Resolution Progress | February 2014

It's resolution check-in time.

I am owning these resolutions big time.

(Okay, maybe two of the three...) 

But still. Owning them. 

As a recap, here were my 2014 New Year's Resolutions:

1) Plan out my meals on Saturdays, shop on Sundays and be prepared with cooked meals Monday - Friday. Of said meals, ALL ingredients need to be free of artificial ingredients. No compromises, for reals. My grocery bill may be higher, but my insides will be happier. 

2) Go to the gym after school three days a week. Get 5 minutes of cardio in every day (walk, jumping jacks, jog around the block). I really, really, really need to get moving. 

3) Not use a single credit card for 2014. Not once. Not for perks, not a store card, not for discounts, nothing. Zip. Nada. No bueno. Credit cards are very sneaky little tools that make you think you're getting a lot, but instead are life suckers when they send their bills and after 10 years of owning them, I'd rather just pay cash for everything now, thankyouverymuch. 

Resolution #1 progress: Winning. 

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love meal planning and grocery shopping now. Truly, my eating habits have been revitalized and we literally never go out to eat. Never.

We didn't even go out to eat on Valentine's Day which is basically our go-to date day each year. 

So often, even on Friday nights, I feel like, "I can actually make some pretty great stuff. Why would I want to pay $50 to eat out when I can do it myself?" Also, I adore shopping at New Seasons. It's basically like the spa. 

Something I've realized has really impacted our eating-at-home habits is the fact that I pretentiously toot my own horn at calling myself a foodie. Whether I actually am or not is another story, but one thing I know for sure is that I love food and I love natural, organic, flavorful food even more. I also love feeling like I'm having a fancy meal in the comfort of my very own home. If I am not invested in what I'm cooking, I'm going to find every excuse in the book to get take-out or go out to eat instead of eating that boring, blah meal I'm trying to cut corners with. So, I pretend like I am having a fancy sit-down meal that I would normally pay $$$ for and instead pay -$ for. 

There are a couple of venues that thrill me with my weekly meal planning: Pinterest and Pinch of Yum. I loooooove digging into my Pinboard and picking what I'm going to cook for the week. Then, I only write down the ingredients for those recipes, what Emma/Timothy/I need for breakfasts and lunches and that's it. A bad habit I used to get in was, "Well it's on sale so I totally should get it!" But then it would go bad, I'd forget about it or I'd never use it. I am super strict with sticking to my grocery list when I'm shopping unless there is an extremely good reason to veer from it. 

I was a little bit shocked with the fact that my grocery bill became wayyy higher overnight than in the past, but I also think this is because we were eating out far more frequently than we thought we were which was taking away from my grocery budget bill. I would say that, on average, Timothy, Emma and I spend $10 per person, per day on our meals. Total. Plus, they are all natural, organic, un-processed and balanced. $3.33 per meal for organic, whole and natural ain't bad. 

I am loving resolution #1 beyond measure. Why didn't I do this sooner. 

Resolution #2: Fail. 

So... I cancelled my gym membership. That's right, I'm that girl. 

(Sorry Colleen.)

But, maybe the fact that I am Sherwood Middle School's newest assistant track coach makes up for the fact that I can no longer go to the gym and instead I'm going to be working out 4 times a week after school with our kids. Maybe that buys me some points in the get-fit direction... but... I failed at the gym. I even fail at walking the dog because I basically hate the cold and lately the cold has been getting on my nerves so I don't participate with it. 

I walk around my classroom all day long and my pedometer logs like 10,000 steps a day. Doesn't that count for something?!? 

Resolution #3: Owning this bad boy.

I've used a credit card like twice since December 31st. Once when I changed purses and forgot my debit card and then paid it off right away, and once when I accidentally selected the wrong card on Amazon. And then paid it off. 

Not spending any $$$ on a credit card is amazing!!!!! So freeing. Also, I secretly hate Gap and Pottery Barn's stupidly tempting me with 40% off emails that make me question this whole resolution thing altogether because I want what they're offering. But my self-control kicks in and I realize that I have cool stuff and love my home and my wardrobe doesn't need the newest spring chambray top. {Or at least that's what I tell myself...}

I hate credit cards and I don't care how many stupid perks you offer me Visa/Mastercard/American Express because I am not cool enough to take advantage of your rewards. Stop bribing me Visa with your free airfare and your cash back bonuses and your gift certificates!!! Maybe someday I will be mature enough to manipulate all the offers and laugh all the way to the bank, but right now I am just a simplistically-minded average girl who hates credit cards and will get rid of them completely by the end of 2014. 

