Love, Juliebug: February 2016
I'm not sure how it's possible that we have been here for four years already. Sometimes it seems like yesterday that we were packing up, saying "goodbye" to family and friends, and driving up here. I remember how hard of a transition it was for me due to the fact that I was freezing all the time. The kiddo was three and a half when we moved here which means she has officially lived here over half her life. I'm not sure she actually remembers living in Arizona at this point. That seems insane.

There is not a lot of variety as far as restaurants and things to do, unless you want to venture into Colorado, which most people do. I don't want to always drive 45 minutes to go to Trader Joe's or an Indian restaurant or Lane Bryant but I do occasionally make the trek. I used to think it is hilarious that people would complain about traffic sometimes. "I mean, seriously haven't they ever seen a bit city?" But, I get it now. For Wyoming the traffic can get frustrating, especially during Frontier Days when the city swells to more than three times the people than normal, I've heard, but don't get me started there.

Photo credit: Debs


Something I adore about this climate is the fact that for much of the year it is unpredictable. You can go to bed one night not expecting snow and wake up the next morning with it. Seeing our daughter enjoying the snow makes me happy too. We do still struggle with the dryness of the climate. Honestly, I'd think that the hot, dry Arizona climate would be worse, but for us it is so much more dry here. Altitude? I should buy stock in moisturizer and humidifiers.

Still, I wouldn't change it. I do love it here. Wyoming is absolutely beautiful. The state is large and can be very different depending on where you go. Open plains, desert (cold desert), mountains, forests, and all of it beautiful, some of it is the most spectacular scenery you will ever see in your life and I haven't even gotten to see most of it yet. Outdoor adventure abounds. I love nature. Well, as long as it doesn't get on me too much. However, if you love long summers, this isn't the place for you. Winter seems to last from October to May. There will always be a part of me that misses Arizona. It is gorgeous and we have so many people we love there. I guess it just comes down to this.
Bloom where you're planted...even if it means getting snowed on from time to time.





In less than two weeks I will be celebrating a major milestone...the big 4-0! Yep, I am turning 40. It hurts a bit to admit, I'm working through that. My hubby will be the same age exactly a week before me and he doesn't get it. If you were to ask him why his wife can scarcely bring herself to say her age, he might reply, "No clue." While it is true that the mirror, at times, harshly reminds me of my upcoming age via wrinkles and those stinkin' gray hairs that multiply, that isn't why forty is tough for me.

More so it is a reminder that my "fertile years" or whatever they actually were are starting to draw to a close. We are blessed, super blessed, to have our sweet 7 year old daughter. Trust me, I know that full well. But, I always wanted at least more than one child, probably in part because I always wanted a sibling. I guess it might sound silly to some people and that's okay but it doesn't make my feelings any less valid.

So, to distract myself and perhaps prove a point I decided to make a list of reasons why I am glad to be turning 40 and why forty is most definitely not a dirty word.

  1. People's opinions of me don't matter as much.
  2. I know what is important to me now.
  3. Bravery is so much more a part of my vocabulary than it used to be.
  4. Life feels so much more settled.
  5. Things I choose to do are things that I really like. 
  6. It means I've almost been married for half of my life.
  7. Looks aren't as important.
  8. Older and wiser, friends. Older and wiser.
  9. Youth is in the heart.
  10. Being forty is a blessing - many people don't make it here.
Okay, so these may be cheesy but they are so true. I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to look on the positive side and being cheesy while doing it.

Are there any reasons I've left out?




Let's be honest for a moment...I love lasagna. I'm kind of like Garfield in that regard. Okay, so I don't eat a ton of frozen lasagna but I would if I had to! Thankfully, I don't have to be that extreme because I have recipes like this one in my back pocket. I had some ground chicken out, started cooking it, and these wild flavor combinations started flying out at me. Let me preface this by saying I adore artichokes. Mmm. Oh, and I made this gluten free by using gluten-free lasagna noodles but you could use thinly sliced zucchini as well. My mouth is actually watering right now. Pitiful. Anyway, here is my recipe. I hope you enjoy it too!

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
a handful of frozen chopped spinach
half a package of sun-dried tomatoes 
1 jar marinara sauce
1 package gluten-free lasagna noodles
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 c. mozzarella cheese

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook noodles and then place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and keep them separated.

In a large skillet, brown the ground chicken with the chopped onion. Add the seasonings, the artichoke hearts, and the handful of frozen chopped spinach.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl with some hot water and let them sit for a while until soft. Chop them and add to the meat mixture. Add the jar of marinara to the meat mixture as well.
Combine the ricotta cheese, 1 egg, and about 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese in a bowl.




