Sunday, October 6, 2013

Welcome to Vlogtober 2013

Hello Fall! Hello October! Hello Vlogtober!

This month I am vlogging everyday (Vlogtober)! *If you aren't familiar with "vlogging", it's basically a daily video blog.*

October is going to be a great month! I look forward to sharing my days with you! Go ahead and pop on over to my YouTube channel (audreyswifelife) and subscribe to receive notifications when I post a new video! I hope you enjoy Vlogtober!



 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday 10: Fall Cleaning Tips

Top 10 Fall Cleaning Tips
 
Fall is here, and I am in the middle of my Fall cleaning!
Here's the countdown of my top 10 tips to get you started on your Fall cleaning!
 
10. Wash ALL of the linens in each room.
Bedding, mattress covers, curtains, throw blankets...
 
9. Work your way from top to bottom.
Start with the light fixtures, walls and blinds - keep working your way down, eventually to the baseboards. Vacuuming or polishing floors should be the last thing you do to complete the room. Don't forget to vacuum out the closets.
 
8. Dedicate more time to the room(s) in your home that you use the most.
Chances are that they are the rooms that need the most attention.
 
7. Start with de-cluttering and organizing the room.
 Look around and donate any items that have accumulated or put them back in their proper place. Pay attention to expiration dates for certain products (like makeup or food) and toss them if they're expired. Also,as you swap out your warm weather clothes for cooler weather clothes, donate any items that you don't want or like or don't fit. Trust me, if you haven't used it in the last 6-12 months, you aren't going to use it/wear it.
 
6. Start with the easiest room.
You will see the fruits of your labor quickly, and it will spark your motivation to continue your Fall cleaning.

31 Days of Baths!

Taking a bath before bed is the perfect way to end the day. I love getting out of a warm tub, hydrating my skin with body butter, and putting on my jammies! Before I slip under the sheets, I massage a little bit of Fair Trade Foot Lotion on my tootsies, and moisturize my hands with LemonyFlutter Cuticle Butter and Helping Hands Lotion (all from Lush).

This summer, I neglected bath time. But, it is time to get back into my bath time routine now that the weather is cooler.
So…this month I am challenging myself to spend 31 days in the tub enjoying my Lush bath bombs and bubble bars! It is time to dig into my Lush stash and use up my goodies! (Also since I will use up most of my stuff, I will be able to get some new bath goodies just in time for Christmas…hehe!)

 
I will post daily pictures of my Lush baths on Instagram (audreyswifelife)! If you want to join in the challenge also, I would love to see your pics!




Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mark's Memo: The Martini that Changed it All...

“Let’s go to my friend’s party.” snaps my father.
“Huh?” I reply.

I hadn’t even been home for 24 hours, and my dad already informed me about an invitation he received from a high school buddy. Little did I realize, an innocent invitation from his friend of 40 years, while I was home over Christmas vacation, would soon lead me to the love of my life.

The date was Saturday Dec 19th, 2005: “Marko, his daughter is graduating from Ball State and he invited all of us to dinner tonight,” says my father.

Barely home for 24 hours, I was being instructed on what I should do.  I was told by my parents they really wanted to go to this dinner at Vera Mae’s, a local bistro downtown Muncie. They met Audrey six months prior when our parents met to start planning their first high school class reunion in over twenty years.

I continued to stare at my parents as if they were smoking something...but eventually I shrugged my shoulders in agreement. “Martinis are on me, Marko!” insisted my father, in hopes that I wouldn’t change my mind.  I decided I would go and make the best of whatever dinner this was.

I threw on a bulky sweater that I dug out of my adolescent closet.  I didn’t wear a coat, but the sweater and faded black corduroy pants were warm...and I’m sure quite stylish.

 
 
Vera Mae’s was beautifully decorated with a stunning 15 foot Christmas tree, situated near the board-room style table where we were seated.  A pianist played the best of Bing Crosby. The atmosphere was cozy and welcoming, which made it easy to enjoy a casual dinner and most importantly…several martinis.  There was only one waiter for over 30 people, so I excused myself and ordered at the bar.
 
