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wadehampton_2808

Today is a pretty big day for the Stillman family.

I’ve been pretty vague about some stuff we’ve been dealing with for the last few months (okay, more like six+ months)… and while I won’t share all of the details, I can share some.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that we moved back in April. We bought a house and put our first house on the market. The whole process for buying this house was SO fast. We’d been looking around online for MONTHS and driving around neighborhoods, but we hadn’t actually gone and looked inside any. Our realtor is a good friend of ours from church (she was in our small group), and we had found a couple houses online that we liked and we wanted to go look at them one Sunday after church. At the last minute, John’s mom had found another house online that she thought we’d like, so we added that to the list and we were gonna spend a nice morning looking at houses.

Well, the last minute house was the one we went to look at first. The minute we walked in the door, we fell in love. We loved the hardwood floors, we loved the open feel, we loved the lot, we loved the backyard, we loved it all. We hadn’t even been upstairs yet and I think John and I both knew that we were going to make an offer on that house. The more we walked through it, the more we loved it.

We left that house not even really excited about going to look at the other two, but we headed that way anyway. As we looked at the other two, we kept comparing them to the first one. We just knew the first house was supposed to be ours.

Fast-forward to later that day, we decided to go back to the first house and look at it with a more critical eye. We stood upstairs in the hallway and we prayed, out loud, that God would help point us in the direction we were supposed to go. If this was supposed to be our house, then let it be. But if not, then shut that door… literally.

We knew we were taking a leap of faith. Our current home wasn’t even on the market yet… but we were going to put an offer in on a house. We knew that a lot of people were looking at it and we didn’t want to lose it. So after some number crunching, lots and lots of prayer, we knew we could do it and we submitted the offer and it was accepted. We were buying a new house and moving to Durham!

houseThe whole house buying process on our end was just so easy. We had enough money saved up and we moved things around to be able to make the downpayment… even without selling our current house, and everything just kept falling into place. It was all so easy. We knew God has His hand in the process.

About two weeks after we put the offer in and it was accepted, we put our house on the market. The market in Hillsborough (especially for houses of our size) was so good. There wasn’t much inventory, we were priced right, the house looked great, etc. etc. etc. We were so confident that we’d sell fast.

We had a pretty good amount of showings the first week or so.

And then we sat.

And sat.

And sat.

We moved mid-April to our new house and our old house sat. Vacant. No one wanting to look at it. We didn’t have a showing for over a month.

Then stuff just started happening and we were getting hit left and right with stuff that we never expected. Stuff we just couldn’t have planned for.

Meanwhile, we have two mortgages. And we had to keep the utilities on at the old house, too. So, two mortgages. Two houses with utilities. It was becoming really stressful. It was weighing heavily on us. Why didn’t anyone want our house? The feedback on showings was always great.

We dropped the price three times.

Some other stuff happened with the house (that for privacy’s sake I won’t state here (if you really want to know you can email me :)… haha!) but I’ll just say it was a royal pain in the butt to deal with), and then we got multiple offers! They all came in at one time and WOOHOO! We were selling a house and we got an offer that was HIGHER than the asking price. Things were looking up!

Then, not seven days after we accepted the highest offer, the buyer backed out.

The other people who were interested? They’d found other houses.

Back to square one.

Then, finally, two months later, after being on the market for five months, we got an offer. We weren’t dancing and jumping up for joy yet because we’d already done that once before… but it was a good offer, it would work, and we could sell the house.

That was two months ago. Today, we are closing on the house. No more two mortgages (yay!!). No more mowing two lawns (yay!!). No more stress and weight of waiting.

We truly, truly never thought this day would come.

For months we prayed and asked God why? What was our lesson here? If we weren’t supposed to move, then why did you make the buying process so easy for us? Why wasn’t our house selling if it was what You wanted for us to begin with? 

So many questions. We were throwing proverbial temper tantrums as things just kept getting more difficult.

But, right before we got the final offer, John and I had a talk about things and we realized, that even though this whole process had been so stressful, and so crazy, and so tiring… and even though we felt like there were times when God just wasn’t there and wasn’t hearing us… that that wasn’t the case at all.

We broke down the last five months and realized… God had actually been there the entire time. Right when we put our house on the market and bought the new house, John’s side business had started to take off and grow. And he was bringing home an income from it. In fact, when we crunched the numbers, we realized that right at the time we started making payments on two houses, that was the time that John started bringing home the extra income… just enough to cover the expenses of the old house.

We never had to tap into savings. We didn’t go over on our monthly budget. We crunched and cut things everywhere we could, and we stayed faithful in tithing and giving and… God provided. Big time. When expenses would come up, the money would be there… almost to the penny.

We realized that this whole process was just a test of our faith in God’s provision. We had to make decisions completely on faith alone and trust in God alone because there were times when we did NOT know if we were going to be able to make it happen. John is a planner. I’m a planner, to an extent. But together, we had to really stretch our faith and stretch our trust in the Lord and KNOW that He was going to take care of us.

And He did. Every step of the way.

Now, I want to say that I know that there are people who have been through similar situations for much longer than six months… and I am not trying to say we were handed the worst deck of cards ever… because I KNOW we weren’t. But I will just say, that all of this, including some other things here and there, compiled together… it really took a toll on us. 

It just is the confirmation that I needed to know that everything truly, honestly, and really happens for a reason. God works for the good of those who LOVE HIM and I know that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. We will always be taken care of. Provided for… as long as we trust and cling to Him in our times of need.

While our first house will always have a special place in our hearts… I have to say that we are pretty dang excited to be done with it. Haha!

All of this to say… God is never late. He’s never early. He’s always on time. And His timing is always perfect.

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Molly's Money | Four Tips for Properly Using a Credit Card

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

There are a few schools of thought on credit cards… and they seem to be either 1) DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE or 2) Credit cards are fine. Use them wisely.

As I was getting myself out of debt, I very much fell into the camp of #1… don’t use credit cards. They are evil. etc. etc. etc. If you listen to Dave Ramsey at all, this is the camp that he falls into, for sure.

However, now that I have over two and a half years of being debt free under my belt, I’ve been able to have some practice with them, I’ve been educated on them, and I’ve now become more of the #2 camp… credit cards are fine as long as you use them properly and wisely.

I will be honest, there are some people that NEED to stay in camp one and NEVER use a credit card ever, ever, ever again because they do not know how to use it properly and, quite frankly, they probably will never be able to use one properly. So, if you fall into that camp and you KNOW you fall into that camp… then stay there. It is TOTALLY fine to never use a credit card ever again. BUT, if you can be disciplined enough to use a credit card wisely, there are a few tips and tricks that you can put into place to use them wisely and actually benefit from them.

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These are in no particular order and these are certainly no the end all be all of tips, but I hope you find one or all of these helpful!

Four Tips for Properly Using a Credit Card

1. DO NOT have too many credit cards open at once.

If you want to have a credit card, I would honestly have no more than one or two credit cards open at one time. You just don’t need more than that. Find a credit card with a great rewards program or one that you can benefit from.

Personally, my husband and I have two credit cards. One through our bank that we get a lot of points on (that we redeem for gas cards) and a Target Red Card. I got a Target Red Card because we shop at Target SO MUCH and we definitely save a lot of money by getting the 5% off each time. There is also a Target Debit Card that you can do the same thing with… but I wanted to work on building my own personal credit score some more, so I ended up going with the Credit Card.

There is NO REASON to have three, four, five, or gosh even ten credit cards open at one time. It’s just completely unnecessary.

2. Treat it like a Debit Card.

If you are maintaining a detailed, line-item monthly budget, this should be easy for you. If you’re not, then this is going to be difficult. But you should treat that credit card like a debit card. If you do not have the money in your bank account to pay for whatever you are buying, then you CANNOT BUY IT. If you wouldn’t have the money to pay for it with a debit card, then you DO NOT have the money to pay for it with a credit card.

My husband and I use our credit card like a debit card. We make a purchase on it, we come home and record that purchase in our budget spreadsheet. It does not go on the credit card if we do not have the money to pay for it. Simple as that.

3. Pay off the balance. Every. Single. Month. No. Questions. Asked.

Pretend like the “minimum payment due” line of your credit card statement doesn’t even exist. You MUST, and I mean MUST pay off that credit card bill every month… otherwise you are literally wasting money and flushing it down the drain in the form of “interest.”

