Friday, June 15, 2012

Pinterest Find Friday for Summer!

Happy Friday everyone! Can you believe we are already half way through the month of June!? Can it really be summer already!? I'll be honest and say that summer is not my favorite season. I would much rather enjoy a cup of hot apple cider, a crisp Autumn breeze and brightly colored changing leaves. I am however learning the joy of all the seasons, though I have to work a bit harder to enjoy the winter months especially after Christmas. I do feel blessed to live in a place where I get a glimpse of Gods beautiful creation in four different seasons and am trying to learn to enjoy them all.

So like it or not summer is in full swing now with kids home from school, graduation parties, barbecues, trips to the beach, camping and so much more! How are you planning on enjoying summertime this year? I am hoping to go to the pool at least a few times, maybe head to the beach with my husband and enjoy a sunset, go to the park and have a picnic, use our new grill some more and maybe even go on a camping trip. I'm also hoping to get away for a weekend for our second anniversary coming up the end of next month. Last year we went to Ludington where we stayed in a bed and breakfast and loved it!

In honor of summer I want to share some of my favorite Pinterest finds to get you excited for summer!

  • I picked up a tray for making popsicles on a grocery shopping trip a month or so ago but I have yet to make anything with it so I have been looking for some recipes to try. When I came across this mocha ice pop recipe from Eating Well I knew I wanted to try it out. I haven't made it yet, but hopefully will soon!
Source: Via Ashley RR on Pinterest

  • Get those toes looking pretty and sandal ready with this easy DIY pedicure from the Dating Divas. Pick a bright summery color and you'll be ready to go! Mine are currently painted with Rimmel's 'Posh Pink'.
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

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  • Looking for a quick and easy no bake dessert for a cookout? Try this tiramisu trifle by Dashing Dish. I've made traditional tiramisu before and that was heavenly and light but what I like about this recipe is that she put a spin on it to make it healthier. I'm going to make this to take to my parents house for fathers day. My dad is an avid coffee drinker but also diabetic so when I saw this had sugar free pudding I knew I wanted to give it a try!
 Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
  • I recently picked up a copy of Money Saving Moms Budget book from the library. I just started reading it and began exploring her website. She has lots of resources to great deals and other things. One of them was this great FREE e-book. It's all about summer! It has a ton of recipes, activities for things to do with kids and more. 
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
  •  I love finding new ideas for sewing projects. I saw this one for a beach towel tote a while ago but put it out of my mind as it was the middle of winter. Now that summer is here I just might want to make one! Plus my beach towels are due for replacing. Here a couple of different ones with tutorials included. The first one rolls up to a tote but also has a pillow for laying out on it. The second one is just a nifty way to roll and fold the towel. 
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest
I hope you are all enjoying this fine Friday in June! Make sure you find some ways to enjoy summertime this weekend!

       Ashley :-)

*To see where I will be linking my post click on the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page*

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Adventure in the Kitchen

Today as I was thinking about a recipe to share I decided I should tell you a story instead. It starts about three and a half years ago when my husband and I started dating.

Christmas 2008, one of our first pictures together
 This is the story about my adventure learning to cook...

Before I met my husband I did some cooking but still had a lot to learn. I did like to bake cookies and a few desserts around the holidays but other than that my idea of cooking was heating something from a bag or the occasional quiche I made with the help of my mom of course. Growing up when I would get asked what my favorite food was I didn't say pizza like most kids. I was the weird one that said quiche. You see when my mom was in the hospital before I was born she had quiche and I guess it stuck with me so I at least had to learn to make that. Okay, moving on...So basically, I was not too good in the kitchen. In fact I tended to burn things and recipes often confused me. My dad even used to make fun of me that I couldn't even boil water. But after meeting my husband that slowly changed.

On the night of my first date with my now husband I happened to be baking cookies for Thanksgiving which was the next day. When he came to my door I handed him a cookie, it was oatmeal with white chocolate chips and cranberries. I'm sure I must have had him fooled into thinking I was a great cook. Well it didn't take long for him to figure it out because a couple of weeks or so after that date I decided I wanted to make him dinner. But knowing I didn't cook well meant it was a pasta meal from a bag. I got so nervous that I was going to screw it up that he ended up doing most of the cooking. That is when I found out this man knew what he was doing in the kitchen, I liked that! However, it wasn't until our first valentines day that I really found out how much he knew about cooking.

