Sunday, January 15, 2017

The 2017 Home Organization Challenge Has Begun!!

Hi, friends!!




It's foggy, drizzly, nippy, cuppa coffee kinda morning here!

I hope you are having a wonderful January so far.
It has been pretty low key at our house and I have been taking FULL advantage of it (because I know the floodgate of crazy spring sports is about to be thrown open...)!!

Six years ago, I jumped on board when one of my favorite bloggers, Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons announced her Home Organization Challenge!

I think this might have been her first one, her blog was fairly new back then & I LOVED to read her tips for a sane, organized home (which was the opposite of EVERYTHING my home represented at the time...as a matter a fact, that was about the time we nicknamed Evan "Sneaky E"...shew, those years...that was not for wimps).





Back then it was called 21 Days to Getting Organized & for 21 days my house was a whirlwind of donation BOXES, contents of closets pulled out all over the room, 685 Tupperware containers with no lids, clothes & shoes that hadn't been worn in 15 years...upon looking back at my previous posts, quite a few positive & productive things happened during those 21 days:

  1. I found my favorite fleece jacket.
  2. I found out there is a LIGHT in my linen closet (ha, who knew!!).
  3. I found my WAFFLE MAKER!!
  4. I helped my community by donating unused home goods & clothing to our local Community Help Center (I never donate to Goodwill).
  5. I found a lot of food that had expired in my pantry!
  6. I found that I apparently have a problem with hoarding cute plates & napkins...oh, & cupcake liners too.
  7. I found a grand total of $14 in CHANGE!!
  8. and I realized that my life was VERY chaotic when it didn't have to be...(it's crazy enough with these kids, why make it worse?!) 


Since completing that challenge (& I did every bit of it that year too), I have kept some of those rooms in decent order...but have also let just as many go back to chaos...and chaos makes me act ridiculous & I am officially tired of it! 😉

So!

I am taking back control and joining up with A Bowl Full of Lemons blog once again for the big 2017 Home Organization Challenge!!




This is a FREE challenge, anyone can jump in at anytime and participate!

During the challenge you are encouraged to share your progress on social media & the easiest way is on Instagram using the hashtag #abfolchallenge.

This is really fun because you will gain support from other crazy people who are ripping their houses apart & sorting through 685 Tupperware dishes JUST LIKE YOU ARE & when you are drowning in a mess, sometimes having a cheerleader gives you the strength you need to make it into the end zone & finish strong! ❤


Toni's blog is incredible, she has the best tips & her pictures are so CALMING!! They're clean and neat and to me that is just so incredibly relaxing...(yes, I am weird).






I also have her book, The Complete Book of Home Organization & it is REALLY good!




Next to Pinterest, this book has been my Go-To for any storage or organization trouble spots over the past few of years. I have to highly recommend it and cannot wait to check out her NEW book, The Complete Book of Clean coming out in April!!




The first two challenge spots are the Kitchen & the Pantry...

The kitchen is THE busiest room in my house.
When the kids are not in school, I feel like I am in there ALL DAY LONG!
And it is usually a big, crazy mess!
But, it is a glorious crazy mess of kids & dogs & muffins & homework & pretty much EVERYTHING, AND THE KITCHEN SINK going on...

Here's a peek at a typical day in our kitchen:


If you look beyond Miss Marty Party puppy & her scruffy man-child owner, you will see a TYPICAL shot of my kitchen...

And I think if you have as much traffic in your kitchen as I do, this is a pretty typical scene (with lots of room for improvement). ❤


I am just finishing up on the Kitchen Challenge week at my house.

I didn't have much to do in my kitchen thanks to Toni's book & previous challenge, most of my drawers already looked pretty bland & simple like this one:





Toni's book really helped me to PURGE my overstocked with unnecessary, why on earth do I even have all this stuff in the first place kitchen & make it more functional to help me SAVE TIME!





Unfortunately, there were a few high traffic spots that were not calm, bland & simple and they were really starting to stress me out!






Shew!!!
I have been working hard this week & I feel like my efforts have paid off because yesterday Olivia asked me what was up with the kitchen,
she said "mom, this room looks so plain & boring"...




It's a gloomy, drizzly day here in Tennessee...
absolutely PERFECT weather for cleaning out the PANTRY!




