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Friday, June 30, 2017

Things I'm Loving

(the above picture has nothing to do with this post except I'm currently loving the little print)

I have had this post titled in my drafts for sometime now and finally am down to the last of my drafts so thought it was a perfect time to share what I'm currently loving.  

  • Blurb- Is a book maker that is easy to use, fast, and inexpensive for the quality of the book received.  Not only can you do picture books like you can at Shutterfly you can also do actual books and buy them in large quantities.  I found Blurb through a home design and DIY podcast that I listen to Young House Love has a Podcast and have used it 3 times so far and have photos to make at least 2 more books.  

  • Pod casts- Sometimes I get tired of listening to the radio...the same ole songs all the time and since I play the stations through my computer at work I've been listening to podcasts while I go to the gym, run errands, etc....  Some of the podcasts that I have loved in the past and currently found and love enough to binge listen are: 
    • S Town is so captivating, weird, and all around addictive.  The same producers that brought us Serial brought us S Town and OMG....not only do you have endings there are some loose ends and just the all around twist and spins of this real life story is crazy addictive.  
    • Serial is a complete sensation of real life crime stories that are really unclear and all though there is the news outcome the podcast dives into its own research and tries to give all the views and perspective and allows the listener to really see what went down...they don't really have clear "endings" but they are SO interesting
    • Young House Love has a Podcast a DIY and design podcast that is fun to listen to if you're into that kind of thing.  I get a lot of ideas and tips from John and Sherry and even though I may never use them I do like listening to their banter.
  • I'm really into medieval TV shows like, CW's Reign, that just wrapped its final season (you can watch on Netflix) and a new series on Starz based on a book, White Princess

  • Rewatching Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries- over the Winter and early Spring I rewatched Pretty Little Liars before the final season geared up...which just ended. I forgot how much has happened in that show. I love it so much and can easily see myself rewatching it more in the years to come.  I sort of got off Vampire Dairies over the past few seasons so I thought I would catch up by starting over through Netflix.  So far I'm only a couple episodes in but again...love these shows.  
  • New friends- I've made some great connections through the fitness world and become really good friends with a  couple girls from the gym.  We are even taking a bday/girls trip to Galveston in a few weeks.  I also have been getting in some awesome workouts with new people at the gym.  I don't do this often as working out is really my me time and I enjoy doing it alone and being focused but a few workouts here and there are awesome to get some outside motivation, perspective, and knowledge.  
  • I can not get enough tacos and burritos!  I can literally make some sort of tortilla trap for every meal...I'm talking meat tacos, bean tacos, cheese tacos, any kind of taco just add some Tabasco!

  • Summer and not being in school is a marvelous thing!  This is the first Summer in forever that I can actually do what I want...other than day to day work and gym life I have nothing pressing to do..no deadlines, assignments, test or stress just nice adult kid free living.  I feel like 2017 I'm living a more meaningful and slower paced life and I love it.  

  • Because of all this easy living I've been doing I have also been reading a lot more!  Check out all my recent book reviews HERE to find what I've been reading and right now I'm currently reading George W Bush's memoir, Decision Points, and also I'm starting to reread all the Harry Potter novels!
  • I've been a fan of Youtube for a while now but I've recently started to utilize it in a different way...MUSIC.  This maybe old to many but its new to me.  I've started making my own music playlists to get through my workouts and also I always get a lot of fitness information from Youtube.  Check out my favorite channels! 
  • Hendrik has Amazon Prime and I recently (as in last week) hooked up my Kindle services to his account so I can now read a ton of books for free.  I also can read some of my favorite fitness magazines for free.  We also plan on watching Amazon movies through our smart TV.  We are trying to find as many other resources of TV as possible so we can hopefully get rid of our Direct TV. The bill is ridiculous!
  • I'm on the look out for the perfect real estate deal and I recently found it...I wasn't able to pursue the idea alone and by the time I got Hendrik and the contractor lined out to take a look and get me a cost sheet the house was under contract! :(  I'm not giving up and I'm constantly surfing real estate websites and daydreaming of my very own HGTV inspired flip/ rental reno!  

