Share the Love: Top Shelf Organizing

Top Shelf Organizing helps bring all of your organizational goals to life and even some you might not have known you had. Jenna Nelson is the brains and real life person behind it all! From services for your home, to staging homes to sell, unpacking after a move, and a little bit of everything in between, Jenna is your girl (and mine)!

I’ve known Jenna for as long as I can remember and even before then! She’s been a family friend and is like a sister to me. Jenna is currently based out of Tennessee, but also offers remote services!

When we first moved into our home, I was in full nesting mode and wanted to get everything organized and put away ASAP! Not only was our little one a few shorts months away from making his debut, but we were hosting both of our families. Needless to say, I was in full on go mode. This is where Jenna was a serious God send in helping me conquer my what seemed like a huge a daunting task. Her guidance and expertise were so helpful to me so I didn’t just run out and buy everything that looked good!

Jenna had me send her lots of pictures, dimensions, and what I was wanting to do with the spaces. From there we talked about how my husband and I live and how we wanted to be able to make the space work for us. All of the bins and containers in the world are no good, no matter how pretty they look, if they don’t help make the space functional!

One of the best parts of working with Jenna is that she genuinely cared that we were happy with the outcome. It wasn’t and never is her just trying to get you to buy buy buy! In the end, we did end up getting a few of the products she recommended, but I honestly can’t imagine our home without them now! They help us make the most of the spaces they’re in and give us systems for easy organization!

Our sink caddy helps keep clutter off of the counters. I love that the rack allows things like brushes and sponges to dry as well! https://rstyle.me/+6ZP5yeQejP0NVrH-X3sRJw

We have these sink organizers under all three of our sinks; kitchen and both bathrooms! Neither bathroom is huge, so making the most of the space was a must! These allow us to take advantage of every last inch. https://rstyle.me/+QQxwScV9L7RDEnW-sqMYnw

We cook a ton in our house; everything from good old midwestern comfort food to Indian inspired and a little of everything in between. This means, we have so many different kinds of spices and seasonings! This spice stack organizer helps us keep them all in one place and not having to dig in the cabinet trying to find them. We paired them with these glass spice jars since we like being able to reuse them since we buy from bulk bins! Spice stack: https://rstyle.me/+aJWtk103VLz5av0mjGc8-A Spice jars: https://rstyle.me/+CWH0a64m0G6Ou6CBKJet8A

You can get in touch with Jenna and see her amazing work on her website: https://topshelforganizing.com or via her email jenna@topshelforganizing.com

Follow along with her and the jobs she’s worked and working on https://www.instagram.com/topshelforganizing/ or on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/tntopshelforganizing/

When God Knows What You Never Will

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

To say that God has been fighting so fiercely for me in this season of life I’ve found myself in is an understatement. There have been days when the choices and actions of others have seemed like a weight too heavy to bear and it took everything in me to get up and do the things I needed to do that were going to be best for me and Kaz in the long run.

You see, God never promises us an easy life free from suffering or the trials of this world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are told in John 16:33 “I have said these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Somedays I still struggle to fully let go and trust in the plan God already has for my life. It is so easy to get caught up in the world and what others say when it comes to how we should feel, act, and/or behave. It’s easy to get caught up in the lies and to be tempted by the path that does everything but bring glory to God and only draws us farther away from Him.

Right now, very few people would blame me for going down that path. While it may seem like a much easier option and one that offers me a momentary feeling of justice or satisfaction, at the end of the day those actions or words said don’t reflect anyone else but me and who I am in Christ (as cheesy as that sounds).

Everyday is a struggle to remind myself that I am a daughter of the Lord most high. Who He tells me I am will always count for more than what anyone else could ever say about me. In Him I am loved, cherished, redeemed, created in His perfect image. The same God that created Heaven, earth, and the mountains created me.

While I don’t understand now why this trial is in God’s plan for my life, I take comfort in knowing that He sees the things I can’t. He hears the conversations I never will. He knows everything about what’s going on, and I don’t. I take comfort in know that God is using all the things (the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad) to work together for my good.

Things of this world fail me on a daily basis, but I rest assured that God never will!

XOXO,
Leah

Valentine’s Day Books for Your Little One

Ever since I was little, I remember having access to as many books as I wanted! My parents instilled the importance and a love of reading, and my husband and I are hoping to pass this on to Kaz.

At any given time, we probably have at least fifteen books out and on rotation; everything from silly ones that rhyme to touch and feel.

