Friday, May 30, 2014

This & That On Friday

This: 

Seeing Jackson's sheer joy in arriving at the beach last weekend was magic. Our Memorial Day Weekend at the beach was by far more successful than last year. Jackson was spoiled by having both grandmothers join us. And, while no weekend with a 3-year-old is drama free, we had an overall great time. More photos to come once I can sneak away with my mom's camera card :)

That:

I met Lara Casey this week! Insert every happy emoji ever! I first found Lara through InstaGram (of course) and she is continually someone who inspires me to be a better mom, wife, believer and entrepreneur. When I saw Lara was going to be in my city speaking at an small(er) event, I grabbed two tickets for me and the Hubs.


This:

This comment Lara made has resonated with me over the last 48 hours. You see, I've been keeping a secret from y'all...I'm working on launching a paper shop featuring prints and invitations. And well, I'm jumping out of my comfort zone left and right lately, but I know that this is what He has placed on my heart. There is so, so much more to share with y'all on this topic, but I'm saving it for another day :)

Today, I just want to encourage you to get out there and DO whatever it is that is being controlled by your fear. That big, looming item on your checklist, bucket list, goal list, whatever it may be is not bigger than His plan for you. Stop letting that fear control you. It will be liberating, I promise.

That:

Jackson Has officially moved from daycare to preschool. Cue the mama tears. The photo on the left is his first day of daycare at 10 weeks and on the right, his last day at 3 years and 2 months. He's made the move from his daycare of two years to his new pre-school better than I could've asked for. I can't lie, I was worried about this move. Heck, I'm just plain not good with change. Thankfully, Jackson is the social butterfly I always suspected he'd be.

He'll be in the 3-K Summer Program class through August and we'll move into his official first day of 3-K after summer. How this kid has grown blows my mind, and I pray that his little heart and mind will thrive in his new environment!

This:

I have plans of strawberry patches, our first weekend at the pool and maybe even a movie in the park tonight. I can feel the sweet spirit of Summer upon us and I'm excited to live out that excitement with Jackson.

Hop over to InstaGram to follow along for the little moments like these (that typically get recapped here)!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Life Created Tuesdays Week 34

Welcome back for another week of Life Created Tuesdays! 

Each and every week, I'm so excited to see you join us in sharing a bit of your life created. Whether it be a recipe, tutorial, life lesson, blog tip, or roundup galore, we want you to share with us. Come here, or It's A Vol, every Monday at 9:00 p.m. EST to link your latest posts with the Life Created link party.

For those of you joining for the first time, don't be shy! We are here to create a community! Check out your fellow bloggers' posts and leave a comment on what you love. We're here to build each other up! For those of you who link up each week, thanks for coming back again!

Let's kick off week THIRTY FOUR of Life Created Tuesdays with this week's features!


1. Amy from Serving Pink Lemonade shared this easy adorable $3 Nursery Art!

2. Sarah from Nurse Loves Farmer shared these delicious Honey Garlic BBQ Pork Ribs!


3. Cathy from Three Kids and a Fish shared this sinfully yummy Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake!

4. Erica from Write of Passage shared this cute and afordable Table and Chair Set for the Den!


If you've been featured feel free to grab a "featured" button for your page or sidebar!


Rules & Regs
1) Please link back to either Sarah or me in the form of a link or the button below. We work hard for y'all so we really appreciate it when you link back!
2) Please link directly to a specific blog post and not your blog's main page.
3) NO giveaways or shop links. Period. End of discussion. Violators will be removed.
4) Posting here implies that you give permission for your blog post (including photos) to be featured the next week. We will NEVER remove a watermark or pass your content off as our or own and we will always provide a visible link back to your blog.

5) Posting here gives permission to be added to the Life Created email list. This is one email that goes out every week once the link-up is live. If you do not want to be added to this list but still want to link up please email me or Sarah.



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25 Before 27.

The nice thing about having a blog is having something documented to look back on. How often do we read this about blogging? Pretty much all!the!time! But, to be honest, I don't often go back to read my posts unless of course we're entering the new year. 

In the rare event of looking back through the last couple years of posts Friday, I happened up my 25 Before 26 post. It was in that moment I turned to my husband and realized, I am 26! In fact, I'm halfway to 27! Once that sunk in, I thought what better time than now to make my way through this list once and for all. 

