Throwback – Its been a year?

Not quite a throwback Thursday, its going to have to be a throwback Tuesday.

This is the first photo we took together.  February 7th, 2016.  We were at church.  Its a grainy, taken with a cell phone in the middle of our massive sanctuary as we were waiting for services to start.  

We were hosting a super bowl party later that day at Jake’s house, I was nervous to meet all his friends, but excited at the same time.  I was content in this moment, as Jake went out of his comfort zone to attend church with me.  It felt special, and it felt right.  It didn’t feel forced.  We have attended church nearly every Sunday since, and have joined a Sunday School class that we love.  We have made friends and grown not only in our relationship with each other, but also in our relationship with Christ.  

Today I look back on this last year in amazement, from this first photo to planning our wedding in July.  We’ve come a long way baby, and we have a ton of years ahead!



Becoming Mrs.Carey – Save the Date!

So, since so many of our family lives far away – we opted to do a “Save the Date” card to everyone.  This gives them some pertinent information about the wedding – in plenty of time for anyone who needs to make a long term plan.  Jake & I went back and forth on these.  He saw some that he liked on pinterest that looked like sports tickets.  There are dozens of examples for sale on etsy in all teams, colors, sizes, etc.   We both have a ton pinned of ideas of what we were looking for.  I of course wanted ocardswith anchors & maybe a bible verse along with all the pertinent information.  Jake wanted the ticket look.  

Jake won out (more on that later).  However…..I could not get anyone on etsy to write me back about a custom design!  I emailed a few folks who said they offered custom design, and crickets….I heard nothing.  I reached out to a friend (Ashley)who sells save the date bookmarks .  She did respond and after some back & forth, determined that she could not do them (which is fine, she has a literary focus – not a sports focus!).  So what’s a girl left to do?  Make my own!   I spent 2 hours while I was on my lunch breaks using PicMonkey to make a custom image.  

A little editing, a little cursing at the screen and I think we finally have what we were looking for!   The Carolina helmet was a pain to create. I found the Michigan helmet first, super simple.  Went to see if could find the same style in the Carolina one.  Nope – I found one with a missing facemask, one that was tilted (and could not be edited).  Finally, I had to take a similar looking SC State helmet and edited out their logo, and added the Carolina “block C” logo.

How did Jake “win out” this option?  Well, because the invitations themselves will be a bit more formal.  He wants to be so involved and I love that.  Its nice to have someone who wants to help, versus someone who says “just tell me when to show up.”
We have had some other discussions where he has picked an idea and really researched it, and its been fun to see what he comes up with.  Currently, he has picked out our wedding favors, in addition to the save the date below!    We ordered them from Vistaprint.  I love that website, so many good things and there are always tons of discounts & coupons available.  

These will be hitting mailboxes around mid to late February and we are so excited about them!  

Tuesday Topics – Favorite Blog Posts

Its been awhile since Lauren over at Live.Love.Lauren did a Tuesday Topics, and I am excited she brought it back!  This weeks theme is “Favorite Blog Posts”. 

It didn’t say if it had to be my blog posts or others, so I am going to go with my own!  This week we are on the #6!

1.  Hands down, my favorite will always be when I told my story about postpartum depression & anxiety.  Climbing out of Darkness

2.  My second favorite is a story about forgiveness.   The Most Freeing Thing

3.  A little story about being the bigger person.  Grace

4.  I would be remiss in leaving out this one about our engagement.  Surprise!

5. That time we made boiled peanuts.  A semi-failed attempt.

6.  Sometimes jealousy pops up. Envy & Substance


I hope you enjoy reading through those posts, I know I did!  Tune in next week for another fun Tuesday (not a Tuesday Topics, but still fun!)





Becoming Mrs. Carey – The Dress….

So, this post will contain no photos of me because….we want to keep some things a surprise!    After Christmas, I went with my matron of honor Laura, my bridesmaid Allison, my friend Melissa & Jake’s mom Marge to look at dresses.  I honestly did not think I was going to end up picking something that day.  I went in with a list of dresses from David’s Bridal’s website that I wanted to try on.

