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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review: Pretty Little Liars

I'm obsessed with the Pretty Little Liars series on ABC Family. 
I've watched it from the very beginning and although I have no clue when these girls are going to graduate or who A is I'm suckered into watching each episode of Rosewood High drama to try and figure it out. 
I've known all along that the books are what spurred the TV phenomenon but never thought to read them as they were kid-ish in my head....
"Umm hello Megan you watch a high school drama show about 4 little liars"....
Yes that's what I thought to myself  before I finally broke down to read the first book.  When I updated my phone to the new IOS software the books app gave me the first book for free.  Well folks that's all it took and now I'm as hooked on the books as I am the TV show. 
So far I've read the first 5 books and have started on the 6th and I really can't get enough.  Each book is as good as the last and even though the characters "look" different in the books than on TV and the events are a bit different they are still awesome.  These are the books that keep you coming back for me intrigue and make you WANT TO KNOW what happens. 
I devour them!
After the first book I've had to purchase them from Amazon to go on my Kindle but that is ok as they are really cheap. 

1. Pretty Little Liars

Amazon Synopsis
I’m still here. And I know everything. –A 
In ultra-trendy Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four beautiful girls are hiding very ugly secrets. High school juniors Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily have grown apart since their best friend Alison DiLaurentis went missing three years ago. But now someone is sending them anonymous notes, threatening to reveal their darkest secrets. There’s only one person who knows that much about them, but Ali’s gone…isn’t she? Full of unexpected twists and shocking revelations, this series opener that inspired the hit TV show is the perfect beginning for fans.

2. Flawless

Amazon Synopsis
Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya . . . as much more than a friend. Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is making her sick. And their most horrible secret yet is so scandalous that the truth would ruin them forever.
And why shouldn't I tell? They deserve to lose it all. With every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message I send, I'll be taking these pretty little liars down. Trust me, I've got enough dirt to bury them alive.

3. Perfect

Amazon Synopsis
In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four perfect-looking girls aren't nearly as perfect as they seem.
Aria can't resist her forbidden ex. Hanna is on the verge of losing her BFF. Emily is freaking out over a simple kiss. And Spencer can't keep her hands off anything that belongs to her sister.
Lucky me. I know these pretty little liars better than they know themselves. But it's hard keeping all of their secrets to myself. They better do as I say . . . or else!


Amazon Synopsis
Four pretty little liars' charmed lives have turned into living nightmares.
Emily's been shipped off to Iowa to live with her überconservative cousins. Aria's boyfriend is behind bars—because of her. Spencer's afraid she was involved in Ali's murder. But Hanna's fate is far worse: She's clinging to life in the hospital because she knew too much.
If these girls don't start listening to me, Hanna's going to look like the lucky one.

5. Wicked

Amazon Synopsis
In idyllic Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four very pretty girls just can't help but be bad. . . .
Hanna will do anything to be Rosewood's queen bee. Spencer's digging up her family's secrets. Emily can't stop thinking about her new boyfriend. And Aria approves a little too strongly of her mom's taste in men. Now that Ali's killer is finally behind bars, the girls think they're safe. But those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. And they should know by now that I'm always watching. .

6. Killer

Amazon Synopsis
In picture-perfect Rosewood, Pennsylvania, ash-blond highlights gleam in the winter sun and frozen lakes sparkle like Swarovski crystals. But pictures often lie—and so do Rosewood's four prettiest girls. Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily have been lying ever since they became friends with beautiful Alison DiLaurentis. Ali made them do terrible things—things they had to keep secret for years. And even though Ali was killed at the end of seventh grade, their bad-girl ways didn't die with her. Hanna's on a mission to corrupt Rosewood's youth, starting with a very attractive sophomore. Aria's snooping into her boyfriend's past. Spencer's stealing—from her family. And pure little Emily's abstaining from abstinence.The girls should be careful, though. They thought they were safe when Ali's killer was arrested and A's true identity was finally revealed. But now there's a new A in town turning up the heat. And this time Rosewood is going to burn.

There are a total of 16 books so far so I will definitely keep you posted on my progress of reading through the fantastic series.

Happy Reading!


Boy has this year flown by! I wanted to go ahead and crank out my 2015 resolutions goals and give you a peak at my new planner for the upcoming year. 

