Merry Christmas!!

Today’s post is short and sweet in honor of soaking up as much quality time as we all can this time of year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I can tell y’all how thankful I am for each and everyone of you that has come along for the ride with me and supported me on this new adventure! It really does mean the world to me!

I hope your holiday season is merry and bright and that you are surrounded by so much love and light as 2018 comes to a close!

XOXO,

Leah

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My #1 Packing Hack

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; my whole little family gets to travel to our home state for the holidays!! To say we’re excited is an understatement, and I may or may not have a countdown going! Someone once said that “there’s no place like home for the holidays”, and they could not be more spot on.

In anticipation of all the traveling happening around this time of year, I’m sharing my number one hack when it comes to packing! So, weather you’re going for a long trip or just overnight getaway, your bag(s) will be all set to go!

With my husband being in the Army, I’ve mastered the art of rolling clothes. Everytime he goes away for training, our living room floor turns into a clothes rolling station! Not only does this help us save so much room in our suitcase, but I’ve also noticed that our clothes don’t seem to wrinkle quite as much this way which is a definite plus! I don’t know about you, but I’ll do anything I can to not have to iron something.

For things like shirts and sweaters, you’ll start with it laid out on a flat surface.

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Next, you’ll fold the bottom of the shirt until you have a band that reaches about the middle of the shirt. I’ve really learned that this is a trial and error step since the thickness of tops varies, but halfway seems to work with most!

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Fold the sides in about halfway, and then start rolling from the top of the shirt down towards the folded part.

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Once you get to the top of the folded part of the shirt, you’ll stop rolling and unfold the bottom of the shirt so it is now wrapped around the rest of it. This will leave you with a nice and compact shirt. It’s also nice because, if your bag or suitcase is deep enough, you can stand things up so they’re easy to tell apart when you go to get dressed!

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Even our socks get rolled up! With Ailey constantly wanting to “help” us pack, our socks can sometimes get unmatched or one will go missing altogether, but with them rolled up we never have to worry about only being able to find one!

For these, you’ll just lay one sock on top of the other but slightly lower.

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Then, you’ll start rolling from the toes of the socks.

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Once you get to the top of the first sock, fold the top of the second sock over the roll!

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What’s your tried and true hack for packing for a trip? Do you use the rolling method too? Let me know down below!

To follow along with our road trip and adventures back home in the snow, follow me on Instagram at @alongftride!

XOXO,
Leah

Counting My Blessings From 2018

As the days keep winding down until Christmas and the New Year, I’ve been thinking a lot more about 2018. It feels like the year flew by, but looking back there was actually so much packed into this one year!

My husband and I celebrated one year of marriage. We’ve worked to make our house feel more like a home, and we even go to host our first guests! We spent quite a bit of time apart, but we also had a lot of amazing moments together. I finally embarked on this blogging journey, and I could not be more grateful for every single one of you that reads my posts!

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Why put off until tomorrow what you could start today? Every day is really the best day to start working towards the future and best version of yourself that you can be! It’s not always about achieving the big things all at once, but also the building blocks that make them up.

As I sit and re-read through my journal where I write down three things that brought me joy each day or that I’m thankful for my heart is feeling so incredibly full, and I just have to share! In honor of the twenty-two days left of 2018, here are twenty-two things from the past year that I am so incredibly grateful for!

1. My wonderful husband.

2. Being wrapped up in love from family even though we’re hundreds of miles away.

3. My sweet Aussie pup and the absolute JOY she is in our lives.

4. One year of marriage in the books and all of the lessons learned along the way.

5. This house that we’re making a home out of. We may not own it, but it is just right for us. I definitely agree that love grows best in little houses like ours.

6. Good friends that have become family.

7. Lazy weekends at home with no one to see and nowhere to be,

8. Getting to explore this new state that we live in.

9. Date nights with my love.

10. Our cozy bed that we get to snuggle up in at the end of the day.

11. Coffee, all of the coffee.

12. Having my family a phone call, text, or FaceTime away. I’ve gotten home sick more times that I’d like to admit this past year away, but having a phone to connect helps make it seem not quite as bad.

