10 EASTER GIFTS THAT AREN’T CHOCOLATE

If you haven’t realized it yet, Easter will be here in less than a month. Let me repeat – Easter is less than twenty-three days away, y’all. With that being said, I have put together a little gift guide for that special somebody or those kiddos in your life. Get to shopping and hiding those Easter eggs around the house!

FOR THE KIDS

1 // Peter Rabbit Plush + Book 2 // Footed One-Piece Bunny Romper 3 // Large Easter Canvas Tote 4 // Easter with Max & Ruby DVD 5 // Crayola Egg Crayons and Markers 6 // Unfinished Wooden Easter Wooden Cutouts

FOR THE ADULTS

Let’s all admit – we as adults still like to receive Easter baskets. I know I do! With that being said, I have listed some of what would be some of my favorite gifts that would be awesome to give or receive. Make sure to sneak a few mini bottles in your Easter egg hunt to have a little more fun.

1 // Bunny Cupcake Dish 2 // Yankee Candle Bunny Cake 3 // Rae Dunn Snuggle Bunny Mug 4 // Rose Gold Bunny Ring Holder 5 // 8 Piece Easter Cookie Cutter Set 6 // Bunny Soap 7 // Peeking Bunny Ears Easter Wreath Bow 8 // Scratch Tickets

What have been some of your favorite Easter gifts that you’ve both given and received? Let’s chat in the comments below!

XO,

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THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP

Taking a road trip can be thrilling, humbling and gratifying all at once. It satisfies your adventurous spirit while also showing you how small you are in this world. Although flying by plane or riding by train both have their own perks, driving by car or RV gives you a totally different sense of freedom. It allows you to see the beautiful scenery, changes of landscape and leisure of traveling at your own pace. If you are planning to take a road trip in the future, remember that there are no “rights” or “wrongs” in this journey. Make it everything you’ve dreamed of. A road trip can also be two hours across state lines or across the country over the course of months. Remember to have your snacks handy, your travel playlist ready to hit play and your mind ready to experience everything on the open road. Remember to allow for time to “get lost.” As a minute-by-minute by planner, some of my most memorable moments have come from being off the beaten path.

Taking road trips in the past, there is nothing better than the heart-to-heart conversations it has brought about and the jam sessions that keep the car rocking.

Well into our dating, engaged and married life, my husband and I have taken many road trips together. We have traveled to Nashville for the CMA Fest, Washington D.C. for a P!nk concert and Atlanta many times for Braves games. We were also the crazies that made the twelve hour drive the day after we got married to hop our cruise boat in Fort Lauderdale. In between the few times we stopped to get food or gas, I was passed out in the passenger seat. Just ask my husband. Some co-pilot I was…

One of my favorite road trips that comes to mind happened to be during my junior year of college. It was midway the fall semester and one of my friends had just moved to Baton Rouge. She was there for a two year assignment with Teach for America and wanted to show off her new town. Two other friends of mine and I bravely embarked on the the twelve hour trek from Columbia, SC to Louisiana all in a days time. Luckily, we the three of us divided the driving time and made the load a little less daunting. We also stopped in New Orleans on the way in and stayed at a low-key sketch hostile, but it was one of my those unplanned moments that made for great conversation later on.

PACKING LIST

More than anything else, an organized packing list helps in preparing for an upcoming road trip. I tend make a list ahead of time with as many things written down so I check things off as I throw them in the suitcase later on. Depending on the destination of your road trip and the time of year can all dictate what makes the cut. Like in the picture below, I categorize my list by clothing, toiletries, technology must-haves, essentials and miscellaneous. From there, I subcategorize under each of those headings to what will fit best my needs for the trip. As a precautionary measure, do some research into the weather so you will be more prepared. If you are traveling up north during the winter, tank tops and Chacos probably shouldn’t make the list. When I traveled to New York for a late Christmas and New Years trip a few years back, I packed for cuteness over comfortably. I payed for my mistakes big time.

CAR PLAYLIST

For most people, a playlist is a pretty important part of any road trip. Whether you are going two hours away or twenty, a car playlist makes all of the difference in helping to pass the time. Unless you have friends like mine who can create conversation for the majority of a twelve hour trip, it’s best to have a playlist to fill the down time in conversation. I personally use Apple Music to create my pre-planned playlist but there many other apps to choose from like Spotify, who will shuffle music off of artists and genres what you like. If you are looking to keep your options open, try playing podcasts or audio books.

