Guest Room: Midnight Snack Basket

How many times have you spent the night at someone else’s house, only to have a snack craving after your host has already gone to bed? Unless your host is your own mom or you haven’t eaten in three days, you’re probably not going to sneak into the kitchen and rummage through the pantry. But any guest who stays at MY house doesn’t have to sneak around, because I put snacks in their room for them!


It’s important to me that people feel comfortable at my house, whether they come visit for an hour or stay for a couple of days, and giving them a great place to sleep is a big part of that. Even when Daniel and I were newly married and living in a tiny apartment, I dreamed of having an inviting, cozy guest bedroom for guests to use. I inherited my love of hosting people in my home from my mother, and I hope that someday I’m as great of a host as she is!


If you have a guest room and want to really kick it up a notch, making a snack basket is a super easy way to start. I just try to cover the basics and think about what kinds of things people might forget or want when they aren’t staying in their own home. Your options are virtually limitless, and you can change it up throughout the year too! Here’s a short list of what I typically try to keep in mine:

Hand sanitizer
Anti-wrinkle spray
Bottled water
Gum or mints

I also have a little basket of toiletries in the bathroom! Again, I just stick with the basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and face wash.

This isn’t an expensive project, but it can have a big impact. With just a little bit of effort, you can make your guests feel extra special when they stay with you!

What little details make you feel taken care of when you’re a guest in someone else’s home?

6 Questions to Help You Clean Out Your Closet

You know that awful feeling when you walk in your closet and it’s jam-packed with clothes, but you still feel like you have nothing to wear? Welcome to my pre-married, single-girl life. Before Daniel, I didn’t really know how to shop for quality pieces yet. The amount of money I wasted on cheap clothes is cringe-worthy. My only “guidelines” for buying something were: (1) I kind of liked it at least a little bit, and (2) it was cheap or on sale. Those were ter-ri-ble guidelines. Higher standards would have prevented me from filling my wardrobe with things I only half-liked that either fell apart, shrunk, or faded within the first few washes.

Within the first year after Daniel and I got married, I learned a lot about his buying habits, and I started to adopt a few myself. One of the best things he has taught me is picking items of good quality – be it furniture, a type of steak, or a pair of shoes – at a cost that doesn’t break your budget in half. If you’ve spent any time around him, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the guy has a genuine gift for finding insanely nice stuff for ridiculously low prices. Thanks to Daniel, I have learned that it’s okay to spend a little extra on something well-made, because it will last longer and stay in better shape.

The problem was, even after I started adding nice things to my wardrobe, I still didn’t feel happy with my closet. It finally dawned on me that the reason I felt like I had nothing to wear was because my closet was full of things I never wore! Right around that same time, a friend of mine had a virtual closet sale on Facebook and had great success with it, and I thought, “I can do that.” And thus began a new tradition in the Hendrickson household! A few times a year, I pull everything out of my closet and sort through it using the following questions:

  1. When was the last time I wore it, and how likely am I to wear it again?
  2. If I went shopping today and saw it, would I buy it?
  3. Do I feel good about myself when I wear it?
  4. Does it actually fit me? Is it too big or too small?
  5. Is it still in good condition? Is it worn, torn, faded, or stained?
  6. Is it a ‘special occasion’ item, like a cocktail dress or costume?

These questions have already helped me quickly purge my closet at least 5 or 6 times in the last few years. And before you start to think of me as a soul-less machine, believe me – I totally understand the whole “develop a sentimental attachment to every piece of clothing you try to get rid of” thing. I’ve told myself every excuse in the book. But the reality is that if I haven’t worn something in six months (not including a costume or formal dress), if it’s not in good condition anymore, if I don’t like how I look in it, and if I wouldn’t buy it again right now, it doesn’t belong in my closet. The best part is that after I weed out all the stuff I don’t wear, I actually feel like I have more options in my closet, because I’m only seeing stuff I genuinely love!

When was the last time you went through your closet? Is it easy for you to get rid of stuff, or do you get sentimental?

30 By 30 Update, June 2017

Y’all I’m SO FIRED UP right now!! I have checked a bunch of stuff off my list lately, and I’m totally giddy. Something about crossing things off of a checklist gives me a boost of energy to go cross everything else off. Haha! Here’s what I’ve done since my last update in November:

#2 – Take an Alaskan cruise. I cannot appropriately explain how mind-blowingly awesome this trip was. We got to visit Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria. Plus, we got to take anniversary pictures in Juneau (SWOON) and hang out with friends on our last day in Seattle! Dreamy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m still reeling from the beauty of it all.