I understand that there are going to be emergencies and things that come up that you haven’t budgeted for that you may not be able to pay off right away… I get it. I do. And I’m not talking about those scenarios… those things happen and you can’t control them.

I’m talking about just the everyday purchases and monthly expenses that go on a credit card. They MUST be paid off. Otherwise, don’t own a credit card.

4. Monitor Your Credit Report

I’ve talked about the importance of monitoring your credit report before and I can’t begin to explain how important it is that you run a free, yearly credit check on yourself. Make sure that there’s no discrepancies that are showing up. Cards that have been left open that you forgot about… or a card that was opened in your name that you didn’t know about… etc.

Keeping a close eye on your credit score and credit report is vital for using credit wisely and properly.

So, those are just a few tips to start off…

How about you? Do you use a credit card? Do you use it wisely? What tips do YOU have for using a credit card and not getting yourself into debt trouble?

 

 

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The Mighty River Project - Fair Trade Products Handmade in Uganda #MightyRiverProject

This past Saturday, my dear friend Diana held a Fair Trade party at her house. She held one last year when I was pregnant with Lilly, and I was so excited to go to another one. Basically, a “Fair Trade party” is just a home party with vendors who are, well, fair trade. Haha! Pretty easy. Diana and I met the first time I went to Kenya back in 2011 and we bonded over the trip and have become good friends since. We both love Africa and we both love anything that helps support ministries and organizations that are doing amazing work on that continent.

I foolishly didn’t get a picture with her! UGH! I always forget. Anyway.

The two companies that were at the party on Saturday were companies that I am no stranger to, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you are no stranger to them, either!

The first was The Mighty River Project. Diana was actually the one who first introduced me to them because she grew up with and has been lifelong friends with Erin, the founder. Erin and her husband Scott founded TMRP when they first returned from long-term missions in Uganda. It’s an organization that partners with artisans directly in Uganda to provide a source of income for them, medical coverage, and support for their families. TMRP aims to keep families together and help prevent them from being separated and furthering the epidemic of orphans in Uganda.

They do amazing work. I have heard and seen firsthand what they are doing there and I can’t say enough good things about TMRP. I have been a donor of the organization since I learned about it and I actually sponsor their textile artisan, Rita!

I wanted to show you some of the beautiful stuff Erin and Scott brought to the party:

The Mighty River Project - Fair Trade Products Handmade in Uganda #MightyRiverProject

I have SO. MANY. of these woven baskets. They are my favorite. You may recognize them from Lilly’s nursery. They come in small, medium, large, and there are even extra large trays. I am OBSESSED with them. My problem is not buying ALL of the baskets. The Mighty River Project - Fair Trade Products Handmade in Uganda #MightyRiverProject

They also make magazine bead jewelry like necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. I have a few necklaces that I wear all the time!The Mighty River Project - Fair Trade Products Handmade in Uganda #MightyRiverProject

And here are some of the textiles that my girl, Rita, makes! Beautiful bags and aprons. I actually bought my first apron at the party on Saturday and I’ve worn it to cook in every day since!The Mighty River Project - Fair Trade Products Handmade in Uganda #MightyRiverProject

The other company there was Sseko Designs. I have talked about Sseko on social media few times, but Sseko is another amazing company that’s working to provide opportunities for women to earn a living that goes directly towards their education. It’s an amazing company! Sseko Designs #SsekoBrave Fair Trade Products

They had the famous Sseko sandals there. I LOVE them. They’re just gorgeous. Sseko Designs #SsekoBrave Fair Trade Products
And then beautiful bags and scarves. That black infinity scarf on the right is just stunning and so cozy.
Sseko Designs #SsekoBrave Fair Trade ProductsI just wanted to share a little bit about both companies because I can’t say enough good things about them and I can’t tell you how much I love what these people are doing. If you’re looking for gift ideas for people… gift ideas that are beautiful, unique, handmade, special, and the proceeds to go AMAZING causes… then look no further than The Mighty River Project and Sseko Designs.

This is not a sponsored post. As always, I only write about and share with y’all companies that I truly love and adore!

 

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Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (1)

I’m back for my third (and final) post about my experience with Cooking Planit! If you missed the first two, you can check them out here and here.

To be completely honest, I have had a serious BLAST with this #EatFreshChallenge that I’ve been doing this month. Sure, I was only supposed to do it for two weeks, but instead I decided to do it for a whole month and I have LOVED IT. As I’ve mentioned before, I have loved to cook, I love to try out recipes, and I love to menu plan… but for months now I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a rut of making the same old meals with the same old ingredients and I just felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere in my health, diet, etc.

I can pretty much boldly say that using the Cooking Planit app has completely, totally, and utterly changed the way I feed my family. I am in LOVE with this thing!

Switching Up My 'Same-Ol' Way' of Menu Planning with Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (3)

Let me take you through a quick rundown of the recipes I made last week… and then I’ll share a little of my thoughts overall about the program and the app and the whatnots.

On Tuesday I took a HUGE risk and I made short ribs for the first time. EVER. Holy cow was this a REALLY involved recipe and meal, but I ended up having a blast with it. It is not a meal for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I loved the creamy polenta recipe that we’d had earlier in the month with our Polenta and Potatoes meal, so I looked forward to making that again. The creamy polenta is DELICIOUS. John thinks it kinda tastes like grits. I think I’d have to agree.

I created this meal using the “meal creator” function which allows you to pick and choose what you want included in your “meal” – I added braised short ribs, creamy polenta, and my favorite goat cheese tomato and arugula salad.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (3)

This salad is SO EASY to make and it is crazy delicious. It’s a new household favorite. I’ve made it like six times since we first tried it.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (5)

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (4)

And voila!! The completed meal. You guys, I felt SO PROUD of myself when I made this. I felt like I TOTALLY conquered the kitchen and I felt like I totally could do ANYTHING after making this beast of a meal. And my husband John literally said it was one of the best meals he has EVER had. I was like… YES!!!!! WIN!

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (6)

So. So. So. Good.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (7)

Then, I attempted to make penne pasta in a homemade creamy vodka sauce with a side of roasted broccoli. Well, just so y’all know… I don’t always have it together. This particular day I was dealing with a fussy baby who would not be put down and needed to be held every second of the day and, TOTALLY 100% my fault, I forgot the broccoli in the oven. Annnnd I burned it. It was REALLY roasted. Proof below:

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (8)

Woops! Oh well, you can’t win them all.

BUT, I still made the creamy penne vodka pasta and that ended up being DELICIOUS and really, really, really easy. Lilly loved it. John loved it. Everyone wins.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (9)

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge - Changing the way I feed my family (10)

I have also had a GREAT time playing with some of the ingredients in the Colavita pantry essentials basket that they sent me. I LOVE their olive oil, I LOVE the crushed tomatoes (I used those to make the pasta sauce), and their polenta was amazing. I can’t wait to try even MORE of the pantry essentials! (Don’t forget if you use the code EatFresh20, you get 20% off your order and free shipping if your order is over $99!)

Switching Up My 'Same-Ol' Way' of Menu Planning with Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (10)

For me, my favorite part of this challenge has been cooking with ingredients I’ve never thought to cook with before or have never even TRIED to cook with before. Short ribs? Polenta? Arugula? Goat Cheese? These are foods that just, honestly, aren’t on my “cooking” radar at home. I’ve bought more fresh vegetables and fresh meats in the last month than I have in probably a year. It’s been awesome!

I’ve learned new techniques like how to properly chop cilantro and fresh herbs… or how to cut an onion so you’re not totally crying all over the place, or how to dice carrots and celery.

My personal favorite Cooking Planit meal has been the goat cheese Alfredo, for sure!! That was amazing. John’s was definitely the short ribs. And Lilly? Well, she’ll eat almost anything I put in front of her.

I love that I was able to put in my dietary restrictions (I’m allergic to fish), and so every recipe I find or search for is a recipe that doesn’t include fish. You can also do the same for gluten free, dairy free, etc. It’s awesome!

