Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How We Wore It: Fall Transition

I bring you today, another How We Wore It collaboration post! I love these posts-I love seeing how different women take one look and adapt it to their body and their own personal style. It's a bit inspiring, a bit liberating, and a lot of fun! Brooke puts these posts together, so head over to her blog and sign up for next month's collaboration--if you're interested. 

This month we looked at this outfit from Life With Emily. This "Fall Transition" outfit really called spoke to me. I love the mixture of the neutrals and the bold vibrant colors. I also love the sass in the heels--because if there is one thing I love, it's heels. 
Outfit inspiration via Life with Emily
I took on this look with my current favorite jeans---I have never owned a pair of skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans. I am still living in my bootcut jeans, happy as ever. I hope some of you will understand. I paired my jeans with a bold, hot pink top. The top is just the right cut for weather that is transitioning from warm to cold.

With the hot pink, I felt that some gold jewelry would compliment it well. I paired one of my favorite gold necklaces and a bracelet my mother-in-law gifted to me a while back. (Which introduced me to a new color combination that I love--pink and navy-I've always liked it on others, but I've never combined the two myself. LOVE!) 

I, of course, added the neutral heels with a peep toe--still welcoming the temps that are a bit higher.

Now to my favorite part of this collaboration--go check out how all these ladies wore it!

Brooke at Silver Lining
Robin at Penn and Quill
Kyla at FordOlogy
Sierra at Sierra's View
Aubrey at Aubrey Zaruba
Jennifer at The Pepper Express
Amy at Harris, Inc.
Ashley at Absolutely Ashley
Berkley at Berkley Anne
Riley at Riley Jo
Tayler at The Morrell Tale
Jacqui at Drink the Day
Ashley at Practically Imperfect
Maren at Mark and Maren
Brooklyn at Brooklyn Jolley
Sarah at My For Real Life
Kallie at Life Through a Lens
Madison at Madison Custer
Amy at Lamb and Ivy
Alicia at Snowstorm
Shelby at R + S Brereton
Alexa at He and I

How would you wear this look? 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why Gentle Parenting

I think it's silly to think that we can prepare to mother our children completely before they are born. Surely we can have some ideas and things in mind, but really--you are the mother of that child for a reason. When you meet that child it becomes abundantly clear what you know in your heart you need to do for him/her. I feel very strongly that the fact that I "changed my mind" on some of the parenting ideas I had before JaiseAnn is part of what makes me a good mom for her. That because of her sweet little spirit and because of her particular needs, I was able to make changes to what I thought was best prior to having her and ultimately chose what was best for her-and all of us. 

I had done a little reading on the attachment parenting or "gentle parenting" approaches prior to having JaiseAnn (Note: I do not like the term "gentle parenting" as it sounds elitest--as though this is a superior/kinder method of parenting. I feel like attachment parenting comes with a stigma on both ends. It sounds like it's the only way to parent and develop a healthy attachment to your child, but some people see the word "attachment" as an unhealthy word and think it means your child will never leave your side. While I feel the way I do about these titles, I use them because they've become universal and for the sake of writing this post they help make sure we're talking about the same thing.) 

I would read about things like nursing on demand that I remember thinking, "I think I would do that if I stayed home." In fact, when I was pregnant I sometimes felt trapped because I wasn't sure I could actually parent the way my heart wanted me to if I was working. But there were some parts of this parenting approach that I was vehemently against--bed sharing or co-sleeping in particular.

 When she was first born, I really took the 4th trimester to heart and held her as much as possible. We practiced skin to skin and we nursed often (due to our nursing struggles there was definitely no place in our lives for a "feeding schedule.")

There is a lot of advice out there that tells you to have someone come watch the baby while you sleep and that wasn't really an effective approach for me. I slept better with JaiseAnn near me than I ever did without her. She slept in a crib for a total of 4 weeks when she was around 6 months old. Those four weeks were exhausting and tiring. She woke at least twice a night, but I woke more than that--feeling the need to check on her and wanting to make sure she was okay. Having my baby away from me wasn't working for me--or for her. And the "for her" part was ultimately what lead us down a particular parenting style that embraced JaiseAnn's needs (and I do believe it is an honest-to-goodness need) to be near her mom and comforted by her mom.

Some of the choices we've made that fall under the gentle parenting tactics came naturally while others were more difficult, time consuming, and ultimately required more of me than I sometimes felt I had to give. As a result, I resisted them for a long time. Now that we're where we are, I'm not sure why. And I often wonder how different my experience would have been if I had embraced it right away instead of fighting it or worrying about how much we didn't look like any other families I'd ever known. Which is why I'm sharing this post--why we  chose gentle parenting and why we're glad that we did.

Spending those first 3 months in a near constant state of bonding relationship with JaiseAnn really helped me to understand how much she needed me. It helped me to understand a few things that I think are a bit hyped up in the parenting world.

