July 4th Weekend Recap

A few weeks ago we decided we wanted to go camping over the 4th of July holiday. The husband took the whole week before off work and went down to the campground early to get us a spot because we thought sure it was going to be packed on the holiday weekend (it wasn’t). He and Ella went down Wednesday morning and Louis and I followed Thursday evening after I finished work.

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The first night was fun, albeit a little mosquito-y. We had a nice fire and I had some delicious marshmallows and s’mores. It even got a little chilly overnight which was nice because I got to snuggle down in my sleeping bag without sweating.

The next day we decided to do a little hiking and it was awesome except for a giant hill I could barely walk up and mosquitos. We literally passed through swarms of mosquitos. Yuck. That afternoon we headed back to the campsite and were not super pleased to find our entire campsite swarming with mosquitos also. Fortunately, our tent has a little attached screen room (thanks, Dad!) so we just relaxed in there until it was time to cook dinner. Even though we were covered in bug spray (which is disgusting in itself) we got practically eaten alive by mosquitos while we were cooking. We even went back to the screen room after dinner while we waited for our dessert to cook. We were making this super awesome apple crumble thing. It was delicious!

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While we were hiding in our screen room enjoying our apple crisp and trying not to scratch our limbs off, we decided to head home a day early. Unfortunately the bugs were so bad it was just not worth trying to stay for an extra day. That night (Friday) there was a crazy rainstorm and when we got up Saturday morning the bugs were even worse! :( I piled on as much bug repellant as I could stand (I honestly think it made me a little sick) and we packed up as quickly as possible. By about 11am we were headed back to civilization in our bug free cars.

When I got home and got out of the car I was kind of surprised by the bug free air! I told the husband that even though we weren’t camping I absolutely wanted to have beanie weenies for dinner so we cooked baked beans and hotdogs on our stove in our air conditioned house. ;)

Sunday we woke up and decided it would be a good time to head to the pool in our neighborhood for the first time. Early in the afternoon we packed up our towels and headed to the pool only to find a line of about 30 people just waiting to get in! And through the fence we could see that there were already so many people there. I guess it being over 90 degrees on a Sunday would make it pretty crowded. So we decided to head back in the early evening when surely there would be fewer people. Not so much. At 5pm there was still a line of people waiting to get in!

In the meantime we had gotten the bright idea to build a fire pit in the backyard using some left over paving stones from a garden project we completed last summer. It took a lot of work and most of the day…but look what we ended up with!

IMG_3168 I am so excited and of course insisted we roast marshmallows and make s’mores! I mean, I only got to have one s’more on our camping trip so it was basically required! As much as I love our fire pit now, I am even more excited to use it in the fall when the days start getting shorter and cooler. I see many roasted marshmallows in my future.

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It’s Monday!…

…and I’ve decided to scrap the Summer Self Love Link-Up for the time being. It seemed as though it wasn’t really very popular so I’m going to put something else in it’s place. I haven’t decided what yet but I’ll have that worked out by next week. Hope y’all have a great Monday!

I’ll be back tomorrow with something fun! :)

5 Tips for New Runners

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As I’m sure most of you know, I’ve been running a ton lately and LOVING it. But I know that starting out when you haven’t been a ‘runner’ before can be sort of intimidating. Honestly, getting back into it even when you have been a runner can be hard! SO here are my five tips for those of you considering becoming a runner! Come on in, the water’s fine! ;)

1. Use intervals.
 It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to head out the door and run 4 or 5 or 13 miles straight off. In fact, both when I started training for my first (and only) half marathon and recently as I’m coming back from surgery, I started out not being able to run a full mile (or even more than a couple minutes) without stopping. Intervals allow you to be able to run for longer and build up your stamina slowly. Most recently, I started with a 2:2 interval (i.e. jog 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes), moved to a 3:1, then to a 5:1, and now I’m running continuously!

