Monday, July 29, 2013

On Being a Camp Counselor

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I remember going to summer camp as a little teeny-bopper. The one thing I can recall are the services we had each night and my camp counselor. Apparently they left a pretty large impact on my life considering it's 15 years later. 
I have the opportunity this whole week to leave a similar impact on 8 teen girls' lives. I will be at summer camp this week, serving as a camp counselor alongside the Mr. I will be with the girls, and he will be with the guys, obviously. 
At first I was scared out of my mind. Then I was nervous. Now, I'm simply excited at the opportunity that lies before me; the opportunity to impact lives. I'm really looking forward to getting to know these girls and helping them leave camp a new and improved person. I'm also looking forward to the things they will teach me and impart into my life, leaving me a different person. I can't wait to come back and share about my experience. 
If you let God take you and use you as His vessel you will be absolutely floored at what He can do.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Free Sponsorship Ads!

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I've taken some time away from sponorships on the blog. However, I'm diving back into sponsorships and I'd love to have y-o-u! 

If you've ever had a paid sponsorship on This Beautiful Life then listen up. 
I'd love to welcome you back with open arms for FREE! I have had such a wonderful experience with each and every one of you that I would love nothing more than to say thanks.  

If you've never sponsored This Beautiful Life before you should listen up too. 
I'm offering 50% off ANY AD SPOT just because it's Friday, and well because I would love to have you too!

Here are the promo codes:

All ads will be on a first come first served basis. 
All sponsorship money income goes back into sponsoring other blogs.


Meet Charley Louise

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It all started late on a Wednesday night. I was at the new house painting away, just waiting for my sister to show up and keep me company. She called, letting me know she was sorry it was taking her so long. Then she told me why. "I found a dog running down the middle of the road." My immediate reaction? Uh oh. 

When she showed up at my house she had a tiny, collar-less dachshund wrapped up in her zip up hoodie. The little pooch was clearly very friendly, not to mention adorable. It was 11:00 pm and we had no idea what to do with this lost little pup. After phone calls to the local animal shelter and the police department we had no luck finding her owner. It was decided she would go home with my sister for the night.

The next day we were determined to find her home. We called the animal shelter again, no luck. We took her to a local vet to see if she had a micro chip that would help us locate her home. No luck. My sister posted an announcement on facebook. No luck.

 Little Miss Charley is now the mysterious stray that was once running down a busy street late at night and found herself a new home. From the very beginning she has been the most loving and cuddly pup you could ask for. She has the sweetest demeanor and simply wants to be as close to a human being as possible. I can't help but think my sister found her right when she needed to.

Fast forward 2 weeks.
Charley is loving life; adapting very well to her new home, new people, and new surroundings. My sister took her into the vet to get her caught up on vaccines. Turns out she's a healthy girl and just happy to be in her new home.

We will probably never know Charley's story or why my sister found her that night. What I do know is that she has seemingly become a part of the family very quickly. I hope she will stick around for a very long time. 

Welcome to the family little lady!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Butterscotch Pudding

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The other night I had a strange craving for butterscotch pudding. The out-of-the-box-instant-jello-brand version wasn't going to cut it. However, it was too late at night to take the time to make it homemade. So, yesterday I was determined to make it and eat it all share it with our friends.

You can find all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge for this recipe. So easy!

Butterscotch Pudding

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
3 cups 2% milk, plus a splash
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl. Add a splash of milk to make the mixture a thick paste. 

In a saucepan over medium heat bring 3 cups milk to a boil. Stir in brown sugar mixture and return to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. 

Place egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper by quickly stirring in 1/4 of the hot milk mixture. Pour yolk mixture back into hot milk mixture. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat. 

Stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted. Let cool slightly before pouring into ramekins. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving, sprinkle with a few butterscotch chips.

