August Favorites

Happy Monday!

Just kidding, is there even really such a thing? I have heard of these mysterious people out there who actually love Mondays, but I refuse to believe it. Because everyone knows that waking up when it is still dark outside on Monday morning to go back to work (or school, in my case) is the absolute worst. No matter how much coffee, or Spark, you have. 

So even though it’s a dark and dreary Monday and I would much rather still be tucked into bed, we’re going to try and be cheery because it’s the end of August – and that means it’s almost FALL! And everyone knows that Fall is the best season ever. I mean, pumpkin spice everything, boots and scarves, and crunchy leaves – what’s not to love?

While I always look forward to summer, by the end of August I am also always ready to say goodbye and ring in September and the fall season. But before we fully say goodbye to August, I thought I would try something fun and talk about some of my favorite things this month! I don’t normally have enough fun new things to talk about my favorites weekly, so maybe over the course of a month I can actually round up enough to share. 

So without further ado, here are some (totally random) things that I have been loving during the month of August:

August Favorites

Favorite workout

Image result for tone it up

(source)

I know I have talked about this a few times now, but I am still on a total Tone it Up kick. I love that the workouts are really fun, incorporate some traditional moves with a lot of different, creative moves to keep things interesting, and have an easy mix-and-match style so that you can really target your workout to your goals and your abilities. It is also nice that I can do them in my basement with minimal equipment. 

I am hoping that they are going to start a challenge in the fall, since I came in a little late to the summer one, because you know I love a good planned out challenge! 

Favorite Grocery Find

Trader Joes Cold Brew Concentrate

My sister-in-law told me about this Cold Brew Concentrate from Trader Joes a few weeks ago, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m now several bottles in. It is just so good and SO EASY! I just mix 1/2 cup of the concentrate with 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup water, and a little bit of my favorite Natural Bliss Salted Caramel creamer and I am good to go. 

Definitely pick this up next time you’re at TJs. SO much cheaper than Starbucks!

Favorite Colton picture

Baby bed head

Poor Colton definitely got my bald baby gene, and is just now (at nearly 15 months) started to grow some hair. Which means that when he wakes up after a nap or in the morning, his little tufts of hair stick up every direction and it’s the cutest thing in the world. I always try to snap a picture but he is usually so busy trying to climb out of his crib that the pictures just come out blurry. This is the best I could manage. 

Favorite new purchase

I don’t have a picture because our room currently looks like an un-decorated disaster, but earlier this month we (somewhat on a whim) purchased a king-sized bed and it is GLORIOUS! So much space! We hadn’t originally planned on it, but things were getting a little cozy with both of us, and the dog (who likes to take up as much room as possible), and occasionally on lazy Saturday mornings, Colton too. 

Now we have oodles of space and Laneydog has her own pillow. #spoiled

Favorite baby item

SmarTrike

We got this SmarTrike as a birthday gift for Colton and it hands down might be the coolest toddler item I’ve ever seen. This trike is basically a 4-in-1 design so that it grows as your baby grows. For example, when they are younger it has the harness, seat back, and cage so that your kid is secure. But as they grow older you can remove those parts one by one until it looks just like a normal tricycle seat. Same with the handle bars and the peddles. The way they are set up now, I have control of them with the handle. But as Colton gets older, we can switch it so that he can turn the wheels and/or the handles to control the bike. 

There are so many other cool features, I feel like I could talk about this thing forever. But seriously, if you have a toddler or a preschooler, check this thing out! I feel like this is one of those rare toys that you can use for several years – which starts to sound wonderful when your house starts piling up with stuff that was only used for a few months before going into storage!

Favorite “Me time” activity

Bubble Bath

This summer has been a difficult one for me, and at first I really didn’t do a good job of taking care of myself because I was so focused on managing everything else. But thanks to the encouragement of a friend, I took some time to take a bubble bath (with a glass of wine) and now I’m totally hooked. It is such a nice way to take 30 minutes just to myself and relax, something I’m otherwise terrible at. 

It has done wonders for both my physical health (so great for sore muscles!) and for my mental health. 

 

Well there you have it – a few of my favorite things from the month of August! Now it’s your turn to share!

So tell me: What is one thing you have been loving this month?

 

FYI: This post may contain affiliate links. However, as always, any and all opinions are 100% my own. 

Grocery Haul {Week of 8/21/16}

Happy Wednesday, y’all! 

I am actually in a terrific mood this morning, which is somewhat a rarity since mornings are not usually my strong point. I have a doctor’s appointment later this morning, so we changed up our morning routine a bit and Chris took Colton into daycare. But I still got up to help get Colton ready (and to get in some extra baby snuggles because I have a late class this evening), and once the boys left at 7am I was able to get a workout in, shower, and eat breakfast – all before 8:30! 

