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Friday favorites

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Friday Favorites {8.4.17}

Friday, Friday, Friday! I hope you’re having a great week. If you’re new here, take a look around and be sure to follow me on Facebook or Instagram or both for all the things Better with Beale.

This week and last week I have been stuck in work training and I’m so ready to move around and get back to my regular schedule because I’ve been SITTING and EATING and SITTING and EATING on repeat! We’re in the back to school boat. My son enters his 2nd year of preschool the end of this month. Finally, we’re trying to squeeze out the last few weeks of summer. It’s been hotter than hot (think 100’s), but we know the cold is coming soon so we’re trying to do all the summer season things (pool, water yard play, sprinklers, etc.).

I’m sure glad you’re here. Below are the highly anticipated favorites!

Bacon| This was the snack provided at my work training. Need I say more? A fantastic example of how Memphis does summer. It’s watermelon on a stick coupled with candied bacon. Let me repeat that: CANDIED BACON!!!! So now you know why I need exercise in my life- eek! (PS: I’m not sad about it. Just sayin!)

 


Sibling Love| These two! She can’t give out enough hugs and my son is like, really? He’s such a good sport though. She kissed and hugged him the entire walk! (PS: We do all our walks in matching jammies!)


Kicks| These red kicks match more outfits than I ever imagined. I want some for myself. They’re kids converse and I got them at a buy-one-get-one store, but I also found them online. I just love pairing a dress with tennis shoes for school. This kid’s face- she’s too much!


This book| I mentioned I started reading this book. It’s so good and a great light read so far. I haven’t finished it, but so far I recommend it.


Fail Fast| I posted all about my speeding ticket this week- yikes. That’s NOT my favorite, but I shared my perspective and that is to fail fast and how I’ve learned not to dwell on mistakes. It’s one of my favorite growing pains.

 


Praying for Others| Our women’s group at church closed one night with this exercise: trade prayers.

List a prayer you need for yourself on a sheet, throw it in the pile, and take a prayer home. I can’t post the group shot of all these beautiful women, but gathering around the prayers was so powerful that I took a quick shot of our prayers scattered all over the floor. It reminded me that everyone has something going on in their life. Every single person. We all need encouragement and grace from others.

 


That wraps up Friday Favorites for the week. I hope you are enjoying the rest of summer- have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Food & Wine, Health

Friday Favorites {7.28.17}

Hello Friday- it’s been a while… well I guess it’s been 7 days… anyway, it’s great to see you! We sure are ready for the weekend. We have a fun play date planned this weekend and otherwise, we’ll be trying to plan for relatively no plans! This will actually be our goal until school starts at the end of the month. Also, we watched Pete’s Dragon last night and it was a huge hit so I’m sure we will have that movie on repeat that about 2.5 million times over the weekend. And I’m sure I will be balling my ever-living eyes out (an orphan loses his family, is raised by a dragon and then who is basically adopted- ugh- insert ugly cry here- why do you do it Disney- WHY???).

I thought I’d share some of my favorite products (not endorsed) this Friday. Some of these were recommended to me and others I’ve recently stumbled upon. I guess you could consider most of these summer favorites! But first, this… do you follow letterfolk on instagram? I just love this one…

Anyhow, on to the favorites.

Ice Cream. You Scream| We usually spend many evenings enjoying a summer treat on our front porch. My husband found these: they’re mini drum sticks. Less calories and sugar but just a little bit of heaven so we don’t feel as guilty indulging more often.


Bugs and Burns Be Gone!| Summer seems to bring all the bugs to Memphis. My husband also found this awesome, highly rated bug lotion. The sunscreen was recommended by one of my sister’s friends who is a dermatologist- it gives great coverage and even though it says “kids” my husband and use it too.


Drink Your Garden| My friend used to work for this company and I actually got a free sample of their chocolate protein powder the other day. I mixed it with a bit of almond milk and a few blended berries for lunch and it tasted great! Buy it straight from the company or at Whole Foods. Amazon also sells the large container of another flavor.


Necklace Junkie| I talked about Noonday in another one of my posts- I bought this necklace from an adoption fundraiser and it finally came in. I love it! Here it is pictured in person.


Calm Down| I’ve had this calm drink in my cabinet on standby for a while, but this Sunday I dragged it out- drinking magnesium is better than alcohol right? It definitely does the trick to calm nerves and I notice a difference in my system the morning after I’ve had it. Another friend of mine said she notices she sleeps better when she takes it.


Bath Bombs Don’t Bluff| A friend of mine brought this beautiful gift box of soaps and bath bombs that she was shipping to a friend from Buff City Soaps, a local place in Memphis. Isn’t the gift box of this assortment beautiful? And everything smelled amazing.