#6 – Read 10 new books. I really feel like I’m on a roll with this one. I’ve finished a bunch since my last update, and I’m excited about the ones in my ‘queue’. So far, I’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, and Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Our community group from church is reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, and I’m also working my way through Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers again (I’ve read it before, but MAN it’s so good).

#11 – Deliver meals to new parents. So far, we’ve taken food to the Whitley family to celebrate baby Abigail, and the Newton family to celebrate baby Éowyn! And there are lots more babies coming this year (including my first niece, Karis – she’s a doll!!), so I know we’ll get to do this again. :)

#18 – Take anniversary pictures with Daniel. Check check CHECK!! I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to top the experience of one of our wedding photographers, the amazing Catie Bartlett, taking our pictures at a glacial lake in Alaska.

#20 – Update my home décor. Technically this one was already on my last update, but I’ve added new things since! I got a gorgeous wooden ‘Oklahoma’ from my mom for Christmas, I updated our living room bookcases with new decorations, added a gallery wall in our master bedroom, and finally decorated the guest bathroom with an easy DIY craft project that I unfortunately did not take pictures of – bad Laura.

#21 – Make our backyard fun. There’s still lots to do, but adding some globe string lights and a planter of wildflowers definitely improved the back porch!

#26 – Visit 5 new states. Washington, Alaska, and Colorado are new additions – three down, two to go! We technically visited Utah…but we were only in the airport, so it doesn’t really count.

#30 – Take a road trip. The Simma clan family vacation to Colorado helped me knock this one out. Wayyy too many hours spent in the car, but lots of music, pretty views, snacks, and inside jokes with my siblings made it better.

Can’t wait to keep checking more off of this list – almost a third of the way through, and I still have 2½ years to finish the rest! To check out what else is on my list, go here.


Spring Cleaning: 60 Things in 60 Days


Since it’s March (and I’ve basically given up on ever getting to enjoy snow again in 2017), I’m starting a spring cleaning challenge! I found this adorably awesome post by Magnolia Moon while Robyn and I were in Chicago over Christmas break, and I knew instantly that I wanted to do it. De-cluttering my house AND only having to sort through one thing per day? Win win.

I still hate cleaning with my entire being (there’s a song in there somewhere..), but ever since the experience I had doing the dishes with God, cleaning is becoming weirdly therapeutic for me. Even though I’d still rather listen to NPR for 8 hours than spend 15 minutes cleaning my kitchen, I’m starting to see every act of service, every moment I choose to take care of my blessing of a home, for what it really is.


Everything we do is a way to prove that we mean it when we say we ‘love’ God. It’s not enough to love Him with our words – “Actions speaker louder” and all that. :)

Wanna join me in the challenge?? Comment below, head over to Magnolia Moon’s website for a free printable list, and tag me in your spring cleaning pictures on social media! 

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30 By 30 Update

Hey y’all! I thought you guys might like a mini update on my 30 By 30 project. In case you missed my original post, let me catch up you up! First of all, I’m always more likely to do something if it’s attached to a list because I love crossing stuff off. Second, when it occurred to me that turning 26 meant I was steadily hurtling toward being 30, I freaked out a little bit and then cheered myself up by creating a list of fun things to do or work on during the next few years. Here’s what I’ve crossed off so far!

#6 – Read 10 new books. I’ve started several, but so far I’ve only finished Bossypants by Tina Fey. (And it was just as funny as I hoped it would be – like, laugh out loud funny!) Currently on my nightstand to finish?

  • Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, by Kelly Williams Brown
  • Unlearned: Reclaiming the Daring Truth of Biblical Femininity, by Chelsea Mead
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now, by Meg Jay
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
  • The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, by Lysa TerKeurst

#7 – Learn how to curl my hair. My cousin/soulmate Jennifer gave me curling wand for Christmas last year, and I’ve been learning! I’m no master, but I can f i n a l l y do more to my hair besides straighten it, scrunch it, and wrangle it into a ponytail, YAY. I need someone to give me girl lessons and teach me how to fix my hair for real.

