5 Apps That Will Pay YOU

All you need is love, said the Beatles…

And about a million other things, of course.

Like money.

With every passing year of my adulthood, I realize there are so many things they don’t teach you during your 13+ years of education.

I mean, sure… They teach you all about the Pythagorean theorem, and the elements on the periodic table, and how to find the square root of x… And all of that other really important stuff that you will totally use every. single. day. of your life.  (Insert eye roll emoji.)

I am so glad they skipped all that useless stuff we would never need… Like budgeting, filing your taxes, investing your money, how to build a resume, buying a house, etc..

Okay, okay.  Maybe I went too far with the sarcasm, but y’all get my point.

Money makes the world go ’round.

Some things you have option to spend your hard earned money on, while others… you have no choice.

Food, clothes, housing.. all necessities of life.

Ya gotta eat.
Naked is not acceptable.
Protection from the elements is preferable.

And unless you’re super outdoorsy and handy and can grow, sew, and build everything you need.. those things cost money.  Lots. of. money.

I know, I know.  You already know this.  Reminding you that simply living is expensive is not why I invited you here.

I brought you here to introduce the possibility of making money off your everyday gotta-have purchases!

Yes, you read that right.  There are ways to make money back when you buy stuff.

How?  Apps.  Free apps for your smartphone.  Free, easy-to-use apps.  So…

Here we go!

  1. Ebates – This website allows you to shop through their website and earn cash back on your purchases.  They have a wide variety of stores to choose from, or you can shop by category.  Better yet, they have a selection of stores that offer DOUBLE cash back, such as Expedia and Shutterfly.My favorite part of this website/app is that you get $10 just for signing up, AND when you refer a friend you earn $5.  But, that’s not all.  If they also shop through the website, you can earn up to $25 in bonuses!  You can sign up for Ebates here.
  2. Be Frugal –   This website is super similar to Ebates!  You shop through their website and earn a percentage of your purchase back.When you sign up, you earn $10, when you refer a friend, you earn $15!  You can sign up for Be Frugal here.
  3. Receipt Pal – This app is my FAVORITE by far.  Why? Because all you have to do is snap a picture of your receipt using the app and you earn points.  Once you earn so many points, you get to redeem them for gift cards!  I’ve already redeemed several Amazon gift cards using this app alone at no cost to me.  Plus, you can now submit your online receipts via email.  #gamechangerEasy peasy, lemon squeezy.
  4. Shopkick – This app is perfect for you if you’re out and about a lot.  This app has a lot of features, but the best is earning “walk-in kicks.”  It’s as easy as it sounds, you just walk through the doors of certain stores, open the app, and earn “kicks,” or points.  You can also scan different items once you’re in the store for additional kicks.Like Receipt Pal, once you earn so many kicks, you redeem them for gift cards.  So far, I have used my “kicks” to buy a coffee maker and a pair of shoes.This app also offers the option to scan receipts and connect your credit card, but I have not tried these options.
  5. Ibotta – This app allows you to earn money off of everyday purchases such as groceries, electronics, clothes, etc.  You simply select your store, claim the rebates, then once you’ve shopped, scan your receipt.  PLUS, you get $10 just for signing up and $5 for every friend you refer.Within just a few hours it will put the money on your account.  I like this app because you truly get money back.  It will send your earnings to your PayPal account. I cashed my earnings in when we moved back in July.  It helped tremendously with all of those pesky expenses you don’t think about when moving, like new curtain rods and pantry shelves.
    So, guys… there you have it.  Five apps that will help you earn money on things you are already purchasing!

These apps are user friendly, and take up very little of your time.

Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

OR if you have another favorite money-back app, let us know!

Blessings!

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Making money! via www.organizedinthechaos.com

Easy Ground Turkey and Cabbage Dish – 21 Day Fix/Clean Eating

I love food.

If you know me or have been following me for any amount of time, you already know ya girl likes to eat!

You probably also know that I am a kind-of, sort-of picky eater… At least that’s what my parents would tell you.

Chicken fingers are my one true love.

That is only a slight exaggeration.  If I had a dollar for every chicken finger I had ever eating in 27 year on this earth, I would probably be a very wealthy woman.  Alas, that’s not how life works.

Life also doesn’t allow you to become an adult and continue eating all those fried, yummy foods  without it expanding you waistband.

