Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 2018 Favorites

Another month has come and gone...July was a rough month for me, but I do have a few favorites to share.

So let's jump in!

Favorite Book: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I was a casual fan of Kristin Hannah until a few years ago, but her last few books have been among my favorite books so far!

The Great Alone is about a young girl and her family set in the 1970s. Her father is a Vietnam War POW who returned home six years after he was captured. He receives a letter telling him he inherited a homestead in Alaska.

I thought this book was well written, and while some of the story was predictable, I ultimately could not predict most of it, which kept me on the edge of my seat.

Favorite Movie: The Incredibles 2
Is this any surprise? I love Disney/Pixar, but I wasn't a big fan of the Incredibles. I thought it was good, but I never watched it a second time until right before we went to see The Incredibles 2. The Incredibles 2 made me love this franchise...Jack Jack is the best character. I am really hoping for a third installment!

Favorite Beauty: Neutrogena Under Eye Brightener
I used one of these from Mary Kay a long time ago, but recently have been finding a brightener much more necessary. When I saw that Neutrogena had a new product, I was eager to try it because I have been loving a lot of the new makeup offerings from Neutrogena.

Favorite Kitchen Supply: My new aprons
I have been meaning to make myself some aprons for a long time, but have never gotten around to it. For my birthday, I got 2 Minnie Mouse aprons and I love them both!

Favorite New Recipe: Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
It takes a while to make, but it is tasty and it just gets better as it marinates in the fridge.

Favorite Memory: My birthday!
My birthday this year was probably one of the best. It was a great day, preceded by a great weekend.

That's it for this month!

What are some of your favorite things this month? Share below!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Motivational Monday: Something Wonderful...

Optimism is probably the core of my personality.

I always look for the best in every situation. Life is difficult and filled with little problems and annoyances at every turn. If you get bogged down in the difficult details, it makes life even more difficult.

Here are some examples of how I look at things...

Today, I picked up a prescription from a doctor that I had a rough appointment with. The prescription she sent to my pharmacy was different than the previous years prescription. After consulting with the pharmacist about the issue, I now need to call the doctor to figure out why it has changed. Either way, this little hiccup made the decision more clear that I need to look for a new doctor next year.

A couple of months ago, we were having difficulties with our truck after it had some warranty work done. Did I really want to spend an undetermined amount of time at the dealer waiting for them to fix what they broke? No. But I looked at it as time to get some reading and planning done.

Whenever I fly, there is always some issue. An ice storm, a problem on my inbound flight, mechanical issues, missed connections...the list goes on. But, I just take a deep breath and think...well, I'm on another adventure!

Now, I don't want you to think I never get irritated or grumpy, because everyone does, but for the most part, it just makes life better to look at the bright side...

A couple of weeks ago, I was delivering a birthday cake to a friend's daughter's birthday party. I got stuck in traffic for over an hour and was thankfully able to drop the cake off in the middle of the party activity. Then, I went to the grocery store and the bright side of the delay popped up...I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in ages and we got the chance to chat for a few minutes.

So just remember, something wonderful is about to happen!

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person? Share below and let me know if reframing a difficult situations changes your outlook.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Homemaker Life: The Genius of a Laundry Day

I don't know about you, but I hate doing the laundry. There is always so much of it, then you have to fold it and put it away and it never ends, because everyone in your house wears clothes and uses linens every day.

So, I have been looking for a way to make laundry bearable.

A lot of people recommend doing a load a day. But, when I do that, I end up doing the same load every day because I forget to put it in the dryer, and then I am behind in laundry again.

So, throwing it back to how generations of housewives have done it before, I instituted a laundry day.

When I started Laundry Day, I planned to do all the laundry and clean the master bedroom and bathroom.

I continually failed at Laundry Day.


Because I kept forgetting to move the laundry and would get behind in folding. Week after week, I would spend all evening folding laundry.

A few weeks ago, I read "How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind" by Dana K.White (I've talked about this before) and she suggested a dedicated Laundry Day.