Note: this recipe made 4 generous servings. 

recipe adapted from

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Survive a Road Trip

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My sister and her beau set out on a road trip together. They were making the trek from Wisconsin to Mississippi in one straight shot. I wanted to lessen the pain of their 16 hour road trip adventure by packing a few surprise presents for them to open along the way. Here's what I came up with:

 1// Gumballs
They were instructed to challenge each other to a bubble gum blowing contest.

2// US Presidents + US States Flashcards
This was meant to be a fun way to pass the time and see how much they knew about our states and presidents. Bree's guy loves history and I knew he would have fun with this.

3// Candy
A Mamba for him, a Charleston Chew for her. Everyone likes a little road trip junk food.

4// Nerd Glasses
Black for him, Pink for her. They were instructed to take a photo in a public place wearing their glasses. {They failed. I have yet to see a picture.}

5// Marshmallows
They had to play the game Chubby Bunny. You know, the one where you stuff your mouth with marshmallows. Whoever has the most marshmallows and can be clearly understood saying the words "chubby bunny" wins. I played it at my sixteenth birthday party, right before the whip cream fight. Good times.

6// Toothbrush + Toothpaste travel set
Right around hour 8 I knew they would be thankful for this. Especially after their teeth were covered in sugar mittens from the marshmallows.

7// Red Bull
They were instructed to play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The loser had to chug the can of Red Bull. Once again, there was supposed to be picture documentation. So guys, where's the picture?

8// Ear Bud Wrapster
Black for him, Purple for her. This little contraption can serve as a place to wrap your iPhone ear buds to keep them from tangling, or as a stand for your iPhone. I knew this was something they would both like. Also a perfect way to wrap up the road trip survival kit.

If you're planning a summer road trip I highly recommend this game. It's a fun way to pass the time and a great way to make a memory!

All photos were found via Google then compiled into a collage.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saying Hello

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+ Hello sleep deprivation. This house remodel needs to come to end so we can sleep again. 

+ Hello Charley; new furry member of the family. You're a mystery, but so sweet and loving. 

+ Hello body aches. {See above; house remodel}.

+ Hello handsome, hard working husband. You impress me every single day. 

+ Hello day off. 

+ Hello warm sunshine. I want to enjoy you at the lake. 

+ Hello DIY vanity facelift, can't wait to share you here once you're finished. 

+ Hello chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches. 

+ Hello move-in week. That's right, we're moving into the new house this week! 

+Hello to-do list. I must go tackle you now.  

Linking up with Lisa Leonard.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ask + Receive {a teal mason jar story}

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I grew up in the church. Naturally, I have head knowledge of bible verses, parables, and faith concepts. This doesn't always translate into putting what I know into action. Something simple happened this past week that gave me a new revelation on asking and receiving. You know, from the bible verse, "ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you". It's a verse I've probably known by heart since I was a child. I've overlooked the words because they have become second nature to me. 

Sunday we were at our weekly family dinner at my in-loves house. It's a new tradition we've started where every Sunday we all gather from the cities we live and have a meal together; catch up on life. I'm thankful for this time together. It helps us slow down and enjoy the small moments.

Back to the story.

The Mr.'s mom has a beautiful collection of teal mason jars and enamelware above her kitchen cabinets. Every single time we go over I eye up those teal mason jars and dream about the day I can beg her to let me have just one. So, this past Sunday I told her while they were gone on vacation someday I was going to snatch one of those jars up. Her response was the sweetest. She couldn't believe I hadn't just asked her for one. She was thrilled that I wanted one and told me to take as many as I wanted. Really? You mean all I had to do was ask? 

I feel like many of us are wanting something more in life; joy, friendship, a job, patience. Whatever it may be all we really need to do is ask in prayer. It's really that easy. We can't receive unless we ask. Just like I couldn't have received my teal mason jars unless I asked. 

I challenge you to simply ask Him for something today, He knows your heart. He knows your desires and it's His desire to make that happen in your life. 

