLNW?

If you are anything like the rest of the world, you are ready for a season change because that means we are one day closer to the end of 2020.

The air is crisp, leaves are changing, new candle scents are out, flannels are being thrown over tees, and pumpkin spice is the rave.

Happy fall y’all!

You and your partner are ready to celebrate fall in full swing, but you already carved pumpkins, went to a corn maze, and binged all the Halloweentown’s.

So, Like, Now What?

Don’t worry! I have you covered with COVID-friendly fall dates that you can share with your boyfriend or best friend.

Chocolate Date

Photo from Facebook

My favorite place, DeBrand Fine Chocolates, started offering chocolate tours again today. Every Tuesday at 10:00, Thursday at 1:00, and Saturday at 10:00, the Auburn Road location will be offering open tours. I would highly recommend going on these tours, especially since I led several tours during my time as an employee!

After the tour concludes, and you experience chocolate-overload, you need to split a giant caramel apple with your date. They come with or without nuts and with milk or dark chocolate.

A few other scrumptious pieces that remind me of fall are the European Heart (a hazelnut piece) from the Classic Collection, the Peanut Butter Truffle from the Truffle Collection, Salted Café Caramel from the Connoisseur Collection, and the Caramel Pretzel Bar.

After you experience the wonders of real chocolate, you will never view Hershey’s the same.

Following your visit to DeBrand, I’d recommend a nap. However, if you crave more protein than the Peanut Butter Truffle provides, I’d suggest going to the Panera that is a walk away.

The cost of this date would start at $10 as the tour costs $5 per person. The giant caramel apples are $17.75 per pound, but tour visitors get a rebate for $5 off a $10 purchase. This would be a relatively cheap date that’ll make you feel fancier than Meghan Markle – the chocolate, staff, and atmosphere are that phenomenal.

Spooky Date

Photo from Facebook

The best haunted house that Dawson and I have gone to – and we’ve been to several – was located in Kendallville.

From what I can tell, Nightmare on Main Street opened in 2016; however, Dawson and I visited the haunted house last year.

There are twenty-one different rooms, and they all attempt to psychologically scare visitors in different ways: with phobias, crashed cars, spinning rooms, and all other fears that lie in ‘everyone’s deepest mental wound.’

Yikes!

In one room, they spun us on a merry-go-round and let only Dawson off. While I was still spinning by myself, as tears may or may not have been streaming down my face, they continuously drug their knives around me and laughed. Their bursts of laughter had me so terrified that I started questioning if they were going to kill me.

Double yikes!

After they let me go, I frantically ran outside. Dawson was waiting for me, and we were told to vote for our favorite room. If I remember correctly, the room that won would get a free pizza party.

For a date night, I’d recommend going on Friday or Saturday night from 7:00-11:00. The wait wasn’t too long for us, and it was interactive!

This date would cost $30 as each ticket costs $15, a steal for the insane scares they pull off.

Before the date, there are a few delicious restaurants nearby. Wings Etc serves wings and fried pickle spears, good ole Applebee’s that has it all, or Super Chopsticks (closes the earliest at 9:00 and only accepts cash or check) that has great lo mein.

Photo Shoot

Not a professional photo

Dawson and I have never done a photoshoot, which I thoroughly regret because our engagement session will be awkward.

This fall, I encourage you to get dressed up and take photos – even if it’s a mini session. In a time where we value pictures so much, we should normalize supporting photographers for ‘just because’ sessions.

Here are some photographers that I fully support and recommend like crazy:

Hannah, with Hannah Ruth Photography, is incredible through and through. She was my yearbook teacher, who is beyond kind and easy to work with! Her photos capture such raw emotion and make expressions more beautiful than I could ever imagine! Check her out!

Amanda, with ASOT Photography, is worth all the hype! Her photos capture the prettiest of smiles, and the colors always appear so radiant. Your session would most likely be filled with laughter and spunk, which would show in the pictures. Check her out!

Breely, with Tailored and Kind Photography, is shooting mine and Dawson’s wedding photos. There were so many little things that kept leading me to her, and I fell in love with her work. Check her out!

Tiffany, with Custom Portraits by Tiffany, has the most posed style, rather than candid. Her photos are so professional and are always frame-worthy! I modeled for Tiffany when I was in high school, and she always made it so easy. Check her out!

The prices of these photographers and the lengths of the shoots vary. I hyperlinked their accounts, and I would encourage you to check them out.

If there is any year to get photos done to show you really lived through the time, it is 2020!

Netflix Date

If I have learned anything in the past year, it is to slow down and unwind. Unwind in bed watching tv, under your favorite throw blanket, with the best essential oil diffusing, and eating junk food while fully planning on going to bed early.

This can still be a date! Here are some shows to binge on Netflix, movies to watch, and local food to grab. Just chill at home with your dogs and partner, and slow down for a moment!

Creepy shows: Scream TV Show (Season 1+2 are the best), Unsolved Mysteries, Cold Case Files (modern; not 1999), Hannibal, Imposters, Riverdale, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Blacklist, Dead to Me, and You.

Binge-worthy shows: Married at First Sight, American Vandal, Santa Clarita Diet, and The Office.

Spooky movies: Hush, The Invitation, and Drive (a thriller).

Food to Grab: If you are in Garrett, I recommend grabbing a sausage roll from Timmy’s BBQ or hash browns from the Garrett House of Pancakes. If you are near Auburn, I recommend ordering fries with Mango Habanero sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings or tomatillo from Cebolla’s. If you are in Avilla, Cody’s Pizza also has legendary sausage rolls made with banana peppers! If you are in Kendallville, I already mentioned Applebee’s, Super Chopsticks, and Wings Etc; however, I will say the Kendallville KFC is excellent! If you are in Fort Wayne, figure it out – you have Door Dash!

If none of these dates appeal to you, may I suggest hitting up your local Target? That never fails!