Hello friends!  I promise I haven't forgotten about you.  I just wanted to share a link to a guest post I recently wrote for our local church family.

Enjoy! http://www.gracechurchnwa.org/single-post/2016/12/22/Pondered

If you need me, I'll be watching kitty videos on Youtube until the election news blows over.  I promise to have a 'Life Lately' post soon, it's long overdue!

Don't Read The Comments

Normally, I try and write with a level head.  I take a step back from the heat of a moment, calm my emotions, and present what I have to say in a calm and rational manner.  Today is not that day.

You might remember a post I wrote about a year ago, with just a few of my tangled-up thoughts about the Syrian refugee crisis.  Right after that, the horrible attacks in Paris happened, and I'm sorry to say that I stopped speaking out on the matter.  The fear in the world was too volatile, and my own fear of backlash towards my speaking out was too great.  But sometimes faith has to be greater than fear, "for God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline." (2 Tim. 1:7)

There is a local organization, called Canopy Northwest Arkansas, that was founded with the purpose of helping displaced refugees that come to our area to receive support as they acclimate to their new homes.  As the first group of refugees are preparing to move to Northwest Arkansas, the organization and resettlement efforts have gained some publicity, mostly through local news networks.  I know this, not because I watch the news (since we don't have cable, we survive on Netflix and Hulu), but because of the reactions, comments, and shares from friends on the online soapbox known as Facebook.  For every story on my newsfeed saying "so-and-so liked this article," there was another one following up with "so-and-so (whom I still love and respect) reacted to this article."  With an angry face.

Curiosity got the better of me, of course, so I clicked through to the comments to see what the local climate was towards these refugees.  The dark underbelly of the internet did not disappoint.

"Why are we helping them when there's still homeless people here that need help?"

"What about the hundreds of foster kids?  Don't they deserve to be placed first?"

"I hope these do-gooders are willing to let these parasites live with them, I bet after a week they'll be changing their tune."

"Why is this our problem?  They caused their own war, let them bomb themselves into oblivion."

The truth is, if you want to find out where the scared, xenophobic, petty people are hiding, all you have to do is put an article on Facebook about "scary foreign people" (italics added for sarcasm).  I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of amazing, loving people, so when I read words steeped in fear and hysteria, it honestly shocks me.  I forget how hateful we can be to each other sometimes.

I decided to post here, rather than 'feeding the trolls' online, so if you're someone who holds any of those opinions, consider this my open letter as a response.

If you genuinely want to help the homeless in our community, volunteer here:


If you want to help veterans wounded in the line of duty, start here:


If you want to find out more about how to welcome foster kids into your home, this organization is an amazing resource:


If you are a Christian who thinks that our love should only be extended to people in our community, who share the same beliefs, traditions, and birthplaces, I'm not going to respond with my own words.  I'll leave you with these instead:

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
(Matthew 5:43-48)

I can understand being afraid.  I spend all my time with my kids at the park counting to three, just so I know they haven't been abducted in the two seconds when I looked away.  I park next to the cart corral at Wal-Mart, so I can plunk two of my three kids immediately into a cart so they can't wander off in a dangerous parking lot.  I walk to my car after dark with my keys between my knuckles, just in case I'm attacked.  Whether I would actually be able to stab someone if necessary remains to be seen.  My point is, I understand wanting to be on alert, but at the end of the day, I'm not really in charge of my own or my family's safety.  God is.  And even if you're worried about living next to someone of a different religion, is it really the gospel if you spend your time and energy hating them?  If you say, "Muslims have killed so many Christians, so I hate you by association," are those the words of Christ, or your fear?

What if we acknowledged that most people don't leave their homes and families to travel via unsafe means to a strange culture because of a good situation?  If the U.S were to break out in a massive civil war, would we say that American citizens deserve to stay and die because their government caused a war?  Would you want to be the one who manages to move their family to safety, only to be greeted by hatred and racist slurs in your new home?

What could happen if these people, coming to our country out of their own desperation and fear, were showered with love?  What could happen if a group of people who might have been taught that Westerners were their enemy, were instead greeted with respect?  "Do I not destroy my enemies when  I make them my friends?" (Abraham Lincoln)

If you want to learn more about Canopy NWA's efforts, and how you can get involved in the refugee resettlement process, come hear from Emily Linn, director of Canopy NWA, during the Grace Collective Coffeehouse, this Sunday at 5:30 pm, at Grace Church NWA (2828 Crossover Rd. in Fayetteville).