After thinking about it, it makes sense. Housewives of the 50s and 60s (and earlier) had a dedicated Laundry Day. They washed, dried, folded, ironed and put everything away.

I thought, I can do that.

And you know what?

It works.

Twice in the past month, when I have had an uninterrupted Monday, I completed Laundry Day...even the ironing for the week. I accomplished something I never thought was possible. The Laundry, except for the few items we were wearing, was done.

And, even on my interrupted Mondays, with some planning, I was able to finish everything, except the ironing by the time my husband got home on Monday evening.

What is your laundry strategy? Share below!

Recipe Review: Crock-Pot "Baked" Potatoes

I hate using the oven for dinner in the summer...I can't be alone in that right?

Our kitchen has these amazing windows that overlook our beautiful, forested back yard. They also take on a lot of late afternoon summer sunlight. So, its hard for me to make one of my favorite foods...baked potatoes because it requires the oven to be on for a long time at a high temperature.

So, when I found this recipe for Crock-pot "Baked" Potatoes, I was elated!

Last week, I tried it for the first time and I have to be honest...it cooked the potatoes even better than my oven.

I'm serious. It was better than the oven.

Here is how it went for me.

After you wash the potatoes, you put it on a square of foil, then prick it all over with a fork.

Then you drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Then, you place them in the Crock-Pot and cook them on high for 3-4 hours.

For more information, head on over to wellplated for the recipe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Going to the Beach: What's in My Beach Bag

I love the beach, but I did not grow up going to the beach. When I started going to the beach, I struggled with knowing what to put in my bag. So, if you are like me, keep reading!

I am a beach bag minimalist. We usually rent a house within walking distance and only spend 3-4 hours at a time at the beach because I am terribly fair skinned.

So, what's in my beach bag?

1. Sunscreen, usually several varieties.
I like Neutrogena because that is what my dermatologist wants me to use. I also love Wet Skin sunscreen. It allowed me to spend 7 hours on the beach in the Bahamas last October.

2. A beach towel

3. Bottles of water
I am not usually a fan of plastic bottles, but when we go to the beach, I do pack them in my beach bag. I am also very careful to make sure they leave the beach with me and end up in a recycling bin.

4. Ziploc bags
We use these to put our cell phones in and my beach book when they are not being used.

5. Mesh bags
I am a beach comber and love to collect shells and sea glass and small pieces of driftwood, so I like the mesh bag to collect my treasures in.

6. Bug spray
Sometimes bug spray is necessary, especially if you have to cross dunes to get to the beach.

7. Beach book
The greatest luxury in my life is reading a good book on the beach.

And that is it. I don't like to carry a heavy beach bag and for our short beach stints, we don't need a lot.

What is in your beach bag? Am I missing something that will make my life easier?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Motivational Monday: Do Something Today...

A few months ago, the idea of helping my future self was introduced to me by one of my favorite YouTubers, Sam at Happily a Housewife.

Over the past little few months, I have been helping tomorrow's future self by running the dishwasher or just getting the laundry done instead of letting it linger on for days.

But recently, I have been thinking about how I can help the Jennie in six months. I keep asking myself, What can I do to help myself in six months, or a year?

I have been exercising daily. I do a daily devotional, keep a one sentence a day journal and a gratitude journal, take a German lesson and do a five minute meditation. I am reading as much as I can and I have been fine-tuning my housekeeping skills.

My new morning routine is one that is giving me energy, both mentally and physically, so I know December Jennie will appreciate it, but is it enough? How do you know when you are doing enough or when you are doing too much?

What do you think? Do you keep your future self in mind? Share your thoughts below.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Weekly Menu

Our garden is producing like crazy! So next week, I need to cook up a bunch of fresh veggies. Also, since it is going to be in the 90s again all week next week, I am planning on keeping the heat out of the house and using the grill a lot.

You can click here to get the printable of this menu.

Links to recipes
Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes from Nerdy Mamma
Crock-pot Balsamic Chicken from Skinny Ms.
Coconut Shrimp from Resolution Eats

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Housewife Life: I Got My Dream Job

Years and years ago, I had a fleeting thought...I want to be a travel agent. I honestly thought it was a dying industry and shoved that thought out of my mind.

