Positivity Is A Must

Okay y’all. Me writing about “positivity” is probably one of the most hypocritical things I have ever done. In general, especially lately, I am just a very straight to the point and negative person. But, last night, I had an epiphany. The past few months I have been over the top stressed, exhausted, and honestly have hated my life. Well, last night it hit me. I was asking myself why I felt that way, and I realized that my attitude and negativity lately is MY own reaction to things happening in my life. Whether it has directly or indirectly affected me, I react negatively.

This is so horrible. Y’all, I used to be the gal that was so happy and bubbly people hated me! Haha. No joke. So the question is, how can I work on this and become less of a grumpis. Yes, a grumpis. I used that word. So what I realized during my epiphany is that I can only change how I react to Life, not control life itself. Life is always going to happen. I can’t stop it. I can’t control it. All I can do is accept what is and improve how I handle life!

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

God has blessed my with life. He blessed me with a beautiful life, in fact. I have a home. I have a family who loves me and friends who are always there for me. God has given me the tools to get through life. What I do and how I react is totally up to me. I have lost sight of this, but I am forever grateful for what I have been given.

LIVE IN THE MOMENT

One of my biggest faults right here. Y’all, way too often I am jumping ten steps ahead while everyone else is at the starting line. It’s just how my brain works. It plots out every possible scenario when something happens. Sometimes this is super helpful, like when I am working, or looking at our budgets, things like that, but it’s not always so wonderful. I need to remember to live in each moment. I should stop and look around, appreciate the beauty in the world, and appreciate every breath I take. I’m so busy planning my life, it’s literally happening without me.

CONQUER EVERYTHING

Life gets hard for everyone. Sometimes I literally think bad things only happen to myself, which is awful, but sometimes I just want to scream, “how can so many bad things happen to one person?” I felt this way for a very long time and then I realized that God has a plan. Everything that happens is specifically chosen for us; every fall, every lost job, every flat tire, every single thing happens for a reason. We don’t always understand that reason, but I think having the mindset that we are strong enough to get through whatever is going on, that He believes in us, we can conquer anything put in front of us.

GET BACK TO DOING WHAT WE LOVE

Life gets busy. Life gets messy. We stop seeing people we care about. We quit building our dreams. We get so tired trying to get through the day-to-day life that we stop doing what we love. I read a quote the other day that said, “Don’t work 8 hours a day for someone else and then go home and not work on your own dreams. You’re not tired. You’re uninspired.” That one really hit home for me. I get so irritated during my day, I honestly quit doing anything that made me happy. What I realized is that I need to keep doing the things I love, and the things that make me happy, and then other aspects in my life might not seem so bad.

Obviously this is my own experience on how I feel about things, but hopefully it helps and applies to some of y’all as well. until next time!

 

Sincerely, Toni

 

 

 

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Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles

Who loves pasta but hates the carbs?! Well, have I got the dish for you! It’s tangy, zesty, and has a little fiery kick; its Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles!! Zoodles noodles made from zucchini, are my new favorite thing, I swear! Give it a try!

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 Shallot – finely chopped

4 Cloves of garlic – minced

1 LB Large shrimp, peeled and deveinedZoodles

1 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Red pepper flakes

1/2 Tsp Black pepper

1/4 C Chicken broth

Zest 1/2 lemon

1/4 C Fresh squeezed lemon

2-3 Zucchini (depending on size, 3 small, 2 medium) – cut into noodles, spiral, etc.

1/2 C Fresh chopped parsley

2 Tbsp Freshly grated parmesan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook until it begins to soften ~ 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the shrimp, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes, until the shrimp are beginning to cook but are still translucent.  shrimp.jpg
  2. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, just until the shrimp are completely opaque and cooked through. Stir in the zucchini noodles and parsley. Toss the noodles with the shrimp so that they are coated with the garlic-lemon sauce and heat just until the zucchini is warmed through. (Don’t over cook the zucchini. It will get mushy and that takes away a key texture with this dish!)
  3. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve immediately!