Thrifted Pinterest - Commitment-phobe

Today's outfit is inspired by two pins:


OOTD - Transition

 The times, they are a-changin'...

Realizations for $200

“Things you say to your husband that you might also say to God.”

Answer: “What is ‘the extended name of this blog post?’”

Let me preface that title with a disclaimer: My husband is not God. Should be an obvious statement, sure, but I just wanted to get that out there! He and I are both flawed humans kept together by God’s grace, which is exactly the way I’d want things to be. Really, if we were a marriage of one flawed person and one perfect, it would be a very unhappy and short-lived one.

With that being said, I made a realization one recent weekend after the hubs and I enjoyed a post-date late-night drink while two of our three kiddos were at a sleepover. We were able to hold a conversation without the constant, beautiful interruption that is named KIDS. One of the things I treasure about Andrew is that he has a habit of professing his love to me (like, A LOT) when his inhibitions are lowered. I mean, really, who wouldn’t love that?

I realized, though, that what went through my head as he said all this didn’t match what I said in response.

For example:

He says: “I love you so much.”

I think, I am so undeserving of that, and it scares me to think of what losing that love would feel like. I love you too, but please don’t ever take that away.

But I say: “I love you too.”

You know that video/article that was shared on Facebook by, like, EVERYONE I KNOW a few weeks ago about the Japanese “Cube” personality test? If not, here’s your spoiler alert. I won’t share all of it, but in the first part of the test, you close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through a desert. You come across a cube. Now, how big is the cube, and what is it made out of? There are a few more questions after that, but that’s the beginning and the general gist. The size of your cube is the size of your ego, and the material represents how open you are with other people.

My cube is made of stone.

I would guess my husband’s biggest complaint about me is that I don’t share things. Unless I’m under extreme duress or I’m venting ALL THE EMOTIONS that have been bottled up for longer than I’d care to admit, I don’t share. At least, not verbally. He has gotten some carefully-worded letters in the past, but deep heart-to-hearts? Not an area that’s comfortable for me. And, even though God is the one who knows my every thought, I try to do the same things to Him.

He says: “I love you so much.”

I think, I am so undeserving of that, and it scares me to think of what losing that love would feel like. I love you too, but please don’t ever take that away.

But I say: “I love you too.”

He says: “You’re doing a great job as a wife and mother.”

I think, You’re kidding, right? Don’t you see the dirty dishes in the sink? If only I had the time and energy to do more, to serve you better. Then I would deserve that compliment.

But I say: “Thank you.”

He says: “My love is forever.”

I think, I know you think that now, but I’m waiting for the day that I screw up too badly, or do something to hurt you. Then you’d have no choice but to turn away from me. I hope that never happens.

But I say: “I’m so glad you love me.”

I almost didn’t make it to church the following Sunday. I was hungover, we stayed up too late, and if I didn’t have to pick up kiddos I probably would have stayed in bed. Sometimes, I think it’s okay to spend Sunday at home as a day of rest, but this was not that day. Every song from that morning’s worship set held the response to my hesitance to accept God’s love. I can mentally affirm that I am loved, and yet still wrestle with actually accepting it. So instead, God had me sing it.

I think, Please be patient with me, and I sing: “You’re rich in love, and you’re slow to anger.” (“10,000 Reasons”)

I think, Eventually I’ll screw up, and I sing: “Take me as you find me, all my fears and failures.” (“Mighty to Save”)

I think, There’s no way I could ever deserve this love, and I sing: “I’ve tasted and seen the sweetest of loves, where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone.” (“Holy Spirit”)

I think, This love is so strong that it scares me, and I sing: “All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into your love.” (“Sinking Deep”)

I think, What if I lose myself in serving you? and I sing: “Your love is better than life.” (“Kindness”)

And I think, All I have to give in return is myself, and I sing: “What can I say, and what can I do, but offer this heart … completely to you. … I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned. … All I am is yours.” (“The Stand”)

I can only hope that God continues to chip away at my stone cube, and that there’s a smaller, softer one to be found inside. And I’m so thankful he loves me regardless.

This post was originally posted on Grace Church NWA's blog.  There are so many great posts to read, I'd highly suggest checking them all out!

