Thursday, June 26, 2014

On the Menu: Road-Trip Ready Snacks

Earlier this week, I shared a few sources for helpful travel tips. Beyond making sure all clothing essentials are packed, I've also been trying to prepare plenty of snacks for the road. It's no secret that the more time you spend in a car, the more money you can spend "snacking" along the way. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of homemade snacks that would help prevent that. These are a couple of my favorite recipes for filling snacks (that will also help remedy a sweet tooth!). I've shared these recipes before, and you can visit the original link to the full recipes here, in case you are considering packing these for your next vacation as well!
The previous version I shared for these cookies included options for dried cranberries or raisins. That's one of the greatest things about this recipe; you can customize it to fit your tastebuds. For our road trip snacks, I kept it simple with walnuts and chocolate chips.
 Packed up and ready to go!




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Dilemma: Packing for the Mountains AND Beach

I would say that we have several trips planned for the summer, but in reality, they are more like small excursions all clustered together into one mass of travel. It's exciting, and I'm looking forward to it, but with that comes a few packing dilemmas. Within a week, we will cover ground from the beach to the mountains (and a few stops in between). That variety is awesome, but how, exactly, do you pack for such diversity in one trip?!? I'm not leaving tomorrow, so I don't really have a solid plan in mind yet. However, here are a few resources that have been helpful for me. Just sharing in case you need some packing advice as well!

Simply click the link in the caption to visit each site. Also, if you want to pin one (or all) of these, please remember to pin from the original site. :)
Source: Nest of Posies
Whether you need packing advice or not, you should pay a visit to Nest of Posies. This blog is adorable! Not only that, but she has some great advice to share (like taking pictures of outfits as you plan so you don't forget or lose track of items as the pre-travel madness sets in).

Source: designstiles
This article contains a concise-but-helpful list of reminders. I really love that she reiterates the usefulness in planning outfits because it helps reduce over-packing. Which I do. A lot. I'm pretty sure that hint was written just for me. ;)

Source: You Brew My Tea: 10 Tips for an Easy Road Trip
I love her #'s 4 and 5. I have snacks set aside and ready, but this reminder is always good! Also, I like the idea of having a grab bag in the trunk of various necessities you may need along the way, but you can't necessarily pack in your suitcase.

Source: All Women Stalk, 8 Beneficial Packing Tips for Your Next Trip...
#3 is a great tip. It will require planning, but that's something I need to do anyway -especially for travel like ours! I like the idea of rotating articles through outfits, rather than packing a separate outfit for every day. That's much less cumbersome. Along the same line, #8 is wise. Choosing corresponding colors allows you to be well-coordinated without packing a ton of accessories and color options.

If you are preparing for a trip of your own anytime soon, happy packing!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday: Be Inspired and Rest 06-22-14

Happy Sunday, friends! I wanted to share a few of my most inspirational (or simply delightful) encounters online this week.  I can't take credit for any of these gracious expressions or hopeful links, but I do hope that passing them on will provide some joy to you today! If you find something you would like to Pin, please take time to visit the original source, if available, and Pin from there. I have provided an easy-to-click hyperlink credit to any traceable sources. When applicable, I've also included my favorite quotes from some of the reading passages so you can have a small preview before you read on.

I hope this is encouraging for you! Have a lovely, restful Sunday!

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Source: The Keep Calm-O-Matic

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Source: Precept Ministries, "Get Some Sleep"
"We do not need to know what will happen tomorrow. We only need to know he leads us and 'we will find grace to help us when we need it' (Heb. 4:16 NLT)." ~Max Lucado

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Source: A Holy Experience, "Dear Women and Daughters, When You're Tired of  Media Voices Telling You What Beauty and Love Is
"The world will say they will love you if you are beautiful —- but the truth is you are beautiful because you are loved.
Because I love you. Because He who is Love loves you unconditionally.
Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things." ~Ann Voskamp
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Source: (in)courage,  The Miracle of Freshly-Pressed Pants

"I am wrinkled. Flawed. Even sinful at times. In some areas of my life, the number of wrinkles I have make me seem hopeless. But I’m grateful that God doesn’t see me that way.
But those wrinkles still must be removed.
He starts with water. That’s His word." ~Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts 
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

TPT Updates and GIVEAWAY!

In case you haven't visited lately, (I know all of you teacher friends are all spending your summers on TPT, right?) I thought I would showcase some new additions to the Tally Tales TPT store. Here are a few previews of some new products available; simply click on the link to be redirected to the store entry, where you can learn more about each item. 

Oh, and make sure you check out a special Giveaway at the bottom of this post...
Compound Words: Matching, Building, Writing, and Word Searching Activities
The Best Eggs in the Nest: A Short E/Long E Word Sorting Activity
What am I? Name that Shape! 2D and 3D Shapes Review Activities 
Bubble Buddies: Two Center Activities to Review Short U and Long U Vowel Sounds
So I'm really excited to share this giveaway... THREE winners will be chosen to select ANY Tally Tales TPT product for free! The rules are simple; join the rafflecopter giveaway by following the TallyTales TPT store and completing any of the other options to gain extra points. Some options (such as Tweeting about the giveaway) are available for multiple entries. Other than that, browse my TPT store, and choose the product you would most like to receive. If chosen, you will receive that product as a freebie

More good news? You have a whole week to participate! Winners will be announced and contacted next Saturday June 21st! Get started in the rafflecopter below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 13, 2014

On the Menu: Southwestern Crockpot Chicken {Eat Clean}


I found this recipe over at The Gracious Pantry, and I am so glad I gave it a try. I tend to love most crockpot recipes, but this one may be a new favorite. It is easy, healthy, and so tasty. I did make few slight changes to the recipe when I made this dish, so you may want to visit the original recipe, just in case you prefer her version. I doubt you could go wrong with this one, either way.



