Quote

Stability

“Stability yields freedom.”

I couldn’t find the original source for this quote, but I first heard it on the Accidental Creative’s podcast in The Power of a Morning Ritual episode. I love this quote and find it to be very true in various areas of my life.

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Monthly Recap – January

As a way to keep track of my 30 for 30 list and other highlights that happen each month, I’m going to have a monthly recap. I got further inspiration and motivation to recap each month from reading my friend Amanda’s blog, The Lady Okie, and her Project 12 posts. By the way, if you haven’t visited her blog, you should check it out!

It’s crazy to me that we’re already in February! January just flew by, but it was jam packed:

30 for 30 Progress: So far, there’s only one item crossed off my 30 for 30 List (#7 – I started this blog!), but I have several other items in the works…
#2 – Read 30 books: I read through two books and noted them below under “Books Read.”
#15 – Sketch something everyday: I made 31 sketches in January! You can see them on my Instagram. Feel free to follow me to see more daily sketches.
#17 – Have a daily quiet time: This was a big one for me. I have struggled through the years to be consistent with reading the Bible everyday, but in January I purposed to just read everyday from January 1-21. After 21 days, it got a lot easier and now, I can confidently say that it’s a habit now.
#3 – Make home office functional: This one has been on my to-do list for the last 5+ years. Sad, I know. But when you move out of your parent’s house as a single girl, you get/inherit “stuff” that doesn’t have a home. Then you get married and you and your husband get more “stuff.” And where does all the stuff go? To the spare bedroom that you had full intentions of using as a home office, but has sadly become the storage room that is, in a sense, The Forbidden Room in the house. This year I had had enough and because I needed to be able to find all of our paperwork for tax season, I decided to tackle this task this month. I had wanted to get the office completely done before the month’s end, but reality kicked in and so it’s still a work in progress. But there is major progress! Besides being able to walk in there (I have a floor in here?!), all of our paperwork is sorted into categories and I’m trying to devote at least an hour a day to filing, organizing, and just getting it to where we can actually use the room as an office and no longer The Forbidden Room.

Books Read: I was able to read through two books during January (yay!). One was excellent and the other was meh… I wrote a review for Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement on my Pepper’s Bookshelf post. It was so good and helpful, I highly recommend it!
I usually enjoy Beth Harbison books as just “fun reading,” but Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger was underwhelming, pretty predictable, and not that great in my opinion (I should have known with the cheesy title). She’s written other books that I enjoy more, so not all of her books are bad. It’s just that this one was not my cup of tea…
You can see all the books I plan on reading this year on my Goodreads page.

Fitness: I intentionally did not focus on fitness during January. I knew that I was planning on starting my fitness goals during February, plus January was full enough with starting other new habits.

Travel: No travel this month…

Watched: Since Friends was released on Netflix in January, my husband and I got hooked watched it. See more in my January Favorites post.
We’ve also been watching the latest season of American Idol on Hulu. We love watching all the audition episodes, but I have to say that the judges this season are more enjoyable to watch than past seasons. So, I’m interested to see how the rest of the competition pans out!

Listened: I know I’ve mentioned my love of podcasts in two of my previous posts, but I just can’t get enough! I’m hooked on Invisibilia, Sawbones, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff Mom Never Told You, and whenever Serial comes back, I’ll listen to that too!
But in addition to podcasts, I’ve gotten back into listening to more music. I kind of went through a little non-music phase for a little while, but I’m back to my car jammin’ and shower singing… My iPhone has been playing Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, Ed Sheernan’s Thinking Out Loud, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Soundtrack song The Hanging Tree all month long!

Family Moments: Pepper has been itching to get outside more often, but with the roller coaster weather we had in January, we’ve had to find other ways to play with her in the house. She loves to chase a ball around, play tug, and for whatever reason, she despises pillows being on the couch and will push them off onto the floor with her nose…  When it rains, she goes straight for the “muddies” as we call them. We’re looking forward to spring weather!
My hubby started back to school after the holidays and is taking nine hours worth of classes this semester. Between his ten hour shifts at work, odd sleeping schedule and days off, he’s still willing to get up and go to class twice a week. I am so proud of all the hard work he’s doing and that he’s persevering to finish his degree!
I’ve been blessed to work with my mom as she’s launched her business! We’ve had so many great meetings and have been able to see her vision turn into reality over the past 3 months. Not only have we made progress with her business growth, it has been a blessing to be able to visit, share, encourage, and listen to each other as friends. She’s my mentor and I’m so thankful to have her as a friend and a mom in this stage of my life. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does with her business and our relationship this year!