I decided to do goals rather than resolutions simply because I feel that goals is a more attainable word that I will actually stick to rather than resolution.  A resolution is so final and to me I am constantly working towards accomplishing goals so that's what I'm doing....working towards all these things for 2015. 
  • Finish my graduate degree for GOOD!
  • Get a French bulldog
  • Work on my sewing skills
  • Excel at my new job and work on marketing/branding
  • Go on European vacation
  • Join my family on a beach vacation
  • Save money and pay towards small outstanding debt like those upcoming student loans :(
  • Read 30 books
  • Finish one round of competition prep and maybe compete near the end of the year
  • Build my chicken coop and get chickens
  • Have an even better garden than this year and double my canning and freezer storage
  • Get into the best shape of my life
  • Read 30 books
  • Have a great year with my family and friends doing a lot of adventurous activities and overall just loving the life I have

Along with personal goals that I've listed above I thought it would be fun for Hendrik and I too set a few goals as a couple to work towards accomplishing.  I asked several friends for their suggestions and many said get married and have a baby....obviously those are goals of ours just maybe not in 2015 so we will not say those and also I didn't want travel to be one since we do travel already so much and this is just part of our lifestyle but not necessarily anything that is not in our normal life.  It was really hard to come up with items that suited both of us and things that we would actually want to accomplish.
  • Compete in a triathlon event or a competition even that needs teamwork
  • Volunteer somewhere and make it a tradition
  • Teach each other something new like changing the oil in my car and I could teach him how to bargain hunt in Canton
  • Get Hendrik a bike and have weekly bicycle rides
  • Look at ourselves and see how we can do better to help each other...like maybe I should be more patient

Here is a look back on our 2014 year by numbers (what I could remember anyways):

4classes complete
3.25GPA in December
12hours I passed
25books read
1beach girls trip 
1international vacation with my honey
1trip to the Midwest
8boat rides taken
24jars of hot sauce made
300pounds of tomatoes grown
6garlics growing
10inches lost
6months of a new fitness routine completed
1house sold
7rooms redecorated
1200miles drive to beach
77blog posts complete so far
3Dutch recipes tried
1year anniversary

Following in last year's footsteps I stuck with the Plum Paper Designs planner.  I think the set up is very similar to the Erin Condren for a lesser price.  I actually feel like my Plum Paper planners hold up better over the year and are a bit less bulky.  Over the past year they have upgraded their paper to a smoother more silky feel and also started using a heavier duty spiral ring.  I love the look of my new planner and have it all up to date and ready for all that is coming in 2015.  Get your own planner HERE!

I don't have the monogram in the middle like shown above but other than that mine looks just like this.  I also added a page for bill tracking to the back of each month.  The addition was only $2 more and I love it.  I actually already did this same thing in my old planners just using one of the note pages for each month but now I love that I have my own page strictly for bills so I can utilize my blank note pages for important note taking and blog post ideas throughout the month.

It looks like I'm ready for 2015 to kick off in a few days and I already know that this year is going to be jammed packed with blossoming business ventures, graduate degrees, puppy breath (hopefully) and awesome vacations!  As great as 2014 was I'm not really glad to see it go but I'm that much more excited for what is coming next. 

January Meal Planning

January's meal planning was a bit different simply because I'm not only planning my dinner meals any longer but also 2 rounds of breakfast, prepared lunch meals for a week at a time, and in between meal snacks.  I am also changing up the way I grocery shop to help sustain our clean eating lifestyle better. 

Like I've said before I love organizing and meal planning really helps me concentrate on other to dos rather than what I need to fix for supper tonight.  I also have been going on one big grocery shopping trip a month my entire adult life.  I just love that big trip to get everything I'm going to need to restock and also while I have that fresh paycheck.  I hate those little pesky trips to grab this and grab that.  It seems that when I do that I end up spending more money so if I can get by with one big in and out trip then that is really best for our budget.  Since I've cleaned up our eating even more than usual, over the past few months, the need to go a couple times a month is necessary just to keep all the fresh produce like fruits and vegetables in the frig stocked.

Below you will see FIVE sections of meal planning now instead of the normal one section of dinners.  Besides the dinners I am also planning my weekly lunch, breakfast menu X2, and snacks.  You might be getting confused here like what is breakfast menu X2 mean.... let me explain.

