Thursday, January 28, 2016


We've welcomed a fourth member of our family. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you already know we gave Caleb a blue tick hound. He has wanted a puppy for a few years and has worked hard to earn one. Ryan and I feel like a little boy needs a dog and Caleb sure has earned one! You can see how we surprised him {HERE}.

She is the sweetest thing and someone has been working with her already. She's almost housebroken and is almost 9 weeks old. Her mom was a full blue tick and her dad was a coon hound. Caleb wants to train her to hunt and we have plenty of people to help us train her.

My husband and I debated over a puppy for months. We knew that we wanted Caleb to have one, but we we waiting. I'd show him several and he dismissed them or the timing just didn't feel right. We had a million reasons to wait. On Sunday afternoon we were watching Peyton Manning play football and Caleb was napping. I scrolled through Facebook and noticed someone rehoming a pup. She was exactly like the Tennessee Vols mascot and I showed her to Ryan. He said, "I'm going to get her. I want her!" I told him if she came here her name would be Smokey. When he picked her up the ladies had already named her Smokey. 

Caleb was so thankful! This sweet girl has been glued to him since she came home. 

I think they're going to be great friends and I am so happy for our little boy. I am just so thankful we found the right puppy to bring home and that they are so a sweet match.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Crockpot 15 Bean Soup

I'm dropping by for a quick and easy crockpot recipe! We have snow-less snow days and my little one is home with me. It is chilly here and we were really looking forward to playing in the snow together. Big disappointment!

#healthy, #crockpot, #recipe, #eatclean, #budget

Hearty 15 bean soup made from scratch is the perfect home cooked meal for an icy, messy day. Our weather here is so ugly. My husband is stuck out in the cold so I made sure he came home to a healthy, warm dinner. You can find the dried beans at the store. Some label them as 15 or 16 bean soup. I throw out the ham flavor packet and just season myself. 

I soaked my beans overnight. I then rinsed them this morning, put them in my crockpot, covered them with 8 cups of water (or you can use organic broth), added 6 diced tomatoes and their juices, one smoked turkey sausage, one cup of diced ham (we had some frozen from a hog we had slaughtered), and one pound of ground venison (you can use turkey) with one diced onion. Cook on low all day in the crockpot! You can add some salt, garlic powder and sage for flavor too! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I suppose some people are curious lately about how I always seem to be on the go. I guess social media is a funny thing. People tend to forget that you only see the things I allow you to see. That's what makes it kinda unfair a lot of the times.

On Instagram Saturday one of my followers wrote that I have a great life. I admit one hundred percent that I do. I am blessed with a wonderful life and I am so thankful for everything and everyone in it. But please do not mistake my positive social media posts to mean that my life is all sunshine and butterflies. I struggle, I have people who hurt me, and I am sure I hurt feelings too. I don't always make the right decisions, but I do try. I sin and I fall short, but I love Jesus with my whole heart.

One thing that bothers me lately is that some people in real life are judging me personally based on the social media posts connected to my blog. My blog is my hobby. It's my passion and my downtime. It's what I do in my free time to unwind when my husband watches dude TV. It's how I help others. I feel like God uses me to inspire others to lead healthier, happier lives. If I am already planning out dinners for the week and I shoot a few pictures of what I'm doing so I can teach you how to do it too, it's no biggie. I've gotta eat and I might as well show you what works for me too. It doesn't take a whole lot of extra effort for me to help a bunch of other people.

My Zumba® classes are another area that is being judged harshly by people in my life. I would honestly weigh 200+ pounds if I was not working out two times a week right now. I'm already going to be there, what difference does it make than to let God use me to teach the class? I spent six months avoiding God leading me to teach Zumba® anyways. Guess what? It did not work out very well. Since I'm going to work out anyways, why not teach the class? For two hours out of the whole week I get to experience peace and joy in class. I connect with amazing Christian women who have mentored to me and prayed with me week after week. How can anyone disagree with that?

Our weekends are our family time. I spend Saturdays with my favorite guys. What most people don't understand is that both my husband and my son are ADHD. Our idea of relaxing is never sitting still all day. We are never going to be that family that sits in front of the TV all day long. My husband and I are wired the same. We have a lot of ambition, we like accomplishing things, and we love improving stuff. When we have nothing going on, we feel uninspired and bored. My brain literally feels like it is going 100 MPH and it never shuts off. I have so many ideas and thoughts all of the time. To make me sit still and do nothing is almost torture. My mind is constantly generating ideas and thoughts.

Just because I write about healthy living and working out does not mean that I am an extremist. We have treats and we do things in moderation. I believe in moderation in all aspects of life. I am just as real as you are!

My heart wants to help anyone I can live better and actually pull this off. If I tell you never to eat another doughnut again, you're going to call me a hypocrite. I'm just as real as you are, but I am here to tell you not to eat them every day if you want to lose weight.  

