Holiday’n on a Budget: Recipe Edition

The holidays are here! Which means family, friends, presents, food and a lot of memories to be made! We have come up with a few little things to help ease a few hot topics of the season. A few simple recipes, some outfit inspo’s that are very wallet friendly and some ideas for splitting gifts that can not only make the receiver happy but as the giver..let’s just say you’ll go down in history as the best gift giver ever!

For starters, I love how the holidays are so unique and special to each family. For me, I will basically starve myself the day of only to indulge in the biggest plate of food known to man by mid-afternoon. Others, will make an entire day out of every single meal in the kitchen. I think both scenarios are exciting. Regardless of what’s being prepared, it’s what brings us all together in the first place that means the most. My friend Kellye is one that starts the day off by making a breakfast casserole. By lunch, they generally have finger type foods to snack on and then the real business starts at supper time. Her favorites are down below and you can find the recipe by clicking the photo!

 


 

Sheet Pan Pancakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes!?! Pancakes are a staple in my house. My husband is better at whipping up flapjack masterpieces but I’ve got the best recipe for easy sheet-pan pancakes so who’s the real winner here? Grab some mixed fruit, follow this amazing recipe below from dinnerthedessert.com, and have a crowd of happy guest with full bellies!

Click the photo below.

 

Sausage and Gravy Breakfast Casserole

Often times, the easiest recipes are casseroles you can throw together in minutes. My Aunt always has a “breakfast staples” casserole ready when we visit by using whatever she has in the fridge. I love this version below from Scattered Thoughts Of A Crafty Mom Blog. You’ll for sure have a house full of happy guests by using the recipe below.

Click the photo below.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

Corn casserole is a favorite of ours and a definitely a crowd pleaser. I’m sharing my recipe from Kay Robertson’s cookbook which is linked above to purchase from Amazon. The best part is that the “cheesiness” is optional! Sometimes we omit the cheese depending on how well it pairs with the other sides we are serving with the meal. You can find the recipe below the photo or purchase the cookbook for this side dish and more by clicking the photo.

Cheesy Corn Casserole
Makes 8-10 Servings • 9 x 13- inch casserole dish
1 stick ( 1/4 pound) butter, melted
1 can (15.25 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14.75 ounces) cream-style corn
1 carton (8 ounces) sour cream
1 box (8.5 ounces) jiffy corn muffin mix
2 cups grated cheese, divided: 1 1/2 cups in mix and 1/2 cup sprinkled on top.
1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Lightly butter the casserole dish.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool a little before serving.

Green Bean Casserole:

Like I said, I starve until we eat our late lunch and then by supper time, I’m mostly still full but I can usually cram something else in. When it comes to my favorites though, I am all about some fried turkey and some macaroni and cheese casserole. We usually indulge on what’s left until everything runs out but then I found myself trying to figure out a different way to enjoy those tasty left overs. Allow me to introduce you to the almighty Thanksgiving Slider recipe. I scored this recipe on Pinterest and I just know it’s a winner. It’s basically taking what is left from the meal and layering it between two sides of a Hawaiian roll, baking it and then enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas all over again but this time it’s between two buttery, toasted buns. Sign me up!

Turkey-Cranberry-Sliders

Boltfarm Tree House

If you need a place to completely disconnect from everything and re-center yourself, reconnect with your spouse and get some rest..this read will be such a treat for you! My husband and I visited Boltfarm Tree Houses near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s tucked about 30 minutes away from the city in a secluded area just off of the water. There are so many beautiful oak trees towering over the grounds that you lose count. You truly get lost in how serene it is, which is exactly what my husband and I needed.

