Define Your Time: More Than Just A Time Management Course

Define Your Time is more than just a time management course.  It's a new way to look at your life.

Last November when I went to Pinners Conference, I attended a class about how to make the most of your time.  The speaker, Nicole Carpenter, founder of MOMentity, gave us 10 tips for getting more done and most of them were easy enough that you could implement them the next day if you wanted to.  If I had to guess one of the top 3 things most people say the don’t have enough of, it’s time.  It’s elusive.  It goes by too quickly.  It’s viewed as either your enemy or your friend.  It’s something we don’t have control over.  Or do we?

After the class finished, I approached Nicole and asked her if she would be interested in a collaboration.  I loved her upbeat, positive attitude and her enthusiasm was contagious.  A week later, she emailed me and asked if I’d like to participate in her upcoming Define Your Time course: a four week workshop where you work through four different modules, attend training calls and complete homework assignments.  While I feel like I’m pretty good at managing my time and staying organized, I also recognized the opportunity to learn some new skills to help me manage my life even better.

I received the Define Your Time course for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Define Your Time is more than just a time management course.  It's a new way to look at your life.

Nicole is a mom as well as a business owner, so she totally gets both aspects and how life can get crazy and out of control.  From her website:

“I know you are overwhelmed and, on some days, losing your mind! I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to love your kids to pieces but be unhappy with yourself (and even your life). I know what it’s like to FAKE HAPPINESS and be TOTALLY DISCONNECTED from your kids.  I even know what it’s like to WISH FOR DIFFERENT even when others would say what you have is pretty great.  Do you feel this way? It’s OK, there is a way out! Out of disconnect and out of overwhelm. MOMentity is here to help moms lost in motherhood realize they can both love themselves and their family and teach them a process that can make it happen.”

Doesn’t she sound like someone who “gets it”?

The class started and it was a fairly small group of women.  Some had taken the course before and others, like me, were new.  Nicole does a great job leading the calls and making sure everyone is able to share their thoughts, questions or concerns.  Nicole is so sweet and completely genuine.  She is passionate about helping women and is motivating to listen to.  She really knows and believes and applies everything she teaches.  She is also super real and not afraid to share the times when she has trouble, even with her own program.  I really appreciated this because it made me feel like even if I were to get off track, that I could jump back on board and keep moving forward.

For me, the most helpful part of the course was the first section where she lays the foundation for the following modules.  Define Your Time isn’t just about giving you a bunch of tools for time management, although that is part of it.  It is about figuring out your own values, where you currently spend your time and where you want to spend your time.  Once you’ve laid all that out, then you build on that newer, stronger foundation as you move forward with the other modules.  The reason I liked this portion of the course so much was because I realized that where I was spending my time and where I wanted to spend my time weren’t in alignment.  As a result, I was conflicted with how to best manage my time.  It was actually a very eye-opening experience and it’s something I’m still reflecting on a month after I finished the course.

Overall, I thought the course was very well put together.  Nicole does everything she can to help you be successful and apply her methods and tools to your own life.  She makes everything very personal and applicable and helps you think about time in a different way.  After taking her course, I feel more in control of the time that I have available because I have the tools I need to make time work for me instead of the other way around.  Define Your Time is a great option for anyone looking to get control of their life and make some positive changes using proven tools.

If you’d like more information about the Define Your Time course, click HERE to go to Nicole’s website.

Do you feel like you’re good at managing your time?  What areas are hardest to manage?

Winter 2017 Walmart Beauty Box Review

Winter 2017 Walmart Beauty Box Review--Is it worth $5?

*I am reviewing this box by choice and have not received it for free, nor have I received any other compensation from Walmart.  All opinions are my own.*

Before I start today’s post, I just have to take a moment and say thank you for the overwhelming response I received to sharing my miscarriage story.  I received so many texts, Facebook messages, post comments and phone calls from people expressing their sadness at what I’ve been facing and their love for me and my family.  But in addition to this, I also heard from many women who have had miscarriages and said that reading my story gave them feelings of hope and encouragement.  At the risk of sounding cliche, knowing that I was able to help at least one person feel like they aren’t alone in their struggles makes it feel worth it.  I am hopeful for the future.

Today I am doing a review of the Winter 2017 Walmart Beauty Box.  I actually received it a couple of weeks ago, but due to circumstances outside my control (see above), I haven’t had time to adequately review enough of the products until this week.  (I’ve also done reviews on the products in the Summer 2016 and Fall 2016 Beauty Boxes.)

What is the Walmart Beauty Box?

For $5, you receive one beauty box every three months filled with various beauty items ranging from full size to travel size to sample size.  You can cancel the subscription at any time.

I’ve had my subscription for two years and I’ve enjoyed the items enough not to cancel.  Some boxes are better than others, but the items that I’ve received have been worth more than the $5 it costs for the box itself.  It’s fun to get a little surprise in the mail every few months and I can totally see the appeal of other monthly/quarterly subscription boxes.

