Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding my focus - how instagram sharpened my focus | Plus a Major Announcement - New Blog Coming Soon!

I quietly celebrated five years of blogging over on Thrift for Today recently.  It's crazy, I know - five whole years.  Some years (2013) have certainly been more productive than others and I've learned a little bit a long the way.  

One of the things that I haven't always been the most consistent about with the blog is the use of social media - which I know doesn't make a ton of sense, but I never wanted to mingle my personal social media accounts with the blog in an effort not to be spammy to people that didn't want to follow and also to keep private things in our lives private.  I want to keep things real but still protect the privacy of my friends and family who haven't chosen to put themselves out there on such public forums.  It's a balance, you know.  

That said, I did FINALLY create an Instagram account for the blog and today I wanted to share a little bit about how that has helped me to rethink my blog and my purpose in this space.  If you're not following along, I'd encourage you to since it's so much easier to keep up with the day to day happenings over here.  You can find me here.

I have connected with so many lovely people in the last few months and I've loved getting to more easily share the day to day things in our life.

This increased sharing - and seeing what everyone else is sharing has allowed me to really sharpen my focus and understand better the things that I want to share and write about in the blog world.

I started Thrift for Today during a time when Hubs and I were just engaged and beginning to plan our life together.  We were just starting out and we made such an effort to always find the best deals, learn about ways to better manage our money, and tips & tricks to help us out - it was so much fun.

And while that's still an important part of our lives, it's not really a part that I am always very passionate about sharing on the blog.  There are only so many articles I can think to write about on ways to save money, but my biggest tip isn't even that fun or groundbreaking.  One of the biggest ways we save money around here is to just not go shopping.

What I really want to do with my blog is to encourage others.  I want to encourage you all to make choices that will allow you to live well in all areas of your life - physically, mentally, and spiritually - and to do it in community sharing with others.  Life is fun, my friends!

And with all of that, I've decided to start a new blog that will launch in April - Live Well Play Together.  I've already pulled some of the content from Thrift for Today and have a whole list of content ideas for Live Well Play Together.  

To say that I am excited for this move is an understatement.  I am feeling refocused and more energized than ever before when it come to blogging and engaging with readers.  

Of course there are days when I start to feel a little nostalgic over how far Thrift for Today has come, but I really think this move is for the best  - I think you'll really like it!  

So, what does that mean for Thrift for Today?

Oh, I've thought about this one long and hard.  I love this space and I really love you readers.  I thought about just redirecting this site over so that anytime you clicked a link or typed thriftfortoday into your browser, you would just be redirected to Live Well Play Together.  But, to be honest I didn't really like the feel of that.  There is so much here that really is Thrift for Today and I kind of want to keep it that way.  So, Thrift for Today will stay around.  BUT, if you want to keep following for new updates and posts, you'll need to head over to Live Well Play Together in the future.

What to Expect from the New Site
Some of the same and some new things.  It's still me on the new site, guys.  If you enjoy reading Thrift for Today, you will enjoy Live Well Play Together, promise.  But there are a few things that I'm really excited about that I think will bring even more value to you:

  • A more regular posting schedule
    • I've been putting a ton of thought into this and have lots of posts already planned out to share with you all and I'm excited to post more regularly so you'll know when to expect a new post and you will be getting those posts more often.  
  • More interaction with me
    • I've also cleaned out my inbox in preparation for the move and have been intentional about checking and responding to email much more frequently.  That means, if you leave a comment, or send a note, you can expect to hear back from me more quickly. 
    • You can also sign up to receive updates from Live Well Play Together, which will give you even more ways to connect!
  • Fun and Encouragement
    • My main goal with the new site is to be an encouragement to my readers.  I hope you'll come to the Live Well Play Together and leave feeling refreshed and encouraged.
I love to share my life with you all and I am so appreciative to those of you who have followed along with me so far.  I hope that you'll continue to stick around and join me soon over at Live Well Play Together - because life really is more fun when we do it together!  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spinach and Egg Muffins - Healthy, Make Ahead Breakfast for On the Go

I originally posted this recipe back in 2015 when Little was just 2 months old and I was beginning to think more about getting back into shape and eating well.  Some friends brought these over to us to have for breakfast and I really enjoyed them. 

