May Goals

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Looking back, I can't believe how much happened in April. Easter feels like YEARS ago. This time of year is always busy and filled with celebration and fun! 

April Goals:
hear Leigh Ann Touhy speak at a banquet (I got sick and had to sit this out. BOO!) 
get taxes out of my life for the next year
finish some finishing touches on our new office area
figure out our summer vacation plans & finalize
keep up with the Tone It Up weekly schedule (literally obsessed!)
do some serious spring cleaning
enjoy our yard

Even after sharing here, we're still working out some major kinks in our road trip plan. We realized that with the length of the trip we're wanting to take, it could end up being seriously pricey, and the whole road trip idea was inspired by the desire to make this year's trip more frugal. I'll keep y'all posted! Spring cleaning has been so incredibly refreshing for me, cleaning out tedious little spaces that get cranky so easily (looking at YOU, desk drawers!) has changed my life! 

May Goals:
keep on toning it up
finish up spring cleaning; dining room cabinets, clean dishwasher, guest bedroom aka storage palace
celebrate a friend's birthday at a fun
be a part of an Anthropologie summer fashion show (SO fun!)
get to be a part of the official adoption day for some close friends of ours (!!!)
come to me, beloved one!
Pick a bridal shower theme + invitations for Kristen's celebration 
celebrate Liz's graduation from grad school
navigate Ben's last month of work before a full fun summer

What do y'all have planned for this month!?

Oklahoma Weekend

Monday, April 20, 2015

This weekend we ventured north to Oklahoma to celebrate the engagement of one of our dear friends, Kristen, to Micah! We road tripped with our other close friend, Susan. In our plan making, we decided on a whim to head to Oklahoma City a few hours early to explore. It was quite timely because just a few days before Southern Living's newest issue featured a guide for OKC shopping. We started at a cupcake and coffee spot, Cuppies and Joe. True review = nothing to write home about. 

The shops featured above were all ones we found out about through Southern Living. Our favorite was Plenty Mercantile, but the others were fun too. The westerny decor shop above just FELT like a Texas summer. I couldn't put my finger on why, other than the country music, and then realized it was the really cool ac! I'm sure not ready for the hot Texas summer yet! 

We then stopped at Kitchen 324 to get a gift card for the happy couple and ended up trying a few sides as an afternoon snack. I could just tell this place was so yummy and I loved the overall design. Just a fun place! I'd love to go back for a full meal. 

Then it was time for the main attraction! :) 

Kristen's ring was/is beautiful!!!! Go Micah!! 

I started to dig up some old photos of Kristen and I to include in this post but we can save that for closer to her wedding. :) Getting to celebrate the engagement of this friend was truly such a gift. Kristen and her sister Liz are two of my oldest and dearest friends. We've walked through so much life together and we consider them an extension of family. Last fall, Kristen and I had a really awesome Skype conversation to try to dig into what it really means to love someone- I had been looking forward to talking through Kristen's feelings about Micah and didn't expect for Ben to end up crashing the conversation.. but he did. Ha! Basically it was something I will cherish forever, being able to sit beside the love of my life and sharing with one of our closest friends about the realities of marriage. When we hung up that day there was no doubt in either of our minds that Kristen would one day become Mrs. Keeney! (actually, if we're honest I was pretty sure the first time I met Micah.. his sense of humor fits in perfectly with their whole family!) So enough rambling.. I was really glad to get to celebrate this friend. Kristen was completely surprised by the timing of the proposal, and REALLY surprised that Ben, Susan, and I made the trip up. So many tears. THE BEST! 

We got back from Oklahoma at around 11.. and I got the wild idea to nap for an hour and then stalk (freaking) #LillyforTarget. I have such a love hate relationship with the whole concept. I've loved Lilly for years but don't love that they sacrificed the quality to make a mass market collection. I know that sounds COMPLETELY snobby and awful but I do. Yet I still wanted stuff. Haha! I also hated it because the whole thing was terribly stressful! I'm still not 100% sure of what items I got, about 10 orders went through but I only got one confirmation email. But when I look at my account its like dresses galore! So who knows! I may have some goodies to share so if you missed out and think we're the same size feel free to email me in a week or so. :) After staying up till literally 4 am (I am a loon!) it was really sweet to sleep in and enjoy a slow morning with Ben. We missed being at church but it was needed rest after the long day yesterday and my decision to be a complete wacko. 

We let the roosters eat some backyard grass, and then got ready for our extended family reunion! It was a perfect afternoon outside eating, chatting, and most importantly getting so many sweet snuggles with my baby niece. We then finished out the weekend with some of our best friends from college, eating delicious Mexican food and meeting Mosby the new puppy!! The cookie cake was to celebrate Kayla winning our Bachelor bracket from last season (#late) which was so fun. We're going to do it again and I'm so excited about it! 

Such an incredibly sweet and full weekend! Hope y'all had a good one! :) 

Friday No. Five

Friday, April 17, 2015

I've been obsessed with following Mackenzie of Design Darling's cross country move. It's extra interesting because she's moving to Dallas.. but the idea of picking up to start a whole new life is oddly captivating to me. I've been so hooked on following her updates!

