Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grocery Budgeting Made Fun

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Last year around this time I read a post on one of my very favorite blogs; The Vanilla Tulip. Ashley wrote a post on thrifty thoughts when it comes to budgeting for groceries. Her ideas have stuck with me for a year now and I can say it's something I've incorporated when I take the time to budget. 

In the past when I've thought of the word budget I've attached a negative connotation to the word. I've immediately thought of someone who lives paycheck to paycheck. This is so far from the truth though. Having a budget {at least to me} means that someone is keeping a watchful eye on their finances, watching where they are spending money and where they can save more. What I've learned from Ashley, and what I'm showing you today has helped us save money at the grocery store. 

I start by making a weekly meal plan, writing down the days of the week I plan on cooking and what we're having. Then I head over to my pantry and see if I already have any of the ingredients on hand. If I do, great. If I don't, the items go on the list. I jot down everything we need from the store including meal items, pantry items I could snatch up on sale, produce, snacks, beverages, etc. 

Then I categorize each of the items into main groups such as bread, frozen, produce, meat, dairy, pantry, snacks, toiletries, and beverages. Then each of the items on my grocery list would be added under the appropriate category.

Here's a step by step in pictures of what this week's grocery list looked like.

Grab all your supplies; notebook, blank paper, and pen.

Make your list. It's helpful to do this in front of your pantry to get an idea of what you already have. 

 On your blank piece of paper jot down different categories; produce, dairy, bread, meat, snacks, pantry, frozen, etc. Add each item from your list under it's appropriate category, then cross it off your first list. 
 Lastly, price the items. Next to each item write roughly how much it will cost. Tally up each individual category, then add the categories together to get your final number. 

We don't have a strict budget that we stick to every week. Whatever we need for the week is what I get, but using this system forces me to take the time to see what items I have in my pantry I can plan a meal around. Another huge benefit is the amount of time it saves me once I'm in the store. It takes a little extra time at home, but saves time at the store which is fine by me. I can buzz through the store pretty quick when all my items are categorized. No more doing loops around the store.

A few other tips that have helped us save money when it comes to grocery shopping is trying not to go when we're hungry. Everything looks good when you're hungry. Eat something before hand and stick to the list. I also try to go to the store as little as possible, read: once a week. Let's say I run to the store Tuesday to grab just a few items for my chocolate chip cookie craving, chances are I will end up purchasing additional items I didn't go to the store for. Going to the store less usually means I'm spending less.

Do you budget? Do you have any tricks when it comes to budgeting, saving money, or grocery shopping? This girl loves learning new things so let me know your secrets!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Your Chance to Ask the Mr. or I Anything!

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I thought it might be fun for you guys to get to know me {and the man I call my Mr.} a little better through a question and answer vlog series. Here's how it will work. 

I want to hear from you. Every single one of you! I would be thrilled if you would leave a comment with a question or send me an email with a question for either the Mr., myself, or us both {please specify who the question is directed to}. My hope is that those of you who read, but don't comment will take this opportunity to say hello and get to know us a little better. I absolutely love hearing from you, and honestly, the Mr. does too. He reads this blog every single day as well as each and every comment.

So, once I receive enough questions the Mr. and I will sit down and shoot a vlog with answers to your questions. We'll try to keep the vlog short and sweet, and I'll try my best to entertain you with my sense of humor, or lack there of. I'm most comfortable sitting in a coffee shop, just chatting with you, like I would with a real life friend. I'll try my best to maintain that sort of feel. There might even be a guest appearance from the Fur Baby if we convince him to be brave and face his fear of the camera!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Processing

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We returned home yesterday afternoon after a weekend up North. You can read the post here explaining what we were up to. 

To say that this past weekend was life changing for everyone in our group would be a drastic understatement. The Mr. and I were able to build more solid relationships with our youth and mentors, everyone got along well {when you're dealing with junior and senior high students this is astounding}, the weather was perfect, and the activities were fun. Overall every single person had a great time. Goal achieved. 