Needless to say, I’ve had to broaden my horizons on the food front and find some new eating habits.  Enter, Pinterest!

Thank goodness for that wonderful website.  I know like several more vegetables than just “white peas.”  (Side note, why do we call them white peas when they’re actually green?)

Pinterest also helped me out as I explored low-carb meals, clean eating, and the 21 Day Fix.  In fact it’s been a lifesaver!

So anyway, while I still love a good home-cooked meal, there are few vegetables that my family cooks in their “southern-style” that I actually eat.  We all know (and love the fact) that our home cooking down here is Alabama includes very few items on the “clean eating” scale, because it just tastes. so. good.

One Sunday a while back, I went home to my parents and mom was cooking

Steamed cabbage and turkey meat is one of my favorite, easy, clean meals!

cabbage.. (I knew as soon as I walked in the door because the whole house smelled like a fart… Oh, stop.  You were thinking that same thing as soon as I said cabbage.)

I had never been a huge cabbage fan outside of egg rolls, and even then I used to scrape the cabbage out.  But this particular Sunday, I was STARVING after church.  Any other day I would’ve refused it and eaten later, but y’all… Hangry is a thing!

So, I fixed a bowl… And I loved it.
So, I fixed another.

It’s amazing my mama didn’t fall out of her chair from shock when I asked for the recipe.

Since then, I cook it all the time.  It’s a meal prep favorite for lunches, because it’s just as yummy leftover.  BONUS:  With just a couple of minor tweaks, it’s a clean recipe!  So, here we go:

You will need:

  • 1 lb. turkey meat (or hamburger meat if you prefer)
  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

An optional, super southern ingredient that I do make an exception for even when eating clean – bacon grease.  Not a lot, just a teaspoon of it.

I know, I know… Who has bacon grease lying around?

That would be me.  In a little container in my fridge.

Anyway, back to cookin’!

Brown your meat with your diced onion.  Once your meat is cooked, drain the grease from it.  Then, you will add your cabbage, bacon grease (optional), and salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and let it steam for about 10-15 minutes on low.  Check your cabbage, if you like your cabbage a little softer, you may want to steam it a little longer.

BAM!  That’s all there is to it.  It’s easy to cook and great for meal prepping.

This dish can stand alone, or you can pair it with a side.

This recipe makes about 5 servings, and I usually divide it out into 1 – 1 1/2 cup portions.

For the 21 Day Fix containers, I count it as 1 green & 1 red.

This dish is perfect for low-carb or clean eating diets… even if your house smells like a fart for a few minutes.

Thanks for stopping by!

What are your favorite clean recipes?  Drop them in a comment below!

Did you enjoy this post? Don’t forget to pin it!
Click the image below to save it on Pinterest.

Cabbage and ground turkey recipe! via www.organizedinthechaos.com

 

6 Meal Prep Hacks to Make Life Easier

Meal prep has become a huge part of my weekly routine.  Why, you make ask… Because…

I love food.

And I hate cooking.

Well, not necessarily cooking… but coming home after a long day and then having to cook.

I situation-ally like to cook, I guess you could say.

Surely I’m not the only one with this problem…

Raise your hand if you’re also tempted by those oh so yummy, quick, effortless runs to get takeout… Or those pop-in-the-microwave freezer meals that are always BOGO at Publix.

Yes, I too am sitting here with both hands in the air.

Our society is one of instant everything… Food, shopping, free two-day Prime shipping… don’t get me started on the instant gratification of social media.

I’m not saying everything instant is BAD, but when it comes to food, quick and easy is often expensive and loaded with a bunch of yucky, hidden, bad-for-you ingredients.

(Insert research about the rise in obesity, the rise in ADHD, the rise in about a million other diseases… all connecting back to our food.)

So, where am I going with this, you ask?

Meal prepping.

It’s 100% the only way I manage to eat healthy… Even healthy-ISH, if I am honest.

About a year ago, I did the 21 Day Fix meal plan (Just the meal plan, because those workouts SUCK and make you want to die, so I sold those bad boys on the Facebook marketplace and made a quick $25.  Anyway… Kudos to y’all that stuck with those… I liked Country Heat better.)

Anyway, when I started the 21DF, I was a little overwhelmed and quickly realized I couldn’t do all that cooking and measuring every. single. day.  I am not that disciplined.

