Monday, August 31, 2015

6 Years.

6 years ago, I answered one very important question. I'm not going to tell the story again, I've already done that, so feel free to read my view or his view of the proposal. 6 years though. It is so hard to believe I was just a young little 19 year old girl with my whole life ahead of me. I couldn't be happier about the fact that 6 years ago I started my journey of becoming a Long. It has been so much fun to grow up with C.

I was looking through our proposal pictures the other day and it brought tears to my eyes. I'm so happy with where I am in my life and a lot of it has to do with the amazing man by my side. I'd say yes again. In fact, I did. In 6 years, we have both upgraded our rings, we have great jobs, we love our city, and we have found a church home. We have really grown up together, but not too much because if I am being honest, silly faces with this guy are life! #growuppeterpan

And how did we celebrate you might ask? We joined a gym. Hey ya girl would love to look like she did in that picture up there again! And we worked out in said gym witha  great friend! August 31, here's to you!

6 years of life with this guy by my side down, forever to go. Always.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cruise 101 : 10 General Tips

I am so glad that today is finally here! That means that we are officially into the main part of the countdown for our next cruise! Today I am sharing just some general tips about cruising with you to get you in the mood for a cruise!

1. Participate in formal night. I know some people don't like the idea of getting dressed up, and it really is personal preference, but it is so much fun! I have always loved getting a little extra fancy because it happens so rarely in real life. It makes your vacation a little extra memorable too because for most people getting all dolled up is out of the ordinary. Participate at least once! 7 day cruises usually have 2 formal nights, and cruises longer than that have even more. 

2. Have realistic expectations. You are on a cruise ship. This ship houses several hundreds if not thousands of other vacationers and crew members. You aren't staying at a dumpy motel, but you aren't staying at a 5 star hotel either. The food probably won't be 5 star, and the service might be a little less than perfect at times, but remember that there are lots of other people on board and the chefs, room stewards, guest service members, etc are doing everything in their power to make your vacation great! Understand there may be lines at the buffet, or a place to sit may be hard to find at prime hours, the pool may be a little crowded, but if you know this going in and aren't expecting the presidential treatment, you will have a great cruise.

3. Have a small gift for your room steward. Giving a gift at the beginning of the cruise helps to ensure that your room steward remembers you, and sometimes will make sure to take extra care of you. I'm not talking about a lavish gift, but maybe a post card from your city, and a cash tip. Several people like to tip at the end, but we like to tip at the beginning to let our room steward know we appreciate them before they have even done anything.

4. Pre-make tip envelopes. When you arrive at port, there are porters who will help you unload your car. It is customary to tip these guys. If you have some pre-made tip envelopes handy, it makes this smooth. Just had them an envelope with a couple of dollars in it and be on your way. No need to fumble trying to find some small bills to tip the guy. This is also works great from room service. 

5. Make sure you have small bills. Like I said above, tipping the porters, room service, and room stewards happens a lot. If you don't pre-make tip envelopes, you can find yourself searching for small bills, or needing to make change often. You can even choose to tip bartenders with cash if you want. We just put everything on our on board account, but it is personal preference. This is also helpful when you are shopping in port because if you are flashing $100 bills everywhere, you can draw some unwanted attention to yourself. 

6. Consider getting your items pressed on board. The cost may be a little more than at home, but the stress that comes with trying to keep clothes nice and pressed through travel can be horrible. We personally have never used this feature, but plan on it this cruise, though we have know several people who have used the laundry service and love it. 

7. Wear your bulkiest shoes on board. I'm referring to tennis shoes mainly. They take up a lot of space in your luggage and that is prime space when you are going on a cruise. We always wear our tennis shoes on board or at least carry them in our carry in our backpack (what we use for our carry on).

8. Budget for the casino. If you are like us and plan to visit the casino at some point, budget for that. We have a set amount we will spend in the casino. In the past we set an amount for each night so that we don't go crazy. Plus if we budget for the casino every night and we only go 3 nights on a 7 night cruise, then we come home with that extra money!

9. Pack half as many clothes and you think you will need. Yes, yes, yes! I can't tell you how bad I have over packed because I thought I needed so many clothes!!! You will see my packing list and my husband's packing list later in the series, so you will see a little more of what I am talking about. We re-wear some clothes that don't get dirty, like jeans in the evening. I wear a pair of jeans to get on the ship, and I have a spare pair. I usually only am wearing them for a few hours at night, 3 maybe 4 hours, and they don't get dirty. So there is no need to take 7 pair to wear in the evening when the air is cooler.

