Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake

Protein shakes are one of my favorite things ever. They are quick to make, easily customizable, and perfect for on the go. Obviously my love of protein shakes is apparent since it’s a part of my blog name!

 

I have a few go to protein shake recipes that I make a few times a week, I thought it would be fun to make one that was perfect for this time of year. I did my normal base for this protein shake – almond milk, half a frozen banana, ice – but instead of adding PB2 I added 1 drop of peppermint essential oil.

 

I was introduced to essential oils this summer, and although I am very much a beginner in that area I really have been loving them. I love diffusing different blends in my oil diffuser, especially lavender at night, and have been adding some into my water as well. I will tell you this – make sure you know that the oil you are using is OK to ingest. That is one thing I do know, you want to use your oils properly so make sure you read your label and only ingest if the label tells you it’s safe.

 

Back to the protein shake – super easy and yummy, and the little amount of essential oil just gives peppermint flavor that makes it just enough. You can always add more, so start off with just one and add more if you would like. Plus you don’t have to worry about any additional calories or unhealthy additives to give it the peppermint flavor. I hope you enjoy!

8-12 ounces almond milk, or liquid of your choice

1/2 frozen banana

5-10 ice cubes

1 drop peppermint essential oil

1 serving chocolate protein powder
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Do you add anything seasonal to your protein shakes? I would love to hear about it!!

Our Grinch Tree

I had big plans to get our house entirely decorated for Christmas on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I also had big plans to do a fun Christmas decor house tour on the blog, with details of what I had in each room and where I got it. That all went out the window when the stomach bug hit our house the week of Thanksgiving, and between recovering from that, two Thanksgiving celebrations, doing some volunteer work at our church, and a terrible head cold that made it’s way through our family, here we are. 6 days to Christmas and I am going to do one quick Christmas decor post to share my favorite decor in our house, other than our nativity set.

 

When my husband and I first moved in together, we couldn’t afford to spend a bunch of money on Christmas decorations. We bought a $25 pre-lit Christmas tree from Wal-Mart back in 2008 and that was our Christmas tree for as long as I could remember. About 3 years ago we upgraded to a much bigger one, and this tree while old was working just fine. We thought it would be nice to keep this one too and put it in our basement in our previous home, and while deciding how to decorate it my mother-in-law suggested we make it look like a tree from the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

 

I have always liked the movie The Grinch, but when my husband and I first started dating his love for this particular story and movie made me love it more. I have gotten him plenty of Grinch themed gifts over the years since it is his favorite Christmas movie, including an awesome Grinch coffee mug, and making our second tree a Grinch themed tree seemed like a fun idea and perfect for my husband.

 

I started searching in stores for inspiration, as I had seen some pictures on Pinterest but they were too neat. And by neat, I mean they were very nice but too manicured. I wanted something that look like it legitimately came out of Whoville. Big, bold ornaments, lots of color, just a lot of personality. When I had the idea in my head I just ran with it.

 
First, I bought some large peppermint candy ornaments from Hobby Lobby. Then I bought some bigger “Grinch green” ball ornaments, as well as some red and green ornaments in the shapes of presents. I loved how everything was looking, but I only bought those the first year. The second year we had the tree I found some pom pom branches and these jeweled branches you can twist to give it some texture, in addition to some oversized gold and red ornaments. I found a red Christmas top hat as well as some multicolored bead garland and more “Grinch green” ball ornaments. After having all the decor on the tree, it was perfect!!! Exactly like I imagined, and while it took a little bit to come together I was happy I took my time.

 
If you want to do your own Grinch tree, I recommend the following:

 

Make it your own! There are so many beautiful and fun trees to look at for inspiration, but don’t be afraid to just run with your own ideas. My Grinch tree is primarily green, white, and red but also has pops of turquoise, pink, and gold.

 

The bigger the ornaments, the better – Again, this is my own personal opinion, but all of the big ornaments on my small 6.5 foot tree make it look even more like it’s straight out of Whoville. It’s also really fun to buy those big fun ornaments you might not normally buy and put them on a tree, especially the big candy ones.

