Embracing Everything Emma

Enjoying Life One Baby Step at a Time…

Wee Cycle It- Game Plan February 28, 2013

wee cycle it

For those of you who have been following me for more than a day, you know my deep obsession with Wee Cycle It. Yes, I admit it. I’m hugely addicted to great deals and Wee Cycle It might just be the king of that. I’ve never seen such low prices on such great quality items. Today, I want to share with you a few secrets about how I shop Wee Cycle It and how you should shop it, too.

Make a list. It’s always wise to prepare for what you want in advance. I begin making my list at the end of the last sale and work on it usually up until the day before (minor editing then). I start with the things I didn’t get that I would still want at the next sale along with things I did get that I’ll need again (ie: clothes in different sizes). This list is also broke down into an “optional” section of things I’ll get if money allows. If you know what you want, it makes it a lot easier to do the next…

Set a budget. When I say this, I’m not saying to simply plan on spending $150. That’s too broad and you may end up spending $150 on a huge air hockey table that you didn’t even need. Look at your list and determine how much you’re willing to spend for the items and allow that to determine your budget. This should be the top price you’re comfortable with spending. Agree with yourself that you won’t go over or otherwise your budget may not work. I also like to keep in mind that if it’s just a few dollars less than new, I’m buying new. There’s no point in buying used if it’s so ridiculously close to the price of a brand new item.

Learn the floor plan. Wee Cycle It, and most consignment sales like it, provide you with a map or description of the floor plan for all their sale items. It’s smart to know where to find the bed sheets instead of walking through the clothes and toys before stumbling upon it. We like to not only look at this plan but the pictures that are posted in advance. This way we know what’s available so far and where it’s located.We love the pictures. It really is like Christmas for grown-ups.

Make a “priority” list. If you know that you NEED a new pack and play and that’s a top selling item, go there first! Don’t browse through the 20 pairs of Gymboree 2T jeans. Go straight to the pack and plays! This way you don’t trade what you need for what you want and didn’t need at all. You will have serious buyer’s remorse. No joke.

Be willing to go off the beaten path. Once you’ve gone through your list and are finished shopping for those things, if you have any extra funds budgeted or lucked out with some really cheap items, be sure to check out the items that are still available and if there’s anything you want. We usually get the clothes we “need” the first night and then save our money to come back for the ½ price sale. The things we don’t “need” may or may not be there. Good thing is, we don’t need them but if we want them, what a deal we’ll get! I got over 20 clothing items last year for dirt cheap on the ½ price day. I was excited to say the least.

How do you shop consignment sales? What have been some of your best finds?

Be sure to check out some of my previous Wee Cycle It posts:

Wee Cycle It- Fall Deals 2012

It’s Here! It’s Here!

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My Husband, My Leader February 27, 2013

The Linkous' Valetine's Day Weekend

The Linkous’
Valetine’s Day Weekend

Let me start this post by saying that I am not writing this as an expert. I’m actually writing this as the opposite. I am a humble wife who can admit that 90% of the time I probably get this wrong but I am working to do better. I hope you’ll join me on this journey towards being the wife I need to be for my husband. The wives we all need to be for our husbands.

To better understand, let’s start here:

Genesis 3:16 “Then he said to the woman, ‘I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.’”

After I read this verse, I think “Ok, let’s go home”. I feel like it explains it all. The reason I am the way I am as a woman is because it’s part of the curse we received for allowing sin into our lives. And please don’t start all that junk about how if you were Eve you would NEVER, EVER have sinned against God because you’re lying right now. You sin against God every day and you would have sinned then, too. It’s sad but the honest to goodness truth. We’re all sinners. That’s why Jesus came. **end rant**

Alright, now that I’m off my soap box I’m going to go into the reason for this post. I am called as a woman, and most importantly a Christian woman, to let my husband lead me. Ouch. I hear that and think of the 2,000 times (just today) that I’ve already messed up. I know what I should do, I just struggle with the follow through sometimes. I will say this though- I am better now than when I started. Each day I’m one day closer. I cling to that knowing that I want to obey God, please my husband, and teach my daughter how to honor her husband in future days. Here are some ways how:

