Sunday, January 30, 2011

Little Things That Make My Life Easier

There are small things that I try to do everyday that make my days run much more smoothly. I don't do these things in any particular order, nor do I do them EVERY SINGLE DAY. The theory is that if I DID do these little tasks on a daily basis, my life might just be a little less stressful. Try these things at home and see if your mornings, dinner routines, and every day chores don't just seem a little more fun (and easier!).

1. "Make" coffee the night before.
Try pouring your water and putting in the coffee grounds at night. That way all you have to do is wake up and press the on button. Even better would be if you had a timer on your coffee pot that automatically starts brewing when you wake up.

Shown here is my "coffee station." My trusty Turtle houses my Dunkin Donuts brand coffee. I even lay out my spoon next to the coffee pot so I'm ready to stir in my favorite creamer.

2. Do one load of laundry every night.
The only thing I hate more than doing laundry is not having anything to wear because I didn't do laundry. Every night I try to do at least one load of laundry, that way I avoid wasting an entire Saturday folding and putting away 45 thousand loads that I put off doing during the week. My weekends are much more pleasant when I have clean clothes and an empty hamper.

I usually use all Gain products because I love the smell. Wish I could bottle it up into a perfume, for real. I found a couple of recipes online for "homemade detergent" that I'm interested in trying. Using Gain really takes a bite out of my grocery budget! If you have a recipe for detergent, let me know!
3. Get your outfit ready the night before.
This is an oldie, but a goodie. My mother first introduced me to this idea to make our school mornings less stressful. When we were kids we would actually lay out our school clothes on a chair next to the bed so when we'd get up all we'd have to do is get dressed. No thinking involved. (It's hard to think about what goes with what at 6am!) I don't lay my clothes out now, but I mentally plan what I'm going to wear the next day and sometimes hang the outfit at the end of the closet. This can reduce morning stress enormously!

4. Plan your day around spending time with Christ.
This is supposed to be the single most important element of your day, and for me, it often gets pushed to the back burner. If you know you have an early meeting in the morning, make sure you set aside time in the evening for your devotions. If you know your going out to dinner that night, make sure you set your alarm and get up early. If your day is extremely crazy and you don't know when you'll get time, talk to Christ in the car on the way to work. This isn't the most ideal way, but it's better than nothing. The point is to take time to hang out with Our Father. He loves spending time with His children.

 Meal planning involves so many elements of stress reducing awesomeness I don't even know where to start. One thing is to keep your recipes organized. About once a week or once every 2 weeks, go through your recipes and pick out what your going to cook and what you need to add to your shopping list based on your menu for the week. Knowing what your cooking for dinner every night helps you be prepared for anything. Even if you decide to go out to eat last minute you'll know you can fix what you were planning the next day. Base your menu's on the weather, your husbands preferences, budget, and dinner guests. You'd be surprised how much praise you'll get from your loved ones by preparing what they prefer most! Because I shop every 2 weeks, I plan out about 12 meals, and plan to eat out twice. I pick out my recipes, shop for the ingredients, and go. I could go on and on about how happy meal planning makes me, but it might bore some people. Email me if you have any further questions, or if you have any recipes you want to share!

6. Make Lists.
I have two lists. A Long Term List, and an Every Day List.

The Every Day List goes hand in hand with meal planning. Keep a running total of errands you need to run, groceries/cleaning supplies you're out of, and appointments througout the week.

The Long Term List has things that I want to do once the Every Day List is complete, or close to being complete. Right now my Long Term List looks like this:
  • Finish JD's Baby Book
  • Find out distant relatives birthdays and put them on the calendar
  • Go through my medicine cabinet and throw away out of date products
Do you kind of get the idea? The Long Term List has things on it that aren't necessarily pressing, but that are important.

7. Don't wash your hair everyday. Seriously.
I used to be obsessed with my hair. I felt that if I didn't wash and style my hair everyday it would appear dirty. I felt this way up until really about a month ago. Then, I discovered this little miracle:

Yes, that's right. It's waterless shampoo. Seriously, it works! Rub a little of this Bad A onto your roots and BAM! Instant healthy, shiny, CLEAN LOOKING locks. I'm not saying don't shower everyday because that's just disgusting. But if you're as obsessed with your hair as I USED to be, then please; do yourself a favor and give dry shampoo a try. You'll save tons of time in the shower. I believe Matrix has a dry shampoo as well but its a little out of my price range and I haven't tried it yet. Dry Shampoo is my new best friend!

