My First Giveaway // A Pendant Necklace

Hello!  Welcome to my FIRST Giveaway!  My sweet friend Meghan, owner of  Ellie and James, was so gracious to give away one of her wonderful pendant necklaces for all of you! These necklaces are absolutely amazing, and her custom designs are beautiful.  She offers a variety of shapes, sizes, colored metals, and lengths with pre-made designs to custom. These necklaces are great gifts for your besties, mothers, aunts, and friends- right in time for the holidays!  Meghan is such a unique and wonderful person and I am blessed to be able to call her friend.  She has a great story behind why she started this online company-so without further adieu: Meghan

Meghan and her family

"After spending six years as a high school math teacher, I left the classroom to stay home with my daughter, Ellie, and soon our son, James, who we are currently in the process of adopting from South Korea. After a short two months home I found myself searching for new hobbies and completing DIY projects around our new house. I stumbled upon map pendant necklaces and decided it was the perfect gift for my sister for her birthday. I made her a map of Barcelona and loved how it turned out so I made a South Korea necklace for myself. Soon I realized the possibilities... if it fit in the pendant tray then I could create it! I have an M.A. in EdTech and have loved web design, graphic design, and working with technology since I can remember.

After creating necklaces as gifts I began to sell at local craft boutiques and opened shop online! I love telling your story and spend much of my design time working with customers to personalize their jewelry. Again, if it fits I can create it!

Feel free to contact me with questions or requests anytime. I would be happy to work with you! Thank you for supporting my shop, which is assisting us with travel costs to South Korea to meet our son! :)"

Check out Meghan's various platforms: 

Website                         Instagram @ellieandjames                     Facebook                      Etsy Store

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Why Comparing Sucks // Be You

Me and my beautiful baby girl. {Photo cred: My sis}

Why? Why am I not like her?  Why do they have such an amazing relationship?  I want to know scripture that well! Why can't I be more direct? Oh gees the list goes on and on-sometimes unbenounced to us too.  Why?  Why do we do this?  Does it even help in any way at all?  All comparing does is create this insatiable envious monsterbot who is not satisfied with life , keeps you in a slump, and causes bitterness. Ugh!

Well...today loves be encouraged:

 Be different.  
Be confident
Be who you want
Be you.
Just Be...

I have heard quite a bit in conversation, he or she was 'playing the victim role.'  This is where maybe in a real life scenario you didn't want so and so to go to some event because you couldn't go so you say something like, "You always do things when I'm busy." Or "Well maybe I had something planned, but you just seem to have your own agenda" (Victim mentality)  I struggle with this. This passive aggressive, not saying what I am really feeling in the moment thing. I often shudder and retract, thinking that I am okay with a decision I made and I really am not.  

Take Ownership!

If you don't like something-change it!  Be in charge!  When we compare and compare and compare ourselves to friends, to family, heck even strangers, we take on the victim role.  That role gets us stuck and it can be a sick twisted cycle of nasty if we don't get out! Taking ownership, initiative and satisfaction in ones life helps refute the monster of comparison.  When we are met with love in those deep places in the fabric of our being, it is there that we begin to see self worth.  

How do we allow love in those deep places? 

 (More to come on this-so stay tuned)

Community is where we discover. Community is where we can learn and be vulnerable.  Community is where we grow.  

Now community looks very different from person to person.  I think community can be a very difficult thing to cultivate at various levels; but when we try-the results are the same: being known.
Whether you need to create a space for community within your own marriage, within a friend group, or family.  This process helps the 'just be' mentality and helps rid the "why not me?" mentality.

My husband and I are in the process of finding new ways to create community in our own home.  Whether that be cooking a meal together, reading a new book, or simply asking those random 'first date' questions again, creating that space to be known is important!  You cannot wait for someone else to create it for you.  If you want it, make it happen!  Step out, take courage and be you!

In the words of Shayna: "You do you, and I'll do me."  Such wise words.  Thanks Shayna.

What parts of you do you compare?  Where do you find worth?  How do you create community?