Layer the lasagna in a 9x13 pan starting with a small amount of meat/sauce mixture, followed by noodles. Add the meat mixture, topping it with the cheese mixture.
Next add more noodles and repeat layers.



On top, put the remaining cheese (or however much you prefer).
Cover pan with foil and put into preheated oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
Remove foil and place back in oven until the cheese is browned to your liking.


I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does. Tell me, what is your favorite family meal?








Who doesn't love getting stuff for free?! Which would you choose if you won?

For THREE Days ONLY we are offering this Flash Giveaway! One lucky reader will receive $50 USD Paypal Cash or Amazon Gift Card!! This giveaway is for THREE Days Only! Enter Now! We are making it easy peasy to enter! Just use the form below. Remember, this giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Feb. 28, 2016! Tell your friends so they can enter, too! Good Luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is organized by Giveaway Booster.com.  The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. Must be 18+ to enter. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.  My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not.

If you have any questions about this giveaway please email Tina at branchpropromotions@gmail.com.


Some people look at me like I'm crazy when I say I can't eat gluten. They assume I am "on the bandwagon" of the many people who "can't eat" gluten because they are trying to lose weight. Granted, I am trying to lose weight but that's not why I am eating this way. I haven't been diagnosed but I suspect that is due to the fact that I do not go to the doctor. While I can't go into massive detail about the medical aspects of what happens when I ingest gluten, I can definitely share what it feels like. For me, there are about nine things that happen within the same or next day.

1. Tiredness - a lethargic, sleepy state comes over.

2. Stomach pain - feeling nausea or even just a stomach ache.

3. Cramping and frequent (loose) bowel movements - self-explanatory really.

4. Itchy rashes - my hand breaks out mostly and it is so itchy!

5. Irritability - cranky for no good reason about everything and anything.

6. Anxiety - I tend to struggle occasionally with this anyway but it adds to it.

7. Brain fog - It's hard to think and concentrate.

8. Headaches - Sinuses and everything just aches and hurts. Migraines are not even uncommon.

9. Muscle pain - My neck and back hurt as well as other various muscles.

You guys, this is real. When I stop eating gluten, these issues go away or mellow significantly.
Do you or anyone you know have a gluten allergy or intolerance?

 
Have you been on Facebook recently? I mean, this morning? Facebook has rolled out new emoji reactions linked to their "like" button. On your computer you simply hover the mouse over the like button and *ping* there you go!


Tada! We can actually have "love" or "anger" toward something without typing a word. Will you be using this feature? Also do you follow me on Facebook? Please do - I'd love to hear from you!
 http://www.facebook.com/lovejuliebug

{photo by purplejavatroll}

 I just started my fourth session of college. These babies FLY by. I know I have quite a few to go but at this rate I'll be done before I know it. I'm currently taking my first (of three) Anatomy & Physiology classes and College Math. I have to say I'm nervous about both. My hubby says "Yeah but you say that every time and you're fine" and he's so right. Why do I worry so much?

So far, I've gotten high A's in all my classes even the ones I was nervous about. I think I just need to trust that I'm where I'm supposed to be and God will bring me through it. At church on Sunday we talked about the difference between trust and belief. Our pastor related it to rock climbing. Belief is seeing someone else strapped in and knowing that the ropes will hold them. Trust is being strapped in, ourselves, stepping over the edge and knowing we will be held. It's so true.

I have been believing for years. Believing in God that is. But do I, on a daily basis, trust God with my life? Actually step out over the edge and trust. I don't think so. It's a hard thing to admit. Honestly, I think I've been close a few times. I think I've trusted and then reneged my trust occasionally.

What has that brought me? Fear. Such an abundance of fear and worry. What if I don't pass this test? What if I am wasting time and lots of money? What if? What if? What if? So, as of right now, I am silencing the "what ifs" with a new question.

When has God let me down before?
Answer: He hasn't. So, why would he start now. Oh sure, there have been lots of things in life that didn't turn out the way I anticipated. No, they were so much better in the long run. Yes, I've had so many hurts in my life. And I'm okay with that.

God has got me just like he always has. I just need to trust it.
Is anybody else nostalgic when it comes to music? Granted, I was in high school when half of this was on the radio (the other half I had already graduated!) and yes I did just show my age. Haha. I love listening to songs that bring me back to "the good ol' days" though. If you are the same way, check out some of these playlists on Spotify. If you click on the names it should bring you to Spotify to play it. Enjoy!













What is your favorite 90s song or group?

Welcome to the Stephen Joseph Prize Pack Giveaway! 

