Enduring All Things: 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Our Ketosis Diet Experience: One Month Update

Well guys, Pearson and I have officially been on the ketosis diet for over a month now! Actually, it's been more than five weeks. We started on Monday, March 12th. So I thought it was time I gave a little update!

Since I know you're dying to know numbers, I'll mention those first.
My husband and I have been on the Ketosis diet for one month now. We started the keto diet to get healthy and jump start our weight loss. Here is what our experience has been. Including our physical changes, other positive changes, mistakes we've made, struggles we've had, and next steps.

Physical Changes

Though it's not been as drastic of a change as I'd been hoping for, I've lost 6 pounds and about .5 to 1 inch in every measurement. However, I haven't measured myself since April 1st. I have weighted myself more recently than that, but that hasn't changed since April 1st. Actually, that's not entirely true. It has changed a lot. In fact, almost every time on the scale it says something different. But it hasn't been lower than it was on April 1st. But that's okay. Just the fact that the scale fluctuates so much proves that it's not a great measure of progress. Which I've always known. But I still can't help but step on it (far too often) and hope for good news.

But I digress...

Pearson has lost 13 pounds. And he didn't measure himself at all, so I don't know how he's doing in inches. But I must say he's looking smokin' hot! LOL Seriously though, I can tell a big difference when I look at him and when I hug him. He carries all of his weight in his gut so when he looses it, it's easy to tell. His shirts fit better now and he has to pull his belt a lot tighter than he used to. And if he doesn't wear a belt, his jeans fall right off! I want him to try a smaller waste size but he hasn't been able to yet.

Speaking of clothes, I can wear two pairs of skinny jeans that I own that I could not fit into back in February. Not only that, but they're actually comfortable! Oh and my belt is a couple notches tighter now too.

On top of all of this, we both feel so much better! Pearson talks about how he can bend over and tie his shoes now without pain and discomfort. I feel more comfortable in my clothes both physically and mentally, which is a huge victory for me!

Other Positive Changes

We are eating all of our groceries before they go bad! This hasn't happened in... Well maybe ever. Vegetables have always gone bad in our home before we eat them all. And most recently, pretty much all of our groceries were going bad before we could eat them.

This is probably a whole post for another time, but the last year (or really longer than that) that we were in Ohio, we at at home maybe once a week. Maybe. And we would go grocery shopping and buy some good food with good intentions, but when it came time to cook said food, we would decide to go through a drive through instead. There are a lot of factors that I suspect went into forming this bad habit but I won't get into all that now.

The point is, we're eating all our groceries including the produce now and that makes me and my finisher personality incredibly happy!

And this brings me to my next point... We stayed within our budget in March! And that's counting the fact that we paid about $800 in taxed (we always owe, but that's another story), and we bought 4 new tires for our car without planning to.

Going along with the above, we had formed some terrible spending habits toward the end of our time in Ohio. Eating out was just one of the problems. Though it was absolutely the biggest spending problem. So now that we're on this "strict" diet (more on that later), we aren't spending money on restaurants. But on top of that, the discipline we've had in our diet has easily spilled over into other aspects of life. And it's awesome!

Another perk is... Pearson cooks! It's amazing! haha And he's a better cook than me! We've sort of unintentionally split up the tasks by him doing all stove top cooking and me doing all baking and anything else. And we both do our own lunches. I do most of the cleaning now which is fine by me since I'm home during the day.

In the past we haven't had any kind of "rules" for splitting up household tasks like this. At least not that we stuck to. I'm seeing a trend here of things we did very very poorly in the past. The last couple years of grad school really did a number on us.

And lastly, I've been able to somewhat narrow down what's been causing my stomach issues. I haven't gotten it all figured out completely and I still want to get some intolerance tests done (once we have more money in our HSA), but I am getting a better idea of what makes my body feel good and what doesn't. And I think this can be chalked up to the fact that I'm paying attention to what I eat and since I'm eating at home and focusing on a specific diet, I know exactly what goes into my body with every bite!

Mistakes We've Made

Mistake number one: Eating a ton of packaged cheese. Actually, while I type this, I'm eating string cheese, I kid you not. Anyway, when we first started keto we thought "all proteins and fats, that will be easy!" And it is for the most part. But we fell into the trap of thinking all proteins and fats are good and any amount of proteins and fats are good. Wrong.

