Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leibster Award!

So a HUGE thank you to Ema from Ema's Grand Ideas for nominating me for the Leibster Award last week!  AND then just a couple days later Tasha from A Lott to Love nominated me again!  Wow, talk about a confidence booster.  I appreciate it ladies.

From what I gather the Liebster award is a networking tool for new bloggers,  to recognize "up and coming" bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word meaning: sweetest, kindest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.  Whew, not a bad word...  Now, I'm no German scholar so that could be incorrect, but I read it somewhere it and sounds great.  It can't be that far off, right??

Anyways, here are the rules:
  1. Answer the 11 questions the blogger who nominated you asked you
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers
  4. Create 11 questions for the nominees to answer 

Because Ema nominated me first, I'm going to answer her 11 questions-
  • What's your favorite childhood memory?
Going shopping with Grandmama when she would come to visit.  I'd get to go on at least 2 shopping sprees/year.  Why can I not have those shopping sprees today as a married adult?!?
  • Where would you vacation right now if money was no object?
We've talked about 3 "big" vacations we would like to take.  So either hiking Machu Picchu in Peru, an Alaskan cruise, or Napa Valley Wine tour.  A trip to Italy wouldn't be too bad either :)
  • What is your dream job?
One where I don't have to work a lot and can be home most of the time, but still get a paycheck.  I mean I complain about my job now and I don't want to go to work when I'm scheduled, but it is a pretty sweet gig overall.  I'm a labor and delivery nurse; I love my job and really wouldn't want to do anything different.  I work four 8hr shifts/month.  That's not too shabby...  I would like the same job, but in a perfect work environment.  So for me that would mean a birthing center that had a holistic/natural view of birth, that wasn't governed by fear of "something going wrong", that was ALWAYS properly staffed, and doesn't have all the ridiculous paperwork that medical institutions seem to always have these days.  Oh and of course all the equipment you needed would always be available in working order...
  • What's your favorite season?
Spring or Fall.  I don't like weather that is too hot or too cold.  I love flowers blooming in the spring and getting to be outside more.  In the fall I love the crisp mornings and warm afternoon sun.
  • Chocolate or vanilla?
I've been a chocolate person my whole life, but recently I've been wanting nothing but Turkey Hill All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream.
  • How do you pamper yourself?
Ideally, with a massage, mani/pedi, followed by sipping on a really sweet coffee drink at a local coffee shop while sitting in a overly stuffed comfy chair reading a book.  That night I would enjoy a meal completely cooked and cleaned up by my husband, a bottle of wine, a snugging up next to him on the couch for a good movie.   Not that this has EVER happened, but I wouldn't mind a day like this :)  A girl can dream, right?
  • What is your favorite sport or hobby?
I love soccer.  I played pretty competitively growing up, but don't play anymore.  Now I enjoy running.
  • Friday night out or Friday night in?
Money's no object?  Friday night OUT!  (We don't get out very often anymore...)
  • It's a rainy day...are you watching a movie or reading a book?
Reading a book
  • What is your favorite board or card game?

11 Random Facts-
  1. I got a perm in the 3rd grade.  It was quite possibly the worst hairstyle I've EVER had.
  2. I grew up (mostly) in Delaware.  I love my family, but I have no desire to ever live there again.
  3. I was born in Texas.  I am a 5th generation Texan.  Sad I couldn't have a 6th generation Texan.
  4. I always wanted to marry a southern boy with a pick-up truck-  DONE!  (But he sold his truck before we were married.  That was a sad day.)
  5. I was allergic to dogs and cats growing up so we never had pets.  Well, unless you count a couple guinea pigs.
  6. Someday I really want to have my own successful garden and grow most of our own produce.
  7. I love wine.  And I want some right now.  
  8. I have no idea how to french braid mine or anyone else's hair.  I've tried to learn, but never been able to do it...  My poor daughter.
  9. I've run 3 half marathons and would like to run another.  I have no desire to ever run a full marathon.
  10. My feet are ALWAYS cold
  11. Les Mis and Wicked are my favorite Broadway musicals 

My nominees:

My questions for my nominees:
  1. What is something you have learned recently? 
  2. What is in your fridge right now?
  3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  4. What is one article of clothing or accessory you are currently wanting?
  5. What is one thing you have pinned that you are wanting to create?
  6. What time do you typically wake up in the morning?
  7. Coffee or Tea?
  8. Who is your favorite Disney princess?
  9. What is the best book you've read recently? (I am needing some good book recommendations...)
  10. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  11. Tell us about your most recent (appropriate...) dream

Oh, and today is the last day to enter my GAP giveaway!  It ends Thursday night at midnight MST!


