Our Nest

Update: 10 Month Old Baby & 27 Year Old Me

WOW! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been able to sit down and write for my OWN blog. I’ve been working a lot (which i’m so happy about), but there hasn’t been much time to come here and be with all of you. I’m so grateful that I have some free time this morning (after getting a chunk of work done) to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life!

First off, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write these past two weeks. As you know if you’ve read my previous blogs, WE JUST BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE! What what!!! We are so thrilled and grateful for everyone who has helped us reach this point in our lives. I’m sitting in my new living room right now and it already feels like home.

My husband and I were talking about how crazy it is that all the rentals we’ve ever moved into took a while to feel like home, but this place just automatically screams our names! I guess that’s the difference between renting and owning…for us anyway.

Some wonderful things happened while I’ve been MIA! My favorite you ask? Well, my sweet little boy turned 10 months old! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I swear the time flys by faster when you are watching someone grow up each and every day. It’s so strange to see him changing little by little, but it’s also a lot of fun too!

Isn’t he just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen in your life? He’s such a good baby too! And i’m not just saying that. He has the sweetest temperament. I just know he’s going to be a great man one day!

Baby Flynn loves bathtime (still), is eating what mommy and daddy eat now (and had his first bites of spaghetti), thinks our dog’s barking is hilarious, can say mamma, dada, and night night very clearly, is pulling up and trying to walk already, and just moved into his new bedroom!

YUUUM! Needless to say, he went straight into the bath after he was finished eating. He’s just like his daddy…pasta is the nectar of the Gods.

I also hit a little milestone in my life. I turned 27 on March 8th which just happened to be moving day! What a fun birthday present for me, right?

I took a shameless birthday selfie and posted it on my instagram. You can follow me @ellenvandever if you want to see more updates from me and my little family!

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Do you notice all the moving crap in the background….yeah…our house is pretty much a mess right now. But it’ll get there. If you know me, you’ll know how very hard it is for me to function properly when things aren’t in their place or organized. Hopefully we can remedy all of that very soon…or I might just lose my mind.

This was my birthday lunch. It’s a little known fact but calories don’t actually count on your birthday! πŸ˜› Not a healthy food in sight…don’t worry…I got right back on my diet once my birthday was over.

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I guess diet isn’t really the word I should be using. Healthy lifestyle is better. πŸ™‚ But honestly, who can live without a little mac and cheese and mashed potatoes every once in a while. I am a Southern girl after all.

I also got some really cute birthday presents to help decorate my home. The shelves went up and the knick knacks came out!

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I just love that sign. I think i’ll do a separate post on what I got for my birthday. My amazing family and friends got me some awesome things and I can’t wait to share them all with you! Everyone seriously hit the nail on the head!

After all the moving…it was time for some self care. I opted for a Freeman avocado and oatmeal mask which is SERIOUSLY AMAZING! I loved the feeling of it and it left my face feeling so soft. I think this is my new favorite face mask. You can get it here if you want to check it out for yourself! I also found the cutest bath bomb you ever did see! Plus, the green tea smell was AMAZING!

I know some of your were curious about what colors we’re painting our walls. How about I give you a little sneak peak? This is baby bird’s play room!

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I took that picture before the paint was dry so it looks a lot less blotchy now. Everyone who goes in that room says that it’s so calming and peaceful. I love light blue- it’s one of my favorite colors.

Speaking of painting…I painted some really cute Moana themed shoes for our real estate agent’s granddaughter last week! I wanted to be able to do something nice for them since they helped us out so much!

What do you think? I’m considering putting them on my Etsy shop!

Maui:

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Moana:

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I’m really happy with how they turned out! I hate to toot my own horn but…toot toot! πŸ˜›

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some more adorable pictures I took this week of sweet baby Flynn!

I just can’t get enough of that kid. He’s literally growing up right before my eyes! Being a mother is truly an amazing gift!

I hold him at night while I’m rocking him to sleep and thank my lucky stars that I’m his mama. ❀

Well, that’s it from me! Now that things have calmed down a bit, i’ll be back to writing on a normal schedule again. Thank you all for sticking with me through this transition!

Questions for you:

  1. Do you like renting or owning better?

2. What paint colors did you pick for your home?

3. What’s your favorite self care item?

Talk to you all soon!

Ellen πŸ™‚

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We Bought A House!

Welcome back to my little corner of the internet! Remember when I said I had an exciting announcement coming up? No…I’m not pregnant. πŸ˜›

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog post…WE BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOME!

This process was a bit of a whirlwind. We started off thinking it would be easy and quickly learned that was not how it was going to work. Luckily, we had the BEST real estate agents in the world!

You can check out Stephanie and Jim here. They weren’t even in our area but helped us out SO much! They went absolutely above and beyond the call of duty and are even throwing us a housewarming party!