This Made My Day: During January, I was aggressive about using coupons and rebates, and it paid off! We’ve been able to save money toward things we want or know we’ll need and I try to shop only when I have a coupon or a rebate to use. It’s more work preparing to go to the store, but it’s also nice to have a plan and know that I’m not going to empty my wallet too quickly. The most thrifty day of January was when I saved over $130 in one day by using coupons and rebates while shopping and then talking to our internet provider and getting our bill lowered. It sounds strange and is kind of a long story, but it felt really good to be so productive and save so much in one day.

Monthly Moral: Overall, January was intentional for me. I found myself being motivated, productive, and having a more positive attitude by being intentional with my time. Since coming home full time, I’d say time management has been my biggest challenge, but I’ve been trying to be more mindful of what I spend my time on and I think I’ve been improving. It’s been great to start a new year with such momentum and I plan on keeping it up. 🙂

How was your January?

January Favorites!

I don’t know about you, but I always love monthly favorites posts. I love discovering new and interesting products to try! So, with January wrapping up, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you for this month. Please note that I am not sponsored by any of the brands I recommend, I just love their products!

Savings
150131-RebateAppsAfter the holidays, for me, there’s always what I call the “financial recovery period” during January. With Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, holiday travel, New Year’s parties, the expenses add up quickly during the holiday season, plus it’s easy to get into the mindset of “spend, spend, spend.” After the festivities are done and all the pine needles are swept up, not only can the house look empty without all the decorations, but it can also feel like your wallet is empty, funds are extra tight, and the freedom to spend for fun things can be limited. So this month, I’ve been focusing on ways to save money and even earn extra cash for either saving or having “fun spending” money on hand. In addition to my regular budgeting and couponing, I’ve really gotten into rebate apps! With rebate apps, you can earn cash for buying items that you already plan on buying. The process is simple and takes only a few minutes after your shopping trip. You simply verify your purchases from the available rebates and upload your receipt, then watch your savings grow! When you reach the cash out minimum, you can either put your earnings into a PayPal account that you can transfer to your bank account, or you can earn gift cards for you favorite stores. Plus, the best part is that you can stack the savings of using your rebate apps with store sales, coupons, and other rewards programs! I mentioned ibotta and SavingStar, my top two favorite rebate apps, in my “What’s On My Phone?” post. A few of the other apps I use are Checkout 51, Snap, Shrink, Jingit, and Shopkick.

Another way that I’ve found to save money this month is by using SundayCouponPreview.com. I usually like to get a Sunday paper for coupon inserts from RedPlum, SmartSource, or P&G. While I know there are multiple sources for printable coupons, I personally still like being able to look through the inserts and clip the coupons I need without worrying if my printer will print them clearly. I’ve also found it makes the checkout process faster for the cashier and minimizes the chance of a coupon not being accepted. Before discovering SundayCouponPreview.com, I would buy a paper and sometimes get a load of coupons or none at all. With this website, you can sign up for a weekly email that lists which inserts will be included in the Sunday paper and all the coupons that each insert will include. This way, I can look ahead to see if I need to buy a paper or not. It’s become one of my go-to tools for saving money through couponing!

Beauty
150131-CurelI love when I find beauty products that just work! You know that feeling when you’re trying a new product and instantly fall in love because it’s like you’ve finally found exactly what you’ve been needing in your daily beauty routine? I’m no beauty guru, but the following products quickly became products I couldn’t live without this month, to the point that I’ve been raving about them to my family and friends. First, Curel lotion saved my skin this winter! Between the cold weather and harsh Oklahoma wind, my skin gets so dried out during the winter time. The lotions I’ve used in the past might feel nice when they’re applied, but don’t fully absorb into my skin to stay. Curel soaked deep to heal my dry skin without feeling greasy and kept my skin soft and comfortable through the winter weather.