 

Take your time – It took until just last year for me to finalize my Grinch tree and that is just fine with me! I took the time to find what I wanted and not spend money on something I didn’t love. Also, you can find AMAZING deals on ornaments after Christmas. That is my favorite time to buy decorations, I go to Target and other stores the day after every major holiday and buy whatever decorations I love and then just store them for next year (I also buy gift wrap and gift card holders too!).

 

 

Do you have a fun themed Christmas tree? I would love to see or hear about it in the comments below!

Easy 4 Ingredient Oreo Mint Truffles

I love baking. Every time I think of Christmas, I always think of the baking that goes along with it. I have 4 recipes that are my now perfected Christmas goody recipes that I give to my friends and family, and this is one of them. I really should make them more than once a year… or maybe it’s a good thing I only make them during Christmas time because I could eat 10 of them in one sitting.

 

They are easy to make, delicious, and are only 4 ingredients. All you need is a package of regular Oreo cookies, a block of cream cheese (brought to room temperature), some vanilla almond bark, and a package of Andes Mints.

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I am sure there are 100 different recipes for all different variations of these Oreo truffle balls, but I wanted to share how I do them. After making the truffles, I melt Andes creme de menthe and drizzle them on top. I love that it gives a chocolatey mint flavor to them without being too overwhelmingly minty. I have also seen them made with crushed candy canes on the top. And while I love candy canes, I personally don’t like chunks of hard candy on the tops of these. These are so diverse, you could really play around with the toppings. You can even do green and red candy melts and drizzle them on top for a more festive look!

 

These are definitely not healthy, but since I only make them once a year these are fun holiday treat. On that note, here is the recipe!

 

Crush an entire box of oreo cookies (make sure not to get double stuff!) in a food processor or blender until they are fine. They should be so fine they are just crumbs. Big chunks will make them harder to shape and dip, and harder to mix with the cream cheese.

Mix in the block of room temperature cream cheese with the oreo crumbs until combined. Depending on how big your blender or food processor is, you can add the cream cheese and blend that way. Or, transfer your oreo crumbs to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix.

 

Next, scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet. I use a cookie scoop for this, and then let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. After they sit for 30 minutes, I take them out and roll them in my hands to make balls. You can skip that step if you want, but I found the mixture is a little too sticky right away and if you put them in the fridge for a bit they will be easier to work with. However you choose to do it, when you are done making the balls, freeze or refrigerate them for at least an hour.

 

 

Once they have chilled, melt your vanilla almond bark. I normally do this in a microwave safe bowl versus the stove top. This is personal preference, as it’s harder to burn in the microwave and easier to reheat in the microwave. When I melt in the microwave, I do it in 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each 30 seconds.

This step is easy, just put the ball in the almond bark and roll until it’s covered. Place the coated truffle on the cookie sheet, which you can choose to line with parchment paper or leave unlined, I have done both. The chilling step is super important, because if you don’t let them chill they will break apart very easily in the almond bark.

Once you’re done, melt the Andes mints and drizzle on top. I use a fork to drizzle it, it gives them some cool lines that look really nice but are super easy. Put in the fridge to harden and you’re done!! Once they are hardened, keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days, although I seriously doubt they will last that long.

 

These are great to give as a holiday goodie! Super easy and every time I make them everyone loves them. Would love to hear if you make these and if you made any fun additions!!

Embracing Simplicity this Christmas

I was sitting with my kids in the playroom of our house the other day, and like I do probably at least once a week I thought to myself “Wow my kids have WAY too many toys!” Then I started thinking about the toys they will be getting this Christmas from my husband and I, Santa, and all of our relatives… and like some of you I started to get overwhelmed. WARNING – real life photo ahead of our actual playroom and my kiddos.

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It’s hard for me to share pictures of my playroom in all its glory. I have been trying to break my perfectionist habits, especially when it comes to my kid’s spaces. They are supposed to be messy. They are playing and learning, but you see so many perfectly manicured images of playrooms on social media it can be hard to accept anything less than perfection. But I wanted to share this picture with you all to show you that you are not alone in your mess.