I have to admit, as much as I hate getting up early, there is definitely something to this whole morning workout thing. I feel so ready to take on the day!

ANYWAY, today  I thought I’d bring back something that I haven’t done in ages: a grocery haul! As I’ve been sort of thinking about the changes I want to make around here and what I want this blog to be about, I have really been thinking about the kinds of posts that I love to read. Call me nosy, but I LOVE seeing grocery hauls! They always give me a ton of ideas, and I like seeing how other people go about their normal shopping routine. 

So today I thought I’d share my weekend grocery haul with you guys, and I hope that you are equally as nosy enjoy it too!

Trader Joes & Kroger

Grocery Haul from Trader Joes

On Sunday after church we made a quick detour by Trader Joes. I am trying to be more intentional about meal planning and getting ingredients that we can use in multiple dishes, so this haul was definitely a little bit smaller than usual (in a good way). 

Produce

Strawberries

Cherry Tomatoes

Red pepper

Bag of sweet potatoes

Bananas

Sliced mushrooms

Bag of spinach

Dairy

Vanilla greek yogurt

Unsalted butter sticks

Vanilla Almond Milk

Organic Whole Milk (for Colton)

Natural Bliss Salted Caramel Creamer – my favorite!

Crumbled goat cheese

Small curd cottage cheese

Cheddar Jack cheese cubes (snacks for Colton)

Other

Orange Juice

Pasta Sauce

2 Kombuchas

TJ’s Cheddar Rockets (snacks for Colton)

Fig Bars

TJs red curry simmer sauce

TJs peanut satay sauce

 

Other Groceries

We also picked up a few other groceries:

Peaches from Lane Southern Orchard in Georgia

On Saturday we drove down to central Georgia to visit Chris’ grandparents, and on our way we stopped by Lane Southern Orchards, which is a giant peach orchard and packing facility. Seriously, EVERYTHING you could ever imagine that could be made with peaches is made here. So of course we had to pick up a “small” crate of peaches (aka 16!) and have been pretty much eating them nonstop since. 

A peach a day keeps the doctor away? That’s what I’m going with at least…

La Croix CranRaspberry

I also made a stop by Aldi where I picked up a few small things (a bag of frozen salmon, some thai noodles, salad greens, etc). While I was there, I also had a couple of good finds, including this box of my favorite CranRaspberry LaCroix and snack-size PB packets, which are perfect to keep at my office in case I get hangry and desperate. 

Jif To Go packets

Overall, it wasn’t too shabby of a week for us. I am trying to be better about both meal planning and using up stuff we already have in our fridge and freezer (hence why I didn’t purchase any meat this week other than salmon), so I will definitely let you know how that goes. 

Well I hope you all enjoyed this little peak into my grocery shopping this week! I would love to hear what you think about grocery hauls – do you also like checking them out or do you usually scroll past? While I love them, I obviously want to make sure you all do too!

Have a great Wednesday!

So tell me: Grocery hauls – yay or nay? Did you have any fun grocery finds this week?

Why I am struggling with my blog identity

I don’t know what it is like where you are, but it is kind of a dark and dreary Monday morning here in Atlanta. And since today also marks the first day of a new semester, it also means that I was up at 6:00 (ish) this morning to get to school on time. So bring on the coffee. 

And since I’m currently enjoying cup #2 while hoping that the patch of blue sky I see far off in the distance makes its way over here, I thought it might be a good time to have a little bit of a coffee chat with you. So grab your beverage of choice, pull up a chair, and let’s just have a little coffee talk about some things that have been on my mind lately. 

Coffee talk

I’ve mentioned it a few times here on the blog, but I have been really struggling lately with figuring out my blog identity. Do I still want to be a healthy living blogger and talk about food and fitness? What about a mommy blogger who shares tips and tricks about being a new parent? What about a lifestyle blogger, where I talk about products that I am loving and projects that I am working on around my house? 

Since the beginning of 2016 I feel like I have been constantly struggling with my identity as a blogger, and just haven’t been able to understand WHY I can’t get out of this funk. 

And then it dawned on me over the weekend when I was talking with a friend: The reason I am having a hard time figuring out my identity as a blogger is because I feel like I am having a hard time figuring out my real life identity.

For the past year I have been in this place of being a new mom, a new doctoral student, living in a new city, and it’s just been this very new phase of life for me. But now we’ve been in Atlanta for a year, I’m starting year 2 of my program today, and my baby is about to turn 15 months old. I don’t really feel like I can define myself as any of those “new” things anymore. So who am I now? That is the part that I realized I have been struggling with – how do I define myself now? How do I describe this phase of life that I am in? I am by no means an experienced parent, or grad student, or Atlantan – but I can’t really call myself “new” anymore. 

