May Favorites

I know, this post is soooo late (SO Sorry! Arg!), but after debating between posting May and June Favorites together or separate, I decided it would be better to just keep them separate. Otherwise, we’d be here all day… Let’s get started!

Beauty
TangleTeezerI had several beauty favorites this month, but I couldn’t narrow it down any more, because all of these products are fantastic in their own way! First of all is the amazing Tangle Teezer. I have never used a brush that untangled my hair so effortlessly and painlessly! I use it both on wet and dry hair and it works through my hair without breaking or pulling on the strands. I’ve noticed fewer split ends and it’s great to blow out your hair because it’s less hassle than trying to work both a handled brush and blower dryer…at least I find it easier. I’ve never been graceful blow drying my hair with a brush… I highly recommend getting the Tangle Teezer, no matter what length of hair you have! I found my first Tangler Teezer at Target when they carried it briefly, but I’ve not been able to find it there since the one time, so now I get mine online.

Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing SprayWhile we’re in the hair department, if you have fine hair like I do, I highly recommend the Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing Spray. I got a sample of it in an Ipsy Bag and I was addicted! I ordered a full sized bottle from here. The spray is light enough to not weigh your hair down, but gives it texture and thickness at the same time. You can apply it as often or as little as you need throughout the day or even on your non-wash days to freshen up and give your mane a boost. It also helps extend your style longer throughout the day. I spray it on damp hair before I dry and style my hair and then on dry hair when it’s looking a little flat or tired. Plus, it smells amazing!

Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping CreamWith getting ready to turn 30 this year, I’ve been reminded more that I need to take care of my skin. I usually moisturize at night, but I hadn’t really paid attention to my eyes. I’d just use a little concealer in the mornings to hide any dark circles, but I’d yet to find anything to minimize the tired bags under my eyes. I started doing a little reading and research on eye care and discovered Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Eye Cream. It comes in a little tube that looks like it would be gone in a week, but it lasts forever! All you need is one little dot under each eye, TAP it in gently – don’t rub it under your eye! – and you’re set for the evening. When I wake up in the morning, I look more rested and the tired bags have been disappearing over time. I rarely wear concealer under my eyes now, since the dark circles are gone. While I’ve learned most anti-aging skin products cause me to break out instead of helping my skin look refreshed, this little eye cream does the trick!

Simple Micellar WaterSpeaking of skin care, I’ve been using Simple’s Cleansing Micellar Water in my routine lately. I first discovered micellar water after hearing several of my favorite beauty vloggers rave about it. I had used toners in my routine, but my skin would always get dried out and get super oily after a few days because the toner would strip too much natural oil from my skin. Micellar water is not quite a toner, but offers many of the same benefits without over drying my skin. Simple Eye Makeup RemoverIt also removes all my makeup, so for days when I’m in a hurry or have stayed up too late to do my whole night routine, I can still go to bed with a clean face. I also use Simple’s Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover, which is a godsend for stubborn waterproof makeup or mascara! It takes off EVERYTHING, so my lashes are completely clean, helping them both stay healthier and making it easier to apply mascara the next day! Plus, it doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes or contact wearers. If you want to find out more about how micellar waters work, check out this post by POPSUGAR.

Maybelline Lash Sensational MascaraI need to post my review of mascaras soon, but after a few months of trying out different formulas and brushes that promise curl, length, volume, and all around amazing-ness, Maybelline won out for me with their Lash Sensational Mascara formula. I absolutely LOVE this mascara. I wasn’t expecting to find a mascara this great in the drugstore, but that’s just the icing on the cake! I tend to have naturally straight, kind of stubby looking lashes, that don’t tend to stay curled. I tried this mascara, not really hoping for much, but as soon as I’d done one eye, I could see a difference immediately! Even when I don’t wear a smokey eye or line my eyes, you can actually see my lashes now! My lashes stay curled and look longer, they don’t look clumpy, and it stays on all day. So if you’re like me and have been struggling to find a mascara that works, give this one a go!

