Friday, January 29, 2016

Monthly Moments :: January

Happy Friday friends! Today starts a new series for me on the blog. I take a lot of pictures in a single day. Most I don't do much with, others I share one Facebook or IG and occasionally this blog. I wanted to make it a priority to start sharing more of our every day lives through the photos we snap day to day so starting this month and throughout the year, the last day of the month is going to be known as Monthly Moments: Our Month in Photos.


Here are a handful of my favorite photos that we've taken throughout January.


Morning hair at it's finest. We had to pull out the spray bottle and blow dryer that morning.

Wherever I am, Connor likes to be. Even if it means laying on kitchen floor while I do dishes.

Our little bowler sizing up the job at hand.

How come my 3 year old looks so big? Time please stop!


These energy bites are amazing. Take my advice and make a double batch!

Working out at home is so tough for me because I get distracted but I've been able to get in 13 workouts in the "comfort" of our home. Next month, I'm aiming for 20.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie, how have I lived this long without you?

Never go up against me in Clue. You will lose. 


Our sweet boy. Sometimes I just look at him and my heart aches with how much I adore him. 

Proud Momma moment. Connor lined up each of his cars, grouping them by color then counted to 32 all by himself. 

We put together a simple Valentine's card for friends and let me just admit right here, right now - crafting doesn't come natural for Connor and me. 

The "Texas Baby" experiencing his first ever snow day. 

January is so close to be over and this weekend we have a ton of plans with family and friends. While I want time to slow down, I'm also enjoying the fact that we are these.close to being done with winter. I am really looking forward to Spring and getting outdoors. 

Happy Weekend!


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Twelve Months of Bliss :: Own It

I've been a huge fan of Ember Grey for the longest time. Emily's blog is one of the first I can remember reading. I've been dying to join her Twelve Month of Bliss series and finally the stars have aligned and I'm finally joining it this year. Over the next 12 months, I'll be sharing my "bliss" through the prompts provided. If you'd like to join, visit Emily's space for all the details.


January's prompt was OWN IT. With New Year resolutions still fresh in our minds, owning what you plan to change is easier than every before. I hope to focus on and improve 6 areas of my life this year. One of those six is my health. I shared details on this month's progress in last week's Weight Loss Wednesday. But Twelve Months of Bliss gave me the extra confidence to really OWN what I wanted to change. Emily pushed me to single out one area to challenge myself on. I choose to focus on healthy meals and beverage choices along with no soda and no fast food.


Once I picked out what I wanted to OWN this month, I wrote it out along with 5 steps that will help me reach my goal. I made the above photo my cell phone background so that I would see it daily and be reminded to stay focus on my long-term goals, even when giving up seemed easier. We were told to incorporate a OWN it partner this month too. I am lucky to have 84 ladies cheering me on thanks to an online Healthy Actions Challenge group. We share our meals, our highs, our lows, our gym selfies, everything.

While OWNing it doesn't stop this month, the beginning is usually the hardest. But I'm nearly a month in and haven't given in yet. Putting plans in place to succeed, believing in myself and having the support of friends near and far is going to give me the extra push I need to reach goals this year that I've been striving for for far too long.

Ember Grey Twelve Months of Bliss

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reading Wednesday - January 2016

I am so excited for today. I've been looking forward to Reading Wednesday all month. Maybe it's because this linkup is book themed and my bookworm heart loves a chance to talk "book". It might be because I loved both books I read this month. Either way, welcome to our first ever Reading Wednesday.

In case you missed Suzanna and my original announcement, Reading Wednesday happens the last Wednesday of the month. Simply join our linkup anytime before the following last Wednesday of the month and share what books you've been reading. No rules, just an easy way for us book lovers to enjoy a "blogger's book club". This month I read 2 books. A Book Club Pick and the second a Personal Pick. Here are the books I read along with a synopsis and my thoughts on each novel.

My Personal Pick
The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess's lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she's cancelled her engagement.

It's only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she's embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store - a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.

But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known. It's a summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell, filled with the heartache, laughter, and surprises that have made her page-turning, bestselling novels as much a part of summer as a long afternoon on a sunny beach.


My Review
I really wanted to love this book because I've heard so many great things about the author and her work but I was a left a bit bored at parts, making this one a tough one to really enjoy. I usually work through books in days and this one took nearly 2 weeks. The story line itself is wonderful. Watching relationships grow from loss to something of substance and happiness makes this a total "feel good" read but one that isn't full of romantic moments that seem unrealistic. Overall this book was worth reading but left me looking for something with more wow factor. I hope Hilderbrand's other books do more for me when I pick them up this week from the library.

My Book Club Pick
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand 

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.


My Review
I think the author does a fabulous job of sharing the point of view of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide with getting into deep on the suicide itself, since suicide is such a personal experience. This could be because of her real life experience (she lost her brother) so I enjoyed the point of view of Lex, who is grieving such a painful loss. Throughout the book you feel the range of emotions the characters go through. From sadness to disbelief to wonder to angry to forgiveness and understanding. The book is a fast read and while there are moments that bored me a bit, the overall message and storyline was enjoyable and one I would recommend to others, especially if you wanted a quick and easy read.