That struggle in my real life identity has bled over a little bit into my blog identity struggle. Where as I used to feel very comfortable talking about food and fitness, I feel like a bit of a fraud doing that right now, because that isn’t always where my primary focus is these days. Would I like to get back there? Absolutely. But these days my priority is more on toddler meals, new home decor, and trying to find a way to fit everything in to a 24 hour period! And I haven’t quite figured out the best way to make my blog match my new lifestyle.

So where does that leave me? 

Truthfully? I really don’t know.

You all have been so great it bearing with me while I have putzed around in this space for the past 6 months – not always consistently and usually without direction – and I truly appreciate you sticking around while I try and figure things out. I want to make some changes around here to reflect this new stage of life that I am in, but I am also a little bit scared. Scared that no one will like it, scared that everyone who has followed me will leave, and scared that I don’t have anything worth sharing anymore. But I love blogging and I love being able to share my life and my journey with you all, and I am just not sure I want to give that up. 

So I am going to try a few new things around here for the next month or so, and see how you guys like it. I have been brainstorming a lot on what I might want to talk about and how I can define this new blog direction, so I hope you guys like some of the changes. And if not? Well then that’s okay too. Blogging has always been something that I have done because I enjoy being able to share and connect with other people – and it has certainly done that for me over these past 4.5 years. So if I do need to hang up my blogging hat, I feel like I can also do that feeling satisfied with what I’ve done. 

Using a bullet journal to Blog Brainstorm

I know that this was just a giant brain dump, and I appreciate you sticking around to read it all the way through. Talk about deep and heavy for a Monday morning! But I always want to be transparent with you all with what’s going on in my life – so there you have it. 

As I said, expect to see a few changes in both content and look around here in the coming weeks, and we’ll see how things go. I am cautiously hopeful!

So tell me: Have you ever felt like you were going through an identity crisis? Any other new moms felt this way before, when your baby stopped being a baby?

DIY Toddler Busy Board

Back when we were house hunting a few months ago, we quickly learned that trying to entertain a toddler while discussing the pros and cons of granite countertops was a futile effort. Colton could care less about our adult talk – he just wanted to go exploring!

Then we learned the wonders of the springy door stopper. 

You know what I mean, right? The little spring thing that is stuck to the wall and keeps your doors from slamming into the wall behind them. 

This guy:

Well Colton thought they were the coolest thing he had ever seen, and could literally sit for minutes-on-end (that’s like HOURS in toddler time) and make them going boing boing boing. 

Annoying, but effective. 

His fascination with this tiny piece of hardware made my husband’s engineering brain start turning: If Colton could be totally distracted with this cheap piece of metal from Home Depot forever two whole minutes, then what would happen if we put ALL.THE.HARDWARE together in one place? Could we actually manage 10 whole minutes of toddler interest?

Thus the idea for a toddler busy board was born (at least in our minds). 

DIY Toddler Busy Board for LESS than $15!

I wish I could say that this was a novel idea, but Pinterest would disagree. But thanks to some blog suggestions and my husband’s own creativity, we set out on an adventure to create a busy board for Colton. 

First stop was the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you’ve never heard of them before, they are basically a donation center for things like furniture, construction materials, and other home improvement things, and the money goes to the Habitat for Humanity programs that help local communities. You never really know what you’re going to find there, but it can be a great place to find replacements for any builder-grade materials (i.e. light fixtures, cabinets, doors, etc) in your house, or half-used cans of spray paint, primer or other construction materials. 

For our purposes, we were looking for small pieces of hardware that a 12-month-old might find interesting. We ended up walking out with several door stoppers, hinges, and literally $1 less in our pockets. #winning.

Next stop was Home Depot for the rest of our materials. We ended up picking up a few wheels that spun in different directions, some velcro, a few different kinds of locks, and a drawer pull. Plus a big piece of particle board and a few small pieces for the structure. 

I can’t say much about the actual creation process (all the drilling credit goes to Chris on this one), but essentially Chris just screwed everything into the board in different places. Then for stability, he attached legs so that it can slide under the couch and even a baby who likes to pull on everything can’t topple it over. 

A few hours and less than $15 later… voila! A toddler busy board!

DIY Toddler Busy Board for less than $15!
DIY Toddler Busy Board for less than $15!

DIY Toddler Busy Board for less than $15!

It sits so nicely under the couch so we don’t have to worry about it flipping over on Colton!

DIY Toddler Busy Board for less than $15!

Overall, I have to say I am actually pretty impressed with our $15 busy board! Colton has already gotten a ton of use out of it, and it actually is way less obtrusive in our living room than the 1,000 neon colored toys we have. It practically blends right in!

So tell me: Have you done any fun DIY projects lately? 

6 Things I’ve learned from Olympic athletes

Guys, I have been absolutely obsessed with the Olympics lately. Please tell me I am not the only one!