So, I started researching this whole meal prep deal and got started.  I tried lots of different methods, but here’s what has worked for me… Let’s get started!

  • First things first – plan your meals ahead of time.

This should be a DUH moment, but I’ve tried heading to the grocery store without my meals planned and it was a disaster… I came home with about 1/2 the ingredients for three different meals.  #FAIL

So naturally, I needed a meal PLAN for my meal PREP.

You can find some of  my FAVORITE and EASIEST buffalo chicken recipes here.

  • I do 90% of my meal prep on Sunday.

    Steamed cabbage and turkey meat is one of my favorite, easy, clean meals!

What this means, is I choose what I want to eat every day for lunch and every  night for dinner.

Then, I go ahead and cook it.  And I divvy it up in containers.  All of it.

Yes, it seems ridiculous.  Yes, I sacrifice a few precious hours of my Sunday afternoon to do it.  (Aka, I listen to Netflix from the kitchen as I work, instead of laying on the couch watching it.)

I promise it’s worth it, though.  At least for me!

  • I eat the same things for multiple meals throughout the week.

Yes, you read that right.  I eat the same things over and over.  It makes my meal prep routine so much easier.  Some people can’t do this, but if you can… Go for it.

Now, I won’t eat just anything every day.  It has to be something that is not only good, but good leftover.  There is a difference!  Some meals aren’t good leftover, but some are, and some are even better leftover.  (Think soups, chilis, and saucy things like spaghetti.)

So after a lot of exploring, I found meals that I don’t get tired of and I eat them for lunch five days in a row.

  • I portion out and pack up everything ahead of time.

I usually only do this for lunches, because mornings are such a struggle. 

That means I portion out everything from my “meal” to my dressings to my snacks.  (By portioning out, I mean MEASURING how much you’re packing.  This is super important, because even if you’re eating healthy, that doesn’t stop you from overeating.)

If the 21 Day Fix (note the green container in the middle) taught me anything, it was about eating the correct amount of each food group for my body type.  There are other ways to measure out your food, though.  (Note the measuring cup on the right.)

So, with all of that being said, I have also explored a lot of storage and packaging hacks, because meal prepping proposes a problem with space and uses a lot of dishes…. And I really hate doing the dishes.

So, here are my tried and true meal prepping must-haves:

  • Containers for portioning

I’ve found it’s better to use containers that are about the same size as the portion you should be eating.  If your container is too large, you will feel the need to put more food in it even though you measured out your portion.  Not to mention,  research shows using a smaller plate or bowl tricks your brain into thinking it’s eating more… so choose wisely!

Here are some of the containers I use:

  • Diamond Disposable Containers with Lids – 2 oz. – You know when you order food to go and they give you the little dressing containers?  That’s what these are!  I have found they’re perfect for dressings and nuts.  Plus, you can throw them away when you’re finished… I may hate washing dishes, but those little dressing containers are the worst to me.  If you’re super eco-friendly and don’t want to be wasteful, baby food containers like these would work as well!
  • Portion Control storage baggies – These little ziplock bags are great for meal prepping because they have measurements on them.  If you can’t find the portion control bags, the snack size bags like these are great as well.  They will hold about 8 oz.  And again, they’re disposable!
  • Reusable Compartment Containers – I order these off of Amazon and they are great.  For $12.99 you get 10 containers.  My roommate and I share these to pack our lunches in sometimes and we still have plenty of refrigerator space, as they’re stack-able. We wash them in the dishwasher and they’ve held up fine.  We’ve only had them since August, so I’m not sure about the longevity of this product, but for such a low price they will be easily replaceable. They also come in different sizes.
  • Organization

Organization is not my strong suit.  I know y’all probably thought I chose my blog name because I thought it was cute or catchy, but really… my life is literally organized chaos.  So when it comes to being organized, I have to be super intentional about it.