#20 – Update my home decor. I was so happy to finally put something above our couch in the living room! I hated staring at a huge blank wall. And even though I still have more that I’d like to do, like buying some new rugs and tying my living room together with more of a theme, I’m perfectly happy crossing it off after finishing that first project.

#23 – Take a group vacation. We had a blast traveling to Jamaica with Daniel’s family last May, and we already have another trip with my side of the family on the calendar for next summer! We’ve also wanted to go on a cruise or something with a group of couples for a few years, and I really hope we’re able to make that happen.

As for my plans for the rest of the list:

#2 – Take an Alaskan cruise. This is on both of our bucket lists, and since Daniel passed the CPA (*angelic chorus*) and our 5-year anniversary is next year (uhhh…??), we’re talking seriously about going on one to celebrate both! All fingers and toes are crossed.

#8 – Make a complicated recipe. I can’t pick between these three – homemade croissants, Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cakes, or Potato Rings with Buttermilk Ranch. Which one should I make?? Maybe I’m silly for thinking these recipes are complicated, but I’ve had two of them pinned for almost five years, so…

#28 – Really establish a cooking/cleaning routine. I’m convinced that I am the worst housewife in existence. I like having a clean house, but I suck when it comes to cleaning. And I like to cook sometimes, but most of the time I get caught up in thinking about how long it takes and how I’ll have to clean up afterward and I lose my momentum. I’ve tried multiple methods to stay on top of things and nothing has really stuck so far, but I’m open to suggestions!

*Bonus: Visit a new place every year. I saw a pin on Pinterest once that said this, and I LOVE it. I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere new yet this year, but we’ve still got a few months.

Happy Friday! :)

A Simma 4th of July


Second only to Christmas, the 4th of July is probably my favorite holiday because of how many good memories I associate with it: grilling out, watching fireworks from blankets and truck beds, making patriotic crafts and singing patriotic songs, playing board games, and more than anything, spending sweet time with family.

I was SOOOO lucky this year, because some of my cousins came to visit all the way from Mississippi!! The last time I saw these kiddos was at my wedding! Look at Betsey and Lanah – they were so teeny! ♥

My weekend started out with a FaceTime session the little brother and helping the little sis move into her first apartment!

I still can’t believe she’s actually old enough to be done with college and about to start her first real grown-up teaching job. *feels*

The rest of the weekend with my little (and big) cousins was completely wonderful! We spent a bunch of time coloring, playing my dad’s player piano, watching movies (Ever After and Singing in the Rain), eating candy constantly, and playing Apples to Apples.

For our 4th of July cookout at the house, I got the chance to make a new recipe I stole from my pal Ashley McCain – jello watermelon – and it was a big hit!

It’s easier to make than you might think, but it looks like you spent an impressive amount of time pulling it off!

The only thing missing from our family celebration was Daniel. :( He needed to study for his upcoming CPA exam, and it was better for him to stay home so he wasn’t distracted. I was happy to get home to him and Fitz at the end of the weekend, and we celebrated together by grabbing fast food and watching the fireworks show in town.

Real life = dogs don’t have the patience to pose for pictures like humans.

I know it’s a month late, but what is your favorite 4th of July tradition?

DIY Decor | Hendrickson Homestead

Sometimes, I get in a nesting mood and I just want to do ALL THE HOME PROJECTS. And my birthday + a few perfectly-timed days off from work = the opportunity to finally make things happen.

Have I told you guys about how my living room ceiling is SUPER high? Well. It is. I have more wall space than I know what to do with in my entire house, but the living room has stressed me out the most. It’s the room that most guests notice first when they walk in the front door, and the room they spend the most time in. And the first wall you see when you walk in the room had a whole bunch of NOTHING on it for months. I hated it. Daniel knew I hated it. But I didn’t know what to do with it. Instead of being inspired by such a lovely blank canvas, I cowered in the corner and whined and threw things like a kid in timeout.

At the end of February, Daniel decided to remedy this problem for my birthday (and also I think he was just tired of me complaining about the bare living room walls). After taking me out to dinner, he took me to the holy grail of home decorating: Hobby Lobby. That’s pretty much the end of the story, however, as we were the idiots who walked in the store 10 minutes before closing time. :( Since I wasn’t able to find anything that night, he sent me back to browse a few days later. I still had no clue what I wanted to do, but Daniel had given me a certain amount of money to spend, and I was determined not to walk out of the store emptyhanded.

