Monday, July 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday Goals

Now that I have the all-clear from my doctor, it's time to start losing weight again. Between actual bed rest and just feeling crumby, I gained a lot of weight. My goal is to lose 25 pounds by Christmas.

With that said, I am hoping to post about my progress on here each week with my menu plan. Exercising is the easy part for me, it's the dieting that I struggle with. I have decided not to follow a particular 'diet', but to simply focus on eating better in general. Smaller portions, better timing, and overall healthier choices. 

I've tried juicing before and had a lot of success with it, so I will be replacing one meal a day with a smoothie. To keep it real, I'll be making a 'dessert' each week too. Let's get to it! 

Favorite recipe of the week: 
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Recipe adapted from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam 

You will need:
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 banana

Preheat oven to 400° and grease muffin pan. In one bowl, mix dry ingredients and in another, mix the eggs, honey, milk, oil and banana. Stir both together until moistened. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 13-18 minutes. 

Menu Plan:

Monday: Jordan is making dinner for my birthday!

Tuesday: Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Wednesday: Taco Salad

Thursday: Breakfast

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Fettuccine Alfredo

Sunday: Quesadillas

What are YOU cooking this week? 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Have you heard of GiveForward?

GiveForward is a really awesome medical fundraising site. Since they began in 2008, they have helped families raise over 100 million dollars to help their loved ones and friends. I'm a fan of this website because they have outstanding reviews and a history of doing good work. Seeing the consistency in their organization helps me trust that they are a good choice. 

I have seen several family members and friends go through medical crises. It's bad enough to have to worry about the person that you love and how they are doing themselves. It's worse to see the financial strain that comes with that person's illness for their family. Medical bills are not the only concern- household responsibilities and bills at home continue to add up. And don't forget money for gas, extra food, and even hotels if necessary. It can be devastating, even if you are well prepared. 

That's where the power of community comes in. 

The GiveForward website makes it easy to set up a fundraising campaign and have a place to communicate with everyone at once. A lot of people wonder what they can do in times of crisis and long term situations. Creating a GiveForward site is a great way to let people know what the needs are and how they can help. 

To get started, just follow these simple steps-- 

1) Register with the site and create a fundraising page. From that point you will be connected with your own personal coach to help you as you progress. 

2) Spread the word about your campaign.

3) Collect hugs (words of encouragement) and donations. 

One of the best things about GiveForward is that they are up front and honest about how much money they take out of the donations to fund their organization. From their website--

"Approximately 2.9% + $0.50 goes to our online payment service provider. We use the remaining 5% to maintain our staff of fundraising coaches and developers who work hard to make sure you have the technology and personal support you need to make your fundraiser a success... The average fundraiser on GiveForward keeps 99.5% of the money it raises because of this feature... Fundraisers on GiveForward raise 21% more on average than our leading competitor." 

Not every situation is the same, but imagine being the family on the receiving end of the campaign. It's not just about money, but support and showing them that they are not alone. 

If you like the idea of this website and you would like to be a general supporter, check out the GiveFoward Ambassador Program

This is a sponsored post that I was compensated to write. However, all opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy at the top of the page for more information. 

Review: Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask and Ear Plugs

I have a confession- I don't sleep. 

Okay, I sleep some but not very much. If I can get 3-4 hours total I consider it a good night. Most of my issue is simply falling asleep. I can be dead tired when I'm getting ready for bed, but as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm wide awake again. 

I've tried Melatonin, music, yoga, hot baths, tea (yuck), and a dozen other methods. Nothing works. So when I saw the opportunity to review the Bedtime Bliss sleep mask and ear plugs I figured I'd give it a shot. 

This mask is thick- absolutely NO light gets through if you have it on correctly. Also, you can still open your eyes and blink. I know that sounds weird since the point is to help you sleep, but I get antsy if I can't move a part of my body. Knowing I have the freedom to blink makes me feel better. 

Surprisingly I have used the sleep mask almost daily. Not only is it great for helping me sleep at night, it helps me kick the migraines. I've had terrible migraines for several years. Normally I would up the caffeine and take a few Excedrin, but in light of recent events, I have to be careful with medication. My worst symptom with migraines is sensitivity to light and the faster I can be in the dark the better. 

