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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...but too soon?

26 November 2013



So I spent the last ten days in Chicago and Christmas is popping up everywhere! What is your policy, do you do Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving comes? Or do you hold steadfast for December 1 to bust out the decorations and music?



Lentil Cabbage Rolls and Grateful for BarreAmped

25 November 2013

A recipe post on a Monday?? Sarah...what are you thinking???

For the few months, in conjunction with my clean eating, I've adopted a vegetarian/pescatarian diet.  That means mostly plant-based with a little hint of fish here and there. Not only do I enjoy how this makes me feel inside I feel the effects on the outside as well. My skin is clear and soft, digestion is right where it should be and I don't feel as hungry. 

But Mr. Collier is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I mean when we started dating and cooking together, his vegetable range was corn and potatoes. Now, he is eating greens of all kinds! Hooray! Mini-marriage victory! 

When I prepare meals, I try to keep both palates in mind. Recently, I took my grandmother's stuffed cabbage roll recipe and tweaked it to include lentils instead of ground beef. I've never been a lentil lover but they are incredibly inexpensive and are so versatile that I have a newfound passion for them. For instance, today at the store I bought two bags for $1.00 a piece. Heck yes!!

If you have never experienced cooking dry beans, you may need to soak them overnight before cooking as I had to do with the lentils. 





After cooking, I sautéed some diced white onion (about a half cup) in a hot pan. Then I added about 1.5 cups of cooked lentils. While the lentils were heating, I made a smokey concoction of cumin, chili powder, black pepper, sea salt, onion powder and a touch of ground mustard seed. With a little water, I made this into a sauce and poured it directly over the lentil and onion mixture. Stir well over. Cook over low heat.

*I added a cup of cooked brown rice to this mixture as well....*





To Prepare the Cabbage Rolls:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the lentil mixture as described above.
  3. Select a baking dish and take 1, 15 oz can of tomato sauce and coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle your favorite Italian seasoning over the sauce. 
  4. Boil a large pot of water. Once boiling, carefully submerge an entire head of cabbage (end cut off) until covered. Let it be for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Carefully, peel back the leaves without tearing. Set them aside. [Shred any remaining cabbage for pierogi or homemade cole slaw
  6. Fill each cabbage leaf with the lentil mixture and roll. Place in the baking dish.
  7. Cover all cabbage rolls with remaining sauce and Italian seasoning. 
  8. Bake for 40 minutes until the cabbage is tender. 




The hardest part is to not eat them all in one sitting!!


Grateful for faith #30dog

24 November 2013






Day 23: Today I am grateful for faith. 

Grateful for Coffee #30dog

23 November 2013



Day 23: Today I am grateful for coffee. 

Having the Best Job and Chicago #30dog

22 November 2013

Oh hey! It's me, Amberly from Life with Amberly and Joe, just hanging out on To Be Mrs. Collier again. I feel like we're all great friends at this point because I've guest posted here a couple of times, Sarah has written some awesome sponsor highlights for me, and we are currently cohosting the Meaningful Marriage Book Study. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Sarah and her blog, I am so glad we've become great friends over the last little while and I hope that we can one day be friends in real life!



It's no secret that I love being married and my role as a wife. I looked forward to that time in life for as long as I can remember, and it hasn't disappointed me yet. I have an amazing husband, we have the sweetest puppy, and life is good! I think that the good things in marriage very much outweigh the bad. Yes there are frustrations and life isn't always easy, but I can honestly say there is nothing we have gone through that makes me want to give up on us. The thought never even crosses my mind, I just know that we'll get through it and we'll be stronger on the other side.

I've been thinking a lot lately about all of the things that I appreciate and love about married life and having my husband as a partner in crime for the rest of forever. I decided to make a list of my favorite things and you lucky ducks get to read it! If you are married, some of these might ring true for you as well or maybe you'll have things that you want to add to the list. If you're not married, I hope this list makes you excited for that time in your life, but please enjoy single life because it is awesome as well!


