Soulmates: Our Dating Anniversary Story

With our dating anniversary, I wanted to share some of our relationship and how it unfolded. If you haven’t read about our journey together before, you can check this post out first, but I’ll kinda touch on the same parts of our relationship here. 

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a romantic season of commitment, love and celebration. Some may not celebrate a dating anniversary, but we do for two reasons:

1) because it’s important to us 

2) because it feels like a real milestone. 

Sometimes we celebrate with just flowers, a dinner and dessert, or surprise gifts to each other if we remember (one of my love languages is gifts). Whatever it is- we do something and it’s an intentional time for us to spend time together. We recognize that not everyone stays together and is as lucky as we are, it’s been almost 13 years married and already 13 years together since we met, that’s huge in our generation. It deserves to be acknowledged.

However fast our dating relationship was- it got us here and I couldn’t be happier. Our dating anniversary is February 10th 2009 and we wed on, yep I promise, September 19th of the SAME YEAR. I understand people do see that as rushing and being quite quick but we didn’t care. We were in love and tearing through what we wanted our lives to look like then.

We thought about military life and then quickly decided against that. You have to really be built and strong for that, physically and also emotionally. We just knew we weren’t. But we continued on anyway. What I did in the years to come- I wasn’t doing any of it without him. It was instant and passionate and enthralled; but it was and is real. I believed in it then and I still do to this day – when you know, you know. 

Basically, we met through friends who he was crashing with at the time. My best friend Ashley and I planned to meet up and go explore downtown to get me out of the dorm and visit with her. Well her and her boyfriend at the time brought along this guy. Now I see he may have had a selfish purpose, but I didn’t care, because I did too honestly. It all worked out for the best and we went slow physically anyway.

My last relationship had just ended and I wasn’t planning to bounce to a new man, but along came something I couldn’t and didn’t want to ignore.

He was funny, sassy and sarcastic and it was right up my alley. I never liked sarcastic or hard edge guys and yet when I met him it was different. He was exactly what I needed at that time, to just say screw the world- I’m going to be me and live however I want. Teaching me to stand up for myself has been a huge part of being partners. I had to grow a spine, for the betterment of me. Before him, I was constantly walked over and taken advantage of. Around the same time, we talked of being serious, and it was almost assumed because we were on the same wavelength. 

Since then I have lost much of my own family and gained his family, which I couldn’t be happier about. He was not always in the best place- crashing on friends couches and figuring out work as he went along. I feel like we met each other at such an ideal time. We sorta rescued the other when we most needed it. It was unbeknownst to us that 13 years later- we would be where we are (in every sense). We’ve been through plenty of ups and downs. Jobs come and go for both of us, friends also come and go (when people take advantage of you or disrespect you), we’ve had financial burden and many blessings. Sean and I both held some jobs over the years nothing super impressive but enough to get by-we’ve come a long way and are very happy with where we’ve settled and made our life what we want it to be.  I’m so happy we bought our home in a great area, we have our dogs (all 3), who we love endlessly and found our passion and boundaries in our relationship. I have truly learned that ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side’, even when you peek or think they are near perfect. I promise you they are not: looks can be deceiving, even when it’s hard to believe. 

Here are some things I’ve learned a lot of things about having such a good partner (and I am in no way perfect at these things): 

  1. You tell each other everything even when it’s hard to hear/say.
  2. Jealousy is a THING, deal with it or fix the issue. (Friends or otherwise) 
  3. One of the more important parts of being a good spouse is finding where you are at fault, admitting to it and fixing it (not just saying you will, to keep the peace). 
  4. Don’t go to bed angry- we don’t believe in it and it does no one good. If anything, just makeup and move on again in the morning. Give a kiss and tell them goodnight- drop the attitude and be sweet. 
  5. Make each other better. Growth is a good thing, don’t become complacent in life instead always look for the hobbies/passions your partner has and wants to share with you. Be present and attentive: this is a big pointer. 
  6. Laughter really is the best medicine! Laugh together and laugh often. 

I hope some of our relationship story may have helped you in some way or another, and helped you see a bit deeper into our relationship that has lasted and held strong. I am so thankful for this man who turned our mess into a life that now I would never change for anything. 

