Birthday Favorites: Blog Reading

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today I want to share a bunch of blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis, but I’d love to hear what your favorites are, too!

1) Spiritual Growth Blog: A Holy Experience

How does Ann Voskamp do it? Day after day, she writes these deep, thought-provoking posts, and takes the most beautiful photography. Almost every blog post leaves me with something profound to chew on.

2) Food Blog: Oh She Glows

This has been my favorite for years, and I’ve used it even more in the last year than ever before. Any time I need a salad or dessert recipe, or new lunch ideas, I am never disappointed with this blog. She just came out with a cookbook this year, which is definitely on my birthday list!

3) Simple/Minimalist Living: Becoming Minimalist

This is the blog that keeps me purging our closets and cupboards. Joshua Becker has such a down-to-earth approach about how to live simply, and figure out what we truly need to enjoy life, and what we can leave behin.

4) Organizing Blog: I Heart Organizing

So many cute ideas for making organizing pretty!

5) Sewing/Fashion Blog: Merrick’s Art

This is the blog that has me buying Target maxi skirts in the wrong size, because now I know how easy it is to alter stuff. Her sewing projects make everything look easy.

6) Decorating Blog: Centsational Girl

LOVE all her decorating ideas. I also really enjoy her “Best of the Blogosphere” posts for decorating ideas.

7) Photography/Memory Keeping Blog: Ali Edwards

I have loved Ali Edwards’ stuff for years. Such fantastic photography, and she is the classiest scrapbooker around. I love looking at her stuff, even though I don’t scrapbook anymore – I just love getting ideas for digital scrapbooking, and seeing how she documents stuff.

8) Health/Wellness Blog: Wellness Mama

She has a natural remedy for everything. I’ve learned a ton from her blog.

9) Photography/Story-Telling Blog: Enjoying the Small Things

Amazing photography, and I just love how she writes about her life. Her blog post about finding out that her newborn had Down Syndrome is the most beautiful blog post I’ve ever read.

10) Simple/Natural Living: Shalom Mama

She lives in a bus with her husband and four kids! Love reading her view on things, and cannot imagine doing life that way, but it intrigues me!

There are so many blogs to enjoy out there – totally understand the need for balance, and not letting it take over too much, time, but these are the ten that I look forward to reading the most! What are you enjoying?

Favorite New Blogs

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I’ve shared about my love of blogs in the past, and you can check out my previous list of favorites here.

But I’m always coming across new ones, and try to be choosy about what I spend my time reading, while still doing some exploring for new favorites.

I used to read blogs using Google Reader, but as of July, that isn’t an option anymore, so I’ve switched over to Feedly. I’m not completely used to it yet, but lots of people say it’s much better than Google Reader, so we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, there are a few blogs that have stuck with me for good over this past year. If you’re in need of some new reading material, check them out! I love them all:

1) Zero Waste Home – By far my favorite!! I’ve gone back and read every post. I’m buying her book. I would never be able to live like this, but I think it’s totally inspiring, and I want to take steps to move more in this direction.

2) Assortment – On Living Less – This family of five moved into a 665 square foot cabin. It’s gorgeous. I love her photos, and imagining what our life would look like if we got rid of everything except the essentials. Again, probably not going to end up living to this extreme, but it’s extremely inspiring while spring cleaning!!

3) What Katie Ate – I have yet to actually make any of these recipes, but they sound and look amazing, and I LOVE her photography. This is what I wish my photography looked like. Beautiful.

4) Lia Griffith – Handcraft Your Life – Another beautiful blog. So many pretty, pretty ideas. Her decorating skills are amazing. I would live in her house.

Any other awesome blogs out there that you’d recommend?

34 Days of Favorites: Blogs

I love blogs – obviously, seeing as I have one.

But I also have a whole list of favorites which I love reading. I realize blogs can easily eat up far too much time, so I totally understand the need to wrestle these things under control.

But if you have some free time, and you’re looking for something fun to read, here’s my list of blogs I’m enjoyinging right now:

A Holy Experience – Gotta love Ann Voskamp. Beautiful photography, and spiritual wisdom and truth that make this blog like a daily devotional.

Enjoying the Small Things – Once again, fantastic photography, and such a vibrant, joyful spirit behind Kelle Hampton’s writing. I love her focus on making each day magical for her kids, and loving the life you’ve been given.

Becoming Minimalist – Fantastic for motivating even the smallest urges to purge. I find Joshua Becker’s ideas for simplifying refreshing and inspiring.

Ali Edwards – I started reading this one for the scrapbooking content, but now I love it because she has fantastic ideas for recording family memories in general. I enjoy her photography, and reading her thoughts. Her taste in most things is excellent.

