Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 11.15

November Goodies

  1. My sister Krista gave me this gorgeous, ultra-cozy scarf for my birthday and I am loving it for the cold weather!
  2. I recently invested in a Dew Drop style diffuser from Young Living, and think it’s so much more classy-looking than my Tulip style Home Diffuser.
  3. Totally obsessed with the SPROUT Pregnancy app. I have about eight different ones on my phone right now, but this is by far my favorite! You can even hear a heartbeat.
  4. I just rediscovered Usborne Books, a home party company that was popular when I was little. I adore the books about Pipkin the inquisitive penguin, especially the one pictured above!
  5. Another current obession? These Tootsie Rolls. Why are they so delicious?!
  6. Caleb and I spent a little time at the mall on my birthday and discovered for the first time LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. If you have a store near you, you’ve got to check it out! Such a cool place. Caleb is especially loving his new mustache wax and deodorant block, pictured above.

What are you obsessing over this month?

You Need a Budget

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I first heard about YNAB, personal budget software from YouNeedABudget.com, just a few weeks after Caleb and I got married. (The timing on that one really couldn’t have been better, right?!) I downloaded the free trial right away and was instantly hooked.

YNAB makes it simple to track every penny of inflow and outflow, and one of my favorite things about it is that there is a mobile app (that automatically syncs with the desktop program) that you can use to enter a receipt as soon as you receive it — it only takes a few seconds. This really helps to keep the pile-up of receipts and checks to record from getting overwhelming! In addition, it’s possible to download transaction history from your credit card sites in order to mass-enter transactions quite quickly.

It’s easy to keep track of different accounts (checking, savings, and credit cards), yet see an overview of all at a glance. The software also comes with some great reporting capabilities that allow you to gauge your spending habits over the past month, year, etc.

While Caleb and I currently don’t necessarily stick to a super-strict budget with each category, it’s still helpful to be able to see exactly where all our money is going and try to put caps on certain categories. I also love that we have history of nearly every income and expense amount we’ve ever had in our 2.5 years of marriage so far, and can use the search tool to quickly locate any given transaction for reference.

So if you could use some help in the budgeting department, or aren’t satisfied with your current method (or lack thereof) of expense tracking, give this software a try! (If you use my referral link there, you’ll save $6 and I’ll get rewarded $6 as well!)

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 10.15

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  1. My friend Rebekah introduced me to Canva the other week, and I can’t stop obsessing over it! My graphic design world just exploded.
  2. A while ago when dishwashing detergent was on my Target shopping list, I checked Cartwheel for any discounts, as I always do. As fate would have it, Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap in Radish scent popped up on the screen. Although I’d never have picked radish from the sound of it, I discovered that it’s my favorite soap scent ever.
  3. Decorating for fall can be so effortless, and straight-from-nature décor is my favorite. There’s a pumpkin wagon near my home that sells all the pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn you could want for super cheap, and though we have no flower beds on our property and the pickings are limited here, I’ve gotten delightful armfuls of bittersweet berries and rosehip branches from friends this season.
  4. I’ve tried different concealers over the years and most recently had been going without since my foundation covers so well by itself, but I decided to give Stowaway a try, and seriously, their concealer is amazing. If you need a new one, I highly recommend theirs.
  5. Another thing I’ve been shopping around for and experiementing with has been facial cleanser. This month I decided to try this one from Young Living with my Essential Rewards points, and it really is fabulous. It’s pricey, but such a small amount is needed each time that I know it’s going to last me for months upon months.
  6. When we purchased my new iPhone last month, our mobile provider offered us such a great deal on an iPad Mini that we couldn’t pass it up. I searched high and low for the perfect classy-looking protectant case for it that would also hold it up for our Sunday afternoon Netflix binge-watching, and couldn’t be more pleased with this one that I finally found on Amazon.
  7. As far as wardrobe accessories go, this hat has been on my head almost more than on the rack this season. It goes with everything!
  8. I grew up with apple cider as a household staple since my dad grows his own apples and makes his own cider, but I’m falling in love with the stuff all over again this fall. Nothing like a steaming hot mug to warm a body up from head to toe!
  9. I’ve got chronically dry skin (well, except for my face, which obviously is hogging all the oil from the rest of my body) and as soon as the weather turns cool each year my knuckles crack and bleed if I’m not careful. Last year I discovered my magic solution: pure lanolin. It doesn’t smell so pretty, but I wear it at night with gloves on and wake up in brand-new skin. (Did you know they make touch-screen-compatible gloves these days? Yeah, pretty swell.)
  10. Favorite food this month? If you’ve spent any time in my home lately, you know I can’t get over these beef brats from Johnsonville. Oh, and they go quite well with the apple cider.
  11. And for aromatherapy currently, the blue ribbon goes to Young Living’s new Light the Fire essential oil blend. It’s the perfect alternative to those fall candles, if you’re wary of what’s in them.