I’m not big into cheesy quotes, but something about framed print just spoke to me:


I mean…it’s true! My home, ultimately, is my happy place, but especially my living room. Even though we’ve only lived in our current house for almost five months, the living room has already hosted tons of parties, bible studies, wrestling matches with Fitz (our German Shepherd) and conversations, both serious and silly. I love that place. And don’t even get me started on how beautiful the minimalism and fonts are on the print itself. *perfection*

The “Happy Place” print was really what sparked my idea. My mom had given me these two metal wire window shutter-shaped things, and while I was pretty sure that I liked them, I had no clue what to do with them. The print made me think of them immediately: “Ooh…I could put one on each side, and hang something on top of the metal pieces…hmm. Yes.” I grabbed the print off the shelf, mentally high-fived myself for shopping during a 50% off sale in the prints and photos section, and walked over to look at wreaths.

I had seen a few boxwood wreaths that I really liked, but they were always a little too expensive for me. I’ve always been a pretty creative and crafty person though (thanks, Mom!), and I decided I could make my own wreath for much cheaper. The 8-inch grapevine wreaths ended up being $2.50 apiece, the eucalyptus bunch was about $8, the print was originally $50 but half off, the metal pieces were a gift, and I already had a glue gun at home!


Sorry I didn’t take more pictures during the project itself – the lighting was terrible, and I didn’t have enough hands. *sad music* It really wasn’t difficult; I just hot-glued the eucalyptus on top of the wreath, layering pieces on top of each other for more fullness and weaving the ends into the grapevine.

When the wreaths were finished, I attached them to the metal pieces by looping a piece of twine around the middle metal bar and the back of the wreath and tying a simple knot.


I’m happy with how it turned out!

Earlier this week, I got the chance to complete another DIY project I’d had on my mind for awhile: filling my Anthropologie mugs! My parents and siblings bought me enough Anthropologie monogram mugs to spell out “Hendrickson” a few Christmases ago, and I’ve known exactly what I wanted to put in them ever since.


I found these little beauties for a little over $3 apiece at Walmart, and I couldn’t NOT get them! It became the perfect project for a day off from work.

Oh yeah…I also stopped by the library and checked out two movies (for freeeee because I have a library card!) that Daniel would probably never willingly watch with me. (Spoiler: I had already read the books so I knew what would happen, and I still cried during The Fault in Our Stars.)


I laid everything out on the living room floor and discovered it would be much less of a project than I thought…because the little plastic flowerpots fit PERFECTLY inside the mugs. Go figure! A few were a bit of a tight squeeze, so I just snipped down the back side with a pair of scissors and folded one side of the flowerpot over the other and fitted them snugly inside each mug.


Ahhhhhh I just LOVE IT. I love finishing things that have been on my list for awhile.


While I worked (for all of 10 minutes) and watched the movie, Fitz fiercely and loyally guarded the house/me and stared at the squirrels running around outside. He’s been doing this a lot lately – posting up by our downstairs windows. It’s cute. :)

The finished mugs now sit on top of the piano in the dining room! I’m thinking about changing up the decor on the wall a little bit, but I’m not sure how just yet. The framed sheet music with our names was a Christmas gift from my dad a few years ago, and I definitely want to keep it there. I’m not sure how I feel about the candleholder pieces, but it’s one of those things where you’re poor and newly married, so you put stuff on the walls whether you like it or not because it’s SOMETHING to put on the wall.


After finishing with the mugs, I watched the movie and was thankful that Daniel was not there to make fun of me while I cried.


And also Fitz reeeeeeeally wanted my jelly beans.

I don’t know how you are, but I feel so much more comfortable in my home when I’m able to finish projects like this and I finally see things coming together. It took me a little while to feel at home in our house, but I think I’m truly settling in.

Happy Thursday, y’all!

30 By 30

Uh…….. I’m turning 26 in two days.

Let it be known, first of all, that I LOVE my birthday. I’ve loved every single one of my birthdays. I love my birthday so much that I kind of maybe irrationally expect everyone else to know when it’s my birthday, and if someone who knows me doesn’t wish me happy birthday, I’m disappointed that they forgot about my birthday.

That said. Turning 26 is weird.

