Introducing Culinary Basics

Having a culinary background has given me a lot of different opportunities in the food industry. I’ve worked in restaurants, for catering companies, and I’ve been wrangled into doing a fair amount of teaching. Wrangled is probably the wrong word, because teaching is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve taught culinary classes to large groups of people through church and other organizations and I’ve also taught on a one-on-one basis. In either case, I’ve loved watching nervous cooks blossom into confidence in the kitchen. I’ve loved hearing from my “students” that they’re trying new recipes, branching out, and continuing to grow in their culinary skills and love for cooking.

Culinary Basics

I’m a firm believer that anyone can cook and love it–you just need a good foundation. It’s hard to enjoy cooking when you haven’t mastered the basics and you can’t get past the tedium of food prep and the monotony of the same recipes week after week because you just don’t know where to start.

My love of cooking is something I want to share with everyone, so I was inspired to start a new series on this blog. Culinary Basics is something that I want to benefit YOU as much as possible. I want to know what kinds of things you want to learn to do in the kitchen. There are some things I know without a doubt I will cover–next week for instance I’m going to be doing a breakdown of basic knife skills. But really, I want you to take full advantage of  the fact that I’ve spent thousands of hours learning about food and cooking. Anything you want to learn in more depth than you could get from just a recipe or a cookbook, feel free to mention in the comments so I can get some posts going on topics you want to learn about.

 I’m really excited about this and I can’t wait to see where it goes–for me and for all of you! :)

What kinds of things have you always wanted to learn how to make? What skills do you want to learn in the kitchen?

The Creative Closet | Beauty in Black & White

Because after last week’s A Pop of Color, it seemed only natural to do a complete 180 and style an outfit based completely on the most classic of combos: black and white. :)

The Creative Closet | Black & White outfit inspiration

I seriously want to reach through the photo and steal Maegen’s fun umbrella! How darling is she? And man, Bridgette is looking SO classy with those crisp white pants!

For this outfit, I wanted to keep everything neutral. Even my lips, which was kind of weird for me. Bold, bright lips are kind of my jam these days. I even worked up the courage to try a really vampy, dark lip a few days ago and I LOVED it. I’m looking forward to sharing the look I shot with that dark lip later this week. But anyway, for this black and white look, I did a nude lip–so weird for me, but I’m kind of digging it. Which brings me to the question: what are your favorite nude lipsticks? 

There’s a really cool black and white mural of Albert Einstein by the post office in downtown Provo, and I thought chilling with Albert would lend a perfect backdrop for this prompt’s outfit.

blackandwhite01blackandwhite03blackandwhite04blackandwhite06

Top: Le Tote
Leggings: c/o Pink Blush Maternity
Leg warmers: c/o Oasap
Boots: suuuuper old Skechers
Jacket: c/o Pink Blush
Earrings: old from Target
Scarf: gift from my hubby several years ago

I’m seriously loving wearing all black lately. Unless I turn sideways against a light background, you can’t even tell I’m sporting a baby bump. #blackforthewin

I’m really excited for next week’s prompt, Mirror Image! We want to see you recreate a look you love from Pinterest, another blogger, or a magazine. Get creative, and be sure to show us what outfit inspired you!

February 2015 prompts for The Creative Closet

One of my favorite things about this link up has been getting to know all of the bloggers who link up with us regularly! It’s been so fun to make new friends through this linkup. Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re visiting the other blogs and commenting on each other’s posts! 

Don’t forget to mention in your post that you linked up with The Creative Closet! Please link back to my blog or Maegen’s within your post or share the button in your post or on your sidebar.

The Creative Closet

Alright beauties, show me that black and white!

 Loading InLinkz ...

How and Why I Meal Plan

In the past few months I’ve had a decent number of people (both blog readers and real life friends) ask me how I go about deciding my menus–how and why I meal plan, basically. Meal planning is a skill I didn’t develop until I went to college. During high school–especially my senior year–I made the majority of the meals due to my love for cooking. My parents had a virtually unlimited grocery budget though, so I could easily run to the Trader Joe’s 5 minutes from my parent’s house and pick up whatever I needed for the recipe I had decided to make 30 minutes earlier.