 

There are certain things that I have found as I get older that stress me out more than others. The biggest one for me is clutter, mainly disorganization in general. So as I looked around at my messy, unorganized, overflowing playroom I decided the 10 presents we already had for the kids was going to be enough. 10 presents TOTAL for 2 kids, spent around $120 so they are not big gifts, and I decided I was done. Maybe because my kids are younger I am able to do minimal Christmas gifts, but I have been actively finding ways to keep Jesus the focus of this holiday season.

 

I digress… I wanted to do something more than just the usual give a bunch of gifts and call it a day (already working on an organizing game plan for the playroom, so stay tuned for that!). So, this is what I am focusing on giving my kids this year instead of buying any additional gifts:

 

A focus on giving back – It never ceases to amaze me that God puts me exactly where he wants me to be, when he wants me to be there. The same day I was thinking about how many new toys my kids will be getting for Christmas, I was in the mall with my mom and we walked by a giving tree. It is a local organization that has gift tags on a few Christmas trees, and you pick the tag of someone you want to buy a gift for. It has all age ranges, from newborn girls and boys to special needs adults. You have to return the gift with the assigned gift tag on it the weekend before Christmas, and they have these gifts available for people to pick from. I absolutely love this, and will be having my daughter come with me to pick out the gift and help me wrap it for the age group we picked. Although she’s 3, I want to instill in her now how important it is to give back when you are able.

 

Experiences are what make the season magical – I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my favorite Christmases, none of them are about what gift I got that year. I remember decorating Christmas cookies with my 3 siblings when I was young, and the Christmas concerts at elementary school. I remember one particular Christmas when my mom drove myself and my siblings from South Dakota to Colorado to see my grandparents in blizzard conditions for half of the trip. We made it safely to Colorado, but the fun of the road trip as a kid and spending time with my grandparents are what I remember most. I decided I am going to spend the money on gingerbread houses and baking supplies, going to Christmas festivals, volunteering in our community, and driving around in the car looking at Christmas lights drinking hot cocoa. These are the things I want my kids to remember.

 

Presence over Presents – I saw this during Christmas last year on my social media and I absolutely love this simple phrase. I have found myself going back to this phrase often this year, more than just during the Christmas season. The less I am focused on finding the perfect presents, buying those presents at the perfect price and wrapping them, the more time I have with my family. This year is the least stressful Christmas I have had in the last 5 years that I can remember, and I love it. I haven’t been able to get everything done as quickly as I wanted, but I am not stressed about any of it. It will all get done, and if it doesn’t that’s OK too. I have way higher expectations of the season than my kids do. If certain things don’t get done I will be the only one who knows it.

 

 

All of this boils down to one thing that I want to share – what you are doing is enough. If you want to buy your kids a bunch of gifts, do it! I am not judging anyone who chooses to spoil their kids with a bunch of gifts this Christmas, that is not my intention. Maybe you have older kids and splurged on getting them a tablet or phone this year, or maybe you can finally afford to buy your kids everything they want this year, and that is great! Just because I am choosing not to do that this year doesn’t mean I am judging or think anything is wrong with it (who’s to say I won’t be doing it in the coming years). This year I personally have just been craving simplicity as much as possible.

 

We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, mainly all us moms, to give our kids the perfect Christmas. Your kids will think it’s perfect no matter what you buy them. Spend some time with them, watch a Christmas movie, go look at Christmas lights, play a game while drinking hot cocoa, put together a gingerbread house, the list goes on and on. What makes this season truly special, is slowing down and spending time with those you love most.

Thoughtful (and easy!) Gift Ideas for Women

*** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and love, and by purchasing through my links you are helping support me as a stay at home mom. For more information click here. ***

 

Christmas time is here! And I couldn’t be more excited! If this is your first time here, I have already written a few times about Christmas and I can’t say enough how much I love this time of year.

I thought I would write up a gift inspiration post for those of you still looking for Christmas gift ideas for the woman in your life. I am putting together a few of my favorite things that I use personally and recommend to all of my friends. The best part about them? They are super easy to buy, but very thoughtful and will definitely be a gift anyone on your list will love!

 

Night In Boxes

If you haven’t read my review on the Date Night In Box my husband and I did in November, you are missing out (and can find it here!). Night In Boxes in a subscription date night box company that focuses on having meaningful and romantic date nights at home. I love how thoughtful everything was and it made my husband and I more intentional with our nights at home. They have Date Night In, Faith Night In (religious themed date night), and they also have Kids Night In for the kid(s) in your life. Everything is included (minus dinner!) and I couldn’t think of a more thoughtful gift to give. You can order by clicking here!