 

When I returned to the table and situated myself between my parents…sigh…a very nicely dressed older woman introduced me to herself and her husband.

I learned that they were Joyce and Bill Merrell, the proud grandparents of the graduate, Audrey.  Before I could blurt out common salutations, her grandmother asked me in her southern drawl, “Mark do you have a girlfriend?” After my negative response, she then proceeded to smile and ask, "You’re going to make good money someday, right?” I skittishly smiled, nodded my head in agreement, and said, "hopefully."

I knew then that this casual dinner had evolved into something more than a relaxing evening. I hadn’t met the graduate until halfway through the dinner when Audrey’s grandma introduced the two us by saying, “Audrey, this is Mark Hannaford, who is single and he goes to school in New York.” Unfortunately or not, she made similar statements throughout the evening anytime Audrey was within ear’s shot of our end of the table. Audrey eventually made eye contact with me, which caused her to blush and return the smile. I attempted to be as cool and collective as possible, especially while situated between mommy and daddy.

As dinner was nearing its natural conclusion, and before her grandmother could continue deposing her witness – me…I excused myself and walked towards that sexy lady's end of the table to thank her for an amazing dinner and opportunity to meet her. I don't think martini goggles were involved.  With quite a bit of hesitation, she eventually shook my hand and blushed.

Needless to say, I thought that was it and I would never meet this chick again.
Two days later, her family was at our house for appetizers.  Yes, my parents invited her family over for snacks (her father, step-mom, little sister, age 7 at the time), and Audrey of course. After distracting her little sister with the offer of internet games in the other room, I positioned myself at one end of the couch while she sat in the middle and we talked.  There was definitely a good four feet between us initially.  Over the next three hours, she progressed to move closer and closer to me. Lucky for Audrey's Dad, her sister arrived just in time to see us touching hands. “What are you two doing?” she asked.

The evening ended with me holding her coat for her while she slipped it on. I desperately wanted to kiss her...but how awkward would that have been with her and my parents 15 feet away?! Needless to say, we saw each other every day for the remainder of my vacation before returning to New York. I broke "guy-code" and called this girl from Chicago O’Hare Airport, where I was awaiting my connecting flight.

It’s been martinis and magic ever since that fateful night at Vera Mae’s...
~Mark

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Our Trip to Dana Point, California

Mark and I just got back from our trip to California! We went to Dana Point and stayed at the Ritz Carlton, what a treat! It was a business trip for Mark, and a relaxing vacation for me. Although, Mark did manage to sneak in some relaxing time!

The scenery was breathtaking! Words can't describe the beauty, but pictures can...

 

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

100 Things To Do - Crossing Things Off!

Earlier in the month, I shared my 100 Things To Do in a previous blog post. I am happy to say that over the past 5 months, I have started to cross things off of my list! It is an exciting feeling to try new things or accomplish things that I have always wanted to accomplish but put off.
 
Life is a journey, you will probably get tired of hearing me say this...but, I have to constantly remind myself that it truly is a journey. Moreover, I want to learn to enjoy the journey. My list of 100 Things To Do has been a great tool and catalyst in this approach to life. Who would have though that dreaming up a list of 100 things you want to do would be so powerful? 
 
Let's get to crossing things off!

