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A Diet Change and WIAW

If you follow me on Instagram then you might have noticed that I have been cooking and eating more vegetarian/meatless meals lately. There is a reason for this. Ryan and I have decided that we want to start having less meat in our diets. This has nothing to do with wanting to lose weight, wanting to follow a fad, or wanting to label ourselves as vegetarian or vegan. I am not one for labels when it comes to my diet, but we are changing what we are eating quite a bit.

I have been wondering for a while now how healthy meat is for everyone, especially how much meat most people in America eat every day. I feel like for the majority of people, and I know it was this way for us, most of our meals involved meat, and meat was the main course of the meal. Now most of the meat we ate was chicken or turkey products, which I think is much better than too much red meat, but I still wasn’t convinced that we needed meat for every meal.

A few weeks ago Ryan and I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, after my brother and SIL told us we needed to watch it. I won’t give too much away because I think a lot of y’all would enjoy watching this, but the documentary discussed the benefits of a plant based diet. I am a huge believer that fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that most of us don’t get enough of, and it’s not that I think meat is bad for us, but I don’t know if we need as much of it as most people eat. I also definitely don’t think the way animals are treated and fed is healthy or natural, and I think humans suffer negative consequences from these unnatural ways. This makes all natural, grass-fed meat healthier, but this is a very expensive option.

With that being said, the majority of meals we eat are now meatless and we are finding different ways to get our protein. I am married to a man who loves meat and cheese (the documentary, “Forks Over Knives” says you should go all plant based, which of course would be no dairy either, we haven’t gone that far yet. We are changing our diets gradually), and he has tried more foods and meals in these last three weeks than he probably ever has, and he is realizing that he can like meals without meat, and there are more vegetables that he actually likes than he thought!

If you are anything like me, you won’t have a clue on how to start to make delicious, meatless meals that meat loving people will still enjoy and make sure they are still nutritious. I did some research and looked through multiple recipes, and I thought I would share some of the meals we have eaten with y’all. So what a perfect day to take part in WIAW: Veggie Style! Head on over to Peas and Crayons if you want to see more delicious food people are eating!

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I made some black bean sweet potato chili, and I loved this meal! Make some healthy cornbread muffins, and this meal is perfect!

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Tofu frittatas from Peas and Thank You. The Hubs wasn’t a fan of this one, but I thought they were really good! They were perfect for breakfast, or a snack, or as an add on to another meal. I really enjoyed putting a couple of them over salads for lunch. I loved to eat mine topped with salsa!. The picture above to the right was a snack for me one day, and I ended up putting a little salsa on the frittata after I took the picture.

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Black bean veggie burger from Peas and Thank You. As you can tell, I ate mine on a bed of spinach instead of with a bun, and then I topped it with avocado, tomatoes and bell peppers. And obviously load up on the vegetables for sides! And if you have a veggie burger, home made sweet potato fries are a must, in case you didn’t know.

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Spaghetti and lentil “meat balls”, that are made without any meat. Again, this recipe is from Peas and Thank You.

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Jambalaya made with quinoa, seasonings, veggies, and some type of veggie sausage. We wouldn’t eat the sausage by itself, but when it was mixed in with all of the seasonings, quinoa, and vegetables, it tasted fantastic! Oh and I bet you can’t guess where I got this recipe. Well maybe you can, Peas and Thank You again.

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Tortilla soup from Oh She Glows. I ate mine with some homemade plantain bread from purely twins. Ryan said this meal was “phenomenal”. This was an incredibly good soup, and I can’t wait to make more of Angela’s recipes.

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Homemade pizza on sweet potato crust from Tina. We loaded it up with veggies and then put some mozzarella cheese on top, followed by some pineapple.

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Eggplant parmesan from Ashlee. I loved this meal! I ate mine on a bed of quinoa, and Ryan ate his on noodles. Ryan thought it was delicious!

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Tempeh “sloppy joes”, which I ended up just calling barbecue sandwiches because that’s what they were. They weren’t like sloppy joes at all. Ryan ate his, and had leftovers for lunch the next day, but he said this wasn’t his favorite, and this meal shouldn’t be on of our regular meals.