Entertainment & Technology
As I mentioned in my monthly recap, audiobooks have been the best way for me to tackle my reading list this year! I’m working towards blocking out time in my day to sit down and read an actually hard/soft cover, paper pages BOOk, but for now, it’s just not possible. I still want to get through my list, though and I love hearing stories throughout the day. So, I’ve taken up my audiobook addiction again. But if you buy audiobooks, it can really make a huge dent in your budget, because most audiobooks cost more than the paperback version. Enter Overdrive. Overdrive is a free app that allows you to connect with your local library system and borrow audiobooks, right through your iPod! No need to go to the library, browse, and listen to CDs anymore. Now, sometimes, it may be difficult to find an audio version of the title you’re looking for, but most best sellers are available. So, all you need is a library card and the app! I’ve been able to listen to books while driving, doing stuff around the house, walking Pepper, working out, etc. It’s the perfect solution for frugal multi-tasking bookworms. 🙂

I’ve found three great shows that I’ve been watching on Netflix and Hulu this month. If you’re like me and love food, check out The Pioneer Woman. It’s like stepping into her blog and almost like a mini-retreat to see her home on the ranch, while she’s cooking up delicious meals. This show makes me want to cook and just eat! But with that in mind, I don’t recommend watching this show while working out. I made that mistake and my workout was torture!

But if you DO want some motivation and inspiration while you’re working out or just need a reminder that there are awesome and happy people in the world, watch Behind the Mask on Hulu. This show is about sports mascots and what all is involved in being a mascot. It follows four mascots from high school to pro teams and you get to know the person behind the mask. Outside their masks, most of the mascots are facing up hill challenges, whether that’s being the unpopular kid in school or reaching a plateau in their career. Yet, all of them are some of the most positive, hopeful, encouraging, and kind spirited people! It’s so encouraging to watch this show and see what they’re dealing with in their personal life, but that they find such joy in cheering other people up and getting others excited for their team! Watch it, it will make your day!

The last show that we’ve been loving as of late is Parks & Recreation. I don’t where we’ve been and why we haven’t been watching this show before now, but it’s just as funny if not sometimes more funny than The Office. I adore Leslie Knope and she’s just deepened my girl crush on Amy Poehler. My husband has now ranked Chris Pratt as one of his all-time favorite actors this year and Jonathan’s now incorporating Tom Haverford-isms into his daily vernacular.  All of the characters are lovable and there’s not one episode where my hubby and I don’t just crack up over something! Even though we didn’t watch this show when it was airing, I like that we can binge watch it on Netflix and not have to wait an entire week for the next episode. If you need a heavy dose of humor, want to add some flavor to your vocabulary, or want to feel like taking on the world, this show is for you. 🙂

Food
HelloFreshWe did some fun cooking this month and discovered a few new favorite dishes! I got an intro offer with my Martha Stewart Living magazine for HelloFresh. HelloFresh is a meal subscription service that sends you all of the fresh ingredients and recipes for three meals a week, for two people. HelloFreshOur first box arrived with all of the ingredients completely chilled and refrigerated. We tried the Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Roulades with Kale and Couscous Salad, Burst Tomato and Squash Fusili, and our favorite, Mustard Pork Chops with Green Beans and Crispy Potato Cakes! Everything was so delicious! We enjoyed trying new recipes and flavors, plus, I love that HelloFresh sends you just the right amount of ingredients for each dish so there are not a lot of leftovers, but the dishes are so filling.

And now we have the recipes to make our favorite dishes again! I love that the scheduling is flexible, even when you sign up for a subscription, you’re not locked in to receiving every dish, every week. You can skip a few weeks if you want to or need to, and you can also pick your preferred day to receive deliveries that works with your schedule. If you would like to try HelloFresh and get $40 off your first box, use the code: XVXVWR. Even if you’re a picky eater like me, I promise you’ll find something you like! 🙂

What are your favorite recipes? Have you found a holy grail beauty product that’s made your routine easier? What TV shows do you live to binge watch?
Tell me in the comments below!

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Monthly Recap – June

Well, another month has flown by! Is it just me, or is time on hyperdrive lately?

I’ll be honest, June was a tough month for me. I don’t want to start this post off negatively, but I feel I need to be honest. In a nutshell, there were several surprises for us that weren’t too pleasant and I struggled with my depression a lot. For those who struggle with depression, you’ll probably understand; it just gets you down, zaps your drive and energy, and it can take a while to get out of the funk. But despite the rough stuff, we DID have some bright spots!

30 for 30 Progress
As I mentioned in my May Monthly Recap, I’ve been working on saving and making more money through couponing and rebates. During the month of June, I kept utilizing those tools and I’m hoping to write some posts soon on my methods. In the same vein, I feel like we’ve got our monthly budget routine pretty nailed down. As for staying within our budget consistently, we’re still working on that!