 

Fab Fit Fun Box

I haven’t been able to post a review for this box yet, but Fab Fit Fun is a seasonal subscription box filled with surprise goodies that appeal to all different women! The boxes are sent 4 times a year, and you can cancel your membership at any time. They do such a great job of having different items in their seasonal boxes. Their contents focus on health, wellness, beauty, and some fashion items as well. You can find more information here. I would love a box from them as a gift, and as a reader of my blog you can enter SAVETEN in the promo code box at checkout to save an additional $10 on your first box order (how cool is that?!?). You can see what has been in past boxes on their website as well if you are curious on past box contents. #FabFitFunPartner

 

Emily Ley

It’s no secret how much I love Emily’s products. I have posted reviews on 2 of her products so far (the Simplified Planner and her first book Grace, Not Perfection), and I am currently reading her newly released book that came out last month. Emily focuses on living simplified and being intentional each day. From her books to her planners, if someone in your life is craving simplicity and focusing on being intentional with their time you are sure to find something for her here. The planners help keep daily life simple and organized, and her books are something I read often to keep my mind and heart in the right place.

 

I wanted to write a gift inspiration post versus a guide so you can still feel like you are picking the gift yourself. These 3 ideas are sure to get you brownie points with whomever the gift is intended for! Again, so easy but so thoughtful, and ordering now you still have time for them to arrive before Christmas.

 

Do you have any go to thoughtful Christmas gift ideas, or just gift ideas in general? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Simple Ways to Stay Healthy this Christmas

It’s officially Christmas time, which is my favorite time of the year! So many get-togethers are happening, and it is the most popular time of year when people fall off their regular eating and exercise routine. And how can you not? All of the delicious food, the get-togethers, and all the sweets, it is hard to have self control during the holiday season.

 

This is the time of year when most people get off track, and then decide at the beginning of the year, AKA New Year’s Resolution time, is when they will start eating healthy again. While having a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight is great, and you bet I will have a personal weight loss goal too, how much easier would it be to hit your goal if you don’t fall off the wellness wagon this December? I’m not saying you shouldn’t indulge, but I wanted to give you some simple tips that will help balance out the indulgence that most people partake in this time of year.

 

Don’t Drink Your Calories
Or at least limit the beverages you consume that have calories. Just 1 cup of eggnog has around 223 calories. There are about 125 calories in just one 5 oz serving of red wine. If you have one or two servings of these, that can be almost an additional 450 extra calories in just one meal. This doesn’t include any additional food you are eating. Be mindful of drinking your calories, and if you want to indulge try to limit yourself to just one glass.

 

Water Water Water!
This goes hand in hand with the first tip – drink water constantly!! So many people, myself included, confuse hunger with dehydration. You should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water every day, although my personal water intake goal is 90 ounces. A good rule of thumb is to drink 8-10 ounces of water once you start to feel hungry, and if you are still hungry 15 minutes after that your body is truly hungry. This has helped me numerous times when I feel like I need a snack but really my body needed water.

 

Stick with your Workout Routine
If you have been working out consistently 3-5 times a week, don’t stop now! It will be much harder to get back into the swing of things after the holidays if you take a break versus staying active during the Christmas season. If you aren’t able to leave your house, or if you don’t want to because of the cold, there are so many free workout videos on YouTube you can use! I also love Sia Cooper – Diary of a Fit Mommy – she posts great every day workout tips that you can do while doing your laundry, dinner, anytime during your day to incorporate easy daily exercise. She also has great workout programs that you can do from the comfort of your home.

 

Keep the 80/20 Rule – AKA Moderation
If you know you are going to indulge during the day, or later in the week, meal plan accordingly. If you have a party on Friday, make sure you eat clean the rest of the week so you can indulge guilt free on Friday. Or if you want to indulge more than once, or have events on multiple days, make sure you have the calorie allotment for it.

