Monday, January 30, 2012

this changed my life {and my sanity}

I seriously cannot tell you all enough how much I love E-mealz.  I has revolutionized my life!  I don't endorse or talk about many other companies on this blog... so you know it has to be good.  Please give me five minutes to convince you, too.

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

I love to be organized and efficient with everything I do.  But I had never gotten the hang of meal planning, grocery shopping, then actually cooking the meals I planned.  It took too much energy and too much time.

Until I discovered e-mealz!  {No one from the company has asked me to write a blog post, I just love it that much.  I'm pretty confident you will at least want to TRY it after reading what I have to say.}

The program is simple.  You can sign up for a 3 month, 6 month, or 12 month subscription.  (of course, you save the most with the 12 month).  Then, you choose the plan that works for you:

Low Fat
Low Carb
Portion Control
Gluten Free
or Natural & Organic

There is a plan for everyone.  After paying {which is on the cheap... between $5 - $7 per month}, you can download your menu sheet and shopping list every Sunday.

Here is a sample of the menu sheet:

And the shopping lsit:

I went shopping with my list for the first time last week and it was so easy to follow.  Everything is sorted by section in the store AND since you choose the store you shop at most, E-mealz will plan your menu based on the sales that week!!  This is like couponing on steroids {but without the side effects and absolutely no cutting, clipping, or printing}.

And can I just tell you about the meals?  I've cooked three so far.  And each time my husband has literally praised me for how delicious they taste.  Every meal has taken me less than 45 minutes to prep and prepare including the suggested side dishes to go with each one.  We've had a delicious peach salsa chicken, creamy chicken pasta, and white chicken chili... all to die for.  With the exception of the chili, we always had leftovers for lunch the next day.  And, the site claims they do not rotate recipes frequently, so this gives a lot of variety to my weekly menu.

My only qualm is that I can't pick the meals I want to eat each week, but there is something nice about not having to think.  And if a meal doesn't look good {which hasn't happened yet}, my plan is to just swap it with a previous meal we've had and LOVED.  The shopping list items are numbered to correspond with each meal, so deleting or changing one is easy.

When it comes time to prepare the meals, I have everything I need to make it happen.  No clunky cookbook and no open laptop with the latest Pinterest meal recipe - just one sheet of paper hanging on my fridge with simple instructions.

The best part?  My family is eating healthy AND AROUND THE SAME TABLE.  I don't have to scrounge around to find something to cook.  I know exactly what is for dinner each night {with absolutely no work outside of pushing print to get a menu together} and my life feels so much more in control.  Know what I mean?

Dave Ramsey endorses the program, for heaven's sake!  So you know it has to be good for your budget, too.  Plus, I found a coupon code (NEWYOU) that got me 20% off my subscription.

What are you waiting for?  Make your evenings enjoyable and delicious.  Go sign up!  I'm hooked after one week and will never be going back to another system again. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

heaven has celebrity magazines

The bigger this blog gets, the more I struggle with basking in the fame.  And I'm getting pretty sick of my attitude.  I don't want to care about "followers".  I don't want my heart to do leaps and dances each time the number of my "fans" goes up.  And I don't want to have this sinking feeling when someone unsubscribes.  In fact, it would just be easier if I could delete the following terms from my mind and conversation:
  • ~ fans
  • ~ followers
  • ~ subscribers
  • ~ readers
  • ~ and stats
I don't want you to read that and think I don't care about YOU.  YOU, the one with blonde hair who sits each morning at her computer with her coffee to catch up on Better Life.  Or YOU, the one with seven adorable kids that clamor for your attention all day long.  Or YOU, the one that comments and emails and encourages.  I KNOW that behind each of these posts are thousands of eyes.

Eyes that belong to people.

And honestly, that makes it all worth it.  If I can encourage your heart and soul for the five minutes it takes to read a Better Life blog post, then I will keep on keeping on.

