12 pieces of advice for newlyweds

Will and I are on the cusp of having been married for an entire year.  This basically means that we know all of the things!  (That’s a joke)

After five months of marriage we wrote about 5 things we learned in five months of marriage.  I figure it’s about time that we share our 12 tips for those of you about to embark on the adventure of marriage.  I reached out to my Instagram friends for help.  Peep their advice below!

Before I get ahead of myself though, if you want to follow along with our adventures of newlywed life, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile).  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

Without further ado, sit down, grab a pen, your BFF (aka soon-to-be or brand new spouse) and take this advice to heart.  We obviously know what we’re talking about.

(DISCLAIMER: I feel like I will have to be married about ten million years before actually offering advice on big subjects.  Let’s just have some fun together today.)

#1. You WILL adjust.

Times of transition can be difficult, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  I’ve had girlfriends who cried their eyes out on their first night home from the honeymoon because they were afraid of change.  I’ve known couples who have gone to counseling in their first year of marriage.  I even once had a boyfriend exclaim that “marriage isn’t that hard!” to a couple struggling through their early years and a woman going through a divorce.

Embrace the transition.  Recognize things are going to change and try not to fight it.  

#2. You will find your own habits and routines as a couple.

This is a great thing!  But it does take time.  One of the biggest areas of adjustment in a new marriage can be learning that your time is shared now.  

#3. “Don’t compare.

“Don’t compare your relationship/marriage to anyone else’s.  Learn from others but never compare.”-Kristina

#4. “Always give your spouse the best of yourself.

“Don’t give your best to everyone else and then give your spouse the leftovers.” -Kristina

#5.  “Grow together and embrace the changes in one another.

“Love each other for who you are today, not who you were or who you could be.” -Phillip

Related post: 13 Things to do Unplugged with your Spouse

#6. “Laugh a lot!

“Don’t take life too seriously.”-Caroline

#7.  “Prioritize time together.” -Will

Thanks for the contribution, husband.  ❤  I absolutely agree!  Determine your marriage priorities together and then stick to them.  If you have your priorities in line, decisions become more clear.

#8. “Learn to communicate now, even over the smallest things!”-Marly

Amen, sister!  Communication is key.  

#9. Unmet expectations are a trap.

We often have expectations of each other, of ourselves, of our circumstances, etc.  Unmet expectations can create problems unless you realize what is happening and how to manage it.  

#10.  Be honest.

If you are upset, be honest.  Don’t be afraid to ask each other questions to understand wants, needs, and expectations.

#11.  Don’t expect your spouse to change overnight.

First of all, if you don’t express a need for change (in a loving way) but instead keep your feelings to yourself, everything will stay the same.  And once you do express a need for change, don’t expect your spouse to get everything right from then on out.  They’re still human.  Which brings me to my last piece of advice.

#12. Allow your spouse to be human.

Just as you give yourself grace on a bad day, or after a frustrating experience, you need to extend the same courtesy to your spouse.  Don’t hold them on a pedestal OR expect them to always fall short.  They have bad days, feelings of anxiety, and other human tendencies just like you.

BONUS!  Never stop being friends.

Congratulations on being a newlywed or an almost-newlywed!  Praying God’s blessings over your marriage, that you will have patience with one another, that you will LOVE each other in every season (even when you don’t like each other all that much), and that you embrace becoming one whole heartedly.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

big moves & half birthdays

Over the past few weeks, a couple super awesome and fun, life changing things have occurred which I would love to share with you. In fact, both things began or happened on the same day. 

Before I get ahead of myself though, if you want to follow along with our adventures of newlywed life, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile).  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

The first thing that happened is that our girl Blue turned six months old and we celebrated with a family photo session on the bed. 

For a pup who is not allowed on the furniture, that is quite a big deal.

She still loves the outdoors, probably even more than me, and would love nothing more than to spend all day, every day outside.

Which she can’t really do at the moment because she is recovering from being spayed. That cone of shame is legit.  She is so confused by it.  You are more likely to find her completely stationary, whining in confusion than anything else.  

Related Post: Oasis

She likes chicken in her food better than beef, she loves learning how to heel, and she thinks that working out with mom is super fun.  She recently chewed through her first rope and loves getting balls stuck under couches… until she realizes that she can’t get them back out again.