When we got there, we met Fran – my dress assistant.  She first gave me my “foundation garments” – a corset that had probably 20 snaps down the back, and a crinoline.  After a few unsuccessful attempts at getting into the corset, I had to call Allison in for help.  Once I was cinched into that, we started the dress parade.  Unfortunately they did not have everything on my wish list and that was fine.  A few dresses I had to try on the dress in a larger size, and be “clipped” into the dress.   This is an interesting experience because you are literally standing there in this beautiful gown that’s essentially being held together with giant binder clips.  First dress was gorgeous, full of beading and lace.  I walked out and got all the appropriate “oohs and aahhs”, and immediately Melissa said “you don’t like it”.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I am pretty sure it weighed about 15 lbs.  It was so heavy from all the lace and beading.  All I could think was how my arms were going to get scratched up on the sides from it (weird, I know).  After some discussion about how hot it would be in July, along with a “can you lift your arms” (Laura’s #1 dress question), I said no to that one.

Into another dress, and same questions – can you walk, can you sit, how do you feel, can you lift your arms?   One more dress that required several lines from Gone with the Wind to be said.  It sucked because I had nothing to hold onto while Allison pulled the back of the gown together just like a corset.   Example:   

I had said when we came in that because some of the dresses were not available, that everyone should just go pick out something they want to see me try on.  Allison and Laura did just that.  Allison said “I know you probably won’t like it, but I want you to try it on”.  I tried it on and absolutely loved it.  It is light & airy, and almost floats around me.  It is simple – and perfect to wear with my boots!   We have one very easy adjustment to make to it, which hopefully Allison or my mom can help me with once I get the dress in hand.  Lucky for me, the dress was on sale and I was able to put it on layaway last week.   A few more weeks and it will be mine!

Jake & I have opted to NOT do a “first look” before our wedding.  He wants it to be a total surprise when he sees me walk down the aisle, and I am okay with that.  I cannot wait to share my portraits and wedding photos here after our wedding!

I am glad that I got to share this moment with my girlfriends, and especially Melissa who moved away to “the islands” a few days after that day.  I’m glad Jake’s mom could also be there to share in it!   Next up will be taking my daughters to pick out a bridesmaids dress, along with Allison and Laura trying theirs on.  Also need to get Natalee a dress – but we will probably wait until later in the spring to do that, simply for “growth spurt” reasons (as suggested by the manager at David’s).



Feeding a Family of Four for Less Than $200 per Month

Grocery shopping for a family of four for less than $200 per month may seem like a dream to most, but I can assure you it can be done if you apply the right strategies.  And no, we don’t have to live like it’s 1920, living on bread and water.  These are meals that will actually be healthy and fun for your family.

I started this strategy a year or so ago when I was sick of going to grocery store and spending $200 every single time.  It seemed like once I was home and unloaded the groceries, I had no idea what I spent my money on!  I’m sure you can feel the frustrations, right?

If you don’t want your next monthly grocery bill to be as high as your mortgage payments, here’s what you need to do.  I promise it’s simple!

#1 Meal plan for 30 days

Before you even go to the grocery store, you’re going to want to create a menu for the entire month.  However you do it, it’s up to you, but what I do is simply create a calendar on Microsoft Word, and I will insert what I’m going to make for the day, along with the URL where I can I find the recipe.  What you’re going to want to focus on are recipes that cost less than $5 to make, and all of these recipes can be found by simply searching “$5 recipes” or even visiting Pinterest for countless ideas.  One of my favorites, even though it does charge a small fee ($5 per month), is

#2 Plan one or two meatless meals per week

If you’re a fan of meat, great, but as you may know, meat is going to be a budget killer.  It’s not uncommon to buy steaks and roasts for more than $10+ per pack.  Try to make it a habit to eat one to two meatless meals per week, and by doing so, you can really help your budget.  These meatless meals could include homemade pizzas, alfredo pasta, macaroni and so forth.  Again, use the Internet for inspiration as there are tens of thousands of ideas.

#3 Add the beans

If you like beans, then get in the habit of adding them to as many recipes as you can.  As a cheap, healthy filler, beans can easily be mixed into burgers and meats to stretch the meat to add more portions.

#4 Consider breakfast for dinner

Breakfast meals are some of the cheapest meals you can make, and if you have kids, you probably already know how much they love pancakes, waffles and eggs.  Try to cook a “breakfast for dinner” meal at least every 10 days to help stretch your budget.

#5 Always use leftovers

Chances are, especially if you have a kid that doesn’t eat for the night, you will have leftovers.  Don’t throw these away just yet since they can be a great meal for the next day for either lunch or dinner.  Whether it’s leftover soup or pulled pork, throw it in some Tupperware for an easy 10-minute dinner or lunch at the office.