He pulled out all the stops on this one and if I wasn't hooked already he totally had me hook, line and sinker after this. This incredible man was sweet and kind. He also treated me like a princess and would you believe it, he was practically a bona fide chef too?! Okay, well he didn't go to culinary school or anything, he works in architecture, but I like to call him my chef and after this night he will always be that to me. Here is what he did... 

When I arrived at his place he had the table set with candles lit and a gorgeous bouquet of one dozen pink roses waiting for me. He also was making our dinner and not from a bag this time, from scratch. We had chicken cordon bleu with gruyere cheese and prosciutto, green beans in a butter sauce with mushrooms and pancetta, garlic and chive yukon gold mashed potatoes and dinner rolls (which he actually bought from the bakery so not totally from scratch I guess, but I didn't care)

And that isn't all! He made dessert too! It was the most decadent raspberry white chocolate cheesecake. This stuff is velvety with just the right amount of richness and a bit tartness from the berries. He's also made pumpkin cheesecake and I have even gotten him to make me mocha cheesecake a few times. He makes these cheesecakes so well that he is known for it among friends and family.

I even got him to make two cheesecakes for our rehearsal dinner. Him and his brother also cooked the entire dinner from scratch along with three whole turkeys and four hams for the wedding. Our wedding meal was all prepared by friends and family who offered to help and I am so glad we did it this way. We had a better meal than most caterers would have been able to provide at a fraction of the cost.

Here he is working on one of the hams for our wedding dinner.

 After our first valentines dinner and even early on in our marriage I would sit at the counter in the kitchen while he was cooking. Slowly I started doing more cooking with his help of course as I always asked tons of questions. At first I made simple things, even hamburger helper and things like that, but I was cooking and learning which is what counted. Sure I have had my fair share of mishaps, and still do. My most memorable is probably a pasta dish I made once called spaghetti with sand. You would think the name would have been a turn off but I had the ingredients on hand so I tried it. Let me tell you, it may have tasted better had I actually dumped dirt on my plate. My husband graciously ate it until I asked him to please stop as I couldn't even stomach it. We laugh about it now though. Because of this I have learned that just because something is printed in a recipe book or website does not mean that it will be good.

Since then I have ventured to more complicated dishes and making more things from scratch. I'm pretty sure I shocked my husband when I told him one day while he was at work that I was making bagels from scratch. I have grown to love being in the kitchen and am always looking for new recipes. My husband doesn't totally get off the hook though. I do make dinner most days now but he often makes Saturday morning breakfast (things like crepes, eggs benedict or one of our new favorites dutch apple pancake) and is always in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey.

I hope that you are inspired to go do some cooking of your own now. Remember, even if you don't think you are a good cook, this is something that you can learn to get better at. Trust me I'm the girl who couldn't even boil water who now can do much more than just that! 

"Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"  ~Julia Child~

          Ashley :-)

To see where I will be linking up my post this week, check out the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Are you a hard worker?

 I hope that you all had a good weekend! Mine involved and unplanned trip to the doctor but I did try some new recipes that I hope to share with you. I had planned on posting a Pinterest find Friday entry last week (I'm working on putting one together for this week) but ended up having to go to the doctor on Friday morning with pink eye and an ear infection. My ears had been bothering me for a while but I had been putting off getting it looked at. So when I woke up with pink eye symptoms I figured that was a sign I better go to the doctor. I've been putting drops in both eyes and ears which has thankfully helped clear up most of the symptoms. I am also very grateful for my husband who has a good job that offers us insurance benefits and that he was able to take time off work to take me to the doctor. He has also been helping me with my ear drops three times a day. I love him!

Now on to today's topic; to go along with my GMG study, I want to focus on work...

 Since I have been studying Proverbs 31 I have been convicted that I do not work as hard as I should and often lack the motivation to stick with it. A while back, I followed Courtney from Women Living Well on her series about discipline. I did okay in the challenges but had a hard time keeping up with it and staying motivated. So much that I got busy with other things and never even did the last weeks challenge on on the discipline of work, which was probably the one I needed the most!

Looking back on this I think that part of my problem was that though I had good intentions, I didn't keep a proper focus on the Lord. Since starting the Proverbs 31 study I have realized that even though it is great to work diligently, it means nothing and we will not be able to keep up if we do not have our priorities right. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men."

