Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Simply Tuesday {book review}

One of my goals for November was to read Emily Freeman's book, Simply Tuesday, and I'm disappointed to say I didn't love it. :/

She had some really great points to share, but overall, I felt like her theme of appreciating the smallness of our "Tuesday" moments and "creating benches" in our lives were overstated and honestly not super relatable, at least for me.

I always feel guilty when I don't love a book that's intended to strengthen my walk with Jesus (remember my review of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts?!), so I'd be curious to know if you any of you have read Simply Tuesday and if I'm way out in left field with my opinion of it.

I think I went into it expecting more of a For the Love feel, and just had a hard time keeping up with her anecdotal style of writing- which, oddly enough, worked great in Jen Hatmaker's book and in Shauna Niequist's book Bread & Wine, but just seemed so choppy in this one.

Or maybe it was that her overall approach to life's situations seemed pretty glass-half-empty. (Much like this review, huh?!) 

I did highlight a handful of thought-provoking ideas as I read; the ones listed below are the ones that stuck out to me the most:

"In my own life I’ve found it to be true that when I hold on to the wrong things, the wrong things hold on to me." (Page 19)

"Attention, success, and comparison hold my soul hostage and refuse to negotiate until they get what they want. Spoiler alert: They want everything. And they are never satisfied. They will never let you go." (Page 20)

Effort toward excellence in my work can silently morph into effort toward perfection in my soul. And before I can tease them apart my life becomes one defined by my failure and successes and I’ve forgotten who I really am. “Excellence” just becomes a more respectable word for “control,” which is a fancy version of “manipulation,” which is a physiological word for “sin,” (Page 73)

"When I am willing to explore my deepest disappointments I might be surprised to find my deepest desires lingering just beyond. Knowing Christ may only be possible when we come face-to-face with our deepest desire and are willing to walk through our deepest disappointment." (Page 176)

Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ. Don’t try to fix your loneliness. Bring your loneliness into the presence of Christ. Don’t try to hide your addiction. Bring your addiction into the presence of Christ. Don’t try to change your attitude. Bring your attitude into the presence of Christ. Don’t despise your humanity. Bring your humanity into the presence of Christ. There is still responsibility and action that comes from me. But my action is not to make right, to make whole, or to make better. My action is to usher my abilities, inabilities, failures, and successes all into the presence of Christ. (Page 194)

So overall, it was not terrible, but I don't know that I'd recommend it either.

If any of you have read it, I'd love to know your thoughts!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is the first cheesecake I've ever made, and I might just be hooked! It was so easy and turned out so tasty! So be on the lookout for more cheesecake recipes to come- maybe a peppermint one for Christmas?! Or if you have any other ideas, I'm open to suggestions. :)

1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (found in the bakery aisle)
2- 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1tsp clear vanilla extract*
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Cool Whip or Whipped Cream

*If you don't have clear, use regular vanilla extract and add to the step with brown sugar, puree, and pumpkin pie spice instead... this will make sure the white layer looks white.


Preheat oven to 325.

Add cream cheese, sugar and vanilla to mixing bowl. Beat on low speed until light and fluffy. (I used my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment.) Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended.
Spoon half of the mixture over the crust and spread evenly.

To the remaining cream cheese mixture add the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice.
With a wire whisk stir until smooth. Carefully, spoon over mixture in crust.

Bake for 55 minutes or until the center is almost set.

Allow to cool and then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Top each slice with whipped topping (I used Cool Whip) and a dust of pumpkin pie spice.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Gift Ideas for Babies (0-18 Months)

I'm closing out my gift guides today with the 0-18 month age group. Sure, they may be too young to really "get" receiving gifts, but they're little faces are so adorable when they see a new toy that they are excited to play with- or in my daughter's stage, put in her mouth. ;)

Also running today are great sales at these stores:
Nordstrom: Extra 20% off sale, free shipping, gift wrap available
J. Crew Factory: 60% off everything, extra 40% off clearance, free shipping
J. Crew: 40% off everything + free shipping
Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy: 50% off everything, free shipping on orders over $50.
Loft: 50% off and free shipping
Brooks Brothers: Additional 10% off + free shipping
Talbots: 50% off one regular-priced item, 40% off entire purchase, free shipping and gift wrap

And if you missed my other gift guides, you can check them out here:

Now on to the babies! These are toys I personally recommend from my own two kiddos. They are sure to be winners!

*All prices are current as of this morning but could change throughout the day.

1. Noggin Stik Baby Toy- $19.99- found here

2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks- $4.88- found here

3. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack- $4.24- found here

4. Sophie the Giraffe- $20.99- found here

5. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy- $5.09- found here

6. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker - $24.88- found here

7. VTech Sit-to-Stand Alphabet Train- $49.50- found here

8. Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Blue Crawl Around Car- $59.98- found here

9. Fisher-Price Go Baby Go Poppity-Pop Musical Dino- $16.99- found here

10. Mega Bloks Big Building Bag, 80-Piece (Classic)- $11.47- found here

11. Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks- $8.24- found here

12. Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym- $31.44- found here


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gift Ideas for Toddlers

Christmas with kids is SO much fun! Now that Ryan is a little over two, I feel like he is really starting to understand the excitement of the Christmas Season. And next year, Natalie will be 22 months and will really start to get it too!