13. Food in the fridge and pantry, lights, heat/air conditioning, and running water. I’m really trying to be better when it comes to appreciating these things that not everyone has access to!

14. Good health, both mine and my husbands.

15. The Army. As much as I hate it sometimes, it is not lost on me just how much my husband’s job provides for us. I will always be thankful for that aspect of it!

16. My job that allows me to work from where there is Wi-Fi.

17. Having money in our bank accounts. It truly is a blessing to have a safety net, especially when unexpected things come up.

18. All of the lessons that we’ve learned and have grown from in 2018.

19. Seeing just how far we’ve come this year. Looking every day, it didn’t seem like we were getting much closer to the big things we want to achieve. Now looking back over the months, it’s crazy to see just how far we really have come!

20. Realizing that I am capable of handling much more than I used to think.

21. My God. I know I would not be anywhere near where I am now without Him and His faithfulness in my life. The hardest times seemed a little easier knowing I was never truly alone.

22. This blog (and Instagram). It took a leap of faith, but I am so incredibly thankful for this chance to share a little bit of myself with y’all!

As the year draws to a close, what are you thankful for from 2018? Take the time and write them all out; the big and small things. I think it is so important to always remember just how lucky we really are and how much we truly do have to be thankful for and just how many moments of joy there really are in our everyday lives. Do we have any of the same things in common? Let me know down below!

XOXO,
Leah

Dealing with Holiday Anxiety

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time of the year where we get to reconnect and catch up with loved ones, eat yummy food, and make great memories, but what happens when it’s also the most stressful time of the year for you?

I’ve struggled with stress and anxiety, especially during the holidays, for as long as I can remember. I was always the girl that needed several hours tucked away in my room after any kind of family gathering to decompress. I still am that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the happy things that the holidays bring. Some of my best and fondest memories involve them, but I think it’s important to talk about the not so great feelings the holidays can bring with them, and most importantly, ways to help make things better.

1. I’m a people pleaser by nature. I don’t like confrontation, so I try to avoid it at all costs. The biggest thing for me around the holidays is knowing and respecting my own boundaries. It can be draining between all of the travel and going from party to party and worrying about what to get people for gifts. The older I get, the more I’m learning that it’s okay to politely say “no” when I need to. It’s not being rude, just me taking care of myself!

2. God bless my sweet husband! When someone has been in your life for a long time, chances are that they’ve picked up on when you’re getting overwhelmed and anxiety is kicking in too. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good support system in place. Having my husband there with me helps tremendously since I have that peace of mind that I have a safe spot to land. If there isn’t someone that is physically there with you, don’t underestimate the power of a quick text exchange! Even having someone to call or text when you need a break can make a big difference!

3. Whoever planned the holiday season to happen right when cold and flu season happen wasn’t planning too well. With that being said, I really try to be mindful of my physical health as well as my mental and emotional. Have you ever noticed how your anxiety seems so much worse when you’re not feeling well? I know I have! This time of year, it’s so important to try and make sure to get enough sleep, eat foods that nourish your body, and stay hydrated to combat all of those illnesses that are going around.

4. If you’re like me and the holidays kick your anxiety up a notch, chances are that you already have a few tricks up your sleeve for when you can only take a few moments to yourself. It’s especially important around the holidays to know which of your coping skills are the most effective for you. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve found a spot away from all of the noise and commotion to take a few good, deeps breaths in. No, it doesn’t magically fix everything, but it does help for the time being. For the times that taking deep breaths doesn’t work, I check in with my husband to.

5. If I got to choose between playing with my niece and nephews over another “what are you doing with your life” talk with adults, I’d choose the little ones all day! At holiday parties, most kids are just thinking about playing and having fun, not having deep conversations about life. Join in on their game and tap into their easy and fun energy! This can also be applied to pets! It’s no secret that petting a cute puppy can help reduce your blood pressure, elevate your mood, and in turn release endorphins.

At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself first! There is nothing selfish or rude about it; it’s just something that needs to happen, and there really is no time like the present! So this Holiday season, remember to be kind to yourself too!

XOXO,
Leah