Favorites On A Friday: Holiday Style

Have you recovered from this holiday craziness? I sure hope so! 

Now that we’ve all had time to recoup from the crazy holiday season, I thought I would share a few of my favorite gifts! It’s been almost a month since Christmas passed, which is more than enough time to determine what my preferred presents are and which gifts were my favorite to give. They say it’s better to give than to receive and since I agree, let's start there!

Born and raised in the South, shooting has now become a hobby in our family. However, being the extremely anxious mother that I am, I had concerns about where to keep our firearms. After reading a few reviews and keeping in mind a curious and smart toddler (she’s so advanced for her age), I chose to purchase this safe. The main reason I went with this particular model was the biometric fingerprint lock. You can store two users per safe – ideal for parents who want to keep their home as safe as possible while preventing access from unauthorized users. The reviews and price were encouraging so the purchase was made for J’s Christmas present. I purchased mine at Academy, but it is available through other retailers. 

Return Address Stamp
"Addressing Christmas cards is SO much fun!" Said no one ever. Hence, the need for a return address stamp. Yes, I could print my own labels or use the free ones that are mailed to us every so often, but I prefer to design my own stamp and it looks MUCH better than a sticker. Since my sister and BIL recently moved, I deemed this to be a perfect gift for them. My sister and I have a strong obsession with all things Harry Potter so after getting inspired by a quick Google search, I found an Etsy shop to bring my vision to life. How perfect is this for the Harry Potter lover? I can’t promise that her husband was as thrilled with it as we were. 

P.S. It would also be a great housewarming present, obvi.
P.P.S. Names and addresses were changed on the above image.

Wooden Auburn & Air Force Academy Footballs
A couple of the most unique gifts I ordered this year were beautiful wooden footballs with hand painted logos for the related schools. A finishing gloss coats these creations and they come with a stand to use for display. 

Unfortunately I do not have a link to share with you where to purchase these beauties as the woodwork was done by a friend of my coworker.

As for me, my birthday falls right before Christmas. I personally love this since Christmas is my favorite holiday and my parents did a great job of separating the two events when I was growing up. Included in this list of my favorite presents received is one of my birthday gifts – yes, it was probably wrapped in holiday wrapping paper, which I don’t have a problem with. 

Oh my goodness. Call whoever, put me on blast through social media, but I am officially in the Instant Pot cult. This thing is amazing! I received the 7-in-1 multi-functional pressure cooker that turns into a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, can sauté/brown, steam and warm – all in one pot. 

Fear consumed me at first, but I quickly learned how to use it when I took vacation time off work. If you are the cook for your family, go ahead and put this on your Amazon wish list because they go on sale numerous times during the year. Aside from making delicious meals like beef stroganoff and orange chicken, I’ve used it to quickly cook chicken, potatoes and it makes the best hard boiled eggs that are easy to peel and aren’t too stinky. You can bet that some of my future posts will be singing the praises of my new kitchen gadget. 

These are also known to me as “kiosk” sheets. Why? Because that is where my mother purchased them from in an Atlanta mall. Ha! She had these on the guest room bed where we stay when in town and I am obsessed with them. I begged for a set as a Christmas present and Santa delivered! I don’t know how to describe these except that they mimic the skin on a peach. They are very comfortable, so soft and are perfect if you hate to get hot when you sleep. The best news about this product is that you don’t have to purchase them from a kiosk and based on their website, they are affordable. In fact they just had a flash sale on their classic white sheets at $55 a set. Head on over to their site and sign up for their distribution list. 

Apple Watch Series 2
To conclude my list of favorite things, I give you the Apple Watch Series 2 in rose gold. 

One of my active objectives for this year was to be more present. If I have my phone on me all the time, I’m tempted to scroll through social media and check emails when lounging around at home. I have found that I can leave my phone anywhere in the house and still be notified on my watch if someone calls or texts. This is definitely not why I wanted the watch, but eliminates the other digital distractions when I am home. The main reason this popped up on my wish list this year was because of the heart rate/gps function. I really need to set up a tutorial with Apple because I am 99% sure I am not aware of all the features this watch has to offer. One day when I have time (get it? HAHAHA) I plan to take advantage of this learning opportunity. Does anyone else have this problem or want to share some of the cool things they use their watch for? If anyone wants to link up and share information on the fitness part, let me know! 

Whew! This was a lengthy post today. Are you still there? If you have any great gift ideas inspired by this past Christmas, please comment below and share them! It may only be January, but it’s never too early to start my Amazon Christmas wish list!


Plan to Eat: Meal Planner & Grocery List Shopper

After traveling last week for work, I was so relieved to have Monday off. A catch-up day around the house was absolutely what I needed, but in typical Monday fashion, not what I got. Instead, I spent the better part of my morning at the mechanic waiting on my car to be diagnosed. Adulting is the worst.

