Social Icons

Friday, January 31, 2014

Reflection of Appreciation: Call to Action February

"It's not enough to love, people have to feel that they are loved."  St. John Bosco

Last night, my salon had a meeting.  They get together every other month to talk about the salon dynamics, house keeping, new events, additions and other topics to which will enhance our client's over all experience.  With that being said, something of a really wonderful thought stuck in my mind...we all love and respect each other as stylists and estheticians as well as in the end are working toward a common goal.  We want YOU our client to feel relaxed and as though you are apart of our salon family too.

Each of us are small business owners with a common home at our salon.  Our station is your oasis to chat about anything and whatever your heart desires.  It is our hope that as you are walking out our doors that you too have had a positive relaxing experience.

I was reminded that not everyone has a good day every day.  There will be days where we will be stressed because of life and all it's many unpredictable occurrences.  This surge in snow for an instance, I have a few coworkers that drive quite a distance to work and it really did stress them out driving in it!  I cannot even imagine.  There are some that have children and with all the delays and closings had a hard time trying to balance their appointments and making sure their bases were covered.  So with that all said, it is important just to support where our fellow stylists need supported and not to take anything personally.
We have a great team.  I think that our owners really do an amazing job at making sure the personalities among our group work well, that we are on the same page and that everyone is pulling their weight.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it is knowing that I am supported and that I help support this home too.

At the very end of the meeting, our owners reminded us that they truly love us.  They appreciate us as we are representing a common vision and appreciate our desire to help the salon be everything it should be.  That loving and positive approach is so much of what we all need to hear from time to time.  We all should feel that our gifts are appreciated and that our hard work is paying off.

For my January-March "non-resolution" resolution, I am striving to do one random act of kindness daily.  I want to do things for others because that is the right thing to do.  I want others to feel appreciated.  I too desire to express true and genuine appreciation for others help and gifts.   Pay it forward don't you know!  Sometimes the gift of appreciation is the best thing you can bestow upon a person.  You never know what that means or how it affects their whole day.  It might just be enough to turn a rough start into a photo finish!

Here is to a more appreciative and giving are you going to show someone that you appreciate them today?  I want to challenge you to really embrace that question and make February the best one yet!

Catie Manning

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Changing the way I view life

Snow is falling again. Wait, let me rephrase that: it's always snowing these days. Its true. And it keeps piling up and up and up. My husband has made a heap of snow from shoveling our driveway that is now taller than he is; it's ridiculous. Do I like snow? Yes. Do I wish that I could see the sunshine? Oh, yes! I think what bothers me the most is that it has been so cold that I can't take my daughter out much at all. Single digits are not exactly the ideal weather for a one year old. However, despite all the snow, and being cooped up inside 24/7, I am trying to change my outlook on life.

I started reading "One Thousand Gifts" last year and still have not finished it (ha! such is life), although I have continued to try adding the art of thankfulness into my life more. I get so caught up in what needs to be done every day, from cleaning to cooking to changing diapers and making sure the babe gets her nap etc etc etc, that I let myself and my mindset get swept away by the rush of it all. I need to learn to catch a breath here and there to be thankful for the vast blessings given to me and my family. Like, here's one to start: I am sitting here looking out the window at the snow flurrying by and I am thankful that I not only have a roof over my head but that I also have heat and running water. There are so many others who are without a home or without money to pay their gas or electric bill during weather such as this. I couldn't even imagine what that would be like. And then I get to looking around our house that is filled with so many wonderful things and I think about how (for the most part) we could just go to the store and buy whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from or if we are going to be evicted because we just don't have quite enough cash to cover the rent. 

It's mind boggling when I think about how blessed I am.

When did we start thinking that we need the perfect house/car/dress/shoes to be happy? When did we decide that material things are what bring us joy? It is my hope that I will break free from that mindset and live a life that is happy no matter what house I live in, or country I move to, or what picture I do or do not have hanging on my wall. 

Contentment: my goal of life. 

On that note, sort of, I want to tell you about what is happening in our lives right now. My husband and I decided that we should act on a plan that we have been mulling over for a while now. Our long term goal is to do mission work but we have wanted to wait to do that until we get our school loans paid off as we want to be self-supporting missionaries. So, we have decided to move back to Detroit at the end of February. We will be moving into the upstairs of my in-law's house (which is basically like an apt just with no kitchen) and doing everything we can to get rid of our debt as fast as we can. We currently own two houses- one in Arkansas from when we were in school and the one that we currently live in here in Grand Rapids. We want to sell both and be free from mortgages until all other debt is obliterated. Our main goal is to be free from things tying us down; whether that be debt, physical possessions, you name it. 

