College: Books Don't Have to Break the Bank

Obviously, school is a BIG part of my life now. It's also huge for a lot of you guys! But college is expensive. I'm currently attending one of the most inexpensive schools (for the "payout") in the west, and it's still breaking the bank. One of the biggest expenses, as we all know, is the hundreds of dollars every semester we spend on books. Renting books is definitely the way to go, and CampusBookRentals is the place to do it. I've heard about campusbookrentals.com from a lot of different people, but you guys really need to check it out.

  1. You can save anywhere from 40-90% off of bookstore prices! For example, I bought my biology book for $100 USED ($150 full price), I found it on the site for $60. 
  2. FREE shipping both ways (when you rent it and return it)
  3. Highlight? Yes, please. Hint- Annotating textbooks is one of the easiest ways to check comprehension. Do it.
  4. They donate to Operation Smile (More info here)
Really, it's a no brainer.


However, the absolute coolest thing, is Rent Back.

So, instead of selling your books back for TONS less than you bought them, you can rent them out and make way more money.

All you do, is send your book to CampusBookRentals, a student rents it, and you get paid. THEN, they send it back to CampusBookRentals, another student rents it, and you get paid again. And again and again until it runs out of juice and gets sold.

It's easy to do and the site itself is incredibly user friendly. Quite frankly, I don't see a downside.

It's already midterms, so it's a great time to start thinking about your textbook plans for next semester. Our book lists DON'T have to cost a lot, and hey, let's make money on the books we already have!



I hate catch-up posts...Mostly because there's only a few blogs I follow that I really want to know what they've been up to. However, when we write our blog posts, I think it's important to remember who we write them for. Sometimes we write them for "sponsors." Sometimes we write them for ourselves to feel good or pretty or popular. Often times we write them to the world, because we feel impassioned about something, and we want (or need) to share it. But no matter who we write to, there's always people that are close to us that read it all.

And that's why we write catch-up posts. (for this kind of blog anyway)

School: I'm doing very well in school, and Taylor is also. We got this :) Also, after attending both BYU and USU, I have to say that they are pretty much equal. Anything USU lacks, BYU probably has and vice versa (however you say that). I definitely like USU better,  but I'm sure I'm biased.

That being said, we have some school pride. Taylor, actually, has a ton of school pride.

  • Games:

Our packed stadium

We camped out in the freezing weather for good seats to the game.

We rocked it on the kiss cam :)

  • Choir:

I had fun at my first choir concert (despite every girl feeling like our boobs were falling out of our rather low-cut dresses)

My face is covered...but I'm the second from the left on the second row
Work: Like many poor college students, we work too. Taylor works a lot for comcast, and I work graveyards doing custodial at the University. Glamour jobs? No. But we are very very thankful to have them.

Church: Our ward is excellent! Everyone is very inviting, and we have already made a lot of friends. We also dominated the weird hat competition at our first ward activity and won a $25 giftcard to 4 different restaurants! We also shot pumpkins at a car..oh so fun.
We won!

The car didn't stand a chance
Dates: We try to still make time for dates with our busy schedules, and of course, we dress up for them.
I felt so cute, I had to share :)

He's so hot. I know. And manly too!


College Kids

We're finally full on college kids! After a couple of weeks of school, I've learned that I'm a much better student married. I'm suddenly more mature... I don't know when it happened, but it certainly did! My acting class is nerve racking, of course, but really fun. It's always nice to have a couple of classes where almost any classmate is a potential good friend. I had an impromptu audition for a couple of student directors yesterday, and I did pretty well. At least, I think I did. My choir audition went well also. It was just an audition for parts, but somehow getting into the first soprano section with a "I wish I could sing that high" from my director shot my confidence up. It's been years since I've sang with a choir, but I still have my range. Personal victory? Absolutely.

I still don't know what I want to major in. English, Theater, and Vocal Performance are all swirling around in my head; each one squealing "Pick me! Pick me!" And then there's the annoying voice of Mr. Double Major that I'm trying very hard to ignore. Less than a year ago I was absolutely sure that I was going to be a Math Ed. major, but that little guy is nowhere to be found in my head now.

