Monday, October 15, 2018

Weekend Recap: Super Low Key

Hey all!  Coming at you live on Monday morning.  Usually I get my posts done ahead of time, but yesterday it did not happen.

This weekend was super low much so that I wasn't even sure if it warranted a blog post!  But I figured I would just keep it short and sweet with a few highlights.

I did my second CYCLEBAR class Saturday morning.  Oh my goodness, was it hard!  I don't know if I was just in better shape for my first class, or what, but this one was a struggle.  Still really enjoyed it's definitely a great way to start off Saturday!

I got sucked into a bunch of cheesy romance novel on Kindle Unlimited.  It really is such a good deal, if you have a Kindle and are a fast reader.  $9.99 / month, and all the book that fall under the Unlimited branch are free!

I am in need of new glasses, so I ordered 5 to try on through Warby Parker.  I am really excited to get them, and hopefully find a good pair!

I made another recipe from Magnolia Table last night, and it was sooo delicious.  My only complaint with that cookbook is the fact that it does not stay open well, at all.  Definitely need a cookbook stand with it!  But all 3 recipes I have made thus far have been nothing short of amazing.  SO GOOD!

If you are looking for a cute (albeit super cheesy) fall movie, I highly recommend Falling For You on Hallmark.  I watched it last night and it was a winner!

Anddddd, while this isn't technically from the weekend, I saw this morning that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a baby this spring.  How exciting!

Linking up with Biana anLindsay.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Favorites: Home Updates, A New Follow, Blog Posts & Link Up Reminder

Hey all, happy Friday!  I hope everyone had a great week!

1.  I mentioned this on Monday in my weekend recap, but on my way back from my parents this past Sunday, I brought home some goodies, the biggest item being this desk my dad redid for me!  I plan to make an office in my loft area, and this is the perfect thing to start with.  I have had this IKEA wicker chair for what seems like forever - I think since college - and my mom suggested using it for a desk chair.  I really like the way it adds some texture to the area, and the best part is that I didn't have to go out and buy anything new!  Gotta love 'shopping' your own things.  I hope to spend part of the weekend getting my desk set up.  It'll be so nice to have a central location for my computer and office-type items.  Just writing this has me excited to get going on it!

2.  Along with the desk, I also brought back a rug my mom found for me at Walmart.  I have been looking for something for my half bath, but never saw anything that I really loved.  My mom was at Walmart one day, and found this awesome rag rug.  The variations of blue in it are super pretty and go really, really well with my wall paint.  I was thinking I might have to just go with a plain color, one that goes with my towel, but I am really glad that I didn't and was able to get something that adds a bit of interest.  Another new addition to the bathroom is a Kleenex box cover.  It matches my trash can almost perfectly, and adds both warmth and texture.  I plan to put this on the back of the toliet, but right now I have some pumpkins there for a little hint of fall, so as soon as those are gone, it'll go there.

3.  If you are looking for someone new to follow on instagram, I highly suggest Mark Allen Inspired.  He makes the neatest wall art using windows and quotes.  I came across his stuff last weekend at the Kane County Flea Market, and snapped a picture of his contact info for later on.  I don't have a place in mind for a piece yet, but I will be finding one, because I think his stuff is so cool.  His feed is really great, too, and it doesn't just include his art, it also includes home design.  Just very pretty, pretty pictures.

4.  This week's batch of blog posts were some of my favorites, too.  First up, recounting a super great weekend home, celebrating my mom's birthday.  Not only did I get to see my parents, I got to see my grandma and my aunt, too!  Makes going home even sweeter.  

Tuesday was my monthly book review...I had to restrain myself from requesting all the books from the library after reading the link up posts.  I already have way too many books checked out from the library, and this week I added even more.  I always tell myself when I go to pick up holds (and already have a bunch of books checked out), that I should not go any further than the hold section and then self check out.  But undoubtedly I will find my way to the Bestsellers / New Releases section, and then onto see if my favorite authors have any books that I haven't read yet.  And end up walking out with 5 (or more) books, rather than the 2 I went in for.  Never fails.

