Weekend Recap: Thanksgiving and Time with Family

Monday, November 30, 2015

Darrell-Dillon-Lawton Crew on Thanksgiving!
What a fun Thanksgiving we had in Maryland with my family!! Byron and I were talking about the weekend on our drive home yesterday and said how fast it went. Never enough time with them.

Our break started at (the butt crack of) dawn Thursday morning when we left to go to Maryland. We got in around 8:30am so we missed any and all traffic. (Bam!) When we got to my parents house we immediately started eating lots and lots of good food, starting with a cheese platter from Chester River Wine & Cheese Co. (Yum!) All of the boys played football while my sister, mom and I chatted and kept the kitchen rocking.

Of course I made sure to get our "Mandatory Family Fun" picture in. We took it first thing in the morning, before my brothers got all sweaty and nasty playing football. (Not my first rodeo.) Everyone was a good sport about it - and we got in finished in three takes! (I think the guys all secretly liked it!)

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out, shopping and playing lots of card games. My family loves having family game nights where we play anything from "War" to "Texas Holdem." My brothers are getting old enough now so we can start teaching them the basics of poker. Watch out!

Now on to another busy week! 

BSF Lesson 10: Praise. Worship. Prayer.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Scripture Memory Verse - Revelation 4:11 (NIV)
Picture from She Reads Truth
Day One
How did the lecture impact your relationship with God?
Last week my big takeaway from the lesson and lecture was praising God. This next lecture touched on that again. One of the principles of the lecture was, "Almighty God is at the center of all reality." Our teaching leader who gives the lectures then asked -

-  Are you getting sidetracked by the pretty things in the word?
-  Would you describe praising God as a vital part of your life?
-  Based on the choices made this week, what does your life say about your worship?

After everything He's done, is doing and will do for me in my life, God deserves so much more from me. God wants more of a relationship with me and wants to be a vital part of my life and I, in return, need to show Him that He is worthy of my praise.

What was meaningful to you in the notes and how could you apply it?
The notes really made me stop and ask myself how much I'm showing others what I believe.
Most people live with little thought about God. Daily life, family, work and countless other things capture our thoughts and attention, and they seem more real that a God we cannot see.
Because the distraction of what is visible or tangle, the impact of God's presence can seem small.... 
This is the perfect time of year to spread God's word and show others God's love and what I believe!

Day Six
What have you learned about Jesus in this week's study?
This week's study we looked at John's vision of the Throne of God. We talked about Jesus, the Lamb of God, in the Throne room and Revelation 5:8 says, "the four creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people."

I often wondered what happened to my prayer and Revelation 5:8 gave me a picture of that. I picture the living creatures, elders and Jesus all praying over my prayers! Wow!

If you're interested in signing up for BSF, go here to find a class near you!

{Please note that what I got from this lesson is not necessarily the same as what others did. People can get very different takeaways from the scripture and questions based on prior knowledge, life situations, faith, etc.}

Funny Friday: Adele & Black Friday

Friday, November 27, 2015

Guys this SNL skit is the funniest! One of my new favorites.

Good luck and God speed out there today! Remember to be kind, patient and courteous

We're just laying low, because we did most of our Black Friday shopping online.
Might venture out later.
Don't forget to use Ebates if you're shopping online!


What I'm Thankful For

Thursday, November 26, 2015

1. {God} I'm thankful for understanding who I need to thank for everything I have. His many blessings, grace, love and mercy. I'm thankful for BSF helping me to grow in my faith.

2.  {Byron} This guy right here! I'm so thankful for him because, man he puts up with all me. My quirks. My shenanigans. My (hilarious) jokes. My hangry(ness). My sleep-talking.

He's the most amazing husband, friend and partner-in-crime and I'm blessed to be his wife. (Love you boo!)

3. {The Darrell and Lawton Families} Byron and I both come from incredible families (if I do say so myself.) We both grew up in loving homes without a care in the world. Our parents supported us in everything and are still the first ones we go to.  We've had wonderful role models in our our siblings and their spouses and hope to pass that along. Thanks you guys - you're the best!

My family at Leigh and Eddie's wedding last year. 

4. {My Job} I could go on and on about my job. You spend so much time at work and with your co-workers, if it sucks then you're a S.O.L. Not to brag, but I don't have that problem. The teachers, students and parents I work with all make me so happy to go to school every morning. Yes, I'm exhausted by 3pm, but every minute is worth it. I'm so thankful for my school and everyone there and I know how spoiled I am to have such a supportive community.