2. Invest in good shoes.

Find a blog post about running essentials and you will find a blog post that tells you to invest in good shoes! I started training to the half marathon in a $45 pair of shoes from Kohl’s. They worked for a while and my feet didn’t fall off. However, the shoes I wear now make my feel about 100x happier. Find a local running shop, have them fit you for some shoes. I did buy my first pair from that running shop for about $110. BUT now that I know which ones I like, I’m able to search around for a good deal. My second pair (same brand, same style) I found on clearance for $60 because the ‘new version’ was coming out soon.

3. Hydrate.
This is my biggest struggle as a runner/cyclist/active person. But I promise you, the better hydrated you are, the easier things will be for you. I can tell a huge difference in how I feel during a run depending on how hydrated I am.

4. Set goals.
There are some who can just run and run with no goal in mind. But for most of us, and especially those just starting out, I think it’s a good idea to have a goal in mind. The first goal I set for myself when I began training for the half marathon was to run 1 mile without stopping. Right now my goal is increase my mileage slowly until I reach 5 miles. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as you have one. Then once you achieve it, set a new one!

5. Have fun!
For me running is fun when I have a goal. Some people enjoy it because they get to be outdoors. Everyone has their own reasons and motivation. But whatever your motivation is, losing weight, running a faster 5K, running 100 miles this summer, etc., let it excite you and make you happy to jump out of bed to get your run on! :D

Unexpected Ways to Save: Grow Your Savings Account with New Savings Options

You’ve cut out trips to the coffee shop, discontinued magazine subscriptions in favor of online versions, and started packing your lunch instead of buying it every day. So, why isn’t the money in your savings account adding up as significantly as you thought it would? Little changes like these do make a difference over time, but there are some additional savings options you might not have previously considered. Finding these savings and investing them can help you reach your savings goals even sooner. Check out these suggestions for finding unexpected ways to save.

  1. Revisit insurance policies

When it comes to insurance policies, you might think you’re done after initially meeting with insurance agents and signing up for the policies best fitting your needs or those of your family. But, with many insurance companies, some seemingly minor factors can end up resulting in savings. For instance, most home-owner policies reward you with lower rates if you install a security system. The same goes for cars with anti-theft protection. You may also receive a discount if you have multiple policies with the same company, or haven’t submitted a claim in several years. As you go through your insurance policies to find these savings opportunities, it’s a good idea to also look at competing insurance carriers to see if there’s an opportunity to receive better rates elsewhere. The amount you save monthly by switching carriers or finding these additional discounts may seem somewhat minor, but it adds up in the run long.

  1. Find discounts through local businesses and memberships

There are plenty of hidden discounts offered in local communities that aren’t heavily publicized. The trick is knowing where to find them. From oil changes to haircuts, retailers offer discounts, daily deals or loyalty cards if you’re a frequent customer, senior citizen, member of the military, student, teacher, or belong to another specific demographic. You should also look into special discounts offered as a benefit from your workplace, school, or as part of a membership of services like AAA. You’d be surprised how much you can save by just doing a little research and asking the businesses you patronize what they offer.

  1. Reduce utility bills

Everyone has personal preferences for their ideal home temperature, but regulating the thermostat can save you a great deal of money throughout the year. One way to do this effortlessly is with a programmable electronic thermostat. If you don’t already have one, it’s worth the investment. If you do have one and aren’t using the programming feature, start doing so! It’s easy to forget to adjust the thermostat before leaving for the day or going to bed. Programming it to raise or lower the temperature during these times will keep the air conditioning or heat from coming on unnecessarily. This will help lower your utility bills as well as conserve energy. You can also implement a rainwater collection system to water your lawn and install a timed shut off in your showers to reduce your water bill.

  1. Track and invest your savings

When you start taking advantage of these and other unexpected ways to save, begin keeping track of the money you’re saving each month. Then, make that money work harder for you by putting the monthly savings in a high-interest savings account, money market account or certificate of deposit (CD). Accounts like these yield a greater amount of interest than a typical savings or checking account, and will therefore grow your funds more quickly. Before you know it, what seemed like a minimal amount of money each month will turn into something much more substantial.