Keep in mind I don't think the "ask and you shall receive principle means that if you ask God for 1 million dollars it's going to show up on your door step. There is obviously some simple minded faith behind the principle.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our New Home

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I've seen a trend lately around this web space called blogland. Generally speaking, when there have been less posts and more silence it's because someone's been keeping a secret. This secret usually gets exploited by a darling little pregnancy announcement. That's not the kind of announcement I'm making today though. Did you think we were pregnant? {Sorry Mom, Bree, Dad, and my sweet in-loves}. We have some different, yet still very exciting news that I haven't shared much about here.

The Mr. and I purchased our first home! That was actually seven and a half weeks ago. We've been spending every waking moment at the house in full remodel mode. There have been countless nights of little sleep, some frustrations, and pure exhaustion. You know the saying blood, sweat, and tears? That right there must be the motto behind a house remodel. I can honestly say there have been all three. Mostly though? There have been tons of amazing moments. Moments that we've been absolutely atonoshied at God's goodness, favor, and His faithfulness.

When we first knew this house was going to be ours back in April we sat down and created a remodel budget. We thought of everything, or at least we thought we did. We even budgeted over what we knew things cost just to give ourselves a cushion. We've learned that with homeownership sometimes you have to expect the unexpected. There have been surprise costs that have blown our budget out of the water. Guess what? It's okay. I can say with confidence that it's only because of our trust in Him that we've made it this far. He has surprised us with blessing upon blessing and financial provision beyond what we could ask for. We are so blessed to be doing this remodel with 100% cash. Debt free, which is the only way {for us}. This is by no means me bragging, this is a testimony to God's faithfulness. If He has called you do something in your life that requires you to take a step of faith, He will equip you.

I'm going to be sharing some before, during, and after pictures here soon. It's quite amazing the amount of work we have done with the help of some pretty awesome people in our lives. I can't wait to share it here. It's incredible to see a vision come to life right before you.

We are planning on moving some items into the house this weekend, which is so exciting for us, as we've been crashing at my Mom's place {thank you Mom!} the last 7 1/2 weeks. I can't wait to unpack all our belongings and start decorating. That's when the real fun will begin!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Strawberry Pie

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Remember when we went strawberry picking and came home with so many strawberries we didn't know what to do with them? Well I put some of them to good use and made a pie; strawberry pie. 

Strawberry Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust
5 cups quartered strawberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar {adjust according to the sweetness of the strawberries}
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a baking sheet on a middle rack to preheat.  

Gently press pie crust into a pie dish so it lines the bottom and sides. Flute the edges and cut off the extra crust. Use a fork to pierce the bottom of the crust, then line the entire pie pan with foil. Fill foil with dried rice. Freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch. 

Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until crust is golden. 

Make egg wash by whisking 1 egg yolk in a small bowl. Then, remove foil and rice from pie crust. {At this point you can throw away the foil and rice since you won't need it any longer.} Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, about 3 minutes. Cool. 

Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan. Mash until chunky. Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves. You will notice the glaze thicken. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. Cool. 

Combine the remaining 3 cups of strawberries with the cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until all the strawberries are coated. Spoon into cooled pie crust. 

Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving in order to let the filling set.


recipe adapted from Inspired Taste

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Favorite Part of Summer

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 Strawberry Picking; the tried and true way to determine if summer is here. This week we went out to a local strawberry farm to pick berries. It's one of my most favorite things to do in the summer. I think it has something to do with eating berries right off the plant in the middle of a field. 

We got enough strawberries to make homemade jam and strawberry pies. Don't worry, there will be sharing of recipes soon! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kindred Oak {a giveaway}

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There's this clutch I'm in love with. It's from Kindred Oak, the sweetest little online shop full of handmade items. I'm also pretty fond of their founder and designer, Paige. She has a heart of gold and a passion for beautiful things. Did you know that Oak stands for "one of a kind"? Kindred Oak is committed to making items as unique as the individuals purchasing them. Here's the heart behind the product:

All OAK items are handmade, focusing on today's hottest trends with a twist of vintage-classic. Because they are handmade, you won't find them mass-produced and showing up on every street corner; you can rest assured that your OAK pieces will make a statement when you walk into a room.