Well there it is, y’all. I hope you give it a try! It’s such a light and healthy alternative to regular pasta noodles! This recipe makes two servings and each serving is only 161 calories, and it’s super filling! Enjoy!

Sincerely, Toni

Strawberry and Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Y’all, I have the perfect treat for when you’re craving something sweet, but you don’t want to completely torch your diet! Super easy and it only takes about an hour! I made a smaller tray of these just to see how Matthew liked them and they were gone in one night! It’s super light, so it’s great as an after dinner snack!

INGREDIENTS

1 CUP OLD FASHIONED ROLLED OATS

3/4 CUP FLOUR

1/3 CUP PACKED BROWN SUGAR

1/4 TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON

6 TABLESPOONS BUTTER – MELTED (CAN USE COCONUT OIL)

2 CUPS SLICED STRAWBERRIES

1CUP BLUEBERRIES

1 TABLESPOON GRANULATED SUGAR

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375. Line a baking pan (I used an 8X8X2). Coat the foil covered pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Stir in the butter until the mix is crumbly. Set aside 1/2 cup of this for later. Then press the remaining crumb mix into the foil covered pan.
  3. Toss the strawberries, blueberries, and granulated sugar together and spoon this mixture over the crumbs you put into the pan. Then take the 1/2 cub of crumb mixture you set aside and sprinkle this on top of the fruit spread.  Bake this anywhere from 30-45, depending on how crispy you want the top. I baked mine closer to 45 minutes.  Strwbry Bars
  4. You can let it cool once it’s done. Or, if you’re like us, grab a glass of milk and dig right in while it’s warm! So good, y’all!

Each serving is around 210 calories. Hope you all try and like it! We will be making it again for sure!

Enjoy!

Sincerely, Toni

 

Healthy Relationships

I’m no relationship expert by any means, but I have figured out a thing or two over the years. I don’t want to imply my relationship is perfect because it’s not. I do, however, think I am involved in a healthy, happy, and bless relationship. Holiday Party 2018

I think we get to a point in our lives where we are comfortable, little things start slipping, we lose tough with our feelings, and why we started loving the person we are with. So, y’all, to keep things happy and healthy, here is what works for us!

  1. We are friends. Sounds silly, right? Y’all, this is sooooo important. People forget that their significant other started as a friend. We lose sight of the fact that we enjoyed being around this person because they made us laugh. They were there when we needed a shoulder. We just enjoyed their company and then somewhere down the line we fell in love with them. We put so much pressure on the romance of it all, we forget why we are in this to begin with! Yes, Matthew and I share romantic dates and all that mush, but what I love the most is I know I have a friend for life.
  2. Share responsibilities! Whether you both work, one works and one stays home, whatever. Share the responsibilities that come with living together. Matthew and I both work full time. A lot of the time neither of us want to do anything after work, but we manage. We take turns cooking dinner, doing dishes, and we clean the house together. Granted, there are individual things we both do that the other doesn’t. I DO NOT mow the lawn. I wouldn’t know how to even if I tried. I do the laundry. I also literally scrub everything with Magic Erasers. They are the best. What I am getting at though is that you don’t want everything to be put on one person. Share the responsibilities and then we don’t feel so burnt out that we can’t focus on the relationship.
  3. This one seems like, “duh,” but remember to share a meal together. Our lives are busy. I can’t imagine people who have families, kids and stuff to add into the mix. Matthew and I make sure we sit down at least once a week and have dinner together, watch a movie, and relax together. Most nights, however, one of us will cook, but then we kind of go separate ways and do our own thing. This is totally okay. We have a good balance with this. Sometimes we need to set aside electronics, phones, games, whatever is controlling our lives at that time, and simply bond. Matthew and I are big on current events and politics, so that is often  what our dinner night converstations are.
  4. Share a hobby. This can be difficult sometimes. We generally attract people opposite of our personalities, so finding common ground in the hobby department can be a struggle. Matthew and I share a love for gardening. It’s unfortunate we cannot do this all year! Anyway, we both love seeing the results of hard work, and there is something oddly satisfying about pulling weeds from your garden! This is something we look forward to doing every year. On a side note, we also love watching reality tv shows and yelling at the people on it, as if we know what we are talking about! 😉 Lake of the Ozak 2017
  5. Give eachother space. This can get hard when you live together obviously, but you can make it work. Even if Matthew and I are both sitting in the living room, a lot of the time we are doing two different things. For instance, right now, I am blogging and he is playing some awful computer game called “Everquest.” We just sit, doing our own thing with the tv playing in the background. We also make sure to spend time with friends. Yes, we share friends, but then we also have separate friends. This is super important! Often, after spending too much time with someone, we tend to get annoyed, there’s tension, and every little thing gets on your nerves. So, space is super important!