My other piece of fun, exciting, potentially life changing news news is that I signed up to be a Beachbody health and fitness coach and I’m super excited!  I am working on my website, learning the business, the lingo, and mostly just enjoying myself so far.  I was already on a path of discovering my own fitness journey while sharing it with others, so I decided to jump in and try coaching!  

I have been telling anyone who breathes about Beachbody since I started using it a couple years ago because I have major heart eyes for the programs.  They also have superfood smoothies and other products that I am fast falling in love with.  

Needless to say, we have some exciting things happening in the Shugart household this year.  I thought 2019 would pale in comparison to 2018.  Boy was I wrong.

If you have any questions for me, like what I do as a coach or if you want to know my fave workout programs, I’m down to talk about it any time.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

13 things to do unplugged with your spouse

Is your love language quality time?  Is your spouse’s love language quality time?  Do you hate how much time we spend staring at our phones instead of being present with one another and fully invested in the moment?  Friend, I am here for you!  

But first thing’s first—if you want to follow along with our adventures of newlywed life, turning a house into a home, and all of the highs and lows of everyday life, click the subscribe button on the right (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile).  It doesn’t send you crazy stuff or give your information to anyone—it just sends blog updates directly to you!

Friend, today I have 13 fun and unique things to do together with your spouse that do not involve social media, computers, or screen time of any kind.  Put those phones away and stare into each others eyeballs for a sec, okay?

Let’s get started.

#1. Make something together.  Whether you just picked up a new piece of furniture that has much assembly required or you want to repaint a dresser you picked up at a garage sale, get to work together!

#2. Have a picnic in your backyard.  Spring is springing, the grass is greening, and the sun is shining.  Break out your biggest floppy hat, spread a quilt on the driest patch of grass you can find, and have no fear of drinking wine outdoors.  It’s your private property, after all!  And no one has to drive!  Don’t forget the sunscreen, though.  Winter has left you pale and vulnerable.

#3. Break out the instruments and have your own concert.  Will and I play piano, guitar, and all manner of brass instruments.  I love having worship nights together.  Print those chord charts or piano music ahead of time and put those phones away.  This is time for just you two.

#4. Bake something!  Make banana bread, cheesecake, or all manner of unhealthy treats.  You can share them with friends, or be greedy and enjoy the whole thing together.  Bonus points if you enjoy the fruits of you labor by candlelight.  

#5. Prayer time.  Write a list of prayer requests and pray over them together.  Pray over your marriage, your spouse, your family, your house, your dog, your cat, your jobs, etc.

#6. Create a vision board for your marriage.  This is about your vision, your goals, your mission statement, and your desires that you create together for your marriage.  Like I desire regular date nights with each other, no matter what season of life we are in.  Side note: if you are NOT crafty—like me—you can just create a fancy list or excel spreadsheet.  It’s basically the same, right?

#7. Go on a leisurely walk (don’t forget to bring the dog).  Whether around your neighborhood or a nice nearby park, pick a sunny day and take a long walk together.  If you’re on the east coast, don’t forget that bug spray.  The mosquitoes are coming!

#8. Have a double date and go try a new local restaurant or ask your friends where their favorite place in town is.  Don’t forget to splurge on dessert.  It’s the little things.

#9. Have a bonfire, roast s’mores, and tell ghost stories.  Bonus points if you camp out in the backyard afterwards.

#10. Game night!  Whether you play Nertz, Monopoly (not suggested for sensitive/competitive souls such as myself), or some crazy deck building game, make sure there’s a prize for the winner.  

#11. Couples who work out together stay together.  If you’re both active, create a workout plan that combines both of your favorite moves and techniques that you can do at home.  You could go on a run, or complete a squat and pushups pyramid challenge.  Will and I enjoy showing off our best ab moves to each other.

#12. Go out to the ball game.  Eat a hot dog and cheer on your local team.  Make sure to dress in team colors but watch out for the kiss cam.  

#13. Have a coffee date on your front porch.  Watch the world go by and just enjoy the moment with each other.

The world is so busy and fast!  We sometimes forget to just slow the heck down and enjoy the little things.  Even if you literally need to schedule a block of time to be with each other and enjoy each other, DO IT.  It is so very important.

Do you have any ideas that I didn’t mention?  Leave them in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

puppy’s first walk (+ teething)

Blue update—4 months old!