On my breakfast menu I have a before the gym breakfast menu that is strictly for Hendrik. This is mainly small items like pigs-n-the-blanket or muffins.  I have been doing this for quite a while now but I never had it planned into my meal planning I would just cook breakfast on Sunday for the entire week.  He gets nauseous if he doesn't eat before we workout so that is that...Then the second menu of breakfasts is my breakfast and also Hendrik's second breakfast after the gym before we head out on our day. 

Also added to this monthly planning is my lunch planning.  In the past I have had leftovers to take in my lunch and for Hendrik to eat but with the new year comes a new workout plan and also a new and improved me that needs to really clean up and watch everything big and small that I take in.  With that attitude and motivation to get my body where I want it I am starting a weekly plan of lunches that, like the first breakfast, I will prepare on Sunday.  Each week, like the breakfasts, will be the same for every day and then the next Sunday I will start with a new meal for that week.  Not only do I get variety, I get stability, measured out food that I know I cooked.  Snacks are just a way to keep me stabilized between meals so I don't binge on sugar or cheese! :) Nothing is really effecting our dinner menu except I might cook a bit less to only allow for Hendrik leftovers but none for myself. 

Here is January:

First Breakfast
Week 1- Pigs
Week 2- Muffins
Week 3- Pigs
Week 4- Muffins

Second Breakfast
Week 1- Breakfast bowls
Week 2- Oatmeal
Week 3- Breakfast tacos
Week 4- Oatmeal

Week 1- Fish filet, quinoa, green beans
Week 2- Chicken, broccoli, brown rice
Week 3- Fish filet, quinoa, salad
Week 4- Chicken burrito bowl

Snacks for in between meals
Week 1 & 3- Boiled eggs and carrots
Week 2 & 4- rice cakes and almond butter

Vegetable noodle soup
American Chinese
Hamburger with sweet potato fries
Fish, broccoli, and brown rice
Pork chops, corn, sweet potato
Creamy shrimp pasta
Beef stir fry with cauliflower rice
Homemade pizza
Steak, baked potato, salad
Tuna noodle casserole
Baked chicken breast, mashed potato, corn on the cob
Salmon patties, macaroni and cheese, peas
Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Pork chops, scallop potatoes, and peas
Hamburgers with sweet potato fries
Beans and cornbread
Fish, quinoa, corn
Chicken strips, baked beans, and mashed potatoes
Steak, baked potato, corn on the cop
Pork tenderloin, green beans, sweet potato
Chicken fried steak, macaroni and cheese, beans
Oven baked chicken, okra, mashed potato
Fish, cauliflower, and brown rice

A few new found items and tips I'll be trying:

  • Flavor of God seasoning- this is Paleo and vegan friendly with no preservatives like MSG or added salt.  I have a friend that uses this and I see it all over the fitness world.  I ordered the four top flavors and all are in their own 5 oz bottle for $27 from Amazon.  You can check out the website HERE!
  • Extra storage ware- I finally broke down and organized my Tupperware cabinet.  I threw away I bet 20 lids that didn't have a mate and I ordered 10 lunch packs to help with my meal prep.
  • Shop the outside of your grocery store- I read this little tip in one of my magazines a couple weeks back and it just hit me....duh! I had never thought of shopping that way but obviously anything on the outside perimeter of the grocery store is going to be fresh and perishable with all the fatty, loaded with preservative items in the isles. So long canned goods! Come Summer I really am putting this to the test as I plan on having a huge garden...big enough to have vegetables for my own use for a year long supply 
  • In love with sweet potatoes- I don't know if I have touched on this in prior months but until recently sweet potatoes have had a very negative connotation in my mind.  I decided that since I hadn't had any in years because "I didn't like them" I would grab some at the grocery store and use them to make fries on Sunday hamburger nights.  I figured it would be a good way to test the waters.  Well the waters were smooth and the fries tasted awesome.  So good that we have sweet potatoes at least twice a week now and Hendrik even prefers them over white or red potatoes.  WIN- for complex carbs, low calorie, and awesome taste
  • Moved to all wheat pasta, bread, and brown rice- also over the past few months we have completely made the switch to whole wheat grains from pasta to bread...next is flour as soon as I find it.  We have always done whole wheat bread I just prefer it over white but also the brown rice took some getting use to just because it isn't as accessible at our grocery stores in large quantities but now that I have my stock we are good to go.  The pasta is just as cheap as white pasta the only thing is the packages are smaller.
  • Almond butter- If you saw my snack section then you saw where 2 weeks worth of snacks is a rice cake with almond butter.  Over the past month and a half my workouts and eating habits have amped up and with it my hunger pains come about every 2 hours.  I saw this little snack in one of my muscle mags and tried it out.  It is so good especially since I don't like peanut butter almond butter is a great way to get that good fat I need to fuel my day in between meals.
Well I think I've worn out this post so until next month.....Check our prior months meal planning HERE for new ideas to cook up in your kitchen!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Before & After: Master Bedroom

I would have to say that this room is THE MOST CHANGED and really, besides my new closet and  my bathtub, would be my favorite room in the house.