Here’s what I got this time around:

Winter 2017 Walmart Beauty Box Review--Is it worth $5?
  • Tressemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo (travel size)
  • Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer (travel size)
  • Garnier Whole Blends Refreshing Shampoo/Conditioner (single use)
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream (travel size)
  • L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Day Cream (single use)
  • Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Body Lotion (travel size)
  • Dove Morrocan Argan Body Wash (travel size)
  • AMLA Legend 10-in-1 Blow Out Elixer (single use)

My Review:

  • Tressemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo–In the Fall 2016 beauty box, I received a travel size can of Batiste dry shampoo.  I really liked it and have used it over the last few months as needed.  I was a little surprised that they included another dry shampoo in this month’s box but it doesn’t hurt to have some on hand when the Batiste runs out.  I’ve used this one only once since I got it and it seemed to do a pretty good job of giving my hair volume and decreasing the greasy look.  I liked the smell too.
    • Would I recommend it: YES
  • Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturize–In the Summer 2016 beauty box, I received a single use sample of Nivea’s In-Shower body lotion.  There was only enough for one use, but it did seem to moisturize my skin really well which surprised me.  With it being winter, dry skin is a problem so I was curious to see how the Curel in shower body lotion would measure up.  I like that they gave me a travel size and I’ve used it a couple of times since receiving it.  One thing I like better about the Curel is that I didn’t have to rinse it off after applying where the Nivea I had to take the extra step of rinsing.  To see if it would moisturize my skin, I didn’t apply any lotion after my shower.  The next day, my skin didn’t feel dry or itchy so I think the lotion did it’s job.
    • Would I recommend it: YES, although I preferred the smell of the Nivea lotion
  • Garnier Whole Blends Refreshing Shampoo/Conditioner–I’ve purchased and used Garnier shampoo and conditioner before, but not this exact one.  Supposedly this formula helps your hair be more shiny, but unfortunately it’s only a single use sample so it would be hard to know if it helps with this in the long run unless you buy the full size.  I haven’t tried it out yet, but the Green Apple & Green Tea scent should smell pretty good.
    • Would I recommend it: UNDECIDED
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream–All day long, I am washing my hands for one reason or another, so they tend to get really dry, especially in the winter.  The other night after washing the dishes, I put on a little Bath and Body Works lotion I had in the kitchen, but it did nothing for me.  I remembered the hand cream from the beauty box and put a little on my hands.  It absorbed really well without any residue and immediately my hands started feeling better.  The next day, my hands still felt moisturized.  I was pretty impressed.
    • Would I recommend it: YES
  • L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Day Cream–As I get older, my skin just doesn’t quite recover the way it used to from the sun or wind or dry air so using something that would help renew my skin sounds great.  There are two sample size packets: Golden Serum and Day Cream.  There aren’t any instructions on the little card to tell me what order I should apply them or anything.  I’m guessing I could probably get a couple of uses out of each packet, but I doubt that will be enough to really tell a difference.  I will update once I’ve tried it out though.
    • Would I recommend it: UNDECIDED
  • Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Body Lotion–I’ll be totally honest: I hate the smell of anything from Burt’s Bees that I’ve tried, so this sample is useless to me personally because I know I will never use it.  I will probably give it to my husband to keep in his car or at work so he has something for when his hands get dry and doesn’t smell girly.
    • Would I recommend it: NO
  • Dove Morrocan Argan Body Wash–Apparently Walmart likes to send out a Dove body wash with every beauty box because I’ve received one in the Summer 2016, Fall 2016 and now the Winter 2017 box.  I’ve used this body wash a couple of times and like the smell, but don’t think that it does anything special for my skin compared to what I’m currently using (Olay).
    • Would I recommend it: YES
  • AMLA Legend 10-in-1 Blow Out Elixer–I’ve never heard of this brand before so I have nothing to go off of besides what it says on the packet.  I’ve used other brands of heat protection hair lotions and I do think they help.  I haven’t tried this one out yet, but I’m hoping it will give my poor winter hair a little boost and seal in some moisture.
    • Would I recommend it: UNDECIDED

Well there you have it!  I hope my little review was helpful to you.  If you want to find out more about the Walmart Beauty box, go HERE.  You can sign up and check out the FAQ.  Since the Winter Beauty Box has already shipped out, you would receive the Spring Beauty Box next if you choose to sign up.

Have you signed up for other beauty boxes?  What is your favorite/least favorite? 

My Miscarriage Story

My experience with multiple miscarriages and how hope gives me strength.

I’ve been trying to think about how to get this all down for a long time.  I actually started a different post in December 2015 that’s just been sitting in my drafts for the last year because I just haven’t known where to start.  I am generally a pretty private person and I often prefer to bear my trials in silence, not involving other people beyond my husband, close family members or friends.  Maybe this was something I learned growing up in a less than ideal environment.  I didn’t want other people to know I was struggling, so I put on a happy face and dealt with trials away from the public eye.

I like to think I’m pretty tough.  It takes a lot to really get to me.  But I’ve had to face the fact that maybe this isn’t always such a good thing.  When you put on a tough exterior, other people might think that you don’t need extra help or attention because you seem to have it all together.  Anything life throws at you, you can handle it without coddling or an arm around your shoulder.  So when you really could use the extra attention or consoling, you’re not sure how to ask for it.  Or other people aren’t sure how to give it.  Especially when it’s not something they’ve personally experienced.