One of the items I needed to cross off my to do list was to meal plan/grocery shop. Since today marks the first day of round four for Whole 30, this was definitely a priority. Thankfully, I was able to plan compliant meals for the week and finalize my grocery list – all while sitting in the waiting room sipping on my coffee. Get ready, folks. You're about to be introduced to something that helps me function on a weekly basis.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

One of my friends introduced me to Plan to Eat this past Black Friday when they were having a 50% off sale for yearly membership. After quickly scanning their site and gathering information from my friend, I decided to forgo the 30-day trial and sign up for the yearly plan. I am so glad I dove in headfirst!

Plan to Eat is an online meal planner app that works similar to Pinterest. You can manually import recipes into your account or take the Pinterest approach and scour the internet for delicious concoctions. When you find one you like, click the button on the browser (yes, you will need to download it to your computer, tablet, or phone) and it’s loaded to your recipes in Plan to Eat.

Once you have a solid base, you can begin to meal planning. It’s so easy – you literally drag recipes onto a calendar. As you can see, I primarily use mine for dinner or if I need to make any sauces, dressings, etc. for the week.

And, that’s not all….One of my favorite parts of this service is that the software automatically creates your shopping list based on the planned recipes.

Additionally, you can create a list of staples and add it to your shopping list as needed.

When ready, a quick export generates your shopping list to take with you on your phone. It’s simple to navigate the site and has helped me so much these last few months. Previously I was an eMeals user (I’m talking about for the first couple of YEARS after having E), but I truly love the flexibility of planning my own meals through Plan to Eat. It helps me stay organized which is part of my objectives for 2017.

If you are in need of a service such as this, I recommend trying Plan to Eat. They offer a trial and do not ask for credit card information before starting. The yearly fee is $39, which breaks down to $4.95 a month. Also, they will NOT automatically bill you once the subscription ends, which is almost unheard of based on many of my experiences. Click here to sign up: Plan to Eat 

Once an account has been created, it will automatically share my recipes with you. If you are already a Plan to Eat user, please send a friend request to AidibabyAU – I’m always in need of recipe ideas!

Plan to Eat has become such an important part of my weekly routine (no, I did not get paid to post this – I genuinely love it) and I hope that one of my five readers will enjoy it as much as I have!

Has anyone heard of this company before today? If you give it a try, please let me know what you think!


Active Objectives for 2017

You may have read my previous post about how I don’t set resolutions on a yearly basis. In fact, I don’t set resolutions at all – technically. I did however establish a few blogging goals for 2017.

With a similar mindset of improving myself for this year, I thought of a few active (because hopefully I will put these into practice for the next twelve months) objectives heading into the new year.

·         Be Present
o   Is it just me or does every parent strive to be present on a daily basis? While I don’t feel that I completely fail in this area, I do think it’s important to set the phone down and tune into the munchkin. I already eliminate phones from the dinner table, but would like to improve partaking in more interactive playtime as opposed to putting on a movie while I peruse through Facebook. Oddly enough, I feel like one of my Christmas presents could help with this. Stay tuned for an explanation in a future post!

·         Improve Well-Being
o   As we all know, some sort of healthy target is usually on everyone’s radar starting in January. A year or so ago, I jumped head first into the Whole 30 program and am a strong believer in educating yourself with all things Whole 30. I intend to begin my fourth round sometime this month and would really like to maintain those healthy eating habits for at least two out of my three daily meals. Additionally, it would be nice to compete in a few races this year (like a couple of 5Ks and one 10K – yes, 10K)! I am currently hovering around three miles now and would like to aim for a 10K since I have only entered in one since I was born.

·         Organize, Organize, Organize
o   Out with the old and in with….nothing! Decluttering our home has been an ongoing project J started when he was home after surgery. We have actually conquered our closet, E’s closet, our dresser, the kitchen, downstairs closets, master bathroom and still have much more to accomplish. Along the way a few purchases have been made to assist with this clean-up, which I hope to share at some point. In other dorky news, I switched planners this year so we will see what kind of role that plays in #ProjectOrganization.

·         Increase Time with Jesus
o   I’m not a morning person, like at all. Prior to having E, I still was not a morning person but did have a job with more flexibility in my schedule. Before crawling out of bed I would read a quick devotional on my phone through the Bible app. I completed many from She Reads Truth and began a daily, yearlong one called Parenting by Design. A few years later and I am still on day 280! Needless to say, I would love to carve out some time or possibly start a different study (it doesn’t have to be on my phone). Does anyone have any suggestions for a great devotional or want to share how you fit this into your schedule? I am open to any and all suggestions!

Here’s to living my life month after month with these four basic objectives in mind. Sure, I could add many more and get very specific about what I want to accomplish, but I’m not trying to be a superstar.

I think mine are pretty basic, but wanted to share for possible inspiration and accountability. Does anyone else have ideas for personal improvement in 2017?