For my quiet time today I read Proverbs 31:17 which says, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." This got me thinking about what does hard work look like. I know I often struggle with the motivation to get things done in a timely manner and often put it off until the last minute. I don't imagine the woman in Proverbs 31 was like this. She is described as vigorous and eager in her work, something I could use some help with. One of the things that hinder this is my lack of motivation and laziness. So I have decided to commit to working on the discipline of work. 

Last week in the study we talked about how the Proverbs 31 woman got up early in the morning. Now, I am not a morning person so getting up early is not something I particularly enjoy but I know that if I am lazy nothing will get done. So I started trying to get up about the same time as my husband so I could do my quiet time and get his lunch ready while he gets ready for work. I was able to do this most days and am still working on it for this week. I've also decided that I need to have my breakfast and shower in the morning before I get on the computer which I hope will help me to be more productive and waste less time sitting in front of the computer screen. Lastly, in an effort to keep my focus on the Lord I want to keep working on memorizing Colossians 3:23 and Proverbs 25:4-5. I have a stack of note cards that I keep together with a binder ring to write verses on as a way to memorize them and these are the first two verses I wrote in it.

What ways are you trying to be more diligent in your work? May you be blessed in all you do!

Joyfully, Ashley :-)

To see where I will be linking up my post this week, check out the weekly link-ups tab at the top of the page. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Women: Friend or Foe?

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I recently began a bible study with four other women on Proverbs 31. We are using the Good Morning Girls study guide along with Courtney from Women Living Well's e-book The Proverbs 31 Women: One Virtue at a Time.

I have to admit that before this study I did not know very much about Proverbs 31 other than it was supposed to be some sort of model for Godly women. I quickly discovered that there is actually a lot of mixed feelings about Proverbs 31. Some people can't stand it because the woman that is portrayed is impossible to compete with while others love her example and do whatever they can to model themselves after her. I think I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I don't despise her but I do think some people take it a bit too far and place her on a pedestal. That being said, I do believe that there are a lot of good things we can learn from this passage and I am glad to say that I have been doing just that! Here is a bit of what I have been learning so far...

We are on week four of the study which has brought us up to verse 16. The P31 women as I like to call her, is introduced in verse 10.

Proverbs 31:10-16
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and she works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earning she plants a vineyard.  

Now, I don't intend to take this passage literally in the sense that I don't go out to buy wool, I don't go very far to get my food, I certainly don't have servants and I don't think I'll be buying a field to plant a vineyard anytime soon nor do I think someone who does is somehow better than everyone else. However, if you read between the lines a bit there are plenty of applicable points in this passage. Even if you are unmarried you can gain some insight into how to be a Godly women especially if you hope to be married one day. So let's look at what this means for women today...
  • First we see that she is of noble character and because of this she is rare and precious.
  • Her husband has confidence in her. He trusts her and knows she is capable. 
  • She always seeks to bring good to her husband. 
  • She is a diligent worker, not a slacker. 
  • She takes care in bringing good food for her family. 
  • She gets up early to begin caring for her family. 
  • She is not prone to rash decisions, but takes time to consider her options first. I imagine she would spend time in prayer about it.
  • She has money saved to purchase that which will bring good to her family.
How would your life be different if you started trying to be more like that? What if you decided you didn't want to be like every other woman you see on TV, but one who has true value? How much more precious would you be to your family if you took the time to prepare good meals and worked hard with a thankful heart and eager hands instead of putting things together at the last minute with a bitter spirit? How much more could you accomplish if you got up a little earlier in the morning? How much more confidence would your husband have in you if he knew that you could depend on you not to make quick decisions especially in regard to how you spend money? How much more fruitful would your life be if you actually spent time alone with God in prayer? Sure these are some tough questions, all of which I have had to ask myself. What we have to realize is that we cannot change ourselves instantly. It is a daily process of surrendering to the Lord and it is not easy but it is worth it.

So why do I want to be like the Proverbs 31 woman? Because she is beautiful inside and out. She is precious and valuable especially to her family. She is well respected and does her work with a joyful attitude. She is not selfish but does what she can to bless others. The following adjectives describe her well, all things I hope to be...
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So yes, I want to strive to be like the P31 woman, how about you!?

         Ashley :-)

Click the weekly link-ups tab above to see where I am linking up my post

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Delicious Lasagna With No Meat!?

Okay, be honest...when you read the title were you questioning why in the world I would make lasagna without meat!? Truth be told it is actually from a recipe called spinach lasagna but since I changed some things I decided to rename it meatless lasagna. I'm no vegetarian but I like to have some meatless meal options for my menu and this is a great one. It is so good that I promise you won't even miss the meat, yes even you devout meat eaters. Seriously, even my Dad who is a rather picky eater cleaned his plate the first time I made it!

