Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Simply Living has been on extended hiatus once again!  Here is a wrap up of 2016!

We began 2016 embarking on a Debt Snowball as we worked to pay down our existing debt while searching for the perfect home.  Dave Ramsey provided most of our foundation.  We listed our debts from smallest to biggest and delighted in watching the snowball grow.

We had 8 steady months of paying down our debt.  We were able to eliminate 2 student loans, 2 credit cards and a car loan.  A total of $18,412!  That sure felt like an accomplishment.

As we paid down our existing debt, what we were able to afford for a house continued to grow.  In September we were excited to finally have an offer accepted, and we closed on our first home in November!  This did mean that we had to pause our debt snowball, but I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish in our short 8 months.

During 2016 my husband and I both started new jobs and we completed our first Whole30.  Two really big personal achievements!  We celebrated with a week long cruise around the Caribbean in August.

We ended 2016 in our new home surrounded by stripped wallpaper, new floors and too many paint cans to count.

This year we are extremely excited that our family will be expanding and we will be able to welcome our first child, a son!  We have numerous house projects under way, some big, some small and some very unexpected.  All significantly more expensive than we had planned.  Things are moving and life is happening quickly!

We are back to scrubbing our budget, particularly with a new house, new baby on the way, and a maternity leave around the corner, we are having to be creative in finding ways to make our finances balance.  While we might not be able to put everything into a debt snowball right now, we have learned many ways to be frugal and stretch our paychecks while preventing taking on additional debt.  I’m confident that these skills will help us through the tightest times.

Stick around to see what 2017 has in store for us!

Erin Condren Planner

So I’m new to the “life planner” trend, but I’m excited to jump on board!  Many of my coworkers have planners where they go all out with decorating each week.  I don’t know how far I’ll take it, but I love the positive messages that get intertwined with keeping the week organized.  So,  I asked for a planner this Christmas and was pretty excited when it arrived this week!

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Erin Condren’s motivational packaging, love the positive messages!

Before I even opened it all they way there were positives messages waiting for me! “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not thing, not stress…just breathe”.  I love it.  I did get mine personalized, and I love the everyday design, nothing too fancy.

Erin Condren Planner
Personalized cover

I have seen all kinds of people’s different spreads, with stickers, stamps, ribbon, tape and quotes.  It’s really unbelievable how creative people can be.  Maybe throughout the year I’ll get more daring, but for now I just wanted an organized place to keep track of everything.

January starts with a great quote: “Say yes to new adventures”.  Perfect way to start the year.  Theres a monthly overview calendar where you can see the month at a glance and list some of your goals.  Then I chose the vertical layout where it goes week by week.  The pages were empty, but clean and crisp and ready to be filled!

Erin Condren Planner
January week in vertical life planner

I love that she leaves space on the side and bottom for note taking, to do lists or quick reminders.  They aren’t defined so you can really use them for anything.  And on the top left corner of each week there is a small box that says “Thankful Thought”.  What a great way to stop and think of something you are thankful for that week.

So here is what my week spread looks like:

Planner with Stamps and Washi Tape
Erin Condren life planner, vertical spread, week of January 11th-17th

I used the left side for a to do list, which I bulleted with a small heart stamp.  I added some chevron washi tape to the bottom and some pink sparkly tape to the top.  And then throughout the week I used some of the sample stickers that came with the planner for my gym days, pay-day, and my mom’s birthday.  Everything else was just simple stamps colored in and what I wrote for reminders for the week.  I added my work schedule to the top since that changes from day-to-day, and I made a note to myself on the bottom of what my husband’s schedule is like since he is home at a different time every night.

I used my PaperMate Flair Pens, which are my favorite for writing, but they do bleed through the pages.  This just means that next week I will need to put something on those squares to cover up the bleed through.  Perhaps stickers or colored paper that I can tape down.

I did also purchase the snap in meal planner, which I’m really excited about!  One side lets you plan out the meals for the week and the other side is meant for a grocery list.  Here is our menu for the week:

Menu plan for the week
Menu plan for the week

I love how everything can be organized into one place!  I’m excited to see what this has in store for me.  We will see if I get into the creative piece of it, or if I just keep track of our different events and schedules.

Do you have a favorite planner?

Walgreens Special Discount

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ever get frustrated with the amount you have to pay these days for Prescriptions?  I know I sure do!  Walgreens is now offering a special discount on annual membership for it’s  Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens.  What better time than the new year to start saving even more? 