150131-StyleSexyHairNext, I have been loving the Style Sexy Hair 450° Blow Out Spray! I received a full size bottle in my Ipsy bag this month and have used it every time I blow dry my hair. You can add it to your regular styling product or heat protectant before you blow dry your hair (even though it does offer heat defense). You spray it on your damp hair and use your favorite brush to basically create a blow out for your hair at home that lasts longer than your typical home blow dry. Usually when I blow dry my hair, I have some frizz despite trying (key word “trying”) to carefully angle my dryer, but with this blow out spray, the frizz is gone. Plus, my hair has less static, stays light and feels clean longer between washes. It’s a tiny bottle and a little pricey, but it’s powerful stuff and worth the price!

150131-PurityI know a lot of people rave about Philosophy’s Purity Facial Cleanser, but I had to include it. I’ve been using this cleanser for a little over a year and I wish I had discovered it years ago. It’s the only cleanser that removes all my makeup, including eye makeup, without leaving my skin feeling dried out or oily. I’ve purchased this product multiple times despite it being a little more expensive than your typical drugstore cleansers, but you don’t need very much and every bottle I’ve had has lasted a l-o-n-g time…

150131-TarteMascaraMy wonderful husband spoiled me this Christmas with a makeup gift bag of goodies from Sephora. Inside were several high end products that included both full size and sample size items. One of the samples was the Tarte Light, Camera, Lashes Mascara. Now, normally I don’t buy high end mascara since mascara doesn’t last as long as say, a powder or eye shadow before you need to buy a new one, but this mascara has won me over. While my lashes aren’t terribly short, they’re the kind that have a mind of their own and don’t really hold a curl, so they tend to look short as the day goes on. This mascara holds the curl all day and adds length to my lashes. The formula doesn’t get clumpy and coats the lashes evenly. I’ll be using my sample until it runs out, but once it does I plan on treating myself to a full size tube. 😉

Products
150131-GainThis may be old news to most people, but this month I discovered the amazingness that is Gain Fireworks Scent Boosters! I have become addicted to using these lovely pellets of aroma in my laundry. I love that I can wash a load of laundry and it still smells fresh and clean over a week later. Fellow LEOW ladies, this product is also great for your husband’s uniforms. Sometimes, depending on how my hubby’s police shift went, (like a hot and humid day wearing his vest all day, having to be around gross and stinky substances, or even wearing a uniform two days in a row during the winter time with of multiple layers underneath) after a wash his uniforms don’t always smell as fresh as his off duty clothes that don’t go through as much rigor. With the Gain Fireworks Scent Boosters, the fresh scent both eliminates any funky smells he might have come home with and keeps his clothes smelling nice for several days. 

150131-DymoSince we moved into our house over a year ago, I have yet to get my files all wrangled into a place where I can find them easily. It’s been driving me crazy! So this month I’ve finally carved out time to work on my office and have been working to make it more functional. One of the nifty tools I’ve been using to both motivate me and help me find files more easily has been my Dymo LetraTag Label Maker. It’s so fun and simple to use, plus it sure beats my hurried handwriting on file folders. There are several options for formatting and styles. The labels are bright and easy to apply, plus they stay in place on whatever you’re labeling.

Entertainment & Technology
150131-FriendsNetflixI admit, the TV is on quite a bit in our house, but I honestly use it more like a radio. I usually get hooked on a TV series on Netflix or Hulu and play episodes in the background while I’m doing things around the house or working on the computer… When my husband comes home for his dinner break or is off duty, we usually will enjoy watching TV shows together… This month, Friends was finally released on Netflix and my husband and I are hooked! Neither of us grew up watching it, even though we had both seen reruns here or there. We started watching it from the first season and it’s quickly become one of our favorite shows! Friends has joined both The Office and Arrested Development as a show that we both enjoy and can watch anytime together. 