(& then taking a nap...true story, Lord have mercy)


I'll be back in a few days to share accountability...

Until then, feel free to go crazy & join me! 😉

http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/


Thanks for stopping by to visit, y'all!
Have a beautiful day!

Mwah,

Mandy




Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Book List {From My Nightstand}

Hello, friends!

Greetings to all!
(especially my fellow book nerds) 😉

As promised, I have put together a list of some of the best books that I read in 2016. I am always looking for a new book to read, so please shoot me a message anytime with your suggestions!

Our 2016 was such a busy year, I had to first go back through my Instagram feed to get my list off the ground (because I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last night, much less what I read 12 months ago...).

Upon looking back, I was happy to see that in addition to some recommended popular titles; I read a lot more Christian Literature in 2016 (which was not really a goal of mine, but I am really happy that it is something my heart was craving to do)....

Keep in mind this list does not contain EVERY book I read, just some notable titles that I felt like my blogging friends might enjoy...there's probably a little something for everyone on here.

Starting off the list is one I read at the end of 2015 (but can't remember if I shared last year)

 (& it is definitely not Christian literature)...

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll



I saw this one recommended by Reece Witherspoon (#RWBookClub) on her Instagram. She has recommended quite a few that I enjoyed, but this one was so crazy & kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! I have to recommend it for an airplane ride (I'm such a fruitcake, I have to stay distracted) or some poolside reading.

If you like a wild story & don't mind it being (for sure) Rated R, then this one will keep your attention.

I picked it up because I had heard that if you liked Gone Girl you would like this book (& I completely agree), but now a little over a year later...I'm finding myself not really liking stories like that much anymore. I think it is probably because EVERYTHING in the media seems so crazy and dangerous and raunchy...I'm really getting burnt out on that being the norm. 😟


Spinning the Moon by Karen White

I absolutely LOVE Karen White's books!!

At this very moment, I am (impatiently) waiting for her newest installment of the Tradd Street series to arrive in my mailbox on January 10th (I'll keep you posted on that one).



She writes the most wonderful stories that often take place in beach towns that I have actually visited; I really feel like I am THERE when I'm reading her books because I can clearly picture it in my mind.

She recently shared a picture on Instagram (I am a fool for Instagram, I swear) of the bicycle bridge at Watercolor Resort, where we had JUST STAYED for fall break a few weeks before. I am genuinely convinced that Mrs Karen & I could be great friends in real life...we are kindred spirits for sure!

Spinning the Moon is actually her first novel from twenty years ago,
touched up & rereleased.
I absolutely loved it (& am currently petitioning Hollywood to make it into a movie)!!

(ok, not really...but I should). 😉



Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty



I have read every single one of Liane Moriarty's books & was very eager to read her newest one released last summer: Truly, Madly, Guilty!

This one did not disappoint & keeps you guessing! I remember telling P Daddy as I reached the middle of the book, "here I am in the middle of this book and I STILL cannot figure out what happened that night!!!"...ha!

I did enjoy this one, but her book What Alice Forgot remains my MOST FAVORITE of all of her work.

Get this one for your next vacation, you will enjoy it!


Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson

I love all of Sophie's books, but I LOVE this one the most!




I wrote an entire post about this book last year, you can read about it here.

Get this book!
Get one for your sister
and your mother
and your neighbor!

It is so, so good!!!


Seamless by Angie Smith




Seamless is a little bible study that I picked up and enjoyed last spring on Olivia's school trip to Washington DC (cough, 28 hours round trip on a charter bus)...

I have tried time and again to read the bible all the way through.
And, I have failed time and again to read the bible all the way through.
Reading the bible is so, very overwhelming to me!

I get lost in all those names...
so many names....
why are there so many names!?!?!

This bible study is WONDERFUL,
you will really & truly walk away seeing the "big picture"
(without the frustration of sorting through all those NAMES)...

Angie is funny, so funny & so real!

I knew I would love this bible study immediately when I found myself choking on the lump in my throat reading her intro...



(& this stubborn, undeserving mess of a woman just choked up reading it again...)

Order this one.
You won't be sorry!


God Came Near by Max Lucado

My dear friend Joy passed this book along to me recently.
I'm so glad that she did. ❤



I was very familiar with the name Max Lucado as an author, but had not read any of his work (except for the foreward he wrote for The Heart of The Story, which was an EXCEPTIONAL Cliff's Notes version of the holy word for me).