Nick and I did the math while sitting on the deck at the treehouse..so between my husband being a Lafayette Firefighter and owning and operating his own Dirt Contracting business, he works roughly 102 hours per week. Guys..there’s 168 hours in a full week! That’s insane right? And as for me..well, I’m a full time mama, blogger, influencer and beauty guide. So if there’s only 168 hours in a week, that basically means I work at least 1,714 hours a week. However, I have the ability to juggle all of my responsibilities but I can always count on there being zero breaks when it comes to the girls. Even when they should be sleeping, they don’t. Long story short, my oldest barely believes in naps anymore and my youngest is the most nocturnal little being I’ve ever known. Not the good kind of non-sleeper either. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. It gets rough sometimes but I manage to find the beauty in between. I like to think she’s the one who will teach me patience. I guess we can call this a “blesson.”

The ability to view a lesson as a blessing..

Needless to say, my husband and I desperately needed a break. We didn’t want the kind of vacation where we were on the go constantly with an itinerary. We wanted to be able to sleep in, relax and essentially do nothing since we are always doing something! I don’t know how the treehouse could have been anymore perfect. Tori and Seth Bolt poured their heart and souls into these treehouses. Every detail was so well thought out and didn’t go unnoticed on our part.

As soon as we arrived, we drove up on the most beautiful iron gate in the shape of all of the oak trees you see covering the entire treehouse farm. We drove up to The Honeymoon Treehouse and were greeted by Jared who is the General Manager of Boltfarm Treehouses. He gave us a quick tour of the treehouse we were staying in, explained all there was to do and encouraged us to unplug and enjoy each other and our time there. Afterwards, we swung on the hanging chairs on the balcony of our treehouse and just marveled the beautiful grounds and all that the treehouse had to offer.

The Honeymoon Treehouse featured a copper bathtub on a platform in the main room. The back wall in front of the bed was covered top to bottom with charming antique mirrors. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on. When it comes time for us to replace our own mattress, we will probably be ordering the same Sleepy mattress with a pillow top like they used. On the side was the kitchen area. It was finished with an above counter copper sink, a miniature retro style refrigerator hidden behind the stained wood cabinetry and a dining area for two complete with an antique China set. Let’s not forget the old style record player complete with a basket full of old records to play, adult coloring books, pillows to sit for meditation and prayer, a legit picnic basket filled with everything an outside picnic would ever need and a little fireplace. Sounds like a dream right? That’s just inside the treehouse, that’s not counting the amenities outdoors!

Outside there was a gorgeous view of the water with oak trees giving the perfect amount of shade. Double bicycles, outside grill, pizza oven, jacuzzi, fire pit fit for snuggles and s’mores, outdoor shower and screened in room with a swinging bed complete with a screen and projector to play movies. Don’t all of these things just sound like heaven?

Every single thing I named made the Treehouse every bit of the experience we were promised. But every ounce of alone time, relaxation, peace and quiet with my husband was the best part of all. It was exactly what we needed in our 10th season of marriage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18,

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

I felt this verse fit perfectly for everything I wanted to end with. Everything was serene and absolutely perfect at the tree house and we are literally chomping at the bit to plan our next stay. But it wasn’t just beautiful scenery that we enjoyed, it wasn’t just the quiet time we needed and it wasn’t just the opportunity to be the big kids we know we are at heart; it was the unseen that sparked magic because of the seen. Does that resonate? I think we can all agree that life happens every single day and we all fall short in allowing it to get in the way of the things that mean the most to us. Making time for your partner and the things that matter most to you will be one of the greatest investments you can make in your relationship. God and each other. I think the best love story is to be able to fall in love with the same person over and over again.