I created this recipe from a few different sources and added some of my own twists to it as well. The main recipe is from but as with most Kraft recipes that I have used, it needed some tweaks. One more thing before we get to the recipe...Please do not forget to cover with foil before baking, this is one of the most important steps to getting your lasagna to turn out well. Failing to do so will result in a dry and not so appealing lasagna...not that I would know from experience or anything *wink*.

Meatless Lasagna 
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  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • 1 (16 oz) container of cottage cheese OR ricotta cheese, depending on your preference
    • I recommend using a thicker cottage cheese such as Daisy or Breakstone brand
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained 
    • To drain thawed spinach, place in a colander to allow most of the water to drain. Then, using a paper towel, squeeze the spinach of any excess water.
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • Use low fat cheese for a healthier option
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping 
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic, or 1 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • olive oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan 
  • 1 (24 oz) jar of garden vegetable spaghetti sauce 
    • Any spaghetti sauce will work but I like the addition of the extra veggies. You could also add fresh chopped veggies to a plain sauce. Some good veggie options would be red or green peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, zucchini or other squash.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 9 oven ready lasagna noodles, or regular noodles cooked
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. In a medium sized bowl; combine eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, 2 cups of mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and parsley, set aside. 
  3. Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil, allow to heat at medium temperature for a few minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Pour spaghetti sauce into sauce pan then add basil and oregano. Cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors then turn off the heat. 
  5. In a 13x9 inch baking dish; pour 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan and spread to cover. Place three noodles on top of the sauce to create the bottom layer then spread half of the cottage cheese mixture on the noodles. Layer one more cup of spaghetti sauce on top of the cheese layer, then add three more noodles and the rest of the cottage cheese mixture. For the top layer, place the remaining three noodles on the second cheese layer, add the rest of the sauce then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and enough parmesan to lightly coat the top.
  6. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 
The result is a gooey, cheesy delicious and (almost) guilt free lasagna! Want to make your own!? You will see a link under the name for a printable version which will take you to a more simplified version of my above recipe. Click, print, make and enjoy!

          Ashley :-)  

To see where I am linking up my post check out my weekly blog link-ups tab at the top of the page 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A New Month a New Start...

 So if you've been here before you've probably wondered if I have dropped off the face of the earth as I suddenly stopped posting about a month ago.  I can't say I have any great reasons as to why other than I got busy and needed to take a break from the blog to re-prioritize things. I have been itching to get back to writing though and plan to do so more frequently now. Here is a few updates about what I have been up to...
  • I started a Good Morning Girls group with four other women. We are reading through Proverbs 31 as well as other applicable verses. It has been very good for me to get on a better bible reading routine and I have loved learning about how to be a more Godly women and wife. I posted a while back about trying to meet with someone from my church to get word out about starting more groups. This did not happen due to schedule conflicts, but I am praying about the opportunity to do this before the next session of groups starts later this year.  
  • My husband was able to take a little time off of work and we spent some much needed time together going on some fun dates. One day we went to a mini-golf/arcade place then out to dinner at Culver's for burgers and fries, they also have really yummy root beer. One of the awesome things about this date was that we had coupons that saved us about half off of everything. Then the next day we went to the zoo. We've also been trying to be more intentional about doing things together. A couple of examples are that we started to read The Five Love Languages book and recently started putting puzzles together.
  • For the first time since living here, I was able to decorate my small deck outside! We purchased a gas grill, some flowers and two rectangular shaped planters that I made an herb garden with. We already had a table and two chairs, but I love how nice and cozy it looks now! I'm hoping to get one more small flower plant to put on the table in a cute little striped red pot that I have and it will be complete.
  • I have also been spending time trying to find more recipes to add to my collection and hope to start sharing some with you here on the blog! I'll be posting my first one soon, it's a yummy meatless lasagna that I made for dinner a couple of days ago, so stay tuned for that!
I'll leave you with my new memory verse that I picked from my quiet times this week:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men." Colossians  3:23 

          Ashley :-)

ps: If you like the picture above, go check out the crosscards website. They always have great desktop wallpapers and come out with new ones each month. I put that one on my computer earlier this morning. You will also find e-cards there. I like to use these to send notes to my husband while he is at work.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Let's Get Organized! - Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping

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Happy Friday! Today I am going to share some things that have helped me with menu planning and grocery shopping. Before I begin I just want to say that the most important thing to be successful with this is to have a plan. I've tried shopping without a list or making a menu and can most definitely tell you that it does make a difference in how prepared you are and how much money you spend.Se here's a few ways you can make the most of your menu planning and shopping...