However, the Mr. and I did have a much larger agenda, one that was the most important to us. Our heart's desire was that these youth would really understand the depth of God's love for them. That they would desire a personal relationship with Him in choosing to pursue Him daily. For some this was a relatively easy decision. For others it meant leaving the lifestyle of drugs they are accustomed to, or leaving behind friendships that didn't build them up. This was huge. This weekend walls were broken, hearts were mended, there was healing, tears were shed, laughter was heard, and His presence was incredibly powerful. Goal achieved.


I know from receiving emails from some readers that many of you are wives of Youth Pastors or are in the ministry yourself. I want to encourage you specifically that if you allow the Lord to use you, even just as the wife of your husband who is in the ministry, He will take you and use you as His mighty vessel if you'll let Him. There are things He will use you to do that You would never dream of. And the joy that comes in serving Him to help and bless others? It's out of this world amazing. 

At one point this weekend I was feeling a little selfish. I was desiring some me time, and even just a short walk alone with my husband. When you're away for a weekend on a youth retreat those are pretty impossible tasks. You're surrounded by youth all the time. You eat together, you sleep together, you play together, and you have service together. Almost immediately after I was feeling a little sorry for myself that I couldn't sneak a moment away alone I was reminded why I was there. Let me tell you, He quickly changed my perspective. He chose me to be alongside my husband to minister life and healing to these girls. He uses me to bring them friendship, show them love, lift them up, and spend time with them. It's not about me. None of this is. It's all about Him and these youth. I was almost embarrassed for feeling so selfish because in that moment He showed me the power He has given me to change their lives. So the rest of the weekend as my attention was pulled in many directions, as they followed me wherever I went, as they asked if they could sit next to me at lunch, I had a brand new attitude. Yes, yes, yes, what a privilege that they would desire to be around me, and not because it's me, but because they see Him in me and desire that in their own lives. It was such a powerful ah-ha moment for me that completely changed me.

It's funny how we planned and prepared for this youth retreat, keeping them in mind with every decision that we made, but then God did something in my own heart. I can't explain it, but I'm so grateful He loves me, even in my own messed up moments selfishness. I'm forever grateful that He calls me His own, that He trusts me in bringing light, love, and hope to a very dark and desperate generation.

If you attend a church where there is a youth ministry I challenge you to volunteer your time to partner with Him to change lives. It is incredibly rewarding.

 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winter Retreat

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We have a very big weekend ahead of us...

For those of you who don't know, the Mr. is the Youth Pastor at our local church. The same church I have been attending since I was 9 years old. The very place my high school graduation was held. That was the night the Mr. saw me for the first time and exclaimed, "I'm going to marry that girl!". That building holds so many special memories for us, the most special being our wedding day. Who would have thought all those years ago that we would be where we are today; so blessed to be on staff there together. Side by side. It's a dream. Truly. 

We have been so incredibly busy working together these past couple of weeks on one of our largest events of the year; Winter Retreat. We are loading 44 people up and heading 2 1/2 hours North for a weekend retreat with our youth and young adult leaders. 

This weekend will be a much needed time of refreshing, recharging, and relaxing for all of us. There is something so powerful and significant about leaving the ordinary and exploring a different setting both physically and spiritually. This weekend we are focusing on "I Will Pursue". It's a dedication to pursuing a deeper relationship with God. The Mr. has a series of seriously awesome messages prepared. I'm so excited for our youth to take hold of what's in store. It's going to be life changing.

Last year we had such an incredible time of firsts. It was our first time horseback riding, first time zip lining, and first time cross country skiing together. I'm looking forward to making many more memories this year.

 {here's a picture from last year, right before I rode the horse who made me swear I wouldn't ride another ever again!}

If you think of us this weekend. We'd love some extra prayers sent our way. Whenever you're about to do something to accelerate God's kingdom the enemy works harder. And, we're about to do some major things for God. I'm so humbled that He uses us to impact lives for His kingdom. It's something I don't ever want to take for granted. 

