Category Archives: Favorites

Favorite Summer Shoes! FitFlops!

This post is going to be short & sweet, but I just wanted to quickly share these shoes that I LOVE.

Over the last year or so I’ve realized that I have plantar fasciitis and it’s so annoying! Shoes that I’ve loved in the past are totally not working any more. The strange thing about PF pain, is that even shoes that feel comfy when I’m wearing them, wind up causing pain later on. Even stranger, oftentimes my feet start hurting more when I am sitting or laying down then they did when I walked around all day. If you have pain in your heel, or pain that is worse when you are off your feet like I just described, you might have PF. Something easy you can do to alleviate the pain is to freeze a bottle of water and roll it under your foot. It works!

I have tried so many shoes lately and most of them have failed the test, but these FitFlops have quickly become my feet’s BFFs. I love how they feel when I walk, sit, stand and even later when I lay down to go to bed, my feet don’t hurt! It’s amazing!

Click here for the FitFlop Flare Slides!

There are so many styles to choose from and I can’t wait to replace more of my shoes with FitFlops! Click here for their entire collection on Amazon.

In case you didn’t realize, Fitflops makes more than just flip flops! There are some really cute flats and clogs also that I would love to get for Fall. Have you found shoes that help your Plantar Fasciitis? Please let me know what works for you!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Friday Favorites March Edition

It’s been a while since I have done a Friday Favorites, but I do a have a few new fun things that we are loving lately. Things have been super busy for work and homeschooling and my personal blogging has been put on the back burner, but I don’t want to leave it there! I only have a few minutes to create this post, so let’s get right to it. This post will contain affiliate links for your convenience! Don’t worry, it’s not all stuff!

Organic Mascara: I asked for this Organic Mascara (Endlessly Beautiful) for Christmas and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a bit pricey for me, but I have a really hard time with mascara irritating my eyes and have tried many brands. This is a nice, basic black mascara that is by far the gentlest I have found (better than Neutrogena, Almay, and Physician’s Formula). This doesn’t have some of the amazing features of drug-store brands (no extra crazy length or super waterproof coating) but it goes on nicely and stays well. Mostly, I am happy that I am not rubbing it off, so if you have sensitive eyes, I would recommend it.

The God-Centered Mom PodcastI’m ridiculously late to the Podcast Party, but I’ve recently been catching up and mostly choosing minimalist topics. But my friend recommended The God-Centered Mom Podcast and it’s been fantastic. The handful of episodes I have listened to have been incredibly thought-provoking and relevant to where I am right now as a Christian mom and wife! I am still processing the last episode I heard about “Smiling Depression”. If you have ever struggled with shame or perfectionism I think this will really interest you. Thanks Susan for letting me know about The God-Centered Mom!

A Streamlined wardrobe. I am loving my simplified wardrobe. I have not made the transition to a true capsule wardrobe. However, I am trying to move in that direction slowly, with practical steps. I have cleaned out my closet in phases so that after each purge my clothing becomes more “me”, more simple, and more functional. I’m loving it. I have been forcing myself to experiment with monochromatic choices and it has been surprisingly helpful. Just another way of cutting out decision fatigue in my life! Specifically, I purchased a couple of these soft and comfy tees in grey and black and have been wearing them weekly. 

Just one purse. I had no idea the bags I owned were really complicating my life until I got rid of them. I knew that I had neck and back issues so I decided to eliminate all of my heavy bags (even though they tend to be *nicer*: Goodbye to my lovely leather Michael Kors tote!). Also, I realized the patterned bags were just to difficult to match (Vera Bradley, I’m looking at you). Plus switching bags by mood or color was causing the clutter to build up and receipts to become lost. Guess what? I don’t miss those bags a bit! I received a lightweight Thirty-One hipster for my birthday last summer and have used it every day. Recently, I decided to make one more handbag purchase keeping in mind my vow for embracing neutrals: the Houndstooth print Kava rope bag. The compartments of this bag have taken me a little time to get used to, but I LOVE how light and comfortable it is. It feels almost strangely light on my back compared to a shoulder bag with the same contents! It’s obviously a casual bag, but it was time for me to admit that 99.99% of my time I am dressing casually, and HELLO!? there is nothing wrong with that!