OOTD - Toddler Grandma Style

You guys, you guys!  I've found my spirit animal!  Actually, it's not an animal, and can we just talk for a second about how overused the whole 'spirit animal' comment is lately?  "MMMM, chili cheese fries are my spirit animal, Kim K is my spirit animal, etc....."  No, just me?  Okay, I'll quit ranting.

But really, I must have been on the same wavelength as the writer of this great article, "'Toddler Grandma Style,' The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free," because I wore this outfit last week, and didn't stumble across the article until today.  I'm not going to go into too much detail, because she did such a great job with articulating her points, so just read it already!  Also, here's my outfit:

OOTD - Two-fer

To make up for my lack of posting lately, my outfit for the day features a two-fer.  More specifically, I'm breaking TWO rules this summer, at least according to this silly little article.  In case you were wondering, both bedazzling and leopard print apparently have an expiration date: your 30th birthday, at least according to the original writer.  So, of course, little miss "leopard print is a neutral and, ooh look, shiny!" me had to go ahead and break both of those ridiculous "rules" in one outfit!

Greek Pasta Salad

Do you guys have any foods that you only crave at certain times?  I remarked to a friend once that I look forward to summer because that's when everyone makes pasta salad.  He replied that he wasn't aware that pasta salad was seasonal, but for me it definitely is!  It's just too hot outside to eat hot pasta, but I'm always craving pasta of some kind it seems, so pasta salad is the solution.  I whipped up a super savory version this last week, and it was just too easy and delicious not to share, so here's a quick recipe for ya'll.

OOTD - Girlier Than Me

Hey friends!  How was your 4th?  Did anyone lose any limbs or fingers to fireworks?  (I sincerely hope not!)  Ours was pretty uneventful, but of course, when there's explosive devices involved, that's the type of day you want to have!  I'm finally getting around to sharing some pics of a dress I wore a few weeks ago; a very, VERY girly dress!

OOTD - White Hot Collar

If you guys remember my outfit post from last week, then you know I might have gotten a little hot under the collar about a certain 'do not wear' list.  A friend of mine told me after reading, "I hope I don't end up making you mad, I don't want to be on your bad side!"  I somehow doubt that would happen, and even if, I'd hope I'd be a bit less passive aggressive about that than putting a blog post on the internet about it! :-P

This week, my "Over 30 Don't" wear item is a short dress.  Now, this dress isn't *that* short.  I do have a few I've put on where my hubby looks at me and asks if I forgot pants, but this isn't one of them!  But, even if it was, I would think I have the right to wear it, regardless of age.  Don'tcha think? (also, little tip: I wear bike shorts under all my dresses and skirts.  I happened across a few pairs on a clearance rack for $1 a piece, and they're perfect for avoiding *ahem* embarassing situations.)

OOTD - Stubborn

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of the awesome that goes along with being over 30, stuff like maturity and a more-defined sense of self.  Not that I have everything figured out, I'm still basically wingin' it in my daily life!  There's some not so awesome stuff that goes along with being out of your 20's too, though, and the biggest boogers of them all are the various fashion articles that show up constantly, telling women about all the things they CAN'T wear now that they're no longer 29.  This is where my stubborn streak shows up.  I mean, really Ms. Random-Chick-On-The-Internet, I CAN'T wear that?  Really?!?!

You Are Loved.

When I was pregnant with Little A, my middle kid, I was preparing for a week-long mission trip to NY, NY to help with a church's summer program for kids in their community.  Just before I left, I had a Sunday where I was helping to sing in our church's praise band, and almost passed out.  It sounds a lot more dramatic than it was, trust me.  Basically, I got overheated, sat down in the middle of a song, and had at least three kind people bring me water all at the same time.  That week, we had a guest pastor who spoke so much truth, even if I've forgotten what exactly he preached on.  All I really remember was that at the end, as he closed out his time of teaching and called us all to a time of reflection, singing, and prayer, I broke down into tears and sought out trusted people to pray with (unlike my normal habit of 'excusing myself' to the bathroom and leaning against the wall in the handicapped stall while I have an emotional breakdown by myself.).  I was terrified of not being changed by this mission experience; scared that I was going to come back and re-start in the same daily routine without experiencing any lasting impact.  It was during this time of prayer that a church elder said, as my mother-in-law, he, and I stood huddled in a group, "God, I don't know exactly what Grace needs, but I know that she needs to know this today: she is loved.  Grace, you are loved."  I nodded and tried to slow the tears from escaping my eyes, and croaked out, "I know.  Thank you."

