January 28, 2015

Hallmark Customization Studio + $50 Gift Card Giveaway


Do you ever attend shower after shower wishing you would've found a more meaningful gift than a mundane registry selection? Or have you ever found yourself completely out of clever ideas when a holiday or birthday rolls around. Trust me, I hear you. 

In case you've been like me stuck in a little rut looking for unique, beautiful gifts for every occasion... look no more! My good friends at Hallmark have figured all the guess work out for us, and that deserves a dance break.

(Yup, picture me breaking out The Macarena here...)

So those creative geniuses over at Hallmark have officially thought of everything. Not only do they have gorgeous gift stores full of great cards (I love the Studio Art collection!), baby items, gourmet candy, delicious smelling candles, and aisles of options, you can now create beautiful one-of-a-kind gifts.

May I present the Hallmark Customization Studio.


Kansas City is home for the beloved Hallmark brand, and I have the luxury of popping in the main Crown Center location on their campus anytime with my office being blocks away. So after hearing countless people rave about their latest genius idea, I knew I wanted to try it our for an upcoming wedding shower.

Upon walking in to the gorgeously remodeled store, I browsed through practically the whole store (so many goodies on my wish list!), before I got down to business.

And let me tell you, my friends, it's a personalization mecca.


They had buttery soft leather monogrammed goods that made me swoon. I loved the idea of gifting a newlywed couple monogrammed luggage tags to wish them a life of grand adventures.

And that journal is just to die for. Hubs may be receiving that for Valentine's Day... shhh!


The more I browsed around, the more I realized that they've thought of everything. From cute cell phone cases to custom frames, travel mugs, and dinner napkins.

hile browsing one of the many displays, I spotted engraved cutting boards, which I knew would be the perfect gift for my dear friends who love to cook delicious Italian food. It was easy super easy to pick my design, customize their last name, and order with the lovely lady helping me. She really surprised me when she said it would be in within 5 days - talk about quick turn around time! Now, I feel really excited to wrap this up for next weekend's shower.


How cute are these Chirstmas tree ornaments? I think it would also be fun to gift one for an anniversary gift! 

The Customization Studio changes with the seasons, so they told me they had tons of options around the holidays - especially for families, baby's 1st Christmas, and more!


One of my favorite lines they offer is for kiddos!

How cool would it be to customize a beautifully illustrated children's book with the child's name? You can even pick out the character's skin tone, hair color, eye color, and name to make it extra special.

I also loved the ultra soft lovey blankets attached to plush animals. The fabric is super high quality and you get to select embroidery colors, font, and style. These will make perfect gifts for friends' babies! 

And did you see those cute wooden engraved blocks? They would be such a heartfelt gift for a mama/baby to receive and be perfect for a nursery shelf display.


There was a beautiful display of gifts for the women in your life. Pretty jewelry and patterned monogrammed bags. 

I instantly added the little trellis patterned bag to my wish list. It would be perfect as a pencil case, makeup bag, or work organizer. I even thought that if they would have existed around our wedding 2 years ago, they would have made such fun monogrammed bridesmaid gifts!



The last thing that caught my eye on my way out was the laser cut artwork. For $50 you get customized art work and that even includes being set in a high quality frame! 


So in case you're looking for the perfect unique gift for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays, or just because, definitely swing by your local Hallmark Gold Crown store that has a Cudtomization Studio. 

There are so many more gifts for you to browse! I am so thrilled with the beautiful quality of the personalized cutting board I ordered that I already can't wait to use the studio again soon.

So today, I wanted to giveaway a $50 Hallmark gift card to a lucky reader so you can try out my latest obsession. Giveaway ends next Tuesday, Feb. 3rd at midnight, and you can tweet about it everyday for extra entrees... a win-win!


Good luck & happy shopping!!

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Workout Motivation + My January Playlist

Good morning ya'll!
I first off want to say wow (!) and thank you... this week's Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up was record breaking! Over 100+ fabulous bloggers stopped by for some networking and I am just giddy over it. In case you haven't linked up yet, please stop by - it's open for mingling ALL WEEK every week!

Now, let's get down to business. 

Who decided to jump on the wellness bandwagon after the New Year? Yup, if you're hand is raised you are definitely not alone. I also needed a fire lit under me to get back to better habits after polishing off one too many Christmas cookies. In case you're feeling the same way, I have 2 things you need to know...

