My Favorite Cookbooks

Some of my most popular posts are food related ones, so I thought it’d be fun to share where I get a few of my recipes from.

The great thing about technology today is that if you’re struggling on what to cook, Google is right at your fingertips. While this is usually how I find recipe inspiration, I’ve also been gravitating toward using cookbooks.

Yes, you have less options when using cookbooks, but that actually makes the process of meal planning (I’m working on a post dedicated to this concept.) less daunting. Additionally, I’ve recently discovered some cookbooks full of healthy and easy recipes.

Skinnytaste One and Done

Skinnytaste One and Done is my current favorite cookbook! As a working momma, I need quick and easy recipes when preparing supper, and this book delivers in that area!

Recipes we’ve tried and liked from this cookbook:

• Chicken cordon bleu

• Chicken fajitas

• Spicy fried chicken sandwiches

• Everything (but the) bagel chicken roll-ups

• Creamy cheddar-broccoli soup

• Complete BBQ chicken dinner

Skinnytaste

Skinnytaste is on the list because it has recipes for all courses: breakfast, lunch, appetizers, supper, dessert, etc. As with all Skinnytaste books, the dishes are on the lighter side.

Recipes we’ve tried and liked from this cookbook:

• Dad’s jammin’ crepes

• Slow-cooker Santa Fe chicken

• Grilled steak sandwiches

• Petite baked crab cakes

• Chicken rollatini stuffed with zucchini and mozzarella

• Skinny chicken Parmesan

• Lemon-roasted asparagus

• Warm-apple pear crumble

• Baked bananas floater a la mode

The Defined Dish

Have you ever heard of Whole 30? If so, you know the focus of it is clean, healthy ingredients. The Defined Dish is Whole 30 approved. While we don’t necessarily participate in this meal plan, having a cookbook geared toward it ensures that the dishes will be wholesome.

This is my newest cookbook, so I haven’t had a chance to try too many recipes yet.

Recipes we’ve tried and liked from this cookbook:

• One-pot hamburger helper

• One-pot chicken pot pie pasta

• Meatloaf meatballs with mashed potatoes and green beans

If you ever struggle with knowing what to make for supper, I highly recommend purchasing one of these cookbooks to help with meal planning.

Sarah

My First Impression of Our Bible Study

Happy Friday!

I talked about this on Instastories the other day, but honestly, life has been pretty crazy this week. School started back, and I have a student teacher, which are both wonderful things, but my days have been busy. As a result, when I’ve been getting home from school, spending time with Daniel and Isaac and relaxing are about the only things I’ve been doing, hence a lag in blog posts.

However, I finished Week 1 of The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer and want to share about my first impression of the book. (If you’re new around here read this blog post and this one to get caught up.).

Difficulty Level

Have you ever read a commentary of the Bible or done a study and everything was written in such a way that it was difficult to understand? Yeah, me, too. The Armor of God isn’t like that. My friend, Allie, owner of Downtown Allie, said it best – This study is simple and easy to follow. Trust me, you’ll be able to understand what Shirer is saying.

Time

Recently, I’ve had a phrase swirling around in my mind, “We make time for what’s important.” It’s true. What’s “important” to you? Here’s a convicting exercise: pull up the screen time on your phone. How much time do you spend on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. each day? You probably don’t like the answer when you compare it to how much time you spend doing meaningful things (quiet time, family time, exercising, etc.); I know I sure didn’t.

With that being said, each day of The Armor of God has taken me about 20-30 minutes. However, when I finish each day, I feel “full.” Honestly, you won’t even realize how much time you’re spending going through the material because it’s so interesting.

Discussion

While Bible studies can be done alone, there’s something about working through one as a group that adds camaraderie and accountability, which is something that everyone benefits from. Obviously, we can’t all meet in person to discuss the material, so instead, I’m going to be doing an Instagram Live each Sunday at 8:oo p.m. CT while we do the study.

The general idea is, I will lead the discussion and talk about concepts that stood out to me. This will also be a time when you can write in and share what resonated with you, too. My hope is that everyone will interact with each other.

Falling Behind

I know that some of you are kind of “late to the game” so to speak and may not have ordered your book soon enough to be finished with Week 1’s material before my first Instagram Live. That’s okay!

I will say that each week has five days of material, yet there are 7 days in a week, so you have extra time to get things done.

I’ll also be saving my Lives to my IGTV, which you can watch at a later date, if necessary, so you can still listen/watch/participate in our discussion.

Why I’m Doing This

I’m a teacher and believe that is my calling. With that being said, I’ve wanted to lead a Bible study, geared toward young women, for a long time (Whether you’re young in age or heart, everyone’s invited!).

