Young, Dumb and in Love

Young, Dumb, and in Love

Yesterday was the anniversary of our first date.

We met six years ago at, but our relationship truly blossomed on a little relic called (We were both too cheap to auto-renew for one more month at the time!)

After several weeks of emails, Kristin and I decided to meet face to face for the first time. As many online couples do, we chose our first encounter at a Starbucks. I was excited and nervous that day, as was she.

We talked about life after school, the rush and worry of existence that only a young person in their mid-20s could, and cell phones.

(For the record, six years ago I had the Palm Centro and Kristin was in love with the Blackberry Curve 8330 with a pink case)

We’re pretty nerdy, I know.

I had such a great time that day, thinking I could talk to this woman forever and not be bored. She was so much like me, had similar struggles and success like me, and we just clicked from day one.

Our first picture together

Ever the hipster, Kristin had blogs and took selfies way before most of the world knew these were even things. She was as smart as could be about stuff before it hit the mainstream, and so I even learned what a hipster was from her!

Kristin's selfie circa 2008

From an outsider’s perspective of our relationship, it was such a different dynamic, most people did indeed think we were crazy back then, but that was ok with us.

I think we were talking about rings within 2 weeks of meeting each other, and the great Cincinnati Wind Power Outage of 2008 ensured we made haste when moving in together.


This past weekend, for our six year dating anniversary, I took us both on a trip back down memory lane by compiling the 1st 30 days of our Gmail chats and making a scrapbook of them all. (thanks Google for wanting to know our entire lives, sometimes it actually comes in handy!) We read it at Starbucks.

Kristin and the Scrapbook

Coffee and Gchats

I had a complete blast doing this, and something really struck me as I read all of the late night messages, giddy conversations and talk of the future with the two of us together.

One singular statement really read true in all of these love letters.

We were idiots.

It turns out we were both not great with money. Messages abound of “spotting” each other tens of dollars in between waves of the feast and famine that was payday.

My favorite text in particular talks about not having enough money for both a loaf of bread from Panera and gas, and how we were actually choosing between the two:

gas or food

Gas won out if I recall. We didn’t have money for a loaf of bread, people.

As is often the case when no one has told you otherwise, we had no clue that we were living our lives in chaos in our mid-twenties.

As the relationship grew, we started facing our money fears head-on. I started working with a budget and telling Kristin how bad I really was with handling money. It was difficult, sure, but it saved us. We realized that we wanted more from our lives and struggling like this was not going to get us there.

Slowly but surely we began to turn our lives around. Not just with money but in all habits. The uphill battling together only made us stronger.

We started treating ourselves and others better. My life began improving because I admitted there was a problem. I started living a life of integrity and a sense of purpose that had somehow evaded me for so many years.

If you feel that you’re stuck and your life is not getting any better, or if you just can’t seem to move the needle enough on a project, know that we all start somewhere. For us, it was making plans to not want for so much and appreciate what we have.

If you struggle, know that there is always something better beyond today. Know that you can make those miracles happen.

If Kristin and I had not kept moving forward in our efforts with money, we would still be where we were at all those years ago. I can honestly say now that we are far better people, much happier in life and live with a renewed sense of gratitude.

We can’t wait to see what the next six years bring.

Surrounded by Screens

How many screens are within your view at this very moment?

Remember, it didn’t used to be like this. Not too many years ago, you were hard-pressed to find a smartphone user in a crowd.

Now, look at all of the screens available. It feels like everyone is looking at screens all the time. They are both bigger (70″ LED TV’s, Phablet screens) and smaller (Tablets, smartphones, Wearable technology) and just more prevalent overall.

This trend will not be stopping anytime soon, either. More average Americans use computers while at work, as well as when they get home. That means we are also spending more time looking at all of these new screens.

Here’s some advice from a recovering tech junkie:

Matrix Screens

Found at a house Kristin and I were looking to purchase.

Watch your Time

In Financial Peace University the Marketing lesson, Dave Ramsey talks about having your “shields up” when tackling debt because there are so many businesses out there trying to take your money.

The same is true today with Time.

Time has become our most precious commodity. In a world of “Freemium” business models, companies now want your time more than ever. The more screens you have, the more you need to be aware of what you’re doing while on them.

Time is Money. It’s another currency. Extra screens mean more potential for spending time. How often have you lost track of time on a screen?

Giving your time & attention to a screen is saying “This is what’s important to me right now” whether you realize it or not. Well, is it important? 

You need to be able to answer that question consciously, or your sub-conscious will answer for you.

Be intentional

Financial experts say to watch the little purchases, they add up to a significant portion of money. The same is true with time. Pay attention to those little time payments, they could turn into huge time-sucks.

Be conscious of what you’re doing and don’t let someone else dictate your actions.

I make it a point to do this while watching movies. The director did not intend for me to watch this movie with one eye on my phone or laptop, so I’ll make it a point to keep anything out of reach that I may be tempted with, in order to enjoy the movie.

Just like with money & getting sidetracked, it’s easy to Facebook-check yourself to death too.