We want to be free to go where God leads us WHEN He leads us.

Will we someday "settle down" again and buy a house? Probably, but only if we can pay half of the price with cash or something. Debt is something that didn't mean much to me when going to school and getting loans to pay for my education. Now that we are on the other side of school and trying to make things meet with the "dream job that is supposed to make everything better", we have realized that debt is so not worth it. Debt means you are indebted to someone else; they have something over you. You are at their disposal, in a sense. I hate that feeling.

I want to be content wherever I live, with whatever I have, with the family whom I love. I want to live a life that is free from debt. I want to bless others as I have been blessed. Those are my dreams. So despite the snow, or even the scorching summer days that I know I will not be happy about either, I will choose joy. It doesn't matter what the weather is like or what my circumstances are; what matters is how I choose to react to them. 

Have a joyful week!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

What I learned in one week

Last week was like having the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on repeat. Every day brought its own disastrous event that in some way made my heart ache. Through these events of last week I've learned a few things.

I learned early in the week just how powerful the click of a computer mouse can be. With one click someone lost both my trust and my respect. A click is powerful; in a day and age where we can gain access to so many things so quickly, we can also change relationships with just one click of a button. Think before your click.

Also early last week I relearned the very true reality that seemingly healthy living objects can die without notice or obvious cause. My family's five-year-old Golden Retriever was barking one minute and gone the next. That was another hard blow. However what was even harder was hearing my mom's gut wrenching sobs over the phone and not being able to bridge the 160-mile gap between us. Always remember to let your loved ones know just how much they are loved.

Grief gets easier, or rather lessens, with time. Still, on the anniversary of the death of a loved one, it can often feel like a brand new wound. My grandpa has been gone four years, but remembering my last conversation with him and his last days of suffering is still difficult. My heart aches to hear his voice as he picked up the phone and said ,"nobody is good enough for my girl." Grief does get easier with time, but that doesn't mean we miss the person any less.

I've been in outpatient nursing for seven months now. On Wednesday of last week I learned what its like to lose a patient you are really close to. I learned just how hard it is to realize that that patient will never walk in again with her big beautiful smile beaming at you and say "my nursey." This is one of the hardest aspects of my job, but because of this week, I learned one of the most rewarding. I was sitting at my desk, crying as I had just found out the news, when I received an e-mail from this precious patient's husband. I cannot imagine the depth of his grief at this moment and yet he took the time to write me to tell me how much I meant to his wife and how I was her favorite nurse. He told me that what I do every day matters. I learned in that moment, to an even greater extent than I already knew, how amazing the patients and their families I get to work with are. Secondly I learned, that what I do day in and day out truly does matter.

On Thursday, I watched as a sweet, elderly lady got hit by a car. As I ran to her side I learned a few things about people: One, that we, as humans, have a hard time taking responsibility when we do something wrong. I don't remember much of what was said by the lady who's car had hit this sweet woman because my focus was on the injuries of the woman, but I do remember this that instead of checking to see if this woman was ok, the driver was yelling at the woman she hit, telling her it was her fault. I learned through managing this scene that the billion CPR classes I've taken have paid off (mainly the "YOU  call 911!" part). And I learned the power of kneeling next to someone on the street and saying, "I'm a nurse," has the ability to calm that person down.

Finally, on Friday, I learned that stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk can get you rear-ended and that a stressed out person can yell at you that it is your fault because you stopped for a pedestrian (I also learned just how rock solid my car is and how thankful I am for its safety ratings!). And as I sat in my car waiting for the police, I learned that sometimes at the end of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week all you can do is laugh and cry at the same time. 

In a week’s time, I learned more than I wanted to. I endured more than I wanted to. But I am blessed. I am blessed to not have to be my own strength, because I have an anchor of my soul who will be the strength I need. I've been reminded just how amazing my family and friends are. And in a weeks time I was reminded time and time again just how precious every second is. This one week I will never forget. This week forever changed me and for that I am truly grateful.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spring 2014: Style Trends

The Screen Actors Guild Awards were shown on January 18th, 2014.  There were many interesting finds and trends seen that will help propel our everyday fashions working our way into the new year. This could be applied toward casual and professional wear.