JaiseAnn still isn't talking a whole lot yet, but she does communicate more. I have, though, felt like I have been able to understand her and respond to her needs for quite some time. Yes, crying was always an indicator of something, but more than that, parenting this way has allowed me to slow down at times. The hand on my chest when she's napping still speaks volumes to me about her feelings toward me and the comfort I know I'm providing her. She's begun to understand about boundaries and about love all from this way of parenting. I believe that all parenting styles allow for this, but I think at times people think that children that are parented this way don't have boundaries and that's not true in our home. JaiseAnn still gets told, "No" and we work through her fit throwing. She still has to go to bed at bedtime and take a nap at nap time.

Patience and Understanding
 A lot of the baby sleep experts will tell you that sleep begets sleep. While I only have my own experience to go off of, I can tell you that in our home gentleness begets gentleness. This happens in two ways. My time with JaiseAnn at night and during nap times is very renewing and gives me a bit more perspective. It allows me to see how small she actually still is and how much she needs me. It has given me more perspective and patience with her. It also helps her to learn compassion and gentleness herself. She mimicks me daily and I always feel so good when I see her wrapping her baby doll in a blanket, giving a kiss, or being kind to animals. How I treat her influences how she treats others. How I treat her during those daily routine moments, also helps me to parent with more patience and kindness when we're having not-so-routine moments throughout the day. For example, when she cries because she can't get get her way, I still hold my ground and remain strong, but I also offer understanding. I know she can't fully understand and she is not really in control of her emotions, so rather than being frustrated by that, I offer a bit more understanding most days--and I feel some of that comes from our nighttime snuggling and nap time recharging. I also know a lot of moms who often refer to their children as "pestering them" "bugging them" or "driving them crazy." JaiseAnn and I have our moments, but I have a different perspective. If I'm working on something, and JaiseAnn gets a bit whiny, I know I'm not paying enough attention to her and she needs me. I'm home to spend time with her, so when she's needing me, I try to stop what I'm doing and give her that attention. She's not pestering me, she's just communicating her needs to me.

Following Our Guts
This is probably the biggest one of all! Life became so much easier, when I really embraced following JaiseAnn's cues--for everything from sleep to eating and everything in between. It was exhausting to spend so much time during that first year trying to read and wrap my head around processes and things and then worry about how attempting them would work. I was her mom and I already knew how some things would go.  Additionally, I was sick and tired of everyone telling me that she "knew what she was doing," "was running the show," or--my personal favorite--"manipulating me." I do not (absolutely do not) buy into any of that. I really think a baby/toddler wanting his/her mom and communicating that however s/he may choose to do so is something that I need to honor, not ignore. For me, it didn't feel right to ignore her. I didn't feel manipulated--I felt like I understood a situation that she didn't and so I would take it slow with her--meeting her where she was at. When I started to realize just how unique my relationship was with my daughter--I really was able to embrace being her mom. I knew I was hers for a purpose and I have really been able to embrace how I want to handle things. I worry less and less about judgement and I spend more and more time enjoying the parenting style that works for us and allows me to really embrace who I am as a mom. It comes naturally to me to parent this way--which is strange because in some ways I'm surprised--but I'm glad that I didn't keep resisting and didn't go against my initial gut feelings.

I was talking to a friend the other day and I said that I really didn't buy into a "correct parenting style" in fact, I don't like to label myself as a parent at all. I am ultimately in favor of parenting in a way that best honors the child--and gives the child the best of his/her parents--whatever that style may be.

Do you have any misconceptions about attachment/gentle parenting? What are your thoughts on the way you parent and why? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Looking Back

Lately I've been spending a lot of time on campus. I'm getting my graduate degree from the same place I got my undergraduate and lately, it seems like I'm trekking to school, parking where I don't have to pay, and then hauling myself to class or a meeting--all just like the good old days--several times a week. My drives to and from school, as well as my walks have been very reflective over the past few months--but the reflection has evolved.

Basically, as I watched all of the students swarming campus the first week of school, I tried to find the girl like me in the crowd. And each time I thought I might have found her I would think to myself, "If I'd only known then, what I know now." 

And the list of things I wish I'd known is endless--but a few of the main things include:

I'd have had a hell of  a lot more confidence.

I would have made more friends--or at least started a lot more conversations with people. 

I would have flirted more.

I would have challenged my professors more and maybe even raised my hands more.

I would have paid more attention--a lot more attention. (I think every career has a learning curve, but I'm certain my struggles were partly due to my lack of attention to my schoolwork and classes). 

I would have stood in the mirror and named every part of my body and self that I appreciated.

I wouldn't have worried so much--especially about silly boys.

I would have known that everyone was struggling with insecurities and acceptance--that we're all so much more human than I ever knew. 

I would not have taken out student loans--even if it would take me 10 years to finish, I would have waited. It would have been so worth it. 

And while some times this reflecting makes me a bit sad--or maybe makes me feel like I missed out, I know that's not true. Everyone experiences a little hindsight now and then. And I'm grateful, at the very least, that I can look back and see that I've changed, and learned, and grown in the past 10+years. That's a good feeling at least. 

When school first started, I was struggling with a number of things--I won't really bore you with them now, but there were so many things weighing heavily on my mind. So when I'd do this reflecting, I was almost wishing. Wishing I had done things differently. Wishing I'd appreciated my body more. Wishing I had worked on some things when I had the time to really address them. A lot of wishing I could time travel just a bit. 