150131-InvisibiliaI’ve mentioned how I enjoy podcasts in my “What’s On My Phone?” post. I recently discovered another captivating podcast called, Invisibilia. I got hooked on the first episode and look forward to each new one. Every episode takes you on a unique intellectual journey through various “invisible” topics. They dig into discovering and exploring the invisible things that affect humanity and society. So far, they’ve discussed things like how thoughts, fear, and expectations impact us.  

This last item has probably impacted my January the most! I’ve been trying to stick to daily goals I set and get more of a consistent routine down. As I mentioned in my “How I Use My Planner” post, I’ve always been overly ambitious with my goals or plan for the day and usually would end up getting discouraged when everything wouldn’t get done. 150131-TimefulIn addition to my planner, I’ve been using the Timeful app to help me gain a more realistic idea of how much time I actually have in the day to get things done. You can add appointments, tasks, or reminders for various things that you want to accomplish. You can either assign a specific time to the task or have Timeful add it where there may be an open slot. It allows you to rearrange items if need be and let’s you check off tasks as you complete them (That’s my favorite part! Nerd, I know…). From using this app, I’ve been learning how long it actually takes for me to complete a task and how much I can actually accomplish in a day. It’s helped make my days more productive and I notice that I feel more like I’ve put in a full day’s work instead of just roaming around from one thing to another without a sense of true accomplishment. I can’t recommend this app enough! Plus, it’s free! 🙂

What are a few of your favorites this month?

What’s On My Phone?

I’ve seen a few of these types of posts and I always find them helpful and interesting, plus I’m nosey…so I thought I’d share one of my own. These are just a few of the many apps I have on my phone, but they are the apps I use the most often and have found to be the most helpful in my day-to-day activities.

Type of phone: iPhone 5 (Sorry Android users…However, some of these apps are available on Google Play too…)

Apps:

Instagram-1Instagram – Free  |  Who doesn’t like looking at pictures? I’m such a visual person and I’ve found myself going to Instagram as my primary social media outlet these days. I’ve been a long time Facebook user, but it can be depressing and negative sometimes, plus it can be hard to keep up with the people you actual want to follow. Instagram is full of pictures and less chatter. I’m able to follow my family and friends and see what they’re up to, along with my favorite lifestyle bloggers, creative artists, designers, and brands I love. It’s not often that someone posts a depressing negative photo, so I find it to be a more uplifting and positive social media outlet to enjoy.  Plus, who doesn’t like looking at puppies all day? 😉 Follow me @peppersowl  {Instagram for Android Devices}

YouVersionYouVersion – Free  |  Since one of my goals this year has been to read the Bible everyday, I’ve been using YouVersion. You can read any passage of the Bible when YouVersion-1you want to or they have numerous plans to choose from that cover a range of topics. I’m going through the THE BIBLE in a Year plan. It has about three to four passages to read from every day with texts from the Old Testament, New Testament, and either a Psalm or a Proverb everyday. You can track your progress when using plans or you can look up different references of Scripture when you want to. It also offers a place to keep notes or even bookmark or highlight favorite verses. You can connect with friends for accountability or when you’re studying with a group. They have numerous translations to choose from with some audible versions, turning your Bible into an audiobook.   {YouVersion for Android Devices}

Podcasts – Free  |  I love listening to Podcasts-1podcasts when I’m driving in my car or cleaning around the house. I love learning new things, hearing people review things like movies and tv shows, or just talking on various current events or topics. There are tons of podcasts to subscribe to for free. A few of my favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff Mom Never Told You, Sawbones, Radiolab, and Serial (I know, I jumped on the bandwagon, but it’s so good…if you like mysteries and true crime. Now’s the time to listen if you haven’t already since season 1 is complete. I couldn’t stop once I started, I listened to the whole thing in two days!).  {Podcast Addict for Android Devices}

Starbucks – Free  |  I’m a coffee addict, so my Starbucks app is a MUST! It makes it easy to keep gift cards handy, or reload my coffee budget for the month (Yes, I have a coffee budget…otherwise it can get ridiculous!). You can pay with your phone, earn rewards toward free drinks and snacks. They also have free songs, apps, or ebooks available through the app.   {Starbucks for Android Devices}

Paperless-1Paperless – $2.99  |  I love making lists to help me keep track of everything and this app is my favorite list keeper! It allows you to make tons of lists that are however long you need them to be. I primarily use it as a reusable grocery and shopping list keeper. I can check off items, but they’re not deleted from the list, so when I need to buy something again, I don’t have to type it in every time. It also allows you to assign an icon to each list so you can find it quickly and know the the category for the list at a glance. You can also backup your lists to your dropbox and/or computer as well as sync between devices if you have an iPad. This app is worth the price!