1. Find a balance in contentment and aspirations.

In this season of my life, to find balance between contentment and aspirations is  to assure 
myself that coaching my kid through pooping in the potty and seeking a life outside the title "mom" is good and can be done through His grace. I think this goal will be a long-term goal, though I've made strides in this department recently.

2. Take Jackson to the beach.

We did this! The family weekend I had in mind last Memorial Day Weekend went down in the history books as a fail. No, let's call it a learning lesson. From my brother having emergency surgery to our child NOT sleeping but one hour of the night, I am holding out that this year's trip to Edisto will be more successful.

3. Embrace my quarter-life crisis.

Done and done. Post-25 hasn't been so bad after all.

4. Be better about writing thank you cards.

My Grandmother would be so disappointed - I haven't made this (or just letters in general) more of a priority. Must change this!

5. Go to a blogging conference.

BlogHer 13! I did this. And? Had the time of my life. To wrap my arms around one of my best blogging friends, Sarah, was a gift in itself. To spend three days soaking up this community with her for three days? Irreplaceable. As this year's BlogHer conference gets closer, we're both getting sentimental about not attending. 


6. Finish decorating our house.

There's been progress! (see: DIY Gallery Wall) Being a homeowner is an interesting adventure. Due to strict budgeting this is a slow but steady task. I will say the progress made is great. We've broken down the nursery which is now a "big boy room" in the guest room - one wall in there is still to be done. Jackson's bathroom has had a makeover. To top it off, Brandon has finished off a handful of awesome DIY projects for the house.

7. Complete Project PCOS.

Again, this is an ongoing item. For me Project PCOS is the continual battle against that diagnosis. My hit and miss weight-loss journey is a focus for me this year. Moving my perspective from a weight-loss goal to an overall healthier life has made all the difference thus far. 

8. Support a charity.

Need to do this!

9. Run a 5k. I'm thinking the color run.

See Answer No. 7.

10. Travel with my husband.

We did this! We traveled to Washington, D.C. for this year's inauguration and attended the SC State Society's Inaugural Ball. Such a fun experience to share with him and my family!

11. Have a day in Charleston with my mom.

Have not done this. 

12. Take a professional leap of faith.

In the works!! YAY!

13. Have a girls night with my best friend.

Haven't done this either. 

14. Be in a city I've never been to.

Last year's BlogHer Conference was held in Chicago and I was SO thankful for the chance for my first (certainly not last) trip to that city!

15. Step foot in an SEC football stadium, during a game.

Sadly, this hasn't happened. We did make it to a baseball game last year if that counts for anything.

16. Learn not to linger on my mistakes.

On big picture mistakes, I've made much progress. But in the small hour-to-hour mishaps, I still have much room for improvement. 

17. Meet a blog friend in real life.

Yes, yes and YES! I hugged on so many blog friends at BlogHer last year. To top it off, I found that one of my blog friends lives not far from me and we now grab lunch every so often (aka not enough) and attend the same church. I'm so incredibly thankful for the ladies this community has introduced me to!

18. Read at least three books.

*hangs head in shame* I've read maybe two books. I do, however, have three I'm so tempted to buy but am always so bad about finishing!

19. Build a playground in our backyard.

Still hassling the husband to get this done.

20. Visit a vineyard.

My wine-loving self has somehow NOT done this. Perhaps a trip to the Biltmore is due soon.

21. Go to a concert.

Cowboy boots, brews and Jason Aldean. As Christmas gift Brandon and I treated ourself to pretty good seats at this concert in January. Such a great night!

22. Spend a weekend away just the three of us {and maybe the dogs}.

Again, Memorial Day 2013. Such a fail. We'll retry a weekend this year, but I can promise you it won't be this one. 


23. Splurge on a beautiful purse. Not a diaper bag.

Oh how I love and loathe life on a serious budget. If I'm ever going to get our house on the market and afford that second baby (ahem, the childcare) we're dreaming of then no splurges any time soon.

24. Take too many photos.

My "big girl" camera has been a bit neglected this year, but Jackson and I are loving the iPhone camera.

25. Give it to God. All of it. The bliss, the battle, the faith. 

The Lord has done big things on my heart since making this list in 2012. Big, big things. And I'm so grateful. I'll continue to surrender it all to Him, knowing everything is made perfect in His timing. 

