Friday, February 28, 2014

High Five For Friday 2/28 + Giveaway

This week I had a couple of days off to get some stuff done before I start working full time. It was much needed, as it is hard to run errands when some places are only open 9-5. I was able to get our taxes done, do some projects around the house, do yard work, walk to dog lots, and do lots of blogging. I was also able to get our JCI done for one of our cars. A JCI is the Japanese Compulsory Insurance. It is an insurance and tax that comes with an allover inspection of the vehicle once every two years. It is a dreaded process here in Japan because you can end up paying a ton of money to get little things fixed in your car. It is not fun, but it is also what keeps cars in such good shape here. I was worried about it because our car is a 1998. I was sure that it was going to have tons of problems and take a few days and a good chunk of change to figure out. Thankfully, it only had one minor, inexpensive fix and took less than 2 hours to finish the entire process. I am thankful to be done with it and not have to deal with it again for awhile!

Here is what else is going on this week:

The only good thing about Jake being gone(besides less laundry and a cleaner house) is that I can eat whatever I want. I don't have to buy all of the junk food he craves or work hard to plan healthy meals that he will enjoy. The minute he was out of the door, I threw out everything in the entire house that is not conducive to my clean eating plan. I plan on eating clean 3 meals a day for 5 days a week while he is gone. I am going to start it out with the Dr. Oz 3 day cleanse starting tomorrow. I am going to do a full review on how it went as soon as I'm finished. Wish me luck!

Threw all of this out or gave it away. It felt so refreshing!

Oh and remember this post last week?? Well I worked out every day this week and plan on going to cycling in the morning. Who the heck am I? Let's just see if I can stay motivated!

One of my favorite things to do is run errands. I just love having a list, running around doing things, and crossing things off my list. I love being able to wander around stores and take my time getting things done. That is one of the main things I miss about not working during the day (along with binge watching shows on Netflix). I kind of felt like I was running around like a crazy person this week trying to get all of my errands done. I did have time to meet up with a new friend I have met from this wonderful thing we call blogging at a curry place she wanted me to try. It was fabulous and I always love meeting new people! I was also able to try to Sakura Chocolate Cream from the Starbucks here. I avoid Starbucks here on the island because it is super expensive and the drinks are really small. Sakura is a unique seasonal flavor to Japan, though, so I thought it would be a fun experience to try it. Sakura is cherry blossom and is really popular here around this time. It was pretty good, but very sweet. I could barely drink 1/3 of it. It was fun to try, but I probably won't be getting it again any time soon. Not to mention, the tall was almost $5!


This week I found out that our wedding was featured on the Kentucky Bride Magazine website. It was so fun to see our special day featured! Go check it out HERE

Yesterday I announced that I am now accepting sponsorships. I already have some wonderful ladies up on my sidebar that I am so excited to be working with! I have one swap spot left and lots of other openings. Go check out my sponsor page for more information!  

Recently, I met Elora, who blogs over at Out My Front Door.  Her blog is so interesting and unique. She shares interviews with travelers, authors, and sellers, as well as personal posts and photography. She also has an awesome Etsy shop, Transcendence Designs, where she sells travel-inspired jewelry that she makes. Her love of many different cultures and trends inspires her creations. She has lots of wonderful bead and seashell earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Seashells can always win me over! Go check out her shop, she is offering 50% off right now. She is also generous enough to offer a set of Nomad earrings to one lucky winner. Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up with LaurenDarciRebeccaCasey, and Jennie

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let's Talk Sponsorships

When I started this blogging thing, I had never heard of sponsorships, sidebar ads, buttons, guest posts, etc. It was such a fun adventure for me to learn the ins and outs of the blogging world. So far, my experience has been great. I have met so many great people and made some awesome connections. I have learned a lot about myself through this process. I have put so much of myself into this blog, even if I don't post super personal posts every day. I am so thankful that I have this blog to document this amazing stage of life that we are in.

It was so fun to start out small and see how this blog has grown. I never thought it would get to the point that it is now. I love receiving all of the wonderful comments and emails from all of the wonderful readers I have gained. I have also loved making connections through sponsoring other blogs.

As each blog in the blogging world grows, the author has to decided where to take it. Some times I feel so happy with where I am at, but sometimes I don't want to feel stagnant or like I'm not evolving. I like to be challenged and to learn and to grow. As blogs grow, many of them naturally evolve into taking sponsorships. I have given it a lot of thought over the last little while. I have been going back and forth with the decision to start accepting sponsorships. I really didn't want to start with sponsorships before I was ready. A couple of different things happened and made me feel like it was time.