Five Things I Love About Marriage
  1. Having a best friend who is always there to encourage, support and uplift me. My husband is my very biggest supporter in life. Whenever I feel inadequate in an area of my life or down on myself, he is always there to make me feel better. Words of affirmation isn't one of my top love languages, but every once and a while when I need it, my husband is there to build me up and remind me that I am great at a lot of things and the little downfalls don't create the big picture.
  2. There is always someone to come home to. It doesn't matter which of us is coming home to the other, I am excited about it. I love hearing husband's key in the door when he's coming home from work and I might not run to the door like our puppy does, but I am just as enthusiastic about my friend walking through the door. If I'm the one who is out and about, the first thing I ask him when I get home is, "Did you miss me because I missed you!"  It's just a great feeling knowing that he will be there with me at some point in the day.
  3. Any night can be date night if we want it to be. The other day on my blog, I talked about how my husband and I can turn any moment into a date night. Sometimes we take a day off life and spend it at the movies and out to dinner and playing a board game that we love. Other times we've been so busy and our apartment has become a disaster so we decide to do the dishes or clean together. And most often we'll go to dinner, run some errands or do our grocery shopping and get a movie from Redbox or watch our TV shows on Netflix together. It's just great to have quality time to talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company.
  4. He's there when I need a hug and there's a limitless supply of them. Long hugs are my favorite and sometimes I just need one for now reason at all. It happens a lot, I'll be minding my own business when all of the sudden I get that urge to hug someone, so I grab my husband and squeeze his guts! There's something different about a hug from your husband or significant other, I can't describe it, it's just special.
  5. I have someone to hold me accountable and help me be a better me. I can't tell you how many times my husband calls me out on something. If I've promised myself, him or someone else that I'm going to do something and then I don't, he kindly reminds me and makes me feel guilty whenever I think about not following through with it. When there is something that he knows I could do better, he lets me know in a really loving way. Husbands can do that and most of the time I don't take offense because I know that he loves me and things I'm really awesome no matter what.
I love being a wife, it's my favorite job! If I could be a full time wife and stay at home to clean and cook and plan special things for my husband all day, I would do it. Unfortunately, that wouldn't bring any money in and we really need some of that. So instead I try to be the best wife that I can be amidst my busy schedule. Making your marriage the top priority in your life is hard when there are a lot of things that HAVE to be done and it seems like time with your husband is the easiest thing to sacrifice, but it is the most important relationship and thing in your life and we need to remember to treat it that way!

What is your favorite thing about your role as a wife? Or what do you look forward to the most about being a wife in the future?

Amberly

Make your home smell like William Sonoma and Nashville #30dog

21 November 2013


Yummy! Delicious! What's cooking? That's what people will be saying when they walk into your house! 

So what does it take? Well, some sort of citrus. The standard recipe is lemons, rosemary and a drop or two of vanilla. But I've also used orange peels [after a snack] with some cloves. 

Basically boil these items in some water but be sure that there is enough water so they items don't burn. Yuck. 

You can do a low boil for 4-6 hours and your home will smell lovely!!! Consider it upcycling or recycling. 


Ebay Fashion, Cozy socks and Grateful for Southwest Airlines

20 November 2013



I am a mega huge fan of shopping at thrift stores and on ebay (my guide to shopping on ebay) to update my wardrobe. Somehow I get the satisfaction of recycling by taking in poor deserted clothing instead of them ending up in the garbage or worse, abandoned and unloved! 

There are so many awesome pieces out there in the world waiting to be discovered! I found this skirt on ebay and took a chance. For $6, I secured it. And it creates quite the fashionable outfit!! 

Speaking of fashion, I couldn't help but share what I've been wearing around the house as we are holding off on turning the heat on as long as possible!!!




Money Managing and Gratitude for T.V. Shows

19 November 2013

Let's talk about budgets for a moment. 

I hate [that's right] HATE to budget. First off, I'm not spectacular at math. So yeah. It is challenging. Second, I know how important it is to budget and the fact that I'm not super awesome at it makes feel feel like a biggo failure! You know what I mean?

But really, it is important. 



Especially when there are huge wrenches thrown into the mix as in a car accident which results in a new car purchase. Having an idea where all of your money goes becomes a lot more important. Before the impending purchase of our new car, I really had no idea where our money went after the essentials were paid. All I knew was that by the end of the month we had very little left over. 