A few years ago, I started to realize that the travel agent industry had not only survived, it had thrived. I was in the middle of planning our second trip to Walt Disney World and started to hear of thriving travel agencies that specialize in Disney vacations and I thought...hey, that sounds fantastic.

After a bunch of starts and stops, I achieved my dream and am officially a Vacationeer with Ear to There Travel!!!

So, what does that mean for my housewife life?

I was able to complete my training while my husband was out of town last week and am working on carving out an hour every day to dedicate to working, which right now is mostly setting up social media accounts, watching more training videos and learning the programs I need to use.

See, the thing is, that as a stay at home wife, I need something to give me more of a purpose. I love being able to be a homemaker and to serve my family and community. But I also need an outlet, something to do to add value to the family budget. Granted, right now this dream of mine is a drain on the family budget, but soon, it will pay off.

Are you a housewife with a side hustle? Do you have any hints for me on how to make it all work? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kitchen Tip: Keep the Sink Clean

Ok, so a couple of weeks ago I told you to do the dishes. I kept up with that too. Currently, my sink is completely empty of dirty dishes.

The next secret, which Dana K. White backs up in her book "How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind", is to keep the sink clean. Not just empty. Clean. Shine that thing.

Now, I don't break out the special cleaner I use to make it so shiny every day, but every day, I clean it with soap and hot water. Currently, my dish soap of choice is Mrs. Meyer's in the Geranium scent. Try it, it's nice.

And every week, I get out a special scrub brush (read old dish brush), and use Mrs. Meyer's Baking Soda Cleanser in the Lemon Verbena scent to scrub it down. I scrub it and let it set for a few minutes before I go back to rinse it, while still scrubbing it until it is rinsed clean.

Let me tell you, there is no better feeling than an empty, shiny, clean sink!

What do you use to clean your sink? Share below.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Going to the Beach: Rainy Day Ideas

You look forward to going to the beach for weeks...or months. You have a perfect first day or two and then crash...you wake up to a wash out. It stinks.

This has happened to us on every beach trip we have taken. On our first one, there was a hurricane off the coast, that thankfully, stayed off the coast, but sent us a day of rain. On our most recent trip in 2016, Tropical Storm Colin visited us for half of a day.

So what do you do?

We like to sleep in, make a big breakfast and curl up in a chair or in bed and read or watch a movie. If the rain doesn't let up, we like to venture out for lunch and to find some kind of activity to keep us amused.

Here are my top 5 choices for rainy days at the beach

1. Find a local museum...or three.
Depending on where you are, there will likely be several interesting museums you can visit. If they are on the smaller size, you may want to visit more than one.

2. Find an indoor activity.
Bowling alleys, arcades, or laser tag are all fun options for an active group.

3. Movie Day
Try renting movies from Redbox or Amazon, pop a bunch of popcorn and get movie box candy.

4. Take a class.
In most beach communities, there will be some kind of pottery painting or canvas painting classes you can take on a rainy day.
Pro Tip: If you do the pottery painting, remember to check to see when the pottery will be ready to pick up.

5. Game Day
Break out the board games or video games and get competitive!

What are your favorite rainy day beach activities? Share below!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Motivational Monday: Forward is Forward

In the past, I let myself get discouraged because I felt like I wasn't making progress. My discouragement could derail me for months at a time, sometimes years at a time.

When I started this year and launched my 18 for 2018 project, I realized that even though I don't cross an item off the list every month, I can work toward the items on my list. For every item on my list, I have tangible steps I can take.

Here is an example:
Remodel Bathroom
Step 1: Save Money for Remodel
Step 2: Lock Down Design for Remodel
Step 3: Find a Contractor and Get a Quote
Step 4: Negotiate Quote
Step 5: Go!

Right now, I am stuck on step 4...