I generally pride myself on writing well thought-out posts that are clean and clear and have direction.  This post might be a little less that way, but I hope you’ll forgive me because I’m still working through things.  For most of you reading this, if not all of you, this is the first you’ve heard about my miscarriages.  Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know or suspect that something was wrong.  Like I said, it’s hard for me to share my trials with others.

This is my story about my miscarriages:

About a year and a half after my husband were married, we both felt that we needed to start trying to have a baby.  After another year and a half, we found out we were pregnant.  Everything was completely textbook, with the exception of having a c-section due to my daughter turning breech.  But even the c-section happened textbook.  When our daughter was 17 months, we felt like we should start trying again.  We assumed it might take a little longer since it had with our daughter, but after our first month of trying we found out that baby #2 was on the way.  My pregnancy was identical to the first except this time it was a little boy and I was able to have a successful V-BAC.  Once again, when our little boy was about 16 months, we felt the familiar feeling to start trying again.

Miscarriage #1
It took 3 months before I got a positive test (November 2015).  I should have felt happy, but something just didn’t feel right to me.  At 5 1/2 weeks, I started bleeding.  I sat there on the toilet with tears streaming down my face and begging it to stop and trying to convince myself that it was implantation bleeding but knowing deep down that it wasn’t.  I called my doctor’s office and talked to a nurse who left a message for the doctor to call me back.  He called me a couple of hours later and by then I knew without a doubt what was happening to me.  I was losing my baby.  The doctor had me go to a lab for a blood draw to measure the HCG levels that day and then again 48 hours later.  I continued to miscarry and when he called me with the results, I wasn’t surprised.  My sister called me that day not knowing what was happening and I broke down on the phone.  She came over and I just cried the entire time she was here.

Since I wasn’t very far along, the miscarriage wasn’t very painful physically, but was really hard on me emotionally.  My poor kids didn’t know why I was crying and all I could tell them is that I was sad and didn’t feel good.  In our nightly prayers, my sweet daughter prayed I would feel better.  I strongly believe the prayers of children carry a special kind of power to heaven.

About a week later, my doctor called to check on me.  By this time, the bleeding had tapered off and I was feeling better in general.  I asked when my husband and I could start trying again and he told me to wait for a couple of cycles.  I’d heard many couples have a good success rate trying within 3 months of a miscarriage and my husband and I were still feeling like there was another baby to add to our family.

Miscarriage #2
We got a positive test in January 2016.  I was feeling more hopeful by this time.  All the usual pregnancy symptoms were present and I called the doctor’s office and made an 8 week appointment.  About a week before my appointment, I started feeling less nausea and fatigue.  I thought that maybe it was just lucky that I wasn’t because I was chasing two kids around and feeling less sick was nice.  I went in for my 8 week appointment and everything appeared fine, but considering my miscarriage a few months earlier, the doctor had me schedule an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok.

I went in later that week for the ultrasound (February 2016).  The sonographer found a sac and something he thought could be a baby inside but was difficult to tell.  He told me that based on the size, I was only measuring 6 weeks and 1 day.  He asked if I had given him the correct date for the first day of my last cycle and I assured him I had.  By this time, I was starting to get scared and asked him some basic questions: “Could the baby just be measuring small?”  “What do we do now?”  I could tell he was trying to be optimistic about the situation but he’s been doing ultrasounds for a long time and I think he suspected what I was dreading to hear.  He called the doctor who wanted me to go in for a follow-up ultrasound the next week to see if anything had changed.

Driving home, I felt sick.  Not pregnancy sick.  But my heart hurt and I’m surprised I made it home through the tears.  I told my husband what the sonographer and the doctor had said, but I couldn’t shake the anxious feeling inside that, again, something was wrong.  At my follow-up ultrasound the next week, nothing had changed.  The baby, for whatever reason, had stopped growing and was no longer “viable”, as he put it.  I sat in the car for a long time after my appointment, praying and crying and just so full of emotion that I felt like I was going to burst.  Before driving home, I called my husband, who I’d insisted stay home with the kids due to him getting home late from work right as I needed to be leaving, and told him the news.  I know he did his best to console me over the phone until I got home that night.  Thankfully, the kids were in bed when I came back and I was able to just stand there and cry into my husband’s shoulder.

About 5 days after my ultrasound, my body started to go through another miscarriage.  This time, it was worse because it had been longer.  I would have been 9 weeks if my baby were still alive and growing.  I felt pain in my lower back as my uterus contracted and much of my time was spent between the couch or my bed and the bathroom.  Thankfully, my husband was home during the hardest part and could watch the kids.  I cried a lot and had to try again to explain to my sweet kids that I felt sick and that’s why I was sad.