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A sweet potato topped with scrambled eggs cooked with veggies and avocado for breakfast .

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Blueberry spinach pancaked topped with 1/2 of a banana, some peanut butter, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

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Leftover barbecue tempeh on a bed of quinoa with a salad and green beans.

 

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Carrot cake waffles that are amazing! I topped mine with half of a banana and a little pure maple syrup.

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Quinoa, black bean, and corn tacos. Mine are too loaded with toppings for you to see the quinoa mixture, but it was amazing. My plate is on the left, and Ryan’s is on the right.

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The quinoa, black bean, and corn mixture made a ton, so earlier this week for breakfast I sautéed some of the leftovers with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper, and then cooked two eggs with it. This was one of my favorite breakfasts! I topped it with avocado and salsa and had a lentil banana muffin from Lindsay on the side.

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Last night Ryan and I went to a hockey game, and we didn’t want to pay to eat out or eat at the game, so I packed a dinner that we ate in the car before going into the stadium. Not only was this cheaper, but it was healthier too. I wanted to show this picture so you can see that you can pack vegetarian meals too! I had a salad with some of the quinoa, black bean, and corn mixture in it, with some Greek yogurt and nuts afterwards. Ryan had a peanut butter banana sandwich with Ritz chips and an apple.

So there are a bunch of our vegetarian eats lately! Now we are not going totally meatless, right now, we are having mainly vegetarian meals during the week, and some meat on the weekend if we want it. This is working out great so far because it’s on the weekends when we normally go out with friends or family, and that’s when eating meatless might be a harder option, or might not even be an option.

I am also a huge fish lover, and I think fish has many benefits. I still want us to have fish about once a week or so, and that’s why we are having shrimp this Friday night. Meat and fish give people Vitamin B12, which is one reason I wouldn’t want to get rid of it completely. We are just having much less than we used to. 🙂

Now I do not judge anyone who eats a lot of meat; we are all different and we all need different diets. But for Ryan and I, this diet is working great for us. Ryan even admits that he feels better having less meat; he has more energy and is less tired. Sometimes you just have to explore your food options to see what works best for your body.

Questions:

1. What have you been eating lately?

2. Do you think you would like to watch the documentary, “Forks Over Knives?”

3. Do you like vegetarian recipes?

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The Best Day of my Life: Pre-Wedding Ceremony

Today is going to be a great day! So why not share a post that is long overdue? This just happens to be part of the recap of the best day of my life so….

I have kept my wedding pictures from y’all for long enough! I have so much I could write about our wedding day; it truly was the best day of my life, and I will never forget it. Instead of me writing a novel for this post, I will say a few things, but I will let my pictures do most of the talking about this day. I tried to pick out some of my favorites. The photographer gave us over 600 pictures, so it was hard to choose since they were all amazing, but here are some of my favorites!

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Getting ready. Yup, I was that bride who actually ate before her wedding. People told me I wouldn’t be hungry. They obviously don’t know me. Oh, and the woman doing my hair is so special to me! One of her daughters was a close friend of mine, and her son was a friend of my brothers. I also love her youngest daughter to death. Basically, I love her whole family. She has done my hair for every important event in my life (junior high dances, high school proms, homecoming, etc.), so it just made sense for her to do my hair for our wedding!Billups wedding 7084

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You better believe I ordered special Nikes to wear at my wedding! You can’t see it, but I have certain things written on the tongue of each shoe. One tongue reads, “bride” and the other shoe reads “6.7.13”, the date of our wedding. 

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Thanks Mom for tying my shoes for me. 🙂

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My something blue: running socks.

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On the left is Ryan with his groomsmen, and that is Ryan with his two older brothers on the right. Billups wedding 7175

Ryan and his parents.

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Thanks Kaleigh (my SIL) for helping me put the veil on. 🙂

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My Mom taking my Dad in to see me for the first time.

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This was a very special moment.

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Our flower girls and ring bearers.

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Above are both sets of my grandparents, and below are my wonderful parents.

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I love these ladies! The best girl friends a girl could ever ask for!

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I actually found my bridesmaid dresses on eBay for about $28 total, including shipping and everything! Then I just told them to get yellow shoes. I thought it turned out perfect!