And then I remembered this talk a good friend of mine shared on her blog somewhat recently: Remember Lot's Wife. I love the message of this talk--encouraging us to move forward with faith and to stop looking back. Stop dwelling on decisions or pleasantries of the past, but continue moving forward to the future. 

"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Jeffrey R. Holland Faith

It speaks so much truth. When we've learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best we have experienced, then we look ahead. What an attitude to adopt! How much brighter does our future look if we constantly bring the beautiful things we've learned and experienced with us, as an attempt to move ahead and gain even more knowledge and experience even more beauty? 

So over the past few weeks, I've been thinking a bit differently when I reflect on the past. I've been thinking about the hard times I had--struggling acceptance, worrying about the future, a broken heart, and more. The beauty of it all, though, is what I actually remember from those times. 

Because the truth is, it doesn't matter how difficult or painful previous seasons of my life have been, I always look back with fondness. Whether it's the beauty of the people and the kindness that was shown, or the things I learned, or even how good the good times felt because of the difficult times I was going through.

So I've tried to adopt a new way of coping with hard times and a new way of reflecting on the things I've learned. When I'm going through a particularly hard time I instead ask myself, "What will I remember most when I look back on this time in my life?"

With some of my more recent worries/bothers, I've been thinking ahead--to when this season is over and I wonder what I'll look back on with happiness  or wonder what I'd wish I'd done more of. 

I see myself wishing I had been kinder to my body--as that's always a reccurrring theme. And so I have been working especially hard lately at doing just that. 

I see myself wishing I had endured with patience the worries of the financial future and just appreciated that I was home with my daughter. And so I've been working really hard on having hope and realizing that this is a season and that I will never regret being home--so I work a bit harder to embrace every day. 

I see myself looking back on our Saturday mornings laying in bed as a family and playing under the covers, breakfast each weekday-just me and my girl, exhausted evenings where Zach and I try to find a little time to connect before heading to bed, and so much more. I know I'll look back and see all that I've learned from this time in my life--especially about faith, patience, motherhood and teamwork in marriage. I will have learned so much and I will surely wish for parts of these days back--especially hearing a little girl babble all day and teaching her and watching her learn. These are sacred days--these days I dedicate myself to my home, marriage, and motherhood. What a privilege and a blessing. I will put all that I can into them so that I can get the most out of them when the season passes me by. I will  live my life in a way that allows me to move forward with faith-taking all that I can from each season with me. 

How do you feel about the past? Do you find yourself reflecting on it? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Girl and Her Dog

I'm "that mom" I never saw it coming, but I am. And I don't apologize. I've been planning JaiseAnn's second birthday for months now--and yes, it's still 4 and a half months away. I love planning parties and hosting parties. I also love my daughter--immensely. As she has grown it's become so fun to see her get excited about things. It's been far too fun to plan some things that I just know will make her so happy. JaiseAnn doesn't have a lot of interests--really. She likes to play with mom and dad, run around outside, read, and she loves her dog--and all dogs really. She has a dog obsession that has only grown and grown. 

Some examples of JaiseAnn's obsession with dogs include, but are not limited to: 
*Hearing a dog barking while playing in our neighborhood park. She gets off the equipment and goes over to the fence to peer over
*Flipping through her dad's National Geographics and finding a picture of a dog. Which she then finds anytime she picks up that magazine-she knows right where to go.
*Recognizing a dog on anything a package, a sign, a book, etc. She actually picked Shiloh right off the shelf in our living room just by looking at the spine and seeing tiniest picture of a dog.
*Shouting "dog" anytime she sees one--whether it's on a walk, while she's going through the parking lot at the grocery store and sees one (or hears one) in someone's car, or even sees the dog food isle at the store.
*Telling you that dogs go, "Bow, wow, wow!" 
*Loving on her own dog from the beginning really. They are friends. She picks up books and cuddles with him on the floor to read to him. She pets him, talks to him, and  plays with him. 
*Calling any animal "dog." She's still working on this one, but we've finally at least mastered "cat." 

As I thought about her upcoming birthday party--I contacted Taylor at The Daily Tay. I knew she had an ETSY shop for t-shirts--specifically this "I Just Want to Hang with My Dog" shirt that she sells and donates 20% of each purchase to a Chicago dog shelter. This shirt was only sold in adult sizes, but she made a special order for this perfect shirt for JaiseAnn. I wanted it for her to wear to her birthday party, but when it showed up, I had to at least give it a trial run and take some pictures outside before her birthday--beautiful pictures with a smiling girl in January are highly unlikely. And plus I really wanted a few pictures to use as part of her party decor! :) 

Taking pictures of toddlers is not easy--but I was so happy we captured a few perfect pictures of her here. She's just so in love with her dog and anytime she's playing with him she is happy. She squeals with delight, though, if she thinks he is playing with her. It makes my heart melt. 