Turning 25 felt exciting, like I became a new kind of grown-up. I felt important in a more sophisticated way. “Oh, me? Yeah…I’m 25.” (Cue the smug smile.) Turning 26 feels a little like waking up the day after you run a marathon: you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished, but also a little bit ready to just die already.

To cheer myself up, I’m taking a leaf out of a fellow blogger’s book! My friend Caitlin Boswell from Absolutely Bositively created a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30, and I’ve decided to do the same! I’m obsessed with list-making, and I like having stuff to look forward to.

30 By 30

1. Have babies.
This one makes me go “…….whaaaaaaaaa!??!?!!?!” a little bit, but it belongs on the list. :)

2. Take an Alaskan cruise.
Daniel and I have had this on our list for awhile! We loved the Caribbean cruise we took last April, but the next one we go on will have to include mountains, snow, and whales.

3. Pay for someone’s dinner anonymously.
Someone did this for us once and it was so neat! I want to make someone else feel the way I did.

4. Go on a big adventure.
I’d love for it to be some crazy awesome vacation, but I left this one vague for a reason because with Daniel as my best friend, who the heck KNOWS what shenanigans we’ll get into in the next 4 years.

5. Throw someone a surprise party.
I. LOVE. SURPRISES. SO. MUCH. And I love throwing parties, so this is pretty much a necessity.

6. Read 10 new books.
First on my list is a gift from Daniel: Bossypants by Tina Fey!!

7. Learn how to curl my hair.
I know…I know. :( I’m stylistically challenged, but my bestie got me a curling wand for Christmas, so I have no more excuses.

8. Make a complicated recipe.
You know what I’m talking about – the one you’ve had pinned for four years but never attempted because you’re daunted by the ingredients list alone? I’m gonna do it.

9. Complete the 52-Week Money Challenge.
Seems easy enough! And it’s enticing to think about getting to the end of a year having saved that much so simply. The hard part will be not dipping into it for spontaneous unnecessary purchases, like a dog sweater that Fitz would destroy before wearing it but it would look so cute OH MY GOSH.

The Color Run - the happiest 5K ever. I will do this.:

10. Participate in a Color Run.
I hate running with my whole being, but this looks really fun.

11. Deliver meals to new parents.
Because allllllll my friends are having alllllllll the babies. And also because I love to give gifts that they’ll actually appreciate and use!

12. Turn MONAT into an actual job.
This is a biggie, and I kind of scared myself by putting it on here. But this is something I really want.

13. Host a backyard dinner party.
I’ve wanted to do this for years, and now we F I N A L L Y have an awesome backyard to do it in! Come on, summer!

14. Plan a “stay-cation.”
How delicious does it sound to take an entire day off from work, dress up your bedroom like it’s an upscale hotel room, and do nothing but watch movies and EAT? Ahhhhh.

15. Take Fitz on a trip.
I’m not 100% sure that including this one wasn’t a huge mistake, considering he never stops moving right now and is a hyper terror on walks…but after all, he is still a puppy. He’ll grow up eventually and I would love to travel somewhere fun with him as a sidekick!

16. Create a new annual family tradition.
Any suggestions?? What’s one of yours?

photos from each state they visited - glued onto a giant map and cut to fit the shape of the state.:

17. Make a map of places we’ve visited.
I really like this one, this one, and this one. Can’t wait to make one and put it on the wall!

18. Take anniversary pictures with Daniel.
I told myself “Oh yeah, we’ll take pictures every year after we get married!” and that definitely hasn’t happened. Time to be a woman of my word.

19. Spend a long weekend tucked away in a cabin.
Nothing is for sure yet, but we *might* be able to check this one off in a couple weeks! Eek!

20. Update my home decor.
Since we got married, my decorating style has been a weird combination of re-purposed wedding decor, homemade gifts we’ve been given, and odds and ends I’ve bought on clearance from random stores. I’m ready for everything to go together so I feel happy and comfortable when I walk in a room.

21. Make our backyard fun.
I am bursting with ideas, and first on my list is globe lights!

22. Grow the blog.
To be completely honest, I’m not really sure what I mean by “grow” yet. Maybe it’s monetizing, or extending my reach, or writing content that goes viral. Or maybe it’s none of those, and it’s simply learning to create without apologizing for it. We’ll see!