So, going forward… what am I going to do? I can honestly say I’m a Cooking Planit devotee now! Will I use it for EVERY meal all month long like I did for this month? Certainly not. I love my recipes, I love coming up with recipes myself, I love the “old favorites” that I used to cook all the time… so I OF COURSE will still make those going forward. BUT, it won’t be the same old same old stuff all the time. I plan on incorporating a Cooking Planit meal into our menu plan AT LEAST once a week, but probably more like 2-3 times a week! I am excited to try even MORE recipes!

I have more recipes on the docket for this week and next week… and I can’t wait to try those. I’m trying a flank steak recipe this week that looks amazing!

Also, I’ll be announcing the winner of the #EatFreshChallenge contest later today! So keep an eye out for that here on this post and on social media!

Now what about you? Have you had a chance to check out Cooking Planit yet? Any fresh recipes you’ve tried lately?

Be sure to check out the other AWESOME bloggers that are participating in the #EatFreshChallenge!


Sassy Moms In The City

Livy Loves To Run

Bird a la Mode

still being [Molly]

Live Laugh Rowe

The Rebel Chick

Sparkling Footsteps

The Shine Project

Design Eat Repeat

My Fashion Juice

Fashionable Hostess

*This post is in partnership with Cooking Planit. All opinions are 100% my own and I am giving you a raw, honest review of my experiences. Thanks for supporting the companies that help support me and my family!

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My Experience Using Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEOI want to make a few disclaimers about this post before I really dive into it: 

1. I am coming at you guys NOT as an expert about essential oils. I am FAR from it. This is merely MY personal experience using Young Living Essential Oils over the last six months.

2. I know that there are a lot of different essential oil companies and brands out there. And that’s cool. After doing my own personal research and learning as much as I could about each brand and company, I personally chose to go with and use Young Living because I felt like the quality, ingredients, and the 100% pure therapeutic grade rating made me feel the most comfortable. I spent about five to six months researching before I decided to try them out myself. If you use another brand of essential oils that work well for you, that’s great! I know plenty of people that have had good experiences with other brands. I just want to clarify and for y’all to know that when I speak about a particular essential oil or my experience in this post, I’m talking only about Young Living Essential Oils.

3. I am not a doctor. I cannot diagnose / treat / prescribe / etc. anything you may have. These are merely my experiences and testimonials.

4. I will also not say that I’m claiming to be “100% natural” in everything that I do… yes, I am gradually working to rid toxins and chemicals from our lives… but I also am not as hardcore as some people. I don’t make my own shampoo or toothpaste or face moisturizer. I do make my own house cleaner and bug spray and sunscreen. I don’t (and can’t) do it all.. and I don’t try to. I’m just doing little things here and there to get healthier and live healthier and toxin free!

5. Not really a disclaimer, but a question… if this interests you… would you be interested in periodic (NOT weekly… we’re talking maybe monthly) posts on essential oils and how I use them and recipes and whatnot?

Now, let’s get to it.

What IS an Essential Oil?

An essential oil is the “lifeblood” of a plant. It’s the plant in it’s most PURE form. Think of it like this… when you break a tree branch or a leaf and you see the branch or leaf start to seep a little bit of oil and the branch or leaf starts to “heal” itself… well… THAT’S the essential oil of that plant healing itself.

Why I started using Essential Oils…

When I got pregnant in 2012, I immediately became HYPER aware of everything I was putting in my body and everything I was exposing myself to. I suddenly realized that there was this life inside of me that was totally dependent upon me and needed me to help him/her grow… and be healthy! And then when I just kept thinking about all the awful stuff I was exposing not only myself to, but also our unborn child at the time… I just felt awful.

So, I started just looking into lots of natural alternatives for things here and there. Not like I was going 100% natural or anything like that… I just started using more herbal remedies, alternative therapies, natural birth and parenting options etc. Yes, I know it sounds SO hippie and even I was rolling my eyes at myself… BUT, I just wanted to be healthy and do the best I could for our child.

Fast forward to when Lilly was born, all that hyper-awareness of everything around me became amplified even more! I kept thinking about germs, and toxins, and chemicals, and just all the yucky stuff that I wanted to protect me and my family from. So, I continued to research and learn about other natural therapies and medicines and whatnot.

I started learning about essential oils and at first, I was SUPER skeptical. In fact, I was the most skeptical of the skeptics. I just didn’t buy it. I felt like it was snake oil. I felt like it was all a joke and that this stuff was a big crock. But, I watched a few very close friends start using them and I saw the results they were having and so it peeked my interest. I at least got to the point where I was skeptical, BUT willing to at least listen and learn more and do research for myself.

Now, I suffer from CHRONIC migraines and headaches. It’s bad. I have been so dependent upon Advil, Tylenol and other migraine meds for years. And I just felt so awful being dependent upon these drugs that didn’t treat my symptoms or make me any better… they just masked my symptoms and helped for a few short hours. So, when I was reading about the natural ways to treat headaches and migraines with essential oils, I became even more intrigued.

I was also noticing that I was always feeling “off.” Just tired, lethargic, sick, you name it… I just felt yucky. And I started to feel like all of the crap that I surround myself with (toxic chemicals in cleaners, processed foods, etc.) were contributing to it and maybe I should start finding natural ways to deal with this stuff.

(You’ll have to keep reading to find out what I thought when I actually started using them myself…)

I spent about six months really REALLY researching essential oils and their history. I was fascinated with how much they date back to biblical times and ancient times. Essential oils have literally been used for THOUSANDS of years as natural healing remedies. It’s amazing the more I learned. Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

When I was doing my research into the different essential oil companies, these were the questions I asked with each company I came across:

  • Do I know exactly where their oil comes from?
  • Does the company share where the product comes from?
  • How it’s grown?
  • How it’s distilled?
  • Can they go to the company farm and see it for themselves?
  • Does the company harvest and distill with many sample distillations to get the highest amount of therapeutic qualities?
  • Do they know for certain that the oils they buy are safe to ingest? To put on undiluted?
  • Are there ANY toxic warnings that come with their oils?
  • Is there an expiration date?

And the more I learned about Young Living, in particular, the more I felt confident in the company and their products. One thing that also made me feel good about Young Living is that most of their oils are GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA to actually ingest. Almost all of their oils can be taken internally… like medicine! In fact, I take a lot of them internally all the time! When other oils I was coming across had warnings on their bottles that said, “WARNING: DO NOT INGEST” – that was a BIG red flag for me.

And yes, other companies can put 100% pure essential oil on their bottle… but think of it like this… when you see a bottle of juice at the store that says 100% juice, but then the ingredients are like… anything BUT actual juice? You know… a bunch of added sugar and stuff like that? Yeah, that’s not really 100% juice. But sure, it’s juice, it’s not sand. So they can say it’s 100% juice. It’s the same thing with essential oils. You can say it’s 100% essential oil, but it could have a whole bunch of other stuff added to it. So, you have to look at the whole PROCESS to know whether or not the oil is actually pure, therapeutic, and safe. Ya know?

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

This is my little Essential Oil organizer I have that I carry from room to room or wherever I’m using the oils…

So, finally… after praying about it, thinking it over, and really trying to decide if using the oils was for me, I decided to give it a go and invest in the premium starter kit and become a wholesale member of Young Living.

I will admit that I have not spoken about or shared my using the oils before on the blog (or on my public social media) because I wanted to REALLY give them a try before I ever said anything about them. I wanted to use them and really put them to the test before I came out and said anything about the product, my experience, etc. So, I have been using them for over five months now and I can say, with 100% confidence, that these oils really are amazing. I’m really not just saying that… it’s the God’s honest truth. I even took my oils with me to San Francisco when I went on my Stitch Fix trip! I couldn’t imagine leaving home without them!

Now, I could talk for days and hours about this stuff and this is already going to be a REALLY long post… but before I dive even deeper, I wanted to say that if you are interested in learning more about essential oils BEYOND this post, join my Facebook group! It’s a great place to just talk and ask questions and whatnot.

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

So, I’m gonna share a little bit of what I have and the oils that I own currently and how I have used them… Pictured below are my oils, individually, and how I use each one… (They are listed in no particular order)

Joy Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Joy

This is an essential oil blend that comes in the Premium Start Kit and it is one of my favorites. I actually just finished this bottle and I have another one on order for November! It’s a great mood enhancer, it makes a great perfume, you can use it to freshen clothes or a room, and it even helps with anxiety and depression. I use it in my diffuser all the time!