I couldn't be more thankful for the time I spent with Max and his wonderful stories in this book. I have to highly recommend it...especially my most favorite part, chapter 29.

If you shop locally at Iddy & Oscars, we will have more of these in stock soon...along with several new titles that we think you will really enjoy.


A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers



I'm sure I have mentioned this book before.
I love ALL of Francine Rivers' books!
But, I think this one is my most favorite (I like it even better than Redeeming Love).

GASP!
I know!!!

It speaks to me and every time I read this one I find myself longing to be a better person, to listen more, to slow down and focus on others more, and most of all to try harder to love everyone as God loves us...

One thing that snaps me to attention every time I read this book is how mirror paralleled this story of Rome is with our modern day culture...it was such a self glorifying, pleasure seeking culture focused on coveting material things, worshipping idols....one where sex, violence and darkness is the norm.

It's actually pretty scary...
because we all know what happened to Rome.

Beginning during the fall of Jerusalem, this book is kind of hard to get into...but if you can just get through those first two chapters, you will not be able to put it down!



For the Love by Jen Hatmaker




Jen Hatmaker is hilarious!

I love her posts on Facebook and I KNEW I would love this book when I read that line...Fighting for GRACE in a World of Impossible Standards.

((because I am a little more than just FED UP with ridiculous, impossible standards))

& also because I'm pretty sure I say "for the love" about 600 times a day...

"For the Love of a sausage & biscuit" seems to be the most popular one I rattle off...

Anyway...

In this book Jen reveals how to:
  • Break free of guilt and shame by dismantling the unattainable Pinterest life.
  • Learn to engage our culture’s controversial issues with a grace-first approach.
  • Be liberated to love and release the burden of always being right. 
  • Identify the tools you already have to develop real-life, all-in, know-my-junk-but-love-me-anyway friendships.
  • Escape our impossible standards for parenting and marriage by accepting the standard of “mostly good.”
  • Laugh your butt off.

I need to get her other book, 7...
have you guys read that one?



Last and MOST IMPORTANTLY on my list from 2016...

The book that I have read nearly EVERY DAY for most the past year...

The One Year Daily Bible from Tyndale House Publishing

(in paperback, I might add)



My sister gifted me with this book for my birthday last year and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received! I have since purchased half a dozen of them to use as gifts myself.

This one is lightweight & PERFECT for those 10-15 minutes of quiet time in car line!

If you have ever wanted to read the bible all the way through (but your eyes roll back in your head trying to get through all those names) ((forgive me, Lord))...this daily reading bible is FANTASTIC!


***********************


So, that's all I've got.

I would LOVE to hear of any books that you recommend, I KNOW you kids have read some good ones!

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit.
I'm headed to the treadmill to spend a little time with my nose in a book! 😉

Have a WARM & WONDERFUL day, friends!

Mwah,

Mandy










Saturday, December 31, 2016

{My} Favorite TV Shows of 2016

Hey, y'all!

Happy New Year's Eve!!!

I hardly ever get a chance to watch television (& that's fine because most of what is on tv these days is garbage anyway).

But, this past year I stumbled upon quite a few really good, QUALITY shows thanks to the Amazon Video app (if you have an Amazon Prime membership, this is included) & Netflix!

Since this is the season for reflecting & sharing a year in review...
if you LOVE historical books, movies & shows then this little list is for you!

I apologize in advance to your families,
you're going to be GLUED to the screen for days!! 😉

Here we go, favorites I watched in 2016:


PBS Masterpiece - Mercy Street

I stumbled up on this one last winter & immediately fell in love!



Y'all know I am a fool for Gone With the Wind and pretty much anything set during that time period. This series takes place in Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War and is based on actual letters and memoirs of doctors and nurses who volunteered and served at the Mansion House Hospital. 

The story, the COSTUMES...
Oh my goodness!!!

Season one was very short, only six episodes...
but SO incredibly good!

You can start it now &
get caught up quickly to be ready for season two that starts back on January 22nd...

Yippee!!!!
I CANNOT wait!!



2016 Roots Mini-Series on The History Channel

Oh, friends!!!

I know I have seen the original Roots movie made during the 1970's, but many, many years have passed. I'm quite sure that I did not get the feels from that first one the way I did from watching the 2016 updated Roots Mini-Series on The History Channel this past year.



