December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

Another year has flown by. We are another year older, another year wiser, and we've got another year's worth of experience under our belts. Lots of stuff happened, but I'm going to focus on the good stuff. That's what we do here at Knock on Wood, we stay positive.

January - We had a good bit of snow early in the year, and Bear just had such a great time playing in it. Winter is his favorite time of year, and he can spend hours outside just enjoying the chilly weather.
Most Viewed Blog Post: The Awesome Thing About Dogs

February- Philip got baptized! It was so emotional for me and his mom.
Most Viewed Blog Post: 9 Things You Should NOT Give Up For Lent

March - I got my first certificate for being on the Dean's List! #smartypants
Most Viewed Blog Post: 10 Steps for a Better Blog

April - We ventured down to Georgia to visit my mom and celebrate our first married anniversary. Everyone came over for Easter, and it was the first time we got to meet my little nephew.
Most Viewed Blog Post: F O U R

May - Robbie joined our little family. And it's been so great for Bear to have a playmate. Plus, Pumpkin has a new snuggle buddy.
Most Viewed Blog Post: Being Grateful

June - I chopped my hair off, and it made for some pretty awesome pictures.
Most Viewed Blog Post: 7 Things I Do That My Husband Thinks Are Weird

July - We went to Branson for the 4th. I had never been and it was really fun exploring the city and doing new things.
Most Viewed Blog Post: Count Your Blessings

August - I found these amazing and comfortable pants. Plus I turned a year older... boo. 
Most Viewed Blog Post: 8 Beauty Must Haves for ANY Girl

September - I recieved my letter that invited me to be a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda. Basically it's a nerd club for people who are in the top 20% of their class.
Most Viewed Blog Post: Lines in the Sand

October - I finally finished our gallery wall. And it's my absolute favorite corner in our house. So many memories and faces we love.
Most Viewed Blog Post: Currently October

November - Hubs and I got to meet Cassie and Matt when we had our first ever professional photo shoot. I am so pleased with the pictures! We had some printed to expand our gallery wall, and they made great Christmas gifts for our families.
Most Viewed Blog Post: 7 Christmas Decorating Tips and Tricks

December - Hubs let me glitter his beard!! He lost a bet you see. But isn't it pretty??
Most Viewed Blog Post: Depression is Like Cancer

2015 Most Viewed Blog Post: A TIE between 6 Tips for Better SEO on Blogger and Silver Linings 

How was your year?

December 28, 2015

{Guest Post} A Long December

Hello friends! I'm on a boat right now sailing somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico (be jealous!), so I've enlisted some help from a friend to entertain you while I'm soaking up the sun. His name is Josh and I've known him for about eight years now. While he doesn't have a blog of his own, he is an amazing writer and offered to fill in for me today.

Most people long for January. The first of the year is their chance to make their New Year's Resolutions. Their chance to change everything that they've been thinking about changing for the past few months, or in some cases, just the past few weeks. "New Year, new me." That's usually how the saying goes, right? But why? Why is it that a deadline that has to be set? "THIS is the time I'm finally going to start to change my life!"

It seems to me that people choose the resolution solely because it's when resolutions are supposed to be made. The whole "New Year, new me" concept is basically a person deciding that they're going to make a lifestyle change because that's when you're supposed to change a part of your lifestyle that you're not happy with.

You always hear about gyms being overly crowded in early January... and then they're back to normal no later than mid-February. It's because these people are willing to try, but the commitment just isn't there. 

I've been a victim of it in the past as well. There were many times when I would say "This is the year I'm going to quit drinking!" And, like everyone else, I would drink more in December than usual because, "May as well while I can! No more once the New Year hits!" Few weeks after the first of the year, resolution failed. 

Change isn't something you can plan. Change isn't something you can predict. Change is something that just happens. 

Don't wait to make changes until the calendar moves from December to January. That's just setting yourself up to for a let down when your "resolution" fails.  I once was in a terrible marriage. I swore I would NEVER get married again. Years passed, and here I am engaged. It wasn't planned. It's life. Change happens when you least expect it. You can lose weight. You can quit drinking. You can change your entire life and be happy even after hitting your absolute lowest point and thinking you never will be again. 

I think the moral of this story is that there is hope and opportunity for change no matter what time of year it is. So don't wait for January 1st, and don't get that ball of change rolling until you are good and ready. 

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Have you been able to stick to them? 

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2015

{Guest Post} How to Prepare Your Blog for a Vacation

Hello friends! I'm in Georgia soaking up some quality time with my family, so I've enlisted some help from a dear bloggy friend to entertain you. I love all of Anne's blogging How-To posts, and this one fits in so perfectly! Enjoy!

Hi there Knock On Wood readers! I'm Anne, the blogger behind Love the Here and Now. While Amanda is away and enjoying time off I thought I would step in and take over for the day.
We have all been there. We relish the idea of taking a vacation (like Amanda is right now!) from not only our daily lives but also from our online responsibilities as well.
In my opinion, one of the best parts of going on a vacation is the change of routine. Oftentimes I go about my days as if I am in autopilot. Between my family, work, and blogging my schedule is pretty full. Before going on vacation there are always a few things you should do....hold the mail, set timers etc. Have you ever thought about preparing your blog for a vacation? Here are a few tips that have helped me get ready for my blog vacations.

Blog Vacation

Schedule Posts Ahead

If you can, and so choose, work ahead and schedule your posts for the duration of your vacation. This definitely takes time and effort to do ahead. Not only can you have your posts scheduled but you can also schedule your social media promotions as well (thanks to some of the great resources mentioned here).