Wednesday was all about recipe sharing and meal planning.  Something I could just go on and on out.  I love talking recipes and meal planning.  I learned a neat tip, too, reading one of the posts.  I can't remember who it was, but they mentioned have a garbage bowl.  That way, when you are chopping a bunch of stuff, or prepping things, you have a big bowl that holds all the scraps.  Then at the end, you just dump it all at once.  Seems like it would be a lot more efficient than what I currently do now, which is move to and from the garbage the whole time.  Think this would help with my dropping little things, too!

I skipped out on Thursday this week, knowing that work was going to get a bit busy, and I would probably be pretty beat by the time I got home.  Surprisingly, I didn't end up having to work that late, so I caught up on some shows.  And had a glass of wine.  While enjoying the fresh, cool air with the windows open.  It was soooo lovely.  Fall has finally made it to St. Louis!

5.  Somehow we are already upon the 3rd week in October, which means next Thursday is the Girl Chat link up.  This month we are sharing a DIY or craft project.  I am hoping to finally get my post up about the DIY board and batten wall my dad and I did.  I still can't get over how great it turned out...definitely one of those big 'wow' factors, I think!  So, if you have a project or craft that you have done in the past, or a new one you would like to share, we'd love for you to link up!

That's it for me today...I am hoping to have a super productive weekend.  Plans are pretty light, as I had originally blocked off this weekend for a visit from my brother and his family.  It ended up working out better for them to come next month, so I am (hopefully) going to make the best of it by getting things done, catching another CYCLEBAR class, and of course, relaxing.  Have a good one! 

Linking up with AndreaErikaAndreaand Katie.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How I...Share Recipes & Meal Plan

It's been awhile since I linked up with Shay and Erika for their 'How We...' link up!  I've forgotten quite a bit, and sometimes their topics aren't quite applicable for me.  This one, however, I was SO excited about.  Because I LOVE talking recipes, and meal planning.  I can spend hours perusing Pinterest for recipes, flipping through cookbooks, and trying to come up with what to make next!

So first up, how I share recipes.  There are two main ways I share recipes and both ways on with my blog.  I share favorite recipes (usually family recipes) in posts, and then the past year and a half or so, I have been doing (almost) monthly recipe round ups.  It's really come in handy having family favorites on the blog.  Just this weekend, I was talking to my brother and he was at the grocery store, stocking up on ingredients to make a few favorites for football Sunday.  Neither of us could remember exactly all the ingredients used for nacho cheese dip off the top of our heads, but I knew it was on the blog, so I told him to look there.  I have done that myself when at the store, too...just super handy.

The monthly round up is both great for helping me remember what new recipes I have tried and if I liked them / want to make them again.  My hope is that it is also beneficial for you as a reader.  I know that I am always looking for recommendations of new recipes to try, but often when you find something online, the comments are more from people who haven't yet tried it, but think it looks good, so you don't really get any actual feedback (other than someone saying it looks good).  So I like to think that these posts are as if I were talking with a friend in person about recent recipes well as helping myself keep things straight!  

And speaking of keeping things straight, I haven't been as good about this, but I do have a 'Tried and True' board on my Pinterest.  I need to update it to be a more current, but it's basically on there for me to pin recipes that I have tried and liked.  That way if I want to reference a recipe again or send it to someone, then I can go back and look through that board, rather than my main recipes board, which is always getting new stuff pinned to it.  

When I find recipes I really like, I usually take the time to put them on a recipe card, too.  I like to have a paper copy of recipes, because a lot of times I end up being mid recipe, with my hands all gross and my phone / computer / iPad locks up, just when I need to see the instructions.  I tried to remember to print them out, but only if they are really good do they get transferred over to a recipe card to go in my recipe box.  This way they are all in one place and I don't have a million papers all over.

One thing my sister in law does, which I think is really smart, is she makes notes in her cookbooks.  This way she can say if they like it, what she might have done different...just anything, and it's all right there on the page for when she goes back to it.

As far as meal planning goes, this is something I am hit or miss with.  Some weeks I do super good at meal planning (and sticking to it), and other weeks it doesn't get done, or my planning get thrown out the window.  It just depends.  However, when I am 'on' it, this is how it goes.  