Do you celebrate Valentines Day or have a dating anniversary that you recognize? Tell me about it in the comments below.

17 Things to Elevate your Home on a Budget

Have you ever walked into someones’ home and thought “I wish my home could look like this” or “feel this cozy”? You may like their decor, their furniture, the size or arrangement of the rooms, the smell in the home or just the overall feel of the space. I have adored many homes and many styles of homes especially when we were looking at buying a house initially. I nitpicked and discovered a few things that I really wanted in my home: lots of light, nice stairs, a large kitchen and living (preferably open concept), a small-ish yard and an extra room or two (office etc). 

However if you feel like your home is missing something or generally just want to make it a comfy oasis, here’s some things you can do that WON’T break the bank.

Place a Rug

For texture or just to add comfort, in any situation it’s not a bad idea. But not in your bathroom because that’s just weird. It’s very 70s and well one word is: MOLD. Fluffy, comfy, cushy ones or tightly wound ones that are easier to clean with pets and kids, doesn’t matter just get yourself a good rug!


I love finding different random prints and pictures from Target. I don’t know if you’ve seen the highland cow picture from there; but yeah we own it, it was cheap and it looks so cute in our room. I believe we also found some great and cute pieces from Hobby Lobby at a very low price, good quality and ones that make me smile (llamas). 


A comfy chair or set of chairs, again low cost ones… I found one similar  ($145) to the ones we own and love on Wayfair which we use constantly. They are great additions for guest seating and add to an entertaining living room. 

Faux Plants

Look I cannot (and do not want to) keep a plant alive. And I have many dogs so I worry that it would be a mess or they’d get sick ; I have many faux plants that I got from target or amazon for like 20$ maybe. It adds so much liveliness to a room and the green just makes it feel brighter. It may not actually add O2 but they will relax you enough to take a deep breath. 


They add warmth, hygge and light and instantly boost the feel and mood of your home. They come scented and unscented, small and large and extra large, and I can tell you that Target, Amazon and Etsy has some great ones that just might be better than your local Bath and Body Works store. 

Pretty (but cheap) Drink Coasters

Marble ones I think look super nice but you can find them in ANY color or pattern( also easy to DIY as well. They basically will save your furniture and it just elevates the look of any living room or entertainment space. 

Throw Blankets and Comfy Pillows

What would be better than a cozy knit blanket and plush comfy pillows? Definitely go with a color theme or contrasting colors, like I added a bit of pop of seasonal colors to offset the beige and grey room of mine. Just an example: we also have a thick fleece huge throw blanket that has doxies on it! We love how cozy it is and it’s a staple in our living room. 

Outdoor string lights

These are ambiance to the max. We put them around the inside of our fence for when I take the dogs out at night. The light bulbs burn out often but it’s great for enjoying the outdoor space. The light bulbs are cheap as well- so it’s okay, don’t let that deter you at all. 

Indoor outdoor rug

Great to add texture to an outdoor space or to ground a table and chairs or just to have someplace to put your shoes on the back porch. Fully washable usually or you can pressure wash them easily, they wear well and look great for a long time. Plus an easy way to add a bunch of color to a basic back porch or deck area.

A good vacuum or two

I believe in getting a GREAT VACUUM but; there are sales or if you can invest go according to reviews and what the census is on YouTube from cleaning and motivation people- it’s like a job where they use the vacuums daily and really put them to the test. You can also wait for Amazon day and get a GREAT deal then too (that’s what we did).

A good coffee pot

Again a great investment but there’s ways to cheat here; again sale times through the year or buying second hand keurig or nespresso can save you some coin on a great luxury coffee/espresso machine. I know a drip coffee, like a pour over container is also a great lower cost choice and I’ve heard makes a mean cup! If you’re more into a Mr. Coffee situation- let the good quality beans speak for themselves..

^Or tea kettle

If tea is more up your alley then you should consider an automatic boiling kettle, or a SMEG brand one that you know you’ve heard of before! 

A nice set of knives/utensils/plates

Nice place settings elevates any dinner party or holiday- this is another cheat way to get something that looks more expensive on a budget.I’ve found great plates and utensils at Target, HomeGoods and Big Lots before as well as of course, Amazon. Corelle is a plate manufacturer that is resistant to chipping, breaking and staining by melding three layers of vitrelle glass. I absolutely love having sets of these plate ware because they are easy clean and I’ve never damaged one, even by accident. 