Guest Bloggers

I decided to add some variety to my blog and opted to have some guest bloggers. To me this is a win/win. I get to have a bit of a break and they get to share their material with a new audience. Out of respect to the guest bloggers, be sure to give them enough advance warning and set a deadline of when you would like to have them submit their post. I allowed my guest bloggers to either share new content or repost a favorite post of theirs. After all, they are doing me the favor and I wanted to make this as easy on them as I could.

Notify Sponsors

If you plan on taking a break from promoting your sponsors it is only fair that you notify them of this. As a token of my appreciation for my sponsors' understanding that I wouldn't be promoting them as much as I normally do, I will be extending their ads for a week.

Notify Your Readers

If you are a blogger that keeps a consistent blogging schedule and opt to not blog at all, you may want to alert your readers to the fact that you won't be present. This will keep your readers from wondering if you dropped off the face of the Earth.

What if I have a few spare moments to devote to my blog while I'm away?

Create a To Do List

Perhaps you don't want to step completely away from your blog. If you plan on having some down time, make a list of things that you would like to tackle. Want to freshen up your sidebar? Create new blog buttons? Make changes to your blog design? Create blog graphics? This is the perfect time to tackle the housekeeping projects and the behind the scenes work on your blog that may get lost in the shuffle of day to day blogging.

Work Ahead

If you're anything like me, there are quite a few drafts waiting to be assembled into posts. Tackle a few of those and schedule them for your return. The aftermath of a vacation can cause some disruption in your schedule so knowing that you have a few blog posts scheduled may help alleviate some stress.


I sometimes feel like a deadline stifles my creativity. I plan on using some time to brainstorm new post ideas and store them as drafts. If writer's block should ever strike I will have an arsenal of ideas at my disposal (perfect since I may be able to use some of my existing drafts as noted above!).

No matter what you decide to do, the key is to relax and enjoy your time away. You may find that a break from blogging may leave you inspired and motivated to try new things and share new experiences.

Have you taken a break from blogging when you went on vacation? What did you do to prepare your blog for a vacation? What tips do you have to share?

How to Prepare for a Blog Vacation

December 16, 2015

Currently, December

My new hair. Normally I do my own, but after an emotionally charged outburst of a confession of feelings and thoughts last week, Hubs conceded to letting me get a fancy salon hair appointment. I finally feel like I have an adult hair style.

Reading: Life and Death. Twilight reimagined. #dontjudgeme

Feeling: Excited. Anxious. Impatient. Exhausted. Reflective.

Watching: Other than Christmas movies, I've been extremely excited about Fixer Upper's new season. Joanna Gaines is my spirit animal, and I need her to visit Missouri and re-do my house. The Royals new season just started too! And Married at First Sight.

Writing: Notes. Haha! Finals are tomorrow and I'm #boobsdeep in notes. Plus I need to be on top of my game since I'm tutoring one of my classmates.

Listening: Adele (who isn't?). If you haven't seen the SNL skit of 'Hello' I suggest you do it right now. Click here to watch it. I'll wait...
Best thing you've seen all day right? You're welcome. And huge thanks to Cassie from Sage for insisting I watch it.

Wanting: To give Hubs is presents now! It's so hard not to because they are great gifts and I am so proud of myself for picking them out. The struggle between seeing his excited face now and waiting until Christmas Eve (when my family opens presents) is REAL.

Needing: To figure something out for this space while we're on the cruise. I've been such a slacker and have put it off 'til the very last minute. What might happen is we'll just have radio silence around here for a week. You guys will be so busy doing holiday things you won't notice I'm gone, for sure.

Hoping: To not get seasick on the boat, but instead come home with a nice glow-y tan. #BeJealous

Avoiding: Packing for vacation. Again. Putting it off until the last minute... same with laundry.

Wishing: We could skip the 14 hour drive and just magic ourselves (and our luggage) to my Mom's house Friday evening. I get so impatient once we hit Tennessee.

Trying: To stick to this crap Paleo diet thing. I am Mrs. Crabby Pants without bread and sugar.

Missing: My super long hair. I need it to grow faster.

Thinking: About all the things I need to do today. The list is long.

Considering: Cleaning out, organizing, and painting the back bedroom as soon as we get home in January. It's needed to be done for so long now, and I'm getting tired of all the clutter and the awful, blindingly pink walls.

Praying: For a lovely Holiday season for each and every one of you. Wishing you all much love and happiness! Merry Week Before Christmas!

December 14, 2015

The Magic of Christmas

When I was young, Christmas was such a magical time of year. I got lost in twinkle lights, candy canes, and ornaments. My brothers and I couldn't wait for Christmas morning. Did Santa like the cookies we made? What was in our stockings? What's in that box with the blue paper and the silver bow? As I grew up, the wonder of Christmas waned. 

I mentioned in my post last Monday that one of our advent activities this year was to purchase toys to donate. What I didn't mention was the other half of the activity; to reminisce about favorite gifts and memories of Christmas when we were little. We took turns sharing special moments, but when Hubs asked me what my favorite toy I ever received was I couldn't remember one. 

The only thing I could remember was spending time with my family. You see, this is the only time of year that my WHOLE family would get together in one place. And what I enjoyed most was seeing them all together, listening to them tell stories about their lives. This is the time of year that I really felt apart of something amazing, full of warm smiles, cozy hugs, and genuine laughter. 

At first I felt bad that I couldn't remember specific gifts because my mom worked very hard to give them to us. So I texted my mom to ask her, and she couldn't remember either. You know what she remembered? Our excitement and curiosity leading up to Christmas and the look of pure joy on our faces when we saw the tree and our stockings filled with goodies on Christmas morning. Funny what really sticks with us over the years. 

What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory?

