Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Happy Tuesday friends!  We are expecting some heavy rain and storms tonight and tomorrow, hope you and yours are safe and sound!  Praying for those already affected by this severe weather!

For Easter one of my tasks was to bring a dessert to our family Easter dinner.  Well you all know by now that I recently got a Kitchenaid mixer and I love that thing.  Before it came into my life I was always nervous to bake.  But now, bring on the baking!  Something magical happens when you dump all those ingredients in that bowl and flip the switch!

So, I looked all through my cookbooks Pinterest and found a great looking recipe for Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting!  Friends, they were amazing!   I wish I could make these everyday!  I want you all to have that little taste of heaven in your life so I figured I would share the recipe with you!    Enjoy friends!

Coconut Cupcakes 

  • 1 White Cake Mix
  • 1 large (5.1 oz) box of vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp coconut extract


Mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, oil, water and extract together till smooth. The batter will be thicker than normal cake batter.
Pour into cupcake papers (should fill about 22-24 cupcakes).
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Bake only until the top bounces back up when you touch it. You don’t want to overbake.

Cream Cheese Frosting( yep, I made it!)


  • 2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 2-3 C powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk


Mix all of these ingredients together until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too runny or more milk if it is too thick.  I also added a little bit of coconut extract to taste to my frosting.
Put this in a plastic bag and snip off the corner, then pipe it onto your cupcakes and sprinkle immediately with coconut.

Here is the final product!  Seriously friends, you are going to want to make these, ASAP!

Have a sweet week!  :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Made To Crave Monday {Chapter 5} and a New Look

Friends!  Did you notice the new look of Everyday Blessings?   I am so excited about my new blog makeover! Can't say enough good things about Tessa over at Tales From Outside the Classroom!  She was so easy to work with and really made the vision for my little blog a reality!  Hope you guys love it as much as I do!  Would love to hear what you think!  Ahh, so excited!!

So it's Made to Crave Monday here on Everyday Blessings and I have to be honest with you guys...I am only going to be discussing one chapter tonight for a couple of reasons.

1.  I did not get a chance to really read Chapter 6 yet.  I was out of town this weekend with family and didn't open the book enough!


2.  Chapter 5 was a little tough for me to read.  So I will only share about that one tonight!  We will add chapter 6 next week, so next week will be chapters 6-8.  Hope you guys can handle that! :)

{Chapter 5- Made for More}

The Honeymoon period...man, do I totally agree with that statement!  Even today I fell for that temptation...I am leaving to go out of town again on Thursday, no need to go grocery shopping.  I need something easy to take for lunch tomorrow.  So what did I do, stopped by the Papa John's tent and got a pizza and cheese sticks.  Yes friends, I said it pizza and cheese sticks.  And as I was eating the pizza, I felt terrible.  It didn't taste good, my stomach now hates me, it wasn't worth it!  Why?  Because I was made for more!

Is it just me or is that phrase kinda hard to hear?  I think I have mentioned this on the blog before, but I have a hard time accepting grace.  Now, I am not sure anyone is really great at it, but I am terrible.  I prefer for you to tell me how awful I am, how broken I am, how bad I messed up other than telling me you love me, forgive me, accept me for me.  So to hear that I am made for more is a tough pill for me to swallow.  Does my head know that is true?  Absolutely!  My heart is another story and this is such a big part of this journey for me!  I am still working on forgiving myself of some big ole mistakes of the last couple years, because I honestly didn't think I was meant for much of anything.  And each day I have to make a choice to tell myself I am worthy of the love that is offered to me.  Sometimes that truth comes easily, and sometimes it is simply a struggle.

But friends, we were made for so much more.  I love that Lysa compares it to a victory!  We are meant to be victorious!  Nothing about life, the journey of eating healthier should feel like a heavy weight.  It should offer victory and freedom. I was talking with my sweet cousin this weekend and we both were commenting on how until you really want to change, it won't be a permanent change.  And that is what makes this time different for me I think! It's time to embrace that I was meant for more!

The scripture Lysa shared really hit home with me.  I think it is such a powerful thing to think about on this journey!

{Be Persistent:  "I Keep Asking"}

I will admit this is hard for me.  To ask God to join me in this journey, to lead me in my choices, to help me overcome temptation is hard for me.  I feel weak when I have to depend on other people to help me in my issues.  I should be able to handle them all on my own.  Well we can see where that got me! :) My goal this week is to make this a daily prayer, when I wake up.  God help me remember I am made for more and that you are with me every step of the journey!  Do you struggle with this as well?  How did you invite God to join with you?