 
100 Things to Do in 2013:

1. Read Les Misérables

2. Go to a movie alone

3. Start reading the Bible (I am using YouVersion)

4. Organize all of my family photos

5. Try Yoga

6. Start a blog

7. Start incorporating exercise into my life
 
8. Start my weight loss journey (Joined Weight Watchers)

9. Be able to wear a size 10

10. Try cooking new recipes

11. Post YouTube videos on a regular basis

12. Go to a water aerobics class

13. Play the piano more

14. Journal more often

15. Take more baths at the end of the day

16. Develop printables to include on my blog

17. Eat at a restaurant alone

18. Go to church 5 times

19. Watch less television

20. Practice and brush-up on my French

21. Read 1 book in French

22. Read one of the great "Classics"

23. Continue exploring my creativity (Using new mediums to create! It’s FUN!)

24. Develop a better relationship with Mark's parents

25. Have date night once a week

26. Invite my in-laws over more often

27. Take a dance class

28. Decorate our home for each season (Loving the warmth it brings to our home)
 
29. Play basketball with Mark in the evenings

30. Play tennis with Mark in the evenings

31. Visit my mom (Wonderful trip in April)
 
32. Read my devotional as part of my morning routine

33. Go to a concert

34. Cut the grass 1 time

35. Grow out my hair (I can put my hair in a pony tail now!)

36. Use what I have before buying more (It feels good to not be wasteful)

37. Take a photography class

38. Take a cooking class

39. Follow through with my skin care routine

40. Finish any unfinished craft projects

41. Keep track of what I eat (Tracking my food for Weight Watchers)

42. Slow down; stop hurrying all the time

43. Write blog posts on a regular basis

44. Organize my recipes

45. Try 5 recipes from The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

46. Go to Las Vegas

47. Take a cruise

48. Take time to relax and read magazines

49. Learn to embrace my spirituality

50. Take pride in my appearance, no matter what I weigh

51. Drink more tea instead of pop  (I gave up pop altogether)

52. Give myself permission to a nap (I am listening to my body and feeding it accordingly)

53. Keep up with my email; respond to emails promptly

54. Take more photos of our daily life together

55. Use my Filofax to help me be more productive

56. Complete the "List It" book that I purchased as a craft project

57. Continue to substitute teach (This school year is almost over, ready to sub in the fall!)

58. Try playing golf

59. Do something nice for another person

60. Attend more community events

61. Take lunch to Mark more often

62. Talk/text my sister more often

63. Turn the bed down at night, something my grandma used to do

64. Volunteer once

65. Focus on building a warm, inviting home

66. Entertain at our home more

67. Spend more time enjoying my flowers and yard

68. Take a picnic with Mark

69. Complain less

70. Use my grandma as inspiration

71. Explore a new city in Indiana

72. Learn to edit digital photos

73. Give small homemade gifts or cards to friends on holidays

74. Be thankful

75. Try decorating cupcakes in fun ways

76. Say "I Love You" more

77. Order dessert first at a restaurant
 
78. Say little prayers when I need strength (A powerful addition to my daily life!)

79. Play with makeup and try new looks

80. Try nail art; have fun with nail polish

81. Learn to make 4 different casseroles for Mark

82. Make cinnamon rolls from scratch

83. Sew something

84. Go to a Bed and Breakfast

85. Go to the Sear’s Tower

86. Collect seeds from my flowers this year

87. Play the entire game of Monopoly

88. Learn a new card game

89. Meditate in silence for 10 minutes during the day

90. Stay connected with the spirit of my grandma and grandpa (Now that I am open to their presence, I know they are with me.)

91. Make a new friend

92. Do something silly

93. Try boxing

94. Go to the Cincinnati Zoo

95. Do something child-like and carefree

96. Play in the rain

97. Leave little love notes for Mark

98. Learn to arrange fresh flowers in an artful way

99. Make a better effort to stay in touch with friends

100. Love myself, inside and out


I still have a lot more things to do, but I am enjoying the process and discovering a lot about myself along the way!

Are you guys participating in the 100 Things To Do? I hope you give it a try…so far it has been fun and enlightening.  

If you would like more information about Leonie Dawson, her work and her workbook, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/2013handbook   

Also, you can check out my YouTube channel and watch my original 2013 Creating Your Incredible Life Workbook video and a follow-up video in, which I share and explain my list of 100 Things.
 

"What you get my achieving your goals in not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." ~Henry David Thoreau
 
 
*This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the workbook with my own money. All opinions are my own.*
 

In the Kitchen: Easy Berry Cobbler

I love dessert! But, sweets aren’t the best food choices in order to stick to the Weight Watcher plan. I don’t deprive myself of anything…that is what is great about Weight Watchers, it's not a diet – it's a lifestyle. You can have whatever you want, as long as you count the points.