I felt so lost.  So confused.  I wondered if maybe I just wasn’t living righteously enough.  I should be reading my scriptures more, saying more meaningful prayers, giving more service.  Maybe I just hadn’t earned a baby yet.  At the time, all of these feelings felt so real.  I tried my best to be happy and live in the moment with my kids that I’d been blessed with but in the back of my mind, I was thinking about my miscarriages and wondering if I actually would be able to have any more kids.

Miscarriage #3
At the end of November 2016, 8 months after my last miscarriage, I suspected I could be pregnant again, but waited another 5 days past my missed period to take a test.  The first week of December, I got a positive test.  I showed my husband that night as we got ready for his work party and we both felt happy and optimistic.  I had been holding my breath during the last week, waiting for some sign of miscarriage but seeing that positive filled me with hope.  I had gotten a cough earlier in the week, but because I was pregnant, I wasn’t able to take much to get rid of it faster.  I felt horrible due to lack of sleep, constant coughing, holiday activities, taking care of my kids and so on.  I started taking naps in the middle of the day because I was so exhausted.  Normal pregnancy symptoms appeared right on schedule and I began planning and hoping for the future.  I stayed sick for a while and it turned into acute bronchitis.  I didn’t have a big appetite even though I was hungry and I lived off of saltines, toast and fresh veggies.  I told a couple of people that I was pregnant (who had known about the previous miscarriages) and they congratulated me and told me they hoped for the best.

I made an 8 week appointment with my doctor’s office.  While I was hopeful, I still felt anxious, so I called and requested a blood test to check my HCG levels.  I went in that day and then 48 hours later.  The levels went up, so I felt good and looked forward to my appointment.  Early the next morning, I woke up with a horrible feeling.  I knew something was wrong.  I tried to deny it and fell back into an uneasy sleep.  Later that same morning, I got a call from my doctor’s office.  He told me that while my levels had increased, they weren’t increasing at the rate they should for a normal pregnancy and told me I could have an ectopic pregnancy (one where the egg implants in the tubes rather than the uterus).  He scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound later that day to see if the sonographer could pinpoint the pregnancy’s location.

When I got off the phone, I curled up into a ball on my bed and sobbed.  My husband and kids were gone at the gym and I was by myself.  I prayed so hard to my Heavenly Father.  Why?  Why is this happening again?  Why can’t I keep my babies?  I called my husband and told him what the doctor said.  When he got home, both my kids came into my room and gave me the biggest hugs and kisses and told me they loved me.  My husband did the same and then took the kids and let me have my space to try and process what was happening.

By the time the ultrasound came around, I knew what I was going to see.  It wasn’t ectopic but the sac in the uterus was only measuring 5 weeks and 4 days.  I knew the question before he asked it: did I give the right date for the first day of my last period?  I knew I had.  Just as I had known when I woke up suddenly that morning that things were not going to turn out the way my husband and I had hoped and prayed for. 

Over the next 4 weeks, I continued to go in for ultrasounds.  I still hadn’t miscarried but the doctor wanted to wait and see what happened.  Oddly enough, the baby continued to grow but it still wasn’t measuring within the normal parameters and finally, the sonographer was able to confirm what I had known for the last 5 weeks: my baby wasn’t growing and was no longer “viable”. 

That weekend, I would have been 11 weeks along.  Almost done with my first trimester.  It all seemed so strange and surreal.  A few days later, my body began the miscarriage process for the third time.  I’d had a few weeks to mentally prepare for it, as much as you can prepare for something like this, but it was still hard.  My sweet, sweet kids were perfect angels that first day.  They just wanted me to sit on the couch and read them books for an hour or they played nicely together with their toys.  It was a true blessing.

************************

It’s been a week and a half since my most recent miscarriage.  I still cry about it.  I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that, had my first or even my second miscarriage ended differently, I’d be holding my baby.  A part of me wants to be angry and shake my fist at the heavens and ask why not me?  I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know why I’ve had to face this particular trial multiple times. 

But one thing that I’ve been comforted by, amid the pain and sadness and frustration, is a feeling of hope.  A feeling that things will work out.  The love of my Savior.  I know our rainbow baby is coming one day.  And when that day comes, my family and I will rejoice.  In the meantime, I pray for patience and strength.  I feel comforted in the knowledge that I am not alone.  I am joined by other women who have faced this challenge.  By my family and friends. 

And now, by you.  Thank you for taking the time to read through this post.  I know it was long and not a happy topic, but one I felt I needed to share.  So I thank you for sticking with me.  This blog is more than just a place for me to share my recipes or crafts or organization hacks.  Through this blog, one of my greatest hopes is that I’ve been able to reach at least one person who just happened to need to hear/read what it is that I put out into the “blog-osphere”. 

And if you are struggling and need someone to talk to about this, please feel free to email me.  I will be a listening ear.  Or if you are looking for some resources to help you work through your own miscarriage or know how to help someone dealing with one, you can check out a really helpful list my friend Natashia put together when she went through a miscarriage at the end of last year.

Again, thank you for reading and allowing me to share my experience with you.