10. Find a bartender and stick with them. Last year, we found our favorite bartender half way through our cruise and we wish we would have found him sooner. For us, it just makes the cruise that much more enjoyable. When you find one you like, and stick with them. they learn about you. They remember your face and name, and usually your preferred drink order. Several times we would walk into the bar where our favorite bartender was, he would see us, and immediately start making me a virgin strawberry daiquiri, and he would get C a Blue Moon ready. Be sure to tip this person well if you notice that they are taking the time to get to know you and your preferred drinks. 

*BONUS* Relax and have fun! This is the most important one! You are on vacation. Don't get stressed! Take part in several activities that are offered on board. There is plenty to do. Kick back, order a fruity drink, and enjoy your self!

Cruise 101 will be a series based on mine and C's knowledge of cruising with Royal Caribbean to Caribbean ports. We have been to Nassau, Bahamas, Coco Cay, Bahamas (RC's private island), Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas and Phillipsburg, St Maarten. While the information I share is based off cruises with Royal Caribbean, and to these specific ports, most of the information is transferable to different itineraries and cruise lines. Be sure to do check with the cruise line you choose to see how it matches up with the information I am providing. All information given is based on my own experience, and is my own opinion. To See other posts in this series, click here. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Post About Fall

Can you guys believe August is now over. O.V.E.R. I seriously can't grasp how fast this year is going. I honestly feel like summer just started, and then this morning, I needed a jacket, and had to change my shoes because my feet were cold. How is is the end of summer? Don't get me wrong, I am super super glad about it, but the end of summer means the beginning of fall, which means the end of fall is going to be here before you know it. Time, please slow down.

In the spirit of fall, I must say, I am excited! I'm going to be a total typical white girl and pumpkin spice everything. In fact, I already have the wonderful smell in my office. I don't drink caffeine, so I'm going to break down and buy some decaf coffee so I can partake in the yummy tradition of the pumpkin spice latte.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the weather, the smells, the flavors, boots, sweaters, scarfs, hot chocolate, football, and bonfires. It is just the perfect time of year! I am so thankful that I live in a place that has a perfect October. I'm so glad that I live where I can experience fall. I mean I love fall so much that we got married in the fall! Any other October couples out there???

I am so thankful fall is right around thee corner practically here. Bring on the pumpkin spice, the apple picking, UGA football, and the best weather of the year!

What are you thankful for this month?

From Bisons to Buckeyes: Thankful Thursday Party

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Favorite Marriage Advice

C and I are inching closer and closer to 5 adventurous years of marriage. Throughout all those years, we have been given a lot of advice. Some worked, but others not so much. We sat down the other night and decided to come up with our top 10 bits of marriage advice to share with you guys!

1. Never go a day without saying "I love you." : While this may seem like a no brainer, you would be surprised at how many couples actually fail to say "I love you" to their spouse. We make a point to say it as often as possible. Have you told your spouse "I love you" today?

2. Move away from family. : Now this won't work for everyone, and we only sorta half way followed this one. Some opportunities came up and that allowed C and I to move away from my mom and his parents, but in with my dad. It can be scary, but if you are able to, move away from family for at least a year. Give your marriage that time to grow and form without the pressure of having to spend every moment with your parents or in-laws. 

3. Never complain about your spouse to friends or family. : You can forgive your spouse, but your friends and family won't always feel the same way. Your friends and your family can potentially see something your spouse does that hurts you as unforgivable. This can make for a very awkward get together and even problems between your spouse and your friends and family. Save yourself the headache and don't complain or share marriage problems with friends or family. 

4. Find a hobby you both can enjoy. : Often times in marriage, you can fall into a rut. You end up doing the same thing every day. Put forth the effort and find a hobby you both enjoy. It could be something active like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking or it could be something different like painting, singing, wine tasting, etc. Just find something you both enjoy. 

5. Spend time apart. : It is so important to make sure that you are taking time for you in your marriage. I'm guilty of getting caught up in being a wife that I forget that I am a person outside of a wife. I've learned to take a little time for myself, and C has done the same. It is good to spend time together, but it is also just as important to spend some quality time with yourself. 

6. Wait to have kids. : Again, this isn't for everyone. C and I wanted to start a family right after we were married, but our living situation and new jobs just made the decision to wait easier. Since then, he has been ready for kids when I am not, and I've been ready for kids when he isn't. We have even been ready at the same time, but after lots of conversations, we realize that it is so important to really enjoy our time as husband and wife without being mom and dad as well. We want to travel to several places. We want to live in downtown Chattanooga. We are still learning so much about each other and we think it is only fair to our future children to establish a great marriage, one we have worked on for years before having kids. 