It really comes as no surprise though – I’ve always been somewhat obsessed with all things Olympics, as far back as I can remember. In fact, I have fully vivid memories of staying up late to watch the 1996 Magnificent Seven gymnastics team during the Atlanta games. For a 9-year-old gymnast like me, full of hopes and dreams and backflips, that was literally better than a fairytale.

And here I am, 20 years later, googling adult gymnastic classes in the Atlanta area while watching the Final Five win gold. Because a girl can still dream, right? 

My poor husband can attest to the fact that pretty much the entire week has been all Olympics, all the time at Casa Freckle. I not only love watching all of the actual events, but I also love hearing all of the back stories and profiles on the athletes. I think there is so much to learn from these individuals who have devoted their lives to becoming the absolute best they can be at their craft. 

So in honor of the Olympics (and to continue to fuel my Olympics obsession), I thought I would share 6 things that I have learned from Olympics athletes from the 2016 Rio Games. 

6 Lessons I have learned from the Olympic Athletes in Rio 2016

 

1. You have to find your inner strength

Story after story about these Olympians have had the same message: hardship. Injuries, family problems, setbacks, disappointments – almost all of these athletes have had to face some sort of major obstacle in their road to success. 

But the message from all of them has been about digging deep and finding your inner strength. Instead of letting these setbacks tear them down and giving up, they have all found a way to reach deep down and find that inner strength that allows them to persevere. 

(source)

I mean, just look at German gymnast Andreas Toba, who tore his ACL during his floor routine in the qualification round. He knew that his team needed him in order to qualify for the team finals, so despite his injury he dug deep, hobbled up to the pommel horse, and completed his routine. 

Now I am not saying we all need to keep pushing past an injury, but sometimes you just need to dig deep to find the strength to get back up on that (pommel) horse and finish what you started. 

2. Olympian + parent =  SUPERPARENT

Parenting is hard enough – the lack of sleep, navigating toddler tantrums, and spending the first several years hunched over as you chase that endless ball of energy around. It is absolutely exhausting! Most days I am lucky if I can actually check all the important things off my to-do list (you know, like eating and showering), so I can only imagine what it must be like for Olympians who are also parents. Like diver David Boudia. 

(source)

Can you imagine having to spend the entire day training to the point of pure physical and mental exhaustion, and then coming home to a teething toddler who is refusing to eat anything on their plate? And then only getting to spend a little time with your family, going to bed, and getting up early to do it again the next day? THAT is super parenting, if you ask me, and definitely puts my parenting difficulties into perspective. 

Also, major hats off to the spouses of these athletes, and all that they also sacrifice to make their homes run smoothly!

3. Parents can make such a difference

Speaking of parents, maybe it’s just because this is my first Olympics as a mom myself, but those daggone Thank You, Mom commercials get me every. single. time! 

But what I have found so amazing in all of the athlete profiles or spotlights is what an influential role their parents truly played in their lives. You hear so many of the athletes talking about how their parents would spend hours a day driving them around to practices, or moving across the country with them to train with a new coach, or picking up a second (or third) job in order to help fund their child’s dreams. It is clear just how supportive these parents were in helping their children to realize their dreams, even if it meant making sacrifices of their own. 

Or just sacrificing a couple of years off their lives thanks to the stresses of watching their children compete. Shout out to Aly Raisman’s parents – just watching them watch Aly brings my heart rate up!

(source)

Again, maybe it is because I am now a parent, but I can only hope that I will be able to encourage and support my son’s aspirations in the way that so many of these parents have!

4. Learn to block out negativity

Let’s be real, it wouldn’t be an Olympics post without using the new, official meme of the Rio games:

(source)

All jokes aside, look at that intensity on Michael Phelps’ face. That is a man on a mission, and he isn’t going to let anything get in his way (including a pretentious, shadow-boxing South African competitor). He was the epitome of focus before his race, tuning out all of the noise and negativity around him and picture only what HE needed to do to win his race (spoiler alert: he did). 

What a great example this is for all of us – tune out all of the negatively around you and focus on your goals! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the “what ifs” or “I can’ts”, which do nothing but drag us down. Instead, let’s put on our headphones, blare some pump-up tunes, and give the F-you glare to all of the negativity that surrounds us. 

5. Some sacrifices are hard, but worth it

Just like there have been so many stories of hardships and obstacles to overcome, there have been an equal number of stories of the sacrifices that these athletes have had to make in their own lives to reach their dreams. 

While I am sure that this is true of every single athlete at the games, I always find this to especially be true in the young athletes, like my girl Laurie Hernandez. These competitors have had to give up so many normal, teenage things in order to accomplish their goals. No high school football games, no proms, no movies with friends – they have had to give up normalcy in order to focus solely on their sport. 