While organization isn’t 100% related to meal prep, it does save me a ton of time while I’m cooking, preparing, and most importantly, when I’m running out the door in the mornings.  At the beginning of the year, we revamped our pantry and then used the same set up in our new house, even though the storage space was way smaller.  Here’s what we use:

  • Hanging Shoe Rack – I am sure you’ve seen this one floating around Pinterest and social media.  We have one hanging on our (very tiny) pantry’s door and it makes organizing and pre-packing everything quick and easy… Which is important because we both prefer to trade in 5 minutes of packing lunches for 5 minutes of extra sleep… #priorities
  • Baskets/bins – This is simple enough and doesn’t need much explanation… plus the teacher in me REALLY loves a good basket.  As I stated earlier, our pantry is TINY… Like ridiculous little, plus we had to put our own shelves up.  So, with those shelves we added plastic bins and, like the shoe rack, this has offered easy access to those things we need on the go! I got ours at the Dollar Tree (hello, ballin’ on a budget), but I’ve also seen where people use plastic drawers like these.

This is what the end of my lunch time meal prep looks like…

One lunch, fruit serving, and healthy fat serving ready to go for the week!

My dinner meal prep is a lot easier and less detailed.  I just cook whatever dish I planned and portion it out as I eat it, since there are no early  mornings involved in dinnertime!

So, there you have it.  A few easy peasy ways to make healthy(ish) living a little easier.

What are your best meal prepping hacks?  Comment below and share what works for you!

 

 

*This post may contain affiliate links.  If you purchase using these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.*

3 Easy-Peasy Buffalo Chicken Recipes

When Pinterest first made its debut, I was a college sorority girl who quickly fell in love with the website. Crafts! Decor! Wedding ideas! Clothing styles! It opened a new door to my creative side.

But as an adult… a real adult, with a big girl j-o-b and bills to pay… my Pinterest boards look quite different. Recipes! Organization and cleaning! Budgeting tips! Teacher projects!… My favorite being recipes.

I grew up as the picky eating child. Chicken fingers were (and still are) my food of choice! However, Pinterest inspired me to broaden my horizon and try new things. I’ve discovered some fool-proof favorites, while also making some of those epic #Pinterestfails.

And while my favorites turned out awesome, I often get creative and tweak them… because I prefer a life of ease, and homegirl ain’t got time to make homemade ketchup or churn her own butter. (Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but you get the point.)

So, with all of that being said, I have found and tweaked several dishes that are easy-peasy, semi-healthy, and make great leftovers that I will be sharing over a series of blog posts.

We’re going to start with a few recipes that involved one main ingredient – buffalo chicken! Now, spoiler alert, I never order buffalo flavored anything when I go places. I’m not a fan of buffalo wings, tenders, etc… but on a home cooking level, give me all the buffalo goodness.

First things first – the base of all these recipes – the chicken!

A lot of times, I will cook a lot of this chicken on Sunday, and then eat it different ways throughout the week. This saves me a lot of time and energy… Because, teacher tired!

You will need:

  • Boneless chicken breasts, thawed
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or your choice of seasoning
  • Frank’s Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

You could use the actual “wing sauce,” but I started using the cayenne pepper sauce because it was a “free food” on the 21 Day Fix and I’ve been hooked ever since… I always have a bottle that I’m using, and an unopened bottle in the cabinet… just in case.

Mix in ranch or blue cheese dressing (I prefer ranch, but the dressings are optional)

Healthy wealthy sidenote: I use regular, store-bought ranch dressing. You could use homemade, or the organic or fat free versions if you choose, but my handy dandy Fooducate app tells me that neither are any healthier than the regular… In fact they had a lower grade!

The best part of making the chicken, is that it can be made from whatever leftover chicken you have in your refrigerator! But if you don’t have any leftovers, simply season your chicken to your liking and bake for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees. (Or head on over to Publix and grab a rotisserie chicken… That’s just a free lazy girl hack for you.)  Then, dice and toss in buffalo sauce and ranch.

Now that you have the main ingredient of the next few dishes, here we go!

Buffalo Chicken Wrap – my favorite

You will need:

  • Your prepared chicken (see above)
  • Whole wheat tortillas like these.
  • Shredded cheese of your choice (I like Colby Monterey Jack)

Heat your pan on the stove… I usually do it on high, because I like to live on the edge… (plus if you know my mom or nana, you will understand that that’s genetic.) While your pan is heating, place your chicken on your tortilla and top with your cheese. (Sorry, no measurements here… It just depends on how much you like cheese, so eyeball that sucker!) Wrap it up like a burrito (or fold it like a quesadilla) and place it in the pan folded side down… After about a minute… or once it’s browned on that side… (or once it starts smoking and it’s a little blackened; don’t worry, it’s still pretty yummy if this happens)… Flip it and repeat on the other side.