I really cannot put into words how profound this one was...
it broke my heart, it made me cry tears of sadness and of joy...
it was just so, SO good!

EVERYONE needs to sit down and watch it!

Very profound!



PBS Masterpiece - Poldark


I am crazy for Poldark!!

& oh, how my family LOVES to make fun of my love for Poldark!
I think they just love an excuse to say the name "Poldark"...
They're so mean to me! 😉



This wonderful show is based on the books written by Winston Graham (there are several in the series). It is set in Cornwall, England at the end of the 1700's, Ross Poldark is a British captain returning home from fighting in America in the Revolutionary War.

The story is simple,
and powerful,
and quite proper.

The costumes are wonderful and the location shots are breathtaking!!!

And I can assure you that my love for this show has nothing at all to do with how hard Ross Poldark works in the fields on his farm...
Ahem. 😂



Catch the first two seasons on Amazon Prime...
you can thank me later! 😉


BBC - Upstairs, Downstairs

This is not a new show,
Upstairs, Downstairs originally aired from 2010-12.
(& is actually a remake of a show done in the 1970's)

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this one, but I enjoyed it tremendously!!




This is a story about a family and their servants living in a London townhouse in the 1930's.
The people who live Downstairs (the servants) live completely different lives from the people Upstairs (similar to Downton Abbey)...but yet they are all family just the same.
It was entirely lovely!!

I LOVED the bold, warm colors & glamourous costumes in this show.
The family Upstairs lived a very busy life frequently entertaining guests like HRH and a college bound John F Kennedy and his family...

The acting was wonderful and I was tickled to death later this year when I ran up on that spunky Claire Foy in a new series of her own!

If you liked Downton, you will probably enjoy this show as well.





This is a new series on Amazon Prime that begins next month, but you can watch the first episode now.




It stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre, a {wild & audacious} 18-year-old woman living in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1918. (in this first pilot episode, I think my granny would probably call her "a hussy")...

At the end of the first episode Zelda meets novelist & future husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald...this series is about their very flamboyant life together during the jazz age & the roaring 20's!

I'm looking forward to seeing more on January 27th!




The Crown on Netflix

Oh, WOW!

That's about all I can say here, Wow!
I was so unprepared for how incredible this series is...



This is a biographical story about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II starring Claire Foy.

It is flawless!!
No detail overlooked...
I swoon to think of the money spent on the production of this show!
Oh, my word!!

I had very little background on the British royal family during this particular time period and I was excited to find that there were so many things that made perfect sense to me because I had a bit of a backstory about it from watching Upstairs, Downstairs (& how profoundly it effected the "real people" downstairs).

It is so good!!!
SO, so good!!

Olivia really had no idea who Winston Churchill was aside from a name that has been attached to some quotes in her history class. This series awakened a genuine interest in history for her when it brought to life people that she had only read about in school. I think it delighted me more than anything that she wanted to watch it with me!

I cannot wait for season two of this one (even though we all know what will happen with the British Royal family in this century, it will be fun to see it brought to life).

If you loved The Crown season one, you might also like the movie The Queen starring Helen Mireen.



So, what about you?

Have you seen any good ones this year?

I have been tickled to death to catch these & I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I have!

Leave a comment below or hop over to the Crafty Southern Mama facebook page and share some of your favorites, I would love to hear them!


In the spirit of lists & favorites (two of my favorite things to talk about), I'm also putting together a list of BOOKS for my Book Nerd friends (Yes!!! Book Nerds Unite). I'll be back to share that one next week.

If you're getting out tonight for New Year's,
PLEASE,
PLEASE be safe!

If you're not (like me),
pick a show & snuggle up with someone you love...my fave!

Happy New Year, sweet friends!

Mwah,

Mandy




Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016...What a GREAT Year!

2016...WHAT a year!

In the past few days I've been seeing more & more people on social media talking about how HORRIBLE 2016 has been...even my OWN KIDS have shown me posts about how "horrible" this year has been!

I admit, it's been pretty stressful with the election this year & several iconic celebrities passing on; but when I sat down last night and really started thinking about it...
2016 has been SUCH A GREAT year for our family!

Our cup of blessings has spilled over & flooded the whole kitchen!