The red carpet showcased several of the attendees as well as gave you a chance to see their personality shine through.  I think this event can be a little more relaxing for a lot of the attendees as they are among their peers.  This year, many of the actress's gowns and outfits were in the jewel tones.  Many dresses were fitted to the figure of the actress giving her a very smooth profile.  I saw a lot of decorative necklines and off the shoulder designed dresses.  Many of the dresses had some bling either with sequins or eye catching bead work.  Everyone's look was very classic in design and there was a nice variety.

If you are looking for a way to refresh your wardrobe or get a jump start into spring trends, try any of  the following:

1. Black and White + color
If your wardrobe consists of black and white, try pairing your outfit with a splash of color.  
"Tinley Road Pleated Print Top"

A black and white top pairs well with black trousers or dark skinny jeans. This season Chevrons, stripes and textured textiles are in style.  Through the chilly months try a jewel tone sweater of your choice to help break apart the ensemble.  If trying to wear for professional  attire, dress it up with a deep red blazer top.
Merona® Women's Peter Pan Studded Collar

2. Flowing Pastels, Mint and Shades of Grey
This Spring has beautiful pastels in store.  Not just your ordinary hum-drum pastels however.  Many designers are stepping away from the bold loud prints and walking toward a more traditional approach to spring time as we enter into late March early April.  According to's "Women's Spring 2014" Color Report, which came out this past September, we saw the colors were going to transition into a beautiful palate.  

Try pairing a nice mint blouse with lighter grey dress pants or a knee length pencil skirt.  If you don't feel comfortable in a skirt, you can always go with a nice trouser.
LC Lauren Conrad Lace Top
212 Collection Printed Pencil Skirt

3. Shoes: Back to the basics
This season as far as professional or casual wear goes with flats, wedged tennis shoes, booties and classic pumps can be seen.  It seems to be a perfect mesh of comfort and necessity.  Basic "goes with anything colors" such as black and beige seems to dominate.  Also seen patterned zebra and leopard out this season.  I have seen a lot of studding coming back as well.  I am not talking Bedazzled by any means.  These are more organic looking rather than bling.

Ladies Shoes

Trends Spring 2014

4. Bright Accessories
Pastels with a punch seems to be a current trend.  Not so much all about the Easter Egg colors, but more along the lines of colors that spruce up the basics--not falling into the background.  If you keep your outfit neutral, this is a great way to shake your look up a bit.  
Steven by Steve Madden

Whether you are trying to jazz up your look, make the right impression, or just update your professional attire any of the following tips or suggestions could help.  Don't be afraid to take a little risk in your wardrobe.  Don't be afraid to try something new.  

"Beauty knows no limits..." (remember?)

Catie Manning

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"I believe in what you are doing..." A blog about grief

I remember the evening of January 19, 2010 like it was yesterday. I was in my 3rd week of nursing school when I had what I didn't know was my final conversation with my grandpa. It pained me to speak to him because he sounded so weak. He died early in the morning on January 20. As of yesterday, that day now represents the day my family's dog Maddie also entered into heaven as well. It was sudden and she was only 5 years old, but she died doing something she absolutely loved, barking. While I adored Maddie and will miss her sweet nature as she rested her head on my leg to be pet, the hardest part was speaking to my mom over the phone and hearing her gut wrenching sobs and not being able to bridge the 160 mile gap between us.

I'm a cancer nurse. I face the reality of the fact that death is very real every single day. I've walked with families through what "hospice" and "comfort care" means. I've educated family members on ways that we as health professionals know that death is near. I've whispered in the ear of patients "it is ok to let go".   I've listened to a chest and heard no heartbeat and had to say to families "I'm sorry your loved one is gone". I've taken that body that no longer contains life cleaned it up and placed it in a bag. I've rolled it down to the morgue and left it there. I've comforted the family as they were grieving. I've cried with families as the reality sets in that that person's soul is no longer on this earth. I've filled out the death papers. I've called in the chaplain. I've seen death up close and personal more than once.

As a nursing student I witnessed a first breath... as a nurse I've witnessed many last breaths.