But, because Little was so, well, little getting the recipe on the blog period was just a huge success and the only picture I had was one little photo of the eggs in the muffin pan pre-cooking.  It is what it is.  I'm re-posting this recipe today though because I've started making these again - but with a little update that I think makes it a lot easier: using a food processor to chop up the spinach first.  So, if you are looking for an easy and nutritious breakfast that you can make ahead and eat on the go (or not), this is for you. 

Look at that lovely chopped spinach!  I used my Ninja food processor, but any regular food processor should work.

Another thing I love about these are that you can store them in the fridge and eat them all week long. Just re-heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds and you're good to go.  You can also wrap them individually and freeze them if you want to make an extra large batch. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Budget Baby: Saving Money by shopping consignment for kids' clothes

I think we can all agree that having a baby changes some things in your budget.  That said, there are several ways that you can tweak things in your budget and find ways to spend less, yes, even save money when buying things for baby.

One of the things that we do around here that I think saves us quite a bit of money is buying almost all of Little's clothes via consignment.  I'm hoping that I can share a few of the other budget friendly things we do together, but for today I just want to share my most recent clothing haul with you all.

My favorite store to shop for Little is Once Upon a Child (this is not a sponsored post, I just really like shopping there).  Like most consignment stores, they buy gently used children's clothes, toys, and other gear and resell it for a fraction of retail.  There are several other stores, but I've always found that I can easily get into OUAC and find what I'm looking for.  To see if there is a OUAC near you - see here.

Twice a year, they have a "bag sale" where they provide customers with a shopping bag that you can fill with as many clearance clothing items as you can for just $15.  Little has enough clothes this year and so I took the time this year to buy things in the next size up, which I think will be perfect for him for the fall and next winter.  Last year at this sale, I bought him some 12-18 month items, which he could fit last year and he's wearing many of them again this year.  This year, I purchased 24 month and 2T sized items that are too big currently.  (I also bought one sweater that I thought was so handsome in size 3T because I loved it and if fit in the bag.)  I even picked up a few baby girl things for a good friend whose little girl was born the day after Little's first birthday.

Here was my bag before I checked out:

Monday, February 27, 2017

What's on our Plate: Weekly Meal Plan [4]

Another weekend has come and gone?  And for once, I can totally believe that we are at the end of another month.  This weather makes me feel like March has already been here for a couple of weeks, not that February is just getting ready to end.

We're also getting over colds in the TFT house this week.  I don't know where I picked it up, but I was patient 0 over here beginning last Monday afternoon.  I had a scratchy throat during the day and thought that I might be coming down with something, but there was also a lot of smoke in the air from a nearby fire and so I thought it could be that too.  Fast forward to about 5:15 pm and I was standing over the oven cooking dinner and was almost overcome with a feeling of weakness.  Hubs was kind enough to finish dinner, I ate a little bit with the family and promptly went to bed with a fever and feeling all kinds of gross.  (I was also really nervous that perhaps I had picked up the flu.)

All of that transpired into lots of coughing and congestion with hubs and I that has lasted the whole week, but is thankfully mostly gone.  Little had a runny nose for a few days, but has been fine other than that...and teething.  He has two more teeth coming in that seem to be giving him quite the trouble.

All of that is to say that sometimes, things don't go as planned.  We skipped storytime at the library and small group at our house to avoid sharing our germs.  Hubs worked late one night so he didn't eat dinner at home and one day in a rush, he forgot his lunch at home.  So we didn't cook everything on our meal plan last week.  In fact, we only made three of the things - and had leftovers the rest of the week.  

Just a reminder that making plans doesn't put anything in concrete.  It just helps guide what you'd like to do and helps think through a shopping list and meal prep.  It never hurts to be prepared.  

We're really hoping to kick this crud totally to the curb this week.  We didn't make it to church yesterday just to be totally sure not to share our germs.  Little plays with lots of other kids at church and even though we certainly feel on the mend, we don't want to take chances.  Especially with small children and in the middle of cold season.  

We're also hoping to get back to our regularly scheduled events calendar - playground, storytime, friends, and normal naps this week.  

Sunday: Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese - which was DELICIOUS, by the way.  I"ll post about it soon.  :)
Tuesday: Baked Spaghetti
Wednesday: Taco night
Thursday: BBQ chicken - maybe.  I'm kind of undecided about Thursday night. 
Friday: Homemade Pizza - because it's my favorite thing on Friday nights.  

