2017 Reading Goal & Book Review

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This year I’ve been seriously slacking in the reading department. Normally, every year I set a goal in GoodReads to read 25 books in a year. And normally I don’t read all 25, but I get close. This year I didn’t set my goal until July and honestly, I didn’t really even pick up a book until July either!

So 2017 reading goal is 6 books. For the first time ever, I should be able to accomplish this year’s book goal! Heck, I’m already 1 of 6 into the goal. I’m on a roll, y’all!

My first book of the year was by one of my favorite authors, Sandra Brown. I love her books so much. They are true page turners for me. So my July book was Smoke Screen. I read it in less than a week! I picked up the book from the library before we went to the beach on vacation. Each day I had my nose buried in that book from the time I started sipping my first coffee until the time we left the beach at 4pm that evening.

Smoke Screen is one of those mystery books that you can’t figure out the “bad guy”. You think you know who it is, but right at the very end, the rug gets pulled out from under you. It is truly a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat all the way to the end kind of book!

If you like murder mystery, love/romance novels, I would definitely recommend picking up Smoke Screen, or any Sandra Brown book!

No Spend August

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I am planning to do a No Spend Month in August. If you are unfamiliar with what a No Spend Month is, basically it’s a way to save money but cutting out all the unnecessary spending. You can set your own rules, but the first thing that came to mind for me means ditching the specialty coffee and pulling out the Keurig again! By doing this people are able to save quite a bit and hopefully get ahead on bills or payments.

I have previously done No Spend July and No Spend September, and had some luck doing both. Looking back at my previous “No Spends” my budget seemed so small, but I was making very little at the time so it made sense to only spend $80 each month. Now I spend that plus some just to go to a personal trainer each month!

I have been reading a few financial books because let me be honest here, I want to be a millionaire before I retire. So I’ve started setting budgets and trying my best to stick with them. So budgeting is going to be big during the month of August! Not only am I going to try to cut out all the unnecessary spending, but I’m also going to try to cut down on my regularly budgeted items like groceries and gas. I will be posting a video on my budget in early August, but in case you are interested and want to do some research, my budget stems from the Dave Ramsey Envelope System.

The main things I’m going to focus on during the month to save money are:

1.    Know where No-Spend-Savings will go!
I was bad about my spending in June. I had wanted my mirrorless camera for months but I didn’t plan my purchase. Had I of planned buying the mirrorless camera, I would have saved $50 to $100 each month so I could have paid for the camera in cash. I had some money saved up for it, but not the total amount. So I borrowed against my emergency fund… BIG NO-NO! But I’m going to use a portion of the money I save from this challenge to replenish my emergency fund back to where it was. Actually if all goes well, I will have enough to pay a year worth of another bill which will be awesome.

So my No-Spend-Savings are:
1.    Replenishing my emergency fund ($440)
2.    Pay annual bill ($210)  
Goal for No-Spend-Savings: $650

Knowing that my savings will go towards re-building my emergency fund will help me not stop by a fast food restaurant on the way home on Fridays, or only go to the grocery store for groceries and not pick up a nail polish because it was in the same store!

2.    Making a meal plan each week!

Meal planning is by far one of the hardest things about budgeting for me. I never know what to make for dinner. And worse yet, I feel like we eat the same things over and over. Also I hate when I cook an awesome chicken dinner and Texan will automatically grab the Barbecue Sause to throw on top of his chicken without even tasting the chicken how I cook it!

I’ve created a master list of our favorite dinners, so I’m going to use this as a guide to create a meal list and try to add some new favorites to the list to help keep things fresh. Share with me some of your family’s favorite dinners! It would be greatly appreciated!

3.    Do NOT go to Wawa to get coffee

I have fallen in love with Wawa coffee, hot or cold, it doesn’t matter I really like it. But if I go there once or twice a week I’ve easily spend $2 each visit which can add up to $10 to $20 a month. Granted, this isn’t terrible, but it’s No Spend August. So I’m just going to buy the coffee grounds Wawa sells (instead of getting a store brand) and make my own Wawa coffee at home. Bonus, I can leave the house 10 minutes later in the morning if I fix my own coffee.