So that is what I'm currently watching, reading, listening to, and eating!!! What else is there in life LOL!!!  Onto July and more adventures!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Book Review: The Letter

I was looking for a cheap book to read after finishing The Marriage Lie and found The Letter on Amazon for only $1.99.  After reading the synopsis I thought it sounded good especially for $1.99 so I couldn't pass it up.  OMG! This book was so good.  I love how small the world is and this book is proven that past, present, and future are all connected.  The choices of one person can effect people that you would never even think of and although it is a heavy read you feel hopeful for all parties involved and in the end although the outcome would have been better if one character wasn't so selfish years prior the final outcome happened for all the right reasons and everyone lived a happy life after so much heartache spanning 30 + years.  I loved the history of the novel and also how the author brought so many stories together to formulate the perfect recipe for this book!  If you want a quick read that is interesting and very different from your normal love story or murder mystery then this book is for you!  Check out what Amazon has to say about it below.  

Amazon Synopsis:
The #1 EBook Bestseller. Every so often a love story comes along to remind us that sometimes, in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way. Discover THE LETTER by Kathryn Hughes, the Number One bestseller that has captured thousands of hearts worldwide. Perfect for fans of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. 'A wonderful, uplifting story' Lesley Pearse

And if you love THE LETTER, you will adore Kathryn's second novel THE SECRET...

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave him, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she comes across an old letter, the envelope firmly sealed and unfranked. Tina opens the letter and reads it - a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever...
Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does - in more ways than he can ever imagine...
The Letter tells the story of two women, born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross and how one woman's devastation leads to the other's salvation.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Meal Planning & Grocery Haul

It has been a while since I did a meal planning and grocery haul post and since I'm getting back on my meal prep game I thought this month was the perfect month to start back the monthly posts on this topic.  Not only do I like to give my few readers organization, planning, and meal tips/tricks it is also a way for me to look back on past meal plans and recipes that I haven't made in a while.  

I always plan out my meals in my Plum Paper planner for the month.  This way I know what days I need to schedule something quick and easy/fast or eat leftovers like Tuesday and Thursday which are my late gym nights.  I also try to schedule one day a week for leftovers just so we don't waste and then at the end of the month when groceries are slim I do what I call a pantry dump...which usually is a meal thrown together and concocted with whatever meat/veg/extras that I have in freezer, frig, and pantry.  In the side column of my planner I map out my weekly lunch meal prep and snack options. (not done in the above pic) 

This was last week's lunch meal prep= 1/2 cup cook long grain brown rice, 4 oz lean ground turkey, and 1 cup of steamed garden fresh green beans.  I prep my lunch meals on Sunday all at once as well as any cooked or bagged snacks like rice cakes divided or boiled and peeled eggs.  Prepping lunch and snacks for the week prior to Monday morning helps me hit my dietary and fitness goals.  If I have it prepped there's no way I'm going to let it go to waste so I can load my food into My Fitness Pal app to ensure that I'm hitting my targeted macros each day.  Dinner isn't usually prepped weekly but I do measure and make healthy choices and substitutes when cooking classics or every day recipes.  

When planning the month ahead I turn to past meal plans in my planner and here on the blog as well as trusty ole Pinterest!  I don't know how many times I heard growing up from my Mom, listening to friends, or telling Hendrik myself...."I'm sick of cooking the SAME THING OVER and OVER!"  Thank you Pinterest now I have no excuse! LOL  For this reason alone is why each month when I break out my new month and notebook paper to jot down ideas I pull up Pinterest and go through my Get in My Belly board to get recipe ideas.  If I haven't pinned anything new that looks appetizing then I will search and pin new recipes that look good.

Here are a few recipes that I've pinned that are in this month's meal plan that I'm excited to try!