For February, I will be reading The Room by Emma Donoghue (Personal Pick)
and Before I Go by Colleen Oakley (Book Club Pick).

Now it's your turn to share what you've been reading. Add our button to your book themed post and linkup your book reviews and list. You have until February 23rd to add your January reads to this linkup.




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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter Blues Buster :: Blueberry Muffins

Last Wednesday we woke up to a snow and ice covered world, making traveling almost impossible. Our morning and afternoon plans were cancelled. By 3PM, Connor and I were getting antsy. While I'm used to the snow, learning to be snowed in with a child is quiet new to me. With a few hours left before James got home from work, I had to come up with something to keep Connor entertain. We had exhausted all our resources so off to the kitchen we went to bake. My winter motto has now become "when all else false, whip up some delicious muffins".


Connor and I are the perfect duo when it comes to our love of blueberry muffins. We both love the tasty sweetness of blueberries combined with our favorite food group ... carbs. In just a matter of minutes our muffins when from bowl to oven to belly. Our recipe is isn't fancy but yields such a tasty treat, something everyone deserves when the winter blues has them feeling down.

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN RECIPE
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 c. Sugar
  • 6 tbs. Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 c. 2% Milk
  • 3 c. Flour
  • 3 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Instructions
1.) Pre-heat over to 325. Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers or spray tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2.) Combine butter and sugar.
3.) Add eggs, vanilla extract and milk to your butter and sugar mixture. 
4.) Mix in salt, flour and baking powder. 
5.) Slowly folk your blueberries into your batter. 
6.) Spoon batter into your muffin tin until each cup is 3/4 filled. 
7.) Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops of your muffins are golden brown. Yields 12 muffins.


I've used this same batter to make chocolate chips, strawberry and banana muffins . Every time Connor is asking for more which is unusual because bless him, he is the pickiest of eaters. So the next time Mother Nature wrecks havoc on your day, head to the kitchen and back a batch of our favorite muffin. Odds are you have everything you need to whip up these delicious treat. 

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Let's Talk: A New Year

Over the last couple of weeks, I've shared January's monthly goals, my Word of the Year and my health and wellness plan. Making goals, creating resolutions and putting together action plans is something that I enjoy. I love how progress motivates me. With that in mind, I'm going to join Momfessionals for this months "Let's Talk." Today's theme is NEW YEARS.
Since I've already shared goals and resolutions with you, I wanted to take a chance to focus on what we are looking forward to this year as a family. A new year is a fresh start at a chance to make memories, create a life you love and enjoy the every day. I really hope that when we look back on 2016 it's with fondness and joy. With that being said, in 2016 we are looking forward to...
  • Paying off debt and saving for a new home
  • Enjoying our first non-working family vacation
  • Celebrating 5 years of marriage
  • My girls only trip to Chicago in September
  • Growing as a family in our relationship with Christ
  • Celebrating NH's annual award trip
  • Turning 39, 34 and 4
  • Connor starting soccer or karate in the Fall
  • Friendcation
  • Summer Concerts
  • Running our 1st Family 5k
  • Discovering Dayton

While 2016 is still quiet fresh and new, it's fun to look ahead at all that we have planned for the year. There are so many things I didn't list. Little things that make life fun: play dates, dinner out, talks with girlfriend, dates with my husband and so much more. What event, moment or stage are you looking forward to this year?


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Favorites :: January 22

Happy Friday friends! Here are this week's highlights. 


| ONE |
Here are this week's posts in case you've missed them...

| TWO |


I am officially hooked on shopping at SAM's. I won a year membership at our MOPS Chili Cook-off and Auction and as soon as I was kid-free this week I redeemed that bad boy and did some shopping. My girlfriend told me that I could buy bread there cheaper (depending on brand of course) and freeze a loaf to use later since it comes in 2 loaf packs. So I'm giving it a shot. She swears everyone does this; do you? I still can't get used to having a loaf of bread in our freezer.

| THREE |


I didn't drink coffee until I became a mom. The extra sugar and caffeine was much needed. But lately, I've been trying to cut back on making a simple black coffee into a dessert coffee as James calls it. I am a total #4 with hopes of one day being a #2 but have no plans of every being a #1. Black coffee has this taste that needs watered down with creamer. Sugar Cookie creamer to be exact.

| FOUR |


Crafting with Connor takes a ton of patience and while I love the outcome and the keepsakes/gifts we make, I can't imagine doing crafts more than twice a month. I don't feel too bad about our lack of crafting because I don't think C is too crazy about them either. Good thing he gets any fix he needs from school twice a week.

| FIVE |


I have a book problem and don't see how it's every going to go away. I'm currently working through The Island by Elin Hilderbrand and while I like the story thus far, I'm discovering I have no extra time to read lately. I need to finish and start Room because some girlfriends what to see it in theaters. I'm going to commit to reading an hour a day starting next week. I'm not sure where this time will come from but with 24 hours in the day, I'm bound to have an hour to spare. Right?

Enjoy your weekend.
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