 

Track what you eat
This might be everyone’s least favorite tip, but track everything you are eating. That is truly the only way to know if you are indulging just the right amount or overdoing it a little bit. I love having the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, it is easy to use and you can scan in a food or drink’s barcode and add it that way! You might be surprised how many calories/carbs/fats you are eating in a day, but being more aware of what you are putting in your body helps limit binging.

 

I hope these simple tips help you this holiday season, as they help me personally enjoy daily life and indulge occasionally too! Do you have tips that help you stay on track during the holidays? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Date Night In Box – Review & Giveaway!

*** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and love, and by purchasing through my links you are helping support me as a stay at home mom. For more information click here. ***

 

Before I started blogging, I was searching for easy date night ideas for my husband and I. Having two toddlers, going out for date night isn’t the easiest thing. Not only is it hard to find time, but it can get expensive! Between a babysitter, dinner and a movie, date nights can easily cost $80 if not more. We are lucky to have family and friends in town who offer to look after our kids for no charge, but between busy schedules and just plain exhaustion it’s hard for us to still find the time and energy to make plans for date night.

 

But, I am a firm believer in continuously dating your spouse. My husband and I have been together for almost 11 years, married for 6 of those years, and dating your spouse is so so so important. I’m not saying it is the most important thing, but I honestly feel it should be made a priority especially if you have kids. Finding ways to have alone time with your spouse helps you stay connected and the romance alive once kids are in the picture.

 

So, here I am on Pinterest just a few months ago looking for an easy date night idea that I could possibly do at home after the kids are in bed. That is just the season of life we are in now and that is OK with me. I just want to spend some alone time to connect with my husband, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing that is important to me. I was finding some really cute ideas, and as much as I loved them I just couldn’t find the energy to do any of them. Then, I stumbled upon Night In Boxes.

 

This company has exactly what I needed! A date night all ready to go, minimal planning required. They have Date Night In, which is the box that I picked for this post, Faith Night In, and Kids Night In. Date Night In is exactly what it sounds like, a date night in at home with your significant other. Faith Night In is also a date night in, but is religious based. Kids Night In is an activity box for kids.

 

Night In Boxes is a subscription box service, and you won’t know what you are getting until your box comes in the mail! You can choose to buy just one box, or you can save some money by buying a subscription service to have them delivered every month. Each month a new box is curated for whichever Night In Box you have selected, and has a theme. I decided to try the Date Night In, and this box is the November “Give Thanks” Box. So with the theme of Give Thanks, all of the activities in the box are geared toward this theme.

 

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This is the first Date Night In box my husband and I have tried, and we both loved it. It really enhanced our date night and put such a unique spin on an average “dinner and Netflix” that our normal date night ins include. My box came with a pamphlet of information so you can follow along and set the mood for your date. I would highly recommend looking at this a day before or a few days before your actual date night at home because it has recommendations and tips on how to make your date night special.

 

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Date Night Itinerary with included candle

 

First off, I will start with setting the mood. The pamphlet included in the box has a recommended dinner menu for your date night. This was so well thought out and is developed by a wonderful food blogger specifically for each date night box. This menu for this box had an appetizer, entree, and dessert, as well as options on what to drink. My box came with mulled cider, so it had recipes on how to add alcohol if you would like or how to make a simple cinnamon whip cream to put on the top. I loved the attention to detail with this, because you can truly elevate your date night box with the easy to follow recipes.

 

Not only does the box have a menu recommendation, the pamphlet directs you to an already made Spotify playlist and this month’s box came with a candle. Candlelight, dinner, and a playlist made specifically for you is a great way to set the mood. During dinner, in keeping with the Give Thanks theme, you are encouraged to tell your partner how thankful you are for them. In addition to telling them, it comes with an activity with Post It Notes and a pencil. The Post It Notes say “Thank You For”, and you are supposed to fill them out and leave them in special places for your significant other to find them. I love this, not only so you can verbalize what you are thankful for, but putting them places your spouse won’t find them all right away keeps your date night going past the actual date night.

 

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After the Post It Notes activity, there is a Thankful Mad Libs activity that I enjoyed. Again, it makes you fill in verbs and adjectives to remind you what you should be thankful for. This box came with mulled cider and pumpkin seeds, so we did this activity after dinner and drank our cider and ate our pumpkin seeds. Both were delicious, but that cider is the best cider I have ever had in my life! Notes of apple, pumpkin, and a little licorice made this cider really delicious.