We're still figuring out this new life of ours. I have two interviews today and one tomorrow. I just need one part-time job! You guys, Subway didn't call me back. Subway. Although, I could tell the interviewer wasn't all too impressed with my religious affiliation. I'll blame it on that.

Fall is a time of change. The leaves change, sure, but don't lives seem to always change around fall? School creeps in, work becomes real, summer fun is over. This year, we're welcoming the change.



We live in a studio apartment. A tiny little thing about a five minute walk from campus. Its wall-to-wall carpeting dyes our feet dark dark blue. The bathroom, also carpeted, has a light that makes a buzzing sound after about 30 seconds that could drive a deaf man insane. Two of the four walls are made of painted cinder block. Our microwave balances perfectly in the middle of a bookshelf, because we don't have any counter space. Not true. We have about 10 inches of counter space. We don't use the A/C because it smells funny and we don't want to pay the high utilities. Our nightstand is a TV stand with an old rose table cloth on top. And our car usually starts on the second try.

I don't think I could possibly be more grateful for my life. This life. This tiny apartment, breaking car, and wonderful wonderful, well, everything. I feel like I'm in a movie! One of those girls with big dreams and a small living space. Only, I get an amazing man too! I feel awesome.

 I'm so grateful for this working computer that my sister sold to us at a discounted price! I'm grateful for the groceries my grandma surprised us with as a parting gift. I'm grateful for the July girl "days" out with my Mother-in-law. I'm grateful for my guitar, that I don't play nearly often enough. I'm grateful for my friends that I don't see nearly enough.  I'm grateful for my husband and his hard-working attitude. I'm grateful for this tiny apartment. It's adorable and it's perfect. 

In five days, we will have been married for one year. Children are in the far future, and we are living in what I think is the best marriage around. Of course, I'm a little biased. We didn't come from secure, or even "normal," families, but who cares? We are so lucky to be loved and to love both of our families, happily! Even those that would rather be contentious, we don't have any ill will towards. It feels good to know how lucky we are. In-law trouble is not in our book! 

But I'm grateful that, for the most part, we're doing this on our own. I'm grateful for our ability, and the necessity, to stretch a dollar. Even if it's taken us a while to really get it down. I'm incredibly grateful that we can happily live somewhere that others would never even consider stepping into. I'm so thankful that we have been blessed with the perspective of life that we have. 

I'm not an allstar blogger. I don't always get back to people quickly, I don't post every week, and I am not a good button swapper. (I blog like I text. Forgetfully.) I've been blogging for over a year and I don't have a gazillion followers. But I'm proud of the ones I do have. And I wish I could meet them all in real life. (The few I have met are pretty amazing!) I, like many of us, don't want to be the blogger that conforms with this made-up blogger mentality. Some of us forget that not all blogs are crafting, or fashion, or lifestyle, or cooking blogs. Some blogs are just...blogs. Places to record or share ideas. You don't have to be pretty, or have a sidebar with a million buttons, or pay to gain followers. There are blogs out there where people just share ideas. They just type up their beliefs. Many don't use made-up words, or weird phrases and excessive exclamation points/font changes. But many do. And it doesn't matter if they do or don't. They're expressing themselves. Their real selves. Because they don't care if that the number on their sidebar stays at "3" or "15" or "125" or "1,000," they just write. I'm not that blogger. Or at least I wasn't. And although I would say, as many of us have, that I hate the number game and I don't want to care about my follower count anymore... I still did. 

But now?

I asked myself why I wanted that number to grow. Do I want to get paid to blog? No. I don't want to write reviews, and put ads up, and write when I don't want to so that I can get a tiny paycheck or a free tote bag. Do I want blogger friends? Yes...I guess. But I don't want my 1,000 closest friends to be people without faces. Do I want to see myself as popular? Not when more than half my "followers" just followed me for exposure or a free..whatever. I guess I want followers so that I feel validated. So that I can feel like what I do or write or think is...cool? But when I look back on my blog, it's not even me that wrote most of these posts. It's some girl that probably wrote a post on fitness using exclamation points and smiley faces when she was thinking about how scary school is to her and frowning the whole time. 