{And that means you, Gap and Pottery Barn!!!} 

So friends. New Years Resolutions can work and basically I am loving these intentional changes in 2014. 


What real love looks like.

This blog has been stirring on my heart for quite some time as lately I have been taking a step back and examining my marriage and my husband. Because I am so. happy. 

Happiness is not an intent in marriage but a fruit and a gift; a joy unparalleled by anything the world can offer in and of itself. I have been happy about 5 million times in my life by various experiences, but the happiness and joy I experience when I come home from work and am enveloped for brief moments in my husband's arms is unlike anything I've ever experienced. 

The kind of peace and joy I feel when we're sitting together on the couch, hands intertwined, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. The kind of intimacy we share when we talk in the car on a drive alone together, just the two of us. This is pure joy in my life at its finest. 

This is what I dreamt about in marriage. This unadulterated type of trust and companionship that tells me that I am my beloved's and he is mine. Timothy and I have been married nearly four years and we have finally reached this point after three bumpy and humbling years together. 

Because see, we were unfair to one another in our early years. Our expectations for what marriage should look like, for what my husband and his wife should look like took precedence over being refined and shaped into who God wanted us to be in our marriage to ultimately glorify him. We had to navigate through disappointments, frustrations, pride and anger in our first years to realize the truth: Who we are together glorifies our Father God Most High. 

Timothy and I both had our ideas on who we though each other should be when we first got married and this led to a lot of heartache for many months on end. There is nothing more painful than feeling like a disappointment to your spouse, and there is nothing more detrimental than digging your heels in and putting yourself first. 

What I have learned that real love looks like is being married to a spouse who is willing to become better for you. Who is willing to put you first, who hears you and responds accordingly, who knows you and seeks to continue knowing you, who chooses you and who loves you in spite of your self. What real love looks like is commitment. Real love looks like wanting to give of yourself until you are dry and have nothing else to give; desiring to bless even when you feel empty and wanting to sacrifice your needs because you love deeply. 

Real love looks like a spouse who never gives up

Who never abandons you when you need them most, even when you might push them so far away you wonder if they'll ever return. 

Real love is someone who doesn't decide they "don't love you anymore," or "they met someone else," or "things just aren't working out."

Real love looks like a spouse who fights for you; for your marriage; for your family. 

The reason I delight so much in who we are now, after four years of marriage, is that I know that I am married to someone who will never give up on us and who will know me through all of my days. In our early days I didn't know what our marriage would be like and often doubted whether or not I had married the "right person" for me. 

My friends, never let yourself get caught in that lie. 

Delight in who God has chosen for you, and when you surrender your everything to him; your heart, your marriage, your desires, your hopes and fears, He will be faithful to you. 

We are living our real love every day together-- in big and small moments-- and I don't need an anniversary reflection or a holiday to remind me that I am the luckiest girl on the planet for having the husband that I do. My perfect mate who my love grows infinitely for every single day through forever. 


10 Signs You Should Invest in Travel

Maybe, just maybe, if you're anything like me you have a creeping desire for wanderlust. As much as travel seems to be an ever-elusive expenditure, it can really become an intentional line item on your monthly budget planning with just a little commitment and follow-through on your part.

It's time to stop pinning and start planning. Here are ten signs that you should start investing in travel. 

1. You have a monthly subscription to a travel magazine.
(Travel + Leisure, Budget Travel, or even some spam mailer that somehow finds its way to your mailbox month after month. And you don't throw it away instantly...)

2. Your Pinterest travel Pinboard is filled with wishes and dreams to exotic places planned for "whenever you get money."

3. You get just a little bit jealous when that traveling friend of yours informs you she's going on another trip to California/Hawaii/Italy/New York/the beach.

4. Your screensaver at work is plastered with rotating pictures of France, Italy, the ocean or any other vacation destination. 