Have an awesome weekend friends! 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

{Easy} Chicken Fajtas

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Need a dinner idea for tonight? Good. Good. I have one for you! 
Get ready to make the easiest version of chicken fajitas. And, just because you probably wanted to know this piece of useless information, we pronounce fajitas fa-gee-ters in our house. So when you make these I hope you call them fageeters too! 

This recipe is so rediculously easy, yummy, and healthy {always a plus}. Another plus? You just might have everything you need right in your fridge and pantry.


Easy Chicken Fajitas

chicken, sliced lengthwise
lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
green peppers, sliced lengthwise
 red onion, sliced in half, then lengthwise
mushrooms, sliced

Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with lime juice. Add olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and garlic salt. Stir with a fork. Add sliced chicken and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile prep your veggies. We generally stick with the tried and true red onion, mushroom, and green pepper trio. Once they are sliced add them to a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. 

In another skillet add the marinaded chicken. Cook until no longer pink. Add cooked chicken to the skillet of veggies. Once the veggies are just about tender remove from heat.

Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, and sour cream. 

Enjoy!

The Mr. and I just gobbled these delicious fajitas up for a very late lunch. I'm already anxiously awaiting leftovers tomorrow. 
 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Busy Bee

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If I could use just one word to describe my life lately I would quickly settle on the word busy. 
I understand everyone is busy. That's how the story goes. Life is busy. Everyone's busy. This is not me complaining that my life is busy. This is me recognizing. Admitting. Our weeks have been so full that our days and evenings are spent somewhere, doing something. Not home, where I want to be. Not being still. Not baking in my kitchen. Not keeping up with laundry. Not spending quality time with my husband. 

For the most part I enjoy having something to do or somewhere to be. I enjoy being social, spending time with family, attending events, etc. This is fine and dandy, except I'm allowing these things to consume me. I'm too busy to get the important things done like quiet time or just being still. My days have been full of me rushing around to get things done.

I'm admitting that this girl needs to start saying no. No to filling up our schedules to the max. No to that extra errand that could truly wait. No to wasting my time. No. No and no. I'm willing to say no to that Target trip. I'm ready to unplug occasionally from the social media that begs for my attention all the live long day. No.

I'm ready to schedule in some quiet time if that's what it takes and a few dates {sans iPhones} with my sweet man. Unfortunately my Jesus and my Mr. get the short end of the stick while I'm too busy trying to please everyone else in my life. Not cool.

So here's my plan of action and my plea for help. 
1//keep me accountable, that's what friends are for. 
2//plan a date for the Mr. and leave my phone at home.
3//have a no technology Saturday. No phones, laptop, iPad, or television. 
4//schedule in quiet time like I schedule coffee dates with my lady friends.
5//have me time at least once a week. Read a book, craft, bake a treat, or be still.
6//schedule a massage

 Any other suggestions? I'm all ears!
Life will go on. That's what I need to realize. If something doesn't get accomplished today. Guess what self? Tomorrow is a new day. A fresh start. 24 more hours to try and get it done.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Style {Bedroom Edition}

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{In order to highlight the headboard the Mr. made per my request I decided against our bedding and decorative pillows for this photo.
A big thanks to my Mr. for the countless hours he put into creating this rustic barnwood headboard as well as our whitewashed nightstands.}
 
It's amazing how my own personal style has changed over the course of our married life. When we were first married and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma we frequented Pier 1 Imports on a weekly basis. I admit 99% of our decor came from there. Our home was full of splashes of color and style according to a 20 year old newlywed. We even had a bright red couch, something I'd always wanted. Looking back I would have saved myself the $1,000 since that couch didn't last us long. {That's what living and learning is all about though.}

Fast forward almost seven years and I find myself drawn to less abrupt colors and more neutral tones. I live for the simplistic style; less is more approach. I find that when I do incorporate color I'm drawn to the softer hues and mixing of textures. Texture, texture, texture. I love the depth it brings. Take our bedroom for example, it's pretty much my style in a nut shell right now, neutral and full of texture; wood headboard and nightstands, satin curtains, metal letters, and fabric lampshades. Layers of texture, man. It's my favorite.

