Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What Are You Thankful For?

  • I am thankful for the love of God! I am so very far from perfect, but He saved me! 
  • I am beyond thankful for the beautiful family God blessed me with. 
  • I am thankful for the support and love I get from my husband on a daily basis. He means so very much to me and I cannot put into words how simply amazing he is. 
  • I am thankful for our health. My family has experienced the loss of some close loved ones this year and I am reminded how precious life is. 
  • I am thankful that Ryan and I have jobs that we love. We have been blessed with a second family!
  • I am thankful that we have a comfortable home to live in. 
  • I am thankful that we can put good, quality foods in our bodies. We are fortunate to be able to do that. 
  • I am thankful for my parents. They have always supported us in anything we do. I am so happy we have a close relationship. 
  • I am thankful for my in-laws. Not many ladies have the chance to say that and I don't miss an opportunity to do so. 
  • I am thankful for my brother and his (growing) family. Brian and I don't have the same personalities and we don't have a whole lot in common, but there's never been a time that he wasn't there for me. 
  • I am thankful that I am an aunt to a beautiful little girl and precious little boy (on the way)!
  • I am thankful that Ryan and I have been blessed with more than we deserve. We appreciate everything we have been given. 
  • I am so thankful for the lady who keeps Caleb while we work. Her entire family has loved Caleb like crazy and he just adores them all. 
  • I am thankful that we have a church home. Caleb has had so many opportunities to learn about God and we are blessed with people who care about him. 
  • I am thankful for my Zumba class. We have great instructors and ladies who join in week after week. They are some of the most giving and caring people I have had the chance to know. 
  • I am thankful for my friends. They have encouraged me so much this year. 
  • I am thankful for this blog. It's allowed me to get to know some pretty amazing people! It has blessed me so much this year! 
  • I am thankful for the people involved in Caleb's life. From the ones who lead his Sunday school class to Mother's Day Out to Cubbies.... and everywhere in between!
  • I am thankful for the relationship between Caleb and his grandparents. I am thrilled that he gets to spend time with them and have special moments with each of them. 
  • I am thankful that my eyes were opened two years ago. My health has become such an important part of my life. 
  • I am thankful for all of my sponsors here on the blog. I am thrilled to represent some amazing companies. 
  • I am thankful to live in a beautiful part of our country. 
  • I am thankful for my relationship with Caleb. He's so very precious to me and I can't imagine my life without him. He's always the brightest, happiest part of my day. He's taught me so much about myself and what really matters in life. Four years ago we spent our first Thanksgiving together and they've been truly special ever since. 

How many blessings are you counting today?

Attention College Students!!

Soon colleges will begin their Spring semesters after the holidays. I was always a planner and had all of my books and supplies purchased as soon as I possibly could.  My husband lovingly jokes about how he married a nerd... and he's completely right! 

I realize I have quite a few friends who are attending college next semester. I can remember walking into the campus bookstore, searching through stacks of books for the ones I needed, and walking out broke! I remember spending over $900 on books just one semester in college. Guys, I graduated over seven years ago and I'm sure the prices haven't gotten much better.

Y'all know I love to share a great deal with you when I find one. If I were still in college I would seriously consider renting my college textbooks. I wish a million times they offered something like this while I was in school.

By renting you can save 40-90% versus buying from your campus bookstore.

Ready to learn more?

Campus Book Rentals is an online company who actually rents college textbooks! Not only will they save you money, but they offer free shipping both ways! You can highlight in these books and their rental periods are flexible. What's not to love?

One of the best reasons I like this company is that they also donate a portion of the textbook rentals to Operation Smile. They have donated over 1,000 cleft lip surgeries this year to children in need. The last time I purchased college books, I know none of my money directly helped children in need.

Also, if you have textbooks that the campus bookstore didn't buy back or you never got around to taking back in they offer another great program! At Rent Back you can actually rent your own textbooks to other students. You can earn two to four times more versus selling your books back each semester. What college student doesn't need a little extra cash?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tips & Tricks - Fall Kids Crafts

Today we're linking up ideas for Fall crafts you can do with your kids. Caleb is really into the whole crafty thing right now. 

I borrowed this idea from Princess Among Super Heroes...

Image Via

Super cute, quick and easy! 

Don’t forget – every link will be shared on the cohosting blogs, our Facebook pages, and pinned to Pinterest!
Make sure you follow the cohosts (below), so that you can see your shout outs….
If you link up today, please include our button on your post!
Daily Dose of Del Signore
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Now, on to the fabulous party!

Themed Section: Anything Goes Section:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Motivation Monday #29

I love seeing how my family has changed over the last few years. To be quite honest, this is the first time I've ever been comfortable taking the family pictures. Every year, I've absolutely dreaded seeing the reality of my weight issues. I know how hard I've worked the past two years and I can really enjoy our family photos now. 