For only $35 a year, a family membership covers everyone in your immediate family, including a spouse, dependents 22 and younger and pets.  If you have a pet, then you know just how expensive they can be.  This program helps you save money on everyone in your family, not just the people!  Join and receive discount prices on your prescriptions. ($20 for individuals – so you don’t have to have a huge family!)

One of the perks is being able to save on over 8,000 brand-name and generic medications.  You can even receive discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers, and diabetic supplies.  When shopping at Walgreens you even have the opportunity to receive benefits just from purchasing Walgreens brand products.

For anyone interested in supporting Walgreens and staying up to date on all promotions, like Walgreens on Facebook or start following Walgreens on Twitter.  I think you will be surprised with all the great things going on, and all the money you can be saving!

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Spring Flowers

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bulbs. Dig, Drop, Done. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Well, despite the fact that good old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow the other day, it already feels like spring!  Even with the ridiculously mild winter we have been having, I have a sinking feeling we might be in for another April Fools blizzard this year!

The mild, almost spring like, weather has already got me in the mood to be enjoying the outdoors!  This year we actually have a really nice yard and patio to enjoy.  What would be more perfect than some beautiful and easy to manage flowers?  I’ve never done much planting other than from seed, but how easy would bulbs be?

I visited the website http://www.digdropdone.com/ and could hardly tear myself away!  The video library is full of inspiration, which had me pinning ideas and filing away thoughts in my head.  I already know what I want our patio looking like…and it’s only February!

Another fantastic feature were the easy relate to ladies who offered all kinds of tips and words of wisdom.  I loved Marcy’s tips about how to cover your bulbs with leaves in the fall, this helps give an extra layer of protection so that they will be ready to sprout again in the spring.  No need to plant new ones, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Every Christmas my Dad gives my Mom Narcissus (or Paper White) Bulbs, which she plants on a bed of rocks, inside.  No need for a garden, or worrying that a late frost will kill of early sprouts.  And they smell fantastic, what a great gift!

If you’re looking for information about bulbs, when and where to plant them, how to plant them, what flowers look good, and a host of other information, just be sure to   visit www.digdropdone.com to learn more  !Hand in hand with Dig, Drop, Done is another fantastic website.  Make sure to check out Curbside Chaos !  I gave their Garden Guru a go.  All you have to do is enter your Country, location within the Country, when you want your bulbs to bloom, what kind of bulb you want to grow, and boom…full directions on what you need to do!  So helpful!

As if that isn’t enough, get ready for the incredible contest going on right now!  How does a $5,000 yard makeover and a visit from Taniya Nayak (@TaniyaNayak on Twitter) sound?!  Cause it sounds great to me…  She will offer you all kinds of tips on planting bulbs, updating your yard, and incorporating flowers into your landscape.  Win win win!  Interested?  (how could you not be?) Just submit a photo of your yard at CurbsideChaos.com!

Also, don’t forget that Dig, Drop, Done is all about helping a cause!  For every share on Twitter, “Bulbs. Dig, Drop, Done.” will donate $1.00 to Rebuilding Together – the nation’s leading nonprofit, working to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities.  If that isn’t the easiest way to make you feel good about helping out our community, then what is!

Let’s get ready for spring and bring some beautiful pops of color into the world!  Make sure to visit www.digdropdone.com to learn more.  Inside, or outside, bulbs are the way to go!  Happy planting!!

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Week 1 Challenge Complete!

I’m embarrassed to say that I came in closer to the bottom than the top of our weight loss/fitness challenge.  I’m calling week 1 a wash, definitely need to step up my game this week!  Exercise is worth double points this week…and I barely got in any exercise last week, so that is my goal for sure!

Today I worked out with our new 6 point fitness program on the Play Station Move.  I was sweating for sure!  It definitely got my blood pumping, and my arms are already sore 🙂

A quick update on the Mason Jar Salads I posted about last week.  AMAZING.  They came out so good!  Putting the dressing on the bottom and leaves on the top is really key.  The mason jars kept everything sealed and fresh, they held up and lasted throughout the week.  None of the lettuce or spinach was wilted or bad, but if they were sitting in dressing it could have been a disaster.  My favorite was the clementine, strawberry, spinach and walnut salad with the honey balsamic dressing.  Plus it includes 2 fruit services and a veggie serving, which worked out in my favor!

Here is a quick snapshot of the food I packed for work tomorrow!


1/2 a sliced green pepper, strawberries, tortilla with peanut butter, banana, Chobani Greek Yogurt, and water with lime.  It’s about as healthy as I get.  Drinking the water and staying away from the sweets is still hard for me!

Hope everyone is doing well out there.  Stay healthy!