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

December 9, 2015

Easy 3 Ingredient Nut Butter Cookies

Easy Nut Butter Cookies with a Paleo Friendly Option

'Tis the season for spreading the love and cheer at holiday parties and family gatherings, meanwhile hoping that our waistlines don't spread too much in the process. Amiright? 

Well, I've had to get really creative in the kitchen when my doctor put me on the Paleo diet at the beginning of November. Let me tell you right now that the hardest part for me is giving up the sweets. I have found some healthier and paleo friendly options though, and that has helped pacify my sweet tooth while I adjust. Sometimes it's a complete overhaul on a usually simple recipe, but other times, it's just substituting a few ingredients. Pinterest has been lovely for doing this.

Over the weekend, I remembered a stupid easy recipe for peanut butter cookies I used to love growing up. Just three ingredients, with the option for adding a chocolate garnish of sorts. An easy alteration and BOOM! Paleo friendly nut butter cookies, just in time for Holiday Baking!


2 cups creamy Peanut Butter (Almond butter, or cashew butter for Paleo)
1 cup sugar (or coconut sugar for the paleo version)
1 egg 

Hershey Kisses (or Almond Bark for Paleo)


Large mixing bowl
Cookie Sheet
Aluminum Foil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the nut butter, sugar, and egg in your large bowl until even. It will be a drier dough that should not stick to your hands when you touch it, but will form a ball without falling apart. 

Roll the dough into small, bite-sized balls and place evenly on your foil lined cookie sheet(s).

Bake for 5 minutes. Take the cookies out and let them cool partially. Here's where you can get creative. You've got three options, and the first two are paleo friendly.

1. You can take the traditional peanut butter cookie route and do the criss cross with a fork. Then bake for another 5-8 minutes.

2. You can make a small divot in the center of the cookie with your thumb or a small measuring spoon. Bake for another 5-8 minutes and spoon melted almond bark into the divot of a partially cooled cookie.

3. You can flatten out your cookies ever so slightly and press a Hershey Kiss, or a large chocolate chip, into the center (flat side down) and bake for another 5-8 minutes.

The cookies pictured have melted almond bark on them. 

Nut Butter Cookies

So easy right?
What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe? Have you ever had to alter one for a diet?

December 7, 2015

Grateful Giving

It's no secret that this is my absolute favorite time of year. I mean have you seen my Instagram? One of mine and Hubs' advent activities is to shop for a toy to donate for another day on our calendar and we bought items for the family that my campus adopted for Christmas. On the drive home, I was telling Hubs about the family and the things they had requested. They weren't toys and gadgets. It was clothes, shoes, organizational items for the kids, and everything needed for the new baby they are expecting. And all of a sudden I just started crying. Hubs was so confused.

When I could finally speak again, I explained to him that this is the best part of the holiday season for me. Giving. Especially to those that are in need. I told him that I feel so blessed that we are able to give, that we have enough to help people give a Christmas to their kids who would have otherwise not had one, to make things even the tiniest bit easier for a family that is doing their best to survive.

Giving without receiving anything material in return is a concept that many have forgotten. What people also forget, is that you can get something back. Appreciation. Love. Joy. Kindness. The satisfaction that you have made someone's day just a bit brighter.

Today, and throughout this time of year, I am grateful that we have the means to give back to our community, to help others who need it.

What's your favorite thing about the holidays?

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

December 2, 2015

Depression is like Cancer

Depression is like Cancer

I know it's December and people supposed to be joyful and happy, but that is not always the case. And before you start in on me for comparing a mental/mood disorder with cancer, just hear me out!

Chronic Depression is like a cancer of the mind and soul. It eats away at all the good parts leaving nasty gray spots of sadness and anger. It doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care what time of year it is. What it does do is affect every single aspect of your life, without giving any f*cks about it. Once it's started, it can feed on itself, getting stronger and stronger until it consumes your whole being, making you a shadow of the person you once were (or the person you present on the outside). 

Depression exaggerates every emotion you have. It makes you overthink things, going straight to the worst case scenario most of the time. You blame yourself for everything bad that has ever happened to you, and you "just know" that nothing will ever go well for you ever again because you just suck so much a life. You go over and over what you could have done to make things better, but you know that thinking about it doesn't make it better, it doesn't change things, but you do it anyways. And doing that makes you feel even worse about yourself and the choices you've made. Because you suck at life, remember?

It can be fatal. So many people who decide to end their lives experienced depression before doing so. 

What sucks the most, in my opinion, is that sometimes you can remember what it was like to be happy. When you do, you feel guilty for not being happy right now. I was talking to my mom about this and I was telling her all the great things I have going for me and how grateful I am for everything I have. And you know what she said? "Grateful doesn't always mean happy." Those words resonated so deep within me and got me thinking about things I didn't really want to think about, but really needed to think about. 

Grateful doesn't always mean happy. And depression is like cancer. 

I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in 2012, but I suffered long before then. It's been a constant battle for most of my teenage years and all of my adulthood, and it will continue to be a battle for the rest of my life. It took me a long time to admit I had a problem, because I didn't want to be that "crazy" person who had to take pills and go to therapy to be able to get through life. That negative stigma around depression and it's treatments kept me from getting help for a very long time. AND THAT IS WRONG. 

It wasn't until a huge breakdown while sitting in my car in a Target parking lot hysterically ugly crying on the phone to my mom that I finally decided I was not ok, and I needed to do something about it. My doctor put me on an antidepressant and a few months later I started therapy. I saw a huge difference in myself after about 6 months, so did my mom and my friends. 

Since then I've been on and off medication and in and out of therapy (not by choice, meds and therapy cost money and I went through some hard times). I could tell when I was "off the wagon" for too long. It sucked. Like really bad. But for the past 18 months, I've been mostly stable and able to control my depression with medication and regular therapy. It's not easy. AT. ALL. But it's worth it. 