Lavender Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Lavender Essential Oil TestimonyLavender

This is in my top three most used essential oils… BY FAR. This is my second bottle (I finished the bottle that came in the premium starter kit) and I am almost done with this bottle. This is the “swiss army knife” of oils. I use it on cuts, scrapes, bruises, bumps, lumps, bites… I use it on my pillow for sleep, I use it in the diffuser because it smells amazing, I use it for help with allergies and sneezing. There are HUNDREDS of uses for this oil. It is amazing.

It has COMPLETELY replaced anything along the lines of Neosporin or anything like that in our medicine cabinet. In fact, the picture to the right, is a little “example” of how amazing it is…

At Lilly’s 12 month appointment, she got another round of shots and one was the Chicken Pox vaccine. She had a pretty bumpy reaction to it (common), and it was really red, and raised, and irritating to her (as you can see on the left). I put ONE drop of Lavender essential oil on the area when I put her down for her nap and when she woke up, it was almost completely healed (as you can see on the left). I was seriously amazed!

It’s a GREAT oil!

Lemon Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Lemon

This is also my second bottle of lemon. Lemon comes in the premium starter kit and I use it all the time. My FAVORITE use is actually just a drop in my ice water. ONE drop of lemon essential oil is super powerful. It helps curb appetite, you can use it in homemade house cleaner, I use it in the diffuser to help get the room smelling great, I use it to cook with, and it also helps with allergies as well.

There are, again, hundreds of uses for this oil. It’s a great, affordable oil that is a must-have!

Frankincense Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Frankincense

This oil comes in the premium starter kit and is amazing. I always think of Jesus when I think of Frankincense because that’s what the wise men brought to Him. It also has so many uses… headaches, age spots, wrinkles, depression, inflammation… and it’s also been known to help with treating and easing the symptoms of CANCER patients. How amazing is that?! It’s a pricey oil, which is why it makes the premium starter kit as valuable as it is.

Thieves Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Thieves

As you can see, this bottle has been WELL loved. This is my second bottle of thieves and I actually just ran out (NOOOO!!!!)… so I am anxiously awaiting my November order for another bottle to come. This oil is amazing. I love the story behind it…

In short, back during the time of the black plague, there were these robbers (thieves) who were robbing the graves of plague victims. BUT, they weren’t getting sick and they weren’t dying! They weren’t catching the black plague. Well, finally, they were caught and they were asked how they were able to keep from getting sick. Well, it turns out that they were actually spice traders and they were using a blend of natural essential oils to ward off illness. Thus, the thieves essential oil blend was born!

It helps with sore throats, cough, strep, the common cold, flu, it kills 99.9% of bacteria so you can use it as a hand sanitizer or soap, or even in a DIY household cleaner. I have actually made my own household cleaner using thieves and I have totally stopped using any store-bought cleaning products. I use the thieves cleaner I made to clean our kitchen, bathrooms, sinks, etc. It works GREAT! In fact, I think it might work better than the stuff I used to use that I bought at the store.

This oil is one of my most used oils, for sure.

Peace & Calming Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Peace and Calming

This is another essential oil blend that comes in the premium starter kit. At first, to be honest, I didn’t love it. MAINLY because it has patchouli in it and I don’t love the smell of patchouli. BUT, when I started using this oil in conjunction with oils like lavender or Joy, etc. in my diffuser, I ended up liking it a lot more. It has a VERY calming (obviously), earthy smell to it and it actually really helps Lilly when she’s sort of in that “witching hour” state.

I know a lot of people who have great testimonials for this oil helping with anxiety, depression, stress, sleep issues, etc.

Valor Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Valor

This is another one of my favorite oil blends. This blend helps with A LOT… but it is MOST FAMOUS for helping with things like snoring, TMJ, and it’s also sort of known as a “chiropractor in a bottle.” It helps with spinal alignment, etc.

I have HORRIBLE scoliosis and really bad TMJ and I use this oil for both of those and I have noticed a MASSIVE difference. The only sad thing is that I have run out of this oil and it’s currently out of stock (except for in the premium starter kit). So I’m doing a massive sad face… because I need some Valor in my life. BIG TIME.

Purification Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Purification

This oil has so many multi-purpose uses, it’s crazy! This is my second bottle… it also comes in the premium starter kit. The most common way I use this oil is I actually used it in my DIY homemade bug spray this summer. It smells awesome and it works BY FAR better than ANY insect repellant I’ve ever used. I notoriously get eaten alive by mosquitos and purification worked WONDERS this summer. It’s amazing!

I also use it in the diffuser if I’m feeling sick (it kills germs and bacteria!!), and I also use it on cuts, scrapes, etc. It stops bleeding! This oil is amazing!

Stress Away Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Stress Away

This is a blend that does, pretty much what it says… it’s a blend of oils that helps with stress, tension, headaches, anxiety, etc. It smells great and I use it all the time when I’m feeling overwhelmed! It comes in the premium starter kit…

PanAway Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Pan-Away

This is the “pain reliever” of oils. It helps with muscle tension, soreness, headaches, backaches, menstrual cramps, growing pains… really any kind of pain or soreness that you might need relief from. This oil comes in the premium starter kit. You definitely need to use a carrier oil with this one (like coconut oil, almond oil, etc.). It is also the only oil with a child proof cap on it.

Peppermint Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Peppermint

This is, by and large, my most used oil. This is my THIRD bottle of peppermint. And yes, it comes in the premium starter kit. I use this, primarily for my headaches. I have chronic migraines and headaches and it has helped more than ANYTHING else I have ever, EVER used.

I touched on this at the beginning of this post… but here’s a little more. Now, I know this might not seem like a big deal, but before I started using essential oils, I was taking up to 10 Advil or Tylenol a DAY. I was on migraine meds that didn’t work. It was awful. I was becoming so dependent on drugs to help with my headaches and I didn’t like that… at all. So, I decided to give this a try and it’s amazing. The SECOND I start to feel a headache coming on, I put a drop on the back of my neck and within 4-5 minutes (often even SOONER), my headache is gone or almost completely gone.

I have also used this oil when I have a stuffy nose (clears you RIGHT up!), I use it in the diffuser, and I have also put it in tea or water to help with heartburn and indigestion.

This oil also helps with any stomach issues!!

Eucalyptus Globulus Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Eucalyptus Globulus

This is another REALLY new oil to me and I got it because I wanted to use it this fall and winter for sinus infections and any other respiratory illnesses that may come our way. It’s the “vapo rub” of single oils!

Breathe Again Roll-On Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Breathe Again Roll-On

I always have sinus issues EVERY fall and winter and I perpetually can’t breathe out of my nose. I heard great things about the Breathe Again Roll-On which is an essential oil blend that helps with respiratory issues, sinus issues, reduces coughing, etc. I have already had a few stuffy noses this fall and just a few minutes after applying this stuff, I’m already feeling better! It’s like the vapo rub, but not, of essential oil blends!

Orange Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Orange

This is a super affordable oil and it smells great and it’s one of those oils that is great to add to the diffuser, any DIY home beauty product, etc. It’s also great for acne! I had a BIG pimple, put a drop of Orange on there, and it was gone in a day or two! I also put a few drops of Orange in my vacuum when I’m vacuuming and it makes the room smell so fresh!

Ylang Ylang Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Ylang Ylang

This is actually my newest oil. I just got it in my October order, so I don’t have TOO much experience with it. I’ve just mainly been diffusing it for now, but it has a REALLY wonderful, floraly scent. It’s supposed to help with anxiety, decreasing blood pressure, and it’s an anti-depressant. It also has a TON of other uses… but those are just a few that peeked my interest.

En-R-Gee Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

En-R-Gee

This was an oil I was TOTALLY skeptical about, but after the recommendation of a few friends, they all said that it is amazing. This oil is a “blend” of a few oils and it is said to give you energy (you know, like it says), awaken the senses, make you more focused, etc. The first time I used this oil, I had, BY FAR, the most productive day I’d had in weeks. When I use this oil, I immediately feel alert, awake, and ready to accomplish the tasks ahead of me. If I ever need an afternoon “pick-me-up” I totally reach for En-R-Gee. It’s also GREAT in the diffuser with lemon, Joy, orange, or other similar “fresh” oils.