{Embrace a True Identity:  "Glorious Father"}

Lysa spoke to my heart in this section as I feel like I also found my identity in my circumstances instead of the fact that I am a child of God.  I would encourage you to write out those statements that she wrote at the end of this section.  Put them on your bathroom mirror, in your car, on your refrigerator as a reminder of who God says you are.  You are more than all the screw ups and mistakes, you are more than the times you have fallen and all the broken parts of your life.  You are loved, made new, set free, forgiven, you are a child of our Glorious Father.  Trust me, I know that is easier said than believed, I just hope we can truly embrace this truth.

{ Find the Deeper Reason:  " So that you may know Him better}

So what is the bigger purpose here, so that we can know Him better.  What a thought!  I know I have such a small picture of the greatness of God.  Part of that is my own cynical heart, my crazy desire to hold onto the hurt because I don't think He will really accept me for who I am.  And as I trust him more with this journey, I know I will see so much more about his character.  Is there any better benefit? What have you learned about God so far on your journey?

{Discover a Power and Hope like no other:  "That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened"}

We must tap into this power and hope that are bigger than ourselves.  We were not meant to go through this life on our own.  May our hearts be enlightened to the fact that we don't have to stay in the same cycles, listen to the same lies, feel like we have to fight these battles on our own.  We have a power that is greater than death that lives in us.   Let's claim this identity for ourselves friends and live in that truth!

What stood out to you in Chapter 5?  Maybe you didn't struggle with this one like I did!  I would love to hear your thoughts, celebrations, struggles! Let's walk this journey together!  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Have a great week friends!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five on Friday

Linking up with the Five on Friday ladies today!  I am currently in Hotlanta on a little family road trip and enjoying being with family this last weekend of Spring Break!  Hope you all are having a wonderful Friday!

{o n e }

How in the world is Spring Break almost over?  I would have loved to have been in the sand and sun but have actually really enjoyed a low key break at home.  One of the big reasons it has been low key is that I am working on my National Board renewals this year and of course I put it off til the last minute! Any readers out there been through the renewal process?  I know I have been stressing about it a little more than I am should and have actually gotten quite a bit completed this week!  May 16th is D Day! :)

{ t w o }

On the way down to Atlanta yesterday, the girls in the car were discussing my current shoe obsession...Jack Rogers.  I need want a pair in the worst way!   The only thing holding me back of course is the price tag.  My very wise Mamaw reminded me that paying for quality is a better investment than buying 5 pair of cheap sandals that will be worn out by the end of the season. So, I think I might take the plunge!  I love these neutral ones, and hope that today we are able to head out for some shopping because a little bird told me that they are 25% off at Saks today! :) 

{ t h r e e }

The whole reason we are here in Atlanta this weekend is to spend time with my super cute little cousin Billy Mac.  Last night we were able to watch him play baseball and it was so much fun being at the field.  Reminds me of the many summers I spent at East Asheville Ball fields with my friends, getting a suicide at the concession stand and playing in the creek.  Great memories for sure!  I am so proud of Billy Mac!  He is an amazing little guy!

{ f o u r }

Next week I am heading out on a trip to California and I am so excited!  I am flying a new airline, Southwest.  Anyone have tips for flying Southwest or for travel in general?  I am looking at possibly getting a new crossbody bag to make travel a bit easier.  I really love this one!  

{ f i v e }

Really loving this quote right now!  A simple message but a choice I have to make everyday!  How will you make today great?

Have a great weekend friends!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Made to Crave Monday {Chapters 3 and 4} and Giveaway Winner

Happy Easter Monday friends!  I sure hope you and your families had a wonderful Easter.  I had read a blog earlier in the week that challenged me to listen to the resurrection story as if it was the first time I had heard it and honestly, that was great advice!  As I listened to the story at church, I was overwhelmed at the story, Jesus is Alive!  Such beautiful words!  And I spent the rest of the day with my family.  What a glorious day!  Here is a little picture, just in case you didn't get enough yesterday!

Today we are jumping into Chapters 3 and 4 of Made to Crave and I am really excited about these chapters.  I also just want to say thank you to those of you who have commented on the blog posts, stopped me with words of encouragement, or are reading along with us.  It is such a motivator for me to hear your thoughts, successes, and frustrations!  It lets me know we are not alone on this journey!

{Chapter 3- Getting a Plan}

There was a small part of me that wanted to skip this chapter, only because I know this is a big area of weakness for me.  Friends, I am not a planner.  No part of me likes to be nailed down to a specific plan. As a teacher, those plan books with the little boxes gave me an anxiety attack.  My friends will tell you I like to be spontaneous, fly by the seat of my pants if you will.  But I am learning more and more in this journey of health that planning is key.  Probably one of the most important things we can do.  And that takes me out of my comfort zone and adds another layer of struggle for me!  