Our evening routine: For the first time as a mom, I feel like our evenings (and mornings for the most part) are truly productive and we have formed actual habits instead of forcing ourselves through painful routines that just never became second-nature. Although I can’t completely explain how this process has been crystallized I will tell you it has 100% been about simplicity and mindfulness and all began by eliminating excess in every room of our home. Just embracing the idea that motherhood does not have to be a series of complete failures and looking for actual solutions to the problems has been revolutionary for me! It has become blissfully simple to leave our house neat each morning and go to bed with everything (at least in the living areas) in their proper place. I will try to blog more about this later! Right now, I just really intend this to be an encouragement. As moms, sometimes we don’t need to hear over and over: “it’s normal, everyone struggles like this, don’t strive for perfection”. Sometimes we need to hear, “Being a mom is hard. Look for the best way to succeed as a mom and work for it”. That’s what I am telling myself from now on.

Ellie HolcombMusic used to be a huge part of my day…. when I had my days virtually to myself. Now there is so much NOISE that I often hesitate to add to the audible clutter by turning on anything. But I realized that I missed inspirational Christian music, so I was pulling out my old CDs from the 90’s. Then a friend on facebook suggested Ellie Holcomb (thank you Rebecca!) and I have got to tell you that I AM HOOKED. She has a beautiful voice and a wonderful message that I really relate to. Here is one of her music videos, but I have been listening to Ellie for free using Spotify! Click here for her Album Red Sea Road.

That’s it for now! Have a wonderful weekend!

Free Bullet Journal Hack!

My Bullet Journal is one of my favorite things and I love that I won’t be worrying about ordering an expensive planner for this school year. If you struggle with organization, don’t feel like most planners fit your lifestyle, or simply want to have more control over the options, Bullet Journaling could be your perfect planner-match! Keep reading for a super easy and free bullet journal hack that I’m excited to implement for this season!notebook flat lay

I have been thinking more about optimizing my bullet journal as I’m gearing up for Homeschooling the Prescott Kiddos for Fall 2016. (“Gearing up” in this case means looking for spare change in the couch cushions to buy curriculum that we probably don’t need anyway). If you are new to Bullet Journaling, check out my post for BargainBabe to get started. It’s an incredibly flexible and forgiving scheduling and list system. All you need is a notebook and a pen!

The one thing I was wishing for was a calendar option for the bullet journal, so I found a free printable and started adding it to my BuJo. That was just what I needed to take it to the next level! I just cut it out and pasted it in. Even though a “pretty” bullet journal hasn’t been on my radar, I did take some leftover washi tape and decorate the edges for a little extra glitz. That’s pretty much all you can expect from me in the artistic arena. bulletjournalcalendarhack

Have you used Bullet Journaling? Share your tips in the comments!

Friday Favorites: Travel Edition

Ya’ll know I LOVE Favorites. Coincidentally, I also love FRIDAYS so I hope to make Friday Favorites a repeat feature. I will be including Affiliate links for your convenience.

When I started this post, I was thinking of travel items, but we honestly use this every single night:

A Quality Sound Machine

My family is a group of finicky sleepers. We’ve tried lots of things, and one thing that we all can’t live without is a great white noise machine.

We own two of these, and love them: Marpac White Noise Machine

We own one of these, and it’s incredibly similar: Sleep Easy Sound Conditioner

From my fairly picky perspective the Sleep Easy sound seems slightly different from the Marpac, however it works great and the kids don’t know the difference. I would definitely recommend the Sleep Easy at only half the price of the Marpac.Marpac

We don’t travel that often but we would never, ever leave behind our sound machines. They have a gentle, even sound (no harsh “seams” in the noise like some of the machines I’ve had in the past. Yep, I’m picky) and they are small and portable. They have become an irreplaceable part of our sleep routine and really help every one settle down no matter where we are. It also helps to cover all those clumsy noises when we are tiptoeing around in a crowded hotel room. Totally worth it. 