But really, am I crazy to have her birthday planned out already? (I can't wait to share some of the details with you when we get a bit closer!)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Marriage is Tough

I've made no secret about the rough time that our marriage underwent after JaiseAnn was born. Some of it was fighting. I felt at times that Zach and I were at odds--specifically in regards to me feeling like I had enough support--particularly in the sleep department. But our biggest struggle in our marriage wasn't that we weren't getting along, it was just that life was hard. 

marriage is hard

Our budget changed, our circumstances changed, our schedules changed, we had changed. And while I feel strongly that we are better as parents and that we are very compatible parents, it was still just really hard. There was a constant unsurety of what was next for us and how we would continue functioning with me staying home financially. The financial changes were harder for me to accept. I had a harder time with no funds to buy clothes or makeup and I had a harder time looking ahead to the future because the present was just so incredibly hard. Add that to a severe lack of sleep and a different approach to parenting than I saw coming and things at times looked bleak. 

I remember discussing finances with Zach one night and tried to talk about the future. I finally said through tears, "This is so hard. I'm so tired of fighting. I'm mentally and physically exhausted." It wasn't that Zach and I were fighting each other--we were battling life together. And while marriage is strength among many other things, I had just grown tired of what our marriage had become--a battle against life. 

Now that I have this new opportunity and we are night-weaning JaiseAnn, life is a different kind of hard, but there's hope.  Zach and I have fewer conversations about finances and sleep issues and more conversations about things we're doing in our jobs and the things I'm learning in school. And it's been nice to breath a bit. To come out from the struggle.

It's also given me a new perspective on marriage. So many people warn how "tough" marriage is. That usually is talking about how hard it is to be married. But I think I have a new perspective on marriage being tough--I like to think of marriage as resilient. When you put two people together with shared goals and dreams--and add a commitment to each other and family--that marriage can withstand some major things. It's not fun, but boy am I grateful that there is a time and a season to everything. And that the when the season of our marriage playing the tough guy ends, we emerge a bit stronger, with a bit more perspective than before. 

While I heavily support things that help nurture and grow a marriage--date nights, family dinners, working towards common goals, etc.  Romance and quality time have their time and place. But there are also times when marriage is tough...not because it's hard to work through, but because the marriage is doing the work. Marriage is strong and can be so much more than the delicate flower we think it is.

I have learned that if in the-not-so-tough seasons we care for and nuture our marriages, they will be strong enough to withstand those tough seasons--whether the marriage is tough or life is tough or a little bit of both. I am grateful that we had a strong foundation before kids and I am grateful to see the fun side of marriage emerging for us once again--with a bit more perspective and a lot more appreciation for all of it. 

How do you feel about the notion that marriage is 'tough?" How do you nurture your marriage or deal with those periods of difficulty in your marriage? 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Putting Effort Into Your Blog (+Giveaway)

I have been trying off and on to put more effort into my blog. Everything from trying to network and collaborate with other bloggers to improving the content and images on my own blog. I want this blog to be an inspiring and uplifting place, and I want people to feel that when they visit here. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'd really like people to keep coming back. 

As my style in blogging has evolved, my blog was in need of a change--to reflect the way I felt my blog and my work was changing. I have been an admirer of Brielle's from Breezy + Co for quite some time now. I had the chance to work with her as we worked on coming up with a new blog design and I love it. 

blog design reviews

The process was really easy. I chose a package that I felt met my needs and filled out a form that asked for my preferences. You'll want to make sure you have some time and some ideas in mind when you fill out this form because Brielle is thorough-it's part of what makes her a strong designer. I shared some color preferences, font preferences, and included links to other blog designs and headers that I liked. 

Brielle started with small parts of my design. First we tackled the header. She got to work quickly and was in communication throughout the process, always waiting for my feedback before proceeding. I didn't hesitate to tell her things that I liked and the things I didn't really felt matched the vision for my blog.

affordable graphic design

It didn't take long before we had a design for My New Lines that I felt was a perfect fit. The most fun thing about this process was seeing the process unfold and the design come to life. I was so excited when it was all said and done and had to spend a few minutes playing around with the new design. I love the "Pin This" button, the muted colors, and the little bits of character that Brielle added to my blog. Everything seemed to be just the right amount and nothing seemed too overwhelming. 

I loved working with Brielle and can't wait to work with her again. I already have plans to have her design JaiseAnn's birthday invitations and I have some gift ideas that utilize her available prints. 

Whether you're looking for blog design, customized prints, or creative and affordable prints you'll want to check out Breezy + Co. And you're in luck--right now all readers get 15% off orders with the code SHARLEE15. 

And just because Brielle is awesome, she's offering one reader a $30 credit to her shop! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 14, 2015

Do You Give Compliments

I have always been a notoriously good compliment-giver. At least that's what I've always been told. It's something I get compliments on a lot--a bit ironic huh? I think it just comes down to the fact that I am really bad at pretending--if I think something I have to say it. That means if you look good, I'm going to tell you--even if that means I tell you your butt looks good in a pair of jeans and you feel awkward. 