Speaking of Natalie, tomorrow I'll be sharing my list of recommended toys for babies in the 0-18 month range.

If you missed my other posts on gift ideas for the women and men in your life, you can find those here:

All of the prices listed are accurate as of this afternoon. If any have changed since then, I apologize! I think there's a strong chance many of these items will go even lower tomorrow too, so it might be worth your wait! Although I would jump on #3 now- that's a REALLY good price for that bike. And #7- the Magformers- that is a great price for those as well!

Okay, happy shopping!

1. Mr. Potato Head- $7.49- found here

2. Melissa & Doug Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Pretend Play Kitchen Set for Kids (8 pcs)- $17.99 found here

3. 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike- $71.39 (originally $109.99)- found here

4. Marble Run- $26.99- found here

5. Melissa & Doug Toy Shopping Cart With Sturdy Metal Frame- $47.59 (originally $69.99)- found here (**This was $34.99 this morning and jumped up this afternoon- I'm hoping it goes down again tomorrow!)

6. Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box - Clap! Clang! Tap!- $16.55 found here
Other Melissa & Doug toys found here.

7. Magformers- $25.49- found here
Other sets found here

8. Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Pad - Animals- $4.86- found here

9. Endless Alphabet App- $8.99
This app is GREAT for teaching letters recognition, letter sounds, and vocabulary. It's one of our favorites!

10. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Pattern Block Kit- $14.99- found here

11. Duplo Lego Sets- found here

12.  Endless Numbers App- $8.99
 Made by the same creators of Endless Alphabet, this app is great for teaching number recognition and one-to-one correspondence in counting. The videos and toddler-friendly interaction on both of these apps make them equally fun and educational.

13. Melissa & Doug Food Groups - 21 Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces and 4 Crates- $14.99- found here Find the rest of their amazing food products here.

14. Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Crayons (48 Pack)- $5.09- found here

15. National Geographic Little Kids- $15 for a one-year subscription (6 issues)- found here
Geared for ages 3-6, each issue is 24 pages long and includes 6 tear-out cards of animals with a fact on the back of each card.

See you tomorrow!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gift Ideas for the Men in Your Life

I'm back again today to share some gift ideas for those MEN! I feel like they are always the hardest to shop for- is that just me?!

Hopefully these ideas will get you started!

Lucky Brand Jeans- $59.50
(found here)
Matt loves his Lucky jeans- the fit, the wash, the designer feel without the too-desinger look. His Lucky jeans are his favorites!

J. Crew Factory V-Neck Tee- $9.50
(found here)
These come in several different colors and fits (slim, regular, and tall)

J. Crew Factory Slim Plaid Flannel Shirt- $25.50
(found here)
Matt has this shirt and it's one of my favorites! He wore it for our family Christmas card picture as a matter of fact. It comes in 16 different patterns (yes- 16!) and has a regular fit option as well.
Banana Republic Heritage Grant-Fit Flannel Shirt- $45 
(with 50% off 5 regular-priced items)
(found here)

Plaid Rugged Elbow-Patch Shirt- $39.50
(found here)
This comes in 8 different colors at well!
Camden-Fit Luxe Flannel Tartan Shirt- $35
(with 50% off 5 regular-priced items)
(found here)

J. Crew Factory Men's Vest- $39.50
(found here)
Comes in 4 different colors

Trekker Vest- $49
(found here)

Patagonia Men's Better Sweater Jacket- $97
(found here)
This is a GREAT price on this jacket! It's one of my favorites Matt owns- love the color (it also comes in 3 other colors at this price) and the feel.

Summit Fleec Full-Zip Hoodie- $82.80 
(found here)
UGG® 'Leighton' Chukka Boot- $159.95
(found here)
Matt has a similar pair of shoes to these and wears them often. This particular pair comes in 4 different colors and has great reviews- since I'm almost solely an online shopper now, I rely on good reviews!

J. Crew Suede and Leather Slippers- $36
(found here)

JBL Micro Wireless- $37.79
(found here)
Several people in our family have this wireless bluetooth speaker (including us!) and it works GREAT and is super affordable. And it comes in 6 different colors.

Amazon Echo- on sale for $139.99
This is a more expensive, but much more versatile bluetooth option for the techy people on your list. My in-laws have one and, I have to say, it is pretty cool! It usually retails for $179.99- so this is a great price!

Apple Watch- $199
(found here)
I'm thinking this price will go even lower on Monday- but right now, Macy's has the best price on this Apple Watch, which retails between $269-$369.

Boys in the Boat- $10.40
(found here)
Matt really enjoyed this book (it's on my reading list too!) and highly recommends it!

Unbroken- $9.89
One of the best books I have ever read. Matt and I both loved it- highly recommend!

Okay friends- I really hope you can get some good ideas and even check off a gift or two with the list above!

Have a great rest of your weekend!