1. Take inventory of what you have. 
It is important to know what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer before you start a menu or grocery shopping list so that you can plan those into your menu. This will also give you a better idea of what you may need. Some people suggest to have a written inventory but I just take a few minutes to look through my cupboards to see what's there.

2. Plan a menu
There was a time that I hated the idea of a menu because I didn't want to be forced to make something on a specific day. I used to shop with some ideas of what I would make but inevitably ran out of options way too quickly. I then started to make a list of meals I could make and put together a shopping list from there. This was a big improvement from having no plan but once I started an actual menu it became much easier to plan what I would make for dinner and what I needed to shop for.
 When menu planning I try to think of things that I could make first with what I have on hand then think about what is on sale or what I could get a good deal on. After that, I decide what meals I will make and write out a list of them. From that I plug it into the menu. I recently discovered this menu plan from Nourishing Home and it has been a huge help for me. The site also has a lot of great tips about meal planning. Check that out here.
I also like to have the menu displayed so I can see what I have planned for the week. I created a weekly menu and put it in a picture frame which is displayed in the wall in my kitchen. Each week I use a dry erase marker to write in what's for dinner each day.

Not sure what to even put on the menu? Find some good recipe websites or cookbooks or go to the library and find some cookbooks there. Keep track of the recipes that you have used and start to build a collection of your favorites. Also be willing to try something different. You may hate it but who knows you might just have a new favorite. See Tuesday's dinner up there? I was hesitant to make it the first time because it sounded a little weird but it is my absolute favorite dish now. I don't even need the recipe to make it anymore! Want the recipe too? Get it from eating well here: Skillet Gnocchi.

Here's a few of my favorite recipe resources on the internet:,,,, or checkout my recipe pinterest board -

Here are some cookbooks that I like: The New Betty Crocker Cookbook, The Bridal Edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, The Taste of Home Cookbook. I also have some of those good ol church cookbooks that hold many of my family favorites from growing up. 

3: Write out a shopping list
It is very important to have a list when shopping or you will inevitably buy more than you need and probably forget something as well, or is that just me? To start, take your list of meals and write in anything you will need to get to make those. I keep a dry erase board on my refrigerator that I write down things that I am running out of or know I will need soon and transfer those to my shopping list as well. Then add any other things you will need such as milk, bread, toilet paper or makeup (you get the idea). Below is a document that I created to use as my shopping list. I like having the different categories because it helps me to not miss something while I am walking around the store.

4. Use sales and coupons to save some money 
I do my best to save money when shopping and try not to buy anything unless I can get it on sale or it is something that I need with the exception of produce as it rarely goes on sale. To do this I first look through the stores weekly ad (online) to see what they have on sale that week. Since I usually shop on Fridays, I also look through the preview ad which I get through my e-mail to see what will be on sale the next week. Sometimes I hold off on buying something because I know I'll be able to get it on sale a few days later if I stop by on my way home from church.
I do also use coupons but am definitely not a crazy coupon lady. I get the coupons from the Sunday papers for free from my in-laws but wouldn't pay for the paper just for that. I also print some coupons from the internet ( and use which tells me what the best deals are at different stores. My local grocery store also has a digital coupon program that allows me to clip coupons online and type in a code on the keypad at checkout to get those deals applied to my order. Target also has coupons that you can print from their website to use. It is an even bigger bonus if you can use a coupon on something that is on sale. Some stores even let you combine a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon which will save you even more. I don't think couponing is for everyone but you can save money with a little time and a few coupons. I typically save anywhere from $10-$50 on my grocery bill with sales and coupons.
A few cautions about coupons: Keep in mind that just because you have a coupon does not mean that you are getting the best price. A similar item in a different brand may still be cheaper. Also, I realize that many coupons are for prepackaged or pre-made items which is why I don't typically use that many coupons. I have discovered that it is healthier and can even be cheaper to make things fresh or from scratch which I try to do as often as possible. Also if you decide to use coupons it helps to keep them organized. Below are a few pictures of my coupon folder. I have sections labeled and then each one has different envelopes with sub-categories. The third picture shows the categories in my health & beauty section. This is helpful because if I am looking for a shampoo coupon for instance I can pull out just the 'hair care' envelope instead of looking through all my health & beauty coupons.

