free ebook: your dream wedding on a budget.

She considers a field and buys it…vs. 16a

Do we have any readers out there? What about kindle user wannabees? Well, I just learned about this money-saving tip for those of you who want to buy all different types of books but can’t afford them. Here’s the thing..there’s nothing better than having an old book in the library in your hand while sipping on some hot tea. I get that. However, if you want access to a lot of books for FREE or very inexpensive..this will interest you!

Ebooks. Now many of you may be saying…don’t you have to have a kindle or nook for that? If you have one, that’s great. But this offer still works for you if you don’t. Amazon has a kindle app for your PC! Download it here. By the way, when I downloaded it..they gave me Pride and Prejudice, Aesop’s Fables, and Treasure Island..for free. Just for downloading it onto my computer. Basically, Amazon has free ebooks. Now it’s important to jump on them quickly because they don’t always stay free for long. Even if you can’t find a free one at the moment you are looking, some of them are only $0.99 to $2.99. If you are an Amazon Prime member, there are even more free ebooks available to you.

The book that I just downloaded for free is called Your Dream Wedding on a Budget: 47 Cost-Cutting Secrets from America’s Favorite Wedding Planner. Click on it to download it. Remember as of Tuesday, January 31st at 7:00am it is free. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, it still is. So take advantage of it while you can! This book is really good for those of you who just got engaged (which I know a few of you readers who just got a ring!), and it gives you great saving money tips so you don’t break the bank for your big day.

So go download some books! And let me know what you find! If you find a book relevant to some of the topics of this blog, I will let my readers know the link and give you credit for it.

living an organized life part 3: your schedule.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. vs. 29

Life is sometimes a busy mess. Lately, I have been feeling that way about my life. I think it’s an art to be able to gracefully organize your schedule in a way that you accomplish all the things you need to do, want to do, and most importantly ….rest. What does that word mean again?

Also, I have learned that people really appreciate it whenever you say you are going to be somewhere at a certain time and place, and you are there. It’s good to be committed to even the small things in life. It says a lot about your character.

As mentioned before, I am hoping that this blog series will inspire, encourage, and challenge you. This is not intended to say, “Your way is wrong.” Or bring you guilt because your life isn’t very structured. As a disclaimer I continue to say: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

However, I hope that all of you can grow with me in this area because having an organized life liberates your mind from all the distractions of life and allows you to focus on the task at hand.

Part 3: Ways to be organized with your schedule.

1. Don’t schedule too much in one day.

This really takes practice. I still will put like 8 tasks to accomplish on one day..and I NEVER get them done. Don’t do this to yourself. Be reasonable and set healthy expectations for yourself.

2. Decide what task is most important and do that first.

If you do have a lot of things to accomplish, start with the most important first and work your way down. I tend to like to do the easiest or shortest first; however, at the end of the day, that paper due tomorrow never got typed. It helps to do the paper first, then the small things later (in case, you can’t get to those). It’s kinda like when you get laffy taffy and you save the banana for last because you like it the best. Get the paper out of the way, and then do your fun task that night.

3. Write it down and get it out of your head.

I even write things down like, “Call insert friend here.” That way, if I told someone I would call them tomorrow, I remember to do it, and I don’t have to think about it all day. I just remember it whenever I look at my planner. In order for this to work, it’s important to check your planner frequently.

4. If you are very busy, schedule in free time. And stick to it.

If your life is super busy and you just want a few hours to yourself, then make it a point to say something like, “Tuesday at 5pm free time.” And if someone wants you for something, you can say no. Don’t always feel like you have to accept every offer.

5. At the beginning of the week, take a look at your planner and see what your week looks like.

I like to look at my schedule on Sunday night. Then I have a good idea what to expect for that week. Then I’m not blind sided mid-week and think, “Gosh, I didn’t realize I had all of this stuff to do.” This helps me feel prepared for the week ahead.

6. Schedule things like work outs and time with friends.

If you are busy, you naturally want to use any free time that you get being alone or just chilling. While it is very important to give yourself that alone time, try to schedule in the things that you know are healthy for you: working out and spending time with others. This takes care of your physical needs, emotional needs, and even spiritual needs. We can feel the love of God through relationships with others who love Him, and we can grow together.  This is not limited to fitness and friendships. The point is that it’s good to make some of your other needs a priority rather than “if I have time.” Because we never really feel like we have time. And if you don’t schedule it, more than likely you won’t do it.