5 Facts About Coffee // Whole Bean, Grounds, Roasters

  1. Types of Beans:
    1. Arabica: 70% of the world consume Arabica beans.  These beans are mild and aromatic-indigenous to Ethiopia and well known as 'mountain coffee.' This kind of bean is known to be the first discovered species.  (We are still talking coffee people ;) This bean has an overall more pleasant taste due to the 50% less caffeine than the Robusta bean.  
    2. Robusta: Commonly known to be indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa-this type of bean  is now found mostly in Vietnam being its biggest exporter.  Robusta coffee has 2.7% caffeine compared to the 1.5% in the Arabica. Because this bean is easier to grow, yields more per plant, and is not susceptible to diseases, it is cheaper.  However, due to its bitter taste, many prefer and uphold the Arabica flavoring. Many coffee companies will put the Robusta in low grade coffee, giving it an extra bitter flavoring.  This coffee is described as strong and full-bodied, with earthy tones.
  2. Longevity of Whole Bean
    1. Beans are perishable once bag is opened and exposed to air.
    2. Keep whole beans in air tight container in cool pantry
    3. Refrigerating coffee does NOT extend shelf life.
    4. Unopened whole beans are good for 1 year
    5. Whole Bean will stay fresh for 21 days
    6. Ground coffee stays fresh for 7 days
  3. Caffeine vs. Decaf
    1. 1 cup of decaf coffee contains roughly the same amount of caffeine in 5 cups of regular.
    2. 10 ounces of coffee contains about 200-300 mg of caffeine; which falls under the normal range for caffeine consumption
    3. Darker roasts usually contain less caffeine because the roasting process burns off caffeine.
  4. Fair Trade Coffee Companies
    1. America's Best Coffee Roasting Co.
    2. Archer Farms
    3. Bear Mountain Coffee
    4. Boston Common Coffee Co.
    5. Look Here to see if your coffee is fair trade
  5. Tools
    1. For those with bigger budgets-I recommend This Coffee Machine
    2. This Air Tight Coffee Container
    3. This Coffee maker is a little more reasonable and super nice

There you have it!  

What things/facts do you know about coffee?  What is your favorite brand? 


Why Is Pride Such a Bad Thing?

Yes I can be a little Prideful Patty. I can feel when pride wants to rear up inside and make itself known. Hi! I struggle with pride. The Bible talks up and down about the affects of pride, the way pride behaves and what pride really seeks. I, like everyone else in creation struggle with pride and trying to control it.

There is good pride and their is bad pride. 
 Today, I struggled with the bad pride.  
Pride that is self-seeking, self exalting and self-righteous.  

The number one person that my pride is tested on the most is my husband.
 (Ding Ding Winner!) Why? Well for starters we are around each other a lot, and two, we are trying to be in community with one another and still trying our best to learn and grow on our own.  When our priorities are mixed up and not on the same page, we are not on the same page.  Feelings get hurt, emotions are sensitive and pride shows itself large and in charge.

I have found that when I am focused on my own circumstances, not taking initiative and not spending daily moments meditating, I am very self-focused, not God focused, husband focused or Riley focused. I find myself wrapped up in the grips of pride and oh how easily I succumb to its ways.

The word of God says:

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Prov. 16:18

"Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1Pet. 5:5

"He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions..". 1Tim 6:4

A few definitions of pride-

  •  It is "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired."
  • a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people
  • a feeling that you are more important or better than other people
  • a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.

So WHY is it so bad?

Pride is ugly because it is self-focused.  When we truly want to love, seek love, be love to all, pride is the opposite.  Pride will tell us that the homeless man is probably lazy, don't give them your money, your hard earned money, that YOU worked for because they won't spend it on anything good.  Pride looks at correction as a threat and attacks.  Pride gives way to bitterness and resentment.  Pride looks inward, while GOD would have us look outward.

Pride wants your world small and narrow, 
while Love,
 God would have your world enlarged
 so that Christ be glorified.

Now, this, this is all being written during the aftermath, the calm after the storm.  The hardest part is living out the knowledge you have stored away. True wisdom shows up in the midst of the storm and unleashes all the knowledge. So how do we access this true knowledge when we most need it?  Spend time with your creator.  Get to know the God who loves, and is not prideful.  Sit and hear the voice of the one who unshackles your chains.  He will give wisdom.  He will give insight.  He will give strength, peace and humility in the midst of your Prideful Patty's!

Share your favorite anti-pride verses. What types of situations do find pride wanting to show up?


Having one of 'Those' days.