But I've got to get it out of my mind that I NEED you here.  To build me up.  To encourage me.  To tell me I'm a great person.  I can't/shouldn't get that from all of you.  I can only get that from Him.  Enter my memory verse for the week.  John 12:43...

Remember this post?  I'm so embarrassed I started that lovely, giveaway post off by complaining about lack of comments.  And that I ran that Facebook promotion to get more fans.  Forgive me for seeking your praise above God's.

What do I want to be famous for anyway?  The "reach" of my blog?  My 3,000th follower?  The 400th bag sale?  no.  I can't take any of that with me when I die.

I want to be famous for loving.  For encouraging.  For inspiring other to love God more and love people more.  This blog may have thousands of readers, but I only blog FOR one.  Him.

He must become greater; I must become less. {John 3:30}

{help me remember that.}

I've deleted the little box on my blog that shows how many fans and followers I have.  It seems that Google Friend Connect is going away anyway on March 1st and who knows what Google is going to do to all you lovely readers.  If you want to be sure to get my updates after March 1st, the best way would be to subscribe to the newsletter which will deliver the blog posts to your email.  {But, I'll try not to care if you unsubscribe}.

And I'd delete my Facebook fan number if I could, but you can guarantee there will be no more "I'm only 5 fans away from ...."  {usually someone deletes themselves immediately after I post that, anyway - Murphy's Law}.

It's funny... as I was writing this post I was reminded of a certain vice I had in college... celebrity gossip magazines.  You know the kind.  I'd go to the bookstore to "study" and find my self hidden behind piles of them.  I went on a fast from them once I realized it was out of control.  It was then that God shared something with me.

Heaven has celebrity magazines that are all the rage.  Except, instead of Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson covering every page, there are pictures and articles about us.  Us... people who are doing good.  People who are loving with all their heart.  People who are giving when it seems they have nothing left to give.  People who are doing it all for God and His Glory.

And we are famous.

Linking to Journey of Faith Friday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

quiet book page swap

I have been recently admiring Quiet Books.  You know, the soft, interactive, cloth books that promise to make your child sit quietly and be occupied?  (just kidding on that last part!)

I'm determined to make two for my kiddos in the month of February.  But, I in NO WAY want to sit for hours upon end making 10-15 DIFFERENT interactive pages out of felt.  As fun as it would be, I just don't have the time to spend on it.

So... I thought it might be fun to do a...

Basically, we would work in groups and each make 10-15 copies of ONE page from a quiet book.  Then, you would ship all of your pages to me by a certain date, I would compile them all and ship a complete Quiet Book back to you with 10-15 different pages!

What do you think?

Here are the requirements if you want to take place (please be sure you can complete it).
1. Make 10-15 copies of one page of a quiet book and have it shipped to me by Monday, February 27th WITH $5 for shipping costs.
2. Page material should be made of the thick, non-fusible Pellon from your local Joann's (I can get you the actual number this week).
3. Pages will measure 11" x 9" (to maximize the use of one yard of Pellon)
4. Nothing can be glued... everything must be sewn on to the page for long lasting results.
5. Use hard felt or cotton for pockets.  The softer felt can easily stretch over time.
6. Leave 1/2" margin on the right and left of the page for binding.
7. Detachable pieces must be sturdy and durable (use stiff felt or double up the soft felt with interfacing in-between)
8. Use sew on velcro instead of sticker kind.
9. Page must be interactive (search Pinterest for "quiet book" or see my board for ideas.)
10. Sew velcro with the soft side on the page to prevent sticking to the opposite side.
11. (optional, but nice and professional... use matching thread when sewing.  This hides mistakes, too!)
12. If you live outside the United States, you MAY participate, but please be aware that shipping costs may be more than $5.  I will email you the estimated shipping cost if you need.

You will be binding your own books after you get the pages.  I thought this would be the simplest way to do it.  So, you will essentially be sent 10-15 loose quiet book pages to bind together in the manner that works for you.  (also lots of tutorials on Pinterest on how to bind Quiet Books).