How and why I meal plan–SO important for sticking with a budget!

When I left for college however, I suddenly discovered myself with limited funds and needing to stick to a strict grocery budget. I could no longer buy food willy-nilly–everything had to be planned. That need for planning in order to stick to a budget and in order to keep myself from being stressed beyond belief grew even greater after Dustin and I got married, and especially after Joshua joined our family.

At this point, I’ve been meal planning for a solid 4 years. I’ve tried a wide variety of different approaches, and the following steps have worked best for my sanity and my budget.

Step one: Take inventory!

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they grocery shop for the week is not looking through their pantry at what they already have and not looking through the fridge at what needs to be used. Our grocery budget goes down the toilet when we have excessive food waste, so I eliminate that issue by looking in the fridge to see what’s what. We have a surplus of bell peppers? I won’t buy those this week and make sure to plan a meal that will use a lot of them.

Pinterest is a majorly helpful tool in meal planning–I use it almost every step of the way. If I discover I have a lot of something and I’m feeling stumped about what to do with that ingredient, I’ll just search Pinterest with “cabbage recipe” or something like that.

Step two: Consider your schedule for the week

mealplan02

What do you have going on around dinner time each night this week?

When I look at my week there are always three things I know for certain. 1) We will be eating dinner with Dustin’s family on Sunday, so I don’t need to plan anything there. 2) Dustin has Scouts every Thursday night right after dinner, so it makes sense for me to plan a crock pot meal for that day so I know dinner will be ready to go before he has to leave. 3) Friday is always Pizza Night at our house, so I need to make sure I have ingredients for pizza on hand.

Sometimes, we have parties or functions that happen during dinner time where we will be fed and I don’t have to plan a meal then either. I make sure to write that down on my menu plan for the week so I know what’s happening for dinner every night.

Step 3: Look over your list of things you need to stock up on

We have a notepad on the fridge that we use to write down foods we used up as soon as we finish them off. That way, I have a running list of what we need to replenish that I can just grab off the fridge and add to my master shopping list for the week.

I started doing this because there were many times that I would return from a shopping trip only to realize I didn’t buy more milk or peanut butter because I don’t use those things hardly ever–Dustin does. Implementing this system gave him an easy way to let me know that he was out of staple items so I wouldn’t forget to buy them. Of course, I use the list too–mostly to write down staple ingredients we’re almost out of like soy sauce, flour, or a certain spice.

Step 4: Plan that menu and shopping list!

mealplan03

At this point I know what ingredients I need to use up, which nights I need to plan easy meals/which nights I don’t need to cook at all, and I know what I need to stock up on.  Now I plan the menu and my grocery list. I have a cute little menu printable I made (feel free to download it and print some out for yourself!) that I use to write down the meals for the week and on the back I make my grocery list.

I like having my meal plan on the same paper as my grocery list because if I get to the store and forget why I’m getting an ingredient I can look on my paper and see exactly why. Or, if I planned to have fish that week but it’s looking more expensive than I thought I can immediately edit my menu and grocery list while I’m at the store. It just makes it so I don’t forget things even if I have to change my plan a little bit.

When I write out my grocery list, I categorize everything by section of the store so I’m not running back and forth between parts of the store–this way I can stick to the same route every time I shop. Think of the grocery store you like to shop at and plan your route and write your grocery list accordingly. Mine goes like this: Produce, Bulk foods, Meat, Dairy, Frozen, Non-food, Canned, Dry.

Now that you know my process, I’m going to go a little more into detail to address a few questions I commonly get:

Do you plan every single meal? 

No I do not. I only plan dinner. For breakfasts, there are staple ingredients that I always have on hand every single week (spinach for smoothies, eggs, yogurt, bulk cereal, bread, fruit, etc) and for lunch we eat up our leftovers or make new meals out of what needs to be used up.

What staple ingredients do you always have on hand/buy again when you run out?

Aside from baking ingredients–bread, whole wheat tortillas, eggs, yogurt, shredded cheese, spinach, bell peppers, milk, apples, bananas, carrots, cereal, frozen peas, diced tomatoes, and black beans.