Being able to be with my husband where he was only my husband for a few days was bliss. I’m sure he would agree the opposite for me. We could just be our true selves for a few days with zero responsibilities except pouring ourselves into each other and reconnecting on a level that we haven’t been able to in years. It’s truly amazing how doing nothing is absolutely everything you could possibly need. We swung outside and enjoyed the views, took naps on the swinging bed outside, we showered outside during the daytime and nighttime under the moon and starts, we listened to Calming Guitar Playlist on Pandora; I highly recommend that soothing playlist by the way. I have listened to it every day since we have returned. It almost as if I was able to bring the tree house experience home with me. Not to mention, growing up as a musicians daughter, my father was always playing his acoustic guitar at random times throughout the day. It was an enjoyable part of my childhood. This kind of music is medicine for the soul. We also made our own pizza, we roasted s’mores, rode the double bicycles, drank wine, walked down the lane full of oak trees and got to see lightening bugs for the first time since each of us were children. That may seem like nothing but it was truly a magical moment for me, at least. We took the time to visit Charleston one afternoon and had lunch at a tavern that was downtown. Which was incredible by the way.

Writing all of these things and telling you how insanely mind blowing it all was just brings me back. Even though it was just a few short weeks ago, the thought of being there and what it did for my heart and soul has stuck with me. Like the unseen I mentioned before, it wasn’t just an experience, it was purifying and healing. I will never forget what that trip did for me and I cannot wait till we go back. Matter of fact, if you’d like to mention that I recommended BoltFarm Treehouses to you when you book your stay, you will be upgraded to a complimentary VIP experience..and We will be too upon our next stay!

www.boltfarmtreehouse.com

This content is not sponsored by BoltFarm Treehouse or by Seth & Tori Bolt.

5 Ways to Be Your Best Self

I’m going to get a little deep again this week. I find myself working even harder on myself whenever I am having some incredibly trying days and I would like to share what helps to get me through them.

Whenever we’re in our teens, I think it’s safe to say that we are all so confused with who we are, who and what we want to be when we grow up. All we worry about is what’s in front of us and that’s simply fitting in. Even into our 20’s we care so much about what other people think of us, that it can sometimes consume us and form ourselves. Like pudding or jello we just mold around what our family, friends or society thinks and tells us we should be.

Do you know what’s so sad about that? I don’t have statistics for any of this but I am willing to bet that probably over half of us(maybe even more) just conform instead of blossom. Even later on in age, we have grown so comfortable with this picture perfect image of who are supposed to be that we just don’t know any other way to be.

I can tell you without any hesitation at all that I fell into that category of someone who just tried to fit in. I was okay with being in the shadows because anytime I ever tried to speak my mind or be myself, I was heavily judged and it was easier to just take my place in line and my number never being called.

As easy as it was though, it was so incredibly frustrating. My mother always encouraged me to just be myself but she never quite understood the part where I didn’t feel like I was good enough or the person I was would ever be accepted.

So, by now you’re probably wondering where I am going with this exactly. I can’t tell you the exact moment in which I told myself I had enough but I can tell you that the inner voice was always screaming at me until I finally freaking did it. I can tell you that as things happened to me in my life, the voice only screamed louder.

I think I can pinpoint some things that can possibly help to guide you in this journey.

Find your tribe.

“Surround yourself with people who add value to your life. Who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. Who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t meant to be done alone. Find your tribe and journey freely and loyally together.”   -Alex Elle

If we were all flowers instead of people and the sun never shined or it never rained, we would never, ever grow. Finding people who value you as much as you value them can change your life. The power in being able to be yourself, your true, honest, weird, quirky, silly self and people accepting and loving you as you are is a big deal. If you have that, you are blessed. Tell yourself that, right now. There are people right now who don’t have that and would love nothing more than the luxury of feeling like they belong.

Simply having this circle of people in your life can relieve so many different avenues of your life. I never really understood the gravity of having a tribe until recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a circle of friends and family for a while but I don’t think I actually gave them as much credit as they deserved. Not because I didn’t value them enough but I started learning and understanding how important I was in this crazy equation too. I already knew how important they were to me but I don’t think I ever thought about how much I meant to them. Maybe I’m crazy for even making this a part of this entry but part of what fuels me is knowing that I’m worth something to someone. Feeling important and needed is one of my love languages and getting that affirmation from my tribe has just resonated with me deeply.