I usually start thinking about the next week's meal planning mid week the week before.  I used to wait and do it on the weekend, but I would find myself blanking on what to make, which would make it seem more of a chore and take way longer to get done than if I thought about it throughout the week.  So about Wednesday (or even before), I start thinking of the next week.  What is going on with work, if I have anything in the evenings...that type of stuff to see what I need to plan for.  I usually allow for one day eating out or leftovers.  This is something I have learned I need to do - I used to plan a meal for every night, but that just isn't realistic.  Too many leftovers, and too many nights where I had something planned but ended up grabbing food to go.  I typically try to do something simpler on Monday, whether it be a crock pot meal, baking something I had prepped over the weekend, or like this week, I made hamburgers.  This just makes start of the work week a bit easier.  New recipes are usually reserved for the weekends, a lot of times on Sundays.  This gives me ample time to put it together and try something new, because undoubtedly the first time I make a recipe it takes way longer than the time it actually calls for, with all the referring back to the recipe I need to do, etc.  Sometimes I cut down recipes so that I don't have a lot of leftovers, but when I do end up with leftovers, those are usually reserved for lunches, both during the work week, and on the weekends.  Or for a busy night during the week.

So broken down, my meal planning looks a lot like this:
Sunday - new recipe / more time consuming recipe
Monday - something simple
Tuesday - regular recipe
Wednesday - regular recipe / leftovers
Thursday - out / leftovers
Friday - out / leftovers
Saturday - new recipe / leftovers

More is this weeks:
Sunday - ordered out
Monday - hamburgers, roasted potatoes, salad
Tuesday - chicken enchiladas, rice
Wednesday - leftover enchiladas
Thursday - leftover enchiladas / frozen pizza
Friday - leftovers (burger, enchiladas, or pizza)
Saturday - leftovers

It looks a little bit different than what I outlined, but starting on Wednesday, things get pretty busy at work, so I am keeping things simple.  And enchiladas are one of those meals I can eat and eat on the leftovers!

Grocery shopping is normally done on Sunday, with smaller trips throughout the week if I forgot something, or end up changing what I am making.  Occasionally I will stop at Trader Joe's on a week night to do a little shopping - that place is always crazy on the weekends, so if I want to shop there, I try to avoid Saturday / Sunday crowds.  And something about that store makes me relax after a day at work, haha!  So many neat things!  

Right now, I plan / shop for 1 week at a time, but I would love to get it up to 2 weeks.  I know that I will still need grocery shopping for produce, but to have the planning part done, and lists made would be so great.  Any further than that, though, I think my meal planning would just fall off the rails.

I keep it simple for breakfast and lunch here of late.  Breakfast usually consists of toast with fruit, cereal, an egg, or a waffle.  Lunch lately has been deli meat and cheese roll ups, sliced cucumbers or a salad, blueberries, and a Lara bar a little later in the afternoon.  I also picked up some Skinny Pop popcorn to add to my lunch this week.  I felt like I needed a little extra something, and I am hoping this will do the trick!

Well, as you can probably tell, I can go on and on about this stuff!  I can't wait to read the other posts, and see how everyone shares and plans.  

Linking up with ErikaShayLindsayJenn and Jessi.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October 2018 Book Review

Starting this post off with a book that should have been in last month's review, but I totally missed it!  Not sure how, as it was a really good read!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a few cents of commission at no additional cost to you.

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin.  Emily Giffin isn't one of my favorite authors, so normally I don't check out any of her books.  However, I heard this book was really good from multiple people, so it convinced me to give it a try.  I am so glad I did, because I thought it was a good book!  It covers kind of a wide variety of sensitive topics - underage drinking, inappropriate pictures, adultery, suicide...pretty much runs the gamut.  I will say, I think the ending was rushed a bit - some of the events that take place I think could have used more time spent on them, but there is a 10 years later part at the end, which is something I always appreciate in a book.  I am always wanting to know what happens 'after' so you do get that.  Next time another Emily Giffin book comes out, I won't hesitate to see what it's about!

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris.  I really loved B.A. Paris' other books, but this one just didn't do it for me.  I feel like it was a little hard to follow, and just seemed very unbelievable.  If you want to read a thriller, I would definitely recommend Behind Closed Doors or The Breakdown, but not necessarily this book.  