BAM! You’re done. Serve with sweet potato fries (or tots, as pictured), or even easier and just as yummy, raw veggies. (My go to’s are carrots and broccoli.)

Next up…

Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats – Super yummy and low carb!

You will need:

  • Your prepared chicken (see above)
  • Zucchini (The amount depends on how many people you’re feeding and how big they’re appetites are… I usually eat a whole one, myself.)
  • Your choice of shredded cheese (again, I prefer Colby Monterey Jack)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is pre-heating, slice your zucchini length-wise. “Gut” your zucchini; every recipe I’ve come across for zucchini boats suggests using a melon baller (whatever that is), but I usually just use a measuring spoon. Sit about half of your zucchini “guts” aside and line your zucchini boats on a baking sheet. In a bowl, mix your “guts” and buffalo chicken mixture. Fill the zucchini boats and top with cheese. Cook zucchini for about 20 minutes, or until your zucchini is the softness you desire.

BAM! You’re done. Again, I like to serve with sweet potato fries, but you could explore other options… Because, #merica.

Buffalo Chicken Loaded Sweet Potatoes – the recipe that surprised me the most

I know what you’re thinking… Ew. But I feel in love with this recipe, though I ended up doing a bit of tweaking. The original recipe’s cooking directions for the sweet potatoes were off and it called for homemade buffalo sauce… Ain’t nobody got time for that!
You will need:

Baked sweet potatoeschicken sweet potato

  • Prepared chicken
  • Shredded cheese of your choice (I think you already know by now what my favorite is!)
  • Extra ranch for topping (optional)

Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, the cooking time will vary.  (Because some a GINORMOUS and will take all day, it seems like.) But a set of general directions would be, stab those bad boys with a fork, pop them in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for about 60 minutes or until they’re soft.

Depending on the size of the potato and your appetite, you can cut them (almost) all the way through like a normal baked potato or for those ginormous sweet potatoes, slice them in half. Add your chicken and cheese and pop them back in the oven to melt the cheese (or if patience is an issue, nuke them in the microwave), then drizzle with ranch.

BAM! You’re done… I usually serve with steamed broccoli, but this recipe can stand alone with out any sides… Though it’s probably a really good adult decision to add a veggie in there.

That’s all I have for now, guys. As you can see, my cooking and recipes don’t offer many measurements (hello, you’re reading a blog called Organized Chaos), but they are super simple and yummy… I mean, if the chicken finger fiend over here will eat it, you know it’s good!

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to share!

Stay tuned for more foodie posts.

Blessings,

Callie

In the Swing of Faith

Golf is one of my favorite sports.
They say out of all of the golfers in the US, 77% are male. No offense to women, but golf is a men’s sport.

No wonder they called it golf… Guys Only Ladies Forbidden (just kidding, I don’t think that what it really means.)

Like any game, golf consists of multiple aspects. From choosing the right equipment, to using the right club depending upon weather variables, golf can get very complicated at times.

I’ve been playing the game since I was 5 years old. My dad used to bring me out in the yard and coach me on my swing every evening. I always looked forward to the weekends so that my dad and I could go out to the course and play a round.

My dad always told me that golf is the hardest sport to be good at. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I can assure you it’s not easy.

If my dad taught me anything about golf, it would be these two principals:

Play against the course, not other people. The course already has a score of 72. Can you beat that?

My dad always said “Son, you are not good enough to be mad at yourself when you make a bad shot.”

My dad has always been really good at golf. He can take a one year break, get up, and out-drive me any day.

It wasn’t until recently that I actually beat him in a fair match. He then proceeded to remind me that I didn’t beat the course, though.

My dad also taught me some other important aspects of the game that I’ve transposed to my walk with Christ.

My dad always says that you never get better on the course. It’s only after you go to the driving range, and the chipping, and putting greens where you get better.

As Christians we expect our walk to be strengthened if we only go to church every Sunday. That may satisfy you, just as playing a round of golf satisfies me, but that’s not how you get better.

Jesus has called us to more than church; He’s called us to an abundant life of more and more of Him.

Small groups, discipleship, mission trips, and serving your neighborhood are just a few examples on how to strengthen you walk with Christ. One of the most foundational ways you can increase your faith life is by reading your Bible and praying consistently.