In the past month, Blue has continued to grow and learn, we took her on her very first walk, and she had a couple vet visits.

My favorite things about the past month:

  • How much she still loves snuggling
  • How joyful she was after her first walk

My least favorite things about the past month:

  • Her rabies vaccine & how sore she was afterward
  • The occasional accidents inside (there’s a lot more pee now!)

Things I have learned:

  • Teething seems awful

Our girl Blue is still a puppy and it is hard to remember that sometimes!  She is growing so much and learning every day.  I have to remind myself that if I am consistent, she will get it—right from wrong, how to behave, etc.  The occasional accidents still happen inside and I just have to remain consistent in reminding her where it is appropriate and how to ask to go outside.  Comparing her now to her tiny self at eight weeks old is crazy, even though I know she still has a lot more growing to do.  She has come such a long way!

We had two vet visits in her fourth month where she got her rabies vaccine and lyme vaccine.  Poor thing was super sore and sleepy after her rabies vaccine and we had to warn all of our New Years Eve guests to be gentle when petting her.  Her next vet visit finished up her shots and we opted to go for the lyme vaccine as well because we plan on camping and hiking with her.

Riding in the car is still one of her least favorite things.  We are trying to associate it with positive destinations and take her to my parents’ or my sister’s regularly.  She gets extra love, snuggles, and play time at their houses and you can tell she is growing attached to my family.

She isn’t napping as much as she used to and is still a little needy when she is awake.  I often find it difficult to get things done at home when she is awake because she wants to play or snuggle and be involved in some way.  Chores are easier—it’s when I sit down to write or edit that she gets bored.  Luckily, the day after she turned four months old we put in a fence (watch out for our next update!) and this has gotten a lot better because she can run and explore outside.

Her very first walk was adorable.  It seemed a little overwhelming for her, with all of the smells, noises, cars, and people.  Once we got home, though, it was obvious that she ultimately had a great time and we’re excited to go on a lot more walks in the future.

At the end of the month Blue began teething.  One day I looked down and one of her front teeth was HUGE compared to the rest of her mouth.  It. Was. Adorable.  She began chewing on her toys in earnest and it seems to me that teething must be an awful business because there was hardly a time when she was awake when she wasn’t chewing something.  So far she is doing great and only chewing on the things she is supposed to chew on.  Knock on wood!

Over the next month we plan on more walks, getting acquainted with the outdoors, and lots of social time with other dogs.  We are looking into obedience training and got her a big girl collar in preparation for her next growth spurt.

Until next time,
Jamie out

Valentines Day Gift Guide for Her, Him, and Couples!

Let’s be real—we all know the traditional standby of flowers and chocolates for all romantic occasions.  Don’t get me wrong, they are cliches for a reason—because they are a little bit of luxury that make a girl feel special.  But if you want to go beyond the traditional and get your significant other something that they will remember for years to come, these are some items that will probably get you those brownie points.

5 Gift Ideas for Her

Bath Bombs 

For the girl you haven’t been dating for very long, or the woman who loves her bath time more than you could ever understand.  Bath bombs come in all shapes, all sizes, and all scents.  Benefits can include moisturizing shea and coco butter.  Their fizzing and aromas are often calming and add to the bath experience.  This is not a gift like soap that your loved one might take the wrong way.  This a luxurious item that encourages your girl to take some time for herself.

Throw Blanket 

What girl doesn’t love a super soft throw blanket to cozy up under?  I remember being eleven or twelve when I asked for my first throw blanket for Christmas.  This is a great gift for any woman in your life.  New girlfriend, daughter, friend, or wife.  Every woman deserves a fresh new cozy item in her life.

Instant Film Camera 

This Fujimax Instax Mini is ideal for the millennial women in your life.  Give them the gift of instant gratification, artistic expression, and another creative method to document the moment.  This is a gift that keeps on giving, and they will love it.

Kate Spade Wristlet Clutch 

Here’s the thing about purses.  Every woman deserves to be unexpectedly gifted with a really nice handbag or clutch at least once in her life.  This cute wristlet clutch will be perfect for nice nights out, to restaurants, plays, or even concerts.  You might need some advice from the sales people or one of her best friends if the idea of this one scares you a little.  Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors are all great options for quality products.