I find it difficult, days where Riley is just not herself for whatever reason, to not have thoughts about going back to work. "Work" for the past 14 months has taken on such a new meaning to me.  Days are now filled with unpredictable meltdowns, monotony, and pure bliss and overwhelming joy.  Days are just different being at home because there is no schedule, things just happen, and my time revolves around my daughter and helping her learn and play.  I love it, but I am having one of 'those' days.

I recently picked up an application at a nearby private school to possibly begin to substitute teach.  I have been putting it off for quite some time because I feel like 'staying at home' is what I do and who I am now.  I felt like if I was interested in 'going back to work' I would be letting Riley down somehow.  Like letting someone else take on the responsibility of 'my job' to go out and work would be wrong.

Back story:  I am a guilt-driven person, not a high point in my character-but I am working on it.  I have struggled with asking people to watch Riley in the past-even for a few hours, or even without the proper 1 week in advance thing, for fear that I would be judged somehow.  I know Mom's need breaks and all that, but I kind of have this, well if I am able to stay home because my husband provides that for me, why should I be able to get away from my kid, 'my work' and that be okay?

Literally this goes on in my mind-more than I would like to admit.  I know though that when I really break it down, most people drive to work- (time to themselves), drive home, (time to themselves), have certain day in day out expectations- (set schedule, actual praise for accomplishments), and maybe there own office, (time to themselves).  Breaking it down like this makes me feel a little better. Again, pardon my guilty way of thinking here-I am working on it.  If you do not struggle with this, I would love to hear some of your inner thoughts in the comments below.

Now, here is my other rational:  Prior to getting pregnant, I did not have a career, I was working on that part of my life, but it did not come (the way I expected at least.) I always have wanted to work, provide, make money, grow in a career, help others, and interact with people, but that plan has now been shifted a bit.  I had been working as an aide for a physical therapist for a few years while marrying Drew and then getting pregnant.  I definitely want to continue to be the primary caretaker for Riley, but I need more.

I say all of this treading very lightly because I realize that my life is incredible.  I GET to stay home, I have a kid.  I am super thankful.  Many cannot because they have to work to provide.  Mom and Dad are both providing financially to pay the bills.  I get that, and I am totally not saying that I am NOT grateful for the beautiful gift of staying home.  I am merely saying that I want to experience more, interact more, and I would love for my daughter to experience the same.

I always see her light up when we have playdates, she gets to go to a family members house, or when she plays with her cousins.  She loves variety and she loves people.  I cannot tell you how much she LOVES people.  Sidebar: Literally this happens when we go out to run errands-She will be all fussy in the car for whatever reason, we get inside the store and she is nothing but smiles, blowing kisses and waving to everyone that passes by. She loves people.

Now that she is older and is much more independent of me, I feel a little better about leaving her with someone else.  I think she needs more interaction than what I am giving her, and I think she needs more of a variety.  I guess what I am still struggling with is who to leave her with.  In order for it to really make sense, it would probably need to be family.  Substitute teaching especially at a private school is not going to pay me a lot of money.  If Riley goes to daycare for a few hours, I may end up cutting even.  I am not sure if that part bothers me enough to just not do it.  But then, do you force family to take your money even though they are telling you they don't want it?  They are doing a job and all-which requires a lot of energy, their time, and their sanity.

This is all a big blog of worrying, and questioning and a lot of unknown.  I know there are a lot of you out there that I am sure have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to give.  Whether you stay at home, homeschool, work, do not work, daycare, or whatever-please write your thoughts below.

Here is how I would sum it all up in a few questions:
If I start working, is it okay to just do it for the experience for myself, allowing some break time from Riley, and Riley some interaction for her?

If I go back to work, should it only be if I can bring home enough to not only cover Riley's care, but that my husband can cut something out of his schedule so her can see Riley more?



Oils and Their Smoke Points


Smoke Points 

Cold Pressed


Monday Mama Montage // 5 ways to Engage your Toddler Vol. 9

     My 14 month old is very active, as I am sure are most other 14 month olds. As a stay at home mom, I have found it challenging to keep my daughter preoccupied with exciting activities.  Since finding her new found talent of walking, she has been on the go and it has been quite challenging fulfilling her bottomless pit for adventure and stimulation.   I have found her activity level and overall demeanor to be much happier throughout the day with these five things:

1.  Books: "Moo like a cow"

                My daughter loves being read to.  She will go and pick out a book and come sit on my lap, and it is absolutely my favorite :)  I found that after the first few times reading her books she seemed to be completely bored of them and would close the book before we even finished.  I noticed the books with more stimulation, fewer words, and noises where her favorites- So thus was born the "Moo like a cow" philosophy.  I add in all sorts of noises, questions and comments to those books that may not have as much stimulation going on.  I think it is a great way to learn even more and heck-its fun really trying to Moo like a cow-a real cow. I find we can actually get through all of her books now since I add in different noises and comments to those books that may not have any.