Cedarwood Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Cedarwood

I’ve been having a lot of issues with sleep lately, and I’ve read that this was a great oil to help with sleep. So far, I’ve been using it on the back of my neck at bedtime and I’ve also been using it in the diffuser. I really feel like I’ve seen a big difference! I’m falling asleep faster, not feeling as restless, and coincidentally I don’t feel like I’ve been having as many nightmares. I have a really, really bad history of having awful nightmares.

Carrot Seed Young Living Essential Oil http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Carrot Seed

I actually got carrot seed oil SOLELY for the purpose of making DIY homemade sunscreen. Carrot Seed Oil has a natural SPF of about 30SPF… then, mixed with Coconut Oil which has a natural SPF of about 4-5SPF, you immediately have 35SPF sunscreen that’s totally toxin free and totally safe! I got this oil later in the summer so I wasn’t able to use it as much as I wanted, BUT, when I did use it, I used it on both me AND Lilly and neither one of us got burned! I look forward to learning of the other ways to use this oil.

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Now let’s talk the diffuser…

This diffuser comes in the premium starter kit, and for me, was TOTALLY worth it. I use this diffuser all. day. long. and all. night. long. For real. It’s amazing. It has completely changed my life and our home! I diffuse oils and help our home smell good while also ridding the air of toxins, germs, nasty odors, etc.

The diffuser is my favorite thing ever. I want another one so I can have one for both levels of the house! haha!!!

Diffuser - Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Here are some recent diffuser combos that I have been LOVING: 

Young Living Essential Oils - Diffuser Combos http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

Young Living Essential Oils

In the meantime, if you are looking to learn some information, share some tips, tricks, DIY recipes, or you just want to talk essential oils (and share some giggles…), I would LOVE for you to join my Facebook group! It’s totally informal, it’s not fancy at all, and it’s really just a place where you can talk all things essential oils and ask any question you want! I joined a similar group about 10 months ago… maybe longer, I don’t know… and I spent a good LONG while asking questions and learning as much as I could about essential oils (and about Young Living) before I EVER took the plunge and bought an oil. You don’t have to buy ANYTHING or do anything in order to join the group! Click here to join! I’d LOVE to have you!

I also have a Pinterest board where I pin different uses for oils and different essential oil recipes. You can check it out here!

Want even MORE information?

Here are some great videos that can give you some more information about Young Living and the company and their oils – each is about 4-6 minutes long:

  1. Soil Preparation – the steps that are taken to prepare the soil for the aromatic plants that essential oils are extracted from. http://youtu.be/f6sW7SJqj3s
  1. Growing the Plant – what it takes to grow a plant to produce the finest essential oil with the all of the essential oil constituents. http://youtu.be/N1NGtBA1yKg
  1. The Distillery – the qualities of the Young Livings distillery equipment that helps to maintain the small molecular weight molecules to produce the highest quality essential oils. http://youtu.be/Lw6QiCRnGd4
  1. The Distillery Separator – every plant is distilled slightly different from each other in order to produce the highest quality essential oils. http://youtu.be/Fj1dLxr1MUI
  1. Lab Tests – the different analytical techniques used in determining purity and quality control. Gabriella is proud to certify Young Living Essential oils as pure, authentic and therapeutic. Young Living standard’s are the highest and strongest in the industry.http://youtu.be/yUOvKh6rs2c

A few FAQs about purchasing Young Living Essential Oils: 

  • Why Should I become a Wholesale Member? Becoming an “Independent Distributor” awards you 24% off retail pricing! You also gain the option of sharing the oils with your friends and family in order to earn commissions and participate in promotions for free oils (if you so choose… you do NOT have to in order to be a wholesale member). If not, you’ll still receive the 24% off discount and will be considered a “Wholesale Member,” similar to a COSTCO or Sam’s Club membership.
  • Is there a monthly order minimum? No! You do not have to order monthly in order to benefit from being an Independent Distributor/Wholesale Member. The ONLY requirement is to order $50 worth of oils in a year’s time. However, there is an autoship program (Essential Rewards – which is a $50/month minumum) that you have the option of participating in if you would like in order to earn more points on your orders and potentially more product. Which is really easy to do.
  • I don’t want to sell oils. Do I have to sell Young Living products to be a Wholesale Member? Of course not! While Young Living may use the term “Distributor,”  it’s only applicable if you choose to have a business (there is no requirement to having a business). Otherwise, as previously mentioned you’d be considered a “Wholesale Member” with the same 24% discount (Woohoo!). And since there is no monthly order requirement you can simply order whenever you want.  Either way, becoming a distributor/wholesale member is the most beneficial option for you and your pocketbook whether you have a business or not.
  • How do I join Young Living Oils? To begin as a Distributor/Wholesale Member you must enroll with a kit.  While there are several options to choose from, I personally recommend the Premium Starter Kit (that’s what I started with). The value for the price is really the best. It contains 10 of the most utilized and multifunctional oils offered PLUS a 5ml bottle of Stress Away PLUS a Home Diffuser and of course literature and samples. You can order by clicking here. Feel free to email me (molly [at] stillbeingmolly [dot] com) with any questions!

Now, are you interested in trying them out? Let me know! If this interests you… would you be interested in periodic (NOT weekly… we’re talking maybe monthly) blog posts on essential oils and how I use them and recipes and whatnot?

You can sign up to receive a starter kit here! Join the Facebook group to ask questions.

Also, if you are interested, I’m giving away to two lucky people a few samples of Young Living Essential oils! I’m giving away a sample of Lavender, Peace & Calming, and Peppermint to TWO of my readers! Enter below!

Young Living Essential Oils http://bit.ly/MollyYLEO

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is not a sponsored post. I invested in the Premium Starter Kit with my own money and every oil I have purchased has been with my own money. I am sharing my experiences with y’all because I thought that enough of y’all would be interested to know a little bit more and y’all might be interested in trying essential oils out for yourselves! (Or, at least you might be interested in learning a little bit more in your own research you may be doing). Technically, yes, I am a “distributor” with Young Living, but that is only because I purchased the Premium Starter Kit to start out and I purchased it to get wholesale membership. All that means is I get a wholesale discount when I purchase oils. What does that mean for you? If you decide to try out Young Living for yourself, yes, I get a commission. BUT, I do not (at this time) have any desire to make “selling oils” my “job” or make a living off of this. I just genuinely love the company, the essential oils, and I wanted to share my experiences with you! If you sign up with Young Living as a “distributor” to get the wholesale pricing on oils, you too can share Young Living oils with your family and friends and make a commission as well. 
730x100letitshineWelcome to Let it Shine! Welcome to the new, revamped Funday Monday! After two years, we decided to rename our link up to something we felt was a better fit. Welcome to Let it Shine! Why the name? Because, we want this link up to be just that…..your chance to let it shine! We will be sharing our favorites each week here, and on social media!

a few of our favsfall/ Autumn Outfit / Edgy Pleats / Lovely Combo /

Another place we will be showcasing our favs? The Let It Shine Pinterest Board!

let it shine hashtag_edited-1 Linking up to Let it Shine? Don’t forget to link back to our blogs or share our button, thanks y’all! still being molly


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Great Stories Move Through Fear

I’m ’bout to get real deep and whatnot up in here.

You’ve been warned.

So, last weekend was this crazy whirlwind weekend of going to two weddings, one at the beach on Saturday and then we had to drive back that night because we had to catch a plane early the next morning to Boston for another wedding in Massachusetts. That would have been tough enough as it was, but we also had a sick toddler on our hands. So, that provided some extra fun.

Now, please don’t hear this as complaining, that is not the case at all. I love weddings, we love the people who got married, and we were so glad to be able to be there to witness their marriages! I’m merely stating the fact of the weekend… it was crazy and we were exhausted.

On Monday, it was just a gross and dreary day as we were getting ready to fly out of Boston. We were tired, worn out, and the rain / drizzle / overcast just wasn’t doing us any favors. It was some kind of yuck day.

We made it to the gate RIGHT as our plane was boarding, just by the skin of our teeth, and we got on the plane and Lilly was grumpy. She’d been sitting still for far too long, it was naptime, she was hungry… it was a recipe for disaster. It all ended up being fine… Lilly and her state of mind at the time of takeoff are not the points of this story.

