Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I'm never making a new year's resolution...


Well, it's a new year and you know that means New Year's resolutions. Well, I'm not making any. I'm not setting myself up for failure this year. And you shouldn't either. Every year people do this to themselves and I have done this before too. You write down a whole list of things you want to do and it's like some sort of shopping list for your fairy godmother. Like you'll just magically be able to keep up with all these things even though you've yet to try so far. 

According to a Nielsen survey, some of the most popular resolutions are: 
  1. Stay fit and healthy
  2. Lose weight
  3. Enjoy life to the fullest
  4. Spend less, save more
  5. Spend more time with family and friends
  6. Get organized
  7. Will not make any resolutions
  8. Learn something new/new hobby
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more
Those don't look that hard, right? But look closer. If someone came to you and said, I want to do *insert number of resolution* what would you tell them? Each of these resolutions represent a decision. So my thought is that instead of saying you want to do these things, do them! 

There is no perfect time to start, so start now. If you want to lose weight and/or stay fit and healthy start now. Make the decision to add something healthier to each meal. I was forced into a health support program which I hated, however, they did have a great suggestion. Add one fruit or vegetable to each meal. And it did help somewhat. So there. It's a more achievable goal. It's not this grand statement, it's an actual goal. 

Enjoying life to the fullest is just so vague. How about start a Gratitude Journal. Every day or so, write down something you are grateful for. You'll begin to see that if you stop to think about your life, you will appreciate what a full life you have. Or you may see that you really do need to branch out and try to live more. I know for me it's easy to forego those lunches or playdates to stay at home and just be in my comfort zone. Make the decision to leave the house some times. Volunteer at the library, senior center or a local Mops group. Call, yes I said call, someone and ask them how they are doing or buy them a cup of coffee/tea. A full life means interactions. 

Spend less, save more...I'm not gonna harp on coupons even though I love them! But I've found that if I have a plan of sorts of what we'll have for dinner for a week, things go smoother. I'm not purchasing pizzas just down the street or burgers either. And it's so much cheaper to eat at home. Just that one thing is huge! Plus, this feeds into the Spend time with Family and Friends because if you are eating at home, you'll be together. Decide to eat more meals at home or only go out 1 time per week. That's a goal. It's doable. If you happen to slip, oh well, it's better than you were doing before, right?

Getting organized is one that is frustrating because you think if you had all those awesome containers from the Container Store you'd be fine. But that is expensive and you are trying to save more, spend less. 😄 So start with one area. Start with one drawer. Clean off your desk. Clean out your mom van. Clear out the old unmentionables drawer. Just walk around your house with a notepad and take notes. Look at your clutter spots as though you were someone planning to purchase your house. It's a little eye-opening. There are lots of calendars with goals for each day. You may also want to try FlyLady. If you haven't heard of her, look her up. She's got lists of things to work on each day. You may find in your walk through the house that you just have too much stuff. It's really hard to organize clutter. My friend Katrina over at Katrina's World just posted a great entry about tidying up. 

Learning something new is easy! If you have internet, YouTube is the place to learn everything. My son has learned guitar by watching Aaron Tomberlin. My daughter has learned lots of amazing drawing skills by watching Mark Crilley. My oldest has learned game design basics and theory by watching HeartBeast. Game Theory and VSauce help with creative thinking, physics and game design. Cambria Joy is one of my daughters favorites for organizing and growing your relationship with God. Cute Girls Hairstyles is great for learning to braid and other hairstyles. My brother in law has learned basket-weaving. My sister in law has learned soap-making. My husbands nephew has learned blade-making, I've learned lots of crochet and crafts and paper-crafting. Want to learn to build Minecraft levels? Try Dragnoz, We have found awesome piano tutorials also. Here's one from Pride and Prejudice. If all else fails, search Pinterest

Travel more is easy. Just get in the car and go somewhere. It doesn't have to be Hawaii. It can just be the next big town. Go explore. Roadside America is a great resource for finding little quirky places nearby. Drive somewhere and enjoy the scenery. I think people think they have to plan a massive vacation but adventures don't have to be grandiose. Just make the decision to go somewhere. Instead of spending the weekend vegging, plan one weekend to find a new favorite place. Also, this can feed in to your learning something. Research places that are in your area of interest. If you want to learn to play bluegrass music on the mandolin, look for festivals, museums or other events where you can find people with the same interest. 