This is the part where I say, yep, I came back from that trip, and immediately started my own Christian summer camp program for kids here in Arkansas.  Right?  {you can insert any other success story here if you'd like}

Here's the rub: I didn't do that.  I had an incredible time in New York, and if I hadn't been pregnant with a husband and kid waiting for me at home, I would seriously have considered 'missing the bus' and staying in the city that never sleeps.  It was awesome.  But, instead of running off to start some new life in a giant city, I came home.  I settled in to the house we'd moved into that summer. (I say we, Daddy A and some family actually moved in while I was out of town.  Not that I would have been able to help anyways, but I lucked out on that move!)  I prepared to have our second child, and got busy with the lofty yet exhausting task of raising the next generation.  I've done countless loads of dishes, changed even more countless diapers, broken down into tears on the bathroom floor while potty training my oldest, had a third child, made grocery lists, potty trained a second kid without any tears (Mine, not hers.  She still cried about it at times), and basically gone into mommy survival mode.  All the while, though, the phrase "you are loved" has been growing in the back of my mind, waiting for me to embrace its' truth and live it out.

Because really, what could be more basic, and yet more important and impactful, than knowing that you're loved by the God that created everything.  Even on days that you're so busy you can't even acknowledge His existence, you are loved.  Even if you know that He's seen your entire history, good and bad and mundane and exciting and everything you've ever done, you are loved.

Even if there were times that you refused to acknowledge his existence at all, you are loved.

Even if there are days that you still struggle with sin after being redeemed, you are loved.

Even if you've been hurt by people, some of whom might even claim God's name, you are loved.

Last Sunday the same speaker, who prompted my tears by his now-forgotten message four years ago, came to speak at our church again.  Man, it was good!  There's usually a podcast available that I'd direct you to, but technical difficulties have kept it from being posted, although the one that's on the website now is also excellent and deserves a listen.  There's also a link to a book study I'm participating in, and man, it is GOOD!  In one of the early chapters of "The Good and Beautiful God," author James Bryan Smith challenges the idea of God as the 'angry judge' who is sitting and waiting for his tiny human creations to screw up just so he can zap them, a fickle Creator who is only happy with you when you follow all the rules.  Instead, he offers this simple-to-say-harder-to-grasp idea instead: God is Love.  In one exercise, he suggests reading a familiar (to most) passage on love, while swapping the word 'love' with its replacement, 'God.'  Since God is Love, it reads seamlessly and beautifully:

"4 [God] is patient,[God] is kind. [He] does not envy,[He] does not boast, [He] is not proud. 5 [God] does not dishonor others, [He] is not self-seeking, [He] is not easily angered, [He] keeps no record of wrongs. 6 [God] does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7  [He] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
[God] never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, edited)

It makes me sad to see how widespread the idea of 'God is an angry judge' really is, both in Christianity and other religions.  I understand it though; the idea that 'God is nothing but the creator of a bunch of tedious rules that all of us sinners are incapable of following anyways' is one of the ideas that prompted me to leave the church.  I wish I had understood sooner the God that Jesus presents in the gospels, the Father in the prodigal son parable expectantly standing day after day in his doorway, his eyes scanning the horizon, hoping beyond hope that today is the day that his beloved son comes home.  I wish I had believed that I was loved.  I wish I had embraced GRACE, God's Riches At Christ's Expense, as Sunday's speaker had said.
Most of all, I wish that everyone I come into contact with could know that they are loved.  Not because of their social status, or waist size, or bank account, or race, or belongings, or symmetrical facial features, but because they exist.  I might only occupy one tiny little corner of the internet, but this corner must scream that truth.  I'll still share outfit posts and the like, but most of all, my little online life needs to point to God, and I hope to share more about His story through my life in the future.  If you're a long-time reader, or a new one, I hope that the only real take-away you get from my blog is this: you are loved.  Reflect on that, absorb it, believe it, write it on your mirror if you need daily reminders. (I did!)  
via Instagram
I welcome discussion, so comments and e-mails are welcome, and I'll do my best to respond in a timely manner.  Tomorrow, I'll be starting a new outfit photo series of sorts, so I hope you enjoy!  Thanks for reading.

