Monday, February 27, 2017

Books and Beans~February

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February was a quick month, but I did manage to read some excellent books!  I'm excited to share what I've been sipping and reading.  Click on any of the titles or images to instantly order the ones you want to read from Amazon.


My Starbucks drink of choice this month was the Flat White.  I'm trying to cut back on sugar *again* and I love this smooth coffee drink.  Plus, I feel like I'm getting my necessary calcium.  I have a million ways to justify drinking Starbucks. :)

In my Friday Favorites post, I blogged about these vitamins that I am taking for my hair, skin and nails.  I'm also loving this tea for boosting skin health as well.  Yum!


by: Heather and Terry Dubrow
(4 out of 5 Stars)

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Heather Dubrow's Podcasts and her YouTube channel, so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this book.  I found it to be very informative and full of "real-life" suggestions for aging well.  Although it does include plastic surgery options, the other suggestions are just as good and useful for those of us who are never going under the knife. :)


The Things We Keep by: Sally Hepworth
(4 out of 5 Stars)

This story about a young woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's is so good.  This is the first Sally Hepworth book I have read, and I'm already a fan.  She takes an ugly disease and uses it as a backdrop for a wonderful love story.

Small Admissions by: Amy Poeppel
(3 out of 5 Stars)

This book was by another author I have never read before.  While I enjoyed that the story was set in New York and at a school, I did find the beginning a little slow.  Overall, it was a good read about life-long friendships and how they help us through the different stages of our lives.


Uninvited by: Lysa TerKeurst
(4 out of 5 Stars)

A definite read for anyone who has ever felt left out.  I'd say every woman I know.  Lysa does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of being left out and speaking God's truth over that feeling to ease the pain and make us aware of others who feel it too.


Tiny Little Thing by: Beatriz Williams
(4 out of 5 Stars)

A friend at work let me borrow this book after I blogged about A Hundred Summers.  This book is set in the 1960's and is about a political wife.  I loved how it had echoes of Jackie O and the ending is excellent.  Apparently, there are two others in this series (about her sisters) and I intend to read them as well.


Overall, it was a great month for reading!  I am loving all the suggestions for future books. If you need other book suggestions, check out any of my previous Books and Beans posts!

January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November and December 2016
January 2017

 Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Favorites!

It's Friday and you know what that means...

I'm linking up with ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites!


Girl. Scout. Cookies. 
This picture was taken 10 minutes after dinner when three boys asked if we had dessert...

In totally unrelated news, I'd love your favorite workout recommendations in the comments section. :)


I know I've mentioned it before, but the weather deserves another shout-out on Friday Favorites.  It was so beautiful last Saturday that my bestie and I were able to have lunch OUTSIDE!  Sunshine and this girl...two of my favorites! :)


And while I was eating lunch, some sweet little girl was bagging up groceries for me at the HyVee across town. Yes, I have discovered online grocery shopping and I am a fan. I ordered them Friday night and rolled up on Saturday to pick them up. Game changer. I took this super awesome picture to demonstrate my happiness. :)


We had HBO free last weekend, so I got to see the premiere of Big Little Lies.  I love it!  It makes me want to read the book again.

Have a Taste for ‘Big Little Lies’?

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This book. So good. Order it.



And the video that a co-worker shared with me that made me want to ugly cry in my office. So touching and sweet. Love!!❤

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What's Up Wednesday~Link Up!

I'm participating in a new link-up today with Mel, Sheaffer and Shay!

They blog monthly about random things they are up to in a series of 13 questions.  I thought it would be fun to join in and link-up.

What we're eating this week:

We ate one of our tried and true favorites this week...

What I'm reminiscing about:

New York City!  The older boys and I had such a great time a few weeks ago.  Read all about it HERE.

What I'm loving:

The weather!  It has been 70 degrees for the past few days and it is wonderful!

What we've been up to:

Because of the awesome weather, we have been playing outside and hiking in our woods.

What I'm dreading:

Hmmm...can't think of anything.

What I've been working on:

We have been busy with registration at work and have freshman orientation tomorrow night.  We are also in the middle of testing season and this is our first year with the SAT.  Lots of watching students take tests...

Let's play school! I'll pretend to be a teacher analyzing disaggregated student data, and you can pretend to be a student taking a standardized test!:
(image from www.

What I'm excited about:

Dan, Mason and I are planning a little Spring Break trip...

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What I'm watching/reading:

I am catching up on watching This Is Us before starting a new Netflix series.  I would love your recommendations for what to watch next!
Of course, I've been reading a ton.  See my January book list HERE and my February one will be up next week.

What I'm listening to:

I am continuing to listen to my favorite podcasts.  They have been so good!

What I'm wearing:

The weather has been so back and forth here that I need to check my weather app every morning before getting dressed.  Last week I wore one of my favorite blanket scarves from Stitch Fix.  

This week I've been shopping for new spring dresses.  I love this one, this one, and this one!

What I'm doing this weekend:

Hanging out with the fam and attending two baby showers!