As my grandpa was on his death bed I was speaking to him from 600 miles away. He was ready to go and I knew that and I'm thankful for those final words he said to me as I was pouring over my studies "I believe in what you are doing, you are meant to be a nurse."  I found out he was gone when I was sitting in class. I was in my nursing school's bathroom sobbing. It was those words though that helped get me through the med-surg class I was convinced I was going to fail. They helped me get through the clinicals where I was in tears.  Those words helped me to get up in the days of night shift where my body felt like a wreck. Those words have stayed with me day in and day out for the 2+ years of my career. My grandpa died of cancer. I've not only been on the clinical side, but I've been on the personal side... multiple times.

There are days it is easy to forget when I'm stressed out what it is like to be the family member wondering what is going on, but I try my hardest to remember that I've been there. I've been just as worried about many of my family members.

Those words from my grandpa said so many years ago mean so much to me. And it is those words that remind me that I need to grieve. I went years without crying. I went years without letting emotion out. And that was damaging. No matter whether it is grieving the loss of a patient, the loss of a friendship in my life, the loss of a loved one, the loss of precious Maddie, the loss of a familiar life due to a move, or any sort of change that represents loss we must grieve.  Because of those words from my grandpa I am reminded I must grieve, because grieving is what helps keep me healthy and able to be the best nurse for my patients and their families.

So while this blog is a bit on the heavy side, as someone who spent years holding the tears in, I want to encourage you to let them flow. I want to encourage you to talk it out if that is what you need to do to process. Work it out if you exercise to process. Whatever it is my dear friend, you deserve to grieve.

Secondly, I want to encourage you to not fear something because it may involve the grief process. Life isn't easy. Letting go of places, people, jobs, animals, etc. isn't easy even if it is needed. But I can tell you from experience it is worth it.

And it is with my grandpa's words in my head and heart saying he believed in what I was doing that remind me that my first duty is to allow myself the room to grieve so that I can walk with others through their grief.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Who said "Yum" has to be expensive?

I hate how our culture showcases candle light dinners, steak, lobster and the like as if it is something you MUST have if you want to have a good date, or even just a dinner out. Spending $50 or more for one night's dinner is very hard for me as that is one weeks worth of food for our family! Now, have I done it? Yes, but only a few times. Unlike many people, I would much rather go to the grocery store and buy food and cook a fancy dinner at home. I know that it doesn't have quite the same feel as a restaurant, and you do have the work of cooking and clean up after, however it is so much more enjoyable to me when I know that it didn't cost me an arm and a leg for a feast fit for a ladybug (you catch my drift?!).

I heard a great sermon this last Sunday that talked about money and our culture; how we think we are broke and yet if you make $25,000/year, you are in the top 2% richest people in the world (according to Global Rich List). How crazy is that?!?! It got me thinking about what I am responsible for in our budget: food. Where I strive to make sure each meal is around $5 or $6 so that each serving is $1 or less, there are people living on $2/day for all of their living expenses. I can do better than that, right? Learning about the real numbers of our world's poverty made me come to a realization in the realm of preparing meals for my family.

Food is a energy source for our bodies; it's prime purpose is not meant to be an emotional experience

Okay, Okay, yes I think that food should taste great, but I think that too much time and effort is put into finding the perfect blend of flavors so that when you take a bite your whole world is made better. While I already knew this to some extent, it really clicked when the preacher was talking about the money aspect of it. Keeping this in mind, I hope to think twice before I pin the "Buttered Lobster, Pillowy White Rolls, with a side of Succulent Lemon Green Beans and Decadent Molten Chocolate Cake with Taiwanese Blueberries" recipes on Pinterest, for example. Sure, I think that all sounds wonderful (I wonder if it even exists...), but I can probably get more nutrition out of a different meal that costs me a lot less. I think there are times when a fancy dinner is okay, but fancy AT HOME dinner is so much cheaper! Try it some time :)

With all that being said, I would like to share with you some sites that I visit often to find inexpensive, nutritious meals to prepare for my family. These particular two sites also break down the costs of the recipe so I know exactly how much I'm spending- which also helps a lot!

Both of these sites have whole wheat options if desired, and really try to create wholesome recipes on a tight budget. I'm very thankful for these sites as they do a lot of the work for me when it comes to figuring out what recipes fit with the ingredients I have on hand and also what fits into our budget. Below I listed a few of our family favorites from both Budget Bytes and P&P. I hope you like them as much as we have! 