I guess what I'm getting at is that I wanna live like no one else. I like my corner of the internet. I probably really like yours! But if I wanna be like every other blog in this blogging world I planted myself in, then I should probably do everything they do. Remind me what's so great about being just like everyone else? If I wanna be like everyone else after I graduate (debt...and nice things), then I should live like them now! But I don't want that.

If you want to live like no one else, then you have to live like no one else. 

It's weird that this post turned into a post about blogging.

..and that I wrote it at 2am. 

I like it.  


Here We Go

In 16 days, we will be Aggies! In 10 days, Taylor starts his job. And in 5 days, we move up to our little bitty apartment in Logan!

There's carpet in the bathroom. You guys. THE BATHROOM! But hey, I'll only ever need to vacuum! 

We will be Loganite Aggies! All that's left is to get me a job! We're pretty strapped until the day after our anniversary, but that's okay. I'm excited to be grounded somewhere, and to have a ward that we can work with the Bishop consistently and get us in that pretty Logan temple :) Once we move up to Logan, we will have moved 4 times in 4 months. Provo to California to Oregon to Provo to Logan.
We're currently sleeping on two twin air mattresses squished together in my grandmother's "playroom." It's quite the cramped living space. But it's nice to spend time with family.

 My Okie mom came home yesterday! She wears cowboy boots now and she says "y'all" a lot. I haven't seen her since November! She's also very small and tan, she used to be not as small and very very white. In the past year, she's done a lot of crazy Oklahoma'ey/red necky things. And last night, my mom went to bed in her boyfriend's shirt... Am I weird for being uncomfortable, yet very interested in this boyfriend of my 45-year-old mother that I have never met?

We've also been able to spend time with some friends! Preggo friends! Two of my good friends are expecting. It's so exciting! Although, I'm not at all baby hungry, just excited for their babies!

My grandma is redoing her entire kitchen while we stay here. I just told her I was going to blog about her kitchen remodeling, and she said "What kitchen?"

It's pretty gutted.

In conclusion, my life got a little crazy, but I couldn't be more grateful for it. :)


The Charm of Portland

Portland is very quirky, and I love it. It makes for interesting dates and adventurous nights! Last night was no exception.

Taylor surprised me with a movie date at a theater with some Portland charm. We waited in line outside where a girl with purple hair complimented my shoes and proceeded to scream at every car that drove by. But hey, I'll take the compliment!

 We finally got to the ticket booth and asked for two tickets to The Great Gatsby (1 buck!). The lady promptly asked us for our IDs. At first I thought that maybe she had misunderstood us. As far as I knew, The Great Gatsby is only PG13. She seemed to interpret our quizzical looks and explained that it was 21 and over 'cause it was booze night. Lemme tell ya, there's nothing better than watching a movie with a whole bunch of buzzed adults. Everything  was funny.

Oh gosh I love my man, and I love this town. 


I'm a Southern Girl...Oh Wait, I'm not.

Why wasn't I born in the South? My mom lives in Oklahoma, isn't that enough for me to be considered a Southern Girl? No? Well...I love rodeos, and cowboy boots, and NASCAR, and I say "ain't" all the time, and I can easily slip into an accent, is that enough?

Of course, anyone actually from the South would call me a "poser" or something of the like. They might even say that I'm trying much too hard. But I can't help it! The title Southern Bell sounds so desirable, and my family is pretty hickish. No, really!...only a step away from becoming like the family in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Taylor and I might go to Texas one day, and maybe we'll even stay there and I can be that southern bell!

 Now that I have left Utah and experienced living away just a tiny lil' bit, I feel different. Like a different Nikole. This summer hasn't been all butterflies and ice cream, it's been hard. But it has been such an awesome adventure, and it isn't even over yet! We have learned so much, and now I feel a little more empowered to just go do it. Whatever it is.