This is where that “empties” list on my fridge comes in real handy! If I just used the last can of black beans, I quickly jot down that we need more black beans. Simple. :)

Do you meal plan? What is your process like? 

Easy, Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I’m one of those people who really loves cream soups. Chowders are totally my jam. I always feel guilty after eating them though–they’re definitely not the best thing for you. That’s one reason I really love cauliflower soup though! You get the same creamy, comforting taste, but without actually using cream. Win win for all. This Creamy Cauliflower Soup is a staple at our house in the wintertime. We love it served with crusty bread and a side of crisp, raw veggies to chomp on. :)

This creamy cauliflower soup is so flavorful and comforting, while staying on the lighter side. No heavy cream needed!

The secret to achieving a really flavorful cauliflower soup is to roast the cauliflower in the oven rather than cooking it in your soup liquid. It’s an extra step, but the cauliflower roasts quickly, and that extra depth of flavor from a stint in a hot oven is 100% worth it.

cauliflowersoup02

After I pulled this pan out of the oven, Joshua ran over to me and pointed to the pan saying, “Have some! Have some!” He’s like a little bird while I’m cooking–literally. He will tip his head back and stare up at me with his mouth wide open until I give him a taste of whatever I’m making. What a silly kid!

While the cauliflower is roasting, I like to caramelize leeks in the pot and hit them with a little bit of garlic and marsala. It smells so heavenly! The marsala adds a little bit of sweetness to the soup that is just divine.

cauliflowersoup01

Ready to make this fabulous creamy cauliflower soup?

creamy cauliflower soup recipe

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1 head (about 2 lbs) of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper
1 leek (white and light green part chopped–save the top greens for later and fry them for garnish!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup marsala wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 425º F. Toss the cauliflower with 1 1/2 TBS of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Go light on the salt here–you can always add more salt to the soup after it’s blended if it needs it. Place the cauliflower in one layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until tender–about 10 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, heat the remaining 1/2 TBS of olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the marsala to the pan cook for a few more minutes to allow the alcohol to cook out.

Once the cauliflower is done roasting, reserve a few pieces for garnish if desired, and add the remainder to the pot along with chicken broth and whole milk. Simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the cauliflower to continue to soften. Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until smooth and creamy, or working in batches, blend in a blender (please be SO careful if you use a regular blender for hot foods!) and return to the pot. Adjust seasonings.

If desired, garnish with the reserved cauliflower pieces and fried leeks!

creamy cauliflower soup

Do you love cream soups? What is your favorite kind? 

Things Joshua Says

I realized it’s been far too long since I shared an update about my little guy!

joshua

Scarf c/o Christina Crochets

Joshua has always been a pretty quiet kid.  It took him a long time to care about verbally communicating with us–long enough that the delay made me worry. By the time he turned two, he still wasn’t speaking hardly at all. Speech was the only developmental area he wasn’t excelling or even progressing much in at all, so we figured it was time to do something.

We started doing speech therapy with him a couple months ago, and WOW has it made a difference. Our speech language pathologist is just incredible to work with and with her help, Joshua has moved beyond just imitating things I ask him to say (which was a HUGE step for him as well) to actually forming his own small sentences without prompting. They’re still pretty basic, but it melts my heart every time and I can’t help but giggle at his little personality coming through his words.

// After he rifled through my desk drawer and dumped all the staples out of my stapler.
Me: Sweetheart, no! You don’t get to play with my stapler, okay?
Joshua: Oh. *pauses and looks at me quizzically* Do you?

// Joshua has a fascination with the concept of “too”. Anytime he realizes something is similar between himself and someone else, or two of his toys, or two situations, he makes a point to let us know by. For example:

// While reading a bedtime story with Daddy where the beach was mentioned, Joshua sits up and pats proudly on his chest, “Beach too!”, knowing that we had just gone there in Hawaii.

On the walk home from church on Sunday, Joshua sees one of the older boys run past us on the way to his house.
Joshua, pointing to boy: Home, too!
Me: Yes, he’s going to his house.
Joshua, patting on his chest: Home, too!
Me: Yes, you’re going home too!
Joshua, patting my leg: Home, too!
Me: Yep, Mommy is going home with you.