One of my great friends says this little saying all the time, 

And I am finally starting to realize she is right.  When I don't take the time to plan, I am setting myself up for failure.  This makes sense to me in my everyday life, but I had not really thought it applied to my eating life!  Part of the struggle comes in that I don't like to make decisions.  Have you ever tried to go out to eat with me?  My famous saying is, "I don't make eating decisions." So add that to having to plan out healthy eating decisions, whew, I am overwhelmed.  But just like Lysa talked about on page 35, we have to invest time and energy to make it happen, to make anything happen.  I am certainly one of those people who wants to see the results without having to do the work.  

"My changes were always temporary; therefore my results were also temporary." (pg. 38)

One thing that I am probably the last person on the earth to actually do is to make a grocery list.  This has really helped me when I go to the store.  I am sure it is mental, but if it is not on my list, I don't get it.  It is a choice, and yes, I can still put those chips in my cart, but the list is one little way I try to hold myself accountable!  If it doesn't end up in my cart, it doesn't end up in my pantry!  Another reason I think this is a struggle for me is that I am cooking for 1 which can be really tricky!  I am not a huge fan of leftovers, so I have to be strategic in what I buy. I don't want to waste all that good food I am buying! What ways do you plan friends?  

The word or thought that really stood out to me in this chapter was the word SACRIFICE.  What an appropriate word to be reading about during this past weekend.  In order for this to be a permanent change, one that sticks, I am going to have to sacrifice.  And not just sacrifice no more salt and vinegar chips.  For me it means also sacrificing time.  Unfortunately going to the grocery story and food prepping don't happen by themselves. The sacrifice might not be my favorite in the moment, but in the long term will be the best thing for me.  

What are your thoughts about Chapter 3?  Please give this planning challenged gal some tips! :)

                               {Chapter 4- Friends Don't Let Friends Eat before Thinking}

"We must be aware that desperation breeds degradation.  In other words, when what is lacking in life goes from being an annoyance to an anxiety we run the risk of compromising in ways we never thought we would." (pg. 42)

Wow!!!  This chapter spoke volumes to me friends, especially that quote.  This is something I have been fighting with for the past couple of years in my life.  And the toll it has taken on my life has been devastating.  I really think it is one of the reasons I am on the journey to becoming healthy.  I made some choices, things I never thought "I" would do.  But Lysa (and yes I use her first name because I am pretty sure we would be friends) makes such a great point, when we are anxious, are put in positions we didn't see ourselves being put in, when the immediate feeling overshadows the long term affects, we do things we never thought we would do.  

I had never thought to lump food into that category as well. In my mind it was just the "big" choices in life.  Not the everyday choices that were included.  But she is right...everyday and every moment is a choice.  And when we have failed to plan we get anxious and the unhealthy choice becomes the easy choice.  Which for me leads to a path of bad choices.  If I eat one bag of Starburst jelly beans, I might as well just go ahead and eat 2.  I have already screwed up!  

I love this verse, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert."  {1 peter 5:7-8}  I had never really paid much attention to verse 8, but is speaks volumes to me and this current journey.  I must be self controlled and alert to be successful.  And this is where having those friends to do this journey with you is so important! 

I am so thankful for friends who have really stood by me in this slow and purposeful journey to get healthy.  I know I would have never been able to step foot in a gym if it hadn't been for a dear friend meeting me there, saving me a treadmill, holding me accountable, challenging me to push myself!

This is us on our first workout of 2014!

And I wouldn't have ever started blogging about this journey if it hadn't been for a reunion with a sweet friend as well!  

I know my challenge in this area is a friend who I am more accountable to about my food.  And I am totally on board with Lysa in this, I think the reason I haven't reached out to someone more about this is I am afraid of letting them know I failed.  But what I have learned in the past few months over and over again is the importance of GRACE.  If a day doesn't go as I think it should, tomorrow can be better. If I eat a cupcake, make tomorrow different.  I am praying that the Lord would make it clear who I am to ask to help me in this area.  I love the idea of sharing my eating plan for the day with someone.  And probably the biggest thing I need to remember is to find people who will pray for and with me during this journey!  I would be honored to pray for you friends as well, leave a comment on the post and I will certainly pray with you as you make the choices that are best for you!  How do you hold yourself accountable?  

Whew..that is a lot for these two chapters, but I am loving them!  And excited about the journey ahead!  So leave your thoughts in the comments, let's support each other!  Chapters 5 and 6 next week...can't wait!