5. You stare longingly and wipe the drool from your mouth when you're watching Downton Abbey and the repetitive commercials advertising "Viking River Cruises" in Europe come on TV. 

6. You fondly remember "that one trip" you took which was so epic/memorable/awe-inspiring/incredible back when you were growing up and flip through photo albums as often as you can to reminisce. 

7. Your favorite movies tend to be ones set in European cities, like Life is Beautiful, Amelie, Midnight in Paris, and Love Actually. 

8. Your savings account is looking for something to spend itself on. 

9. "French Jazz Music" is a station on your Pandora. 

10. Your favorite class in college was Cultural Anthropology. 

(This list may or may not have been inspired by personal details.) 


Spring Break 2k14

It's that time of year again!

Travel planning 2k14. 

(Also known as my favorite thing to spend money on and my favorite thing in life besides God, my husband, my family and teaching. And photography. And eating. And coffee. 

Okay there are a lot of things I love, but travel is definitely tops.)

The theme of 2014 is intentional spending. As in, how we spend our money has to be in the best way, for the best things ("best" is relative to different people) and not be  on things that are cluttery and non-essential. Intentional spending permeates our food budget, our clothing budget, how we shop at Target, how we shop in general, how we think about travel and what we choose to spend in our daily lives. Do I reaaallllyyy need another pair of boots? No. 

Do I reeeealllllyyyy need a rain jacket for track season? YES. 

Would I rather go out to eat or would I rather buy organic, free range chicken and fresh bucatini noodles from New Seasons? 

Should we drive down to California to cruise and spend money on gas / tips / taxes / hotel stays or should we splurge locally and explore our home state in luxury?

The latter of all, please. 


Every single spring break, we need to get away. 

I don't care where, I don't care how. Just need to. 

This year, we exhausted our options to spend our budget the best way that we could and for the best purposes. We considered a cruise to Mexico, a cruise to the Caribbean, a trip to Washington DC, a trip to Mexico, a trip to Zion National Park, and so many things in-between. You know what was the glaring, awful, frustrating factor in all of our considerations? Travel costs.

Spring break travel costs are the highest of any other time (barring Christmas I think). It's ridiculous. Everyone flees and airlines + hotels jack up their prices. So, even though we do get spring break off (and trust me, I'm not complaining), the prices that we would be charged are through the roof. (For example, $900 to fly to Houston, Miami or Orlando per person; $500 to fly to Los Angeles. Per. Person). 

So, instead of cave and increase our budget or have a small vacation and spend the rest on gas, we're eliminating the transportation cost and "exploring our hometown." We're getting away in the sense that we're staying in hotels, but we're also indulging in things we have the ability to indulge in during this season of our lives. I am thrilled, excited, and sooooooo looking forward to what spring break 2014 will look like because it will be a whole lot of relaxation and barely any driving. Hallelujah. 

Willamette Valley Food + Wine Tour
1. 2 nights at The Allison Inn and Spa
2. Dinner at The Painted Lady
3. Brunch at Jory
5. Wine tasting at Sokol Blosser, Soter, and any new places The Allison sends us
6. Lunch at Nick's

Bonfires + Beach Escape

2. Breakfast at Bread & Ocean Bakery
3. Dinner at Big Wave Cafe
4. Cooking a 3 course meal in our gorgeous granite kitchen
5. Driving up to our favorite restaurant in Gearhart, the Pacific Way Cafe
6. Lunch at Mo's?
7. Whatever else intrigues us as we relax on the water

City Exploration

1. 2 nights at Hotel Monaco
2. Two words: Food. Carts. 
3. Finally taking the OHSU tram like we've wanted to do forever
4. Breakfast at Stepping Stone-- where we had our first date
5. Re-visit Waffle Window!
6. Dinner at Piazza Italia (of course)
7. A long-anticipated visit to Cacao
8. Stroll, saunter and cruise through downtown streets visiting places we've never seen before. 

Spring break 2014 is allowing us to live like tourists in our own state without wasting money on transportation. I'm soooo looking forward to it, especially for the fact that I get to be on vacation. 

(Why not just stay in our home and then travel around each day? Because when you're on vacation you don't have to do laundry, dishes or cook.) :) 


I made my own cleaning supplies today. WHAT.

So I mayyyyy have become kind of a hippie. And by hippie I mean conscious-about-how-I-clean-my-home.