                                                    2.  Park Play time (interacting with kids)

                 I am so thankful for parks.  Oh what would I do without you?  Riley loves them-the swings, the wood chips, the kids, the slides, the wood chips, the sidewalk, the wood chips.  Yes parks are the best, we are there a lot + a great way to meet other people. Win win

                                                 3.    Mom play groups (interacting with kids)

                 Meetup.com.  How I found this site I am not even sure, but it was divine indeed.  Riley was about 8 months old when I really started to get serious about finding Mom groups.  Within just a couple of days I found 2 groups in my town and signed up!  The two groups have since merged into one and we are going strong with 6 consistent member and 6 babes! I am so thankful for these ladies :)

                                                4.   Interactive Workout with music
             I will say with great honesty that this doesn't happen enough-but when it does I am always amazed at how entertained Riley is.  I have some TRX straps and some workout balls in Riley's play room so I have worked out while she was playing a few times- which turned into her just laughing at me as I jumped around.  This always turns into me running after her, and all sorts of other crazy things which result in an epic sweaty workout!

                                                                5.    Sensory Boards
            This little gem I found on Pinterest and made my own!  Yay for actually doing something I pinned!  I made this for her first birthday and is has reaped some good wholesome benefits.  Sensory boards are great from 5 months to 4 years of age.  There are so many gadgets and gizmo's you can attach that will keep your child highly entertained for- well I was going to say hours; but lets be real here.  I would say about 20 minutes. :)

What ways do you engage your toddler? What kinds of activities will you do with future children?


Book Review: "Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety"

Hello ya'll, if you are new around here, no I am not from the south, but yes I sometimes say ya'll. 

Thank you for stopping by, my name is Ashley.

 If you have been looking for a great book to sink into that will totally capture your attention and make you a better person after reading it-this is your book.  I came across this gem while reading Jess Connolly's Blog where she greatly recommended this book.  I looked up the author: Elyse Fitzpatrick and immediately fell in love with many of her book titles.  I was just amazed at how real this lady appeared to be with the plethora of books she had written on real topics.  I was definitely drawn to the title of the book I am now reading-"Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety." Titles like this get me all excited because I really respect women or people who have the tenacity to really unpack deep humanity-filled issues.

The first few chapters have already been so meaty, and worthy of writing down somewhere to be reminded of the great truth that has been revealed.  The author begins with talking about a few women and how fear has affected them, and digging deeper into what fear is, and what we can do to gain tools to overcome.

Some quotes:

"...Fear is a felt reaction to a perceived danger."

"The power or ability to stand in the face of trouble and trials is part of God's gracious gift to His children"

"Undisciplined imaginations are the cause of discouragement and anxiety."

"As I grow in my comprehension of God's love, wisdom , and sovereign power, my trust in Him and ability to refute vain imaginations grow as well."

"Perhaps we think that God really isn't in charge or that He is too far away or too busy to get involved in our day to day lives."

The author goes in to a lot of detail regarding the need to be in control and how that affects our relationships with others as well as God.  She goes on to say that needing to be in control deep down is really a trust issue with God. She traces it back to the garden and the first fear experienced by Eve being that God was withholding something from her.  The fear that she was missing out on something and that her creator isn't giving her His best.

I'm telling you-deep stuff and super informative and encouraging.  I love being able to connect certain behaviors and thoughts to the deep dark stuff!  Woah-calm down Ash!  Ha!  Seriously though this book is incredible so far and I cannot wait to sink in a little deeper.

I am always up for hearing and learning of other books.  My next book interest was recommended by my dear cousin-currently reading "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ-Martin Lloyd-Jones.

What book/s have impacted you?  Do you have a book that dug deep?

I would love to know!


Zany Zoo // Toddler Toy

My daughter will be 14 months in two days and it has been a challenge keeping her occupied, entertained, and playing with a toy for longer than a few minutes.  I realize this is normal for her age and for many of the days, we are at the park.  That is her favorite place to be by far. 

