On becoming…

There is something miraculous and stirring about watching friends you used to play Hide and Seek with become parents. 

You knew them when they had those bangs that went back to the crown of their head and had the biggest crush on Nick Carter. You knew the silly jokes and funny shows they loved and how goofy they could be. You were there for their first kiss and first breakup. You were there for the wild and crazy teenage things and then graduation. 

And now? Now they are wiping noses and speaking gently to their little ones. They are sharing recipes and struggles. Their only crush is their pillow, because sleep is so lacking. 

You have watched them walk through different phases of growing up, but now they are walking into their best self. Becoming the most selfless version of themselves, laying down their lives daily for the precious children they brought into the world. 

It hit me as we were hanging out with a couple we have known for years, just how much we have changed. For the better, I might add. We were all gentler, more aware of the people around us. More in tune with the atmosphere and each other. We have a lot of differences, but also a lot of similarities. The common ground of raising kids can really bring people to a place of deep understanding that we are all just doing the best we can.

It’s wild how swiftly life can change.

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Growing in Grace

It seems as though taking a break for awhile, a breather, can be good for the soul. Especially when you begin losing sight of what’s important. 

Then it’s time to get back to the basics. What is most important? Why?

Writer’s block is real, y’all. Of course, I’m sure you know that. Having collected a bevy of topics to discuss on here, every time I would pull one up my brain would screech to a stop and throw itself on the floor and start kicking its feet. “NO! I WON’T DO IT!” Just like my precious 3 year old.

How can a grown woman’s brain pitch a 3 year old hissy fit? Your guess is as good as mine! But after taking time to really dig in and think about it, I realized that I was writing blog posts for the wrong reasons. I was trying to emulate some of the greats (AND FAILING, I might add) instead of just being myself. 

God has been so gracious this last little while. He has shown me how he really feels about me, and YOU, and that I need to rest in his opinion of me…not that of others. It’s a tough concept to grasp, I’m not gonna lie. Especially as a recovering people pleaser. 

I also picked up a book by Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write, at our public library. What a different perspective this book has given me, and I’m only about 20 pages in! She talks about being your own kind of original and writing because it’s how we were made. Writing, for some, is their way of bringing glory to God because it’s how they express their views of this world and how he wonderfully he created it. It’s seeing the world through the lens of God’s glory and our thanksgiving. 

So, I may not be posting as often as I would like, because life, but I am grateful to have gained some perspective and gotten the writing itch back. 

Here’s to bringing God glory through the gifts he has given us!

Upside Down Coffee Cake?

Some recipes just don’t turn out the way you expect. It would be nice right? However, some of those strange end-products end up being the best thing ever!

Enter the “Upside Down Coffee Cake”.

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It started out perfectly…a beautiful, simple batter.

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A yummy, crunchy streusel topping.

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And then…some kind of witchcraft happened in my oven. The streusel melted to the bottom of the pan!

I don’t know what happened, y’all. I did do a couple of things differently from the original recipe, and that was to not melt the butter in the batter. I used softened butter instead, and it was really soft! Also, instead of sour cream, I used the plain yogurt I had on hand.

No matter what this crazy cake looked like, it was DELISH. And I say WAS because, even though I made it yesterday, it’s gone. No mas. Hasta la vista, cakey.

My husband called me as I was on my way to take the kids to Wednesday night church just to tell me how good it was! Although, to be fair, he thought it was the best cornbread he had ever eaten, ha! Because there wasn’t streusel on top, y’all! But it WAS so so good.

There are tons of kitchen fails around here, but some fails end up being the tastiest thing my people have eaten in awhile…I’m not sure if that’s good or bad!!

So here is the recipe I used for this amazing cake…hopefully your streusel will stay put:

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Cinnamon Coffee Cake

  • 12cups all-purpose flour
  • 12teaspoons baking powder
  • 34cup sugar
  • 12cup butter, softened
  • 12cup plain yogurt/ sour cream
  • 12teaspoon salt
  • 1egg
  • 12cup milk
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 12cup brown sugar
  • 2tablespoons butter
  • 2tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Batter: Sift 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg until frothy. Beat in sugar and butter until combined. Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture a little at a time and mix on low until combined. Do not over mix. If the batter is too stiff add a little more milk.
  2. Streusel topping: Combine last 4 ingredients (make sure your butter for the streusel is chilled) in a small bowl and mix together, then set aside.
  3. Put 1/2 the batter in a 8×8 – inch greased pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1/2 streusel over batter. Repeat. Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (My oven did not think this was enough time, so I had to bake mine for about 45 minutes.)

Enjoy your tasty mistakes!