Never in a million years did I think I would ever be making my own cleaning supplies. But ya know what? I'm so glad I am. I'm wondering to myself how I never knew or thought to make my own supplies for a number of reasons. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that I started thinking about the toxins in my beauty supplies and body wash products but only recently thought about my cleaning supplies.

I think a lot of it was that I was just uninformed. I grew up thinking the Clorox wipes and scrubbing bubbles were the only things that could clean mildew and sanitize bathrooms and counter tops from bacteria and viruses. I never took the time to research what those products were, and most importantly, their potential harmful effects on our bodies and long-term health. (I won't get into the details here, but check out Mary Crimmin's blog because she has done a whole ton of research.

If I am extremely conscious about what I put into my body (as in, if there's preservatives, if anything is synthetic or if I don't know what that word or ingredient is, I won't eat it), then why wouldn't I be as conscious with what I'm breathing in or putting onto my skin?

While my vanity and bathroom drawers are still a work in progress (I try to buy conventional cleaning products that are free & clear, sulfate free, paraben free, all natural, etc., but they still have issues with them...) I'm thrilled at the everyday, all-natural cleaning products that I created myself today that cost me just around $13. (And I still have TONS of the supplies left over-- I think it will last me close to a year!)

Here's a run-down of what I bought today, and a cost-comparison of the price of conventional products:

DIY Cleaning Supplies

Bulk baking soda - $2.99 for 1.5 lbs at New Seasons
16 ounces of white vinegar - $1.99 at New Seasons
1 gallon of distilled water - $.89 at Safeway
16 ounces of rubbing alcohol - $2.29 at Walgreens
4 ounces of organic lemon juice - $4.99 at Safeway
doTERRA essential oils - (optional-- but a huge benefit $21.00 per 15ml bottle of lavender + lemon)

Conventional Cleaning Products

$4.49 - Pledge dusting spray
$4.79 - Windex window cleaner
$4.99 - All purpose cleaning spray
$2.99 - Glade room freshener

This is me "de-toxifying our under-the-kitchen-sink stash of cleaning supplies:

Basically all I needed today. White vinegar, distilled water, baking soda and some of my favorite doTERRA essential oils (lavender and lemon).

(I'll talk more in an upcoming post about why I love essential oils so much, but some of their benefits are that they're naturally occurring phytochemicals, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial and penetrate deep into the cellular level. Not only are they great for natural cleaning, but they also benefit emotional and physical wellness. You can read more here if you're interested. I use doTERRA because they are the purest essential oils on the market and are way stronger than even the best I've smelled and used at Whole Foods.)

So I stumbled across the recipes for which cleaning products I was going to make today on the website "Thank Your Body." Through their website, the author has created a book called "Toxic Free" and lists 70+ recipes for DIY non-toxic and all natural cleaning, health and beauty products for everyday living. Right now she is offering "name your own price" on her e-book and I HIGHLY recommend it! Some of the recipes I'll be sharing came from her eBook and it is really well written. Definitely check it out. 

Recipe #1: All-Purpose Lemon Cleanser
(Taken from

1 cup warm distilled water
1 cup white vinegar
4 Tbs. organic lemon juice
30 drops essential oil of choice (good options are lemon, orange or tea tree oil which are best for cleaning. I chose lemon).

Fill a glass spray bottle with ingredients and shake well. (I bought my glass bottles here.) 

I mixed the water and vinegar into one measuring cup

(I'm going to be exposing my dirty house to you, just so you can see the awesomeness of these DIY cleaning products in case you are skeptical...)

Dirty stove-top range + burners:

(I know. GROSS.)

Now... after being cleaned with the above cleanser:

(And this was just with one spray and wipe. After a little more elbow grease they were shiny-spankin-new!)

Clean microwave (was super-greasy but I forgot to take a pic...)

Recipe #2: Air Freshener
(Taken from

Distilled water (I filled mine in a 12 ounce glass bottle)
1 Tbs. baking powder
5 - 10 drops of essential oil of choice (I chose grapefruit)

Directions: Mix baking powder and essential oils together in small dish. Fill glass bottle with distilled water and then pour baking powder mix inside. Shake well, then spray in rooms for a pick-up scent, or to deodorize furniture and carpets. 

