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Favorite Things Friday {7.27.18}

1. I was so excited for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, y’all! I stayed up all night so I could place my order. I added everything to my bag, went to check out and POOF, my whole bag disappeared. At 3am. After hours of shopping. I was…..displeased. Then I finally was able to add things back to my bag and checkout only to have this message below pop up. Then it turns out my order went through 5 times, which maxed out my Nordstrom card. So I had to call….along with 68,000 other shoppers. I spent over 1.5 hours on hold trying to get it resolved. And by the time it got resolved 3 of my favorite items were sold out and canceled off my order. So why is this in the Friday Favorites post if it was such a hassle? Because Nordstrom has the best customer service reps, hands down. I cannot imagine how many irate customers they dealt with that day but after I waited on hold for 1.5 hours the rep I spoke with was still cheerful, upbeat, apologetic, and so very helpful. Your IT dept might suck donkey balls but your customer service department is second to none, Nordstrom!

2. The last week or so began the slow descent into back to school territory. I finally made the kids try on last year’s uniforms. And thank goodness I did. Zoey has NOTHING that fits from last year. No polos, no skirts, no shorts, no pants. I had sell all of her old uniform pieces and start buying her new stuff! Mason also outgrew all of his shorts and pants. I haven’t started Maia’s stuff yet. This is exhausting. I demand my kids stop growing. Immediately. We also have done the dentist for cleanings and check ups- no cavities! Maia had her 6 month med check with her doctor and we added a second antidepressant to her regimen. We’re also starting to look in the direction of Bipolar 2 for her, which scares me to death. And finally I did my first Target school supply run. It was painful. I still have at least one more to go because they were already sold out of some stuff- specifically STUPID PLASTIC 2 POCKET PRONG FOLDERS IN ORANGE, GREEN, AND PURPLE! Grrrr….

3. My birthday was this week. I turned 41. I celebrated with a trip to IKEA with my sister and my girls. We had a great time! Maia insisted on pictures and I’m so glad I obliged. Even with a double chin, bags under my eyes, and 15 lbs heavier than I’d like. Yet I’ve never been happier. My 40s are much better than my 30s so far! 

4. The kids have spent a lot of time with friends lately. Maia and Zoey have both had friends over to our house, Mason had a sleepover this week with his best friend, and Tyler is always with his friends if he’s not at football or work. I love the friendships they’ve made at our school and I love that I’ve become friends with their friends moms! Charter school world is very small and I love it. 

5. We did a late night Icee run to the QT down the road one night this week and the kids loved it. For $1.39 they each got a 32 oz frozen drink! You cannot beat that! And bonus- Matt and I came home and added Vodka to ours. Ha! Maia and I also tried the frozen coffee drinks this week and they were SO good!



My Birthday Bucket List

I turned 41 years old this week! 41, y’all! I’ve left my 30s behind and I’m embracing my 40s. There’s something really freeing about being in your 40s, at least for me. I honestly do not care about what others think of me, my life, or my decisions. I don’t feel the need to keep up with the Joneses or follow the latest trend or be a part of the in-crowd. I don’t care. I’m me and I’m happy. This year I decided to make a bucket list for myself. It’s not a list of fantasy experiences that I’ll never in a million years be able to afford to do. Rather, it’s a list of things I want to accomplish this year for myself. 

1. Update my wardrobe. I got rid of a ton of stuff when we moved, mostly stuff that didn’t fit or that was old or damaged. But I really need to go through my wardrobe and get rid of stuff that isn’t flattering or not my style. I want to add some classic pieces to my wardrobe…basically I want to dress my age. Ha!

2. Develop a skin care routine. I’m ashamed to admit just how often I fall into bed at the end of the night still wearing my make up. It’s an awful habit and I need to be better about skin care. 

3. Invest in good makeup. I’m the queen of cheap make up and then I wonder why I don’t like the way it looks. ha! This year I want to invest in some good quality make up that works for my skin. I also would love to learn how to apply it properly. Pretty sure a make up artist would have a heart attack if they saw my smearing on foundation with my fingers. 

4. Volunteer more. I want to find my cause. I don’t just want to volunteer. I want to have a cause that I’m passionate about and dedicated to. I’m leaning towards something within the foster care system because that truly is where my passion lies. I’m undecided whether that means going back to being a foster parent or maybe becoming a GAL (CASA in some parts of the country) or maybe a respite provider. I don’t know. But I need to make a difference somewhere, somehow. 