Chili Cheese Beef N Mac (we use ground turkey)

**If you are interested in hearing the sermon I talked about, definitely click the link :) It was a great lesson about breaking free from the bondage of debt in our lives...and much more! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tasty Tips for Teething Toddlers

L-bug all ready to help mommy make crackers
Ahh, teething. Isn't it the most wonderful time of the year? My daughter is just over a year old and has definitely been teething lately. I have to admit though, I haven't had it all that bad; L-bug (as I often call her) has her typical drooling, running nose, gnawing on anything in sight symptoms but she rarely gets overly cranky. To try and soothe her sore gums, I have offered frozen fruit, frozen teethers, or sometimes even raw carrot or celery sticks, but often times she refuses them all. On the other hand, she will eat crackers :)

I have been making my own crackers for the babe since the end of summer, when we realized that animal crackers (the brand that we buy at least) had high fructose corn syrup in them. (Now, I'm not a big freak about that ingredient, but if I can, I do my best to avoid it.) I have tried multiple recipes, most of which are very yummy, but my tiny taste tester was only partial to a few. Below are the yummy, yet rejected recipes that I have tried.
  • Oatmeal Animal Crackers by 52 Baby Steps. These were very tasty, but I think that they were not thick enough to gnaw on and therefore soothe L-bug's gums. Also, they call for a lot of vanilla which can be expensive if you are buying the extract instead of imitation flavoring. I added about 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to the recipe and they tasted a lot like traditional animal crackers. My husband and I could gnaw on these all day, however! 
  • Honey Whole Wheat Graham Crackers by Heavenly Homemakers. These were another tasty cracker but again, a hit or miss for my little one. I added some molasses at one point which gave it a different, but yummy flavor. 
  • Homemade Graham Crackers by What's Cooking with Melissa. These were a little bland for our (the parents') tastes, however L-bug liked them. I think I will try these again after I am out of my current batch. 
Which brings me to the most current recipe: Homemade Baby Teething Biscuits from Imprintalish. I did modify this recipe using what I had on hand so if you are interested in the original, definitely follow the link above. These crackers are another bland one but the little one liked them right off the bat. Since then she has been a little picky but I have decided that she must be hit or miss with crackers; some days are cracker days, others are not. These crackers also have NO SUGAR in them!- which is always a plus when you're talking about little ones.  Here is a tutorial about how to make these great crackers! 

Homemade Baby Teething Biscuits  


You will need:
1 cup flour 
1 cup oat flour
1 ripe medium mashed banana (1/3 cup-I have also substituted pureed carrots and sweet potato)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

 First preheat your oven to 425 degrees, then gather your ingredients (and a little helper-as seen above). I made my own oat flour by blending a cup of old fashioned rolled oats in my "magic bullet" until flour-like consistency. Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl.
Then its time to mash your banana. Add the oil and water to the mashed banana and combine. Then mix your wet ingredients into your dry. You want a non-sticky, firm dough. If you find that it's too firm, add more of water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Allow your little taste tester to do her work :) Then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into squares or use small cookie cutters.
Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake for approx. 10-12 minutes, or until slightly brown. I watched mine closely since the dough was dry/firm, I thought that they would be done faster and I didn't want bricks, but they took about the normal time. Allow to cool completely and store in an air tight container. (*Note*: I kept mine in the fridge after a few days just because there are no preservatives in them and I didn't want them going bad). Then let the little teething monster gnaw away! Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Changing my view on stress

Last night I was stuck. Stuck on one of the main highways in the Chicago area. I saw construction signs... and I was annoyed... and then I saw an ambulance and tow truck race by. My heart ached for those people. I could wait in traffic as long as it took in order for them to get that person or people to safety and the medical care they needed. Perspective. As I sat in traffic I was working on my perspective on many things, and recently I had watched this video...

(I highly recommend you watch it)

Right now I spend at least 10 hours in traffic a week. And this is Chicago traffic. On average it takes me an hour to drive the 11 miles to work. Then when I get to work it is normally high stress until I leave to go home... and then I'm stuck in traffic again... and then I have to battle for a parking spot. For 90% of my day I feel like I'm under extreme stress. 

But what if my view changes? What if I decide to be thankful I have that time in the morning to catch up with people and process through things. Be thankful I have a car that works and that I CAN drive to work. I love my job, and though it is high stress, I am trying to view it as a blessing to have a job I love so much. To have coworkers that in just 6 short months have become like family. To have patients who trust me enough to be vulnerable during one of the absolute hardest times of their life. And that at the end of the day I can get back in my car and drive home and walk into the my place that has heat and running water.

