Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Happy Fall Y'all

We all have favorite seasons we look forward to each year and mine has always been fall. Just like Anne of Green Gables, “I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” There is just something about the air changing from hot and humid to crisp and chill. The sky changes a darker shade with each evening and the leaves begin to change color and fall.



While people long for hot spiced drinks and flavorful pastries to get them into the fall mood, I am all about the décor that I add to my home. Homemade signs, smelly candles, and the variety of pumpkins are strategically placed all over my house. My favorite piece came from Hobby Lobby and I placed it on my wall as soon as I got home with it. (Yes, that was mid August!)




The best part about fall though, is sitting on my front porch with a mug of hot cocoa and a good book while my kiddo plays in the leaves and searches for the last of the summer bugs before they hide away for a few months. I love feeling the wind against my face as I snuggle deeper into my sweatshirt and the blanket that I’ve wrapped around my legs. 

While I enjoy the fun of summer, when the oppressive humidity kicks in August, I am ready for the change of the season.  It’s not officially fall without family, football, sweatshirts, bonfires, apple picking and consuming massive amounts of my dad’s homemade chili. 


Dave and I are all about road trips and festivals in the fall.  I love getting in the car with Dave and taking a drive to see the leaves change color.  One of our favorite drives is to the annual Spoon River Festival.  This has become quite the event and it’s not out of the ordinary to wait in long lines of traffic to get to your destination; but it’s a great way to spend a weekend, whether finding a treasure at an antique shop or getting some fun decor for your home.  If this is something that interests you, I recommend stopping at Bernadotte and London Mills.  If festivals aren’t your thing, another great day trip is to head south for the day to Grafton, IL.  Take a drive on the Great River Road to one of the many wineries and don’t forget to stop at Pere Marquette State Park to take in some of the most beautiful fall scenery!


What are your favorite fall traditions? Or better yet, what's your favorite season?

****We are excited to announce the winner of our "A Different Beautiful Book Giveaway"- Kelli Wilcockson!!! Kelli, we will contact you this week! Thank you to everyone who participated and we can't wait to do another giveaway soon! 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BE-YOU-ti-ful

Let’s face it; we live in a world where people place a lot of value on physical beauty. From the moment we wake in the morning until we rest our heads at night, we see, experience, hear, and feel the pressures of what it means to accomplish society’s version of beauty.

But what is beauty and how do we let it define us?

beau·ty
ˈbyo͞odē/
noun
1.                               
a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
"I was struck by her beauty"
2.                               
a beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular.
(taken from dictionary.com via Google) 

But let’s take this a step further and talk about what makes a person beautiful. We’ve come up with a few options.

  • Someone with a genuine smile
  • Someone who can light up a room just by their laughter
  • Someone who goes the extra mile for a friend
  • Someone who offers their spot in an incredibly long line
  • Someone who helps without expecting anything in return
  • Someone who hugs a hurting stranger

Beauty has a whole lot to do with mindset and not all that much to do with mascara and lip gloss. We are all born beautiful in our Creator’s eyes, but we continue to stay beautiful by our character. 


One of our favorite local bloggers, Courtney Westlake, has written a book about her daughter’s skin disorder and how this experience changed her thought process on what beautiful means.

 After reading Courtney’s book, we’ve reassessed how we view the world around us and the beauty that is so much more than appearances. We want to give you a chance to win a signed copy of your own.


If you would like to win your own copy of A Different Beautiful, tell us your definition of beauty.  Leave a comment below, on our individual Facebook or Instagram accounts or on Twitter.  Winner will be announced August 31st! 


God bless and happy Wednesday, y’all! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

BE Intentional


I want to start off by saying thank you for the lovely post on Friday from Misty. I was overwhelmed with well wishes for my birthday and her thoughtfulness, as well as yours, did not go unnoticed. I am very blessed and humbled!

And as I celebrated my birthday on Friday, I kept thinking about life. I kept thanking God for another year and another chance to be a better version of me and to try to make a difference in this world, no matter how big or how small that difference might be.



Our Pastor started a new sermon series last week on the book of Proverbs. He challenged all of us to read it through and continue reading it until the series is over. (for the next four to five weeks) As I thought about what we’d read already and as I celebrated my birthday, the word “intentional” kept going through my mind. And it hit me; I want this year to be a year of intentional moments.



How many times do we coast through a day and not really show up? I know there have been plenty of days where by bedtime, I’m not even sure what I said to people or how I behaved because I was so focused on the next thing. I wasn’t always intentional in conversations, in moments with my child, or even in moments for myself.

I want this thirty-eighth year of my life to mean something. I want people to know that when they called to tell me something personal or important, that I listened to them-I wasn’t browsing Instagram or reading email. I want my son to know that when he wants me to watch him ride his bike, that I am watching. I don’t want to be on the phone or talking to someone else or even taking a picture. I want to watch him.



