Hey everyone! I'm sorry I've been MIA lately. After summer started, I was trying to organize my life and figure out what I wanted to do. I've also been working a lot this past month, so it's been different trying to balance everything. Not only have I been somewhat busy, but I was having trouble finding inspiration for something to write about that would be worthwhile.
I've been dogsitting this week and have had time to finally write a list of things I wanted to talk about on the blog. One thing I wanted to talk about was the journey Cody and I have jumpstarted again for ourselves. Yesterday was my week 3 weigh-in of our getting fit and healthy journey. Cody and I have began to use myfitnesspal again to keep track of what we eat and our activity. Lately, we have been working out about 2 time a week, but once his schedule becomes more routine with his internship, we will be moving that up to 3 times a week.
I've been researching recipes, foods, workouts to make our lifestyle more healthy. I love to use Pinterest for ideas as well as motivation. I also have found a trainer at our local gym that is a great resource for information and motivation. Are any of you looking to get healthier or more fit? Do you have any ideas to help me too?
For more ideas for you, you can check out my Being Fit board on Pinterest. I plan to separate my cooking and sweets board into healthy and "normal" foods soon to better navigate those recipes.
Along with this intro post, I plan to show you guys a day of eating and exercise for me. I also want to share what things I hope to try in the near future. As of right now, I am 8.2 pounds down since I started (the first week I lost quite a bit because I watched what I ate, cut out pop, and worked out more)! I'm about halfway to my goal for the summer and then this is where I would like to maintain! I also hope to build strength, lose some body fat, and gain more confidence. What are your goals?
Now, I will share some motivating quotes I've found (all on my Being Fit board)!
Let's get up and get moving together! :)
Today in my Human Relations class, we had a guy by the name of Mike Finley come in and talk to us about becoming financially educated. He teaches the Financial Literacy Club on my college campus and gave us some great advice and resources!
He started off by showing this video, which was really eye-opening with some tips on what we can do to better our money situation. You should definitely take the time to watch it!

As a college student who has bills to pay and still wants to save money, it can sometimes be hard with the amount of money I make. You also want to be able to go out with friends on occasion, and not have to tell them you can't go out because you don't have any money.
Mike made the point that you can educate yourself on your own time. AVOID PEOPLE IN THE SUITS! Although it may not seem like it, they just really like the money you are spending to get advice you could discover on your own.
Mike has his own website that answers a lot of questions and provides many resources for us to be more educated. It is called www.thecrazymaninthepinkwig.com (memorable right?)
Some of the books that are on the "Recommended Reading" page were ones that Mike showed us in class.
Personal Finance for Dummies is a book that is great for beginners and Mike said the author talks to his readers as if they were family, not a customer.
Your Money or Your Life: One thing from this book Mike talked about was the Fulfillment Curve. As you spend money, you will go up the side of the bell curve until you have enough to feel fulfilled but if you continue to spend more and more stuff past that point, you will never be fulfilled.
The Total Money Makeover: Author Dave Ramsey is someone I have heard great things about and has great advice and procedures to reduce and eliminate debt.
Millionaire Teacher: this is a book I am very excited to read!!
I plan to buy and read some if not all of them!

Because I do not plan to work during student teaching (since it is like a full time job in itself), I am building my savings account so I can use that to pay my bills during that time. I am always looking for new ways to budget or save money and to learn how to manage my money. I do not excessively spend but there are times that I could rethink why I am buying something. I'm hoping these resources will help me in the future!

Would you use these resources?
How do you manage your money? Any advice?

"Money isn't about being rich, it's about enriching your life."
Happy Friday everyone! Today's post is kind of a compilation of things, which made it hard to decide which tab to put it under. Good thing I place a link on the home page :)

Let's start with last Saturday. My roommate Marci decided that we needed a Pinterest girls' night. For those of you who don't really use Pinterest, like Cody who thought a Pinterest night consisted of all of us girls sitting around looking on Pinterest together (like we don't do this on our own haha!), every girl that came to the get-together could bring an activity or craft they found on Pinterest to complete while we snacked and chatted. There was such a variety of crafts represented and we had so much fun!