7. Take a Sabbath day.

Uh oh. I am in trouble with this one. I have yet to do this in my life. Not plan anything for one day and simply rest. Let’s work on doing this together.

living an organized life part 2: with school.

…let her works praise her in the gates. vs. 31b

Yesterday was the start of something new. A new series: living an organized life. Some of you cringe at the word while others smile with joy.. Either way I am hoping that this blog series will inspire, encourage, and challenge you. Organization is a lifestyle that produces much freedom when used properly. As I said yesterday as a disclaimer: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

I know many of my readers are students, so this one’s for you! Let’s talk about staying organized with school.

Part 2: Ways to be organized with school.

1.  Use a planner.

There’s no earthly way I would be able to keep track of everything without one of these. I have noticed a trend with planner users vs. planner refusers. The users often remember/have their assignments done more than the refusers. So don’t refuse, but use. Sorry…I am feeling a little too witty today. Forgive me.

2. Whenever you get your syllabus, actually read it and write down ALL of the assignments in your nifty planner.

Reading a syllabus is extremely important because some teachers slide discrete lines in their like, “Two unexcused absences means a lowered letter grade.” Since it is a contract, there is often no way around it because they say, “Well, it was in syllabus.” Then as far as assignments go, I like to write down in my planner the day before its due.  It looks something like this, “Policy- assignment 1 due tomorrow.” This tactic has worked well for me for many years. You don’t necessarily have to write it in a planner. A friend of mine has one whole sheet she writes them on. I find a planner nice because I not only write down homework in it but also household chores, events, and bills due in there as well. It’s helpful when “your life” is all in one place.

3. Don’t wait until the last minute.

I sound like a teacher don’t I? Sorry about that. I have just realized that doing something the night before stresses me out more than my cat dying, so it’s just better not to put yourself in that predicament. Too far? Well, you get the idea. I like to have the assignment done 3-7 days before. That is if your program is designed like mine where we basically know at the first day year what assignments are due for the whole semester.

4. Don’t clean your house whenever you should be doing homework.

Guilty. The epitome of procrastination: doing something else that needs to be done and feeling productive about it while never doing the task that is really supposed to be done in the first place. Okay………moving on now……my toes hurt.

5. Don’t stress out.

How does this help you stay organized? Well, whenever I am so stressed, that stress is a distraction and causes me to lose focus on the task at hand and forget things more easily. Just take one day at a time and let it flow.

What are ways that help you stay organized with school?

top one hundred wedding blogs.

…she is clothed in fine linen and purple. vs. 22b

Hey you brides-to-be or people obsessed with all things wedding (single, engaged, or already married)…. Listen up! Bride Tide published the top 100 blogs for 2011. Yep, one hundred. So if you want some inspiration, then get off of pinterest, and check this out! Don’t worry you can come back to it. But it probably won’t be for a few hours because some of these blogs are amazing and addicting.

living an organized life part 1: the home.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.vs. 27

Recently, I have been thinking/blogging a lot about organization. I know that a lot of you readers are college students, and the best way to start off a new semester is to have a positive attitude and get yourself organized for the next few months.  I have come to learn that organization is not a one time thing, a task at hand, or even something that relates only to one part of your life. Rather it is a state of mind that you can live in. To live an organized life is to live a free life. By being organized, you can learn to de-clutter your mind from your to-do list, de-clutter your home for a relaxing atmosphere, and de-clutter your schedule so you can make time for others. So through a short series, I would like to share some helpful tips on “how to live an organized life.”

Disclaimer: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

Part 1:

Ways to keep your home organized:

1. Give everything a place.

This is helpful for many reasons. Whenever you need to find something quickly, you know where it is. Also, it helps keep your home neat and tidy.

2. Whenever you come home from a long day of work, put your stuff in its place.

If everything is going to have a place, then that means that it is important to put it back in its place. I know, I know. It’s super tempting to just throw your coat down, leave your purse out, and put your  keys  wherever they may land. But I assure you, that it takes less time to just put the coat in the closet and your other items in their place rather than setting it all down and on “cleaning day” putting it where it belongs.