In today’s world, it can get hard with life being so busy but what would happen if each moment, each dinner time, each coffee date, etc. was done with intention and not just something we marked off of the list and moved on from. What would happen if we really took the time to stop, listen, and focus on what’s really going on in our world and the world around us?




Just food for thought. I hope you have a terrific Monday! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

38 and FABULOUS!


Today is a very special day, because my co-blogger and BFF, Kendra Michelle, is celebrating her 38th birthday!  It has been an incredible blessing to be best friends for so long with such an awesome and fun girl!  



The reasons for Kendra Michelle's existence:  The Parental Units



A few oldies…


Kendra has never had a problem being silly….


The LOVES of her life….



Her favorite little super heroes!


Forever Friends…..


 Kendra, I hope this birthday year is everything you want it to be! Hugs and Kisses! - M-

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Our Fall Line-Up



With Fall right around the corner, so are the new TV line ups.  What will be returning and what new shows to look forward to? Here is a list of what we plan to watch this season. 

Truth be told, I am not much of a television watcher. I usually love movies and binge watching Netflix, but I don’t have too many regular shows I watch. I do plan to catch a few this fall and wanted to share them with you. So here goes for my fall line-up:

Unlike Kendra, I am a cable TV junkie. Bravo, E! and USA are at the top of the list. I have missed my normal fall TV schedule, but fortunately BRAVO had an overabundance of Real Housewives on this summer, which kept me thoroughly entertained!  I do watch Netflix and have really gotten into Stranger Things, but that’s about as science fiction-y that I get.  I was surprised to see Kendra’s picks for her fall TV line ups, because I chose the exact same three as well!!!  (This hardly ever happens!!!)


Monday Night:
Dancing With the Stars 7pm on ABC- airs September 12

I have loved this show from the beginning but must admit that I have missed a couple of seasons here and there. I really enjoy seeing who will be on the show and what the professionals have in store as far as new dances. My favorite couple to date is Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy.

I LOVE this show for so many reasons…the costumes, the music and of course the pro dancers! My Dave Baby will even “suffer” through each Monday watching this with me.  My favorite pro dancers are Mark Ballas and Witney Carson.  My favorite season to date was Mirror Ball trophy winners Witney Carson and Alfonso Ribeiro.


Tuesday Night:
American Housewife on ABC- airs October 11

This will be a new show that I want to try. The show stars Katy Mixon from the show Mike and Molly and based on the few commercials I have seen for it, I think it might be funny. I will give it my 3 episode chance and see if it’s worth the full season

Katy Mixon cracked me up the first time I saw her on Four Christmases.  I think she is absolutely adorable, has great comedic timing and I’m really looking forward to seeing her in this show.  Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint!


Coming SOON but not soon enough:
GILMORE GIRLS on Netflix- airs November 25

I am super excited for this four episode mini- season. I cannot wait to see what’s going on with my favorite mother/daughter act. I am also very excited to start this series all over before watching the final season on Netflix.

Out of all the shows this fall, this one is THE MOST ATTICIPATED YET!!!!  Oh, Lorelai and Rory, how I have missed you girls and the antics that take place in your quaint little town of Stars Hallow, Connecticut! Like Kendra, and probably the majority of GG fans, I too will be watching all the seasons before tuning in to the new one on Netflix!


Honorable Mentions:

These shows have TBD seasons but I felt like I should share them because they are my new favorites: Wayward Pines and Stranger Things 

I am a Wednesday Night ABC girl and was so disappointed to hear that the lineup was changing this season.  The Middle will now air on Tuesday nights (fortunately as does American Housewife).  The Goldbergs, Modern Family and Black-ish will remain on Wednesday nights. 
 



So there’s our list of what we will be watching this fall! What will you be watching?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.



Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Save Money Without Losing Your Mind-Part One

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to homeschool our son. We knew this meant I would need to stop working full time and there were a few things we'd have to consider before losing that second income. It felt like a lot of sacrificing went into this decision but we’ve actually been able to save more these past 2+ years than we ever did when we had two incomes. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Here are a few of the things we did BEFORE going down to one income in order to see if our "minimalizing" would make this decision a realistic one on our bank account. If you want to save a bit of money or are considering going down to a smaller income household, I hope some of these options will help you as much as they’ve helped us.

Step One:
Review your bank account and see where your money is spent the most. For us, this was Target and eating out. We knew we had a Target spending problem but it was a big wake up call when we saw how much we were eating outside of the home (on lunch hours and some evenings-especially when the grocery bill was still normal) 

We scaled back our store spending and only went for things that we needed verses things that we wanted. Eventually, we were able to still treat ourselves to a Target run without breaking the bank, but it took practice and patience. As for the eating out, we opted to go from several times a week to one time on the weekend. This saved us hundreds of dollars. I also started using coupons from Coupons.com, Target’s Cartwheel App, and County Market’s Penny Pinchers/County Market App. (coupons aren’t just for junk anymore. I’m able to find coupons for just about anything!)