// Joshua’s absolute favorite color is red. Despite the fact that he does indeed know all the colors (the normal ones, anyway) if you ask him what color something is, he’ll almost always look at you slyly and say, “Red!” If you correct him, he’ll say, “Oh blue!” or whatever color you just said. My favorite is the way he says “yellow”. It’s “weh-wo”.

// Joshua has a habit of adding extra syllables to my name or Dustin’s, but only when he’s thanking us for something. For instance, if I pour milk on his cereal for him, he’ll say “Thanks, mom-mom-mom-ma.”

// Speaking of milk, my favorite thing Joshua says is “coconut milk”. Or “coconut nuk” as he calls it. “Coconut” was the first 3 syllable word he’s ever said perfectly–3 syllables is a big deal for this kid! When we were in Hawaii visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, we watched a super cool demo with this awesome Fijian man who showed us how to make coconut oil. After we had talked about coconuts for a while, the man started husking the coconut and Joshua stood up on our bench and yelled, “COCONUT!” loudly and perfectly. My heart just burst with pride and I laughed so hard. Now, whenever I pour him some milk at breakfast time I always ask him what kind of milk he drinks, just so he’ll say, “coconut”. :)

// After speech therapy yesterday as we were saying our goodbyes to his speech therapist, Joshua said, “Have nice day!” I was completely shocked by it because I’ve never tried to get him to say that before, nor is it a phrase I usually use. It was so adorable. :)

So that’s our little guy right now! He is just a heck of a lot of fun and I love him more every day.

16 Post Ideas for the Fashion Blogger

We all have our periods of time when we fall have little blogging creativity brain farts. Sometimes, cool content ideas just escape us. Even if you fashion blog on the regular, sometimes it’s tedious to post only outfits all the time. Sometimes it’s nice (and important, I think!) to have a post that has a little more substance to it–something beyond just what you’re wearing. If you’re feeling stuck, I have 16 post for the fashion blogger! Hopefully these will get you going and spark even more awesome and unique ideas!

16 post ideas for the fashion blogger

1. Style your take on an outfit from a popular pin or a magazine

2. Share a little bit about your style icon(s)! Why do you love their style? How do you achieve that style yourself?

3. Where do you like to shop? Why?

4. In your opinion, what are 5 wardrobe staples every woman should own? Why? Show off each of those pieces that you own!

5. What is a common styling mistake a lot of people make? Show us the right way to wear something!

6. Who is your favorite TV character? Create an outfit based on that character’s style!

7. Fashion bloggers do “What I Wore” posts a lot–why not show off what your man is wearing for a change? Do a joint fashion post with him!

8. Give us a little tour of your closet!

9. Give us a tour of your bag–what’s inside? What do you never leave the house without?

10. Share your seasonal wishlist! What are you wanting to incorporate into your wardrobe this upcoming season?

11. Find the oldest piece of clothing in your closet and create an outfit inspired by it. How long have you had that piece of clothing? Where did you buy it? What memories have you made while wearing it?

12. If you were going on vacation (to the beach, the mountains, wherever) what would you pack? You could share what you would take from your own closet or make a style board using a tool like Polyvore.

13. Take one piece from your closet and show us how you would style it a few different ways–glam? Edgy? Boho?

14. Family photo inspiration time! Take a color palette and create outfits for members of a family–a mom, dad, big sister, little brother, baby, etc.

15. Grab a friend whose sense of style you love and do a photoshoot together–explain to us why you love her style and how she inspires you.

16. Post a blooper reel! Not all of your photos turn out perfect–let your readers see the behind the scenes and get to know your goofy, human side behind the camera.

What kinds of unique and creative posts have you seen from your favorite fashion bloggers?


Have you met Laura from The Suzie Lou Blog yet? She’s a heck of a lot of fun, let me tell you. She’s a singer, dancer, and actress who loves Broadway. She’s also a foodie (so I automatically love her!) who shares delicious and healthy eats from time to time! I love her candid writing style that makes it so easy to feel like you’re just having a chat with her instead of reading her blog. :)

FOOTERFEATURElaura

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Vine

Laura’s Favorite Posts:

2015 Pinterest Challenge ( I love this one too!!)
Spaghetti Squash Bowl with Antipasti Meat Sauce
Ready to Regin with Eshakti

Why did you start blogging?