Photo courtesy of Marci Swank
Photo courtesy of Marci Swank
Photo courtesy of Marci Swank
The picture above was Marci's project. I had to share because it is so awesome and turned out great! She took an old sink basin she found at a vintage store, melted 3 different candles on the stove, and poured them into the basin to harden into one big candle (see the wicks in the bottom part of the photo?). How cool is that?
We filled our house! (Photo courtesy of Marci Swank)
I also worked on a couple projects. My first one was something I have been really excited about! The picture below is a little sneak peek. Next week after it's completed, I will share the finished product, the source of the idea, and how to make it. I'm so excited to have it finished!! :)
I also worked on the scrapbook I'm making for all my Greece pictures and memorabilia. I will share a picture of that next week as well (just because I didn't take one yet and I don't have any artifacts in it either).

Next on this post's agenda is my February challenge. Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about my new year's resolution monthly challenges? Well, January (sorry I haven't enclosed any details about this last month until now) consisted of two challenges: working out 3 times a week and dressing in a nice, sophisticated manner. In regards to working out, we haven't been doing a super job with it (both Cody and I have been sick at different times) but we are hoping to get more into it as the semester goes on... it's never to late to get into working out and building strength.
As for dressing more professionally away from home, it's going great! There was only one day I wore a t-shirt and sweats to class and that was because we didn't have time to go home and change before hitting the gym. My plan next week is to do a post detailing that week's outfits, giving you all insight to what I wear during the week! I'm very proud of the progress I've been making on my wardrobe choices :)
This month, we are adding the challenge of CUTTING OUT EXCESS SUGAR!! I've included my poster that I've created below that we are putting on our fridge. Marci and Micah are both doing it with me! I believe having people to do things like this with makes it so much easier and helps keep everyone accountable.

If you click on the image, you should be able to download the flyer to print and post on your fridge as well!!
The gist is to eliminate the not-so-good sweets from our diet for a month to see how our bodies are affected. We also decided to allow a few "limit days"; these are days that we are allowed to have a limited amount of those special sweets. With it being February, a day that was agreed upon by all three of us was Valentine's Day (mainly just for the chocolate). I have also allowed tomorrow (a baby shower), next Wednesday (Cody's 21st birthday), and next Saturday (dinner out with Cody's family). I think that's okay right?
There may have been items that I forgot. I tried to hit all the major items. Plus, sugar is in EVERYTHING! I didn't want to include every single thing sugar is in. Just use the labels and your knowledge about sugar to decide with there is anything else you want to exclude. I forgot to add liquor to the "bad" side, but I think that's something I'll remember.
Is there anything else you would've added? What do you think of the challenge? Are you in with us? :)

The last thing I wanted to mention was something that Marci created. One of my goals for this year was the strengthen my relationship with God. My issue so far this year is that I tend to forget to put aside time to read the Bible and talk to God on a regular basis. Marci was feeling the same way, so she created a daily list of random Bible verses. This is an easy way to get into the Bible and hear the word of God! Below I included her guide she created! I hope you like it too :) (If I should include a downloadable version to make easier to follow, please let me know!)

Thank you Marci!!
Sorry, I know this was a long post... probably one that could've been separated. But I had so much to say and share!
How are everyone else's resolutions coming along?
Any big plans for February?

Last Saturday my girlfriends and I went down to Des Moines for the day to do some shopping and just have some quality time. We hit up the mall and went to Red Robin for lunch. It was after lunch that I was most excited for and the main reason we drove 2 hours to shop! Ready for it?!?
That's right! Saturday marked my first time EVER in a Trader Joe's!! AHH!! For those of you who don't know what Trader Joe's is, the store has healthy and more organic foods but at a decent price (like a Whole Foods but cheaper). I never knew what it was until I started reading blogs. One of the blog I frequent the most, Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, always shows new finds from Trader Joe's that Courtney finds and tries out. I emailed her before the trip down to the store and asked her what products I should keep my eyes open for - Thanks Courtney! One of the items on her list was something that sparked my interest in going down to check this place out. Can you guess? Well, my roommate Marci had just received some of their products from her aunt and she had me try Powerberries! WOW!! One of the best little treats I've ever had! :) So energizing and delicious!
After walking up every aisle, some more than once to make sure I didn't miss anything, I walked out of the store with a bag full of goodies. At the checkout, thinking my purchase was going to be about $50 or more, I was pleasantly surprised that my total was only $27.11!! I was very impressed and happy :)
So share with you what I purchased, of course I took some pictures.