I decided to put together a little year in review post to share,
it took me all morning to go back through all the fun family things we have done this year!

{Since I haven't blogged much this year, this is going to be a very long recap post with lots of fool ramblings & pictures...don't even say I didn't warn you! 😉}

We started 2016 off with a family day.

Since we have one kid driving now,
it's really hard for all five of us to be together at the same time.

I treasure those meals where we are all together!

I love starting January off with a family meal!


We made a trip to The Frist in January with Grandma & Poppy
to see the Michelangelo exhibit.


We also celebrated cousin Joseph's 4th birthday in January.
In the past year, Evan has really gotten to be big buddies with my sister's two boys (despite their age gap) & it's made me so happy to see him still running around in his underwear being little...because I know those days will be coming to an end way too soon. 😢



February brought us a FABULOUS snow storm that shut us down for a full week!
You can call me crazy,
but I LOVE being snowed in with my people fixing SOUP & hot coco!!
{oh, I love soup...almost as much as my people!!}




When it thawed out, P Daddy & I managed to make it out to a local fundraiser at The Capitol Theater...it was so much fun!!


March came in like a LION, I tell you!

With birthdays...



New rides...


A flash 72 hour race to Disney!




and ended with a fancy knee surgery for poor Olivia...
(which was a blessing & had her feeling like a new person immediately)



April showed no signs of slowing down!

With more birthdays...



A week in Washington DC with Olivia's class...
{on crutches. from surgery. hard core}




College tours...
{stab a mama in the heart, omg}



May came in just as crazy...

Graduation from the Junior Year Leadership Wilson Program
(mama proud)



Junior Prom...



8th Grade Softball Recognition


& 8th Grade Graduation...



Oh, my word!

Does anyone else need a nap?
Let's all pause & take a quick power nap...

{can you see WHY I have not blogged...I can barely keep clean sheets on my bed}

Shew!

And then came JUNE!

Little Miss "I'm Headed to High School" had a LARGE birthday party...




and then we ALL jumped on airplanes in different directions!!

Miss Olivia & P Daddy flew off on the adventure of a lifetime
with a group tour of France & Spain with her school...




{just who does she think she is looking all grown up here?!?!}


and the boys & I flew off to Wild Dunes for a week of
family, little boys, Charleston eating & fun in the sun!


I think in July I took a nap.

Somewhere in there P Daddy & I were actually in the same place at the same time and ran away from home to celebrate being married for TWENTY YEARS!

We spent a weekend relaxing at Barnsley Resort,
it was a quick get away trip for us...
golf, pool, spa, naps...

did I mention naps??

Oh, my word the napping!!!❤



August came long & jerked my tail back to reality...

A harsh reality...


Sigh...


(senior photo courtesy of Kyla O'Neal Photography)

Owen's senior year took off &
took my little infant daughter to high school with it....😢


Senior year football season took off...



and ended a couple of games early with
a mild concussion & a pinched nerve in the neck...
(my nerves...oh, my nerves!!!)


Our football player couldn't get away for fall break this year,
but we managed to fly away for a quiet, relaxing week at Watercolor...

{& suddenly I am in a panic realizing we're about to become a family of four again when this big bird flies out of the nest...they said it would go fast, I sure didn't believe them}




(I don't know how anyone could still be reading this post...)
(except maybe my mama)
((Hi, mommy))

Halloween snuck up on us like...
{snicker}






Somehow,
the infant man child I gave birth to is now old enough to vote...

(what the heck!?!)



We celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving at home
(some of us, ahem in stretchy pants)...




Miss Olivia got to go to her first high school dance...


and mama got to get out quite a bit this fall helping at Iddy & Oscars...


WHEW!!

And all in all, friends...

2016 was one of the most
busy, full & exciting years our family has ever had!



And with
baseball season,
softball season,
graduation season,
senior trip season,
birthday season
& all the other good seasons coming up...

I don't expect 2017 to be any calmer than the last!
(& I wouldn't' have it any other way)

I don't have a single want,
not one single need,
2016 has blessed me
FAR,
far more than I deserve
& I am so grateful for this life that God has given me.

If you're still reading
WAY DOWN HERE
my only wish for 2017 is
for all of you friends to have
good health
and an enormous amount of love....

And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

 Happy New Year, sweet friends!
Much love to you all,
Mwah!
Mandy


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