Ingredients:
4 raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken breast cutlets)
1 15 oz can of organic pinto beans (drained)
1 15 oz can of organic black beans
2 fresh large tomatoes, diced*
1 pound frozen corn (thaw first)
1 jar of your preferred salsa (12-14 oz) 

So, just a few notes here: you don't have to use organic ingredients for this recipe. I just prefer to use organic products whenever possible. I also use organic chicken, but again, that's up to you. 

*Also, you may choose to use a can of diced tomatoes (28 oz) rather than dicing the tomatoes yourself. I typically prefer to use fresh tomatoes whenever possible, especially in the summer time. There are also some concerns about the safety of consuming canned tomatoes, and while there is so much information out there supporting both sides of the eat-clean debate, my personal philosophy is something like this: if you can dice a fresh tomato yourself -and possibly contribute to a healthier version of a recipe- why not skip the can? Also, it's important to note that tomatoes canned in glass containers are a safe alternative, since the can itself contains the greatest threat. 

Directions:
So. This is the easy part…

1. Place the chicken on the bottom of your crockpot. 
2. Pour the salsa and diced tomatoes over the chicken.
3. Layer on the beans and corn.
4. Cook on low for 5-7 hours, or until the chicken easily falls apart when the pot is stirred.

Easy enough, right? If you are wanting to have a well-themed meal, serve this dish with tortilla chips and a side of guacamole for an extra southwestern flair. :) 

Again, I adapted this recipe from Tiffany over at The Gracious Pantry. Please pay her a visit; her blog is full of wonderful recipes, and she includes nutritional information with each recipe as well! She posted a great nutritional content list for her version of this recipe as well!

I hope you enjoy! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday: Be Inspired and Rest 06-08-14

Happy Sunday, friends! I wanted to share a few of my most inspirational (or simply delightful) encounters online this week.  I can't take credit for any of these gracious expressions or hopeful links, but I do hope that passing them on will provide some joy to you today! If you find something you would like to Pin, please take time to visit the original source, if available, and Pin from there. I have provided an easy-to-click hyperlink credit to any traceable sources. When applicable, I've also included my favorite quotes from some of the reading passages so you can have a small preview before you read on.

I hope this is encouraging for you! Have a lovely, restful Sunday!

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Source: Pinterest Share

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Source: What to do When Your Faith Feels Dry/RELEVANT Magazine
"But ultimately, faith means I am no longer in control of my life. I am cemented to Christ, and to what Christ values and to what Christ says. What Jesus Christ does and where Jesus Christ goes now becomes the dominant narrative of my life. When Jesus leads me into the unknown, I go into the unknown with Him. I can’t not go—I am cemented to him by faith." ~Daniel Hill

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Source: "Why I No Longer Cry Over Burnt Bread" Proverbs 31 Ministries

"A good mom isn’t good at everything. She’s just really good at one thing. A good mom is good at being who God created her to be.
The truth for bread-burning mamas like me sitting in school cafeterias and for gifted women like you sitting in mini-vans, corporate offices and rocking chairs is this: We weren’t created to do it all." ~Alicia Bruxvoort

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Source: A Holy Experience, "When God Changes All Your Plans"

"Because, of course, it is not the story I thought I would live.
But that is how God moves.
This is how he takes us and shakes us and changes our world with a plan we cannot know." Claire Diaz-Ortiz
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our Latest DIY Project: Deck Restore

Notice the "our" in the title? It really should say "my husband's" because I did very little of the work on this project. I'm mainly sharing because this product turned out to be a wonderful investment for our home, and I thought our (his) experience might be helpful for some of you.

Our back deck was in serious need of a bit of restoration. The wood was splintered and weathered, and it just needed some TLC. We found this product at Lowe's…
You can use this on patios, decks, sidewalks, etc, and it can be used on either wood or concrete. Here are some before-and-after pictures from our project!


Here are a few more angles, going down the stairs.

You can tell from this picture that this stain leaves a textured finished on the wood. It definitely fills in all those cracks and holes in the wood, and when it dries, it almost feels like walking on solid, stable sand. I'm not sure you would have exactly the same result on new, smooth wood, but I love the effect it gave our weathered deck.

You may also notice that the finish on the railing is not quite the same as the finish on the floorboards of the deck. You do have to purchase a different stain for railings, but they will color-match it, so the only difference between the two surfaces is the texture.

Okay, here are final before-and-after shots of the complete, once finished… Did I mention that this was a really, really big project??? Whew!

We did use two coats on everything, and there's a specific technique for applying the paint. You will also need a heavy-duty roller to apply the paint. Even with that, we wore the first one out and had to go back to purchase a second one! Your typical paint roller just won't handle this very well.

What do you think? I will say that this is a slow process, and it's not an easy task to undertake. The hubs watched a few how-to videos to learn the technique, and it was certainly tedious. However, the outcome really is great, and we are so glad to have a surface that will help preserve our deck for quite a few years.

Here's a great how-to video to help you get started if you are interested!