Photo by Clip Nation

Photo by Clip Nation

*My husband makes the “big” decisions: When there is a big decision to make at our house, my goal is let JR lead the way. This isn’t to say that we don’t talk things through and sometimes he picks what I say, but at the same time, he is the one who makes the decision and is the voice for our family. For example, when we bought our house and our truck I was an equal partner in buying it. He let me voice my opinion and made sure I liked them just as much, if not more, than he did. At the same time, during our closings and paper signings for these things, I let him lead the way. When it comes to big decisions that involve me, JR will usually be more than happy to step aside and let me make the call. For example, he’s ok with how I want to give birth and care for our child within limitations. For example, no at home births for this hoping-to-be VBAC mom. I’m not sure I would go that route, but it’s not a route JR even wants me to take right now.Why? Because it could provide a dangerous situation for an unnecessary reason.

*My husband is the tiebreaker: When we are working to make a decision, big or small, JR holds the card. When things seem hopelessly deadlocked, he makes the final decision. This is part of his role as the leader of our house. Now, JR never just says “it’s this way because I hold more chips”. We work very hard to make all our decisions together and I can only think of one or two times where we’ve disagreed or been so unsure that he had to make the decision for this reason. This is another reason why I love him. He works with me and we are a team. Part of being a team is making decisions together, but someone has to be the team captain. Which leads me to my next point…

*My husband was commanded by God to take this role: Any man who takes this role seriously and focuses on how Christ meant this role to be taken understands that it’s not meant to be “the boss” or “bully” around the spouse. It’s meant to lead, guide, and protect. It never works when you have two leaders, either they don’t work well together (because they’re both the leader) or one eventually quits or leaves. That’s not what marriage is suppose to be. Also, along with JR’s role as my leader comes loving me like Christ loves the church. Does anyone know how Christ loved the church? He died for her. JR has to be willing to lay down his life daily for me, I just have to respect him. In some ways I think I got the easier job.

These are a few ways that I’m working to keep my husband as the leader of our house. I’m very blessed to have a husband who values me and my opinion. His goal in life, after serving God, is to take care of all my and Emma’s needs. That’s HUGE. It’s a lot of pressure and I rarely thank him enough for not only taking on this role, but doing it well. I love my husband and it is my privilege and my honor to let him lead our family. That’s why I’m continuing to work to get better…one day at a time.

Ephesians 5:21-30 “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.”

Do you let your husband lead? What was the hardest time you had to follow this?

 

What Makes Me Frugal February 26, 2013

A lot of times, I get confused with being cheap. It really unnerves me. No joke. I can’t stand to be told I’m cheap. First of all, it’s not lady like. Second of all, there’s a BIG difference between being cheap and being frugal. HUGE. What’s the difference you may ask? Well, I would be happy to explain.

Photo by SquawkFox

Photo by SquawkFox

When you’re frugal, you look for a deal. When you’re cheap, you look for the lowest price. I’m frugal because I search for good products at a low cost. For example, I found an amazing deal on a Dr. Bronner’s set and a Yes to Carrots set at Target. Are these “cheap” items? No way. These gifts sets run at $20/each. Did I get a “frugal” deal on them? Heck yes I did. At $5 each, I would say I scored big. This is the first lesson in being frugal. You search for the best deal, not the lowest price. Keep in mind that value is what matters, not the price.

When you’re frugal, you work to buy well-made brands. When you’re cheap, any brand will do. Now, I don’t say this to offend, it’s just the name of the game. When I say “well-made”, I’m not saying that I buy the most expensive or most popular but I do work to buy the best brand in quality for my family. When you buy cheap, you buy the cheapest item, no matter how many parabens or dyes are in it.