Centsational Girl – Amazing decorating blog. Very inspiring DIY ideas. Love her stuff.

Simple Mom – Oh, where do I start? I love the organizational ideas, the tips for healthy living, her reading suggestions, etc, etc. I’ve learned a lot from this blog.

The Wellness Warrior – Very health focused. Great food ideas, tons of information on what to eat and how to add healthy habits to your life. Her “Inspiration Board” is incredible. I’ve written many blog posts in the past year which were inspired by the quotes she shares every few days.

Jeff Goins, Writer – Lots of thoughts, challenges, and encouragement for improving with writing and blogging. Reading this blog is what got me to finally start calling myself a “writer”. Just put it out in the open. Somehow, it makes a difference.

Putting Me Together – Fun fashion stuff, if you’re into that kind of thing. I didn’t think I was, but when I stumbled across this and started reading, I realized it could be the answer to simplifying my closet even more. Mix and match, I tell ya. I love seeing her creativity in combining her clothing in different ways.

Oh She Glows – Tons of extremely delicious, healthy recipes which I use on a regular basis.

I also enjoy a number of blogs written by friends that cover a variety of topics. I’m hesitant to share links, however, as some are more private than others. But if you have a blog and would like to share your link, please share your link in the comment section and we can all meet new friends. 🙂

And here’s an extra fun little tidbit: If you like reading blogs, and don’t use a blog reader, you should seriously think of trying one. I use Google Reader, meaning that I sign up for an account, add all the blogs I want to keep up with on a regular basis, and whenever any of those blogs has a new post, it pops up automatically in my reader. I never have to go to each blog individually, just to find out if they’ve posted something new.

Huge time saver, very handy.

Okay, I’ve shared my favorites with you, now it’s your turn! I would love to hear what blogs you enjoy reading – I’m always up for trying something new!

(To read more about “34 Days of Favorites, click here.)

Favorite Things Right Now 2011

Okay, everybody! It’s my birthday today, so it’s time for my birthday tradition (started by my mom when I was a little kid) of listing all of my favorite things right now, as I enter a new year of my life. (To see last year’s favorites, go here.)

Surprisingly, it was more difficult to make my list this year than it was last year, for a few reasons: 1) Last year, I had never publicly made a list, so it was easy to think of things no one knew about. 2) I also made a small list half way through this last year, and I should not have done that! Save it all for the birthday, and make it easier for myself!!

However, I have managed to think of some significant things that I’ve added to my life that have provided increasing joy, and so now I will share them with you:

1. Favorite Snack: Macadamia Nuts

I loooooooove these nuts. Too bad they cost an arm and a leg. And a foot. The rest of the family loves them, too, so we kind of have to ration them around here or else our entire grocery budget would go into macadamia nuts. But maybe no one would mind…. (Bulk Barn is the cheapest place to buy macadamia nuts, in case you’re wondering.)

2. Favorite Place to Shop: Value Village!

While writing this post last summer, I did some long, hard thinking about my shopping habits. I used to shop at Value Village occasionally, but stopped because my pride likes to go to the mall better. I like to buy new stuff. But since I wanted to make some changes in my purchasing choices, I gave Value Village a try again last fall, and I was hooked. Here are the reasons why I love shopping at there:

  • Our clothing budget goes so much farther.
  • It’s a one-stop-shop! I can buy clothes for the girls, Ben, or myself, as well as pick up some summer reading and home decorating items, all at one place!
  • I love the thrill of the hunt. The Mennonite in me just loves to find a great deal. I think I feel like I’m actually working for my purchase when I hunt through a pile of junk to find a real treasure.
  • It is very environmentally friendly to shop there. There is so much stuff in the world already, so it’s great to reuse what we can. And anytime new clothes are made, they “off-gas” chemicals for a long time after. When I shop at Value Village, some children I don’t know have already run around in those clothes during the off-gassing stage so that it doesn’t have to happen while my children are wearing them. (I know that some people would think that’s ridiculous, but I still think it’s a nice perk.)
  • It is usually cheaper to buy slightly used, brand name, good quality stuff at Value Village than it is to buy cheap quality, non-brand name stuff brand new.

And to make things ever better, you can now become a member, and get coupons! This makes my world extremely happy – coupons that make cheap clothes cheaper. Then I have more money to spend on the stuff that we can’t get a deal on.

If we lived in civilization, I might really love garage sales, but as long as we live at camp, the garage sales are very far away, and only on certain days. Value Village is always waiting there for me.

3. Favorite Date Night: A movie, followed by sweet potato fries at Montana’s if we’re in the city, and if we’re at home, an episode of Heartland or Everwood, and fresh veggies with hummus.