Outfit Round-Up

So, if you're someone I've talked to in the past few weeks, chances are I've mentioned my upcoming (very minor!) surgery.  And, since I love talking about it so much (that's sarcasm, people), I figured I would let you guys know as well.  I'll be taking a couple weeks off from blogging while I recover in my bed with a stack of Stephen King novels and some doctor-prescribed painkillers.  In the meantime, here's a round-up of outfits I've worn in the past few months that I never got around to posting (until now, obvs.):

Outfit 1:

Fair Trade Friday - Hope Outfitters

Okay, it's time for a personal question: what legacy are you hoping to leave?

That vitally important question can shape the whole trajectory of your life.  That question is what prompted Ryan Welch, co-founder of Hope Outfitters, to step down from an entrepreneur group he was a part of, and start a company that gives back 100% of its' profits to the Kingdom of Christ.  He and his family left a life where the goal was to "build businesses and get rich," and instead decided to follow this most important truth: "The only thing that truly matters in this life is whether or not we love Christ and love others!" (from their "About Us" page.)  Every four months, the volunteer team that runs Hope Outfitters launches a new campaign for an aspect of social justice, and the current one is a cause that is close to my heart: supporting women that have been set free from a life of trafficking in Cambodia.

Thankfully, I married a man that shares the same heart, so when I sent him a link to Hope Outfitters explaining their 'Forever Free' campaign, he did some shopping.  And, I even convinced him to 'model' his purchases for today's post, along with a couple other tiny members of the family.

"Set Free" tee

OOTD - Silly and Sweatpantsless

Hey guys!  I missed Monday's Meal Plan this week, I'm still recovering from a bug I caught from my kiddos last week.  Thankfully, we're all mostly on the mend, and are even well enough to share some silly pictures with you!

...apparently, she's a kitty

Monday Meal Plan - 3/28

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a great Easter weekend, we ended up having a low-key day at home, which was just what we needed!  Here's this week's meal plan for our family:

(Don't forget, in addition to this list, I also eat an early 'pre-breakfast' of Triple Zero Oikos yogurt and coffee with added collagen [favorite brand here].  I skip Sundays since we usually just eat yogurt in the morning, and leftovers later in the day.  All page numbers are from the new edition of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.)

Monday (3/28)
B: Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, and sliced tomatoes (S)
L: THM Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole (S)
D: Pearl's Chili (p.101), I make a 1/2 batch and use ground turkey (E)
Snacks: Pay-Off Day Candies (p. 381) (S), Apple with PB dip (GY, PB, and stevia) (CO)
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,' Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha {pour cup of coffee over ice, then blend (separately) almond milk, cocoa, 1/2 scoop protein powder, a dash of cream, stevia, and a few drops peppermint extract, add to glass, stir and enjoy!}

Tuesday (3/29)
B: THM Pancakes (p. 359) with SF syrup, strawberries, and bacon (CO)
L: Lemon Herb Drummies (p.51), baked sweet potatoes (CO)
D: (out - bringing dessert to small group)
Snacks: Peanut Butter Whip (S), veggies (carrots, snap peas, cucumbers) and hummus (E)
Drinks: GGMS made with La Croix, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Wednesday (3/30)
B: Protein Shake made with frozen peaches, GY, stevia, protein powder, 1/4 c oats, and almond milk (E)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla, leftover Pay-Off Day candies (S)
D: (out - bringing salad to small group)
Snacks: Apple and cheese (CO), popcorn and hot tea with collagen (E)
Drinks: Orange Vitamin Water Zero

Thursday (3/31)
B: Creamy Maple and 'Brown Sugar' Oatmeal (E)
L: Philly Cheesesteak in a bowl (S)
D: Tuna Quesadillas (with low-carb tortillas), sliced bell peppers (S)
Snacks: veggies and hummus (E), Butterfinger Bars (S)
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,' Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha {pour cup of coffee over ice, then blend (separately) almond milk, cocoa, 1/2 scoop protein powder, a dash of cream, stevia, and a few drops peppermint extract, add to glass, stir and enjoy!}

Friday (4/1)
B: Scrambled Eggs and bacon (S)
L: Butter Chicken, brown rice (CO)
D: THM microwave 'Pizza' (S)
Snacks: Apple Oat Cakes (E), Cheese Crackers (p. 449) with ranch dip (ranch mix and sour cream) (S)
Drinks: GGMS made with La Croix, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Saturday (4/2)
B: leftover Apple Oat Cakes, GY with stevia and berries (E)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla (FP)
D: (either out or leftover Butter Chicken (S))
Snacks: Apple and Cheese Crackers (CO), leftover Butterfinger Bars (S), popcorn and hot tea with collagen (E)
Drinks: Lemonade Vitamin Water Zero

I hope ya'll have a great week!
Hey guys!  I'm taking a break from the blog for this week due to some sickies in our house, but I'll be back next Monday with another Monday Meal Plan.  Until then, have a great week!