I have the perfect summer-time cobbler recipe that is Weight Watcher- friendly! I serve it all of the time in the summer. It has become one of my signature desserts. You will be surprised at how EASY it is to make, and the best part is that no one suspects that it is a Weight Watcher recipe.
You will need:

1 Yellow Box Cake Mix

2 – 1lb Bags of Frozen Mixed Berries (do not use fresh berries)
12 oz. Diet Sprite (you can substitute with Diet Sierra Mist or Diet 7-Up)
9 x 13 baking dish
**Yields 12 Servings - 6 Points per serving**

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Evenly distribute the frozen berries in the 9 x 13 baking dish. I like to use a glass baking dish, but you can use whatever kind you have.


Next, pour the unprepared cake mix over the berries. Try to distribute the cake mix evenly. DO NOT mix it up.


Now, measure 12 oz. of Diet Sprite (or other diet lemon-lime soda). Evenly pour the soda over the top of the cobbler. It will fizz up and mix in with the cake mix automatically. You do not need to mix anything up, just let it settle naturally.


That's all of the preparation!
Now, it's time to get it in the oven. Place the cobbler in the 350 degree oven. 

Set the timer for approximately 25 minutes. After letting it bake for 25 minutes, check on it. The berries should start to bubble and the top should start to get golden brown.

It's not time to take it out of the oven quite yet. Set the timer for another 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is up, your cobbler should be ready! The top will be a nice golden brown (don't worry, some of the cake mix will still be white), and the berries will be bubbling. Your total baking time is approximately 45 minutes, however you may need to adjust the baking time according to your oven. 

 
Take it out of the oven. Voila! You have a delicious berry cobbler. The cobbler yields 12 servings. Each serving is 6 points. Remember to watch your portions!
You can serve it warm with whipped cream or low-fat ice cream (make sure to count the extra points though). Or, you can let it cool and serve it later. Leave it out at room temperature or put it in the refrigerator.  
 
I hope you give this recipe a try! Try different variations and experiment with it! I would love to know how it turns out. I am sure your friends and family will LOVE it! It is certainly a favorite in our house!
 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weight Loss Journey: Getting Started

I am ready to get started on one of my goals for 2013...WEIGHT LOSS. In general, I want to be a healthier person by changing my eating habits, incorporating exercise into my life, and ultimately start shedding pounds.

Most people refer to losing weight as a "weight loss journey". I have been on this journey before...

On June 1, 2005, I joined Weight Watchers (WW) for the first time. I was student teaching and finishing up my teaching portfolio. (If you are interested, you can take a look at my portfolio even though it needs updating - click here) It was a busy time in my life, but I remember the distinct moment that lead me to join Weight Watchers...I was trying on clothes with my grandma, and a size 18 was too tight. I was on the verge of wearing a size 20. I hit rock bottom, in terms of my weight, in that moment, in that dressing room. A few weeks later, I was an official Weight Watchers member...weighing in at 211 pounds.

 
 

I needed to lose about 50 pounds, which at the time, seemed impossible. But I was determined to shed those pounds…I followed the WW plan to a tee, except I didn't add the activity/exercise component into my weight loss journey. Each week, pound by pound, my weight went down. In a little less than a year, I lost 51 pounds...weighing in at 160 pounds! I was able to shop at stores that I never dreamed of. I felt better than ever, and my self-esteem was through the roof! I was proud of my accomplishment and my body.

 
Over the past 5 years, I packed on the pounds. Today, I sit writing this post at my original weight. I gained all of the weight back...
 
In March 2012, I started to make changes in my life. Sort of a "life makeover", if you will. I made changes to our home, began regular counseling, balanced my medicines, owned the role of housewife, and started substitute teaching. In my mind, weight loss is the final component in my "life makeover".
I tried eating healthy, cooking healthy recipes, trying not to eat out...all of the things that I know I needed to do to lose weight. All of those strategies just didn't work for me. Then, I had my "ah ha!" moment. I thought, duh…Weight Watchers has worked for me in the past…so, let's do what works. Why didn't I think of that sooner? Maybe I wasn't ready to commit to a weight loss plan...but the important thing is that I am ready now!
 