Now, off to work on living this list!

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thin Mint Milkshake Recipe

Today's Thin Mint Milkshake will make any day better! With only a handful of ingredients and the hot summer months upon us, this milkshake is the perfect afternoon treat.


This recipe began with a stroke of great luck. You see, at work we have one area of kitchen counter that is the "Bermuda Triangle" of kitchen space. By this I mean if a food or item (cup, coffee mug, speciality food item, ect) is placed within this square footage it's 100% up for grabs no questions asked. 

Wouldn't you know it was the luckiest of lucky moments when I went past the Bermuda Triangle and spotted an unopen box of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. UNOPEN! I did a double take at the box, took a look around to ensure it had surely been placed up for grabs and then ran it back to my office lickity split. 


I wasn't going to share this, not one bit!

What are the chances of coming across an entire box of Thin Mints a month after Girl Scout Cookie season? That's got to be one in a million! So, while I wanted to sit at my desk and munch away while editing briefs, I had a bit of willpower and took them home for something even better - a milkshake.

Of course, Pinterest inspired this idea, as did the 90+ weather we're already seeing.  In my house, when the weather gets hot, the ice cream comes out.


There are two ways to take on the Thin Mint Milkshake: with chocolate ice cream or vanilla. 

The verdict in our home is split. I prefer the chocolate ice cream and the boys prefer vanilla. 

Pro's to the chocolate ice cream: it really tastes like a huge Thin Mint chilled beverage! The vanilla? It's more of just a mint shake not Thin Mint, per say. Does that make sense? The chocolate ice cream just drove home the classic Girl Scouts' Thin Mint Cookie as opposed to the vanilla. 


Also? The chocolate ice cream makes for a prettier shake. It had to be said.


Thin Mint Milkshake


Ingredients

3 cups chocolate (or vanilla) ice cream 
1¼ cups milk
8-10 thin mint cookies (can also use the store brand)
Whipped Cream
2 Thin Mints, crushed for garnish

Directions

In blender, combine ice cream, milk, and thin mint cookies. Blend until completely combined on high speed. 
Pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed Thin Mints (and/or a whole Thin Mint!).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life Created Tuesdays Week 32

Welcome back for another week of Life Created Tuesdays! 

Each and every week, I'm so excited to see you join us in sharing a bit of your life created. Whether it be a recipe, tutorial, life lesson, blog tip, or roundup galore, we want you to share with us. Come here, or It's A Vol, every Monday at 9:00 p.m. EST to link your latest posts with the Life Created link party.

For those of you joining for the first time, don't be shy! We are here to create a community! Check out your fellow bloggers' posts and leave a comment on what you love. We're here to build each other up! For those of you who link up each week, thanks for coming back again!

Let's kick off week THIRTY THREE of Life Created Tuesdays with this week's features!

1. Bridget from What's Cooking in the Burbs shared this yummy Four Cheese Taco Pasta!

2. Amy from Delineate Your Dwelling shared this adorable Graphic Print!


3. Blair from The Seasoned Mom shared this refreshing Cranberry Lime Margaritas!


4. Ashley from Leaving the Rut shared this savory Easy Beef Marinade!


If you've been featured feel free to grab a "featured" button for your page or sidebar!


Rules & Regs
1) Please link back to either Sarah or me in the form of a link or the button below. We work hard for y'all so we really appreciate it when you link back!
2) Please link directly to a specific blog post and not your blog's main page.
3) NO giveaways or shop links. Period. End of discussion. Violators will be removed.
4) Posting here implies that you give permission for your blog post (including photos) to be featured the next week. We will NEVER remove a watermark or pass your content off as our or own and we will always provide a visible link back to your blog.

5) Posting here gives permission to be added to the Life Created email list. This is one email that goes out every week once the link-up is live. If you do not want to be added to this list but still want to link up please email me or Sarah.



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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Best Kind of Friend {A Wedding Recap}

There are some friends in your life who you almost expect, and then there are those that can only be part of God’s bigger plan. For me, Philip is one of those God-placed friends. I met Philip in our Junior High School English class and we were quick friends - mainly because he’s a talker. What I didn’t know that day in English class is that so much of His plan had just been thrown into motion for each of our lives. 

