birthdays and girls trips

I remember writing a blog post around this time last year about a Bible study group. Most of the groups who meet in my area, meet during the day, and it just didn’t jive with my working schedule. We attend a very small church, so this isn’t a small group that we meet together with on a regular basis.

I’ve participated in group Bible study settings before, and I knew in my heart that it was something I wanted to be a part of once again. The difficult task was finding something that fit my needs and my schedule. After writing that post, Kristin emailed me about joining a Bible study group she was a part of with a great group of local girls. I jumped at the chance and it has been such a great part of my life for the past year. It’s amazing how God finds us right where we are to give us just what we need. This group has been such an answered prayer and I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of these girls.

Last Thursday evening, we packed up and headed to Gatlinburg for a few days of peace and quiet in the mountains. Leaving my sweet family behind is always tough for me, but I quickly realized this trip was just what I needed.

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We spent Friday and Saturday exploring Gatlingburg, cheering on the Tide, and playing a never-ending game of Phase 10.

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We perfected the group selfie, ate more junk food than should be allowed, and participated in tons of touristy fun.

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We headed back home to our families on Sunday morning, my 28th birthday. It’s crazy to think about just how fast this year has gone by, so many wonderful changes in my life. I certainly don’t feel older. Unless you account for the fact that I have to use Google to figure things out, like what Bye, Felicia means. Let’s face it, I may still feel like my 20-year-old self, but this current version finds 10:00 PM bedtimes way more appealing than hitting the town, any day of the week.

It’s a sweet life I live, and I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s out there. My days seem to fly by, sometimes they’re chaotic and unruly, sometimes we stay in pj’s all day, but this sweet season is right where I want to be.

Even coming home to candles in a gingerbread house.

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Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends! Let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room. Where in the world have I been? With the exception of a few sponsored posts, I’ve sort of dipped out for the past few weeks. I feel like I might be having a bit of a blog identity crisis, and I’m hoping to remedy that situation, starting today.

What better way to start off Friday than a good round of Five on Friday??

ONE: Once upon a time, when I wasn’t on crazy diets, I was always pulling recipes from Skinny Taste. Y’all, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked something from her site that wasn’t a hit (at least for me, sometimes Allen and I don’t always agree). Well, last week I cooked up her Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach, and it was delicious! I actually cooked half and froze half, and we still ate it for lunch the next day.

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TWO: Can I tell you a funny story? I’m about 4 weeks overdue for a good salon appointment. Spoiler alert: blonde isn’t my natural color. I know, I know. Shocker. Apparently, it’s pretty obvious, so obvious that while getting BK ready for school she said: Mom, did you know that sunflower seeds have nickle in them? That’s good for your hair to help it not change colors. You know ’cause you hair looks like brown then blonde, I think that’s ’cause you need more nickel.” 

THREE: I’m usually sitting firmly in the No Christmas Before Thanksgiving Camp, but last night we put up the big Christmas tree. And I’m loving every cozy Christmas vibe in my living room. I even ordered the Advent Calendar from Naptime Diaries yesterday to string up and display come December 1.  You can order them through 3:00 today to get it by December 1, I even used sweet Blue Eyed Bride’s code for 10% off (blueeyedbride at checkout).

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FOUR: Guess what could literally be finished in about two hours with a few tiny projects and two pretty marble black splashes? The craft room/office suite that I’m absolutely smitten with downstairs. One of my favorite projects was more like an after thought, I went back and forth about how to store my ribbon and wrapping supplies, and ultimately ended up with this huge peg board that was completely Allen’s idea.

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FIVE: Can we go ahead and excuse any typos that this blog post inevitably has? Because it’s TGIT tonight! You know the trifecta of Grey’s, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder? We should probably be responsible adults and save a few for the weekend, but it’s the mid-season finale, so I’ll probably be up way past my bedtime, and the it’ll be time for my midnight chat session with baby Jud.

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Happy Friday, friends!! I have a ton to catch you up on Monday, see you then!

 

 

 

create the perfect holiday look with mary kay

I’ve worked with Mary Kay® a few times and I always love sharing their products with you. In times past, the products I’ve received from them have included lots fun colors and allow me to step outside my makeup comfort zone. I have to say that this was one of my favorite looks! When I saw the shimmery eye colors and bold red lip color, I was immediately excited about dressing up with this look for the holidays.

After trying the lip color just once, I was sold. I haven’t saved it for the holidays, not at all. I’ve been wearing this fun color every day. To get the look I lined my lips with Plum Lip Liner, if you’re like me and a little nervous with a lip liner pencil, don’t fret. It was really simple, I lightly traced my lips with the liner, and then add NouriShine Plus® Lip Gloss in Sparkle Berry. Once I added the Sparkle Berry, the colors blended it so well, I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more perfect holiday red.

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But, it’s not just the lips that created this look. The eye color complimented my lips perfectly. Each color is from their Mineral Eye Color collection. To start with, I swept a little Granite mineral eye color over my eyelids and used a blending brush to blend it to my temple area. Then, I applied Moonstone mineral eye color to the inner corners of my eyelids and swept a little more color along my brow bone. To complete the dramatic eye look, I accented with Coal mineral eye color. I used a little Black eyeliner along the top and bottom of my lash lines, and completed the look with Ultimate Mascara in Black.

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I have to say that I was already sold on this look before I even finished it off with blush. I’m kind of sold on the blush I normally use, but that all changed when I put on a little Mineral Cheek Color in Sparkling Cider. It really completed the look by adding color and warmth to my cheeks. I actually wore this look to our Halloween party and I had several people asking about the new look. I’m pretty smitten the mineral products and the whole Merry Berry look.