In case you STILL aren't convinced that you want a Quiet Book, check out the cute, interactive pages!  Many of these sites actually offer the templates for the page to download.  So the work is very minimal!

From my "Quiet Book" board on Pinterest.

Ready to sign up?  If you want to participate in the Quiet Book Page Swap, leave a comment below with your email address.  I will take the first 15 people who comment.  (If there is a BIG interest, I will consider making two swap groups... so go ahead and comment if you want to be considered!)

You have until January 30th (one week from today) to decide which Quiet Book Page you want to make (it will be one 1st come, 1st serve basis, so have a couple pages picked out when you email me in case your idea is already taken).

I'm SO excited! Aren't you?

PS... if you have TWO kids and want TWO Quiet Books, leave TWO comments below.  Remember, though, you will have to make 10-15 copies of TWO different pages... double the work!

Friday, January 20, 2012

simple embroidery tutorial

I am participating in a Journal Swap this week.  It's been really fun to dream up a journal cover to make for my partner (maybe it's you!).  After creating the cover (which I can't show you until the big link party over at Aleks Handmade), I decided it needed a little embellishing in the form of hand stitched embroidery.

I picked one of my favorite Bible verses and went to town.

Embroidering is so simple and the results are so cute.  I've seen so many cute tea towels, wall hangings, and more on Pinterest using embroidery.

Want to know how to do it?  I can't speak for all those more intricate designs, but "writing" something with embroidery is fairly easy.  Here's how:

For this project I used three strands of embroidery thread and a regular needle.  {I think the standard needlepoint and embroidery projects use 2 strands of thread.  My material was just a little plush and I wanted it to stand out.}

1. Thread the needle and knot the end.  Using a pencil, lightly write the word/saying you want to embroider.  {the picture below says "plans" right next to the pencil tip}

2.  Using your threaded needle, make one stitch along your pencil mark.  {see the "l" below}.  Then, for the second stitch {and everyone after that}, come up the back side a little further from the last stitch.

3.  Put your needle back down through the fabric at the point where your last stitch ended.  This is called a "backstitch" because you are essentially stitching backward!

Do the same "backstitch" while you follow along your pencil marks.  Eventually you will end up with a sweet saying written in thread!  And the fact that my stitching isn't perfect {a little wonky actually} just gives the finished product more of a handmade feel!

Seriously... get on Pinterest and search for "embroidery" {after you pin THIS tutorial to your boards, of course}.  There are some INCREDIBLE pieces out there.

I think I may have a new obsession.  Watch out tea towels!

ps - I'm on twitter now.  Yes, I joined the group of tweet-freaks.  Follow me?  @betterlifebags

Linking this to Think Pink Sundays.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a tip worth pinning

We spent this past weekend in St. Louis - and were able to see quite a few family members.

My mother in law is a great cook and she made spaghetti for us one night.  Except she didn't use the same kind of pot that I would have used to boil my noodles.  And I never will again.

Goodbye normal 5-quart pot.

Hello wide, shallow stir fry pan!

Seriously, how did I not think of this before?  I always hate that half of my spaghetti gets cooked before it starts to sink slowly down into the boiling water.  Now, all my spaghetti will get evenly cooked.

Really, sometimes it's the littlest things in life.

{and I couldn't very well hide this new little tip from all of you, could I?}

Friday, January 13, 2012

is your marriage dusty?

I was doing some deep cleaning the other day and pulled this out from under my dresser.

Yikes.  This used to be a picture that I cherished.  Our first kiss as husband and wife.  And now, I find it buried under dust and debris - hidden away?!

What has happened to my marriage?  Have I treated my husband just like I treated this picture?  Once cherished, now forgotten?

Lots of things have happened since that wedding day.  Babies... moving... deaths... more babies... new ministry... new jobs.  Lots of important things, but nothing so important that my marriage would become dusty and left untouched.