Monday, February 25, 2013

DIY Liquid Hand Soap

So as part of my quest for natural, simple, and sustainable living, I have been trying to cut out unnecessary chemicals from the home.  You can't (or at least I can't....) cut them all out- you would go insane! But I figure every little step helps :)

Most commercially made liquid hand soaps (as well as body washes and shampoos) contain at least one if not all three of these potentially harmful chemicals: phthalates, parabens, and DEA.  

phthalates- Probable human carcinogen.  Endocrine disruptor that can cause girls to develop earlier (along with many other factors and hormones in our food I wonder if this could be contributing to young girls hitting early puberty??) and reduce testosterone levels in males.

parabens- (includes any methyl-, proply-, butyl-, and ethyl- prefixes)  Endocrine disruptors that have been found to be linked to reproductive disorders, developmental disorders, learning disorders, and immune system dysfunction.  They have also been found in breast tumors.

DEA- (diethanolamine and derivatives) Has been shown to interfere with normal brain development in mice and the International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends it be treated as a carcinogen in humans 

Just for the record I am NOT a scientist nor doctor and am not making any health claims.  These are just things that I have found in my own personal research and quest for healthy and natural living.

There are many more natural brands of soaps that do not contain these ingredients, but two that I like are Mrs. Meyers and Dr. Bronner's.  As with most natural products, these soaps are not cheap.  And if you haven't noticed the liquid soaps are significantly more expensive than their bar counterparts.  We prefer liquid hand soap at our house.  Actually I don't mind bar soaps, but Chris does not like and will not use bar soap at the sink so liquid soap it is!

So enter DIY liquid hand soap!  You simply make liquid hand soap out of bar soap.  It is SUPER easy and took me all of 15 minutes hands-on time.

I choose Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Oil Soap.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smell of tea tree oil.  And it is not a feminine scent so men won't mind using it as well.

Step 1-
Grate 4oz of bar soap with cheese grater  (Note: my bar was a 5oz bar.  I think I will try to use the whole bar next time.  I only used 4oz because I was concerned about my liquid soap getting too thick.  The consistency turned out great, but I am going to try 5oz next time to see how that works)

Step 2- 
Combine 1/2 gallon of distilled water with soap shavings in large pot on stove

Step 3-
Add 1 Tbs liquid glycerin and heat on med-high heat until soap is dissolved.  (You should apparently be able to find this in the band-aid section of your local drug store.  I had some difficulty.  I ended up finding it at Whole Foods and therefore probably paying twice as much for it...)

Step 4-
Go away; leave alone for 8-10 hours or until completely cool

Step 5-
After completely cooled it will harden and look like liquid soap.  You might need to take some beaters to it to get it to the right consistency for liquid soap.

Step 6-
Funnel into soap container to use and store remainder to re-fill later!  Wash hands and enjoy the savings!  You now have 64oz of liquid hand soap that costs about $5.  A 12-16oz soap pump or refill bottle of Mrs. Meyers or Dr. Bronners typically costs between $4 and $10 respectively.  Not a bad deal...

* This soap does have a little bit different texture or consistency than typical liquid soap, but it still cleans just fine and is not clumpy at all.  I have read that it doesn't always create a big lather.  Lather does not correlate to cleanliness.  My soap lathers quite well, but apparently others have not always had the same results.

Speaking of lacking lather and bubbles- if you're into this sort of thing or just like saving money check out my homemade laundry detergent recipe and savings.  You can easily make your own laundry detergent free of enzymes, dyes, and perfumes for a fraction of the cost.

Don't forget to enter my GAP gift card giveaway!!


Fluster Buster

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This will change your life...

So I really didn't get into a lot of shenanigans this weekend.  I was supposed to work on Saturday so we really didn't have any big plans.  BUT, I got called off for the whole shift!  Sweet!  So instead I got a lot of boring but necessary things done around the house: changing sheets, laundry, vacuuming, got baby stuff down out of the attic, made baby toddler food to freeze so we'll be well stocked when the new baby arrives, made chicken salad for lunches for the week, wrote thank you cards- blah, blah, blah.

But this tidbit of information is not blah- it will change your life.  Interested yet?  This is not a new trick in the Bowen household, but I did utilize it this weekend and thought it worthy to share.