(source)

And while these sacrifices may not seem like serious things, it is still kind of difficult to imagine how different your life would be without them. But for these athletes, they have made the decision that their dream of reaching perfection is worth letting go of other things. 

I don’t know about you, but that is definitely a lesson that I need to learn for myself. That sometimes, when you really want to accomplish something, you have to be ok with letting some other things go. 

6. Enjoy the moment

If there has been one thing that has stood out the most to me during these 2016 Olympics so far though, it has been a statement made by one of the commentators during the opening ceremonies. As we were watching all of the athletes come in during the Parade of Nations, he said, “for many of these athletes, THIS is their Olympic games.” 

(source)

And how true is that? We are so used to seeing the primetime events of Gold-medal winning races or the world records being broken, but what we forget is that there were over 10,000 athletes that attended these games. 10,000 athletes versus what, maybe 1,000 medals total (gold, silver and bronze in all of the events). That leaves a LOT of athletes without a medal. In fact, there are many athletes that never made it through the preliminary heat of their race to even earn a chance to compete for a medal!

So for a majority of these athletes, getting the opportunity to walk during the opening ceremonies WAS their Olympic experience. And what a great example of learning to live in the moment and soak up every experience you can! Because in all of the stresses of Olympic competition – the nerves and the adrenaline and the pressure – it would be so easy to walk during the parade without soaking it all in. And what a missed opportunity that would be. 

 

I know we still have another week and a half of competition left to enjoy (and believe me, I can’t wait!), but I have a feeling these lessons I have learned from watching the Olympians and hearing their stories will only grow. What an amazing group of people, who are such an inspiration not only in what they can do in their sport, but also as individuals. 

I continue to wish all of the athletes the best of luck, and of course GO USA!

So tell me: Are you an Olympics fan? What is one story that has really inspired you from the Olympics so far?

 

 

Colton’s Travel-Themed Nursery

Mama guilt is real, y’all. 

When I was pregnant with Colton, we were getting ready to move to an entirely new state to live in a temporary apartment for a year. So I  went through a serious nesting phase (all you other mamas totally know what I’m talking about), but I had no where to really… nest.

As bummed as that made me, setting up a nursery in our old house in VA didn’t make sense, since we were about to move everything. And designing a nursery in our teeny, tiny apartment was definitely not happening. I mean, Colton’s room in our apartment was also the guest bedroom/my closet/storage closet. And it was tiny. 

But mama guilt is no joke, and I basically spent the first year of Colton’s life feeling SO guilty that I didn’t have a nice space for him. Yes, I know he was an infant and could care less. But it mattered to me!

So now that we moved into our new house, I FINALLY have been able to actually design a nursery for him. In fact, his room was actually the first our entire house to be decorated. Because, #priorities. Well more like #getridofmamaguilt

It may be 14 months after he was born, but better late than never, right! 

Travel-Themed Nursery

Both Chris and I have done a lot of traveling, so we really wanted to make Colton’s room reflect our adventures (and his adventures to come, of course)! So we went with a blue and green travel-theme that mixes elements of maps, airplanes, and other fun cultural things. And I cant wait to add more as we travel more!

Blue green travel nursery 4

These stripes were such a pain in the butt to paint, but I absolutely love how they came out!

Blue green travel nursery 1

Our crib came from Buy Buy Baby and our sheets and Colton’s reading chair came from Pottery Barn Kids.

Blue green travel nursery 2

The changing table was actually a yard sale find (for $10!) that a painted navy to match the room. The green baskets are from the dollar tree. 

Also, fun fact, the burlap banner and Bonjour Bebe picture were both from one of my baby showers

Blue green travel nursery 3

This dresser was actually one that I’ve had for YEARS, but it had seen better days so I decided to paint it navy and redo the hardware on it so something more fun! 

nursery reading corner

I also love reading, so I wanted to give Colton a nice little reading corner is his room to start teaching a love of books! As I mentioned, this chair is from Pottery Barn (and Colton LOVES it!) and the book shelves are spice racks from Ikea. 

nursery reading corner 2

It’s also a great place to display a few of our favorite Usborne books. I recently became a consultant with Usborne because Colton loves them so much! I will talk more about it in another post, but if you are interested in picking up some amazing and interactive books for your kiddos, let me know!

Overall I just love how the room has come out so far, and I can’t wait to add more to it as he grows up! 

I also have (mostly) decorated the rest of the house, so let me know if you’d be interested in a house tour! I have definitely been channeling my inner Joanna Gaines lately. If only I lived in Waco, TX…

So tell me: What themes have you done/would you like to do for a nursery? 