And for the even better news...Congrats to our giveaway winner, be on the lookout for an email! :)

Have a great week friends...


Friday, April 18, 2014

Five on Friday

Excited to link up with Five on Friday today! 

{O N E}

Y'all, do you watch Scandal?  This show messes with my mind and I love it!  One thing I look forward to every week is heading over to my friend Kristi's house, piling up in her bed and watching Scandal! And I don't even mind staying up that late on school nights!  Tonight's episode was ridiculous.  Who saw all that coming?  I am a little sad that this was the season finale and we have to wait til fall to find out what happens with Jake and Liv and Fitz and Mellie.  Here is how Kristi and I felt after the finale...
{T W O}

Last weekend I went to visit my grandmother for a day and one of her favorite things to do is to go grocery shopping!  Her town does not have only Lowes grocery like we do so I love being able to go to the Ingles to find some of my favorites.  I had seen this Black Bean Hummus there a few weeks ago and I knew I really wanted to try it.  And I am so glad I did.  It is amazing!  I ate it with tortilla chips pretty much everyday this week!  I also am a big fan of the fact that is made in Asheville! :)

{T H R E E}

Last year I heard about a great organization called Bead for Life which empowers Ugandan women living in extreme poverty by teaching them a trade.  These women make the most beautiful handmade beads into jewelry and the organization sends you a box of assorted items for you to host a bead party!  All the money goes right back to the women to help support their families.  I have a huge heart for Africa so I decided to host another party this year!  I can't wait til May 8th to host some of my friends for a Bead for Life party!  Check out their website to learn more and how you can help!  This year in my box they even sent me a surprise treat and I LOVE it!  I think the color is beautiful!  If you live in the Hickory area, please join me on May 8th to check out all the beautiful stuff!

{F O U R}

Anyone out there subscribe to a box, like Birchbox or Julep?  I had subscribed to Birchbox for about a year and really loved getting the treats in the mail once a month.  Over the past couple of months though, I wasn't really impressed with the products that were showing up in my boxes, so I decided to cancel my subscription.  Because I loved getting the mail so much, I did a little research on a new subscription and found one I am so excited about.  It is called Mission Cute (don't you love the name?) and the thing I love about it is that is partners with a non profit each month and 50% of the proceeds go to that non profit.  They have even supported some non profit organizations here in NC.  The other thing I love is that the items in the box are from small businesses and local artists.  I got my first box this week and I was so excited about it!  

I am a sucker for cute packaging!  Loving that polka dotted tissue paper!

Here is the non profit they are partnering with this month!  

And here are the goodies that were in my box!  Inside was a handmade candle made in NC which smells divine,  a super cute necklace, a new key chain and a handmade print!  So cute!

Friends you should totally check out this fun new organization!  I can't wait til May's box!

{F I V E}

It is finally Spring Break and I couldn't be more excited!  I am looking forward to no alarm clocks, leisurely lunches with friends, time with family and just some overall relaxation!  

Hope you all have had a great week!  Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the Worth of the Dream conference ticket!  

Have a blessed Easter weekend!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

She Dreams Giveaway!

I love when my friends follow their dreams and pursue their God given passions!  And there is no doubt my sweet friend Breeze is doing just that!

I met Breeze through another one of my friends and was instantly drawn to her bubbly personality and caring heart.  We had the opportunity to serve together for a few summers at Truett Camp and again was just blessed by her kindness.  Breeze has a way of searching out the person who might be on the outskirts and helps to make them feel that they are part of the group.  What a gift!

Over the last few years the Lord has been weaving a dream together for Breeze which involved encouraging and equipping women both young and old to realize their dreams to give them the courage to pursue them with passion.  This spring her dreams are becoming a reality as she has launched a ministry called, She Dreams ministry!  Such a cool name don't you think?  Check out Breeze's blog for more of her story!

To kick things off, She Dreams is hosting a Worthy of the Dream, a Women's Conference in Hayesville, NC!  I am excited to help with some of the logistical aspects of the conference and can't wait to hear from Breeze and other great women about how God is working in their lives.  And here is the great news...I am giving away one ticket to the conference!

Yes friends, you can go and share in a day of encouragement, love and equipping!  Here are the details about the conference:

I am so excited about this and hope you will make every effort to join us for this great event!   The giveaway starts tonight and will end on Monday! Check out all the ways you can earn an entry in the giveaway..