Have you heard of Dave Ramsey? He's the creator of Financial Peace and has some great educational tools on home finances, debt, etc. So he has this cash-based envelope budget strategy. Basically, by having cash you regain the responsibility and value of a dollar instead of just swiping with your credit or debit card. Pretty easy right?



Now, Mr. Collier and I sat down at our kitchen table after our first trip to Carmax. And we decided to try out an adapted envelope method. Each month, we are allotted a total cash amount. Let's say it is $100. Each week, we receive $25 to spend on joint things like our breakfast on Fridays, coffee during the workday or any other entertainment-related purchase. So far, it has been one week and has been successful. 

And now, ladies and gentlemen I have to share with you the latest addition to the Collier family. 







BarreAmped Transformation Challenge Week 10 and Gratitude

18 November 2013



It is week ten, with only two weeks to go in the BarreAmped Transformation Challenge. I can't believe that it has almost been 3 months!!! 

But...I must say that because of my concussion, I haven't be able to attend barre for the last two weeks. And with my upcoming trip for work followed by Thanksgiving, working out has taken the backseat in my life. 

I have been using the MyFitnessPal app to track my caloric intake especially after hearing that Kate Hudson uses calorie counting even when eating raw. I read this interview where she mentioned that she was still feeling stuffy even when eating healthy food like tons of vegetables and nuts because she was eating so many calories even with healthy food. In reality is, there is a lot of sugar in fruit. 

Overall, I'm three pounds down on my home scale relative to my weigh-in in week 8. While traveling, I hope to start doing some light yoga in my hotel room each night. Maybe a series of posts on healthy traveling??? hmm..interesting.


Grateful for Music #30dog

16 November 2013




Day 16: Today I am grateful for music.





Music is such a huge part of my life as my dad was a musician. I remember as a kid going to his shows and spending time with him in the studio during summer break. And my years in dance classes has formed a solid connection with music. I hear steps in the music. Do you know what I mean?

I love  music as an experience. It taps in to the very core of our emotion. There are just some songs I can't get through without choking up. And then there are those songs which make me plain happy. Isn't it fascinating that after years of not hearing a song you can remember the lyrics? Where is all of that stored in our brains?




I also love music as worship. Adding heart, soul and melody amplifies my praises to God. 


I don't know where my life would be without music.

Meaningful Marriage Love Dare Finale Link Up and grateful for pinterest #30dog

15 November 2013




Well lovelies, we've made it through the 40 days of The Love Dare in the Meaningful Marriage book study! Congratulations! No worries if you are still chugging along, it is important to take this dare one day at a time and commit with your whole heart. We won't be starting a new book until January so you have plenty of time to finish! [keep checking for discussion posts in the Facebook group!]

Whether you are married or just starting to talk to your significant other about the possibility of marriage, I am over the moon for The Love Dare!! I'm thinking of giving every couple on my Christmas gift list a copy! And now, allow me to share with you the awesome perspective that I've gained in the short 40 day study.

It all started with a quiz



The purpose of The Love Dare is to grow and foster the unconditional love that is promised between husbands and wives at the alter. Life often places the practice of unconditional love on the back burner. Life is like a fat guy in a little coat trying to separate your marriage at the seam! 




So I decided to jump in head first and commit. I read one challenge per day and found out something really interesting about myself. I am quite the self-centered person. Not every day was enjoyable or easy. Mostly far from easy. But slowly, I started to see my perspective change. 

  1. Communication. How we communicate, especially from my side, has evolved from a place of understanding. I am more willing to stop and evaluate what he is trying to say instead of quickly shutting him down to hear my side of the story. Honestly, this has been the single most exciting transformation for our marriage these past 40 days. And I feel more confident to share with Mr. Collier how I feel about a situation.
  2. Appreciation. I love hearing "thank you" and "great job" for my actions as I am very extrinsically motivated. I've practiced being more aware of things that he does and acknowledging him for it. For example, we have a system when it comes to the dishes. I wash and start the dishwasher and he puts them away. But sometimes I get busy and Mr. Collier just steps in. No questions asked. I've also noticed than when I focus on the positive things he does for us as a family, I fall deeper into love with him.
  3. Trust. I am a doer. So when someone says they will take over on something, I expect it to happen with the same diligence and priority that I do. In a marriage, that doesn't leave much room for trust. And sometimes I fail to trust Mr. Collier to take care of details out of my own insecurity. It has been a conscious decision to let him take the lead on stuff without my tendency to double check. I am embarrassed to say that I even have the natural inclination to want to double check that he "did it right" but it is something the Love Dare highlighted and that I am actively working on. 
  4. Expectations. How I think it should be and how it actually is are often vastly different. Mismanaged expectations often result in hurt feelings and arguments. I never realized that by letting unconditional love take over my thinking and motivations, expectations sort of dissolve. And I'm sure that the increased productive communication is instrumental in this area of improvement.  
What's in a number?