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson.  I was super excited to read this book, because I thought it was so neat that it was written about a president with someone who actually has the experience of a president.  It grabbed me in the beginning, and I really liked it (and got freaked out by the fact that something like this could actually probably happen these days), but I felt the ending was a bit lackluster.  Just fell a little flat since the build up was so good, in my opinion.  

Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts.  This was Nora Roberts first book!  When I saw it at the library, I knew I had to grab it.  It was cute and a quick read.  You can definitely tell that her writing has developed over the years, with all the books she has written, but this definitely is still what I think of as a classic 'Nora Roberts' book, with all the things I love about her more current books in there.

Chesapeake Bay Series: Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts.  This series was really good.  It's about 4 boy who were taken in by a husband and wife and given a better life.  The books share the story about how the 4th brother came into the picture, and each book is about each boy and their story.  My favorites were definitely the first and third book, but they all were good reads.  All of the main characters had very hard childhoods, and they do revisit that a bit in each book, just as a heads up.       

Linking up with Steph.      

Monday, October 8, 2018

Weekend Recap: Kane County Flea Market & Lou Malnati's

Hey all!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.  Mine was a whirlwind, but so very nice!

Not much to report for Friday.  I spent the majority of the evening was nice and relaxing.

I was up early Saturday to head back home.  It was my mom's birthday and we had a full day planned.  First up, was Kane County Flea Market.  This is by far the best flea market I have been grandparents actually used to sell at it, and I can remember going when I was little and getting all the little Barbie figurines that used to be in Happy Meals, haha.  My grandma still goes all the time, and my mom, aunt and even my dad will go occasionally, too.  We met both my grandma and aunt there right when it opened.  We braved the rain, along with the other die hards.  Who knew how handy my old cheerleading rain coat would be years (and years) later?  It was super fun - we all actually ended up walking away with something.  Feel like that is often rare!  In my haul, I had an old pig feeder, 2 rolling pins, and a stool (straight from the barn, according to the vendor).  Afterwards, my parents and I made a quick pit stop at an outdoor shopping area before heading to my grandma's.  Since it was my mom's birthday, we were celebrating with pizza, cherry pie and ice cream.  The pizza was amazing - it was Lou Malnati's which was a first for me, but we had their Chicago style pizza.  My aunt said that she has ordered it frozen for my cousin and her fiance who live out in Arizona, so I may be needing to get myself some, too!  I also enlisted my grandma to help with a DIY wall art project for my kitchen.  I had both her and my mom write out two of my favorite family recipes to frame and hang on the wall.  It was kind of hilarious, because the recipe I asked my grandma to write was my grandpa's potato salad.  Which I found out is actually from my great-grandma (my grandpa's mom), but we just always refer to it as 'Grandpa's Potato Salad'.  The funny part, was that when my grandma got out the recipe card, it only had the ingredients listed (no directions), and it didn't even include the potatoes on the ingredient list, although you can derive that from the name of the recipe.  It was a team effort to come up with the instructions to go on the card, since it's just second nature to her.
Between the drive home in the morning, walking all afternoon at the market, and the yummy food and drinks at my grandma's I was out like a light on the way home.  I love a good car nap, haha, although I did not want to wake up when we got home!  We unloaded, then got right to work framing the recipes.  I originally wanted to stain them a bit to make them look 'old', but it wasn't quite working and my mom convinced me that just the plain white would be nice.  We used navy blue paper for the 'mat' and after what seemed like forever, we finally figured out how to gets the cards on the paper so they were in line with each other.

I was up early again on Sunday, enlisting my mom's help in picking out the wall art for my living room.  I still need to figure out the size, but it's picked out so that is definitely progress.  I also showed my parents the bedroom furniture I was looking at to get their opinions.  The drive back wasn't so bad, except I had a bit of rain that just came out of nowhere, and came down hard.  I thought I might have to pull off to the side of the road, it was so bad!  Luckily, that was just a small patch and after consulting my weatherman (my dad), I was reassured that I wouldn't be hitting any more downpours for the rest of the drive.  I also got a chance to talk to my brother, which was nice.  Car rides are definitely the time I like to talk on the phone to break up the drive.  I relaxed a bit at home, then got going on laundry and unpacking.  And I had some big unpacking to dad sent me home with the desk he redid for me!  And it looks sooo good, I can't wait to share pictures.  It's special, too, because it comes from the home of their best friend who passed away earlier this year.  And, then, my dad refinished it, which just makes even more so!  Love having pieces with a story in my home.