One thing I love about style is that it's unique to the individual which means there are no rules. You are allowed to like whatever trends, styles, patterns, colors, etc. that you wish. It's a reflection of you and only you. 

What's your style like? Bold colors? Lots of prints on the wall? Less is more?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Love Day

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Today's a good excuse to love harder.
Loving everyone in your life and even those people who seem unlovable.  
Love harder.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Baked Apple

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I have a hard time eating apples in the winter. They're cold. I'm not looking for more cold. They're crisp and refreshing. Something I'm desperately searching for in the summer months. Winter? Not so much. 

The dilemma lies in the fact that I enjoy apples. I want to want to eat an apple in the winter. But, I don't. I find other sources of apple-ey to satisfy that sweet taste. This must be where my obsession for apple cider comes from. Warm mug, steam, fragrant aroma, small sips. Oh yes. 

It dawned on me the other morning, that even though I have a gallon of apple juice in the fridge just waiting to be turned into magical apple cider beverages, I was yearning for something different. So that's what I did. Something different.

I took an apple out of the crisper and I turned it into something delightful. Something my Mom used to do for us as kids.

 
Here's the play by play.


 I sliced off the top of the apple and took out the center leaving a nice hole, a perfect home for some strawberry preserves. 

Then I took a small bowl and added a little bit of this and that, consisting of oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and cold butter.

Finally, I stuffed the apple with the mixture and created a little mountain on top. 

Into the oven it went for almost an hour.

Baked apples might be the cheapest form of candles. The house smelled just like I baked an apple pie, minus 1,872 calories. 

If you've never had a baked apple then I'm begging you to give it a try. You'll thank me. Promise.

Baked Apple

  1 apple
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, cold and diced
pinch of salt

Cut just the top portion of the apple off. Using a paring knife remove the core. Use a spoon if necessary to make a hole. Fill the hole with strawberry preserves. 

In small bowl add oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and salt. Combine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs. 

Fill apple with mixture packing it with your fingers. Create a mountain top with the mixture on the top of the apple. 

Fill a small baking dish with 1/4 inch water. Set the apple inside. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the crisp topping is golden brown and apple is tender.
Note: it's completely normal for the apple to lose its red color while baking.

Enjoy!

{recipe adapted from Food Network c/o Sunny Anderson}


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Heart Garland

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Clearly I'm about all things garland. First it was the mini tassel garland, now this. 


Does this string of hearts look familiar from yesterday's post? Well it's a little photo prop I made for the wear Love giveaway

This little DIY took about 15 minutes. Want to know how dirt cheap it was to make? How does $1.64 sound? You can't even get 1/3 of a grande Starbucks drink for that price. I digress. The point is, for practically no time at all at the cost of all that loose change in your wallet you can make a darling craft. Says crazy craft addidct.

Here's what you'll need:

Scissors
Sewing Machine
Four squares of felt in the color of your choice. I selected two charcoal grey and two cream.
Thread. At first I went with a boring cream thread. Then I discovered metallic gold thread. Sold.

1//cut four hearts out of each felt square. 
2//stack them in the order you want them to hang. 
3//hire convince your husband to do the sewing portion. 
4//sew across the first heart, as soon as you're almost to the edge line up the next heart.
5//continue until all the hearts are sewn together. 
6//enjoy your newest craft creation.
7//use as a photo prop. 
8//turn away briefly and discover that your sister stole your heart garland and hung it above her bed. 
9//smile because she loves it. 

Steps 7-9 are optional. It's perfectly fine to hang out at step 6.

{I linked up with Daisy Cottage Designs for Off the Hook}

Monday, February 11, 2013

wear Love {giveaway}

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Today's giveaway comes from wear Love; one of the most amazing companies I've had the pleasure of working with to date. They have generously offered to give one of you a wear Love burnout hoodie in plum {like the one I'm wearing below}! All you have to do is enter via Rafflecopter, but take a couple minutes to read Lynne's story first!