Finding your tribe enables you to not only be a better person but grow into a better person too. These people have your back. They will help you when you’re struggling, they’ll tell you when you’re being ridiculous, they’ll cry with you when all the things are hard, they’ll push you when you don’t have it in you to push yourself, they’ll celebrate all things with you whether it’s big or small and they will love you with so much force that it only comes natural to offer these things back to them. These people will not belittle you, talk about you behind your back, make you feel unimportant or small; Real situations will expose these people to you. Choose your tribe wisely.

Faith it till you make it.

I’ll be incredibly forward with you, this is hard. When things happen that are beyond my understanding, sometimes I really have to talk myself into trusting Gods plan, whatever it may be. Other times, I’m not worried at all because I know the big man upstairs is in control and He’s already taken care of it, I only need be still.

The times that truly test my faith, I have to pray and I have to talk myself into trusting Gods plan. This requires effort. Effort that I sometimes cry through because I simply cannot see how on earth I will ever get that thorn out of my side..or in some cases, the knife out of my back.

I find myself being lost in true moments of despair where I only think about what’s going wrong and what I don’t have versus what I am so incredibly blessed with. I have to focus on humbling myself otherwise I get tossed around in the chaos in my head that makes me feel like I have nothing and no one and it will never get better. While my moments are genuinely chaotic for me, I have to remind myself that things could always be worse. There are people out there who probably beg God daily for the difficulties we face.

Practice pausing when you feel overwhelmed, pause when you feel angry, pause when you are exhausted, pause when you are hurt, pause when you feel anxiety, pause when you feel like you might explode or overreact and when you pause…you pray. In order to faith it till you make it, you have to believe there is something better coming.

Know your outlets.

This is going to be different for everyone. We all have different things that aid in filling our cups. I personally love sleep..lots of sleep that I never really get, working out, shopping, trips to the nail salon, spending time with my kids and family, a glass of wine, Sunday morning services, reading, podcasts, date nights with my husband…I could keep going, blogging is now one of my favorite outlets! I would say camping but after living in the camper for four months…I’m pretty confident I never want to see the inside of a camper again.

Whatever your outlet is for you, do it. Only if its good for you! Don’t get it twisted where you start doing things make you happy in the moment but are actually bad for you. Like stress eating for example…okay everyone loves cake except your pants. How many times have we all over done it and regretted it the minute we tried to button our favorite pair of jeans?

An outlet needs to be a good and happy stress reliever. Things that keep us on top of our A game and make us feel good about ourselves. It’s imperative that we take a time out as often as we can to keep our heads on straight. You cannot continuously give and give all the time when you have nothing left to offer. You’ve got to give yourself the opportunity to recharge. Things get messy when you are down to the bottom of  your spool. Wind up and start over.

Work on yourself.

This is where you will get uncomfortable. This is where you need to be raw and real with yourself. What are your likes and dislikes about yourself? I can’t answer this for you. What I can tell you is that this requires so much effort and even remembering in those little moments of opportunity to stand up and be courageous for yourself…or literally, just be YOU and not who you think everyone wants you to be.

When you break down what you like and dislike about yourself, be real about it. Are these really things you like or dislike about yourself or are these things that someone you value built you up to believe was a worthy quality? Because this isn’t about what Susie and Sally have to say about your character. This boils down to you being about to enjoy and live your best life and stop putting on a show for these people who don’t really like you to begin with! Worry about yourself and the person God made you out to be.  You’re the one who has to live with yourself anyways so why not save the soap opera for television and start living your days with your best self intact.

While we are being real about this, my whole ideology behind this is, is that you have to want to put the work in. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do but if you feel it speaking to you, you need to do something about it. You are in control of your reality. Choose to be real over perfect. Choose to be happy over just existing. We have one life…how unsettling would it be to look back and realized that you lived someone else’s life because you were too afraid to live yours?

Trust the process.