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My amazing older brother!

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Seriously, how did I get so lucky to marry this handsome man?

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Ryan and I didn’t see each other at all before the wedding. About 30 minutes before the ceremony began our photographer set up this barrier between us so that we could exchange the letters we wrote to each other that morning.

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We both must have written something funny. 🙂

This was such a special, intimate moment, and Ryan’s letter is something I will forever treasure and keep.

I thought we were just exchanging letters, but Ryan surprised me by giving me a new study bible, with my new name inscribed on the bottom. I was totally surprised. This just made me cry even more, but I loved it! The perfect gift, given by the perfect man, on a perfect day.

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After we exchanged letters and prayed together, my Mom came and got me to hurry me back into the bridal room. The ceremony was about to start, and I needed to touch up my make-up and hair!

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We didn’t get married until 7:00 p.m., so I was ready to get the whole wedding thing started!

Now, not to leave you hanging at the most exciting point, but this post is already extremely long! I think it would be best to separate the wedding recap into separate posts. So here was the pre-wedding ceremony, next I will recap the actual wedding!

Sorry for all of the pictures; it’s just so hard to choose between them all!

I hope you all have a great Thursday! 🙂

Christmas 2013 Came and Went

And just like that, Christmas is over. I hate to say it is over because I love Christmas so much, but this Christmas was absolutely wonderful!

I have been absent from most social media because we’ve been celebrating with family. Thursday we left to spend the weekend at Ryan’s parents’ house, and we didn’t get home until almost 9:00 last night. We had a blast with everyone, and we hated to leave because Ryan’s brothers and their wives were staying longer, but Ryan had to work today so we headed back. However, I will admit, it feels good to be home. Nothing is quite like home. 🙂

Since 2013 is quickly coming to an end, I thought I would do a recap of Christmas #2 (with my family) and Christmas #3 (with Ryan’s family) in this one post. Then I will move on from Christmas, I promise. 😉 Get ready for pictures!

Christmas #2

IMG_5011Ryan and I spent Christmas Eve at my parents’ house. My brother, SIL, parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin were all there. We always have ham sandwiches, chips, dips, fruit, veggies, and lots of desserts.

IMG_5038The grandparents and the kids.

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IMG_5005My plate of food from the night. Turkey, lettuce, pepperjack cheese, strawberries, grapes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, vegetable dip, and crab cakes. I snacked on other things too, but this was the only picture I took.

IMG_5034When everyone else left my family and I ended the night with games, and obviously making silly faces.

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Thinking hard for Scrabble. We get serious about games.

My parents started a new, fun tradition where every year each couple gets a game they wanted for Christmas. Ryan and I got a rotating Scrabble board, Ben and Kaleigh got Jenga and another game I can’t remember, and my parents got a game none of us had ever played called Suspend. That game was a lot of fun too!

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Of course before we went to bed we layer out cookies and milk for Santa. They were eaten the next morning.

IMG_5030Sorry for the blurry picture that you can barely see, but here are our stockings full from what Santa brought.

IMG_5016I love my parents’ tree!

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So I got some really awesome gifts that I love, but I wanted to share something with you. You know you are getting old when you get really excited about a new kitchen trash can for Christmas. But in all fairness, I had really been wanting a stainless steel trashcan, so I feel like it was a perfectly normal thing to be excited about.

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I thought you might also be interested in the barbells I received from my parents! As I have mentioned before, we aren’t members at a gym yet, so all of my workouts are done at home. I have resistant bands, but it will be so nice to have these too! I plan on using them today!

IMG_5022After we opened gifts at my parents we all quickly got dressed and headed to my aunt and uncle’s house for breakfast with my family. It was basically all of the same people that we were with for Christmas Eve, except for this time my other cousin and her husband and two little boys were there as well. I love all of the decorations my aunt has at her house, so I had to get a picture of Ryan and I in front of her tree.

IMG_5023My family doesn’t have big lunches or dinners for Christmas, but we do have a big breakfast, and I love it! After I ate this plate above, I went back for another biscuit with sausage gravy and about 1/4 of another cinnamon roll. I know it was a lot, but I get this breakfast once a year so I enjoy it!