 

Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.

June Goal Review & July Goals

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OMG it’s July! (How many times have you already read that this morning? Probably too many.) But the beginning of the month for me is the perfect time for a goal review and some new goals! I used to do two separate posts but I decided that’s superfluous so I figured I’d go down to one and see how I like it. ;)

June Goal Review

1. Start using my re-usable grocery bags again.
I used them about half the time so I’m going to give this one a fail and try again in July!

2. Use at least 1 coupon per week at the grocery.
Hm. Kind of a fail. I used them about half the time. And on Sunday I ‘clipped’ a bunch of online coupons and forgot to print them out and bring them to the grocery store. Oops.

3. Prepare Emergency Kit for basement (for severe weather sheltering)
Yeah, kind of forgot about this one. But we’re trying to clean/reorganize our basement to get rid of stuff for a garage sale so maybe I’ll do it then! (Since I need the space.)

4. ‘Graduate’ from physical therapy. 
OMG I am so close and this is not even my fault. LOL. I think I literally have only two ‘approved’ visits left and I think my PT is determined for me to come to all of them.

5. Decide when/where we’re going on vacation.
!!!!! We totally did this! We decided we’re going to Moab, Utah for a week or so later this summer! I could not be more excited! It’s gorgeous out there and so different from anything I’ve ever seen before! I’d better start practicing my landscape photo skills!

6. NO FAST FOOD
Ok, I didn’t end up writing more about this like I meant to but basically as a part of my whole taking better care of myself thing I decided to try and go the entire month without any fast food. Ok, well I totally didn’t go the whole month BUT I did make it until like the 15th (and the first time I cheated I kind of forgot I wasn’t supposed to be eating fast food) and I only had it about 5 times the entire month. So I say, WIN!

July Goals

1. Use reusable grocery bags and coupons when shopping (especially for groceries).
This is (obviously) a bit of a repeat from last month but I’m really trying to help our budget a little bit by saving money where I can. I’m also curious to see how much one can actually save by being a ‘casual couponer’. I keep meaning to start a spreadsheet…

2. 5X OR LESS FAST FOOD
I don’t know why but I felt like this goal needed to continue to be in all caps. So here’s the deal. Sometimes I get into a rut where I eat a LOT of fast food, I’m talking 5x-7x per week between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know it’s getting really bad when I eat 2 meals out in one day…and then eat out for breakfast the next day. It’s a sickness. First, it’s usually not healthy food at all. Second, it’s not healthy for my budget either. SO, I’m going to give this one a try again and see if I can do even better than I did last month.

3. Hit 1000 miles on my bike and run over 30 miles.
My bike and I have been together for over two years now. I started off thinking riding 10 miles was just about impossible and worked up to riding my longest ride of 41 miles last July. My bike and I have currently seen 921 miles together and I’d love to cross the 1000 mark this month! Now on to running. 30 miles in one month is, to most runners, a joke. BUT let’s remember that I had surgery in January and May 29 was my first run in about a yeare…AND I had not run over a mile in about 2 years because of my hip. I just crossed the three mile mark the other day and am SO excited about it. I’m hoping I can get some ‘good’ mileage in this month! :D

4. Blog about makeup/beauty stuff 1x per week.
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but beauty blogging is pretty time intensive. For me (and most people who blog about beauty stuff) there are usually photographs to be taken and editing to be done and lots of links to add. Then there’s the actual writing. BUT I have so many awesome ideas/products that I want to share (and also some OMG-ew-don’t-but-this-ever)! We’ll see how it goes!

