Another Wedding Wednesday

So here we are, 51 days until THE day and I feel like there is still so much to do! At the same time, I feel like things are coming together nicely. :)

On Valentine’s Day, Chris and I drove to the venue for one of their open house events. We were able to sit down with one of the staff members and get some questions answered as well as see some of the new items they’ve added to their inventory of decorations. They had some vendors there so we also got to visit with our florist and caterer. Our caterer had some samples set out so Chris was finally able to try some of their food (he didn’t come out to the other open house I attended that they were at) which is always DELICIOUS! It had been quite a while since I had been out to the venue but it reminded me how much I love it and made me so excited again to spend our special day there.

We did run into a minor issue recently with our rehearsal dinner location. And by minor I mean I went into full  panic mode in the middle of the work day when I found news story that the restaurant that we had booked was CLOSING a month BEFORE our wedding!! After freaking out for a little bit I frantically started emailing some other places. While we were in Des Moines on v-day, we stopped at a couple of places to see the space we could reserve and I think we found an option that we’ll both be happy with. Crisis averted!!

Now to the to-do list!

Wedding checklist – completed: 
Ceremony & Reception Venue
Booked photographer
Wedding colors
Wedding party is set
Caterer – menu is set!
Wedding dress – first fitting is done!
Bridesmaids dresses
Decided on my somethings old, new, borrowed and blue!
Picked out suits and ties for Chris, my dad and the groomsmen (Still need to pick out shoes)
Booked DJ
Booked videographer
Booked florist – flowers finalized
Save the dates sent
Invites ordered – should be going out this week!
Hotel block set up
Rehearsal dinner – need to finalize details with the NEW venue
MoB and MoG dresses purchased
Ring bearer found a suit
Flower girl dress ordered
Make-up and hair trials scheduled
Got our wedding bands!!

To-do (at least my next set of to-do’s):
Find shuttle vendor
Do second fitting on my gown
Pick out gifts for the wedding party and parents
Find outfits for my showers and bachelorette party!
Pick out favors
Finish welcome bags

I LOVE seeing that completed list growing!! :)

The Self-Destructing Book

I first heard about James Patterson and his self-destructing book, Private Vegas, earlier this week through an article on Mashable. I was immediately intrigued and thought that it was a very original, fun idea as well as some great marketing! I immediately wanted to figure out how to get one of the 1,000 free copies and take part in this campaign.

Truthfully, I haven’t read very many of Patterson’s books but my fiancé and my mom have read a ton of them. I know his books are very exciting and typically can be quick reads so I thought, maybe there’s a chance that I could get through the book in 24 hours. That is, if I didn’t have a ton of time stolen! – we’ll come back to that.


Getting the access code for my book was a challenge in itself. At the top of the hour (but not every hour over the 5 days they are releasing codes) a specific number of codes will be released. You had to be ready at that exact time because the codes went FAST! If you got to the next step, a bunch of random codes would flash on the screen and you had to pick one – which may or may not have been valid. I tried three times on Wednesday to get a code and got the “mission unaccomplished” message every time. Then on Thursday afternoon Nakia (my co-worker) asked if I had gotten a code and how it worked. When I went to the website, it said 15 codes would be released in 11 seconds! Perfect timing to show her the disappointing message I assumed I would get again. NOT THIS TIME! I received my code and a message that it would be destroyed in 6 hours if I didn’t activate my book. Of course, this was at 2 so I had to anxiously wait a few hours until I could get home.

I quickly went home at the end of the day, did my workout, had dinner, and curled up on the couch to start reading. When I saw how many page there were (321) I was convinced that I would never get through the whole thing. That’s a lot to get through in a short amount of time, especially since I knew I had to work today. Oh and there was that little bit about people sabotaging your book and stealing time. Anyone can go to the to “sabotage” someone by just clicking a single button. One click would steal 15 MINUTES! As you read you could see your progress at the top of the screen next to your timer. It would flash red and show you ever time someone lost time, including yourself. Every time I saw my timer speed up my heart sank a little. It would throw me off for a few minutes and I just had to keep telling myself to get my head back into the pages.

Showing my status

Showing my status

Someone getting time stolen

Someone getting time stolen

A couple of other neat features they included were once you turned the page there was no going back, the page was instantly destroyed. They would throw in animations that tied into the story every now and then. For example, there was a part where a woman was murdered and blood spatter flew across the page when I went to turn it. Also, at large section breaks, I was asked how I was feeling on a scale of nervousness/anxiety. I’m anxious to see if anything gets released with that data or how they may change future experiences based on the information (occupational hazard!).

