SBC: Thirty Random Facts

For the conclusion of the September Blogging Challenge I’m going to be sharing some random facts about myself. Here’s a review of all the challenges this month:

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  1. I am married to my high school sweetheart. We met when I was in 6th grade and started dating when I was in 11th.
  2. We live next door to my in-laws and across the street from my mom.
  3. We have 12 chickens.
  4. We have one hive of bees, but would like to expand to 10-20 hives in the coming years.
  5. I received the same scholarship to the same university as the Valedictorian of my high school. I took CP classes.
  6. This is the one year anniversary of my LAP BAND surgery. I’ve lost 90lbs this year.
  7. I love the outdoors but I hate getting hot and I hate bugs.
  8. Silverfish are the things of nightmares and I’m terrified of them.
  9. I could sit around doing absolutely nothing all day.
  10. I am in love with judo.
  11. I like beards, especially my husbands.
  12. I have anxiety something terrible.
  13. I’m an introvert but I talk a lot when I’m nervous.
  14. I love video games.
  15. I’m addicted to carbs so I try to keep to a ketogenic diet.
  16. I have 3/4 of a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education.
  17. I spent 3 1/2 years in a research lab for early detection of autism in toddlers while in college. I loved it.
  18. My daughter is named after John & Priscilla Alden who came over to America on the Mayflower.
  19. I got a Twitter again so I wouldn’t have to bother my husband with all my needless rambling all day.
  20. I hate drama and conflict, yet I love to gossip.
  21. This year is the first season of Big Brother that I’ve ever watched.
  22. I play Diner Dash on my tablet. I got the deluxe version.
  23. I have a fear of people not liking me.
  24. I am easily intimidated and usually feel like I’m doing something wrong.
  25. I’m terrible at cleaning the house, but I enjoy having a clean house.
  26. I’m not a morning person or a night person. I’m a sleep person.
  27. I miss being in school and doing homework.
  28. I love having the windows open, even when it’s cold.
  29. I love to go backpacking, but haven’t been in over 3 years.
  30. In April, I will have been married for 5 years. :)

The End! I’ll see you in October.

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SBC: Top 5 Hobbies

Today on the September Blogging Challenge I’m going to share my top 5 hobbies.

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I would define hobbies as something I’m doing when NOT doing what I have to do. So something outside of my normal routine tasks.

Here’s my top 5:

  1. Music: I have played bass clarinet for nearly 15 years. I was in district and all-state band during middle and high school, but hadn’t played since then until last year when I joined the Dalton/Whitfield Community Band. It has been quite wonderful getting to play music and getting to be a band geek again!
  2. Video Games: Almost every night my husband and I play games together. Most often, it’s League of Legends. We also enjoy Terraria, Portal, Borderlands, or for me, The Sims 3. As I mentioned previously, I’m still hoping to get The Sims 4 at some point.
  3. Sewing: I’m not great at it, and I rarely have time to enjoy it, but I like to sew. I like to create something out of nothing.
  4. Hiking/Backpacking: This is another activity I love but haven’t been able to partake in recently. Before kids, Rial and I would go camping pretty frequently. My Valentine’s gift in 2009 was even a Kelty internal-frame backpack–which I LOVE! Once the kids are a little older, I can’t wait to get back on the trail!
  5. Napping: I’m not even going to lie, I love to sleep. I recently told someone, “I’m not a morning person OR a night person, I’m a sleep person.”Napping is one thing I definitely couldn’t get enough of. My spirit animal is a sloth.

I think listing these hobbies and seeing how little I’m able to do them makes me really want to re-prioritize some things in my life. These hobbies are life-giving and I really feel drained without them. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some help with the kids once a week and I’ll be able to start having some “me time.

Until tomorrow, friends!

P.S. I’ve added some handy-dandy social media icons to the top right of the page. Feel free to follow me all over the place so we can really interact!

SBC: What I’m Reading: The Old-Fashioned

Today as a part of the September Blogging Challenge I’m going to be reviewing a book I received from Blogging for Books. If you aren’t in the know, Blogging for Books provides review copies of books in exchange for reviews on blogs and Amazon. Most books I choose are just for me and my personal library. The latest one I received was for Rial. You see, it was almost his birthday, and being low on funds and ideas, I noticed that there was a book available that might interest him. It was a book all about the infamous drink, The Old-Fashioned, aka, Rial’s favorite drink. Over the years, I’ve become quite good and making this drink for him, and when I saw this book available, I knew it would be the perfect gift.