3. Take pride in keeping your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer neat and tidy.

First reason for this: It looks better. Second: You know what food you have and what food you don’t.

4. Do the dishes/clean up after you cook.

I am not saying you can’t ever leave dishes in the sink. However, I like to do them as soon as I am done at the dinner table so then I don’t have to worry about it later. I do them before I sit down and watch a tv show, and for some reason, I always enjoy that show better because I don’t have this nagging thought in my head that dishes need to be done sometime soon.

5. Regularly go through closets and get rid of things you don’t need/want/or use.

Over break I made it a point to organize all of the closets in my apartment and not only did it feel nice to look in the closet and see a space that was straightened, but also I was able to get rid of stuff that I didn’t need and bless others with it by donating it.

6. Make your bed.

And fluff up those pillows while you’re at it. Make it look appealing.

7. Put similar items in the same place.

As you are giving the items in your home a place, think, “Where is this best suited?” For example, one closet can house cleaning supplies and one kitchen drawer can have all of the utensils. This may seem like a basic step; however, you’d be surprised how many people don’t think to put similar items in one location.

8. If you are in a hurry and leave stuff out on the counters or throw clothes on the bed, then whenever you get home, simply put it away.

This is not a “fix all” solution to keeping an organized home. There will be days that things are out of place, dishes are in the sink, and laundry is overflowing. It happens. But make it a priority to consistently and regularly keep it a place of de-clutter and a comfortable atmosphere for studying, relaxing, and having people in your home.

What are some tips you all have for keeping an organized home?

Check back for living an organized life: Part 2!

menu planning.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. vs. 20

My friend Leslie introduced me to this lifesaver method known as menu planning. Actually, my mom has done it my whole life, but I didn’t really realize she did until I became an adult and started doing certain things that she always has done. (funny how that happens, huh?).

So a few months ago, I knew that I wanted to start menu planning but I wasn’t sure where/how to begin. Leslie told me about Money Saving Mom. This site is both addicting and quite resourceful, as her slogan states, “Helping You Be a Better Economist.” Her whole mission is teaching others to live on less so you can save more and give more. I’m for sure interested in that! Then I can open my hand to the poor and reach my hand out to the needy, like verse 20 states.

Basically, all menu planning consists of is printing off one of these meal/menu planners from her website…here. Then planning your whole week out. What you will eat and when. Breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Then whenever you make your grocery list (which some of these have a grocery list section on the side), you simply get ONLY the items that you need for that week, 2 weeks, or month depending on which plan you use. So ladies, that means whenever you are walking down that cookie aisle and you see the delicious Milano cookies, you turn your nose in the air and say I don’t need to buy those becaue those are not part of my menu this week. (However, if you really want them, plan ahead and put them in as a little afternoon snack).

So you may be thinking, where’s the spontaneity in that? Well, you can plan on Monday being taco night and then come home and feel like eatin fish instead (which was Friday’s dinner). Just switch them around! No big deal. The point is that you will only buy the groceries you need.

Here’s a tip: make sure that before you make you menu/grocery list, look in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator to see what foods you already have and make meals based off of that. Don’t just buy all new food for different recipes and have a lot of food already in your pantry. Be smart. I vow to do one new recipe a week. It works well.

Here are some benefits of menu planning:

1. It saves you money.

2.It allows you to utilize the food you already have in your pantry.

3. It saves you gas. (because you don’t make a million trips to the grocery store)

4. It saves you time. (if you pack a lunch to work, then that morning it makes it really simple to look at your menu and see what you planned for lunch that day and grab it from your pantry, rather than trying to figure it all out that morning when you are already running late and can only “halfway fix your hair”)

5. It helps promote healthy eating. (if you plan to buy healthier foods, then whenever you are being a rebel and eat something that is not on your menu, healthy foods are your only choice. Chips are only an option for you to eat if you buy chips)

Kingdom Mom says that there are common excuses why people don’t make the time to plan their meals:

“It’s too time-consuming.”
“It’s way too complicated.”
“I don’t want to cook every night.”
“I’m too busy.”