3 Reasons Why You Need to Wash Your Face

Y’all, my heart for this blog is to bring you budget-friendly foods and ideas, encouragement and taking care of yourself, and the craziness that is my life. And in the vein of taking care of and investing in yourself to be the best YOU you can be, I want to share the occasional skincare tip and some of my favorite products. This is something that I am passionate about because I was once so self-conscious about my skin, which affected my confidence in every other area of my life. Once I started taking better care of my skin, I noticed and so did others. “When you look good, you feel good,” is so true! 

As a makeup-hating teen, I still found it necessary to buy powders and creams to cover up my acne and *attempt* to cover up my freckles. I wear these angel kisses proudly now, thank you!

But no one ever shared with me the importance of taking your makeup off before bed. Sure, I knew I had to wash my face in the shower, but never before bed. So eyeliner and all, I slept in makeup until I was in college. And even then, I washed my face at night maybe 3 times a week at best.

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Y’all, I can’t sugar coat this one. It is an awful habit. Sleeping in makeup can cause all kinds of issues with your skin. Here are 3 reasons why you should NEVER sleep in your makeup:

  1. Sleeping in your makeup causes you to age 7 times faster. Yep, you read that correctly. Do you want to wake up with 7 times more wrinkly than when you went to bed? Then take your makeup off.
  2. Sleeping in makeup causes breakouts. This one seems pretty obvious, but it is true. Why risk any extra acne? Makeup traps bacteria and oil on your face, so when you don’t clean it off before bed, your skin can’t get the breathing room it needs.
  3. Sleeping in makeup causes pores to become larger. Did you know that gravity affects everything, including pores? Well, imagine what gravity paired with extra baggage (i.e. makeup) does to pores…it doesn’t paint a pretty picture does it?

Now that we know these lovely facts, whatcha gonna do about it?

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Well, take your makeup off! Micellar water, cleansing cloths, baby shampoo…whatever works for your skin- DO IT. Your skin will start to look more vibrant and younger once you start regularly removing makeup!

I use Epielle Cleansing Cloths that I buy from Big Lots. I’ve tried Target’s, Kroger’s and Walmart’s cloths (because budget), but even the sensitive ones burned my eyes. Epielle doesn’t do that, so I will go out of my way to go to Big Lots for them!

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Hopefully this post was helpful! I will be co-hosting a “Take It All Off Challenge” in a few weeks to encourage women to take off their makeup each night. We have a ton of fun and there are prizes to be had! If you’d like to join us on Facebook for this challenge, email me- we’d love to have you!

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Brunch- The New Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch. Honestly, it’s my meal nemesis of the week.

Easy dinners? Done. Breakfast? Have some cereal, kids. Saturday lunch? Grilled cheese or quesadillas baby! BUT SUNDAY LUNCH? Does anyone else get that feeling after church like, “Do I really have to go home and cook? I’m in my Sunday clothes!” Most Sundays, I beg the Mad Scientist to take me to CookOut for BBQ and hushpuppies (If y’all haven’t tried CookOut, then you MUST. BBQ. Milkshakes. Hushpuppies. The best, hands down.) but being the good steward of our finances, he usually doesn’t cave.

And honestly, we get out of church at 10:15, so technically I have plenty of time to cook lunch…I just don’t want to.

TODAY however, I had a plan. My precious friend, Ellyn, gave me bread starter and this past week I made a batch. Mind you, a batch is THREE loaves, but I made it. The only problem? I have ONE loaf pan.

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So I decided to make some “artisan” bread. (Read: Let the dough rise on a cookie sheet and hope for the best.) They were MASSIVE flat round loaves of bread.

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They’ve been sitting on the counter needing a purpose, so what better way to use them than in French Toast? Decision made. Today we would enjoy brunch after church. It also helped that Kroger had breakfast sausage links on mega sale. 

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How do you make your French Toast? I don’t measure a thing. I throw some eggs in and add milk. This, my friends, is where I USED to stop. That would be it. Bland, sad french toast. Somehow the Lord knew my family needed something a little tastier. The idea came out of nowhere…while watching the Food Network. There on the TV was a cooking show where the chef was adding cinnamon and vanilla to the egg wash.

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Y’all. LIFE CHANGING.

Vanilla adds depth and richness, and cinnamon adds happiness. Cinnamon adds happiness to everything. If I can put cinnamon in something, I will. I love cinnamon! French toast is now a favorite around these parts!

Not only that, but it uses some of the least expensive ingredients we have on hand! And we always have bread, milk and eggs on hand. You know, in case a snowstorm hits us. In September. And thanks to buying up $0.28/dz eggs at Aldi, we had enough for toast and a side!

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Voila! A cheap meal to fill tummies and leave me with minimal dishes! It’s a win-win!

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Yep. Burned the sausage. Mama would be proud!