Here’s the synopsis:

A complete history of one of the world’s most iconic cocktails–now the poster child of the modern cocktail revival–with fifty recipes for classic variations as well as contemporary updates.

No single cocktail is as iconic, as beloved, or as discussed and fought-over as the Old-Fashioned. Its formula is simple: just whiskey, bitters, sugar, and ice. But how you combine those ingredients—in what proportion, using which brands, and with what kind of garnish—is the subject of much impassioned debate.

The Old-Fashioned is the spirited, delightfully unexpected story of this renowned and essential drink: its birth as the ur-cocktail in the nineteenth century, darker days in the throes of Prohibition, re-ascension in the 1950s and 1960s (as portrayed and re-popularized by Don Draper on Mad Men), and renaissance as the star of the contemporary craft cocktail movement.

Also featured are more than forty cocktail recipes, including classic variations, regional twists, and contemporary updates from top bartenders around the country. All are accessible, delicious, and elegant in their simplicity, demonstrating the versatility and timelessness of the Old-Fashioned formula.

With its rich history, stunning photography, and impeccable recipes, The Old-Fashioned is a celebration of one of America’s greatest bibulous achievements. It is a necessary addition to any true whiskey- or cocktail-lover’s bookshelf, and destined to become a classic on par with its namesake beverage.

Rial and I have loved reading this book. The history is so interesting, he spent the first few nights reading it out loud to me at bed time. We’ve loved exploring the traditional and contemporary recipes and cannot wait to try many of them out. This is a wonderful gift for the sophisticated man in your life, and it’s awesome for the modern housewife as well!

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

SBC: Favorite Form of Exercise and Why

Here we go for another round of the September Blogging Challenge:

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Just for future reference, I’ve done so many workout programs in my lifetime it’s ridiculous. I’ve done P90X, Turbo Fire, Yoga, running, and anything and everything else you can think of. After a couple weeks I always give up. I’ve never stuck to anything because I hate doing things daily. I hate doing things by myself. I’ve also never thought myself to be athletic. That was, up until a few weeks ago.

Recently, my dad opened a Martial Arts studio and invited me to join his beginner Judo class. I went, apprehensive that I’d do well, and found myself in a class with children a quarter of my age, wearing a gi that my dad wore before I was even born. I felt silly, uncoordinated, and confused for the majority of the first class. But I came back the following week, and I was a little better. And I came back a week later, having improved greatly, and really started to enjoy myself. Last Thursday night I stayed for the beginner class, and the intermediate class, where I was able to really start throwing people who were my size and bigger. I am now completely in love. I’m “doing great for a beginner” and it’s such an amazing stress relief. I love throwing and getting thrown. I love sweating (for the first time ever) and I am in love with the inability to move for days after practice.

This past week, I was able to get my very own gi. I wore the gi pants non-stop. They are so comfortable and now are super soft. I am starting to feel muscle growth for the first time in my life and I’m starting to feel like a real athlete. Judo is now one of my favorite things and I’m honestly quite sorry I didn’t learn sooner. I doubt I’ll ever go to tournaments or competitions, but I’m having fun and learning a lot.

If you’re in the Northwest Georgia area and would like to try out Judo for your self, I’d highly encourage you to check out Martial Traditions.

Review: La Beaute Pure Vitamin C Serum


Today I’ll be reviewing a Vitamin C Serum from La Beaute Pure. Until I received this promotion, I really hadn’t heard anything about Vitamin C Serum. Before doing the review, I read up on it, and learned that it can help firm up your face, and fight free radicals. It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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From La Beaute Pure:

You eat an organic diet, use an organic skincare
-Fades sunspots, dark spots & discolorations
-Prevents free radicals
-Helps Collagen tighten skin
-Fine lines & wrinkles are less noticeable within 2-6 months (results vary)
-Works for up to 72 hours: Does not wash off

I have used this product at night for a while now in addition to my nightly Bare Minerals routine, and I really love the way my skin feels. My skin is clear and soft. To begin with, I did have some issues with breakouts while my skin was adjusting to the product, but after about a week, my face cleared up and I noticed a significant reduction in rough spots on my face.

As this is my only experience with the product, I can’t really compare. I will however, hopefully be able to do some comparison in the future with other brands and let you know how it goes.

Have you ever heard of or used Vitamin C serum? What was your experience?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Things I Want to Learn How to Do

I’ve been a horrible blogger lately. Not to mention I’m pretty much always a horrible blogger, because I’m not a fantastic writer to begin with. Anyhow- in an effort to find my voice, and get some more content on the blog, I’ll be randomly doing some blogging challenges that I find on Pinterest, Google, and elsewhere. Here’s one I’ll be using to finish out the month of September from girlmeetslife.com.