Paige sent me their chevron clutch. One of my favorite aspects of the clutch {besides the chevron print} are the details. I love the mustard zipper detail and the fact that it's a fold over.

I came up with several uses for this beauty: 

+ a day shopping trip {it can store everything you need for a day out}
+ a "purse" to throw in a diaper bag
+ any event that requires the use of a clutch {wedding}
+ a morning at the farmers market
+ a day at the beach/lake/pool/waterpark {fits in the pool bag}
+ a day at the park {stores in the stroller perfectly}
+ a date night out {dress it up or play it casual}

This clutch is so versatile, which is huge. That's one of my key requirements when I buy an accessory. I have to be able to use it often and for different purposes. 

Kindred Oak is generously offering 10% off any order with code beautiful10. 
Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a clutch of your choice {color options are red or grey}.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DIY Sugar Scrub

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I've always had a thing for a good scrub. I love the way it makes my skin feel, and gosh darn it, that right there amps up my confidence a little. 

I don't however, use a scrub on a regular basis. Usually once after winter, to exfoliate all that dry winter skin off, and then again in summer to make me feel like my skin is glowing.

Saturday I wanted to do a scrub with my shower, but major problem...all my non-daily bathroom essentials are packed up until we move into the house. So, somewhere in my garage lies my lemon scrub. Enter creative brain. I had to make one. 

Into the kitchen I went, on the hunt for sugar scrub like ingredients. Here's what I came up with. Coconut oil and sugar. That's it, two ingredients. I added the coconut oil into a small bowl and warmed it up a little to make sure it would mix nicely with the sugar. I simply kept adding sugar until it was the right consistency. This isn't some magicical ratio, just eyeball it and give a feel to see if it's what you're used to using. 

One batch made enough to do a full body scrub and there was enough leftover for another use. Note: I have super sensitive skin so I didn't add any fragrance, but I'm sure you could use vanilla or coconut extract to give it a delicious scent. I'm sure it wouldn't have given me any sort of reaction, but since I was headed to a wedding that afternoon I didn't want to chance it. I might add a little coconut extract into the leftovers I have and give that a whirl. 

This is the perfect summer scrub. It could also double as a fun gift idea for a birthday or even for a new mama.  

Monday, July 1, 2013


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Seven! The number of years since the Mr. and I said I do. 
June 30, 2006 will always be one of my favorite days. All day I couldn't believe seven years can go by so quickly. 

I'm so thankful for the man God blessed me with. Truly, there is not, nor could there ever be a more perfect guy for me. I'm in awe of the blessing he is to me. 

As we celebrated yesterday {by spending the day in the garage staining our new kitchen cabinets} I thought about the last seven years. We've worked hard to protect our marriage; to make it last a lifetime. It makes me proud of what we've learned and what we've accomplished. This doesn't mean we're perfect or that we always know what we're doing. We are constantly working at keeping our marriage a priority.

the first picture we have together in front of our new house, taken Saturday

As we looked back on the last seven years of married life I thought about what we've done to make this beautiful thing work so well. In honor of our anniversary I'll share some of them with you. 

Honor each other. 
Laugh a lot. 
Be silly. 
Date one another. 
Do everything together.
Say I'm sorry quickly. 
Don't hold grudges. 
Stay best friends. 
Tell each other everything. 
Be honest. 
Don't be too serious. 
Make your home a happy place. 
Kiss a lot.  {advice from the in-loves}
Keep God number one. 
Pray together. 
Learn your spouse's love language. 
Enjoy each others' favorite activities. 

This list could go on and on, these are just some of them that have helped the last seven years. I can't wait to see what we learn over the next seven years. I'm sure the list will look something more like: 

How to function on no sleep
Get a babysitter
Go on dates
Keep your spouse #1, kids #2

I'm excited to see where this next chapter of life takes us. We've done so much together already and learned so much, but this is just the start. Looking forward to the rest of our forever marriage!

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