As we were flipping through all of the pictures taken, I didn't have to cringe in horror. I didn't have to weed through 70 pictures trying to find the most flattering shots. I didn't have to pick through family photos focused on whether or not I looked rough. I feel like I finally just got the be one hundred percent me and not worry about it. I got to focus on my little boy's smiles and pick my favorites from those. It wasn't about me! 

For the first time I wasn't trying to pose in just the right position to minimize the fat. I just got to smile with my husband and little boy. 

I didn't feel "fake" happy anymore and I love that most. 

For the first time in my adult life, I feel great about who I am, what I stand for, and the way I see myself. I am so grateful for that. It's sure taken me long enough. 

What have you learned about yourself recently? 

Here are the co-hosts for Motivation Monday:

Wendy @ Daily Dose of Del Signore
Veronica @ V Watts' Thoughts
Morgan @ Fat to Fit Confessions
Tiff @ The Fit Train
Katie @ The Carb Monster
Alisha @ Coily Locks

Follow on Bloglovin

*** I was asked how I get my skin looking so bright and I've recently been using Meaningful Beauty Creme de Serum. I really love how silky it makes my skin feel. I was sent some to try from Influenster and I really love it.

You can learn more HERE.

And if you'd like to purchase it, go HERE.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Pictures 2013

This weekend we decided to have our family photos taken for our Christmas cards. 

It's been about two years since we had them done and I really wanted something special this year. Caleb is going through an independent phase with his hair lately. He wants it spiked up. I honestly thought we wouldn't deal with hair preferences until he was bit older! Regardless, he sure was cute. 

I absolutely adore this picture of me and Caleb. He's just the sweetest thing! 

This was my favorite picture of just me and Ryan. Caleb kept trying to run into the shot with us. He hates being left out of pictures now! 

We ended up using this one for our Christmas cards. 

Once Ryan and I saw these two we were in awe. I'm amazed at how old he looks in these pictures. 

I'm sure every mom takes moments to just sit back and look at her child in wonder. I know I'm biased, but I think he's such a good looking little boy. Sometimes I wonder how in the world I had a child so very beautiful. Then I remember how very blessed we are with a happy, healthy little boy. I thank God every day for those things. Caleb is more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. 

This is the classic Caleb grin! This picture is just so him. 

We had to work with Caleb just a bit to get him positioned correctly. He's a typical four year old who can't seem to sit still for very long. I was proud of him for cooperating as well as he did! 

I love the picture of Caleb with his daddy. I think he's starting to have more and more of Ryan's features. They already have identical personalities! 

I am blessed with two very good looking guys in my life. I'm such a lucky girl. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Trying Something...

Sadly I haven't lost any additional weight for a couple of months now. To say I'm frustrated is not even close to what I'm feeling. I have gained and lost the last five to seven pounds for months. That mess just isn't working for me.

What's worked for me for two years just isn't cutting it anymore. And that's pretty scary to me. I hate change and I despise having to try something new. What if it doesn't work? What if I gain more?

Unfortunately, that's where I am. To be honest, I have started to grasp the whole concept that I simply cannot eat between 1200-1300 a day every day for the rest of my life. I lost all this weight so I could live, but to be honest I have stopped enjoying my love of food. (Yes, you read that right. I simply love food. And that's okay. It's normal. It's not normal to binge like I once did!)

I've got it stuck in my mind that eating clean and never having my old favorite foods is the way to exist. I kinda miss Pasta Weesie from Carraba's. I haven't had it in over two years and that's just completely sad. I envisioned this whole weight loss transformation allowing me to finally enjoy the foods I love. I don't want to go overboard like I did when I was bigger. I just want to relax a little more. I haven't allowed myself to do that.

Friends, that isn't very healthy. Here I am thinking I'm living this incredibly healthy life and I'm almost neurotic about eating the "wrong" things. I didn't think I'd be so addicted to watching every tiny calorie that enters my body. It becomes habit and then it becomes a cycle.

Not many people who have successfully lost a lot of weight talk about these things. It's hard to tell you that I feel as though I have put my body into starvation mode. Yes, I am eating the lowest amount of calories recommended, but those figures do not account for my physical activities. I was eating 1200 calories a day and had weight loss success long before I began Zumba and started running. It was just plain habit and I didn't factor in the extra activity.

Bottom line: My body is angry with me and my metabolism is suffering.

I've started researching the whole macronutrient idea. Basically there's a calculation of the proportion of fats, carbs, protein, and fiber your body needs each day. My personal calculation (based upon my age, height, weight and activity level) suggests that I aim for 1524 calories per day to achieve weight loss again. But it doesn't just end there... I should aim for 73.2 grams of carbs, 162 grams of protein, 64.8 grams of fat, and 32-41 grams of fiber every day.