 Sure hope you will join us for Worthy of the Dream! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Sure hope to see you at Worthy of the Dream!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Made to Crave Monday {chapters 1 and 2}

Anxious.  Nervous.  Excited.  Scared.  Hopeful.  These are just some of the emotions that I am feeling as we start this journey through the book Made to Crave.  My mind has been racing, excited to see what the Lord will do through the reading and processing of this book, but also because I am scared I will fail.  I know that this is not a magic fix to a problem that has been a stronghold in my life for a long time.  But I also know that I am not sure I can let myself down one more time.  (Whoa, you guys might not want to know all this personal stuff).  :)  

I am also nervous because I have never done a book study on my blog before.  I don't really know what I am doing!  I am sure there are a million better ways to approach this but this is the format we will use. Each week we will read 2 chapters of the book. On Mondays, I will post my thoughts on the chapters, things that stood out to me, aha moments, areas I struggled.  And you guys who are reading along with us can post your reflections and thoughts in the comments on the post!  So let's get started!

Today we are going to discuss the Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2.  Did anyone else feel like the introduction could have been a chapter in itself?  There was so much great stuff in those few pages. Here are a few things that stood out to me in this section of the book.


"It's not the 'how to' I'm missing.  It's the 'want to'...really wanting to make changes and deciding that the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice." (pg. 11)

Isn't this so true!  I know how to do many things...keep my bed made, put my laundry away, get enough sleep.  But what makes the biggest difference is the want!  I know that an apple is a much better choice but gosh that ice cream sure is yummy!  Anyone else struggle with the want?  

"I knew certain things about myself needed to change but it was easier to make excuses than it was to tackle them head on." (pg. 13)

This is one area of my life that I have struggled with forever.  I am the queen of excuses.  And I know this about myself.  I can rationalize just about anything.  And when it comes to food and eating choices, I am a master.  Here are a couple of my favorites:  It's so hard to cook for one person.  Eating out is how I socialize with people. I am a terrible cook.  Yep, I probably use these weekly daily if we are honest.  I hope that the Lord will change my heart with this.  It is not longer about an excuse.  Time to face the facts!  

Chapter 1

First off, random thought.  Is it really a hunger "pang"?  I think my whole life I referred to them as hunger pains.  Oh my, guess I looked foolish!  

I enjoyed this chapter, but can already feel the little push back in my heart about what is going to come. Not a bad thing, a necessary thing.  I love this idea that God made us to crave- to long for, to want greatly, to desire eagerly, even beg for something.  But it's not really just something, He made us this way to CRAVE HIM!  Our craving was never meant to be for food, money, alcohol, sex.  It was for God and only God.  Such an area where I fail.  I realized as I was reading this, that in the last few years, I think I have been craving everything but God.  It makes me sad and embarrassed to admit that and make that statement public (well, public for you 10 people who read my blog).  I long for many things, want many things greatly, but if I were to take an inventory of what topped that list, I am not sure a deep relationship with God is there.  

"But Satan wants to do everything possible to replace our craving with God with something else.  He knows where we are weak!"

Amen, Sister!  Satan is such an intentional enemy.  The fact that he knows our weaknesses so specifically and uses them to lure us away from a loving God blows me away.  I don't want to sound cheesy with this but man it is so true!  I have a weakness for being accepted.  I crave people to value me, to find me worthy.  And over the last few years, Satan has used this weak part of my character to tempt me with things I never knew I would be. And while that has nothing to do with my food choices, it has everything to do with being prepared and ready for those temptations.  What did I do in the moment, I gave in.  What do I do when I go through the drive thru in the morning to get coffee, get a biscuit too.  Even though all the way to the McDonalds, I told myself over and over that I was not going to.  Do you have any areas where you feel weak as well?  I am comforted in some ways that Jesus was tempted too.  But the difference between Jesus and me, well first off he is Jesus and the other is truth.  He was covered in truth, and I love the idea of having scripture to quote when those cravings come up.  

I loved the verse Lysa shared at the end of Chapter 1.  "Everything is permissible- but not everything is beneficial" (1 Corinthians 10:23).  I am going to make a cute printable of this to hang on my fridge as a reminder that not all choices are beneficial for me!  What verses are your go to verses?  What were your Chapter 1 take aways?

Chapter 2

After reading this chapter, I now know why I haven't lost all the weight I want to, it's the ponytail holder! :)  The description of the ritual of getting on the scale, not seeing progress, eating the cinnamon rolls, etc sounds oh so familiar.  Is that only me?  I sure hope not!

Probably the most powerful words I read in this chapter are two very simple words, but they are resonating with me for some reason. 

"Always later" (pg. 28)

That seems to become my mantra when I am looking at making healthy lifestyle changes.  I will start on Monday are also popular words.  But what is so special about Monday?  Nothing!  It just buys me a little more time to spiral down the path of hopelessness.  And something if I am really honest everything about this journey seems hopeless.  