When you’re frugal, you focus on shopping in advance. When you’re cheap, you focus on the here and now. By being frugal, you’re willing to buy something that’s a deal as long as it’s in the budget and you will be using it. When you’re buying cheap, you buy something you need right now that’s the lowest price available. This means that I have a few things stocked up in advance (ie: deodorant, toothpaste) but I got great deals on them rather than waiting on them to run out and paying full price. Does this mean I have 20 tubes of toothpaste? No because that would be wasteful. When I find a good deal and have the space for it and the appropriate amount of time to use it, you better believe I buy it.

When you’re frugal, you plan. When you’re cheap, you just go. I am a planner by nature so it should be no surprise that I’m frugal based on this alone. I search for deals regularly and plan on how and when to get the things I need. I know when certain things are on sale and when the best time is to buy it. When you go the cheap route, you just take it as you go, day by day.

Photo by TaxGuru.net

Photo by TaxGuru.net

So, what do you think? Are you frugal or cheap? I would think that a lot of us have frugal qualities and can strive towards that. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, especially when it helps the overall quality of your family.

How are you working to be frugal?

 

Give a Toast- Manic Monday Series February 25, 2013

Something I’ve learned over time is this: it’s a lot cheaper to MAKE your own stuff versus buying it made. Is that clear as mud? Here’s what I’m saying. When you buy something in it’s original state and then take the time to make it into what you want, most times you will save money. For example, we make our own kefir and it’s a lot cheaper. We also try to make our own yogurt from time to time, which is cheaper, too. Another thing we’ve found to be true is with seeds and nuts being toasted. Join me today!

Toasted Almond SaladPhoto By closetcooking.com

Toasted Almond Salad
Photo By closetcooking.com

JR really likes raw nuts, especially almonds. I am learning to love them. I’m trying to add them into our diet more and more and one way I’ve found that I really like is with salads. The recipe I have been using calls for toasted almonds and I’m not going to lie- I was NOT going to buy them after I bought two bags of raw almonds. I went searching for ideas and found that I can make my own and their super easy. Who knew? This girl knows now.You can use this method for not only nuts, but seeds, and here’s how!

Here’s how to make toasted almonds,  pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and more:

  1. Put some your item on the stovetop. I usually do a lot (or as many will fit comfortably) so I will have them already toasted and ready for later.
  2. Cook stoves on medium heat and stir occasionally until golden/light brown. Keep in mind that you can overcook them so don’t allow them to cook for too long.
  3. You can store nuts in your pantry (if you plan on using them quickly) or in your freezer for a few months. For seeds, you can store them out for a good amount of time before they go bad.
Toasted Sesame SeedsPhoto By cookingoutloud.com

Toasted Sesame Seeds
Photo By cookingoutloud.com

We have used this recipe several times and they’ve turned out great both times. Another thing we really like is how you don’t have to use any oils to cook these. Almonds produce their own oils to keep them from sticking. That rocks! As far as the seeds go, we usually use seeds for pumpkin seeds as they tend to dry out easier. With the sesame seeds, we didn’t use any oil and they cooked well, however, I did let them overcook. The good news is, they still tasted good, even after being cooked for too long. That was the biggest win of all!

Pumpkin SeedsPhoto By thewaytohisheartblog.com

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Photo By thewaytohisheartblog.com

I hope you enjoy buying your raw foods and being able to save even more! It’s a blessing to know that you can save money by being willing to spend another 5-10 minutes tops. What a win!

What do you like to toast?

 

Modesty Through The Ages- Fashion Friday Series February 22, 2013

friday

It’s Fashion Friday! Today we’re doing a post based on the poll from last week. We will be talking about how modesty has changed and where we’re heading next. I hope you join me on this adventure!

“The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” Genesis 3:6-7

Once upon a time, modesty didn’t really exist. In the time of Adam and Eve, no one knew what modesty even was. Then Adam and Eve brought sin into the garden, and quickly, modesty become a thing of necessity. The shame of being naked hit and clothes became necessary from that point on up until today.