1) I'm proud of you! 
Healthy living takes a lot of hard work and you are getting back on track! Don't be afraid or embarrassed of what you need to do - whether taking a new class, getting nutritional help (I love Weight Watchers - down 5lbs!), or finding a workout buddy to hold you accountable. You've got this, so trust yourself.

2) We can do this together!
Yes, I am here going through the same thing. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to putting in all the hard work, but I'm feeling empowered to make a change and that alone helps me stick to my commitment. So of course this is why I wanted to post my favorite workout jams for you today! These have been getting me through those dreaded after work dates with the elliptical. In the same boat? I think you will love them too!

{via}

18) Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding (cool down)


Past Favorite Playlists...

HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE (The Ultimate Cardio Playlist)


What tunes keep you going this month?

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January 26, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up

Oh goodness, is it seriously Monday already?

I could've used a wee bit more rest and a little less junk food over this past weekend, but I am here. I am going to need a little caffeine {read: a LOT!} to make it through today and hopefully I will get back on track for a week of success!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Thanks so much for the many wonderful comments about our trip to Hawaii and the endless congrats on my new job. You guys make life way more fun! How 'bout we link up for some awesome networking?

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What is your latest obsession? **
{My weirdo ones are smoothie recipes and calling my dog "Beans" - what?!}


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Cheers on a fresh start to a great week!

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January 21, 2015

Hawaii Christmas Trip in Photos

Can I just start off by saying that Hawaii was just too much?
Too much sunshine. Too much gorgeousness. Too many pina coladas.

I'm already pinching myself... there is no way that our trip has come and gone so fast! Yup, I am ready to go back and taking donations for my adventure fund... ;)

 Here's a dose of the island madness...

{Haleakala volcano summit - 10,023 feet.}

Day 1 & 2 //

When we (Adam's side of the fam - my in-laws!) first arrived it was raining throughout the island, but somehow even in the rain the island was so beautiful. We checked in at our incredible hotel - Westin Maui Resort & Spa - just in time to get settled, take in the lobby views (It's a completely open atrium with waterfalls, a coy pond, squawking parrots, and pink flamingos!), and hit the outstanding resort restaurant up for a delicious meal. Then we crashed pretty early after a long day of traveling

The following morning, after not being well adjusted to the 5 hour time change, I was wide awake at 5 a.m. Eventually, I decided to get out of bed for a workout (who am I?!), freshly brewed cafe coffee, and for the unexpected surprise of seeing a double rainbow on the beach after the morning rain subsided. The rest of the day was dedicated to lounging, sipping drinks with umbrellas, and taking in the views. 

We walked down the beach to Leilani's that evening for Christmas Eve dinner. It was absolutely perfect timing as we were able to watch the the sunset filling the sky with stunning deep gem tone colors!


Day 3 //

On Christmas morning, our goal was to enjoy coffee on the beach and then we tried to soak in as much beach time as possible. It felt so weird that it was Christmas day and I was in a fedora and swimsuit, but I didn't complain!

That night we ventured to Kapalua for an incredible farm-to-table holiday dinner at Merriman's. I was in love with the cozy garden lights strung palm tree to palm tree for a little added ambiance. The sweeping views were insanely gorgeous! Mele Kalikimaka!


Day 4 //

We woke up bright and early with adventure on our minds. With the van loaded, we were off the the northeast side of the island to drive the famous Road to Hana highway. With expansive exotic views, black volcano sand beaches, tropical vegetation (I love the rainbow eucalyptus!), and gorgeous waterfalls, it's definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

The drive takes all day, as the roads are extra curvy and swervy, but it is so incredible to see a different side of the island! No wonder Hana has been a popular spot for celebrity residences - it's one of the most amazing places I've ever seen in my life. 


Day 5 //

The following day the family was off on a snorkeling boat excursion. Unfortunately due to my awful motion sickness, I had to opt out of seeing whales and sea turtles to avoid being a sick sissy. But don't you worry, I made the most of my day by visiting Lahaina just south of where we were staying. I decided to load up our uber sexy mini van and explore a place I loved visiting as a kiddo.

I indulged in my favorite Coconut Lovers treat from Ululani's Hawaiian Shaved Ice, and then hit the cute little boutiques on Front Street for a little retail therapy. I was thrilled when I found an awesome rustic nativity ornament made out of coconut and shells. I thought it was the perfect way to remember our awesome Hawaiian vacation!