A little after 1 am I did finish the book and after I turned the last page, the image exploded on my screen and my book was destroyed. Book 248 – completed. It was a fun and stressful (in a good way) experience and I would definitely be interested in participating in more  campaigns like this. It made the story come to life and introduced a new way of interacting with the book rather than just hitting Barnes & Noble to grab a copy or downloading it months later on my iPad when I got around to it.

My completed profile with destroyed book

My completed profile with destroyed book

I don’t want to talk about the story itself because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who wants to read it. There are still codes being released if you want to experience the self-destructing book for yourself. And if that doesn’t work out, the hardback versions will be out on Monday. :)


One last 2014 Christmas & PiYo

Over the weekend, we had out last Christmas celebration of the year which was with Chris’ extended family (Grammie, aunts and uncles and all of his cousins on his Mom’s side of the family). We all meet at Grammie’s house, which is about 2.5 hours from Sioux City so we all end up staying the night there or down the road on Chris’ aunt and uncle’s farm. We had so much fun playing games, eating LOTS of food, having a little gift exchange and just relaxing. This is usually the one time of year we all get together so it’s always fun to catch up with everyone. Luckily, we’ll be seeing everyone before next Christmas because we have two wedding this spring! Ours in April and Chris’ cousin’s in May :)

Changing topics completely – I ordered PiYo on Friday! After hearing about this program, I could not wait to try it. Now I’m so anxious to get started and see what kind of results I can get. I’m planning on doing the 60-day program completely (per my 2015 goal :) ) and really hoping that I can stick to it. I’m thinking about pairing it with the 21 Day Fix eating plan, that I already have and have done before. I think this could be the start of a whole new me (well a me that’s in better shape at least!). If you’re interested in any Beachbody programs let me know, I have an awesome coach who is super supportive and I know she would love to help you reach your fitness goals too and answer any questions you have about the programs.

Sorry for the random post. Happy Monday!!

2015 Goals


This year I decided I didn’t want to make resolutions, I wanted to set goals. I know it sounds like the same thing but I feel like it’s a mental change. In my head, I looked at my resolutions as trying to fix something negative in my life while goals are working toward something positive. That’s how I’m looking at it to give myself motivation at least. :)

So here they are, my 2015 goals!

#1 Get into better shape

Stereotypical? Yes. Necessary? YES! I’ve been talking about it for a long time but now is the time I’m going to make a change. It’s not just about losing weight. It’s about feeling better about myself . This goal includes some scale and non-scale pieces:

a) Lose 30-40 pounds – I know this isn’t going to happen overnight so I’m going to celebrate each pound I lose and say goodbye to it forever.

b) Complete a Beachbody program – I purchased the 21 Day Fix over the summer and did well on the meal plan but not the workouts and I’m hoping to buy Piyo this month. Both of these programs are great and I think they can help me reach my goals if I keep at them. I have a great friend who is my Beachbody coach (Yay Mal!!) who I know will help me stay accountable on this one.

c) Wear a bikini – This will be the ultimate test of feeling comfortable in my own skin again. It’ll happen in stages, I’m sure, from wearing a smaller size pair of jeans to a t-shirt that hugs my mid-section without needing a cardigan. It’s the little things that are going to make a huge difference.

d) Ride every mile of RAGBRAI – I rode every day of the week long ride two years ago but not quite every mile so that’s my goal this year (every mile not including the Karras loop that is).

"because it's about time I become the best me I can be"

#2 Finish 3 quilts

I’ve wanted to take up quilting for a while now and Chris’ mom got me a sewing machine for Christmas so I could start. I bought my first pattern and some fabric for my first quilt and I can’t wait to get started! I know it’s going to be a process learning my new machine, re-learning to sew (haven’t touched a sewing machine since high school!), learning how to quilt – lots to learn! – so I feel like 3 is a good goal for year 1 :)

fat quarters and quilt pattern

Fabric for my first quilting project!

#3 Grow my Jamberry business

I wrote earlier this week about becoming an Independent Consultant for Jamberry Nails and it has been a wonderful experience so far! I want to work on growing my business this year and share Jamberry Nails with other people.

Jamberry - ask me why I love my job

#4 Launch my dog treat business

I’ve been talking about this for a couple of years now but I feel like this is the time, I want to launch my dog treat business in 2015! I’m hoping that I can create my website, possibly get a spot at the local farmer’s market, and start selling my treats :) It’s a dream to someday have a store front but let’s take this one step at a time!

Christmas tin of dog treats

Treats I made for Christmas gifts

#5 Read (at least) 12 books

I love reading and every year I have intentions of reading a ton of books but throughout the year I lose focus, get wrapped up in too many tv shows, can’t decide what to read, excuses, excuses, excuses. If you haven’t been able to tell so far, my goals are all about doing things for myself, making myself a happier person (which in turn will make me a better partner, friend, co-worker, sister, daughter…) so I want to focus on reading more because it’s something that I enjoy. 12 books isn’t a huge number, one a month – totally do able. Maybe I’ll even try to get involved in a book club (or start one!).