Just because someone looks like they have it all together on Instagram, Facebook or a blog doesn't mean they aren't real. It doesn't mean they don't struggle or it doesn't hurt their feelings when you judge what they are passionate about. What you don't see on all of my social media is that I love to read in my downtime, I enjoy photography, I write all the time, I listen to all kinds of music, I dance everywhere, I love to research and organize everything, I love to clean to relax, I soak in the tub a lot, and I am a Pinterest addict. These are things social media cannot decode about me. And I am only about half as busy as I look thanks to some very wonderful prescheduled posts and apps! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Z-People

This week has been pretty full. I'm working on some new posts for all of you and putting big projects together just takes some extra time. I admit that my brain has kicked into gear this year and I am filled with so much that I want to try. I want to focus on helping you. I want to help you reach goals, teach you how I do what I do, and show you a bunch of new things all while I'm tackling things along the way.

I'm still putting a few more things in order first. Monday morning found me slammed with a migraine. Once I'm in a migraine cycle I pretty much ride it out until it runs its course or I seek medical care. I still carry on with my life and I function, but unless you are close to me you never see my struggles. My neurologist is adjusting my medication next week and hopefully we can see a change. I am so ready!

I also try to manage things naturally. I want to discuss some of those things in a post, but I will share something that you'll automatically notice in pictures. I cut my hair! I have a bad habit of putting it up constantly. I think it puts pressure right where some of my migraines originate. It's a theory and I'm trying it. You might ask why I didn't just wear it down....

Last year I was misdiagnosed for months. I went through experimental treatments for something I didn't even have. Those medications took a toll on my body and also on my hair. We decided to start fresh and cut out all of the damaged parts. I don't mind having shorter hair at all and it feels so much better already. 

The Zumba® crew at Bayside is continuing to grow! I love seeing ladies come pouring into the room each night and I keep thinking it's so amazing they want to come workout with us. I can remember my first times teaching. It was such a train wreck. I was shy, I forgot my steps, and I stumbled around. I looked up and many of them gave me uncomfortable pity smiles to encourage me. Class numbers declined for a long time and I was so discouraged. Several class regulars stopped coming and I just knew it was because of my teaching style. It hurt my feelings deeply. 

I didn't give up and I hung in there. Over time we changed the way class was structured and made it what we wanted it to be. Instead of being serious, we laughed off the stumbles and shyness. Some of the original ladies didn't come back, but I have a bunch of new friends that have swooped in and become some of my closest, sweetest friends! Everyone is asking me what we're doing different now, but I keep telling them it's not me.... it's the group of women that walk through those doors every week. They have beautiful hearts and they are amazing people!

My greatest desire is that the new ladies get to know us and understand that we know what it's like to struggle through this too. Me most of all. I have stood where they've been. I have stumbled more than anyone, but I pick myself back up and do it all over again. I know what it feels like to be embarrassed, awkward, disappointed, hurt, and sad. But I also know what it's like to feel excitement, joy, strength, hope, and the most amazing adrenaline rush that washes over you when you walk out of a class surrounded by your best friends after you nailed that choreo! I really want to shout all of that at them but then they'd know I'm crazy and they might not come back. I really want them to come back. I think I like them already, y'all!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Weekend Wrap Up

Our Zumba® fitness class this past Thursday was even bigger than Monday's class! I talked a little bit about it {HERE} and the struggles I had with it personally. This time I was better prepared for the larger group of new people and I didn't struggle as much. After class I admitted to some of the new ladies that I was as nervous as they were! It helps to be open with them. I think it made them feel a little better too. Our calorie burn was really high in class. I'm not sure if it was being so pumped up about a big class or just being excited about some of my favorite people being by my side, but I was really pushing it!

Caleb got his second report card on Friday. He did very well and I was so proud of him! Math and science really click for him and he can really wrap his mind around those concepts. The most exciting part is that he is beginning to read. I love to read and he is making leaps and bounds in those areas. Caleb is also very artistic for his age. He got that from his daddy. He's loving school and I couldn't be more proud of this little guy! We let him pick a restaurant for dinner as a reward for his great progress and he chose Buffalo Wild Wings. That child loves chicken. Not just any chicken... it has to be spicy and on the bone. So picky! 

On Saturday we took some of my Christmas money to begin a project I have wanted to start for so long. This is Project "S" and maybe about 5 people know what it is at this point. I'm sure you will guess as we go. We'll just call it Project "S" until the final reveal and have some fun with it, okay? Even if you do know what we're planning, just wait until you see what Ryan is letting me do with this area! He had even bigger ideas than I did. I love that man.

Caleb loves to work. He is the busiest child I have ever known and loves a project. He started begging from the time we bought the paint. I figured we were painting everything, so why not? He couldn't hurt anything and he couldn't trip my OCD so..... We turned him loose and he was actually a big help!