IMG_5044My little cousin, Cooper, got a bow and arrow for Christmas, and to be honest, we all enjoyed shooting it a little. 🙂 Unfortunately, I’m no Katniss.

IMG_5045My other little cousin, Cade, got a bike, so we watched him ride around in it for a while.

We went back home about 11:00 in the morning and just relaxed for the rest of the day. We did go outside and play with this cool frisbee disc each couple got from Santa in the afternoon, which was a lot of fun. Ryan and I left a little after 7 that night to head home and get ready to leave the next day for his parents’ house.

End of Christmas #2.

Christmas #3

IMG_5052I drove Ryan to work Thursday morning so that I could pick him up Thursday afternoon and we could leave straight from there to make the road trip to his parents’ house. We left about 3:20 and got to their house about 8:30-9:00.

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These pictures that look horrible because of bad lighting, the car moving, and the fact that you can’t really tell what everything is, is the food I packed for the road for me to eat. I had one slice of leftover homemade sweet potato pizza that we had Monday night, and then a bunch of random veggies that I threw in some tupperware and later put balsamic vinaigrette dressing on. Ryan enjoyed two slices of leftover pizza with some Cheetos he got in his stocking Monday. It was getting dark so the pictures aren’t the best. But I am all for packing food on the road because it saves you money, time, and it is so much healthier since you can control what you eat and what is put into your food.

IMG_5055It was so nice when we finally arrived at their house. Their tree was absolutely beautiful!

Sadly, I didn’t get as many pictures here. 😦 Ryan’s brothers and their wives and kids didn’t show up until Saturday night, so we got to enjoy Ryan’s parents to ourselves for Friday and most of the day Saturday before everyone else came. The house was full by Saturday when everyone got there, and after enjoying dinner together we started opening gifts! After all of the gifts were opened we got to look in our stockings, which is always so fun! The only picture I snapped was Ryan and his two brothers looking in their stockings. Ryan is looking through some binoculars they all got; he really liked them!

One of the gifts I got was an Anne Taylor Loft gift card, and I’m so excited because I need to build up my teacher wardrobe.

IMG_5057We all went to church on Sunday and then snapped this picture of us all. Gotta love self timers on cameras. 😉

IMG_5058We had lunch with everyone, and then sadly Ryan and I had to pack up and leave to make the drive back home. We knew Ryan had work the next day so we didn’t need to get home too late. It was a short trip to my in-laws’ house, but it was so special and fun.

End of Christmas #3. 

In case you can’t tell, our first Christmas was absolutely amazing! We were surrounded by so much family and love, and so many memories were made. I am so thankful and blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people who I love very much!

Questions:

1. When did your Christmas celebrations end?

2. Favorite Christmas tradition?

3. Any new Christmas traditions you want to start?

4. What did you do this weekend?

In Case You Were Wondering

In case you were wondering if I’m enjoying my very first BIC band that Ryan gave as part of my graduation present, I am loving it!!

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Isn’t it super cute? It seriously never falls or slips on my head.  Oh and if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you should. 🙂

In case you were wondering if edamame is good, it is scrumptious!

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I bought it for the first time this week, and I am loving it for snacks and as part of some of my meals! It is super healthy and full of protein! I had some as a snack earlier in the week with one of my pumpkin cranberry nut bars.

In case if you were wondering if Heather’s peanut butter pumpkin pancakes were good, they aren’t, they are DELICIOUS!

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I topped mine with half of a banana, frozen blueberries that I microwaved, walnuts, and a little bit of pure maple syrup. I’m making more of Heather’s recipes ASAP.

In case you were wondering if I am enjoying having more meatless meals in my diet, the answer is YES!

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More of my lunches are becoming meatless, and I am really enjoying this. It helps me increase the amount of vegetables I eat. For this meal I had rice, beans, edamame, bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini, and 1/4 of an avocado. After I ate all of this, I enjoyed a nice crisp apple.