Having fresh flowers

Picking up fresh flowers when you go grocery shopping or like whenever you do a DEEP clean is a simple and pretty cheap thing to do. It really helps the ambiance and feel of the room even if it’s just cheap daisies. Or get an iris that is low maintenance and they last forever. 

Letterboard, bulletin board

These are just fun! You can find these everywhere as well so they don’t have to be pricey at all. Dollartree, TJ Maxx or Home Goods have them and you can find them in all sizes and colors, available also on Amazon. So many unique and fun sayings to share from Pinterest- just search letter board quotes.


Blackout curtains have weight and help a lot of people sleep better by blocking out the light and some sound, they come in lots of colors and patterns as well so it’s easy to match your style or color scheme of any room. Great in bedrooms but also for nurseries, child’s room  or a living room when you want to watch a movie. 

Photos/personalized items

Maybe not on every single wall has a picture or art on it (although I’m a big ‘no blank walls’ kind of person) but seeing your ownership and personalization gives others an idea for how much pride you take in your house. And shares memories that they may not otherwise see or know about.

Storage solutions-Organization containers, cereal bins:

Definitely something to do in any kitchen or pantry, it makes things last longer and easier to find as well. And fun to label in addition. The OXO brand is the best in my opinion but any of these kinds of organizers and containers are worth it. 

&& A BONUS! Matching hangers

Do this! It makes such a difference even if you add one pack at a time, or save up or ask for these for Christmas. It has made such a big difference in my closet and eases my mind and eyes when I go in there. If you can have them evenly spaced it will feel like a boutique instead of cramming all your stuff into the closet (to make it all fit). In that case try to do a seasonal declutter 4 times a year- that really helps me stay on top of it and give to others when I don’t fit in it or don’t care for it anymore. 

As a side note, I would also say, do the minimal repairs, if there’s stains or a leak, take care of it. If there are small nicks in your paint, do a touchup (which I need to do) it makes it look complete and like your house hasn’t been beat up and overall more polished. Small things outdoors help too- weed often, mow your grass, pressure wash or clean your walkway, sweep… These easy things make a HUGE difference when you and other people see your home. Keeping a tidy home and paying attention to detail is the best thing you can do to present the best appearance of your home from the inside out. 


I did so good with my goals last month and was so consistent that I wanted to share them here but make it fun! So I brainstormed with one of my friends and she came up with a BINGO of goals to tackle for the month- I’ll be doing and making examples of each one and then the BINGO that will be available down below and on my instagram (if you don’t follow me yet-@noraspaulding). This is just a summary of a few things on the card and why I want to keep them as habits and goals.

READ A BOOK: In January I chose to truly start a reading habit, so I stuck to it and got through my first complete self help book and loved it! It was a shorter and easier one but I’m so thrilled and feel so accomplished. Reading and absorbing the content on productivity will help me work through the rest of the year. I plan to read at LEAST one book a month (possibly two) and start doing book reviews eventually as well. I’ve made a habit by reading at an alarm every night and was consistent with it!

WRITE EVERYDAY: I also set an alarm for this ‘habit/goal’ and use the “power-hour” that me and my blog friends have almost every night for focused work time. I am much more motivated to work with others and decide to write anything including journaling if that’s all I can do.

WORKOUT WKS 1-4: I am putting forth the effort to do any workout at least 3 days a week. Moving my body has become a priority and it’s great for relaxation to be honest, even if it’s a stretch or yoga flow. I need to use all the awesome equipment we have purchased and make my fitness a priority for my future.

VIDEO CHAT WITH A FRIEND: Who is missing their people?! I am. Well I wanted to be intentional about seeing people but staying safe with Covid still being rampant. I intentionally planned to have 2-3 video chat dates with gals that I’m newer friends with but haven’t seen face to face due to distance and time differences.

DO A CRAFT: I’m brand new to crafting (at all), it’s never really been my thing to “create” physical goods from scratch. But I found something I enjoy- chalk painting! It’s fun, custom, simple and decorative. Recently, I went kinda wild on the website and got all the templates and a bunch of chalk/ink to make to my hearts content.