After making the decision to move forward with this, I can’t tell you how many women have reached out to me and said things like, “I’ve been wanting to do this study for a long time,” or, “This type of thing is exactly what I’ve been looking for,” or, “I need accountability,” or, “I’m so excited to join you in this study.” All of these interactions have shown me there is a void that many people need filling, and that’s what this study is for.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord does through our study over The Armor of God!

Sarah

5 Days of Workouts

Hey, everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend! I’m officially starting back to school today and am trying to get back into the routine of it.

Many people make resolutions or set goals at the beginning of a new year, and one of the most common ones is to exercise more.

One of my proudest accomplishments of 2020 was getting into a consistent workout routine. I talk more about how that happened in this post, but one of the components that has helped me stick to working out 5 days a week was to change up my routine and find exercises that I enjoyed doing.

Heather Robertson has become my favorite “instructor” because her videos are effective and easy to follow, and she puts out new ones every few days.

I have to say that I’m not a personal trainer, so I can’t say that what I do is “correct” or right for you, but during a typical week, I try to mix up my workouts so I hit all the major muscle groups. Upper body is my favorite, so I usually start the week targeting that area. You’re supposed to give muscle groups at least 48 hours to recover, so I try not to target the same area two days in a row.

The following is an example of a week’s worth of workouts that I typically do.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Hopefully, this will give you a starting point if fitness is something you want to work on this year.

Sarah

Bible Study Schedule

This sounds wild to say, but happy New Year! Though 2020 was a rough year for everyone, it’s also hard to believe that it’s gone!

With that being said, I wanted to give you the game plan for our “Bible study book club” schedule. I talk more about the study in this post, but just as a reminder, the book we’re going through is The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer.

While the following schedule is the plan now, it’s also subject to change.

This book does have a video component, but I won’t be watching it, although you’re more than welcome to! The link for the videos is in the book, but it costs to rent the clips, and you can get just as much out of the study by only doing the “homework.”

I’m so excited to begin this journey with each of you, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord teaches us over the next few weeks!

Sarah

Seeing 2020 as “Half-Full”

While they say, “Hindsight is 2020,” I’m not sure if that phrase will ever have quite the same meaning after this year. There’s no denying, it’s been rough, but I’ve been doing some reflecting over the last few days and decided that I want to look at the past year as “half-full” rather than “half-empty.”

Social Distancing

Half-Empty: I feel like there have been quite a few new phrases coined in 2020, “social distancing” being one of them. As humans, we gravitate toward each other, so it’s been tough staying six feet apart, wearing masks, and not having as much physical contact.

With that being said, we’ve been “forced” to be around those we live with more, which can sometimes lead to tense moments, and being fed up with the same people. Trust me, the Holts have been in that situation more than once.

Half-Full: During an average week, how much quality time do we spend with our actual family? 2020 has allowed me to be at home more with Daniel and Isaac, something that would’ve not been possible any other time. I know that one day, this will all be over, and I’ll be so thankful for the time I spent with Isaac during such a pivotal stage of development.

Closed Restaurants

Half-Empty: When everything first started closing down in March, I felt overwhelmed about all of the cooking I’d “have” to do. However, until we really couldn’t eat out, I didn’t realize how often we’d been doing it.

Half-Full: 2020 taught me how to meal plan and cook strategically. I’ve started using cookbooks and have found quite a few recipes that are easy, healthy, and make enough for leftovers. Most of the time, I enjoy cooking now and find pride in feeding my family.

Stay at Home Order

Half-Empty: At first, it was nice to have a reason to stay home, but after a while, it got easy to complain at how boring it was. I feel like adults and kids alike either said or thought, “There’s nothing to do.”

Half-Full: With all that extra time, I chose to focus on my physical and spiritual health. I’ve grown more in my walk with Christ than ever before and have done some impactful studies along the way.

Additionally, I’m more committed to working out than ever before and have consistently been exercising five days a week for over nine months. It’s so empowering as a woman to see muscle tone and build endurance, so I’m thankful that I took the extra time 2020 gave and used it for something productive.

Closed Schools/Distance Learning

Half-Empty: When schools suddenly closed back in the spring, teachers were thrust into an unprecedented situation, and we didn’t know what to expect when the new school year rolled around.

My own district started several weeks later than expected, and when students did come back, it was on a staggered schedule. It’s been difficult balancing teaching students who are attending school in-person and those who chose the distance learning route, and there have been quite a few frustrations along the way.

Half-Full: However, teachers have had more time to work in their classrooms than ever before, even if it was spent preparing digital lessons. For myself, I’ve converted everything that I do to computer-based and can count on one hand how many times I’ve made copies this year.

Cancelled Family Gatherings

Half-Empty: Honestly, this had been one of the tougher parts of 2020. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times I see some of my family, and those gatherings either looked different this year or were non-existent.

Half-Full: While I didn’t get to see my extended family as much, my immediate family has spent more time together than ever before. Rather than rush from one event to another, we got to relax more and spend quality time with those we did get to see.