In case you were wondering if Ryan and I are still having one meatless day a week (except for fish) we are, except some weeks it isn’t on Monday. This week it happened on Wednesday. Things happen and we just roll with it. 🙂

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We had salmon this week that I loved, but unfortunately Ryan didn’t. 😦 I ate my salmon with quinoa, broccoli, zucchini, and some grilled eggplant. (I grilled the eggplant on my panini maker because I knew that would be easier to clean than the George Foreman grill. Lazy or smart? I am going with smart. 😉 )

In case you were wondering how our 12 Dates of Christmas are going, they are going fabulous!

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Last night was our candlelit dinner at home. We love date nights at home, so we make every night date night. 🙂 We have done some of the days for the 12 dates out of order, and we have had some days where we did more than one date on that day because some days we just couldn’t make the dates work. We aren’t forcing anything, but we are enjoying having fun things to do every day when we can!

In case you were wondering if spaghetti squash is ever good for dinner, the answer is HECK YES!

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I had some leftover from the spaghetti I made Thursday night, so I sautéed it with spinach, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper and then cooked two over easy eggs. Once it was all done cooking I topped it with 1/4 of an avocado. This breakfast hit the spot! Obviously when I finished this plate I had to have a banana with peanut butter to make sure I wouldn’t get hungry.

In case you were wondering if it’s better to be fashionable or warm, it is ALWAYS better to be warm. Besides, who says what’s fashionable and what’s not? Make up your own fashion and work it!

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Ryan and I played disc golf yesterday, and it started to get pretty chilly. Whenever I ran after my disc, my hood fell off and my ears got cold. So I tied my hood as tight as it would go around my face so it wouldn’t fall. Ryan laughed, but I was warm so I was happy. 🙂

In case you were wondering, I have a 15k race this morning with my Dad! He is doing the 5k, but we are going together, so I am super excited! Of course Ryan will be there to cheer us on!

In case you were wondering, today for the 12 dates of Christmas we are supposed to go to the movies. Ryan and I are going to see Anchorman 2 with my brother, Ben, and SIL, Kaleigh. I am super excited for this double date, and super excited to see the movie because I loved the first Anchorman. Will Ferrel is hilarious!

Questions:

1. What would you tell me if you started your sentence with, “In case you were wondering…”?

2. Have you seen Anchorman 2? What about the first Anchorman? If you liked it I’m sure we would be the best of friends! 

3. Anybody else racing today?

4. Do you have any fun Christmas plans this weekend?

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

We are officially 5 days away from Christmas! Oh my goodness, how did it sneak up on us so fast? I am short one gift, and am hoping to go out and get it today and then finish wrapping. I want to try to get all of my shopping done before this weekend since I know the stores will be crazy the weekend before Christmas!

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With that being said, I bet that some of you will be out shopping for some last minute gifts in the next few days. Christmas time can be hard on everyone’s wallets and bank accounts, as we are all spending more money than we normally do buying gifts for other people. I think it is fantastic to buy gifts for other people, but I know it is easy to feel pressure to spend lots of money for the nicest gifts, that honestly we can’t afford. Nothing is wrong with wanting to get your loved ones the nicest possible gifts, but trust me, this can be done without breaking the bank account.

I am a bargain shopper, and I love finding and looking for good deals. I have had to get better at this since Ryan and I got married and we have been living off of one pay check. Yes, I just got a job, but I haven’t got paid yet, so that’s not helping with finances right now. We still have a lot of people that we want to get gifts for, so we have made it work. I wanted to share with you some tips that I have used this Christmas while shopping for friends and family.

How to Christmas Shop on a Budget and still give AWESOME Gifts!

1. Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, and Burlington Coat Factory are your friends.

Don’t worry about having to shop at the fancy, expensive stores. Who cares where you buy something as long as they like it? I have found that these stores sell some very nice things for much better prices than other stores.

2. Everyone loves food! Why not make it look pretty and give it as a gift?

There are so many cute, delicious looking Christmas recipes out there (just look at Pinterest or all over the blog world right now) that make great presents! Buy a cute, affordable container from a store such as Walmart or Target (Walmart normally has better prices though) and fill it up with some type of Christmas treat!

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I bought these cookie jars from Burlington Coat Factory this week and filled them up with the white chocolate popcorn pretzel mix for gifts to give some of Ryan’s coworkers. They were a hit, and you wouldn’t believe it but each jar was only $6! (All of the Christmas stuff at Burlington Coat Factory is on sale for 50% off if you need any last minute things. This includes wrapping paper and gift sacks!)