Remember that you can only really look at one at a time, anyway.

Take a Break

If you feel like your eyeballs are going to pop out of your head, walk away. Look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Make sure you are blinking correctly & regularly. There are even special glasses for those who look at screens for extended periods during the day.

It’s easy to center your life around your devices. Even as someone who loves checking out the latest gadgetry, I try not to make these things the center of my life. That happens by having my “shields up” and making conscious decisions with my time.


How do you feel about the prevalence of additional devices everywhere? Has it changed the way you consume content?



Easter 2014

I have a hard time getting Ethan to agree to any sort of “girly” posts. I’ve been trying to get him to let me do a Manicure Monday post here on Hello, Flecks! for a while. He wants nothing to do with it. Men!

But yesterday for Easter, we both got a little fancy, and, I must say, we looked pretty cute! Our sweet neighbor offered to take some pictures for us, AND we matched, AND I had fancy nails. I mean, if this isn’t all the makings of an outfit post, I don’t know what is.

As a lifestyle blog, I feel it is our duty to appeal to our lady readers as well as our dude readers. So, LADIES and gents, I give you, The Flecks’ Easter Fashions!







The details:

Kristin: dress-Elle at Kohls. Shoes-Target. Nail decals-Made by Muchies Mama

Ethan: shirt-Club Room at Macy’s. Tie: Calvin Klein. Jeans-Alfani at Macy’s.

Skincare SOS! The Best Choices In your 30s!



Good skincare.  It’s something that is really important, especially to women,  especially the older we get. For the first year of my 30s, I still treated my skin like I did when I was in my 20s. Enter year 31. Things were changing. Yikes.

It really is crazy how quickly you can start to notice changes in your skin. One day I looked at my hands and realized even they looked different. This whole aging thing is happening, and I’d better start to take care. I made it my new goal to whip my skincare regimen into shape. I’ve broken down your skincare must have’s below. And the best part? They are all under $20!

1. Antioxidants. We all know that antioxidants are important. They help fight against free radicals, keep our skin looking bright, and help reduce wrinkles. Because I like to use as many natural products as I can, I use Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh. It smells amazing, it’s nice and gentle, and it has those antioxidants we need!


2. Retinol. If you are in your 30s and you aren’t using a retinol cream, RUN to the nearest drugstore. Retinol cream helps your skin repair itself (especially overnight), and it is the biggest wrinkle fighter you can get. Because we are budget savvy, I use Walgreens Deep Wrinkle Retinol Cream. It works great and also smells nice!

3. SPF. Wearing an SPF daily will help protect your skin from sun damage, and even though you may not realize it, we are constantly exposed to the sun’s rays throughout the day.

4. Serum. Serums do more than your regular moisturizer because they reach deeper into the layers of your skin than your typical moisturizer does.

I’ve found that a 2 in 1 moisturizer in serum works best for me. Why, you ask? Well, because I’m lazy and also don’t want to spend a billion dollars on skincare products. Simple, people. It’s the way to go. I like Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 Moisturizer+Serum Duo with SPF 15. Look at that. Hitting 3 steps in one. Rock on!

.These products make me skincare routine super simple, and that’s why I love it. I use the cleanser and the retinol cream at night. No moisturizer needed. And in the mornings, a quick swipe of the cleansing towelettes and the Olay moisturizer+serum duo. It’s seriously easy peasy, AND I’m protecting my skin.

Pressure Cooker Roundup

Let me ask you a question. Do you really ENJOY cooking dinner? Because lately, after I get home from working a 9 or 10 hour day, plus an hour commute home, and it’s now 7pm, dinner is the last thing I want to worry about. So I’ve been going to the one kitchen gadget that I never really thought I’d use, but is now saving my life on the daily. THE PRESSURE COOKER. Have you used a pressure cooker before? It’s like a crockpot only backwards. It cooks things super quickly under high amounts of pressure. It gives you all the juicy tenderness of a crockpot, in 20 minutes. I especially love using my pressure cooker in the summertime because you don’t have an oven running for 45 minutes or an hour, heating up your house even more. Using a pressure cooker is as easy as you can get. Put some water in the pot, throw in some meat and vegetables or potatoes, put on your lid, cook. I mean, easy peasy! Even I can do that! Here’s my go-to pressure cooker recipe.

1. put 1 cup of water in your pressure cooker.
2. add 2 chicken breasts and some new potatoes.
3. put the pressure cooker on “2” and your burner on high.
4. Close the lid and lock, and wait for your cooker to come to pressure.
5. turn your burner down to medium and cook for 15 minutes.


It is literally the easiest meal you’ll ever make, and the chicken is juicy and delicious, even with nothing on it. Plus, it’s a great way to eat healthier! No cooking oil, no salt, no butter. Just water!


We use a pressure cooker similar to this: Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker. (affiliate link. thank you!)

Here’s some other quick and easy pressure cooker recipes I’ve found.

Pressure Cooker Pork Chops from

Pressure Cooker Pork Tenderloin from

BBQ Spare Ribs from

8 Minute Pressure Cooker Chili from

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