We bought a semi-gloss paint so that we can wipe down the walls. This will be important later on. Keep that in mind...

We had VIP tickets to the World of Wheels in Chattanooga this weekend. My guys are huge car guys. They were in Heaven....

My husband's brain is filled with an unbelievable amount of car facts. He can rattle off stats about each car and it literally floors me. I had to listen to three hours of this. He can identify make and model of cars based on headlight shapes at night. I kid you not. Now he's teaching our son and I'll have to put up with two of them.

Ryan and Caleb have their sights set on finding a project car for the future. Both agree they want a truck to build. Caleb found the truck he wanted....

And this was my husband's pick. It gave him cold chills and I thought I may have to pick him up off the floor. Apparently it is his dream car.

I could easily settle for one of these....

But I think it would have to have this somewhere!

And of course someone small just wanted to go super fast.

We had a really busy, but fun weekend. It was nice to get a big project rolling. I've been dreaming about this for a while and making that first move was exciting to me. Project "S" is all mine and my husband took my ideas and blew them out of the water! He took this tiny idea and made it huge. How do you know you married the right person?

When he supports your hopes and dreams and does everything he can to make them happen. When he has boys' nights with his little boy so you can teach a Zumba® fitness ministry at church, you know you've got the right man. When he tracks down different migraine treatments for you in hopes of relief, you know he loves you. When he shows up on the busiest night of Zumba® to watch all the kids in class so you can still teach the class for the ladies, you know he is one amazing man (even if our fabulous childcare girl showed up right in time to relieve him). When he wraps his arm around you at night and pulls you close even though you know he isn't the snuggling type. When he's by your side through thick and thin, you know he's the right one.

Friday, January 8, 2016

In My Kitchen

There are some products I use regularly or have ordered recently that help me stay on track with my healthy lifestyle. Today I wanted to share those with you. You may already have some of these around your home and can start using them on your own weight loss journey. If you don't have them, it may be time to spend some of that Christmas money or start saving up. These are so worth it! 

Last year I was given a Power Cooker 6 quart Pressure Cooker for Christmas and I have used it like crazy. You can find them {HERE}. With my full schedule I do not have time to spend hours in the kitchen and this little kitchen tool does so much. It also acts as a crockpot. I admit that sometimes I completely forget to throw dinner in the crockpot and I come home unprepared. I can still cook dinner in just a few minutes and it tastes like it slow roasted all day. You can saute, steam, slow cook, and can all in this one tool. It is worth every penny. 

I look for ways to sneak more vegetables into our meals. My son loves pasta and I love the spiralizer! You can find it {HERE}. You can easily spiral veggies and sweet potatoes for healthier meals in minutes. If you are stuck on ideas, Pinterest has tons of options. Just dig around there! I'm also working on some recipes in our new Clean Eating series so check back in the next few weeks. Go ahead and grab one of these tools or dig yours out.

I recently bought a food dehydrator. You can find this model {HERE}, I have wanted one for a couple of years and I don't know why I put it off for so long. This one was the top rated one on Amazon with the best written reviews. Before I buy something I read everything about it and research it to death! I finally decided on this one. I have not tried it yet, but Caleb's deer returns from the processor this week. I am a huge fan of dehydrated apple slices and deer jerky. If I can figure out how to make those two things I'm going to be pretty happy. 

My husband gave me a Magic Bullet Express Mixing Set for Christmas. You can find them {HERE}. I absolutely hate dragging out my blender or food processor most of the time for just me. In the past I have wanted to make more smoothies, but the effort that goes into them is just not worth it. Plus I hate clean up with the blender. Now this is so much easier. Have I mentioned I'm his biggest fan lately?? He really took care of me at Christmas! 

Even though I am eating healthier now, it doesn't mean I don't like to treat myself to my favorite foods. My husband's parents gave me a bread machine for Christmas. You can find it {HERE}. It is so simple to use!

Why is it going on my list of awesomeness? Because I can control the ingredients going into my bread. I control the quality of them and I know where it came from. Plus... Remember my clean eating post beginning??? Grace! It's all about moderation, grace, and baby steps. If you didn't catch that part, go back and read it {HERE}. It's kinda important!

My little boy also loves bread. I do not deprive him and I can make bread at home cheaper than buying it. A home smells amazing when there's a loaf of bread baking too. I just love it!

These are the newest tools I'm using in my kitchen this year that our family enjoys and helps us live healthier and happier lives. Don't forget to share this post so that we can helps others as well.

**** There are affiliate links contained in this post. I may be compensated if you order or click on any of the links. That is what pays me to keep this little blog running and I appreciate all that you do! 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How To Really Clean Glass Cooktops

Have you seen all of the posts circulating Facebook and Pinterest lately claiming to have the greatest stove glass cooktop miracle around? I've read articles requiring razor blades, rubber gloves, and toothbrushes..... 