Kidco PeaPod Plus Sleep Tent

When my son started climbing out of the pack ‘n play, I was pretty panicked until my friend gave us this awesome travel solution, the Kidco PeaPod Plus. You would be amazed to see how light this thing is and how easy the assembly is. The mattress is really pretty thick but we tend to place it on carpet or a sleeping bag for a little extra cushion.

kidcoMy 4 year old still fits inside and actually likes the enclosed space (for the most part). I tried to coax him onto a sleeping bag recently because I know he can’t have much longer in the PeaPod at his height, but he is pretty fond of the tent. (I recently saw the Original PeaPod at a thrift store, and my opinion is that it’s too small to bother with….go for the big one!)

Vera Bradley Duffel Bags

I asked my girls what to share as a travel Favorite and they mentioned Vera Bradley Duffel Bags. We own three (for me and each of my daughters) and use them for every single car trip.  I particularly love them because they are light-weight, machine washable, and they hold up really well. Also, if you are packing a car, you can seriously squash these together and maximize your packing space. We also have tons of other Vera bags, so the inside of my van looks like a crazy patchwork quilt when we travel. I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of traditional Vera patterns, but take a look at some of these chic new prints and solids:

Vera Bradley Ziggy Zags

Vera Bradley Fuschia

Vera Bradley Coastal Bluecoastal blue

Vera Bradley Classic Black

Vera Bradley Shower Vines

Favorite Treat: Kirkland Signature Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut Cashews

Ok, so this is not so much a travel item although I did buy them on a road trip. I shared about Kirkland Signature Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut Cashews (from Costco) on Facebook, but seriously these are unbelievably delicious! I can’t find them on their website, but here’s a pic before we devoured the whole container. Dark Choc Toasted Cashews

Kindles

Of course, we’ve talked about the Kindles before, but I have to give another shout out to Kindle Fires, which are an awesome price (especially if you go for a refurb from Amazon Warehouse deals). These have a lot of the functionality of an ipad but at these prices, I’m comfortable letting my kids carry them around. I don’t want my kids having free reign over apps, so they only have a few (no netflix, for sure). That way they actually utilize the kindles primarily as I had hoped by reading classic literature (so many amazing books are free!). Right now they are both reading Little Women! My husband and I both use our classic Kindle for library books constantly.

Notebook Journaling

I’ve talked about this before but this is still my very favorite method of organization and planning. It helps me so much to clear my mind and keep everything relatively organized. This goes DOUBLE when I am planning any kind of trip (I’m talking to-do lists, to-take lists, to-buy lists, to-remember lists). Tomorrow I will have a Notebook Journaling Hack that I use that’s really helped me, so please check back!

What are your Travel Favorites???

Continue reading Friday Favorites: Travel Edition

Back to the Basics Summer Outfit

I’m playing with Polyvore collages today. Just picked a few things I love from Amazon (affiliate links). I am always drawn to bold, bright patterns and as a result my closet is very lacking in classic solids. I have resolved not to buy any LOUD patterns this summer and only carefully choose a few basics. So here are a few I love that I would accessorize with a fun tassel necklace!

Summer Mom on the Go

 

I love long, drapey layers and the leggings and cardigan combo is my go-to for Fall. I’ve been looking for a comparable Spring and Summer look which led me to this light flowing grey vest. The black crops are my favorite brand, NYDJ and the plum Vera Bradley purse is my effort to limit the PATTERN mixing I am so prone to. Whatever you may say about Crocs, I can’t help but love the comfort and durability which is why I chose these cute wedges.

What’s your go-to easy summer look?

The perfect summer necklace: click it or DIY-it!