2015 reading challenge

Tracking my books through

#6 Blog more consistently

It’s always a goal and always one that I fail at but if I’m going to going to do all of the fun things above I better be talking about it! I love spending time putting my thoughts out there for the blog (however random and inarticulate) and I hope that people enjoy reading them too! If I can do this, I’d love to take on the task of finding a new WordPress theme and self-host my blog. Maybe a 2016 goal…

repeat after me: "I can do this"

There it is, a list of my top goals for 2015 (sorry for the lengthy post). I’ve been nervous about putting everything out there for people to see because it makes it real. But maybe that’s just what I need. Hopefully this will keep me accountable, help me reach my goals.

All of these are of course in addition to finishing wedding planning, marrying the love of my life in April, spending time with family and friends, and working at my full-time job. It’s going to be a busy, crazy, exciting, memorable year and I can’t wait to experience it :)

Did you set any resolutions/goals for the new year? 

Wednesday Wedding Update

On January 1 Chris and I set our wedding date (April 11, 2015!) and I remember feeling that it was SO FAR AWAY. Sitting here on December 31 I can’t help but think about how FAST this year has gone. Between wedding planning, moving, starting a new job, and traveling for vacations, family get togethers, and weddings of family and friends this year has just flown by. So here we are, 100 days until we are supposed to walk to the aisle – slightly panicked and worried that there is still so much to do – so excited for 2015 to begin :)

Wedding checklist – completed: 
Ceremony & Reception Venue
Booked photographer
Wedding colors
Wedding party is set
Caterer (still need to set the menu but they are booked)
Wedding dress
Bridesmaids dresses
Decided on my somethings old, new, borrowed and blue!
Picked out suits for Chris, my dad and the groomsmen (Still need to pick out shoes, ties, and shirts)
Booked DJ
Booked videographer
Booked florist
Save the dates sent
Invites ordered
Hotel block set up
Rehearsal dinner venue booked (still need to set the menu with Chris’ mom)

To-do (at least my next set of to-do’s):
Find a flower girl dress
Start alterations on my dress
Find shuttle vendor
Help my mom and Chris’ mom find their dresses

2014 was a great year but I have a feeling that 2015 will be the best yet! Happy New Year everyone!!

Chris & Jess

Another engagement photo – I couldn’t help myself!

Jamberry Nails

As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life currently, I’ve decided to embark on a new adventure – I recently became an Independent Consultant for Jamberry Nails!

Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant

What is Jamberry Nails you ask? They’re heat-activated vinyl nail wraps (made in the USA) without any harsh chemicals. They last up to 2 weeks on fingernails and 6 weeks on toenails!

My sorority sister introduced me to Jamberry Nails earlier this year when she became a consultant herself. Since then, I’ve attended a few online parties and placed multiple orders. I LOVE the way the wraps look on my fingernails. I’ve never liked painting my nails because it never fails that they smudge or chip right away and then look awful until I take all of the polish off. I also have had the horrible habit of biting my nails since I was little but the wraps have been great at helping end that.

Jamberry Nails collage

A few of my “jamicures”!

I’m so excited to grow my Jamberry business and share this awesome product with others. Check out my website and/or like my Facebook page to learn more about Jamberry Nails and keep up to date on products and specials.

Who needs politics? Movie night!

Chris and I didn’t feel like watching the political coverage last night so we decided to have a movie night instead :)

Now before anyone starts freaking out, we understand the importance of being informed, voting, etc. but by the time the votes are cast we’ve had enough. We’re living in a region where the news covers three, yes THREE, states worth of political results. It’s just a lot to sit through in one night, especially after we have been POUNDED with political ads for over a year.

Anyway… we’ve wanted to watch The Fault in Our Stars since it came out and we finally got around to it last night. The Fault in Our Stars was adapted from John Green’s novel, which I read last year. Both the book and the movie have been out long enough now that I hope I’m not ruining anything but it is just such an emotional story. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this story takes the characters and makes them relatable and really makes the reader/viewer feel what they are feeling. It’s a love story and a tragedy at the same time that will make you laugh and cry throughout the entire thing.

Spoiler alert below for anyone that doesn’t know the story! 

I cried through the entire last 45 minutes of the movie but I absolutely love the eulogy scene in the “literal heart of Jesus”. What Hazel says about Gus giving them their own infinity is so moving and so true. You don’t have to impact the world to make a difference or be special. You can have a lasting effect on just one person and you’re life can be worth something more than you could ever imagine.

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Poster

I would definitely recommend this book and movie to someone looking for an emotional, thought-provoking story.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Read any good books? 