I will get into more detail in the pictures progress so let's get into it!
Before: When Hendrik and I started dating there was nothing in this room except the TV hung on the wall, his nightstand and mattress resting on the floor.  Immediately upon our monogamous talk, LOL, I went out, with his money of course, and bought a bed frame, some antler inspired lamps, and the ugly mustard velvet chair.  The camo everything was already there so until I moved in officially and put my feminine, homey touch on things this is how it was.  Not bad but not that great either. 
You might remember a few DIY's I took on like the headboard, lamp shades, and deer silhouette?  Check them out HERE, HERE, and HERE. You can also see a few better pictures of what the blank slate looked like from those posts as well.

After: Oh boy after is right.  I love it!  This room just now, like last week, finally had the last touch added.  It was one of the first rooms that I actually bought a lot of new stuff for.  Mainly in all the other rooms I was able to reuse a lot of my home furnishings from Winnsboro.  I had a particular vibe that I wanted to hone in on when decorating this room and I think I nailed it.  I wanted a perfect mix of both masculine and feminine, classy yet comfortable and homey.  I love blue and thought that it brought the perfect masculine color to the room plus some color all together since I couldn't paint or anything drastic like that.  I had already made the headboard and so I wanted to tie into the blue and headboard but not go overboard on the woodsy theme.

With those East facing windows, black out curtains in brown were a must.  Another plus to these is that they are pretty expensive for one panel but the size of our windows allows for one panel to be big enough for one window so we cut that cost down by half just by coincidence.
there's an entire post coming on this chair!
The always kiss me goodnight sign is from Canton when I first got my Winnsboro house and it is a must to always remind us to be romantic before saying goodnight, ALWAYS!

I wanted a big full length mirror that was framed and leaned against the wall real rustic like but boy those are really hard to find.  Instead, I had a mirror and glass business custom cut a mirror for me that is 3 feet wide and 7 feet tall for a whopping $55. If you know what mirrors cost then you know I pretty much walked out with a free mirror.  Our contractor who built the house and the closet addition made this frame for me while he was building the closet and instead of leaning it against the wall and risking it breaking we opted to just put in up on the wall and frame around it.  I love it and it doesn't take away any floor space.

Remember by Valentine's DIY, found HERE? Well, I finally drug it out from the top of the closet and put in on display on top of the dresser that became quiet vacant after all my jewelry went into the new closet.  I actually like it more now thenn when I first made it and I'm glad that even though it is a little ghetto and didn't turn out exactly like I planned it still rings true and means a lot.  The antler cross actually is something that was recycled from my Winnsboro home along with the chest of drawers it is sitting on.  Hendrik has always loved it so I'm glad I found a way to incorporate it in.  The tray is a Canton find and DIY from a few years back.  It holds my workout gloves and this massive arrangement I made.

Hendrik's nightstand is from Ikea, from like 12 years ago.  They still had them in stock so I grabbed up a matching one.  One his nightstand I left the antler lamp but put on a DIY lampshade I did when I redecorated my guest bedroom in Winnsboro.  We each have unique lamps but they are tied together with the same classy shade.  Also he has his favorite nighttime reading material and a basket that plays as a catch all. A mason jar for change and then a masculine wood from with a cute print, Hello there Handsome, I made finish out his nightstand.

The metal M & H came from Canton and I spray painted them a metallic gold.  They frame a White Faux Taxidermy deer I ordered from their online store.  Since I took away the deer silhouette I had to replace it with something and this is the perfect size for above the bed.

My bedding makes the rooms and gives it that hotel feel.  I ordered it from Overstock and I loved the tufted look.  With the masculine headboard, deer head, and dark blue colors it brings the pop of feminine decor that I was hopping for.  The blue throw pillows are from Ikea.
My nightstand is curated with this redone and redone again antique lamp.  You might remember it from HERE!  I took it from white to a shiny blue with a quick spray paint job with the same lamp shade that I originally DIYed for these same lamps, matching Hendrik's of course.  The flying pig and vase of hydrangeas are from my bedroom in my Winnsboro home and the stack of books to read is ever changing but always there. 