4.    Make a Wish List

Inevitably, I will find something I’m dying to buy during the month. But instead of buying it I’m going to make a list. Kind of like when you were a kid and you were dying for a toy but your mom told you to put it on your Christmas Wish List… Same concept, I’ll add it to my list and if in September I still want it and it will fit within the September budget, I’ll buy it then. If it is a big item, like I want another battery and charger for my Sony camera, I might have to save up to buy it with cash and not borrow from my emergency fund.


I created my budget almost 2 months ago now and it has been working fairly well for me. Hopefully by this point I’ve worked out all the kinks and the budget will be ready for No Spend August.
Generally my budget helps me have about $200 leftover at the end of the month. Having this $200 extra isn’t exactly allowed according to the budget plan I am following, but it makes me feel better. You can think of it as a slush fund, for small things that pop up, but isn’t really emergency fund worthy. If I didn’t need it during the month, I have been putting it towards my vacation fund.
So there is the plan for No Spend August. I’m excited to get started and rebuild my emergency fund and get ahead of a bill!

Have y’all done a No Spend month?
Do you set up a budget every month?
How do you manage your money?


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happy August! Where did July go? It was the fastest month of 2017 so far! Anyway, I wanted to share with you my goal to participate in Vlogust this year. I am going to try to vlog every day in August. We'll see how well that goes, but in addition to vlogging every day, I'm going to write some coordinating blog posts to go along with my vlogs. I'm very excited for Vlogust and can't wait to see how it will turn out by the end of the month!

I Bought a Mirrorless Camera!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A year ago I would have asked you what in the heck you were talking about and now I’m wanting to tell the whole world I bought a mirrorless camera! It’s crazy how a year can make all the difference.

Last year I started an online course about photography because I wanted to become a better photographer. (My photography hasn’t improved that much but my knowledge has! Hey at least I’m learning something!) One of the first lessons in the photography class was about the different types of cameras that can be used. Of course you have the “point and shoot” camera, and the classic take-it-with-you-everywhere cell phone camera. But then you get into the more intermediate and advanced cameras like the DSLR. (This is the camera I’ve had for years and years!) Honestly, I thought it was the best camera you could ever get, but I was wrong. And I guess people could argue with me on this fact, but I learned about the mirrorless camera. It takes quality pictures much like the DSLR, but it has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages.

One of the major reasons I began looking at a mirrorless camera was because of the size of the cameras! For the most part they are much smaller compared to DSLR cameras. I am going to Hawaii in September and wanted to have a small camera that would still take awesome photos and videos. And so the hunt began…

After using my Nikon D5500 DSLR camera for 2 years, I knew what I liked about it and what I didn’t like about it. And so I wanted to find a camera that corrected all of those dislikes so I could have cameras with the best of both worlds.

Some of the things I was looking for in my new camera was: size, weight, interchangeable lens, autofocus, tilt out screen, image stabilization, and not too expensive. A lot of times I found some really nice cameras but they were really expensive. Finally I narrowed it down to two cameras and just had to choose from those. After watching many YouTube reviews on both cameras I decided on the Sony α5100.

I considered the camera for months before actually purchasing it. (Just to make sure I actually needed a second camera.) Then when Best Buy was having a sale where it was $100 off, I bought it. I’ve had it for almost a month now and I still love it.

Watch my video above where I go into detail about what I was looking for in the camera and to see the autofocus in action. I also briefly touch on my few cons for this camera just to give you a well rounded view of it.

What kind of camera do you use to take pictures? Is your smart phone your go to or do you take a nice camera with you?

Living My Passion

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy May y'all! How have y'all been doing? I feel like nothing has really been changing with me but in all reality a lot has been going on. Everything from enjoying the weekends to reading to learning more about adulting to setting long term goals.

