simply having a wonderful christmas time

I can't believe it's already December. Where has this year gone?! I love this time of year but as an adult, especially now as a wife and stepmom, I've found it's easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed. Between work, church, and my own family, I'm extra busy this holiday season.

Leading up to Thanksgiving I was feeling pretty stressed out and rather bah humbug. It also hasn't helped that for the last 8 weeks or so I've been really struggling with my depression. When you're depressed everything feels bigger than it really is and you have no motivation to do even the normal everyday tasks living requires.

reflections on our first year of marriage

Earlier this month Dale and I celebrated our one year anniversary. On November 11, 2016 we were sealed for time and all eternity in the Albuquerque LDS temple. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life to this point. I know that's cliche but it's true. 

I will never forget how I felt kneeling across the altar from Dale as we made sacred covenants and promises that united us together as husband and wife. It was a long, a times very difficult path to reach that altar. Our journey wasn't without mistakes, bumps, and challenges, but together we made the commitment and sacrifices necessary to be married in the temple. 

why I'm glad we had our wedding reception in the LDS cultural hall

I always swore I would NEVER--under any circumstances--ever have my wedding reception in an LDS cultural hall (aka the church gym). Well, never say never. Turns out weddings are expensive and the cultural hall is free.

At one point in the wedding planning process, we seriously thought we were going to have our reception at the Sandia Resort & Casino Reception Center. I'm so glad we didn't go that route. Not only would it have been a huge added expense, more importantly it just wouldn't have felt like us.

my wedding dress & flowers

The Dress

True confession: I bought my dress almost five months before we were even engaged. I knew we would be getting married but had no idea when given a variety of factors. Thanks to my years of reading wedding magazines and blogs I knew I needed to leave as much lead time as possible to get the dress I wanted. 

The fact that I bought my wedding dress so early turned out to be a total blessing. My seamstress literally finished the alterations the day before I left Spokane to move to Albuquerque. By getting my dress early I was able to have my mom go with me along with my dear friend and bridesmaid Krista. If I'd waited I'm not sure that would have been possible. 

our engagement story

Dale and I officially got engaged at the top of Sandia Peak on December 30, 2015. It was a beautiful winter day in the Land of Enchantment. Dale had moved down to Albuquerque that October after securing a new archeologist position at Kirtland Air Force Base. He was in the process of buying our home and still living in an Airbnb due to some unforeseen complications. Let me just put it out there that buying a house is nothing like they show you on HGTV. 

We had picked out my ring a month earlier when we traveled to St. George and Salt Lake City to visit his family for Thanksgiving. Dale's Grandpa Harkness (his mom's dad) was an amateur jeweler and bought and sold jewelry as a hobby. When he passed away Dale's Aunt Shirley became the keeper of his ring collection. 

it's wedding week on life enchanted

This time last year I was counting the days to our wedding on November 11, 2016. With all the work that goes into planning a wedding (we did all of it ourselves), it didn't leave much time for documenting the process.

It's hard to believe our one year anniversary is right around the corner. On Friday we'll be heading to Santa Fe for a little weekend getaway to celebrate. Dale and I say all the time how we feel like we've been married for years (in a good way).

dealing with depression

At the age of 19 I experienced what was later diagnosed as a "major depressive episode". My depression was so bad that I was failing my classes at BYU and unable to do my job as a Resident Assistant. I ended up withdrawing from school and going back home to live with my parents for a year before enrolling at Utah State University. At the time, it felt like the ultimate failure.

Upon returning home it took me a few months before I began to come out of my depression and start to become functional again. For awhile the highlight of my day was getting up at 4pm (yes you read that right) to watch Reba on TV. On Friday nights I would go to Costco with my parents. That was usually my only outing for the week.

31 years of marriage

Today my parents celebrated 31 years of marriage. I'm very grateful to have grown up in a home where both of my parents loved each other and were as committed to each other as they were in raising me and my siblings. Both of those things were, and still are, great blessings in my life.

I understand marriage differently now that I'm also married. My parents aren't perfect. I learned that along time ago. I too am not perfect and neither is my husband. My parents' marriage isn't perfect. Neither is mine. Being perfect isn't what it's all about anyway.

searching for more wellness

At the end of July I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist. When the nurse took my vitals I tipped the scales at my highest recorded weight (ever). That wasn't the most awesome feeling in the world. That wake-up call along with my desire to prepare my body for pregnancy, has prompted me to become focused on finding new ways to promote more emotional, mental, and physical wellness in my life.