On the wall that is near my side of the bed I did a little collage with the red print coming from my Winnsboro bedroom and the other 4 frames coming from Ikea.  I just recently got around to finding good pictures to print and frame.  I like the way it turned out.

This rug is my love.  I knew right off the bat that once I found a color scheme the rug was going to bring the modern and classy touch that tied everything together but also set it all apart.  I knew I wanted some sort of pattern that was just cream/white and navy and this ikat pattern makes my day.  I ordered it from Overstock as well and as expensive as rugs can be I feel I got a pretty good deal.

Almost every Sunday as Hendrik and I lay in bed watching TV and cuddling after sleeping in I pat myself on the back and say man I just love our room....it's like I'm in a hotel.  From the bedding, to my nightstand decor, my classy re-done lamps, to the rug...it is all perfection in my eyes. I love spending time there and it is also the perfect size space.
Stay tuned for a few more décor posts for the living areas, guest bedroom, and that ugly chair!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Bucket List

Here's what I accomplished from my Fall bucket list:

As you can see not many of these items got marked off the list like I had hoped but at least I accomplished a few of them.  With school and work being so busy there just wasn't a lot of extra energy or time for these fun things.  Maybe I can do better in the winter seeing I'll have a break from school!

What I hope to accomplish during the Winter solstice. I got super creative and build this in Pic Monkey!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Insta Dump #8

A look at November through the eyes of my Instagram account!
Saturday mornings// airport reading going//airport reading coming//heavy lifting on Black Friday// cheap gas// biking in Omaha// skeet shoot out// Christmas décor// fancy dinner in Omaha

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Before & After: Master Closet

When Hendrik built his house he built a closet inside each room.  This is fine and dandy when one person is using the closet but when you throw in two people it gets a little tight.  Yes, we could have made do with the smaller in room closet that was built during original construction but we did have another option that isn't ever going to go to waste so that is the option we chose. 

We pushed through the bathroom wall into the shop and made a glorious walk in closet.  All our clothes and shoes and day to day items are now in there and the smaller in room closet houses all the guns, coveralls, camo, and hunting gear.  Perfect fix!

Here is how it began and ended!



There is really nothing to explain about this closet. I feel it speaks for itself and is fabulous.  It completes the master suite and really is a room in itself. 
I could just sit and read in there. LOL I'm not even one for fashion and shoes but I do love the organization and design of the closet.  I worked closely with the contractor to get exactly all the storage and room we needed and even reused the towel cabinet for the corner. 
If you can't find me now you know where to look!

Before & After: Master Bath

The master bath has undergone subtle changes that make, to me, a really big difference.  I don't have any pictures of the before before...when we first started dating and Hendrik had just moved in but lets say that there weren't mirror let alone wall décor only a hamper for laundry and towels in the cabinet.  I immediately ran out and bought mirrors for both bathrooms from Lowe's and not too long after I printed the vintage duck prints and framed them for décor. 



The slate tile in the bathroom has blue ran through it.  The tile is what spawned the inspiration for the color scheme in the master bath.  I wanted to bring together the blue/ black hues from the tile into the bathroom décor but also wanted to continue the homey feel of the rest of the house. 
Like I said above the mirrors and duck prints were after the initial before but even once I moved in I kept those touches and added onto them. 
I used the metal art work that coincidentally hung in my Winnsboro master bathroom in this one as well. It matched perfectly and fits the space above the toilet perfectly as well. 
I found the butterfly prints at one of my favorite booths in Canton and I think they compliment the ducks and color scheme as well. 
The metal basket magazine rack is something I recently got at Canton and put together.  The metal basket is just old and rusty and I attached the metal flowers with a burlap twine that blends in to the basket.  I love the final touches it adds to the bathroom. 
You might notice the main change is the towel cabinets that are in the before picture but has been replaced by a door in the after picture...well that is my ultimate addition and will be coming up in a post soon!
I love our master bath and really now that it is all done the closet, bath, and bedroom is the ultimate master suite. I tell Hendrik constantly I love it so much and it feels so comfy like a hotel room.  I love that it is a perfect escape.

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