5. Read 10 books outside my favorite genres. I get into a book rut reading my usual genres so I want to branch out. I’m already reading more mysteries and thrillers so I’m thinking about maybe trying some historical fiction and some non-fiction. 

6. Be more spontaneous. I get stuck in my routines and then wonder why I’m bored. I want to add some spontaneity to my life. Live for the moment and all. 

7. Create a database of favorite recipes and cook more. Since adding the Instant Pot to my life I have found my joy in cooking again. I’ve cooked almost every single night for 6 weeks and I’m enjoying it. I’m taking pride in what I’m serving my family again. I want to create a binder or a database of our favorite recipes. I want to experiment more with new ingredients and new recipes. 

8. Take my health seriously. Bleg. I’m terrible with this. I can’t even tell you the last time I saw my PCP for a full physical. I desperately need to see the dermatologist, cardiologist, gynocologist, dentist, and my PCP. This is the year I get serious about my own health.

9. Say yes to more experiences. I’m not good about stepping outside my comfort zone. Historically I’ve found my comfort zone and then settled in for the long haul. But that creates a really monotonous life. I want to be more open to new things and try fun stuff- both with my kids and without them!

10. Let go of the negative. Life is too short for negativity. I’m not one who gets her feelings hurt easily or cares too much about what others think but I can hold a grudge like nothing you’ve seen. I take the whole “burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me” thing very seriously. I want to be quick to forget and quicker to forgive. Life is just more peaceful that way.

11. Watch less mindless TV. I swear this is on every single list I’ve ever made. Ha! I did cut out a bunch of shows when we moved because we had to turn in the old DVR and I just didn’t care enough to catch up on them. There are very few reality shows I currently watch and I’ve cut out a bunch of primetime shows I lost interest in. The sports will never get cut out and neither will House Hunters and Property Brothers. Ha! But the rest of the junk can probably be deleted.

12. Entertain more. I’m very much a homebody and an introvert. But I greatly enjoy my friends. I’ve not been great about hosting in the past and it’s time I get with it. I want to host a few football viewing parties, maybe a Halloween party, definitely a holiday party…we have a much bigger house now so there’s no excuses!

Here’s to a great 41st year of life!



Weekly Book Club {7.25.18}

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This week I’m sharing a couple of non-fiction books and a third book from a longtime favorite series that I read from the library. Both the non-fiction books were a bit outside my normal genre selections but I enjoyed both of them. 

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Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames– In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog. In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums. Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

My Rating: 4 Stars

This book was so interesting! I’ve thought about moving away from everything and living on a homestead but let’s just be honest, I don’t have the discipline to actually do it. It was so interesting to read about how Elizabeth and Nate made it happen! 

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A Simplified Life by Emily Ley– Busy wife, mom, entrepreneur, and bestselling author Emily Ley knows how you feel. With a growing family, increased work demands, and more, she understands the struggle it is to keep the plates spinning. In A Simplified Life, you’ll find Emily’s strategies, systems, and methods for permanently clearing the clutter, organizing your priorities, and living intentionally in 10 key areas—from your home and meal planning, to style and finances, parenting, faith life, and more. Emily will show you how to truly make the most of your days with realistic, achievable, and tactical tools. Walk alongside Emily through each page of the book, working through her simple strategies toward your own goals as you simplify and make space for what matters most.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The idea of a simplified life is like the unicorn in my life. It’s what I strive to have but it never seems to happen. I was drawn in by the simple cover and the premise of the book. And it was good! The book revolved around living your life with intention, which is a huge thing for me. I got a lot of great ideas and it reinforced a lot of the things I’m already doing to simplify my life. I devoured this book in no time and it actually motivated me to make some necessary changes in our lives to achieve peace. If you’re a stressed out mom trying to juggle way too much crap I highly recommend this read!

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Hot and Bothered by Shelly Laurenston– It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late. Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Oh my gosh, I love the honey badgers. Love them! This is book 1 in a new series that is a spin off of her uber popular Pride series. I’ve read almost every book in her Pride series and they are great. The honey badgers were my favorite characters in that series so I was excited to see a whole new series revolving around them. This book did not disappoint. Charlie is a badass and I adore her. This book has romance, action, hot alpha males, and badass slightly psychotic honey badger shifter women. Basically it’s the best thing ever. Ha! Definitely recommend this one and you don’t have to read the Pride series first. This series stands on it’s own. 



