Advent Calendar Cards | Free Printables

5 years ago I started a tradition with my boys.
We have enjoyed it every single year.

I designed some simple Advent Cards and an Envelope Template
for us to use each Christmas.
This year we put the cards in the Nutcracker Advent Calender
in years past we have used the envelopes that were hung with string
and tiny clips.

When I designed the Advent Cards I pulled from different ideas and lists.
The cards were designed to give the children a little
Christmas magic experience, allowed them to be givers, and
helped them enjoy time together, 

Here is the link to my original post but you can simply click the links
above to download your freebies.

Here is a link showing the Advent Board I made as well.

9 Things To Motivate You ( & Me) to Workout

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”  ~John F. Kennedy

1, So, silence that inner critic and don’t be afraid to strut your stuff at the gym.
It doesn't even matter how much or out little "stuff" you have to strut.
That voice that's telling you that you can't...learn to recognize it!

2. Begin with simple goals that make you feel good.
Ask yourself what your "fitness" goals are, not just weight loss goals.
There are even apps to help you condition and get from the couch to your first 5K.

3.  Eat Clean, Train Dirty.  Just reading that will make you feel more powerful.
Eating the right combination of super foods, such as fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy will give your body the energy it needs, protect you from chronic diseases, and may even whittle your waist.

4.  If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.
Doing the same workout or eating the same meal might be convenient, but for the results you want, it’s good to spice up your regimen and try different fitness activities.  Mix it up!

5.  Wow, I really regret that work out. (said no one ever).
No matter how big or small the workout, you’ll feel energized, strong, and confident afterward.

6. Sweat is fat crying!  Turning up the heat on bacon makes the fat melt off!
Work up a good sweat doing your favorite workout, whether boxing,running, or strength training.  So tun up the heat!

7.  It never gets easier, it just gets better.
It's hard to eat healthy all the time and stick to a workout plan. It's work! 
But, the more you do something the easier—and more enjoyable—the moves become. 
The same goes for healthy eating. We know you can do it!

8.  Do it for you!  Believe in yourself.
You are worth it and it will make you feel amazing.  Each person has their own time and pace when it comes to working out,losing weight, or adopting healthy cooking styles.  Accept it and keep going.

9. Remember why you are working so hard.
You will have that day where you are sitting in your car thinking about going back home.
You will find you are too tired some days or have too much to do. 
Remind yourself every day why you work so hard so when these defeating days come, you are prepared.

These were all things I told myself daily, did daily, and strive for daily.
We all fall off the wagon when we don't know what our goals are.
A friend asked me last week, "What are your fitness goals?"
I honestly did not have any.  
2 years ago I reached the goals I had set and never set new ones.

That's when I realized my struggle with my motivation came with
Number 1 & Number 2.

So, I pulled out my planner and started penciling in my workout times, I found a great app, I asked for advice on my personal fitness goals and now I'm all set.

It starts tomorrow.
Nah, just kidding.
It starts NOW!

Why Does Eating Clean Have To Be Such A Challenge?

My husband and I both had thoughts collide this week.  I've been baking bread from fresh ingredients and we love the way our house smells.  We are finally on the same page about eating clean but could use some guidance and are the challenges I'm facing currently.   I'm letting you sound off here.  This is your place to share your challenges, your learning curves, and what you are doing about them.

Our pantry is almost empty of any processed food, our fridge is filling up with grown from nature items, and our freezer is stashed with the same.  It looks like we are on the right track but just because it looks that way doesn't mean it feels that way.  I started questioning everything...

I looked down at my Costco purchases which felt really first.  Then I thought to myself, "nothing is organic, the meat probably has flavoring or injections."  I sighed and put it all away.

Why does it feel like it's not good enough?

We struggle with our weight in this house, not because of food choices but because of the food.  Food today has become so toxic it's scary, even the so called health stuff.  I once found myself standing in front of the biscuit mix having a panic attack. Sometimes my kids enjoy a biscuits or pancakes, not often, but sometimes.  Do I make it from scratch?  Is there a healthy alternative?  Why does the kind I want have to cost so much?  My wallet wants me to by the cheap stuff?  If I make it from scratch then there is a learning curve... seriously!  I stood there with two different mixes, one in each hand, and stood there and stood there and stood there, feeling as if it were an impossible decision.

There is a learning curve...

So our pantry, fridge, and freezer look pretty wholesome.  Then the whole...should we be eating so much dairy? Why do I love it so much?  How do you replace it?  What alternative's are healthy because I've heard nothing is great?  Would farm fresh be better at least for cooking?  How do you find answers to these things?  What do you use instead of butter?  Yogurt? Sour Cream?  Did I mention of LOVE DAIRY? 

I grew up on a dairy farm!
With cornfields...
that brings me too...