{wear Love sent the Mr. and I two awesome tops; their Original Crew t-shirt for him and their plum Burnout Hoodie for me. They are officially our favorite shirts now.}

Lynne, the founder of wear Love, is going to give us a little insight behind her company. I hope you enjoy getting to know her through her words here. She has a heart of gold and is a woman I would love to meet in real life. She's incredible.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

How did wear Love start? 

wear Love® was started by "accident".  What began as a photo art company in 2010 turned into a t shirt line.  We printed some cool tee's with our new company name, Spit in the Dirt™ on the back ( wear Love on front) to advertise our new venture.  We were surprised when people started asking for the t shirts.  We started selling from our home base in Boston and before we knew it, we had a little website and a shop on Etsy. Soon we were shipping across the country and around the world.  It was amazing to see 2 simple words "wear Love"  (from Colossians 3) together on a tee could help people see themselves and others in a different light.
  
 Spit in the Dirt™ comes from the New Testament, John chapter 9 when Jesus heals the man born blind. Jesus spits in the dirt, makes mud and puts it on the blind mans eyes.  He sends him to the pool of Siloam to wash.  Still blind, the man makes his way, by faith, to the pool, washes his eyes, and is healed.  "I was blind, but now I see".
Our story at Spit in the Dirt™ in many ways is like the blind mans'.  We each are making our own faith journey thru life, down some narrow unknown paths and rocky places, only to experience at our own "pool", we have been given new eyes to see.  Our passion is to uncover and rediscover the beauty of a world created in love and for love.  We want to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and hope that others discover a life with new eyes too.

Spit in the Dirt™ is our LLC but wear Love has become our branding.  My son Tanner and I are partners and are having fun designing and selling t shirts.  We love the creative process but this is so much more than a clothing line.  The real inspiration is in the message. We want the words "Wear Love  Put it On. Wear it Out". to  invite people into a place of adventure and aspiration.  To be their unique, authentic selves.   We want people to discover what wearing love means for them.   

A little side note.  In our logo we capitalized the L in Love because God is love. Our logo has a tiny dot imbedded in the O too.  It's a mustard seed.  The mustard seed is the smallest seed in the garden yet when planted becomes the biggest of all garden plants.  God says "If you have faith the size of that little seed, nothing is impossible for you".  It is a great reminder to us.  Faith is rooted in Love. 

Where are we headed in 2013?

wear Love has been a real journey for us and not in the business sense (although that's been a journey too!).  We have been asking ourselves the question "what does it really mean to wear Love?".  We have made a paradigm shift.
We want this to be a movement, we are passionate for people to live the message, not just wear a nice t shirt.  Imagine the world if everyone wore Love!
We strongly recommend the book LOVE DOES by Bob Goff.  We are going to get up everyday in 2013 and live the truth that Love is action. It's an adventure.  It's engaging and honoring people.  It starts here. 
We want to take our lives and business off road and do what matters most.  Pray. Love. Give.

Giving:
wear Love is a company dedicated to giving back.   We were able to help build a vocational school for homeless boys in Pikine, Senegal.   100% of the profit from our helmet designed t shirt goes to the Adam Brown Legacy Foundation.   We have given lots of shirts away to help other causes fundraise too. We are currently researching charities and planning our giving strategy.  We are a for-profit company but are passionate about generosity.  I just love that word "generosity".   That means generous with our love, time and resources.

Places you can find us:
http://www.facebook.com/wearlove
http://www.etsy.com/shop/wearLove
http://wearlove.com
twitter: @wearloveout

It's always nice to see the faces behind the company. Lynne and Tanner are the Mother and Son duo that work together to spread the wear Love message.


wear Love is also graciously offering every single one of you a 20% discount with code love. Go shop and join the movement to put love on and wear it out! 


{I was not compensated for this post, I was simply given product to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.}


Friday, February 8, 2013

Nightly Round Up

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The word round up might cause you to immediately think of cowboys or western motiff, but quickly remove those thoughts from your mind. This has nothing to do with any of that. 