I've really been thinking about this whole 9 to 5 job thing. I had always pictured having a job that was in an office or lab and working my hours, going home and doing the regular adult life. But when I actually got into it and had a normal 1st shift schedule with a little family of my own (me, NPG and the dog... no big surprises) I realized that the 9 to 5 thing isn't really for me, at least not at this point in my life. It's taken me a little bit of time to come to terms with that fact. That you can actually be successful in life if you don't physically go to work everyday.

I've done a lot of reading and researching on the topic of jobs and making money in a non-traditional manor. The one thing I've learned from this reading is that people in my generation are doing it more and more, AND you can be really successful at a non 9 to 5 job.

So, after a lot of consideration, I decided I want to make Young Living my job. Right now I can't afford to leave my current job, but I have to start somewhere. I also want to write it down. It seems like the more you are able to have a support system, the more your dreams become goals and your goals eventually become reality.

This has been something that I really struggled with and have prayed over a lot. I always imagined working in a lab to design a drug that will help people feel better. But after doing some soul searching, I think maybe right now, this is where I'm supposed to be. Who is to say that helping people get unnecessary chemicals out of their lives won't be helping them feel better and making a big difference in their life. If I can help a family to visit the doctor less in a year then I feel like I've actually accomplished my goals.

I am starting to branch out and try to teach classes about essential oils. My first class was an online video class since I love vlogging I decided that would be fun. You can check out the class here. I was super excited to be able to share my passion with people in the class!

Starting a Small Business

Friday, April 7, 2017

I’m sure y’all noticed that I have been absent for the past few months. I posted that I wanted to have better relationships in my life and unfortunately blogging got the boot while I was working on things in my personal life. One of those things I’m really happy to share with y’all now.

My best friend and I started a personal care business using essential oils and products you would find in your kitchen. And the name of that business. . . A.H. Essentials, I’m guessing you can figure out what A.H. stands for since you’re here reading American Honey Blog. :)

We started the business earlier in the year. We’ve been to one craft show, have one lined up for May and have recently started a business Facebook page. I’m so excited to get the business fully launched.

This is our soap collection!

One thing I’ve learned after starting my own small business is that reviews can help get your business out to the public. Whether it is by word of mouth or on the internet, having a good review can truly help your company or small business grow. Unfortunately the reverse it also true. A negative review can have a huge impact on business and sales.

My personal business moto is to truly care about the customer. Because we have started a personal care business, we want to know what our customers have going on in their lives and how to help them live better. So it’s easy for me to say customer service comes first. I want to always make our customers happy. So if we were to get a negative review, my first go to objective would be to send out a personal note to understand why the customer wasn’t satisfied with our product? Is there anything we could do for them to change their opinion of A.H. Essentials? Did they expect more? Did our product not work for them?

While getting a negative review would be hurtful emotionally, it’s also a wake-up call on how to make our business better. And while I’m not looking forward to the first negative review, we will try to take it in stride.

I know for some companies, negative reviews can’t be fixed that easily. If the customer’s opinion of the company doesn’t change by reaching out to them and trying to fix the problem, a negative comment can be detrimental to the company. However one person’s opinion shouldn’t dictate if the company succeeds or fails. There are services that can help the company get its reputation back such as Reputation Management.

Every company deserves a chance. Every person deserves a chance.

We would be extremely happy if you took a minute to visit A.H Essentials Facebook page! Also keep checking back, there may be a giveaway in American Honey’s future!

Wednesday Already?!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I don't know about y'all but by the time Wednesday comes around each week I feel like I've climbed a big mountain and I can almost see the top before I start coming down the other side. No? Just me who visualizes the week as a mountain. Oh well.

I had so much going on this week (and many weeks past) I figured I would sort of resurrect What's Up Wednesday / If We Were Having Coffee / Let's Catch Up / you get the picture.

Oh before I get too much into this post I wanted to send a huge shout out and thank you to my friend Monica! She inspired me to stop thinking of posts to write and actually write them. Plus she's pretty awesome in general... you'll see why in a minute.

What I loved about this past week//

My job! I got a new full time job at my company in late January. It's full time employee with benefits and day shift. I'm not in the lab anymore, I now work on bringing products into our company and help to get products made correctly. This past week I had my first product being manufactured. It was a really long day but super exciting. I can't wait to work on my next project!