I know you have seen tassel necklaces all over pinterest just like I have. There is something about a long tassel necklace that is so flattering and can go with almost anything. I feel like they  simultaneously make me look taller and more sophisticated at the same time (maybe that’s just in my head though). I think these are the perfect summer accessory, so I wanted to share some affiliate links from Amazon. Of course, the one I always drool over is the Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace. But I really love some of these budget-friendly alternatives as well:

This is a really easy DIY project that includes two of my favorites: crafting and thrifting come together to make a gorgeous on-trend tassel necklace! My girls loved making these last summer.

5 Minute Fall Necklace

tassel necklace

May Favorites: All my favorites right now!

I seriously LOVE favorites lists. I love favorite baby products lists, favorite back to school lists, favorite cooking utensil lists, favorite recipe lists. No matter where I am reading, browsing, or scrolling, if I see “Favorites” I will stop immediately. I mean, if it’s your favorite, it might be my new “ISO”, and I love my ISO lists! (Check out my post here to learn how I use ISO lists to find awesome deals!)

Here’s my current Favorite list:

  • Salted Caramel Simply Bliss Creamer  I knew the moment I saw this flavor I would love it. Simply Bliss Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer is like a Starbucks Salted Caramel Frappachino, except better because you will be able to pronounce all the ingredients (NONFAT MILK, HEAVY CREAM, CANE SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT) and you can control the sweetness! Love it!
  • Not Your Daughter’s Jeans: do you know how you buy a pair of jeans and then you come home and sooner or later you realize you hate them? Yep, that’s the worst and that’s what happened pretty much every time I bought a pair of jeans UNTIL I discovered jean perfection in NYJD (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans). I have gotten mine from thrift stores, ebay, Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx. You can find them on Amazon also! They have the perfect stretch (without the dreaded waist gap), the perfect snug fit, and lots of great styles. I think I have about 10 pairs of NYDJ and I have been slowly replacing all my other pants. Warning: NYDJ takes vanity sizing to a new level. In NYDJ I wear a size 2, even though my typical size is closer to 6/8. Best part: NYDJ are made in the USA!
  • My new monogrammed Yeti Mug. Thank you Angie, I seriously love it! I have done so much better drinking my water this last week. Ice in the morning is still ice at night! It also keeps hot coffee hot even when I have added a unhealthy amount of that delicious salted caramel creamer. And the monogram is gorgeous!
  • The FastDiet. I am happy that I can succeed at this diet and for me it is totally sustainable. It gives slow and steady weight loss, and gives me back a sense of control over my eating habits. Check out my post on this way of living here.
  • My rescued window that my hubby painted for the mantel. I love it! Knowing how much my hubby hates home improvement projects makes me love it double!
  • Fixer Upper. I actually talked to a friend the other day who had never seen Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. How can this be? My entire family loves this show. My four year old actually asked if we could call Fixer Upper to help us with our mess of a house. (Joanna, if you want to fly out to the EC, we can give you a “fun” project).
  • Plant Therapy Essential Oils. I have just started dipping my toe into Essential Oils. For the last few months I have been reading about some of the science and safety and I am really impressed with Plant Therapy’s education, pricing, and business model.  We have only tried a few products but I am specifically really loving the Relax Synergy. I have been using it at night before bed and it’s definitely helping my stress levels!

Let’s be honest, I have a TON of favorites, but I will save a few of them for other days. Now it’s your turn, share your current favs in the comments!!!

Just for Women: Part 2

I mentioned in Part 1 that I have become a loyal convert to reusable feminine care solutions. I am so much happier dealing with “that time of the month” since I switched from disposable products. My first menstrual cup was the Diva Cup and it was revolutionary for me. However, recently I have been searching for something that would work a little better for me, and I am excited to share about it now!

FemmyCycle was kind enough to send me a free reusable cup to test and honestly review. I did not receive any compensation for this review, nor did I commit to writing anything other than my honest opinion about the product. Luckily, my honest review turns out to be very positive!