Just like in golf, if you don’t stay disciplined in the Word and in prayer (the fundamentals), you regress.
It’s not like riding a bike where you can just pick it up whenever you want.
It takes dedication and the constant want to better yourself.

What better way to sum all of this up by quoting from the Good Book.

James 5:13 says “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” 
I hope this encourages you to not only dig into the Word more and to strengthen your faith, but to also to get out on the course and practice those drives.

-Taten

The Liebster Award

I am excited to announce that Organized Chaos has been nominated for a Liebster Award! What is this award about? It is an internet based award where bloggers nominate other bloggers. It is also helps give exposure to blogs with less than 200 followers.

First of all, I would like to thank Lovely Whitney for nominating me for the award!

Rules for the Liebster Award can be found here.

QUESTIONS FROM LOVELY WHITNEY:

What is your favorite country?
America, duh! But of course, my second favorite is Haiti.  

What is the most extreme thing you have ever done?
I planned my first mission trip to Haiti in approximately 20 days!   From plane tickets, to vaccinations, to donations – it was quite the whirlwind!

What is your dream job?
Honestly, I have no idea!  I will let you know when I grow up… (27 isn’t considered grown up, right?)

Ship or Plane?
Ship, for sure!

What/Who inspires you?
My parents.  Cliche, I know!  But the older I get and the longer I teach, I realize just how lucky I am to have such loving and selfless people to call mom and dad!

What is one item on your bucket list?
I want to go to Europe!  I can’t choose just one part, I want to see it all.

If you get stranded on the island, what two items will you like to have with you?
A really good book to read and a heavy duty, water proof, sleeping bag.

From 1 to 5 how hard is it to leave without your cell phone?
About a 3… I feel so free when it’s not in my hand, but honestly it makes me a little nervous.  (Is it FOMO or just habit?)

What is your pet peeve?
I am ashamed to say that I let those loud, one-upper, must-be-center-of-attention-at-all-times type of people really get under my skin.

Fall or Summer?
Fall!  I’m from Alabama, so by September it’s still hot enough to be summer but it’s socially acceptable to put out fall decorations!  

When do you find time to blog?
Mostly on the weekends unless something is really weighing on my heart. 

My nominations:

Madison Gunn – http://www.middleclassmuddle.com/about/
Blythe Anderson – http://www.blythemorgan.com/
Christina Deptulski – https://www.teacher-librarian-forlife.com/
Chasi Jernigan – http://sweatinmascara.com/
Amanda Goodenough – http://myawkwardlifejourney.com/
Heidy Fernandez – http://www.whatamomclub.com/
Karolina FottenLippen – http://www.whatamomclub.com/
Pamela Rankin – http://www.mommaknowsitall.com/

{Don’t forget to link back to this website once you’ve answered on your blog.}

QUESTIONS FOR MY NOMINEES:

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
  2. What inspired you to start blogging?
  3. What is your favorite blog topic or your “niche”?
  4. What are your hobbies?
  5. Do you have any hidden talents?
  6. If you could talk to a famous person (dead or alive), who would it be?
  7. What sports do you enjoy?
  8. What is your favorite book/series?
  9. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
  10. Books or movies?
  11. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Water-Light-2 (1)

 

 

Against the Grain

This week I started researching how bloggers make money.
You see, while Pinterest-ing I stumbled across an article talking about this woman who was making like $6,000 a month by blogging… And because curiosity killed the cat, I kept digging and pinning and reading.
And digging… and pinning… and reading some more.
Let me go ahead and throw it out there, I am a simple girl. So real talk, if I made $30 a month, I’d be ecstatic. Do you know what I could do with that $30?
Buy a dress from Target.

Pay the water bill.

Fill up my gas tank (and then some).

Order a 3 piece tender from Goldfingers 3x that month.
And don’t even get me started on these peoples followers. 34,000? I got excited last week when my blog post reached 50!
See, simple girl.
But simple girl or not… I kept researching.
And with researching came…
Confusion

A lot of words

Anxiety

Frustration

Stress eating (helloooo, baking at 10PM)
This happened over and over, every time I’d just shut down one page and open another.
And after all of that, you wanna know what finally stopped me in my tracks?
When every site I visited highly recommended that I should pick only one topic to focus on and only one audience to serve.
And I just couldn’t.