Finally, as a little fun fact for you this week - Hubs and I started dating on February 29, 2008 so tomorrow kind of marks the 9 year anniversary of that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

For everything a season

My uncle recently passed away.  I spent a lot of time at the hospital in the days leading up to it with family and as we left the hospital room when everything was over and walked down the hallway, I was reminded of how there truly is a season for everything.  

Here we were walking down the hallway crying.  We had just said goodbye to a loved one.  But, as I watched other people going by with their day, I remembered that on that same day, even in the same moment when we were overcome by sadness and grief that there were still others that we in the same hospital that we welcoming new life and celebrating healing and wellness.  Sadness and joy.  Mourning and celebration.  All happening simultaneously right before me.  

And isn't this how life is?  This dance that just keeps right on going between all these things.  Sadness and joy, death and life, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing.  All of it.  Together. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

What's on our plate: Weekly Meal Plan [3]

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing weekend.  Hubs has off of work today, we we are pumped to have an extra day at home with him!  This weekend was packed full - we traveled to my hometown on Saturday for my Uncle's funeral, which was sad but also really nice to see so many of my relatives in one place. 

The weather was perfect the whole weekend though - 70s and sunny.  Unseasonably warm for February, but my favorite, so I didn't complain one little bit.  We played outside as much as we could, I got fun new pillows for our front porch bench, and we got some work done around the house.  It's good to start the week feeling prepared. 

I thought that I would change things up a little with these meal plan posts after realizing that I've titled all of them "What's on our plate", and use these posts for a little bit of a life update and looking forward to the week.  I'll be sharing some of what's on our plates for the week not just as it relates to food - although because we work hard to meal plan consistently, it will always include food.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day Recap 2017

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Valentine's Day yesterday.  We had a great time over here; we didn't do anything fancy, but we did spend the whole day indulging in little treats that we all love!

Little and I started our day at the library for some storytime followed by a quick trip to our favorite donut place for some sweet treats.  (He knows how to say donut now and may or may not have been asking for them all week.)

Lucky for me (perhaps a little Valentine's gift), Little took a wonderful, easy two hour nap once we got home and had a late lunch of heart shaped quesadillas.  I was way too excited about these, but he loved them.  I just used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the tortilla shells before cooking.  So easy and sweet.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope that you feel loved today and that you choose to share love with those around you. 

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays.  I think it is because there are so many things that I love - family, friends, chocolate, and the list could go on.  We're keeping things simple around here today, although if you follow me on Instagram, you may or may not see a little heart shaped quesadilla that Little is having for lunch.  I can't even tell you how much I've been looking forward to that.  :)

Also, we gave those cookies out to our neighbors.  It was a fun way to treat our neighbors and it was totally unexpected.  

Do you enjoy Valentine's Day?  Tell me about your plans in the comments!

Monday, February 13, 2017

What's on our plate: Weekly meal plan [2]

Forgive the tardiness of this post, friends.  This weekend was a little roller coaster for our family and I'm catching up this week.  My uncle is in the hospital and so we were there quite a bit and traveled to visit my in-laws for family birthday celebrations.  The celebrations were fun, but the hospital wasn't.  I spent lots of time in a car, my first night away from my Little, and managed to get a whopping three hours of sleep on Sunday morning before heading back down to rejoin my in-laws.  My uncle is still in the hospital currently on comfort care only and it is just really sad.  

I don't have a ton to say about it on the blog because so much of the hard things about this deal with family and I want to be respectful and sure not to broadcast everyone else's stories here.  But, it is hard and sad and exhausting.  We would love your prayers for peace and comfort and rest during this time. 

That said, we are still cooking around here and taking time to meal plan is a part of my regular routine anyway so I want to be sure to share it with you all.  (These lists are not only a way to tell what we're eating for dinner, but also a reminder to me of all the things I need to take photos of to share with you so you can throw these easy meals together for your family also.)  I want to encourage you that meal planning doesn't have to be so difficult.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Day Craft Playdate

Can you believe that Valentine's Day is less than a week away?  This year is really flying by and I'm not so sure what I think about that yet.  

I've been letting Little experiment around home some with arts and crafts recently.  He's really into coloring, painting, and stickers and so I knew that I wanted to do a Valentine's Day themed craft with him.  Valentine's is one of my favorite holidays and so I knew I wanted to do something fun.  And then, because I cannot help myself, I decided that I would make our crafting into a whole little event and invite over some other mom friends and their littles to join in on the fun.  And just like that our little playdate was on the calendar.  