But, I am trying to not allow myself to be discouraged. I have made progress. I have the funds to complete the project. I have the fixtures chosen for the project. I have a contractor. I have the original quote. I am just waiting on some changes I asked him to make to lessen the sting of his quote.

The quote I found on Pinterest for this week perfectly demonstrates the sentiment I am trying to capture this year...Your Speed Doesn't Matter, Forward is Forward - Unknown

Do you get discouraged when it seems you aren't getting things done quick enough? Have you ever been derailed by discouragement? Share your story in the comments.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekly Menu

Guys. I upped my weekly menu game. I think you will like it. I will continue to improve! Stick with me!

I made this printable so you can print it off and add what you need for lunches and breakfasts and your pantry. Links to recipes are below.

Recipe Links: 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Housewife Life: Grieving my cat

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen the decline of my sweet cat Lexi, but here is the full story.

We adopted Lexi in September of 2005 mostly because we thought our cat Twitch needed a buddy. Lexi became the light of my life. She was very skittish in the beginning, but she was always next to me. For years, she would sit next to me and groom while I put on my makeup in the morning.

Soon after we adopted Lexi, they were a bonded pair.
She loved Twitch and after a few years, Chris became her favorite human. She was always grooming Twitch and covering his litterbox deposits. She was a serious mouse hunter. She loved Christmas trees. She loved scrambled eggs with cheese. She also loved parmesan cheese and milk. She was always skeptical and never liked to be handled. But once she trusted you, she loved you so much.

The first time she slept on Chris's lap!

In July of 2016, Lexi was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, which meant we had to give her medicine every twelve hours. The first few weeks were rough, but we fell into a routine that both of us could handle.
Greeting us upon returning home, almost always together.
In March of 2017, we lost Twitch due to an undefined neurological issue and Lexi and I grieved him together. She became my shadow.

Without Twitch, we started allowing her into the bedroom at night and she would sleep on my hip or lower back most of the night. She became much more vocal about needing to be fed. She played more, she cuddled with us more.

Morning cuddles
At the beginning of June, she began hiding at medicine times and it became difficult to get her every dose. She was losing weight again. On Sunday, June 10, we decided to move up her yearly exam, so I had planned to call the vet the following day.

On Monday afternoon, she began running into walls, so I rushed her to the vet and they confirmed that her retinas had detached, leaving her blind, and began to run tests.

Blood tests confirmed the worst, she had mid-stage chronic kidney disease, and super high blood pressure. So we added blood pressure medicine to the daily routine and began feeding her a low protein diet.

She hated it and continued to lose weight, so we were faced with a decision. Continue the low protein diet that she wouldn't eat and let her waste away, or go back to the food she loved and know our time with her was limited.

Lexi was at least 18 1/2 years old. We decided quality of life was better than quantity at this point and went back to the food she loved.

After a weekend at the kennel, she was acting strange, so we took her back to the vet on July 3. We found out her kidneys had deteriorated much faster than the vet had anticipated and she had progressed to end stage kidney failure.

Cuddled in her favorite blanket
We decided on Tuesday to give her fluids, a B vitamin shot and get a few more days with her. She laid on my lap almost continuously her last few days, and I knew she felt horrible. Lexi was not a lap kitty. It was always a big deal when she decided to lay on your lap and she never did it for long. The last few days, she was on my lap, cuddled up against my stomach for 90 minutes at a time.

I basically made loving her my job for her last few days. If she wanted on my lap, I provided a lap.

Friday, July 6, we took her to the vet and held her as she took her last breaths.

My heart is broken and I feel like our house is missing some essential part of its energy. As I am writing this, it has only been two days, and I am really, really sad. I don't know how long it will take to stop feeling for her in the morning before I get out of bed or how long it will take me to wake up without my first thoughts being about feeding her. I feel a little lost...

Have you lost a pet? Share your story in the comments

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Rice Recipe

A few months ago, a friend and I took a Salud Cooking Class at Whole Foods. The instructor taught us a delicious recipe for Thai Red Curry with Shrimp. But for me, the ingredients are difficult to acquire without making special trips across town to different grocery stores.