Our marriage is surviving at this stage.  But, had I focused energy into it over the last few years, it could be thriving.  And what would happen if I just let things continue coasting for the next ten years?  twenty years?

I'm committing myself to INTENTIONALLY thinking about loving my husband this year.  Cherishing him, supporting him, listening to him.  Want to join me?

If you're like me, you need resources and ideas to get you started and motivated.  So, I've put together a whole "Love Your Husband" Pinterest board dedicated to my new resolution. {isn't Pinterest the BEST?!}

It's full of books, prayers, date ideas, websites, and gift ideas.  All focused on our husbands and how to show them how much we love them.

You can guarantee I'll be adding lots of things here as I come across them.  And of course, blogging about it and chatting up with you all about how it's going.  I'd love for you to join me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

this week's bags (plus an extra)

This week was my first week back to work after the holidays.  It proved to be fun!

Alicia bag WITH an adjustable handle/strap.

Maggie bag with two inside pockets.

3 Large flat-bottomed reusable snack bags.

2 Point and Shoot Camera Cases - the Lana.

A checkbook cover.

The Tracey Clutch.

And the surprise... a special custom-order table runner made form Amy Butler material.  This was a fun change from bags this week! 

All bags can be found here - in the shop

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Voting is LIVE!

Don't forget to go vote for your favorite Pinterest Challenge piece! I don't know how you'll decide since there are so many awesome ones! {Be sure to click the vote star ABOVE the image of the project you want to win}

My Pinterest boards got much fuller after this Round, didn't yours?  And I discovered some incredible blogs and crafty people. 

I just love this Challenge!

Voting will be open until midnight tomorrow, but don't wait (or you'll forget)!  

Monday, January 9, 2012

give when they can't give back

Awhile ago I posted this about my neighbor across the street.  The old, lonely woman who has no family and no visitors.

Well, since that post, I have failed to keep visiting her.  Every now and then I'd see someone come to her door and take her somewhere.  So, I assumed she was being taken care of.

I was wrong.

Last week, I was enjoying this nice Fall weather we are having in January with my kids.  She came to her door and yelled my name.  (well, she calls me "Bunny"... not sure why).  Slightly annoyed, I carried my toddler and my infant across the street (when all Jonah wanted to do was ride his bike), up her steps and into a house where they could touch nothing.

When I got to the door, she was crying.  Tears.  I come in to find out that she missed her appointment to get her food stamps renewed.  She handed me a letter ONE MONTH old stating her appointment was in November.  She has had no food for over a month.

She goes on to explain that she can't read and has no telephone to call the office.  And suddenly, this interesting feeling starts to come over me - a compassionate "I'll take care of you" attitude coupled with a "this is going to interfere with my life" feeling. 

The next morning, I take her down to the welfare office.  I promise to drop her off and pick her up when everything was set.  But, as I help her walk into the building, I realize that this woman needs more than a ride to the office... She needs someone to stand up for her.

So, I sit with her for two hours before we were told that the woman we need to see hasn't even arrived yet.

We leave.

And another week goes by of me calling DAILY to talk to someone at the office.  Another week with no food for my neighbor.  We brought a meager batch of groceries over to help curb her appetite until we could figure out this situation.

She finally has her benefits back and my husband and I have a new tradition of bringing coffee over to her every morning.  Those 15 minutes may be all the people interaction she gets all day.

I like helping my neighbors.  It's why we moved here - and it's nice to see some progress being made in the "loving people arena".

Which brings me to a new thought. 

I've recently been convicted that the money we (as a Better Life Bag community) give to isn't enough.  The money that I donate from 10% of your bag purchases eventually gets returned to me (since the process is a micro-loan).  And I think God would rather me give the money to people and things that can't repay me.

So, I'm going to start being obedient to that leading.  I'm going to start giving the money from your Better Life Bag orders to people and things that can't give back.  Are you ok with that?