So, let's move to Texas, or live in a 200 sqft apartment, or stay in Mexico for a year, or learn a new skill, or anything. We can do it!

I guess it's weird for me to feel like we could do anything in the whole world just because we've survived a hard month, but whatever. I'll take it.


Sweet Potato Fries

Do you ever feel overwhelmed and exhausted and stressed and just bad? A long while ago, Taylor and I went out to dinner, and at the time, he felt like that. After he had voiced his concerns, I thought for a minute about what to say. He looked so defeated and down, like he had to climb the biggest mountain in the world. So, I took a couple of sweet potato fries and put them in the corner of my plate, and I said,

"I think you're just looking at a small part of it. Like you're just looking at these two sweet potato fries, and your forgetting about the steak and the bread and the huge mound of other fries."

I don't think he really got what I was saying, so I explained further,

"Sometimes everything seems so bad. We have so much to do in short amount time and everything seems to be piling up, but it's because we're focusing on a little part of our lives, the sweet potato fries. Sure, we have to do things, and yes, we've made mistakes, but we're practically kids with a whole life ahead of us! It's not going to stay this way forever, we still have so much to look forward to and to enjoy. Not only that, but we have a lot to be happy about right now if you take a step back and look at the big picture! We have steak, bread, and fries still!"

I'm not saying that I'm an all-knowing..er..knower, but I do think that there's some truth in that. Lately, I've been allowing myself to just focus on the couple of sweet potato fries and not enjoy all the good that's going on.

So, I'd like to say that I'm grateful for all the love and hope that so many people give me. I'm grateful for sweet angels like Ali who give me a shout-out just when I thought that blogging wasn't worth it. I'm grateful for my husband who keeps growing with me and is patient with me. I'm grateful for my family (his side and mine) who support us and want to see us be successful. I'm thankful for my testimony, for my knowledge, and for my blessings.

The world is crazy, but it's still wonderful.


My Fair Wedding: Part 13

My Aunt gave me a lot of good wedding advice. Most of her advice was on how to save money or prevent needlessly spending money, but the one thing she said you should never skimp on is Photography. 
I already wrote a post on how wonderful my photographer was (found here) but here's some photos that I haven't shared yet!



I haven't really kept up on the life part of my lifestyle blog. Or the style part. Or the blog part. Here's a quick update.
I'm not pregnant.
I'm not in France.
I'm not having parties on airplanes.
And I'm not kicking Taylor off those airplanes into the mud thousands of feet below.
However, those were all dreams I had.

I am in Oregon with Taylor's family trying to stay healthy and having fun! We're dealing with regular ol' newlywed stuff, and it's all good. I'm surprised how much I miss my family back in Utah! This is the first time I've been away, like really away from them, and I really miss the family parties, and game nights, and buggin' my grandma after church, and how she always says she hates my shoes when they make me so much taller than her, oh gosh I love them all! It's been really nice to have Taylor's family around to help me out. They're so awesome. And look! My sister-in-law gave me a new do'!

Plus, we get to go do stuff with his family! Like movies, and dinner, and hanging out, and driving around, haha it's so great to be able to spend so much time with such lovely people. Family is awesome. And I love that I have some more family members to love!

Basically, we are doing awesome. I love Oregon and I love my husband. :) I'm counting my many blessings. I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer so far!


I Told the Witch Doctor I Was in Love With You!

I saw a witch doctor today. Okay, not really. But I saw a very interesting lady! She used some sort of technique and technology to find out the inconsistencies within my body. Boy howdy, I sure did learn a lot! Without me saying anything, she knew that I have the occasional (or more than occasional?) Diet Coke. I have so much crap in my body! ...pardon my language. She figured out a lot of other stuff too, but I won't get into all that.

You guys, I'm ready to take control! I've been jogging a few times a week and eating pretty healthy, but I'm stepping up my game! The thing is, who wants to die younger than they need to, feel bogged down and ugly, and get sick all the time? Not me!