The ULTIMATE All Things Valentines Round Up

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Less than two weeks ago, an idea popped into my head.  It went something along the lines of, “Holy crap!  Valentine’s Day is going to be here in a month!  I need some new ideas, yummy recipes, crafts, printables, beauty… I need all things Valentines!”  I hopped on a few Facebook groups and asked my blogging friends to submit their Valentines posts for what I hoped would be an ultimate Valentines round up.  I didn’t just want crafts or recipes.  I wanted something where I could find a ton of different ideas centered around Valentines all in one place.  And that, my friends, is how this post came into being.

When I was in first grade, I had a crush on a boy named Mikey.  Turns out, Mikey had a crush on me too.  And when Valentines Day came around and all the kids were putting cards into each others homemade boxes, I was waiting for one special card.  On the bus ride home, I shuffled through the cards and candy until I found it.  It was a Barbie Valentine that said, “You’re cool!” on the front.  But on the back it said, “Your cheeks are like roses, your eyes are like the sea, and I think you are meant for me!”  My little 7 year old heart felt like it was going to explode and I kept that card in my treasure box for the rest of the year.

I love the fun and excitement that accompanies this holiday.  I love decorating my house with hearts in every shade of pink and red and leaving love notes for my kids and husband.  I’ve heard some people criticize the idea of Valentines Day and point out that we should be doing fun, sweet, thoughtful or romantic things for those we love all year round and not let everything rest on a single day of the year.  I don’t disagree with this perspective, however, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying a little harder to show your love to those you care about on Valentines Day or the days leading up to it.

And with that in mind, I give you the ULTIMATE All Things Valentines Round Up!  You’ll find recipes, crafts, kid activities, date night ideas, printables, beauty and gift ideas from over 35 different blogs.  They are sharing their best ideas with you and I hope you find something new and fun to celebrate your Valentines Day with the ones you love.

NOTE: All links/images are used with permission from the original source.  To view the original post, click on the corresponding link below the image. (Images and links are viewed left to right, top to bottom.)

Printables
Included in this section you will find all kinds of printable valentines and printables to display in your home. 

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Don’t Burst My Bubble  |  Housewife Eclectic
Pop Goes My Heart  |  Housewife Eclectic
You Make My Heart Pop  |  Tastefully Frugal
Valentine Pick Up Lines Love Notes  |  Marriage & Family Strong
You’re A Catch  |  Tastefully Frugal
Cutie Valentine  |  Tastefully Frugal
I’m Stuck On You  |  Tastefully Frugal
Smart Cookie Valentine  |  Your Everyday Family
The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!
Harry Potter Printable Valentines  |  The Quiet Grove
Tic Tac Toe Valentine Card  |  Craftivity Designs
Mermaid Printable Valentines  |  The Quiet Grove
Super Hero Printable Valentines  |  The Quiet Grove
Valentines Candy Bar Wrapper  |  The Quiet Grove
5 Free Valentines Day Printable Cards  |  My Circus, My Monkeys
The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!
Free Valentines Printables Round Up  |  Sunshine & Munchkins
Crafts/DIY
So many fun and creative ways to get your crafty on!

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Love Frame with Scrabble Tiles  |  Home Crafts by Ali
Shabby Chic Love Mason Jars  |  Tastefully Frugal
Scrapbook Paper Valentine Wreath  |  Home Crafts by Ali
Valentines Day Doilie Banner  |  Your Everyday Family
The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!
DIY Wine Cork Trivet  |  Aileen Cooks
Simple DIY Hearts Sweater  |  She Wore Stars
DIY Valentines Rag Wreath  |  Sunshine & Munchkins
Decor
Looking for some decor inspiration?  These ladies have got you covered!

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Valentines Decorating On A Budget  |  Tastefully Frugal
Kids Activities
There are so many fun ways to get the kids in on the Valentines Day celebration.  Check out the links below for activities for many ages.

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Valentines Box  |  A Beautiful Life
Valentines Day Popcorn Cones  |  Adie and Aden
Valentines Party for Kids  |  Sparkle Shiny Love

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Brain Building Valentines Activities  |  ILS Learning Corner
You Have My Heart  |  Espresso Ever After
Love Note Envelopes  |  Sunshine & Munchkins

Recipes
What is Valentines without some yummy sweets?!  I’m pretty sure I need to make all of these!

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Homemade Italian Cream Soda  |  Housewife Eclectic
Sweetheart Fruit Tart  |  Your Everyday Family
Valentines Day Ombre Sweet Treat  |  Tastefully Frugal
Fun Valentines Day Kid Treats  |  Sandy a la Mode
Chocolate Nutella Croissants  |  The Quiet Grove

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Valentines Sandwich Cookies  |  Recipe for a Sweet Life
How To Make French Macarons  |  Glitter, Inc
Sugar Cut Out Cookies  |  Glitter, Inc
Egg In A Heart Valentines Day Breakfast  |  Espresso Ever After
White Chocolate Covered Oreos  |  Sunshine & Munchkins
Valentines Day Fruit Kabobs  |  A Sparkle of Genius
The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!
Valentines Day Popcorn Treat  |  Crazy Life with Littles
Beauty
Get inspired with these lovely ladies and use their fashion knowledge to your advantage.