But, we love Thai Red Curry and I wanted to adjust the recipe to use ingredients I could get on this side of town so my Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Rice Recipe was born.

To start, prepare the ingredients and start the rice.

Then, heat 1/4-1/2 cup coconut oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan. When oil is preheated, add chicken.

While chicken is sauteeing, heat another skillet over medium heat. Open a can of coconut milk and scoop out just the cream. Heat the cream for about 90 seconds and add 1/2 tbsp-2 tbsp red curry paste to the cream and allow to cook for about 2 minutes to let the curry flavor develop.

Add rest of coconut milk, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp lime juice, 2-3 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 zucchini cut into bite sized pieces.

At this point, it is crucial to taste the curry. I have found that I usually need to add just a dash more lime juice and sugar to make it perfect.

Cook for 10-15 minutes until zucchini is tender.

When the chicken is done, cut it into bite sized pieces. Add it to the curry when the zucchini is tender.

Serve over rice.

Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Rice

1/4 cup-1/2 cup coconut oil
6 chicken tenderloins

Heat ½ cup coconut oil over medium heat. Season chicken salt and pepper and sautee chicken until browned.

Slice into bite sized pieces.

While chicken is cooking, start the curry.

1 14 oz can coconut milk, divided into cream and milk
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (start with 1 tbsp and increase according to taste)
¼ c fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lime juice
2-3 tbsp tomato paste (I didn’t measure, I just squeezed)
2 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add coconut cream and when hot, add the curry paste. Cook curry paste for a few minutes to develop flavor.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, tomato paste and zucchini. Mix well.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Cook for 10-15 minutes until the zucchini is tender.

Add chicken to reheat.

Serve over rice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Going to the Beach: Game Night Tips and Ideas

We are planning our fifth beach trip and my favorite night of every trip is Game Night!

Here are some tips and ideas on how to plan a great Beach Trip Game Night...

1. Create a signature cocktail
We always mix up a pitcher of our drink of the day so the flow of the game isn't interrupted for refills!

2. Plan fun and easy snacks
My OCD brain can't handle a lot of mess, so I like to plan easy, neat snacks for game night.  Popcorn is always a go to, but you can up your popcorn game by having add ins like M&Ms, Red Hots, Goldfish, Marshmallows, Chocolate Chips, etc. 
For those with a sweet tooth, I like to get some cookies, brownies or cupcakes.

3. Have a few fun game choices.
I like to have a variety, like board games, cards, dominoes and some interactive games. I usually choose a more complicated game for the beginning of the night before the signature cocktails kick in and then pull out one of our game night classics later in the evening.

4. Have a fun playlist or open the windows if you can hear the beach
There are always going to be lulls in conversation as people concentrate or get tired...and having a playlist to fill the silence and keep the mood elevated is key.

What are your favorite games for game night? Do you have a favorite game night snack?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Motivational Monday: Be Fearless

Fear has stopped me from doing so many things in my life. Now has never been a good time for anything. I'm too busy, my house is too messy, I could be better at what I am doing now before I make my life more complicated.

But you know what?

Life is short and I am already almost 36. I am almost 36 and have just now started to figure out what I want in my life.

I want to share my story, my struggles, my life in the hopes that other people can learn or at least commisserate and feel less alone in their struggles. I want to travel the world and help others travel the world. I want to adopt a baby or an 8 year old...I'm still working on the details of that one.

But I want to move. Now is the time.

And I need to thank Buzzfeed Health on Instagram for this week's motivational quote...Be Fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire...

Has fear stopped you? Are you paralyzed by not feeling like you are enough right now to go for your dreams? Share your story below.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Weekly Menu

I am going to start sharing my weekly menu for those of you who struggle with meal planning. Chris will be out of town part of the week, so I will be eating out more than normal.

Grilled Fish
Baked Potatoes in the Crockpot

Thai Chicken Curry


Kielbasa and Veggies Sheet Pan Meal


Sauteed Chicken


Let me know if you try any of these recipes... Enjoy!