Well, the assessment that I took before we started the study was an evil-opener [evil in the fact that I felt like the crappies spouse in the world after the results]. But it is amazing how my outlook has shifted in the last 40 days. When you finish, I'd highly recommend taking the assessment again to track your results. 

My goal for the dare was to be transformed to the core of my contribution to our marriage. And I think that I achieved that! 

How did you do? What did you think? Link up your posts below!















Graze Nibble Box Review and #30dog grateful for home

14 November 2013






Have you heard of Graze Nibble Boxes? Keeping with the rage with monthly boxes full of goodies or makeup and melding with the theme of clean, healthy living. Simply put, Graze Nibble Boxes are four pods of yummy snacks that cost $6 per box. And you can get them as frequently as weekly or spread it out as a monthly treat for $6 total! 







As you know, I've tried a similar concept product called NatureBoxes [my NatureBox Review] but I honestly preferred the Graze Nibble Box. Yes, I received this Nibble Box for free but you can too! I have four friend codes to give away and the first people to comment get the code! 




What I loved:

The flavors were amazing! I am all about freshness and healthy snacks that don't have a bunch of phony-baloney flavors.

The Shangri-La was an in-depth mix of berries that I've never heard of with dried pineapple and pumpkin seeds. Yum-o! Habas Tapas and The Key Lime Pie mix were equally tasty. Mr. Collier preferred the key lime pie because eating each individual piece made a fork-full of key lime pie taste in your mouth.

My favorite snack was the fruit and seed flapjack. They were so moist and the closest thing to a homemade granola snack bar that I've ever tasted! I seriously cannot wait to try more! 

In addition to the flavors and freshness, the portions were fair in size for the value. And I'm all about frugality!! 

Dislike:

There are two improvements that could be made to the Nibble box product. 

First, it would have been awesome to have a serving size and nutritional label on the pod. But at least they give it to you on the back of the little card insert with your nibble box. I was surprised that all of my snacks were single portion but also under 200 (with the exception of the fruit and seed flapjack). 

Second, having resealable packages would be an awesome addition to the little pod. As a snack, I wanted to stretch the contents of each pod and had to aliquot the snacks into the baggies.  



Remember, if you are interested in trying our the Graze system leave a comment below and be sure I can contact you via email!!


Nails, pinbuster and #30dog clothes

13 November 2013

I love painting my nails. In fact, I love to start my week with a fresh coat of polish. But the worst part of painting my nails is the drying part. I spend about 30 minutes in the Beyonce position. There has to be a better way!




Enter Pinterest. Of course! Pinterest has a solution for everything! I found a great pin on how dipping your nails into a bowl of cold water for a few seconds actually helps dry your nails! So..I put it to the test. 




Paint your nails as normal and then submerge your nails into the cold bowl of water. Leave them there for 2-3 minutes then you are good to go!  Consider this Pinterest find as legit!! 






Crockpot Apple Crisp and grateful for food

12 November 2013


Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup quick oats
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
8 sliced apples
¾ cup water
½ cup 100% maple syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon


  1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and oats. Add the butter to make a crumble. 
  2. Grease your crock pot ( I used coconut oil).
  3. Add half of the crumb mixture to the crock pot followed by the apples. Stir roughly. 
  4. Combine water and maple syrup and pour over the apples.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining half of the crumb mixture over the top. 
  6. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. And enjoy!
Link up every Tuesday for the Taste of Tuesday recipe swap w/