After I made this I sprayed it on our couch and in our bathrooms and it smelled sooooo good! I think it would also smell great with lemon or lavender as well, but really any scent that you prefer would work. 

Recipe #3: Glass cleaner
(Taken from

2 cups distilled water
2 tsp. corn starch
1/4 cup isopropyl rubbing alcohol
1/4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions: Mix everything in a spray bottle and shake before use.

My disgusting glass door. Thank you Zeke. 

...but it's so clean now!!

Recipe #4: Dusting spray
(Taken from

1 cup distilled water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
10 - 15 drops lemon essential oil

Directions: Mix everything together in a spray bottle and shake before use. 

My very dusty dresser...

...but not anymore!!

Recipe #6: Mattress Cleaner (for dust-mites)

1 cup baking soda (for queen size bed-- can adjust based on bed size)
15 drops of Lavender essential oil
Mason jar

Directions: Mix baking soda and lavender oil in mason jar and shake vigorously. Pour mason jar into sifter once over mattress and disperse evenly over the entire mattress when it is stripped of all sheets and blankets. Let sit for at least one hour (but the longer the better) and then vacuum up with vacuum hose to clear.

I did not take a photo of it, but let's just say my mattress is smelling incredibly fresh right now and I'm excited to see how well I sleep with the lavender scent tonight!

My beautiful new under-the-sink collection. I'm proud. :)

Overall, DIY cleaning for me was an easy and natural adjustment. Not only for the health reasons, but it is SO much cheaper than buying store-bought cleaners. Just invest in some glass jars you can use and re-use over again ( has really affordable bottles-- I bought four 16 ounce ones, a 12 ounce and then two rollers because I am going to create my own perfume later on...)

Just in case you are wondering, here are the cleaning benefits of the ingredients used today:

1. Baking soda
2. White vinegar
3. Essential oils
4. Rubbing alcohol 
5. Lemon juice

I'm interested to know what other DIY home, beauty or cleaning products you make yourself using all-natural ingredients. Comment below to share the wealth! 


Thoughts from a {still} grieving heart.

Every year I write a blog post on the anniversary of my mom and brother's death. 

I don't do it so much for anyone else, but for myself, because it's just something I need to do. I need to be able to take the time and feel it, and writing is my therapy. 

It's also incredibly healing for me to get to read back, year after year, and see how my emotions have changed and my healing as grown and progressed since the beginning-- from where I once was to where I am now. 

But I really, really struggle with this day. I go through this day waiting for it to be over so I don't have to re-live the painful memories of the events that unfolded over the next 24 hours from the 3:37 PM accident on February 15th, 2006.

It's unfair that the anniversary is the day after Valentine's Day because I can never really fully enjoy Valentine's Day as February 15th whispers to me around the corner. And not just February 15th, but February 16th as well. February 15th was when my mom died; February 16th was when we said goodbye to Chase. 

I think if anyone has ever lost anyone-- especially suddenly and unexpectedly-- the denial lasts for so long. I'm still in denial. The shock doesn't really wear off, if ever. It's been eight years since they passed away and I'm still in disbelief. I can go about my day being happy and enjoying life, not suffering from any type of depression, but that stinging pain when the realization hits me multiple times a week of what happened to them is still enough to stop me in my tracks. 

I still wrestle with feeling like it was and is so unfair. I was only 21 years old; I needed a mom. Brittany needed a mom. Taylor needed a mom. Steve needed his wife and child. My mom never got to meet her five grandchildren, never got to meet Ryan or Timothy or Taylor's first girlfriend. Chase never got to move beyond the fifth grade. WHY us?

My mom wasn't there for me when I graduated college; when I decided to become a teacher; when I met Timothy and we got married; when I got my first teaching job; When I went through difficult personal trials that I needed her for.

 Some may say, "But she was looking down on you from heaven," but that doesn't help me because she was not physically here for me. What I've been left with is her legacy, strong and sure and true. My mom's legacy has formed me into who I am and how I live my life, but at the same time she's still not here living it. Nothing can change that. 