There is no cure for depression. None. Zip. Zero. Just like cancer. There is only an array of treatments, some of which work and some that don't. Just like cancer. It's not a choice. You can't "just get over it" and it's not "all in your head". Just like cancer. You need a support system, and a good doctor (and popsicles don't hurt either). Just like cancer. 

Depression is a cancer of the mind and soul. And no one should be made to feel ashamed, guilty, scared, or judged because they suffer from it. Just. Like. Cancer.

If you are considering suicide or going through a rough time, please seek help. 
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, 
or you can text the Crisis Text Line by texting "Go" to 741-741 to text with a counsellor. 
or you can always reach out to me at
All life is precious.

November 30, 2015

7 Christmas Decorating Tips and Tricks

My favorite holiday is fast approaching and the thing that I love to do most is decorating my house. Inside and out. A friend once told me that during the holidays it looks like Pottery Barn exploded in my house (even though nothing I own is from Pottery Barn). The affinity for festive decor was passed down to me from my mom, and to her from her mom. I guess you could say it runs in the family.

Over the years I've developed my Christmas style, and (very slowly) built up my decor stockpile (I have a total of 5 tote bins and 2 boxes of stuff over 10 years). However, when I first was out on my own, I had to get creative. Sometimes funds are limited or you don't have much time. These tips and tricks I've learned have helped me so, so much.

1. If you have a smaller tree, elevate it to make it feel bigger. 
I love having our tree in the window so the lights can be seen from outside. We have a 5 foot tree, it's shorter than you think. To make it taller and feel a bit bigger, I put a box under the stand. The box I used this year is probably about 8 inches tall. We also have a 3 foot tree in our bedroom. I put that one on a TV tray. My Dad has a 4 foot tree and they have a small coffee-table-height table they put it on.

2. DIY "Mantle" Shelf
Much to my disappointment, we do not have a fireplace in our home. I'm 95% positive there used to be one (along with a second floor/attic room) that was taken out in a huge renovation to the house a few years before we moved in. We have some shelves in our living room that are above two of the doorways for the cats to get up and away from the dogs if they want. Well for Christmas, the larger one gets turned into a "mantle". I put up garland around the door frame, add some fairy lights, and hang the stockings. Another semi-permanent option is to purchase a floating Mantle shaped shelf (like this one) and designate a spot on the wall at the Mantle, then use it for candles and picture frames the rest of the year. More "mantles" could be bookshelves, window sills, hooks on the wall, get creative!

3. Use Clear Thumbtacks and Floral Wire to hang garland around windows and door frames.
Put a thumbtack just above the door/window frame on each corner and one in the middle. Attach a 6 inch length of floral wire around the coordinating spot on the garland in a loop, center and each side. Some measuring is involved with that part. Then hang the loops on the tacks. For a less damaging option you could use the small clear command hooks instead of tacks.

4. Dress up the decor you already have.
I use silk poinsettias, fake greenery, cinnamon (or not) pinecones, bows, fairy lights, candles, and bunting to transform my everyday decor items into a more festive version. For example, I have a hanging bucket in my gallery wall and I change out the flowers for each season. I put some cinnamon pinecones in a basket on the ottoman in the living room. I put fairy lights and a DIY mesh garland on top of my cabinets. I hung a DIY bunting on the bookshelves in my kitchen. I put a big red bow on my donkey planter on our porch. Even some holiday hand towels from the dollar section at target hung on your cabinets in the kitchen can liven things up.

5. Fill in your sparse artificial tree with garland.
Yep. Our fake tree is a lot less full as the box would have you believe. So I bought some extra garland and wound it in to fill in the bareness around the "trunk" part of the tree. Trust me it makes a huge difference.

6. Put fairy lights on the inside of your child's bedroom window
This doubles as a night light and decor! Plus it gives children a Christmas "chore" to do each night, to plug in their lights! Thanks to my Llama for this suggestion.

7. Hang extra ornaments from the curtain rod in the window.
I don't know about you, but I always have at least one box of Christmas balls leftover after I've decorated the tree. Sometimes I like to hang them at varying lengths with string/yarn/ribbon in my small kitchen window. But this would also be a great one for the kids rooms too!

Most people do up their main living spaces, but don't skip the bathroom when decorating. At least the bathroom your guests use, anyways. Holiday towels, candles, a wreath, or a rug can add a pop of Christmas spirit while you pee.

What's your Christmas style? Do you have any tips or tricks to add?

November 25, 2015

Captured on Film

If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably jealous that I got to hang out with Cassie from Sage and her husband Matt two weekends ago. If you don't follow me (or Cassie or Matt), you should, and after this post you, too, will be jealous of my blate (blogger date) with Cassie and Matt. Just saying.

Let me give you a back story of sorts: when I asked my mom what she wanted and what she thought my grandparents would want for Christmas, she told me they would love some professional photos of me and Hubs. We don't have any because we eloped and that doesn't require a fancy photographer and stuff. So, I started researching photographers in our area. I found a few, but they were on the higher end budget wise and all of them offered prints instead of digital copies.

And then BOOM. I remembered that Cassie's husband is a photographer. I found his website, Matt Boness Photography, and checked out his work. AH-mazing. His prices? Even more AH-mazing. So I reached out to Cassie hoping that she'd tell me he's not all booked up so close to the holidays, and she did! She, Matt, and I chatted about the theme and vision I had for the photos, then we set a date to meet up and make it happen.

We had so much fun! At first, posing is a little awkward, but after a few minutes, and Cassie's creative direction, we felt very comfortable and at ease in front of the camera. Matt took us all over the area surrounding the historic columns on the Mizzou campus, and the day couldn't have been more gorgeous.