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Today’s blogging challenge prompt was to list some things I’d like to learn how to do. Here it goes:

  • I’d like to learn how to clean. And organize. No really, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, but I’m terribad at keeping our house even moderately clean.
  • I’d like to learn how to really sew. And make real clothes.
  • I’d like to learn how to improve my writing, improve my blogging, and earn a bit more passive income.

Right now, that’s about it. My life is pretty simple but pretty full of just raising these kids, so there’s not much I’ve even thinking about adding at this point, but I think these three things would help improve my current life.

Stay tuned for another writing prompt tomorrow!

 

Review: Caramel Matcha Green Tea Powder

I’ve reviewed Green Tea Powder before, but I received another sample and really enjoyed it. This time it was Caramel Matcha Green Tea from Red Leaf Tea.

From the product information:

For those with an unrepentant and unwavering sweet tooth, there is no better tea than sweet caramel matcha. This fine tea blends the eastern traditions of matcha with the modern caramel flavor to brew a delectable tea that is sweet to take as a mid-morning snack, before lunch aperitif or after dinner relaxing drink. The toned-down caramel matcha is ideal for those who need a sweet tea without adding any extra sugar.
Caramel matcha is the perfect tea for many social occasions where people need to sample a great tasting herbal tea that lends its sweet taste to the palate. It can be  taken with or without snacks because it is the ideal stand-alone tea snack. Caramel matcha brings people together who appreciate its light, buoyant, lingering taste on the palate.
It is the perfect family tea for all members of the family irrespective of their advanced age. Young adventurous kids would identify with its sweet and easy-to-drink flavor. The adults would finds its ability to bring its full-bodied appeal in night time get-togethers, very useful. This is because, caramel matcha is the drink for all seasons and can be used to bring people together in both winter and summer.
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We offer special size 10g of naturally flavored green tea powder ($10 value). Enough to make 5 drinks.
4 calories per serving

 

This green tea powder was delicious, easy to mix, and doesn’t contain artificial flavors or colors. It makes making green tea lattes so simple. I just boil water, add the serving size of powder, and mix with milk.

Green tea is so good for you, and with a powder, it’s incredibly convenient to make as well!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

What Doesn’t Work

Today I weighed 177.2lbs. Onehundredseventysevenpointtwo pounds. I haven’t weighed that in over a month.My jaw literally dropped this morning. What could’ve gone wrong in just a couple of weeks to make my weight rise and my success fall so much? I’ve been thinking really hard about my habits lately, and I’ve compiled a list of things I’m currently doing that are just not working out for me.

  1. Not tracking. When I’m not tracking, I have no idea (well, I have some idea) of what I’m eating. I don’t know how many calories are coming it, I don’t know whether I’m reaching my protein, fat, and carb limits, and I can’t really assess the quality of food I’m eating.
  2. Carbs. No, I don’t believe carbohydrates are the devil, but for me, they just don’t work out. In addition to being difficult to eat due to my Lap Band, when I eat carbs, I bloat, I get cranky, and I eel terrible. So for me it’s a no.
  3. Moderation. I am an all or nothing kind of person. This is the main reason I’ve chosen to limit myself to a Ketogenic diet. This, for me, is around 25g of carbs a day. So many people say, “Every thing in moderation.” This does not work for me and is a main factor for why I had weight loss surgery to begin with. I can’t do moderation.
  4. Working out. For now. I do Judo once a week. I thought I could add more strenuous exercise daily, but I can’t. I know I should, but when I work out, I retain water (as you should) and it makes my weight stall. While I mentally know that it’s water and muscle weight and if I persist, it will drop eventually, I just can’t psychologically do it. When I gain, I give up, and the vicious cycle begins again. So for me, for now, I choose to do my judo class weekly and leave it to that.
  5. Not drinking water. I’m terrible at drinking plain water. I really just don’t like it. But it’s a major contributing factor to weight loss stalls and the sensation of hunger.

I realize this is an incredibly negative post, but I’m in somewhat of a negative mood right now. I’m going to focus on changing the things that don’t work into things that do this week, and I’ll be sure to post that later in the week.

What are some bad habits you have fallen into with fitness, health, or weight loss? What do you need to change to be more successful?

Weekend Wishlist

So… my birthday is in a couple of months, and I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming about what I’d love to have.