Now string cheese or Babybel or any other packaged cheese is okay in moderation. They make a good little quick snack, for sure. And if you're wanting to stay in ketosis, they're certainly better than chips or crackers or anything else with a lot of carbs. But they're not okay to just snack on non-stop. We would be watching TV in the evenings and by the time we went to bed we had each eaten at least 6 packages of string cheese. Whoops.

Instead we should be eating healthy fats. Like avocado, oils, fish, and nuts. Which brings me to my next mistake...

Mistake number two: Buying and eating the worst kind of nuts. So I have always loved cashews. They have always been my favorite nuts. Always. So when I needed some kind of easy snack (that wasn't cheese) to eat on keto, I got cashews. And yes I knew that they had about 8 grams of carbs, but I didn't really think there was much other choice.

It turns out, cashews are probably the worst of all the possible nuts we could eat. They have the highest number of carbs. Who knew? I just thought all nuts had about the same number of carbs and that I would just have to limit myself really well (which I also failed at).

Mistake number three: Too much protein. There were a couple times over the last month where I brought home a rotisserie chicken from Costco and we ate the whole thing for dinner. And nothing else. That is a lot of protein for two people for one meal. On keto you're supposed to eat as much fat as possible, then supplement that with protein, and eat as few carbs as possible. So while a meal of nothing but protein sounds good in theory, it's really not that great.

Mistake number four: Not eating enough. Yes, believe it or not, I think this is part of why I'm not loosing the fat as quickly as I would like. I'm just not very hungry on this diet. I've never been a breakfast person, meaning I've always struggled with eating breakfast. Also, a lot of people do intermittent fasting with the Keto diet. So I've been purposely skipping breakfast. But then I wouldn't really be hungry for lunch either so I might eat something small at like two in the afternoon and then have whatever we fix for dinner. But when your body is in "starvation mode" it tends to hold on to body fat for fuel. So lately I've been making myself eat a bigger lunch.

Mistake number five: Not eating fatty enough meat. One of the biggest all encompassing struggles with this diet is changing our mindset about fat being bad for you. Usually, when I would go to the store, I would shoot for getting the leanest protein they have. We always ate lots of chicken and if I got ground beef, I tried to get the lean percentage in the 90s. Not anymore! 73%/27% is best but that's actually hard to find. So we've been using 80%/20%. The most frustrating thing about all of this is they don't sell fatty meat at Costco. We buy almost all of our groceries at Costco but they have only 93%/7% ground beef. So we have to make a special trip to Walmart for our beef.

Struggles We've Had

Drinking enough water. Drinking enough water is something everybody should be doing. And I think it's something a lot of people struggle with. But on keto, you have to drink even more water than you would otherwise because your body stores glycogen in water. Then your body burns the glycogen, but doesn't replace it because you're not eating carbs. But then the water doesn't get replaced either.

Of course there are many other benefits to drinking enough water like curbing appetite, and just making your body work better. But those are important regardless of if you're on Keto. But there is a danger here. If you start to drink too much water and not replenish your electrolytes, you can get the Keto flu. I haven't had trouble with this. Probably because I never drink enough water. But...

Pearson got the Keto Flu. There were a couple days in the second week of our diet that Pearson felt light headed and sick. He was drinking A LOT of water and even though we were taking electrolyte supplements and salting everything, he still felt bad. So he started to be more diligent about getting all the electrolytes he needed. He got some potassium salt as well as potassium supplements and started eating more avocado and spinach and hasn't had trouble with it again since.

Eating out or with friends. As I mentioned earlier, we've actually done a good job of not eating out very much. However, we have gotten plugged into a church and a young adults group and they do a lot of activities together. In fact, there are two weekly bible studies we attend that include dinner. It's hard to eat at a potluck and avoid carbs. And it's hard to tell your friends you're on a special diet and ate before you came for fear of judgement and questions. It's just hard. But we're giving ourselves grace for these times. And we're trying to find balance in our "cheat meals."

Snacking. I have such a problem with mindlessly snacking in the evenings. Especially when I'm not really even hungry. This may seem to contradict the point I made about not eating enough, but the problem is, I don't eat enough good stuff during the day and then I snack on the easy, packaged foods right before bed. I also have had a hard time finding good snacks. I have a hard time with most vegetables. They upset my stomach really bad. So I'm left to nuts and cheese (which I always eat too much of). I still haven't quite figured this out.

Next Steps

Moving forward the biggest thing we're going to do is keep going. We will keep learning about best practices and keep at it. While aspects of this diet are hard, as far as diets go, it's not that difficult. I mean you get to eat cheese and bacon! And being on it together has helped so much. In the past when I've tried to eat healthy, I always failed because Pearson wasn't on the same page. We didn't help each other out!