This summer I worked with a bunch of teachers across the country to develop a digital math curriculum aligned to the Common Core--one of the most challenging and exciting projects I've ever taken part in. Before we began creating the curriculum, we had one big meeting of all teachers, coaches, and staff in Washington D.C. 

 I packed light for the trip and included just a lot of maxi skirts (which I didn't feel good in). I was really nervous about working with all of these talented individuals--especially since I'd been out of the classroom for a year. It wasn't so much being out of teaching as it was being out of "the loop" that made me nervous. I felt really intimidated every time I had to meet with a different group and start talking and learning together.

complimenting others

The 2nd day we had a meeting with just coaches--those helping coach the teachers through the creation of lessons. I was really nervous as the training was specifically talking math content by way of statistics--I'm an elementary teacher and statistics are not my forte, not by a long shot. We met in our domain groups--all of us covering fractions from beginning to end. One of the teachers came in and sat across from me. She was stunningly beautiful and I wanted to compliment her, but I felt a bit of jealousy creep in and I kept it to myself. She was nice, though. And she was a middle school math teacher and was extremely intelligent. 

About halfway through the training a friend who I had made there and I started talking. She was telling me that she was having a hard time reigning in her eating with the constant bombardment of food. (True, there was food at every corner). She filled me in on her recent weight loss and told me that she was really trying to keep the weight off for good this time. I had been enjoying my time in this setting--none of these people knew me before I had JaiseAnn so none of them actually knew that I had gained weight--let alone how much. I was enjoying being treated just as I was for once-it was incredibly liberating. I wasn't sure if I wanted to start a weight-loss conversation, but I did. I shared my own current struggle with her and some of my feelings about it. Just then, the pretty teacher across the table said, "I just have to butt in here--I'm really sorry you feel that way, but I just want you to know that I think you are just beautiful. You don't look overweight to me. You just look like a normal, healthy, beautiful person. Don't get too down about that, I would have never known."

I honestly had to hide back tears. JaiseAnn was 16 months old at that time and that was the first compliment I had received (from a stranger or otherwise) since she was born! When I gained weight, people started treating me differently. People would text me to see if they could bring treats or what I'd want for a meal and ask "if that was okay, they didn't want to tempt me." or "Is it on your diet?" (I don't need to be babysat-bring me something and if I don't feel I should eat it, I won't. It is nobody else's job to watch what I eat, I can do that on my own, thank you.) But one thing I significantly noticed was the decrease in compliments. And it was significant. 

Everything changed-the shoes that used to get compliment after compliment were no longer noteworthy once I put on extra weight. A cute new skirt? Nobody even noticed. There were no compliments on what I wore, but there were also no compliments on the things I was doing. I seemed invisible to everyone. I was going through a difficult time, yes, but I had also made some great accomplishments. 

I didn't really notice how much that affected me until I got that compliment from the girl across the table. I thanked her. But after I got home, I made sure to send her a note--really thanking her and explaining how much that compliment meant.

I also told her that her genuine kindness had caused me to reflect on my own kindness. Was I still noticing the good in others? Or had I become so insecure that I couldn't seem to find nice things to say because those nice things were somehow a threat to me and an indicator of my own inadequacy? I decided that I would make an effort to share those things when I notice them. I don't have to challenge myself to notice good things--in people's appearance or personality--I really do pick up on those things rather quickly--and I should take advantage of that. I should share when I notice. I should try to uplift someone and pass along those good feelings.

How do you feel about giving/receiving compliments? Does it make you uncomfortable to give or to receive? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Easy Cookies for Late Night Cravings--No, Really--EEEEASSSY

Have you ever been craving something sweet late at night. You really want something to munch on while you're watching Netflix or engrossed in your latest read? (Story of my life right there). You hit up Pinterest and look over your dessert board for some inspiration. You find The BEST Cookie Recipe Ever. You think that sounds perfect and start reading through the recipe to make sure you have all the ingredients, "Flour? Check. Sugar? Check. Eggs? Check. Room Temperature Butter? Um...I have cold butter in the fridge." 

If you're anything like me you've actually Googled about melted butter which only leads you to a different recipe that allows for melted butter but then calls for some time consuming detail like refrigeration for x amount of time. 

I'm not denying that these cookie recipes aren't amazing. They probably are. But if you want something to snack on now the recipe I have for you today is a GAME.CHANGER. No, I promise. It takes 15 minutes from start to finish (depending on how long it takes your oven to preheat). And that's it. These are delicious and they might just become your new "go-to" recipe for cookies--even not late night snacks. I know they are mine. I am just so excited to share this super easy recipe with you. (An added bonus: It's a really great recipe to get your kids involved in--one bowl, minimal ingredients, easy to make!) 

peanut butter m&m cookies

 I played around on Pinterest and found a common base recipe for almond butter chocolate chip cookies--like this one. They turned out amazing. I played around with the recipe (and plan to do some more--so expect more recipes to come your way;) 

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

You'll Need:
1 Cup Peanut/Almond Butter (You don't need PB with added sugar--Just homemade or all natural peanut butter works, but you can add the sugary stuff if you'd like.)