I hope this was able to give you some ideas about how to better organize your menu and shopping!

I leave you with a picture of my cat Jax. He has nothing to do with this post other than he curled up next to me as I was taking pictures earlier today. I guess he wanted me to take his picture too so I thought I would share! He says 'hello'!


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Discipline Challenge Week 4: The Mind

It's time to introduce week four of the discipline challenge. Let's start with a little recap. So far we have covered...

Week 1: The body
Week 2: Time
Week 3: The Spirit

I have been doing better with time and spirit challenges but am falling a bit with the body challenge. I have probably done a workout once or twice a week instead of the five I had hoped to do.

For week four our focus is on disciplining the mind. 

As Courtney mentions in her post (view it here), we tend to have a lot going on and as a result can build up brain clutter. There are so many things calling for our attention and we can often feel pulled in a thousand different directions all at once. Therefore it is easy to get so overwhelmed and distracted that nothing gets accomplished.

The discipline of the mind could go many ways, but for this purpose we are choosing to focus on how to de-clutter and simplify in order to cultivate a more peaceful mind. One thing we can do to organize the mind better is simply to pray. Oftentimes when I have too many things swirling around in my mind all I need to do is take a moment to give some of those things to God and I feel much more at ease.
Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The second thing that we can do is de-clutter our home and lives. When you deal with less physical clutter you deal with less clutter in the mind. I notice that if my home is a mess I feel anxious and have a hard time feeling motivated. Think about this...
 “A simple and orderly life represents a clean and orderly mind.  Muddled thinking inevitably results in muddled living.  A house that is cluttered is usually lived in by people whose minds are also cluttered, who need to simplify their lives.  This begins with simplifying and clarifying their thinking.  Mind and life need to be freed from the “disorder of the unnecessary.”  -Elizabeth Elliot
It is also important to de-clutter our lives. Maybe you have a jam packed schedule and don't have two minutes to get your head on straight in the midst of it all. Or maybe you just get too easily distracted by things that should not hold all of your attention. I have noticed that it is too easy to spend hours in front of the computer or television only to realize that half the day is wasted. Not to say that these things are bad, but if it it is your instinct, as it is oftentimes mine, to just sit in front of the computer because it is there then maybe you need to be aware of that tendency and check your motives for spending time in that area. I am also reminded of a commercial where a women suddenly blurts out facts when talking to a friend. I don't recall what the commercial was for but in this information age when we have access to so much knowledge at the click of a button it can become overwhelming to the extent that we have a brain full of useless facts that it can be hard to focus our mind and lives on what is actually important.  

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Romans 12:2 
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

So for the challenge this week: 

Prayerfully identify one unnecessary thing you can eliminate from your life. Is there a room, cupboard or closet you need to clean out? Clean it out this week! If clutter is not an issue for you - maybe it’s your calender. Is it so jam packed full with to-do’s that there’s no room for you to think and pray clearly? Prayerfully eliminate something from your calender. Are you spending too much time on your computer, ipad or watching too much television? Choose to limit your time this week – in exchange for some quiet moments of reflection, being in God’s word, praying or reading a mind enriching book.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Fun - Pinterest Style!

Alright, so who's glad that it is Friday!? I've noticed a lot of blogs do fun Friday posts and I wanted to join in so I am choosing five of my favorite pinterest pins to share with you today.  


  •  Did you know that if you put warm chicken in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment that it will give you perfectly shredded chicken?! I was a bit skeptical, but tried it and was amazed! I absolutely hate shredding chicken by hand or with forks so this was a total life saver! 

Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

  • I recently discovered an awesome website called Dashing Dish. The author Katie is a Christian and has a desire to share her faith and passion for food and fitness with others. She posts recipes that she has revamped to make them healthier! I tried this one earlier this week. It is stuffed Italian style red peppers. This is way out of the ordinary for me but I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out! I'm trying another one of her recipes for dinner tonight!
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

  • I love crafty things and have a board dedicated just to wreath ideas. Not too long ago I used this one to help me create my newest wreath that now adorns my front door. I changed it up a bit though and used burlap instead of yarn and ribbon instead of a sewn sash but you get the general idea. 

Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

  • I came across these adorable little flowers the other day. They are called cabochons which are basically resin or some other material placed in a mold to create different shapes. They are sold all over etsy and you can get them fairly inexpensively. Some shops sell items made with them such as earrings, necklaces and hairpins. In other shops you can buy the flowers and make your own creations with them. They come is so many shapes, sizes and colors! 
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

  • I chose this last one because it reminds me of a post I read this week by Jolene at the alabaster jar about modesty. There is so much debate about what specifically is okay for women to wear and though I believe that we do need to have standards for how we dress I love how Jolene has a bit of a different take on it. Read her post here
Source: Via AshleyRR on Pinterest

Wasn't that fun?! I'm thinking I may do this more often. Have a blessed weekend. I won't likely be posting again until next week about the next discipline challenge. I am also working on putting together a post for the let's get organized series about menu planning and grocery shopping so stay tuned for that next week as well.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's Get Organized!...An Introduction

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 Today I am going to introduce a new series where I share with you some things that have helped me to get organized. Before I do however I should tell you that I am by no means an organizing queen but I have found some things that work for me and have over time discovered the freedom of having a plan and a place for everything. In these posts I hope to cover some home management and organization ideas as well as some help for organizing your spiritual life and ways to help keep you on track. For today I want to share a story with you.

Organization and I didn't always get along very well. As a kid my room was usually pretty cluttered, not dirty just cluttered, and though I didn't necessarily like it that way I had a hard time keeping it clean. When I did get around to cleaning it usually meant stuffing everything somewhere so it was out of the way. I did get better with this over the years but wasn't really kicked into getting better organized until college. Suddenly I shared a small room with two other people and I had to learn to keep my things better contained. No I won't lie to you and tell you that I did a great job with it then, but just to say I began to recognize the necessity of being better organized as it became more and more apparent to me that everything needed a place to go or it would just end up in a pile. However, organization is not just about where to put stuff it's also about having a plan, a way to organize not only your things but your life.

Since college I have also grown to be more of a planner. Even though I resisted many of these ideas at first because I didn't want to be tied down to a tight schedule or a strict menu, I can surely say that it has made life much easier. I can also definitely say that planning my own wedding made me realize how important it is to have a plan! And after almost two years of marriage I've finally come up with some things that work for me. So in the following posts under this series, I will share some of these with you in hopes that you can glean something from it that may help you better organize your home and your life.

Also, don't forget that we are focusing on the spirit this week in the discipline challenge. So far, I have read my bible everyday before getting on the computer which is a big improvement for me!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Discipline Challenge: Week 3

Wow, it is hard to believe that we are on week three of the challenge already! If you are just now joining me, I have been blogging about discipline along with Courtney from Women Living Well. The first week was about the body and the second was time. For the first challenge, my goal was to get moving more. I have been doing better at this but need to schedule more actual time for working out. Though I did go for a nice long walk with my husband one day last week, it ended up being almost five miles! For the second challenge, my goal was to make God time a priority, as I was convicted that I had been falling short in this area. I have been doing better with this and am feeling more accomplished in my daily tasks as well now that I am trying to adjust my focus to be on God first.

This week the challenge is about the spirit. Courtney mentions that we need to be tenacious in our walk with God. This means that we must persistently seek and cling to him. Does this mean that you must spend every waking hour pouring through the bible and praying? No it doesn't. If all that is all that you did, you would surely be neglecting other responsibilities. However, if you do not take time to read your bible and pray then you are neglecting your spiritual growth and relationship with the Lord. This is why is it important to make these a priority. I know it is easy to get hung up on the details like how to pray or what to read but those are just excuses. I made those excuses for years and my spiritual life suffered for it. I read this post by Gina from Keepin' It real the other day. I like how she poignantly addresses more excuses that we often make about spending time with God. Excuses like:

~"I'm not a morning person. It's too hard to get out of bed to be in the Word."
~"I'm too tired at night to be in the Word. It's just not effective!" 
~"I don't want to do it just because someone tells me I have to."  
~"I don't want to do it if my heart isn't in it."

What we must realize is that it takes discipline to make God our first priority. It will not always be easy but we need to do it. We cannot not know God without spending time in the word and in prayer. Think about it this way: Would you feel close to your husband if he hardly ever talked to you and didn't care to make time to spend together? I have a hard time believing anyone could say yes to that so why do we expect that we can be close to God without ever opening a bible or talking to him through prayer?