We're also going to continue to try new recipes. As with any diet, we've gotten tired of our go to recipes. So I need to find some more that we like that aren't too difficult to make. I will write another post with some of our favorite recipes so far.

And lastly, we're adding exercise. Neither of us really exercised in the first month because we wanted to let our bodies adjust before doing too much. But this week we both started doing more. Pearson has been using the incredible workout facility at Intel when he gets off and I've used the elliptical and stationary bike at our apartment complex's workout room as well as some things at home. I'll also write another post about the workouts I've been doing.

So there you have it. That's what our experience has been so far with keto. To be honest, I didn't really mean to write this much but that's okay. Be looking for some more keto posts in the future! Overall I'm feeling pretty good about it if for no other reason than the fact that it's made us more disciplined and I am actually keeping track of everything I'm putting in my body!

Have you ever done the Keto diet? What was your experience? Do you recommend it?
Thanks for reading!

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Friday, April 13, 2018

What I'm Reading, Watching, & Listening To {April 2018}

Happy Friday, friends! So it's about time for another "What I'm Reading" post, but I thought I'd start doing things a little differently this month. The other day, Helene of Helene in Between wrote a post about all the things she's been reading, watching, and listening to lately and I thought that was a great idea!

As I'm sure you know, I love reviewing books on my blog. In fact, I've been posting monthly book reviews for a while now. You may not know that I've reviewed movies and TV shows in the past as well. When I saw Helene's post, I thought why don't I write about everything I watch and listen to as well as what I read? And I love the idea of putting it all in one post. That way, if you readers are only interested in the books, just read that part. Or if you want to know what I've been watching or listening to lately, just read that part! Genius, right?

Oh and here are some posts I've written in the past about TV and Movies if you're interested:
So lets get to what I've been reading, watching, and listening to lately, shall we?

Books:

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

If you read my March "What I'm Reading" post, you know I didn't like the second Cormoran Strike book very much. And to be honest, I didn't like the first that much either. This last one of the serious was okay. To be honest, they were all pretty good just for the fact that they are murder mysteries. And I like how they are all different.

Every third chapter or so in Career of Evil is written anonymously from the perspective of the murderer. That's an interesting touch that's different from the other two and added a new, intriguing element for sure.

Also, the twist at the end was quite different than any murder mystery book I've read. It's not just that the identity of the murder was a surprise. There is more to it.

On thing I really didn't like was that the two main characters of this whole series sort of pine for each other the whole time. It sort of got annoying because it seemed like it was never going anywhere. I'm not going to tell you if it does go somewhere or not, but I just wasn't happy with the ongoing of it throughout the series. It was distracting from the mysteries and added more content to get through.

I would not recommend this book or any of the three in the series. Sorry, JKR. I love the Harry Potter series, but Cormoran Strike, not so much.

Staying Stylish by Candace Cameron Bure

Maybe I'm a little biased because I absolutely love Candace, but this book did not disappoint. It's not just about style and fashion. Granted, the whole first section (which is more than half of the book) is about Candace's style and fashion tips. But the rest is about skin care, makeup, hair, health, fitness, and self care. And part of the self care section is "nourishing your spirit" where she talks about her faith and how to take care of it.

I can totally see how some people think this book is pointless and won't tell you anything you didn't already know. Or some people wonder why they need a book about Candace's style when they have their own style and don't need or want to copy Candace's. I get that. But I think she has a lot of great universal tips even in the fashion section. She uses her own style as an example, but she shares how she builds her wardrobe with basics and how she packs for travel and other things like that that we can all benefit from even if our personal style is completely different from hers.

Also, this book is very high quality physically. Which I love. It's a very sturdy hard back with glossy, flat pages, high resolution photos, and a ribbon book mark. It also has an extensive index as well as a descriptive table of contents. Basically, it's more of a coffee table book than a self help book. I plan to come back to it often when I need some motivation, inspiration, or just ideas!

Blog Posts/Articles:

TV Shows:

Breaking Bad

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, it's probably no surprise to you that Breaking Bad is on this list. Pearson and I watched the entire, 5 season, series in one week. It was certainly what they call "binge-worthy." We couldn't stop. I normally don't recommend binging a show as seriously as we did this one because it effects everything. We stopped meal planning and eating healthy dinners because we didn't want to waste that time not watching the show. We didn't connect very well as spouses because all our free time was spent in front of the TV. And we got very little sleep because we were staying up way too late for "just one more episode..."