I did find a toy though that really really worked for her, kept her attention, and allowed her to discover.  She continues to play with this toy, even after receiving it 2 months ago.  This brand B. You is amazing and I am so glad we found this toy-thanks to a friend.  My Mom bought this toy for Riley for her birthday and she has loved playing with it.  

As you can see the edges and corners are shaved down so there are no harsh corners, it is very sturdy for those new walkers or those who are pulling themselves up to stand, and it is high entertainment
and learning!
This toy features so many things for your little ones to do:
  • Friends to find
  • illustrated A-Z animals
  • Zigzag race paths
  • Spinny Spinners

This toy won the Creative Child 2010 Toy of the Year


My 10K Training Schedule- 12 Weeks

It is happening.  January 25th I will be doing a 10K Run and am so excited about it!   I am getting back in to running after completing my first half marathon in April with my brother in law.  It was so much fun and a great feeling of accomplishment.  I had always had "Complete a 1/2 marathon on my to-do list and I checked it off!  Well unfortunately I injured myself during the last 4 miles of the run and did some damage to my knee.

All is not lost though. I took some time off, allowed my knee to heal and now I am feeling good!

 I ran 2 miles last week and felt great-no pain at all!  I am eager to share my training schedule with you all and challenge you to find that fitness challenge for yourself.  If you are a runner I encourage you all to look into THIS website for some great tips.

I am choosing to do a 10K because it is 6.1 miles and that just sounds about right.  I just want to take it easy, and really focus on my new and improved way on running.  Yes I said my new way of running.  Apparently there is a certain way to run.  When I trained for the 1/2 I kind of just went out on runs every now and then, had some decent shoes and then ran a half marathon.  I didn't realize that I was the cause of my own injury.  The cause being ignorance.  I had NO idea that I was running incorrectly.  I kind of just thought, 'hey, I am human, I can run!" I didn't realize that we can get into incorrect forms because of shoes, posture, or all around weakness in our own bodies.


This time around I am actually running smarter not harder, and hopefully I will avoid injury. I put together my training schedule, improper/proper running techniques, and beneficial shoes.

Improper Running Techniques:

1. Heel Striking:
2. Over striding
3. Posture

Watch HERE to see the differences in Heel Striking, forefoot and mid foot
 and here for proper posture.

Proper Running Techniques:

1. Neutral Foot
2. Slight forward lean from ankles
3. Active push off

This video shows great posture and tips for proper form in running.  Another thing I did was to record myself running and play it in slow motion to analyze what I was doing wrong.  Being able to see what I was really doing was so helpful.  I also did this when picking out new running shoes.  There are so many stores all over that do this for their customers.  You actually run in the store and they record you, play it in slow motion and then pick a shoe that best fits your running form.

I went to A Snail's Pace and got great service and awesome choices of shoes that best fit my pronating foot.

Shoes are essential when training of any kind.  I do not recommend buying the on sale shoes from payless when it comes to the shoes that will be helping absorb so much impact on your body.  Your shoes should be working for you.

I personally love Asics GT-2000 because of their neutral form and the way they absorb the shock. They are amazing shoes and once you find something that works for you, its best to stick with them.

I hope that in whatever fitness venture you find yourself in, these tips will benefit you in some way.


Goals: *November* {New Series}

November Goals-Happy First of the Month!

I think it is super awesome to post goals online because I feel much more inclined to stick to them!  Knowing people have seen them and could potentially ask me if I completed them adds some pretty nice pressure.  I have been goal setting a lot more recently and really like it.  I recently did a post HERE that described how I was doing that.  I have been pretty good about my October goals, but I definitely want to share my November and really stick to them!  Here they are:

  1. Do a giveaway on my blog
  2. Purchase a yoga pass
  3. Girls Night with my Mom Group
  4. Be diligent pray and research adoption
  5. Majority of Christmas presents purchased
  6. Blog 2x/week--build up repertoire
  7. Substitute teach twice
  8. Get January and February goals made
  9. Plan road trip to cousins
  10. Increase ebay store sales
  11. Complete 2 books (this one and and this one )
  12. Sign up and start training for 10K
  13. Serve at my church in some capacity
  14. Button Swap/purchase ad space on favorite blogs
  15. Start saving for Influence Conference
  16. Be consistent with my women's bible study

How do you set goals?  What are some of your November goals? How do you stay motivated?