Five on Friday

Friday, November 28, 2014

This is post is just a little late.......oops!  It's been a busy day!

1. I came home Tuesday afternoon to a wedding package from my wonderful college minister!  She had such a great influence on my college years and because of that, she knows me so well!
(apron from Anthropologie)

2. I did LOTS of cooking for our multiple Thanksgivings that we attended (and wore my new apron!).  This is the Diabetic Pecan Pie that I made.  Dustin said it tasted great, but I didn't think so :(

3. I got up early this morning and shopped by myself for 5.5 hours and only bought myself two very small items!! (They were needs and on sale....can't pass that up!)  I did, however, go into Anthropologie while they had their big Black Friday sale and not buy myself one single item.  That was huge for me because I saw about a million things that I really, really need!  (hint hint Dust!!)

4. I also played a round of disc golf with my dad after I finished shopping!  I realized I'm a little rusty with my disc throwing, so I'll need to keep practicing before any sponsors start calling me ha!

5. Tomorrow is a BIG day in Alabama--the IRON BOWL!!!  I went to college at Alabama, but I've been a fan since birth!  The game is being played in Tuscaloosa, and we're having a few people over to eat and watch the game.  I'm thinking of cooking this.

 I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!!!

Christmas Gift Ideas

Monday, November 24, 2014

I asked a few of my friends and family members for gift suggestions for this Christmas.  If you're anything like me, you have a hard time thinking of things that you want or thinking of special gifts for loved ones.  Below are the gift ideas that everyone came up with, and I can't wait to share them with you!

1. I think this "special dates" print from cbrannendesign on etsy is a sweet, sentimental, and unique gift. I got this for my mom and and mother-in-law for Christmas. It has the birthday of both spouses, their wedding date, and the birthdays of all of their children, listed chronologically in beautiful calligraphy. At the bottom it says, "What a difference a day makes!" You can also choose from a variety of paper and ink colors, and they are very affordable! Once they're placed in a beautiful frame, they will make the perfect Christmas gift, especially for a mom or grandmother!  (from Sarah Rice)

2. If I could choose one item I really would love to get this year, it would have to be the Erin Condren Life Planner. As chaotic as life is, I like to have an organized schedule of my day to day activities. Not only can you personalize each and every page, it is also customizable to your entire family! This bright, fun and personalized life planner would be a great tool to have to help keep you and you family organized.  (from Kristi Long)

3. I love anything to do with Bath and Body Works. From the 3 wick candles and wallflower scents, to the signature body cream and aromatherapy collection, I feel like anything from Bath and Body Works is a perfect gift to give because everyone loves being pampered! Another reason it's great to give is because there is always a good deal going on! They also give out coupons in your bag once you purchase and even email coupons and daily/weekly deals (plus you can google online coupons and find free shipping, $10 off, etc). You can only use one coupon per purchase, so make small purchases! You can always come back for more later. Gift certificates, lotions, candles, and soap, all are perfect to give this holiday season!  (from Rachel Howard)

4. Some years money is tight for gifts so one of my favorite things to do is make a huge batch of hot chocolate mix, buy a simple coffee mug, and a $5.00 movie. Get a cute little goodie bag and fill it with the hot chocolate mix. Put it in the mug along with the movie and put a bow on it. It's easy, budget friendly, and who doesn't love hot chocolate! (from Lela Tyler)

5. Okay, I guess as I get older, my list gets shorter and the things I want cannot be bought.  Sound familiar?  I read this the other day and someone hit the nail on the head.  After living half a century (sounds old, doesn't it?), I have realized that "things" bought with money either get lost, go out of style, or after you get it, you realize you didn't really want it that bad.  I can go on and on and on. 

Last night, I sat down to read my favorite Southern Living.  I can across the story "Giving Presence."  In it, there was a story of a mother who stopped giving presents that could be wrapped.  BINGO!!!!!  Guess what?  I'm going to suggest to my family that we do the same. They can choose an experience for their single Christmas present. This could be a concert, a road trip--anything that can't be tied up with a bow.

Last Christmas, I gave both of my daughters a "Book of Advice," that I have written things I thought they should know.  There are tips, recipes, and advice from raising babies to taking food to folks when they are sick or if there is a death in a family.  They will be around a lot longer than me, so I wanted them to know I'd be giving them advice long after I'm gone.  What a better way to always be in someone's heart.  I still have these books and will give them back to them at Christmas this year.  As I think of stuff to write in their book, I will take a mini-vacation to their house and write away!  I may even require them to bring them back home once a month when we have a cooking lesson on some item I think they need to know how to prepare.  This will be our Girls Night Out!  (from Barb Helton)

6.  I've been wanting an activity wristband for a long time now, but I could never commit to one.  I've researched everything that's out there and compared them all--from the Fitbit, to the Jawbone UP, to the Nike wristband.  None of them had exactly everything that I wanted. I think it would be neat to keep count of all of my steps throughout the day, but what about if I did an exercise class or did the elliptical one night?  Fitbit recently announced a new wristband:  Fitbit Charge HR.  Not only does this band keep track of your daily steps, but it also tracks other activities, heart rate, has a GPS for running, and a caller ID and watch.  Even though this won't be out in time for a Christmas present, it will be released in January 2015, so it could be bought with Christmas money!  I can't wait to get mine!