I have always been a creative individual. I love sharing my talent and creativity with others. So I decided to give blogging a shot. Little did I know but my life would be so blessed by the opportunities that I have been giving through blogging. But the best part is the new people and friends that I have made.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in 2015?

I have had a youtube channel for some time now. I would really like to make it as successful as my blog. I would also love for my blog to continue to grow. But most importantly I want to take risks and not be afraid to make my dreams a reality.

Which app do you use most on your phone?

Instagram is my jam! I could spend hours just flipping through all of the amazing pictures. Photography is a passion of mine so I can’t help but be inspired as I look through them all.

What are some of your hobbies?

Theatre, reading, writing, singing, dancing, cooking, Netflix binging, collecting coffee mugs, drinking coffee, creating, and travel.

Which is you all-time favorite movie?

Oh goodness this is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. I am such a movie lover so I would have to say anything with Meryl Streep, Kate Mulgrew, Julie Andrews, Lana Parrilla, or Megan Follows.

The Creative Closet | A Pop of Color

Good morning lovelies! I hope you all enjoyed your Monday off yesterday! :)

I’ve been really excited about this week’s prompt. I’ve been wearing lots of neutrals and darker colors–winter fashion, you know. But when the days are grey and gloomy it’s so nice to be able to mix in a pop of brighter color into an outfit, just so not everything is bleak and boring.

The Creative Closet | A Pop of Color

I’m loving the pop of blue that Maegen and Claire both worked into their outfits! Check their blogs for outfit details. 

When I got dressed for church on Sunday I was in kind of a hurry and just threw on my favorite maternity maxi dress and my trusty chambray over the top and a few accessories. When I got home and started thinking about what to wear for The Creative Closet I realized, “Hey! I’m already wearing the perfect neutral outfit with a pop of coral!” :)

popofcolor04popofcolor02popofcolor03popofcolor01

Dress: Motherhood Maternity (old)
Chambray: h&m (similar)
Necklace: Thrifted
Gold bracelet: Le Tote
Coral Bracelet: Target
Flats: Payless (old)

After this week of working a pop of color into your outfit, we’re going fully neutral next week with Beauty in Black and White. I can’t wait to see how you pair the most classic of all color combos together!

creativeclosetjanuary

The Creative Closet

Lets get into it! What color did you work into your outfit this week?

Please remember that The Creative Closet is not like most style linkups. To link up with us you must address the prompt in some way and acknowledge that you linked up to The Creative Closet in your post. Posts that do not do this will be deleted.

 Loading InLinkz ...

Misconceptions about Essential Oils: Price

Ever since I started blogging more about essential oils and how I use them, I’ve always gotten comments on my posts where people share their thoughts about essential oils and why they haven’t or “can’t” use them. While of course I respect their thoughts and opinions, many times those thoughts are based on common misconceptions about essential oils.

Essential oils are actually incredibly affordable! Here's the truth about the price of using essential oils.

Because my journey with using doTERRA essential oils has been so incredibly positive and life changing, I decided I would write a few posts addressing the most common misconceptions that keep people from using essential oils–because once these misconceptions are broken down and you realize that you CAN use essential oils, it can literally change your life. The first one I have to break down? Price.

Misconception: Essential oils are too expensive for me

I hear this one more than anything. So many people I know have a desire to live healthier, more natural lives and want to try essential oils but can’t imagine how on earth they could work it into their budget when some oils are priced at $30 or more per bottle.

Trust me, I get it. The price kept me from trying essential oils for a long time too. If you look at the up front cost of using essential oils, it’s pretty scary–forking a couple hundred dollars for 7 bottles of oil and diffuser to get you started would make almost anyone second guess the decision.

There are a couple of things you should know about essential oils that should help you realize how worth it and truly cost effective they are–I mean, if I used them religiously on a $14k/year budget, you can too.