1 Large Egg

1 TSP Baking Soda

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup (or to desired taste/consistency) M & M Candies

1/2 Cup (or to desired taste/consistency) Oatmeal (This is totally optional. It does mess with the consistency of the dough a bit, so you'd have to play around with it to get it to your liking. We enjoyed the cookies and found them every bit as delicious, but they did tend to fall apart easily with the addition of the oatmeal.)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine PB, sugar, egg, and baking powder until creamy/smooth. Fold in oatmeal and candies. Mix until combined. Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto greased cookie sheet and gently press down on each roll of dough to make sure the dough sticks together and is combined. Bake for 8 minutes and allow time to cool.

Recipe yields a dozen cookies (and maybe a spoonful of dough for you to taste test if you're into that sort of thing-*wink*)

That's it--six ingredients, super easy prep, low baking time, and delicious cookies ready for you to enjoy in minutes--literally. 

Pretty please give these a shot and if do-let me know.

What is your go-to cookie recipe? 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dressing Well on a Budget

Prior to having JaiseAnn, clothes shopping was a mostly fun activity for me. I was comfortable (for the most part) in my body at that time and we had a much more generous budget as a two-income family. After having JaiseAnn, I felt like I lost a bit of my identity in how I dressed. I wasn't working anymore so I didn't need to wear professional clothes. As a person who  actually loves dressing well, this was a harder adjustment than I anticipated.  I wasn't fitting into my jeans or t-shirts (I still don't but we're making small progress). And I couldn't afford to go out and purchase a new wardrobe.

I ended up buying some totally unflattering inexpensive t-shirts on sale somewhere with two pairs of jeans that I wore on repeat until they literally wore out--in a matter of months. After that, I purchased some maxi skirts to get me through the spring/summer--which was silly of me. I didn't feel good in maxi skirts prior to getting pregnant, so I definitely shouldn't expect to feel good in them after having a baby and carrying extra weight around--but I did.

dressing well on a budget

When I started school I really wanted to be able to go to classes dressed well--I wanted to dress professionally. I have a few outfits but needed a few more things to add to my wardrobe. We're still on a pretty tight budget--but have a slight increase in income for now, so I decided to start putting some of these tips and tricks to work and I've been dressing well on a budget!

I mentioned in this post that I purchased that top at a thrift store. I probably go into the thrift store about every month or two and just browse. I don't force stuff to work for me, but if something catches my eye, I definitely give it a shot and try it on. I have found a few great pieces that I love through thrifting. Certain fabrics are more forgiving of wear than others--so if you shop for the right pieces, they might not even look worn. The thrifted top I wore in the post referenced above doesn't show a much fading or wear and tear.

I recently discovered thredUP and I am beyond excited to share this site with you! The site is basically an online thrift store. You take the time and struggle out of shopping--you can filter your searches by gender, size, color, types of clothing, and you can even search for new items only. This site is amazing and I fell in love the second I clicked over. I had a referral link from a friend  for $20 credit. I went to the site and wanted to purchase 3 things for my $20--that was my mission.  I came quite close--I found 2 brand new (with tags) tops and a "like new" skirt for $25.00. After my $20 credit was applied and I paid for shipping I ended up paying $10 for three items of clothing--two with tags still on and one that is "like new." Use this link for a $20 credit of your own. You can purchase as little as you won't so you don't have to pay a cent out of pocket--you've got nothing to loose. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

(Wondering about returns or anything else--check out their awesome return policy and more on their FAQ page).

If you're not sure you believe me--check out the items that arrived in my polka dot package last week--eek!

thred up reviews

The pictures on the left and right feature the tops I purchased--both brand new with the tags still on. The top on the left is Merona and the top on the right is Outback Red. The top on the right is definitely a new favorite closet staple. I am so in love. The skirt I purchased is featured in the middle. It's a Gap skirt and is practically new. There is no fraying or fading and the beads on the bottom are all in place, none are falling off. 

Can you believe I purchased three pieces of clothing during JaiseAnn's naptime-and I only paid $10?!?!

Versatile Pieces
You might notice that the two tops I purchased are sleeveless. I don't wear sleeveless clothing--but I often buy my dresses and tops sleeveless. I do this because I can make different outfits by putting different layers on top--it's a simple and easy way to dress well on a budget. I can add a denim jacket, blazer, or cardigan to the tops and change the way I dress on the bottom and make a number of different outfit with a few closet staples.

I try to always have black, grey, and tan skirts in my closet. (I was in need of the gray and that's why I purchased it--and just purchased a tan (ish) one). Those three pieces often allow for many different variations with different tops and layering techniques. With three skirts, these two tops, and two different top layers (jackets or cardigans) I can make twelve different outfits. Add scarves and different colored tights and I just added a new level to each outfit!

Make the Internet Your Friend

I don't have a lot of time to shop and it's even more difficult when I have to pack JaiseAnn up and take her. Not to mention the fact that using fuel gives me a bit of anxiety-so making unproductive trips to the store isn't my favorite. I like to use the internet to look for coupons and clothing options ahead of time. Since I usually prefer to try on anything going on my bottom half--even dresses to make sure they're long enough--I scout out some things online first (and usually check to see if they're available in store--though they aren't always.)

eShakti is always a great place to shop because I can buy my clothes to custom fit--meaning I know that they'll be long enough and that they'll fit everywhere. (I've shared my love of eShakti here and here).