These are only ideas and if the recipe has butter or other unhealthy ingredients I try to cut down if not out and replace them with healthier options when possible.  Once I plan my month I make a list of what we will need from the grocery store. I always keep staples like wheat pasta, brown rice, salmon, lean beef and turkey, chicken and bananas on hand at all times but other ingredients that might go along with these new recipes I try to get as well such as fresh limes for the salmon recipe above.  To get a good list and make sure I don't waste time going to the store every day I go through each day and think or go through my pantry to ensure that I have enough of or those specific ingredients.  We try to make one big Sam's haul a month and 1 or 2 smaller trips to Brookshire's our local grocery store for fresh ingredients as we need them.  

I hope you got some new ideas and tips for meal prep and planning your meals for your family no matter the size.  You can never be TOO organized or prepared in my opinion.  July's haul and planning will be up in a few weeks so stay tuned.  

Check out the links above for my Pinterest board, getting your own Plum Paper planner, and the tasty recipes!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Bucket List

Take Sunday bike rides

Get consistent with Sunday meal prep

Enjoy outdoors

Do fun summer actives with Case- water balloons, water park, splash pad, homemade ice cream

Go kayaking

Make new summer salad and grilling recipes

Read 5 new books

Enjoy sitting on my front porch swings

Have many pool days with friends

Go to a Rangers game

Try new restaurants that have great patios

Have an at home spa day

Have a friends cookout with water slide and water gun fights

Eat a snow cone

Go the to movies and see a late show

Visit drive in theater

Eat watermelon

It has been a while since I have done a bucket list and even longer since I thought I could actually finish one that I have made.  Now that I'm not in school, wedding is complete, and we are done with vacationing I think this Summer I can get these done.  Summer in East Texas is HERE and I want to do some if not ALL of these fun Summer activities this year.  Other than fitness related events I have no plans and want to enjoy every weekend soaking up the Summer sunshine and heat with my husband, family, and friends.  What all do you have planned for the Summer?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

6 Weekend or Day Trips for the Summer

I've been bit by the travel bug and it is itching so bad!! LOL  Not that my travel bug bites ever stop itching but I took so many big, amazing trips last year IRELAND, LONDON, DOMINICAN, BALI, DUBAI, THAILAND!  (Click for details)  This year we had our HONEYMOON and a recent family trip to Florida but I want more.  My travel wants are always big but next year I have some big travel plans so I think for the remainder of this year I want to focus on small day and weekend trips.  I have compiled a little list of trips that I've been wanting to take and I hope to mark a lot of these off the list from now through the Fall months.  

Waco, Texas

The main reason I want to make a trip out to Waco is to of course visit the Fixer Upper complex Magnolia EVERYTHING. They have a bakery, store, and tons more that I'm dying to see.  I'm sure it is a major tourist trap at this point because they are so popular but I just need and want to experience it for myself.  This would make an awesome girls day trip as Waco is around 200 miles away and if we leave early one morning we can make an entire day out of the drive and visit.  Check out what all Magnolia has to offer at their website HERE!  I would also like to sight see and window shop around downtown.  The Waco area has a ton of new business that are booming due to all the publicity that the Magnolia projects and Fixer Upper has brought to Waco.  

Pawhuska, Oklahoma
The Pioneer Woman is someone who I started watching years ago and over the past few years have almost forgotten about her.  That was until my mother in law mentioned that the little town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, gets a whopping 6000 visitors, I believe, daily when the general population of the entire town is only 3000.  Much like Waco it seems that Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) has revitalized a town by putting in deli and general store the Mercantile.  I love Ree's cookbooks and after Roelie told me about this little gem I immediately looked up the town.  Pawhuska is almost 5 hours drive north of my home but would make a great little overnight weekend trip with a stop over in Tulsa to meet an Instagram friend. Plan your visit HERE!

Louisiana Plantation Tour

Being from the South I love all things Southern...although I don't drink sweet tea any longer I still love a good drive and I would love to see and tour some of the restored, grand plantations from back in the day.  I would make the long weekend driving and touring different plantations on my way to a bigger stop or maybe just make a little route of plantations and circle back home.  THIS website is a great way to plan the trip!  