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 So for the challenge this week we are seeking to strengthen our spirit by spending time with God before anything else. Here's the challenge from Courtney:

Purpose to not read ANYTHING else before you have read God’s word for at least 1 minute in the morning Do not read the newspaper, facebook, a spiritual devotional  or check your email.  Go straight to God’s word first.  And in case you think 1 minute seems a bit stingy with our time – I want to suggest – that once you get started most likely you will go for much longer than 1 minute.  But I want this to be doable.  After reading your Bible, I encourage you to leave your Bible in the kitchen open and every time you walk past it, pause to read it for 15 seconds and then go on.  Squeeze all the nourishment you can out of the scriptures you are reading. 

 This weeks challenge is pretty straightforward. As opposed to the others, where you set a personal goal this one is simply to spend time in the word for at least one minute before reading anything else. This will be a great way for me to continue my challenge from last week to make God time a priority.

I know that last week I mentioned about my home management and organization tips. I'm still planning on posting about that, hopefully sometime this week.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Bit of an Update: Stepping Out in Faith

I'm posting an update today as I feel compelled to share how God has been working in me just within the past 24 hours.

Yesterday I posted about how I need to improve my time management, specifically time with God. I have been seriously failing in this area and knew something needed to change but was still unsure about where to go from there. Not long after I published yesterday's post however I found an answer!

Have you ever heard of Good Morning Girls? If not, check it out, it an amazing resource! Anyway, I happened upon a post about summer session sign ups and it hit me...this is exactly what I need! One problem, I don't have anyone to be in a group with and don't know too many people that I could ask. I know that you can sign up with a group through the message boards but for some reason I knew that was not the route I was being called to take. Part of the reason is that I really wanted this to be more personal as I desperately need Christian women in my life whom I can physically meet and fellowship with. The online communities of bloggers and other women online have helped me immensely and I get great encouragement from those of you that have decided to follow along on this blogging journey of mine. But for this to really dig deep for me I knew I had to find a way to get people involved that I can physically meet and fellowship with.

My first thought was to start with the women in my small group but I was unsure if they would be interested and wanted more than just a couple of other people involved. I'm not sure why, but I felt God calling me to share this with my church. This was a bit scary for me as I attend a fairly large church where I only know a handful of people. But nonetheless, I knew I needed to do something.

In light of this, I decided my first step would be to share the link to the information about the new session on the facebook pages for my church. We have one for general information about the church and a group called Fresh Followers. So I posted it in both places asking anyone interested to contact me. I wasn't sure if I would get much of a response but was hoping to at least get enough people to have our own little good morning girls group. A little while later I got one response!

That's when I suddenly realized something....What if it became more than me just seeking a group of my own? What if I could get multiple groups of women from my church and surrounding area to participate? What if this became something bigger than me?! 

By this point I became rather nervous and thought...Wait a minute...God, you want me to do WHAT? Um, I'm no leader. I'm not qualified for this! Are you sure?...After a gentle prodding of yes, I said okay and took another step of faith.

That is when I composed and e-mail to our small groups/community life pastor asking for some guidance in how I could get the word out to more women  in hopes to get enough people interested to form several groups. My mind kept reeling with ideas about how this was going to work and what kind of role I would need to take for it to be successful. I have yet to hear back from him but have so far gotten four other women to respond to my posting!  One of them was my mom. After I got the e-mail from my her asking if she could be a part of it too, I got another idea.

My mom does not attend my church as she lives about 30-45 minutes away from where I do. I was glad that she wanted to be a part of this with me but I thought; how cool would it be if she could get some women from her church to be a part of this too?! My mom is very involved in her church and also very respected and appreciated as she does a lot to help others. So I asked her to get the word out to women in her church as well to see if there was any interest and decided to post on my own facebook page as well. 

I have absolutely no idea if I will get any more of a response about this but even if all that comes from it is my one group with four other women than I will be glad! 

However, I think it would be totally amazing if we were able to get several groups together and held a sort of kick-off event where all the area Good Morning Girls participants would get together to meet each other before the session starts.

So that's my little story about how God has worked on me in just one short day.

Oh, and I am happy to say that I made time for God today! I worked on a few things in my prayer/bible study binder and read a few Psalms. It definitely felt refreshing!

Below is a picture of a path that I took on my honeymoon. I edited it and added the text of a Psalm 25:4-5 which I read today and have decided to make it my new memory verse.

Do you want to start a Good Morning Girls Group of your own?! Awesome! Go to here to find out more about the summer session and get some people do do it with you! You can find a group from people on the message boards, but I strongly recommend that you find people that live near you so that you can really get to know each other personally and dig deep together!


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