Reading More is sometimes hard for people. I've been doing the Goodreads challenge for years now. Lots of people try to read 100+ books in a year. I've learned to make easier goals for myself. I plan for 12 books every year. I usually read more like 40-50. But there's not that much pressure if I'm only trying to read 1 book per month. For you it might be 5 for the year, 1 for the year, etc. But it's just a decision to read something. And you don't have to read big books, read to your kids, read about something you want to learn. No pressure. Seriously, if you've gotten this far in my post you've already read a bunch.

So, in conclusion, don't make resolutions. Make decisions to do something. Don't wait until whenever. Start now. Yeah, it's already January 4th but hey, Trump's job doesn't even start until the 20th.  So no pressure. I can't wait to hear about what cool things you've done this year. If you'd like to share any stories, links to things you're learning, your Pinterest pins, etc. Just post a comment!

Happy New Year!
💗, Eliz

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016 Gift Guide for Teen Girls





Confused as to what to buy your teen daughter this year? I know I am. They grow up so quickly and what you might have gotten last year isn't exactly her taste this year. So I put together a list of awesome finds from Christianbook.com. They have an amazing selection of gifts and the have lots of inspirational choices to choose from. This is not an exhaustive list :) But I think it's a good jumping off point. 

Here are my top 20 picks for Teen Girls gifts for 2016!


1. Dance Sing Praise Live Love Shirt, Gray, Small - This cute tshirt is available in lots of sizes. 

2. Love Comes Softly 10 dvd Gift Set - If your daughter hasn't see this series of movies, it's time!

3. A Pentatonix Christmas - How could you go wrong with Pentatonix?

4. God’s Not Dead 2 dvd - A powerful movie about standing up for your beliefs.



5. Proverbs 31, Eco Tote - This cute tote would be great for carrying lots of books :) 

6. NIV Beautifu Word Journaling Bible - I'm completely in love with this Journaling Bible.

7. Fashion Cross Purse - Maybe it's the cowgirl in me but seriously how cute is this purse.

8. The Magnolia Story - Shiplap! This wonderful book by Fixer Upper hosts is a keeper.




9. Divinity Colored Pencils, pack of 24 - Beautiful coloring pencils for Journaling or Coloring. 

10. Scripture Doodle: A Six-Week Devotional Experience - Use those coloring pencils with this great devotional coloring book.

11. Joy, Teal Scarf (Psalm 28:7 & Zephaniah 3:17) - How cute would this scarf be over the tshirt in #1!

12. Amazing Grace Wristlet - Accessories are always a great gift.




13. Textured Cross and Jade Bead Earrings - Adorable cross earrings. 

14. He Loves Me, John 15:9 Bracelet - This bracelet is great!

15. Strong and Beautiful Mug - For all her Instagram update photos :)

16. Believe Mustard Seed Pendant - So very cool! It's got a mustard seed.



17. God’s Heart Necklace - What a classy necklace for any teen girl. 

18. Live, Laugh, Love Manicure set - Always need these.

19. Christy Miller Series: 3-in-1 Collection -
I made the mistake of telling my daughter about these and now she's completely hooked. 

Oh my goodness, if you haven't seen this series, you have got to catch up. The 4th season is coming soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Becky Wade is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I feel like her books need to be a television series. After reading all the stories of the Porter brothers, it’s a refreshing change to read Dru’s story.

I really enjoy the banter and playful nature of Dru and Gray’s relationship. Dru has such a tough “guy” exterior that is so funny considering she’s such a girl in her emotional life. She’s got all the same emotions of the girly-girl with all the toughness of the brothers she grew up with.

Gray is just so stinkin’ arrogant. He’s your stereotypical football star. He chases women, drinks too much and thinks that the world revolves around him. It’s nice to watch the changes in him as he realizes that he’s not necessarily going to get what he wants from Dru.

Both Dru and Gray change over the course of the story. They grow into more compatible people. This story has elements reminiscent (to me) of the movie The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. I also love the fact that we get to see more of the Porter family. They have become such a concrete image in my mind.

I hope you’ll check out Her One and Only by Becky Wade! I loved it and I’m sure you will too.


I got this book for free for this review. I get to read all sorts of awesome, free books because I blog for Bethany House. If you’d like to learn more about Bethany House reviews just click here.

Book Review: No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

Oh my gosh! How pretty is this cover?

When I found out there was a new Witemeyer book coming out I literally did a fan-girly squee! And I wasn't disappointed when I finally got my hands on this gem.