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has been on my must visit for a weekend list literally for YEARS!  I still haven't made it down there for a walk around and indulgence of Cajun food but this year is the year...hopefully! LOL Either way it will continue to be on the list.  To me NOLA is one of the most cultural cities in the US with it's music, food, and history and it is a must visit.  Kayak Explore makes me want to visit the city even more as right now flights from DFW to New Orleans are as cheap as $89!!! How can I not plan a visit soon!  This would be a definite long weekend trip with a nice and cheap flight in and out of the Big Easy.  A trip like this would make for a nice couple get-a-way or a girls trip.  A tight planned itinerary would be a must to see all the sights but you could also just wing the entire thing and I think you would turn out just fine discovering hidden gems throughout the French Quarter and throughout the rest of the city. 

Palm Springs, California

The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs has been on my radar ever since I saw a fellow blogger go to a bachelorette party there several years back.  It is a bit pricey, both flight and this hotel, but would make the perfect long weekend get-a-way in the Fall to catch some final rays and unwind before Winter hits.  All the colors just screams mid century modern and cool pool floats.  The surrounding desert area would make for some fun drives as well.  Palm Springs just seems like one of those places that is a fun, out of the ordinary escape that isn't over populated with everyone else that is trying to escape LOL.  They also have a hotel in Scottsdale, AZ that would also be up for a visit! 

Las Vegas, Nevada

Back when I was 19 my best friend and I spend a whirlwind couple days in Vegas going to the PBR finals.  We were too young to really experience Vegas and I would love to go back for a weekend of fun now that I'm "of age".  I would like to do all the cool amusement rides, go to the old light museum, and just stroll around the strip people watching and soaking up that Vegas sun.  Kayak Explore again shows me how affordable this little weekend could be with flights from DFW only $116!!!  Also would love to go to some of the awesome gyms in Vegas that I see some of my favorite Instagram accounts frequent.  

So there's my little list of places I'm loving right now that I think would be awesome little drives or long weekend flying get-a-ways.  I hope I've made your travel bites itch and you can also experience some of these neat places!  I'm off to a bodybuilding competition today to support a couple girlfriends  and a little learning experience before I POSSIBLY set off on a new fitness journey.  

Keep tuning in!  I plan on keeping this space updated and have a lot of variety!

(all images via Pinterest) 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: The Marriage Lie

I had this book on my to read list and bought it for super cheap at Amazon!  I started reading it a few weeks ago and finished it while in Florida on our family vacation at the beginning of this week.  This book grabbed my attention right off the bat.  Although the overall feeling the book portrayed was sadness and mourning the overall story kept you so intrigued and wanting to really find out the story behind Will.  Is he dead, is he alive, why all the secrets....was/is he maybe in the CIA???  Your mind will go in all directions and right when you feel like you have it figured out you will get a big spin!  I loved the book and stayed up all hours devouring it.  If you want a good read this is definitely it and will leave you completely satisfied with the ending of the story!

Bestselling author Kimberly Belle is back with a “domestic thriller [that] will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.” —Redbook

"Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will eat up Kimberly Belle's latest novel."—Bookreporter.com
Everyone has secrets… 
Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers. 
Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Insta Dump #38

May was an awesome month. We had our honeymoon during the first week and then a lot of life for the rest of the month.  

Go follow me on Instagram @meganp1216 

awesome sunset/ summer launch with Case// married AF// ready to head out to a graduation// quote of accomplishment headed to the airport// killed a workout at Destination Dallas// tons of new blog posts// date night with my husband// cattle drive on my way to errands// shoulder pump// coffee in my own bed// leg gains// the view from our honeymoon bungalow// girly gains in Mexico// we travel not to escape but so life doesn't escape us 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Spare Bedroom Remodel into Guest Room and Office

A month or two ago a friend bought my spare room furniture which I had been wanting to sell for a while but never took the time to put it out there.  It worked out perfect that he needed it so off it went and I immediately started planning my remodel of the room to turn it into a spare room/ office space. It took a couple weeks to get the few things in that I ordered but on Tuesday my final piece was delivered.  I took Wednesday off to run errands, go to a meeting, and I also took the time that afternoon to put together my new sleeper sofa and decorate my office space.