When Kaz was born, we didn’t set out saying we were going to buy tons of seasonal and holiday themed books, but here we are!

New Year, Best You Giveaway

Happy Monday and Happy New Year, y’all!

2020 was the year of figuring out how to do it all from home; work, school, Zoom, home workouts, etc.

It was a year that really showed just how strong we are and revealed exactly what we’re made of. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but then again, no year ever is.

It was filled with new trials and obstacles to overcome that we never even thought would be in our path, but if you’re reading this, you made it to the other side of 2020!

That deserves to be celebrated for the accomplishment it truly is!

To kick of and celebrate the start of a new year, I put together this giveaway with some of my favorite things that I’m bringing into 2021 from 2020!

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: (1) three month subscription to Beachbody on Demand, (1) 32 oz water bottle, (1) daily gratitude/joy journal, and (1) $25 Target gift card!

Head in over to my Instagram (@alongftride) to see how you can enter!

XOXO,
Leah

United Monogram Pieces to Put You in the Holiday Spirit

Happy Wednesday, ya’ll! We are officially halfway through the week, and another day closer to the weekend!

If you’re like me, you love being comfy and cozy during the holiday season but also want to look good and put together.

I’ve been buying pieces from United Monogram for about a year now, and let me just tell you I did a little happy dance when they dropped their Holiday Collection!

It’s full of the things we know and associate with the holidays; snow, snowmen, candy canes, cute little red trucks, and all the stops! Did I mention they added glitter designs this year too?? *insert heart eye emoji here*

Today, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pieces from this collection that are giving me all the merry and bright and festive vibes! These are great “treat your self” pieces or great gifts to give to someone else! Did I mention that they’re all on sale too?!

What piece(s) will you be rocking this holiday season?

XOXO,
Leah

Your Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

These cooler temps and all things holiday season have really been getting me in a festive mood!

Growing up, my mom’s homemade hot chocolate mix was always something I looked forward to. Now that I have a home of my own, I love finding ways to incorporate that tradition into my little family!

This year, we opted to add out hot chocolate to our coffee bar! From now until the end of winter, if you stop by we’ll have all the options for your hot chocolate drinking pleasure!

Every good hot chocolate bar starts with good hot chocolate! Three of my favorites from Target are the Swiss Miss packets, Good & Gather Double Hot Chocolate, and since I’m slightly lactose intolerant, I always like to have a dairy free option on hand like this Swiss Miss Non-Dairy mix!

In my mind, the perfect cup of hot chocolate has lots of marshmallows. The more the better! I found these vanilla star and Christmas tree shaped ones along with the peppermint flavored ones on the Holiday section at my local Target. Both are by Wondershop and so yummy! I may have eaten a few of the peppermint ones just by themselves…

Before I found the peppermint marshmallows, I used to sometimes stir my hot chocolate with a candy cane to get that pepperminty flavor. Something about the chocolate and mint combination just gets me! This crushed peppermint shaker is perfect and so cute to sprinkle on top of a peak of whipped cream.

If you’re looking to have single serve and individually wrapped options on hand, these Hot Cocoa Stir Spoons from Wondershop are perfect for you! I picked up a few for my hot chocolate bar as well as to give along with gifts at Christmas!

What are you hot chocolate must haves?

XOXO,
Leah

Holiday Giveaway

Happy Monday, y’all!

2020 sure has been a year for the history books, and I’m pretty sure none of us could have even dreamed that this year would turn out like it has.

With all of the chaos and uncertainty, I’ve been trying to focus more on the moments of joy in my everyday life and on actively choosing joy! It can be found in something as small as a hot cup of coffee or something as big as a new home. The ways joy can show up are endless!

In honor of the holiday season and hoping to spread a little joy to someone, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway over on my Instagram (https://instagram.com/alongftride?r=nametag)!

Entering is super simple too!! All you have to do is give me a follow over on Instagram and like and comment on all of my posts until this Saturday (11/21). You also get a bonus entry if you subscribe to my blog!

The winner will be announced on my Instagram in stories and on the original post with the winner getting a gift card to my favorite monogram store (United Monograms) a Rae Dunn mug, and a Target gift card to buy something to fill your new mug with!

XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Reintegration

When most people think of a solider coming back from a deployment, they think of the videos and pictures they’ve seen on social media or talked about on the news. A person in uniform, kids to be surprised, and lots of tears.

Don’t get me wrong, those always bring a smile to my face and the waterworks of pure happiness that those families are finally reunited after being apart, but what you rarely see is what happens after that initial high.