That doesn't mean I can eat junk all day as long as I stay around 1524 calories. If I am including the suggested amount of carbs, protein, fats, and fiber, I have to make sure the foods I eat help meet those amounts. Guess what? Pizza won't get me there, but if I plan it right I can still include that every now and then. To even get close to those amounts, I still have to eat real, nutritional foods the majority of the time.

I am afraid of seeing that calorie count rise so much, but I know deep down it's more realistic. I've researched the idea of reverse dieting. Reverse dieting is slowly increasing your caloric intake over a period of six to eight weeks so that you don't pack on the weight from drastically altering your food intake. It's designed for people who have not eaten enough calories over an extended period of time and people who have lost extreme amounts of fat (think professional weight lifters and competitors).

So what does a day of fitting in my macros look like?

Breakfast: Cottage cheese, low fat (3/4 cup)
Snack: Shakeology
Lunch: Zaxby's Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken and one packet of Ranch Dressing
Dinner: Baked Tilapia (8 oz), Steamed Veggies (2 cups), and Boiled Okra (1 cup)

I was completely stuffed. That's actually a lot of food for me. It was 1564 calories, 78 grams of carbs, 155 grams of protein, 62 grams of fat, and 30 grams of fiber (I had to add a supplement to get enough here). It wasn't perfect, but it was a start. I also did two hours of Zumba. I'm going to work at this and give it several weeks to see if this works better for me. I understand I may gain a bit, but I believe it will come off easier once my body adjusts to it.

There's no perfect way to lose weight. What works for one person may not work for you. It takes patience and an understanding that this isn't going to happen overnight. But I promise it is worth it! Keep trying to find what works for you. Even if something works great for a while, but prepared if things change.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Idea

I absolutely love the holidays! I think it's the whole anticipation of Christmas morning that gets to me the most. There's nothing like waking up on Christmas morning and opening gifts with my two favorite guys. I show love through my gift giving.

Datevitation gave me a great stocking stuffer idea for Ryan. I created a love coupon book customized just for us. The whole idea is that Ryan gets five date coupons to be used throughout the year. We love bowling, going to the movies, and sushi night so I picked those for him. I also gave him one funny one: Get out of the dog house coupon! What man doesn't need one of those at least once a year???

  • is the web's first online platform to create a custom love coupon book. Unlike the pre-packaged love coupon books on the market, you pick the dates and can customize the text to your liking.  Once you are done customizing the text in your book, Datevitation will print it out and ship it to you.
  • Their library contains over 500 date ideas ranging from skydiving to stargazing to steamy adult-only activities. They also have over 100 book cover options to suit any occasion.
  • In addition to being the perfect romantic gift for your sweetie, Datevitation now has "boy" and "girl" characters with over 200 new activity illustrations specifically for kids and parents.  There’s also an exciting feature that allows you to add photos of your own faces to the illustrations!
  • Books normally start at just $25 so it makes for a thoughtful yet economical gift.  But as a special treat for my followers, you can use the code  DELSIGNORE10  for $10 off your purchase plus free shipping (total value of $13.50)  That means you can get your loved one a one-of-a-kind gift for Christmas starting at just $15!  The order cut-off date for guaranteed delivery by Christmas is December 13 so make sure to get your order in before then!

  • Datevitation is a family business run by the husband-wife team of Alex and Olga Karpman.  You can get to know them on the Datevitation blog, where they offer video guides to date ideas and romantic gestures.   You can even watch Alex propose to Olga in a video they posted on Youtube as a Save The Date, and now has over 1.5 million views (you can view the video here)!  

It's not just for couples! You can do one for your kid or another family member. 
There are plenty of options!

Best news today??? I'm giving one away to one lucky reader!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I took a break from Zumba for a while this past month. I really enjoyed going, but I was doing two hours twice a week and it seemed too easy. Sure, I was sweating....but I wasn't sure it was doing much for me.

So I slacked off a bit and life got in the way a couple of times.

This week I returned and thought I'd just hop right back in. Not that easy.... I struggled a bit!

I was winded a couple of songs and I noticed a considerable loss of endurance. I really didn't expect drastic changes, but I could really tell a difference.

Today I'm just plain sore! I completely remember now that Zumba was doing its job and I don't plan to take anymore extended breaks from it.

Nothing against running, jogging, or walking to you folks who love them. I've tried them all myself. To me, Zumba is not only what works the best, it's also the most fun!
Image Via

And to be completely honest, I really missed the ladies in the class. This group of women are always energetic, sweet and funny. I've been to classes at gyms before where the women are just totally stuck up. I've not found that once with our Zumba class. It makes you keep wanting to come back each week.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to find an activity you enjoy and the right place for you.