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Valentines Outfit On A Budget  |  Sparkle Shiny Love
Easy Valentines Day Manicure  |  Posh In Progress

Gift Ideas
Gifts are a thoughtful way to say you care about someone.  Find some unique ideas in the links below!

The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!

Baby Girl Valentines Gift Guide  |  Kelsey Diane Blog
Valentines Day Books for Kids  |  Kelsey Diane Blog
Why Gifts Matter On Valentines Day  |  Only Girl 4 Boyz
Valentines Gifts for Him  |  Kelsey Diane Blog

Date Night Ideas
Of course, one of the highlights of Valentines Day is the date night that comes along with it.  Whether you celebrate at home or out on the town, these ideas are sure to get you excited and in a romantic mood. *wink* 
The ULTIMATE round up of all things Valentines!
24 Ways To Show Your Spouse You Love and Care  |  A Fresh Start On A Budget
50 Inexpensive Date Ideas  |  A Fresh Start On A Budget
Phew!  Can you even believe all the great ideas packed into this post?  I hope that no matter what, you were able to find a little fun and inspiration to celebrate your Valentines Day!

4 Ways To Keep Moving Forward

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.

Last week, I posted about the campaign I got involved in called “I Am Amazing Because…”  The purpose and goal of this campaign is to promote confidence and positivity by recognizing the talents and abilities and characteristics of those around us that we find amazing and unique and then telling them.  We, as individuals, should be included in this recognition and often I think we forget or downplay what is amazing about ourselves.  When I shared my post last week, I wrote that one of the qualities in myself that I find amazing is my ability to keep moving forward.

I received this shirt in exchange for my review and promotion but all thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.

As I’ve gotten older and reflected on who I am as a person, I’ve realized that when I’m not growing in some area of my life, or I’m not working towards a goal or purpose, I start to get grumpy and restless.  When life starts getting too routine or I notice myself getting complacent, that’s my internal nudge to make a change.

Growing up, my situation at home presented some challenges.  I found myself placed in circumstances that were not of my choosing, nor did I have a way to remove them from my life.  But one thing that kept me going, quite literally, was the knowledge that I could keep moving forward in different areas of my life.  At some point I knew that things had to get better. That what things I did have control over, I could make the best of them and focus on that.

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In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.
Photo Credit: Kendra Leigh Photography & Video

There is a quote that says, “If you’re not moving forward, you are moving backward.”  In today’s world, it is impossible to stand still.  So what stops us from moving forward?

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Past Mistakes
  • Unclear Goals
  • Allowing Yesterday to Define Today
  • Unrealistic Expectations

You could probably add to this list, but that’s not what I want you to focus on.  What I want you to take away from this post today is how to keep moving forward.

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.

Recognize Progress
Sometimes we aren’t necessarily faced with being unable to move forward, but rather that we don’t feel we’re moving forward fast enough.  We have a goal in mind and we’re just not reaching it as quickly as we’d like.  This can turn into frustration, disappointment or any number of negative emotions.  Those emotions can cause us to lose focus which can slow us down even more.  It’s important to recognize progress, no matter how small it is.  Each step forward is a step towards your goal.  Each step is essential to our growth and progress as a person, not only in our quest to accomplish something.

Ask for Help and Support
Having a network of people to rely on when things get hard is a great tool to help you keep moving forward.  Your network might include your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors or even a support group.  The people I ask for support from varies depending on what my goal is or the challenge I’m facing. We must surround ourselves with people who want to see us succeed and will help us along the way, especially when we stumble, fall or want to give up.  

Adopt a Mantra
By definition, a mantra is simply a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently.  I’ve seen a lot of posts from people who have chosen a word or phrase that embodies what they want to focus on for the day/week/month/quarter/year.  You could have a different mantra for different aspects of your life, or have the same one that encompasses all aspects of your life.  You can change your mantra if you feel it isn’t working for you.  There are no rules when it comes to mantras.  You simply choose one and then make that your focus and the thing that brings you back when you start veering off course.

Speak Positively About Yourself
I’ve talked about this concept of positivity and self care a few different times, such as here and here, but that’s because it’s so important!  We can be our own worst critic or our greatest cheerleader.  In order to continue moving forward in life, we have to believe that we can.  When fear or uncertainty tries to push it’s way in between the cracks, we have to push it back out and remind ourselves that we can do this!  If you find this idea difficult, another way to approach it is to think about those who depend on you and how what you do affects them.  For me, that’s my kids and my husband.  If I speak badly about myself, what does that teach my children?  How are they going to start talking about themselves?  If I tell my husband that I don’t know why he married me, or list off all the things I’m horrible at, is that going to help grow and nurture our relationship?  Your life has an impact on other people whether you want it to or not, so why not make it a positive one?

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.
Photo Credit: Kendra Leigh Photography & Video

In an effort to encourage this attitude of positivity, Cents of Style is running a deal on all of their inspirational t-shirts.  I chose “Keep Moving Forward”, but if that doesn’t quite resonate with you, check out their selection.  You can find 30+ options to choose from and maybe you’ll find the one that hits home for you.