No Other Will Do is the the story of a life-long friendship between Malachi Shaw and Emma Chandler. Malachi is Emma's hero and Emma is Malachi's angel. They met under strange circumstances when they were young. Although they've been separated for years, when Emma writes to Malachi that she needs him, he comes to her rescue.

Emma and her aunts, live in a women's colony that Emma started. Men are not allowed. This policy isn't something that has endeared the colony to the surrounding townsfolk. Suspicious and malicious attacks shake the women as they realize they might need help. Emma contacts her hero and Malachi comes to the rescue.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters are lovable and well developed. The aunts are some of my favorites but of course Malachi and Emma are wonderful. I always love a good mystery and this one did not disappoint. Witemeyer always leaves you wanting the next volume.

I highly recommend this book and all of Karen Witemeyer's books!

I love to read! And I get to read all sorts of amazing books for free because I review for Bethany House. Interested in becoming a reviewer? Click here!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer



Where do I begin? 


I really enjoyed this book even though it's a bit on the slow side. I tend to tear through books like a crazy person. But for some reason I had to really take my time through this book. I really loved the characters. The cover is beautiful!  The ending is not what you'd expect. Or at least it's not what I expected. I had a very clear idea of what would happen and **whamo** not even close. The story is heartbreaking in places and full of emotion. Sometimes you're reading a story and you aren't quite prepared for the impact it will have on you. This was such a story. I highly recommend this book with a nice chair, warm blanket and a cup of something. Maybe some tissues, too. 


I get to read all sorts of wonderful Christian fiction books. Interested in getting free books, too? Contact Blogging for Books

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Review: Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg



Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

This is the second book in the the Walker Family series by Melissa Tagg. I love a good historical fiction and have been an avid reader of that genre for some time. But between Melissa Tagg and Becky Wade, they’ve turned my eyes to modern Christian fiction. I’m hooked!

Amelia Bentley is the editor of a small town newspaper whose time is coming to an end. Logan Walker is the reluctant new owner of the newspaper. He just wants to shut it down or sell it so he can move on to bigger things; Running a presidential campaign. So when Logan and his daughter come to visit family and get the paper in order, Amelia has her chance to try to convince him that the paper is worth saving.

I love this series! I love the characters. This is the second book I’ve read recently with a single father and daughter :) The cover art is beautiful and cozy. I also really enjoyed the whole mysterious story of that Amelia and Logan chase down, as well as, the road trip.

Newspapers have always been fascinating to me. I wrote for my high school paper in Tennessee, did 4H newspaper projects and also spent a semester writing for my college paper at Lee University. Add into that my love for Superman/Clark Kent and I’m a little obsessed with newsprint.

I highly recommend this book, the previous one From the Start and Melissa Tagg’s other series Made to Last and Here to Stay!

I was given a copy of this book in return for posting a review. But I would have read it anyways :)

Book Review: Her Texas Family by Jill Lynn


Lucy Grayson is looking for a new start in a new state. When she moves from Colorado to Texas to find a new job and get away from some past issues, this independent woman finds something she doesn’t even know she needs. A family. Lucy and the town doctor,Graham, don’t really get along from the beginning. He’s a widower with a young daughter and he’s still grieving the loss of his wife. When Graham’s daughter takes to Lucy it seems to soften his heart. Can they learn to get along with Graham’s in-laws watching closely? Her Texas Family is a wonderful story!

Having never read anything by Jill Lynn before, I can tell you I am now a fan! Her writing style is very conversational and down to earth. The characters are real and so are the situations. Wonderfully written modern romance! I can’t wait to get my hands on the previous book, Falling for Texas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

THM Sugar free Pink Floof (S)

I've been doing the THM lifestyle for about 2 years now. THM is Trim Healthy Mama. This, however, is my first THM-ified recipe.  I can't give all the details of the recipe because it's based on a recipe from the THM cookbook. However, I can tell you that I created the rest myself. I LOVE jello salad! It's basically jello and cool whip which equals a ton of sugar. And since I've been off sugar for 2 years and have really bad detox symptoms when I eat it I shy away from a lot of southern favorites.

So when I tried out the recipe for Lemon Pucker Gummies from the new cookbook (pg. 397) and discovered the consistency was like jello I had a total clarity moment.

In recent post on Facebook groups someone suggested replacing the 2 cups of liquid in the recipe with an equal amount of Bai5. So I did that and let the "gummies" gel up. After that, I got out my immersion blender and blended about a cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 packs of truvia into whipped cream. Then using a fork and knife chopped the jello up. Added the whipped cream to the jello and mixed it until it looked like pink floof. Actually it came out more purple.