PROPER DRIVING ETIQUETTE

This might be a pretty obvious rule, but having proper driving etiquette is pretty important on a road trip. If it’s a shorter trip and someone is particularly willing to make the entire drive, let them. (hint my husband) Sometimes it pays to be a bad driver. hehe Like our twelve hour drive to Louisiana, rotating every couple of hours helps to keep everyone alert and rested. Having an co-pilot riding shotgun, someone napping and another “on deck” to drive has been the best the best system I have found that works.

TRAVELING APPS

▪️Wanderlog

Wanderlog is a travel app that excels in helping you find inspiration for your road trips. While you may use other apps to help give you ideas for trips, Wanderlog is an actionable platform to give structure to your dream vacation. Use Wanderlog to discover things that you want to do and save the locations to Google Maps for when you get to a certain city.

I love the structure that Wanderlog’s platform provides. While it’s great for all levels of planning, I like narrowing my trip down to a few destinations and then using Wanderlog to sculpt out a trip in each one of those destinations. I can craft an itinerary by adding the must-see attractions that I want to do, and then have a separate section for restaurants I want to try or hotels and hostels that I want to stay at. While other planning apps feel like you’re just daydreaming, Wanderlog provides an actually productive planning platform.

You can also collaborate with your friends for one cohesive list. If you’re planning a group trip, you can all add your ideas and bucket list destinations to the itinerary. With this app, you can add as many stops as you’d like to your itinerary for free. It’s a great planning app for personalizing and perfecting your holidays.

▪️ TripScout

This app is another great source of organization when it comes to having all of your ideas in one place. You can add Guidebooks for each trip with the dates that you plan to be in that city.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

POLAROID CAMERA & JOURNAL

I do not leave for any road trip without my Polaroid camera or journal. I got my camera a few years back during a Black Friday deal and it has been such a great way to have tangible instantaneous pictures. You can put them in a Scrapbook or string them up on your wall as a great way to display them.

I have always been one to enjoy putting pen to paper. Although putting my thoughts here on my blog is my ultimate goal, there is nothing like writing, drawing or journaling about your trip. I’d you haven’t before, grab a notebook or sketchbook and give it a try!

Above all else, enjoy your journey and allow yourself to get lost. Road trips are meant for exploring the unknown and it is okay to not always not what’s next.

Happy traveling! 🗺

III: EDUCATION

Education has always played an important part in my life. From pre-K into my high school years, my parents instilled that knowledge is something that nobody can ever take away from you.

“When you educate one person you can change a life, when you educate many you can change the world.”

Shai Reshef

Partly because of work ethic and her drive to do everything to the highest degree, I always admired my mom’s pursuit of higher education. She has a B.S. in Psychology, two masters degrees, a PhD and was once National Boards certified. She also obtained her PhD while holding a full time job as an administrator of an elementary school, having a family and driving to classes 1.5 hours away. Wow!

I always knew my plan was to go to college after high school. I, too, loved school and that’s what I felt was the right path for me.

I applied to three in state schools because we all know college is expensive enough without adding out-of-state tuition. Anderson, University of South Carolina and Wofford made my top three for all varying reasons.

Anderson was the small Christian school not far from home. USC was the big SEC school in the state capital and has the big school feel. Wofford was the private liberal arts college planted in my hometown. They were all diverse and all had great options.

Believe me when I say that college isn’t for everyone. We need people in trade schools. School is not a be-all-end-all, for my youngest brother included. I wouldn’t have traded my experience for the world, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with not going to college. There is such a need for those trades, like welding, mechanics and even for full-time service men (and women). Often times, those people get twice as much an hour than most other jobs. Pave your own way and don’t allow anyone to dictate what is right for you.

College was a place for me to grow and to figure out what life was all about. A lot happened to that innocent seventeen year old freshman. Mentally, I grew. Emotionally, I grew. I learned how to be independent. I was able to make decisions for myself and figure out what direction I wanted to take in life at the time. By the time that twenty-one year old walked across that stage, she had experienced a lot of life.