 

Whelp. I think that’s enough out of me for now. Sorry for the long post but apparently I had a lot to say. ;) Oh! And one more thing…what do y’all think of the Summer Self Love Link-Up? I really like it but I’ve had zero link-ups so far. If y’all like reading it I’ll keep it around but if not I’m going to use that Monday spot for something else. So, if you want to see the Summer Self Love Link-Up stay let me know, otherwise it’s history! :)

Summer Self Love Link-Up: June 30 Edition

Happy Monday everyone! Hopefully most of you are looking forward to a short week (those in the US at least) since we have a holiday on Friday! :) If you’re new to the Summer Self Love Link-Up, welcome! If not, welcome back!

Every Monday, I host a link-up that’s focused on what you’re loving about yourself or what you’re doing FOR yourself this week! I think it’s really important for women especially to remember what you love about yourself and to remember to do things just for you!  :)

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 This week I am…

…going camping! (Well really, this weekend.) This girl is desperately overdue for some unplugging time! I can’t wait to relax, read, and hang out in the woods. ;)

…trying out a new nail polish that I wasn’t sure would look good on me. Consensus says, I love it!

…still trying to stick with that whole ‘healthy eating’ thing. It’s tough sometimes but it’s literally making my insides feel so good! :)

…loving how confident and happy I’ve been feeling! For me, exercising is about more than just being fit or losing weight, it’s a psychological necessity. More exercise = better mental health. Yay!

Say Yes to the Healthy Stuff!

Hey y’all and happy Tuesday!

As you may remember, I’ve been trying to take better care of my ‘insides’ lately and that includes trying to eat a bit more healthily. Since a lot of people think healthy food is gross and boring, I thought I’d share a couple recipes that I’ll be trying this week!

If you want, you can also check out how I make kale chips and some of my favorite healthy snacks.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
I’m a bit late to the quinoa party. In fact, I think I’ve actually only had it once or twice (or never?). According to a lot of people (and by people, I mean webistes), it’s quite the ‘superfood’. But I’m not going to link to any because I’m not sure of the valid sites, but if you just google it you’ll find lots of articles to peruse. (I discovered this recipe thanks to my BFF Lizy.)

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
So I don’t exactly have a recipe for this yet but I know it’s going to contain black beans, corn, onion, tomato, and parsley…and possibly some red wine vinegar. There are so many recipes out there and I couldn’t pick just one. Make sure to follow on Instagram and Twitter to see how it pans out!

In addition to trying out a couple new healthy recipes, I’m trying to keep up with these healthy habits I’ve been rocking lately.

1. Water, water, water!
2. Exercise 4-5 days per week.
3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Write. (this one’s for the ol’ mental health ;) )

Summer Self Love Link-Up: June 23 Edition

Every Monday, I host a link-up that’s focused on what you’re loving about yourself or what you’re doing FOR yourself this week! I think it’s really important for women especially to remember what you love about yourself and to remember to do things just for you! :)

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This week I am…

…loving how my arms have been looking in tank tops lately!

…loving how OK I’ve been with my more ‘natural’ weekend look. I love my makeup, but I sweat it off too easily in the summer (especially when I’m outside a lot on the weekends)!

…trying to continue my healthy eating! I’m even trying a couple new recipes this week!

…really really going to try those yoga videos I found on the Runner’s World website.

…going to paint and drink wine with friends on Tuesday! WOO!

What are you loving about yourself right now?! What are you doing to love yourself this week?

Summer Self Love Link-Up: June16 Edition

Welcome to the third edition of the 2014 Summer Self Love Link-Up! If you’re not sure what it’s all about, check out the first one here, and then come back and tell us what you love about yourself or what you’re doing for yourself this week!

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This week I am…

…loving that I caught sight of actual arm muscles while changing my clothes today. These changes are good! :)

…trying yoga. I found some online videos to try since I can’t seem to find an actual class that fits my schedule.

…going to realllllllly try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I’ve been doing well with eating better and keeping hydrated and I think this is the next hurdle.

…going to the pool. I keep telling myself I will but then finding more ‘productive’ things to do. This week I will go. :)

…making a savings plan and sticking to it. I’ve been doing a lot of spending and not enough saving lately so I want to get back to my penny pinching ways. ;)

What are you doing for YOU this week!?