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To see more looks and learn more about Mary Kay®, be sure to check out their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram account! You can also go here for more great winter looks!

You can win your own prize package from Mary Kay® along with a $100 Visa gift card. To enter for a chance to win, tell me in the comments: what’s your favorite way to get a great holiday look? Thanks to Mary Kay®, my best way achieve a holiday look is with perfect red lips!

 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/17/2014 – 12/21/2014.

Be sure to visit the Mary Kay brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Learning is Fun with the Kurio Xtreme Tablet

It’s no secret that I’m a big proponent of teaching children early and making it fun. I don’t think it has to be structured and rigid, but as a former kindergarten teacher, I do know you want your child to come to school prepared with a good solid base for jumping into the curriculum. With that being said, I know you are going to be hard-pressed to get much from 3 and 4 years olds, which is why I think learning should be creative and fun. That’s where the Kurio Xtreme comes into the picture.

At our house, we have several tablets, but I haven’t seen one quite like Kurio Xtreme. Tablets can be costly, no doubt. Then, you get home to find that you can’t really do anything with the tablet without purchasing apps. Here’s one of the many ways the Kurio Xtreme is different: it comes loaded with over $300 worth of games and apps that kids want! Another thing that instantly drew me to this tablet was the body motion gaming. This tablet allows kids to get up and move while they’re playing games. Kurio Xtreme features the first ever body motion gaming on a tablet. I think this is going to revolutionize the way kids use their tablets. The Kurio Xtreme comes packed with 10 body motion games; they’re loaded and ready to go when you purchase the tablet! As parents, I know we’re all worried about internet safety. It’s a hot topic around our house. My husband and I have frequent conversations about safe guarding technology in order for our daughter to get the best online experience without being subjected to the harsh reality that the internet can be a bad place. We both loved that the Kurio Xtreme allows us to restrict websites and apps, while allowing the content and apps that we think are appropriate. It also monitors in-app web pop-ups through the “Kurio Genius” filtering system. IMG_1875 The Parental Area is password protected and further enhanced with other parental controls. When setting up the tablet, we definitely took advantage of the time restraints. We closely monitor and limit screen time, and it’s a great way for our daughter to self-check herself. While our son isn’t old enough for tablets just yet, we love the fact that you can have up to 8 different profiles with different settings and controls. Everyone can use the same tablet, which is a huge money saver, especially for large families. The tablet isn’t just for smaller kids, it allows older kids to safely message and email friends, take photos and video, and surf the web. In my opinion, this tablet is great for creative learning and play. I love the preloaded eBooks for children. The books allow your child to interact and explore within the pages of the book to gain a deeper understanding of the books. If they aren’t ready to read quite yet, the book will even read the pages to them. I always say the best tool for reading and early literacy is exposure, and I allow her to gain exposure from many different mediums. IMG_1892 If we didn’t already have this tablet, it would certainly be under our tree on Christmas morning. It’s the perfect tablet for children, available in stores now, and it’s a price point that we were pleased with considering all of the extras that it has ($129.99). Want to win your own Kurio Xtreme? Leave a comment below telling me your child’s favorite way to learn or play on a tablet and you will be entered to win!

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

 The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/12/2014 – 12/8/2014.

Be sure to visit the Kurio’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

     

October Rewind

Does anyone else sort of feel like October was a blur? I sure do! We packed a good bit into the month, but we still didn’t manage to carve a pumpkin. I did tell Allen that he probably needed to bond with BK over pumpkin carving sometime this week. Kidding.

We start out this month with a trip to Boo at the Zoo, we’re huge fans of the Birmingham Zoo, so we like to attend whatever fun they’re planning. We definitely looked at the radar before the trip, and we actually thought the rain would miss us at the zoo. Wrong. While on the hay ride (that has exactly one spot to turn around) we were stuck in a little thunderstorm. Thunder, lightening, torrential down pour, we were soaked! Thankfully, Allen had stayed covered with baby Jud, and BK had an extra set of clothes in the car. As for me? Well, it was a cold ride home!

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We also went on BK’s first field trip this year! Nanny came over and babysat baby Jud, and BK and I hit up the pumpkin patch with her classmates. I rarely get alone time with this girl anymore, so it was a fun time with just the two of us.

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We had a fall festival at church and both kiddo’s had the best time!

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BK celebrated Farmer’s Day at school last Thursday by dressing up like a farmer and having a fun little class party.

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And another party with her dance class. There were 7 Elsa’s at the party. That’s right, seven. I just laughed at the all the Elsa’s, but I know that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sweet girl was so proud of her Elsa dress with real “sequels” (sequins).

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Friday was a big day at our house. Allen decided last minute to throw a Halloween party. He said, “just get some pizzas and make it simple.” Which is crazy, I don’t do simple, however, I will do pizza! I dressed BK and Jud up before the party because I knew things had the potential to get hectic, and I didn’t want to miss a shot of Queen Elsa and Olaf.

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I ordered his little hat from Etsy, and embellished a white romper for his costume. Super easy.

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Elsa basically serenaded with Frozen songs the entire day and froze everything she came into contact with, including baby Jud.

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I failed big time at the party picture taking. We had the party outside and it got dark way quicker than I anticipated. We had about 40 of our friends and family over for the occasion. The kids all went trick or treating on a hay ride, we roasted marshmallows, they painted pumpkins, ate s’mores, and shared lots of laughs.

I’ve never loved Halloween so much. Truly, it was the best day. I loved seeing how excited BK was as she trick or treated from house to house and downed M&M’s in between ringing door bells.

Here’s a little peek of the party (I’m 99% sure this is our new annual tradition):

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Hope you all had a fun-filled October as well!

 

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