Trust me, people love these gifts! I have made a lot of my white chocolate popcorn and pretzel mix and put it in different Christmas containers as gifts, and it has been a huge success every time! If you choose to use this recipe as a gift idea, one batch of the white popcorn makes a ton!

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These glass jars were from WalMart, and I have also bought some cute Christmas decorated plastic containers from there too.

3. Coupons, coupons, coupons! 

Coupons are awesome! All it does is save you money; take advantage of it! One of my favorite apps is Coupon Sherpa. It has coupons to a ton of different stores, and you just click on the store to see what coupon there is for it. When you check out you hand the cashier your phone and they scan the barcode for you to get the deal. It’s so easy and convenient!

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4. Online shopping sometimes offers better deals than in the actual store.

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However, with online shopping you sometimes have to pay for shipping, but I hardly ever buy something if it makes me pay for shipping. You can usually google for some type of coupon code for free shipping and find one. So make sure you try that before you automatically pay for shipping.

5. Always check Amazon before buying from an actual store.

If you are shopping online, before you buy something from a store, such as Target, see if Amazon offers the same product. Most likely, amazon will offer it for a cheaper price. And if you are an Amazon Prime member you always get free shipping. It’s awesome. (We aren’t prime members, but my Mom is, and because she is sweet and awesome, she lets us use it.)

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6. People really do appreciate homemade gifts!

Don’t worry that you are being cheap if you give someone a homemade gift. I honestly love receiving homemade gifts because it shows that the person put in a lot of thought and time into what they gave me. Besides, your family and true friends don’t care how much money you spend on them, or if you spend any money!

7. Be thinking throughout the whole year what you want to give as gifts to certain people.

If you start thinking before Christmas about what you want to get people, then you can go ahead and get it when it comes on sale. Because if you wait until December and it’s not on sale, you are out of luck and are stuck paying full price. Plus, spreading out your Christmas shopping throughout the year makes it much easier on your wallet since you aren’t spending so much money at one time. (This was my plan to do this all year, but I didn’t start Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving. Oops! Maybe next year this will happen for me. 🙂 )

8. Buy cheap wrapping paper. It’s just going to get ripped and thrown away anyways. 

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Wrapping paper can get expensive, and that’s why I buy all of my wrapping paper from WalMart or dollar stores. I also bought a couple of rolls from Burlington Coat Factory since it was on sale. But if you go to other places you can end up spending a lot of money on something that someone is just going to tear and then throw away. I understand you want your gifts to look cute, I do too, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy overpriced wrapping paper. If you need gifts sacks, there are some dollar stores where all bags, no matter what size, are only $1. That’s a really good deal for some of those really big gift sacks. Also, if you don’t want to spend more money on all of the bows and ribbons, don’t feel pressured to if you don’t want to. I don’t have any ribbons or bows on any of the presents I wrapped. This is for two reasons: 1. I didn’t have any ribbons or bows. 2. I am not good at tying bows or making presents look cute. So I just stick to what I can do, which is just wrapping presents and not doing anything fancy. 🙂

I hope these tips have helped some of you! This time of year should be enjoyable, so don’t let yourself get stressed out about Christmas shopping or gifts!

I am very excited today is Friday. Tomorrow I am running in a race with my Dad. I am doing a 15k and he is doing a 5k. It is supposed to be raining, but it shouldn’t be too cold, so I’m not worried about it. Sunday I think my Mom and I, and possibly my Dad too, are going to a mall that is always beautiful at Christmas time! Neither of us really have shopping we need to do for Christmas, but we like to go to this mall every year at Christmas time because it is so festive! Everything is decorated so beautiful, and there are always very talented choirs that sing beautiful Christmas carols! It’s just fun to go out and enjoy all things Christmas! 🙂 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Questions:

1. What is your tip for Christmas shopping on a budget?

2. Are you done Christmas shopping or do you have more to do these next few days? 

3. Are you good at tying cute bows and ribbons on the presents you wrap? If so, please teach me. 🙂

4. What are your plans this weekend?