Once the shoot was over, we walked to this lovely little tapas place they discovered close to campus. I can't remember what it's called, but everything on the menu looked delicious. The four of us fell into an easy conversation and there was a little bit of a beard bond between the guys. Cause, you know, beards are awesome and manly. I cannot wait to hang out with them again!

We got our photos the following Wednesday, and I literally squealed with delight when Hubs handed me the package. And then I cried because the photos were so wonderful. Matt was able to capture so much feeling in these photos. My parents and grandparents (and the in-laws) are going to LOVE them. I have plans to get one blown up to hang on our wall and our Christmas cards are going to rock this year!

So if you're in the mid-Missouri area and need photos taken, I highly recommend Matt. I've already told him we'll use him for all our future photography needs. Can you blame me?

November 18, 2015

It WILL Be Worth The Work

I was a pretty active kid. My bothers and I would play outside for hours and hours, running around, riding bikes, roller blades, jump ropes, you know, kid stuff. Then I had a bit of a rough patch emotionally with some family stuff right before and during middle school, and that's when the pounds started sticking. Ever since then I've had trouble losing and maintaining my weight. That totally made high school super fun... not. It was a slow build, the kind you don't notice until you're buying new jeans four sizes bigger than you remember. Yep, that was me Freshman year of high school, and it only went downhill up-scale (haha get it? just me? ok...) from there.

By the end of high school I was another 2 sizes bigger. I ate to make myself feel better, to bring my out of my slumps. I also ate because I was bored. I didn't really participate in extracurriculars that provided some sort of physical activity. Band Nerd and a member of the Art club, sexy right? Anywho, my health suffered. Emotionally and physically.

I attended one year of college right out of high school, and I totally gained those freshman fifteen. Because we had the best dining hall ever. People would come on Sundays after church and pay to eat our school food. Did I mention the DIY waffle bar and the soft serve ice cream machine? Anyway, after that year, my weight has yo-yoed over the past decade. Partly because I totally suck at sticking to a fitness routine. What? I just really don't like to sweat. It's stinky and sticky. Bleh.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you'll know that I had a doctors appointment on Monday. While she didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, she didn't hold back. I needed that honesty from her, someone other than my husband (who thinks I'm amazing no matter what, cue the awes) and my mom (cause who wants to hear that from their mom?). She put some things in perspective for me regarding our plans for the future, and to have a chance at those plans, some big changes need to be made.

The Biggest Change? I was put on the Paleo diet. Ok. I've read really great things about this plan and what it can do for your body. But, you guys, I really like cheese. And bread. And chocolate. And cereal with milk. I know there are variations of the Paleo diet that allow for some of that stuff, but the one she wants me to follow for at least these first thirty days doesn't. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

When we got home from the doctors, we looked up the site she gave us (cause she made a point to tell Hubs that he had to do it with me for support). Then we made a grocery list of things we can have. Next, we cleaned out the pantry, snack cabinet, and the fridge of all the items on the "don't" list. There was so much! We packed all of that food up and took it over to his parents house for them to have with instructions to donate what they don't want to the local food pantry. We did keep a few things from the "don't" list for the upcoming holidays though (because you can't have Thanksgiving without corn casserole or mashed potatoes, duh!).

It felt good. Like a juice cleanse for your kitchen. Until it didn't. After dinner that night, per the usual, I craved something sweet. Hubs had already moved the candy jar to his side of the couch to hold it hostage. I fought it. It was so hard. I just keep reminding myself that it will be worth it.

Have you tried the Paleo diet? Have any good recipes for sweets that are Paleo friendly?

November 11, 2015

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

So... I dropped my Spanish II class. And it had nothing to do with my performance (which was pretty good) in the class, or the teacher, or anything like that. I dreaded every second I had to spend on the subject. D R E A D E D. I never wanted to learn the language. Ever. And I honestly have no idea why I started taking it in the first place, other than it's the only in-seat foreign language class at my campus.

I thought about it for days. I had an intense and in depth conversation with my advisor and the financial aid advisor about my feelings and my options. After getting all the facts, I decided to go with my heart despite the financial losses and time setbacks that would result when I made this move. That's how much I disliked this class, guys.

I'm going to take American Sign Language (ASL) online instead. When I first started school last summer, I saw that it was available to take and got excited. I have always wanted to learn to Sign, I even researched some basics a few years ago. The one downside is that I wasn't sure how I'd do with an online class. So I settled with stupid Spanish. I should have followed my heart. It would have saved me the time lost and disappointment I felt when I had to go to that class.

Sometimes the logical and more practical choice is not always the best choice for you and your wellbeing. So let your heart win from time to time. Buy the pretty shoes, order that slice of cake, wear that bold lip color, dye your hair pink, or put up your Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving (just me?). You'll be happier if you do.

November 4, 2015

October Recap + a Giveaway!

It's finally starting to feel like fall around here and I'm loving it. Fall and winter are my two favorite seasons. The air is crisp and cool, the changing leaves are so beautiful, and it's the start of the holiday season! That's the best part, really. My October, while relatively quiet, was still stuffed with good things.

1. Hubs and I attended a wedding for one of his old work buddies. It gave us a lovely reason to get dressed up.

2. Getting my groove back. I'm still working on this. But I'm feeling much more optimistic about it now, than I was at the beginning of October.

3. Bear. He's such a puppy still at 2.5 years old. He loves getting his belly scratched and with this cooler weather, he's loving being outside more. It's getting harder and harder to get him to come inside.

4. Fall Foliage. This was taken at the wedding we went to. The ceremony was held under this huge tree and all the colors and the light of the setting sun made it that much more magical.