For the recipe, I bank on 8 big pieces of bread for our family and use about 1 egg per 2 pieces. Then add about 1/2C milk, 2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon, or more if you’re feelin’ spicy! Soak each piece and put on a griddle or in a pan and heat/flip until the egg is cooked on all sides of the bread.

What is your favorite French Toast recipe?

 

Push It…Push It Real Good!

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This taco headband is where it’s at.

Have you ever done something to push yourself? Have you ever really tested your limits- whether self-imposed or not?

Running every day (Oh heeeeey, it’s break day today! Gimme all the breads!) has pushed me in every way.

Every day I try to push myself a little farther, a little faster. I’ll run to that stop sign. OK, I didn’t die so I’ll run to that mailbox. Look, I made it! Maybe I’ll run to the next street. I tell myself, “Just a little more. You can give just a little more.” And every day I do. And every day I learn a little something about myself.

That I CAN make time to do this.

That I still got it.

That I may just hit this goal.

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In my previous life as a newly married, childless woman, I trained for a 10K. I was probably running around 7 miles a day, but I had the time to do it. It wasn’t difficult to make time when I could go to bed whenever and wake up whenever. I also didn’t need to watch my liquid intake as much. All you mamas feel me. My body was still young and hadn’t been through the stretching and pulling and sagging that comes along with growing humans. It was A LOT EASIER THEN.

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Pushing myself to hit this goal, this big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) of running a half in 2 months has been one of the toughest, most painful challenges I’ve given myself yet. This ol’ body needs extra love this go around. BUT taking this challenge on has given me some serious gumption, if you will.

I’ve written in my blog every day. I’ve been able to give better service to my customers. I’ve been a happier, more energized wife and mom.

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That’s the MOON behind me. Finished my run about 6:15am.

What I’m finding is that when you push yourself to reach a goal, whatever it is, it brings about this confidence that overflows into other areas of life. You CAN do the thing, so why couldn’t you do another thing? And pushing yourself somehow brings about more productivity and more energy. Laundry seems to get done a little quicker when I’ve got another goal to work for. Not to get too “woowoo” but your energy really affects everything. Or as the saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” So true.

So what are you working toward? How can you push yourself a little more? What motivates you?

 

How Do You Measure Progress?

I think it’s in my blood. The need to beat my PR. On anything.

Baking. Swimming. Running. The number of laundry loads I can complete before the end of the day- washed, dried, folded and put away. Don’t get too excited folks, that PR ain’t high. But the need is there.

And there is this funny thing about goals- you can set them, but if you don’t really care about that goal you are not going to work for it. You’ve got to feel so strongly about hitting the goal that nothing can stop you. Not a million “No’s”, not a cold, not a broken bone, not a schedule conflict…nothing will stop you.

But what if it takes you longer than you planned on to reach your goal?

Y’all, I used to struggle so hard with this. If I didn’t hit a goal, I would beat myself up. Negative thoughts and self-defeating language would flood my brain. Not only did that tear me down, it took my family down too. How could I preach kindness, mercy and selflessness to my boys when I wasn’t showing any of those things to myself, and in turn not showing those attributes to them? It affected my relationship with my husband too. I wasn’t worthy. I couldn’t live up to my own standards, so how could I live up to his?

When I was discussing this with my precious friend and mentor, she gave me this nugget of wisdom- celebrate each milestone.

Every step you take forward is a celebration! So you didn’t meet your goal, but you made progress! What did you learn along the way? Did you try harder than you did before? Did you make it farther than you thought you could? Then celebrate!

So I did…and it was life-changing.

Every little win was cause for a celebration. A pat on the back. A lovely thing to put in my jar. All you “Looking for Lovely” friends know what’s up. I was making progress. And with each celebration, with each moment of thanks for that win, the negativity slowly went away. I am naturally a glass-half-full kinda gal anyways, so living in this sad place was misery. Once I was able to find ways to find the joy and be thankful, I was able to find joy and thanksgiving in more and more. It’s the kind of cycle we need to be on. When that happens, it becomes habit and becomes how you see the world. Some days can be hard, but as a general rule it’s relatively easy to see the wins when you’ve had practice.

I want to encourage you to look for little wins along the way to your goal.

Have a weight loss goal? Every pound lost is a reason to celebrate!

Have a business goal? Every sale is a chance to give yourself a high five!

Have another super awesome goal? Find a win to celebrate!

For me, I have a goal to run a half marathon in November. Every time I run, I try to walk a little less. Or maybe run a little faster. Or go a little further. But every time I do one of those, I celebrate because I did better than before. I may not hit my goal of running the whole 13.1 miles, but I sure am going to try. And if I have to walk some it’s ok- I have never done this before and even being in a half-marathon is awesome. I will have made progress.

So how do YOU measure progress?