I feel like I have a lot to offer anyone who wants to sponsor me. I want to challenge myself with this next step in blogging and I want to work hard to make this a success. I want to help other people grow their blogs. I want to make connections through sponsorships and get to know more people in the blogging community. I know that it will take some practice and some tweaks here and there, but I am excited to get the ball rolling!

If you hop on over to my sponsor page, you will find all of the information you need to sponsor Bell Bliss. I will still be doing swaps, but they will be first come first serve. I hope that you can find something that suites your needs and I look forward to working with lots of you in the future!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This Whole Baby Business

Is it just me, or is there an absurd amount of people announcing pregnancies? Not that I think it's a trend or something. It really makes me mad when people talk about everyone they know getting married or having babies and say that it must be the "cool" thing to do or they don't want to follow the trend. It's not a trend. It's something that people have been doing since the beginning of time. We are just at the point in life now that people reaching these milestones is the norm.

Anyway, that was quite a tangent. All of these pregnancies are making me want a baby. I love all the cute prego bellies and cute baby stuff. I see precious newborns and glowing parents. Getting married and having children has been my dream since I was little.  I wanted to be a young mom and have lots of kids. I had plenty of other dreams as well, like being a famous interior designer like Genevieve Gorder from Trading Spaces.

When this jealousy hits and I want a baby that minute, I back up and remind myself why we aren't having kids yet. And honestly, it comes down to one main thing. We are selfish. We want a few more selfish years. We want to travel and see the world whenever we want. We want to pursue our careers. We want to be able to sit down at night after work and have dinner and watch TV together. We want to have date nights whenever we want. We want to be able to hang out with friends or go on adventures at the drop of a dime. Yes, I know you can do these things with a  baby. But we want to the freedom and flexibility for a bit longer.

I am also selfish because I love where our relationship is at. Our relationship hasn't always been perfect, but we have worked hard to get it to where it is. We have learned to apologize, to forgive, to appreciate, to listen, to communicate, and right now, things are great. We have struck a balance that works for us, and I am scared to mess it up.

Honestly, I'm not just scared of disturbing our balance. I am scared of everything that having a baby entails. I am scared of having trouble conceiving. I am scared of being pregnant and some of the problems that it can bring I am scared of all of the medical problems that could possibly arise. I am scared of being responsible for such a precious gift. I am scared to bring a child into this scary world. I am scared of not being a good parent.

Someday, I know these fears will somewhat subside and our selfish years will be over. Someday we will be ready to start a family. I can't wait to have children and all the wonderful things that come with it. But until then, I am going to enjoy this stage of life. And enjoy our time with our current family of three.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I had heard that Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to spend New Year's so when I was planning our trip, I made sure we were there on that day. From the minute we got there three days before NYE, we could already see preparations. The stage for the performances that night was already set up. There were colorful "Happy New Year" signs everywhere. The market around the stage was set up and going strong already as well.

After riding elephants all morning and taking a long nap, we headed out for the evening. We started the night by people watching in a cute little square of shops that overlooks the road with all of the tourists. It was so pretty. As we were sitting there, we decided that Chiang Mai, though old and charming, is set up mainly for tourists. There are tons of beautiful, Western shops and squares that locals probably don't care much about. 

We decided to make our way down to the main area where the stage and market was. Our dinner for the night consisted of street food. Fancy, huh? We were perfectly content with $2 pad thai, fried rice, and gyros. We walked around the market for awhile, which was a lot of the same stuff we saw at the Sunday Night Walking Market. It was also super crowded, tourists and locals alike. We decided to go to a rooftop restaurant to get an awesome view of the street. It was crowded, but the view was great and they also had entertainment. 

After that, we decided to sit along the moat and watch people set off their wishing lanterns. It was only 9 at this point and we wanted to wait to set ours off. It was funny and sad to watch because there were so many lanterns crashing into the moat. There were also lanterns stuck in trees and power lines. We were surprised there weren't any fires starting. 

We decided we couldn't wait any longer, so we went to the main area to set off a wishing lantern. They were being sold all over the street for around $5. You are supposed to write your wish on it, but we didn't have a pen. Our lantern was a success, unlike the ones around us that were crashing and burning. It was crazy how many lanterns were being set off. 

Around this same time, fireworks had started going off. They weren't professional fireworks, these were amateur fireworks being shot at the wishing lanterns. It started to turn into madness. We decided to get out of the craziness and walked back toward the stage. Someone was singing in Thai and everyone was going nuts! I assumed it was someone very famous. We couldn't escape the craziness. We met another American couple and hung out with them for a bit. We decided to set off two more wishing lanterns. When in Chiang Mai, right? 