OOTD - Pantsless Wonder

Monday Meal Plan - 3/14

I keep glancing at the clock, and thinking it's earlier than it is, so you can blame Daylight Savings on this meal plan being late today.  (...and no, my procrastination has nothing to do with it!)  Of course,  I tend to put off grocery shopping as long as possible, too, since it's not my favorite thing to do, so that may have factored into my putting off my meal-planning-and-shopping-list-making as well.  I have found, though, if I can put off my grocery shopping until Tuesdays, I'm able to save our family a bit of money.  And yes, some of that money might end up being used to feed (ha ha) my thrift shopping habit!  The best money saving tip I've found is to peruse the meat section early in the mornings on Tuesdays... that's when a lot of items get marked down in our local store, and then I'll stock up on meats to stick in the freezer for the next week's meals.  This week, I'll be using up some chicken breasts and salmon that I snagged last week for a few dollars less than the original price.  Plus, I've been really craving sweets this week (more than normal, anyways), so expect to see a lot of on-plan desserts this time!

(Don't forget, in addition to this list, I also eat an early 'pre-breakfast' of Triple Zero Oikos yogurt and coffee with added collagen [favorite brand here].  I skip Sundays since we usually just eat yogurt in the morning, and leftovers later in the day.  All page numbers are from the new edition of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.)

Monday (3/14)
B: THM Pancakes (p.259) with SF Syrup (E)
L: Taco Salad made with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream, and cheese (S)
D: Quinoa Chicken Nuggets (spray with coconut oil) with baked sweet potatoes (E/CO with oil)
Snacks: Pay Off Day Candies (p. 381) (S), Veggies (carrots, snap peas, cucumber) with Hummus (E)
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,' Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha {pour cup of coffee over ice, then blend (separately) almond milk, cocoa, 1/2 scoop protein powder, a dash of cream, stevia, and a few drops peppermint extract, add to glass, stir and enjoy!}

Tuesday (3/15)
B: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, fresh strawberries (S)
L: Spinach Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken, Green Beans with butter (S)
D: (out - bringing salad to small group)
Drinks: GGMS made with pineapple strawberry La Croix, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Wednesday (3/16)
B: Apple Oat Cakes, Smoothie made with GY, fresh strawberries, stevia (E)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla (FP)
D: (out - bringing dessert to small group)
Snacks: leftover Pay Off Day Candies (S), apple and cheese (CO)
Drinks: Vitamin Water Zero, Wonderland Sip, iced (p. 405)

Thursday (3/17)
B: Chocolate Waffles (p. 265) with strawberry 'syrup' {frozen strawberries (thawed), a bit of water, stevia, and a few dashes of glucomannan blended together} (E)
L: One Pot Garlic Pasta (I add shredded rotisserie chicken and use Dreamfield's pasta), fresh veggies
D: (out - family birthday TBD: I'll order lettuce-wrapped burger or grilled chicken salad)
Snacks: Berry Crunch Bars (p. 392) (S), leftover Butterfinger Bars (S)
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,' Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha

Friday (3/18)
B: Scrambled Eggs and Bacon (S)
L: Big Salad w/veggies topped with Salmon sauteed in coconut oil (S)
D: leftover Chicken and Rice soup (frozen/thawed from two weeks ago - I just throw shredded rotisserie chicken, chopped celery, onion, and carrots, parsley, bay leaves, and garlic powder, salt, and pepper into some chicken broth in the crock pot and cook on low until all the flavors have blended... like 6 hours maybe?  then stir in some pre-cooked brown rice) (E)
Snacks: leftover Pay Off Day Candies (S), veggies and hummus (E)
Drinks: GGMS made with La Croix, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Saturday (3/19)
B: Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal, Smoothie made with GY, fresh strawberries, stevia (E)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla (FP)
D: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowls (I'm using jarred spaghetti sauce) (CO)
Snacks: leftover Berry Crunch Bars (S), apple and cheese (CO)
Drinks: Vitamin Water Zero, Wonderland Sip, iced (p.405)

{If you're wondering, "hey, Grace, what's up with all those crazy abbreviations after your meals?" you can check out my first Monday Meal Plan for an explanation!}

Local Friday - Mill Street Market

Happy Friday!  This week, I'd like to introduce a new feature, Local Friday!  You can still expect to see Fair Trade Friday posts, since I love sharing companies that positively impact people in every part of the globe.  But I don't want to overlook the amazing people and companies here in my own community, so you can expect to see Local Friday popping up from time to time!