 What I'm looking forward to//

The Monument Ave 10K on Saturday. I haven't been training perfectly but I'm going to get out there and try my best. I strained my Achilles late last year and it hasn't quite healed yet. So I'm trying 30 sec / 30 sec during my runs. I'm excited to cross the finish line no matter how long it takes!

What I'm daydreaming about//

Hawaii, baby! My parents and I are going to Hawaii in September. This is my first time going and I'm super excited. Now it's time to start the weight lifting and toning to get in shape for all those beaches!

What I've been watching//

The X-Files! I've been binge-watching it on Netflix because they decided to cut it from their shows. I'm not very happy with you Netflix! Not Happy at all!

What I've been listening to//

Dylan Scott! He happened to be performing at Capital Ale House for free last Monday night. So Monica and I went. AND THEN because we donated to St. Jude's we got to meet him...in person! OMG! We were both so excited. I knew at least 4 of his songs that he played thanks to The Highway on Sirius XM! They are always playing upcoming artists new music. It was a pretty amazing evening! Ever since then I've been rocking out to his music!

What else is new//

Last December I discovered Young Living Essential Oils. They are so amazing. Do you ever feel like God put people and things in your life at the perfect time? Well, I feel like these are one of them. Anyway, I’m co-hosting a class about them tonight. I’m so excited to be a part of this. I will have to let y’all know how it goes! 

Hope y'all have had a wonderful week as well!

2017 and I'm Back!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hello stranger! Happy 2017! I already have a feeling it's going to be a great year! How have y'all been?

I know, I know. I've been the stranger for the past month. Or two. Well, lets be honest, probably the past whole year! But between cooking dinner, doing laundry, trying to keep the house straight, going to work for at least 40 hours every week and trying to have a bit of a social life, things can get really crazy and sometimes things have to give. Unfortunately the blog was that thing. I had decided to put the blog on the back burner to focus on life and my job and just having an awesome relationship with the people in my life. If y'all are anything like me, 24 hours in the day is not enough.

But now that the holidays are over, I think I am ready to jump back into blog life! I've missed it so much. My creative juices are flowing and I honestly feel like something has been missing in my life. Like I couldn't show my creativity as much and, well, that made me very sad.

I can't promise y'all that I will be back 100% posting 5 days a week. I'm going to start a crawl before I run! My goal is to post once a week. I'll see how that goes and if I have so many ideas I'm busting at the seems, I will increase it. But as for today, I figured I would start off small and dip a toe or two into the blogging water. Enough to tell you that I'm back, give a small holiday recap and let you know I'd be pleased if you still follow me and were on the lookout for new posts to come!

NPG and I had an awesome Christmas and New Years though! It went way too fast! Did anybody else feel that way? I felt like I was just getting off of work on Thursday before Christmas, I went to sleep and it was already Christmas day! And then back to work! Where does the time go?

We had a really nice Christmas though. NPG and I spent time with friends and family visiting everybody and just having a grand ole' time. We went to look at Christmas lights with some of my friends and then visiting my family Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Christmas was really about giving for me this year. I wanted to make sure I gave really thought out gifts. I think I did a superb job because NPG was elated with one of his Christmas gifts. Most of them were practical like warm winter clothes or heated gloves. Because really, who wouldn't want that when you get over a foot of snow at a time! But his biggest gift, and my personal favorite, was his biggest surprise! He had no clue what he was getting!

Texas String Art! He loved it. He had no clue I had been working on it. I'm happy we will finally have something on the walls besides my temporary Christmas decorations. Though NPG wants to put it in his office with his other Texas stuff. But baby steps y'all!

Thanks to Pinterest for the idea and getting down to it and making this cool project, I've come up with some of my next blog posts. I've decided to use my creative juices for getting back into blogging. Making this state string art will actually be my first real post back!

I've had the urge to create a vlog channel for a while. So I need your advice.

Would having blog posts and vlogs with tutorials be something you're interested in? 
Would you be interested in watching craft and recipe tutorials instead of just reading them? 

Please let me know in the comments below!