Dress from Etsy- 1800s Inspired StylePhoto By Photo Couture LTD

Dress from Etsy-                 1800s Inspired Style
Photo By Photo Couture LTD

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

Fast forward to the 1800s. I know, I know. That’s a super long stretch but it’s where I want to go next. When you watch a lot of movies based on that time period, it looks like everyone wore a sleazy bustier with cleavage pouring out the top. While there were some, they are fewer and farther between than what you would think. If you look at what MOST well dressed and well respected women of the 1800s wore, it was more classy and conservative. I will say this though, it looked EXTREMELY uncomfortable and time consuming. Definitely not for me.

Flapper from the 20's Photo by War Wick Fashion Group

Flapper from the 20’s          Photo by War Wick Fashion Group

The rolling twenties rolled around shortly afterwards and I feel this was a big step towards “old school” modesty being a thing of the past. Women became more flashy and more comfortable doing so. It wasn’t as expected or required of women to be modesty and through the next century, as women’s rights increased and changed, so did the clothing, or lack there of. When I see the changes that have taken place in less than two centuries, I’m blown away. It took thousands of years to get from Adam and Eve to the 1800s and less than two hundred to get to where we are today.

When I look at all the potential “reasons” for this change in modesty, I have to imagine that the availability to media has changed everything. Once upon a time, it took months for a letter to get from one person to another. Pictures were rare, few and far between. Being able to spread the word of anything was next to impossible. Nowadays, you blink your eyes and you can see hundreds of things go across the screen. If someone wants to make a movement, all they have to do is try and usually something will happen.  Not always big, but something. All someone has to do is try and you get things like bell bottoms…or leggings.

Hole the WallPhoto by Leonard's Legmann

Hole the Wall
Photo by Leonard’s Legmann

The same can be said for low cut tops, super short shorts, and bikinis that cover less than sexy lingerie. It’s a lot like seeing a hole in the wall. The first time, it looks awful and needs to be fixed right away. The second time, you make a mental note that it has to be fixed in the next few weeks, and before you know it, you see it every day and all of a sudden it doesn’t really bother you anymore. I mean, sure, it’s still a hole in the wall but it’s not really THAT bad.

That’s the way I see it, at least. I want to be counter cultural. I want to teach Emma that she can be stylish AND modest. She’s doesn’t have to show her whole body to look good. She can respect her body while also following her own fashion identity. I’m not I would ever want to call my fashion identity “sleazy” and I’m not sure anyone else would. Sometimes, I think it just happens. In our house, we’re trying to figure out how to not let it happen. Here’s how:

  • We are teaching Emma how to respect her body starting at an early age.
  • We are teaching her by example. I try not to wear anything I wouldn’t let her wear myself. If it’s not appropriate for Emma, it’s not appropriate for me. Bottom line.
  • We are teaching by her current wardrobe choice. Let’s be honest here- Emma probably has some of the cutest clothes out there today. And guess what? Not one crosses the modesty line. If we can do that now, we can do that at sixteen, too.
  • We try to not let Emma get too big for her clothes. When she’s too big for them, tops become midriffs and pants become way too tight. Yes, I know that may seem silly but I think it sets a standard. I can’t tell you how many girls I’ve seen with clothes they would have to peel off. Ew.

So this is we’re doing it at the Linkous house. How are you promoting modesty at your home?

 

Buy Local! February 21, 2013

As some of you may recall, JR and I went to Asheville this past weekend. We had a great time dining locally and checking out all the local artists and shops in town. We made it our goal to only buy locally (minus Chickfila on the way out of town).

When JR and I returned home, we determined that our life needs to be different here. We need to work harder and do better about buying stuff locally here and not being so quick to run out to the store or to a big franchise every time we go. There are some things we can find a buy locally for the same price, sometimes less and sometimes more.

LOVE Sign in Abingdon (on the Barter green)

LOVE Sign in Abingdon (on the Barter green)

Photo Credit to Jason Barnette Photography

What did the final straw was a trip to a big known restaurant in Bristol this past Monday . Despite my new thoughts, I had friends going, wanted to join them, and truth is, I love the food there. Well, after a 30 minute wait for a seat, a 40 minute wait for food, cold food brought to the table, and a weak apology from the manager, I decided no more. I’m making a stand that when JR and I have a dog in the race and are able to make a decision, we will be supporting our local business. There are several local places we go where the same service would have never happened and if it did, we would have been offered something other than a forced apology. **end rant** This isn’t to say that when friends choose to go somewhere that we won’t join them from time to time. There are places we like, for example Chickfila, that we feel do have good service and a good standard they follow. For the most part, however, local is the way we will go.