The Importance of Preparing for the Future as a 20-something

It has been a bit of a whirlwind week for me, and now I feel like I just need a few days to decompress! I left bright (well, dark) and early last Friday morning to fly up to Connecticut for my mother’s burial. While she lived in Florida when she passed away, she had previously requested to be buried in her small hometown in Connecticut, so of course we wanted to follow through on her wishes. So I spent the weekend with family, and we had another small but lovely service with friends and family.

Then a few hours later I flew home. Well, more like sat in the airport for several hours dealing with stupid flight delays, went back to my grandpa’s house for the night and THEN I flew home. The next day. Southwest, you are currently on my bad list. 

Southwest Flight Delays

I am definitely glad that I was able to make it up to be with my family for this time, but part of me is also ready to get back to figuring out normal again.

The Importance of Preparing for the Future as a 20-something

In dealing with all of this stuff these past few months, I have definitely learned a few things. Things that I never really thought too hard about as a 28-year-old “adult”. I mean, in my head I had another 50 years until I really had to think about this stuff, right?

But the reality is, life is short and there are a few things you can do, even as a 20-something, to ease the burden on your family should something unexpected and horrible happen. 

Please note: I am not a financial planner or an expert of any kind in this field. This is just what I have learned from my own personal experience and from our financial planner. I highly encourage you to do some research on your own. Please see below for some resources. 

Talk to your family about your wishes

For one thing, I have absolutely realized the importance of making sure your family is aware of what you would like to happen should you pass away – where you’d like to be buried, how you would like to be buried, etc.

burial

Thankfully my mom had made her wishes known, but I can totally see how it could be a very stressful and emotional process to try and guess how your family member might want to be treated upon their death. We all have our own thoughts and opinions on what would be meaningful, so I think it is so important to let your family know if you have a preference on your final resting place. If nothing else, it can give you family peace of mind in knowing that they are doing what you would have wanted. 

Create a will

If you have children (or even pets or prized possessions) it is SO SO SO important to have some kind of will in place to let others know what you would have wanted.

I have seen families broken apart in trying to figure out how to split up possessions or fight over who should have guardianship of children. Chris and I have already talked about who we would want to care for Colton if we were to unexpectedly pass, and making it official just gives some security that Colton would be taken care of.

Similarly, if you have any financial legacy (even at 20-something) or special possessions that you might want to go to a specific individual, a will is the best way to make sure this happens. It doesnt even have to be super fancy and official – if you aren’t worth millions (HA! I wish) there are easy ways to do it online.

Look into life insurance

Finally, and probably most importantly, is the value of life insurance. I know, I know – Life insurance sounds so “adult”. Like something old people worry about. But let me tell you, it is hands down something everyone should have. Especially if you are married or have a family. 

I have seen firsthand how an unexpected passing can put you in a really scary place financially. Not only do you have the cost of the funeral and burial (which typically range around $5-10k), but all of a sudden you are down one income and it can be a terrifying situation trying to figure out how you are going to pay your mortgage/rent, utilities, car payments, etc. In an instant your entire financial world gets completely flipped upside down, and you don’t really have time to slowly figure things out.

That is where life insurance comes in. It can give you enough of a buffer to GIVE you time to figure things out. When we met with a financial planner before we got married, it was recommended to us have a plan large enough to pay off your house and help you survive for 6 months. And then Chris and I each have one – so that if he passes away I am covered for that amount, and vice versa.

Guys, I know as a 20-something this doesn’t really seem like something that we should be worrying about. But it seriously is extremely inexpensive (especially if you take out a policy when you are young and healthy), but could make a world of difference over the course of your lifetime. I can’t reiterate enough how heart-breaking it is to watch someone who has just gone through a terrible loss also have to deal with trying to figure out how they are even going to afford to live in their current home. I don’t want that to happen to anyone I know.

Obviously I am no financial expert, so I can only speak from personal experience and from the heart. But I encourage everyone to look into setting up a life insurance policy (even a small one!) to help their loved ones financially deal with a loss.

Here are some resources below to give you more information about life insurance and how this process works:

10 Things you absolutely need to know about life insurance – Forbes

3 Things you should know about life insurance – US News – Money

If you are interested in meeting with a financial planner (something I HIGHLY recommend, even for young people) to go over your options and set yourself up for your future, we have had an amazing experience with First Command Financial Services. We have also taken Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University through our church and highly recommend that as well. 

Also, I know many jobs do provide life insurance. But as I have learned, this is not always enough to cover your family’s needs and often comes with stipulations regarding the length of your employment, your salary, and the type provided by your company. So if nothing else, please look into what your company offers, and see if you might need to supplement that (like we did) to ensure your family’s stability.

I know that this is FAR outside my normal scope of posting, but it is something that I (clearly) feel very passionately about. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult enough, without adding on another layer of fear about your financial well-being as a result.

So please, please look into long-term financial planning for you and your loved ones. Even if you’re young and healthy. Life is short.