I know that I wrote about the wonders of Heartland in last year’s “Favorite Things” post, but I have never introduced you to Everwood, our first TV love. Four seasons of pure wonderfulness. (Well, things get a little sketch in Season 3, but they make up for it in Season 4.)


It is just such a great show. Season 3 arrived at Costco recently, so that’s what Ben and I are watching these days. One episode a week – Ben is very disciplined about stretching out the enjoyment, rather than watching all of the episodes right away.

I used to feel really guilty about the fact that I enjoy movies and stuff so much, but I read recently that people who love to write and read usually love watching movies, as well. It’s all about a good story. I don’t have much use for TV, though, with the exception of Everwood and Heartland.

4. Favorite New Movie: I would have to say Tangled. It was the best movie I saw this last year, which is a bit weird since it’s Anika’s favorite too, so I feel a little juvenile in that choice. But my goodness. I left the movie theatre with that happy, satisfied feeling you get when the story ended perfectly, and the whole thing was just pure pleasure.


5. Favorite Way to Exercise: Pilates!


I tried pilates years ago, and thought it was boring. And silly – “rolling like a ball”??? Please. What kind of exercising is that?

But my physiotherapist (whom I love so much that I’ll keep going to see her for appointments even once I’m healed, just so I can spend time with her) told me to start doing pilates to help with my pelvic/hip problems, and I am so, so glad I listened to her. It has made the hugest difference in my life. Last year, yoga was my favorite, but pilates has surpassed that. Now I alternate yoga and pilates. I’m working my way up to resistance training….It’s my goal to have that on my list of favorites for next year!

6. Favorite New Recipe: Mediterranean Bean Salad

I eat embarrassing amounts of this stuff – for lunch, supper, snack….I haven’t had it for breakfast yet, though! But it’s a good one. And very easy, fast and cold for in summer.

1 1/3 cups barley, cooked (I leave this out, or add cooked millet)
1 1/3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1 1/3 cups white beans, cooked
3 bell peppers of various colors (orange, yellow, red), chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together barley, garbanzo beans, white beans and veggies. In a seperate bowl, mix basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

Add dressing to bean mixture. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, but can’t remember where.

7. Favorite New Book: The Happiness Project

But you probably already knew that, because I wrote about it here.

8. Favorite New Blog: Oh She Glows

Interestingly enough, this is a food blog that contains strictly vegan recipes. I would never have thought that would excite me, because I am not vegan, but I can eat a surprising amount of things posted there, the pictures are beautiful, and the food is healthy! Of course I have a bunch of old favorite blogs, but this one stands out in my mind as being the new one that I look forward to reading the most right now.

And what is it with me and recipes?? Ben and I had 15 luxurious minutes in a book store on Saturday, and out of all the wonderful choices available to me there, I spent the entire time looking at recipe books! Of foods that I can’t even eat!!

9. Favorite Resolution That I Kept This Last Year: Do everything I can to improve my health.

Last spring, I sat down and made a list of everything I could possibly do to improve all of the little things causing discomfort and sickness in my life. I decided that I was tired of dealing with it all, and I was going to take charge.

I found health care professionals in every area that was necessary, made some very big changes in my life, and went to hundreds of appointments. I met some amazing people who have helped me in ways that I never imagined were possible. Here’s my list:

  • Jamie Angus @ Donna Sarna Physiotherapy for pelvic/hip problems
  • Dr. Marianne Hembroff @ The Nature Doctors for general health/Candida stuff
  • Dr. Steven Lawson for TMJ
  • Dr. Gupta @ Fort Garry Foot Clinic for orthodics
  • Renee @ Fort Garry Foot Clinc and Raffaela Pingitore @ Body Serene Massage Therapy for massages

That list looks really insane, but some of these doctors I only needed to see a few times.

I am so glad I did it. I feel really different than I did at this time a year ago, and I am very, very thankful.

Now I need to come up with some resolutions for this next year…

And that’s the list for this year of my life! And now I’m curious…

What are your favorite things right now? I need some ideas of new things to try for this next year…

Blog Bonanza

Just for fun, I decided that I’d share with you all a few of my favorite blogs. No idea what kinds of tastes/interests are out there, but maybe you’ll find something you like as much as I do!

For funny spiritual stuff:

For serious, challenging spiritual stuff:

For challenging, funny spiritual stuff:

*There is a bit of a language warning with this one – but if you can get past that, she’s got some really amazing things to say!

For photography:

For photography and scrapbooking stuff :

For Project Life, photography, and crafty stuff:

For the yummiest-looking recipes ever:


Have fun! I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Been Thinking About” post. See you then!