There are so many ways to fit in a good workout, but if you're not enjoying it you won't stick with it! If you're outgoing and want to meet new people, find a group that supports that. If you enjoy going solo, find a place you're comfortable in. Don't give up because the first try didn't work out like you imagined. There are so many programs and classes out there and there's going to be something you'll love.

I've seen a lot of people try a new class or workout and hate it. They never return to it, but they also quit searching. Just something to think about....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tips & Tricks - Thanksgiving Recipes

Today we're linking up our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. 

Don’t forget – every link will be shared on the cohosting blogs, our Facebook pages, and pinned to Pinterest!
Make sure you follow the cohosts (below), so that you can see your shout outs….
If you link up today, please include our button on your post!
Daily Dose of Del Signore
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Now, on to the fabulous party!

All of my recipes have been passed down from my mother. She's one of those Southern ladies who loves to cook for a huge crowd. She grew up with eleven brothers and sisters, so she definitely knows how to cook! Luckily for me, all I do is show up at her house each Thanksgiving and eat. 

My mother-in-law and I switch years for hosting Thanksgiving dinner. The first year I cooked the full Thanksgiving dinner, I was scared to death everyone would hate it....or I would burn everything....or undercook the turkey. 

This year is my year to cook. 

My husband and I usually tackle the turkey together. We've done it several different ways....

  • If you aren't very brave, you can buy the turkey tenderloin and cook it all day in the crockpot. Seriously, you cannot screw that up! I plan for one pack of turkey for every two people. 
  • My husband likes to smoke a turkey. He uses a larger elecrtric smoker and it comes out great every single time. We use a combination of hickory chips and Jack Daniels infused chips. We smoke the turkey at 250 degrees for ten hours, or until the meat reaches 180 degrees. Just season your turkey and baste it with some apple juice every two hours. 
  • This year, I'm going to roast my turkey in the oven. I will baste my turkey with a mixture of one cup of cranberry juice, orange juice, and onion soup mix. 
My side dishes:
  • Cheesy Squash Casserole (The very best you will ever eat!)
  • Mustard Potato Salad (Only for those who love a good, tart potato salad)
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Some type of bread
  • Some type of pie! 
So there we go! I'll mix up all of the side dishes the day before and then I just pop everything into the oven as needed! Simple, but good!

Ready to see what everyone else is having next week? 

Themed Section: Anything Goes Section:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Motivation Monday Link Party #28

Good Monday morning!!! We had a very laid back weekend around our house. I had a sick little guy and we spent time snuggled up on the couch.

I worked in some time to clean and I burned some serious calories scrubbing my house! Don't forget to check back as I show you how I fit my workouts into my cleaning schedule...

Show us how you work out! 

Here are the co-hosts for Motivation Monday:

Wendy @ Daily Dose of Del Signore
Veronica @ V Watts' Thoughts
Morgan @ Fat to Fit Confessions
Tiff @ The Fit Train
Katie @ The Carb Monster
Alisha @ Coily Locks

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hailey Jasmine Designs

I've been slowly transforming my kitchen over the past several months. I wanted to bring in cheerful items so that I could enjoy it more. One of the big things on my wishlist was a coffee area. I found the perfect sign!

All I Need Today Is A Little Bit of Coffee and A Whole Lot of Jesus Canvas Sign, Wall Art, Wall Sign
Hailey Jasmine Designs

The creative crew at Hailey Jasmine Designs sent me one of their All I Need signs to hang in my kitchen! It's just perfect and has the clean, neutral look I was going for!

I'll be revealing the kitchen progress soon, but I just had to share this cute sign!

This would make a great gift for the coffee lover in your life! 

They have plenty of signs for anyone of your Christmas gift list. 
Or maybe even for yourself....

A Girl Should Be Two Things: Classy & Fabulous Wood Sign, Wall Art, Wall Sign, Nursery Sign
Classy & Fabulous

Sandy Toes & Salty Kisses Canvas Sign, Wall Art, Wall Sign, Beach Decor
Sandy Toes
Merry Christmas Wood Sign, Wall Art, Wall Sign
Merry Christmas

Loot, Plunder, Pillage & Play Then Clean It Up And Put It All Away Wood Sign, Wall Art, Wall Sign, Boys Sign
Pirate Play
I love the creators at Hailey Jasmine Designs. Here's their story:

"We are a husband and wife team that started this company to find healing after the loss of our second daughter, Hailey. Our inspiration comes from the words we find in scripture, sayings, and quotes. By designing these wood and canvas signs, we are sharing how life is beautiful."

I love that they have a heart for Jesus and are able to see the beauty in God's plans for their lives. I felt how warm and sweet these two were just through our messages back and forth. They're honest to goodness kind hearted people and it was a pleasure to show off their signs today!


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