7. Happy spouse, happy house. ; You know the phrase "happy wife, happy life"? How unfair is that? I firmly believe that marriage is a team not just one person. It doesn't make sense for just the wife to be happy. I believe that if both spouses strive to make the other spouse happy, then you will have a happy marriage. 

8. Go to bed at the same time. : I understand that this isn't always possible. Sometimes work can make this impossible if you are working different shifts. So for those of you who are able to, make it a point to go to bed at the same time as your spouse. If I stay up late, then I don't get the opportunity to fall asleep with my husband. I can fall asleep beside him, but I have to be careful not to wake him. If this means you have to go to be earlier, do it. Who doesn't want a few extra z's? 

9. Never stop learning about your spouse. : People evolve. People change. This is true for your spouse. The person C was when I married him almost 5 years ago is not the same person who I am married to today. C is constantly growing as a person, and his personality changes along with things he loves and finds important. If I stopped learning about amazing person C was when we got married, I would be missing out on the amazing different person C is today. 

10. Continue to date your spouse. : I hope no one else is as guilty of this as I am. Yikes. For the first few years of our marriage, C and I hardly went out on dates. It was then that I realized exactly how important it is to continue to date my husband. It is just as important as continuing to learn about him. A great way to combine the two is to go on dates and talk about your life, and learn about each other.

What are some of your favorite bits of marriage advice? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why We Picked A Cruise Again + A New Series

If you have been around here for a while then you know C & I love cruises. Our 1st "real" vacation alone was a cruise, we have been on several with my dad's half of the family, and for the last 2 years we have taken a week long cruise for our anniversary. In fact, those 2 week long cruises were out of Port Canaveral, FL, on the Freedom of the Seas to the same 3 Caribbean ports each trip. You would think that we would pick a different vacation right?

Wrong! We are going on a cruise again this year! And once again, it is out of Port Canaveral, FL on the Freedom of the Seas to the same ports in the Caribbean as before the only difference is we are going a little later in the year this time AND we aren't going alone! That is right. C's parents will be joining us this year.

When talking about vacation, we decided to ask C's parents if they wanted to come since we have never vacationed with them. After lots of talks, we settled on a cruise and since his parents haven't been to any of the ports we are going to, we picked the route C and I have been on before! It works out well for C and I though. We know the ships, we know the ports, and we know the drive to get there. So we know what to skip and what not to miss.

For me, as always, key factors for a vacation are being able to see several places and basically having everything included, getting away from technology, and being able to relax with a strawberry daiquiri in hand! Cruises always win my vote. For the price, and everything that is included, I just don't think you can beat it. This year is no different.

Over the next several weeks/months I will be sharing lots of tips, tricks, advice and reviews about cruising in a series rightfully named Cruise 101. Be on the lookout for a new post every other Friday starting August 28, 2015.

Do you like cruises?
Would you ever go on a cruise with your in-laws?

Cruise 101 will be a series based on mine and C's knowledge of cruising with Royal Caribbean to Caribbean ports. We have been to Nassau, Bahamas, Coco Cay, Bahamas (RC's private island), Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas and Phillipsburg, St Maarten. While the information I share is based off cruises with Royal Caribbean, and to these specific ports, most of the information is transferable to different itineraries and cruise lines. Be sure to do check with the cruise line you choose to see how it matches up with the information I am providing. All information given is based on my own experience, and is my own opinion. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July 2015 Favorites

How is it August? I mean seriously didn't we just get like 8 inches of snow the other day? I can't wrap my head around the fact that this year is going by so fast! Before you know it C and I will be headed to pick out pumpkins and packing for our cruise, not that I would complain about either.

July was a hot month. I really worked on getting a make up routine down and that meant minimal make up because I knew as soon as I would walk out the door, it would melt off anyway. Well, that is how I thought at least until I started using the De-slick make up setting spray by Urban Decay. I don't know why I never bought this before now. It is amazing at keeping my make up on, which in the dead of summer is a really hard thing to do.

Speaking of summer, who doesn't love a good glow? The highlight Jaclyn Hill made is beautiful! Champagne Pop by Becca Cosmetics is so amazing. I would cover my entire face with this stuff if it was socially acceptable. Oh who am I kidding. I do that anyway. I've been searching for a brush to use this with and I've tried several ones. I've tried both cheap and expensive brushes and my favorite brush to use is the Studio blush brush by E.L.F. I mean for $3 you just can't beat that!

