Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What’s Up Wednesday: August 2015

Today I’m linking up with The Larson Lingo, Pinterest Told Me To, and Mix & Match Mama to answer the questions  below.

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August!  This month has been one of the most exhausting and challenging months this year.  First of all, it’s a busy month for my shop because of the start of school (teacher signs sell like crazy), which is a good problem to have, but nonetheless, exhausting.  Secondly, Ryan’s surgery/recovery has been WAY more than we expected.  Not only has it been painful for him, but I lost my helper and gained a new person to take care of.  I just want him to get back to normal…he is not the type of person that does well sitting on the couch all day.  Poor guy is having to teach all day now (he just started back this week), so we try to make it as peaceful and relaxing as we can when he gets back home.  And also, we’re having to drop him off at 7:15 in the morning (since he can’t drive), which means picking up two sleeping kiddos in the morning and plopping them in the car.  They usually get up between 8:00-9:00 so this is EARLY…for me too!  I do like seeing him before he goes to work though :) and the kids do too.  Lastly, I’ve hit a point of NO MORE CLUTTER, so I’m trying to get rid of everything I own…not really, but close.  That is exhausting all on its own (getting spouse on board is the hard part).  Needless to say, my goals for August should have been…Eat and Sleep!  Oh well, on to more exciting things going on…

WHAT WE’RE EATING THIS WEEK:
We ate pizzas on a loaf this week, spaghetti and meatballs (the sauce was so good…I’ll have to share it), meatball sandwiches, chicken nachos, and I plan to make tacos tonight, as well as tilapia, Swedish meatballs, and chicken parmesan this week. 
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WHAT I’M REMENISCING ABOUT:
I reminisced about high school after writing this post.  I’m also reminiscing about Beckham’s first day in the 2 year old room at preschool last year.  He starts again in a couple of weeks in the 3 year old class.  Maddox is going to start as well!  I felt really bad about putting him in, but after this summer, I feel really good about having him go there a couple of days a week.  It’s only a few hours on those days, but he’ll have more fun there than with me, and I’ll actually get to do some work again!  Yay!
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WHAT I’M LOVING:
I’m loving the fact that Maddox and Beckham are starting to play together!  I’ve been waiting for this moment since Maddox was born.  He just adores Beckham.  I also love that Beckham is one of the funniest 3 year olds I know.  Seriously, the kid is funny!  He’s the “shy at first” type, but after he warms up, he’s the goofy kid.  And I’m also loving the cooler weather.  It’s still in the 90’s, but I feel like we can go outside at least…the mornings actually feel good in the 70’s and 80’s and I’ve been able to read a few pages on our patio while they play!!!  We’ve had a pretty mild summer overall, and I’m super thankful for that!
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WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:
Taking care of people!  Some days I feel like I’m on repeat, but mom’s gotta do what mom’s gotta do!  Some days I can’t believe I don’t get paid and still choose to do it.  Haha…that sounds harsh, but I mean it with all the love!  I honestly wouldn’t trade it.  I told Ryan if I were to ever go back to teaching, I would only accept a job if the monthly salary was $10,000.00 a month and I’d still have a hard time deciding.  So if you hear of any teaching jobs that are cranking out $120,000 a year, let me know.  #agirlcandream 
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WHAT I’M DREADING:
I’m only really dreading getting Ryan to get rid of a lot of his stuff.  He could get rid of half of his clothes and shoes and still have too much.  I don’t want to nag him, so I’m hoping me getting rid of stuff will motivate him.  I was guilty as well.  Though, I just filled FOUR 13 gallon trash bags with clothes, plus dresses!  I got rid of 19 dresses.  Why did I even have that many?  I don’t even wear that many in one year.  Next up, shoes.  When the kids go to “school” I’ll tackle the garage.  I’ll gladly take help! I’ll pay in food!