As our plane was taking off, we kept rising through the thick, gross, dark clouds. The clouds just seemed to get thicker and darker… and they seemed to go on forever. It felt like we were going to spend the whole hour and 40 minute flight staring at grey yuckness (that is the technical term, by the way).

But, before we knew it, our plane got to the cruising altitude right above the clouds and all of a sudden we were surrounded by beautiful, gorgeous, crystal blue skies… and all we could see for MILES and miles and miles were the tops of the blanket of clouds. It was just like one long continuous smooth blanket beneath us. And all around us and above us was the sun and the sky and it was gorgeous.

I took that obligatory photo-from-the-plane-window because it was just that gorgeous. And the photo doesn’t even do it justice.

And, as I sat there in my seat looking at the window simultaneously entertaining a fussy, fidgety kid and thinking about things, it dawned on me… it was like this light or something went off in my head – this is exactly the kind of thing that God puts us through… but sometimes we just never seem to stick it out and make it through to the other side.

What do I mean? I mean, let’s be honest. Sometimes life is tough. Life is hard. Sometimes stuff happens and we just feel so in over our heads that we don’t know if we’ll ever get out. Sometimes we feel like we’re stuck in this perpetual rainstorm without an umbrella. Or sometimes, we feel like our entire existence is standing outside in an overcast day with that annoying mist hitting you constantly… you know, not enough to really warrant an umbrella, but enough to the point where it’s gradually ruining your hair and your clothes. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

And, we exist in this “existence” and we feel like we’re going to be there forever. We can’t see or even realize that just above those clouds, just above those dreary days, just above the rain and the mist…? That’s the sun. That’s the crystal clear skies. That’s the beauty. It’s just on the other side of the storm… but we just can’t see it.

I kept thinking about this fact over and over again and it gave me this sense of peace and comfort.

This year, by no means has been the toughest year of my life… but this year has been hard. I’m not trying to be super cryptic or anything… but, it’s just one of those things where life has thrown us a few curveballs here and there and John and I have had to really pray and focus and center ourselves on what’s important: the Lord and each other.

John and I were saying the other day that when we look back in five, ten, or even 15 years from now… we’ll probably look at this year as one of the toughest years for us. Between work stuff, and house stuff, and more work stuff, and more house stuff, and the whatnot… it’s been full of ups and downs.

But, as much as we’ve felt like we’re in the midst of a cloud at times… we’ve both been able to see that the clear skies, the sun, and the beauty is just on the other side. We know it’s there and we can feel it. And, to be honest, we’ve handled the tough stuff this year pretty darn well. We’re more diligent with our finances (which is saying a lot because we were already SUPER diligent before), we communicate better, we’ve learned some valuable lessons, and I really feel like our marriage has been at its best through it all.

We’re not perfect. Not even close. But we’ve taken huge steps towards driving out fear, casting away worries, and moving on faith alone that I know that, without a doubt, we can handle anything that comes our way.

And, so I guess… my point in sharing all of these extremely stream-of-consciousness thoughts is that if you feel like you’re in the middle of a storm or in the middle of a cloud and you can’t see the sun and you can’t see the sky and you can’t see the end… just know that it’s going to be okay. Take a leap of faith. Push through the fear. Cast away your worries. And be confident in knowing that just above those clouds and just beyond that storm is a beautiful, crystal clear blue sky that is more gorgeous and wonderful than you can even imagine.

Great stories don’t happen because you get stuck. Great stories move through fear.

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Jawbone #UP24 Band Review (4)

…No, not my literal jawbone as in the one in my head.

A few weeks ago I shared with y’all how I’m sort of on a “get it together, Molly… you gotta get yourself in shape and healthy” -journey. Fitness is not my strong suit. I try… I really do. But it’s just never been a strength of mine. I was given the opportunity to partner with the folks at Jawbone to try out their new #UP24 fitness band and I knew it had come at the right time… because I’ve just been feeling sorry for myself rather than actually DOING ANYTHING about how I look and feel.

Well, I wanted to give you guys an update on what I thought of the band (so far), any particular strides (pun intended) I’ve made on getting more active and being healthier, etc. etc.

And, in case you didn’t read my previous post – in short, the Jawbone #UP24 band is a fitness band that tracks your sleep patterns, steps, and you can even track food / meals, movement (for example, if you run on the treadmill or ride a bike or something like that), etc. Also, side note, EVEN if you don’t have an #UP24 band, you can download the UP app (totally free!) and log your movement, sleep, and food that way, too!

I will say, first off, that I have become SUPER competitive with myself because of this band. I originally set my daily steps goal for 7,000 steps a day (even though 10K is recommended, I wanted to be realistic). However, I kept hitting my goal and so I upped my goal to 8,000 steps a day. I’ve been hitting that pretty consistently and even exceeding it and getting over 10K steps a day a lot of days!Moving UP in my Fitness Journey (1)

And, when I do well one day, I want to do better the next day. I’ve been doing little things like parking further away from the store so I can see how many extra steps I get… I’ve been taking the stairs instead of the elevator to add more steps. Just little things here or there have REALLY added up and given me extra movement throughout the day.

The tough one for me has been sleep. I have NOT been getting good sleep over the last few months and I just don’t function well when I am not well rested. SO, I set my goal for eight FULL hours of sleep. Consistently I was NOT reaching that goal and I knew that I needed to make some changes. So, I’ve been really diligent about shutting down my computer and work and trying to be in bed by 10 or 1030 at the latest each night. This is still really hard, but over the last few weeks, my sleep has been getting better and I’ve been getting almost eight hours a night… I’ve even met and exceeded my goals a few times! And it has made a WORLD of difference!

Now, I wanted to share (and SHOW) how I’ve been SUPER committed to wearing the band every single day and not taking it off (except to shower or bathe). Here’s how I’ve worn the band…

I wore it to the Transform the Night masquerade ball… oh yes, I wore it to a BLACK TIE event. I disguised it with fancy arm bling. :) Can you see it? :) I am so glad I wore it that night, because I danced all night and got over 11,000 steps for the day!!

Transform the Night (3)Jawbone #UP24 Band ReviewI wore it to a friend’s wedding… it may be tough to see in these pictures (also, these are admittedly NOT the most flattering photos of me… but do what ya gotta do)… just see the band on my right arm. (Photo on the right is me doing the train… photo credit to Paige Overturf Photography)
Jawbone #UP24 Band Review (1)

And then, if you’ve been following me on Instagram throughout the month of October, I’ve been sharing daily outfits and you can see the band in each daily look…Jawbone #UP24 Band Review (2)

I wore it to another wedding last weekend, too! Jawbone #UP24 Band Review (3)

So yeah, I haven’t taken it off. And to be 100% honest, I don’t know when or IF I will ever stop using this band now. I LOVE how it has made me accountable for my activity… it’s made me HYPER aware of how little (or how much) I am moving throughout the day, it’s encouraging me to just be healthier and more conscious about my choices.

Also, and I don’t know that I can attribute it 100% to this, but since I started using the band, moving more, eating healthier, etc. I have lost almost 10 pounds! I still have a LONG way to go, but I already am starting to feel better and I really feel a shift happening in my health.

So, yeah, I guess you could say I am a HUGE fan. If you are interested in checking out Jawbone, you can order a #UP24 band here… but don’t forget, the app is free and you don’t need a band to log your movement, food, etc.!

Now, what about you? Are you making any changes in your lifestyle to get healthier? Have you tried a fitness band like Jawbone before? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

*Thank you SO much to Jawbone for partnering with me on this journey. I realize that sounds totally cheesy and cliche, but I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to try this band out and I am now a fan for life! Thank YOU, readers, for supporting the brands that help support this blog and my family… and me!!

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Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (1)

Chambray: JCrew Factory | Loveappella “ODELA TIE-DIE CHEVRON MAXI SKIRT”: Stitch Fix (similar here) | Bag: Stitch Fix (exact here) | Bracelet: Esterlane Boutique c/o  | Shoes: TOMS

Photography by Em Grey Photography

Whoever said you can’t wear maxi skirts in the fall or winter is absolutely crazy. Since when did LONG skirts or dresses become something you ONLY wear in the hot months?! I say that’s hogwash! Poppycock! Bollocks! Hahahah I really need to use those words more. So fun. 