Michael Kors Rose Gold Smart Watch 

For those of you looking to spend a little more money to bring your significant other’s fashion into the twenty-first century.  Even if she already has a smart watch, this is a serious upgrade, and one she will be very surprised and excited about.  

5 Gift Ideas for Him

Wireless Charger 

This is a seriously excellent gift for your guy, and is especially good for new relationships.  It won’t break the bank, doesn’t send a weird subliminal message, and is just a fun and useful gadget they will be really excited about.  Make their life a little easier this Valentines Day and give them the gift of cordless charging.

Pour Over Coffee Station 

For your guy who loves to be a little more sophisticated than Mr. Coffee.  If your man ogles french presses in his free time or has previously discussed different methods of roasting coffee beans with you, this might be the perfect gift for him!  

White Noise Sound Machine 

Does your man need to have a fan on while he sleeps, or play brown noises from Spotify to your Echo Dot all night (like mine does)?  Give him the gift of restful sleep this Valentines Day with a white noise sound machine.  The one linked above doesn’t break the bank, has fan sounds, white and brown noises, and boasts a sleep timer.  I’d call this one a win in my book.  

Man Crate 

Have you heard of these?  They. Are. So. Cool.  For virtually any price range, and virtually any guy, you can give him one of the most manly gifts he has ever received in his life.  From exotic meats and bacon, to Sriratcha and whiskey, you can take your pick and have it delivered in a literal crate that he will need to use a hammer and crowbar to open.  Need I say more?

MVMT Watch 

A classy gift for a classy guy.  MVMT watches are affordable, stylish, and something your man will brag about for years to come.  Make this Valentines Day one to remember by getting him this minimalist modern analog piece to step up any outfit.  Bonus: it is durable and water resistant.

4 Gifts for Both of You

ENO DoubleNest Two-Person Hammock

For the adventurers in your life, this gift will not disappoint.  Great for the camping, backpacking, mountain climbing lovers, this two-person hammock will be an exciting gift for both of you that will encourage more outdoor exploring and cuddling.

500+ Thread Count Sheets 

Luxury is sleeping on nice sheets every night.  Give yourselves the gift of comfort and a great night of sleep this Valentines Day by splurging on a new set of sheets.  Can you remember the last time your bed set got a refresh?  I’d say it’s probably about that time.

Monthly Wine Subscription

Let’s be real, there are all kinds of wine of the month clubs.  If you and your significant other are wine aficionados, this might just be a splurge you should take this year.  Here is a list by “My Subscription Addiction” for their recommended and favorite wine subscription boxes of 2018.

Couples Massage

Treat yourself!  Professional massages are not a thing that we all get regularly, even though we probably should.  Give yourselves the gift of relaxation this Valentines Day and book a couples massage somewhere in town.  Be prepared to be oily and relaxed, so you may not want to schedule a fancy dinner right afterwards.

More than anything this Valentines Day, we hope that you get to spend time with the ones that you love.  From us to you, we hope that you feel loved and cherished this day.

Do you have any gift ideas we didn’t mention?  Leave them in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

5 Christmas Gifts I am Loving

My family is great at giving gifts, but my husband is like no one I have ever met before.  Not just for me, but for many other people, he is very intuitive and can instinctively pick out things that they will enjoy, just by knowing them.  Needless to say, many of the items on my list were gifted to me by Will.  

Recommendation: if you don’t know what to give someone as a gift, or you don’t know how to let people know what you want, make a public Amazon wishlist and share it with everyone.  You can also encourage others to share their wishlist with you.  I have my wishlist set up so that if someone buys me something off my list, it won’t spoil the surprise and it leaves the item on the list for a few weeks once purchased.  

All of the items on my list of Christmas gifts I have been loving have been well used and well loved almost every day since they were received.  I’ve linked each one to Amazon in case you are interested!

LapGear Designer Lap Desk

This first gift was a very intuitive gift from Will that I hadn’t thought to ask for.  I had a lap desk from childhood that I used all of the time.  I mean ALL of the time.  I left it in our storage unit while we were in Arizona and, as I am sure many of you can guess, it was lost when our unit flooded.  I was not expecting Will to get me one for Christmas, but he went beyond that and got one for each of us!  Not only has it been incredible for use while blogging and editing photos for photography, but it has also been very beneficial during game nights and the occasional meal on the couch in our bonus room.