I joined Weight Watchers on May 10, 2013...weighing in at 210.6
 
 
The following week, I weighed in at 203.8.
 

My most recent weigh in was on May 24, 2013. I lost 1.2 pounds! My total weight loss so far is 8 pounds!
 
 
I am within reach of being under 200 pounds! I am motivated to stick to the plan because it works and I know that I will be back in the 100s soon!
 
This is just the beginning of my journey, and I am taking it one week at a time. There have been yummy temptations that have come my way, but I remind myself that "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.", as one of my WW leaders said.
 
I will continue to post weight loss updates. Sharing this journey with you is a great way for me to be accountable!
 
If you are on/or have been on a weight loss journey, I would love to know about your journey!
 
 
“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”
Rosalynn Carter
 
 
 
*I am not affiliated with Weight Watchers. All opinions are my own*
 



Monday, May 20, 2013

What's GROWING On?

Well, Spring is finally here! That means it's time to get outside and clean up our flower beds! To tackle the yard cleanup, we divide our flower beds into sections and make our way through each section. We make a great team! Although the cleanup is not so fun, the reward is totally worth it. It is a miracle to see all of the flowers and plants emerge after their long winter's nap. Mother Nature is truly beautiful!
 
When we moved into our house about 5 1/2 years ago, there wasn't any landscaping at all. I always admired my mother-in-law's beautiful flowers! She is an amazing gardener! As soon as the first spring rolled around, it was time to start our landscaping. Mark dug and shaped all of the flower beds. My mother-in-law taught me about different plants, gave me several starts of her plants and we went to nurseries together to pick out the right plants! It is a labor of love. It might be hard to believe, but I find peace and tranquility in pulling weeds, planting new flowers and watering.
 
So, what's growing on in our garden so far? Take a look...
 
This is a look at our house from the street. It looks beautiful as you drive by.
 
The sidewalk leading to our front door is lined with several Knock-Out rose bushes. They will have a soft pink bloom and will continue to flower throughout the summer and into fall. They are low maintenance, yet have a big impact in our landscaping. Pruning them a little bit after they bloom will encourage new growth and more flowers!
 
As you walk up to the front door, you will see the landscaping from a different perspective. Our Japanese Variegated Willow tree is prominent, and my tulips were in full bloom!
 
Just a little a peek at the tulip's beauty!
 
To the right of the garage, we have a Weeping Pea Berry tree. We will put some annuals around the tree for added color.
 
Also in the front yard, we are blessed to have a Crabapple tree. When it blooms in the Spring it is breathtaking!
 
This year, I planted some creeping roses as ground cover in the front flower bed. I bought a set of 6 plants on QVC
 
In front of our bedroom window, we planted a large lilac bush. It provides a lot of shade, so a few hostas have a home underneath it.
 
The lilac blooms are incredibly fragrant, and its fragrance wafts throughout the house when the window are open. 
 
Continuing on around the house, we have our newest addition...a rose garden! I have never tried to grow roses, but I am excited to give it a whirl. Fingers crossed that they do well.
 
Columbine is a native plant to Indiana. It's a perennial, but only blooms in the Spring. It produces lots of seed heads and will re-seed...we have Columbine sprinkled all around our flower beds. 
 
Roses again...I bought a set of 3 climbing roses from QVC. I am going to train them to grow up the trellis. It might take a few years for the plants to mature and produce flowers...but I think it will be worth the wait.

My favorite part of the backyard...the island, as I call it. It doesn't look like much right now, but just wait until things start blooming!

We have another small island in the backyard as well. It's a work in progress. We don't have much planted yet... 

Most of the trees in our backyard are Redbuds. Every year we have planted another tree. All of the trees were little starts from my mother-in-law's garden. Mark's grandmother loved Redbuds. I like the pink blooms, heart shaped leaves are my favorite. 
 
For a complete look at our yard and garden in its early stages, you can watch a video tour on my YouTube channel, Audrey's Wife Life.

 
Watch for more videos and blog posts throughout the season to see what's growing on! What's growing on in your garden?


"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul" ~Luther Burbank