23. Take a group vacation.
When Daniel and I took our Caribbean cruise, we kept thinking the whole time how fun it would be to go back with some of our friends. Fingers crossed that this one happens soon!

24. Give away a few blessing bags.
I discovered these via Pinterest and they are SUCH a neat idea. I hate driving by homeless people with nothing to give them. My goal is to make a couple and always keep one or two in my car.

How To Host A Favorite Things Party! | Twin Cities Moms Blog

25. Have a “Favorite Things” party.
This sounds like so much fun! I think the most complicated part will be deciding what my “favorite things” are – I have wayyyy too many favorites.

26. Visit 5 new states.
It’s really sad how few I’ve visited. The west coast is completed untouched, so this one will be really easy. Especially if we make that Alaskan cruise happen!

27. Go on a fancy dress-up date.
There’s something about a dress that really fits, scarlet red lips, and a good pair of heels that makes a girl feel sassy. We went on one in Dallas about a year and a half ago as part of a marriage retreat weekend. We were the most dressed up we’ve ever been (besides wedding clothes, duh), and we STILL didn’t feel quite fancy enough to be there. We had a blast!

28. Really establish a cooking/cleaning routine.
I’m convinced I’m the worst wanna-be housewife in the entire world. I really really want to be good at things like cooking and cleaning and scheduling, and SOMEtimes…I am! I do like to cook, and I love organization. But somehow I just haven’t mastered the art of housewife-ing. And I want to. So bad. My poor husband.

29. Publish my book.
O     M     G.
Those three words together are terrifying. But it’s honestly long overdue. I need to quit kicking the idea around and actually do it.

30. Take a road trip.
I love the idea of having an ultimate destination in mind but just hopping in the car and driving without too much of a plan, stopping whenever we want, and finding funny little things to take pictures of along the way!

What do you think of my list?? Any suggestions?

To find out how I’m doing at crossing things off, visit my 30 By 30 page.

What It’s Like to Own a Dog

Oddly enough, having a dog is exactly what I thought it would be and nothing like what I thought it would be, all at the same time. I know it sounds weird and confusing, but it’s just true! I spent almost 26 years of my life wanting a dog, and I felt exactly as excited as I expected to feel when we got Fitz. And yet my expectations for what it would be like to actually own a dog haven’t always been accurate. I’ve been surprised by how many different feelings this furry tornado has made me feel – everything from shock, to disgust, to anger, giddiness, pride, intense worry, and – of course – unbelievably fierce love.

Like I said, I always wanted a dog. I asked for one for my birthday every single year until I went to college. (Sidebar – for my 16th or 17th birthday, I asked for a car, a dog, and a phone. And I got a Hot Wheels Car, a stuffed dog, and a plastic baby phone. Thanks Mom and Dad.) But even after all those years of dreaming, I never thought I would get overly attached to a dog before Fitz came home to live with us. I poked fun at people who called their dog their ‘best friend,’ and don’t even get me started on the people who call them their ‘babies’ or their ‘children.’ But I found out how much Fitz actually mattered to me on the day he pulled the leash out of my hands to chase a stray out of our front yard and I thought I’d lost him for good.

To give you some context: we didn’t get Fitz when he was a brand new puppy. He didn’t come to live with us until he was about 7 months old, so while we TRIED to crate train him and teach him how to take walks like a normal dog without pulling our arms out of our sockets, it was much more difficult than it would have been starting with a younger puppy. He is incredibly strong, and although he has a really nice harness that he can’t pull himself out of, he can pull the leash out of my hands, and there’s not really much I can do about that. Anytime he has gotten loose, he just runs. He’s not a good listener once his mind is set on something across the street, especially if it’s another dog. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that when he jerked the leash out of my hands, I’m pretty sure my heart literally stopped beating. I truly can’t remember another time in my entire life when I felt that panicked about anything. I ran barefoot across our front yard that was covered in stickers without even feeling them. I had to stop zooming down our driveway to make myself breathe normally and keep from hyperventilating, because it was getting dark and I had heard the sound of a car swerving down the street just seconds after he ran off. Worst. hour. of. my. life. Thank God for a tribe of friends who were willing to drop whatever they were doing, hop in their cars, and help me look for him. Thank God that my friend Alesha found him and somehow – seriously, by God’s grace alone – managed to get him in her car.