"This wasn't really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart." (pg. 28)

When I read this my immediate thought was actually it is about the clothing size.  But when I really stopped to reflect and ponder what this meant, I am convinced it is not about that.  Of course a smaller clothing size will be nice. Very nice, I do love to shop for new clothes.  But ultimately it boils down to that one really tough question that is posed in this chapter.  Is it possible "Is it possible we love and rely on food more than we love and rely on God?"  Ouch!  I am not sure I rely on food more than God, but sometimes I think I certainly love it more.  In a lot of ways, food equals joy to me.  I eat when I am celebrating things, when I am happy.  Think about it when it is time to celebrate a friend's birthday what is one of the first things you do, think about where you want to go out to eat!  And there is nothing wrong with that!  I will continue to enjoy those celebrations with  my friends.  But what this chapter has got me thinking is that I need to ask for strength in those times when food becomes a temptation.  And I feel really stupid saying that.  But it is true.  Judge me if you need too.  I need strength when it comes to making smart choices with my food!  I need to pray when I am thinking about food when I am not hungry.  And allow my heart to change in the process.  Don't get me wrong here, will there be some days when girl scout cookies are just what I need to feel better, yep, I am going to say yes!  But can I be more conscious of asking the Lord to satisfy me in those times, yes, I sure can! 

The question that I think I am going to spend some time on in the next couple of days is this one, what motivates me to want to eat differently?  Is it that I think my life will all the sudden come together if I lose weight?  Will I find the family I have been longing for for so many years?  Will all the hurt places in my heart magically disappear if I lose weight?  I am not sure of my answer here yet.  This one is hard for me.  But I can slowly feel the tide turning in this area of my life.  

So friends, what is your take away from these first 2 chapters?  What aha's did you have, what questions are you pondering?  I am so excited to hear your thoughts. Don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Let's do this journey together!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Freindly Weekend

What an incredibly beautiful weekend!  So thankful for 3 days of sunshine and warm temperatures!  I would like to think this means that spring is here to stay, but you know this week we dip back into the 
50s and lows in the 30s.  Geez!  

I have been excited for this weekend since March!  My sweet friend Sarai's birthday was in March but due to busy schedules and such, we had not been able to get together to celebrate until this weekend! And friends, I love a girls weekend in Asheville!  

So on Friday I loaded up the car, loaded up Lola (the dog I am dog sitting) and we made our way to Asheville!  Isn't Lola just the cutest? 

I dropped Lola off with Momma Suz, she babysat for the weekend and then headed to Sarai's house in Mars Hill!  We decided since most of us would be traveling Friday night that it might make more sense to stay in Friday night!  Lori and Beth picked us up some takeout from Panera and we enjoyed a fabulous evening in full of laughter, conversation, and friends.  I am so thankful for these gals, and that we have the type of friendship that just picks up right where you leave off!  

One of our many traditions is that we must have a birthday cake that has something crazy wrong with it, well this year did not disappoint!  When Beth and Lori stopped to get the cake they asked the person at the bakery to write "33 and Awesome" on the cake...well this is what we got!  

Saturday morning we headed out to town for brunch and some shopping!  We hit up one of my new favorite places for brunch, Another Broken Egg Cafe!  It is so yummy and such a quaint little place in Biltmore Park! We decided to get the Cinnamon Roll French Toast as an appetizer, and friends, this might have been the best decision I have ever made in my life.  I wish I had a picture of it, it was unbelievable!  
Me and the Birthday Girl Sarai!  Love this gal and thankful for a chance meeting at WCU!
Beth and Lori!  Such blessings in my life!

As we were leaving, we couldn't resist the chance for one more group photo!  These sweet girls who were coming into the cafe offered to take our pictures by telling us that they could save us from the selfie!  So funny!  Little did they know that we have the best selfie taker in the world in our little group of friends!  :)

We shopped around Biltmore Park for a while.  Well actually we spent all of our time in Charming Charlie trying on jewelry and fun stuff!  I really love that store and love how they have their things organized and the prices are great!  

Sarai mentioned on Friday night that she had never been to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, so I insisted that be on our list of stops for Saturday!  So we headed downtown to visit one of my absolute favorite places!  And friends, if you have never been there you must go!  Everything is so delicious!

Not sure how this is the only picture we have our treats, but this is the Lavender Brulee!  And it is amazing!

