Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Living the Journey - a New Linkup!!

I am so excited to announce that Lauren and I are hosting a new link up!!
 It is a goal of mine for 2013 to go the extra mile and make the effort to grow my blog, this is the first step!

A little information:
 Lauren & Rebekah (two best friends since childhood) wanted to find a way to combine their blogs for one day a week in a way that everyone could participate. So they took the best of their two blogs, and Living the Journey was born! So every Wednesday, link up and tell us not only how you're Living & Learning, or how you're Enjoying the Journey; but how you're Living your Journey.

You're Invited!

Who: You!! We're so excited for this opportunity and the chance to get to know our wonderful followers through this new connection!
What: The link up of course - "Living the Journey" a mash up of our two blog names.
When: Every Wednesday the linky will go live at midnight (central).
Where: It will be hosted by myself and Lauren at Enjoying the Journey

So grab the button, tell your friends and join us next Wednesday and tell us how you're Living the Journey!

Inline image 1

- Follow Lauren & Rebekah (myself)
- Grab a button & link up
- Blog about how you are Living the Journey
- Visit 2 other blogs and see how they're Living the Journey

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2 years

Today we are celebrating our second year of marriage!
(cue marking off #61)

Since the anniversary fell on a Tuesday this year, we had a joint celebration for the anniversary and John's birthday last weekend. 

When we picked our wedding date there was nothing sweet and romantic about it - it was all business. It was a Saturday that none of our other friends were getting married on, the church was available, everyone in the family could be there, and there was enough time to plan and pay for the thing.

Apparently I had also been hit over the head with a 2x4 because adding anything else to January was stupid! It already has all the after Christmas hangover, New Years, my Birthday and John's birthday.
Heaven help us if we add a child's birthday to the already overflowing month.

This year we kept it simple but it was exactly what we needed!
We got a room at nice hotel (thank you to John's mom!) & spent the evening just the two of us!

The suite we stayed in is the nicest room we've ever had the pleasure of sleeping in!
I would be pretty okay with the idea of living in a hotel!

Left: We've made a tradition of getting a small wedding cake to celebrate our anniversary - notice we're getting some use out of those ridiculously expensive fancy cake knives that have officially been used exactly 3 times!

Right: Then, John's mom surprised us with a little birthday/anniversary gift and room service brought this up! We had a LOT of cake, and enjoyed eating it too!

Our gifts to each other were quite simple too (*ahem* translation, property taxes are due on the 31st of this joyous month). 2nd anniversary gifts are traditionally cotton. John got me a cute pair of cotton pajama pants and a new pair of slippers (which I actually requested!) and I got him a new pair of "around the house" shoes. 

Yes, I know we're old married people now. Maybe next year we'll be a bit more exciting, maybe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cleaning House

Tax season has started with a vengeance! I haven't had two seconds to myself this week and it doesn't look like that is going to get much better any time soon. So, I'm just going to have to get back in the habit of writing all my posts during the weekend & scheduling them throughout the week. 

I wanted to hop on for two things, first - to wish my Bestie a wonderful birthday!!

Lauren, I hope you enjoy your day and that 24 is the best year yet!!

I also wanted to share something epic and wonderful for all of my readers!

Sarah over at Love, Sarah K is hosting an awesome giveaway!! 
She is on Day three (but if you hurry you can still enter days 1-3) of a Blog Design giveaway!!
This is a great opportunity if you're looking to spruce up your blog in anyway - the giveaway has 11 winners of various designing packages!! 

I hope you've had a great week so far & Happy Hump Day!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Biggest Loser {3} Vegetables Galore!

Last week was a less than stellar week if you will recall.

I had unfortunately gained 2.5 pounds.  I had been doing small things to make a difference. I'd kicked the coke habit (though I will admit I was really missing my old friend Dr. Pepper). I was eating smaller healthier portions and beginning to exercise again.

 After last week I knew I needed a kick in the hind quarters! I spent Monday & Tuesday licking my wounds and assessing the habits I have and how I can change them.

 I made it a priority to log everything I eat and drink into My Fitness Pal. I also made some great new friends on MFP thanks to you all!! If you use MFP & need some accountability, feel free to friend me!