A School Lunch Sanity Saver| Finally, for those of you ramping up for school next month, we’ve been making lunches at our house all summer. I have a simple one pictured, but here’s a list of a few easy ideas for toddlers listed below just to get your brain kickin’. I swear I start to blank out and go comatose when it comes to thinking up a school lunch. Sometimes I just. can’t. do. it. anymore!

Lunch Ideas: Roasted sweet potatoes, turkey pepperoni, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, elbow macaroni noodles (plain), brown rice, black beans, homemade chicken fingers (we use coconut flour and a little salt- but the one linked is a little more elaborate). You can make a lot of these ahead of time and store them in the fridge for easy access and mixing and matching (roasted potatoes and chicken nuggets go on a sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes). We use re-usable silicone cupcake liners to separate food in regular plastic containers.

Do you have any summer favorites? We’re holding on to summer tight; it’ll be gone before long. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Career & Resources, Family

Friday Favorites 7.21.17

It’s Friday! This weekend (if I have to predict) we will be pool lounging and cleaning, and my son keeps asking me to go to the Zoo (they have veterinarian week at school this week complete with a visit from a vet and coco puffs to simulate dog food) so there could be a potential quick trip to visit our local animals. We’re also getting our retirement funds in order (I know total snooze fest). And my husband switched my waze app to the voice of Mr. T so he tells me things like “turn left sucka” and “go straight fool!”and it’s been cracking me up.

For the next few weeks my husband is taking night classes several times a week while I man the ship at home. If you’re like us, a little motivation, encouragement and fun-spirited suggestions go a long way during a long week. I’m sharing my latest favorites fool-proof for a positive week!

This Podcast| DAIS- Dr. Margaret Martin, Founder of The Harmony Project

If you’re looking for an inspiring podcast, this one is extremely engaging and encouraging, educational and eye-opening. Dr. Margaret Martin fought herself out of a difficult situation around the same time that she created The Harmony Project, a non-profit organization that provides multi-year mentoring through music to at-risk youth in the high crime gang reduction zones of Los Angeles. She talks about winning the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor in the US, how to take a walk when you feel terrible, getting emotional perspective from emotional perspective, and how just surviving was just not enough for her. She believes music is something we can use to elevate our spirits, develop a form of expression and become part of a community.


Public Speaking| Get On-board

“The fear of public speaking grips many people who avoid it at all costs.” Skip Pritchard reviews 7 Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Public Speaking in his article. He includes points of how public speaking allows you to influence others, increase personal power and increase empathy. If you feel like you’re not great at speaking in public you’re not alone, but the good news is you can get better. Baby steps! Check out a local Toastmasters group or read more about how to beef up your public speaking tool-box. And if you have small children- don’t underestimate the importance of speech contests and clubs in schools- encourage your kids to get involved. Speech club and speech contests in middle and high school helped improve my confidence in public speaking and elevated skills I use today in business and even just during social toasts or gathering people together in social settings. I am always trying to improve my public speaking skills so this article really hit home.


Fun Kid Reads

My son’s teacher, in the industry for 17 years, told us if we do nothing else this summer, we should read to our kids! Obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this; it’s pretty much a pediatrician recommendation every check-up, but I thought I’d share a few of our favorites lately: I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, I Was So Mad, and The Nose Book. These books are just as fun for the adults reading and our kids have heard The Nose Book enough that I think they’ve memorized it, reciting almost every word during our readings.


This Book| The First 90 Days

I’m listening to this book for business on Audibile. It talks about how to make good things happen right away, how transition (either yours or someone else’s) is always impacting us at work (or even home), how to adapt and excel during these transitions and how your network need changes as your role changes. It includes what to focus on, how to accelerate your learning and how to secure early wins. And if you just aren’t a reader or don’t have time to read this book in its entirety, but you’re intrigued, there’s a PDF summary available.


This Icebreaker

How do you shoot the small talk? I’m not very good at it, but one thing that always works for me and that’s incredibly genuine (I don’t ask it just for the sake of filling the silence) is “Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?” It can tell you a lot about a person (i.e. whether they have kids, what they like to do for fun, or any hobbies they might have) without asking more personal and intrusive questions. What engaging things do you do to break the ice?


We’re Revisiting this Show

Michael Jackson, what can I say? I was in for the long haul when it came to Michael’s music. We popped in this video the other night and had the kids watching it. It was a fun trip down memory lane.