I drove to my Mamaw's Saturday afternoon to meet up with my mom and pick up sweet Lola!  And today has been spent catching up on housework, doing some food prep and just relaxing and dreaming of spring break!  This week I have a 4 day work week and I couldn't be more ready for a break from school!  Loved having this seriously fabulous weekend to help prepare me for this week! 

And friends don't forget that tomorrow is our first Made to Crave Monday.  I am so excited about this journey!  I have spent some time today reading and preparing to share my thoughts with you about the introduction and the first 2 chapters!  I will post my thoughts tomorrow evening and would love for you to join in on the conversation in the comments!  It's going to be great!

Did you read this weekend?  What else did you do to refresh for the week? See you tomorrow!  Have a wonderful Monday friends!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Reunion and Exciting News

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend I probably had not seen in around 20 years.  Through the magic of Facebook,  we had chatted a few times and when I found out she was going to be in Asheville for vacation I knew we needed to make a point to see each other.  And I am ridiculously glad we did!  I will admit, I was a little bit nervous, I mean 20 years is a long time and Facebook can be sometimes be a little deceiving.  But friends, this meeting was exactly, I mean exactly what this heart needed!  

Carly and I have known each other since elementary school.  We spent many summer days at the East Asheville ball field, soaking up rays at the East Asheville pool.  I had my first wreck in her driveway.  We spent countless hours at each others houses, at OM meetings and various other things.  But like with so many other relationships, life got in the way.  We drifted apart and then college came, Carly moved to Montana after college, I stayed in NC,  and honestly after that I don't think we ever talked or saw each other.  I did have contact with her mom over the years as we both volunteered at a retreat. I would get my Carly updates from her mom and loved keeping up with her through her momma. 

This meeting this past week was a special one though, we were able to meet as not only friends but sisters in Christ.  And I really can't explain how good it was for my soul.  I am not sure a smile left my face the entire 3 hours we sat at dinner!  I know people say this a lot but it really was as if no time had passed since I had seen her last!  

And it was super fun to have our mommas there as well!  I think this will be the first of many mother/daughter dates for us four!  Well, as long as Carly comes back to visit! :)

These past few months, I have been trying to change some harmful habits in my life, mainly in the area of fitness and food.  Food has always been my enemy.  Well, actually in my head food was my friend, one of my best friends.  I ate when I was happy, I ate when I was sad, I ate when I was celebrating or depressed.  I looked to food as my comfort.  I guess it is the same way some people look to drugs, alcohol, shopping (oh, shopping might be my friend too :) ).  I looked to food to fill a void that it was not meant to fill.  And in the process I started to slowly really dislike myself.  

This year with the help of several friends, I have decided it is time to take charge of that area of my life.  I fully accept the fact that I will never be a size 4.  And I am totally ok with that.  But I do want to be healthy, to feel good, to be happy with the Brooke I see in the mirror.  I have seen some success, it is slow, it is hard, it is challenging.  But everyday is a new day, a day full of choices and grace.  I have had some great weeks, where the scale has been my friend and there have been weeks where I have screwed up in big ways.  The beauty of this journey for me right now though is that for everytime I make a mistake, I can choose to make a different choice next time.  I am slowly, and I do mean slowly learning what grace really looks like.  

What does all this have to do with having dinner with a long lost friend?  Well, that night at dinner Carly challenged me.  She actually kinda pushed me out of my comfort zone a little bit.  And it was a good thing.  I am really very thankful for her boldness in asking me some hard questions and for causing me to think about some things in a new way!  One thing she mentioned to me was a book called "Made to Crave".  She shared that this book had led to some great reflection and revelation in her life and might be one I would want to check out.  Little did she know this book had been on my shelf for the last several years.  At the time I bought the book I wasn't really ready to be on the journey I am on now.  I wasn't ready to think about why I seemed to turn to food instead of God, friends, family, my support system.  But now I think I am ready.  Am I scared?  You have no idea!  I am not one that really likes to come face to face with her shortcomings or weaknesses.  I am a much more of a 'out of sight, out of mind' kind of girl.  However, I know this is the time to face these things head on.  

This is where this little blog comes into play!  I need to be help accountable.  So I am going to do a book study through my blog.  For the next 9 weeks I am going to use Mondays on the blog as Made to Crave Mondays.  

I am going to read 2 chapters each week and share my thoughts, questions, struggles, etc on the blog.  I have never done anything like this before, but I know that this will be a good way to process this book and keep me accountable to actually finishing it!  And I would love for you to join me in this journey! Maybe you have struggled with food as well, or maybe you satisfy those cravings with other things and are ready to let that go.  I would love for you to share your thoughts as well!  