I have a few ideas up my sleeve of needs in our little neighborhood, but for now, I think I'll start with my neighbor.

I told Neil that she could be our "family project."  He responded, "No.  She IS our family."

BLB of the day:
Save 10% with BAGOFTHEDAY {good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

***linking up to Click.Pray.Love***

Friday, January 6, 2012

my pinterest challenge piece revealed!

Did anyone guess what project I had done from the Pinhead graphic?

Well, here it is:

Clara's 1st birthday party is coming up at the end of the month.  Last year, I did cupcakes instead of a cake.  And a large cupcake for the birthday boy to devour.  It worked out so well that I want to do it again.  And when I saw this chandelier makeover at I Heart Naptime, I knew I had to do it! 

She has a great tutorial, so I won't repeat it here.  The hardest part of this was getting the wires cut.  But thanks to hubby's tool box, a pair of wire cutters did the trick!

It only took a trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore (for the chandelier)  and a trip to Joann's (for the wood plates and spray paint) to get it done.  I'm excited because I think I'll re-spray paint it different colors for different parties.  I wish I could show you the final product of it at work at her party, but I guess you'll just have to wait a few more weeks!  Until then, you can see a sneak peek on my Pinterest Board for her party.  Isn't Pinterest great?!

And in case this is your first time visiting, let me introduce myself.  I'm Rebecca.  You can read about what Better Life Bags is all about here.

Thanks for joining us for this Pinterest Challenge!  We LOVE having the accountability to get some things off our boards, too!  Good luck to everyone who entered!  And I'd be so honored if you'd follow my blog or join us for games and conversation on Facebook!


BLB of the day: 

Save 10% with BAGOFTHEDAY {good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

Thursday, January 5, 2012

pinterest challenge round 4 reminder

Remember: Go link up your Pinterest Challenge projects at Kara's Blog!

And today, Ashlee at I'm Topsy Turvy has something lacey to show off for her Pinterest Challenge Piece.  Lace is one of my favorite fabrics to craft with lately!

BLB of the day:

Save 10% with BAGOFTHEDAY {good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

your favorite blog posts of 2011

Reminder: Link up your Pinterest Challenge pieces over at Kara's blog!
Then go check out the Pinterest piece that Amanda made - the preview picture makes it look like something delicious to eat!


I did it in 2010, so why not repeat the tradition?  It's kinda fun to remember all the posts I did throughout the year, and to see the ones that you all like the best!  So here it is:

{Click on each title or picture to be taken to that post}

#11 My mom's famous Turkey Cookies

#10  The day I stumbled across Ann Voskamp's blog
Still don't regret that day!

#9  My Showcase on TOMS Shoes
Not sure why this page is so popular, but it was written up last year during my "Gifts that Give Back" series.

#8  Easy Baby Blanket Tutorial
Thanks to my Grandma who first made these and to my mom who taught me how!

#7  Spray Painted Baskets
Thanks to Young House Love who pinned this on Pinterest, it's had incredible amounts of views.  Such an easy and fun makeover for a blank wall.

#6  DIY Shoe Socks
These are still my favorite socks to put on her! 

#5  Baby Tag Blanket
Made originally for Jonah when he was a baby.  Ditty wants nothing to do with it.  Oh well.

#4  The First Round of the Pinterest Challenge!
Wow, that was fun.  We were the first to start these challenges back in early July.  Young House Love picked up the idea shortly after.  Here's to another year full of Pinterest Challenge Link Parties!

#3 Create Your Own Subway Art 

#2  Upcycled Shirts to Baby Bibs
{technically from Nov 2010, but Pinterest keeps it alive!}

#1 Homemade Photo Flip Book
I think I've given out over 3,000 sets of these prayer cards!

Here's to another fun year of crafts, games, inspirational stories, prayer cards, and Better Life Bags!

BLB of the day:
Save 10% with BAGOFTHEDAY {good only on this bag until midnight on date of blog post}

Related Posts with Thumbnails