When it was getting close to my husband coming home from his deployment I did all of the things I thought I was supposed to do; decorate, make ‘Welcome Home’ signs, clean the house from top to bottom, stock the fridge and cupboards with all his favorite foods and drinks, buy a new outfit, etc.

Needless to say, I did all the things. In the end though, while they were nice, they didn’t really help prepare us for reintegrating my husband back into our family after being gone for so long and during a global pandemic.

For starters, our almost seven month old was now almost fourteen months old and getting into all of the things. Kaz and I had gotten into our groove of living life just us and Ailey. We had certain ways of doing things and a schedule (or as much as you can have with a toddler).

When my husband got back, we had a few weeks of him not going to work and being home with us. The first few days I think we were all riding on clouds of adrenaline and pure bliss from being reunited. When the dust settled (like it always does), we found ourselves stumbling. If you know me you know that I get set in my ways, I like routine, and knowing what to expect.

With all of the trainings, schools, deployments, etc., over the years, I’ve had to learn how to be pretty self reliant. This deployment was no different, and I had gotten so used to doing everything by myself. If I didn’t do something, it wasn’t getting done. With my husband being home, it was harder than I thought it’d be to let some of those go and fully accept that I didn’t have to be a one woman show anymore.

Now almost two months post deployment, I’d be lying if i said we weren’t still trying to figure it out. Here we are, just doing the best we can for ourselves and our little family.

It’s one heck of a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

XOXO,
Leah

Photography by: Allison Vrhovac

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Happy Thursday, ya’ll!

If you’re reading this, you can already guess from the title, what today is; It’s our sweet baby boy’s first birthday! One whole year ago on July 9th, this sweet boy made his debut and has stolen our hearts a little more each day!

This first year, we decided to not share a ton about our little babe just out of wanting to be overly cautious while we got the hang of this whole parenting thing along with navigating this Army life of ours.

While this is certainly not the way I had always imagined a first birthday would be (global pandemic, hundreds of miles away from family, deployment…) I wouldn’t change a thing.

As crazy as that sounds, this last year has stretched and challenged both me and my husband in ways we never thought possible. I didn’t even know growth in the ways we have was real. Don’t get me wrong though , we’re still just winging this whole parenting thing and doing the best we can. We are by no means experts nor will we ever be!

There is something so incredibly beautiful in all of this though.

Our sweet baby has had his daddy gone more than he’s been home. He’s lived (and still living) through a global pandemic. We stayed with Grandma and Pa for several months. 

He is silly and so expressive! He loves his Ailey girl and giving her pats. Reading stories and singing songs are his favorite things to do. He has ten teeth and knows how to sign and say different words. He crawls around the house like nobody’s business, and walking isn’t too far off! He has been so incredibly sweet and patient with his mama while she’s navigated this (temporary) single parenting gig. We really did luck out!

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet boy! If you remember nothing else I say to you, I hope you’ll always remember this; You are kind. You are smart. You are strong. Mama and daddy (and Ailey) love you!

Hi world, I’m Kaz!

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XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Month of the Military Child

Happy Monday, y’all!

Did you know that April is the official Month of the Military Child? This is the month we recognize and celebrate the strength, bravery, flexibility, resiliency, and sacrifice that the littlest members of military families make everyday.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to try to expand our family, we knew that our little one would have a wildly different life than either of us did growing up.

In Baby K’s first year of life, his daddy will have been gone more than he’s been home. Heck, my husband was even gone for training over my due date!

While he doesn’t know life any other way, my husband and I do. We often wonder if this path we’ve picked is the right one or not.

We may not regret a second of this life we live and how far we’ve come, but that little bit of guilt is always there.

For our sweet baby it means a lot of confusion as to why we sometimes only talk to and see daddy through a screen. It means crying out for him in the middle of the night and him never coming. It means seeing a whole lot of mama and always looking for daddy.

As he gets older, it will mean having to say goodbye to friends more often than if we weren’t part of the military world. It will mean his daddy will have missed being there in person for major milestones like crawling, first words, and maybe even walking and first days of schools.

We are not the first family to face a deployment, and we certainly are not the last. There will be many more times where duty will take daddy away.

Our little boy is so kind and loving. He is made of tough stuff. He is resilient and flexible beyond belief. He is sacrificing more than he even knows while his daddy is away.

Today and every day, I am in awe of this military child of mine!

XOXO,
Leah