 

To end the date night, this box included a segment with Operation Gratitude which I absolutely love. The end of the pamphlet encourages you to reuse the box by sending it to a member of the military. It comes with a paracord to make a bracelet together with your significant other, as well as see through baggies and a list of items to include in your box for the care package. The address is provided to have it shipped, as well as a website address of where you can get a shipping label provided by Night In Boxes. This was the only part of the box that I was confused on, as my husband and I thought the materials for the bracelet were for us to keep. In rereading the instructions we saw there was only enough for one bracelet and was to be included in the care package to a military member. We had fun making in and included it in the care package, it was just a little confusing at first glance.

 

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Although lengthy, I had to post a full and honest review. My husband and I loved this date night box and **highly** recommend it to anyone who is thinking about trying or gifting it. I loved how simple and thoughtful it was, it really made us take the time to connect and were reminded what we are thankful for in life. The boxes have a new theme every month so you won’t ever get bored, and all the guesswork is taken out for you.

 

Night In Boxes is giving me a box to give away this month! Just in time for the holidays! You can pick from the Date Night In, Faith Night In, Kids Night In, or a gift card to use whenever you see fit! All you have to do is head on over to my blog’s Facebook Page, like this post and comment to win! The giveaway closes on 11/30 at midnight, and the winner will be announced Friday morning 12/1 on my Facebook page.

 

I would love to hear if you have used this company or what box you would pick if you won!!

Preparing your Heart for the Holidays – Week 3 Joy

This is the final installment of my 3 week bible study series, you can find weeks 1 and 2 in the links below.

Week 1 – Mindfulness

Week 2 – Peace

 

This series has been so fun to write and share, and I hope you have been enjoying it so far! I hope this bible study has also helped you personally find quiet time in this busy season.

The last week of this series is focusing on Joy. My daughter loves dancing and singing to the song that goes “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” (ok… maybe I do too!). When singing that song the other day, I realized there is so much joy that the birth of Jesus brings to our lives. I thought that would be the perfect way to end this series, so today is all about joy!

 
Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I just love this verse. So many beautiful words in it – hope, peace (last week’s focus!), and joy. It’s sometimes hard for me to fathom that God cares so much about me that He truly wants me to feel these things. The only thing I have to do is believe and focus on His word.

These words are comforting during the rough seasons of life. Right now my family is mourning a loss, and it can be hard to feel peace or joy, especially this time of the year. Intentionally reading verses of what I need to focus on in those hard times helps realign my mind and heart.

 
Psalms 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Everyday anxiety that goes along with life, but I also struggle with more serious anxiety that can be crippling at times to the point where I don’t want to leave my house. One of the only things that helps me manage my anxiety from day to day is relying on God.

So many times in the Bible the authors stress to rely on God in so many ways. This to me is one of those verses, reminding you that God can bring joy and peace to your soul where anxiety usually lives. This is a great reminder that God can help you with your worries. He can replace all of that anxiety and worry with joy!

 
John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This last verse might not have the actual word joy in it, but knowing that God gave his only Son to us so that we can have eternal life brings me the most joy!

 

I pray that you embrace this season and slow down to enjoy it, because although it can definitely be crazy and stressful and it goes by so fast, there is so much joy in this season. Joy seems to just be in the air this time of year. There is joy in Jesus’ birth, knowing that we have eternal life in Jesus really puts the holiday stress into perspective.

I hope you enjoyed this series, I truly enjoyed writing it and sharing this with all of you! I am starting to plan for a series starting in January and would love some feedback if there is a topic (or topics!) you want me to write on. Praying you and yours have a blessed holiday season!

Simplified Planner – Walk Through & Review

**** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and love. For more information click here. ***

 

I am a planner person. I like to write things down, and checking things off my to-do list as I do them. It makes me feel like I have accomplished more in a day when I can check something off a list.

I found a planner company about 5 years ago that I absolutely adored. I wrote in and used the same type of planner for 2 years in a row and thought I would never switch. It was when I had my daughter that I started falling off using my planner as often as I used to. I used it some, but not daily like I had before. And yet even though I barely used it I still ordered one every year.