8. Before you leave in the morning, do a 5 minute "Clean Sweep" of the house.
Wash your dishes from breakfast. Make your bed. Wipe down the high chair. Straighten the throw pillows on the couch. Take 5 minutes to make your home look a little nicer. It never fails that the day my bed isn't made and there are dirty clothes on the bathroom floor is the day that my husband brings a friend home to eat lunch. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you know you left your house in an orderly manner that is worthy of unexpected guests.

In case you didn't know, we are currently living in a garage-house while we build the "real" house next to it. It's more or less like a studio apartement with one extra bedroom for the baby and another room for storage and laundry. This means that my bed is in the same room as the kitchen, living area and dining. Needless to say if I don't make the bed, people will notice! There's no closing the door!

9. Use leftovers to re-invent dinner.
I have been saved many evenings by using my leftovers to create something new. Leftover chicken breasts? Try a Tomato, Chicken, and Mozzarella sandwich. Day old Salmon fillets? Crumble the fish into a salad. We had a ham and sausage tray at JD's birthday party yesterday, so today I made Ham and 15 Bean Soup with cornbread. The point is be creative with your leftovers so nothing goes to waste!
Here's the recipe for the 15 Bean Soup:

1pkg 15 Varietal Beans
Cut up leftover ham slices. Thick pieces work the best!
1 can of hot Rotel
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
Dash of Tobasco Sauce
Couple Cups of water

Cook everything on the stove for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Bake Cornbread from a box recipe while the beans are cooking. Serve Soup over the top of a piece of buttered cornbread! Yum!

10. Do something nice at least once a week.
My true goal is to do something nice and unexpected for someone else everyday. Since I'm human and (Surprise!) naturally sinful I sometimes have a hard time being nice to people. So I say, start small with once a week and work yourself up. Write a kind review about a business online. Tip the girl who cleans your tanning bed. Tell the lady at the cleaners you like her shirt. If your like me, these seemingly simple gestures aren't always the first thing to pop out of your head. Just try a little harder to make someone else feel important. Pray for God to show you how you can be nice to someone you don't normally pay much attention to. Who knows, you might even make a new friend!

I hope these tips are useful to you! Have a Stress-Free week!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today was the BIG DAY!!


The party was at 3:00 at my mom's and I'm not going to lie it was probably one of the best child birthday parties I've ever been to. It was quick, fun, the food was delish, and the Party Boy was happy. The cake turned out amazingly thanks to Laura Respondek. I could not have been happier. In case you didn't see my last blog, here's a photo I sent Laura to have her replicate on the left. And on the right is the cake she made! Even more perfect than I imagined! She is a true artist!
 Above the cake are two letters, a J and a D that were made by the talented Michaelyn Ross of  Bloom Studio and Gifts. I plan to hang them in JD's room with his other "map themed" accessories.

Remember the idea from Martha Stewart of the Balloon Number? I did it for the party, but it turned out a little crooked haha!
Everybody like it though :) I'm my own worst critic I guess!

Here's little man, happy with cake all over his face. Also, check out the shirt I MADE him. Yep, that's right. I sewed that number 2 on there all by myself.

Thank you so much to everyone who came today, and to those who couldn't come but called and sent their love. JD loves you all so much and we are so thankful for such great friends and family!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thinking about JD's Birthday Party...

Saturday is JD's B-Day! I think I'm more excited than he is actually. I can't believe my little sweetie is already almost two. It's bittersweet really. I'm excited that he's growing up and changing and learning new things, but I'm sad that it's happening so fast. Here's my little stinker, just fresh from the oven :)
5lbs, 6 ounces of pure sugar. I loved him in the baby stage. And I love him more and more everyday in the toddler stage. Here's a recent pic of JD and Josey.
Little rascal.

His party is Saturday and I wanted to share a couple of ideas that I have for the celebration.

His cake is being made by my friend and professional Cake Designer Laura Respondek. Here's a pic of what the cake will kinda be like.

Just the "2", of course!

The best part about the party will probably be the balloons. JD loves balloons so I plan to get several balloon bouquets, and also just blow up a bunch and throw them around the house. Here's a cute idea that I might try:

Just arrange the balloons in the shape of a "2" and attach them to the wall with double sided tape. Both the idea for the cake and the balloon display came from

It's just going to be a small event with family and close friends only. Probably won't even be many other children there. We just wanted it to be intimate and special.

Since the party is at 3pm, we'll just have appetizers. I'm going to make spinach and artichoke dip, and Daniel is going to deep fry chicken wings and dip them in homemade hot sauce. I'll probably have a veggie and fruit tray, and maybe some meatballs or little weenies.