I really enjoy hosting people at our home and I have been wanting to have people over during the week so this was the perfect opportunity.  Last year, I discovered a great way for me to organize and plan for little parties like this (which I'll share in a separate post) that allow me to put these events together quickly and without too much stress.  For our playdate, we had 4 other moms and 5 other toddlers so six kids in all.  

I had several foam heart stickers stashed in my craft closet and used a plastic tray for holding all of our supplies.  The Valentine's stickers were from Michael's the week before Valentine's Day.  They were just $1 for a little book of stickers and they were on sale for 40% off.  Naturally, I grabbed them and am excited to have them on hand for next year's crafts as well.  I also cut everything before kids arriving because I do not want anyone running around here with scissors.  Here was our set up at our kitchen table: 

I planned to make tissue paper hearts with the youngest kids (less than 2) and had love bugs prepared for the older kids with toilet paper rolls (see the sweet little love bug in the background here?).

Monday, February 6, 2017

What's on our plate: Weekly Meal Plan [1]

Happy Monday, friends!  I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing weekend!  Did you watch the Super Bowl?  Tell me all your favorite commercials.  What did you think of the half time show?  

I'll be honest, I didn't pay that much attention this season and I'm not a huge fan of either of the teams in the big game this year, so I opted to not make such a big deal about the game yesterday.  We traveled back to my hometown on Saturday to visit my parents and to celebrate a first birthday for my best friend from high school's son.  He is so precious and we loved to be able to celebrate with them.  But on Sunday, I wanted to mostly relax. So we did.

We stayed put at home after church, took advantage of the sunny and mild weather by playing outside and working in the yard, and did some prep for this week.  One of the things that we do [mostly] each week is make sure we have a meal plan in place.  Not only does this save us money, but it eliminates SO much stress during the week as I already know what to expect in terms of cooking each day so I am better prepared.  

I've thought about sharing our meal plans for a while on here, but to be honest, we don't cook anything super fancy and I don't have beautiful photos to go along with it.  But, I think that's most of us and I love to see what other people are eating for a little bit of inspiration.  I hope to share some of the recipes that we use as well as some of the meal planning tips along the way.  (I'll also try to take some photos along the way to show you what we're eating.)

Sunday: Chicken and Bacon Pasta
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Crockpot BBQ chicken with Hawaiian Rolls
Wednesday: Chicken Nuggets with Mac & Cheese
Thursday:  Cheese Burger sliders
Friday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

I always keep frozen veggies on hand and fruit in the fridge for sides and those change sometimes.  I also try to cook things for dinner that will have at least one meal left over for hubs to take to work the next day so I take that into account when deciding on what to cook when.

What are you eating this week?  I always like to find new, simple recipes for our family so please send me what you like.

I'm planning to post some of these recipes in the future.  Meal planning has been so helpful in our family and even more so now that we have a little.  It is way too easy to grab something out when we don't have a plan.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kind words are like honey

I was in a coffee shop recently and overheard a lady say to the cashier, “I'm back with my complicated drink order that you always mess up.” At first I thought it must be a joke.  Maybe she knew the cashier and was kidding around.  I quickly realized that it wasn't though and when she left all of the baristas began to share stories of trying to avoid this customer and of her frequent complaints. Now, I did not hear the actual drink order so I have no idea how difficult it actually was.  Nor do I know how badly it was messed up that day or any of the previous days.  It is quite possible that it was a frequent thing and I'm sure if the lady is paying for her coffee, she wants it to taste the way she likes it.  Finally, she didn't use a rude tone of voice and didn't leave angry.  But it was clear when she left that her words had been noticed by the employees and they certainly didn't make them feel valued or appreciated.

And I thought how many times do I do this same thing?  How many times do I make small remarks (even sometimes jokingly) that belittle or criticize those around me?  One example sticks out vividly in my mind.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On nursing our little one: 5 things I've learned in the last year of breastfeeding

I wrote the rough draft (read: outline) of this post months ago.  Little was around 10 months old and I thought that my milk supply was decreasing.  I had been hoping to nurse him until at least one year and in that moment, I was so disappointed and worried that it wouldn't happen.  He's almost a year and a half and I'm excited to say that we made it!  I'm also excited to get back to the blog to finish this post with a sigh of relief, thanksgiving, and a little bit of uncertainty on how long we'll continue. Little has weaned himself at night and now only nurses when he wakes up and once before his nap.  I'll be traveling some in the spring for a couple of weddings that I'm in so I'm hoping that we can naturally wrap it up before then.