To take advantage of this deal, click HERE to view all the t-shirts.  Select the one you want and at checkout, enter the code INSPIRE17 and it will take 50% off the lowest marked price plus get FREE SHIPPING!  This sale will run from 1/20/17 thru 1/22/17.  Don’t miss out on this awesome deal and use it to buy something that will inspire you, make you smile and help your day be a little brighter.

I encourage you to keep moving forward.  Whether that means leaps and bounds or inch by inch, keep moving.  Keep growing.  I know you can do this.  Because you can do hard things.

DIY Hanging Necklace Holder

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

When my husband and I first moved into our house almost 6 years ago, we had our first shared closet since we’d been married 3 years before.  Up until that point, we’d always lived in apartments and all of them had small closets.  Or maybe they just seemed small to me considering all of my clothes fit into one closet with no room leftover for my husband…  My poor hubby always had to use the closet in the second bedroom for his clothes in each of the places we lived.  So when we moved into our home, we had a bigger closet, which was great.  But there wasn’t any room for me to put my jewelry.  I don’t like keeping it out on my dresser and prefer to have it out of reach of little hands.  So what to do?

To utilize the wall space in our closet, I made a quick necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood, some fabric, nails, hooks and a sawtooth hanger to hang it on the wall.  It’s been totally functional and a great way to organize my necklaces but over the last few months, I decided I wanted to change it more to fit my current style.  You can see what my original necklace hanger looks like below.  Not bad right?  But not great.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

So off I went to Hobby Lobby to find some cute drawer knobs.  I watched for them to go on sale (yay for 50% off!) and found 6 that I thought went together without being too matchy-matchy.  If you’ve ever looked at the knobs and pulls they have at Hobby Lobby, you know that they have an awesome variety, but in my case, this actually made it so much harder for me to choose.  Besides choosing coordinating knobs, they also had to have a big enough space between the end of the knob and the screw in part to hold the necklaces.  I’m not kidding when I say that I spent a solid 45 minutes looking at knobs.  My kids were going crazy of course: “Don’t touch that!  Put that back!  No, don’t put it in your mouth.  Please, get off the ground!”  (Anyone else?)  Total I ended up spending $14 for the knobs.  I also bought a small bottle of white chalk paint since I wanted to distress it a bit.

Once home, I put the bag in my craft room and there it sat for a good 2 months until I was cleaning out my closet and found it again, still in the bag on the floor.  (Haha, this is the story of my life when it comes to crafts.)  I finally got around to making my new necklace holder and it only took me about an hour, including dry time!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

  • a piece of scrap wood
  • sandpaper
  • chalk paint (or acrylic paint)
  • foam brush
  • petroleum jelly (for distressing)
  • knobs (I used 6)
  • power drill (optional)
  • 1/4″ drill bit (optional)
  • paper
  • pencil
  • sawtooth hanger
  • nails

To get started, measure the space where you want to put your necklace holder.

Cut your wood down to size or find a piece of scrap wood that happens to be lying around your house from previous projects.  Mine is 12″x5″  but yours may vary depending on how many knobs you want to use and how many necklaces you need it to hold.  Also, be aware that you’ll want to use a thicker piece of wood since the part of the knob that gets screwed in is about 1 1/2″ long.  If you use a thinner piece of wood you’ll run into a problem when you try to hang it on the wall since the end will be poking out the back.

Sand the cut edges so they are smoother.  How much you sand is completely up to you.  I just went until the edges were slightly rounded and when I ran my hand over it, I didn’t come away with any splinters.

The next step is optional, depending on if you want to distress your wood or not.  I did a tutorial a while back about how to distress wood using petroleum jelly.  It’s a technique I use all the time because it’s less messy than painting first and then sanding it down.  You can also do it in layers if you want multiple colors on your wood.  Find the full tutorial HERE.

Grab your petroleum jelly and rub a small amount in random places on your board, paying close attention to the grain of the wood, as this will help the distressing look more natural.  You can see where I added mine because it’s a little bit shiny.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

Next, paint your board using a foam brush.  You can paint right over the top of the petroleum jelly.  I only painted the front, top, bottom and sides since no one will see the back.  Let it dry.

Once dry, use a paper towel and gently rub over the places where you put the petroleum jelly.  It will rub right off!  So much easier than using sandpaper and getting dust all over the place.  Again, see the full tutorial for more details.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

Now it’s time to measure and mark the placement of the knobs.  I used 6 knobs and staggered them so each row is off center and the middle two knobs split the center.  First, I measured the exact center of the board.  Then I measured the length of the board and tried to figure out how much space I wanted between each knob.  This was actually a little trickier than I originally thought it would be so I got a piece of paper out, measured out the size of my wood and then used that to figure out the placement of each hole.  Then I cut it out, placed it over my wood as a template and taped it down before pre-drilling my holes.  So much easier than trying to make marks on my painted wood and I got it exactly straight!

