It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

I patiently waited till after Thanksgiving to anything Christmas related. But the minute, I had free time this weekend, I was all over Christmas anything! Jason sweetly retrieved everything from the attic and left me to my decorating ways. Sadly, when it's all said and done, I don't really have that many decorations. Although, I love seasonal decorations, I have a hard time spending money on things that will only be on display for a month. So, maybe my house will look much more festive in 15 years.

But, I still love enjoying a lit Christmas tree and playing Christmas music on blast. So, here are some shots of our Christmas decorations. Hopefully, I will get around to adding presents under the tree and filling the stockings over the next several weeks!! But, regardless of what's been done or what needs to be done, I hope you truly enjoy this holiday season and all that it has to offer. And remember to never forget the true meaning of Christmas and all that we celebrate!

Thanksgiving Reflections

This holiday weekend was a wonderful time to reflect on all that I am thankful for. It's amazing to realize how much you take for granted when life is speeding by. God truly has blessed me in so many ways. And while there's so much to be thankful for, here are a few of the things I am most thankful for.

1. Celebrating over one year of pure happiness with the love of my life. Life is so much more fun now that I get to share every special moment with him. And, I can honestly say that we've yet to have a serious fight! We have way more fun teasing each other and laughing together. And he absolutely spoils me rotten.  He always has a wonderful attitude and is eager to help me in whatever ways possible. He's my best friend and we complement each other perfectly.

2. Our jobs. God provided me with a fantastic job when I wasn't even looking for one. I get to work from home, and I get to work for a guy that I've considered a mentor and friend for over 6 years now. Jason recently started a new job on the Risk side of MSCI. He's getting to do something that's more fun, challenging and rewarding. And while it sucks that now I understand pretty much nothing that he does, I'm so happy that he's happier.

3.  Our families. First of all, I think it's phenomenal that both of our parents have wonderful, strong marriages. They love each other so deeply and with such passion, that I can only hope that Jason and my marriage can carry on their legacy. 
Then, there are days that I am so excited when I hear that Jason and Michael are planning to play golf.  And it means so much that Jason gets along so well with my family, and fits in seamlessly.  And I've had fun spending time with Charis and going on shopping dates or Jason and I meeting up with her and Chris to grab food and drinks.  There are so many families where relationships are strained and personalities clash.  But not among the Kobzas and the Cams!

I really could go on and on about the things in my life that have made me become the woman I am today.  There is so much to be thankful for.  And I give God all the glory, because every good and perfect gift comes from above. :-)

Thrifty Cleaning Ideas

I'm a clean freak. And nearly anyone who knows me knows that. And I'm fully aware that I overdo it. I like to use more laundry detergent than necessary just to guarantee that my laundry has that fresh, clean smell. When I decide it's a day to vacuum, I will vacuum all areas multiple times that day.

So, I came across some thrifty household cleaning ideas that I decided to try. Because, I'm all about saving money and I'm all about finding more ways to keep on cleaning. Some were hits and some were total busts.

1.  Mattress Cleaner - Combine a fragrant essential oil with baking soda and sprinkle on your mattress and let sit, then vacuum it all up.

I was really happy that I found this handy house-cleaning tip. I tried this one when I was cleaning the guest room after having some guests stay overnight. I stripped the bed and while the sheets, duvet cover, mattress cover and comforter all got washed, I sprinkled the baking soda mix and let it sit. Then, I vacuumed it all up right before making the bed and it smelled delightful.

2.  Microwave Cleaner - Microwave a bowl of water and vanilla on high for 5 minutes, then wipe down your microwave.

This one was actually a surprise that it did work. After microwaving the mixture, I was already prepared to just resort to my Clorox wipes. But, I gritted my teeth and attempted a wipe with a paper towel. And everything just came off so easily.

3.  Iron Cleaner - While your iron is on low, wipe down the soleplate of the iron with a dryer sheet.

This one didn't really seem to work for me. None of my gunk came off.

4.  Dishwasher Cleaner - Put a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid in an empty dishwasher and run a cycle to remove stains and lime deposits.

I think this one worked? Since, I love to overclean, I did this one despite the fact that my dishwasher isn't that dirty. So, I can't totally confirm its effectiveness.

5.  Bathroom Cleaner - Use halves of grapefruit and salt as a bathroom surface cleaner.

This was a total bust for me. They say it's supposed to be better than Scrubbing Bubbles, which is my best friend, so I had to try it. And it didn't seem to cut through any of the grime on the shower floor. I also was nervous that the pulp was going to mess up the pipes.

So, those were my attempts at being thrifty. Do you have any go-to thrifty techniques for cleaning your house?

