Dressember – Introduction

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December is full of holiday parties, family get togethers and Christmas shopping. However this year I decided to add advocacy and awareness to the list, through an organization called Dressember. The challenge is similar to Movember, everyday in December I will wear a dress to raise awareness and money for human trafficking victims.

According to the Dressember website, the money is donated to International Justice Mission and A-21. “Dressember is giving 85% of proceeds to International Justice Mission and A-21 in its 2016 campaign. 15% is retained for administrative, technological, and marketing expenses (almost 5% immediately goes toward credit card processing fees!). This is standard for 501c3 nonprofit organizations, and we are proud of our relatively low retention percentage – many nonprofits retain closer to 20% for overhead expenses.”

When I was in college I had the opportunity to intern with World Vision, a quote from the founder Bob Pierce has always stuck with me “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” My prayer is that the Lord will use my small act of wearing dresses to change my heart and impact other’s lives.

Join me in the challenge? Support me in raising money? Check out my fundraising page for more details.

Dressember Day 1

Goal number two is to work on my picture taking skills

Reading Nook: June 2016

Finished:

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Foods That Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You

I heard about Kimberly’s Glowing Green Smoothie on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast and since consistently drinking it my skin has improved. Thus I decided to give her book a spin and see if there was anything else I could glean. I went in knowing I would disagree but it was off putting how dismissive the book sounded toward other ways of eating. I realize my goal when eating is to stabilize/maintain even blood sugar while this books goal is clearing skin and anti-aging. In short, I will just stick to my green smoothie in the morning.

Continuing:

What’s Best Next by Matthew Aaron Perman

The book slows down in the middle and its been hard to get through, however my perseverance is paying off since its picking up and becoming more readable.

Started:

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My love of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast is no secret and Big Magic was consistently recommended by her guests as a book they were reading and loving. A couple days ago my hold finally came through at the library and I have been loving it so far! Will report back with more next month.


Bonus: I am desperately waiting until October for Rachel Hollis’ cookbook Upscale Downhome: Family Recipes, All Gussied Up. I love recipes from The Chic Site but in a live stream Rachel gave a sneak peek. There are event plans included! For example, you need to throw a baby shower it has recipes, decor ideas and how to tie it together. I was sold and have been excited since. October please come quicker!


Reading Nook is a monthly series about what I am reading that month and my recommendations.

Summer Bucket List

Photo Credit: City of Bellingham

Photo credit: City of Bellingham

Find the best Mexican food in town

We live a town with an amazing number of local restaurants. We have several favorites but have yet to sample enough Mexican restaurants. Thus this summer we will enjoy the fajitas, burritos, and margaritas on  beautiful sunny patios all in the name of science and finding the best food.

Enjoy a mojito on a patio

Mojito is my favorite cocktail and its hard to get more summer spirited then lime and mint. Plus Bellingham has so many beautiful patios overlooking the bay, I need to make sure and take advantage of my gorgeous surroundings.

Two trips to sunny California

These are already planned and booked but I’m excited to getaway and enjoy the sunshine with family. (Are you noticing the sunshine theme?)

Improve my eyeliner skills

Such a simple petty thing but I would love to be able to confidently do a winged liner look. I’ve always admired the look but never get it right and end up wiping it away. This summer will be the time to learn, practice, and see if I can improve.

Dance regularly again

This item is two part: I want to improve the strength of my ankle so I can dance as well as find a space to dance on a regular basis. With both my husband and I getting new jobs in 2016 the regularity of schedule has been in flux. Now life is as calm as it will ever be and I would like to get back to ballroom dance. It’s how we met and nothing makes me feel more instantly happy then being swung around the dance floor. This is also a physical challenge since I recently sprained my ankle so need to strengthen it as well.

 


What’s on your summer bucket list? Leave me a comment and let me know how you plan to fill your summer.

How to Make Greek Yogurt

When I started following Trim Healthy Mama, the amount of greek yogurt I ate quickly grew. Its a quick and easy source of protein. However after paying $5+ for a quart my wallet started to hurt and experimented with making my own. Many versions later I have developed a system that works consistently for me and yields wonderful creamy and delicious results.

Will Need:
  • A gallon of milk
  • 1/2-2/3 cup of plain yogurt
  • Candy thermometer
  • Stock pot large enough to hold the milk
  • Colander and bowl that fits underneath
  • Flour sack dish towels
How To:
  1. Pour the entire gallon of milk into the stockpot and place the candy thermometer on the edge.
  2. Heat on very low/low for 1-2 hours. Make sure that its low enough not to burn the bottom of the pan. You are looking for the milk to reach 180 degrees.
  3. Pull off the hot burner and let cool to 110/115 degrees.
  4. Stir in plain yogurt. Cover with lid and place in oven with light turned on.
  5. Leave for 10-14 hours. (No touching! Don’t open the oven door. I find it best to do overnight)
  6. Place colander over bowl and line with flour sack dish clothes. Pour yogurt into colander. Do not scrap the bottom, you loose a little bit of yogurt but it prevents weird bits of scorched milk in your yogurt. Place in refrigerator.
  7. Strain for 4-6 hours until yogurt looks/feels like thick greek yogurt.