The gummies on their own are a fuel pull but adding the whipped cream makes this yummy dessert an S.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What's in the Stack - March 2016


Another month, another stack of yummy books. So over the past couple of months I've had lots of time to sit and read what with the broken wrist thing. And I've found a new favorite author. Karen Witemeyer is the latest in a series of authors whose work I've devoured. I tend to find an author and read everything they've ever written. My last one was Mary Connealy and although she's still by far my favorite to stalk, I've had to take a break as I've read all of her most current series. And it's her fault I've found Witemeyer anyways. They've done a few of those novella collections together.

I've also run out of Witemeyer books now. But since the last book I read was With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry, I discovered yet another wonderful author, Melissa Jagears!

So this month’s stack has a couple of Jaeger’s books included as well as a couple of books by an author that my book buddy recommended, Laurie Alice Eakes. Also, I am so happy to be reviewing a copy of Playing the Part by Jen Turano! I’ve been lucky enough to meet her at my local library since she happens to be a local. All her books are excellent. They have such rich characters and settings. You can’t help but literally laugh out loud while reading her page-turners.

So here’s the stack:
  1. Playing the Part by Jen Turano
  2. A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jaegers
  3. A Bride in Store by Melissa Jaegers
  4. A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes
  5. Heart’s Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes
  6. Who Switched off My Brain? By Dr. Caroline Leaf - (Doing some research for homeschool)



If you’ve gotten this far, I’d love to follow you on Goodreads. Here’s my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/etandksmom

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review of HelpTeaching.com Pro Plan

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So, I’ve really been loving this new educational website I got the opportunity to use and review. It’s called HelpTeaching.com and we’ve been using the Pro Plan

HelpTeaching.com makes some areas of homeschooling much easier. I know for our family testing isn’t always the priority but sometimes it really helps to reassure where your kids are academically. Many times I find that I’d like to have the kids dig a little deeper in a subject. And HelpTeaching.com provides lots of ready made resources like worksheets, online tests and also lessons.


I’ve especially liked the upper grade science and English resources. This one is a worksheet for a unit on the Respiratory System.


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And this one is showing the structure of DNA! The printables are really high quality and very easy to understand. I also love that you can save the tests as pdf files for later use or for reference.


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Another cool feature is the Games area. You can create custom bingo cards and word searches with the generators. The Test Maker is amazing! You simply search through the over 130,000 available questions and add them to make your own test. You can also share the test with your kids/students online. They also have a great help section should you run into any problems while creating your tests. Here are just few of the helps topics from the testing section:


  1. How to Administer Tests Online
  2. How to Find Questions
  3. How to Customize Your Tests
  4. How To Use Questions with Images
  5. Using Question Groups
  6. How to Design a Good Test
  7. How to Write Good Test Questions


There are lots of freebies on HelpTeaching.com but I’ve found that the Pro Plan really is a way better experience. They're always adding more resources. One of my favorite resources is the Blog. I’ve always been a follower of homeschooling and educational blogs! I’ve gotten some amazingly useful ideas from blogs. This is the most recent blog entry from the HelpTeaching.com blog. It’s relevant to homeschoolers!


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I have to be honest, as I first toured the site I was worried that it was geared more towards public school teachers. As a homeschooler, my needs don’t always line up with what is geared toward the schools. However, after digging a little deeper I found some really great resources that I hope to continue using for years to come. My daughter and I love the word search puzzles. I found lots of great science lessons and worksheets that my 2 high schoolers will no doubt be using as well. It really does have something for all age groups. Many resource sites  are also geared more toward elementary education. So it was really refreshing to find resources for junior high and high school as well!


Here are some of the perks of using the Pro Plan on HelpTeaching.com


  1. Use Test Maker™ to create unlimited custom tests and worksheets
  2. Up to 100 questions in your custom tests and worksheets
  3. You get to use questions with images
  4. Save your own tests as PDFs
  5. Use Test Room™ to administer unlimited online tests & lessons
  6. Pre-made premium content(Common Core ELA and Math)
  7. Browse and search CCSS-aligned questions by standard
  8. It’s only $24.95 for the whole year!


HelpTeaching.com has been an interesting find. It comes highly recommended!

Click here to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about HelpTeaching.com and the Pro Plan!