Here’s why I was really excited to try the Femmy Cycle. It has the largest capacity of any cup I could find. Also, it comes in three different sizes which includes a low cervix version. Finally, it has a unique leak proof design that no other cup offers. A few other things that make it different from the others: it’s softer, cleaning instructions do not suggest boiling, and it’s suggested lifespan is only two years.

Down to the details:

Is it comfortable? YES. I found it more comfortable by far than others I have used.

Is it easy to use? After practice, sure. Like most products in this category, it does have a learning curve.

Is it effective? For me, VERY. Performance was better for me than anything else I have used. Keep in mind that every woman is different, so results may vary.

Does the spill-proof feature work? To my amazement, YES.

I really like the FemmyCycle and will continue using it. I do think that the design makes it a little trickier to learn for a first-timer, but I think it’s a great option for those who have trouble with other cups or just need better protection. I’m not sure why it would need to be replaced every two years, when other cups’ suggested life span are closer to a decade. It’s slightly pricey compared to other versions on the market, but most of us can overlook the cost which is minimal over the life of the product. Women should be aware of all their options, and FemmyCycle is a great one!

FemmyCycle was kind enough to send me a free reusable cup to test and honestly review. I did not receive any compensation for this review, nor did I commit to writing anything other than my honest opinion about the product. Luckily, my honest review turns out to be very positive!

Intro to Amazon Warehouse Deals

Happy Friday!

In case you haven’t noticed, my hobby is finding deals and shopping. My parents just pointed out to me that this started when I was a young teen and I would call a list of stores regularly in search of hard to find Ty Beanie Babies. Then my mom, tybless her heart, would drive me around to buy them! This memory really cracks me up, but I would like to point out that my children still love Beanie Babies so that garbage bag in the attic wasn’t an entirely useless investment. (Also, hello? I loved shopping way before that age.)

Because I spend a disproportionate amount of time searching for deals (even those I have no real intention of buying), I wanted to share one of my favorite bargain spots, the Amazon Warehouse. You will want to bookmark this page because it is, for some reason, hard to navigate to at times. Amazon Warehouse Deals contains returned, discounted, used and possibly damaged items. There is usually an accurate description of the condition of the item and it is still covered by Amazon’s Return Policy.

My favorite way to navigate Amazon Warehouse is simply to search for my favorite brands or to browse an entire category like shoes. Within that category, you can search by brand or percentage of discount using the links on the left bar. For instance, I sometimes search by Women’s Shoes, 70% off or more. Shoes are frequently returned and can’t be sold as brand new even if they appear to have never been worn or tried on. Most of my shoes are from Amazon Warehouse Deals, this has been my favorite Amazon shopping tip so far.

Some other examples of deals I have gotten at the Warehouse:

Sold by: Warehouse Deals, Inc
$12.27(regularly $92)
vb tote
$65.33 (list price $219, regular Amazon price $89.99)
$19.79 (regularly $160)
Just as a reminder, deals found in the warehouse DO fluctuate in price, sometimes dramatically. So I usually keep $500 or so of interesting products in my cart just seeing what they will do. It becomes a bit of a gamble because sometimes I watch prices steadily go down (even lowering multiple times a day) only to shoot right up (or sell out) while I am waiting, mesmerized.
So that’s an introduction to the Amazon Warehouse Deals, I hope you find it helpful!

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

We have had a fun spring break that has been full of relaxing, family time, waiting around for a nephew to be born, and playing at the park. Before school starts tomorrow, we thought we would have one more treat-fling. These are crazy-easy, surprisingly delicious, grain-free cookies! I stumbled across an easy recipe for peanut butter cookies nearly thirteen years ago, and have repeated it ever since. Tonight I tweaked it a bit and we think it’s the best version yet!