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

I always try to “pre-drill” my holes to make it easier on myself.  You’ll find that drawer knobs are flat on the end and getting the hole started will save you time and you don’t have to use your muscles as much. *wink*  I used a hammer and nail to get the placement right, removed the template and then I grabbed my husband’s power drill and a 1/4″ bit and pre-drilled about 3/4 of the way down.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

I had one knob where the end was just slightly longer than my wood was deep so I ended up drilling a hole all the way through.  It poked out the back a little so I got a small piece of felt and glued it to the back of the board to cover the end of the screw so it won’t scratch my wall.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

Next, I decided what order I wanted my knobs to be in and then started screwing them in.  Each of my knobs came with a nut and washer on the end.  I didn’t need the nut but I kept the washer on.

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

Lastly, grab your sawtooth hanger, measure the center of the board (on the back) and down about 1/2″ and then nail it in.  Get another nail for the wall where you want to hang it up, hammer it in and then hang your new necklace holder.  Easy peasy!

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

I love my new necklace hanger!  It makes me so happy when I walk in and see it.  One thing (among many) that I love about this project is that it’s completely personalized.  Plus, it’s pretty enough that you could hang it up in your room if you want and it will look nice on the wall and won’t take up space on your dresser.  Win-win!

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

Make your own hanging necklace holder using a piece of scrap wood and some cute drawer knobs!

What do you use to store your different pieces of jewelry?

Mommy Style Monday: Water Beads

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

There is something about January that I really dislike.  If my daughter’s birthday wasn’t during this month, I would be totally fine to just get rid of it all together.  I’m not sure where you live, but here in Utah we tend to get a lot of cold, overcast, snowy, rainy, slushy days in the winter.  My kids live for the outdoors, so wintertime is hard on them (and me).  I am a warm weather, sunshine loving person and can get a little bit of seasonal depression during this time of year.  I’ve found that staying busy is a big help and trying to rotate through a variety of activities helps my kids from going too stir crazy. *wink*

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Last year, I saw a friend of mine post some pictures on Facebook of her kids playing with water beads.  I’d never heard of them before but they looked awesome and just the thing to keep my kids entertained.  I found some on Amazon for cheap and threw them in with whatever else I happened to already have in my cart.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!)

When they came in the mail, I was shocked at how small they were!  They are literally these hard, tiny little beads that came in about 12 different colors.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

I grabbed some bins I already had from the dollar store that I purchased when I did my post on 3 ways to paint with toddlers and preschoolers (another great way to keep kids entertained!) and grabbed about 15 or so beads from 4 of the bags and put them in one bin and put about the same amount of 4 different colors in the second bin.  I added some warm water to each bin, filling it about halfway and left them to do their thing.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

I was totally amazed when I looked at the beads about 10 minutes later and they were already growing.  Rather than feeling hard, they had started to soften a bit around the outside and they looked a little bit blurry.   (No, that’s not your vision playing tricks on you.  This picture is what they actually look like.)

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

10 minutes after that, they were even bigger and looking a little bumpy.  I showed my kids and they were equally impressed.  Both of them wanted to start playing with the beads right away, so I let them for a little bit.

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Since I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the beads to grow to their full size, I left them in the bins overnight.  The next morning, the water was halfway gone and the beads were each about 1/2″ in diameter.

To set up for our activity, I got some extra bath towels and folded them in half, draping some off the edge of the table.  Then I put the bins of beads in front of my kids and let them go to town!  I gave them some measuring cups and bowls to play with as well.  They loved it!  They measured and poured and bounced the beads for a good 45 minutes.  Their clothes got a little wet but the towels did soak up most of the water.  And I have to admit that I had fun putting my hands in the bins and rolling the beads around.  They are so soft and slippery and squishy!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

Water beads are a fun, simple and inexpensive activity for younger children and there are so many ways to play with them!

If you happen to have a light table, these beads would be a lot of fun to play with in a clear container on top of one.  If you don’t have one, you can make your own.  (Check out this tutorial from The Artful Parent.  The same post has tons of ways you can play with water beads!)

A word of caution for those of you with small children: watch them carefully and if they are prone to putting things in their mouths, this might not be the right activity for them.  We got these about a year ago when my kids were 4 and 2 and now they are almost 5 and 3.  You know your kids best.

One of the great things about water beads is that you can keep using them.  We had ours out for about a week and I just added a little bit of water to keep them plump.  After that long, the kids lost interest and the bins were just taking up space on my counter.  When you’re done with them, grab a towel and pour the beads onto it.  The towels will slowly start to soak up the water from the beads and after a couple days they will have shrunk down and dried out.  As they dry out and become smaller, I like to separate them into piles by color.  (I am a little OCD and just putting all the beads together in one bag would drive me nuts!)  I kept the original bags they came in and just put them back in there when I was confident they were completely dry.

If you’re looking for more fun indoor ideas for your kids, check out the links below for more ideas from some super creative moms!

 Kiana  |  Glitter & Donuts
Madeline  |  CaseyLand
Rachel  |  Tutus and Heels
Noelia  |  You Can Call Me Noe
Michelle  |  The Mumsy Blog
Kahana  |  A Beautiful Life
Monica  |  It’s All About