This week, I'm sharing an online interview with Tiffany Selvey.  She is a Master Gardener extraordinaire, and also blogs about organic gardening over at Songbird Gardens. She is also the Manager of the soon-to-open Mill Street Market, a brand new Farmer's Market opening up in our area!

Okay, obvious question first: when and where is Mill Street Market going to happen?

Our opening day is April 30 this year and we will run our summer market from April 30 through October 16. We will be open Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, and beginning in June, we will have Tuesday evening markets from 5pm to 8pm.

For our market days, we will have Mill Street and a portion of Johnson Avenue closed. Parking is available at the city administration building, on the street on Johnson Avenue and Spring Street, and behind First Security Bank. 

We are no strangers to Farmer's Markets in the Northwest Arkansas area, so what inspired you to start a new market?

Northwest Arkansas has some amazing, dynamic markets, but for new makers and growers, it's hard to get into those existing big markets. I wanted to create a new opportunity for those folks in Springdale, while offering the community a place to come and connect every week. 

I've seen you comment that you wanted to make this market more accessible to everyone, so what steps did you take to make Mill Street Market more easily navigated by those in wheelchairs or pushing strollers?

Originally, I was laid out booths on grassy areas as well as on the paved street, but I had a few conversations with folks who shared their experience with limited mobility. It's vital to me to make sure that everyone has access to fresh, local food and handmade crafts without the frustration of trying to navigate over curbs and grass. Hopefully, our current vendor map allows all our vendors to be accessible to everyone. We are challenged in our first year with limited space, but we are doing the best we can!

Will dogs be welcome too?

Absolutely! In my family, we are big animal lovers, and have a specific love for rescue animals. Not only is the family pet welcome, but each week we will have a local non-profit there and most weeks they will bring adoptable animals. We also have a handmade dog treat vendor. 

I'm looking forward to all the fresh produce that will be available, but that's not all that a Farmer's Market entails.  What other amenities and vendors besides produce will be available?

Certainly fresh produce is a big part of the market, but we will also have other types of fresh food, such as locally-grown grass-fed beef and pork, responsibly raised lamb meat, and aged cow cheese. We have products that are canned at the University of Arkansas food lab, such as barbecue sauce and jellies. We will have brewed coffee and coffee beans, cakes and pies, bread, Craft items available at the market include jewelry, birdhouses, and amazing natural personal care products.

And, naturally, we can't have a market without fresh flowers, so Woodbine Mead will be their with their beautiful blooms. 

Okay, so the market opens at the end of April.  Besides all the awesome things you just listed, what in-season fresh fruits and veggies should be at the top of my shopping list?

As the growing season progresses, we will see increasing amounts of fresh produce, but early in the season (April and May) we will have greens, like lettuce, chard, kale, collards. We should also have other yummy, cool season crops, such as radishes, snow peas and cabbage. 

You can learn more, or apply to be a vendor, at the Mill Street Market website:  http://www.millstmarket.com/


If you're a local business, and would like to be featured on Local Friday, you can contact me via e-mail at lexiandbutton@gmail.com

Thrifted Pinterest - Finally

I scrolled through some of the blog's archives the other day, and realized how many sewing projects I used to do!  Then, Baby A came along, and while our family grew in love, he also cut down the amount of free time I have to sew.  I did finish one project recently, and as soon as outside temps got out of the super chilly, I grabbed the opportunity to wear it!  I finally got to re-create my own version of this pin:
I had a skirt that I snagged at a clothing swap last year, that just needed the lining shortened.  One afternoon and multiple baby interruptions later, and this outfit was born:

OOTD - Picky

 I had a conversation recently with a friend (who also blogs over at Rehashion, you should check her out!), where I mentioned I don't like wearing certain items that I've made or refashioned, but I won't get rid of them either.  I put too much effort into assembling it to let it go!  But, the perfectionist in me also tends to focus on the flaws, even when they're so imperceptible that no one else will really notice.  (Wow, I kind of feel like there's a life lesson there.)  Her response?  Wear them anyways!  So, at her request, I'm wearing this leather sleeved blazer I fashioned over a year ago, and I'm going to try really hard not to stress that the arms aren't properly positioned in the shoulder area.  I guess that's progress...?