None of this removes the stress, but it does change my perspective. And perspective can change how I handle the stress. I don't expect to be perfect with this, but I am hoping that as I continue to make a conscious effort, I will be thankful for the stress.

I'm going to make a conscious effort to have healthy relationships around me. To support those that are around me as well. I'm going to give more hugs. I'm going to make a conscious effort to spend time with people where I can support them. I'm going to be thankful that my body can respond to stress so well. I'm going to be thankful for the support I do have and that I don't have to handle stress alone.

I am going to change my view on stress. Because life is full of stress, but it is ultimately from that stress that many of my blessings come.

This year, I am going to choose to be thankful for stress... and hug a lot more :-)

How are you going to change your view on stress?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Foodie Friday: The 'Hot Mess'

Today, I am taking a break from the usual appearance posts to spot light a 'Catie Manning Original' to post a recipe.  No it is no Betty Crocker, but it is tasty and healthy none the less.  From my previous thoughts on the new year...the big bad promised here is my one recipe this week!

Also I should note because I am working on a tight budget, I have listed the prices to which I found these items.  Price, ingredients and food labels for some of the items played a role in my purchases.  The items to which do not have a price listed, I had at my house already.

Hot Mess
Yields: 4 meals

You will need:
1 green zucchini  (2/$3)
1 yellow zucchini  (2/$3)
1 green pepper ($1.69/lb)
1 teaspoon of Meijer Natural's Minced Garlic ($2 for a small jar)
Italian Seasoning
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Meijer Natural's Brand Tomato Basil Organic Sauce ($1.99/jar)
Meijer Parmesan Cheese ($1.99/container)
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles (On sale for $1 a box)

Take the your vegetables and rinse them off in cold water.  Take both zucchinis and grate them finely. Make sure to grate the whole vegetable.  Then, slice your green pepper in a little larger sections.  I would suggest cutting into roughly 8-10 pieces.  You will leave your prepped vegetables in a medium sized bowl.

Next, boil water in a larger pot.  As you allow your water to boil, use the extra virgin olive oil to coat a large separate skillet.  Using medium heat on your stove top, add in your pre-prepped vegetables.  Add your spoonful of minced garlic and sprinkle the top of your vegetables with your Italian seasonings.  If water is boiling at this point in pot, add 1/2 box of spaghetti noodles.

Occasionally toss or stir your vegetables as for them not to burn or the garlic to be too concentrated in any one area.  Once noodles are al dente, drain the excess water and remove vegetables from the heat.  Join your cooked vegetables with your spaghetti and add a 1/2 tablespoon or so of real butter and toss it into your mix.  Sprinkle the top generously with parmesan cheese and toss into mix as to lightly coat your noodles.  Sprinkle parsley over the top of the mix.
My Hot Mess pre-tomato basil serving

Before serving, lightly coat your hot mess with tomato basil spaghetti sauce.  You don't want it to be dripping by any means.  Toss just enough into your mix evenly.  Sprinkle serving with a small amount of parmesan cheese for appearance.

There are many varieties that can be used to pair with the Hot Mess.  I would suggest sautéed shrimp or grilled chicken.  Both equally compliment in texture and flavors.

Wine or Drink Pairings:
A light slightly dry white wine such as a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris would pair well with this meal.  These wines are light, crisp and add a slight fruit flavor.  For non-alcoholic options, a Sprite or Sprite/Cranberry Juice mix would also match this recipe.

I hope that you enjoy your Hot Mess!  This meal has lasted me a week and still tastes amazing.  Please try my recipe and see what you think.

I would love suggestions or to hear recipes from our viewers.  Feel free to comment below or catch us on our Twitter or Facebook Page.

Bon appétit!
Catie Manning

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Adventure for a New Year

Me and my sweetpea
Today marks my first official day as a full time STAY AT HOME MOMMY!! I couldn't be more excited! Last month, we were faced with needing to find yet another babysitter to watch our daughter. This would have made sitter number 4 for the year. We sat down and did a little math and discussed our goals etc and decided that it was better for all involved if I just stayed home. As much as I was excited to do so, I was somewhat unnerved to go tell my boss; it was the first time that I had actually chosen to leave a job that A) didn't make me hate my life and B) that I was not physically moving out of state and therefore could no longer work there. My last day was right before we left for the holidays so it didn't really sink in right away. Today was my husband's first day back to work and so I count today as "day 1". 