Well ladies, let’s stop making those excuses! It actually saves time, it simplifies life rather than complicates it, you don’t have to cook every night (plan to eat out once a week or whatever your budget allows), and if you really want to do something, then you will find time (it takes about 10 minutes to do it. so get off facebook, and plan your meals.)

Tell me: Have you ever meal planned? And if so, do you enjoy it?

vintage soul.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. vs. 18

I could live in Carbondale my whole life. I love this little city. One thing that I love the most about it is that local buinesses can thrive. In fact, the “commercial” part of town by the mall really isn’t that good because in the downtown area there are unique restaurants like Global Gourmet and also handmade boutiques like Dayshift. Well, a new store has gracefully nestled in our town…Vintage Soul. I was driving by yesterday (located near Harbaugh’s) and got really, really excited about it. The first chance I had, I made a trip to the door and looked at the sign that hung above that said, “Vintage Soul. coffee, furniture, and events.” Sounds like the place I want to be. I walked in and loved it that very minute. They have a neat little coffee shop as you walk in and then lots of vintage, old, used, furniture that has a ton of potential. Considering, Kaleb and I are getting hitched in October, I have a feeling I will be shopping here frequently. There is furniture around the store that you can sit on and drink coffee and or purchase while you are there.

It looks a little something like this…

I talked to the people working there, and they were so kind. They let me know that they get new furniture in every Friday. That means you know where to find me on a Friday afternoon! Whenever I got home I did some research about who owns it and how it got started. According to their website, it is “more than just a business.” Their furniture is for sale and also usable while chilling at the coffee shop. They can also move things around to host parties, wedding receptions, bridal showers, etc…

However, their main mission is to bring social change and help build up the community of Carbondale. Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“Vintage soul is looking to engage the Southern Illinois community in social justice. We employ people who want to make a difference and are willing to work for change. By investing 50% of our profits into local non-profit organization Vintage Soul helps to bring about change in the lives of the community and internationally. Every aspect of Vintage seeks to impact change throughout the world. The Gobena coffee that is used in our drinks and sold in separate bags for you to use at home is fair trade meaning that the workers that produce the coffee are all paid appropriate wages and work in the best work conditions. For every bag of coffee that is sold 1 child is able to eat for an entire month.”

The business was started by what is called Ekklesia Network, which is made up of smaller ministries such as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Mercy Mobile, and a few others in the community.

So folks, let’s shop locally and support our community! We want to see Southern Illinois thrive.

a new wardrobe…well, kind of.

Strength and dignity are her clothing…vs. 25a

Sometimes I am a bit of an organization freak. Most of the time I can’t relax until everything is in its place. Problem? Yes and no. On one hand, my life is quite structured and organized which allows me to have freedom. On the other hand, my life is quite structured and organized which is quite constraining.

Let me explain. Because of the way my mind works, I am good at multi-tasking, and I am quite efficient in the home, workplace, and at school. However, I often lack spontaneity and the ability to let things go undone. So basically, I’m not always a lot of fun. I feel like people closest to me in life often think, “Why don’t you just chill out?” I’m working on it, ok? Give me a break! No, in all seriousness…I am trying to let Jesus show me a good balance between productivity and simplicity.

This weekend I went on a little organizational spree. The reason I did this was because I am going on a little shopping trip to STL on Saturday with some girls. I would like to not spend unnecessary money that day, but rather get items I really want/need/ or will use a lot. So, in order to prepare for that, I organized my closet.

Here’s a tip: whenever you feel like you don’t have “anything to wear,” go through your closet. You will discover belts, shirts, and other items that you forgot you had hidden in the dark crevices of your closet. Also, as you are organizing it…you will discover how that one summer shirt can be combined with that one winter shirt, and now it can be a summer AND winter outfit!

Ok, here’s my closet before…(keep in mind, it wasn’t terribly unorganized, but enough where I felt overwhelmed and like I didn’t have anything to wear)

I decided to rearrange things a bit…

I put my tanks hanging on a nail in the corner of my closet…

My winter clothes together sorted by type of shirt (type meaning a cardi, casual shirt, dressy shirt, sweater, etc..)…

My jeans organized by type as well (skinny first, then boot/flair/tailored fit)…

Then I decided that my scarfs needed a new home. I didn’t like them all thrown in a basket by my shoes because then I forgot about different ones I had. So I wrapped them around my closet bar and used them as a divider between my winter and summer clothes…

Then I made an entirely new section for the clothes that are shirts/dresses that look good with leggings! I was super pumped about this because leggings is one of my favorite things to wear, and now I have a nice section just for those items that can easily be a summer long shirt or a winter dress with leggings….