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Hmmmmm...March...not much to look forward to, other than more warmer temps?

What else is new:

So much has been going on with our tribe.  We have one who started a new job and college, one who just got his driver's permit and is trying out for high school baseball next week and one who just started preschool for the first time.  Stop by the blog on Monday to read about our Life Lately. 

And this week's bonus question...
What is my "can't live without" beauty product?


There are so many to choose from, but I truly love my Cover Girl BB Cream.  It's cheap, contains sunscreen and evens out my skin tone without feeling "makeupy".  I wear it every single day under my Bare Minerals Foundation.  Love it!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Favorites!

Hip hip hooray...

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...and a three day weekend!

I'm linking up with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites!


Speaking of three day weekends, President's day always means lots of deals at my favorite shops. Loft is running a great sale this weekend. Head to the store or shop online!  Click below to see all of the details, including 40% off regular-priced items and 60% off sale items.



I have been taking vitamins routinely for awhile now and am loving these little beauties...

I buy them on Amazon and have noticed a big change in my hair after just a few months. Even my hairdresser noticed all the new hair growing in.


This little cutie started preschool last week.  To celebrate, my sister mailed him a new book and these great snacks for after school.  Thank you Aunt Kara and Amazon!  The box even had a sweet note attached to it.  He loves getting mail, so this was a huge hit.


Last week was National School Counseling Week.  One of the ways we celebrated was to have our office helpers make a positivity wall out of Post-It-Notes.  This one was my favorite...


Dan and I celebrated with an early Valentine's dinner last weekend and spent Valentine's Day with the boys.  I love my four Valentines so much!

We are supposed to have extra warm weather this weekend, so I am excited to get outside.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your tribe!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How Does She Do It? {Budget}

My name is Deanna and I love to budget.

Weird, right?!  I love to spend so how can I think budgeting is fun?  Because I also happen to love a plan, and sleeping at night...

funny | dear God, please give me more money or take away my expensive taste:
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As a single mom, I became good at budgeting out of necessity.  I had to make my salary stretch until it begged for mercy.  I had two of the sweetest kids in the world depending on me to keep a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and have some sort of plan for the future.  They became my why.  And now that I am remarried and we are a family of five, I continue to budget every. single. month.

My hope is that this post will encourage you to spend about an hour a month deciding where your money will go.  Don't like the "B" word?  Think of it as a spending plan.  You telling every one of your hard-earned dollars where to go to best serve the needs of you and your family.  I by no means have all the answers or do this perfectly.  Please leave your advice on budgeting in the comments.  I love finding new ways to do things!

For years, I kept my monthly budget in an Excel document.  Last fall, however, I found EveryDollar, and I officially broke up with Excel.

EveryDollar is a budgeting software tool created by the Dave Ramsey team.  There is a free version or you can upgrade to a  Plus version for a few dollars a month.  (It links to your accounts and categorizes your transactions for you).  I use the free version.  I simply downloaded it from the app store and created my account.  I have only visited the web version a handful of times.  You can download the app and sign in on multiple phones, so each person (i.e. you and your spouse) can enter spending transactions.  They do not sponsor me, but I love it so much, they should!

Basically, this app helps you tell each one of your hard-earned dollars where to go.  We enter our income and then our categories are giving, saving, housing, transportation, food, lifestyle, insurance and debt.  There are sub-categories under each major category.  For example, lifestyle includes things like childcare, Netflix, monthly spending cash...anything we spend money on that isn't included in the other areas.  You set an amount for each subcategory and then enter transactions throughout the month as you spend.  It keeps track of everything for you, lets you know how much you have left in each category or when you go over.  The best part is that it carries the categories over from month to month and you only have to update the amounts as necessary.

This app has helped us get control over our finances better than any other tool we have used.  It really helps to see where our money goes and it gives us permission to spend without worrying.

Another budgeting trick we use is a credit card with cash back rewards.  We pay for absolutely everything we can with this card, pay it off at the end of the month and collect cash back.  This is a great tip as long as using a credit card doesn't make you overspend.

Finally, two things that save our family so much money are Amazon Prime and Ebates.  We do a lot of our shopping online.  Amazon Prime saves us hundreds of dollars in shipping and Ebates mails us checks for shopping online just for going through their site first.  I heart Ebates!  Click below if either one of these would help your budget.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I would love to hear your budgeting tips or money saving tricks that work for your family!

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekend in New York City!

Three years ago, my middle, Parker,  asked me for an experience instead of a birthday gift for his 13th birthday.  That year, we spent the night in Chicago and went to a Bulls game.  Last year, we went to Indianapolis and saw the Pacers play.  It's now officially our unofficial tradition.  When we began discussing where we were going this year, I got all sappy thinking about the fact that he is fifteen, his brother turns 18 this summer and it all has just gone so fast.  While I was looking at NBA schedules around his birthday weekend, I saw that the New York Knicks were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers on the day of his birthday in Madison Square Garden.  I have always wanted to take the older boys to NYC, so I began planning an epic three day weekend!