If you do enjoy them, follow me on Pinterest to see what else I am looking at!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Kitchen Tip: Do the Dishes

Do the dishes.

Ok. It seems basic. But my theory is backed up by Dana K. White in her book "How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind".

Doing the dishes takes less time if you do them daily, or after every meal if you do not have a dishwasher.

Think about it. Finding five minutes to unload the dishwasher and five minutes to load the dishwasher every day is way easier than finding an hour every few days to unload, load and then hand wash what doesn't fit.

White calls it Dishes Math. For me, getting the dishes done every day feels like an accomplishment, I feel proud of myself when I start the dishwasher every night.

What about you? Do you keep up with the dishes? Do you feel proud when you do the dishes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trip Report: Weekend in Indiana

Thursday, Chris and I left for a weekend at my best friend's house in Indiana. This trip was a little different for me, because we would be staying in a hotel instead of at her house. Typically, when I am visiting alone, I just crash on her couch.

We arrived in Anderson, Indiana at the Best Western Plus Anderson around 11:20 PM local time. The lobby was small, but clean and nicely decorated...the chandelier was amazing. We were quickly checked in by the friendly and professional front desk worker. We got room 114, which was perfect for our trip.

We got two queen beds and checked the room for cleanliness before settling in and I quickly unpacked and we got to bed.

Chris had to work Friday, so I spent the day working in my planners, researching and reading. We enjoyed the breakfast at the hotel. The food on the bar was so-so, but they were cooking some food to order and it looked good...though I didn't try it. The breakfast area looks over a small yard with some bird feeders in it.

View from the breakfast area at the Best Western Plus Anderson

Chris working

Me napping while Chris is taking a webinar that bored me to sleep.

For lunch, we visited the Panera in Anderson...it was so busy, we went back to the hotel to eat it. The food was good!

Around 5:45, we left our hotel to head to see Tiffany and the boys! We spent the evening chatting, and eating dinner and watching movies with her boys before heading back to the hotel for the night. Dinner was from B&K Rootbeer Stand in Alexandria. I had a Maxi Burger, French Fries and a Rootbeer and really enjoyed it!

Me and Owen
Saturday, Tiffany picked us up to take us to El Burro Loco in Anderson for lunch. The food was good, but the service was slow...

I had arroz con pollo and the table shared the queso dip. The arroz con pollo was delicious and the queso was a good queso, not too spicy, but not too bland either.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the indoor pool and hot tub. The pool was very nice, the shallow end was a bit cool. There was a waterfall in the deep end that was heating the water.

Cooper ready to swim...in the hotel room.
After some swimming and splashing, we hopped in the hot tub and then dried off. We "napped" in the hotel room before heading back to Tiffany's for the evening. On the way we stopped at McDonald's in Alexandria for drinks...do not pay with cash...they can not count change. Then we picked up food at The Curve in Alexandria.

Snacking and playing on tablets
I had the cranberry bog salad...it was good and they did not skimp on the toppings...I actually had to give up before I finished the salad. Chris got the stromboli...he said it was good, but it was definitely not a stromboli...it was more like a sandwich.

Me and Cooper
We hung out with Tiffany and the boys until around midnight and then headed back to the hotel.

Chris and Cooper playing Minecraft Saturday night
Sunday, I got up early to get our bags packed so we could spend a few hours with Tiffany and the boys before we headed home. We picked up donuts at Delux Donuts in Anderson. The cake donuts were great, but I had a French cruller, which is usually a favorite, and it had a weird lard taste.

Chris and Cooper playing Minecraft again on Sunday
I had the best weekend. Tiffany and I have been friends for 30 years. Weekends like this one, where we just hung out, swam, ate, chatted, feel like we are back in middle school doing the same things we did then. Being with Tiffany calms my soul in a way that is hard to explain. I feel at peace with her.

Me and Hodie the dog
Me and the boys. I interrupted tablet time for the photo ;)

Best friends for 30 years...Love her so much...

Have you been friends with someone forever? Is there anyone you can just be in a room with and not need anything? Share your story below!