MEDITATE: Finding the peace in the busy is hard so I just want to learn to quiet my mind and relax more often. I have tried a few times with some stillness and I like to use the Calm app- I’d like to make that a regular thing.

CLEAN FOR 15 MINS/DO A CHORE YOU HATE: I love to clean but sometimes I get behind with the small things so I aim to do a bit of cleaning daily. When my home is clean my mind is clean and when my mind is clean- I can focus.

SPEND TIME TOGETHER: Sean and I most days just really do our own things and hangout in the same room but lately it’s been hard because of his chronic pain and COVID (once again) to really do many things together intentionally; and the days just slip by us. We don’t want to feel like roommates so I need to try to have more FUN WITH him and try more activities to do together. Some ideas might be puzzles, games for two, shows to binge, clean/rearrange furniture, cook.

ONE ACT OF KINDNESS: I love to do things for others either out of the blue OR when they really need it. I enjoy treating a friend to lunch or a coffee or surprising someone with baby shower gifts. If you can do this, it’s very nice and people I think really appreciate it. And I truly believe that it will come back around too.

Here’s the February Goals Bingo card-repost on social media, tag me and show me what you are able to get done this month.

Share your goals in the comments section and I’ll chat with you all there! Until next time.

5 Great Ways to Motivate Yourself

In the winter, even more than any other time of year, it can be hard to find motivation. It’s cold, we’re stuck inside a lot more, and the shorter days can be draining in many ways. We’re also almost a month into the new year and motivation often drops as time goes by. If you’re dealing with a lack of motivation, I want to share some ways you can motivate yourself.

Listen to Upbeat Music

I believe in the power of music to change your mood and help motivate you. If you’re struggling to get things done, or want to get emotions out so you can move forward with your goals, upbeat music is a great way to achieve that. With music apps at your fingertips, you can easily create playlists with upbeat songs to get you motivated. So turn on the music and get things done!

Make progress on a goal

Feeling stuck is hard and can really affect your motivation. The good news is that you can increase your motivation by taking just a step or two toward your goal. Taking a step toward your goal could be something as small as making a phone call, writing one post, sending an email or finishing any task that you need to get done. You’ll also build momentum to keep things going in that direction because accomplishing one task can lift you up and help you feel ready to accomplish even more.

Make a list of your accomplishments

When your motivation is low or you’re feeling defeated, making a list of what you’ve accomplished in your life can help you remember that you can accomplish so much! It can also make you excited to accomplish more. List both big and small accomplishments, anything you can think of.

Get on Zoom with your friends

Feeling alone is easy right now, which can negatively impact our motivation levels. Making the effort to connect with friends is one of the biggest things you can do to help you get things done and feel more motivated. If Zoom isn’t your thing, there are many other options and even a regular phone call would work. I get on Zoom with my friends often and we all like to chat and catch up and get things done together. We also help each other through problems or brainstorm when we need it, which helps us all feel more motivated.

Remind yourself why

It’s easy to forget why we’re working on the goals we set, especially as time goes by. Take some time to think or journal about why you’re working on your goals. What do you hope to accomplish? Why is it so important to you? What is the end result? Reminding yourself why can often increase your motivation.

It’s easy to let everything we need to do pile on us and cause us to feel defeated, but there is a lot we can do to help ourselves too. I hope these tips can help you get motivated again or increase your motivation when it’s low. What are your best ways to get yourself motivated?

Hi! I'm Nora

I’m a stay-at-home wife & dog-mom. I began this blog ten years ago,  I couldn’t ignore that I felt a calling to help people find comfort, a sense of belonging or a place of community whenever they really needed it. » Read more about me here on my About page!

Latest Posts

Posts You Might Like

Maggie: We Miss You

This is a long story, so I’m going to try to be as concise as possible. What would you do for your pet if he

Updated Personal Bucket List

Having a bucket list at my age I think is a common thing people do. Although making moves on getting your bucket list done isn’t

34 Notes to Past Me

The last few years have been a doozy and I wanted to write a birthday post or rather a getting older post of all the

Blog Better

a blog post checklist

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest