Friday Favorites: The Links I Love – April 1, 2016

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week! Mine was pretty great, with a lot of focus on creating some new jewelry and writing for the blog 🙂 Add in the warmer temperatures here in Iowa and I am one happy blogger! And to add to the happiness, here are the links I love this week! But first, my favorite picture from the week. I just can’t get enough of Crystal being cute 🙂

CrystalByDoor-cute dog-favorite

Life:

Unsurpassable Worth from A Pinch of Yum – STOP. READ THIS. I’m serious. It’s long, it’s heartbreaking, it’s heartwarming, and it needs to be read. If you only pick one thing to read off of this list, read this. This is a story from Lindsay about their time in the Philippines, a wonderful orphanage there and the good work they are doing, and a blast, 5-day fundraiser (starting March 30) to allow this orphanage to save more lives. And if you head over and check out the hero roster, you can find my hero listed there too!

Hello, We Are Happy from Sprinkle of Glitter – This has been a blog I have loved for a long time and she took a hiatus a while back. Now she’s back! I love how she talks about taking a break to focus on the important things in her life, how her life is now and, most importantly, that she is truly happy now.

How I Map Out a Successful Week from Cupcakes and Cashmere – As you know, I find planning to be really important! I love this look into how someone else plans out their week. I like keeping an eye out for little tips and tricks that I can use in my own planning, and this one definitely has a few!

Recipes:

Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks from The Recipe Critic

Blogging:

Taking your blog to the next level: 100 resources for bloggers by Thirteen Thoughts – I usually don’t list a post that is mostly links to other posts, but I think this one has a bunch of great resources listed. If you are looking to revitalize or improve your current blog, or even start your first one, this has what you need! I will definitely be saving this to refer back to!

Why I Feel So Lost With Blogging Right Now from Dizzy Brunette3 – A real and honest look at how much of a struggle blogging can be sometimes. Great read.

Home and Decor:

Bedroom Refresh from House Tweaking – Love this! You all know I’ve been especially focused on bedroom stuff, as we are still remodeling the bedroom. This one has some great inspiration

My Renovation Mistakes from A Beautiful Mess – This was a fun read, plus gave me a few things to keep in mind for the future!

That’s it for the links I love this week! I know it wasn’t a huge list this week. I had a really busy week. I hope to have a few more links than this next time!

Did I miss your favorite link of the week? If so, I would love to hear about it, so leave a comment below!

Sara

Just in case you missed it, here are the Friday Favorites from last week!

 

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Life Lessons: The 29 Things I’ve Learned in 29 Years

birthday muffin celebrate 29 years 29 lessons

It’s my birthday! I might be freaking out a little! But…honestly not as much as I thought I would be. 🙂

Ok, this is something I’ve actually given a lot of thought to the past month or so. I turn 29 today….I think back to when I was 20 and what I thought life would be like in 9 years and this isn’t it. In fact, it’s not even close.

That’s not a complaint. I love my life! My family, Draz, my dogs, my home, this blog and all of the awesomeness related to that and so much more! Instead, it’s more of a realization that life takes some crazy and unexpected turns. Twists and turns that put me in a wonderful place in life that I could never have imagined at 20!

I’ve learned a lot along the way and still have so much left to learn! But here are 29 life lessons that I have learned so far! Some serious, some not quite so, and in no particular order, but I hope you enjoy all of them 🙂

29 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

  1. I don’t know what it means to actually feel like an adult. I’m still waiting for that one.
  2. Parents are people too and pretty awesome to hang out with!
  3. No one actually has life all figured out.
  4. Not everyone will like you or needs to…and you don’t have to understand why.
  5. Be present for the moments of everyday life. It’s amazing.
  6. Reach out to those that you care about, even if you’ve lost touch.
  7. Drive slower!
  8. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
  9. You can like who you are while still trying to improve yourself.
  10. Push your comfort zone!
  11. Don’t expect life to follow your plan.
  12. Be unapologetically you – be honest about who you are and what you enjoy in life.
  13. Try to put a positive “spin” on things when you are having a bad day/interaction/moment/whatever.
  14. Be silly!
  15. Take care of your body – it’s worth the time.
  16. Take care of your mental health too – it’s just as important as your physical health.
  17. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  18. Find things you truly enjoy instead of things that just fill time.
  19. The best dates and/or moments don’t have to cost much, if anything.
  20. Quality over quantity – applies to much of life!
  21. Don’t procrastinate – it NEVER helps.
  22. Be spontaneous (at least occasionally).
  23. Smile often.
  24. Be kind to others, even when you don’t feel like it.
  25. Make sure you sleep enough.
  26. Try new things often!
  27. Give yourself a break – you can’t do everything.
  28. Always make goals and strive towards meeting them.
  29. Cut the negative thoughts and self-talk.