But I might just say all that was worth it for this show. If you haven't watched it, you really really should. It's all on Netflix. Of course, there is quite a bit of mature content. It's a show about drug dealing, after all. But it's so good. And we aren't the only people who think that. It was nominated for 262 awards and won 110!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I never read these books growing up but I sort of always meant to. My brother read them and loved them. Maybe I'll go back and read them now. Anyway, when season one of the series came to Netflix last year, my friend had a watch party and it was so much fun. The series is so well done and NPH as Count Olaf certainly doesn't disappoint! Season two came to Netflix at the end of March so Pearson and I watched through it after Breaking Bad. It did not disappoint! Except now I want to read them more than ever!

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is a prequel series to Breaking Bad. It's about lawyer Saul Goodman and the story of how he went from a (somewhat) respectable lawyer to the slimy, self-interested, criminal, and unethical defense attorney we all know and love in Breaking Bad. While this series, is pretty good and keeps my attention, it's no Breaking Bad. Pearson and I are currently in the middle of season two. Three seasons are on Netflix and season four is in the making and will most likely air on AMC this fall and come to Netflix shortly after. I do really enjoy the fact that so many characters and ideas from Breaking Bad are showing up in Better Call Saul and I hope it gets better as it goes. I definitely recommend watching Breaking Bad first.

Movies:

The Greatest Showman

Y'all. This movie is everything. You might know that I love Hugh Jackman. He's my favorite actor of all time. Hands down. He does not disappoint in this movie. But he's only part of the reason I love it so much. The music is to die for. The story is heart wrenching. The cinematography is phenomenal. It's one of those that needs to be seen in the theater more than once. It's so colorful and big and bright that you can't just see it on the big screen once. I saw it twice. The last movie that I felt needed to be seen twice on the big screen was Beauty and the Beast. So that should tell you something. Anyway, it's not in theaters anymore but it came out on DVD this week, which is why I'm mentioning it in this post. Watch it. Seriously!

Black Panther

I'm risking sounding like everybody else in the whole world here, but Black Panther was amazing! I mean I was expecting a lot since it was a marvel movie, had such great reviews already, and was slightly different than other MCU movies. And I was not disappointed! I especially loved the women in this movie. My favorite character was Shuri, T'Challa's sister. She was a wicked smart scientist, a hard-core fighter and so much more! It also helped that I had just recently fallen in love with a very similar character in Black Mirror played by the same actress, Letitia Wright, right before seeing this movie. And shortly after seeing Black Panther I found out that Letitia Wright is a Christian and takes her faith very seriously (unlike most in Hollywood). It's safe to say she's my new favorite actress. Anyway, Black Panther is awesome. Go see it!

Annihilation

Pearson and I saw Annihilation with a coworker of his and her husband. The movie was... Interesting. It was certainly suspenseful and had a lot going for it. But then the end was just really trippy and left a lot to be desired. I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money to see this in the theater. But if you like suspense and SciFi, it's worth a discount theater or waiting to rent or stream it.

Listening:

My Instrumental playlist on Google Play Music

I have a playlist of instrumental music from all my favorite movies. I keep it updated and listen to it when I need to concentrate. I made it public so you're welcome to check it out right here.

The Greatest Showman soundtrack

When the movie first came out, I listened to the soundtrack non stop for like 2 months. In fact, it was pretty much the soundtrack to our road trip. But over the last month or so I stopped. But then when the movie came out on digital and disk recently, I started listening to it again.

Talk to me Tayla podcast

Tara and Layla are the founders of Poppy and Dot (use code "charlene10" for 10% off your order). Their business is so successful that they've become celebrity influencers and decided to start a podcast all about owning a business, running a household, and having it all! Even though I don't have kids and will probably never have my own business as big as theirs, their life tips and stories are so relatable and I can never wait till the next episode comes out!

NEXT:

These are what I hope to be reading, watching, and listening to next...
  • Book: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
  • Movie: A Quiet Place (seeing it tonight!)
  • Movie: Avengers: Infinity War (we're already have tickets for Thursday the 26th!)
  • TV: Anne with an E (I'm currently watching this on Netflix)
  • Podcast: Titus 2 Minute
What have you been reading, watching, and listening to lately? Have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Our 2018 Date Night Bucket List

Well guys, we've been living in Oregon for about 2.5 months. So I thought it was time to make a Date Night Bucket List for this year. We made one last year and the year before, and we checked almost everything off the list last year! I didn't make one in January this year because we were moving and didn't have a good idea of what we wanted to do this year in Oregon. Now we've been here long enough to create a list. So here it is!
Oh and I have a cute little printable template for you to create your own Date Night Bucket List. It's party of my New Year - New Marriage pack which is completely free when you sign up for my newsletter below.