Next came my summer shirts, dresses and shorts (in the back for now since I won’t be needing them) (this area organized by type just like the winter shirts)…

Then I put belts on the opposite side of the closet from the tanks on a belt holder…

And I stacked my shoes nicely on the floor (in the future, I want some neat organizational shoe shelves)…

And this is what it all looked like after…

The best part of this whole experience (besides feeling like I had a while new wardrobe) was that I had a HUGE pile of clothes to give to friends and the goodwill…

P.s.- please donate to the goodwill. I appreciate it when you do and so do lots of other people who get clothes and other amazing items that you may think is not useful anymore.

So there you have it! Now I have a good idea of the items that I am on the search for on Saturday. And when I go to my closet to pick out my outfit for the day, I feel like I can more easily put together a piece of art to wear because I can see everything more clearly.

let’s take a moment to reflect.

Blogging has become one of my new passions. However, I must sometimes step back and remember the real reason I started this blog in the first place. To publicly live out and go on this journey of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. Why publicly? Two reasons: to motivate myself to actually do it and to inspire others.

One thing that I have to remember is that while it’s great that I am learning the functionality of a woman and how God wired me with the potential to be a homemaker extraordinaire, it’s most important to allow God to change my heart. By that I mean, not just going through the motions of making delicious dinners for my future hubby and teaching myself how to do crafty things, but rather allowing God to do this work inside of my that only He can do. To teach me how to care for other human beings more than I care for myself. To give me a heart for children so I can someday be a mother that puts their needs before mine. To learn to biblically submit to my husband and not whine when I don’t get my way. To prioritize my life in a way that  puts Jesus above all. And to focus on my inward more than my outward appearance. And guess what I have found out? I can’t do it. I can’t become righteous. Because then it’s self-righteousness, which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Only my Maker can show me what He created me for and guide my in the way that I should go. Only He can change me. Only He can make me that woman. My job is to simply let Him in so He can do His work. Yes, I have to put some effort into it. Yet I must be careful to not become prideful at how “good of a woman” I am becoming. Because if that happens, then I have defeated the purpose of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman.

So keep me in check, readers! And come on this journey with me….because I sure enjoy learning how God designed me to be.

making food for your man.

She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. vs. 12

Ladies: listen up! Wanna make your man happy? Make food he really likes. Yep, that’s right. Not YOUR favorite food…but his. The stuff that he would order for himself if you were to go out to eat together. If you don’t have a man right now, it’s okay because you can make this for yourself!

Kaleb loves chicken tetrazinni. So chicken tertrazinni is what I made. I made it on Monday night, right before the semester started. A little date-date with my favorite person before our lives got busy again. Here are the ingredients…

1. Boil the chicken a few hours before so it will be cooked already

2. Brown the mushrooms in a little bit of butter. (fresh shrooms brown better than canned shrooms)

3. Cook the pasta al dente.

4. Make the sauce by combining melting 4 tablespoons of butter of medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of flour and whisk (this will make it lumpy. don’t be alarmed…once you add the other ingredients and whisk until your arm falls off, it won’t be lumpy). Then gradually add 3 cups of milk, 1 can of chicken broth, and 3/4 dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc). Whisk it, whisk it good.

5. Bring the liquid to a boil.

6.  Finish the sauce by adding 2 cups of parmesan cheese and sprinkle in some thyme. Whisk, whisk, and whisk. Add salt and pepper.

7. Combine everything into a baking dish (chicken, mushrooms, sauce, and noodles). Add more parmesan cheese and some parsley on top for a nice touch.

8. Bake it for about 30 minutes, or until brown on 400 degrees.

9. Look at your creation, smile, and be proud of yourself. That’s what I did.

Being a Proverbs 31 woman means thinking more about the others in your life than you think about yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I think about how to take care of myself, what I want, and what I like WAY too much.