Now, I am not one to say negative things about companies so I won’t name the planner company I was using before. They are great planners and they worked for me once, they just don’t work for me in this point in my life right now. After having my second child I fell off the planner wagon all together and in my 2017 planner I have written down 5 things. 5 things total. A few months ago I decided to look for a new planner that would better fit my needs in this season of life.

I had certain criteria that I was looking to meet when picking a new planner. It had to be simple, and for me that meant color coordination, clean lines, and space to accommodate my large handwriting. It needed to be on the somewhat smaller side as I wanted something I could keep in my purse but wouldn’t take up the entire thing. But it couldn’t be too small, because I needed to be able to read it of course! It had to be durable, because kids. And if possible, I wanted it to be pretty. First world problems I know, but who doesn’t like pretty things? It makes you want to use things more, at least for me personally!

 

All of this sounded like easy criteria to meet, but there are THOUSANDS of planners out there! And they are all great and worked for so many other people, but it was information overload for me when I was trying to narrow it down to one planner. Earlier this year I read Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection. I loved the book so much I started following Emily’s Facebook page. I had no idea that she had this wonderful line of planners that her book was actually inspired by called the Simplified Planner. So I decided to go to her website and check them out.

 

 

Looking at this planner on the website I immediately knew it was for me. The title is “Simplified Planner”, if that wasn’t a sign that I needed it in my life. There are two versions of this planner, the daily and weekly planner. The weekly planner gives a general overview of the entire day, versus the daily planner gives a very detailed breakdown of each day by hour. At this point in my life I don’t need to account for every hour of the day, so I decided to go with the weekly planner. I thought it would be fun to take a few pictures and show you what it looks like inside!

 

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Such a pretty little planner, I picked the Fancy Floral print and I adore it. That beautiful navy blue box underneath? That is what it arrived in. I am a sucker for pretty packaging, and this is already a perfect gift in my opinion all you would have to do is put a bow on this! This planner is not only pretty, but very durable. It is the side of a hardcover book as well as the durability of a hardcover book. And the edges are reinforced as well, which is genius because edges get damaged so quickly and can in turn damage pages. So far this planner is already meeting two of my criteria, pretty and durable.

 

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When you open the planner, on the first page there is a spot to put your name. On the next page you will find a note from Emily, but the next few pages are my personal favorites of the planner. Emily Ley is all about simplifying, and on this page she encourages you to simplify your life and recognize daily the things that matter.

 

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On the pages after this, there is a spread with the usual overview of the year along with a list of 2018 major holidays. The next page, a personalized 2018 Bucket List.

 

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In addition to a list maker and planner enthusiast, I find if I don’t write down my goals for the year I either won’t remember what they are. Or I don’t have something to come back to for inspiration or some way to track my progress. I was challenged last year by a friend to write down my goals so I have something to look at to remind myself of what I am working toward and I love how it held me accountable. The fact that this was in my planner, and in the front, is a great way for me to make sure it isn’t loss and something I can look at throughout the year and update as the year progresses.

 

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Very simple layout for the monthly overview, there is enough room on the days to mark important things and room on the left to make any notes. My favorite part you might not see right away, but it’s on the top of the right page. It’s a Simplicity Tip, and they are on every monthly layout of the planner. In the first 8 pages of this planner I am being encouraged and reminded to simplify my life. I am also being challenged, which I actually love. Being challenged to have goals and being reminded of what I am working toward is very rewarding for me personally.

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So, this is what the week layout looks like in the weekly planner. Very simple, and each day of the week is a different color which I love. Each day also has a little box to write your meal in for the day which is definitely going to help me with meal planning! Saturday and Sunday have the least amount of space to write, which I am fine with because those are the days I am spending with my family. Every Sunday there is a check list of simple reminders to help get you mentally prepared and refreshed for the week ahead. Again, I love how encouraging it is and it challenges me to prepare for the week ahead so I won’t get too overwhelmed.

 

At the end of the planner there is about 20 pages worth of space to write notes, lists, reminders, or whatever you decide! I love that it has so much room for this so I can have everything in once space. Did I mention yet that it also comes with stickers?!