So that’s some of the things I’ve learned over the years. So aren’t surprising and a few took me a long time to learn. Some I still have to remind myself of. But either way, I am so excited to see how this year goes! I think that 29 is going to be an amazing and transformative year for me! (And I am so excited to share it with all of you!)

What are some of the things that you have learned over the years that have surprised you or been harder to learn? I would love to hear your thoughts!

And don’t forget that the Jewelry Giveaway ends today at 8 pm CT, so if you haven’t entered yet, hop over and get your entry in!

Giveaway

Sara (1)

 

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Friday Favs: February 5, 2016

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week! Here’s the awesome links I found this week! 🙂 Enjoy!

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Playing with angles – my favorite picture from this week of a sculpture in downtown Ames, IA

Recipes

Homemade Spicy Ramen with Tofu from Pinch of Yum – This sounds freakin’ delicious! I actually haven’t cooked with tofu yet and this recipe might be changing that.

Spinach Chana Dal from 100 Days of Real Food – So you might have noticed that I have started really getting into cooking Indian food lately…like all the others, this one sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to give it a try!

Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Veggie Rice Bowls from Cooking Classy – This sounds so tasty! I’ve never made my own teriyaki sauce before and I really love her point about food in bowls just being awesome in general 🙂

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Hoisin Dipping Sauce from Skinnytaste – These sound delicious! I’ve never cooked with shrimp…honestly it makes me kinda nervous. But these sound like a great introduction to them!

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers {Lightened Up} from Organize Yourself Skinny – Slow cooker and tasty sandwich?! This sounds perfect to me! We are definitely going to make this in the future!

Sriracha Buffalo Cauliflower Bites from Half Baked Harvest – I have heard of of using cauliflower as a substitute for chicken for buffalo “wings” but haven’t really looked up any recipes. Well that is different now! I can’t wait to try these!

Game Day White Chicken Chili from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – I have plenty of chili recipes, but no good chicken chili ones. This sounds super tasty!

Breakfast Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce from Pinch of Yum – As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we have a bit of an enchilada obsession over here…And I love any and all breakfast foods! This combination sounds just about perfect for us!

Peanut Butter Flourless Chocolate Cake from Gimme Some Oven – Ahhh…Peanut butter and chocolate. The perfect match. With my birthday coming up, this beautiful cake needs to be made!

Home and Decor

On Starting a Garden from The Small Things Blog – I love reading about new gardeners! You may remember that I did a small gardening experiment last spring/summer. What she is talking about doing for her garden sounds like what I would like to try this year!

Art and DIY

Personalized Gift Wrap from A Thoughtful Place –

Fitness

3 Shoulder & Back Strengthening Exercises I Learned in PT from Working Out and Eating In – Ok, so those of you who have been following me for a while might remember that I have a lot of problems with my back, even ending up in PT myself a few months ago. However, these 3 exercises are ones I didn’t learn in my PT and are definitely ones I am going to try out!

Blogging and Business

How to Make Your Blog Posts Stand Out from A Girl, Obsessed – This article has some great tips, including two that I really want to work on!

Ten Tips for Flay Lay Photography from A Girl, Obsessed – She is just killin’ these articles this week! (As she is most weeks) Photography is something I am really trying to work on and I hope to try out some of the tips in this article.

5 Best Pieces of Advice When Starting a Business from Goodbeads – I love this! As someone who is working towards launching a business soon (more on that to come), she has some great pieces of advice…the first and last ones I will probably have to remind myself on a regular basis!

The Blogger’s Guide to Networking from damask love – As something I have a hard time with and not many opportunities to practice, this is a great read!

Life

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming An Adult from Dizzybrunette3 – With my birthday coming up later this month, this so hits close to home! (Plus, keep an eye out for a post I have planned that is similar to this on my birthday!)

5 Ways to Make Sure You Have a Good Day from Barefoot Blonde – Amber’s post is too cute and I love the idea of the 30 min power clean!

What to do After You Pay Off Debt from Making Sense of Cents – I’m not even close to paying off my debt, but this is a great article on what to do if I ever do!

This is 29 from Racing Bananas – Another post that really hits home with my 29th birthday coming up! I love how they had a pretty low key and relaxing celebration. Plus I’m kinda envious of that dog park!

5 Things I Do to Keep Meal Prep Simple from Organize Yourself Skinny – I love the tips she puts here, many of which I do myself! If you are looking at starting or simplifying your meal prep, this is a great read!

Cooking Date Night from Cupcakes & Cashmere – Draz and I work together, so this article has a particular draw for me. Creating a dedicated “date time” on a regular basis is something we could probably work on and this is a great idea for one type of date night!

I would love to hear what fun articles you found this week, so leave a link to one below! Or from an article from your blog from this week! I would love to hear from you and check out what you think and like!

Sara (1)

 

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2015 In Review and My Goals for 2016

2015…What a year! I have been thinking over how to sum up 2015 and it’s been difficult to say the least. 2015 has been a year all about change and growth for me, in so many ways. I am so thankful for the support of both my parents and Draz (formerly known as Boyfriend :-P) throughout this year. As with any period of growth, this year was not without it’s frustrations and difficulties and I don’t know what I would have done without them!

My relationship with Draz has been one of the biggest factors in the changes that have occurred. We’ve been together for a little over a year and a half now and it’s through his support, feedback and help that I have found the confidence and motivation to finally do some of the things that I had dreamed about in the past!

One of the major changes of the year: I started this blog! I can’t believe I have been blogging since April! (really May, since April just had my Introduction post) This blog and all of of the people that it has brought into my life have helped motivate me, push me and grow my confidence, along with so many other things.

The other huge change this year: I am finishing this year in the best shape of my life! I have struggled with my weight and fitness for so many years and for the first time in my life I feel comfortable and secure in my own body. No, I’m not where I would like to be yet, but I now believe that I will be and I’m loving the process of getting there! Plus I have found such an amazing community of BBG ladies on this journey and I can’t wait to get to know some of them better!

While these two things are the biggest changes this year, there are so many other smaller ones…many of which I can credit to the confidence I have found through my blogging and fitness journey!

I am happier and more content than I have been in so many years. I have formed a couple new friendships this year, though this is something I still really need to work on….I have a hard time meeting new friends.

I also started making things again, which is something that I have really missed. I’ve even put some of my pieces up in the house! Our home is really starting to come together more and I have been decorating, which I hadn’t done very much of in all the years I have lived here.

All in all, this year has been amazing…So many changes, many of which I would have never dreamed of a couple years ago!

Now we are on to the next difficult part: A few of my favorite photos from this year! This has been really really hard for me to narrow down! Enjoy!

 

If 2015 is any indication, 2016 is going to be an incredible year! Here are my goals for the coming year!

Personal

  1. Keep my workouts at an average of 5-6 days a week.
  2. Take 1 exercise class
  3. Take 1 class for building a new skill, like metalworking, painting, or wire wrapping.
  4. Start and/or complete 1/3 of my Day Zero project

Blog and Business

  1. Average 3 posts a week on the blog
  2. Learn how to use 1 new platform or social media site
  3. Have at least one guest post on the blog
  4. Launch my jewelry business and make first sale

What things from this year are you really excited or pleased about? Any surprises? What about your goals for the upcoming year? I’d love to hear your thoughts and plans!

Sara (1)

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My Journey to Happiness and What I’ve Learned Along the Way (Plus 50 Things that Make me Happy!)

Happiness. That elusive feeling that we search for, strive for, wait for. According to the Merriam-Webster, happiness is defined as