Although excited, I was afraid that I would be somewhat stir-crazy as I am used to getting everything done around the house in 3 or 4 days so that I can go to work for my 3 days/wk. So far, nada. Maybe I will get stir-crazy, but I get the feeling that I will have way too much else on my mind to sit around twiddling my thumbs. With staying home comes increased financial stress. While my income didn't contribute much to our overall household budget (aka mine was mainly in excess to our needs), it did cover some costs. Our budget is much tighter now. And tighter means more work for me when it comes to grocery shopping for example. 

Since getting home from my parent's house in NE, I have been pouring over recipes figuring out health and cost benefits. I already have some tasty, inexpensive recipes that I use but wanted to find more. BudgetBytes and Pennies&Pancakes are two sites that I visit often as they both supply yummy, healthy recipes with a cost breakdown per recipe and serving. Laura at HeavenlyHomemakers was my youth minister's wife when I was in high school and now has a flourishing website and COOKBOOK(s), which I was given over the holidays and have been going through and figuring out costs for all the tasty recipes. As I get accustomed to life at home 7 days/week, I will post some of my discoveries when it comes to cost/unit/serving of my favorite recipes so make sure to check back in a couple weeks :) 

This new year not only starts the beginning of my dream job, but it also marks the beginning of some other changes in my family's life. My husband and I have come to the conclusion that we don't want to be tied down anywhere; we want to be free to go where God sends, whenever that may be. We both want to do mission work someday but don't know where yet. We also want to be debt free before we start that so that we are not a burden to those who might support us on the mission field. That being the case, we are sifting through our belongings and selling or giving away things that we don't use. Basically its an early spring cleaning. Clearing house is our first step, and there are many more to follow but I will write on that another day. Our main goal for this year is to be able to listen attentively for God's direction; we know He has a plan for our lives together, but we don't know exactly what that plan looks like yet. 

In honor of the traditional "new year's resolutions", I have chosen goals for the year as the word "goal" means more to me. My personal goals for the year are: adjusting to my new role, learning how to better interact with my husband and daughter, being more intention about how I spend my time (Pinterest, don't worry- our time is sacred ;)), finding ways to grow my etsy business (BoundWithHope), and becoming a master at inexpensive, healthy living. What are some of your goals for this year? Hope you had a happy holiday season, and look forward to spending 2014 with you! 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014: Eyes on the Prize

"Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there's no reason to fear starting lines... or other new beginnings." - Amby Burfoot

With the start of the new year, many of you have your sights set on a new & improved you. Maybe you are starting your first ever fitness routine, trying to bump your current fitness skills up a notch or finally breaking off that long (but loving) relationship with your Chinese delivery man. Yet, maybe you know it's time to dust off those gym shoes but not sure exactly how to start. Why not give running a try?

Don't be intimidated by veteran runners with high-tech hydration gear, short shorts and gazelle-like paces - everyone had to start as a beginner and get the experience to become a master racer. Running is the simplest form of exercise as all you need are a stable, fitted pair of shoes, some water, and you're off! Below are a few tips to help you get started before the start line!

1. Create an inspiration board - Visually seeing your goal will continually reinforce how badly you want to cross that finish line & receive your first race medal. When life gets stressful, the sidewalks to
the gym are covered in a foot of snow or you "just don't feel like it", having a visual reminder like a run inspiration board will keep YOU going because YOU says what goes on the board and what uplifts you to keep going when the going gets tough. Plus, it's a great way to utilize those left over Women's Health & Shape magazines sitting in the corner.

2. Take your time - Many new runners either injure themselves, get down on themselves or get burnt out because they try to do too much right away. The worst mistake a runner can make is to compare themselves TO THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU. It doesn't matter if the runner on the treadmill next to you is running at a pace 3x faster than you or you missed two days so you'll makeup by running those miles in one day...STOP! Your body can only handle so much, so make sure you listen to what you body is saying, stretch and hydrate yourself. You won't be able to cross the finish line if your sidelined from an injury.

3. Team Up - Why not make that finish line count!? There are numerous of charity teams you can join to not only get coaching tips and training plans, but also meet other runners, connect with the running community and make a difference for a great cause. Likewise, you'll have a team to celebrate that first time finish with!