” If everything in life made perfect sense, trust would hold little value. Accept each season as the uncomfortable and necessary process of growth.” -B.Oakman

Owning every part of your life can be life altering. Being able to accept your faults,  be patient and embracing uncertainty gives you the grace to trust the beautiful process of becoming. Nothing will happen overnight or in a week. Decide what it is you want out of yourself and your life, after that, do not settle.

How To Take Control Of Anxiety & Depression

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Suffering from anxiety and depression means living on the edge..with basically everything. The tiniest things trigger you and cause a lot of mental chaos. It means overplaying scenarios in your mind on things you could have said or done but for whatever reason, you didn’t. For me it meant a lot of days spent in bed under the covers with the curtains and my eyes closed. It also meant a lot of nights of silent crying. You know the kind of cry where you curl up in a ball, you feel the ache in your chest and throat, then tears just come uncontrollably? The kind where you can’t breathe anymore but somehow you breathe through it because you don’t want to wake anyone in the house and being upset about it is easier than explaining it. Because let’s be honest, that’s way easier anyway since we don’t even understand it ourselves.

I’m going to tell you about some of my  struggles and how I internalize them. I want you to know that what I tell you might help you but it might not either. Each of our journeys are beautiful and unique in their own way. Even if we don’t see it that way at the time. The times that hurt or put us through hurt, those times aren’t necessarily beautiful but it’s how we react to those situations that mold us into stronger beings.

Blaming yourself.

I won’t tell you things happen for a reason and I won’t tell you ALL things happen according to God’s plan even though I’ve been raised to believe it all of my life. Or maybe a broken heart was all apart of God’s plan all along, who knows..all I know is the number one thing that set me back the most were those two phrases. At thirty years old I can’t come up with one solid reason that makes sense for why I was bullied in school, why I’ve had five pregnancies but only have two children, why my mother drank herself to death, why my father-in-law was murdered or why anything negative with friends, family or people in my life could go so incredibly sour. Trust me, I’ve taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror(quite a few times) and tried to figure out what was wrong with me and how these things could keep happening to me. I asked myself what I had done in my life to deserve these things. I beat myself up over these things because I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around. Surely I did something somewhere along the way to deserve this kind of pain.  Perhaps I did. I have done so much bible reading, self-care reading and discovery, therapy, journaling and praying…I know my faults and I have worked and still work so hard on them to better myself. I know I will never be perfect and I never want to wear that kind of crown. But getting through my anxiety and depression is a constant run on the hamster wheel. Waking up happy doesn’t just happen. Something to factor in is that I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, it chose me. If it chose you too, you have to give yourself credit where it’s due. You did whatever you had to do to stay alive today. Even if it was as small as changing from one pair of pajamas to the next or showering, getting dressed and showing up to work, keeping your children fed and happy…you’re doing it! You’re doing what you have to do to keep going!

The reason I said I won’t tell you that all things happen according to God’s plan is because I think a lot of us tend to forget that there’s a fallen angel out there who’s only goal is to rip every good thing from our lives until we feel like we have nothing left to live for. Satan wants nothing more than to control our hearts and lives and bring us the most utter and sick sorrows. I think God’s plan for us would never intend to bring us such hurt or pain. The bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8 ” The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”

This might not be what you think or believe and that’s okay.

white printer paper with black and silver gel pen on top
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing it all down.

One of the number one things that helped me was journaling. Something about putting it all down on paper helped to get it all out of my system. At the time, I wanted to write it all down because I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. Whether it was a dream, something that happened, how I was feeling..you name it. Anything and everything had fair game in my journal. It’s interesting to look back and read now. I still feel everything that I wrote down years ago but it’s inspiring to see how far I have come since then.

Learning to say no..and yes.

I think we all know darn good and well when we really ought to say yes and no to things but for whatever reason, we just don’t go with our gut. We do things we don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting someone or letting them down. In turn, we really end up letting ourselves down. Or those times when we know we should say yes because whatever it is, could be good for us but again..we do the opposite because fear of the unknown is a safer space.