Anyway. If you really want to maximize your wardrobe and get the most out of each piece in your closet, you need to think about ways to wear certain pieces year round… or ways to wear certain pieces more than one way. It’s totally doable! When I first got this skirt in my July fix, I knew I loved it, but I could picture (right away) how many ways I’d wear it. Turns out, I wear it ALL the time. With chambray, a tank, a t-shirt… it’s become one of my favorite skirts in my closet. Whoda thunk!?

Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (2) Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (3) Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (4) Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (5) Red and blue chevron maxi skirt from Stitch Fix, chambray top (6)

I say this all the time, but I never buy an item unless I can think of AT LEAST three ways to wear it. And I mean, three DIFFERENT ways. Unless the item is super specific (like for a wedding or something), it has to be an item that can be worn multiple ways. Otherwise, I don’t buy it. I even follow the same rules for accessories I buy. I think about how they will impact different looks and how versatile they are…

That’s the KEY to maximizing your wardrobe and all the items in your closet!

Do you have any rules for buying clothes? Do you have any rules for maximizing your wardrobe? What about transitioning an item from spring or summer to fall and winter? 

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Switching Up My 'Same-Ol' Way' of Menu Planning with Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (11)

Last week I shared with y’all all about how I’m trying out Cooking Planita meal planning, in-the-kitchen digital cooking assistant app! I’m SO glad that so many of you have been wanting to know more and are even going to check out the app for yourselves…

In the meantime, I wanted to catch y’all up… share my thoughts on the first couple weeks using the app on a regular basis, and all that good stuff. Plus, I have a pretty sweet giveaway at the end… :) 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me share these meals each night as I make them. I will say that I have felt SO adventurous in the kitchen this week. I’ve been making things I never in a million years would have thought to make. I know that seems like a stretch, but it’s true. Like I mentioned last week, I’ve been in a cooking rut where I just seem to make the SAME THINGS over and over and over again.

And, also like I mentioned before, it’s not like I have been in the habit of making meals that are totally and utterly unhealthy… I just haven’t been making meals as fresh as I should be. I don’t use very much fresh produce or fresh meat… I just… to be honest… sometimes don’t know what all I need. So I gravitate toward the more “grab and go” options like frozen shrimp or frozen chicken or pre-packaged salads.

I remember being at the grocery store last week shopping for the meals and John and I both noted how much FRESH PRODUCE and FRESH MEAT was in our cart. Like, it took over most of the cart. And, we also noted that our grocery bill was no more expensive than it normally is. Because we planned out the meals with Cooking Planit and used the grocery list feature in the app, I knew exactly what and how much to get… so I didn’t get any more than I actually needed.

As the week went on, John and I were each looking forward to the next meal on the list! And, it was one of those things where when we finished a meal, we kept talking about how delicious it was and how we didn’t feel guilty like we ate a bunch of crap… we ate real, fresh, wholesome foods. THAT WERE GOOD. Whoda thunk?

I realize that for some of you, this comes naturally. Making fresh, healthy meals is just second nature to you. But for me, this is something that I’ve really been intentional with lately and so far, my experience with Cooking Planit has only made the transition to healthier meals easier.

I will quit rambling for now and share my recap of the week’s meals… plus what’s on the docket for this week!

Al Dente Soup and Salad

This was a VERY, VERY good meal. I loved the soup, the salad was amazing (I left out the radishes… you know, because radishes are gross). We had leftovers of the soup that made a great lunch the following day.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (1)

Tacos and Beans

I altered this recipe a little bit because both John and I hate cabbage… so I just omitted it. I also added some of my favorite homemade salsa to the chicken as it was cooking. Added some more GREAT flavor. I didn’t love the black beans as much as I was hoping to… I will probably alter the recipe a little next time… but I was proud of myself for trying!

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (2)

“Just Add Shrimp” Goat Cheese Alfredo Meal

This was my personal favorite of the week. SO. SO. Good. The shrimp were super easy and fast to make and the seasonings were on point. Lilly also LOVED this dinner!

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (3)

Brisket Dinner

This one was a doozy of a dinner… it is no “just throw it in the oven” kinda meal. It took half the day and was WAY harder than I anticipated. BUT, it ended up being really delicious. I have never made brisket before, nor have I ever even attempted to… so that was new for me. I also have never made my own barbecue sauce, so that also was a first for me. The brisket and the sauce were REALLY delicious. The potato pancakes were WAY HARDER to make than I ever would have thought… it will definitely be better the next time now that I have an idea as to what I’m doing.

Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (4)

Now, my meal plan for this week is a little off because we were traveling this weekend (just got back yesterday) and John has a late meeting at work this week, so I’ve only got two formal dinners planned for this week. Plus, I’ve got one night of leftovers built in… we have GOT to start finishing those leftovers! :)

Also, I have really been enjoying digging into the pantry essentials basket that Colavita sent my way. The extra virgin olive oil has DEFINITELY been my most-used item so far, but I have a few others on deck for this week that I’m really excited to try out!

(Don’t forget you can get 20% off your Colavita order with the code EatFresh20 at checkout! Plus, free shipping on orders over $99!)

Switching Up My 'Same-Ol' Way' of Menu Planning with Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (9)

So, my meal plan for this week, plus the formal Cooking Planit meals I have planned for this week are:

  • TUESDAY: John has a late meeting, so it’s me and Lilly for dinner… haha aka: eating leftovers.
  • WEDNESDAY: Short Ribs, Creamy Polenta, and Arugula Salad (I actually created this “meal” myself using the “meal creator” function in Cooking Planit. LOVE THIS FEATURE!!)
  • THURSDAY: Penne Vodka Pasta and Roasted Broccoli
  • FRIDAY: Leftovers
  • SATURDAY: Dinner with friends

On a separate (but related) note: I am LOVING the how-to videos that Cooking Planit has on their YouTube channel. I always struggle with chopping things like parsley or cilantro… and this video helped me so much. I am not a pro (yet), but I’m getting there!


EFC-Facebook-SharedLink-1200x627 Switching Up My 'Same-Ol' Way' of Menu Planning with Cooking Planit #EatFreshChallenge (10)

Now, I am SO EXCITED because Cooking Planit and Colavita are giving away a pantry essentials basket to one of my readers! That’s a $120 value, y’all! Who wants to win one?! Use the Rafflecopter tool below to enter. The giveaway ends MONDAY, October 20th at 9pm EST. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure to check out the other AWESOME bloggers that are participating in the #EatFreshChallenge!


Sassy Moms In The City

Livy Loves To Run

Bird a la Mode

still being [Molly]

Live Laugh Rowe

The Rebel Chick

Sparkling Footsteps

The Shine Project

Design Eat Repeat

My Fashion Juice

Fashionable Hostess

*This post is in partnership with Cooking Planit. All opinions are 100% my own and I am giving you a raw, honest review of my experiences. Thanks for supporting the companies that help support me and my family!

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STYLE: Nine Ways to Wear a Denim Vest

Last month I had the super fun opportunity to share a guest post on my girl Lauren’s blog (from Fizz and Frosting!)… she just had a BEAUTIFUL baby girl and she asked me to share a post with her readers while she was out.

I decided to share nine of my favorite ways to wear my beloved denim vest from Old Navy! Well, since then, I posted ANOTHER outfit featuring the denim vest, so I thought I’d share the TENTH way and then you can go over to Lauren’s blog to check out the post featuring the other nine ways. I realize this is late, but I wanted to share the post with y’all because it was REALLY fun to write. (And yes, some of the looks are a bit summery, but you can certainly store the ideas away for next spring and summer!)

My denim vest that I got at Old Navy has REALLY been a closet staple. Best $18 I ever spent. I wear it all the time and it’s become one of the most versatile pieces in my closet! I hear from my readers and friends all the time, “Ah I love the denim vest, but I have no idea how I’d wear it.” Oh, girl. Let me tell you. You can dress it up, you can dress it down, you can wear it all around. Haha! Seriously though, it’s a great layering piece! Anyway, I thought I’d share nine different ways I’ve worn my denim vest and hopefully give you some inspiration!