So, like I said, I’m no expert, but this is what works for Matthew and I! Until next time, y’all!

Sincerely, Toni

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Grew Up

Hindsight is 20/20 they say. Well isn’t that the darn truth. Do y’all ever have those days where you just sit and think “life was way easier when I was a kid?” Let me tell ya, I’m having one of those days as I write this. I had a great childhood. I had great friends, I had a good home, I was involved, and I didn’t have a darn worry in the world.

I remember when I was younger I couldn’t wait to grow up. It all just seemed so glamorous to me at the time. I always saw such strong, independent women grabbing their coffee and going off to work. I’m not sure why I was so in love with the idea of growing up and going to work, but it seemed like the perfect life; supporting myself, growing as a person, and contributing to society.

Well, I was in for a rude awakening. Haha. No joke. I wish I would have known what it was really like, and that everything I saw was just one side to someone’s life. So…here are five things I wish I had known before I grew up.

1. How Much I Would Miss Naptime

Y’all, some days I’ll just be sitting at my desk, thinking about ALLLL those naps I never wanted to take as a child. What on earth was wrong with me?! I must have been crazy or something. I never understood how important sleep was until I was an adult, unable to take a nap in the middle of my day. How awful is that?! So, I would like to go ahead and cash in on those naps I never actually took…who do I bring this issue up to? ADULTS NEED NAPS TOO!

2. Woke Is Not All That Wonderful

I couldn’t wait to work! No joke! I was inspired by people who went to work and took care of their families. Some people made it look so easy, y’all. I have no idea how, but they did. Now I’m grown up, go to work everyday, and by the time I get home I just want to go to bed. I’m tired, stressed, annoyed, and I instantly dread having to go back the next day. So not what I had in mind as a child.

3. Why Didn’t Anyone Explain Taxes To Us

Holy moly, y’all. So taxes are probably one of the worst things, like, ever! I can barely fill out my W2 correctly without asking questions, but taxes, that’s a whole different ballgame. For the last three years I have filed my taxes myself…well, with the help of TurboTax anyway. I was spending $200 plus to have H&R Block file my taxes when I finally decided this was something I needed to try to do myself. Oh em geeeeee. It was rough. No one explained this to me! Like, why on earth do I need to learn Geometry and not taxes?! At least I would use the knowledge on a yearly basis had we been taught! Anyway, TurboTax has been great!

4. Metabolism….Where Did That Go

Y’all, I seriously used to be able to eat a bag of Doritos with no regret. If I eat one chip today, I gain 80 pounds! That’s an exaggeration, but I know y’all know what I mean. Seriously, what is up with our metabolism. It’s just one more things that makes adulthood super real, and it’s horrible. Some days I just want to binge watch The Vampire Diaries and eat some food. It happens, don’t lie. I feel like I would have cherished my treats a little more back in the day had someone told me that I would hate myself every time I ate a pint of Mint Chocolate Cookie from my guys Ben and Jerry!