Nursing our little has been one of the most special parts of mothering thus far for me, but it certainly was not always easy.  Today I'm sharing some of the best tips that I received and learned during the past year of nursing.  I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination and while I have been nursing for a year - I've only nursed one baby so I can only speak to that experience.

I felt so functional in the first few weeks of motherhood.  Remember this post, about how hard it was for me when we first brought our little home?  I just remember sitting in the same spot on the couch for what seemed like weeks nursing.  People would come over to see the baby, enjoy him, ooh and ahh, and then he would start crying and they would hand him to me.  "Must be hungry," they'd say and then smile.  Except it wasn't that funny to me because it felt like he had just eaten (and many times this was the actual case).  I have a distinct memory of a google search in the middle of the night once, that read, "is it ok to hate breastfeeding"?  And of course there were plenty of posts that were often hilarious regarding breastfeeding and I somehow felt reassured about my exhaustion being awake at all hours with a baby attached to me.

But then a magical thing happened.  I got used to nursing and my baby got more efficient at it.  I started to really see nursing as such a special and beautiful thing.  It was time that I got to just snuggle up with the little.  And in that moment - I had all that he needed for nourishment, comfort, safety, and rest.  And I felt really thankful.  I felt thankful to be able to nurse him.  Thankful that he was doing such a good job at it.  Thankful that I had these special moments with him that no one else could have.  It was just him and me.  And so, here are the top five things I have to say about breastfeeding. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Staying Fit When Life is Busy

Soon after having our Little back in 2015, I wrote here about being strong and not necessarily skinny.  It was my resolve to focus on being strong after having some knee trouble toward the end of and following pregnancy.

If I'm honest, I fell a little off the health train with the holidays and especially once I was able to fit back into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and the number on the scale went back down (it's SO easy to just be fixated on that one number!).  We recently got a smart scale though that helps measure not only your weight, but also your body fat % and let me just say that after taking one step on that bad boy, I am in need of some toning up.  Of course, this is just a reminder of what I already knew.

You would think that staying at home affords me lots of time to exercise.  You would think that chasing around an adventurous toddler would keep one in shape.  The fact of the matter though is that while I run around a lot, it can be hard to think about and stick to an exercise routine.  At least for me anyway and I can't believe that I'm alone in this. I started going back to the gym before the holidays, but only went a couple of times with the Little because he wasn't a fan of being left in the kids' room.  I'm hoping to keep trying with him though so that he can get used to it.

That said, today I'd like to share a few of the quick exercises that I try to do during the day at home in effort to keep my muscles toned and keep be thinking about health when I don't have time to be in the gym.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Come & See: an invitation for 2017

With the new year just beginning, we're all busy making or trying to keep our resolutions and goals for 2017.  For the last few years, I've shared my goals here on the blog and some years I do better than others at getting them accomplished.

2016 was a really good year for us.  I quit my day job and started staying home with our Little.  This is my favorite job.  Now that we're in a new year, I've been spending some time thinking about what my goals will be for 2017.  I am a list maker, so I will eventually get to writing some things down.  Hubs and I will write out some concrete goals for our family.  That said, I have one more overarching goal for this year that I'd like to share.  Think of this as my version of the word of the year thing that people like to do.

For me, this year's theme is: Come & See

This is something that stuck out to me and hasn't left as I was recently reading along with the She Reads Truth girls in their current study of John.  In Chapter 1, Jesus is calling his disciples.  He calls a man named Philip from Bethsaida who then goes and finds another man, Nathanael.  Philip tells his friend, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1:45).  Nathanael skeptically responds in the next verse - "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip then simply invites him to "Come and see" (John 1:46).

Nathanael does and in the next verses he meets Jesus and believes.

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year - New Instagram

Happy [belated] New Year, friends!  It's on my list this year to get back to the blog.  I've got several draft posts that need final touches and lots of things in my head to write about - just needing to find the time to sit down to the computer. 

That said, I finally decided to create an Instagram account just for the blog, which will allow me to share much more on the go and keep you guys in the loop more regularly.  There's a lot going on over here at the Thrift for Today house.  We continue to grow and learn and explore and I hope you'll continue to follow along.  You'll find me @thriftfortoday, just like the blog.

See you there!