Nightly round up is something that takes place in our home, every single evening. It's my secret to keeping our home organized, tidy, and clean. 

In this season of our life {read: pre-babies} it's just the Mr. and I along with our handsome fur baby. Please keep this in mind as you read this post. While I would like to maintain this nightly ritual once we fill our home with offspring I'm sure there will be many a nights where nightly round up will go straight out the window. 

Are you curious yet as to what this nightly round up is all about?
When the Mr. and I first got married we discovered pretty quickly that each of us really enjoy an organized home; one that's most often kept tidy. We implemented a tool to help both of us acheive that.


Enter nightly round up.
It's a term we came up with. Those three words are spoken by either the Mr. or I each evening, right about the time one of us starts yawning after an evening snuggle on the couch. The Mr. or I will groggily call nightly round up. And then....we each buzz around the house making sure that each item goes back to its home.

Blankets folded in basket. Check. 
Dozens of puppy toys put away. Check
Laptop away. Check. 
Last few dishes loaded in dishwasher. Check. 
Miscellaneous items put away. Check.
Double check that doors are locked. Check.
Thermostat set at bedtime temperature. Check.
Couch pillows fluffed. Check. {No, we're not OCD, but our darling love of a dog enjoys pushing down all the couch pillows so they are lying flat. Then he proceeds to lay on top of each of them, only after he has circled them 25 times. Who's OCD now?}

It might sound rediculous to some, but this is truly our secret. This is how we keep a spotless home. It's an easy solution that takes about 5 minutes at the end of every evening. And let me tell you, waking up to a picked up home every morning is one of the best feelings.

Now that we've been married for almost 7 years {that blows my mind} we've made nightly round up somewhat of a game. We usually pick up together, but if one of us is feeling extra sleepy or just plain lazy we'll run upstairs and shout down, "not it" and the other person has nightly round up duty. Fortunately neither of us has abused the privilege of ditching on round up. If anyone is more guilty of this it's me.

Aside from nightly round up we do have another secret. Making the bed. Every day. No matter what. This is something I despised growing up, but as an adult I can appreciate a made bed. Guess what? For those of you who claim to have no time to make your bed. Well it takes 2 minutes. I actually timed myself. If your significant other helps you make it then you knock that time down to 60 seconds. No more excuses. Plus, who doesn't love tossing all the decorative pillow aside, pulling the covers back and crawling into a pretty bed? I do. 

There's all our dirty secrets. 
Do you think we're just lunatics for keeping our home so clean?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

My favorite go to snack

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I have a favorite snack that I've been keeping from you. Please forgive me? Good, because today I'm finally sharing it with you. 

I call them energy bites. The explanation is pretty simple. Energy rolled up into a bite sized ball. 
Meet my good friend...


These scrumptious energy bites are incredibly easy to make {I had all the ingredients at home, minus the flax which I scored at my momma's house}. All you need is a large bowl, measuring cups and spoons, the ingredients, and some elbow grease to mix it all together. Boom. Done.

Do you find yourself low on energy during those afternoon hours? Maybe you need an on the go breakfast idea? How about an all around tasty, yet relatively healthy snack to keep around? Perhaps like the Mr. and I you need a good source of protein and energy after an intense workout {thanks for that Tony Horton}? Well these little guys will be your friend because they fit the bill. Go give 'em a try!


Energy Bites

1 cup quick oats
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup flax {thanks mom!}
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup honey {make it a generous one}
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Give it a quick stir. 
Add wet ingredients {peanut butter, honey, and vanilla} and stir until well combined. 
Cover and refrigerate for an hour. 
 After it's chilled spoon into round balls and store in the fridge. 

Makes about 25 energy bites. 

Enjoy!

{recipe adapted from O My Family}


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

gfreely win + discount code

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Last month Kaitlyn from Wifessionals hosted a giveaway from a company called gfreely. Like most giveaways, I entered and forgot about it. Then I got an email from Kaitlyn that I was the winner!