I'm knee deep in the Tone It Up Bikini Series and loving it! It's been especially fun knowing that Jamie, Katie, and Lo are also participating! If you are too, I'd love to hear about it. In recent months I've struggled a lot with searching to feel in control of my life (lol says God) and having this one thing to focus on has been so good. I also used to hate yoga and now truly look forward to it. Completing the Tone it Up workouts makes me feel like I can truly take on anything and I'm so thankful for how the Lord has used it positively in my life thus far! I truly can't recommend living a healthy (ish) lifestyle highly enough. I'm someone who had never worked out a single time until a few years ago so I totally understand if you have hesitations.. but it's so worth it! Feel free to email me!

Emily Maynard's bridal makeup look. Enough said.

We officially have chickens! These two roosters are the start of our little extended chicken family. I love this photo. It just reminds me of how blessed I am to get to live life with my best friend. He really does make me 1000% more adventurous and fun! (ie. holding rooster)

I was gifted these two workout outfits this week and they have made me so happy! I've always worn the Nike "tempo" short... aka the one everyone has but these phantom shorts are so much more comfy for lounging and workouts! I also love these tanks because they aren't very cleavagey which is my #1 needed trait in a workout tank. Bring on summertime!

Our dining room got a little spruce this week! I had asked my dad to hold off on buying me a birthday gift until I could choose something I would really like. We always go to Sam's club together (just a little fun part of routine!) and found this amazing RH style piece. I had been really wanting something like this for some time and it was at a great price.. so happy birthday to me! As you can see in the second photo, we just had simple burlap curtain panels from world market in the dining room. They were leftover from college so they went up in our current house even though I'm not exactly crazy about them. But with the addition of the cabinet there was just too much brown going on in there. So one trip to Target after a few online inspiration searching ended up with our new look. What do you think? It even made Ben stop and say "WOW! that looks so much better!" which proves how much of a difference it is!

What do y'all have going on this weekend? Between royal baby watch and lilly for target I'm about having a heart attack every second. Haha! We've got hanging out with friends, a family reunion, and a chicken coop to build!

Southern Summer Straders

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hi! I feel like whenever we are catching up with people, they always ask what our summer travel plans are. I love that everyone close to us knows how much we treasure traveling! Having time for extended trips is a huge perk of my flexible work schedule, and Ben having summers off.

We really did toy with the idea of returning to Europe. I truly cannot express how much fun we had on that trip. It's weird to "miss" a trip almost a year later, but we do! We plan to spend an even more extended time period traveling to even more cities (and returning to the same ones as last time) during our next trip, which we would love to take in Summer 2016 (we'll see! y'all will be the first to know!) But this year we were feeling something different!

We've started to plan what we've taken to calling "the Ultimate Southern Roadtrip" :)
It's no secret that I love the South, especially iconic Southern cities. We also have never done a road trip style trip, and are getting so excited to plan this little journey of ours! Another perk is that we'll be able to visit lots of friends along the way!

Charleston, come back to my life!
This is where we need y'alls help! We haven't 100% finalized the cities we plan on stopping in. Not even close. Below is a list of the places we're interested in checking out.. if you've got any thoughts/opinions on which cities are must visits, places we should eat/stay in each city, how long to stay in each city, activity ideas....We're all ears!

Note: We'll be leaving from Dallas/Fort Worth and planning on Washington DC being our Northernmost point. It's kinda up there but 1) I love DC 2) my best friend from college lives just north of there so we figured if we're only a few hours away we should go for it!

  • New Orleans, Louisiana (I've never been, Ben has only on a mission trip) 
  • Seaside, Florida (both never been) 
  • Charleston, South Carolina (our honeymoon spot! NON NEGOTIABLE YES!)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (I lived there until I was 5 and we want to go see my old house/hug the neck of Jamie
  • Orlando, Florida (I'm trying to talk Ben into the trip out of the way for just one day at Disney!)
  • Savannah, Georgia 
  • Washington DC 
  • Nashville, Tennessee (a for sure stop, we have several close friends there! Hi Meredith! Hi Collin!) 
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Memphis, Tennessee (NICOLE IN REAL LIFE)
What do y'all think?! Thanks in advance for any information! We're excited to change around our list.. to add and subtract cities! :) 

My Love Affair with Trader Joe's

Monday, April 13, 2015

Recently, a Trader Joe's opened about 25 minutes from us. For you city folk, 25 minutes is a treck. But for us, everything is 25-35 minutes away and it's just become a normal thing for me. The Trader Joe's is in an area where I am at least one day a week, and sometimes every day! It just depends.. but moral of the story, it's CLOSE.

I had heard great things so I was eager to go try it out. The photo above is from my first visit. I didn't do any research on what were good things to grab, but we were having people over that night so I needed a few things for the recipe I was planning on making (healthy Mexican casserole!)