This is my load! (Can you tell I like my sweetness?) Do you see what's on the left?
Yep! Powerberries!!
They look like little Whoppers or Junior Mint candies, only WAY WAY better for you! (And dare I say, more delicious, which is why each of us bought 3 bags!)
These Clif bars and Luna bars are things that I see in many blogs, including Courtney's. I checked the price at our Hy-Vee and they were about a quarter the price at Trader Joe's as they are at Hy-Vee. Crazy right!!
So this is something that Courtney recommended to me and said it was delicious. I'm excited to test it out because the description at the bottom of the jar doesn't really explain what it tastes like, so we'll see ;)
Courtney recommended I get the no-guilt brownie mix. However, I've learned that when you get "no-guilt"/"fat-free" products, they replace fat with more sugar and sometimes it's just better to get the original product. I compared these two and sure enough the sugar was about doubled in the no-guilt version. Plus, the fats in the mix weren't the terrible ones AND it's a treat right, so it should be good :)
I forgot to take this out of the fridge for the group photo but Courtney recommended two types of pizza dough and I decided to get the garlic and herb pizza dough. Even as a dough, it smells so good and I can't wait to make homemade pizza soon!

Sorry for all the exclamation points in the post. Can you tell I was excited about my purchase?
I hope all of you are sparked to check out Trader Joe's. Have you ever been? What are your favorite products?

Welcome everyone to my first ever book review! I promise I will not give any ending away (I'm not a spoiler!) but I will give you enough information to get a feel of the book as well as my opinion of the book.
The book I just finished is called The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright.

This book is about the lovely couple Jack and Laurel, who had been married for almost 40 years, both die in the same night (don't worry this doesn't give anything away!). But just before Jack dies, he writes his last Wednesday Letter, something he had written to his wife every week since they were wed. As their three adult children come home and prepare for their funeral, they find the boxes and boxes filled with these letters. As they go through the letters, they learn about their parents, some things they had no idea about. It is a tale of forgiveness and love and family.
I really enjoyed this book. It was an quick read and easy to follow. My favorite books are the ones where I can feel a connection with the characters and this book did just that! It isn't one of those romantic stories where it seems like the couple has no problems or worries. Jack and Laurel appear as a "real" couple in that they had their troubles and obstacles but their love for each other and God prevailed. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a book that just sucks you in and something you can't put down.
Also, I just found out that the book has a website (linked to the image above) AND there is a SEQUEL! I can't wait to be able to read that and see where it goes! (ALERT: Don't read the synopsis of the sequel before reading the first book because it gives a minor detail away that you want to leave as a surprise!)

I hope you feel like you would enjoy this book!
What kind of books do you like to read? Any books you would recommend? I'm always looking for new ideas :)