A bit of background–my husband and I rarely do gifts. We are not big gift people, and gifts are not usually a huge deal. When we want something, we save up and get it, regardless of the occasion. But lately, there’s a growing amount of things I really want, so I’m going to start a weekly wishlist to let you know what my interests are and to give you some gift-giving ideas for the nerdy, natural, homesteading, stay-at-home mothers in your life. I can’t be the only one.

1. The Sims 4

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I know. I know. It’s not a real game. My husband makes fun of me endlessly for playing and LOVING The Sims. I’ve been a fan since Sims 1, and now I just have to have the latest.

2. Up24 Fitness Tracker

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I’ve been doing a bit of comparison shopping for fitness trackers and it was between a couple bands, and the UP24 has everything I need and the style I’d like.

3. Oneplus One Smartphone

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With Cyanogen built-in from the get-go, this $299 smart phone is one I’d love. I’ve been without a smart phone for a couple years now, just recently getting a “dumb phone” so that I can make calls and text when I’m away from my tablet or computer, but I’d really love a smart phone some time in the near future.

What’s topping your wishlist right now? Since I already received my Erin Condren Life Planner, I have gained a little patience to pull through until I can save up for my wishlist items. I’m sure there’s a lot more that I would love to have, so I’ll update it as I think of things. Have a great weekend!

A Look at the 2014/2015 Erin Condren Life Planner

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In 2011, I dropped what I consider to be a significant amount of cash on a calendar. A paper calender, y’all. Yes, I had a smart phone. I had the Google suite of products and sync’d my contacts, calendar, and email. Yet, I always seemed to be behind and unorganized. I saw something online about the Erin Condren Life Planner and decided to ask for it for Christmas from Rial. When it arrived, I was in love. I loved the stickers, the Morning/Day/Night layout, and all the “extras” that came along: gift labels, personalized stickers, a “keep-it-together” pouch, and the ruler bookmark. I had very little qualms with my Life Planner, and wanted another the next year. Our budget in 2012/2013 did not support this purchase, however, and I’ve been without my beloved Life Planner for over 2 years.

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As you know, we began working towards homeschooling Alden this year and I made the executive decision to include a new Planner in the budget with home school curriculum. Today, my planner arrived. Our post-person must be a sneaky ninja because I was locked in on the tracking page and when it said, “Delivered” I expected it to be out in the mailbox. Nope, on the door step.

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I pulled out my phone, took some pictures, cut the bubble wrap in half (one for each child), and began checking out all the features that have been added since my original Life Planner in 2011.

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For those of you who have never owned a life planner, or haven’t in a while, here are the features I especially LOVE:

  • Laminated Monthly Tabs
  • Clear, Snap-In Ruler bookmark (previously, it was opaque)

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  • Goals on EVERY weekly spread
  • Blank lines on the bottom of each day for logging exercise, meals, to-dos, whatever
  • Double-sided “Keep-It-Together” folder at the back of the calender

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  • Removable perpetual calendar (previously included in the front of the life planner pages)

I keep EVERYTHING in order in my Erin Condren Life Planner. I keep important times and appointments on the monthly spread, as well as more routine-oriented tasks on the weekly spread. I use the Morning sections for our home school tasks. Most of my events happen during the evening slot: band practice, ballet, judo, Pampered Chef. In the miscellaneous list section, I track my weight, my goal weight, and my exercise goals.

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I use the stickers on the monthly pages for important dates, and because I didn’t use all of them from my last life planner, I have plenty to use for the weekly dates as well.

I’m not a super crafty scrapbooker, so you won’t really see me adding a lot of Washi Tape, stickers, or pictures. I’m a planner purist I guess you’d say, and I really just use plain ink pens and the stickers provided. I feel that I’m able to see more and feel more productive that way.

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One feature that I have yet to see anywhere else that I am absolutely IN LOVE with is the theme consistency throughout the planner. In my 2011 life planner, each month would have a different theme, and different designs for the weekly pages. In the new 2014/2015 planner, the Party Pops theme is carried throughout the entire Life Planner. Each month has a color scheme, but the dots are used on every single month. It’s that kind of attention to detail that I love in Erin Condren products.

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Am I the only one still using a paper planner? I think they are really making a comeback, and I’m super excited. I love whipping out my life planner to schedule Pampered Chef shows or doctor’s appointments and getting compliments.

Another cool thing about EC products is the awesome referral program. When you sign up using my link, you get $10 off of ANY order and I get $10 for referring you. Win-Win. Join me in my love affair with all things Erin Condren, won’t you?