First impression: These are really nice looking bell peppers for the a dollar each! 

At our location, the staff is incredibly jolly and always asks about your day and your life and gives you tips on fun/delicious goodies to try there. They always have a sample out and there's always a drink sample too. This is brilliant for folks like me who can't eat without a drink without feeling like your world is ending.

I had heard that TJ's had some great healthy/organic options for a lower price. As you can see, I have three containers of candy on my first trip there. So obviously not everything is like that. But the treats are super fun too. I just realized I'm writing this to a reader that has no idea about Trader Joe's so if you love it and already know this, bear with me. Haha!

The items we tried in that cart (that are Trader Joe's specific) are the smores chocolates, dark chocolate cookie butter cups, dark chocolate pomegranate seeds, guiltless brownie mix, and black bean and quinoa tortilla chips.

Cookie butter cups are life changing. It's been a month and our package is still mostly full but only because I have limited consumption. I didn't like the pomegranate seeds and gifted them to a friend. The chips have like 5 ingredients and have become a pantry staple for us. Guiltless brownie mix is amazing because they really do taste just as yummy as normal full fat brownies!

We've also come to love pre shredded brussel sprouts, chicken breakfast sausage (YUM), cookie butter shortbread sandwiches, bruchetta spread, frozen chicken potstickers, and reduced guilt mac and cheese (great for sharing as a side dish with a lean protein and veggies as a treat!)

Did I mention that everything is very reasonably priced? I feel like I always go hog wild trying a million goodies and never spend more than like $40.

What are your Trader Joe's favorites?

Trading Hope Giveaway on my Instagram

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I have started getting a pretty good amount of emails from companies looking to partner with me to share their product with the world. I really want to approach this with integrity and only share things that I would support ordinarily, and to not spam you sweet friends with products.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to see an email from my friend Cassie (a fellow Texas A&M Theta) who is a student at Denver Seminary, and works for Trading Hope. This company already had my attention, simply because I was being contacted by someone whose judgement I trust.

The label on the beautiful products says it all: This product stands for dignity, purpose, and community; our products are pursuits of providing hope through business and act as a bridge between here and there.

Lilah Bangle Set c/o Trading Hope 

Signature Leather Pouch c/o Trading Hope 
Soleil Journal c/o Trading Hope 

I am THRILLED to share that I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for a $50 credit to Trading Hope! Cute the confetti! There are so many beautiful, wearable pieces and you can feel great about where they're coming from.

To enter the giveaway, please head over to my instagram @victoriastrader.
SO MUCH FUN! I can't wait to see who wins! :)

April Goals

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Whoops! I'm usually pretty on time with monthly goals posts, even when I'm not consistently blogging. I apologize for the silence around these parts. A lot has been going on in our lives that didn't seem super appropriate to share via the interwebs.. at least at the time. I hate being vague- so I'll say in short: we almost bought a new house & sold our current one. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I have always been so emotional about where we live (here, here) and the idea of leaving our current house was really tearing me up. When we ran into some contract issues that Ben and I didn't feel super comfortable with, I expected myself to want to do whatever I could to make the "new plan" work. But instead, I heard the Lord whisper sweetly to me that it wasn't right. It was one of those times where I felt a truly inexplicable peace that we didn't need to move forward. So my emotional connection to our current home can continue to grow in the years ahead. :) You may be thinking.. are you crazy? why would you sell your house after you just finished so many renovation projects? There were a lot of factors that went into that decision but they were mainly financial (hoping to make some $$ off of our current house & work towards an investment that would really make our money work for us!) Moving is on hold for the time being- hopefully quite some time. Our little house is quirky but suits us very well. It's held so many friends and family members for so many sweet times and I'm truly grateful. It's not out of the ordinary for our people to ring on the doorbell unannounced or because they need a snack or to drop off an encouragement. I love that. I feel like my vision for our home as a safe haven for all is really starting to blossom. 

Speaking of.. my heart for home really lines up with words spoken by HGTV star Joanna Gaines! (read about when I met her here.) I stumbled upon this video of a part of her testimony, below. Enjoy! I hope it points you towards Jesus.

Okay so I know that at this point I'm rambling.. but I've clearly missed this space. But April has suddenly turned into the kind of month where our weekends are full. I'm not complaining though, it will be as sweet as it is busy!

March Goals
Keep working through the bible in a year 
do pushups & my little arm workout routine every day this month (!!!) Instead I started practicing Tone It up weekly workout schedules, but I'm still counting this as a win! 
successfully style our office shelving unit (I can't figure out how I'd like it)
travel to Austin for something EXTRA fun
attend our niece's baby dedication 
pick an Easter outfit for Ben and myself (one of my favorite things!)

April Goals
hear Leigh Ann Touhy speak at a banquet (!!!)
get taxes out of my life for the next year
finish some finishing touches on our new office area
figure out our summer vacation plans & finalize
keep up with the Tone It Up weekly schedule (literally obsessed!)
do some serious spring cleaning
enjoy our yard

What do y'all have planned for this month? :) 

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