I received the box full of goodies this past weekend and boy, was I excited. I pulled each item out slowly, one by one. I'm such a foodie so this felt like Christmas day. Every item in the box is gluten free. This is just a bonus for me, but for those of you who have no other choice but to eat gluten free this would be music to your ears. For those of you who don't have to follow a gluten free diet you won't even know these products are all gluten free. They are packed with flavor and are truly delicious!

Every month you can sign up to receive a box from gfreely with new gluten free products to try. Each box is full to the brim with some very delicious snacks and meals.

Here's what was inside my box:
1//tortilla soup mix {we gobbled it up so fast, all I had to add was chicken broth, chicken, and salsa}
2//pouch of giddy up & go granola {seriously some of the best I've had}
3//seasnax dried seaweed snack {that ought to expand my food horizon}
4//real sticks in BBQ beef and chipotle beef and pork {The Mr. and I devoured those pretty quick}
5//Kale chips {another item to help us broaden our food spectrum}
6//the good bean bars in chocolate berry and fruit & seeds. {Holy yum!}


As soon as I finished the bag of granola I sent gfreely an email to let them know I am truly impressed with their company and the products they sent me. 

gfreely is gracious enough to offer each and every one of you 50% off your first box with code BLIFE50! This means you can try a box of $20-$40 worth of products for $9.99. I know I will absolutely be taking advantage of this offer. I can't wait to receive another box with all new items to try. 

{I was not compensated to write this post. These are simply my honest thoughts and opinions. Gfreely is providing the discount.}


Monday, February 4, 2013

Gertie & Baxter {giveaway}

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The very minute second I laid eyes on Etsy shop Gertie & Baxter I was smitten. Oh my. The shop is FULL of beautiful handmade items. One of my favorites are the Fingerless Bow Mittens. 


Today Gertie & Baxter are giving away a pair of these beautiful mittens. You pick the color combination! I chose a black mitten with a black bow. I'm in love. 

I took these pictures in Wisconsin's painful zero degree weather and I must say, these mittens did the trick, even though my little fingers were bare. The quality is impeccable, the style clearly charming. Did I mention Gertie & Baxter send them to you in the most darling packaging? Well, they do.

 Gertie & Baxter 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Feel the Love {giveaway}

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Happy Saturday! 
I wanted to pop in to let you know that This Beautiful Life and  kitt + kaboodle are taking part in a giveaway!



There are lots of other goodies up for grabs so be sure to stop by Morgan's blog and get yourself entered in the Feel the Love giveaway!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Priorities

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Now that's a word I need to focus on a bit more. 
Where are my priorities. Where do I spend the majority of my time? 

I'll tell you right now that a lot of my time is put into this blog. Blogging has a way of consuming my thoughts and my time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, don't get me wrong. I have noticed though it's taken much of my time. Writing posts, scheduling giveaways, reading comments, replying to comments, checking emails, responding to emails, and NOW I've added to that to do list with my new Etsy shop

I don't ever want to come across as ungrateful for this space. You guys, my readers are the main reason I come back day after day to share our lives with you. You are the sweetest, most encouraging humans I have never met.

I just want to make sure that I'm keeping my priorities straight. That my heart motives remain pure. That I don't forget about the real life stuff that needs to be done. For example, this morning I was determined I would get a few things done around the house before I jumped on here to write. Lately I'm eager to get on the computer first thing in the morning to get my post written, check out my daily reads, catch up on twitter, etc. Then I would throw in a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean, and spend time reading. Whatever got done got done, but truth be told a lot of my chores just didn't get crossed off the to do list. 

I want to be more intentional about where I'm spending my time and where my priorities lie. I want to be more conscious. This doesn't mean I'm going anywhere or that things will change around here, but it does mean that I need to spend my time more wisely. I need to say no sometimes, put my phone away for a few hours, or realize that sometimes it's more important to clean those toilets and wipe down the top of the fridge before sitting down to write and life will still go on. 

I think this will be a great lesson in self control for me. I feel better already. 
Do you ever feel like you struggle with your priorities or time management? Tell me I'm not alone.

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