That hour proved that I really did fall in love with Fitz. I had no clue how much of my heart he had stolen until I thought I would never see him again. I never could have guessed, when we got him almost two years ago, that I would fall totally in love and would continue to love him even though he ripped up all of our outdoor furniture cushions, has shed enough hair to cover about 57 other dogs, and NEVER stops begging for a bite off of our plates (and steals bites when we aren’t looking). I can’t really remember life without him, and even though he’s a pretty terrible roommate, I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world.

8 New Things in 2016

What up, y’all?? It’s 2016!!

I don’t know about you, but I had the most delicious Christmas break. Having nearly 2 weeks of paid holidays from work was good for my heart. I decided to take a nice long break from MONAT and the blog too, in order to truly relax – sorry I’ve been so quiet lately! (Okay not really.) I spent my days off sleeping in, catching up on unpacking the last few boxes in our house, binge-watching Friends on Netflix again, and enjoying Christmas with both of my families. Oddly enough, however, I didn’t spend much time reflecting over my year. Not normal for me, but whatever. For the last few weeks, everybody’s been recapping 2015 all over social media (so many weddings and babies, dear goodness). And while I could do that, I’m just waaay too pumped about what 2016 will hold to look back for very long. There’s lots of newness to celebrate and good things to look forward to in the Hendrickson household!

And the first thing is…..

1. NO. MORE. STUDENT. LOANS. #everyemotionthatexists
As of last night, I’m free. I’m in a delirious state of shock. It feels like a joke! How brilliant was God’s idea to give me a financially savvy husband and provide us both with jobs so quickly after college?? Without question, my OBU education was an investment worth making, but I can’t lie – it feels really, really good to be done giving them money. Literally tens of thousands of dollars paid off in just three and a half years. Endless thanks to the Lord for allowing us to be student-loan-free so quickly!

2. A season of grace and renewal.
I’m long overdue for a warm soak in a spiritual bath. I’ve allowed too many things to cloud my mind with fear and steal away my trust in the One who’s never given me any reason NOT to trust Him. It just makes sense that the new year would happen in the middle of such stagnant season of life, and I’m grateful for new beginnings. God doesn’t want my resolutions; He just wants my love. He doesn’t want me to try harder; He wants me to surrender. If I nurture my friendship with Him and truly love Him, the other things He asks of me won’t seem so difficult anymore.

13. Decorating my new house.
Taking down the Christmas tree was obviously depressing, but I’ve finally been able to unpack my “normal” decorations and had extra time last week to put some up! My style has been evolving over the last couple of years, and I have more wall space that I used to, which was a bit overwhelming at first. But I love starting with a fresh canvas. Watch for a Hendrickson home tour coming up in the next month or two!

4. The newest Hendrickson family member.
His name is Fitz, and he is the bee’s knees! He’s a 7-month-old German Shepherd who’s still growing into his giant paws. We’re in the midst of crate training, but there have only been a few bad nights of howling so far. He’s the perfect blend of *happy* and chill, and I’m in love.

SOSU job
5. Celebrating a year at my job.

In less than a month, I will have been a recruiter for Southeastern for an entire year. What!? Sure, I’ve had a few weeks of early mornings and late nights, but there’s something addicting about being on the road. I love the atmosphere, the people I work with, and the fun events I get to help plan (not to mention the vacation days, holla!). It’s been such a great job!

6. Daniel’s CPA exams.
My husband is so hardworking. I’ve never met anyone with his drive and perseverance. The CPA process involves four incredibly difficult accounting exams, and he has already passed two of them since July! I have so much confidence that he’ll pass the other two this year too. Pray for him, when you think about it!

7. My nephew’s first birthday.
Sweet Zeke – he is so cute I just can’t stand it. I’m in denial that he’s almost a year old. Only a few more months and I can add “watching someone eat birthday cake” to the list of things people find mindblowingly adorable when babies do them. :)

8. Vacationing.
When Daniel started CPA-ing last summer, I knew we would need a trip away from work and studying this year. I have no clue where we’re going, but we’re going somewhere! Daniel’s only request was that we branch out from the Caribbean, since we’ve already been there a lot. Right now, I’m considering the Northeast/Northwest US and Europe. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love some help! Where should we go?? Any tips for adventuring well on a more modest budget?

Happy New Year, friends! Hope your 2016 is full of adventure and growth!