Truth: The per drop cost of essential oils is extremely cheap

When you consider the actual use of an essential oil requires only a drop or two per application you start to realize how economical a bottle of essential oil truly is. Let me break down a few of the my favorite oils for you:

Price per drop breakdown of some of doTERRA's most popular oils

 Pennies, people. Literally pennies.

Truth: Used properly, essential oils save you money in the long run

When I say used properly, I mean that essential oils work best when used to maintain wellness. Using essential oils consistently on a regular basis can really improve your health and vitality! Essential oils are fantastic forms of preventive medicine. You know what they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. 

As a personal example, my immune system sucks. I’ve mentioned that before. I used to get sick all the time. Like, 10 times per cold and flu season. That meant trips to the doctor. That meant buying cold and flu medicine so I could function during the day and get sleep at night. That meant losing money because I wasn’t feeling well enough to work.

Since I started using essential oils on a regular basis and especially using immune boosting oils like On Guard (diluted heavily for me while I’m pregnant!) on a nightly basis for myself and my family, we have experienced a lot less illness in our home. Last year, I got sick 3 times. For the whole year. Joshua got sick once. Dustin, not at all.

Using essential oils regularly to keep up our immune systems and generally improve our wellness has meant fewer visits to the doctor and fewer prescription or OTC drug purchases. On top of that, the few times we have caught some sort of bug, the duration and intensity of illness has been mild compared to our friends and family members who have caught the same bug.

Truth: One bottle lasts a long time

EOmisconceptions02

People use this reasoning all the time when it comes to purchasing high end makeup products and the same principle applies to essential oils. Because you only need a small amount per application, one bottle lasts quite a while.

The oils that I use the most (On Guard and Lavender) I usually have to replace every 1-2 months. Some oils like Breathe I replace every 1-2 months during cold and flu season, but we barely touch the stuff during the Spring and Summer. Others that I only use for very specific circumstances (like Melaleuca for cuts and scrapes or for ear infections) usually last me an entire year.

Truth: It’s worth it to sign up as a Wellness Advocate for the savings alone

I used doTERRA oils for almost a year before I decided to sign up as a Wellness Advocate. My main reason for not signing up as a WA was that I had absolutely no desire to sell the oils or enter any kind of multi-level marketing scheme. I just wanted to use the oils for myself and my family, so I figured I had no need to become a Wellness Advocate.

My mom helped me see reason, however. You see, she also had no desire to do any sort of MLM. However, she used the oils so much that she knew signing up as a Wellness Advocate just to have access to the wholesale discount was worth it. And eventually I realized that too.

EOmisconceptions03

Now that I’m a wellness advocate, I can purchase my oils for 25% cheaper than retail value. That alone is a big deal. What’s even better though, is the chance you have to be part of the Loyalty Rewards Program.

The Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP)

Here’s how it works:

Every time you make a purchase, you get LRP points. Making a purchase every month keeps those points in place. When you get enough points, you can use those to get product for free!

On top of that, if you make a purchase of 125 PV (product volume, which is usually synonymous with the price of a product) before the 15th of the month, you also get a free bottle of whichever oil is the Product of the Month. I’ve gotten to try a bunch of new oils through the Product of the Month feature.

Common misconception about the LRP: You have to place an order of 100 PV or more each month or you lose your Loyalty Rewards Points. 

FALSE!! FALSE!! FALSE!!!!

Here’s the truth. You simply have to place an order (any order!) every month. So you could buy one single bottle of Lemon ($10.00 wholesale) or something even cheaper than that one month and your points would continue to accumulate.

So many Wellness Advocates will tell you that you lose your rewards points if you don’t place an order of 100 PV or more–the reason they tell you this is because they get a bonus check if the three people in their downline total 300 PV or more every month. It really irks me that so many people lie about that just to make a little extra cash–honestly, I think the misconception that you have to spend almost $100 every month to keep your points scares more people away from the LRP than it draws people to it. I know I can’t afford to spend $100 on oils every month! And so most months, I don’t! But I still get to take advantage of the Loyalty Rewards Program because I do make a purchase every month, whether it’s big or small.