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We have joined up with Bloggin' Mamas and Stephen Joseph for this awesome giveaway you won't want to miss! These are such fun and colorful products for your little one. I'm so excited to be a part of this giveaway. I don't know about your kiddos but my daughter would flip over these products!

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Disclosure: We were not compensated in any was for this giveaway posting. Bloggin' Mamas is not responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment, neither are any of the bloggers involved in this giveaway. Stephen Joseph is responsible for all prize shipment. If you have any questions regarding this giveaway please contact info@blogginmamas.com.
There's one thing I adore about Valentine's Day. Okay, not just one thing but it's one specific thing. I love Valentine's Day Desserts/Treats. I am always pinning them on Pinterest, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you. As always, click on the photo or blog name to be taken directly to the recipe page. Enjoy!



http://livforcake.com/2015/01/valentines-heart-macarons.html
{Liv for Cake}
Valentine Brownie Truffles, an easy treat for Valentine’s Day, using a short cut, Brownie Mix in a box!:
{Home is Where the Boat Is}
Easy Valentine's Day Mini Cakes! So fast, so simple, so cute! #valentinesday #candy #cake:
{Oh Nuts}
Layered Strawberry Jello Cups - a fun jello dessert to make for Valentine’s Day!:
{The First Year Blog}

Made in 1 hour and this ADORABLE?! Def making these Heart Shaped Raspberry Rolls this Valentine's Day!:
{Handle the Heat}




Sounds good for a healthier Valentine's Day treat from The Italian Dish.:
{The Italian Dish Blog}

Strawberry Fudge - Valentine's Day:
{Everything Mommyhood}



Beautiful red velvet cakes that hide a rich molten center---the most perfect Valentine's Day dessert! | spachethespatula.com #recipe:
{Spache the Spatula}

Valentines Dessert. Valentine's Day Mini Heart Cherry Pies on Frugal Coupon Living. Valentines Idea. Cherry Pie Recipe.:
{Frugal Coupon Living}


Red Velvet Truffles are a must make Valentine’s Day treat. Delicious red velvet cake balls covered with white chocolate. So easy and oh so yummy!!!:
{OMG Chocolate Desserts}


Don't these look amazing?! Which one calls your name the loudest? Honestly, I can't pick one. I will warn you though that any of these would be hard to put down once made. So, I am not to blame for any over-indulgence. ;)

What is your favorite Valentine's Day treat?



While I don't necessarily think we need a holiday to celebrate love, I adore Valentine's Day. It's just so much fun and such a happy holiday. Well, all holidays are happy to me but you know what I mean. One of my favorite parts about holidays are crafts. Today I thought I'd share some Valentine's Day Kids Crafts I discovered on Pinterest. Hope you enjoy! (Click on the photo or website to get to the original website.)

Cupcake Liner Cupid's Arrow - Kid Craft
{Glued to My Crafts}
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and this Footprint Bee Mine Valentine’s Day Cards Kid Craft is the perfect excuse to get crafty with the kids AND mail some happy mail to unsuspecting grandparents far away!!! Enjoy making some... Continue Reading →
{Make and Takes}
Rainbow Heart Suncatchers are a lovely Valentine's Day craft for kids. Get the how to here!:
{Fireflies and Mudpies}
LOVE BUGS! Valentine Craft Ideas For Kids. Valentine Love Bugs are a simple craft that is perfect for preschoolers and older kids as well.:
{Mom Luck}
These Valentine's Day Bird Feeders are a simple craft and make for a cute little gift!:
{Wine and Glue}
Paper Plate Cow Heart Craft- Fun Valentine's Day Craft for Kids! | CraftyMorning.com:
{Crafty Morning}
Circle of Love: Pretty paper and glue dots are all you need to make a heartwarming wreath to hang anywhere that needs a little love.:
{Parents Magazine}
This easy Valentine's Day craft is adorable! It was simple enough for my three-year-old to do by herself, and it only cost a few dollars to make. And it's so cute, we'll hang it up year-round!:
{Carrie Elle}
Paper Plate Love Monster {Kid Craft}:
{Glued to My Crafts}
Have a MICE Day - Doily Mice Cards:
{Glued to My Crafts}

Aren't those adorable crafts? I love doing crafty things with my daughter though it seems we have less and less time lately to do them. 

Do you do crafts with your kiddos?
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. There are so many wonderful prizes. Good luck to everyone!

Grab Bag Of Goodies

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This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. You are not eligible if you have won a prize from any of the sponsors in the last 12 month.  This Giveaway is valid in the Continental United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 2/28/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com.

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