Santa'sBag-1Santa's BagSanta’s Bag – Free  |  Another list app I love is Santa’s Bag. It’s a Christmas gift list app to help you keep track of your gift recipients, what gifts you’ve purchased, what’s left to buy, your budget, and how many days until Christmas. You can also create shopping lists for each store you go to, so you don’t forget any gifts you need to get. I’ve used this app for two years in a row and it’s helped keep me organized and on track when the holiday season gets really busy. Plus, when you’re done with a year, you can archive the list for the gifts you bought so you don’t accidentally give someone the same gift they may have gotten in the past… Upgrade to the Pro version for archiving feature. $2.99

Cartwheel-1Cartwheel – Free  |  I am a huge Target fan! I love shopping there with all the ways I can save through coupons and sales, but their Cartwheel app is the icing on the cake! With Cartwheel, you can create your own barcode like a reusable Target coupon that saves 5% to 50% off selected items (depending on each item’s expiration date). The cashier will scan your Cartwheel barcode at the register to apply the discounts. You can scan items in the store while you’re shopping to see if they have a Cartwheel offer or you can load up your Cartwheel as you plan your trip. The more you use the app, the more spaces you can unlock to add more offers to your Cartwheel barcode. You can stack the savings with coupons and your Target REDcard discount. Seriously, the savings add up, in just over a year’s time, I’ve unlocked 25 spaces and I’ve saved over $325!  {Cartwheel for Android Devices}

ibotta-1ibotta & SavingStar– Free  |  In addition to using the Cartwheel app and coupons, I also use rebate apps. ibotta and SavingStar are my top two favorites. I have SavingStar-1several other rebate apps, but I can explain how I coupon and use rebates in a future post… These two rebate apps offer savings on numerous name brand and some generic items. After you shop, you can submit your receipt to earn savings. Once you earn a minimum of $5 (SavingStar) or $10 (ibotta), you can cash out for gift cards or a cash deposit into your banking account via PayPal. You can combine the rebate offers with coupons and sales to get bigger savings! {ibotta & SavingStar for Android Devices}

QuakefeedQuakefeed – Free  |  You would think that living in Oklahoma, all we have to worry about is tornadoes in spring, but within the past few years we’ve been having earthquakes throughout the year. Thankfully we’ve not had any huge or destructive ones, but there have been a few that have made us wake up in the middle of the night from the bed shaking… Quakefeed shows you the epicenter of the quake and how far away the quake was from your location and the size of the quake. It’s pretty handy if you want to know what shook the couch. 😉

SoundHound – Free  |  You know when you hear that catchy song in a commercial or movie? SoundHound makes it easy to find out what song it is. With SoundHound, your phone can listen to the song and then it will search to match the sound. It will identify the song name and the artist and give you a link to the song in the iTunes store. I’ve found a lot of fun music this way!  {SoundHound for Android Devices}

MapMyWalk-1MapMyWalk – Free  |  Another goal I have this year is to get healthier. I’ve been using  MapMyWalk when I take Pepper for walks. It tracks your pace and distance along with other stats. MapMyWalk can also sync with other fitness apps and devices. You can also connect with friends to see their progress as you motivate each other. It makes walking my dog more gratifying when I know how many calories I’ve burned! 🙂 {MapMyWalk for Android Devices}

What apps do you use most on your phone? Tell me your favorites!

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Time is Money – Pt. 1

From meeting about budgets to clipping coupons to listening to a podcast discussing worth in various forms, somehow today ended up having a theme about money…

150112-Money1

Tonight I did the initial sketch, tomorrow will be clean up and inking…