5. I finally got my diploma in the mail! I was officially done with my Associates at the end of July. But I applied for "graduation" a little late to get it in August, so I had to wait until the end of October. only 1.5 years til I'm done with my Bachelors. Then on to my Masters.

6. While Bear has a natural "sweater" to keep him warm during these cooler months, Robbie does not. So I made him this sweater. It's not his favorite (he likes his Chewbacca hoodie more), he looks so handsome in it.


And now for the part you really came here for!

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But we don't always have the money to buy these ad what do you do then?!

Well, we have a solution for you today...this lovely group of bloggers is giving away 21 ad spaces! That means that one lucky winner will get TWENTY ONE months of free ad space! Imagine the growth for your blog!! Enter now, and good luck!!

21 Ad Space Giveaway - Christine Everyday

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October 30, 2015


This was always one of my favorite holidays when I was little. I mean, what kid doesn't want free candy?? (hint: the answer is none). My mom would always decorate our house with spiderwebs, pumpkins, and other random "scary" things. She even bought a CD of spooky sounds and would put the stereo speaker in the window so kids coming to the door could hear it. #BestMomEver

When I was about 6 years old, we moved to our brand new house in a lovely community. Our neighborhood was awesome, and back then, it was safer for kids to trick-or-treat without their parents tagging along. My mom still went through our candy when we dragged our pillowcases stuffed with treats back home, but she didn't really worry about us walking around our neighborhood by ourselves. Those were the days. 

I was supposed to be a cat (you can't see the ears or furry tail in this picture, but they were there!) and my bother... well, he was a clown. C didn't want to be a clown, can't you tell?

Ok. Here's the story. Mom asked us early on what we wanted to be for Halloween. I had successfully been a cat for the past three years and decided, why quit a good thing? C said he wanted to be a pirate. We had all the stuff for my cat costume and mom bought C his pirate costume. Come Halloween afternoon, C decided he no longer wanted to be a pirate. He wanted to be a superhero. It was kinda late to find him a superhero costume, and he refused to wear the pirate stuff my mom had already bought. He had two options: wear the clown costume from last year or stay home and hand out candy with Mom. There was no way he was giving up the handfuls of tooth decaying sweets our neighbors gave out, and begrudgingly donned the clown suit. Despite Mom's best efforts to make him a happy clown, his heartbreaking disappointment at not being a superhero still shines through. He was happily a pirate for the next year, and I finally exchanged the cat ears for a witch hat.

A couple years ago Mom's husband made us calendars for Christmas. Each one was personalized with photos of our family and funny captions. This photo was in mine for the month of October. I showed this page to C and we just laughed at the documentation of one of the few times he was overly dramatic as a child (I was a very dramatic preteen).

What was your go-to costume as a kid?

October 14, 2015

Currently: October

Loving: My husband. I know, I know, this is kinda a big DUH, but you guys, he's been so great lately. I've been going through a bit of a rough patch with some changes happening and he's been so supportive and strong for me while I get my shit together.

Reading: Nothing at the moment. I'm taking a much needed brain break between school sessions.

Feeling: Too much to put into words.

Watching: The Tudors on Netflix (again), and The Walking Dead. I'm so excited about this new season.

Writing: This post (haha). But in all seriousness I need to come back to this place. I've missed it, and I think I'm at a point now where I it will do more good than bad for me to be here.

Listening: My girl, Taylor Swift. I'm still so in love with 1989, don't hate.

Wanting: To find the perfect pair of shoes to go with the dress I got for our cruise! Shopping trip planned for Wednesday, wish me luck!

Needing: For Missouri to decide if it wants to get on board with this whole fall thing. I mean, it's October and we just had temps in the mid 80s. What is that? That's part of the reason I moved here, dude. To have all the seasons. Get it together Missouri!

Hoping: That I made the right choice on not taking a Psychology course in the upcoming session. We'll see what happens.

Wishing: For it to be December already. I miss my mom. A lot. She just got back from a two week cruise to Hawaii, and it was torture to not be able to just call her up to chat or to let my emotions loose on someone who understand where they are coming from.

Trying: To stay positive despite the disappointment.

Hating: That I've let this blog sit on the back burner for too long. I'm working on moving it up a bit though!

Missing: My Tribe. xoxo

Praying: For patience.

Thinking: That I'm doing good. I posted twice this week already. *pats self on back*

Considering: Cutting my hair again. But I know I won't really do it.

What are you currently up to?

October 12, 2015



Today I am simply grateful that I know what it means to be grateful for something or someone.

I was picking up dog toys the other day when movement caught my eye out the back door window. Instinctively I looked up, instead of a giant bug or a murderous squirrel, I saw the falling leaves from the huge tree that shades our back yard. I stopped what I was doing, and I just stood there. How had I not noticed this yet? I've been so wrapped up in other things to notice the leaves change. So, I stood there, staring out the window. I took that moment to be grateful for the beauty right in front of my face each day. To be grateful for the ability to stop and be grateful for moments like this one. 

There is so much going on in this world that people forget that they have the ability to forgive, the ability to love unconditionally, to be grateful for the small things. I see it every single day. I've seen people close to me lose themselves in jealousy, in envy, in greed, in ambition, in success. They are so focused on what they don't have, they forget to be grateful with what they do have. And I feel sad for them, because I fear that nothing will ever be enough to satisfy their hunger for more things. 

Have you stopped to notice the leaves fall? Not because you want a good picture for a blog posts or this will make the perfect backdrop for my selfie or you'll get tons of likes on Instagram. For me, some of the best moments are the ones undocumented by a picture or tweet. They happen when I'm fully present and not worried about likes and comments. They don't need to be approved by the masses because they are mine, and they make me happy, and that's all that really matters.

