Seattle Adventure continued

I live for time with my family. Uncomplicated, good, simple, fun family time. I was talking with a girl the other day about how our husbands interact with our children. She said hers still has some things to figure, things that don't come naturally to him. Their baby is a year and half old. I'm sure that's pretty typical, no judgment whatsoever. My husband, however, has been hands on since day one. He's been very much my partner, my teammate, and just there for us. Not a day goes by that I'm not incredibly grateful for that, because I know it's a blessing to have. When I see him interact with our kids, with other kids, when I think about him holding our daughter for the first time, I want a thousand beautiful babies with him. I've said it many times before, but there are moments etched in my mind that continue to hold that true.

While we don't plan on having any more kids, I love that our focus is on the two wonderful children we have. It's a crazy journey raising children. One that I often feel I fall short on, but I do love it nonetheless. I've been particularly intentional about how I am around them. Ensuring my examples are good, that I am patient, that I make efforts to connect and bond each day. It's not always easy. I go through phases of being very impatient, irritable, and just needing to be alone and not care for anyone or anything. But I work hard to not take those things out on anyone around me. Easier said than done, right?

So when I'm scrolling through pictures of our family like this - just after thinking I'm not taking enough or I'm not doing good enough - I'm reminded to relax. To give myself grace. To just chill. It's all going to be ok, don't overthink and worry about every tiny thing. Because Lord knows that I do! Classic over thinker here! 

I hope to make more effort again to take little trips like this. To enjoy kids being kids. To enjoy being next to my husband. To just enjoy the present moment. Also, all the fall vibes here *heart eyes emoji*.

See Part I of our city adventure!

Seattle Adventure

Over the years, I've realized that my personal photos were being shoved to deep dungeon of Lightroom, seldom to be seen, if ever edited. Sad. I used to take a lot of time to perfect each and every photo I took and empty out my catalog. But as time went on, work picked up and I simply didn't have the time to commit. Over the last year or so, I've perfected my editing flow to a point where I no longer seek perfection, but what I find to bring out the best. More importantly, I don't want to keep struggling to see or share our memories because I upload and leave them. What's the point of even taking the pictures then?

In an effort to reduce my Lightroom catalog, I'm slowly getting through personal pictures from the last three years. Yeah, THREE YEARS! *shake my head*

We took a couple of fun day trips to get out but not commit days to an adventure. At that time, we needed things to be a little more simple, yet fun. We don't explore Seattle often. We live 30 minutes south of the emerald city, but as my husband works there everyday now, and the crowds and traffic continue to get worse, we tend to shy away. Every now and again, though, we find ourselves with a desire to explore the city and find something new. We happened to pick a day of crazy weather day and beautiful fall colors, so we weren't disappointed one bit. If anything, it really added to the experience! We started out on the west side of the city, going up the beaches before heading back into downtown.

My babies look so little in these pictures compared to now, but I really love them. This ended up being one of the best day trips we had taken, and I still remember it fondly. I am thankful for my love of photography when I can look back and see moments like these, to see me with my children in photos and turning ordinary moments into beautiful memories. So here's to documenting our life story!

Check out Part II of our city adventure.

Family fishing day

I have to admit that I sometimes forget how much I love being on the water. If you know me, that sounds pretty nuts coming from me. But you see, I'm a "love to be by the ocean" kind of girl. I love all things beach, salt water, sand, and sun. In Washington state, however, there's a new spin on that kind of daydream. The beaches are typically freezing cold. I've literally stood on a beach in the middle of hail storm here. Like, what?! Originally coming from California and living in Florida, I didn't even know that the ocean wasn't relatively warm to some extent all year round - let alone freezing! You can't really swim in the ocean here either, and we often wear layers of clothes when walking along the beach.

I recently missed a river fishing trip my husband was really excited about. I don't mind fishing, but ten hours of it in one day is really pushing it for me. I know he loves it though, so we compromised. Fishing on the lake together was it. And it was so great! The feel of being on a boat, the water beneath you and all around you. Truly appreciating nature and what it offers you in that very moment, that is everything. It is one of the times that you feel small but amazed at the wonders of the world and that we get to be here. We even heard bald eagles talking back and forth for hours. 