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So there you have it! A sneak peek at this wonderful planner and what I love so much about it. It met all of my personal criteria and I cannot wait to start filling it in (more than I already have!). So I don’t seem too bias, I would say the only thing this planner doesn’t have that I wish it did is a place to put a pen. Because the weekly planner is hardbound like a book, there’s no coil (which was a big sell for me, I am not a plan of coil bound planners) so I can’t just put a pen in there. This wasn’t a huge deal for me because I keep a pen in my purse, but just something to keep in mind!

 

I love love love this planner and can’t say enough wonderful things about it! You can find them here, and you can also take a look around at the daily planner which may work perfectly for you! They have so many cute designs for both the weekly and daily planners, it was hard for me to choose which pattern I wanted. If you haven’t yet, I would also check out her book Grace Not Perfection that I also loved (you can find that here). That book ties in with her mission for these planners so wonderfully, and I plan to re-read the book at the beginning of 2018 so I can refocus on simplifying even more in the new year.

 

I also have to let you know that these will be ON SALE Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, so if you have been wanting to buy one this discount is *huge* and something Emily maybe does twice a year. I will share more details on that tomorrow on my Facebook page here.

 

Do you have an Emily Ley Simplified Planner? If so I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below if you have one, or what your favorite planner is!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is normally the kickoff to the season of holidays! It can also be the kickoff to the eating season for most of us. Between holiday parties, baking, and spending time with family, eating can get out of control fast.

I am all about moderation, and will definitely be indulging in a few things on Thanksgiving day. Eating healthy is very important to me right now, and this is one of the things that is going to be on the forefront of my mind this holiday season. If you are like me and want some healthy options this Thanksgiving, I picked my absolute favorite recipes from around the internet to share with you today. I know I will be making at least one of these for Thanksgiving, and the rest during the holiday season to help me stay on track and still feel like I’m indulging!

 

Julia’s Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries

I didn’t like brussel sprouts until earlier this year, and now they are one of my favorite vegetables. My go to recipe is roasting them in the oven with sweet potatoes in a garlic, olive oil, and salt/pepper mixture. This recipe is similar but has a thanksgiving twist with the cranberries and pecans. So yummy!

 

Gimme Some Oven’s Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Who hasn’t at some point in their lives had this green bean casserole? This is one of the classics and Ali over at one of my favorite food blogs – Gimme Some Oven – healthified this holiday classic side dish. Instead of the fried onion topping from a can, she sauted onions in a pan and added some panko breadcrumbs for that crunchy texture. And she makes homemade skinny mushroom sauce versus using cans of cream of mushroom soup.

 

Roasted Cauliflower, Mushroom and Wild Rice “Stuffing”

This stuffing is naturally gluten-free and vegan friendly, but doesn’t compromise on flavor. This is another Thanksgiving side dish from Ali at Gimme Some Oven as well. With wild rice, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cauliflower, and yummy additional toppings that you can customize to your liking this look absolutely delicious! If this isn’t made for Thanksgiving, this is a perfect fall/winter side dish.

 

Slow Cooker Mashed Cauliflower

Potatoes. They are one of my diet pit falls. I love sweets most, but put some mashed potatoes will all the fixings in front of me and I just dig in to that bowl of comfort food. I love whoever decided to turn cauliflower into something that tastes as good as regular potatoes. I also love a good crock pot recipe. This recipe by Tammilee is delicious and easy! A few healthy swaps: ditch the sour cream for plain greek yogurt, less (or no!) cheese, and turkey bacon (or none!) to make this a truly healthy side dish.

 

Skinny Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

There’s no way I wasn’t going to include a dessert on here, and these yummy skinny pumpkin cheesecake bars from Amy’s Healthy Baking look like the perfect healthy dessert this fall. She substitutes brown rice cereal for graham crackers in her crust (genius!) and uses greek yogurt and greek yogurt cream cheese instead of traditional cream cheese to lighten up this cheesecake.

 

I am looking forward to trying all of these recipes and would love to hear from you if you try them or plan on trying them! Check out these lovely ladies blogs as well, they are all super talented (obviously, look at their recipes)! Do you have a favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipe that you do make?