 

Channeling my Inner Joanna Gaines

I swear to you, we just cannot catch a break around here! Two weeks ago is was a nasty stomach bug that both Colton and Chris caught. 

Now, it’s the dreaded Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. The (apparently) summer staple for children under the age of 5. I literally have 5 different friends, spanning 5 different states (actually one is halfway across the world) who have recently or are currently dealing with the same thing. Gross. 

hand foot and mouth disease

Essentially HFMD is a SUPER contagious virus that tends to spread like wildfire through daycares. And of course last Friday we got a note in Colton’s box that someone in his classroom had been diagnosed, which was pretty much a death sentence for poor Colton. And sure enough, since then we’ve been dealing with a high fever, and these terrible looking blisters all over his little body. For several days there, he was just absolutely miserable (and so were we!)

Thankfully he SEEMS to be on the upswing, but the doctor said that sometimes it can take 7-10 days for everything to completely go back to normal even though he is no longer contagious. So for now my little man just gets to look like a leper, and I get to hang out at home all week. 

Speaking of home, today I wanted to do something totally different than usual. Why? Because it’s my blog and I say so. 

But really, it’s because decorating is not my forte at all, and I need some suggestions from you all. 

I have mentioned before my love of all things Fixer Upper, and the fact that in my head, Joanna Gaines is my bestie. And really, if I had a million dollars I would fly her out here and have her go to town on my house, because I pretty much love everything she does. I, however, just dont have the talent to make decisions about decor stuff. 

So here is the space I am currently working with:

Living Room before

Our house is very open concept, so all of our walls are this sandy-tan color, and the trim is cream. I think I am going to use teal and gold as accent colors around our house. Hence the 2 different color curtains right now… I am trying to decide what look I like better.

 

And here is what I’m (tentatively) thinking about doing:

board living room

I am hoping to add an industrial-type shelf in the corner for decor/books, and then pick up some fun teal, gold and white pillows. I cannot for the life of me decide on the whole curtain thing – so any thoughts would be very much appreciated!!

I am also planning on adding in a lot more farmhouse-type decor. For example, I already have this guy hanging up on in the space that connects our living room and kitchen:

Farmhouse chalkboard sign

And I am planning on adding more pieces like a gallery wall:

Master bedroom gallery wall via @Our Vintage Nest on IG:

(Source)

And some greenery:

January Family Room by Dear Lillie:

(source)

And maybe even some fun DIY touches!

So there you have it – I am probably the slowest decorator on the planet, but I am just never fully confident in my designs. So if any of you have design talent, please pass along your words of wisdom (especially on the great curtain debate). I could use all the help I can get! 

Also, am I the only one who is absolutely in love with the farmhouse style? I know it’s just super in right now, but I feel like it is classic enough that it could definitely last a long time. Or at least I am hoping it will!

So tell me: What is your design style? Are you in to the farmhouse look? Teal or white curtains (or something else all together??? HELP!)

Five Favorites Friday {7.15.16}

Happy Friday everyone!

As per usual, I feel like my life has just been crazy lately. I swear, there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done! I am still in the process of unpacking and decorating the house, and I’m not going to lie, it has been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Just trying to figure out WHERE to put everything (and not make it look like a jumbled mess). It’s a process. 

On top of it, in typical Stephanie style, I have had some grand project ideas lately which have definitely been taking up a lot of my free time. Darn Pinterest, giving me too many ideas! I can’t wait to show you all the final products, but you will get a sneak peak later in this post!

FFFold_thumb

Anyway, I wanted to drop in today to share with you all a few random things that I have been loving this week!

Decorating Colton’s Room

nursery decor

One thing that I was really bummed about was that I never actually got to set up a nursery for Colton. We knew we were going to be moving out of our first house when he was only 2 months old, so there was really no point in setting one up there. Then we lived temporarily in an apartment for about 10 months, and Colton’s room was also the guest room/my closet/extra storage space. So needless-to-say, he didn’t really get a decorated space there either. And while I know that obviously he didn’t care, it did make my mama heart a little sad. 

But now that we’re finally getting settled into this new house, I am so excited to actually decorate his room! I have it about 90% finished now and I am LOVING it! I am not sure if you guys are interested, but I can definitely give you a little tour sometime next week if you’d like. His colors are navy blue and kelly green, and it has a fun world traveler kind of theme. 

TIU Workouts

I mentioned earlier this week that I am loosely following the Tone It Up fitness plan in order to get myself back into healthy habits and so far I am LOVING it! These workouts are so fun, and seriously kick my butt. They are all about low weight, high rep which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it always works well for me when I’ve let my fitness slip a little bit. Plus Karena and Katrina are just so fun! I highly recommend checking them out – they have a ton of videos up on YouTube that you can check out for free. 