2015-06-01 21.41.11I started working on #4 “Work on landscaping and gardening.” We’ve been trying to stay on top of our lawn and greenery this year, but due to my hubby’s work schedule, we can’t go out and manicure our lawn every weekend. With all the rain we’ve had these last two months and investing in a weed management service, our grass grows so quick!2015-06-01 19.09.59 But thankfully, one day, we were both able to get outside and tackle some yard work. While my hubby did his thing, I decided that I’d trim the bushes that were taking over our front window. After about five minutes of trimming, I was reminded of how much I hated one particular shrub. So, in a moment of slight frustration and a spur of the moment decision, within 20 minutes, I’d taken a saw to the bush and trimmed it clear down to the ground. It was both satisfying and shocking at the same time. But I honestly can’t wait to pull out the other two hedges and plant some miniature boxwoods and flowers in that front bed! Budget and weather allowing, I’m hoping to finish the project before the season changes. We’ll see.

2015-06-15 18.11.33In another spur of the moment decision and whittling down my 30 for 30 List, my hubby and I decided to move our home office. Our home office had been in a spare bedroom right next to my hubby’s man cave, but I always kept the door closed and rarely spent time back in that room. We had painted it a darker color than the rest of the house, but the room doesn’t get a ton of natural light, so it was always too dark to see anything. Plus, we still had some boxes that hadn’t been unpacked and there were still things to organize, hence the reason it was on my list this year… On the other end of our house, just off our kitchen, we have a bonus room. 2015-06-15 18.12.56We’d been using it as a dining area when we hosted friends, but other than that, it was just a big room. So, on one of hubby’s days off, we just decided to move the office into the bonus room. Turns out, we’ve ended up having more space, the room is brighter, and more functional. Plus, now we actually can use the spare bedroom as a guest room until we have kids! We’ve almost finished setting everything up and getting organized, but I can already tell you that it is far more functional and enjoyable to spend time in than the other room! I love it! I plan on writing an office tour post with lots of pictures once I’ve got it all finished!

Books Read
The Girl on the TrainI was able to read two books this month! Thanks to audiobooks, I love technology… I finished The Girl on the Train. I honestly kept waiting for this book to get interesting. But it was a little confusing at times and somewhat annoying. But not terrible overall, just not my cup of tea.

EnchantmentThe other book I read was Enchantment by Donald Spoto. I adore Audrey Hepburn and have a special place in my heart for classic movie celebrity biographies. I grew up watching classic movies from the 30s-50s. While my peers were watching movies and cartoons from the 80s and 90s, I grew in up in a world of musicals and black and white film. No regrets! I always find it it fascinating to learn about the actors lives off camera and how they grew up. Audrey Hepburn’s life is no exception. It was interesting to learn about her young upbringing and see how it influenced who she became as an adult. She was such a loving woman with an incredibly generous heart, but there were also a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. It made for an excellent read. If you’re an Audrey Hepburn fan, it’s a must-read!

Fitness
As I mentioned above, I struggled with depression this month. From being sick the month before and overwhelmed by other life “stuff,” my fitness goals kind of took a back seat. In all honesty, I found that my stress-eating had gotten out of control and I ended up gaining back all the weight I’d lost. I still logged my food and worked out on my bike, but I’d lost my self-discipline and motivation. My efforts were bare minimum and half hearted. So, I’m back at square one, but July will be different! I’m tired of this lack of motivation and the setback in progress was so frustrating! July will be different.

Travel
No travel this month. And, I’m not sure that we will be making any trips until the holiday season. I plan on writing an update, but I’ve decided to change goal #12. Instead of taking a vacation this year, we’re planning on adopting another puppy into our family. There’s no set timeline on this yet, but after talking about future goals and plans, along with discussing our budget, we realized it was unrealistic to do both a vacation and adopt a puppy this year. So we picked the puppy. 🙂 Who wouldn’t? Like I said, I’ll keep you posted on this, but I can’t say when, just yet! Stay tuned. 😉

Watched
For Fathers Day, my sweet dad wanted to go out to a movie with all of us. My husband was only able to join us for brunch before he had to go to work, but it was a fun time to spend the day with my sister and parents. It’s not been just the four of us for a while. InsideOutWe decided to go see Inside Out. I. Was. Stoked! I have been waiting a year to go see that movie, because I’m a huge nerd and love Pixar! This movie isn’t your typical Pixar, though. Yes, they have a tendency to anthropomorphize everything from toys to cars to animals to monsters (you get the idea), but this concept was unique in the fact that they were able to give a face to emotions. I LOVED it and I think it’s a great way to understand the basics of how our emotions influence us and how they contribute to developing our personality. The amount of detail and subtleties that I noticed reflected so much research that went into the film. I learned a lot as an adult and I think this would be a great movie for kids who are growing up and trying to understand why they feel the way they do…and realize that it’s ok to feel different feelings, that we need all the various feelings to make sense of life. They all serve a purpose and that we shouldn’t be defined by one feeling or another. The animation was as always, amazing. Plus, the cast was just perfect. If you’re an Office, Parks & Rec, or SNL fan, you’ll love it! I could keep raving, but I think you should go see it for yourself. 🙂