If you have any party ideas you'd like to share, I'd love to hear 'em!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's been a few days since I've updated the blog! Sorry faithful followers! Friday night we had our great friends and cousins the Watson's over for dinner. I'm tired of serving steak to our guests all the time so I decided to go with homemade Spicy Pork Stir-Fry and a couple other Asian-inspired side dishes instead. The main course was a sweet and spicy stir-fry recipe I found at a couple years ago. It's great for serving a crowd, just double the recipe and your set. Here's the recipe:

Sweet and Sour Pork Stir-Fry

  • 1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, drained (juice reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts separated, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed and patted dry
  • Cooked rice, for serving


  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup water. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook pork, in two batches, until well browned on one side, about 1 minute (pork will cook more later); transfer to a plate.
  3. To skillet, add scallion whites and bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until peppers are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add pork (along with any juices), broccoli, and pineapple chunks. Whisk sauce; add to skillet. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring, until broccoli is warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in scallion greens, and serve with rice.

I think our guests really enjoyed it! And I had quite a bit leftover since I doubled the recipe so we had lunch the next day. :)

Here's a pic of what the sauce looks like that you mix up in Step 1.
No one had ever explained to me before what the purpose of Corn-Starch was. I had to google it. :) It's used in recipes to thicken sauces, like shown here. Without the corn-starch, your sauce would be too runny.

Whenever we are having guests, I always try to save as much prep time as I can by getting things ready the day before (if possible.) The morning of the dinner I went ahead and chopped up my pork, bell peppers, and I thawed the broccoli.

For our side dishes, we had my favorite Crab Rangoon and Egg Rolls. I got the Egg Rolls at Wally World and the Rangoon's at Schnucks. Both of these items are just heat and serve dishes.

I also had my husband's personal favorite, Asian Pot-Stickers or as some call them; Dumplings. I always keep a supply of these little guys on hand not only because their Hubby's fav, but because their relatively easy to prepare and pretty healthy. Wal-Mart has three varieties; Chicken, Pork, and Vegetable.
The Tai-Pei brand describes three different cooking instructions. The "recommended" method is simply frying the potstickers in oil on the stove. I find that this browns the dumplings a little too much on the outside and doesn't heat them all the way on the inside. I cooked them by the "traditional" method of boiling them in hot water first to cook the inside and then frying them to slightly brown the outside. Worked perfectly. Guess the "traditionalists" were right all along. ;)

And of course, what Asian-inspired feast would be complete without rice. I ALWAYS cook rice by steaming it in the microwave. It's quick, delicious, and well, that's all it needs to be for me to be happy. Here's the brand I buy:
Ok, so it's a little bit more expensive than buying raw rice and cooking it on the stove. But it's so worth it to me not to have to stand next to the stove and constantly stir for 20 minutes. This cooks in the bag in 4 minutes. Just open and serve.

Dinner's Ready!

Pork Stir-Fry and Rice

Table is set!

Happy Cooking Friends! Have a Great Monday Tomorrow!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Having a goal keeps me motivated...

I registered for the St. Louis Half Marathon on April 10th. It's going to be tough, but this will be my third 1/2 marathon and I did pretty good on the first two so I'm not too worried. Today is the official starting day of training, and I'm pretty pumped. Ask me how I feel on day 3 or 4 and I might not feel the same way. I have a pattern of getting really pumped up for an event and training hard at first, but I lose my mojo or something by the end of the first week and take a few days off. Then I get really excited at the start of the next week and so the cycle continues. One of my best friends Katie Rau has graciously agreed to run the race with me, even though she's a stud runner who has ran multiple half marathons and full marathons. She even made up a training schedule for me to go by to help keep me on track. Love that girl.
Check out Katie's blog and read more about her active lifestyle!

Today's workout is cross train or slow 2 mile jog. Cross train means do something other than running, like biking or using a cardio machine. Since I'm not quite ready to work out at the SEMO Rec center in front of a million skinny sorority girls, I'm going to the track today after work to run a slow 2 miles. Wish me luck! Also, please help keep me accountable by asking me every once in awhile if I'm still training. It helps when people ask because I can't lie and say it's going great when it's not.

Here's a link to the GO St. Louis Website. If you want to try to run with me, let me know! We are making matching tees and everything! :)

Another great motivational tool for me is my swimsuit. I have this beautiful two piece bikini that is actaully really flattering on me when I'm in shape. We are planning to go on vacation after the race in either April or May so I want to be excited to wear my swimsuit. Here's a pic of the suit. If you like it, might want to pick yourself up one because it's on sale right now!
I love the "deep sea" color, because it's flattering like black but not as harsh. Also the halter strap detaches so I can wear it as a tube top.
Here are the bottoms. LOVE THEM! Hands down the MOST flattering swimsuit bottoms I've ever purchased.
It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but they have a foldover waistband that you can fold down or up depending on how low you want to go. I used to think the boy short style wasn't that flattering, but I love that style in panties so I wanted the same effect in my swimwear. Only $7.99 right now ladies!