Hopefully you were able to find a helpful gift idea for this Christmas season!

A Few Thanksgiving Recipes

Friday, November 21, 2014

This Thanksgiving will be our FIRST married holiday!  I am beyond excited only because we don't have to worry about meeting up to ride together or both of us leaving to go to our separate homes.  This year we're both going back to the same home!!!!!  And this year I'll be  legitimately cooking and responsible for bringing food to family gatherings.  We have 4 (yes, FOUR!!!) Thanksgivings to attend starting Thanksgiving Eve night to Thanksgiving night.  We are going to be so stuffed!!!

I've been Pinteresting like crazy since we got married, and I have a few boards just for food.  I'll be making some of the "regular" Thanksgiving food and trying out a new Pinterest recipe.....or two.  I've listed some of the things I'll be making this year and taking to family functions!

1. Deviled Eggs--You can't ever go wrong with deviled eggs!  These are such a southern staple that I'll have to make a couple dozen!

2. Diabetic Pecan Pie--My husband LOVES pecan pie, and I want him to be able to eat one without over doing it on his sugar.  I actually made this last year, and I think he only had one piece while everyone else ate the rest!  It's pretty good for sugar free!!

3. Crockpot Mac and Cheese--This is a total Pinterest recipe!!!  I'll be trying it out for the first time for Thanksgiving--hope it works!  I've pinned two different recipes for this, but the link is the one I've decided to make.  I'll let y'all know how it goes!  Eeek!!
(Source: Pinterest)
4. Jiffy Corn Casserole--This is a fantastic recipe that is tried and true!  So, so easy and I actually think you can substitute non-fat plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream.  I won't be doing this for Thanksgiving, but if I were to make it for us for supper one night, I would definitely substitute that along with a few other things.

My Weight Loss Journey

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I've always been on the "bigger" side--to put it nicely.  Judging by my school pictures, I started putting on weight in the second grade, and I just continued to gain weight each grade level.  I wasn't really an active child.  I enjoyed riding my bike around the neighborhood and playing outside, but that didn't help anything with the type of food I ate.  (Plus, I honestly think it also has a lot to do with my genetics--BUT, I'm not blaming it all on that!)

When I moved away to Tuscaloosa for college, I had a meal plan for my first two years since I lived on campus.  That meant that if I was hungry at 1:00 AM, I could run over to Paty Hall and go eat at the 24 hour diner, and you bet I did.  Then my senior year hit and I started student teaching.  I have never been so stressed in my life!  I really over ate during that period of my life.  (My student teaching would have to be another post...let's just say I cried everyday and am so happy I survived!)  Add in that I wasn't active AT ALL!!

Fast forward to graduation--I graduated in August of 2010 and something clicked the week before.  I don't know if I was trying on clothes or looking at pictures, but I decided that I was overweight and needed to do something about it. 

Here I am packing to move out of my college apartment and move back home after graduation.  About one month pre-Weight Watchers.  July 2010

I started Weight Watchers!  It was so weird going to the meetings listening to people talk about their eating struggles, but it did help.  I learned helpful tips about snacks that were low points and learned that people struggled like I did.  One thing I loved about Weight Watchers was that it allowed extra points during the week in case you had a birthday to attend, a bridal tea, or if you just wanted to eat a piece of cake.  The most important thing though was to always track your points--even if you took one bite of something..track those points!  (I don't do WW anymore, but it has taught me so much about how I eat and should eat.) 

This is where exercise came into play.  If you exercised, then you got to add back points based on intensity and duration.  I decided running would be the easiest option.  Since 2010, I've gone from only being able to run 30 seconds before I was out of breath to running a half-marathon!  Training and discipline are key--in exercise and weight loss.

I hit my 60 pound weight loss mark in May of 2012.  It may have taken almost 2 years to lose the weight, but I have learned that slow weight loss results in lasting weight loss.  I've added maybe 5-7 pounds back since then, but I've kept it off regardless.  It's a struggle every day since I can never go back to eating the way I used to.  Even after 4 years, I still struggle with wanting to eat a million sweets or over eat.  The title of this post is accurately named because this is a journey that is never-ending for me.  I'll be eating healthy and exercising all my life.

This was taken while I was honeymooning this summer!  July 2014

In conclusion, I've learned this:  "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Super Healthy Peanut Butter Pie!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I love sweets.  I love love LOVE sweets!!  But I can't allow myself to eat so many sweets because I've worked so hard to lose all the weight, and I happen to be married to a diabetic who loves sweets, too!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and altered it a little.  Below is my version (and my own name) of the Pinterest recipe!