In other news, Pretty Little Liars is back on! The pilot and first few episodes of season six have been so good! My A theories are evolving… So You Think You Can Dance also started up again. Audition weeks are my favorite, so we’ve been enjoying those. Plus, they’ve been on Hulu, so I can go back and re-watch my favorite routines. It’s gonna be a good season!

Listened
I mostly listened to my audiobooks this month, like I mentioned above. So nothing too new in the listening department.

Memorable Moments
2015-06-09 21.02.49-22015-06-10 14.29.20My husband turned 28 this year and we had a great day celebrating on his birthday. We enjoyed a dinner and I baked him a cake, then later on he enjoyed a guys day out watching Jurassic World and hanging out with his guys. Our parents were able to have dinner with us and we tried the new Pepperoni Grill that opened nearby. It was incredible! All in all, I think he had a pretty good birthday this year!

Spoonflower-HedgehogsI entered another Spoonflower contest in June, which you can see here. I didn’t win, but I love entering their contests because it offers a great creative outlet, plus a fun community of artists! When they have contests, it’s neat to see everyone’s interpretation of the same subject. Every single one is different!

This Made My Day
2015-06-17 20.59.36I had a random mish-mash of things that just made my day this month. At a family gathering, my aunt gave my a Diet Coke she’d found with my name on it – spelled CORRECTLY! That never happens.

Jonathan and I enjoyed a random nostalgic jam session while we were moving the office. We found our mixed CDs from high school and had a great time guessing who the artists were. We got to explain our weird eccentric tastes and the influences behind them at the time.

2015-05-27 15.34.47I got sunset hair this month! I’m a natural brunette, but I’ve been a red head for the past year or so, which I love. I’ve never felt more myself than with red hair! But I decided to shake it up a little this time and add purple to the ends. 2015-05-27 11.32.47My stylist did an excellent job and created a color melt between the red and purple so that they transition in a more “natural” looking way… Since I work from home and don’t have to adhere to a dress code, I decided why not? I love it! 2015-05-27 16.52.27The only draw back is that my shower looks like a purple minion got splattered all over the walls when I wash it, but other than that, it’s perfect! It’s just subtle enough where you don’t immediately notice it, but in the sun, it looks kind of like an upside down sunset. 🙂

Monthly Moral
June taught me that positivity is a fight! Happiness is fleeting and joy is a choice. It doesn’t come easy. It’s a daily choice to look for the good around you or to change your perspective of your situation. The world is fallen and we are not perfect. It’s so easy to spiral into depression and despair, but we are not doomed to that. We have the freedom to choose what we make of our day and how we choose to look at it. We can’t control other people or what may happen to us, but we have full control over our response and attitude. It took me a while to remember this truth this month, but I finally did and I’m thankful. I plan on making July a better month.

How was your June? What was the best part of your month?

Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.33.22 PM
I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

Liebster Award Nominations!

liesbster-2015-NominationI was quite surprised the other day to see a lot of new traffic coming to my site. And even more surprised to find it coming from someone I hadn’t met yet. Come to find out, the lovely Rebecca Colours had nominated me for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much, Rebecca! Check out her blog here.
The Liebster Award is an award made for bloggers by bloggers, discovering new blogs. The award aims to put the spotlight on new bloggers and give them a chance to shine and get known here in the blogging world. The award comes with a few rules:

  1. Put the Liebster Award logo on your blog
  2. Thank and tag the blog who nominated you
  3. Answer their questions and come up with 10 new ones for your nominees
  4. Nominate 8 blogs (with less than 200 followers), let them know you’ve nominated them and link them in your post
  5. No tag-backs

I received the following questions from Rebecca. Here are my answers:

1.  What is your favorite thing about blogging? 
I love that I have a place to share thoughts, ideas, and creativity, along with a journal in a way to look back on. It’s a way to stay accountable and not let my goals or projects lose momentum.