The biggest thing I changed was what I ate. I'm working to reduce the amount of processed foods I eat (which, I'll be honest is a lot), I continued on the no cokes - which this week was easy breezy! I didn't even think about them! I also cut out meat from 2/3 of my meals and gave carbs a serious curbing!!

J & I already eat lean meats, I'm not a big fan of beef, so if I cook it, it's probably chicken. However, I'm not a big vegetable or fruit eater at all.  In reducing my meat & carb intake I want to remind myself of all the healthy foods that are great alternatives and healthier. For me, it's the first step towards making better habits. I prefer to make lifestyle changes than diet off and on.

Some of my daily eating habits looked like:

All in all - it paid off!! I weighed in this morning at 198.0 lbs!!
That puts me down 2 lbs from last week and only up .5 lbs overall! 

I feel great!! I'm so happy the direction I'm headed with this!

With the change in my diet I feel much better overall. I'm sleeping better, I don't feel the need to drink any caffeine at all! I didn't even mean to but, I kicked the coffee habit!
I feel full between meals and don't find the need to snack!

This was definitely the momentum in the right direction I needed! Thank you all for your support & encouraging words!

I'm linking up with the Java Mama for the Biggest Loser Challenge - join us!!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Literary Junkies {January Edition}

Today I'm guest posting for Lindsey at Follow the Ruels - go check it out!!

It's time for another Literary Junkies Link up!!
Join us with Leslie at By the Porchlight,
and Taylor at Pink Heels, Pink Truck!
Pink Heels Pink Truck

1.  Which book could you read over & over?
 Oh gosh, well I love reading books more than once! When I really get into a new book, I can't put it down. So, I unfortunately have to use judgement about when to pick up a new book. If there are tons of responsibilities and commitments, I'll opt to re-read a book or a series rather than something new.
I've re-read Harry Potter a zillion times, and the Twilight series. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger and Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner are also some of my go-to reads.

Book Hangover

2. If you could be any character from any book you've read, who would you be?
There hasn't been a particular character I have identified with and would want to live their life. However, I always find something about characters I love and I guess I daydream? about them and what it would be like if they were real and I was their friend.
Hi, my name is Rebekah and I'm a nerd. : )

3. Do you ever put a book down because you just can't get into it? Or do you stick it out to the bitter end? Any examples?
I try really hard to stick it out, I always hope that it will get better, but I've put a few books down. I *hated* Eat, Love, Pray and put it down & got rid of it. I really couldn't get into The Pursuit of Happyness either, (yes it's really spelled that way, I double checked) I didn't as much give up on it, as I got busy and never made it back to reading it.  Right now, I'm reading A Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowlings new book. I want to like it because I love Harry Potter, but it's not exactly going well. I'll let you know how it turns out if I finish it.

4. Show us your book shelves! Do you have one designated spot in your house for all your books? Do you scatter them around?

Ideally the books would all stay in the office/living room area - We have one long book shelf on the wall & a small bookcase in the office - but books often end up in piles around the house as well. And these two pictures don't really represent the sheer quantity of books we own - we aren't moving until this summer and I already have a stack of paper boxes filled with books.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biggest Loser {2}

Well with any challenge it has it's ups and downs right?

Last week I weighed in at 197.5. Before last week I hadn't weighed in for about 3 weeks and before Christmas I had been weighing in around the low 190s. This week I ate well, did some exercising, I was successful with not having cokes(!!!), but unfortunately I weighed in this morning at 200.0 :(

Difference:+2.5 lbs.

I'm really disappointed that the numbers weren't in my favor, but I'm trying to look on the bright side. My pants are fitting much better! I feel much better than I did even a week ago. I have had repeated compliments that I am looking thinner - so ideally, I would like to think that I actually am becoming more fit, even if the pounds aren't dropping how I would like.

I'm trying to get back in the groove of logging my meals into My Fitness Pal - do any of you use MFP? I would love to make some new friends! Accountability is the best for me!!

I did a pretty decent job of logging my breakfasts and lunches into MFP this week, but then I would get home and be busy with things and forget to log dinner. I hope to do better with that this week.