At this point, we decided to embrace the madness and went to the epicenter of it all for midnight. At midnight, there were tons and tons of wishing lanterns sent off and then fireworks every where we turned. At midnight wee shared a kiss, which definitely was not the norm there. After the madness of midnight, we decided to head home after Jake got some Burger King since our flight for Bangkok left at 8 am the next day. The craziness continued on our entire way home, with fireworks and crazy people every where.

It was a crazy and fun night. I will definitely never forget the NYE we spent in Chiang Mai. 

Missed any of our Thailand recaps? Check them out below:
Thailand Trip Overview
Christmas in Koh Samui
Temples around Chiang Mai
Cooking School in Chiang Mai
Sunday Night Walking Market
Riding Elephants

Linking up with Bonnie and Tina for Travel Tuesday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Good and The Bad

The good or the bad first? I'm going to go with the bad, just to get it out of the way. Jake left today (Monday) which was a day earlier than scheduled. Bummer. I survived the last time he was gone so I know I can do it. And thanks to the good later on in this post, I will be a very busy girl. Since this was the last weekend Jake was in town, you would think we would spend it doing fun things together. Not exactly. Even though we had a fun evening of fiestaing (I made my famous enchiladas) and playing games with friends, Jake had the work the rest of the weekend. Double bummer.

On Saturday night we had a date night. We haven't had a nice date in awhile, so we went to a semi-fancy restaurant right on the water called the Sea Garden. The restaurant was beautiful and it had such a fun atmosphere. We got there just in time for a beautiful sunset. We got a grilled chicken salad, the best cheese fondue of all time, and delicious California rolls. Other than it being a bit cold sitting outside, it was a fun evening.

On Sunday I was able to have lunch with a friend at a cute cafe before she left for the States(yep, jealous). It was a beautiful day and we were able to sit outside with a beautiful view of the bay while eating super yummy food! I had a bowl of cheese-topped chicken curry. It was different than regular curry and it was pretty darn good!

After lunch, we sat outside on my deck talking. It was a bit cold, still boot weather, but warm enough to sit outside with a blanket. It was fun to be outside and to catch up! I can't wait to use our backyard all of the time this summer!

Jake was able to make it home in time for a beach walk and grilling out.  We sure are going to miss our Sunday night beach walks together. 

Sick of beach pictures yet??

And now for the good. On Friday and on twitter I had been hinting about some exciting things going on. I needed some time to process, but now I am ready to share the exciting thing going on in my real life. If you thought I was going to announce a pregnancy, you were way off, sorry. Last week I was offered a full time subbing job at the school on base here. As of March 10th, I will have my very own 3rd grade classroom. I am so excited to finally have my own class! It will have it's challenges, especially coming in in the middle of the year, but I know that I will learn so much and it will be a great experience. It is the next step in my journey of teaching. I am going to be super busy, lesson planning, arranging my classroom, etc., but I really can't wait! 

The exciting things in my blogging life will hopefully be shared towards the end of the week! So stay tuned!

Linking up with Monday Morning Gossip and Funday Monday

Friday, February 21, 2014

High Five For Friday 2/21

This week flew by thanks to the lovely 3 day weekend! Monday was quite an adventure and if you follow on twitter you may been able to guess what happened.

We finally made it to the steak house near our base we have been hearing about. We had been wanting to go for lunch since it was half the price as dinner, so a day off was the perfect time. The steakhouses here are the typical Japanese steak house you find in the states. They cook the food in front of you on a large grill. The only difference is that the food is 10 times better. Jake and I both got the steak set. It came with soup, salad, rice, and vegetables. It has turned into our new favorite restaurant! 

So on twitter I had posted a picture of our little mishap the other day. Jake loves to off-road, like I have said before. He is always looking for trails to take his car on. The other day we were walking on the beach and he saw tire tracks. He decided it was a good idea to drive his car around on the beach. Everything was going great, until we were getting ready to leave and we heard a loud noise. Sure enough, Jake's tire had popped. We had a spare, but the car is a 98', so the lug nuts were rusted on. Thanks to help from the friends we were with, they were able to get the tire changed. Lesson learned? I don't think so. 

And here are some pictures of our fun Monday before the tire fiasco happened 

And this is what we ate this week
Sunday: Hotdogs and s'mores (give us a break, we were camping)
Monday: Pork Loin, mashed cauliflower, carrots
Tuesday: Salmon and grilled cabbage
Wednesday: Grilled chicken and mac and cheese quinoa
Thursday: pork chop quinoa pasta (aka random things thrown in a pot)

I tweeted that there are some exciting things happening over this way in my real life and my blogging life. I don't mean to be a tease, but I will share soon enough!!

Linking up with LaurenDarciRebeccaCasey, and Jennie