What I’ve Been Amazon Priming

It’s no secret that I love Amazon Prime. I hate to go into stores, I hate to run errands, and I hate lines. So Amazon Prime is pretty much the best thing ever invented in my eyes. Ha! Here’s some of my favorite purchases over the last couple of months. 

Dr. Dan’s CortiBalm Lip Balm– This is the best lip balm ever! Tyler had such a hard time with extremely dry and cracking lips while he was on Accutane and this was the lip balm recommended. Now we’re all addicted to it! 

Not Your Mother's Deja Vu Do Style Extending Hair Primer Spray 6 oz [688047130340]

Not Your Mother’s DeJa Vu Do spray– I love this stuff! I don’t wash my hair every day, usually every other day or every 2 days sometimes. On the day I do wash my hair I spray this on my roots of my wet hair before I blow it dry and style it. The spray helps eliminate oil the next day and then I use dry shampoo. It’s a game changer if you have fine hair that gets greasy after one day!

 

Intex PureSpa Cup Holder– I needed cup holders for our new hot tub and this one turned out to be perfect! It fits snugly on the side and holds 2 drinks. It’s worked perfectly for my margaritas!

Skywalker Jump ‘N Dunk Trampoline– We promised the kids a trampoline when we moved because our new backyard is completely flat and even. But I didn’t want a huge one so we finally chose this one. It’s big enough for the kids to have fun but it doesn’t take up the whole yard. 

Gourmia Electric Kettle– I’ve been working hard to limit myself to one cup of coffee a day but I still want hot drinks. I bought this kettle so I can make myself cups of tea. My mom is British- hot tea is a staple! I love how quickly this kettle boils water and I’m going to use it for priming thermoses when the kids go back to school. 

Tazo Awake English Breakfast Tea– speaking of tea, this is my absolute favorite tea! It has enough caffeine to keep me awake and moving! It also has a pretty strong taste- I cannot handle weak tea. Blech! 

Whitmor 5 Section Closet Organizer- One of my least favorite things about the school year is the fighting about clothes. My kids wear uniforms, you would think that would cut down on the arguments. It does not. Zoey is the worst for this- she never wants to pick out her outfit the night before and then we spend 15 minutes arguing about it the next morning. I’m not doing this anymore. Every Sunday night we will pick out 5 outfits for the week. And that’s the end of the discussion. Pray for me. 

Mpow Cell Phone Holder– My old cell phone holder doesn’t fit in my new car so I needed a new one. After reading about a gazillion reviews I finally chose this one. I’ve had it for about a month and so far it’s been great! I try not to use my phone at all while I’m driving since the new Pathfinder has navigation but I like to charge it and having it in this holder keeps it from sliding all over the place. 

Baby Foot Exfoliant Foot Peel– I bought this last month in prep for our beach trip because my feet are awful. I played soccer for so many years and I have soccer player feet. It’s embarrassing. I was so pleased with this foot peel. I applied the booties, waited the recommended amount of time, and then about 5 days later the dead skin started peeling right off my feet! I’ll definitely buy this again!

So that’s some of the things I’ve bought off of Amazon Prime lately. It’s probably the most random collection of stuff ever. Ha! I love me some Amazon Prime!

 



Best Ever Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

My kids are huge fans of macaroni and cheese. HUGE fans! But they hate every brand of boxed macaroni ever made. They also are very picky about the type of cheese and the cheese/sauce ratio. Insert eye roll here. I’ve experimented with so many different recipes and never hit on one that they all loved. Until now. I have found it. The perfect macaroni and cheese recipe. I’ve made this 5 times now and every single person in my house licks their plate clean. 

Ingredients:
16oz elbow noodles
32 oz chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp Frank’s RedHot sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1.5 cups milk

Directions:
1. Put dry noodles, chicken broth, butter, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in Instant Pot.
2. Seal lid and set to manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
3. When done leave on warming and use quick release.
4. Add cheeses and milk and stir until melted.

I’m telling you, this was the best macaroni and cheese! It had enough spice to keep it interesting, it was creamy, and the flavors just popped right out at you with every bite. I will never make another recipe again!