When our high school chapter ended and our college season was in full swing, I found myself in Tuscaloosa and he in Nashville, his original hometown. To be near one another was such a comfort, especially considering how far from family we were. So, one weekend, I made my very first trip to Nashville for the official tour of his hometown.  

I will always and forever vividly remember that weekend. Those three days during Martin Luther King weekend my life was forever changed.  Sunday morning while at his childhood church, we ran into the woman who would be my future mother-in-law where I got Brandon’s number and she said that he’d love to catch up with Philip and his family. That was eight years ago. 

The seasons of life we’ve walked together in that time have been both challenging and rewarding in so many ways. Our friendship is one I treasure the most in my life. From introducing me to my husband, to the night he gave Brandon “the speech” on if he ever hurt me following our engagement, to the first time he met our son (his God-Son), to the day he told us he’d met the one and he was ready to find her a ring. I look back and couldn’t imagine my life without him. 

And, while he has walked by me and Brandon through our marriage thus far, I was so honored that he’d asked our family to be part of his big day. Brandon was a groomsman and Jackson the ring bearer. Me? The one making sure the groom actually arrived when and where he was told to be. 


Philip and Allyson were married at Front Porch Farms, a venue that many a famous couple have chosen as well, just additional excitement for the big day! Jackson was a piece of work the day of the wedding, and we’ll just say it was tough to keep him contained and with few grass stains before the ceremony. 


While I’m fairly certain Jackson smiled for ZERO photos and did in fact dive down the aisle, he seemed to be considered a successful ring bearer. As we sat on the first row with family, my son chose that moment to loudly sing “I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.” So, off he and I went to observe the wedding from a few hundred feet away. 


You'll see his only smiles were bribed with leftover Easter candy. Grammie came to the rescue, whisking the ring bearer off after the ceremony so that Brandon and I could celebrate the night away.  And celebrate we did. 



I’m a bit of a sucker for a good wedding and I knew Allyson would ensure it was one we’d not forget. While that day was so nice, I think I’m most grateful that we’ve seen each other through yet another milestone. And to top it off, Philip has found a kind, intelligent, beautiful woman to share his life with that loves on his friends just as he does - whole heartedly. 


Yes, it was exhausting to keep up with the ring bearer on a farm. And yes, that seven hour drive to Nashville just about does us in every time. But the love and memories made in that weekend were worth a million times more than any of those trivial hardships. 

I pray for many more years with Philip and Allyson in our family’s story, and that maybe even one day we’ll reside in the same city again. Until then, we’ll love on them from afar and be grateful for those God-planned friendships that are bigger than any plan we could make for ourselves.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Life Created Tuesdays Week 32

Hooray! We're back for another week of Life Created Tuesdays! 

Each and every week, I'm so excited to see you join us in sharing a bit of your life created. Whether it be a recipe, tutorial, life lesson, blog tip, or roundup galore, we want you to share with us. Come here, or It's A Vol, every Monday at 9:00 p.m. EST to link your latest posts with the Life Created link party.

For those of you joining for the first time, don't be shy! We are here to create a community! Check out your fellow bloggers' posts and leave a comment on what you love. We're here to build each other up! For those of you who link up each week, thanks for coming back again!

Let's kick off week THIRTY TWO of Life Created Tuesdays with this week's features!

1. Naush from Doodle Buddies shared these adorable Upcycled Pallet Signs! Perfect for perking up your home or garden!


2. Ashley from Leaving the Rut shared this recipe for The Best Poundcake Ever! Yummy! There is something about pound cake that says Spring to me!



3. Julia from Sum of Their Stories shared this fun Cornishware Ruffled Shopping Bag! Perfect for perking up trips to the grocery store!


4. Kimberly from Lou Lou Girls shared this yummy Chicken Veggie Pasta! Perfect for those crazy Summer nights!

If you've been featured feel free to grab a "featured" button for your page or sidebar!


Rules & Regs
1) Please link back to either Sarah or me in the form of a link or the button below. We work hard for y'all so we really appreciate it when you link back!

2) Please link directly to a specific blog post and not your blog's main page.
3) NO giveaways or shop links. Period. End of discussion. Violators will be removed.
4) Posting here implies that you give permission for your blog post (including photos) to be featured the next week. We will NEVER remove a watermark or pass your content off as our or own and we will always provide a visible link back to your blog.