What are you grateful for today?

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Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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September 23, 2015

Lines in the Sand

Boundaries. We all have them. Personal space, the edge of the yard, hemlines, politics, faith. These lines we've drawn ourselves are generally viewed as good and healthy. Boundaries can make your relationships stronger and keep out the crazies who threaten to destroy what you've built. They can also keep us from wandering too far, looking like a hooker, and just making ourselves look ignorant.

When I first began blogging in this space, I never gave much thought to setting boundaries on what I would share and what would remain private. I had no idea how much this blog would grow, and through it, how many amazing people I would eventually call friends. So as I watched my numbers climb higher and higher with each passing month, I got more and more worried. "Am I sharing too much? Not enough? Do I want people to know this yet? Does Hubs think it's ok to share this? What if my mom (who is not a regular reader) reads this?"

I'm positive I'm not the only person who struggles with boundaries when it comes to blogging. Especially when writing is your go-to way of thinking things through, expressing yourself, or de-stressing. It's a classic form of free therapy. (Well, after you buy a cute journal and a superb writing pen... or a MacBook Pro that you've named Magnus.) Journaling is a wonderful outlet for me, but I still find myself writing for an audience, not just for me, because journals (or teenage diaries) can be found, read, and misinterpreted. And there are also times I am just not satisfied with writing my heart out and not hitting "publish" because of a line I've drawn to protect myself and my relationships. To me, it can be the same as holding it all in or not having written it at all. So therapy has gotten a little more expensive lately.

I have said all of that to say: I'm still here, but the path that I am currently walking is not one that I am ready to share quite this publicly yet.

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September 11, 2015

I'll Never Forget

Never Forget 9-11

I remember exactly where I was, what I was wearing, what I felt when I found out about the events of that tragic day. It was my sophomore year of high school. I was wearing blue track pants, a white T-shirt, and flip flops. My hair was in a messy bun. I had just sat down in 10am biology and was chatting with a couple of my classmates when another teacher ran into the room and insisted we turn on the news. It felt like all the blood had left my body as we sat silently watching the footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers replay over and over, barely hearing what the news anchors were saying. 

Our teacher frantically fumbled through her bag for her cell phone. I could tell she was trying to keep it together in front of us, but she couldn't for long. After trying to call someone for several minutes she burst into tears. She buzzed the front office to get a substitute for the rest of the day, but before she left, she she told us that her brother worked in an office in the towers. My heart broke for her. We were surprised to see her back the next day. Turns out her brother was running really late to work that day and was still at home when it happened.

Then we heard about the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. We were watching when the first tower fell; it was like it happened in slow motion. There was a moment of shocked silence that seemed to last forever until the girl in front of me began sobbing. The atmosphere in the school was somber; there was no joking, laughing, or teasing. And that continued for the rest of the week as our attention was trained on CNN instead of our usual class schedule.

Then came the music. So many patriotic songs came out in the following months, some even years later, giving us a sharp reminder of how we felt that day. It's been fourteen years and I still cry every time I hear "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?" by Alan Jackson.

Today, I will spend a lot of time in prayer, thanking God for each day he has given me, knowing that they could be gone in an instant. Praying for the survivors, rescue teams, medical teams, and the families of those lost. 

Do you remember where you were? what you were doing? wearing? Do you remember how you felt that day?

I'll never forget.

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September 4, 2015

Friday Favs

Happy Friday! And what's more, happy beginning of the holiday weekend! I hope everyone has a good one, I know I'll be taking it easy and spending lots of quality time with Hubs and the furkids.

Before we get to this week's favorites, remember that giveaway I did at the end of July with Adproval? Well, I am happy to announce that we have a winner folks! Big congratulations to Josephine King! What a lucky lady.

OH, and if you are doing the #12MofBliss challenge with Emily from Ember Grey. the details for September's challenge are up and ready HERE.

Favorite Insta Posts

@the_new_wifestyle  |  @msinthemidwest  |  @champagnelaced
Happy Anniversary yesterday to Chelsea and Ryan Avery!
And don't you just adore this little set up for fall?
Who's going to Hogwarts?

Favorite Bible Verse

He has made everything beautiful in its time … God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there shall be a time there for every purpose and for every work. - Ecclesiastes 3:11,17

Favorite Song

I just cannot get this out of my head.

Favorite Blog Posts

How to Hide a Vertical Image within a Blog Post - Love the Here and Now
Even though it's a DIY for Wordpress, the coding translates to something that works with Blogger too. With the only exception being making that hidden image the default image for the post (whomp whomp). So worth Pinning!

Gun Control is Only Half the Problem - Christine Everyday
YES. YES. YES. Christine hits the nail on the head with this post.

Family Photos When Nothing Has Changed
Why wait to take photos? Life right now should be celebrated too!

In Case You Missed It...

Weekend Getaway
A Chewy Summer

Friday Favs (from last week)
12 Months of Bliss - Inspiration

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September 2, 2015

A Chewy Summer

Anyone who knows me, knows that my animals are very much my kids. I love them so very much and treat them like I would any other member of my family. I want the best for them. This made choice to partner with Chewy a no brainer.

This summer with Chewy has been great! We got to try out a brand of wet dog food that I hadn't heard of before, Merrick. They have a grain free line with added vitamins and nutrients. I'm ALWAYS looking for quality food options that my dogs will actually eat, that are also affordable. This brand fits the bill. Bear and Robbie just gobbled up this food and then turned to look at me expecting more. It comes in cases of 12 for just $31.98 which is cheaper than a case of 12 of any canned food from the local pet store. Definitely a hit in our house.