Getting up at 2:21 AM is totally doable if you are headed off on a fun trip!


Random in-flight beverages of choice, Starbucks and ginger ale with lime.  I hardly ever drink soda, but I always order this when flying. (I feel like you know me a little better now... :)

We flew into LaGuardia, met up with our friends who decided to join us last minute, and took an Uber to our hotel.  We stayed at the DoubleTree Suites in Times Square, which another friend had recommended.  The hotel was close to so many attractions and was nice and clean.  It was also a suite, which is a necessity when traveling with teen boys.  I love them, but momma needs her own space away from sweaty socks. :)

The lobby...

Our view from the room...

And who doesn't love free cookies?!

After we got settled (and ate our cookies), we walked to Shake Shack for lunch.  We were all starving by this point, so burgers and fries hit the spot.  After lunch, we walked to Rockefeller Center.  Such a beautiful building!  

Hello, Kathi Lee and Hoda!

Did I mention it was freezing?  And that we were so tired?  We went inside the NBC shop to warm up and Melissa and I found a comfy spot to hang out. ;)

Let me just tell you that our four teenage boys were such good sports with our selfie antics.  Melissa and I have known each other since second grade, so we have a lot of inside jokes, and we can be a bit much at times.  Even when we split up during this trip to do different things, we would randomly meet up with each other on the streets of New York.  One of her sons said we were like magnets who couldn't stay away from each other.  Ha! Our boys are all the same age, so it was so fun to share this trip with them.

After Rockefeller, we walked over to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  I have been here before, but each time I am amazed and overwhelmed by its beauty.

We then walked around and checked out some of the shopping.

When in New York...

Nike Town...

By this point, we were getting hungry again, so we made our way to Magnolia Bakery.  Cupcakes, Cheesecake, Banana Pudding...yes please!

Here we are back in Times Square.  We cleaned up a bit and then headed out to dinner... Carmine's!  My cousin recommended this as a great place to take hungry teenage boys and was she spot on!  The pasta is served family style and is so delicious!

More selfie fun in Times Square after dinner.  Did I mention it was COLD?!  It was about 10PM at this point and we were tired and ready to rest up for day two.

 Parker's 15th birthday!

We woke up bright and early on Saturday to head to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for a 9AM tour.   I didn't take any pictures in the museum, because it just didn't feel right.  They have done an absolutely beautiful job with the sight and museum, but it bothered me in a way that words or pictures cannot explain.  I am so glad we saw this and that I got to see it with my children. I just kept thinking about how all of those people were just going about their workday and had no idea what was about to happen.  So sad and senseless.

Freedom Tower...

After the museum, we had planned to see the Statue of Liberty.  There was no way we were getting our freezing cold teenagers on a ferry boat, so we said hello to her from Battery Park.

Leaving Battery Park, we asked a security guard for a recommendation for lunch.  He pointed us toward Cucina Liberta, which was a convenience store/deli.  We felt like real New Yorkers in this place and the food was so good!  There was an upstairs with tables and chairs, so we all chose our food and met up there.  I love asking locals for recommendations when traveling.  

We took an Uber back to Times Square and then walked some more in the cold.

We had an afternoon tour scheduled at NBC Studios, so back to Rockefeller we went.

This was seriously one of the highlights of the trip.

We were able to tour several studios including Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live.  Because it was Saturday afternoon, they warned us that the curtain may be pulled on the SNL stage because they were in rehearsals.  When we got up there, they were in rehearsals but the curtain was open!  We got to watch them rehearsing and see Kristen Stewart practicing her skits.  So fun!  My oldest, Peyton, would love to work in TV and movies someday, so I probably could have left him there at this point in the trip.  At the end of the tour, you get to enter a studio and perform a scripted show by reading cold from the monitors.  So fun but so much harder than it looks!  Yours truly was chosen to host and Melissa was my guest.  We had such a great time doing this and then they emailed us the video of the show.  We also managed to embarrass our children, so this was successful all the way around!

Here I am sitting at Jimmy Fallon's old desk...

After the tour, we ran back by Magnolia Bakery and picked up a birthday cheesecake for my now fifteen year old!

This night, we ate at John's Pizza in Times Square.  So yummy!

Then more walking to get to Parker's birthday present...Madison Square Garden!

The Empire State Building all lit up for the game...

There were so many famous people sitting courtside.  We sat a little higher than that. :)


I love mornings spent in a hotel lobby.

On Sunday, we had an early evening flight to catch out of JFK.  That left us plenty of time to eat breakfast at a little diner and walk to Central Park.  We walked around, did some people watching and the boys ate hot dogs from a cart in the park. 

We rode the subway back to our hotel, got our luggage from the bellman, and called for our car to the airport.  We crashed once we got in the car.  We walked 18 miles throughout the weekend and made memories to last a lifetime.  Such a great weekend with friends to celebrate Parker's 15th birthday!