Our students thanking their fans at Special Olympics last year.
Of course there's a thousand other things I'm thankful for - too many to count! I hope everyone enjoys this Thanksgiving and time with family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fitness Trackers

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One of the latest crazes in fitness this year has been fitness trackers. They measure and keep track of your distance walked or run, calorie consumption/ calorie burn, heartbeat, quality of sleep, etc. There are so many devices and apps to chose from, but luckily I found this awesome article the other day on Women'sHealth about a side-by-side comparison on seven fitness trackers. If you're thinking about buying one for yourself or someone else for the holidays- check out their comparisons.

Why use a fitness tracker?
The American Journal of Preventative Medicine says people who keep logs are the most successful at reaching their fitness goals. Fitness trackers also provide feedback in real time - keeping us on track and letting us see what areas we need to improve on.

If you're thinking about buying one online, check out my post about Ebates and how you can earn cash back on you purchase!

Photo Cred: Women'sHealth

How to be the Thanksgiving Hostess with the Mostess

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year - just family but whew! It's a lot of prep, organizing, brainstorming and shopping! This year I'm going to Maryland so I won't be hosting, but for those of you who are, here are my Top 10 Thanksgiving Pinterest boards to follow for some inspiration.

Style Me Pretty
These boards hit everything you need to host an amazing Thanksgiving this year {recipes, decorating, DIY, projects, ideas, etc.}

{Number One} Sally Earwood - Savor the Season

{Number Two} Aileen Allen // At Home in Love - Fall

{Number Three} Megan // Honey We're Home - Thanksgiving and Fall

{Number Four} Hostess with the Mostess - Thanksgiving Party Ideas!

{Number Five} Pottery Barn - PB Family Thanksgiving and Give Thanks!

{Number Six} Love Grows Wild - Thanksgiving

{Number Seven} Reluctant Entertainer | Sandy Fall Entertaining & Recipes and 

{Number Eight} Jennifer Collier | Gray Monroe - HOLIDAYS: Thanksgiving

{Number Nine} Emily A. Clark - Fall Decorating Ideas

{Number Ten} Tori Tait :: Thoughtfully Simple - Thanksgiving Ideas

Here's my It's Fall Y'all Pinterest board for extra inspiration!

I told you yesterday I had a fun surprise for my family this year. Drum roll please . . 
Thanksgiving photo booth props! It's going to be (mandatory family) fun!! 
I'll let y'all know how it turns out.

 I hope these boards give you lots or inspiration for you Thanksgiving!
Happy Pinning!

Our Thanksgiving Menu!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving is only three days away - ahh I can't wait! We're going to Maryland to spend the holiday with my family. I have a fun surprise for them - stay tuned tomorrow to find out what it is!

I thought it'd be fun to share what we have every year for Thanksgiving. There's the traditional Thanksgiving feast and then there's every families take and spin on those tasty treats.

Here's what we'll be giving thanks to in Maryland -

My Dad always brines the turkey overnight then gets it roasting the morning of. Brining makes the turkey juicier, moister and therefore, tastier! If you've never tried it before, you're missing out! Check out Martha Stewart and Tasting Table for more info.

How to Brine a Turkey - Martha Stewart
Brining Basics - Tasting Table

We make our gravy from scratch from the turkey stock. Yum! Check out Guy Fieri's recipe - it's really close to what we do.

Turkey Stock and Amazing Gravy - Guy Fieri

Turkey Stock and Amazing Gravy - Guy Fieri

Stuffing vs Dressing
I (embarrassingly) just learned that it's called "stuffing" if it's cooked in the bird and "dressing" if it's cooked in a casserole dish. Thanks Mom for telling me! Until now, I've been using whichever comes to mind.

With that being said, we make dressing using one of my Nana's old recipes.

Here's one to check out - Dressing/ Stuffing - The Pioneer Woman

Dressing/ Stuffing - The Pioneer Woman

Sweet Potato Casserole
Growing up, the only way I'd eat sweet potato casserole is if it was absolutely covered in marshmallows. Now that I'm much more sophisticated :), I like it with a pecan crumble topping. I'm spoiled, I know.

Check out Pinch of Yum's Pecan Crumble for your sweet potato casserole!