Talk about amazing real estate agents, right?!

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We feel so amazingly lucky to have worked with everyone that helped us buy our dream home. There are no words to express how truly grateful we are. Our mortgage team worked day and night to help us and they never stopped even when things got a bit complicated.

Eventually, when all the painting and furniture in is the house, I’ll do a house tour. For now, I want to show you some of the photos I took during the inspection (one of the most nervous times of my life! lol)

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Here are the first pictures of us after we officially bought the house!

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Now, all that’s left to do is pick out paint colors! How do you like our choices? Any guesses as to where they are going in the house?

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More on our new home soon! I can’t wait to give you all a house tour when everything is ready!

Questions for you:

1.) How was your first home buying experience?

2.) Any tips on painting your house? I know not to go with dark colors because it makes the room look smaller.

More updates soon!

Ellen πŸ™‚

 

Favorite Vegan Blueberry Muffins!

I’ve recently been trying a lot of vegan recipes and I am amazed out how great they have tasted! A lot of people hear vegan and are immediately turned off. The truth is, vegan can be delicious! This is especially true when it comes to sweet treats! Check out my favorite vegan blueberry muffins!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar or artificial sweetener

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup oil

1 cup blueberries

Sprinkle of chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients and evenly distribute into 6 muffins tins. Top with chocolate chips if you choose. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked completely through.

And there it is! I made a batch of these the other day and they were gone sooner than I care to admit. Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like them!

Exciting news coming up this weekend!

Ellen πŸ™‚

5 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

I’ve been blogging on and off for years now. I’ve had several blogs and a lot of opportunity to speak my mind. Even though i’ve had one blog or another in the last several years, I still consider myself to be a novice. I know a few tricks of the trade, but I’m still learning. And there are ALWAYS new things to be learned (especially when it comes to being a successful blogger) Sometimes I’ll read other blogger’s articles on how to have successful blogs and I find it really helpful. Sometimes…I find it not so helpful. I didn’t want to write a generic list so I’m speaking from the heart. Here’s 5 things i’ve learned about blogging for other like-minded people who want to grow their blogs.

Β You need to do your own thing

Blogging is EXTREMELY competitive in the sense that there are so many of us trying to share the same recipes and become a go-to for our respective audiences.Β  It can be hard nowadays to get your blog shared with new people. This is why it’s so important to be uniquely you! Everyone is cranking out articles that they think others will want to see. Sure, you want to appeal to your audience, but you don’t want to give up your style and personality in the process. I almost didn’t write this blog because I was worried I’d be contradicting myself. However, I think this will really help a lot of people and it’s something that I’ve found very interesting of late. I’m amazed at how much more successful bloggers are when they stay themselves instead of putting up a front. Let your hair down…be YOU! Who cares what others are doing? Somewhere out there is someone who will like your blog just because you’re an awesomesauce and bloggerific! Ugh…I’m such a dork. πŸ˜›

It makes everything more excitingΒ Β 

Before I started blogging, I would sit on my couch all day doing nothing (I mean…I still do somethings because I’m human). Now, I actively try and get up and do something interesting so that I have something fun to write about and a memory that I’ll love to read about in the future! Now, a trip to the store to pick up discounted cupcake decorations is something fun I can photograph and share with you guys! Now, I can remember exactly what my son is like a 9 months old. I can’t wait to look back on my life and remember everything so clearly. In the meantime, I’m going keep living exciting adventures and writing about how much fun we’re having!

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Blogging helps people

I know this from my own experience. I read a lot of blogs and there have been so many that have helped me through hard times. Not just that, they have been with me through happy times too, and have provided me with a lot of entertainment. Bloggers share their worlds with you and open their hearts to their readers. Sometimes, that can really touch a person and speak to them on a personal level. I’ve been reading some blogs on anxiety and it’s really incredible how much better it makes me feel knowing that I’m not the only one who’s going through those sorts of things. Blogger also helps the blogger! It provides stress release and a way to express yourself. I know, for me, it’s helped me get past a lot of things and feel like my slate has been wiped clean. I love blogging- it’s so therapeutic!

Read one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers here.

It’s a bit of a puzzle

Using the right keywords, tags, and topics…

Writing content that’s perfect for your niche…

Connecting with people in the most efficient way…

SEO…

Looking at stats and figuring out what works and what doesn’t…

These are all things that make up the puzzle of blogging. And you know what?! It’s actually REALLY FUN!

You know sometimes you do a task and afterward you feel really accomplished? That’s how blogging makes me feel. It’s fun to figure out what you guys like to read and seeing where you all come from! It makes me heart happy. ❀ πŸ™‚

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It connects you with some awesome people

There are a few people who have left comments and have followed me on my social media sites. I LOVE getting to chat with those people and seeing more about their lives. Blogging is really a chance to meet new friends and connections that will last a lifetime. Isn’t it amazing that we have a chance to share our lives with the world, and people respond and send their love? I thinks that’s a really incredible thing.