PBcupcookies

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup Almond Butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk chocolate chips

4 tbls. additional sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F
  2. Beat 1 cup Peanut Butter, 1 cup Almond Butter, 2 cups sugar and 2 eggs together thoroughly in a large bowl.
  3. Gently stir in 1 cup chocolate chips
  4. Form dough into balls and roll each in additional sugar.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool thoroughly.
  6. Enjoy! Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

How we do Dinner: Part 1

  • Omelettes: We do a lot of breakfast for dinner:eggs/grits/fruit or omelettes & fruit (I spent a long time googling omelettes and finally found a perfect photo tutorial on how to make them easily, but they removed the link). Options: sausage, bacon bits, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, broccoli etc. I have also made omelette kits and put them in the freezer with small bags of fresh veggies/shredded cheese/cooked sausage/onions and put it all in a big ziplock to grab in a hurry. This makes it crazy easy and  cheap because you have just enough of everything right when you need it.
  • Oatmeal Bar: Sometimes we even do a “gourmet” oatmeal bar with tons of toppings. Yes, I give my kids a bowl of oatmeal for dinner but if they have a small sprinkle of chocolate chips and some sliced strawberries they say “best dinner ever”. The secret to delicious oatmeal is a big plop of real butter and a drizzle of half and half or whole milk/cream. Options: fruit, brown sugar, nuts (huge bag of sliced almonds from Costco lasts forever and goes into lots of our recipes), coconut, rainsins/craisins, chocolate chips, peanut butter.
  • Nacho Night: This is also an effort free meal that somehow gets my kids very excited. We often do Nacho Night on a blanket on the floor and have movie night, so that could be a big part of the appeal! Aldi has tortilla chips for like $1.20 a bag so we are never without these. Options: shredded chicken (canned works), beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, veggies, ground beef. Nachos “outside the box” can include breakfast toppings (my friend Katy does sausage, eggs, cheese on nachos), or chicken salad with chips (super delicious and lower carb than chicken salad sandwiches).
  • Just add a smoothie! When we have slim pickings for dinner (the end of leftovers, or something my kids aren’t thrilled to eat), we add a smoothie to round out our meal. After years of smoothies, my kids still LOVE them and I can make it healthy to add  to a not-so-fab meal OR decadent to add to a healthy but not exciting meal (big spinach salad with tons of toppings is great with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie on the side). This is when having a vitamix is 100% worth it for us. Seriously, it’s like a magic bullet at our house: “We are having salad…..AND A SMOOTHIE” *big cheers* (affiliate link).
  • Fruit side/treat: Another thing we have been doing is swapping a side out for fruit. So say we have grilled chicken and rice as our main course. Instead of adding broccoli, we add fresh pineapple which is a big treat for us. Suddenly our meal is exciting and  I have found this really helps me not feel like I need dessert also, so it’s a win/win.

Like I said, these are not original ideas or revolutionary ones, but they are in our current rotation and are working for us now. Cooking for a family gets so tiring with all the other obligations of parenting, so anything that makes it easier is valuable in my book! I’d love to hear any ideas you have and I’ll be adding Part 2 soon!

What’s on my Kindle

I was delighted to discover one of my favorite books from childhood is available for free for the Kindle: Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter.

This is a beautiful, soulful story of an orphan who finds his home in the Limberlost and falls in love with an “angel”. The theme of redemption is moving and the vivid descriptions of the swamp creatures, birds, and foliage are mesmerizing.

The book is free, but I discovered that you can purchase the audio for many of the free classics for a few dollars (in this case $3). The girls and I have been listening to this together and the narration is wonderful; the reading level on this is probably 7th grade and up but younger listeners will enjoy. You have to grab this book for the incredible vocabulary if nothing else! Also check out these titles (and many more) by the same author:

Freckles

A Girl of the Limberlostfreckles

The Harvester

Nothing can quite take the place of the gorgeous antique copies of these titles that I was lucky enough to be gifted, but I do love digital books also! Remember that you can download the Kindle app for free for your phone or right now Amazon has some great prices on Kindles, check them out here!