How many recipes do you have that called for shredded chicken?  I have a lot.  This past weekend I used the chicken in a curry chicken recipe.  Whether its a casserole dish, some sort of chicken bake, chicken salad, chicken fajitas, chicken enchiladas, chicken to top a homemade pizza...I feel like I am cooking and dicing or shredding chicken A LOT.  And I hate it.  I really do.  Or at least I used to, until 
I came across this tip.


That's right.  Simply boil** your chicken breasts and toss into your mixer with the paddle attachment.

Turn on and your chicken is shredded in less than a minute and your hands are still clean...

AMAZING.  Told you.  What do you think?  Is your life changed?

**For another time saving trick, toss a bunch of chicken breasts in your crock pot to cook.  Toss into mixer to shred and then freeze in multiple individuals bags.  When you need chicken simply pull out a bag or two the night before depending on your needs.
And don't forget to enter my giveaway for the $150 GAP gift card!!



Crock Pot Chicken Curry

I admit that this recipe is not the healthiest...  If you're new around here I really do seek to prepare real food with minimal processed ingredients.  This doesn't necessarily fall into that category.  But it tastes good and it's easy.  If you're struggling to get a meal together so that your family can sit down at the table together for dinner this is good option.

  • 3 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded)
  • 2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup (this being the processed ingredient) 
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry 
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt (I stay on the lower end because the Cream of Chicken is pretty salty on its own)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Brown Rice

  • Combine first 7 ingredients in crock pot.  Cook on low for 2-4 hours
  • Serve over brown rice with a salad to make sure you get in those veggies :)


Friday, February 22, 2013


It's Friday again, and I'm not sure where the week went.  One of my goals for the month was to slow down.  Spoiler alert- I'm failing.   Anyhow, here's a brief recap of my week.

1. On Monday my sweet husband surprised me with flowers and movie tickets when I came home from work.  Yay!  I LOVE stargazer lilies and have been enjoying their scent all week.

2. Chris also installed this New Wave Enviro shower filter to our shower head to filter the chlorine out of the water.  Did you know that your body absorbs more chlorine through skin and lungs while showering than from drinking tap water?  Chlorine strips the body of protein and can leave skin feeling dry and itchy.  I had been looking at and reading about this shower filter for awhile and wondering if it would help the insane itching I've had during this pregnancy.  Y'all I'm not going to lie-it has helped.  Absolutely amazing.

3. We finally took Phoebe to a new pediatrician and loved him.  It was a great experience.  I felt like he thoroughly laid hands on my child and did a compressive well-check.  He also sat down and talked to me, answered my questions, and listened to me.  Why did we not do this sooner??  On the downside, Phoebe only weighs 18lbs 3oz.  I was really hoping for 20lbs.  We're back to adding butter to her food to try to increase her calorie intake...

4.  I have hit that point in pregnancy where I am no longer sleeping well.  I know some people have trouble sleeping throughout their pregnancy and I am thankful that it is just the last few weeks for me.  As much as I dislike medication I did dig out my Tylenol PM I had leftover from Phoebe's pregnancy.  I only had a few left in the bottle so I went out to get some more this week.  Did you know that Tylenol PM is currently unavailable?!?  I went to 2 different drug stores looking for it and can't find it anywhere!  The manufacturer website says its currently unavailable due to manufacturing and system upgrades.  WHAT?!?  I need it now!!!  I might resort to taking my Ambien that expired in 2011....

5.  Yes, I hit 100 followers on Monday!!  I can't believe it!  Thanks so much for stopping by to read my little blog.  Y'all are awesome and I appreciate you so much!  To celebrate I'm participating in a $150 GAP card giveaway.  Go enter to win!

Have a great weekend!!!



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gap Giveaway!

Yes, that's right!  My first giveaway ever!  I am so excited!  In case you didn't notice, I hit 100 followers on Monday!  Who ever would have thought?!?  To celebrate I've teamed up with some amazing bloggers to give YOU a chance to win a $150 Gap gift card!!

megan // malorie // laura // jenny // jen // ashley 
kiki // summer // serena // beth // desi

Remember on Monday how I did a little shopping at Gap to treat myself to some post-baby clothes?  


And how I was obsessing over these new skimmers?