Of course, I wanted to share the love with the fam, so I stopped by the famous Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop to pick up 6 mini pies to go. The line was out the door and around the corner! I snagged some samplers of coconut cream bie, key lime pie, and chocolate macadamia nut, so you could say I was a pretty popular gal when I delivered the post-snorkeling treats! Then we caught up on our adventures with pool-side cocktails and laughs before heading to a fun luau.


Day 6 //

Sweet holy goodness, 3 a.m. was wicked early to wake up! But don't you worry, driving 2 hours to the top of the Haleakala Volcano summit to watch the sunrise with 5,000 of our closest friend (it's popular!) was worth every second of missed sleep (ignore our extra sleepy eyes in the photos... just know our hearts were full, which is all that matters!).

I soaked in every moment and hue of that gorgeous sunrise standing next to my love in awe of the incredible things God creates. Absolutely breathtaking!

Once the sun was up and beaming, we hit up Grandma's Coffee House halfway down the volcano for brunch. It was recommended as a popular local spot and they were right - packed house! While we were over on the east side of Maui, we stopped by the gorgeous Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm where the high elevation views of the island were gorgeous and the air smelled like perfume... mmm!

This was our last full day to enjoy island life, so we soaked up the sunshine and beach views before heading to Kimo's in Lahaina for a hearty meal and a sampling of their world famous Hula Pie.


Day 7 //

Leaving Maui was one of the saddest things ever. I would've gladly sold all my posessions to live in a shack on the beach if it meant I could stay. So we said goodbye to the parrots in the lobby, the soft sand beaches, and the palm tree views. 

The only redeeming quality about this travel day was the fact that Don Cheadle sat in front of us on the plane... celebrity sighting!



So, needless to say my tan suddenly vanished the second our plane landed in Kansas City and I'm missing so many things...

+ the feeling of the sun on my skin
+ ordering coconut everything
+ how walking the beach gives me a natural pedicure
+ fresh pineapple
+ how good Hawaiian air smells
+ time to relax and read
+ having no concept of time
+ those serene clear turquoise waters

I'm ready to go back to the islands already - who's with me?
What a beautiful, memorable vacation full of people I love so dearly and endless adventures!


Have you been to Hawaii before?
What is one adventure you would love to take in 2015?

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January 18, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up!

First of all, thank you so much for the very kind congratulations messages in regards to my newest career adventure! Today is actually my very first day on the job and I'm starting the day a little nervous but excited. Can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Thanks so much for dropping by for some blogger networking. Isn't it nice to be in such great company? I am always inspired by all of you and so thankful that blogging has provided such a great community of friends! Please help spread the word today, whether a tweet, in a post, or sending smoke signals - the more the merrier! :)

PS - My Hawaii recap is all ready for tomorrow (not lying this time - haha!) after running into some delays, so I cannot wait to share my photos and stories with you! Take me back, already! 

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What are your go to tips for starting off a new job on the right foot? **


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Wishing you an adventurous week, brave ones!

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January 15, 2015

The Secret's Out... My Career + My Next Big Adventure

I haven't shared much about my day-to-day professional career on this little blog, but things are about to get real personal. I kind of feel like the Wizard of Oz getting ready to step out from behind the curtain - haha!

Well, I have worked for the American Cancer Society for just shy of 6 years and have LOVED my job.

On a daily basis, you can find me helping cancer patients and caregivers power through their battles, working with social workers, coordinating and training volunteers, helping with large scale fundraising events, and generally working daily to put myself out of a job.

The goal? Find that cure for cancer and end this awful disease for good.

I've been passionate about fighting back against cancer ever since my mom was diagnosed in 2006. I started volunteering for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital which led to two internships in different cities across the U.S. Ever since then I knew I wanted to make a big impact not just through volunteering, but through what I day every single day. And that is when my health non-profit love affair began, and I've been doing it for more than 8 years now.



And this is where one chapter ends and a new chapter begins...

Over the past year of volunteering for Ronald McDonald House Charities I began speaking with staff about a new opportunity as house director for their soon-to-be-opened Wylie House (I can't wait to show you photos after it opens next month!). After a long several month process of grueling interviews, I was shocked and elated when they offered me the job. I definitely didn't take my decision lightly, but with tons of prayer I blissfully accepted this awesome career move and took a huge leap of faith.