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ONE || Visit Seattle

Visiting Seattle has been on my bucket list since before moving to Portland was ever even a possibility. So now, Seattle is only a few hours' drive away and we're making it happen this year!

TWO || Go to Crater Lake

Crater lake is a GORGEOUS lake and national park in southern Oregon. We hope to make it this year.

THREE || Attend an OMSI After Dark Event

OMSI is to Portland, OR as COSI is to Columbus, OH. It's a children's science museum but it hosts adult only events in the evenings once or twice a month. We went to a dinosaur one at COSI and loved it!

FOUR || Have lunch at the Adler Street Food Trucks

I'm sure you probably know how much Pearson and I love food trucks and we've been told that this food cart pod is pretty great. So we're excited to check it out!

FIVE || Tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory

Y'all Tillamook cheese is everywhere here! It's delicious and it all comes out of the factory west of Portland. We're excited to tour the factory once the new visitor center opens.

SIX || Experience Wunderland

Wunderland is a nickle arcade and discount movie theater. There are several locations in the Portland metro area and a few of them even have laser tag. We will probably go to the one in Beaverton soon to see a movie and play some games.

SEVEN || Visit Powells Book Store - Again

Powell's City of Books is the world's largest independent bookstore. It's in downtown Portland, takes up a whole city square, is 4 stories high, has nine rooms and 3,500 different sections including a Rare Book Room. Oh and it has it's own parking garage. Basically, it's my heaven!

EIGHT || Go see the Columbia River Gorge

This is a gorge that separates Oregon and Washington. It's just another must-see that we want to do in our first year here. Unfortunately, a lot of it is still closed to the public because of forest fires, but not all of it!

NINE || Visit the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

This is a fun museum just down the street from us! Pearson has loved rocks and minerals all his life and that has rekindled recently for a couple reasons. One being Hanks mineral obsession in Breaking Bad.

TEN || Hike Saddle Mountain

    This is one of the first hikes we were told about by friends when we moved here. It is pretty strenuous but if you can go on a clear day, the views are apparently to die for! We want to go in a couple months when the weather is more reliable and we're maybe a little more in shape.

    Have you ever made a Date Night Bucket List? What dates would be on yours for this year?
    Thanks for reading.

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    Monday, April 2, 2018

    Monthly Goals for April {2018}

    Hello, beautiful people! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and that you're ready to start fresh in this new month.

    For some reason, Easter is always a somewhat depressing holiday for me. I should specify that the reason for the celebration is not depressing. Praise the Lord for He is risen! Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross but he conquered death and sin when he rose three days later. And because of that, because of Him, we can have eternal life. We can be saved. We are free!!

    But I digress. In all honesty, for me now, Easter is just another Sunday. Which is true. God never said anything about celebrating Christ's resurrection on a special Sunday once per year. We take communion and celebrate his death, burial, and resurrection every Sunday. We celebrate His life every day just by living! But furthermore, now that Pearson and I live so far away from family (and have lived far away for the last five years), there is absolutely nothing special about Easter.

    Growing up, my whole family always went to my Grandma's house on Easter Sunday, took pictures in our new dresses, ate a wonderful feast, and searched for eggs in her backyard. We also competed in the Lads to Leaders convention every Easter weekend. And then when I was in college, we enjoyed Spring Sing on Easter weekend.

    Now, we don't even have family to take pictures with. Anyway, sorry for all of that. I didn't mean for this little rant to take three paragraphs. Let's just get to the monthly goals, shall we?

    How I did in March:

    Spiritual:

    • Read the book of Mark. I thought about doing some devotional or reading a great Christian book, but decided to go back to the basics and read straight from the Bible.
      • Yeah. This didn't happen. At all.

    Physical:

    • Stick to the Keto Diet with Pearson. We will be starting this month with the basics of the diet.
    • Work out 3X per week. I'm going back to the basics of working out and doing what I feel my body needs that day rather than following a specific routine.
      • This didn't happen. I decided to focus on the diet and add exercise later.

    Mental:

    • Read Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
      • Epic fail. I blame Breaking Bad. We binge watched it in like a week.