If you wanna win the health battle, then the first step is to stop making it a battle! Taking out the bad, putting in the good, moving around, and making these life-style changes is the only way to become and stay healthy, fit, and well! Here's some of the tricks I've learned.

-Cut the Crap-
That sounds pretty harsh, huh? But it's important! If you're serious about getting healthy, then stop making excuses to eat and drink things that are toxic to your body. I think that moderation of stuff is okay, but we gotta be careful, y'all. And no, one intense workout every once in a while doesn't count as staying active. If we justify ourselves out of living a healthy lifestyle, then guess what happens? Nothing. We stay unhealthy gross and not happy.

-Eat Your Darn Breakfast-
A good sized, protein packed breakfast can really help you boost your metabolism, curb your appetite, and stay energized all day long!

-Move Your Body-
Make sure you try your best. If you do the Jillian Michael's 30-day Shred and sit out the harder parts or the parts where you "don't have the equipment," then you'll get a I-don't-have-the-equipment body. Get what I'm saying? GO for it! If you're gonna workout, then workout! Give it your all! This is something I struggle with.

I'm still a newb when it comes to living healthy, but I'm really doing it! It needs to be done! Who wants to do it with me?


Our Next Adventure

      Taylor and I sure do love our adventures! We adventured from Utah to Portland, then adventured from Portland to Southern California, then adventured back from Southern California to Portland! All the while we have been working and figuring stuff out. Our next adventure? School. Taylor's first year of college! And that's a story for ya. One that I'm gonna tell.

Taylor R. March 21:
I'm in! I have officially been accepted into Utah State University! I know it may not seem like a big deal, but to me and those that love me, it is. Even if I graduated 6 years ago with no schooling after high school, I'm doing something. And I'm moving forward. So here we go! Gotta start somewhere! Doesn't matter too much about where I start, only where I go. And I am going places!

Taylor spent his entire senior year of high school as a 16-year-old kid. He graduated days after his 17th birthday. He had barely been old enough to date and now he was expected to go off on his own to college? He thought about school, but decided to work and help his family. As he worked, he grew. He struggled. Life wasn't easy for him. He faced ridicule, pride, empty Christmases and a growing feeling that he was going nowhere. This, of course, was not true. And even 6 years after graduating, he's only 22. He's so young. But people didn't help. Friends, even family, seemed to believe he was never going to get anywhere. This person. This person has been up against heartache after heartache, trial after trial. He has stayed strong in his beliefs, valiant in the Gospel, kind to others. He has easily forgiven those that "knew", and some that still believe, he would be a failure. He forgives, forgets, and continues to try.

And now he's here. He's in. We only have 2 months left of this adventure until he starts the one he has wanted to start for half a decade! He works hard every day! He leaves early and stays out til 10 or so..working and working. He doesn't give up. He never does!

I couldn't be more proud! I certainly couldn't be more lucky.

I give you Taylor Q. Rios. The kindest man in the world. The greatest driver. The best husband. The cutest man. The hardest worker. The 23-year-old freshman. And the guy that happens to have the proudest wife in the world.

I dare you to tell me he's a failure.

...I'll probably kill you.


A Short Library Tale

So, I was innocently putting picture books away when-

Well, actually, let me paint a picture for you.
 Also, why does "putting" look so weird..?

This is the Children's section of the library:
These are the shelves:
And this is the little scootery thing that I sit on to put the picture books away. I scoot down the aisles and am therefore not uncomfortable putting books away on the short shelves.
Where was I? Oh yes.  I was innocently putting picture books away when a lady decided to take up an entire aisle by the way she positioned her stroller. 

"Excuse me?" I said. But of course, I am very shy and rather awkward, so she didn't hear me. The logical thing to do would be to ask it a bit louder, but I had already mustered up all the "outgoingness" I could for the day and decided to get angry instead. So, I angrily tried to scoot away down the adjacent aisle and come up behind her. Don't drink and drive! And don't fume and scoot...