I may have had to put my sweater on when the sun ducked behind clouds, then take it off as the sun came out about a dozen times, but I really didn't mind. That was the biggest concern of our little world at the moment. It's certainly one of the reasons I love forcing myself away from my daily concerns and all the to-do lists. No wonder my husband loves fishing so much!

I went a month without grocery shopping, then spent $165 the following month

It might not seem possible these days to not spend $300+ per month on groceries. But it is. I don't walk out of the store spending more than $100 these days, and certainly not over $200 for the month. For the past two years, I've been determined to cut down on groceries. It didn't seem right that I had to spend so much money on feeding my family well.

I find myself increasingly overwhelmed when it comes to shopping these days. Determined to go on bigger family trips, cut back on consumerism, and cut out debt, I really want to make our purchases worth it. It started with purging foods completely out of our diet that we just didn't need anymore. Then I went to our regular shopping habits and determined if we actually need the things we're buying. Fast forward to our grocery bill and a strong desire to eat healthy and teach my children good food habits, and I'd say our success is near!

Two summers ago, I started my first vegetable garden. This past summer, I included a greenhouse. I don't provide enough to sustain our family yet, but I do cut out some things when the harvest is good. I have a really small yard and very little experience, so don't be discouraged, it's possible and it helps drastically.

Before I get into how I've made these changes, let me assure you that you truly have to be determined to make these changes. It takes time set aside, getting through the adjustments, and being mentally and physically strong, but it also takes a lot of grace. For example, if you aren't someone who drinks water, it is really hard to give up the sugary and caffeinated beverages you usually have. In fact, water tastes utterly bland and boring. Your body needs it more than anything else. While I don't cut out everything, I allow myself to indulge from time to time, but it's not frequent and it's not going to affect my spending habits overall. You just have to give yourself and your body the time to adapt.

The first major cut on our food bill was NO fast food. Eating out can be a treat, so make it one. We used to eat out once a week, maybe two. Now, we maybe eat out once a month. So, here are a few of our most valuable tips and lessons we've learned.