Step Two:
We discussed our methods of entertainment and decided to use Netflix for tv (no cable) and watched our spending on video games, movies, and books. It’s amazing how much one can save when we wait for things to go on sale verses buying them as soon as they come out. (unless they are on sale during that first week and will return to full price later)


Step Three:
Buy in advance (and sometimes in bulk) I know it sounds funny, but when you purchase things like toiletries, birthday items, and pet care items in advance, you end up saving in the long run. There have been so many times I would purchase these items at full price or last minute and pay a lot more than I would have, had I carefully planned what I needed. As for birthday presents, I usually end up spending $15-20 less if I plan out the gift instead of running to the store and grabbing a quick gift/card/bag/tissue paper/etc. last minute.

Step Four:
Stop mindless driving. Even though gas has been pretty cheap lately, I used to fill up once a week when I was working full time. Now, I carefully plan when I am going to be out and about and on what side of town I am on so that I can go on the same tank of gas for up to three weeks at a time. I love challenging myself with this one because it often surprises me how much mindless driving I would do if I didn’t plan my trips.

Step Five:
Revisit Bills. Call your local providers and see if you are getting the best deals on insurance, electricity, cell service, etc. You would be amazed how much you could save if you cut your data plan back a bit or if you switched to another car insurance provider. This also goes for credit cards. Most of the time, you’re paying for a high interest rate and some companies are willing to help you get a lower rate if you’re good about paying your bills on time. We only have one credit card and it’s for emergencies only, but I know what this was like when we had several at one time and felt like we were juggling multiple interest rates.


Step Six:
Round up. We started this trick several years ago and now we have an extra "invisible" savings because we round everything up to the next dollar before doing our online banking. It's amazing how much a bill for $202.02 every month is computed as $203 and that .98 cents is now $11.76. Picture doing this with every single purchase/bill/deposit and watch your bank account grow without even trying. We've never touched our "invisible" savings because we know that someday, this extra might really come in handy for an unplanned finance. 

I have a few more ways to save money but I will share those another time. I really hope some of these suggestions might be of help to you. It isn't a complicated method; it simply takes a bit of patience and discipline at first. Trust me on this one, because I used to be the biggest spender and now I've switched to the saver side. 


Happy Monday and Happy Spending (less) ~K 












Friday, August 12, 2016

She's Got Legs



It’s late in the season but I came across the subject this week so I thought it would be a perfect blog post for all you ladies out there.  Sorry guys, you may not be interested in this, unless you participate in this ritual (whatever floats your boat).  I’m talking about the daunting task of leg shaving.  Men, when you hear a woman say she’s excited for fall or winter, she’s even more excited at the prospect of not having to shave her legs more than once a week (or month or the whole winter). Personally, I can’t stand to go longer than a week but it’s an individual preference. Anyway, I’m getting off track.  



I went to the pool with my besties this past week.  Two of them have pre-teen girls and we got into the discussion of when they were going to let their girls start shaving.  We started talking about what age we were when we started shaving (between 10-12 if you want to know). My first razor was a one blade disposable Bic and my shaving cream was a bar of soap.  Painful! Razor burn is no joke and I’m sure I cut myself; but I told my mom I wanted to shave and she was completely fine with my decision.  As a tween, you can’t wait to grow up and start doing all these things women get to do and then you grow up and realize what a chore it really is.  


I wised up with my selection of product the older I got because it’s not enjoyable taking chunks of flesh off your legs while you are trying to shave.  For some women, they skip the shaving process entirely and have the luxury of spending $$$ and getting their leg hairs lasered or waxed.  Others use depilatory creams (Nair).  Kudos to you who do this, but I am not one of them.  I have tried NUMEROUS razor brands and found that Gillette is by far my favorite to use.  Dave used the Gillette Mach 3 on his beard for years and his face was always so silky smooth, I figured it would be great for the legs! He started using a different brand so I switched to the Gillette Venus Embrace which I have been very happy with.  Another important step ladies, LATHER UP!  Using a bar of soap is going to leave your legs bumpy and dry! My favorite shaving cream is a good ole can of 98 cent Barbasol!  It’s the best for a super close shave and no irritation.  I know it doesn’t smell all fruity and girly but if it keeps the gams soft and silky then it serves its purpose.  As far as how long you should keep using the same razor, the great Guru Google search suggested keeping it until it feels dull or irritation occurs.  If you see rust on the blade, dispose immediately.  I am sure you all are more than capable of guessing that though!


Regardless of what method you use for hair removal, what brand of razor or creams you buy, after you get past the task, there’s nothing quite like a soft pair of legs to make you feel a little more girly! If it’s still something you absolutely dread, don’t fret…only 42 more days until fall!
Happy Friday!   - M -


Fun Facts about legs:
Shaving for women became popular in the 40's thanks to pin up models.
It’s better to shave legs towards the end of a shower.  The heat and steam will soften the hair and open the pores.
In case you were wondering, my favorite Van Halen song happens to be Drop Dead Legs.