I'm hoping to cut out a few more carbs this week, and possibly start the 30 day Shred. Hopefully that will help with that whole + sign in my weight log. I really considered not even bothering to post this week, but I really want to be honest and realistic with my blog. Sometimes things don't go as planned.

Thank you all so much for your encouraging comments last week! It's great knowing I'm not alone in this journey!!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One for One for Pie

I wanted to share about a special giveaway and fundraiser in our blogging community.

Joy and her family are working to quickly adopt their foster daughter (they call her Pie, how sweet!) from the system. 
You can read more about it here.

This project touched my heart. The expenses of saving a child from the system are great, and the process is admirable. I wanted to help in the small way my husband and I could financially. If you would like to donate, you can do so on Joy's sidebar.

If you can't help financially - you can help share the information about the giveaway!
Friends of Joy have come together to put together a HUGE giveaway!
You don't have to donate to enter the giveaway, you just have to share!
The giveaway is awesome, tons of amazing and adorable etsy goods ANNNDDD, a Kindle Fire!

Please consider helping to change Pie's life forever. Please consider helping Joy adopt her daughter.
All you have to do is share.

Thank you!

House Hunting

John and I have started the process to purchase a house.
We're shooting to purchase late this summer or fall.

It is my intention to be 100%, perfectly honest with my readers about our experiences and the process.

For us, the first step is figuring out exactly what we want & need.
Since we are living in a family property with minimal rent, we can afford to wait and find the perfect property.
{We're going to have to find a very patient Realtor}

We're willing to purchase a house that needs updates (depending on what the updates are). However, after living in a house that needs major repairs, we're not particularly interested in dealing with a similar situation.
The big trick, is we're only willing to spend $100,000 max. And when I say max, we would really prefer to shoot for $75 - $80K.

So far we've got:

When you've been looking for homes, what were your criteria?
Things we should look out for?

Biggest Loser {1}


{I apologize for this post being so late, I had one heck of a Monday...}

I weighed in this morning at 197.5!
 I'm honestly pretty happy with this. It isn't where I want it to be, but I haven't gained all the weight back that I've been working to loose.
(Also pretty sure that I've been retaining some serious water)

Since New Years, I've been working to give up cokes. The first few days were pretty tough, but it's a cake walk now.

This week I want to talk a little about my inspiration that I haven't discussed before. A big part of the journey for me is more than watching the numbers drop on the scale, it's about becoming healthier and having a strong body.  It isn't a secret that we'd like to start a family.

I have a pretty good picture of what that means for me.
I'm realistic that things may not go exactly as I want, but I fully intend to have a completely natural delivery.
{the idea of an epidural scares me more than labor - a story for another time}
Every time I talk to someone who has had or attempted a natural delivery, their biggest suggestion is to be in good shape. The better shape my body is in when I go into the pregnancy the lower the risks are for complications during gestation or delivery.

Not to mention, the better shape I'm in before pregnancy, the better chances I have of dropping the baby weight!

You should join us! Link up with the Java Mama for Biggest Loser Mondays!

On Wednesday, I'll also be linking this post up with Lacey at They Call Me Mommy for Weigh in Wednesday

Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday Recap

For not making a big deal about my birthday,
I had a great birthday!!

I worked most of the day - which I was glad to do, I mean heck, it was only a 3 day week!

The Hubbs did good! He was got me the most beautiful pink roses, a sweet card and the softest, cuddliest teddy bear!

After work, we got together with my Dad & brothers. We were able to get all 3 brothers together! This my friends is a small miracle!!

We saw Parental Guidance, which was a funny, cute movie!

Saturday Morning, I finally took advantage of my Anniversary gift from last year {procrastination much?!?}
I can't believe I've never done this before, and it won't be the last time -
I had a delightful body scrub and massage!

My skin has never been so soft!
My back feels amazing!! She was able to work out knots in my back that have been the source of so much pain!
Ah!! {And y'all are all thinking, well duh - what else did she expect?!?}
Major revelation y'all! Such a great time!