Here's a pic of me before running the St. Louis 1/2 marathon back in 2008. Yep, I ran in a running skirt. Stylin' even when I'm runnin'!
How do you stay motivated to work out? If you need encouragement or motivation let me know and we can help each other! Have a good Monday!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Play-off's and an Early Dinner

Sunday's are my favorite day. Today we watched football (7 total hours...ugggg) and we decided to grill steaks and have an early dinner at 4pm. It's been awhile since we've cooked at home. Between the holidays, leftovers, gift certificates to restaurants, etc we just haven't been home to eat much. Our dinner menu consisted of the following:
2 NY Strip Steaks purchased from Esicars Old Hickory Meats on Kingshighway in Cape.

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

Here's the recipe for the casserole.

Hash Brown Casserole
Courtesy of

1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups crushed cornflakes cereal
1/4 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, combine hash browns, 1/2 cup melted butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, and pepper. Place mixture in a 3 quart casserole dish.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute cornflakes in 1/4 cup melted butter, and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.
Bake covered in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Take off cover and bake for 20 more minutes.

My family loves this stuff. An entire pan will feed us for about 4 days.

For our vegetable, we had steamed broccoli florets (I only eat the "trees" I hate the "stems") and I seasoned them with this little lifesaver:
This seasoning is pure deliciousness. It has replaced my Lawry's seasoned salt obsession. Daniel even said he liked the broccoli tonight! I'm sure it's just because of this stuff ;)

At last we were ready to eat. Turned out to be another great Sunday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oops. Small Town Girl's Guide to Life is already taken!

Guess I should have done a bit more research before I started this blog. Small Town Girl's Guide to Life is already a pretty popular website/blog by a girl who actually lives right here in Missouri. Hope she doesn't get mad that I have the same blog name! I think I can still change the name, but I'm not 100% on that. If I can change the name, any thoughts as to what might be a good title?

In other news, JOHN DAVID WENT PEE PEE ON THE POTTY!! That's right folks. JD used the potty. I never thought I would be one of those parents who freaks out about every little milestone in their child's life, but I definitely am. JD has been "patting" his "pee pee parts" when he needs to go for a couple weeks now. So this weekend I just started pulling his pants down and sticking him on the throne. Most of the time he just sits there and giggles a lot, but today he actually went! Just a little trickle, but it was pee pee none the less! We jumped around and danced in the bathroom for awhile before having a celebratory bite of cookie dough ice cream. Maybe he'll be potty trained before his birthday! Wouldn't that be somethin.

This pic was taken by Laurie at Annie Laurie's Antiques. We stopped by Friday night to listen to some great music by Jefferson Fox. I also scored a sweet new world globe and a photography book. JD sat in this chair for about 30 minutes just chillaxin and eating pretzels. Love him.

One of my closest friends Erica Sinclair is getting married next month, and I'm a little stumped at what to get her for a wedding gift. I already got her some cute little panties for her bachelorette party, but I need to get her a serious gift too. Any suggestions? I like to go off the beaten path and get things that aren't on the registry, but I'm getting pretty desperate since the shower is in uhh two days so I will probably end up getting a crock pot or something. If you're reading this and are married, what was one of your favorite wedding gifts?

I went through my closet today and decided to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Within the next couple days I'll take pictures of the items and post them to my Facebook page if anyone wants anything. Mostly things from last season that I'm tired of, but there are a couple cute Banana and gap shirts that I just never wear and are fairly new.

How do you decide what to wear in the morning? My thought process in the morning usually goes like this:
How cold is it?
Do I feel like wearing heels?
What is clean?
What am I doing after work?

Lately the answers to these questions have all been the same.
Very Very Cold.

So, because of these answers, by go to outfit this winter has been variations of these pieces:

I usually throw my heavy coat into the car just in case, but more often than not I wear a sweater coat. This genius idea is perfect for hot natured gals like me. Also great for my chilly office.

I've seriously been wearing this shirt on a weekly basis. It's a great cotton blend material that washes beautifully and goes with pretty much everything in my closet. It's on sale at Gap right now for $19.99 and I'm thinking of getting the other colors.