5. Heartbreak

This is a tough one. It’s not just heartbreak from lost relationships. It’s heartbreak from losing a family member or a friend. It could be heartbreak from not getting a job you really wanted or simply not doing our best on something. Heartbreak comes in so many forms that I don’t think someone could have warned me about it all if they tried. I feel like I have had more heartbreak in my life than one individual could possibly need. But then again, some of y’all probably feel the same way.

Parents want to keep their children young and innocent, and maybe that is why they don’t teach us some of these things when we are young. Some of these things we just need to experience for ourselves. It all helps us grow and become stronger. I understand that now. Don’t get my wrong, I still want to be a princess and I want my darn naps…

Until next time, y’all!

Sincerely, Toni

Breakfast Stuffed Bell Peppers

-What’s better than breakfast for dinner? Ehhhh, trick question! Y’all, there is absolutely NOTHING better than breakfast for dinner. Don’t even try to lie to yourselves! I’m not saying generic eggs and bacon is groundbreaking. I’m talking eggs, bacon, potatoes, veggies, and cheese IS LIFE! Oh em gee!!! BREAKFAST STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

Matthew and I are always trying new twists on breakfast food. Sometimes it works, otheerrrr times we toe the line of burning down our house! But my point is, this recipe is AAAAMMMAAAAAZZZIING. Honestly, try it. It doesn’t even matter what time of day it is, what you have going on, or how much you don’t want to cook. Just try…and then maybe help me find some sort of AA meeting for breakfast addicts.

INGREDIENTS

8 EGGS

1LB BACON

6-8 GREEN BELL PEPPERS (OR ANY COLOR, WE PREFER GREEN)

1/2 SWEET YELLOW ONION

3 RUSSET POTATOES

2 CUPS SHREDDED CHEESE (I USED SHARP CHEDDAR)

SALT, PEPPER, GARLIC POWDER

SALSA

DIRECTIONS

  1. The potatoes always take the longest, so I start with those first. If you want to be on the healthier side of things, dice the potatoes, drizzle them in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bake at 425 degrees until crispy. This usually takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the diced potatoes.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, time to get started on that bacon. You don’t need my help here, y’all know how to cook bacon….I hope…chop it into bacon bits when it’s done.
  3. Next, whisk all eight eggs together. I season my eggs before I cook them. I feel like the flavor really gets cooked into them that way. I just add salt, pepper, and garlic powder….I don’t really measure…cause I guess I just know by now how much to use. You can always add more once they are done.
  4. I like to pre-cook my peppers a little bit because once you stuff them, they only need a few minutes in the oven. So I cut the tops off of the peppers and clean them out. I use my jumbo muffin tray to hold them. They fit perfectly and don’t tip or anything! Super great item to have in the kitchen.
  5. One the peppers are cleaned out, I set them in the jumbo muffin tray, sprinkle a little bit of cheese into them and put them in the oven with the potatoes for about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Once the peppers have cooked a bit I pull everything out of the oven. I add the potatoes to the bottom of the peppers, then I add a layer of bacon bits. I sprinkle a little more cheese in. Now comes the eggs! Fill those peppers up y’all! Top it with some more cheddar and some bacon bits garnish!
  7. One you have them all put together, throw them back in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted on top.
  8. Remove from the oven! CAREFUL!  These beauties are hot! Use some tongs to get them out of the muffin tray. Serve with a side of salsa…and y’all are on your way to Breakfast Addicts anonymous.

Sincerely, Toni

The Keys to Online Shopping

Y’all, Amazon shopping can be difficult. You would think it should be easier; you’re on the computer in the comfort of your own home, there are no impulse buys, and there is no sales person in your face trying to sell you something you know you don’t need just so they can get their commission. So, the question is, why is it so darn difficult?! It’s hard to trust the internet sometimes. Are we really getting what we order? When will our packages arrive? Wow! It looks way better online than it does in person!