These are the dresses and tops/bottoms (from closet only) that I’m donating to someone.  I also got rid of 2 bags of t-shirts and loungewear.
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And an ugly before shot of our closet (I had already cleared some of my clothes).  My goal is to keep all my tops and dresses on that one hanging pole on the right.  I’m going to put my scarves in a draw (rolled up) I think.  Any suggestions on storing scarves in a drawer?
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WHAT I’M WORKING ON:
I’m working on organizing my life.  Simplifying it.  Also working on some new signs for teachers and the Fall.  And I’m about to purchase my blog transfer (so nervous), but need to finalize a name change.  I’d like to change the name of this blog during the transfer to Wordpress.  I know I know…a name change!  This is so hard…it’s like changing the name of one of my babies.  I have a few ideas, but I’m the most indecisive person ever, so my goal is to decide and purchase the transfer by the end of this month.  I may share some options with y’all and see what you think.
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WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:
I’m excited about a schedule.  I’m excited for the boys to start pre-school.  Well, I’m kind of sad for Maddox to start.  He’s still a little mama’s boy and would be with me all day if he could.  Beckham, on the other hand, thrives with other little kids!  I’m also excited to start a new year with a new group of MOPS ladies.  I didn’t do MOPS last year, but have rejoined one of my best friend’s groups (she’s the leader) and I’m pumped to meet and fellowship with moms in the same season of life. 

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:
I am reading three books right now...because I have so much time right?  I read them before I go to bed.  I choose whichever I’m in the mood to read.  I just finished The Magic Art of Tidying Up and really loved it.  I’m also reading Stand and Deliver and Smart Money Smart Kids.
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I’m also watching Bachelor in Paradise.  I’m a Bachelor addict (head hanging in shame) and this spin off is dramatic as usual!

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:
Country music!  I always feel like listening to country music in the summer.  I need to start playing kid’s music in the car.  Beckham might have heard one too many “Watch me whip, watch me nay nay

WHAT I’M WEARING:
I’m wearing a lot of workout gear lately, which isn’t that cute.  But my purple nail polish is also something I’m wearing and I’m obsessed.  It’s Sinful Colors “Let’s Talk”
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WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:
We don’t have one thing marked on our calendar this weekend.  Which makes me wonder what I’m missing.  I would love to do something as a family on Saturday and then go to church on Sunday and hang low.  De-clutter is on my to-do list.  We might go to my parents’ house to get one more swim in.


WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:
Pre-School.  A clean organized house.  A new blog design (hopefully).  More time to work…and sleep!  Working out more.  Ryan walking again.  He should get his cast off this Friday and then start re-hab.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:
My new coffee mug!  I designed it a couple of weeks ago to see how designing on mugs would be.  I’m also waiting on new running shoes, a cute mason jar (for smoothies and iced coffee), and an adorable water bottle to come in the mail!
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Something else that’s new…I signed up for Amazon Prime.  I had a little buyer’s remorse and am not sure it was worth the investment.  I’ll definitely be looking to order everything off Amazon and hopefully it will come in handy during Christmas, but do you guys have any tips/suggestions on how I can maximize my membership? 


Hope you had fun catching up!  Happy Hump Day.
I love connecting with y’all.  My Facebook, Instagram(@snyderstellall) and Pinterest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who I Was In High School: Show and Tell Tuesday

I’m linking up today with Andrea and sharing what we were like in high school.  I went to a small Christian school in Carrollton, Texas from Pre-K to 12th grade.  My memories of high school are good ones and some of my good friends today are from that school.  We had our 10 year reunion a couple of years ago and catching up with them was so easy.  Those people know me so well!  I graduated with a class of 35 students.  It was small, but I loved it!
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I’ll start at the beginning of high school.  I missed my very first week of 9th grade because I was training with the U.S. Central Region team.  In high school I missed some things because I was traveling with my club team or my ODP (Olympic development program) team.  Soccer was a huge part of who I was in high school.  As a matter of fact, I never had Thanksgiving with my family in high school, because I traveled with our Region team to Florida that entire week every Thanksgiving break.  It was a bummer, but it was also cool to be there!