If you think you would like to join up with me on Mondays to share thoughts about this book, go grab a copy!  Here is a link to the book on Amazon!  Right now for the Kindle it is only $4.99!  :)  Next week we will be diving into the intro and Chapters 1 and 2.  Next week I will post a reading plan for the entire book so you will know what is coming!  

Thanks for listening to my rambling about this journey and for all the ways you encourage me!  Can't wait to see the results of this next step!  And so thankful for long time forever friends!  :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend Update

Gosh, I could get used to weekends full of friends, celebrations and good times!  I was so excited to host two of my sweet friends at my house this weekend, Alisha and Beth!  It just so happened that Alisha's birthday was this past Thursday, so I knew we needed to celebrate that as well!  
Every girls weekend needs a yummy beverage to get it started, so while waiting for the girls to get here, I made a little Sangria to go along with our Mexican fiesta!  I just picked up a bottle of Sangria at Lowes Foods and added a some granny smith apples and oranges!  So yummy and refreshing! 

I added the girls initials to some mason jars to add a little personalized touch!

Friday night was so fun eating, catching up, laughing and celebrating with the birthday girl!  It is always so refreshing to have people in my house.  I love it, absolutely love it!

First selfie of the weekend! :)

Birthday goodies!

Happy Birthday Alisha!

Saturday morning we were lazy and then headed to a local restaurant for brunch.  It was so yummy and the restaurant had the cutest decor!  Great conversation and great food made for a great morning!

We spent the day Saturday shopping around Hickory, of course I didn't buy anything but it was just so nice to have these girls in my town.  We went up to the Tap Room in the afternoon to enjoy some beverages and appetizers.  Really the perfect way to end their visit!

It is always sad to see friends go, I was so thankful for this time with these gals!  They are such strong, confident and caring women!  After they left, I loaded up in the car and headed to Charlotte to meet up with another friend for a fun night!

Beth and I love some Dave Barnes and we were so excited when we found out he was going to be playing at a local theater in Charlotte!  It was obvious that we would get tickets!  I love hanging out with Beth!  The concert was at the Neighborhood Theater in the NoDa area of Charlotte!  I had never been there before and I LOVED it!  It kinda reminded me of the River Arts District in Asheville.  Eclectic people, fun restaurants, street vendors, bars and music venues. We ate dinner and then headed to the theater for Dave!

If you have never heard Dave Barnes, I highly recommend!  He is a very talented artist from Nashville and not to mention he is hilarious!  He wrote the song "God Gave me You" that Blake Shelton made famous!  This concert was super and a great way to end the weekend!  I was pretty excited that he played my favorite song, Until You

Today I have stayed in my pjs all day and been super lazy!  And I wouldn't trade it for the world!  Hope you all had a great weekend!  I am excited to share some exciting news on the blog tomorrow, hope you will come back and check it out!  I hope lots of you will want to join in!  Have a great Monday friends! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Looking like Spring

This week has been glorious!  The sun has been shining, the flowers blooming and the temperatures rising!  Nothing makes me happier, spring is here friends!  One thing that I really love to do when a new season is upon us is spruce up the decorations in my house.  Tonight I worked on adding a little spring to my sun room!

Here is the whole set up!  I purchased this table when I first moved into my house and really love what it adds to this room!  We are really lucky to have a ton of quality furniture stores in Hickory, the furniture capital of the world!  Excuse the mess underneath, those are all my cute paper products!

I fell in love with this burlap bunny banner at Target a week or so ago, isn't it so cute?  I left it there the first time I saw it, but I knew it needed to be in my house this spring!  And friends, it is a steal, only $5.99!  I love it so much!  And the 3 tier piece is a find from Zulily!  So fun!  The shutters were rescued from my friends The Lemkes!  They were going to throw them out and I figured I could find something to do with them! I think they add a lot to this wall!

Often I tell people my spiritual gift is "fonting".  I love to write, try new fonts and a chalkboard is a really great way for me to use those skills! If you write on a chalkboard, I highly recommend you get chalk markers instead of using real chalk.  Sometimes real chalk just don't go on as smooth and dark.  I love these chalk pens I found on Amazon!

I hit up my favorite store on Monday, Hobby Lobby and got a big bag of Spanish Moss to add some green to my spring decorations.  I think the color adds a lot to these glass containers I also got there.  I had been on the lookout for some colorful, non-plastic eggs and couldn't find them anywhere.  Pier 1 is near Target, so I stopped in and found just what I was looking for and that sweet little rabbit!

The vases with flowers and the small vases were a target find several years ago.  Gotta love target clearance!  I really like what they add to the set up!

How do you decorate for spring?  I would love to hear your ideas!  Have a great Friday friends!
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