This week’s questions:

  • What do you love/hate about blogging?
  • What’s your niche?
  • How do you connect with other bloggers/readers?

~Ellen πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Recap: Surprise Party, Dream Job, & Baby Turns 9 Months Old

Welcome back, everyone! Glad you have you on my little corner of the internet again. Last week, it felt like nothing interesting happened. However, this week was a WHOLE other experience! I had a lot of fun and had some wonderful things happen to me!

Where to start? How about here: I GOT MY DREAM JOB!

I am now working as a professional blogger! I get to work from home and take care of my son while working part time…WRITING FOR A LIVING! I mean, come on! That’s the dream! I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity. My boss is a very kind person and I think we’re going to work well together. It’s really one of those moments where you can’t believe that something is happening to you. I’m just so grateful- I can’t stop saying that over and over again to myself. I almost didn’t apply for this job because there were so many applicants, but something inside me said I should go for it. And I’m so glad that I did!

In other news, my baby turned 9 MONTHS OLD THIS WEEK! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! So far, getting these monthly pictures has been a breeze. This month, well…it was a different story. These were the best one we could get (still love them!)

Isn’t he just the cutest? I could just eat that little nugget up!

Also, I love how he’s like, “Holy crap, mom! It’s a bear!”

Not only did he turn nine months old, he also got his first tooth! It’s bothering him so much but we’ve found a product that really works for him. I’ll share that with you in my nine month update post for baby Flynn!

One of my favorite things that happened this week was that my husband had his 29th birthday! He says he feels old now. πŸ˜›

My husband, Zack, is a professor at a college where we live and his students and I planned a little surprise for him AT 5:00 right outside his office. We had a secret Facebook group and everything, you guys! STEALTHY!!!

Everyone dressed just like Zack, backward baseball caps and flannel shirts. It was adorable and it meant so much to Zack! You can just see it on his face!

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It was a really great moment when he realized just how many of his students were there to celebrate with him! I brought cake but I didn’t get a picture of it because I’m a bad blogger and all I could think was, “CAKE IN BELLY!!!”

The kids also made him a “Dr. Pepper Cake” since it basically runs in his veins.

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I surprised him by giving him the game “Horizon Zero Dawn” that everyone’s been talking about lately. He was really excited…in fact…guess what he’s doing right now as I type this blog…

Flynn saw him playing it earlier and wanted in the action.

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Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?! I love my boys.

That night, I made garlic butter and herb spaghetti, brown sugar brussel sprouts, and roasted veggies. The pasta is his favorite and we always have it on his birthday!

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YUUUUM! And, honestly, so so so so so bad for you. πŸ˜› But it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, right?

Here are some other yummy/healthier foods we had to eat this week:

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I loved that skinny caramel macchiato. It was the perfect pick me up!

This week I also had a girl’s craft time with one of my besties, Morgan! She’s that adorable little redhead in the birthday pictures above! We’re in the progress of paining our Disney shoes! I’m doing snow white shoes and she’s making her shoes look like Belle! I’ll post the final picture when I finish them and link you to my Etsy store if you’re interested in purchasing some!

Morgan is such a sincere person and I’m so glad that we have become friends. She had a rough day yesterday and I’m glad that we could do some crafting to de-stress a little. Everyone send her some love! She’s such a sweetheart! ❀

I also did a little early Valentine’s day craft for Zack to put in his office.

I had a seriously wonderful week. Everything went so well and was so lovely. Like I said, I’m just so grateful!

I even got some fresh flowers this week! They make everything better, don’t they?

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Thanks for visiting my blog today! I hope you enjoyed reading this recap post as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Oh! Make sure to follow me on social media and let me know you came from the blog! I’d love to hear from you!

Instagram & Twitter: ellenvandever

Facebook: Millennial Mama Bird

Etsy: Quirky Girl Giftshop

Ellen πŸ™‚

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Our 10 Year (So Far) Love Story

Even from the very beginning, he was a gentleman. He introduced himself to me and we hit it off right away.

A few months earlier, I had seen him in a concert production of Sweeney Todd and developed a HUGE crush on him. I remember thinking, “he’s too attractive to be a nice guy. It would be too good to be true.”

Cut to the day we started dating. He asked me to be his girlfriend in the light booth of our Alma Mater. Then, and i’ll never forget this, he said, “if i lean over and kiss you right now, are you gonna slap me?” I tease him all the time about that. It’s so adorable. That’s one of my favorite memories of Zack. And it’s so true to his character- always wanting what makes other people comfortable and being super considerate.

 

We started dating and it was clear pretty quickly that this thing was going to stick. Here’s Wednesday Adams and Repair Man Man Man at the Halloween improv show!

