10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Date nights are one of my favorite things. I am such a quality time girl, and unfortunately, hanging out in groups with a bunch of people doesn’t fill up my quality time tank quite like it should. I’m more of a one on one kinda gal. My dad says I’m high maintenance in the attention category. . . and maybe I am.

As newly weds, we aren’t going to the fanciest restaurant in town to wine and dine, but we do like to do something fun at least once a week – whether that is cooking together, going on a walk, or setting up a legit date night. Today I’m going to share with you a few of my fav budget friendly summer date night ideas!

Hammock Date! 

I’m a huge fan of grabbing my double nested ENO, setting it up by a creek or a river, and snuggling and talking about our day. Or just snuggling and reading a book not saying one word to each other. . .

Picnic in your backyard

OK confession, Pai and I have had many picnics in our backyard because our dining room table was so full of wedding stuff/stuff that needs to go to Goodwill. . . six months into this whole marriage thing. Yup. But cooking dinner together or grabbing takeout and spreading out a picnic blanket in the backyard makes an ordinary meal *romantic*.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights


I always find it suuuper romantic to be out at night under a clear, velvety sky, looking at the scars. Extra points scored if someone thought to bring a yummy drink. Lying all cozy under the stars always leads to great conversations with your lover.

Trip to the Farmer’s Market

We don’t go to the Farmer’s Market enough, but I absolutely love it when I do go! Artisan bread, fresh flowers, herbs, succulents, delicious coffee – what more could you want on a Saturday morning?! Going to the Farmer’s Market with my boo is one of my fav things to do. Plus, I enjoy supporting local farmers.

Snocone Zone

Pai loves ice ceam, I love snocones. There’s a local food truck here that does ahhmazing snocones! First you get your snocone, then they put ice cream on it, then you can pick out a topping (I got pineapple once, and she poured sweet and condensed milk all over that goodness!) It’s pretty delightful. But if slushies aren’t your thing, milkshakes are equally fun.

10 Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

Lake Day!

Recently we went with a group of people on a Sunday afternoon and rented kayaks for a couple hours. I got nice and light pink, was sore for several days after, but had the time of my life! Kayaking, paddle boarding, white water rafting – anything that gets you outside and moving under the summer sun is a great way to connect with your boo.


This is another great date idea where you can invite a lot of people to join in. On a super hot day, grab a tarp, find a hill, suds it down and get your bathing suit on because it’s slip-n-slide time. It is sure to be a hilarious and fun time.

Hot Tub Hot Date Night

OK this one may not be feasible for all. But if you don’t have a hot tub but have a friend with one who doesn’t mind you climbing over their fence to hang out in their hot tub late at night, then this could be a fun and giggly date night. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy a steamy evening with your boo (because hot tubs are steamy.)

Make Your Own Beach

When I see everyone else on the Instagram bummin’ it at the beach, I get kinda jealous. Because I want to be on the beach. But when life doesn’t give you a beach, make one yourself. Put a beach front image on your TV, the waves sound on your white noise app, lay out the towels on your living room floor. If it’s hot enough in your house and you close your eyes, you can semi-pretend you’re on the beach.


Nothing is more romantic than sitting out by a fire, eating hot dogs, roasting s’mores, and then sleeping on the cold, hard ground. While I’m more a fan of “glamping,” I don’t mind roughin’ it for a night with my boo.

Budget Friendly Summer Date Nights

What is your favorite way to spend a date night? 

If you want a gorgeous necklace for your next date night, enter this giveaway!

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6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage

6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage
Last Saturday, Pai and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary with him camping, me exploring Asheville with my blog bestie, Tiffany, and then a game night with a few friends. I collapsed into bed at 1:30 after a spontaneous trip to a bakery, we said Happy 6 months, and rolled away and went to sleep.

When I thought about how we would celebrate this half a year celebration 6 months ago, this is not what I thought would happen. Likewise, marriage is not everything I thought it would be, and it’s even MORE than I thought it could be. Basically, marriage is awesome, and completely surprised me.

Intimacy is not like the Movies

Let’s just clear this one right away. Now, I knew intimacy would not be like the movies, but I’m quite surprised at how much it is not.

For instance, last night Pai and I were watching Batman v Superman and Clark Kent hopped in the tub with Lois Lane with his clothes on. ALL HIS CLOTHES ON. EVEN HIS SHOES. And he had just been grocery shopping! Pai looked at me and said, “That is definitely the movies.” Uh, yeah. Rather than laughing like Lois Lane, my reaction would be more along the lines of, “Ew, no, you’ve been walking outside with those shoes on, what if you stepped in dog poop! This is my clean bathtub, this is my alone time!”