Instead of a Pinterest Friday post, I decided to a post on this challenge I'm now a part of. It is called the 2012 Closeout Workout Challenge. As it started yesterday (sorry I'm a day late but you can catch up no problem!), the goal is to do 2,012 reps of 2-5 exercises by December 31st. Courtney from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life is hosting this event and is even giving out prizes to selected participants that complete this challenge. What a great way to leave 2012 with a bang! Courtney even did the math: if you do 5 exercises (you can choose just about anything but if you need ideas, there are some listed on her post that I linked above), you only need to complete 13 reps of each exercise everyday and you will reach 2012 by the end of the month - now that makes it sound so much more attainable!!
From Courtney's post about the challenge on sweettoothsweetlife.com (thought this post needed a photo)
If you want to join us, Courtney shared the link to Challenge Loop (where the challenge is located) on her post. (P.S. You all should follow her blog because it is great!)
I already did my first 26 reps of 5 exercises and it took no more than 10 minutes! Great addition to any day because it takes little time and makes you feel awesome! :) Plus, it will make you feel better about maybe having that extra piece of pie during this holiday season without going overboard. T
What do you think? Are you in? :)
Happy Thursday everyone!
I hope y'all are having a wonderful week... I know I am! Especially after surviving last week AND the fact that tomorrow marks the first day of Thanksgiving break!!!!! I love having a full week off to do all kinds of things as you can see from the list below ;)
I mentioned before how much of I love lists and it was lists like this one that kept me on track and stress-free last week!
Is there anyone else that uses lists as much as I do? (I even re-write them if they get too messy and also add things just to cross them off!)

I really took my lists to the next level when I wrote my grocery list (I even had to staple the darn thing!) and oh my gosh you should've seen the haul I brought in the house Monday night!! We definitely don't need groceries for A WHILE! I made several stops and it took me a couple hours, BUT I was proud of myself. I have been starting to watch what kinds of foods I'm eating, which was reflected in my grocery list. When I was in the stores, I took the time to compare nutrition labels and ingredients lists and I spent a solid 20 minutes or longer in the PRODUCE section! (This has not been the norm in my life) Just taking this improved lifestyle one baby step at a time :)
After I brought home all these groceries, I realized that I was running out of places to put things! AHHHHH!! Our kitchen does not have as much cabinet space as I would like, which is why we have this stand in the kitchen. However, you can tell I was running out of space in those fabric boxes by the cardboard box FULL of food next to it on the floor. I should've taken a picture of our cool drawer in the fridge where all the cheese and lunch meat goes... it has almost no more room! So, one of the things on my to-do list is to do an organizing overhaul of our kitchen! I don't plan to move too many things around because then our roommates won't know where anything is anymore, but I want to make it seem like we have more space than we actually do. To utilize all the space possible, I plan to also see if there is any area of our mud porch (the door on the right of the picture leads to the porch) that could be used for things we don't always use. This is DEFINITELY a task I am excited to tackle! Am I the only one that has an abnormal love for organizing? :)
Speaking of tackling areas of the house that need organizing, let's move to our closet... [I apologize if it seems like a mess... it's just cluttered, I promise ;)]
As I was putting away laundry the other day, I was becoming frustrated with our closet. It has a lot of space compared to the other closets in the house (the few we have) as it runs from wall to wall. BUT, it is maybe a foot and a half wide (as seen in the first picture below) so that makes it hard to get to the far ends of the closet, especially on my half. The closet organizer in the picture above and the shelving/rod combo in the second picture below were both here when we moved in, and because we live in a rental, we can't change it out :(
Towels are in the closet because we have almost no storage in the bathroom as well :(
My closet is normally very organized as it is arranged my color (not in rainbow by any means but all the like colors are together) with tank/sleeveless tops first followed by the rest of my tops, then skirts and dresses, then dress pants, and finally sweatshirts and other off-season jackets (I would put these in a hall closet if we had one... again lack of storage space). The pictures visualize how the rest of my half of the closet is arranged. I need to figure out a way to make this closet work better for me! Readers (if you are out there!), do you have any advice for me on how to make my closet more efficient and less frustrating for me? I am a very organized person, and I love going through my closet; however, with such a conflicting space to work with, sometimes I feel at a loss as what to do. It needs an organization overhaul!!

As you saw from my "During Break" list at the beginning of this post, I have a lot to check off in only one week, and I know it probably all won't get done because I'll get caught up in relaxing and having fun with family and friends. But this is okay with me. I can just add whatever is left to my "Christmas Break" list that is yet to be made ;)

Any tips and tricks and advice would be appreciated!
Hope you have a great rest of the day! I know I will... Breaking Dawn Part 2 Premiere tonight!!!! :D

Is anyone else standing in line for this big event?