That’s me on my club team, Dallas Sting.
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In addition to club and ODP soccer, I did some other sports in school as well.  I ran track, cross country, and played on the soccer team (we didn’t get a team until my sophomore year).  I loved sports!  Here I am my senior year…
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Here are some other pictures of my memories of athletics in high school…

Cross Country – We won state 3 of the 4 years I ran.  I used to run 2 miles under 14 minutes…what the heck, why can’t I run like that anymore.
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This was after running the 200 meters, my favorite race!  I also ran the 100m and relays.
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Soccer - This was my Junior year after winning State.  I’m standing in the back towards the middle/left.
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Academically, I had to work really hard for my grades.  I made A’s and B’s.  I loved homework, but hated studying for tests.  Math was my favorite subject!  I really enjoyed school!  I was President of National Honor Society my senior year.  I’m 2nd row from the bottom, 3rd from left.
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Since I went to a Christian school, we wore uniforms and had Chapel every Thursday.  We had to wear a skirt with our white collared shirts on Thursdays…the things you remember :)  Fridays were Spirit days where we could wear our CCA t-shirts and jeans.  I didn’t realize how much wearing a uniform was a blessing.  I never had to think about outfits for school.  Below is a picture of me and some of my friends after Chapel one day.
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Here are my yearbook pictures from 9th-12th grade.  Brace yourselves…Yikes!

9th Grade – Bahaha!  I’m laughing so hard right now.  I had braces from 8th-10th grade.
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10th Grade – still sporting the braces (I got them off this year).  And my mom let me have high lights my sophomore year.
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11th Grade – See that writing below my picture?  I wrote “What was I thinking?”  I guess I didn’t like my picture that year.  But seriously, my hair??? The layers.  The middle part.
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12th Grade – This was my “Senior Page” in the year book.  Each senior’s parents were able to create a page for the child and write a letter or have some sort of saying. 
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My senior year was by far my favorite year of high school!  We were the first graduating class in the new CCA building.  I grew a lot closer to God that year and I felt like my friendships grew so much.  This was also the year I met Ryan.  Y’all, Ryan was such a clear gift from God that year!  We met in a non-ideal situation (he was helping coach the baseball team during his off season in the minor leagues and I was going to school there…it’s a really long story…he also went to CCA prior to me).  Obviously we couldn’t date or even talk about dating, but I knew God introduced us for a reason.  Sure enough, 4 years later, we were married!  There hasn’t been a more clearer situation of God intervening in my life.
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I was voted Prom Queen my senior year with my good buddy Matt.
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I signed my letter of intent to play at SMU in college!  College signing day.  These girls are also signing a letter to play in college.  I was offered a full athletic scholarship to play at SMU.  I'm so thankful for athletics and ultimately, all my hard work and my parents' investments throughout the years paid off.
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My older sister had a baby when she was a teenager (I was in 8th grade), so this little thang right here was a huge part of my life!  Ashton, my niece, was like a little sister.  I learned a great deal of mothering during this time in high school!  I’m thankful for that, although it was a difficult situation for my family.
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I was voted Class Favorite my senior year!  I thought that was so sweet.  There were a lot of great people in our grade!
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Some more fun from my senior year…