My Selfishness

They always say marriage is like a mirror. While Pai definitely builds me up, encourages me, and loves me well, I see a lot of flaw in myself. And it’s not because Pai points them out. It’s just his general goodness. He is so selfless, compassionate, and kind. He will work late just so he can help out his employees so they can get home sooner. He teaches me a lot about being available to love on people, and not hiding in the bathroom when it’s socializing time at church. (Sometimes that is 100% me.)

The New Relationships We’ve Formed

So, part of this is more likely because we also switched churches shortly after we got married. One of our favorite things to do is have people over for dinner and game nights. In the past six months we’ve made several new friends who are AWESOME. We wanted to be sure that we weren’t the old married couple who hid out and watched Netflix on their couch every night. We are both relationship people, so we make sure that we make a couple nights a week available for girl time, guy time, and time together with friends.

6 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage

The Sexiness of a Clean Kitchen

I truly underestimated how much of a turn on a clean kitchen is. On the days when I come home from grocery shopping, or a long day at work and I see the dishes loaded in the dishwasher and the counters wiped off, I am overjoyed with gratitude. We attended a Valentine’s Day Brunch back in February at our church and there was a discussion panel on marriage. One of the female pastors said, “It’s the sexiest thing to walk in the kitchen and see my husband bent over a dishwasher.” I didn’t understand then, but boy do I now.

How Much I Enjoy Being a Housewife

Even though I consider myself a strong, Christian feminist, I find that I truly enjoy doing the little things at home. Cooking dinner for my husband and myself is a way I get to serve my husband, and a fun stress relief after work – and when Mr. M loads the dishwasher after dinner, it’s even better. We’ve separated house chores pretty well, too. I consider myself lucky that I have a man who loves to do my least favorite chores and vice versa.

How Awesome my Husband Is 

I obviously already knew how awesome my husband is because I chose to marry him. I’m still not used to saying “husband” and signing my new last name. I still get a little giddy inside every time, because I’m just so dang proud of my husband and am so honored to be a part of his family. I learn so much from Pai every day. I learn so much about him, too. The idiosyncrasies we both have are somewhat hysterical. We are both so particular about certain things, and we’re both just learning to let it be so. I love how Pai is so passionate about whatever he sets his mind to – his most current adventure being gardening. He gets hyper focused and incredibly enthusiastic. He loves me in a way that shows me the love of Jesus. His love for people comes from a source of joy that can only be from an intimate relationship with God. He makes me want to be a better person. And he’s stinkin’ hot, so that’s pretty awesome too. 😉

6 Things That Surprised Me about Marriage


Anti-Valentine’s Day Gone Wrong

hugs and lattes

Happy President’s Day! Happy Snow Day (to me, which is why this post is late because #sleepingin)! Happy Anti-Valentine’s Day!

Here is a little story about how I went to this Anti-Valentine’s Day party and ended up meeting my Valentine. . .

A couple of years ago our college ministry had an anti-Valentine’s Day party full of garlic knots and Lord of the Rings – none of that lovey-dovey stuff. I appreciated the sentiment. I was still miffed over failed pursuits of love in the past year, and was reeling from awkward decisions which defined the first half of my 20th year of life. So I went to this Anti-Valentine’s Day party dressed in black and ready to settle down with a bowl of cheese dip and a 2-liter of Dr Pepper.

In walked this supah handsome guy who dressed nice and always had these amazing, insightful comments during Sunday School and had me saying daaaaaaang. On this particular night, he was rocking a Bill Cosby sweater and a beret. Bold choice.

The confidence he gained from strutting around with a beret must have taken over me and I said, “Heyyy nice to see you!” and went in for this “Christian side-hug” to this stranger/acquaintance with whom I had never even high-fived before. It’s fine. Months of this guy favoriting my hilarious tweets and I thought I knew him well enough to give him a side hug. But he didn’t know I was going in for the side hug. It turned into this awkward interchange of arms bumping into each other and then that awkward back pat. I was mortified. He doesn’t remember. Praise Jesus.

My bestie talked to the beret man with the smooth cocoa butter skin pretty much the whole night while I was occupied by this other guy who just started to our college ministry. This couldn’t be happening. Here was this handsome guy talking to Chels and I was 98% sure he should be talking to me, too, because I was slowly developing this crush but here I was talking to this new guy (no offense, man.)