I like to always check RetailMeNot for coupon codes. I found a great deal on pencil skirts at Rue21 the other day. They were buy one get one half price. I found a coupon code for $10 off a $20 purchase and was able to get two pencil skirts shipped to my door for less than $20.  Coupon codes are definitely your friend!

And of course, don't forget about thredUP--Use this link for a $20 credit and see for yourself!

While I do receive a shop credit for you using your credit, all opinions are 100% mine. Thank you in advance.

Just to put it in perspective:  That means I've purchased two brand new tops, two brand new skirts, and one like new skirt for less than $30. My next goal is to purchase some new cardigans for $20 or less--making a total of twelve outfits for $50--not counting the additional pieces I already have in my closet to mix things up! EEK!

What are your tips for shopping for clothes on a budget? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Things That Make Me Anxious

 Lots of things give me anxiety that are expected things--money worries, health worries, watching scary movies or television shows, etc. But I have several additional little things that tend to give me bouts of anxiety. Sometimes the amount of stress I experience is minimal other times it can be overwhelming.

Parking Lots

I am one of those people who prefers to park far away and walk. The extra walking never hurt anyone and I don't have to slowly and carefully comb through rows and rows of cars--some backing out, some speeding in to beat you for the space, and then the people. Zach likes to comb through the mess for a better parking spot and I am not a nice wife during that time.

Women With Lots of Children
This actually means anywhere from 3 on--but some days even women with 2 kids give me anxiety. It's a real problem I struggle with. I see these moms out and about and I think, "You are so awesome! I once wanted x number of kids, too! I don't anymore." But somehow these women feel like a threat to me. I really don't know how to explain it other than if they've done the pregnancy, childbirth, recovery, nursing, not sleeping thing on repeat for a decade then I should, too. But I don't want to. It's hard for me to admit that, especially because I feel like in admitting that it sounds like I don't like being a mom. I do. I love it so so much. I just think that I am most likely going to be a mom of one or two little ones and some days I'm still making peace with that--or hoping to make peace with that (basically pleading with God that He doesn't have other plans). So if you're at Target with four kids and one on the way and I'm staring--I'm not being rude intentionally-I promise. I just am trying to wrap my head around how you do it.

People Talking About Doing Yard Work/Home Improvement Things
This could actually be summed up into someone doing something I wish I was/could do but I can't. Whether I can't due to lack of talent, money, or a combination--I usually start to feel anxious as my own "to-do" lists or wishlists start piling heavily on my brain--you've started but I haven't even come close to and maybe never will.

Reading Stories About Triumph or Overcoming Trials
I know the purpose of these types of stories is to inspire. I follow a handful of blogs where people write about huge trials that I never wish to experience in my life. While I am amazed and inspired by them, I also get a sort of anxiety as it introduces me to a world that I would never want to be a part of. I know there's no reason I would be excused from this so it does cause me to worry from time to time. 

When Someone Asks Me What My Favorite ____ Is
I have too many things I love to determine my favorite anything--unless you ask me who my favorite people are. Zach and JaiseAnn--that one is easy. Other than that, though, I cannot narrow down to ONE favorite movie, book, song, restaurant, food, memory, etc. I just can't. I can try but then I worry that the one I choose says a lot about me and only shows one side of me. For example one of my favorite movies is Moulin Rouge and another favorite movie is A Few Good Men--those show two very different sides to me--so I have to make sure to include all things.

Using Fuel
I have a thing about this-my anxiety is two-fold. One I know that fuel does not do the best things for the environment and I do feel a sense of guilt based anxiety when I know that I'm being irresonsible with my fuel usage. I also know that fuel costs money and I really have a hard time when I make two trips to the same location or nearby locations in one week. I really try to avoid taking too many trips to the same place. One reason we really want to move is to go down to one car. Moving to a one car family would save us a lot of money in many ways, but fuel would be one of them. It would also help us to get more creative with where and when we drive, how often, and help us find other modes of transportation--like using the bus sometimes. Ideally I'd love to move somewhere where we could do more walking/biking. 

What are some things that give you anxiety? 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Introductions

With my brand spanking new blog design (seriously have you seen it? Brielle at Breezy and Co did a fantastic job--and she was so easy to work with, but more on that later) and some new blogger relationships I've developed, I decided it would be a great time to do a better job introducing myself. When I started this blog I was a new mom and just started sharing some of my most heartfelt thoughts on motherhood. I didn't really give time to really share "Sharlee" and it's been taking me some time to do so.

When Tayler at The Morrel Tale nominated me to answer some questions and share a bit about myself and blogging, I decided that might be a great way to help any readers out there get to know me better. 

1) What is one thing you wish you could change about your blog?
Well the fact that a reader just told me that my blog wasn't showing up on my Bloglovin' profile--all this time I've been blogging and my posts don't come up on people's feeds. How did I miss the step of claiming my blog? I'm embarrassed about it, but so grateful Ashley clued me in. I'm amazed that I've gotten as many people here as I have. Thanks for following along guys! 