One of my good friends Aaron!
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My little brother and me at Graduation ceremony.
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My parents and I at Graduation!  These two are the best!
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Two of my good friends in Mexico together!  Yes, we got braids…a million braids.  And we thought we were cool with them.  We all wore them to school the next week!
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My best friend Brittany!  We met in 10th grade and are still best friends to this day!  She just moved to Utah to start a church!
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My other best friend in high school, Lauren!  Brittany, Lauren, and I called ourselves “The Crew.”  I have no idea why, but I guess that was our click name!  #embarrassed
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These guys!  I love them all!  I went to school with Patrick (one on the right) since Kindergarten!
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Great friends at Post Prom!
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Homecoming!
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Speaking of Homecoming, apparently mums (what I’m wearing below) are only a Texas thing?  During Homecoming, each girl would buy a huge flower and decorate it with ribbons and all sorts of things that represent them!  They are usually really big your senior year.  Mine was so heavy, I wrote it around my neck like a necklace!  I thought everyone did this until just a few years ago when people were clueless about this tradition.  Does anyone else do mums?
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So that’s me in a nutshell in high school!  I have such fond memories of school and I pray school is just as good, even better, for my boys!  I’m so thankful my parents sacrificed and put us through 12 years of Christian school!  I would not be where I am today without it! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

How We Save Money on Meat

Y’all, I can’t believe I haven’t shared this tip with you!  Actually it’s a disservice that I haven’t done so.  I’m so sorry I’ve been holding out.  I might have mentioned it, but never posted about it.  If you look at people’s grocery bills, the higher priced items tend to be meat (if their a meat eating family).  Meat is expensive, and even more expensive for quality meat.  As I’ve learned more about meat, I no longer just grab whatever chicken, beef, pork, or whatnot that is sitting on the shelf.  I’m definitely more picky about my meat. 

One day a friend of mine mentioned where she gets her meat from.  From the farm (not the grocery store).  And for a GREAT deal.  Excited, I talked to my husband and we ordered our first case of boneless chicken breasts.  And you know us…we did a lot of research.  :)   Where from? 

Zaycon Fresh
We eat a lot of chicken so we decided to order a case, even though the case was A LOT of chicken.  I’m talking AAAAAA  LOOOOOOTTTTT!  The chicken comes in a case of 40 pounds for $1.89/lb.  That comes out to $75.60.  Our first case (when we only had a baby) lasted us about 9 months (I can’t remember exactly).  $1.89 is a great price for chicken and here is what they say about their chicken:
  • Comes directly from the farm
  • Sold by the case — 40 lbs in each case
  • Case dimensions—18 in wide x 12 in deep x 7 in tall
  • No hormones added. Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones
  • 100% natural chicken, minimally processed, with no additives or artificial ingredients

This is the box is comes in and how they place it in your car…
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The chicken tastes great and is pretty large per breast so I’m able to use two, sometimes only one chicken breast per meal.  When I pick up the chicken, I place it in the fridge (you need a whole shelf to store the box) until I’m ready to trim and package it (I do this the same day as pick up).  This is the worst part, but once it’s done, you simply pull out however many breasts you need for cooking.

How I prepare and package it (and store it):
PREPARE: I take out the chicken breasts one by one and trim the fat off (I CANNOT stand any fat on my chicken) with scissors.  I clean off anything that I need to.  I rinse them as I’m doing this and lay them on a large towel or paper towel until I’ve done all the breasts.  Brace yourself.  It’s a chore.  But trust me, it’s worth it.

PACKAGE:  Next, I dry off the chicken breasts with a paper towel (yes, I use a lot of paper towels in this process).  Then I place them in a sandwich (or quart) Ziploc baggie, push all the air out, and ziploc it.  There are usually around 40 breasts.

STORE: I place all the individually packaged chicken breasts in a big box (or plastic container) and place them in our deep freezer.  Now, before we got a deep freezer, we DID store them in our regular freezer and they all (minus a few) fit on the top shelf in a plastic container.  So if you don’t have a deep freezer (or extra freezer), they will fit in your kitchen freezer…you just have to make sure all the rest of your food can fit on the other shelves :)  

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The whole process from start to finish takes about 1-1.5 hours so I usually do this after the kids have gone to bed.  I’m very thorough in the cleaning and drying process too. 

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This was when we stored it in our kitchen freezer.

It’s so nice when I need to pull out some chicken for a meal.  I just grab one or two breasts and let them thaw.  Since they’re pretty thick (most of them), I pound them out for grilling (or slice them in half down the middle to make two breasts from one), so they’ll cook evenly.