Best Birthday weekend ever!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Time Management: My System {Part 2} Calendar

Check out Part One of my Time Management Series - Blog

I'm sharing how I keep up with my Calendar.

I am speaking to those of you who {like the past version of me} cannot seem to move past that
physical planner that you carry everywhere like it is your Bible.

I loved my planner, but the convenience of an electronic calendar cannot be beat!

Before the days of Google Calendar, my family would sit down in the living room about once a month and "sync" our calendars. We would share dates with each other that would be important for the family as a whole or good-to-know.

Now, we can all see each others' calendars simply by clicking the side bar of your list of calendars (after your link the calendars together)

Even better - I can have multiple calendars to keep things easily color coded.

I'm usually stalking Pinterest online planning our grocery lists and menu plans, I later move them to the refrigerator door, but for planning purposes, it was easiest for me to create a calendar to map them out.
(See Turquoise)

Jacob being away at college, it's great having access to his calendar (blue)
And, when my Dad bothers to update his... we sync with him too.

I do occasionally print out my calendars and post them on my office wall just to have it at a glace.

If you're like me, you may have more than one email address. Everything that belongs to both John & me goes to one email address {purple}, my personal stuff goes into another {pink} and of course John's personal goes to his {green}. Then, to keep things simplified (I know it sounds complicated, but makes life so much easier!), my Thirty One Business {orange} has it's own email address as does my blog {magenta}!

This calendar is composed by the linking of all those Google Account email addresses & their associated calendars. If you set your permissions up properly, you can edit and share each calendar from any Google Account.

Another bonus:
 This route to keeping up with your life is free - traditional calendars run anywhere from $13 to in the $100's.

A final point on calendars in our home...
It's a rule my mother started with us as kids and has worked well and we still use today.
What goes on the calendar first, is the commitment we stick with.
 Obviously, I'm not talking about extreme extenuating circumstances; sickness, doctor, etc. But when it comes to outings, volunteer projects, dinners with friends etc. Some times we just have to say "I'm sorry, we already have something on that night". Even when the alternative would have been more fun.

It seems like a basic concept, but it takes the grey area out. It becomes black and white, you do what you committed to first. Without that grey area, scheduling is a much easier process.

Friday, January 4, 2013

24 Years

For some reason 24 sounds like so much older than 23. 
Birthdays have never been a huge deal for me.

Maybe it's being so close to Christmas and New Years?

Rather than really celebrating, I prefer to use it as a time to set goals and focus on the year ahead
{you know, what everyone else does at New Years...}

24 things I look forward to in my 24th year:

1. Celebrating 2 years of marriage with my wonderful husband!

2. Spending Less & Saving More! We're preparing to embark on No Spend February. We're also looking for other ways to cut back on the budget and spend less on frivolous items and make large investments!

3. Hank, Johns Grandpa will be turning 75 & having a big birthday bash with all the family!

4. My upcoming job change!

5. My youngest brother will be graduating from High School!

6. John and I plan to return to Galveston when we go to Houston for his cousin, Matt's, graduation!

7.Living in a new house! We can't wait to buy a house! I look forward to - 
- Not having to own "mud shoes" to get to and from my car because our driveway/yard is so muddy every time it barely rains!
- Central Heat/Air {it says it all}
- having pipes that were installed properly so we aren't constantly without water in winter!
-Neighbors I don't hate! ;)
- a Garage!! I miss a garage!! 

8. Decorating said new house!

9. Buying a dining set!

10. Hawaii!!!!

11. Continuing to grow my blog!

12. Hosting our first big family holiday - Thanksgiving!

13. All the wedding festivities for Kim's wedding!

14. A Baby Bump? Maybe??

15. Finding a new church!

16.Fitting into my Skinny Jeans!

17. Purchasing a family car! 

18. Make a point to get to know some of my extended family better!
Perhaps, get together with the cousins in East Texas!

19. Growing my hair out! 
{Now, I just have to learn how to tolerate long hair in the Texas Summer Heat!}

20. Creating & Developing a Facebook for my blog!

21. Helping my Hubby to start his own blog or a series on my blog!

I want to set a specific goal of completing particular items from my 101 in 1,001 list.