Pinch of Yum Pecan Crumble
Sweet Potato Rolls 
This is one of my Grandmother's recipes. I made them for the first time last year when we hosted Thanksgiving at our house in NC. They weren't as hard as I thought they'd be to make. If you've never had them before, once again I say, "You're missing out!"

Check out oh, sweet basil's sweet potato rolls recipe, because I can't give you mine. Sorry folks, that's my Grandma's!

Sweet Potato Rolls - oh sweet basil
Green Bean Casserole
Because you need a veggie at the table! Nothing special here, we just use the recipe on the back of the French's Fried Onion container. French's calls it, "The Essential Holiday Casserole!"

Green Bean Casserole - French's 

French's Green Bean Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
This is one of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving. I put cranberry sauce on almost everything.

I'm really basic when it comes to cranberries. In the past, we've tried making fancy versions, but let's be honest. Nothing compares to the Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce.

Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate Pie
Another one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving - DESSERT.  Dessert is spelled with two "S's" because you always go back for seconds!

We always have a traditional pumpkin pie, but apparently this year my little brother has requested we have a chocolate pie of some sort as well. (That's why he's one of my favorite people.) I'm hoping I'll be put in charge of the desserts - that's what I like to make!

True story - I made Alton Brown's pumpkin pie recipe one Thanksgiving for my Dad. He had been watching a lot of Food Network that year and (I think) had a man crush on Alton. (Hi Dad!) Anyways, the pie was all finished, ready to come out of the oven and cool. My mom took it out of the oven for me, somehow tripped and dropped it! So here's to your pie being perfect and edible!

Pumpkin Pie - Alton Brown

Pumpkin Pie - Alton Brown
This makes me so hungry - I just need to hang in there a few more days!

BSF Lesson 9: Praise God

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Scripture Memory Verse - Daniel 7:18 (NIV)
"But the holy people of the Most high will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever - yes, for ever and ever."
Day One
What was meaningful to you in the lecture?
One of the principles from our lecture was, "Resolve to remain true to god, no matter what the circumstances may be." For some people, it's easy to just pray to God when they really need something. For others, they praise God and pray daily, but when something goes bad, they question God and turn away from Him. We need to love and praise God in any circumstance and for everything. Resolving to remain true to God, no matter what the circumstance may be, proves your love to Him.

Day Six
What is the most challenging or inspiring thing you learned about God this week?
Going along with what I learned from the lecture, I was challenged by the study this week to praise God constantly and consistently and live a God centered life. I should be turning to God first, no matter what.

If you're interested in signing up for BSF, go here to find a class near you!

{Please note that what I got from this lesson is not necessarily the same as what others did. People can get very different takeaways from the scripture and questions based on prior knowledge, life situations, faith, etc.}

Funny Friday: Leggings Aren't Pants

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Great Legging Debate is really funny to me. I love them, but always make sure my bootay is covered. I think it's silly when girls wear those cheap leggings that are see-through and I can see their underwear. Nope. Not okay. Cover. Your. Bootay.


Things I Love: Ebates

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Where it pays to shop online. 
Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, I thought I'd share Ebates - my favorite way to earn cash back when shopping online. If I try to describe it to you, you're going to say it's too good to be true. But I promise - there are no strings attached.

After signing up for an account it's really simple to use. Let's say you want to shop online at Target. In the search bar type in "Target." In the search results you'll see Target is offering 2% cash back through Ebates plus free shipping on orders $50+. Click on the "Shop Now" button and it redirects you right to the Target website and you're finished. Easy, peasey, lemon squeezey. It's honestly that simple. Crazy right?

If you're not convinced here's how it works according to "The Lazy Coupon Lady" -
  • XYZ cash back website negotiates a 15% cash back rate with Office Depot.
  • You earn 10% cash back for every purchase made by clicking through XYZ.
  • You buy something for $50 by clicking through from XYZ to OfficeDepot.com.
  • You accrue $5 cash back into your XYZ account (Office Depot accrues the remaining 5%).
Four times a year they write you a "Big Fat Check" as they call them. You can get it in the mail, add it to your PayPal account or donate it to your favorite charity. Plus they have a rewards program for when you refer friends -

Guys I wouldn't lead you astray. If you're planning on doing a lot of online shopping this holiday season you should definitely check out Ebates!

Wooden Chevron Arrows

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We're hosting Christmas this year for Byron's family and that kind of lit a fire under me to get decorating. We have a fairly big house and decorating can be expensive - I've mostly spent my time, money and effort on buying furniture and completely neglected the walls. Now is a good a time as any to get started.