If you are a high school junior or senior (or are looking to go back to school), consider UofSC! We’ve claimed the #1 International Business School and Honors School in the nation for the last decade.

The world is a grand place. Learning and education aren’t necessarily restricted to a classroom or in textbooks. Get outside and experience the world for yourself. Some of my fondest “teachable” moments have been sight-seeing in the Mediterranean Sea and in the streets of Paris. Take a road trip. Experience what life has to offer for yourself grab it by the horns.

✌🏼

MONEY ENVELOPE SYSTEM

In a time when so many of Americans have unsurmountable amounts of debt, it is of upmost importance to be cognizant of spending habits and understand where your money is really going.

When Chandler and I got married, he taught me about his cash envelope system, which is something I quickly fell in love with. I heard about Dave Ramsey’s method, but never followed through with implementing it for myself. Each person has their own method which works for them, and that is totally okay. However you choose to go about it, make it your own and stick to the task. For all of you crafty people, now is your time to shine. Make this something you are proud of and that will keep you coming back.

What is a cash envelope system, exactly?

cash envelope system simply put is a method for monthly budgeting. Cash is placed in different envelopes assigned by major categories. It is a visual way of budgeting and is also a simple way to keep track of your categorized savings by saving obtainable goals made set yourself. Instead of keeping heaps of cash in your wallet and being more careless, it is a way to regulate those more frivolous habits and being more diligent in saving for other major expenses.

For us personally, we have a house and vacation fund that are our two main “focuses” right now. Any time we have extra cash or get any for birthdays/Christmas, we put that aside for those categories.

How does a Cash Envelope System work?

How does this system work? Make a goal for each category and do not over that amount for that amount for the month. For instance, if you have $250 in the grocery envelope, that means you can only spend this amount for the current month you’re on. It basically avoids you from overspending or spending on unnecessary wants rather than needs. Studies have shown, that those who budget based on a cash envelope system save by 15% – 20% monthly.

Why should I start using a Cash Envelope System?

  • It forms a good habit. It makes you disciplined handling money.
  • It allows freedom to spend from all the savings accumulated in the near future.
  • It makes it much harder for overspending, since its restricted to a certain amount in each envelope.
  • It helps with less worries over budgeting. Deposit money into your monthly essential envelopes first.
  • It is a system that is proven successful.

Budget Categories

These are more or less the categories that your expenses might pertain to. You get to directly decide what you’re budgeting for upfront. Start assigning your most important expenses into envelopes. These are in no particular order.

  • Groceries
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Healthcare
  • Gas
  • Household/Cleaning Supplies
  • Hair/Skincare & Makeup
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Savings
  • Dining & Entertainment
  • Personal Use
  • Vacation Traveling
  • Gifts (Birthday/Christmas/etc.)

Starting Your Budget

Set you spending limit and ensure you’re on the same page with yourself or your significant other. Pick your categories, start micromanaging and stick to the budget. Some of us go way overboard! We see a fancy shirt/dress and we pick it up! We have cooked food at home yet still purchase fast food same day! We don’t thing to look in our pantry and overspend in groceries by picking up stuff we already have x3 at home! The plan is simple. Needs > wants. Do I need this? Don’t I have it already? Will it cross my budget? Is there something more important I should buy instead of this? Can I buy this next month instead? Should I go with a more affordable yet decent quality brand? All of these questions should be answered by yourself before spending.

What if I Run out of Money in an Envelope?

This is a really good question. There is a possibility of this happening, so don’t beat yourself up if this happens. If it does happen to be a higher tier then read “What About an Emergency?” below. If it’s not one of those however, then do not give into temptation of moving cash around carelessly. Do not start taking out money from envelope Y or your wallet to put in envelope Z. ” I’ve got $500 in savings, so I can to transfer funds to my clothing envelope” is a careless idea unless you really need new clothes.

What About an Emergency?

Let’s say an emergency situation arises and leaves you with having to touch that trusty envelope. Rather than using money from your “higher importance” envelopes, I recommend using funds from the lower tiers instead for this situation. From there, realign or readjust your budget and make a note on it. Accountability is key here.