That is not who I am.
That’s not what I built my blog on.
I wanna write about Jesus. And food. And politics. And teaching. And everything in between.
I want to speak to teenagers. And twenty-somethings. And middle-agers. And the elderly. Men and women, alike.
Because, these thoughts that drive my writing?
That is organized chaos at its finest.
 Thank y’all for joining me on this journey against the grain!
Check out the new logo & design and don’t forget to follow my new Facebook page.
Blessings!
PS… I also wouldn’t be mad if someone presented me with a simpler way to get paid through blogging!
 

Pinky Promise?

See you tomorrow,”  I tell him.

“Pinky promise?” He says, every afternoon when I walk him to the bus.

After a quick lock of our pinkies, 12 more hugs (approximately), and a reminder that you can’t kiss your teacher, I send him home for the day.

“Love you, Miss Hollis!” he calls out over his shoulder as he clambers up the steps to his bus… Already forgetting that he was mad at me for not letting him climb that concrete wall 5 minutes ago.

Oh, the heart of a kindergartener.

11 days, I’ve known these children.

We have laughed, wiped tears, danced, played, learned, sang…

We’ve shared lots of stories, sticky high fives, knock knock jokes, and about 3,345,097 hugs…

They know Miss Hollis is the keeper of the animal crackers, the band-aids, the Play-Doh, and the magic air kisses for boo-boos of all kinds.

11 days and they’ve already decided to trust me.
11 days and some times I think my heart might explode.

I didn’t end up here by choice.
This new season came after a series of disappointments, both big and small.

You’ve been there too, I am sure.

These less than ideal situations we find ourselves in… They hurt, they are hard, they push us outside of our comfort zones… but, God.

He uses them.

To mold us.
To teach us something.
To help us help others.

To get us to the place He’s prepared for us.

Whatever the situation, He always keeps His promises.

It’s in these moments, we are reminded of Jeremiah 29:11…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

And it’s in these moments, deep down we’re in kindergarten again…

“Pinky promise?” we pray silently as we climb the steps on the big yellow bus of obedience.

And He does.

Welcome to kindergarten, Miss Hollis.

I think I’ll stay a while.

Hit the Paws Button

“I love your blog, homie!” he said.

Everyone needs a friend like Taten.  He encourages you when you need it, but isn’t afraid to hand over a large dose of truth.

“You need to talk about girls and their dogs,” he said,  “How white girls and their dogs have made an explosion on social media, and how men need to take place of dogs and take women back.”

I chuckled, because as ridiculous as it sounded, I knew he had a point.

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Now before you point fingers, yes I am obsessed with my dog.

Because who wouldn’t love the most precious, beautiful, smart, and cuddly little girl in the whole world?  If there was ever a Queen of the Rat Terriers, my sweet Gabby would easily take the crown.

And it doesn’t stop at my own dog.

If I go to someone’s house, the first thing I look for a dog to play with.

By choice, half of my social media accounts are overflowing with dog pictures and videos.

They’re. Just. So. Cute.

So anyway, enough about my own obsession with dogs, I took to Instagram to do a little research.

I began with the search bar, where I typed in #dogs and here are my findings..
– #dogs – 46,780,570 posts
– #dogsofinstagram – 70,370,026 posts
– #dogstagram – 33,631,493

This is not counting #puppylove, #puppyeyes, and #puppies which all had posts well into the tens of millions.

So, what’s the deal?  Why the skyrocket of puppy love? (Yes, actual, puppy love.)

I mean, dogs have always been considered (wo)man’s best friend, but has there been a sudden rise in fur babies?

Or is it social media, doing what social media does best? Takes something seemingly simple, and part of everyday life, and magnifies it?

It allows you to take a snapshot of the cute and perfect moments, slap a filter on it, and craft the perfect caption.

But when we see those perfect pup moments, what we really think is…

“Wow, my puppy just peed on my shoe, and that girl’s chihuahua is sitting shotgun in her car sipping a puppaccino.” #jealous

Oh, but dear friends, that’s not limited to dogs.  Social media shows you a mere snapshot of everyone’s life, while hiding the scary and messy parts.

The perfect relationships
The easiest of pregnancies
The super mom
The adventurous, living-life-to-the-fullest single lady

Because who wants to share pictures of the bills you fought with your husband about last night?  Or pictures of the mom-to-be hugging the toilet with morning sickness?  Or a family photo of your little monsters… I mean, angels… after you caught them coloring on your white sheet-rock walls? Or a selfie of you sitting on the couch watching Netflix by yourself… again?