Gap is one of my favorite stores.  If you survey my closet you will find more items from GAP and GAP Outlet than anywhere else.  I'm excited to be able to offer you a little shopping spree! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will close at the end of the month, Thursday night at midnight MST.  All entries will be verified so make sure you do not lie ;)  When the giveaway ends, a winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email IF you do not respond within 24 hours then a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{WIWW} Baby Shower

On Monday I briefly mentioned the baby sprinkle that Julie and Kristin threw for me on Saturday.  I always think skirts or casual dresses are appropriate shower attire.  But Saturday was NOT a skirt or dress day because 1. it was freezing outside and 2. my support hose are just about an every day necessity now and I'm not a fan of the skirt and pantyhose look- so pants it is.
I was pretty pumped about this scarf I found on sale at Target for $12 last week.  I immediately fell in love with the blue polka-dots AND had a $10 Target gift card from Christmas that I had not used so I came home with the scarf.  
I'm really liking the blue and yellow combo as well.

Scarf: Target
Cardigan: Gap Outlet (old)
Top: Gap Maternity (old)
Jeans: Gap Maternity
Boots: Nine West Outlet (old)

Julie and Kristin were so sweet to host a shower for me and I must say that their table spread is pinterest worthy.  Don't you agree?

I mean how cute is the chevron table runner and polka-dot cake?  (And yes it tasted pretty amazing too....)

Julie and Kristin- the sweet hosts

Remember this Go Team Bowen Banner?  No?  Well let me tell you about it.  When Chris and I were engaged, he explained to me (according to his love of football and sports) that I would be joining "his team".  We would no longer be two people making individual decisions, but a team who decisions and actions would significantly affect the other.  "Team Bowen" soon became a common phrase around these parts.  This banner made its first appearance at my bridal shower, and has now made its way to both my baby showers.

So glad my mother-in-law and sister-in-law [and nephew] could could come down for the shower!

Kristin had a couple Polaroid cameras from her wedding so they took pictures for me at the shower and made me a scrapbook that everyone signed.  Yes, I went home with a mini-scrapbook full of memories.  Now I don't have to make one.  Amazing.

Thanks ladies!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Because Shanna Said So.


Monday, February 18, 2013

South we come

Yes, you read that correctly.  We are moving to South Carolina this summer.  Chris has accepted a call to become the next RUF Campus Minister at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.  There are so many thoughts and emotions surrounding this move and next chapter of our lives.

First of all, we really are excited.  We have no doubts that this is where the Lord is calling us right now.  Perhaps someday I will share more of the details, but for now know that this move has been a long-time coming.  When Chris and I first got married we had plans to be in Kennesaw for a year and then move.  Four years later, we are still here.  Funny how the Lord often has different plans for us.  At that time we had many different reasons for wanting to leave - most notably, that Kennesaw/Marietta just never felt like home and I was ready for a change.  (I had been in Atlanta for 7 years and was ready to live somewhere different.)  We loved the ministry of RUF, but the area wasn't where we wanted to be as a family and couldn't ever really see ourselves settling down here.  At the time we also really wanted go go somewhere together to start ministry together since he had already been at KSU for 3 years when I came into the picture.  I wanted to buy a house and decorate and settle down, (I know that sounds somewhat superficial, but its true.) but we couldn't really do that knowing we were eventually going to move.
Over the past 3.5 - 4 years we have had several different job opportunities come up for Chris both within as well as outside of RUF.  It has been both frustrating and humbling as the Lord had closed every one of those doors in different ways.  We have always trusted in God's timing and knew that Kennesaw was where he wanted us for some reason, and of course we have seen Him do amazing things over the past several years, but given some of these events, we feel confident that the Lord is leading us to continue our ministry with RUF at Winthrop.
All that being said, over the past four years the Lord has softened our hearts towards this area.  We've made friends that will be hard to leave.  I have found many "hidden" treasures in Marietta that I will miss.  The Lord has allowed us to see the RUF ministry at KSU flourish.  It was non-existent when Chris came here 7 years ago and now it is a thriving ministry!  We have an AMAZING group of students that we are very sad to leave behind!  Four years ago I could not have imagined the sweet students that we would have the privilege of serving today.  (Not that the students four years ago weren't amazing...I just did not know them as well.)  We will miss them dearly!  Yet at the same time we trust that God is Sovereign and will continue to care for them through another man (and possibly his family) who will come to take over the ministry here.
Here is one of our students when we told her we were leaving:

Breaks my heart.
We will also be sad to leave East Cobb Presbyterian Church, where Chris has been acting as pulpit support/interim pastor for the past several months.  Even in this short time the church has been such a blessing to us in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.  We knew this would be a temporary position as they are working to find a permanent senior pastor, and we pray that there would not be much of a time overlap between when we leave and when the new senior pastor steps in. 