I haven't been able to wear American Eagle jeans since having the baby because of the extremely low rise. This is a new jean by AE called "slouchy skinny" that is meant to be worn low on the hips and loose, but if you want a tighter, jeggings effect go down about two sizes and wear it about an inch under the belly button. Love Love Love this jean. It's soft, stretchy, and it can be washed and dried. Also, because you have to go down a couple sizes, I actually bought a size TWO which hasn't happened since 5th grade. I'm almost reluctant to tell anyone about these jeans because I'm afraid you'll go to the Cape AE and buy em all up before I get paid and can get over there for more. So you're welcome.
My week wouldn't be complete without a flannel of some kind. The guys at work have been calling me lumberjack.

I alternate between these mocs and my Toms because I'm not interested in wearing heels right now. I love the little buckles. Makes me feel a little bit more dressed up!

My work has a Casual Dress Code during the holidays and we go back to business casual in 2 weeks. I'll have to bust out the heels and slacks soon, and I'm not too happy about it. I'll miss my flannels,

What's your favorite "Casual Day" outfit??

See ya Monday...

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Friday and here's the Latest.

I am a big believer in dark nail polish. Not because I'm trying to be trendy, but because I constantly have my hands in something dirty and by wearing dark nail polish it's much easier to disguise dirty finger nails. My favorite color right now is You Don't Know Jacques by OPI.

It's a smooth grey shade that applies beautifully in just two coats. Anyway I'm wearing this color today and it's making me feel casual, so I stumbled onto Land's End Canvas' site to browse the winter sale. Here's what I'm purchasing:

Tan Cords on sale for $19.99

Perfect Cognac Flats for $33.00 and some change (I've been looking for Cognac flats for months!)

Beautiful Mustard Yellow Boyfriend Sweater for $16.99

Land's End Canvas is a cheaper alternative to my J.Crew and Gap obsession. The Winter Sale is still going on and there's tons of cute things left....Grab them up while you can!

On a side note, one of my New Year's resolutions is to stick to my shopping budget of $250.00. This budget includes my clothing, makeup, hair, nails, and also "home accessories" like towels, new throw pillows, etc. Also included are Starbucks AND if I go out to eat by myself or with friends. Not including when we go out to eat as a family. Phew. It's a lot, but I HAVE to do it. Will you help me stick to this budget?

We're going out for dinner tonight, and will probably swing by the First Friday Art Show's downtown. If you didn't know, every first Friday of the month Downtown Cape Girardeau opens all the galleries a little later for your viewing pleasure. Also the antique shops will be open later than usual -- perfect time for me to look for additions to my newest collection : Vintage Maps and Globes. I hope JD likes maps as much as I do because that's what I'm decorating his room in, and also that's the theme for his birthday party!
Here's a flyer for First Friday I got from Aunt Marti's fb page. If you've never been downtown on the First Friday of the month, you're missing out!  

Here's a pic of JD's room right now. The walls are a perfect color to accessorize with maps...What do you think? It's a little hard to tell in the photo, but the color is a greyish green.

I just finished a new book called Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.

Very eye opening stuff. One part of the book that really scared me a bit was the argument that if a child does not have a proper understanding of Boundaries (Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No) by age 3 they are basically screwed for life. Puts a bit of pressure on a mom of a soon-to-be two year old! When I was talking to Jesus this morning, I threw in an extra prayer that I would be more conscious of my No's and Yes's around JD. I want him to be confident enough to say no when he isn't comfortable with something. I don't want him to be the kind of person who says yes to things even if they don't have time, or don't feel like it's right. I have always had that problem. I say yes to others in an attempt to make them happy, or out of guilt. God wants us to establish proper boundaries in our life, so that we can live happily. And more slowly. Because I say Yes too  much, I find myself too busy for things that I would rather be doing, like laying on the couch with my family or even quiet time with Christ.

Lord, help me to slow down a bit this weekend. Help me to delight in my activities, and in the things I say Yes to. Help me not to feel guilty if I tell someone No. Thank you Father for being my best friend. Love you.


 Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thinking of a Master Plan....

When I wake up in the morning, I typically have a "Plan of Action." Usually the first step is turning on the coffee pot and heating up my son JD's sippy cup of milk. The rest of the "Master Plan For My Day" usually consists of work, some reading, spending time with my family and cooking. If I've learned anything over the course of my 24 years of life it's that my plans don't always equal God's plan. Sometimes He throws a little game-changer into the mix that can alter my day, and it's my goal in life to be able to learn and adapt to God's changes so that I can be the best possible mother, wife, and Christian that I can be. This blog is for me, and for you. Hopefully it will help others to see some of my day to day struggles and successes, so that we can all learn and adapt to God's Master Plan. Because he really is, The Master, and His plan for our lives really is genius.