Stop right there! I am not doing any of that mess! 

Guys, we honestly don't have to do that. Please do not take a razor blade to your cooktop. Leave your toothbrush in your bathroom. Let me show you how we can easily go from "yuck" to "beautiful" with little effort.

Instead of an arsenal of tools from the garage, you just need three things:
  • Baking soda
  • Peroxide
  • An old rag
You don't even really need the peroxide, but it helps form a paste and speeds the process up quite a bit. I tried it both ways and it does help. 

Here is my shame.... I have never owned a pretty glass cooktop until we moved this past year. I had no idea this happened when you spilled stuff! Yuck! I just thought that stuff would wipe right up. Nope.... It was burnt right on and it drove me insane! 

You couldn't even read the words!!! Hello, OCD....Time to drive me crazy.

Here are my two little friends. They will be yours too.

Just sprinkle baking soda everywhere and pour just enough peroxide to make a paste. Then scrub your heart out.

It is magic.

And that is how my heart became shiny and new...

You didn't think I was just setting weight loss resolutions for 2016, did you?!? Heck no! I'm going all out this year. It's Sweet '16 and I am packing this year full of crazy good stuff. You just pull up a chair and let's get stuff done, friends!

And don't forget to pin it, Facebook it, tweet it and comment all over this post! You know the drill. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Weight Loss and My Challenges

If you shared my clean eating post {HERE}, thank you so much! If you forgot, can you go back and do that for me? One of my goals is to help as many people as possible lead healthier and happier lives and you all help me do that by sharing my posts. I seriously cannot do it without you and all of your help and I want to take the time to thank you. You make this all possible.
2015 was a tough year for me. A lot of you may be new here. I struggled with weight gain last year and I was diagnosed with chronic migraines, BPPV (an inner ear disorder), premenopause (yes, at 31), and carpal tunnel in both wrists. I was a really tough case and I was misdiagnosed. I ended up in the hospital and it was just miserable. I gained weight and lost my confidence somewhere along the way. But I found a really intelligent, amazing neurologist who didn't give up on me and cracked my case. I am now managing things much better and getting it all under control. Now I absolutely have to take care of myself through nutrition and exercise!

At the beginning of 2015 I weighed 153 pounds and I was content with that. I honestly carry my weight very well for being 5'5" and I have a lot of muscle. While I was battling my health issues this summer, my weight crept up to 173.8 and I was so upset. I felt sluggish and retained a lot of fluid. Everything swelled, none of my clothes fit and I lived in yoga pants. Since my diagnosis and finally being treated for the right conditions, I am very happy to announce I am 153 pounds today! Breakin' even, baby! 

In my mind I can erase the failures of last year. We can just start over and move forward. I can put the nightmare behind me finally. It's time to put in the work and carry on!

I am so excited and ready to have new goals. My Zumba® girls have started a Biggest Loser Challenge with me. We are measuring and weighing once a month for 90 days and tracking our progress. I cannot wait to see what we can do. 

Speaking of Zumba® class.... Oh my goodness, y'all! I prayed for a large Zumba® fitness class for the new year because everyone comes back pumped up with resolutions and goals. Then it dawned on me about halfway through my Monday that there were going to be a bunch of new people. If you know me in real life, you know I am really shy in a large group of people I don't know. Isn't that hilarious??? I am an extremely shy Zumba® instructor.

My sweet friend, Brandy, took this before class started. That wasn't even everyone!!! 

Yeah, I didn't find it very funny about 5 minutes before class either. Instead I got so stressed out that I saw the room tilt while talking to one of my sweet friends and then my voice started to crack as I began talking to the large group of half-strangers standing in front of me before class. I spent the first five minutes praying I wasn't going to pass out in front of all of these new people. I prayed, "Dear God, please do NOT let me trip all over my feet and please do not let me pass out in front of these people and then let them think I am some complete weirdo Zumba® instructor. I mean, I am crazy, but please don't let them really think I am that crazy....Amen!" All while just dancing along, doing my song. He heard me. I did not pass out in front of the packed out room. And I have to do it again on Thursday night. You can pray with me around 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Even though I struggle with a large class, I would much rather have it packed out. This ministry is very dear to my heart. I get to dance, work out, spread the love of Jesus, be with my best friends, make new friends, help others lose weight and be healthier, and share what God has done for me. I will be uncomfortable temporarily (because we know I won't be a stranger for long) if I can help others. I thank God every day for placing me here. I ask Him to use me any way He can and it blesses me so much. I have so much joy just knowing these ladies and loving them. If you are local and you have never been to a class, please come see me! Email me for more info at and I promise we won't be strangers for long. 

I post all over the place these days so make sure you follow me if you have the following social media accounts.....

I've got some super exciting things coming up and I will share them as soon as I can!


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