I forgot to mention, it is delivered through what they call “events.”  There is a location spot in your area that you go to to pick up the meat from their truck.  It comes in water resistant bags, in a cardboard box.  You don’t even get our of your car.  You pull up, tell them your name, they place the box (or boxes) where you tell them, and they even put a plastic piece underneath the box just in case.  And you drive off (since you’ve prepaid).  Easier than the grocery store. :)

Pulling up to the truck to pick it up…you just wait in line if there is one.
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This was the guy placing my meat in my trunk as the boys and I just “drove thru.”
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We have been ordering chicken for a couple of years now and a couple of months ago, we decided to order their ground beef too.  I just picked it up last week (depending on when you order, it can take up to a couple of months before the event).  It’s 93/7 lean ground beef$3.99/lb and it comes in a case of 40lbs.  That’s $159.60 total.  Here is what they say about their beef:
  • Comes fresh, never frozen!
  • The beef cattle have a grass diet which is supplemented by grain after they reach approximately 700 pounds.
  • 100% grown in the USA.
  • There are no chemicals, additives or water added to meat during processing.
  • Processed at a USDA-inspected, state-of-the-art plant employing strict operating protocols (including HACCP) and the highest in food-safety standards.
  • Prior to processing, inspectors from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service randomly sample cattle under a monitoring plan and perform testing for antibiotic residues.
  • USDA nutrition labeling standards defines "extra lean" and "lean" ground beef based on the lean/fat ratio. While not part of these guidelines, the term "super lean" is often used in the grocery sector to describe ground beef at the upper end of the "lean" category (i.e., "Fresh 93/7 Super Lean Ground Beef"). Our ground beef product is 93% lean and 7% fat.
  • Comes in a 40-lb case with four 10-lb chubs per case (approximate weight--see note below)
  • LFTB free!

Let me tell you that you will rarely, IF EVER, find a better price for that quality of meat.  We have found 93/7 ground beef for $2.99/lb ONCE before, but every other time it’s been $3.99 or more, BUT that meat is not as great of quality as Zaycon’s.  The beef comes in 4 10lb rolls.  I divided the beef into 1 pound measurements and stored it in sandwich/quart Ziploc baggies (quart size is best for both ground beef and chicken).  This make for fast, easy thawing too since it’s flat. 

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40 pounds of beef in 1 pound packages!  Took me about 1.5 hours from start to finish.

I plan to order more meats in the future as well.  They also have several different kinds of meat (chicken, beef, pork, fish, and turkey…and different types within each).  If you want to cut the cost so you’re not paying so much in one month, you can always split it with someone.  For example, you could purchase 40 pounds of beef for $159.60 and give half to a friend (and they pay you $79.80)…you just have to figure out how to hand off half of the meat to them (Zaycon doesn’t split it for you, but it’s a good way to cut down on cost if you don’t want to pay so much up front).

I could explain more, but their site does a better job answering questions of how it works and what products they provide.  Click HERE to visit their site and click around and check them out.  You have to check and make sure they are in your area.  I hope it’s in your area.  I know there are probably other Farm to Consumer organizations out there in other areas if Zaycon doesn’t come to yours.  If you know of any, can you comment below?   

And just FYI, I wrote this post out of excitement, not compensation!!!  They do have a referral program that credits you $5.00 for any referral’s first order and $1.00 for every order after that (I do get that compensation if you order from my link or mention my name…just being honest), but that’s not why I wrote this.  I’m not sure if it’s $1.00 on that same referral’s future order or a new referral.  It’s not the best referral program when you’re spending so much money, but every little bit helps right?  And at least they have one.

I can’t say enough good things about this company.  I’m not sure what parts of the country they sell to, but you can look that up on their site.  I hope this might have helped some of you save some money on meat.   Here are a couple of pictures of the meat in action :)

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