The beauty in all of that though, is that I know my God, the God who loves us, the God of all creation who formed me and my family with a loving and perfect plan in mind, had bigger purposes for it that I know I cannot see this side of eternity. I know this, and I believe this. And I've said so many times before that where her absence in my life was and is, God has filled with so many other women to take me under their wings and mentor me and help guide me as I navigate life without my mom. 

I still drive down the road, on a weekly basis, and subconsciously reach for my phone to call my mom. Eight years later and she is the first person I want to go to for help; she is the first person I want to go to when something good happens to me or I want her to share in the joy of a life accomplishment. A proverbial wall hits me and I have to take a really, really deep breath when I remember that I can't. 

I've stopped crying as much which I think is a good thing. For years, when I would  watch home movies, find letters my mom wrote me discovered in hidden boxes, hear Mercy Me's song, "I can only imagine" or Phillips Craig and Dean's song "Praise you in this storm" when they came on the radio, I would cry and cry and cry with an awful ache of loneliness. A cry I've never cried for anyone or anything before. Those tears now have all but dried up and I'm able to look on my collection of items with thankfulness that they exist. I try to grasp on tightly to her, but year after year requires me to loosen my grip ever so slightly so that I can breathe. 

I don't think anyone or anything in this world can prepare you for sudden loss, and I know with absolute certainty that the only thing that protected me from the depths of despair, from a crippling sense of anger and depression from what happened, was God literally running to me and grabbing me tightly. THAT is what makes me cry now. God's mercy and grace towards me in what was the loneliest and most difficult year of my life kept me from getting on prescription drugs and abusing alcohol. Because I was tempted. SO tempted to numb the hurt and the overwhelming amount of inadequacy I felt going forward with my life alone as a young girl. 

I never once took a prescription drug for anxiety or depression. I know they exist for people and I know they can help people, but for me, I was tempted to use them as an escape and God knew I needed more than that. I needed to be loved and protected. He knew what I needed more than I knew myself. I never drank alcohol or got drunk as an escape either. I refused to go down that road because I knew God was bigger than my fears and perceived isolation. 

You see, while I don't know why this had to happen to us, I know that I would not be who I am today if my mom and Chase hadn't died in that accident. There's no way. 

At that point in my life, I knew God existed, but I didn't know Him. I grew up in church and private schools, I called him my Savior, and I don't think that I even knew that I didn't know Him. I think I believed that because of all the Bible verses I memorized and the Christian songs I sang growing up that I was a strong Christian because I knew what being a strong Christian looked like. But I wasn't. I was small and self-centered and Jesus was not the Lord and King of my life because it only took one mistake to spiral me down a path far away from Him until He rescued me on February 15th, 2006. 

I wouldn't say that I'm thankful that this happened because I still miss my mom and Chase every single day of my life. I've also learned that time doesn't heal all wounds. Time helps minimize the reality of that absence, but it doesn't heal. Jesus heals all wounds. What I'm thankful for is that through this trial of my life and through this loss my family has experienced, God has done exceedingly above all I could ask or think for us. God's love has shown me that if I trust Him, He will be faithful to me. 

God is the one who brought my husband into my life. God is the one who allowed me to go to an amazing Christian college, whose empathy on my circumstances allowed me to graduate later with no penalty while I healed. God is the one who has brought countless women and friends into my life that have helped to restore wholeness to who I am. God is the one who has provided financial means for my husband and I to travel, buy a home, live a good life, and be able to bless others. Every good and perfect thing I have in my life has come from God and is directly connected to my changed life after February 15th, 2006. 

February 15th, 2006 was when I lost my mom and brother, but February 15th, 2006 was the day I was saved. 


Valentines Day: Then and Now

Some girls get chocolates and roses for Valentine's Day, some girls get love letters and cards expressing gratitude and appreciation, but being married to T. Love provides me with unique cards year after year that were recently uncovered this evening during a trip down memory lane...


This was when we were dating...


(First year of marriage. Also the year he had his students make me a Valentine's Day card because he was too busy...)

And also... the romantic letter I wanted for Valentine's Day that we don't speak of...




We also found these gems:

Timothy's chart before we got engaged on why we would "work," and the engagement ring he promised he would buy me...

Timothy's proposal speech (though reading back now I'm not sure I would have been flattered being called "frail and broken" during my proposal...) ;)

What can I say? I'm a lucky, lucky girl. 

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