This Devotional|[RE] SOURCE

A sweet friend of mine and Assistant Pastor of Ministry at our Church, Jessica Morris created these devotionals called [RE] SOURCE. Download them, print them, write on them, do them- they’re a great way to revamp your devotional time (if you’re one of those inspiring people who wake up before 6 am- I am praying to make it there one day!) She also has a heart-felt Christian blog that is humorous and real. One of my favorite posts is this one.

Have a wonderful weekend! I’d love to hear more about your reads, what you’re watching and what you’re listening to!

Career & Resources, Family, Health

Friday Favorites {7.14.17}

Hey it’s Friday! As my son would say, only one more day until we get to “just hang-out”. As working parents we sure cherish weekend family “hang-out” time with our kids.

This past week was my first week back to work after a long stay-cation and I’m hanging by a thread. I’m so thankful I’ll get to charge my batteries soon!

As for fun Friday favorites, I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways on how we recharge.

1.Coffee helps you live longer!

It’s no secret on this site that I love, love coffee. If you love coffee too then you’ll appreciate this new announcement that talks about the new-found benefits to drinking coffee. Coffee is my first line of defense for a mid-week recharge! In fact, our office carries the local brand Ugly Mug  (pictured below) which most of our office is extremely happy about. PS: If you live in Memphis, the I Love Memphis Instagram account is capturing Memphian’s favorite coffee spots.

 

2. This Book

I started reading this book this week and it has been captivating so far. It gets to the point immediately, doesn’t drag on setting up the opening scene and has me wanting to flip to the end to see what happens (no one else does that?) It’s definitely a great read for escaping a busy week.

3. This article

I am doing research for a project a work regarding mentoring and I came across this article. Listen, if you’re not in business that doesn’t mean you don’t need to rely on people to mentor you for guidance and insight. This article reviews ideas on what to talk about with a mentor (which can sometimes be awkward); I found it to be so refreshing. It actually got me excited about my next mentor conversation.

4. This podcast

This podcast was actually a recorded public speaking event for Jen Hatmaker. If you listen, keep that in mind that it was recorded at a conference and she does refer to a few things they put on screen that you’re obviously not going to be able to see on the podcast. However all that aside, I just loved the message, how she tied her knowledge and conclusion together, and I always love the personal insertion she incorporates in her speeches of her everyday family life. It is a Christian message and basically indicates the importance of being a faith mentor.

5. We’re gardening!

Well sort of. We bought plants at Lowe’s and we put them in pots with dirt. Every night my son is watering them. This is a huge step for us because I basically kill every living plant. Check out these plant boxes. Aren’t they inspiring? If we get serious we may upgrade to a more elaborate set-up. For now, we’re sitting on our porch, eating ice cream after dinner and watering our plants to help us recharge. I also found the pretty outdoor pillow pictured below at Lowes, because after all this gardening I need a chair with a pillow to relax in!

 

PS: This random picture just makes me happy! A petting zoo came to the kid’s school and my daughter ran right up to the Llama and gave him a big fat hug while screaming Llama Llama! She knows the animal from this book.

What are your Friday favorites? I’d love to hear. This weekend we don’t have much planned other than pool-time and family time. I also get to head to Dinner Club! Last weekend was pretty full so we’re looking forward to low-key plans. Stay tuned for a fun interview I’ll be posting this Saturday. Happy weekend.

 

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Friday Favorites {7.7.17}

Its Friday! I hope you’re having a great week! Today I wanted to share some of my favorites and fun things around the web. It’s a random hodgepodge of everything I love right now; hopefully you’ll find something you love too!

1. Big Sur

I love this place! We haven’t had a vacation in a while, we’ve been traveling to see family at the beach, but it’s been three years since we’ve been to one of our favorite spots. I’m just itching to plan a trip there. Last time we went to Big Sur we ventured to this cabin on a bee farm up in the mountains with the most amazing view (Did I have to say more than cabin, bee farm or mountains?).

We woke up every morning to beautiful sunrises, fresh lemons, eggs and honey and a view of the bee keepers at work- my son learned to “smell” when he sampled a sniff of this fresh lemon we picked from their farm. There was a trail they had cleared through the redwoods and we took short walks with my son who was one at the time. They also had a beautiful claw-foot bathtub with the perfect view and this lavender soap that made the entire cabin smell amazing. If you’re contemplating your next vacation, this one’s at the top of my list; I never stop thinking about this place.


2. Made Me Smile

Love these two quotes; they made me smile. I included the Instagram handles in the photo to credit the source.

 


3. Fun Products I love

I don’t think we could live without Biofreeze in our house. They sell it on Amazon and tons of Chiropractors carry it. We buy the spray version but they also make a roll-on version and a lotion. I don’t want to sound old, but I can’t comment enough about how often this has come in handy for unexpected and debilitating neck and back pain!