The powerful and uplifting feeling of saying yes and no in the right times is key in my opinion. It can be incredibly uncomfortable especially when you know you’re letting someone down but when you finally do something positive for yourself for a change, those people get on board with it eventually. Not to mention, if these people truly care about you and your wellbeing, they’ll either understand or move on to the next person who lets them use them. You have to stick to your guns. Shutting out all sources of negativity helps you get through those dark seasons. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable saying yes to positive opportunities that could let some good in but it also brings in sources of light in for future seasons. Which is a good thing! Being able to say yes and no in the right times gives you the opportunity to take control back on your life.

motivational quotes
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Stop comparing yourself.

I still struggle with this all the time. I will not sit here and lie to you about that. One of the number one thief’s of joy is comparing yourself to other people. People who are prettier than we are, funnier than we are, have things we don’t have, do things we can’t do, have more money, drive a fancy car, have a bangin’ body, have more success, go on vacations..you get the idea. You already know what I am talking about it. We are all guilty of doing this at some point or another. It is so bad for us yet we do it all the time. But why? Is it because we aren’t satisfied with what we have? Is it because we want more but aren’t motivated enough to do anything about it? It probably has a lot to do with social media these days if you ask me. Everyone’s lives appear so perfect when you only see their highlight reel. Proverbs 4:23 says ” Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” If we applied this daily, we would stop stealing our own joy from ourselves. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and wanting what they have, it makes us lose our sense of self and who God made us to be. Remember, God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given. It’s not about what you have or you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you have that’s important.

Stop complaining.

I seriously wish I could go back in time and kick my younger, childish self in the rear end..all thanks to Facebook memories and TimeHop. I didn’t realize how negative and whiny I was until this cute little feature became available. I wish I knew how complaining would get me no where. It just drug out a super long and super sad process of nothingness. Instead, I wish I would have thought of it as what kind of lesson God was trying to teach me or tried practicing being grateful for what I did have over what I didn’t. I catch myself a lot these days falling into old patterns where I focus on everything that’s going wrong. This step is hard but if you practice on even the tiniest things that make you happy and how many of them there actually are, it gets easier to stop focusing on all the negative. Trust the process and remember not to beat yourself up about it.

Discover your why.

Finding your why gives you reason for everything. So I’ll cut straight to the chase here…my children saved me. That’s not to say the family or friends I have or my husband didn’t, they did but only to a certain extent. Those people gave me meaning to keep going but my children gave me my purpose to keep living.

My mother’s mom, whom I never met, left my mom when she was six years old. She chose to be selfish and do…whatever she did after she left without ever looking back or questioning her decision. Even when my mom tried to give her the opportunity to meet my brother and I when we were born, she wasn’t interested.

When everything happened with my mother, I couldn’t help but blame this person who I should have been able to call my grandmother. It’s like she set up this really screwed up domino effect. After my mother passed away, there I was, the next domino in line. It only made sense that I would be broken since the two generations of women who I should have been able to admire and learn from were both quitters.

And then I had my babies. I thought I knew love when I said I do, I thought I knew love when I had positive pregnancy tests, I thought I knew love when I felt their little flutters in my tummy..but it wasn’t until they laid them on my chest and I got to look in their eyes and see what my purpose in life was. My girls. My husband and I reconnected on a level like we hadn’t in a long time and it has been so beautiful and life altering. We both needed them more than they think need us.

They’re my why. They’re my reason for everything. For standing up every time I fall, for pushing through all the hard times, for bettering myself mind and body, for working to be successful with my businesses and for fighting my anxiety and depression like my life depends on it. Because it does matter. I matter. I never want my girls to know the kind of hurt I’ve felt. I never want them to know what it’s like to have a mama who gave up on them. It stops with me. I’m worth it and you are too.