22. Host a party, just because, at our house (#14)

23. Have a Christen the China party (#17)

24.Re-Starting our family tradition of Sunday Lunches (also taking care of #35)

I hope you will join me in 2013 making my 24th year the best one yet!!

New to {L&&L}? - I'd love to connect!
Instigram, Twitter, Pinterest

Thursday, January 3, 2013


As you probably know by now, John and I work hard to get out of debt and to live within our means.

"There are no normal months. Your expenses do not occur evenly throughout the year, and if you don’t plan for the high-expense months, you’ll be in a world of hurt."

A vital part of that is keeping up with a monthly budget.
We've tried a couple of different budgeting methods but the one that has worked the best for us is YNAB.

YNAB is short for You-Need-A-Budget
It isn't exactly a fun fact but, no matter who you are - you need a budget!

YNAB is really easy to use! It keeps all your information in one place and helps you to monitor your expenses and find ways to reduce unnecessary spending.

It's also not for the faint of heart. You can't be half-hearted about wanting to fix your finances or a spending problem and use YNAB. It takes dedication and work.

YNAB works with 4 basic principles -

1. Give every dollar a job
2. Save for a Rainy Day
3. Roll with the Punches
4. Live on Last Month's Income

You make a budget for each month, based on known expenses and what you've spent in previous months.

One of my favorite features of YNAB that I haven't found with another form of budgeting is the ability to see the average of past months amounts spent to help you make an educated decision on how much you should budget this month.

In full disclosure, there is one of the YNAB steps that we opted to change up a little.
As you may know, we also use Dave Ramsey principles for managing our money. According to Dave Ramsey, your first step towards Financial Freedom is to save $1,000 and then start plugging away at your debt snowball. With YNAB, you're supposed to save 3 months income and then start making extra payments toward paying off your debt. To be honest, I'm just not that patient, so we went the Dave Ramsey route. (Praise God) We haven't had an emergency that has set us back much more than our Dave Ramsey savings account so we haven't gotten off our financial track due to a set back.

The details:  You can get YNAB free for 34 days if you're interested in checking it out but aren't sure that you're reading to take the plunge.  The cost of the plunge you ask? $60.00
This is a one time purchase, and for us - it was worth it!
If you follow this link, you can get a discount on the purchase of YNAB software as a referal bonus.

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated by You Need A Budget Inc. The views and opinions were entirely my own based on my experiences with their company and software. Also, for the record: I have changed some of the figures numbers and amounts you are seeing (a girls' gotta have some secrets ;)  )

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


 I made a boo boo that I may never live down.
(You can't judge my awful floors!)

Our water had frozen Christmas Day. We could tell that it was trying to defrost and break through because we could hear it in the pipes. So, we turned on the water (that never ended up flowing) and left the spouts open.  I forgot to turn off the water - so Thursday afternoon when no one was home and it finally defrosted - it filled the sink and over flowed onto the floor.

When I ran home to let the dogs out - we were greeted by this mess.

 It's hard to tell, but I'm standing in a ton of water - by the way, case and point on my hatred for linoleum! 

I've never been so grateful for my rain boots!!
Oh, and wet/dry vacs!
(And the awesome brothers who came & bailed me out!)

In the end, it came out to 80+ gallons.
Oh, how I dread the water bill this month.

Even worse, in my flustered angry temperament at the mess - I called John who was out to dinner with friends {over an hour away}, and attempted to blame him for the mess.
Fortunately, my husband is sweet and he opted to just hang up the phone rather than return the angry words I was using.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Last night we had big plans for NYE - but we opted instead to spend a nice night in with family.

Andrew's birthday was the 30th, so we Joshua spent the majority of the day putting together his fancy new toys.  Have you seen the new Hot Wheels Wall Track? It's awesome but, boy is it a pain in the toosh to put together!!

We had a great time playing with the cousins! 

And just to finish off 2012 right, I ate so much I'm officially sick. I was so good for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I blew it at New Years. :( 

My Resolutions for 2013:

1. Meet my ideal weight for Hawaii
2. Find a new church
3. Give up Cokes