: the state of being happy

: an experience that makes you happy

Full Definition of HAPPINESS

obsolete :  good fortune :  prosperity

a :  a state of well-being and contentment :  joy

   b :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience
For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on the regular definition, along with part 2 of the full definition.
Happiness is a topic that has been coming up a lot in my life lately, from many different sources. There was a replay of a podcast on TEDRadioHour focusing on happiness and a few from OnBeing that were very happiness-centric. Then of course there are the upcoming holidays, which definitely get me thinking about happiness and the quality of my life. A post that first really got me thinking about happiness both in life and in myself came from this Instagram post and is what really got the idea for this post going.
Screenshot_2015-10-19-08-38-14~2
This is a lesson I have really learned over the past few years. When I was in my younger 20s, a lot of my plans for life…well, they didn’t go exactly as planned. Not even close. It took a long time for me to pull myself out of the emotional hole that I had found myself in, had allowed myself to wallow in. Even longer for me to realize that not only could I be happy again someday, but I could be happy now.
I didn’t have to wait for a new plan or figure all of the pieces beforehand. I could figure out how this new life was going to look and take joy in the life that I had. Building this new life on the basis of joy, of contentment, has been one of the most difficult and rewarding things that I have ever done. And I’m not even close to done or ever really will be done. Building this life is a journey, one of discovery and exploration. I look back at that unhappy, confused and lost girl and don’t even recognize her. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that girl was ever me.
My life may not look anywhere close to what I expected it to at 28, but I am so much happier for that fact than I ever could have imagined. And so, with that, here are some things I have learned about happiness along the way:
  • Don’t wait for happiness to find you. You can find happiness in small things and those things do add up.
  • Along that same line of thought, don’t put your focus on someone else making you happy. That feeling is fleeting if it comes from external sources. I know we have heard it all before, but happiness, at least lasting happiness, comes from within.
  • Make small, manageable goals for yourself. Then go out an achieve them! The feeling from meeting those goals is awesome and can help a lot, especially if you have been having a hard time finding any happiness lately.
    • This is something I did frequently and still do on a regular basis. Large long terms goals are great, but when you are at a place in your life where you are struggling, they can feel more crushing than uplifting. For myself, I had to take myself out of those big goals that were overwhelming me and focus on small things I could do that day. There was a point where those goals were just as simple as shower and cook myself an actual meal.
  • Routines can help a lot! My daily routines center me, give me some normalcy and security, and help me to at least accomplish basic things each day. They also allow me to adapt better to sudden changes and be more spontaneous!
    • If you have a really hard time setting up daily routines, check out FlyLady! I know that some of her early baby steps can seem silly or unimportant, but they really do work! This site and community helped me to graduate college and to keep myself together when my life was falling apart. I don’t follow my routines as strictly as I did then, but the ones I learned there still form the backbone of my daily routines now. And whenever I feel like I need to reset my routines I go back through the baby steps!
  • Make time for yourself! I know, we all have heard this before, but it really holds true and can be so difficult to do. This can be taking the time to workout, read a book, or really anything.
    • Tip: Think of a few things you really enjoy and set aside time to do at least one of them on a regular basis. I’m not talking about the things we do almost out of habit that are enjoyable…I’m talking about the things that really brighten your day, make your week, etc. The things you love!

The list above is just a few things that I have learned over the past few years. While I know none of them are particularly new ideas, they are ones that I had a really hard time fully understanding or internalizing. Sometimes we can here those “life lessons” so many times but they don’t really click until much later. That was how these lessons were for me.

Now, to finish this post off, my 50 things (in no particular order) that make me happy. This is inspired by this post from Brey over at Ordinary Adventures. If you haven’t checked out her blog before, you should definitely head over there! She has so many awesome posts!

  1. Date nights with Boyfriend
  2. Getting greeted by our dogs when we get home
  3. Cooking a new recipe
  4. Spending time with my parents and extended familyDSCN0224_picmonkeyed
  5. Creating a new mosaicDSCN0051
  6. Making a new piece of decor for our houseDSCN0453
  7. Working with my dad on the house remodel (he does most of the work, but I like to pretend I’m a help :-P)
  8. Curling up with a favorite book
  9. Reading a new book
  10. When I’m writing a blog post and it’s just flowing wonderfully
  11. When I get a like or comment on one of my posts or pictures
  12. Working with my camera
  13. The smell of Lemon Garlic Chicken cooking (This smell just takes me back to my childhood)
  14. Watching our dogs play
  15. Seeing the house slowly coming together
  16. Watching a favorite TV show
  17. Watching Disney and Pixar movies
  18. Listening to jazz
  19. Horseback riding
  20. Hiking in the woodsDSCN0640_picmonkeyed
  21. Seeing a play liveIMG_2202
  22. Pretty much any time I’m hanging out with my momDSCN0420_picmonkeyed_picmonkeyed
  23. Cuddling with Boyfriend watching movies
  24. Making fused glass jewelryDSCN0480_picmonkeyed
  25. Going to bed with freshly washed sheets
  26. Listening to podcasts
  27. My workouts DSCN1222_picmonkeyed
  28. The BBG community on Instagram
  29. When I get a new hairstyle down
  30. Getting a haircut and style
  31. Doing hennaDSCN0281_picmonkeyed
  32. Watching my flowers growDSCN0931_picmonkeyed
  33. Growing my own vegetablesDSCN0590_picmonkeyed
  34. Cooking with vegetables and herbs from my garden
  35. My new craft space
  36. Watching the leaves turn in the fallDSCN1208_picmonkeyed
  37. Petting my dogs
  38. Cleaning my house
  39. New workout clothes
  40. Changing out decorations as the seasons changeDSCN0841_picmonkeyed
  41. Taking a walk with the dogs and BoyfriendIMG_2170
  42. Playing MarioKart
  43. Trying new foods
  44. Seeing friends I haven’t seen in a long time
  45. Making new friends (made even more exciting because I’m not great at this)
  46. Seeing my physical capabilities improve as I work on my fitness
  47. Wearing my favorite pieces of jewelry
  48. Dressing up for a date night with Boyfriend
  49. Traveling
  50. Yoga practice

What lessons or truths have you learned about happiness so far in your life? What things make you happy?

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