Engagement Photos

Last Thursday, Chris and I FINALLY got around to getting our engagement photos done. I know we’ve been engaged for 10 months but it took so long for a couple of reasons: 1. with everything else going on this summer there’s no way we would have found the time to get them shot and not have been completely stressed and/or exhausted to make it worth it and 2. since we’re getting married in the spring we wanted to get some photos done in the fall.  Fall is both of our favorite season and it worked out perfectly that this was the first time we were able to make it work.

Since we’re not getting married in Sioux City we decided to take our engagement photos here. I did a little research on local photographers and let Chris decide between the ones that I liked. We ended up using Shane Monahan, who was great to work with. Neither of us had met Shane before we did our photos but he made it fun and had some great ideas for places to shoot. Turns out Chris went to high school with Shane’s wife – Sioux City, the land of 3 degrees of separation. I swear, everyone knows everyone else in some way or another! haha I digress…

Shane turned our photos are SO FAST we got them the next day. I love how they turned out and would definitely recommend Shane Monahan Photography to others.

Here are just a few of my favorites – I love them all so it made it really hard to choose! :)

Chris & Jess Chris & Jess Jess & Chris Chris & Jess Chris & Jess Chris & Jess

 All photos credited to Shane Monahan at Shane Monahan Photography

We bought a house!

Holy cow, we bought a house! While Chris had gone through the home buying process before this was my first time and, obviously, our first time going through it together. I am so in love with our new home and I can’t wait to fix it up the way that we want it.

We closed on the 15th and it has been a whirlwind since we left the bank – driving to Des Moines, loading the giant truck, driving back to Sioux City, unloading, unpacking, going back to DSM this past weekend to paint the living room to get that house ready to sell, back to Sioux City for work. It has all gone so fast and there is still so much left to do.

For now I’m just looking forward to getting our DSM home listed and getting Chris up here permanently!

I’ll try to get some pictures up soon but I don’t have any good photos of the front of the house yet (sad I know). It’s on my list to do this week! :)

Vacation 2014

Two weekends ago Chris and I took a bit of a vacation hitting the black hills and Colorado in one fell swoop. With as crazy as things have been lately it was definitely needed! We have been looking forward to this trip for a while now and it was great to have a few days without moving and wedding planning. Here a little recap on our travels:


Chris, Patrick, Kayla (Chris’ brother & sister-in-law) and I spent a few days in the Black Hills. We know a couple that owns an Inn out in Hill City, SD so we stayed at their place again this year. We had a great time riding the motorcycles around the hills and through all the towns that were packed with people for Sturgis. The Black Hills are so gorgeous and the energy of everyone there was so exciting. We visited Deadwood, Sturgis, Keystone and Mt. Rushmore and drove through Spearfish Canyon, Custer Parks’ Wildlife Loop and Needles Highway. We put a couple hundred miles on the bike over the course of a couple of days but the pain my butt was in was totally worth it! :)

The four of us at Bridal Veil Falls

The four of us at Bridal Veil Falls

Jess and Chris with a wild donkey

Making friends with the donkeys on Custer Parks’ Wildlife Loop

Traveling through a tunnel on Needles Highway

Needles Highway, so cool!

Patrick and Kayla on the motorcycle

Patrick & Kayla waiting to go through a one lane tunnel

We had a fantastic time and we’re already planning our trip for next year.


After our weekend in the Hills wrapped up, Chris and I grabbed a rental car and headed to Denver. My cousin got married on the 4th and we were so excited to get to celebrate with the happy couple. My parents and sister were already out in Colorado having a blast so we met up with them and the rest of the family in time for a (very) quick nap, change of clothes and headed over to the wedding. Everything was perfect and Andrea was a beautiful bride. One of the most memorable moments of the night was right as my uncle and cousin started to walk down the aisle. The venue had a camera mounted to the building and they stream the wedding for those who can’t be there. Our Oma (grandma) was unable to make the trip and she was watching from her home in Iowa. As they started down the aisle, they both turned and waved at her. It was at that moment I could hear my whole family lose it and we were all crying through the rest of the ceremony.

Of course I was horrible and didn’t take any photos all night long but I was able to grab  few from my sister for this post.

Bride & Groom walking down the aisle

The new Mr. & Mrs.!

Chris & Jess at wedding reception

Chris & I at the reception

Tuesday we were able to spend a little time exploring before Chris, Stacy and I headed to the airport to catch a flight back to Sioux City (and then the two of them drove back to Des Moines).


The view from near Buffalo Bill’s grave

Chris & his giant peanut butter cup

Chris & his giant peanut butter cup

It was a lot of activity and traveling packed into a short amount of time but it was a very memorable trip and it’s left me looking forward to the next one… when ever that may be!

Have you taken any exciting trips this summer? 
Any vacations you are looking forward to?