Corn these days...GMO's.  There's so much talk about GMO's and how Non-GMO's and how do you know what is true and what's not.  A friend said, she judges it based on if the plant can reproduce it's self.  That makes sense.  My thoughts when I first heart "GMO" was "doesn't nature GMO on it's own?"  Doesn't nature show us that genetic modification is natural...take my Boxador for example. He's a pretty awesome puppy and can we're good right?  Isn't this true with all living things that can blend their genetics to make something new?   Still, what about GMO and how serious should it be taken?

Organic? I really don't want pesticides on or in my food.  Ever!  I used to have those mini-panic attacks about that too but I got over it and buy organic if it's available...if not I figure I'll try to do better.  I'd get upset when my husband bought lettuce and I swear I could smell the pesticides.  He'd get upset because I bought organic salad because it costs more.  I wash the apples, soak the grapes, I do what I can to wash our food clean but...if it's on the plant and in the soil it's there any point?  What's the dirty dozen again?

Homegrown?  Do we plant a garden this year?  Should we get chickens?  What about cows or goats? Did I mention I live in a subdivision that has codes?  We'd have to move?  Should we move?  Maybe that would help? A garden is a start but what do we plant?  When do we plant it?  How much? Does it yield enough harvest?  Do I learn how to can food?  Sure, I probably should?

Fresh markets sound like a good idea! 

Local farmers need support!

I could buy from them?

When? Where? How much?

I need to explore this option...are there people this day and age that sell fresh eggs?  Are there small farms that bottle their own milk?  Should it be pasteurized?  Is there a place I can go? Can I make my own jelly?  How do I do that and not consume so much sugar?  

Learning curve...

I've come a long way from this...

Oh and then when you figure the food out, hopefully you've figured out what to drink.

My husband and friends call me a water snob.  I won't drink my tape water unfiltered and prefer to keep an ice cold gallon jug in the fridge at all times that has been filtered or spring fresh.  I like it cold but I like it clean.  The water out of my faucet smells funny to me and tastes weird, very metallic and hard.  So I load up empty water jugs and pop in some change and refill them.  I first started doing this to make me drink more water but that's still an effort so I mix it up... I drink tea sometimes.  My kids like crystal light...but hold on? That's not clean either.  

I'm trying to increase my fruits and veggies but what I heard yesterday was that we should increase our veggies and then our fruits.  Huh?

We also all take our vitamins, minerals, omega 3's, and antioxidants too.

SO enough about the confusion...I'm taking advice!  What is working for you?  What books have helped?  What documentaries?  What recipe books?  What blogs?  I want them all! 

Pretty Cash Envelope System

I have not posted a craft in such a long time.  This one was one I was doing for myself and based off of a tutorial by Kelleigh Ratzlaff. LOVE HER!  I took the tutorial and tweaked it a bit to suit my needs and probably yours too if your not into major hole punching and sewing.  This is a cut and paste craft for anyone.

Last fall my husband and I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University seminar and passed!
Well, completed.

We started working hard, chucking more money at debt and that was great but we never got a chance to get going with our cash envelope system.  We were still swiping the ol' debit card and we couldn't even feel the money leave our possession. So, we spend it more willingly and easily.

Then, my husband asked me to be the money manager since I am home all day while he works, it only made sense.  So I pulled up an old Pinterest tutorial by Kelleigh Ratzlaff that I LOVED I had pinned a long time ago and got busy.

Only, I had to do it my way.

I went ahead and cut my pretty 12x12 paper into 8.5 x 11 after downloading the template below.

I printed the template found here on the back of my scrap-booking papers.
Cut them, folded them and scored them as instructed.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.  Proverbs 13:22

Once all my envelops were folded I did something a little different.  I didn't want to try to punch holes in my envelop like Kelleigh does so I took strips of paper and cut them the same length of the envelopes about 1.5" wide and fold them in half longways.  

I put a little glue on one side of the folded strip and attached it to the bottom bottom of one envelope.
With the other half showing, I added glue along it and added it to the bottom back of another.
I played around with folds and placement and found that I could add it to the bottom front too to give it a little more color but you can do it either way.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce. Proverbs 3:9

I used a stiff piece of board cut the size of the finished envelope and one last piece of folded paper to attached it to this piece that would serve as my insert form my wallet.

I printed and the labels of Kelleigh's but much smaller and used a small hole punch for those.
I used a bigger hole punch on my scrap pieces of paper and glued them all to the corners of the envelopes.

The finished product slid right into my wallet which is a 31gifts brand wallet that zips all the way around.  They fit perfectly.

I love pulling out my wallet and getting complements on these cute envelopes.
I love even more that I'm telling my money where to go and being much more frugal.

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.  Proverbs 22:7

5 Food Prep Tips for Lean in 13

It's simple, if I plan ahead I am successful.  So here goes.
3 days of burn, burn, burn
1 day to refuel