I had admired beret man for a couple of months but was in no place to date anybody because I was in the pit of bad decisions. But it was like the Anti-Valentine’s Day party opened our eyes, because we both look back and pinpoint this as “the moment.” (It turns out, he was admiring me from afar as well, but he thought I had a boyfriend. Boy, was he wrong. #singleandreadytomingle)

That following week I kept bringing him up to my girlfriends at lunch. I needed to be his friend and then win him over with my charm and before he would know it, we would be in love and get married and have beautiful little biracial babies with eyeballs so big it’ll make those Precious Moments figurines jealous.

But I didn’t have to trap him with my charm, because the next weekend he asked me out of the blue to go to a bonfire with his friends and I said, “HECK YES.” And then a week after that he asked me on a date. And then a week after that he told me he liked me. And then two months after that he asked me to be his girlfriend. and then two months after that he told me he loved me.

This time two years ago I was just driving back to college after a Valentine’s Day night babysitting, having no idea that this handsome guy was going to show up at an anti-Valentine’s Day party in a beret and I was going to find myself giggling, sweating, and chattering idly to cover up all the butterflies he made me feel.

So. . . I’m not saying Anti-Valentine’s Day parties are the places to go to meet the man of your dreams. . . but I’m not saying they aren’t the places to go to meet the man of you dreams. . . oh! the irony.

For another cute post, check this one out.

hugs and lattes

5 Inexpensive Christmas Dates

5InexpensiveChristmas Dates

I LOVE CHRISTMAS. Okay. There I said it. 500 times in this past week. I also love date night. Pai and I set aside every Monday night as “Date Night.” It’s a commitment. We’ve discovered that if we don’t commit one date night a week, then there might be some weeks where we just don’t see each other. I’m a quality time person, so face time – literal face time – is important to me. But I’m a new adult in the working world and Pai’s in grad school, so we don’t have the money to go out every week, so we like to get creative with our dates. I asked Pai if we could have a Christmas themed date every week this month, and being the sweet boyfriend he is, he said yes. Here are some fun, inexpensive dates I’ve come up with to help boost your holiday spirit without breaking the bank!

Trim the Tree

Haven’t put up your tree yet? Invite your honey over and put him to work! Michael Buble’s Christmas albums are the perfect songs to dance to while throwing tinsel on the tree and creating the perfect Christmas atmosphere. Don’t forget to add some mistletoe and hang your stockings with care. 😉

Hot Chocolate and a Christmas Movie

Do you love chocolate? Do you love Christmas? Do you need a relaxing and cozy date? Pull on your fuzzy socks, make some cookies and hot cocoa and settle down with your favorite Christmas movie and your boo thang. This date is guaranteed to give you feelings of good warmth because a) hot chocolate is delicious, b) Christmas movies are cheesy and adorable and c) you inevitably are going to have to cuddle and all that oxytocin makes you love life.

Look at the Lights

The best thing about this date is that it’s virtually free! I say virtually, because you still have to pay for gas. Grab a cup of coffee and turn on some Christmas tunes and drive around to the most beautiful neighborhoods! Bonus points if you rank the houses, or make up your own Christmas Lights Bingo game.

Take Cute Christmas Photos

(see above. Okay. There are a few awkward ones. Jest ye wait.) If you have a DSLR and remote, or self-timer on an iphone, or a sister with a DSLR who is willing to give up an hour of her evening taking goofy pictures of you and your boo, then you’re all set!

Ding-Dong Ditch

Remember that game when we were kids when we would ring people’s doorbells and then run away? Well now you can play it as adults – just a nicer version. Spend an afternoon or evening baking little goodies and leave them on the doorsteps of friends in the area. It’s a great way to give back and spread some love! Maybe leave a little note so they know it’s not poisonous though. . .

Have you gone on any holiday themed dates? Tell me your favorites!!

Feeling Feelings is Important

Inside Out - Feeling Feelings is Important

This photo series is a fond memory of mine. After I saw Inside Out with my mom, we headed over to Toys R Us to buy a birthday present, then got the bright idea to run around the store taking pictures with these bouncy balls, portraying the different feelings.

When Disney Pixar’s Inside Out first came to theatres, my brother called me to let me know that I reminded him the most of Joy. And then a few days later he saw it for the second time and called me back to say he changed his mind. I reminded him of Sadness. Personally, I was a bit offended. I wanted to be Joy! (Mostly because Amy Poehler is the voice of Joy.) But then I saw Inside Out and I understood what he meant. In order to have joy, you have to experience sadness. And that is why feeling feelings is important.