2. What is your favorite saying/proverb/quote?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, And He will direct your path.” —Proverbs 3:5-6

3. What is/are your biggest inspiration(s) that motivate you?
First, I would have to say, my mom is a huge inspiration and encouragement in my life. She’s one of my best friends and has been a mentor to me in many ways, but especially in my married life as I’m still learning to be a wife and *gasp* live with a guy! (<–This requires a gasp because I grew up with only a sister, no brothers, and I was home schooled…) She’s also been an incredible inspiration and motivation lately as she’s started her own business last year and that takes a lot of work, bravery, and dedication! Second, I would have to say that time motivates me. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to plan, but I also like to make the most of the time I have in the day, so time and the lack thereof gets me going in my day!

4. What are you really good at?
This may sound weird, but painting a room. I LOVE it! It’s instant gratification for me because I can see my progress immediately. I can paint an entire room without using a drop cloth or painters tape on baseboards or edges. I’m weird I know… I’m sure there are other things, but this was the first thing that came to mind.

5. What’s the key to success?
Hard work, perseverance—even when you feel like giving up, and having a goal to go after.

6. Is there anything new you’d like to learn?
There’s always something new to learn in life! This year, one of the things I’d like to learn is how to garden and mow my lawn. You can see more things on my 30 for 30 list here.

7. What’s your most important overall goal for 2015?
To accomplish my 30 for 30 list.

8. If you could write a brief message to your 13 year old self, what would you say?
Probably the only things I would tell myself is to learn to let go of trying to control everything a little earlier, stay active, exercise, and try more foods. I was a picky eater that preferred junk food,and now I’m paying for it. #FebruaryIsForFitness

9. Do you have any guilty pleasures and if so, what?
I’m the weirdo that loves to dip french fries in my chocolate milkshake and I love to watch reality tv, namely shows like The Real Housewives of Name-Any-City/Region, Dance Moms, Sister Wives, Toddlers & Tiaras, and just about any wedding show on TLC. Hi, my name is Kellie and I’m addicted to junk tv. 😦

10. State one word that would describe yourself.
Multi-faceted. 

Now I would like to nominate these lovely people! They all inspire me in their own unique way! Check out their blogs:
A Desert Girl
The Audrey Files
Bee Beauty
The Pastor’s Snarky Wife
Beside His Badge
The Adventures of Everygirl
News (Linzie Hunter)
The Elm Life

And here are your questions:
1. Why did you start your blog?
2. What is your favorite dessert?
3. What do you look forward to most about your favorite season?
4. What did you want to be when you grew up and how similar is it to what you do now?
5. What is your favorite book and why?
6. What do you do to help maintain balance in your life?
7. If you could go/live anywhere (real or mythical) where would you go?
8. What is one goal you would like to accomplish this year?
9. Coffee, tea, or something else?
10. What has been your most meaningful and/or useful life lesson, thus far?

I’d love to read your answers, so please be sure to tag me! 🙂

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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?

Pepper’s Bookshelf • 1/30

One of the goals on my 30 for 30 List is to read 30 books this year. I just finished the first one for this year and it was one of the most helpful books I’ve read in a while! If you are an officer in LawEmotionalSurvivalforLawEnforcementBook Enforcement, a spouse of an officer, fiancé, family, or friend of some one who serves in Law Enforcement, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin M. Gilmartin was written for you. It goes beyond the day to day tasks of the law enforcement life and digs deeper to reveal the emotional side and side effects of the job.

I highly recommend this book to new officers and their spouses! While officers are put through rigorous training in order to serve and protect their communities effectively, there are few officers and far fewer spouses and families that are prepared for the emotional side effects of the job. A career in law enforcement is extremely different from the many stereotypical 9 to 5 jobs out there. The long and odd work hours, missed holidays with loved ones, having to face tragedy and lawlessness on a daily basis, along with the necessity of having to wear a bullet proof vest everyday has a profound mental, emotional, and physical impact on the officer themselves, but it also has an impact on their families. As a spouse, this book helped me understand my husband’s world better and how it impacts our family. It also helped me learn how to view the impact with a healthy mindset.

Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement offers practical ways to not get consumed with the job (or letting the job consume you), how to provide balance between the on duty hyper-vigilience and off duty zoning out, ways to take control of your off duty time, tips to maintaining your personal identity, cues to fight isolation and cynicism, staying connected with loved ones along with so many more practical tools to stay emotionally strong in the world of law enforcement!

Overall, learning to bring balance to your life and perspective, learning where the stresses and impacts are coming from, and choosing to take control of your personal time off duty were the points that stood out most to me. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

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