Zazzy Z's (I have breakfast here once a week)

Zazzy Z’s                        (I have breakfast here once a week)

Some reasons to buy local:

  • It helps support YOUR town 
  • It keeps local costs down when people buy more local food
  • Often times, local products are healthier and mostly preservative-free and sometimes organic
  • You usually receive better service
  • It creates a community of people who love and support one another
  • AND MORE!

So, now here is my question to you. We visit A LOT of local places in the Abingdon/Bristol/TriCities area and have fallen in love with many of them, but there are many more that we haven’t tried or even heard of yet. What are YOUR favorite places to go locally (stores, restaurants, etc)?

 

Why We Love Coconut Oil February 20, 2013

Picture from Lady Homemade

Picture from Lady Homemade

When I was nursing Emma and had horrible pain from the tongue tie, I found very little relief. I tried to use lanolin and the more and more I used it, the worse it got. I found out shortly afterwards that I am allergic to wool, therefore, allergic to lanolin. I searched high and low for something to use, preferably natural, and my friend Stacy recommended coconut oil. She was even kind enough to bring me some to try. This is why I love Stacy. Today, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned about coconut oil and why I personally think it’s one of the best oils out there. Join me today and spread the love of coconut oil!

**Keep in mind that coconut oil comes as a solid but melts into a liquid when heated (even by rubbing with your hands). Once it cools, it will solidify again**

Picture from Passionate Homemaking

Picture from Passionate Homemaking

Beauty

*It should be obvious, but since it can be used for nipple cream it can also be used as a regular body oil

*An eye make up remover

*Can be used to make homemade lotions, body scrubs, and deodorant

*An all natural sunscreen (up to SPF 4) and can heal sunburns as well

*As an all-natural massage oil

*Mix with baking soda for all natural teeth whitening

*Can be used as natural chap stick

*On cuticles to help nail growth

Picture from Herbal Alternative Medicine

Picture from Herbal Alternative Medicine

Medicinal

*It supports a healthy thyroid (a win for all of you with hypo or hyper thyroidism)

*It boosts your metabolism (weight loss WIN!)

*Kills yeast/yeast infections (topically)

*Can be used as an all-natural anti-bacterial cream

*Can be used for relief from itch due to bug bites, eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox, poison ivy, etc.

*When mixed with other essential oils, can be used as a bug repellent

*When it’s mixed with apple cider vinegar, it can be used to naturally cure lice

*Can help produce healthy cholesterol and insulin levels

*Can be used as an all natural brain booster (you can mix with a smoothie) and is not stored as a fat

Picture from Simple Homemade

Picture from Simple Homemade

Cooking

*Great for cooking! It’s one of my absolutely favorite oils EVER

*It can work as a replacement in cooking for any oil AND butter (I love butter so this one doesn’t apply to me)

*Seasoning cast iron skillets

*Can be used to help dry hands from washing dishes (I need to use this BIG TIME)

NewBaby

Children/New Mommas

*Great treatment for diaper rash (cloth diaper safe, too!)

*Great treatment for chapped nipples from nursing

*Prevents stretch marks (and it’s natural!) and helps remove cellulite when used regularly

*It can be used to cure cradle cap in babies (put on and rinse after a few minutes)

*Can be used after birth in your “nether regions” for discomfort and/or hemorrhoids

*Nursing moms can take it daily to increase milk supply

*Can be used to treat thrush in momma’s and babies

 

I hope this helps as you decide how to start using more natural products. There are things out there and they work great. I would recommend searching for more uses of coconut oil. There are hundreds of them. These are just a few of the wonderful reasons that we love coconut oil and you should, too.

Why do you love coconut oil?