4. Run out of the ordinary - With the growing popularity of Color Runs, Mud Races and themed 5ks, make your first race memorable! These runs provide more than just the usual on-course water and post-run banana and sport drink. You get the chance to either create a costume for races such as the 80's run or (Mike) Ditka Dash or wear white and watch yourself be transformed throughout the run. Plus, many themed races are a 5k (3.1 Mile) distance - a perfect distance for first time runners!

5. Be One with RUNNING - So you are just starting out? That doesn't make you inferior to the veteran runner next to you who is on his 38th marathon or your running friend who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to get 8 miles in each morning. Every runner has their own pace, training schedule, running preferences and more. When people ask you what you do for fun, tell them you run! Mention your training, your goal and start calling yourself a runner. Once you accept yourself as a runner, you'll soon be joining your friend for those 4:30 a.m. runs.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goodbye 2013... Hello 2014!

I love new years. I love the "new beginnings" outlook it brings.

There is a lot I could talk about from this year. I learned so much. I had a lot of changes. Overall, it was a good year.

A lot of my friends are no longer making resolutions. Instead they are choosing to put hopes and dreams into a jar. I'm not sure if this is that much different than resolutions, but I think it is a different outlook. Locking away in a place that is visible the things you are hoping to accomplish this year.

I won't be making a resolution. I will be joining in these hopes and dreams. I will be making goals. I will live a healthier life. Thankful for the changes 2013 brought that will allow me to live healthier than I have been able to in a few years. I will continue to make those steps to a healthier life. Here are a few of my goals..

1. Get back to making the majority of my meals at home and eating out less

2. Take a vacation for myself

3.  Be brave, whatever that may mean (I love this song right now Brave)

4.  Start the process of going back to school for my nurse practitioner

5.  Face my fear of heights

6.  Give up something for someone else that means a great deal to me

7.  Learn what healthy boundaries in all areas of my life mean

8.  And because I currently live in Chicago... right now it is to stay as warm as possible!

What are some of your goals for 2014? How are you going into this new year?

Happy 2014!

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Non-Resolution 2014

So it is 2014.  Where did the time go?  It seems like it was only yesterday that we were ringing in the 2013 year with bells and whistles of hope and gleam.  For most it was a tremendously hard year with great ups and downs as the uncertainty of health care and world economics to which directly affected everyone in one shape or another.  There was scandal.  There was heartache.  There was much also to be thankful for like jobs, opportunities, and still hope remained.

A lot of my personal friends took great risks!  They started new business ventures.  They got engaged and got married.  They started having children and those are all wonderful.  That doesn't mean that it doesn't go without pain and hardships nor does it exist without a certain fear of the unknown.  And yet, my friends still took those risks and by their great faith continued to press on through their hopes, dreams and desires to make 2013 the best year yet!

It seems too with each new year their comes a desire for reenergized and refocus on our forever goals of getting in shape, eating properly and finishing up those unleveled projects simply stated.  I was one of those persons as well.  My resolutions come with great intentions; however the motivation to follow through for the betterment of myself was somewhat lacking.  This year seems a little different than those of the past.  Americans seem to be slightly more appreciative of what we have.  It is as though the greater majority of people are getting up and doing more to assist those in their communities.  They are stepping up to the plate of problems such as hunger, homelessness, and abandonment.  That truly is an amazing sort especially in reflecting just how lucky we are!

This year will be different for me too.  Instead of resolving to a plan that is set up to fail, I am resolving to NON-Resolution 2014.  I have a list that I would like to do just because!  I want to learn to cook healthier.  I want to find my love for working out again.  I want to be a better person.  I want to seek balance better in the day to day chaos.  I want to be a better example of a positive attitude and maintain my encouraging spirit with great hope.  I don't want to be complacent or take anyone/anything for granted this year.  I want to learn to love others and life.

I have a few action based plans, four to be exact!) created to accomplish the aforementioned goals.  I also have a few ideas of how to break it up so I can stick with it.  What it all comes down to is patience and awareness down to every little action.  So here goes nothing!

So what are your new year's resolutions?  Are you trying to be healthier?  Are you trying to be more mindful?  Are you just trying to exist?  We would love to hear what your plans for the new year are!  Share with us on Facebook or Twitter!

No matter what 2014 has in store, I have a feeling that it will be a great year...don't you?

Start smiling...dare you to make someone's day!
Catie Manning


Sample text

Sample Text

Sample Text

In home services available in the Chicago area. Also available by phone.