Recently, I've also developed a big need to better manage my stress levels. In July I transitioned from working part-time to full-time. The nonprofit I work for is going through some major transitions right now and my job has become pretty stressful. Now more than ever I've realized how important it is that I make time to take care of myself, reduce my stress, and care for my emotional and physical health.

losing harper

This picture of Harper was taken over three years ago when we were still living in Chicago. I have so many pictures of Harper over the last six years (yes, I was a little bit of a crazy cat lady for awhile), but this one really captures the light she brought into my life. It was the first picture that popped up when I was searching for a photo to post to Instagram Monday night after we had to put her down.

It's strange that losing a cat feels like I've lost a part of myself. Harper's passing closes a significant chapter in my life. She was the last connection and surviving remnant of my life as a single lady. I'm not the same girl that I was when I adopted her over six years ago.

my next 30 years

In 10 days I will turn 30--the big 3-0. To be honest, I'm excited and not at all dismayed. My twenties were a period of immense growth and constant  change. I'm proud of what I achieved and the experiences I pursued. But I'm also happy to be leaving my twenties behind.

I spent most of my twenties focused on how I wanted my life to look and made my decisions based on that intangible dream. While that certainly wasn't necessarily a bad approach, over the past decade I've learned to embrace reality and live more in the present.

my first experience with natural beauty products

I'm by no means any type of beauty guru or aficionado (that position is filled by my main girl Tasha). However, thanks to some of my favorite lifestyle sites like Glitter Guide and The Mama Notes,  I've recently become more aware of the types of products I use and the ingredients in them.

A lot of my curiosity about natural beauty products has been fueled by my hope to get pregnant soon. Once I get pregnant I know I need to be more careful about what goes inside and on my body. So why not start to make healthy changes now?

why you should try madison reed hair color

Remember those pesky gray hairs I mentioned earlier? In the months leading up to our wedding last November I decided I was ready to try hair color again. It was time to conquer those beasts. But I didn't want to take any hair color risks until after we said "I do".

I can't afford to have my hair professionally colored every 8 weeks, so I set out to find a sustainable option that was also gentle on my hair now that I've sporting much longer locks. Enter Madison Reed--the solution to all of my hair coloring woes. I've used this mail order hair color service three times now over the past six months and couldn't be happier with my experience.  

april discoveries

It's the last day of April and I haven't done a discoveries post since January! How is 2017 going by so fast? This collection of discoveries spans the last three months so it's a little longer than usual. I hope you enjoy!

loving life in the southwest

This morning I had an email in my inbox notifying me to renew my domain for this site. I can't believe it's already been a year since I started Life Enchanted. It's been a whirl wind journey settling into my new life in the Southwest.

I truly have developed a love for the culture and landscape here. I adore cacti and succulents now, can't get enough green chile, and have no qualms about it reaching 70 degrees in March. Life is different here but it's so good.

why I love valentine's day

This is my first Valentine's Day as a married lady. And even though I didn't find my valentine until I was 28 (gasp) and married him at 29 (just under the wire, I know), Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.

I know tons of people who despise the holiday because they feel it creates unrealistic expectations, is fueled only by commercialism, and draws unnecessary negative attention to those who are single. There are also plenty of people in relationships who also choose not to celebrate or recognize Valentine's Day as a holiday for the aforementioned reasons and more. I say to each his own, truly. I don't think anyone should celebrate a holiday they feel forced into or don't find enjoyable.

january discoveries

I don't know about you but January has never been my favorite time of year. Between the post-holiday blues and drab weather, it's less than inspiring. Here in New Mexico we at least don't have to deal with subzero temperatures and relentless snow. I feel for all of my friends and family who are suffering during these winter months.

Last year I did a few monthly "wish list" posts but I've decided that moving forward "discoveries" is more fitting. This way I can share more than just products or items I want but also other things I've found or used. So without further ado, here are my discoveries for this month. I hope you enjoy them!

stumbling blocks

True confession: I spent the better part of December super anxious and strung out wondering if I was pregnant or not. Long story short, I'm not pregnant and that's totally ok. We have plenty of time to make babies.

This experience caused me to reflect on the stumbling blocks that keep us from being totally present in our everyday lives. By recently identifying past and present stumbling blocks in my life, I came to the conclusion that I want to make conscience decisions to help me embrace my present rather than focusing too much on my desires for the future.