5) Posting here gives permission to be added to the Life Created email list. This is one email that goes out every week once the link-up is live. If you do not want to be added to this list but still want to link up please email me or Sarah.



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Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos Recipe

Happiest of Cinco De Mayos to you! I'm dropping in today to share my family's all-time favorite taco dishes!


It's been so long since I found this recipe that I can't seem to even track the original pin. Needless to say, this is simple and a win every!single!time! As a working mom, I typically have at most 30 minutes to get home and prepare dinner before my toddler has lost his mind throwing a tantrum that there's no longer Easter candy left around the house for munching.

So a crockpot recipe, especially for a Monday, is just the best.

Our family prefers this chicken served on a crunchy shell with extra guac (or even better: fresh avocado). I often save the left over chicken to serve over salads for my lunch the remainder of the week :)

I do believe, we'll be serving these with a side of Chuy's Copycat Creamy Jalapeño and a frozen margarita tonight! Ole!


Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos 

Ingredients

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 packet ranch packet
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can chicken broth

Directions

Put frozen chicken breasts in crockpot. In separate bowl mix together chicken broth, ranch packet and one taco seasoning packet until blended. These ingredients won't completely mix, but just use your good judgment. Pour over the chicken in crockpot. Cook on low for 5 hours. 

Shred chicken in crockpot and let sit another 30 minutes.  

Serve with crunchy shells and avocado. 

Looking for other Cinco de Mayo Recipes





linking up with Wake Up Wednesdays, Marvelous Mondays

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Chuy's Copycat Creamy Jalapeño

Get excited, this Chuy's Copycat Creamy Jalapeño is addictive as a dip or served over your favorite Mexican dish!


I can count the times I've been to Chuy's on one hand, but one thing I know for certain is that you can't go wrong with Creamy Jalapeño. Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno, served as a dip, is a bit of secret item on their recipe. The thing is, we don't have a Chuy's in our current town, so I scoured the inter-webs for a recipe to bring it into my kitchen!


I feel like I'm always telling you "it's an easy recipe." But, OMG, there's literally only 1 step to making this recipe - pour ingredients in blender and blend. The result is something just short of heaven. 

One batch of this recipe served our family for Taco Tuesdays and will be used again over an upcoming enchilada recipe for our Cinco de Mayo celebrations! :)


Chuys Creamy Jalapeño 

recipe from Fun Home Things

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 oz can chopped jalapeños, drained
4 oz. can chopped green chiles, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Directions

Pour all ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth. Serve with chips.


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Thursday, May 1, 2014

31 Day Scripture Challenge #lampandlight

It’s almost hard to remember days where I didn’t spend time in His word, but the reality of it is that those days were just over two years ago. Prior to spotting the #shereadstruth hashtag in my InstaGram feed, I spent little to no time in His word on a daily or even weekly basis. However, through the encouragement of that one little hashtag and the community that’s grown around it, I’ve found a home in my Bible (and of course the You Version app). 

To put into words how daily time in His word has changed me is tough. Mainly because on the outside life is still bustling, patience is still thin and days are still filled with obstacles, challenges and, well, sins. But if you were to take a closer look at my heart, oh how it has grown in the days since I’ve added time in the Bible to my daily activities. 



When Kristen presented the opportunity to commit myself, along with a community, to reading the Bible every day during the month of May I was a bit anxious in preparations. In coming out of Lent my mind was fizzled with all His glory. During Lent, I took on studying not one but two devotional plans. This proved to be so good to my soul during those 40 days, but I was mentally exhausted after Easter celebrations. 

With a bit of time to exhale this last week since Easter, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to take on more of His grace; grace that I’ve decided to seek by joining the 31 Day Scripture Challenge.



The idea is simple: spend time in your Bible for 31 days, snap a photo of it and share it socially using the hashtag #lampandlight to encourage others joining in the challenge. 

There’s no devotional plan or book you must read, just the encouragement to sit down and study His word. I’ve chosen to dedicate the next 31 days to reading through the book of Pslams and am pretty excited about it. 

If you’ve been feeling the need for something, perhaps this challenge is for you too. For more details, more encouragement hop over to Kristen’s blog, Kristen Schmucker. I hope you’ll join in on the 31 Day Scripture Challenge! If you do, leave a comment below so we can encourage each other through this month :)