    Marriage:

    • I'm going to be very basic here and set the goal of not treating Pearson like a child.
      • I think I did pretty well on this one
    • I'm also setting the basic goal that I set pretty much every month of going on at least one intentional date per week!

    Blog:

    • I'm setting a very basic goal to post twice per week!
      • This happened every week except the first

    Home:

    • Clean at least 10 minutes per day.
    • Finish decorating and setting up everything. We're almost done but there are a few more decorations I want to buy.
      • Didn't happen because we sort of went on an unofficial spending freeze before I bought all the decorations I wanted
    So I guess I met about half of my goals. That's not too bad, I suppose. Now for April.

    Resetting in April:

    Spiritual:

    • Read the day's devotional thought from "Breaking Free Day by Day" at least 3 times per week. I am not going to worry about catching up. I think that's where I always start to truly fail. I will pick up the book and read that day's date regardless of whether I read the day before or not.

    Physical:

    • Stick to the Keto Diet, only cheating at most once per week on the weekends.
    • Do something active every day whether it's go for a long walk, or do something at the apartment gym or just do something at home.

    Mental:

    Marriage:

    • As always, I'm setting the goal of going on at least one intentional date per week!

    Blog:

    Home:

    • Clean at least 10 minutes per day. I'm gonna set a timer and see how much I can get clean.
    • Finish decorating and setting up everything. We're almost done but there are a few more decorations I want to buy.
    I'm trying to keep it minimal and simple again. I think I can do these 10 goals, what do you think?
    Do you set monthly goals? Share the link in the comments!
    Thanks for reading!

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    Friday, March 30, 2018

    Why I Still Send Hand-Written Thank You Notes

    Ah Snail Mail. Don't you just love snail mail? I can remember a time when we always got a lot of boring letters in our mailbox (that weren't junk mail) and we would actually get so excited when we got an email. Or a text message. Or an instant message. Do you remember that? Like OMGsh somebody wrote on my MySpace wall! (Was it called a wall?).

    I saw a meme recently about this. I found the meme again but I can't find where it originally came from. But anyway, the top pane is 10 years ago and the guy has his arms full of letters and says "Sigh... Letters" but then he's at his computer which says "Ding! You've got mail!" and he's jumping up and down. Then the bottom pane is today and he's sitting at his computer with a meh face and 220 Unread Emails and then he's holding a letter and jumping for joy saying "OMGsh! A letter!"

    I think you get the picture.
    Snail Mail and hand written letters are almost extinct these days. It's so much more convenient to send an email or text. But I believe there is still a lot of value in hand written thank you notes. They mean so much more and they're fun to write. Especially when you have super cute cards from The Invite Lady!
    Sending someone a letter in the mail is old school. It's out of style. Nobody does that anymore, right? And I mean, why would we? You have to have stationery or at least paper, envelopes, and stamps. You have to write it with a pen or pencil (do you remember what those are?) or print it out, stuff the letter in the envelope, find a stamp to go on it, and walk to the mail box. Then it takes a minimum of three days to get to the destination.

    OR you could just type up an email or text right on your computer or phone and click send. The recipient gets it instantaneously and can text you right back! I get it! It's so much more convenient!
    Snail Mail and hand written letters are almost extinct these days. It's so much more convenient to send an email or text. But I believe there is still a lot of value in hand written thank you notes. They mean so much more and they're fun to write. Especially when you have super cute cards from The Invite Lady!
    But to me, that's just it. Snail Mail takes more time and effort. It means more. I've always been the kind of person for whom effort means a lot more than the final product, you know? Like if Pearson gave me a single rose once per month for a year, I would love it so much more than if he gave me a dozen roses at one time. He thinks that's super inefficient, but it just means he thought about me and put the effort in 12 times instead of just once.

    So I don't write hand-written letters for just anybody and all the time like I do with texts and emails. But I love to do it for something special.

    And I should say here again that I totally understand that it's easier and usually just makes more sense to send a text instead. The internet and technology have made life so much easier and I certainly respect that. So please don't read this and think I resent you for not sending me snail mail or anything like that. That's not what I mean by this at all.
    Snail Mail and hand written letters are almost extinct these days. It's so much more convenient to send an email or text. But I believe there is still a lot of value in hand written thank you notes. They mean so much more and they're fun to write. Especially when you have super cute cards from The Invite Lady!
    Another reason I still write them is because I'm good at it. And I don't admit that I'm good at very much in life. For some reason I've always been good at encouraging people through written words. This also goes for emails, social media, and texts. I mean, it makes sense because I'm a blogger. I write a lot and I like to write. But there's something about specifically writing to one person, expressing my thanks and gratitude or expressing my condolences and encouragement.