One day, I ran out of my holy grail mascara (Maybelline Falsies) and didn't have a back up. I had a sample size of the Argan black oil mascara by Josie Maran and tried it on a whim. Turns out I love this just as much as the Falsies mascara! I'm almost done with the sample and have already purchased the full size. Plus it doesn't flake at all and stays put. It makes my lashes look amazing!

I broke down a few months ago and bought the Purity Made Simple by Philosophy, but I just didn't use it. I ran out of brush cleaner (I know! Apparently I ran out of everything!) and knew several people used this to clean their brushes. I did, and fell in love. Then I used it as a face wash and fell even more in love. I hate that it is pricey, but I will continue to pay that price until I find something I like better.

It is only August 5th and I already have a few favorites for August! Again, can you believe it is August!!!

What were your favorites in July? 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Happy 3rd Rescue Day Chaco!

She was seriously unhappy that she wasn't playing in the snow for this picture.

Oh Chaco! I can't believe you have been in our life for 3 years. I seems like it was just last week that you were a tiny pup in need of a forever home. It feels like you have been in our family forever. You are so silly and sweet. Your love of chewing up every toy you find can be quite messy, but I wouldn't change a thing about you. Your little puppy personality is so much fun to watch. You get so excited when you here C pull in the drive way. You know which car is his and to see you get so excited knowing he is home is awesome! Chaco, we love you and are so happy you are our pup! Thank you for bringing so much joy into our life. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and not chewing up my shoes. 

Happy 3rd rescue day pup! You are going to get lots of new toys to destroy!! We love you! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

M+R Goals : August 2015 : Celebrate Him

Happy Monday!! Can you believe it is August already? I'm probably going to say that at least 5 more times!! Last month, my goal was not to be so negative. You know what? I wasn't negative, and it did so much for my marriage. I was a much more pleasant person and I could tell a difference in my attitude. July was a great month for our marriage.

Today is my wonderful husband's 26th birthday! I love celebrating his birthday all week long, but this year I decided I wanted to do something a little different. My goal for August is to celebrate him all month long!

Tonight we are headed to a restaurant in Chattanooga that we haven't ever tried before, Hennen's. I plan on taking cupcakes to church on Wednesday (if I can get them made) to celebrate again. We are going on vacation with my dad this month and we are going to celebrate with that part of the family then. So I plan to celebrate him all month long. It could be in the form of a card, a small random gift, or I could even take over cooking for a few nights. I hope at the end of the month he feels extra special and has enjoyed his birthday month!

Do you have a goal for your marriage/relationship for August?

 Marriage & Relationship Goals

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Introducing Chatty Cait

So, you may or may not have noticed that there have been a few changes around here. If not, well, today you will see them all! I've been working for a while trying to decide on if I wanted to change the name of my blog or not. In fact I have been considering it for over a year. When I first started My Life As A Long, I was just recently married and beginning my life with a new last name. I decided one afternoon to just start up a blog and I was never 100% happy with the name. It worked fine for a while, but I just wasn't happy with it.

The last thing I wanted to do though was deal with having to go through all the hard work to actually change the name of the blog, and all social media and everything like that.But I knew I wanted to rebrand. Finally, about 6 months ago, Chatty Cait came to be. I don't remember if I came up with it, or if someone else did for me, but it did and it grew on me.

Chatty Cait has quickly become something super fun for me. The reason I love it so much is because it really captures who I am. Ask anyone in my family, I like to talk, so chatty fit. Chatty is also a tribute to the city that is and always has been my home, Chattanooga, TN. Even when I lived in Georgia, my heart was always in Chattanooga. Several people will often shorten Chattanooga to Chatty, or atleast about 30 people I know do. And Cait is obviously short for Caitlin. So Chatty Cait fits.

I am super excited to finally launch Chatty Cait for you guys! I've been dilligently working on planning posts for the rest of the year. I actually think I have all that figured out, and then some. I will be starting a series soon that I am so excited about. I will also be branching out into some beauty/fashion/decor things, also know as out of my comfort zone. I'm also in the works of getting some videos up on YouTube. Wish me luck!

I've also decided that my social media is going to change a little. I'm going to have a combined personal/blog Twitter account (@chatty_cait), but I am going to keep my Instagram seperate. You can now follow me on Insta @chatty_cait. And who doesn't love SnapChat? I know I do! Add me there too : clong1023. I'm so excited to start this new chapter in my life, and I am so thankful to have you guys on the journey with me!!


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