What are you loving right now? If there’s a product you can’t stop raving about, do tell!

Currently on My To-Read List

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I’m reading more these days than I have in years, and feeling relieved that I’ve finally found the discipline within myself to put down my smartphone and pick up a bound book at times. I’ve always been an avid reader, but in recent years I fell into a careless habit of relaxing by reading blog posts and news articles and social media during my free time instead of delving into a book. Fortunately I’ve been able to make a shift in the other direction again, and I’m once again enjoying the brain stimulation involved in committing to finishing a longer work.

The stack waiting for me at my bedside currently includes:

  1. Blog Inc. | Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho
  2. Surprised By Scripture | Engaging Contemporary Issues by N. T. Wright
  3. Sacred Marriage | What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas
  4. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet | Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Haggerty
  5. Strong Women, Soft Hearts | A Woman’s Guide to Cultivating a Wise Heart and a Passionate Life by Paula Rinehart
  6. Go to Church,  Change the World | Christian Community as Calling by Gerald J. Mast
  7. Create Your Own Money-Saving Adventure | by Malea Politis Johnson
  8. Trim Healthy Mama Plan | The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison
  9. The Myth of a Christian Nation | How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church by Gregory A. Boyd
  10. Jesus Wants to Save Christians | A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell & Don Golden
  11. Humans of New York | Stories by Brandon Stanton

Some of these have been on my bookshelf waiting to be read for several years, and my recent KonMari attack brought them to my attention. The ones on this list are the ones I still wanted to read badly enough that I decided to keep them, at least for now.

You can keep tabs on what I’m reading and loving on Goodreads. My goal is to get through the stack by the end of 2015. Then, I can make a new list for the new year! What would you recommend that I add?

My Favorite Apps for iPhone

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In case you don’t know me personally, I will tell you: I am an iPhone addict. My first smartphone was a used iPhone 3 in 2012 and I have never looked back. I recently upgraded to my third one, the new 6s, and AT&T offered us a super sweet deal on an iPad mini that day as well that was too good to pass up. These devices bring me a lot of joy. I know that I am a rich American and that I don’t need or deserve them. But, I am grateful for the way they connect me to people, help me organize my life, and open up my world to infinite learning and discovery.

Here’s a short list of my current favorite apps…

Cortex Camera | My friend Rebekah just told me about this one; it’s a $3 camera app that takes amazingly high-quality pictures (much better than the built-in camera, even on my new 6s which was already a huge improvement over the 5).

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Stylebook | This virtual closet app is still one of my favorite things ever; read more about it here.

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Clue | I’ve tried a lot of different period tracker/fertility calendar apps and this is by far my favorite. The latest update includes a ton of new tracking abilities and it all integrates with Apple’s Health app, if you use that.

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CircleBack | If you’re like me and can’t stand clutter/disorganization with things like your phone/email contacts, use this great little app to manage duplicates and updates. But the best part is that you can mass-delete contacts — something you can’t do using the built-in contacts list on iPhone, for some reason.

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Cartwheel | Love this coupon app from Target. If you’re a frequent Target shopper, you simply must use this! So many money-saving opportunities.

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Couple | This is a little communication app for messages, stickers, location sharing and more for only two people. Caleb and I are sappy romantics and we love it especially for the “thumb kiss” feature. 😉

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OverDrive | My sister recently informed me that you can “borrow” e-books from the library using this app. (Maybe you all knew that already and I’m behind the times?) The Lancaster County Library System that I’m a member of doesn’t have a huge selection, but there are definitely a few good options. Maybe one of these days I’ll become an e-reader.

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Reference Guide for Essential Oils | Everyone talks about the Reference Guide and how it’s a must-have for every essential oil user, but I prefer the electronic version. It’s cheaper than the book anyway ($4) and I have it with me all the time.

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Shopkick | This is one of those “points” apps to use while shopping; you get “kicks” for walking into certain stores, scanning certain items, and purchasing others. They add up slowly but they do add up and it’s a super easy way to earn free gift cards from your favorite stores!

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Think Dirty | I’ve mentioned this one several times before, but in case you’re new here, I use this app to check ingredient info on cosmetic and cleaning products. Makes the research on toxins so easy!