Suddenly, I am leaving a job I have loved and co-workers that feel more like family. I'm leaving behind the familiar (and 30 glorious days of paid time off annually) and a job I know and do well for the complete unknown... and it equally thrills and scares the hell out of me.

But I know in my heart this is the right move for me.
Working with kids (which I love!) and families, being in a more creative space, having a schedule that will make waking up require two shots of espresso, but that will practically make me sing from the rooftops when I get off mid-afternoon so great.

Yes, it's completely rattling to leave the known, but no spectacular adventure comes without the leap of faith. Of course, I already miss my dear work friends, but I love that quote by Winnie the Pooh...

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

How very special it is when your co-workers are more like family, and your office more like home. I definitely don’t take that incredibly special dynamic lightly and I will miss you guys so very much.
I definitely don't take it lightly that I've loved my job and the people around me so deeply. I know that's a rare and very valuable thing.

Every day I came to work so inspired and I know it’s only because of my co-workers who so desperately want to end cancer forever. I am so proud of every dollar raised, every caregiver comforted, and every patient served so well over the past 5+ years I’ve been on staff. What they do every single day truly does make a HUGE difference in the lives of people in need during the very darkest hour. I know they are going to keep letting their light shine so brightly.

I took this past week off in between jobs and I am so fortunate to have had time to soak in sleep, do little projects, knock errands off my list, go shopping for new work clothes, and just soak in the relaxing. And all the while over the past week, all I keep thinking is lucky me, lucky me, lucky me to have had something so special that inspires me to move on to something so great.

So send me some good luck vibes as I begin my new role at Ronald McDonald House Charities next week. I can't even wait to start this adventure and be inspired by some incredible families and kiddos along the way!


Have you or a friend ever stayed at a Ronald McDonald House?
I would LOVE to hear your inspirational stories!

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January 11, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up!

I hope you grabbed an extra delicious latte and are ready to network, because it's time to mingle!
Thanks so much for deciding to drop by. There are so many great blogger to befriend and fun blogs to discover, so have fun while you're hopping around

I've finally had some time off to recover from my traveling. I can't wait to share about my brand new job opportunity and actually telling you what I do in "real life", telling you all about Hawaii, and throwing in some fun this next week! Stay tuned, love bugs!

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What organization are you craving in your life lately? **


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Have a great week! Can't wait to hop around myself!

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January 5, 2015

The Best of 2014

I can't even begin to thank each and every one of you for your support over this last year. It has been one of the hardest, most rewarding, and favorite years to date! I want you to know that I read every single comment that comes through and they always make me smile.

Looking forward to a great New Year as I look back and celebrate the awesomeness that 2014 brought my way. Cheers!

New Year’s Eve in the Snow | Rue



This Year's Highlights:
1. Visiting my cousin and baby Norah in Minneapolis 
2. Flying to Disney World for some fun adventures
3. Celebrating our 1st anniversary and learning so much about marriage
4. Throwing Adam a 30th birthday bash 
5. Sipping butterbeer while admiring Hogwarts in the distance
6. Roadtripping to our favorite little getaway
7. Exploring KC and finding great new faves in this city that I love
8. Having our wedding featured in Brides
9. Hosting a chocolate chip cookie throwdown
10. Going to the New Belgium Clips of Faith with friends
11. Hosting Lo & Brian for a fun spring visit to KC
12. Watching Sporting KC VIP style with Mom and Pop
13. Visiting friends in Wichita for a weekend of fun
14. Baking delicious summer pies 
15. Making a great group of local blog friends
16. Adventuring with fam and friends for 4th of July weekend
17. Finding my new favorite hipster coffee spot
18. Daytripping to the sunflower fields and picking apples
19. Bargaining my way through Warehouse Weekends / First Friday
20. Hanging with family in Wichita for a surprise anniversary party
21. Going to the ballet with my sissy
22. Sipping spooky lattes on Halloween in Spokane, Washington
23. Enjoying time away with the hubster soaking in the Pac Northwest
24. Cheering on the Royals in the World Series and winning the best bet ever
25. Dining al fresco with the girls on gorgeous fall nights 
26. Roadtripping to the Lake of the Ozarks for a family getaway
27. Seeing the Plaza Lights and other local Christmas faves
28. Adventuring in Maui, Hawaii