Rock Hill, SC is about 20 minutes south of Charlotte just across the NC/SC border.  This puts us closer to my family, which we are very happy about.  Although we will be a little bit father from Chris' family, we will still be within one day's drive so we will have easier access to both families now.
Not only are we excited about the university and the ministry, but we are also excited about Rock Hill.  I am sick of Atlanta.  I have been sick of Atlanta and wanting to leave since before I married Chris.  (I had left Atlanta and came back to marry him.  He is totally worth it, by the way.)  I don't like the traffic and I don't particularly care for the large sprawling metropolitan that extends and extends and extends out into even Kennesaw.  Rock Hill is a small town of about 66,000 people, and it is its own city separate from Charlotte.  (Although it is nice that Charlotte is so close.)  I really liked it when we visited - especially the lack of traffic!!  We are also very excited about the church there.  (RUF is a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America [PCA for short] and as such each RUF ministry is associated with a local PCA church.)
Over the next couple months I will be posting more about "the move" and some of our associated thoughts, excitements, sadness, and fears.  But wanted to go ahead and fill you all in on our "big news"

Linking up with Northern Belle Diaries 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Review

It is Monday again!  Where do the weekends go?  I hope you had a good mine.  Mine was busy, but fun!

Because it is really no fun to buy clothes when you are pregnant, I haven't been shopping in forever!  But I've had a bit of an itch.  I've had my eye on this Henley Dress at Gap for awhile now, and have watched it go on sale and then more on sale.  On Friday I finally decided to go and see if they still had any.  I remember after I had Phoebe all I wanted to do was wear new/different clothes other than the maternity clothes I had been wearing for the past nine months or so.  Good news!  They had it and it was $30 rather than the original $59 price-tag AND I had a $10 reward coupon.  Sweet.  New dress {not tight} for me that I can wear post baby.

Well of course while I was there I found many other cute items that I am now drooling over.  I LOVE these Legging Skimmer Jeans!  I really wanted to buy the coral polka-dot pair, but Chris convinced me that wouldn't be a good idea because: one- pant size is always a little tricky post-baby and two- I probably won't want to wear tight skinny pants for awhile, and three- they were only 20% off so still a bit pricey.  He's a good and smart man.  Maybe they will be on super sale in a two or three months when I could more comfortably buy and wear them??

A few other items from Gap that caught my eye-

On Monday I have to go into work to take a class to renew my CPR/NRP certification and now they've changed the class to where you have to take an online NRP (neonatal resuscitation) test before the class!  You only have 2 chances to pass each lesson (there are 9) and if you fail any of them you have to do it again and pay to take the test yourself!  Miserable.  Anyhow, I finished up my test this weekend (and passed) so I'm off to finish my certification.

On Saturday Chris' mom and sister came in from out of town for my baby shower.  Yep, some sweet friends of mine threw a baby shower for me!  
I'll post more about it later in the week, but here are some sneak-peek pictures from the fun...

And yes, this banner has made several appearances at both wedding and baby showers...

And speaking of babies, we have potentially changed our girl name again.  Yep, we were so sure with Phoebe and had no trouble picking it and sticking to it.  We didn't even think about changing it.  This time we were set on Harper Sage.  Then I fell in love with Ava Grace because I love double names and Chris said we could call her "Ava Grace."  (Double names are not something he has always been fond of, so I jumped at the opportunity to have a double name!!)  Well I've heard A LOT of Ava's recently and sure enough its like a top ten name right now...  I like it a lot, but I don't want something THAT common.  So our new name that I am obsessed with is Hadley Grace.  And we've talked about calling her "Haddie Grace"  (I still get my double name!)  We'll see...

So I know I've mentioned before that Chris has been preaching at East Cobb Presbyterian Church as pulpit supply for the past couple months.  We've loved being there.  That church has been such a blessing to us in so many ways and many of our RUF students have been attending.  We had been going out to lunch with them after church, but that gets expensive so this week we planned ahead and had them all over to our house for lunch. 

By Sunday afternoon we were all ready for a nap!

Happy Monday!

Linking up with YOLO Mondays, Miscellany Mondays, Monday Mingling, and Weekend Shenanigans