I bought this necklace through Noonday at an adoption fundraiser and I can’t wait until it arrives!

I just bought this book and I’m really excited about starting it.

And isn’t this cactus romper so adorable!

I am also loving this washi tape on Etsy right now. It would be fun for wrapping and for bookmarking things in my work notebook.

This long-sleeve pineapple shirt could help me remember summer even in the coldest of winters.

PS: I don’t get paid for recommending these- they’re just fun to share!


Have a wonderful beautiful weekend! Be sure to comment below with your favorites- I’d love to hear! Also, when is Labor Day weekend??? (The answer is Sept. 4th!) Hold onto your horses- your next long holiday weekend is coming for you!

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Friday Favorites {6.16.17}

Today I’m sharing 3 Friday favorites! This time I’m sharing things that really are my favorites because if I stopped incorporating these things in my life I’d really be out of balance. I’d love to hear your favorites too, so be sure to share in the comments.

 


ONE

Weekly Meal Planning

I feel like lately, meal planning is all everyone talks about, I don’t have an extravagant or long drawn out method. For a few weeks I made all the meals in advance and that really didn’t work for me. Here’s how I manage meals as a working mom on a budget.

  1. Search Pinterest for some meal ideas.
  2. List the meals out by day in a Word document with the links to the recipe.
  3. Click each link and search for ingredients I may need to purchase and list those out in my Word document.
  4. Then I head over to my online grocery ordering site and start searching and adding the ingredients I need there. This allows me to price compare and the site also saves things I buy every week which makes shopping super quick and easy, and I’m less likely to forget something.
  5. Finally, I check out through my online grocery ordering site and select a pick-up date that’s convenient for us.

Here are a few things I consider when selecting meals for the week.

  • Balance of easy vs. more complicated meals
  • My week schedule- are we going to be home and are there days we’ll have less time to cook dinner?
  • I try to make sure to add some healthier options along with some options that will keep us excited and less apt to head for a restaurant.
  • I add one or two meals that could be pre-cooked in a crock pot or ahead of time (like chili or salad).

This method helps me save money (since I’m able to price shop better and throw less of the things I don’t need in my cart), saves me time, and keeps me from throwing away a bunch of things we may have otherwise bought that go bad. Our meals were also getting kind of borning. This way I’m mixing it up and I have been saving all the weekly menus for future reference in case I don’t have as much time to meal plan; I can just repeat a week later on.

AND I can pull up my menu document at any point throughout the week and link straight to the recipe to quickly get my meal started. I also pre-read all the recipes before so I have kind of an idea of what I’m getting into each night. Sometimes I don’t even have to have the recipe up.

I heard Memphis is getting a grocery delivery service soon… WHAT??? #lifechanging


TWO

Zero Base Budgeting

We took a Financial Peace class about 7 years ago and we’ve tried to stick to the basic principles we learned. We took a refresher course this past January and it was a great way to start incorporating some of the things we weren’t able to get to the last time around (like will planning).  One thing we have really tried to be consistent with is the zero-based budget. Basically here are the steps:

  1. List out all your expenses. There’s a form on the site.
  2. Then list out all of your paychecks and start incorporating which items need to come out of which check.
  3. Pull out the money in cash that is not paid towards specific bills and assign envelopes to those categories. For example, cosmetics, haircuts, and gifts are all categories where you could assign envelopes for this method.
  4. Don’t forget to incorporate one-time items like tax preparation and car registration and divide those things by 12 months so that you don’t have to cover the bulk of these expenses at once. By saving for them each month in an envelope you’re less likely to have a heavy hit with unexpected expenses.

Here’s an example snapshot of a portion of our budget template.

If I stopped budgeting it would really stress me out. We tend to spend a lot more on entertainment and eating out than we realize and that stuff adds up quickly. By doing it this way it keeps our whole family sane and then we also budget for things we may otherwise forget about like vacation and cosmetics! I think there are easier online ways to do this instead of on a spreadsheet, but I’ve been doing it this way for so long that it’s hard to change over to something new.

 

 


THREE

Kids Quiet Time

My older son is not so keen on naptime, so I stopped fighting it. We have an extra bedroom and when my daughter napping, my son knows it’s time for quiet time in that room (so he doesn’t distract her from sleeping). We try to be consistent with it, instituting it every weekend day, and we allow him to play with toys and look at books. We set a timer for one hour and he has a chance to decompress and relax for that hour doing one of the things we’ve put in the room for him (magnablocks, puzzles, a stack of books, legos, etc.)

This gives us a quiet house for at least one hour on the weekend days. And sometimes, I get to take my own nap in my own bed. Sometimes.

What are your favorites?