Tips and Notes:

  • The higher fat content in the milk the more yogurt you will yield and the creamier it will be. Many versions I have seen use whole milk for this reason. I personally use 1% as to have a creamy taste but keep the fat content at a minimum. One gallon of 1% milk makes 1.5-2 quarts of greek yogurt for me.
  • I start the milk heating in the evening and place it in the oven before going to bed. It sits overnight and sometimes to lunch (depends on how busy the morning is). Yogurt is strained until lunch or when we get back from work.
  • This does produce plain yogurt, however we find this best for our family so that we can use different sweeteners depending on the person.
  • I found flour sack dish clothes at Target but they are widely available. I tried many version of clothes to strain the yogurt and this is by far the best. Don’t use cheesecloth, you loose lots of yogurt and its crazy to clean (had to throw mine out).

Favorite: Glowing Green Smoothie

Photo Credit: kimberlysnyder.com

Photo Credit: kimberlysnyder.com

A few weeks ago I heard about Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie from Amy on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast. I looked it up and while I try to generally have more protein in my smoothie I decided to try it out.

I tried it with the intention of getting extra greens, I’m not the best at eating salad and so greens are often lacking in my diet. Thus the Glowing Green Smoothie came into play! I like the low sugar/candida version better due to the cucumber, apple, lemon flavor. It’s been great to up my nutrients due to lots of spinach and romaine but an unexpected benefit has been slightly clearer skin. Since being a teenager, I’ve struggled with various forms and levels of acne. This means that I’ve kind of resigned myself to have spots on my face most of the time. However since drinking the Glowing Green Smoothie they have diminished significantly! Not to say I have perfectly clear skin but it is much better.

Kimberly Snyder says that this smoothie has many benefits including increased energy and weight loss. I cannot speak to these claims.

On top of that, I started sugar detox a few days after starting to drink Glowing Green Smoothie, which traditionally has resulted in a breakout. Not this time, I didn’t notice an increase in spots or any significant change in my skins texture such as dullness or dryness. During this time I have continued my same skincare routine and the Glowing Green Smoothie has been the only consistent change.

Vitamins and minerals from dark leafy greens + clearer skin + refreshing drink in the morning = yes please!

A few random tips I have learned:

  • Test which vegetables you like. I discovered that I love cucumber and very much dislike celery.
  • Blend a second time. Any of the Glow Green Smoothie version make more than one serving. Thus I have been making a batch in the evening, dividing into our Ninja single verse cups and storing in the refrigerator (GGS is good for 2-3 days). In the morning, I blend the individual cup. (This might not be necessary with a Vitamix) This allows the greens to kind of soften overnight and gives a better more smoothie-like texture, less like water and spinach blended 😛 .

Why We Budget

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Photo credit: YNAB

I sat down to write this post the first time and words would not come, I had an idea but no bullets or comments on the subject. Then we went to plan two summer vacations (both to California) and I remembered why we budget.

During our engagement, we started using You Need A Budget (YNAB) to try and manage money for wedding planning. It was very helpful when managing a large lump sum however it also instated good habits of checking in about money with each other. Since we were starting a new phase of life together it was a natural time to evaluate our money habits and work on changing both for the better. Now, two plus years later, we use it…

  1. To pay off student loans before too long. We are currently on track to pay off within 5 years of graduation! This is more of an accomplishment when you realize we both went to a private university 🙂
  2. To take vacations or travel without freaking out about money. One of my favorite budget lines is “travel” we pull from this for large trips but also for when we go to Eastern Washington for a long weekend. It allows us to pick up the check when on vacation with friends or to take two trips to California this summer (Sonoma and Palm Springs) without credit card debt or severely cutting back the month before to afford it.

However to meet these goals we have to make decisions about how much money is spent where, it’s hard to save for traveling if we don’t control how often we grab take-out.

Before YNAB my natural bent was to put tight limits on the necessary items such as rent, electricity, groceries, and anything not spent at the end of the month was put in savings. This might have worked (unlikely but I’m being optimistic 🙂 ) however I never accounted for eating out, a latte on my way to work, or the random weekend trip away, because they didn’t fall into my list of “necessary” items.

One of YNAB’s major rules is to give every dollar a job, this oddly gives you permission to spend! We each have a personal category to spend however we like (most of mine goes to coffee) and we aren’t guilty about it.

YNAB has four basic rules:

  1. Give Every Dollar a Job
  2. Save for a Rainy Day
  3. Roll With the Punches
  4. Live on Last Month’s Income

Overall, we don’t love being told “no” you can’t get Thai take-out every night yet we do love being able to say “yes” to a vacation to Palm Springs or paying off debt quickly.


Note: We are currently running YNAB 4 and have not updated to the current version. We have plan to eventually but not yet. Also this post is in no way sponsored, I just like the product.