    You know how we talk about gifts people have in The Church? Like we're all different and we all have different gifts and talents that we use to further God's Kingdom here on Earth. Some people are good at preaching or teaching. Some people are good with children. Some people are organized and good at planning events. The list could go on. I've always said I'm an encourager. And it's certainly important to encourage people in person which is something I'm working on. But I'm good at and really enjoy encouraging through written words.

    Ok anyway, enough of my rambling. You know, I still think even if you don't consider yourself good with words, writing notes and thank you cards is important. It's not that hard. All you have to write is "Thank you for the [whatever it was]. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and I value our friendship!" Then lick the envelope, slap on a stamp, and put it in the mail box.

    Oh but first you have to get some really cute stationery. For me, this makes all the difference! The cuter the "Thank You" cards are, the more they make me want to use them! Some of the cutest I've seen come from The Invite Lady.

    *She gave me a couple different designs of my choice in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
    Snail Mail and hand written letters are almost extinct these days. It's so much more convenient to send an email or text. But I believe there is still a lot of value in hand written thank you notes. They mean so much more and they're fun to write. Especially when you have super cute cards from The Invite Lady!
    Y'all, The Invite Lady has a ton of cute designs to choose from. She does invitations and thank you cards for kids parties, baby showers, bridal showers, and really any party you could think of. Plus, there is a lot of personalized stationary and neutral, adorable, greeting cards, thank you cards and even recipe cards! I had the hardest time picking out designs I wanted. Even a lot of the thank you notes that were meant for baby showers and such were cute possibilities!

    Do you still send snail mail? Do you still like to receive snail mail?
    Thanks for reading!

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    All opinions are my own.
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    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    A Slight Change in Niche

    Hello you beautiful readers! I've been doing a lot of thinking in the last few weeks. Lots of pondering and brainstorming about this here blog. And I've decided that I'm going to broaden my niche a little.
    I've always tried to make this blog about marriage. And don't get me wrong, I love my marriage and I love marriage in general. And I'm still super passionate about helping people work on their marriage. In fact, for now I'm even going to keep the tagline "Build a marriage that will endure anything that comes your way."

    But there are so many other things I want to write about as well. And maybe I won't actually share those other things so much here on the blog, but certainly on social media. If you follow me on Instagram especially, you've probably already seen this change. (Particularly in my stories and highlights). I've even already changed my title to "Lifestyle & Marriage Blogger" over there.

    So anyway, from now on, I'm allowing myself to post about things besides marriage. Though, if I'm being honest, I can probably relate everything I write back to marriage. Anyway, some of the other things you'll see here (and on social media) include my faith, Pip, progress on our keto diet, our adventures in the Pacific North West, my nerdy obsessions (Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Musicals etc), some beauty and fashion, and whatever else I feel like posting!

    Really, this won't change much from what I've been posting since I started this blog. The only difference is now I'm owning it. I'm no longer calling this a "marriage blog," but rather a "lifestyle & marriage blog." Basically, I won't feel guilty about posting anything that doesn't have to do with marriage!

    So nothing official is changing. By that I mean, the name and tagline will be the same. I'm not even changing the about page. I'm just changing my mindset about the blog and wanted to let you guys know!

    So, as always, thanks for reading! I'm really thankful for you readers for sticking with me and always coming back!

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    If you click on a link and make a purchase, I might get a little money. 
    All opinions are my own.
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    Friday, March 23, 2018

    13 FREE Easter/Spring Printables

    So a few months ago, I rounded up 13 FREE Halloween Printables for you guys. Halloween is my favorite holiday and there was a Friday the 13th in October! So I had to celebrate somehow. Anyway, now it's a couple Fridays before Easter and I thought I'd round up 13 FREE Easter Printables.
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!
    No Easter is not my favorite holiday. In fact, it's not even top three. But, I have to admit, the decorations, colors, and traditions that go along with Easter and spring in general are some of the cutest. I keep seeing wonderful free printables everywhere so I thought why not share them with you guys!