Extra Money At Month End

If you realize there’s extra money at month’s end, give yourself a small pat on the back. That just goes to show that you have budgeted correctly, so enjoy a little celebration and reward yourself! Grab some snacks or grab a coffee! If that’s not something you want to do, then simply roll over the money to next month’s budget or keep it in your savings. For those in debt, avoid the lavish celebrations and try clearing up some with the extra cash.

A Cash Envelope System is a powerful ally in a fight against overspending.

It teaches you better money management skills and principles that make you wonder why you didn’t implement it any sooner. Give it a try and see why millions of others are currently switching to it. It has really been an eye opener for me. Save now. Reap and benefit later.


I’m not perfect by any means, but this allows me this to be more diligent in understanding my spending habits and where I can cut back.

Happy saving,
Alex in Asheville

There’s only #oneSpartanburg

“Home is a place where your feet may leave but your heart will always be.”

Growing up in the small and quaint of Spartanburg, SC I feel like it’s only appropriate that it gets the first official highlight!

Spartanburg, known as the ever endearing “Sparkle City,” is located in the Upstate South Carolina and is seated at the crossroads of Interstates 85 and 26. This community is the cradle of economic development in the Palmetto State, making it a great place to live, work, play and invest. It is home to seven different colleges and offers a wide array of outdoor activities, access to the arts and a great nightlife scene.

Below, I’ve highlighted a few of the most popular restaurants, sights and sounds below, so feel free to check any of them out and let me know how you like them!

EATS & DRINKS

→ THE BEACON DRIVE-IN
The Beacon has been a famous Southern landmark since 1946 and has also been home to many presidents’ campaign runs. The Chili-Cheese A-Plenty, a chili-cheeseburger buried underneath piles of sweet onion rings and french-fried potatoes is a must! Their ice cream is some of the best around, too!

IKE’S CORNER GRILL
This compact, but lively joint on the north side of Spartanburg is known for their burgers, hotdogs, fries, onion rings & beers. It’s been voted to have the “best burger” in town multiple times and has been serving the area for more than 50 years! If you’re looking to add some grease to your diet, Ike’s is the place to go!

MONSOON NOODLE HOUSE
If you consider yourself a foodie, do yourself a favor and check out Monsoon! Monsoon has genuinely been my favorite place to eat since I was a freshman in high school and is some of the most authentic Asian food you will ever taste.

FR8 YARD
FR8yard is South Carolina’s first fully outdoor biergarten built entirely from re-purposed shipping containers! Located in the heart of downtown Spartanburg, FR8yard is a family-friendly, dog-friendly, community gathering spot centered around great food, drinks and entertainment creating an all around great time! Relatively new to the community, this was also a go “got-to” hangout to have a drink and some appetizers.

→ DOWNTOWN DELI & DONUTS
This eatery will serve a variety of vibrant and healthy breakfast dishes, a lunch menu chocked full of fresh and wholesome entrees, and the BEST gourmet donuts in town. DDD offers a range of breakfast sandwiches and bagels, a “Quiche of the day,” and a selection of sides.

Other notable restaurants and breweries:
1) Cyclops Brewery
2) RJ Rockers Taproom & Silo

SIGHTS & SOUNDS

→ CLEVELAND PARK
As one of my personal favorites, Cleveland Park is the most visible public park and is located in the historic center of Spartanburg, adjacent to the Northside Redevelopment project. This venue is where my husband and I got engaged and married, so I will always be biased to its’ beauty! Cleveland Park has a newly renovated playground and a beautiful pond, island gazebo, walking trail, waterside amphitheater.

→ BARNET PARK
Spartanburg’s premier outdoor concert and special events venue, the seven-acre Barnet Park plays host to dozens of events each year, from performances by national recording artists to family reunions and company picnics. BP also features a 2-mile paved walking trail, interactive water fountain, 1,036-square-foot picnic pavilion, original sculptures “Exuberance” & “Circle of Friendship.”

→ GLENDALE SHOALS PRESERVE
Glendale Shoals Preserve consists of thirteen acres located at the old Glendale Mill on Lawson’s Fork Creek. The Shoals have plant, animal, and bird life. When the water is low, walk across the shoals, skip some rocks, and enjoy the view.

Thank you for coming by! If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns, feel to drop me a message or comment below.


♡,
Alex in Asheville