So there you go! Essential oils are not as expensive as you might have thought. Even on our very tight budget, we fit them into our lifestyle without any trouble and they are worth every penny due to the greater health and wellness we experience as a family.

 Do you use essential oils? If you don’t, what has kept you from trying them?

If you have any questions about using essential oils or becoming a Wellness Advocate, shoot me an email at lifecoudlbeadreamblog@gmail.com. :)

Surviving As the Last Childless Couple

I think it’s pretty obvious by the title, but this post isn’t my own. Being the first of my friends to get married and having Joshua join our family very soon after, I’ve never been in the position of being part of a childless couple among my married friends. I loved reading this post from one of my favorites, Jaelan, and hearing her perspective and I’m so excited to share it with you! 

Hey guys! My name is Jaelan, blogger at Making Mrs. M, and Jana was kind enough to let me take over her space for the day. I’m a childless newlywed, with friends averaging a decade older than me. I think that’s just what happens when you marry a man 8 years your senior.

I love our friends. I’ve always related to older people, anyway. Lately, though, we haven’t seen our friends much. You see, babies are hard on friendships, and in a few months, we will officially hold our spot as the last childless couple. We love our friends who have started families, but we also know that friendships with them take a lot more work. While this priority change is perfectly acceptable for the new mom and dad (and honestly, I wouldn’t expect it any other way), it’s hard on us—the childless. Logically, we understand, but it’s hard to watch the change inevitably happen.

Over a year ago, when our best friends started talking about possibly starting a family, we had mixed feelings. We were happy for them, but sad for us. They were our last childless friends. We frequently went on spontaneous dates with them. We cooked out. We attended parties together. We had game nights. We’ve seen it so many times before. The baby is born, and priorities change. Schedules become less flexible, and nights out become a lot shorter and less frequent.

Recently, these friends announced their pregnancy. No two people would make better parents. They’re smart, driven, financially responsible, and full of love. The day we found out they were expecting was the day my husband and I decided to change our attitudes.

It’s not easy, being childless (not currently wishing to change that) and working to nurture friendships with couples who are parents, but it can be done. These friends mean a lot to us.

In every type of relationship, there’s give and take. Sometimes there’s more give and sometimes more take, but in a good relationship, it generally balances out.

We made the decision that we will do more giving during this transitional period. Children are blessings, and we are so excited our friends are going to be given such an enormous gift. This gift will undoubtedly take much of their free time, but it doesn’t have to end our friendship. We’re able to pick up the slack. To maintain these friendships, we can change the way our friendships work. We can be flexible, and understanding. We can roll with the punches, and allow babies on dates. Plus, some of your friends’ kids will refer to you as “The Princess” the entire day of your wedding and will insist on dancing with you… and that’s just cute.

10269588_10204457661551305_3921960221257857598_n

We understand that we may play second fiddle to the kids, and that’s ok. Life changes. Priorities change. People start families. But at the end of the day, when it comes to friendships, it’s all about what you make it, and if you work at it hard enough and long enough, that friendship will continue to flourish.

We may remain the last childless couple for a long time, and that’s ok. I know that when we do decide to take that leap to “the other side”, we’ll be greeted with friends who know us, love us, and can teach my husband how to change a dirty diaper.

Be sure to check me out on Twitter, Instagram, and of course, My Blog!

Our Family Photos in Hawaii

One of my favorite things about our vacation to Hawaii was finally getting some updated family photos! And goodness gracious, could anyone ask for a more beautiful backdrop than the waves crashing on the beach? I think not. Those of you who live on the coast, count yourselves lucky that you can take photos at the beach anytime.

My sister-in-law happens to be a phenomenal photographer, so after she rocked her magic with a tripod to get photos of our entire family, she broke us down into individual families and took photos family by family. I am so in love with how they turned out and how well she captured our personalities!

tolmans01tolmans02tolmans03tolmans04tolmans05tolmans06tolmans07tolmans08

As we were walking back to the car, Dustin found a little tiny crab! Joshua just squealed and laughed so hard while the crab was scuttling across his hands. I sure wish I would have caught it on video. :)

Have a happy weekend! :)