  • You can grow many fruits and vegetables year round, you can grow many of those in containers right on your porch or in a sunny window spot. Money saver!
  • It is all in your mind. Set aside time to prepare fresh snacks (cut up fruits and veggies, cheese and meat, etc). If you don't have the time, there is no other option (this is one of the hardest thing to teach yourself).
  • One of my big problems while grocery shopping, were impulse purchases. If you can't justify a purchase, don't buy it. If it's easier to make yourself, do it. I am in constant debate with myself, but it's gotten so much easier.
  • My husband loves to roam aisles. If you don't need to go down an aisle, don't. Simple enough, right? I typically shop the outside of the store (produce + meat), except for flour and a few spices.
  • Sometimes we plan meals for the week, other times we don't. It really helps though, because it gives you time to be prepared. Being prepared is the key to eating healthy and spending less.
  • Eat what you have, not just what you want. Meal prep helps here. I heard someone recently say this is their biggest problem with using up what they already have and spending. Well, last month when I decided not to purchase anymore groceries, I would creatively come up with new meals based solely on what was on hand. When I couldn't think of anything, I'd type in a few items I did have into google and found new recipes to try! Win!
  • The biggest decision we made as parents is to feed our kids what we eat. There are no special kid-friendly dishes. We will leave our the extra spices and only add them to ours if it might make their meal too spicy, but that's about it. There is one exception - when you have small kids, they favor easy, finger foods. In this case, I cut up small pieces of what I'm preparing and make a plate for them that way.
  • When my kids ask for something at the store, our rule is that they have to be able to pronounce everything on the label. They also love picking a new fruit or vegetable we haven't tried or had in awhile.
  • I try to make lists, and usually stick to them, but I'm not the best at always remembering the list, or sticking to it. Either way, no impulses. 
  • This might be the biggest and most important part of eating healthy and saving money on groceries: STOP buying pre-packaged foods
    • For example: A box of prepackaged applesauce snacks range from $10-$30. A 20 lb box of apples from the produce market is $10-20. I can make over 10 jars of applesauce and apple butter with those. Then, I make cinnamon apples for a snack, oatmeal and muffins, and have plenty of apples left over for easy snacks. You're paying for convenience here and while it's nice to have, it's really not necessary.
    • Example 2: A package of decent granola bars are about $5. I can buy an entire container of oatmeal for about $2-3 and spend 10 minutes adding honey and raisins, chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc... and have an entire pan of granola bars. I could probably make 20 pans with the box of oats.
    • Don't have time to make those things? Sure you do, schedule time when you'll be home. It's an easy project to include your kids on and do together. You'll be amazed what your kids will like to make, mine love to make their own bread.
  • I go to the farmer's market when they're in season and a local produce stand for all fruits and veggies. And once a month, or every other, I'll buy meats and pantry staples.
  • When seasonally available, I purchase big boxes of fruits and veggies to prepare and can or freeze. If you don't can, that's ok. You can freeze things instead.
  • We cut our meat intake in half. One day, I realized that we didn't need to consume nearly as much as we were, especially because the cost of meat is pretty hefty these days. Start cutting up your chicken breasts and split that among your family (whether butterflying meat, shredding, or dicing). I can use 2 instead of 4 that way. 
  • Fresh herbs are way better. At the produce stand, I purchased 2 bundles of cilantro for $1. To get a good jar at the store would've cost around $5. Know what else, it's super easy to dry and store yourself. Better yet, growing your own herbs is super easy and fun!
  • Just over a year ago, I developed an intolerance to dairy. Sad, sad day. I kept buying the usual things for my family, because they were just fine with dairy. But over time, I kind of forgot. Guess what though? We only purchase one gallon of milk a week, some yogurt, and minimal cheese these days. None of us really miss it anymore either. Not only are you cutting back those extra calories, but tons of $ too! Side note: Calcium and Vitamin D are found in many vegetables!
  • We love our condiments, and they'll last a good amount of time, but there were many that we didn't need in our diet anymore. Ranch and Blue Cheese are the biggest ones for us. My husband wasn't thrilled with this, but I did come up with a dairy free ranch recipe (using things I have on hand) that even the biggest skeptics seem to love and it's a huge treat to have. Otherwise, it's been manageable to give up. Making your own salad dressing is super simple.
  • No more fruit juices or other flavored drinks. Water is easily flavored (with lemon, lime, mint, or fruit) and all your body needs! Milk, water, tea, and coffee - that's it! Calories cut, money saved!
  • It's an adjustment, be patient. My entire family didn't wake up and excitedly get on board with me on all these things. In fact, it was a labor of love, because I was determined. While I do most of the cooking, my husband can prepare good meals for us when I can't. He's learned just like I have. My husband and kids make their own lunches for work and school as well, and they know to look for leftovers (I always make an extra 2 or more servings per meal) or fresh foods to pack. 

I'm no expert here, but this is simply what I've learned over the past few years as I dedicated this part of my life and my family to eating well, developing good habits, and spending less. It takes time, I can't stress that enough. I give in to cravings when I have them, allow my kids treats sometimes. And I don't put extra stress on myself when I can't make everything I want from scratch. If anything, I've learned that it's ok to still purchase some items that simply make my life easier, but again, I always look at the label! Best of luck, friends!

Independence Day


Independence day is best spent as a family. At least in our book. Every year is pretty much the same as the last, and we wouldn't have it any other way. We wake up slowly, make a big breakfast, dress to impress, head out to the town festival, eat lunch, (and this year, pick blueberries too!) pick up fireworks, and head to our best friend's! It's that kinda good.

We made sure to include my mother-in-law this year, we took her to the festival with us, and she was sure to spoil us and the kids with lunch and Hawaiian shaved ice. Not one single complaint. Although, it was one of the hottest days we've had this summer, and compared to last. Still, we're happy campers!

We love the 4th of July. Sharing our patriotism is one of our favorites. My husband flies a big ole' flag on the back of his truck, we're decked out in red, white, and blue, and off we go! Our hearts swell with pride. We love our country and we love to celebrate it! Happy Independence Day America!