If I am going to be completely honest, I am the type that likes to whine about things that stress me out and frustrate me, but if I am going to have a meltdown, I am the “suffer in silence” type. The only person who regularly hears my meltdowns is my mother; I will call her, sobbing and snotting everywhere, and then I go to Starbucks and buy myself a latte. But even  at that, I try not to call mom. I try not to inconvenience anyone with my tears, because I think that my tears are an inconvenience. It’s not like anyone ever told me this. It’s just my own fear. I think, “If someone sees my cry, they will think I’m being dramatic, weak, or whiny.”  I often convince myself that as a person who wants to be joyful, that I can only show joy and strength.

Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and we have to roll with the punches (blah blah blah, you know all the sayings we say when life gives you lemons) and the easier thing to do is to turn into two people: the first is the, “I am strong and I have this handled” person and the second one is the, “AHHH THE SKY IS FALLING AND MY LIFE IS IN SHAMBLES” and then tears fall like Niagara. At least, this is how I am. Can anyone relate? Feelings are hard.

But feelings are important, and when we share our feelings with others, we allow our friends and family into a deeper level of intimacy. We have gone from surface level, “I am fine all the time” to a place where we allow others to share our burdens and love us better. It is so easy for me to say this, and so hard for me to actually live it out.

A few weeks ago I think I took a step in the right direction towards feeling my feelings. This “season” of life has been particularly tough. I started a new job and that is always stressful, I have moved a total of three times since May, and when I started traveling for work, I had some drama crop in my life that made me look back to high school and be jealous that high school me did not experience drama like this. I was physically exhausted, I was mentally exhausted, and I was emotionally drained. I had just returned from traveling almost three weeks straight and then sat down at the office to catch up on all the office work that needed to be done. Then on that Saturday I got up early in the morning to go to a meeting. On my way home that afternoon, I just started crying out of being overwhelmed and I couldn’t stop. I knew I didn’t want to be alone, so I called my sister. I tried to sound ok on the phone, but by the time I asked her to come over just to sit with me while I got ready for a wedding reception, I broke down in sobs. Ten minutes later I’m standing in front of the mirror, curling my hair (because curling my hair is something nice I can do for myself when I’m feeling sad) ugly crying with my sister sitting right beside me just to listen to me vent. This was the very first time I have willingly invited someone into my sphere of sadness. Yes, sometimes I break down and cry but that is never my intent. Sometimes I have to be coaxed into tears. This time, though, I recognized that I needed to express my sadness, and  I needed someone to sit with me while I expressed it.

Just a little plug: my sister is awesome. She lets me vent, she listens to me cry, and she knows when to just offer a hug or when to offer perspective. She also is silly with me, giggles with me, and makes silly music videos that no one will ever ever see with me. She has reached out to me before when she’s overwhelmed, and has taught me that it is okay to be weak sometimes, and that it is okay to experience emotions, and to lean on other people when we need to experience our emotions.

My sister is the best

Pai and I have been watching a course on relationships. On Monday night we finished the course and the last video was on experiencing emotions. Pai made a joke saying, “Oh this is a good one for you! You experience a lot of emotions!” I took this in a negative way, but as the video went on, I realized that Pai had actually inadvertently complimented me. The counselor in the video was saying, “I used to think anger, shame, sadness, frustration were negative emotions. But in reality, they are just emotions. Whenever someone says, ‘Oh that person is emotional’ I think, ‘Thank God! They are alive!’” Experiencing emotions – whether it is disgust, anger, happiness, fear, or sadness is a part of living life. If we want to enjoy the full range of life, then we have to allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions.

I experience a lot of joy. I am working hard at becoming more positive. But I also am slowly realizing, that in order to have joy, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to cry to other people, and let other people lift you up when you’re too tired (emotionally exhausted) to stand on your own. And once we sit with sadness, we are free to let joy bounce around in us as well.

*Please note that I am not saying if you are clinically depressed, that you should just allow it to take it’s course and *snap* out of it. As someone who studied psychology, I understand and empathize that depression is a chemical, hormonal imbalance. Depression is not a choice. I know that it might be hard to get up in the mornings, or to even “feel” anything. I want you to know that I hurt alongside you, and I genuinely hope that you have a strong support system who understands that depression is an illness, and that you are not cast aside as someone who just needs to get over it. Seek professional care, and know that taking care of yourself is important. If you have days where you need to lay in bed all day, then let someone lay with you. If you need to talk with a counselor, then please let a counselor listen to you. If you are prescribed anti-depressants, that is not something to be ashamed of. Take care of YOU.