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I had a lot of fun digging all of these photos up…I think my husband will get a kick out of them too!

I’ll never forget the way I KNEW Zack was the one. It was so simple- we were meant to be together and we didn’t care what anyone else thought. Some people said, “date around before you commit.” We didn’t care, we were in love.

We dated the entire time we were in college and had the time of our lives! Always sticking together through thick and thin. And sweet Zack even let me get a puppy…yeah…I kind of wore him down.

Our sweet Willow:

On the night of my senior show in college (all Theatre majors were required to put on a show as their capstone), he gave me the surprise of my life by popping the question! Of course I said YES!

You can watch the proposal here on Youtube.

He proposed to me in the Theatre I grew up in. All of my siblings went to the same college as I did and I had practically lived there! I counted once, I saw 27 different shows in that Theatre and attended almost every performance. It’s a big part of why I love theatre today, and my husband knew that.

If you can’t hear him, he says,

“Over here is where we met.”

“Up there is where we had our first kiss.”

“But this is the one you’re really going to remember.”

SWOON!!!! ❀ ❀ ❀ Am I right, ladies?!

Our engagement shoot…

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Gosh, I love that man. And that puppy…

Our wedding was beautiful. It was very DIY and EXACTLY what I wanted (thank you to everyone that helped make that a reality!).

It was truly the most perfect day.

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Our college professor performed the ceremony for us. It meant so much since he’s Zack’s mentor.

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Can you guess where we honeymooned? We HAD A BLAST!!!

I have never eaten so much as I did on that trip. I mean, LORD! Those Disney meal plans act like you’re crossing the Desert the way they load you up. NOT MAD ABOUT IT!

My favorite ride is The Haunted Mansion.

Zack’s favorite ride is Space Mountain.

Soon after we got married, we moved to Tallahassee for Zack to attend Grad School for Technical Design for Theatre at FSU. That’s where we met our best friend Rada and got our friendship tattoos.

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We stayed there and had the time of our lives for three years. While we don’t live in the same place anymore, we still talk to Rada all the time! He’s a part of our family!

Once Zack was done with Grad school, he got a job in the North Georgia Mountains as a Professor of Technical Theatre. We love it here. Everything moves a little bit slower and everyone is kind. We’re just not city people and we’re ok with that.

Suddenly, our lives changed. WE GOT PREGNANT!

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Nine months later and our beautiful baby boy, Flynn, entered the world.

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I didn’t think I could love Zack any more, and then I saw him with our son. Zack is an amazing father and husband. He is always working his butt off and continues to be our hero every single day!

Flynn is constantly saying, “DADA!”, and lights up when Zack walks into the room.

It was definitely hard when we were sleep deprived, but we worked as a team and it made us even closer together to learn how to take care of our little one.

Now, we are one small happy family and we feel so grateful and blessed.

It’s an amazing thing to meet your best friend. And when your best friend turns out to be your future husband, that makes it even better!

Zack, I love you. You, Flynn, and Willow are my everything.

I love forward to many more happy days, pasta nights, Flynn laughs, family hikes, Holidays, homes, and years with you. Thank you for everything you do for us. I can sum you up three words….

Awesomesauce

Caring

Badass

AWESOMESAUCE CARING BADASS…NEW BAND NAME I CALL IT!

Ellen πŸ˜‰

 

Weekly Recap: Movie Star Grandmother & Awesome Recipes!

I’ll be honest…this week seemed LONG! My husband and I couldn’t wait until the weekend! However, it wasn’t all bad! In fact, there were some pretty awesome moments!

My grandmother (Meemaw), had her 92nd birthday this week. She has been a HUGE part of my life and I love her so much! I have so many memories growing up of doing fun things with her. My favorite memory is standing on the piano bench as a little girl, and Meemaw playing my favorite songs on the piano while I sang along.

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She is hilarious, sweet, kind, and talented. She is my grandmother…she is a big part of who I am today.

And doesn’t she look like a movie star?!

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That’s on of my favorite photos of her.

Happy Birthday, Meemaw!

In other news, I made some really delicious and healthy recipes this week! They were both really easy and fairly quick. I really enjoyed making these with my husband and we definitely enjoyed eating them!

Check them out:

Weight Watchers Broccoli Mac and Cheese

You can find the recipe and all the points (if you’re using the program) here.

 

Here is another DELICIOUS recipe, and probably my favorite thing we ate this week:

Weight Watchers Lasagna Soup

Here are the recipe and points.

Follow me @ellenvandever on Instagram to see everything we make and all our fun adventures!

And that’s the blog for this week! Super simple and short. I’m sorry about that, but next week will be FILLED with fun stuff! I hope you enjoy the recipes! If you try them out, let me know what you think of them!

Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk you guys on Wednesday!

Ellen πŸ™‚