I know that some of you have had a horrible year. You’ve lost loved ones, your job, your house, etc. However, I hope that today’s post has also encouraged you and that 2021 will be a fresh, positive start.

Sarah

Christmas Recap

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, regardless of what it looked like this year.

I have to say that I enjoyed taking last week off from writing blog posts. I didn’t realize how much time and energy I put into these until I wasn’t doing them, but with that being said, I’m back and feeling re-energized!

I want to share what Christmas looked like for us this year, along with some yummy recipes I’ve made over the last few weeks.

Family Gatherings

Thursday, December 17

We had some family passing through, so we had Christmas at Mom and Dad’s on this night. Breakfast for supper was on the menu, then it was present time. The kids enjoyed opening presents, then playing with each other’s toys. Fortunately, everyone was pretty good at sharing (or maybe they were just distracted).

Friday, December 18

The church that Daniel grew up in has a meal and singing every third Friday night. It’s something that his parents started a long time ago, so Daniel continues to go. Since it was Christmas, Isaac and I tagged along.

Can you spot Isaac?

We brought pajamas for Isaac to wear on the way home because it was late, and we had a long drive.

Thursday, December 24

Even though we’d already exchanged gifts, Daniel, Isaac, and I still went over to my parents’ house. We had supper and then watched a movie. Honestly, it was nice to relax and enjoy each other’s company, rather than the frenzy of opening presents.

Friday, December 25

We celebrated Christmas as a family of 3 during the morning. We don’t go all-out on presents or do Santa Clause because for us, that’s not what Christmas is about. However, Isaac had fun opening his gifts, and I had a special scavenger hunt prepared for his “big” gift, which is something that my dad did for my brother and me growing up.

Honestly, it didn’t go at all how I expected, ha ha! Isaac wanted to play with his new toys rather than hunt for clues. However, after quite a bit of prompting, he finally found all of the clues and his new tool bench.

Next, we went to Daniel’s mom’s to have Christmas brunch with her and his sister. By this point, Isaac really had the unwrapping down and helped everyone with their gifts.

New Recipes

I’ve done a lot of cooking over the past few weeks! From trying out my new air fryer to making dishes form my cookbooks, it’s been so nice to eat at home.

Breakfast

Donuts – These were really good and fluffy. After they came out of the air fryer, I sprayed them and dipped them in sugar and cinnamon.

Breakfast pizza – This was okay. I like my breakfast casserole better, though.

Main Dishes

Everything but the Bagel Chicken Roll-Ups – I used the recipe from Skinnytaste One and Done, but this recipe is the same.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup – This was a hearty soup that we had in the bread bowls mentioned below. Daniel and I definitely preferred it with bread dipped in it.

Bread Bowls – I’ve never never made homemade bread before, and while this was a lengthy process, the end product was delicious!

Dessert

Sugar cookies – These were really good and a neat way to involve Isaac in cooking.

Peanut Butter Banana Brownies – These turned out really soft, but honestly, they didn’t taste too much like brownies. The banana and peanut butter flavors were stronger than the cocoa, but they still tasted good.

Sarah

Outfits of the Week + What I Cooked for Supper (12/13– 12/19)

I’m officially on Christmas break, and I couldn’t be more happy about it! My outfits over the next few weeks will probably be super basic and casual, but here’s the somewhat put-together outfits I donned this week.

dress (similar, similar, similar) / cardigan (similar) / booties

peplum top (similar) / scarf (similar, similar) / jeggings / booties

striped shirt (old from Old Navy, similar, similar) /  leggings / sneakers (Mine are from Soles of Savannah, but here’s the link for the manufacturer’s website. They’re cheaper at Soles!)

flannel  / jeans (similar) / booties

dolman sleeve sweater / jeans (similar) / loafers (similar)

We had family visiting this week, so I honestly didn’t cook much, but here are the recipes we did try.

Main Dishes + Sides

Tex-Mex turkey tacos – I used the recipe in this Skinnytaste cookbook, but this one is an adaptation and very similar.

Chili – This recipe is so easy and is a go-to this time of year. I have some family visiting, so I made this and took to my parents’ house, and my mom made potato soup, too.

Breakfast casserole with hashbrowns – This is a quick and easy meal to throw together on a busy morning or weeknight.

Layered Doritos casserole – I have to put in a disclaimer that this isn’t necessarily a healthy dish and isn’t something I make when it’s just Daniel, Isaac, and me. However, we had a get-together to go to, so I made it for that, and it was really good.

Dessert

Caramel apple crumble – Although the recipe makes enough for two, simply double the recipe if you’re making this for more people.

Sarah

6 Ways to Dress for Christmas

Do you dress “Christmasy” this time of year? There’s something about Christmas time that just makes me want to!

Here are six ways you can dress for Christmas, and chances are, you probably already have some of these pieces in your closet.