2) Where would you love to travel to and why?
I have a weird relationship with travelling. I really don't go around proclaiming my love for travelling and wanderlust because sometimes I think it can come across as not being satisfied where you are. I try to really find my happiness in the place I spend the most time-home. That being said, I do like traveling--once I get to my destination. I am a horrible (no really, horrible) road tripper and I don't love flying--I get bored since reading and watching screens make me sick. I now travel with a toddler so that's that. Once I get somewhere though I love it--mostly I love eating in a new place, but I love the experience as well. My biggest dream destination is to stay in a beautiful B&B in Vermont in the Fall. I saw an episode of Mad About You where they did that once and I've never forgotten it. It's #1 on my list. I also would love to go on a tropical cruise, explore much of the South (someday when our kids are older we'd love to take them on a month-long tour of the South--it's a goal of ours), and my husband wants to go anywhere abroad-but he's particularly fond of Germany or New Zealand. 

3) What is your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?
One thing we should probably get straight before we move forward is that I have a really hard time choosing favorite things. It gives me anxiety. I have too many favorite contenders to choose from. I generally watch shows with my husband but I've loved Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva (until two seasons ago), and The Secret Life of the American Teenager were some of my favorite-girl time shows. (And Frasier and Friends are definitely top favorites that are more "my shows" but Zach enjoys them as well. 

My husband and I have loved: Burn Notice (definitely a TOP contender), Lie to Me, LOST (another top contender), Castle, Revenge, and White Collar (another top contender). We started/loved/obsessed/stopped watching because of vulgarity or too much bad language/violence/sex/all of the above: Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Damages. 

4) What is your favorite topic to write about?
Motherhood totally caught me by surprise and is what spurred me to start blogging again--I love sharing my experiences. 

5) How has blogging changed you?
Blogging has made me more aware of myself--it's made me more aware of the person I want to be and made me think really hard about the sides of myself I present to the open public. Writing for a public audience has caused me to really consider my language and the way I speak about things--and I think it's had a major (and positive) impact on the way that I think. 

6) Where do you claim your hometown and why?
Boise, Idaho. I spent most of my childhood in Boise and it's also where I went to college. I've always lived near Boise (up to 30 miles out) I love it and pretty much all surrounding areas. 

7) If you could meet someone from history, who would it be?
I used to always say Martin Luther King Jr. because he is one of my heroes and I'd love to meet him and shake his hand some day. But lately I've been thinking a lot about Christ's disciples and I would like to meet Peter--first I'd just like to meet him. I would want to get a feel for him and see what kind of traits we had in common. After that, though, I'd like to ask him about his experiences--including but not limited to his denial of Christ. Everyone thinks it would never happen to them, but I want to know more about his experience. 

8) Who is your blogging idol and why?
I have many bloggers that I look up to and this question is super hard for me, but I will go with Jana from Bouvardian. I am so incredibly inspired by her. Reading her blog and watching it evolve is nothing short of inspiring. Her posts and pictures make me want to find passions of my own and put my all into exploring them. Additionally she's made me want to explore some of her passions for myself--even ones that I didn't think I had any interest in. Her blog is gorgeous, she's pursuing a passion/dream of hers, and has never been anything but kind and classy toward me in any of our interactions. 

9) What or who is someone who has inspired you throughout your life?
My mom. My mom loves with her whole heart and she's maybe one of the only reasons I ever thought I might try having kids of my own. She loves being a mom and thank goodness for that because so many people don't seem to. I think a great deal of issues in our world come from children being treated as interruptions or problems--but I never was by my mom. She is a constant in my life and I always want to share everything with her-still to this day.  

10) Why do you blog?
I blog because I want to be one more voice to share the beauty of marriage and family. I want to share my joy and inspire others as well. The Mission of My New Lines tells a bit more about my blog and why I decided to start blogging. 

And if anyone wants to participate--I'd love to know the following about you--whether in the comments or in a blog post of your own.

These are my questions for you:
1. What parts of your life bring you the most satisfaction right now? 
2. What form of exercise do you enjoy? 
3. Name a book you'd recommend for each of the following situations: a friend going through a tough time, a vacation, and a book to inspire someone. 
4.What is a "go-to" recipe of yours? Savory or sweet--or both! 
5. What would a perfect date entail for you? 
6. Tell a bit about your faith. 
7. What is your pet status? 
8. Tell about one of your favorite and most memorable meals. 
9.You're road tripping--what are your necessities? 
10. Why do you blog? 

*If you do your own blog post, here are the rules:

1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer a few questions about yourself.
3. Nominate 5-10 bloggers that you love.
4. Include questions to be answered for the bloggers you nominate.
5. Include the award logo within your blog post.

Come on, let's get to know each other a bit better! And if you're new here-check back next week--I've got some exciting posts in the works...look forward to the easiest cookie recipe ever (that can be dairy/gluten free, too!) and my tips for dressing well on a budget-can't wait to share! 
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