10. With a dress and scarf for fall! (Original post here)

Red and white striped awning dress from Eshakti, denim jean vest, World Market scarfNow, click here to check out the other nine ways to wear the vest AND to give Lauren some love!

Happy Monday!
730x100letitshineWelcome to Let it Shine! Welcome to the new, revamped Funday Monday! After two years, we decided to rename our link up to something we felt was a better fit. Welcome to Let it Shine! Why the name? Because, we want this link up to be just that…..your chance to let it shine! We will be sharing our favorites each week here, and on social media!

a few of our favsbikes

/ Mixing Patterns / Oxblood / Stripes and Bikes /

Another place we will be showcasing our favs? The Let It Shine Pinterest Board!

let it shine hashtag_edited-1 Linking up to Let it Shine? Don’t forget to link back to our blogs or share our button, thanks y’all! still being molly


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REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (1)

I will be the first to admit that hair is not my strength. Clothes and styling an outfit? I got that. Doing my own makeup? Yeah, I can do that. Curling my hair? Eh, I’m okay. Styling my hair? Eh, I’m okay. I can use a curling wand or other tool to do a basic styling of my hair. But, my hair overall? I just struggle with it! (This is not the first time I’ve talked about this. Haha!)

REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (2)

This is my hair after a few days of, a hem, not washing it… haha!

And again, as I’ve mentioned before, my post-partum hair has been less-than-wonderful. It’s felt dry, damaged, and it’s falling out, and coming back in (oh the baby hairs never end! GAH!)… and I have been really disliking my hair over the last year. So, I’ve been on what has felt like a constant quest and mission to find hair care products that work, make my hair feel healthy, and make my hair LOOK healthy.

When there was an opportunity to try the new Dove Pure Care Dry Oil hair line… I JUMPED at the chance. I’d seen it advertised in a few magazines and a few beauty bloggers I read and watch on YouTube had talked about it and said good things… so I thought it might be a good time to try it. I’ve used Dove products before in the past and always been pleased and I LOVE their marketing campaigns, so I thought, “Why not? I gots nothing to lose!”

REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (3)

I basically use it like any other shampoo and conditioner, but then when it comes time to dry my hair, I take a dime sized amount of the oil and spread it in my wet hair from the middle to the base.

REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (4)

Then just blowdry as normal.

REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (5)

And this is after just running a flat iron over it… my hair honestly hasn’t felt this silky in a long time.REVIEW | The Silky Hair Dare with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil (6)

I actually styled my hair for the Transform the Night masquerade ball after using the Dove Pure Care Dry Oil shampoo, conditioner, and oil. To do my hair, I just curled it with my Conair Curl Secret, touched up the curls with a curling wand, brushed them through after they cooled, sprayed it all in place, and then did a deep side part, twisted my hair against my head and pinned it in place. Super easy (seriously, if I can do it, anyone can) and I thought it looked really glam and classic.

Transform the Night (2)Transform the Night (4)

Overall, I am really enjoying the products so far. No, I can’t say that they are “life changing” or “game changing” yet… I’ve only been using them for about two weeks. BUT, I like that they don’t weigh my hair down and make it feel greasy… that’s the WORST. SO far, it makes it feel really silky and smooth!

What about you? Have you tried Dove products before? What about the new Pure Care Dry Oil? Any hairstyles you are loving lately?

Dove Hair is daring women everywhere to try Dove Pure Care Dry Oil, risk-free now through December 31, 2014. *If you are not completely satisfied with the Dove Advanced Hair Series Pure Care Dry Oil system, Dove will refund your purchase (from 9/21 – 12/31). Visit hairmoneyback.com for details.

We dare you to try Dove Pure Care Dry Oil and fall in love with the touch and feel of your hair or your money back*

  • Share your silky results at #silkyhairdare
  • Share your silky results at #silkyhairdaresweeps for a chance to win** $20,000 in prizes up for grabs
  • Visit Dove.com for more information
  • Purchase in Mass, Food and Drug retailers nationwide

**No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The Dove Silky Hair Dare Sweepstakes is sponsored by Conopco, Inc., d/b/a Unilever. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 & older. Begins 12:00 p.m. ET on 9/25/14 and ends 12:00 p.m. ET on 11/20/14. For Official Rules, visit http://www.dove.us/Products/Hair/Advanced-Hair-Series/rules.aspx

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Six Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals | Molly's Money

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

One of the most common email questions I get (and there are a lot of common questions, for sure, but this just happens to be one of the MOST common…) is “I want to be debt free, but I don’t know how to get there… how do I even set that as a goal?” or “I want to save for the future, but how do I get started?” or “How do I even begin to set financial goals when I can’t even pay my bills on time?

Yes, I realize those were three questions, but they all ask basically the same thing: “How do I set ACHIEVABLE financial goals?” And maybe for some of you, this is a strength. You thrive off of goal setting and working towards achieving them… but for others, this may be a real task for you and you need a little encouragement or a few tips – this post is for you!

molly's money: how to create, set, and MAINTAIN a working budgetSix Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

1. Set a goal to… CREATE A BUDGET.

I know, I know, I say this all the time. But seriously. It still shocks me when I find out how many people don’t have a WRITTEN BUDGET. I don’t care if you use an app, or a spreadsheet (like we do), or an abacus (I don’t think that would actually work for a budget), but use SOMETHING. Use what works for you. In order to achieve ANY financial goal, doesn’t matter what it is, you HAVE to have a budget. If you already have one, then GREAT! You can move on to the next thing.

2. Take a moment and physically write down your financial goals.

Whether it’s on a notepad, on the computer, on your phone, in an email… wherever… but think about what your financial goals are and PHYSICALLY write them down. So often we might have a goal running around in our head, but we never take the time to actually write it down. Now is the time to do that. Just write it down. We will get to achieving them and organizing them later. And, if you want, make the list look pretty. Put the list somewhere you can SEE it. Tape it up by your desk or put it as your background on your phone… put it somewhere where you can see it often and be reminded of your goals.

No goal is too large or too small. These can be anything from becoming debt free, to paying off your student loans, to paying off your mortgage and owning your home, or owning / buying a home to begin with, or starting a business, or even just paying your bills on time… It can be ANYTHING!

3. Now that you’ve written down your goals, rank them from most achievable to biggest stretch.

Notice I don’t say “most achievable” to “most unachievable” – because no goal is unachievable – BUT, there certainly will be goals that may be more difficult or take more effort to reach. If “paying your bills on time” is a goal, I would probably put that first because that is MOST achievable. If “paying off your house” is a goal, I’d probably put that lower on the list, because that’s going to take more work.

Make sense?

4. On a separate sheet of paper, create STEPS for each goal.

Now is the time that you sit down and for each goal, write out what would need to happen for that goal to be achieved. For some goals, it might only take one or two things, for others, it may take many things like achieving previous goals in order to achieve later goals. Are we trackin’? 

For example, if you’re goal is to pay your bills on time… to achieve that goal, maybe you need to have a calendar on your desk or refrigerator that shows what days bills are due. Then maybe you set a reminder on your phone for when to pay those bills. Or maybe you even set up automatic draft from your bank account for those bills. Whatever works for you!

If your goal is to pay off your debt, maybe you follow something like the debt snowball plan, or you need to consolidate your debt, etc.

These steps must be “mini goals” within each bigger goal… but these mini goals need to be achievable.

5. Commit. Commit. Commit.

Once you set your goals, you need to COMMIT to them. Don’t necessarily give yourself a timeline (unless, of course, a particular goal is timeline based…)… but DO NOT lose sight of your goals.Molly's Money Series: Dealing with Debt

I HIGHLY suggest finding an accountability partner. Maybe it’s your spouse, a parent, a best friend, a co-worker… tell someone about your goals and enlist their help and encourage you to achieve them! My husband is totally my accountability partner and I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m able to get done without him! He’s the best encourager! So find that person for you!

6. Reward Yourself.

Achieving goals is no fun if there’s no end reward. Even if it’s something as simple as treating yourself to dinner, or maybe going on a vacation, or maybe buying that pair of shoes… set a reward for yourself and CELEBRATE when you achieve certain goals! Those are the things that will motivate you to keep going!

Now, what about you? Do you set goals for yourself ever? Financial goals? How do you work to achieve them?

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