1. Red or green top/sweater

This one’s pretty straight forward, but by wearing a top in one of these shades, you’re instantly dressed for the occasion. I tend to gravitate toward red more so than green because of its vibrancy, but either one would work.

dolman sleeve sweater

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

2. Christmas t-shirt

While I don’t really wear t-shirts, I know a lot of people love them. There are so many to choose from, and there are also quite a few people who make shirts as a “side-gig.” I know they’d appreciate you buying from them.

Downtown Allie has some really cute options, too.

3. Plaid

Plaid, especially red plaid, screams Christmas to me. It’s also a comfortable way to dress for the occasion.

plaid shirt

plaid shirt (similar)

flannel jeans / booties

4. “Christmas” scarf

Usually it’s pretty cold around Christmas, so you’re probably already used to wearing scarves. As previously mentioned, there are certain colors and patterns that make me think of Christmas, so incorporate that into your scarf.

sweater (similar) / jeans (similar) / scarf / fedora (similar) / booties

peplum top (similar) / scarf (similar, similar) / jeggings / booties

5. Holiday earrings

I don’t necessarily mean wear earrings in the shape of trees, presents, or ornaments, but that’s fine if you want to! I really like red earrings for a pop of color in an otherwise neutral outfit.

red statement earrings / dolman sleeve sweater

1 / 2 / 3

6. Red nails

Classic red nails are a great way to “dress” for Christmas. They’re also appropriate all year.

Let me know which of these you’ll be incorporating this year.

Sarah

Cozy Sweater from Downtown Allie + Discount

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Sweater weather is here, and if I have to wear one, I want it to be cute! Enter this leopard sweater from Downtown Allie. It’s super soft, very warm, and not itchy at all, which are all requirements that I look for in a sweater.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I really like leopard print, so this sweater was a must!

leopard sweater /  jeans / booties

For whatever reason, I feel like there aren’t as many printed sweaters, so I was excited when Allie brought this one to her shop.

I like how it looks paired with distressed jeans and booties for a fun look.

Don’t forget how important it is to shop at small businesses this year! I know Allie would really appreciate your support.

Also, you can use use SARAH15 to get 15% this sweater and the dress that I shared on this blog post.

Sarah

Life Lessons from Women in the Bible: Anna

Happy Monday, y’all! hope you had a great weekend.

Today I’m focusing on Anna from the book of Luke and four concepts we can learn from her story.

Anna was known as a prophetess at the temple. This doesn’t mean she was a fortune teller, rather she was a teacher of Scripture to other women. She’d been a widow for a long time and was pretty old when she appeared in the Bible. She lived at the temple and constantly prayed and fasted, awaiting the coming Messiah.

Well, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple at this time, and received a blessing from another man, named Simeon. Anna overheard them and realized that everything she’d been praying for was right there. She immediately began praising God and told everyone she encountered about Jesus.

Anna knew that there was a Messiah coming who would save the world. This shows she was knowledgeable about Old Testament Scripture. If she hadn’t, then where would her hope have been?

It’s important as Christians to be grounded in the Word. We need to know what the Bible says, not only so we can live it, but also so we can tell others. That doesn’t mean that you have to have the whole Bible memorized, but it’s vital that you be able to support your views.

The only thing that fasting [by itself] will do is make you hungry. However, fasting and prayer done together show a deep desire to seek the Lord’s will. Anna fasted and prayed for over sixty years. There’s no doubt that her devotion to the Lord was real.

I’m not saying that everyone should stop eating and only pray for the next few days. However, prayer is a vital part of being a Christian and fasting while doing that shows commitment to the Lord.

During Anna’s time, many people were looking for the coming Messiah. However, they expected him to arrive with pomp and circumstance and as a powerful leader since He was known as a King. Jesus was actually the opposite of that. He was born in a stable, and his stepfather, Joseph, was a carpenter, so His family would’ve been on the poorer side. Regardless, Anna recognized Jesus for who He was.

While we can’t see Jesus in the flesh like Anna did, we have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. There have been several instances in my personal life lately where I felt like God was telling me to do something. I pushed those feelings aside for a while, but the conviction continued, and when I finally did acknowledge His prompting, and listened, I felt such a peace and much closer to Him.

After Anna’s encounter with Jesus, she never stopped talking about Him. Imagine how many people came to know Him through her testimony.

As Christians, it’s our duty to tell others about Christ. Maybe you don’t know every single Bible verse that talks about how to be saved (I know I sure don’t.), but you can tell others what Jesus has done for you. I recently did a post, sharing how I became a Christian. The great thing about sharing your testimony is that no one can dispute what Jesus has done for you.

I hope you have a great day!

Sarah

Previous “Life Lessons from Women in the Bible” posts:

Eve

Sarah

Rahab

Ruth

Hannah

Mary