We also got to try out Blue Bits treats for our dogs AND Kitty Yums treats for our cats. Huge thanks to my rep for sending us both. The treats live up to the much respected Blue Buffalo quality and they are the perfect size for the cats and Robbie, but a little small for Bear. I ended up giving him a tiny pile on the floor so he wouldn't try to swallow my fingers too! I had to hide these treats in the cabinet because the cats would try to get into them. Needless to say they were added to the list of hits from Chewy.

Our other item is a carpet/upholstery cleaner. Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator. LEGIT, this stuff is amazing! I would show you before and after pics (if I had any) but it's kinda gross, so I won't. Just take my word for it. This stuff works. In my opinion it works better than Nature's Miracle. We have hardwood floors, but they don't save our floor rugs from Robbie's accidents, and this cleaner does the job. No smell, No stain, No color fade. AH-MAY-ZING! It's a little pricey at $19.97 a bottle, but totally worth it when you don't have to replace your area rugs every few months.

As always Chewy delivers the perfect products for our babies. This company truly is my favorite to work with, as is always just an email away if I have questions or concerns about the products. If you missed my past review, it is here.

Where do you get your pet supplies? Have you tried Chewy before?

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August 31, 2015

Weekend Getaway

We spent the weekend in Branson and I didn't take a single picture, except the one you see above. #SorryNotSorry

I enjoyed myself, my time with my husband, my time away from our "real life." It was nice not to have to worry about getting up to let the dogs out, did I forget to buy milk for breakfast, how many dishes are in the sink, and the test I have tomorrow in Spanish. We took our time, we didn't bother getting dressed up, we ate when we wanted to, we slept when we wanted to, we took care of each other. No distractions. We didn't even plan any activities! And it was wonderful.

Taking a few days to focus on yourself and your spouse is a big deal. It lets you reconnect in ways you just can't in every day life. For me, vacations and weekend getaways are so necessary to keep my head straight, keep the peace, and remind myself that my life here is worth all the stress and mess.

As we transition from summer to fall, I encourage you to take some time away from the everyday norms and reconnect with someone special. Your spouse, your bestie, your mom, or even yourself. Disconnect from your normal routine and just focus on what you feel, what you see, what hear. You'll be amazed at what you discover.

I am so grateful that we have the means to do this on a semi-regular basis. It's something we plan to keep doing for as long as possible.

What did you do this weekend?

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August 28, 2015

Friday Favs

There are so many fun link-ups regarding favorites for Friday, it's hard to choose! But they all seem to be about picking favorite things, so that's what I'm going to do today.

Favorite Pins

Click image to see pin

waterfall crown braid - click image to see pin

gallery wall - click image to see pin

Favorite Insta Photos

@christian_matthew_cullen  |  @butchersniche  |  @mskellylouise

Favorite Blog Posts

Twelve Months of Bliss - Ember Grey.
Emily always has wonderful posts, sometimes it's hard to pick just one. But this week was the link-up for the #12MofBliss challenge for August. It's kinda close to my heart as I totally participated this month, but I plan to continue this little habit because, well, it's awesome.

You Didn't Know? - Kenji is Here
I LOVE learning new little tid bits about my blog friends. And this list from Kendra just proves why we were meant to be friends. Even the chocolate thing, more for me!

He Said, She Said, on Marriage and Love - Adventures of Bug & Boo via Heavens to Betsy
This guest post from Rebecca on Heavens to Betsy is so sweet. I love these little interview style posts, especially when they pertain to love and marriage.

Reasons I Know I'm a Crazy Dog Lady - The Daily Tay
Proof I'm not the only one.

What are you favorites this week?

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August 26, 2015

Twelve Months of Bliss - August

One special lady from my #tribe developed this awesome challenge: Twelve Months of Bliss. While I wanted to participate the first two months, life sorta got in the way. That's no excuse, really. I should have made the time to work on myself via Emily's challenge. Anyways, I did it this month. I made a space on the wall in my guest room/office to display all the things keeping me going right now.

 I have grown to love this little space, and what's awesome about the placement, is that I can see it from the bathroom when I'm getting ready in the mornings. I was amazed at how much I found strength and peace through such small items as these. And I have to thank Emily for bringing such a wonderful habit into my life.

1. This is the birthday card I got from my mom this year. The message inside reflected a little on the big conversation we had earlier in the month. The words brought me to tears and reminded me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful relationship with my mom now.

2. Priorities. I had written that on this little post-it note during one of our Blogger Pow Wows a few months ago, and it's been on my desk ever since. My priorities have shifted so much since I've moved here and then even more once I got married. Having them set and not wavering on them have brought me great strength and comfort.

3. Think Positive! This has been my mantra this month. You can't go wrong with that!

4. This little tag says "#WoodsGoCruisin, 12-26-15, From Missouri, To the Caribbean"
I am so excited about our cruise and am constantly thinking about what I need to do before we leave and making lists about what to pack. We also are spending a week with my parents before the cruise, and we're looking forward to that as well.

5. I was debating a new look for the blog, which I did implement earlier this month.

6. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11
Sometimes it's hard for me to let go of what I want and the time line I want it in, and trust that God will provide the things I need exactly at the perfect time.

7. My puppy calendar! Who doesn't love adorable pictures of puppies??

8. The 17th was my first day of school. I am loving school, and so enjoy working for my degree. I always look forward to my classes each session because you never know who you'll meet or what you'll learn outside of the set curriculum.

9. This weekend we are going on another weekend getaway to Branson, MO. We had such a wonderful time over the 4th of July, and we wanted to get away just one more time before our big vacation at Christmas.

This should really be a board full of happiness for me. Do you have an inspiration board?

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EG's Twelve Months of Bliss

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