I sure don’t.
I don’t want to show you my vulnerable side.
I don’t want to share my struggles with you.

But how much better off might we be if we did?  How much more enjoyable would life be if we just shared our messes with each other?

Would it be so hard to show one another that deep down, we’re all the same?

Maybe the struggle wouldn’t be so #real if we could just own up to it.
Because I’ll be honest, I’ve never bonded with anyone over our perfect Instagram posts.

With all of that being said, girls have always love puppies… It’s not our fault they’re more photogenic than men!

Juuuust kidding.

 

 

 

So guys, ask her on a date to the animal shelter.  Girls, drop the camera and rub that baby’s belly.

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That’s all I have for now, so I’ll just leave you with this! Ain’t she cute?

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings!

 

P.S I am ALWAYS open to post suggestions… What topic would you like to read about?

P.S.S Sorry, Taten! I don’t think I provided any good insight on dogs and girls!

An Open Letter to the Good Guys and Girls

Dear friend,

You’ve heard the old saying, “Nice guys (or girls) finish last.”

If you’re reading this, I bet you’ve felt that way a time or two.

That sting of disappointment when you’ve been dismissed as second choice.  Or third. Or fourth.  Or not considered at all.

It could be at work, church, when you’re dating, or life in general…

You work harder, you do a good job, you do what you’re supposed to…

You live “right.”

And you still don’t measure up.  Your desires still go unfulfilled.

You still don’t get the job…
You still don’t get the promotion…
You still don’t get the guy/girl…
That particular group of people still won’t accept you…
You still can’t get pregnant…

There came a point a few months back when I decided being “good” and living “right” wasn’t worth it anymore.

Because how can you continuously try so hard only to keep falling short?

How can you keep praying to a God that seems to be ignoring you?  Who won’t answer you?

I decided I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t do it anymore.
I didn’t quit believing, but I did decide that kind of God just didn’t deserve my attention.

And besides, it seemed to be working for everyone else.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us to “be the light.”

But it seemed the pool of darkness and sin was more appealing to everyone else, so I decided to dip my feet in… try it out and give in to those worldly things we were warned against.

You quit praying.  Quit going to church.
Don’t reach out to your friends, because you don’t want to hear it.

And there is only one word I have to describe the way I felt.

Tired.

Because living in that darkness brought guilt, and anger, and worry, and loneliness, and discontentment.

Because it’s exhausting holding on for dear life when you’re riding a roller coaster of emotions.

So, like tired people do, I slept a lot.  And I laid on the couch.  And I indulged in mindless Netflix binging, and junk food, and an endless stream of social media posts that I couldn’t measure up to.

If there had been a hole for me to crawl in, I would have done just that.

I write all of this to say, do not let these hard situations dim your light.

Or dull your sparkle.
Or steal your sunshine.

Or whatever catchy phrase it is that you choose to use.

It so easy to, though.
Because you tried so hard, and you still weren’t the chosen one…

It. is. not. your. fault.

When you are good to someone, and they continue to tear you down…

That says more about them than you.

When the desires of your heart continuously go unfulfilled…

That’s not your fault either. 

I know it’s hard to believe, especially in the moment… because you suddenly feel that you’re not enough.  Your efforts were pointless.  You must be undeserving.

And so maybe you slowly crawl back inside yourself.

Or maybe you just wake up one day and give life a big ole proverbial finger and walk away from it all.

Or maybe you turn to something to numb the pain…

Or maybe you’re not there yet, but you’re just so tired and discouraged and it doesn’t feel good…

But hear me when I say…
You keep running toward that light we were called to be.

As for whatever is trying to extinguish your flame…

Maybe it’s time to close that door and cut those ties.
Maybe it’s time to quit trying so hard and just let it be for a while.
Maybe it’s time to lay those worries down at the cross and trust God’s timing.

I know you’ve heard it before and you’re rolling your eyes.

But keep praying for those people.  Keep praying about your situation.

Pray for yourself, too.

For peace, contentment, and trust as you wait on those desires of your heart to be fulfilled.

And keep shining your light.
It is not easy, but it is worth it.

Your friend who’s been there,

Callie

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue  to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:36

 

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