Painting Furniture

I have opened up a Pinterest can of worms and I don’t know how to stop! We had a bunch of old furniture from our college days or yard sale finds that just kind of made our house look like a hodge-podge of woods and finishes. But instead of spending the money to buy all new stuff, I went to Pinterest and read up on painting furniture. I figured I would just give it a try and see what we thought, and if it totally failed then we’d look into purchasing items instead. 

GUYS. I now have a furniture painting problem. Seriously. I just want to paint everything now!! So far I’ve painted Colton’s changing table (a $10 Craigslist purchase) and his dresser (an OLD dresser of my dad’s that I’ve had for like 10 years), and I’m currently in the process of chalk painting and distressing an old hutch that we got at a flea market for like $50. 

DIY Chalk Paint

Sorry for the dark garage pictures, but it at least gives you a sneak peak at what I’ve been working on!

DIY Chalk Paint

I am almost finished with the painting, but I still need to distress the top section (above), and then seal it. 

Of course I don’t have any pictures of it before, but it was old and dark brown and blah. As soon as I finish it and put it into its new space in our dining room I will definitely share it with you guys! And of course, now I have a list of at least 4 other pieces of furniture I want to paint. I CAN’T STOP!

Silhouette Cameo

So anyone who has Amazon Prime probably heard about Prime Day earlier this week. And I may or may not have gone a little crazy. There were just so many good deals!!

But the thing that I picked up that I am the MOST excited for is my new Silhouette Cameo. If you have never heard of a Cameo before, it is one of those cutting machines that can cut/print/design all kinds of stickers, paper and vinyl for craft projects!

(Source)

I am SO SO excited to play around with it and make some awesome things. I’ve already warned family and friends – be prepared for a monogrammed and crafted Christmas! 😀

Limeade Spark

AdvoCare Spark® Energy

I mentioned in my post last week about getting back to healthier habits that I am switching out my usual coffee for Spark again. Well last week I picked up a new flavor of spark: Limeade. And OH.MY.GOODNESS. Guys. GET THIS NOW. It seriously tastes like drinking lemonade, which is so incredibly refreshing in the hot summer afternoons!

Chris even had an idea to blend up some frozen cherries and ice, and make a cherry limeade a la Sonic. Um, yes please! 

Well that is all I have for you today. We have a couple of fun plans for the weekend, including gymnastics class for Colton, a baseball game, and of course more furniture painting/crafting! 

I hope you all have a great weekend!

So tell me: What are you loving this week? Are you a craft-lover too?

 

 

Weekly Food & Fitness Plan {7.11.16}

Guys, today my “baby” started in the toddler classroom today. HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE???

first day of toddler class

This was his first day of daycare at 12 weeks old (August 2015) and then his last day of the infant class this past Friday. Where has my baby gone??? Somehow he has morphed into a toddler. I am not ready for this! 

While I am over here dabbing at my eyes, let’s talk food and fitness. 

Like I mentioned in my post last week about the healthy changes I’m making, I am really making a concerted effort to get my healthy lifestyle back on track. That includes turning my workouts into a consistent routine and making healthier food choices. SO, I thought I would continue with my weekly food and fitness plans to help keep me accountable. That is really why this blog started in the first place, after all. And hopefully some of you will find this helpful as well!

Food & Fitness Plan

So here are my fitness goals for the week. I have been really getting into the Tone It Up workouts lately because they are quick and I can do them either at home or at the gym, which is perfect for my super flexible schedule during the summer. 

Monday: Total Body + Cardio

Tuesday: HIIT + Abs

Wednesday: Kettlebell Toning

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: Total Body

Saturday: Arms + Abs + Cardio

Sunday: Rest Day

Right now I am still in the process of just getting back into the routine of going to the gym before I decide on a more goal-oriented plan, so this wide variety of Tone It Up workouts fits my needs perfectly right now. Plus they really do kick my butt!

Now on to food! Here is my (general) meal plan for the week:

Monday: Grilled chicken parmesan sandwiches + veggies

Tuesday: Crockpot pork BBQ + sweet potato fries + veggies

Wednesday: Leftover Pork BBQ

Thursday: Grilled Asian Porkchops with pineapple and green beans + rice

Friday: Indian chicken with onions and potatoes + rice

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Out (Baseball game)

 

For lunches I am also planning on making up a batch of my health(ier) chicken salad. I am still tweaking the recipe a bit, but I might share it with you all soon. It is super tasty, and is perfect as a sandwich, with crackers or veggies, or on its own! Plus it makes a ton, so it is perfect to eat throughout the week. 

Well, that is my tentative plan for the week. Again, the month of July is really just about getting back in to healthy habits for me, before I decide on my next goal. 

I hope you all have an awesome week, and I will talk to you soon!

So tell me: What is one meal on your meal plan this week? Any good workouts planned?