Sprucing up the Scenery

I've been getting dying to spruce the house up. Ever since we finished filling up the house with furniture, I'm pretty sure nothing has changed in that year and a half...and it's getting a little boring to look at, not gonna to lie. But, before you judge me, I do work from home, so I have to keep things visually stimulating. Or I die. My scene's not the most exciting. So, Jason sweetly allowed me to redo our bedding. Which can add up super fast, since I'm a duvet girl. So, once you purchase the duvet and all the numerous individual shams, it turns into hundreds of dollars, not to mention we have a king-size bed. However, those 20% off your entire purchase coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond come in handy! I love my Pottery Barn, but now with a man in the house, I figured we should pick something less floral. And when he was in his bachelor phase he had always wanted black bedding. So, we picked something gray, with a touch of feminine. I love it and it definitely gives the room a different feel, a more modern feel. I added in the yellow throw pillows for a splash of color and hopefully I'll find something to put on the wall over the bed to give it a bit more color.
My next project was to do a version of this project from Pinterest. They're maps of special places in a couple's life.  So, my mom with her scrapbooking skills helped me one day while I was in Edmond and we came up with this! I didn't really have any idea of where to put them, but once I got home, they found a spot in my office by the doorway. And it's helped liven up the office. So, it was a fun project. We did, where Jason was born, where I was born, and where we met/live.
Source: via Jaclyn on Pinterest
Now, I'm chomping at the bit to get all the Christmas decorations out and decorate the living room, because that should hold me over till next year for doing anything crazy to the living room, dining or kitchen. But not till after Thanksgiving!

The Final Piece to our Trip

Ok, so more than a month since my forced hiatus from blogging, I'd like to think I'm back for good. I've been trying to regain some semblance of a life, but I'm so crazy busy!! I'm seriously looking forward to the holidays and a stay-cation, so I can have some legit me time and get this house back in order! But, I do believe I owe you all the rest of our story from our Europe trip. Which was fantastic. Jason is now a full supporter of cruises. It was so nice to be able to unpack for week, but yet we got to visit three countries and also eat to our hearts' content.
Our first stop was the village of Taormina, on the island of Sicily. It was a beautiful place, but unfortunately, it rained nearly the whole day. So, we didn't get to explore as much as we would have liked. But, we tried cannolis and ate gelato. Then we checked out a lava flow and then went to a wine tasting and took a tour of the winery. It was at the winery that we made friends with Marcus, Bettina and Darren who ended up being our drinking/travel buddies for the rest of the trip. That night we had a formal night, so we got to play dress up, then we hit the bar with our friends and stayed out till 5:30 am!! Umm, good thing we had a day at sea the next day, because we were wiped!! And thank goodness there are caf├ęs open at 3 in the morning for the midnight snacks!

On Tuesday, we slept in, although we had been determined not to waste the day away. Grabbed some burgers and fries at Johnny Rockets and just relaxed. We were going to try and rock climb, but while Bettina and I were off getting our tennis shoes, Marcus and Jason decided to, at the last-minute, enter us into a volleyball tournament. And while some of us, mainly me, hadn't played in years, we actually rocked it and won 2nd place!! Albeit, there were only 4 teams, but we actually looked good. Then, it was another night of hanging out at the Cosmopolitan Bar with our buddies and our wonderful Romanian bartender, Gabriel!! We had also met John and Joey, and they were the rest of the crew that we hung out with. Overall, it was a great group of friends. And let me tell you, being friends with a bartender while on a cruise is crucial. Since we couldn't use our phones to text each other, Gabe was our message board on who was where and who had done what, oh and he makes the tastiest dirty martinis!
 On Wednesday, we ventured out to Athens, Greece.  This was the first time of the week that we really got a taste of all the turmoil that is happening in Europe.  There was a city-wide public transportation strike!  While standing at the top of the Acropolis, we could hear the protestors.  So, needless to say, we were glad to have booked an excursion with the cruise, so they had charter buses waiting for us.  But, it was a little stressful knowing that if we missed our charter bus when the tour ended, that we basically had no way to get back to the ship.  And you could see tourists hauling their suitcases everywhere, since there were no taxis.  Athens was nice, and the food was fantastic.  We took a tour of the city first, then went and visited the Acropolis, and then spent some free time in Plaka. 
Thursday, we went to Ephesus, Turkey.  And surprisingly, it was our favorite stop on the trip.  Our tour guide was amazing, and it was so crazy to think that some of the sites we visited were over 2000 years old.  The country is full of some really amazing history.  First we went to the House of the Virgin Mary, then to one of the ancient Ephesus sites, then to a museum, then to another Ephesus site where John the Evangelist lived, and then to lunch to experience typical Turkish food.
We went to the island of Crete on Friday.  It was a nice little island, but nothing really special.  We just visited a local village, and then spent free time at the market, where we were most happy about finding free Wi-Fi!  Then we returned to the ship and took a nap, then went rock climbing with Bettina, Marcus and Darren.  That night we stayed out super late too, since the following day we were at sea all day.
Then, on Saturday, we had a yummy lunch in the dining room with Marcus.  Then went out on the deck and relaxed.  Then off to a wine tasting class...then nap time till dinner time!  Then bar time.  Such a nice way to end our cruise.
On Sunday, we left the ship with Marcus, Bettina and Darren, and went to visit the Coliseum and visited the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.  While on our tour, we found out that Rome was going to be having a city-wide transportation strike, which scared us for a second, since we take the train to the airport.  But thankfully, it didn't affect the airport train, since it was a regional train.

Then we went our separate ways to go relax/find our hotels.  That night we met up again for dinner and to visit the Trevi Fountain.
Sooooo, that's our trip in a nutshell.  And I'm pretty sure the longest blog post ever.  Hopefully that won't happen again!

But, we had an absolutely wonderful time.  Jason and I had so much fun meeting new people and seeing new places.  Marcus, Bettina and Darren were great impromptu travel buddies, and I seriously hope there's another group trip in our future.  Caribbean perhaps? :)