Favorite Movies:
1. Chef
2. The Hundred Foot Journey
3. Pride
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. The Fault in Our Stars
7. What If
8. Gone Girl
9. The Good Lie
10: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1


Favorite Songs:
1. Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran
2. Find a Way - Nico & Vinz
3. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor
4. Stay With Me - Sam Smith
5. Old Pine - Ben Howard
6. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay
7. Everything Is Debatable - Hellogoodbye
8. Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson
9. Settle Down - The 1975
10. Wake Me Up - Aloe Blacc
11. Out of the Woods - Taylor Swift
12. Take Me to Church - Hozier
13. Shut Up and Dance - Walk the Moon
14. Above the Clouds of Pompeii - Bear's Den


Best Albums:
1. 1989 - Taylor Swift
2. Lights Out - Ingrid Michaelson
3. I Forget Where We Were - Ben Howard
4. Islands - Bear's Den


Favorite Live Events:
1. KC Ballet's Alice in Wonderland (Kansas City, MO)
2. New Belgium's Clips of Faith (Kansas City, MO)
3. Wicked the Musical (Kansas City, MO)
4. Finding Nemo the Musical (Orlando, FL)


Favorite Books: 
1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green 
2. Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter 


Favorite Eats:
1. Atticus - Pumpkin Spice Latter (Spokane, Washington)
2. Merriman's - Pineapple Bread Pudding (Maui, Hawaii)
3. Beverly's - Huckleberry Pancakes (Couer d'Alene, Idaho)
4. Hudson's Hamburgers - Single Original Cheeseburger (Coeur d'Alene)
5. Leoda's Kitchen & Pie Shop - Coconut Cream Pie (Maui, Hawaii)
6. The Westside Local - Shaved Brussels Kale Salad (Kansas City, MO)
7. Via Napoli at Disney's Epcot - Wood Fired Pepperoni Pizza (Orlando, FL)
8. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Frozen Butterbeer (Orlando, FL)
9. Taco Republic - Camarones Taco + Elote (Westwood, KS)
10. Port Fonda - Prawns + Chorizo Queso (Kansas City, MO)
11. Extra Virgin - Marcona Almonds + Woodfired Hanger Steak (Kansas City, MO)
12. Thou Mayest - Chimex Brewed Ethiopian Blend (Kansas City, MO)
13. Little Freshie - Blackberry Lavender Snow Cone (Kansas City, MO)
14. Fervere Bakery - Cheese Slipper (Kansas City, MO)
15. Quay Coffee - Spice Latte (Kansas City, MO)
16. Chez Arnaud French Bakery - Lemon Lavender Macaron (St. Paul, Minnesota)
17. Christopher Elbow - Toasted Hazelnut Drinking Chocolate (Kansas City, MO)


Favorite New Website:
1. KC Zoo Live Penguin Cam


Looking forward to 2015 because...
1. I start my new job at Ronald McDonald House Charities
2. We're getting another puppy (eeek!!)
3. Ben Howard is coming to town... oh baby!
4. Road trips to the cabin
5. Lots of brunching with the girls
6. We plan to go on an epic hiking / Pac Northwest trip
7. Endless traveling to see friends and fam
8. Hopefully purchasing our first home together (Adam bought the Haskins House 5 years ago)


// What were your favorites of 2014? //



Alright, 2015, I am ready for you!
Bring on the new epic adventures!


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January 4, 2015

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up!

Happy 2015 - first Mingle of the New Year!

I'm finally back from our Hawaiian Christmas adventure, had a great time celebrating the holidays, and now I'm back to the grind. Looking forward to sharing LOTS of great things with you this week. A little 2015 recap, photos and stories from our trip, and so much more. Can't wait to catch up!

Thanks for dropping by for a little networking today! Please spread the Mingle Monday love today, I would love more blog friends to join us!

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What are your New Year's resolutions?


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Also, you need to stop by to visit my friend Jess at 26 & Not Counting! She got a beautiful new blog makeover that I am oh-so-jealous of! Go tell her hello!


Make your first week of 2015 great!

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December 29, 2014

A Little Raincheck...

Aloha from Hawaii! 

I'm out frolicking on the beach and soaking in our last full day, so no Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up today!


I have so many fun things to share after we get back, so I will catch you then!

Aloooohhaaa!

Meg

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