#6 Limit your grocery shopping

As a family, I try to grocery shop no more than two times a month, but right now, I shoot for one time only.  If you can, try to create your 30-day meal plan and purchase everything for the next 30 days.  Yes, while you will probably need some staples such as milk and eggs, it’s okay to go grocery shopping for these, but if you’re afraid you’re going to spend too much, just go in with $20 in your pocket and that’s it.  Doing so can make you budget better.

Spending less than $200 per month can be done if you’re really good with planning.  It can take some tweaking at first, but I promise once you get into the swing of things, it’s a lot easier than you think!  Aside from the tips above, you can also do the following at first to help your meals in the future:

  1. Purchase meat in bulk and freeze for the future.
  2. Make your own bread with a bread maker.
  3. Always buy produce and fruit that’s in season.
  4. Avoid the processed food aisles, which are usually in the center aisles of the store.
  5. Consider lemon water as a drink of choice.
  6. Try to cook as much as you can from scratch. If it comes in a package, there’s a good chance you can make it!
  7. If you have the time, consider growing a garden.

There you have it!  If you have any ideas you’d like to add or any questions, I’d love to help.

Stephanie Lynch is from, a cost-helping database designed to help consumers find out what things cost in life.

Becoming Mrs.Carey – Venues!

So I am going to try to do a few blog posts about our upcoming wedding, without making this blog be “all about our wedding”.

Working for Historic Columbia, I have gotten to work in two of the most beautiful venues in Columbia – Seibels House & the Robert Mills House.  I mainly work at Seibels, because its my favorite.  Its beautiful original hardwoods, and the black & white tiled sunroom are what stands out in that house for me.  However, for our budget – those two options were out.  Plus, they are both venues that get booked a year or more in advance!  We don’t have a year, we are getting married this summer.

After some searching and numbers crunching – we picked – Palmetto Collegiate Institute!    Palmetto Collegiate was built in 1881, and was used as a private school from 1881 until 1911 when it closed.  The building then went into private hands, becoming a residence for multiple families.  It was purchased by the Town of Lexington in 2001, and was briefly on the chopping block to be demolished to make room for additional parking for the town hall.   The town decided to renovate and use as a meeting/event space and what stands today is just that.  Using original photographs, architects created a space in keeping with the original style.


The other day we were running errands and I asked Jake if we could swing by.  We did, and walked around the grounds a bit.  I noticed there were some women coming in and out of the building – like they were setting up an event.  I peeked my head in and introduced myself.  They were actually from the local Shriner’s group, and were cleaning up from a luncheon.   They were sweet enough to give me a tour of the building, along with some good natured ribbing of Jake who was wearing a Michigan hat (they were Ohio State fans).  The tour gave us a little peace of mind over some of the decisions we have made, and also lead to some more discussion over how we would have things arranged (this is sure to change!).

See the gable on the top?  Its open to the inside and is a beautiful way to incorporate light into the space.  Saturday was a sunny day, and it helped light up the room.  The huge wide porches on 3 sides will be a great way to welcome our guests, and provide some shade on a summer day.  The grounds themselves are beautiful in winter, and from all the photos I have seen are also beautiful in the summer when everything is green and blooming.

Best part – the venue itself comes in under $600, and includes tables of all shapes & sizes, and chairs!  In working with brides at Historic Columbia, this is a HUGE expense!   So this was a win-win for us!   We know we will still rent a tent, to provide additional shade – but not having to rent tables & chairs is a load off!



Happy Birthday Jonathan!

To my train obsessed, mohawk wearing, Gamecock loving (and sometimes Michigan hat wearing), cowboy boot wearing, deer slaying baby boy.  You are now double-digits and mom cannot handle it!  You are growing up so fast, and I am proud of the young man you are becoming.  You sometimes make me crazy when you start singing “what-are-does” or making weird sounds to drive your sisters nuts.  You are fiercely protective of me, your stepmom and your sisters and I love that about you.  You have an amazing relationship with your dad and with Jake.  You are mama’s little boy always.


Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours – we wish you an amazing, blessed Christmas.  And I leave you with this song.  God has blessed us this year in incredible ways, and I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings for our family.  

Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love
The light of the world
Given for us