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You Need A Budget | I fell in love with this budgeting software right after we got married. Having the app on my phone that syncs with the software on my desktop makes adding transactions in real time so easy.

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What app(s) could you not live without? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 09.15

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  1. Our grey Southwest blanket from Sackcloth & Ashes is probably one of my favorite purchases of all time. Such a beautiful + practical + worthy investment. I love this company’s vision. And their Insta is well worth a follow — such gorgeous images!
  2. Now that I’m down to only one day a week of working away from home, I get to indulge in the [occasional] luxury of sleeping IN — and this lovely organic linen sleep mask from All Natural Sleep Shop on Etsy is highly conducive to just that.
  3. I’m a sucker for fall candles, and Bath & Body Works’ Leaves scent is my all-time favorite.  What’s more delightful than lighting candles and curling up in a cozy throw blanket to watch an autumn sunset through the window after a productive day of work?
  4. Husband and I both came down with colds last week, so Young Living’s Thieves blend has been a constant in the diffuser around here. I love how the scent alone seems to help provide relief from the congestion and dripping.
  5. Someone told me about Living Clay’s Cleansing Clay Mask in response to my beauty routine post, and I finally got around to trying it. This stuff does not disappoint! Love the feeling of clarity a good healthy mask brings after a day of hard work.
  6. In case you don’t know about Zenni Optical yet, I’m here to tell you how awesome it is to be able to get prescription glasses for so much less than buying from your eye doctor. I paid less than $20 including shipping for mine over a year ago and though I only wear them to give my eyes an occasional break from contacts, they have served me well.
  7. I only learned to know Jen Hatmaker this summer and this is the first book of hers I’ve read, but Caleb and I are both loving 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. If you’re a reader in the least, this needs to be on your to-read list.
  8. Apples + caramel are our go-to snack this season! But I want to try my hand at making a healthier, homemade caramel dip. Anyone have a good recipe to share?
  9. The owner of my favorite local nail salon talked me into trying this hand salve from Sparitual last winter and there truly is none like it. My hands dry out to the point where my knuckles crack and bleed in cold weather, and as the temperatures began to drop this week, I pulled this out to keep close at hand again.
  10. My Pandora charm bracelet is hands down one of my favorite gifts ever. My best friend gave me the bracelet and lovebirds charm as a wedding gift, and she and my husband have both contributed to it since. The memories each charm represents are deeply precious to me and it’s one of my most prized possessions.
  11. I’ve replaced my cheap canvas shoes from my summer capsule wardrobe with these Keds and they might be my favorite fall capsule purchase so far. Versatile + comfy = an easy win, in my book.

What have you been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of your recent discoveries and/or current favorites!

Don’t Miss Today’s Guest Post at Beautiful Undefined

I’ve had the privilege and great honor of writing a guest post for today about capsule wardrobe for one of my current blogger heroes, Alicia, over at Beautiful Undefined. Hop on over and check it out!

Chambray Top Collage
Sneak peek | One shirt, three ways. Versatile pieces are key in a working capsule wardrobe!

My lovely cousin Alyssa styled and shot the photos for this post. We had so much fun together and I was thrilled with the ideas she brought to the shoot + her sharp eye.

Click the links and leave these ladies some love! ❤

Recent Goodie Realizations | Version 08.15

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  1. These water bottles are keeping me hydrated + healthy and cool + classy during these hot summer days.
  2. This hammock is my favorite hiatus.
  3. This book has been so much fun to peruse, since it includes lots of history on the local family business begun by my great-great-grandparents.
  4. This skincare product has been the biggest go-to around our house this month for sunburns, brushburns, bites, rashes, and more.
  5. This fun fashion find has been the most delightful new companion to my capsule wardrobe project. (Read more here.)
  6. These reusable facial rounds are made of the softest organic bamboo fabric and work well with my makeup remover and essential oils. Best thing I’ve ever introduced to my face.
  7. This little friend has saved me so much money: 5% off your entire purchase + 30 extra days for returns + free shipping on every order (no minimum).
  8. These milkshakes — milk + vanilla ice cream (both from Lapp Valley Farm, of course) + fresh or already-thawed frozen peaches — have been on the menu pretty often around here. We don’t even bother to peel the fruit; the skins add delicious texture.
  9. This hat has been on constant rotation since I bought it. Well worth every penny!
  10. This essential oil is my go-to right now. It’s the best scent I’ve tried, for aromatic purposes! (Learn more here.)
  11. This piece is a current wardrobe favorite. It’s going to transition well into fall, too — I can’t wait!