Super Healthy Peanut Butter Pie
1 reduced fat graham cracker crust
1 8 oz light cool whip
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup Domino sugar blend
1 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese (softened)
Hershey's syrup (optional)

1. Cream the cream cheese first and slowly add in the sugar while your mixer is running.
2. Add in the cool whip and mix.
3. Add the peanut butter last and mix completely.
4. Spoon into pie crust and smooth.
5. Drizzle the Hershey's syrup on top for looks and freeze.
*You can add more sugar and less peanut butter to sweeten it up if you like better!

Five on Friday

Friday, November 7, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things this week!

1. iT! Collective Jeans--Wow!  These are the most amazing jeans ever!  I am sooo picky about my jeans and how they fit.  I've been a devoted follower of GAP Forever Skinny or Always Skinny Legging Jeans, but the last time I went into GAP to try on those jeans to buy another pair, the fit wasn't the same.  Disappointed, I went home and found a pair of jeans in my closet I had bought about two years ago that I had forgotten about.  They are the iT! Collective Jeans and since I haven't found where they sell them locally, I'll have to order from Nordstrom.  I have the "Lola" Stretch Ultra Skinny Jeans and I think that my next pair will be the "Lauren."  When I say these jeans are a must-have, I mean it!  Yes, they may be a little higher than jeans you're used to buying, but I've never worn more comfortable jeans in my life.

2. Mahogany Teakwood Candle from Bath & Body Works--This was one of my bridesmaid gifts from Rachel's wedding.  Dustin and I have been burning this candle like crazy since she gave it to me!  It's actually the same candle she had in her house, and before the wedding, I commented about how great her house smelled.  She knew that I needed that candle!  

3. The Selection Series--Do you love watching The Bachelor?  If so, this series is for you!  This is a kid's version of The Bachelor, but very clean and age-appropriate.  Prince Maxson has to find a wife, so 35 girls from his country are chosen for the Selection. They will live in the palace and train to be the next princess of Illea.  Along the way there are eliminations and these don't have anything to do with a rose ceremony...haha!  Read this book series!  My seventh grade girls LOVE it!

4. God is in the Grocery Aisle article--Sometimes I think women can over-obsess about food choices.  Did I say sometimes?  I mean all the time.  I'm so guilty of this, too.  If I let myself eat too much of a sweet or snack, I hate myself for days.  Reading this article was so refreshing for me.  Ultimately food cannot make us clean, but only Jesus can do this.  This article reminded me that my joy isn't found in eating healthy or exercising every day that I have scheduled, but my joy is found in Jesus.  This is why I should always be joyful!!!  Go ahead and subscribe to the entire Desiring God blog--you won't regret it!  It's full of Biblically sound articles.

5. Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate--YUM!  These are fabulous to snack on.  I have to make sure I only eat a few at a time....which can be hard!


Back to Back Weddings

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would have thought that June through November of 2014 would be filled with the weddings of my best friends, my sister, and myself, I would have laughed.  Even in college, I never thought that Janie, Mary Beth, and I would be getting married the same year!  I always thought it would be a given that Rachel and I would get married years apart since we're 4 years apart in age.  Who knew?!

Recently, I was the matron of honor in Janie's wedding and Rachel's wedding--two Saturday's in a row!!!!!  Ahh!

Janie's Wedding

Janie chose the perfect date to get married--October 25th (and also my 27th birthday).  Her wedding was beautiful!  It took place at a gorgeous house in Birmingham with an outdoor ceremony (perfect weather) and an outdoor/indoor reception.  It's evident how much she and Chris love each other, and I loved watching Chris watch Janie walk down the aisle.  He was beaming with joy!
I had to steal this photo from Janie's Facebook!  Look at how cute!!

The food was great and the band was so much fun!  Dustin and I loved dancing all night!  It was a great end to a fun birthday!

Fun tidbit:  When Dustin and I arrived home late Saturday night, my mom had decorated our entire apartment for my birthday!  This is something she's done every year of my life, and in college, Janie would decorate!  I loved coming home to balloons, streamers, and "Happy Birthday" signs everywhere!

Rachel's Wedding

Rachel got married the following Saturday after Janie.  Can we say exhausted?  I loved every minute of it, but I'm also happy to put all wedding events behind me!  Now on to a few years ;) 

Rachel was married at First United Methodist Church in Hartselle, and it was the same church that Dustin and I were married three months earlier.  It definitely doesn't feel like it's been that long!  That day, lots of people kept telling me that it felt like they were just there for our wedding a few days before.

The weather for Rachel's wedding was COLD!!!  The sun was shining but the wind was blowing, so I'm pretty sure it stayed around 40 degrees that day!  Pictures outside were brutal!  Rachel was an absolutely gorgeous bride and so calm!  It was so special to stand next to her after she had done the exact same for me just a few months earlier.

They are happy to finally be Mr. and Mrs. Nick Howard!

Rachel and I during her rehearsal dinner!
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