2014 Nothing “New” Challenge

I set out many goals for myself in the crazy year of 2014, but one of the most fun ones was the challenge to buy “nothing new”.  Back in 2012, I made a challenge for myself to not shop for an entire year… and I did it.  This year I wanted to do the same thing, but add a little twist; I could shop… but ONLY at second hand stores such as Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Salvation Army, Clothes Mentor etc.  Much like the 2012 challenge, this helped me to keep my financial goals in check and not get wrapped up in the “must have” material things.  However, I should note that this challenge did not include running/workout shoes so as not to avoid injury 😉  Running marathons on used shoes would not have been good.

What did I learn by doing this challenge?  Well, a couple things.  I learned that second hand shopping is not only more responsible and economical but it is actually more FUN!  I found so many treasures and when I did it was like hitting a goldmine.  NOTHING I bought was over $15 (the most expensive purchase was a pair of TORY BURCH black flats found at clothes mentor, WIN!).  I also learned yet again that I need NOTHING, it taught me to want less and simplify my life even more.

My original hope was to take several pictures this year of outfits I found at goodwill and post them on my instagram, but it turns out I feel super awkward posting several pictures of myself in different outfits.  And there would have been so MANY! So, I apologize I did not keep up to date with that.  But I am sharing some finds with you below! Seriously, you will not believe some of the stuff I found.  Ironically, even though I was shopping at second hand stores, much of what I bought still had tags on!

I do have to confess- I cheated but only for two true new things.  And go figure they were workout tank tops from Crossfit Oswego.  But nothing else!  Okay, here are some highlights of my favorite finds (but seriously this is such a small portion of what I found!).


BCBG Black Dress pants from a resale shop- $12 I wear these SO MUCH.


Chambray shirt ($6) and GAP purple skinnies ($5)- Goodwill


Shain LOVES Eddie Bauer pullovers in winter- found this oatmeal colored for $7 at Goodwill!


White House Black Market Dress that I wore for my wedding shower $7- Goodwill


Forever 21 Black Maxi Dress $5 Goodwill ( I think I wore this at least once a week all summer)


Pink Nike Running Jacket $10-Savers

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Okay two of my FAVORITE things that I found, White house Black Market dress capris and leopard wedges from target-$12 total from Goodwill


 Red and Black Chevron Dress from Goodwill $6


I typically spend too much money on Jeans, like most I have a hard time finding a pair that fit me right.  But I struck gold with these all at goodwill, Loft, Silver and Lucky Brand Jeans.  Didn’t pay more than $7 for any of them.


Jcrew  nude flats $6 and my FAVORITE necklace $1- Salvation army


Oh yeah and all these awesome shoes….

I kept all of my receipts for my shopping endeavors so that I could share with you my total cost of everything I purchased for the year. Drumroll please……..$282.  Not bad right? I will say, my challenge might be over but you will never find me spending full price on anything ever again!  If you are thinking of creative ways to save your money or kick your shopping habit, I highly recommend doing this 🙂

For a recap on all my other 2014 goals, check out my previous post.  2015 goals coming soon 😉

Stay blessed in the mess!

A look back at 2014

There was A LOT that happened in 2014…almost too much to handle.  I got married to an amazing man and accomplished some pretty lofty goals I set out for myself.  To see all the goals, visit my 2014 Goals tab.  Here are a few highlights…

Qualify for the Boston Marathon


This was my big one, and I did it by the skin of my teeth.  My final time was a 3:34:56 and I needed a sub 3:35 to qualify.  Unfortunately, with the high volume of registration I still did not make the cut to get into the actual race.  I won’t lie- I cried about this for a good day.  But then I set it free, Boston is not going anywhere and I know I will get there eventually.  It was a huge feat for me personally to even post a qualifying time and took a lot of hard work to get there.  My first marathon time was a 4:26 and I never dreamed I could be in the 3:30s!

Don’t let the little things bother me

This was tough, this was a constant work in progress and something I had to be conscious of at all times and still do. With having a stressful year at work, it made being positive and not letting little things get to me very difficult.  But I will tell you what made it easier…time.  This is the first year since I started working at age 14 where I only had one job to focus on.  In college, I worked 20-30 hours a week on top of school and being an ahtlete.  When I started my career at AU, I still babysat, worked odd jobs and did personal training on the side.  Until this year, I worked at least 60 hours a week if not more…every week.  Year after year.  This year, I slowly cut back on my personal training clients and other side jobs because adding grad school in the mix was finally too much.  This was a hard decision to make but it was the best.  If I had not done that, I would have had a nervous breakdown by now.  No doubt.  What does this have to do with not letting the little things bother me?  I have more TIME to focus on the priorities at hand, to reflect and to just be.  I was still crazy busy, but I was not having meltdowns over the silliest things.  I hope I never go back to keeping a schedule like I did, not sure how I did it all those years to be honest with you!

Plan a wedding for under $10,000


Didn’t quite meet this goal, but man did I try.  Our guest list turned out much higher than we anticipated which threw our budgeted numbers off a little (turns out when you date for 9 years everybody wants to come to your wedding).  But we pulled a wedding that had 235 guests off for CLOSE to $10,000!  I have said it before and I will say it again…I would marry Shain all over in a heartbeat..but would NOT do the wedding again. Turns out getting married and having a wedding are not at all related to each other. No sireee not for me.

Purchase NOTHING new (clothes, shoes)

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In 2012, I made a challenge to myself to not buy any new clothes for an entire year.  And aside from one purchase at the Chicago Marathon expo, I did it.  I bought nothing else all year.  For 2014, I decided to do the same thing but change it up a little and gave myself the rule of only shopping at second hand stores such as Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor & Salvation Army.  There will be a separate blog post coming on everything I found on this fun challenge, I highly recommend doing it!