Before: After the furniture was gone and the wedding was upon us/then happened the room turned into a catch-all pretty quickly and I had to first start by getting rid/finding spots for wedding decor and then just putting away paid bills and such.  

my old makeshift office space when the room was mainly a quest bedroom

After: I still have the option for guests to stay as the sofa is a sleeper sofa and pretty comfortable if I say so myself.  Case and I tested it the other day for nap time.  I also didn't spend a bunch of money to redo this room.  A lot of the wall art was gifts, prior unused purchases for our home, or things I already had on hand.  My desk had been in storage at my Moms and my sewing machine had been in the closet hiding out.  More details below...

I made the little corner table when you walk in a little sewing nook.  Hopefully now that the sewing machine is out and about I will make time to learn to use it a bit more.  This frame still needs pictures printed and put in it but I wanted to get them up and I can always add pictures later.  I'm waiting to get our wedding pictures back so I can transition pictures that are around other parts of the house in here and showcase our new pictures around the house.  

Like I said the desk was in storage and the filing cabinet had been in the closet.  I moved it out and used it as a printer and tech station.  The cork board used to be above the small table where the sewing machine is now.  I moved them over onto the big wall to frame out the world map as well as be of use for notes, inspiration, and more photos.  

Opposite of the filing cabinet in the other corner I used the small antique chair as a table with my past years blog books under a lamp that I redid back when I lived in Winnsboro...HERE!  The paintings were from our girls night out trip to Painting with a Twist.  The top painting was a gift since I was a bride and the bottom painting was the one I painted that night.  

This desk is only a small writing desk so I didn't put a lot of bulky items on it.  Simple and clean!

Love this felt letter board and it was a quick, cheap find at Walmart this same day.  I saw it on an end cap and new I had to have it.  Love this saying as well.... something I try to live by daily. 

This scratch off world map came from Uncommon Goods and is poster size.  As you can see we have a lot of the world to still cover.  I framed the map in a cheap poster size plastic from from Walmart. 

I didn't have a proper desk chair so I ordered this one from Overstock.  I wanted something modern but not too modern and still sleek and clean looking with wood accents to tie into the room and the rest of the house nicely.  I think this chair fits all those qualities and it is really comfortable as well.  

This agate frame was a wedding gift and I plan on putting a nice picture of Hendrik and I in it.  The deer antler was a find at the farm...that ruined a planter tire.  

I reused some of the gold spray painted mason jars that we used at our wedding for accessory decor on the desk as well as the greenery wreath.  

View from the doorway looking in.  The rug is a wool throw-down rug from Ikea.  You can't tell well in the picture but it is made up of blues, tans, and grays.  The cedar chest is something I have had for years and it was stuck in the corner housing the printer now I put it in from of the window and it holds all of Case's goodies.  I love how open and airy the new decor makes the room feel.  I plan on making some curtains from navy sheer table cloths that are huge and leftover from our wedding and I want to add tassels to the inside seam.  We shall see on that so stay tuned. 

THIS sleeper sofa is a navy microfiber and has that retro vintage look.  I fell in love with it a long time ago and found this inexpensive version at Wal-Mart.  The two matching pillows have been hanging out in my linen closet and they were purchased years ago.  I found the fur pillow on Wednesday when I was at Wal-Mart and new it would add a feminine touch but still go with the room since it is in a light gray.  There is a big blank space above the sofa but I plan on having a tv there and then adding a few frames where needed to complete the wall.

view from the desk...I love the way the room turned out.  Not only does it function for more than one purpose it is 90% complete and I love the look of it.  

Total cost of remodel was around $450 the only new items that I paid for is the sofa, fur pillow, rug, desk chair, scratch map, and plastic poster frame.  You don't have to spend a ton of money to have a nice functional room. I can't wait to mount the TV above the sofa and add a few more frames around the sofa to totally finish off the space.  

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