Monday Meal Plan - 3/7

It's Monday again!  Funny how that seems to happen week after week, huh?  I'm a little late on getting our family's meal plan together this week (I usually do it Sunday evenings), and I blame my husband.  I mean, he had the nerve to take me out to dinner last night!  I kid, I kid.  But really, we did get to go out on a much needed date night, and late birthday dinner for him, and it was great!  I did end up going off-plan, but when there's Coconut Crusted Shrimp with Pina Colada dipping sauce and Bourbon Caramel Pecan Sweet Potatoes on the menu, you can guarantee that it will end up in my belly!  The beauty of healthy eating, at least for me, is that the occasional 'cheat' meal doesn't have to derail me.  I just have to give myself some grace, wait three hours to finish digesting, and have a healthy meal the next time around.

Of course, that doesn't always happen, like this morning.  I have a tendency to stress eat (it's called comfort food for a reason), and so after a whirlwind of errands and cranky kids, I did break down and have some danishes for breakfast. instead of what I had planned.  Once again, I need a little grace!  (And also, maybe a bit of preparation, like sticking some of these danishes in the freezer for 'emergencies!')  We've got doctor's appointments and other errands all this week, so expect to see a lot of leftovers in the meal plan this week!  All in all, all the extra work to take care of my family is totally worth it.  I mean, who wouldn't want to love these little faces?

Monday (3/7)
B: {went off plan, was supposed to be THM Pancakes (p. 259) and Sausage patties (S)}
L: Baked Pork Chops, Easy Cheesy Brown Rice, steamed broccoli with butter (CO)
D: Tuna Melts (Tuna, mayo, tomato slices, and cheese broiled on whole wheat bread; mine's on 1/2 a Joseph's Lavash bread), side salad with Ranch (S)
Snacks: Chocolate 'Cheesecake' (a few ounces cream cheese blended with cocoa, stevia, and a dash of almond milk)(S), Veggies (cucumber, carrots, snap peas) and hummus (E)
Drinks: GGMS made with orange La Croix and dash of vanilla, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Tuesday (3/8)
B: Microwave Omelette {I make mine with ham, tomatoes, and cheese} (S)
L: leftover pork chops, rice, and broccoli (CO)
D: (out - bringing dessert to small group)
Snacks: Apple and PB dip (GY, PB, and stevia), Cottage Berry Whip
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,'  Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha {pour cup of coffee over ice, then blend (separately) almond milk, cocoa, 1/2 scoop protein powder, a dash of cream, stevia, and a few drops peppermint extract, add to glass, stir and enjoy!

Wednesday (3/9)
B: Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie (swap agave for stevia, add protein powder) (S)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla (FP)
D: (out - bringing salad to small group)
Snacks: Apple and cheese slices (CO), microwave popcorn and hot tea with collagen (E)
Drinks: Vitamin Water Zero, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Thursday (3/10)
B: Scrambled eggs and Sausage patties (S)
L: Shrimp Scampi (I'll use Dreamfield's Angel Hair pasta), side salad with ranch (S)
D: Potsticker Patties (p. 175) (S)
Snacks: Pay Off Day Candies (p. 381) (S), Berry Crunch Bars (p. 392) (S)
Drinks: Wonderland Sip, iced (p. 405), GGMS made with True Lime

Friday (3/11)
B: Chocolate Waffles (p. 265), with strawberry syrup {frozen strawberries (thawed), a bit of water, stevia, and a few dashes of glucomannan blended together} (E)
L: Crockpot Chicken Bacon Chowder (S)
D: leftover Potsticker Patties (S)
Snacks: Blueberry Muffin in a Mug (S), leftover Berry Crunch Bars (S)
Drinks: the 'Shrinker,' Iced (decaf) Mint Mocha

Saturday (3/12)
B: leftover Berry Crunch Bars (S)
L: wrap made with turkey, LLC, and low-carb tortilla (FP)
D: leftover Chowder (S)
Snacks: Pay Off day Candies (S), Apple and cheese slices (CO)
Drinks: Vitamin Water Zero, B.P. Chai Tea (S)

Have questions about my crazy abbreviations?  Want to know more about Trim Healthy Mama?  Check out my first meal plan, or the THM website for more information!