I am so excited to see what 2015 has in store for me, will update you soon on some of the new things I am going after. How did your goals for 2014 go?  What will you be going after in 2015?  Please do share!



Happy Holidays!

Can you believe next week is Christmas? WHAT? When did that happen?  Since I am married to Clark Griswold, I usually feel like we celebrate Christmas for waaaaay too long.  But this year, with the little incident we had with our pup, it did not put us in the best of spirits at the start of the season.  But now that he is on the mend, we are finally getting back our Christmas cheer.


We are going to see a “dental specialist” on Christmas Eve morning for Wyatt (yes, I had the same thought- there are dental specialists for dogs??) so we are crossing our fingers that we get a clean bill of a health and that he won’t need a second mouth procedure done.  The odds are actually looking very good.  For the time being, he cannot play with any other dogs or even run with me until he is fully healed up.  So it has been a great excuse for me NOT to run and get more into my crossfit and yoga routine these last few weeks.  If my running buddy can’t run, I can’t run.  We are a pair.


Shain actually promised Wyatt and I that as soon as he was healed up, we would all go on a family run. OMG. Those of you who know Shain know how big this is.   He better hold to it, even if it is just a run down the block.

Going back to the Christmas cheer thing- I am SUPER stoked about our holiday schedule this year.  Typically we are going 3-4 places a day,  and usually we split up a lot to cover more ground.  This has always left me feeling exhausted, crabby and incredibly empty during a time where you are SUPPOSED to feel full and happy.  This year will be the first year that Shain and I wake up together on Christmas morning! YIPPEE! AND our family gatherings are very spread out which is going to be wonderful.  More quality time and less rushing out the door and forgetting what this season is all about! It is bittersweet to not wake up with my brothers, but I guess that is part of growing up.


Also- remember how I told you I was not going to have any sweets in December?  I have failed you…and cheated twice.  Which I am pretty stinking proud of actually!  Once for an office holiday party and the other in a moment of “that time of the month” weakness where I was feeling ragey and emotional and the only thing that could cure it was to climb on the fridge and get after the chocolate stash.  Can you blame me?

In the coming weeks I am excited to share some awesome things happening in 2015 (no not babies yet) AND a new and improved blog! Blessed in the mess is getting a makeover!  So, you won’t see any posts until close to the new year while I work the tweaks out.  Stay tuned!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to take a moment in all this hustle and bustle and forget the presents, forget the packed calendar and just give some love to Jesus and to those around you, that is the reason for the season!

  Stay blessed in the mess 😉









A little over a week ago, I sat in the same spot I am right now and wrote a blog post about being thankful that I had time to slow down, as I had been feeling very overwhelmed and stressed in the past months.  I sit here again and feel even more thankful and even more blessed than I did in that moment.  But for different reasons.

This past weekend my pup Wyatt and I made our usual early morning walk through the woods by our house.   For the most part I can take him off the leash and he listens pretty well and stays within 10-15 feet.  But every once in a while he gets mischievous and gets too far away from me.  There is a little hill I was walking up and he was on the other side, out of my sight when I heard a noise.  I called out his name and then when I got over the hill I saw an animal run off in the distance away from Wyatt but could not tell what it was.

I would prefer to not describe the scene from that point on to you as I am trying very hard to block it out of my memory.  I called Shain and we took him to the hospital right away where he spent most of the day in surgery.  He has lacerations on 3 of his legs and severe damage to his mouth which will take the longest recovery, but he will be okay.  We go back for a follow up appointment next week to see if any further procedures are needed.

Anybody that knows Shain and I well, knows how much we love this dog.  He is our fur-baby, he is our family. I have wanted a dog my whole life, and at the age of 24 I finally had one of my own.  The night we adopted him I literally cried the whole way home because I was so happy we finally found each other (and being the weirdo I am I also cried thinking about the day I would not have him anymore). He has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me, to us.  Wyatt is my loyal running buddy, snuggle bug and a light in our household that always brings laughter and happiness.  I say that I feel more thankful and blessed than anything right now for many reasons.


1.) He is here.  I am well aware the situation could have been worse and I thank God it was not.

2.) I am thankful that I have friends/family/ co-workers who know this is not “just a dog” to us and for the outpouring of love and prayers.  I have felt a little crazy the last couple days, feeling super on edge,  dealing with my guilt and wondering if people think we are being dramatic over a dog- but we have gotten nothing but love.

3.) I am thankful for a boss and a job that let me flexible and work from home the first couple days of this week, while I made sure he was stable enough to be left alone on his own.

4.) I am thankful for a husband who is nothing short of amazing.  Shain has gotten up at all hours of the night to give Wyatt meds, is constantly checking on him, making special food etc.  It has given me great insight to what an awesome partner he will be like when we have our human babies, not just fur babies 🙂


We also have some other loved ones right now who are struggling with their health, so I ask for the continued prayers for Wyatt’s recovery and our family as well.  Kinda of feel like the Devil is trying to bring us down right now, but we won’t let that happen.

Last week I felt like life was flying by me and I was thankful to have a moment of peace.  It’s funny how that changes when a loved one is sick or we experience loss.  It is as if the crazy life pace literally comes to a screeching halt and you are just praying for the days to go by faster so that things can get better and easier.  I think it is because in those moments, the things that are truly important take precedent and everything else just seems silly. Because it is.  Family, friends & love are everything.

Stay BLESSED in the mess.