Quick note: I was not a fan of the ear plugs simply because I don't like having things in my ears. However, there are times that I might need a little peace and quiet... :) 

Overall I would recommend this to anyone. Whether you have issues sleeping, an odd sleep schedule, migraines, travel often, or whatever the case- this mask and ear plug set is for you. 

You can buy this set on Amazon HERE or visit the website for more information HERE

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

To read more about my Disclosure Policy, please refer to the tab at the top of the page. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Results Are In...

{If you are new to my blog and you want to understand this post better, I would start with this one first.}

I had a visit with the neurologist yesterday. My exam went well and he was able to get me in for an emergency CT scan so I could have results quickly. 

The results are in... the artery in my neck is healed and there is no sign of blockage. This means I am finally done with blood thinners and able to eat foods with Vitamin K, for now.

Unfortunately, the blood clot in my neck was not my first blood clot or issue with bleeding. So the next step is to find out if I have a blood disorder or if my problems were caused by birth control. The second is most probable and what we are hoping for. The solution would simply mean no more pills, which is probably better anyway! 

I want to thank all of you that have been continuing to pray for our family through this journey. It's not quite over yet but the most serious concerns are finally to rest. 

I read my posts I wrote while I was in the hospital and I've been thinking about how fortunate I am. I learned from my own mom that life is too short. I didn't feel her pain until I was the one faced with the possibility of leaving the ones I love. I tried to be positive and not think about the worst, but fear took over. Everyone told me that I would get through it but I didn't listen. All I could do was mourn over the things I wouldn't do or see. 

But here I am. I made it back home to snuggle with the kids and read their bedtime stories. I watched Emily rock her first season of soccer and finish 1st grade. I watched Ethan master spelling his name and graduate his first year of preschool. I made it to my wedding day- the day that I married my best friend and we celebrated a new beginning as a family.

Life is full of ups and downs, but in the end it all works out. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Official!

It's now official, we are a family! 

The wedding was amazing. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of, and I'm a little sad that it's all over. I got to see most of my family, some that I hadn't seen in over a decade! We have a wonderful, supportive family and I'm glad that we got to celebrate together. It couldn't have been more perfect!

Now that the big wedding is over I can tell everyone a little secret... we had a small ceremony with just the kids and a couple of friends in May. We had several reasons for doing it, but one of the main reasons was to have a better opportunity to talk with the kids about what our new family means. We made a promise to them that this family would last and stay strong.

I know that some people won't understand why we got married early, but that's okay. We did it for us and I believe that it was the right decision. It's more important to me as a mom to know that my kids feel secure and understand what is happening, than to put on a show for everyone else. Our first ceremony was small and sweet, and the wedding was a great time to celebrate with everyone.

Here's to a new, beautiful adventure!

My favorite! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Big Gardening FAIL

Do you remember my "I Have a Confession" post? 

I have the worst luck with plants. Below is my second attempt this year to grow seeds- 

The top left pot is actually Ethan's flower from school.

Over the last month I've lost 3 pots, but I was really excited to see this- 

See the green?! 

Well, Jordan brought me back to reality as soon as I pointed them out. 

I successfully grew.....WEEDS in 4 pots. The plant in the top left might actually be Spearmint? 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Landscaping Wins

We are officially DONE with landscaping for the summer. Thank God. 

(If you haven't seen the 'before' pictures of the landscaping, read this first!)

The front includes, for now, Daisies, Dahlias, and whatever this is- 

My Mother's Day present from Ethan 

The challenge now is making sure these baby bushes don't roast in the sun, or get drowned in the rain. Some aren't looking so hot, but they're still here! I thought my Dahlia was gone for sure. The flowers fell off and it turned brown... but this morning I saw this- 

See?! I didn't kill it! 

So from the road it doesn't look like much, but it's a lot cleaner and NO thorns! :) 

Since the flower beds were done and the baby trees were planted, it was time to tear down the dead trees in the yard. Have you ever heard a big tree fall down? It was LOUD! 

The yard looks very different now without the trees, but it's better to cut them down than have them fall on the house, right? 

I still can't get over this view. So big and open! 

Stop by tomorrow to read about my big, huge gardening FAIL!