First up - we have this one narrow wall between our living room and kitchen that didn't necessarily need anything, but I had a vision after skimming Pinterest one evening. (My husband hates when I say "vision", so now I have to say "idea." He says, "Your visions are expensive.")

Once I knew what I wanted for that wall I went straight to Etsy (I just love that website!) and searched for "wooden chevron arrows." I started sorting through ones I liked and found Pam Scott with ColoradoRustics. Her arrows were definitely one of my favorites and purchased the set within minutes. The color and size were exactly what I was looking for.

Here's the finished product!

Wooden Chevron Arrows in Classic Gray

Check out Pam with ColoradoRustics - they're amazing! Now we're on to the next wall!

No Bake Energy Balls

Monday, November 16, 2015

Okay don't judge me, but I got this recipe from Tamra Judge, the firecracker from Real Housewives of OC. In my defense she owns a gym and is pretty healthy. Yes, I follow her on Instagram. That's where I found this recipe. Yes, I watch RHOC. You know you do too.

Anyway, back to the recipe - these little energy balls are YUMMY and great for on-the-go snacking. (I've even had them for breakfast before.)

No Bake Energy Bites

Combine in a medium size bowl:
  • 1 c Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 c Peanut Butter 
  • 1/3 c Honey
  • 1/2 c Ground Flaxssed
  • 1/2 c Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Let chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator then roll into balls. I usually use a tablespoon measuring doohikey to portion them. Store in an airtight container.

Confession -  I took a spoon to the bowl and had a couple of tastes. I had to make sure they were good before B tried them. (And I was hungry.)

Notes - I've found that it's easier to make the balls :) when your hands a damp. I just drizzle a little water on my hands while I'm rolling the balls and my hands don't get sticky. If you're hands get sticky it's harder to roll the balls. :)

Printable recipe here.

BSF Lesson 8: The People of God

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Scripture Memory Verse - Ephesians: 4:4-6 (NIV)
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, on baptism; one God, one Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Day One
What was meaningful to you in the lecture?
God's grace makes salvation available to all who will receive Jesus. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. You can become a person of God through His grace.

What help did you receive from the notes?
The notes talked about God's people in the bible and God's people today.

He lives within them forever. In this new life, God's people grow to be like Jesus and follow Him, keeping His commandments. They love Him, and His Spirit fills them with His love. . . .God's people often do not have easy lives, but they pursue His eternal purpose by faith in Jesus who loves them. they live with the certainty that their lives are meaningful because their future inheritance is glorious, eternal and secure.

Day Six
What have you learned this week about God, His kingdom, plan and sovereignty?
I was reminded how God provides for us. Just this past week my faith continued to grow, I gained knowledge in the bible and in my job. He provided travel mercies, good health, time with family, a loving home, steady income. The list goes on and one and that's all because of Him.

If you're interested in signing up for BSF, go here to find a class near you!

{Please note that what I got from this lesson is not necessarily the same as what others did. People can get very different takeaways from the scripture and questions based on prior knowledge, life situations, faith, etc.}

Funny Friday: Jennifer Lawrence

Friday, November 13, 2015

I just love Jennifer Lawrence. Here are two of my favorite JL memes . . . .


Things I Love: theSkimm & USA Today's "5 things you need to know"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Keeping up with daily news and current events is really important, because if for no other reason that's what responsible adults do. I don't have time to turn the TV on in the morning and watch the news so I took my mom's recommendation (Thanks Mom!) and started subscribing to theSkimm.

theSkimm is a daily email newsletter that gives you all of the news you need to start your day! I enjoy it because it's pretty witty and keeps me up-to-date on all news from pop culture and elections to UN and international issues. I also like it because it has lots of links to background information in a story, which is helpful in catching up. Here's some pics of yesterday's the Skimm.

That's just a part of the newsletter, but I thought that would give you a good idea of the content and how it's written. To subscribe for theSkimm go here!

Another one of my favorite news sources is USA Today's series, "5 Things You Need To Know." It gives me a quick blurb about the five most important things I need to know that day and does a good job of giving background info as well. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a way to subscribe to this column. It would be nice if they sent this in a daily newsletter as well. 

Don't get confused, this is from a couple of weeks ago.

Plus they give you the essentials:
Of course on a perfect day I look at other news sources, but when I'm running late and/or just don't have the time these are my two go-to's. I hope these are helpful!