He got two of the beige quatrefoil desks, linked above.

Giantex Bedroom Wooden Full Length Mirror

This mirror was on my Amazon wishlist for a while.  I got hooked after seeing similar mirrors at the Christmas Tree Shop and on Instagram influencer pages.  I was surprised and blessed to find two of them under the tree this year and get to have one in my room and one in our guest room!  

After returning from Arizona and losing my cheapo full length mirror in our storage unit fiasco, it has been lovely to finally see my full outfits again.  Our girl Blue also enjoys building a relationship with the puppy in the mirror.  haha.

Spring Form Pan 

My mom came in with the win and got me a spring form pan!  It was an awesome surprise, especially because Will and I were able to buy a food processor on Black Friday back in November so that I can make cheesecake.  I have already tried them both and made a super delicious chocolate swirl cheesecake that was to die for, even after we accidentally dropped it (crust side down) in the yard.

Land’ End Hooded Squall Winter Jacket 

God bless the Lands’ End squall.  It is wind proof, waterproof, hooded and fleece lined.  I have put this coat to good use, through photoshoots and cold winter days, it has yet to let me down.  I took photos of a house in a downpour recently and was completely dry and warm afterwards.  Another time I took photos of a house in freezing temperatures and felt nothing but cold hands because I neglected to wear gloves.  It is legit, cozy, and absolutely what every adventurer needs on their list.  Bonus: Lands’ End has great sales and coupons so you don’t have to pay full price.  Like ever.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle Cooperative Deck Building Card Game 

Last but certainly not least was an awesome gift from my sister and brother-in-law.  Will and I had many date nights involving this game and recently beat the seventh game.  However, with four players we have yet to get past game two, so we are enjoying the strategy and variables.

It is a deck building card game that includes seven games (just like the seven books/years).  There are four heroes (Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville) that must defeat the villains who are trying to gain control of different locations.  Each game gets more difficult with different obstacles and abilities being added in each deck.

Next up, I think I may look into getting the expansion, which adds another hero and some other cards and items.  Who knew I would love a deck building game?  All it took was a Harry Potter theme, I guess.   

Have you and your loved ones started using Amazon wishlists yet?  It seriously makes gift giving so much easier.  Whenever I think of something I need or want during the year, I add it to my list!  #LifeHack

Let me know your favorite Christmas gifts you have been loving down in the comments.  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

My Word for 2019

Do you ever give your self a word, or a mission, or a phrase to cling onto?  Something that makes decisions easier and priorities clearer.  Will and I started prioritizing early on in our relationship.  Underneath God and our relationship, we put family.  This helps us make so many important (and maybe seemingly insignificant) decisions clearer and easier.  

I have never chosen a word for a year before now.  Sure, I have set new years resolutions that I rarely, if ever, keep, but this year I am approaching things differently.  I have set personal and professional goals, as well as giving myself a word to focus on.  To be my driving force for learning and growing in 2019.

My word is Simplify.

Much in the way that people say “don’t put yourself in debt during the holidays to show people how generous you are, or how much you love them,” my approach to Simplifying is very similar.  I view Simplifying as a way to gain freedom.  Freedom from overcommitting.  Freedom from clutter.  Freedom from being overwhelmed.  Freedom from feeling obligated.  It is a means to prioritize, and that prioritizing begins with practical steps, that turn into habits, that change the way you look at things, so that the things you look at change.

Some practical steps I have already taken include deleting unused and unwanted apps from my phone and turning off notifications for basically everything.  I already feel this freedom.  There is much less pressure—much less anxiety—much less obligation when I look at my phone. 

Other practical steps include cleaning out the fridge every time I go grocery shopping.  Making the bed every day.  Throwing out expired medications.  Keeping lists on my phone for easy access at grocery stores.  Reducing the trips I make to stores so that I have more time for my family and other priorities.  Making a master spreadsheet for my photography business to simplify keeping track of everything for myself and my taxes.  Getting rid of clothing that has holes, that I never wear, and that doesn’t bring me joy.  

Etc.

I am so excited to dive into Simplifying my life this year and to experience the freedom it brings.  Does anyone have any suggestions for me?  For ways that I can Simplify in 2019?

Do you have a word for 2019?  Leave it for me in the comments!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out