Lucky for y’all, I am basically an Olympic Champion of Amazon Shopping. So take a look at some of my tips and tricks and fear no more!

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Summer dress with pockets! $20 on Amazon!

1. Is it a Prime item?

Some people don’t want to dish out the money for Amazon Prime, but if you shop Amazon as much as I do, it’s TOTALLY worth it! Not only am I getting free shipping, I get my packages in two days! Two day free shipping, people! If I added up all of the shipping charges I would actually have without Prime, it definitely exceeds the $100 I spend for Prime membership each year. So, ordering Prime items is KEY!

2. Read the full description.

Some folks only shop by looking at images. Yes, the image is what catches our eye, but we can’t always rely on just that. Reading the entire item description will ensure you get the item you wish to have. Reading the description in its entirety could be the difference between you getting a great summer outfit…orrrr a nice summer outfit for your child’s Barbie Doll.

3. Read the reviews.

Sounds like common sense, I know, but some folks don’t. Other shoppers post review for a reason. Shoppers who have previously ordered an item want to share their experience whether it’s a positive or negative one. So, READ! READ! READ! However, while reading we need to keep in mind that some people do get paid to post a positive review. So keep your eyes peeled and keep that in the back of your mind! This leads us to my next step!

4. Look for review with uploaded pictures.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not a written review is legit. So in order to get the most honest review, I only purchase items that have been reviewed in a way where the purchaser has uploaded pictures of their ordered item. I prefer to find reviews that have multiple pictures from people. It’s more relatable, especially if you are looking at clothes.

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Holiday dress. $32 on Amazon

Obviously companies only use models to showcase their clothing. However, not all of us look like the models trying to sell those clothes. That is why I LOVE when people upload themselves with the item. You might find someone with a similar build or shape as yourself and it’s easier to relate to the item you are looking at.

 

5. Look at the sizing chart AND how shoppers respond to its accuracy.

The is super important! We all know how it feels to pick out our size in one store, only to go to the next store and suddenly we have gone from a size 8 to size 12. Screenshot_20180224-141545Sadly, that is society these days….and it’s not different online. Most size charts are the same from item to item, so check out how people have responded to the accuracy of said size chart.

 

 

Well there y’all have it. Five easy steps to ensue your Amazon purchases are always worth it! BTDubbs, I purchased all of my swimwear and multiple summer dresses last season from Amazon. I saved money and have ADORABLE clothes! Get to shopping!

Sincerely, Toni

Playing In The Dirt

Gardening. Sounds like something your grandmother does for fun, right? WRONG! Y’all should be gardening! I’m serious. I mean, what is better than seeing the result of your own hard work?!

Let me tell y’all, I used to LOATHE working in the garden. It’s dirty, you get hot, dirt gets stuck under your nails, and oh em gee, my allergies are awful! I think I really changed my mind about gardening after I moved out of my parent’s house. I moved in with my boyfriend, Matthew, and we have THE cutest little garden.

We have an elevated  garden which helps keep out the bunny rabbits, cause let’s be honest, we are planting food, not just flowers. I mean we spend maybe $2 on a package of seeds per plant let’s say. You can barely buy a pound of fresh green beans for that price. I can grow like six pounds myself from that $2 package of seeds! It’s basically free food y’all! Why aren’t more people doing this?

Fresh jalapeñosgreen beans, check! Ran out of bell peppers, easy, I walk right outside my back door and have plenty for picking. Don’t even get me started on the herbs you guys! Oh the herbs! Last season I grew Spicy Oregano. Like, who does that?! Me, that’s who! It was the perfect touch on homemade pizza with some fresh mozzarella. My taste buds are tingling just thinking about it!

Matt and I always try to plant a “novelty” plant. Last year we tried garlic….it didn’t go so well. This year though, I am SUPER excited! We are going to plant some Edamame! So stay tuned for that!

So get out there and try something new, even if it’s one plant! Try growing one plant! You will be hooked from there on out!

Until next time!

Sincerely, Toni