I was pushing my little scooter around with the force of a very mad woman, because I was, in fact, a very mad woman, when a wheel snagged on a bit of carpet and WHAM. It flipped over and I was on my back with a lapfull of books scattered around me. Oh boy! Now I was really mad. I got up, gathered the books and slammed them on the bookshelf by the lady. 

She didn't look over. 

I then, grabbed my little scooter, stomped down the aisle and proceeded to put books away.

I got so mad at a woman who didn't even know I was there AND who did nothing wrong!

Moral of the story: Learn to not let little things get to ya! Especially things that don't exist!


YOUR conversion: an LDS post

I have to admit, I love the attention and encouragement I get when people realize my family isn't active in the church and I started going on my own. I like seeing the excitement of people when I tell them that my husband and I are getting sealed this summer. I laugh at myself along with everyone else when I believe things like "temples have gift shops." And I like playing the "primary song" game with my husband (he says the title of a primary song and I make up a song to go with it). BUT I think it's about time that people stop comparing conversions. 

Even the members that are raised in the church have to be converted to it! We can't live off our family's testimonies and so in order to have our own testimonies, we must be converted to the church. For some, it's not very recognizable. One day they believe, the next they really believe. Some fall away and come back. Some live the standards but lack a real testimony for a long time. Some experience something that makes it all clear. Whatever it may be, we all must be converted. 

I admire those that must leave everything behind (family, another religion, their home, etc.) to come to the church. I also admire those that live in a home surrounded by the Gospel for their entire lives, and then grow to have faith and a testimony in that same Gospel.

Let's love and admire the members that had trying, difficult, and amazing conversions.

But don't forget your own conversion. 

Love that too :)


walk. NO foolin'

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau

Okay, Thoreau, I don't really know about the "early-morning" part, but boy howdy, you are right! And this is no April Fool's joke!

Taylor and I love going on walks! At first, I did it as a health thing. Walking is at least something, so I'm kind of exercising... But now, it's much more valuable than that!
Every time we start our day off with a walk, the entire day is so much better! Today, for example, we woke up and went on a little walk. Normally my days off are full of lazy..er..laziness, but already today I made a delicious breakfast, started making parfaits for a dinner tonight, went grocery shopping, worked out, took a shower, and cleaned the house! And because of the fresh, happy start to the day, I feel optimistic, blessed, and HAPPY!

Not only that, but it's a great way to take a break from electronics and talk to each other. We have a lot of things coming up! Moving to Logan, summer sales, school, and most importantly, going through the temple! I love talking to my partner in life allllllll about it.

And even though Taylor looks silly, I sure do love him! I really appreciate all he does and the wonderful conversations we're able to have :)

I love all my blessings and I'm so grateful for them!
If you guys want to have a great day, try starting it out with a little walk!
It does wonders for us, oh, and don't forget Henry! It did wonders for him too!


My Fair Wedding: Part 12

I love food! Who doesn't??(I kind of wish someone had warned me about the marriage 15)
Food has a tendency to eat up a lot of your wedding budget. Pun intended...however awful.
The most convenient aspect of my wedding, however, was the theme.
An old timey carnival means old timey foods!
So instead of paying someone a ton of money to cater our event, we just got lots of hot dogs, cotton candy, and lemonade (the lemonade stand was crafted by my uncle and manned by my adorable cousin)
The cotton candy machine was easy enough to obtain through my sister's work (Funfinity), and my Aunt's neighbor supplied us with the hotdog stand!

Our cake was entirely for show, so we bought it from a grocery store and had it decorated by a friend.
(The gorgeous cake topper was hand painted by my very own talented mother)
Our real dessert was pan dulce. :) Mexican sweet bread that was ridiculously inexpensive!

We provided our guests with a little candy bag/ At this point in time, the idea is hardly original, but it is cute. We ordered lots of candy through a grocery store (no additional charge), and my aunt and grandma ordered more candy online :)  

 We also had a little luncheon before the ceremony! My family joined together and made all of it while I was at work. I love my family. :)

I was so busy and nervous that I didn't really get to enjoy all the fun and delicious food...but our guests sure did!!! :D