It's the start of another week...let's hope it's a great one!

Linking up with Biana anLindsay.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Favorites: Setting Spray, LOFT Finds, A Purse Organizer, Chocolate Chip Cookies & New Nail Polish

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It's always good to see Friday!  Hope you all have had a great week.  Mine has been a little up and down, but such is life.  Started off the week not feeling the best, but towards the end of the week things were looking up, so I can't complain too much!

1.  I thought to share this favorite earlier, but wanted to wait until I had used it a little more to make sure it was a true favorite.  Last time I got my hair cut, my hairdresser recommended this Redken Setting Spray for curling my hair.  My hair doesn't hold curl real well, and she said this is her go to product for clients with that issue.  It also serves as a heat protectant, so I have been actually using it for when I wear my hair straight, and really like it.  One, I feel better knowing that my hair is being protected, and also I feel like my hair has been looking a lot smoother and healthier in the time I have used it.  Granted, I did start using it right after I got my hair cut, but it does seem to be keeping it nicer.  Something to note if you do give this a try, is to make sure that you don't over so it, and you spray the recommended 8-10 inches away.  Otherwise your hair will get a little crunchy from too much product, and wet, too.

2.  Most days I just delete all the promotional store emails I get.  I try to be selective about which I do still subscribe to, and I don't want to unsubscribe since you do sometimes find out about really good deals.  So this past weekend, I was checking my email and noticed that LOFT was having a 50% off sale, complete with free shipping.  There have been a few pieces I have been wanting to add to my closet for work, and when I saw that, I immediately added it to my list of things to do that day.  I ordered a few different things, knowing that not everything would work.  It's kind of funny - the only times I really order anything from the Loft site is when they have free shipping since they normally have a $125 minimum, yet I always order over that anyways, since I tend to try multiple things.  Doesn't quite make sense when you think about it!  Below are the items I got, including things that I kept, and what went back (and why).  As I wrote this post Thursday night, it looks like LOFT is having another sale - 40% off with the code FALLFEST.  Not as good as 50% off, but still a pretty good deal!

To Keep:
Navy Flippy Skirt.  This was the first thing I added to my bag.  I think it's a classic piece and will be wearing this a ton to work!

Mustard Ruffle Top.  I actually already have this in white, so I knew it would work.  I went with the mustard because it's one of my favorite fall colors and it will go with so much.  One of the things I like about this top, too, is that it can be dressed up or down.  Great with a skirt or slacks and jeans, too!

Polka Dot Dress.  This dress is so simple, but so cute on.  Can't go wrong with classic black and white polka dots!

Gray Pants.  I have been in need of some gray pants for awhile now.  These are such a pretty color in person, super soft, and fit really well!

To Go Back:
Slim Ankle Pants.  I have these in navy, but they didn't fit quite as well, and I really liked the gray color of the pants I did keep, better.  

Split Neck Dress.  This dress was cute, but it was a touch tight.  And then I was told that the black detailing around the neck looked like hoodie strings, which was not the look I was going for, haha.  

Open Cardigan.  I loved this cardigan, but it had a hole in it, so back it goes.  Hoping I can exchange it though!  The material is super soft and I think it would be a great alternative to my normal, button cardigans for work.

3.  My purse can sometimes turn into a black hole.  Especially when it comes to finding my keys.  When Caitlin @ Southern Curls & Pearls blogged about this organizer she uses, I tucked it in the back of my mind to order at some point.  Well, a week or two ago my purse got SO bad, I finally decided to go ahead and order it.  It came in last week, and I started using it that weekend.  After a few days of use, I really like it.  I went with the medium size to use in my LV Neverfull.  It definitely makes my purse a bit more bulky, but everything has it's own little compartment, and doesn't get moved around.  I think the bulkiness is due to the sheer amount of stuff I keep in my bag.  I plan on going through it at some point to lighten the load, but overall, this is super handy for those of you that have a tote, or some kind of bag that doesn't have its own dividers.  And, as I was reading the reviews someone also pointed out a pro that I hadn't thought of - it helps keep the inside of your bag cleaner.  A nice little perk!