    And, in a similar fashion to the Halloween post, most of these come from The Dating Divas. But not all of them do this time. Enjoy! (Also, since these are all free, I'm NOT getting any kind of affiliate commissions.)
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    ONE || 40 Printable Easter Egg Hunt Clues

    I have never thought to use clues for an Easter Egg Hunt making it more like a scavenger hunt. Have you? Am I weird in that? We always just searched for eggs in the yard. But I LOVE the idea! These are some of the cutest printable clues and they're split up into indoor and outdoor categories as well as big and little kids categories. The clues are so clever like "I’m full of paper and ink, but I am not a book like you might think. (printer)"
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    TWO || Easter Egg Hubby Hunt

    Here is another Easter scavenger hunt, but this one is for your hubby! I'm telling you, The Dating Divas always come up with the cutest printables for any occasion, and these clues are no exception. I'm pretty sure I'm going to use these on Easter this year to make the holiday a little special.
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    THREE || Easter Egg Hunt Game

    The Dating Divas have another idea to make Easter egg hunts a little more exciting. With this game, all the eggs have a number inside and after they've all been found, everybody opens the eggs and counts up their points. The point values are random and somebody will be lucky enough to have the most points and win the grand prize! I love that this can be played with all ages so have a few couples over for a group date, play it as a family, or gather your kids' friends for a competitive play date!
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    FOUR || Printable Easter Bingo Game for Kids

    Is this not the cutest bingo card you've ever seen? I think any kid would love playing this game. The printable includes 8 different bingo cards as well as little cards that someone draws from a pile and calls out during the game. Too cute!
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    FIVE || Some Bunny Loves You Easter Surprise

    I love that The Dating Divas have created this as a care package printable pack so that it can really be sent to anybody all over the world! As the name suggests, it would be perfect for your spouse at home, but it would also be a fun surprise for anybody that you love all over the globe! I'm thinking I might send an Easter care package to my parents and my in-laws since we haven't been able to spend Easter with them since we got married all those years ago.
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    SIX || Spring Subway Art

    I don't know about you, but one of my new favorite ways to decorate my home is with cute, simple printables. Especially subway art. I've got a couple nice 8x10 picture frames and I rotate prints through the seasons. This one is currently on my mantle (I just didn't have time to photograph it for this post).
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    SEVEN || Intimate Easter Basket

    And it wouldn't be a real holiday if The Dating Divas didn't come up with something special for couples to enjoy! This printable includes gift tags and coupons. Plus the post has some great ideas for other goodies to include in the basket! Hint: Think chocolate body paint! What?!
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    EIGHT || Printable Hop, Hop Easter Decor

    This adorable pack includes a "HOP" banner in several colors, full sheet stripe patterns, and plenty of other adorable goodies for an Easter party! (Or just to leave up all season, in my opinion)
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    NINE || Easter Cookie Kit

    It also wouldn't be a real holiday if The Divas didn't incorporate cookie baking somehow, am I right? But I'm certainly not complaining! This kit is great for families! You'll all be working together to assemble some delicious Easter treats and you can even make a game out of it. Plus the banner is a precious added bonus!
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    TEN || Dance in the Rain Free Spring Printable

    Ok is this print not the cutest! I can't believe it's free. And it's perfect for our new home in the PNW. I may keep it up all winter for a little colorful happiness in the dreary, rainy months.
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    ELEVEN || Easter Egg Bedroom Notes

    Another cute printable from The Dating Divas for your marriage! Some of these are innocent and some suggest a little something more. They're a great (and cheesy) way to make Easter fun for the two of you.
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    TWELVE || Let's Go Fly a Kite Free Spring Printable

    If you love Mary Poppins like I do, you know exactly where this phrase comes from. It's spring time in London and it's time for Mary Poppins to leave the Banks family. She's done her job and now the children will go out and fly a kite with their cheerful father who sings this song! I love this scene and I love this print!
    Easter is one of the most colorful holidays. All the printables you'll find all over the internet are just to die for at this time of year. I've round up 13 of my favorite FREE Easter and Spring printables all in one place. There are ideas here for games, Easter Baskets, and Egg Hunts for both adults and children. Plus some of the cutest printable decor you ever saw!

    THIRTEEN || Easter Photo Booth Printables

    I always love some good photo booth props. They make any party or get together fun and guarantee you'll have great photos to remember the event. So maybe get some other couples together for a silly Easter group date or invite some kiddos for an Easter party and pull out these props!

    So you see? Easter really is a great holiday and the printables are adorable!
    What's your favorite holiday?

    Do you have any free Easter printables? Post a link in the comments!
    Thanks for reading!

    Follow me on social media:
    Posts on this blog may contain affiliate links. 
    If you click on a link and make a purchase, I might get a little money. 
    All opinions are my own.
    Continue reading »
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