4.  I shared my monthly goals yesterday, and one of them is to make four recipes out of the Magnolia Table cookbook.  I am happy to say that I am already one down!  When I was looking online for the 'best recipes' from that cookbook, the chocolate chip cookies kept being mentioned.  I checked out the recipe and I had almost every ingredient at home, so I decided to just go ahead and give them a try.  They came together pretty easily - I actually made them little by little during commercials while watching TV, but even then they came together in a snap.  The recipe made just over 3 dozen, so I kept a few at home, then plated the rest to bring into work the next day.  My coworkers ate them up - they were all gone by 1:00 that same day!  I usually only bake when I have a reason (birthdays, holidays), so it was kind of fun to make something 'just because' in the middle of the week.  And with the response I got from my coworkers, I think I will be doing it a bit more.  I am able to try new recipes, and give my coworkers a little treat during the week!
Joanna Gaines Chocolate Chip Cookies

5.  Last time I was at Ulta, I decided to treat myself to a new nail polish.  I really like the Essie Gel Couture line because of its staying power.  The color Drop the Gown jumped out at me - I thought it was really pretty for fall without being your normal 'dark' fall polish.  
(I feel like this picture doesn't do the color justice - it's a bit more of a darker raspberry color in person!)

That's it for me today - hope you all have a great weekend!
Linking up with AndreaErikaAndreaand Katie.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

October 2018 Goals

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Well this month's goals snuck up on me.  As did last month's, haha.  It was the last week in September, when I was like oh shoot, what did I want to do this month?  Whoops!  

wistfullycountry:  Queeny Lu | @travelingcalligrapher
First up, looking ahead to this month.

October Goals

1.  Make four recipes from Magnolia Table.  You all know how much I love's a bit of an obsession.  And I have also shared before how while I love cookbooks, I am kind of terrible at actually making recipes from them.  I look through them, drool over all the food, have grand plans to make a bunch of things...and then put them away and forget to pull them out while meal planning.  Or I meal plan throughout the week while I am at work, going with old go-to's, or finding recipes online.  You get the picture.  So, the goal is to find four recipes to try, specifically from the Magnolia Table cookbook, and make them this month.  And, if you have made any of her recipes and have any recommendations, please send them my way!

2.  Christmas lists.  This includes both my personal Christmas wish list, as well as Christmas present ideas for loved ones, too.  I already have a running list for myself on my phone, but it's been awhile since I actually went through it, rather than just added to it, so I am sure it could use some cleaning up, and new ideas.  I also would like to work on a list of who I will be buying for, any ideas I may have currently for them, and figure out a budget.  'Tis almost the season!

3.  Decide on and order living room wall art.  I have a grouping in mind that I want to do over my couch in the living room, but I am in need of one last piece.  I already know the artist, and know that it has to be a vertical print, but I am having trouble deciding what to do.  I am hoping to figure that out, order it, and maybe even have it framed by the end of the month.  That way I can get some things on the wall so after and continue making this place feel more homey.   

September Goals

1.  New drivers license.  <Insert monkey covering eyes emoji>...this one didn't get done!

2.  Clean out bathroom closet.  I didn't get this one accomplished either!  It was on my mind throughout the whole month honestly, but I can't quite figure out what about how I have it now is bothering it doesn't really help in trying to 'fix' it.  While I didn't get this closet cleaned out, I did do a section of my actual closet, and cleaned out a dresser drawer.  I know it doesn't count for this specific goal, but it's something!

3.  Make 4 new crock pot meals.  This one I DID knock out!  1 for 3, haha!  I covered the first three recipes I made in this Recipe Round Up post, and then the fourth recipe I made just this past weekend, Slower Cooker Beef Stroganoff from Mix and Match Mama, thanks Lindsay, for the recommendation!  Out of the four, my favorite is still Chicken a la King from Mix and Match Mama.  Just thinking about it is making my mouth water!     

Linking up with Kristen.