Always, Katie: February 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

Matthew 22:39 - Bible Art Journaling

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

A counseling session back in April of last year was a turning point for me in many ways, and it gave me a new way of looking at a familiar Bible verse: Matthew 22:39. We've all heard it. It's the one where Jesus tells us that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

The word we overlook far too often in that verse is "as." Love your neighbor AS you love yourself. To do this, you have to actually love yourself. I realized - and I'm sure I'm not alone in this - that I was expending enormous emotional and physical energy loving others, but not honestly loving myself. That's not His plan, and it's not His commandment. His commandment requires loving ourselves.

Pouring from an empty cup

You've probably heard or seen the admonition, "You can't pour from an empty cup." The illustration I painted in my Bible by Matthew 22:39 is of a teapot pouring into a cup. The cup is not tilted to pour out, though. As I told a sweet friend recently, it's not selfish to refill your cup just for you. It doesn't have to be with the sole purpose of pouring it back out.

When you engage in self-care, try to occasionally do it just to simply care for yourself. Not to refill your cup to pour it out for your family, but because you deserve to not be running on empty!

Bible Art Journaling Details

[Some links may be affiliate links. If you click them and then make a purchase, I may make a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

I prepped the page of my journaling Bible with matte ModPodge and let it dry thoroughly. It felt very plasticized. I sketched the teapot and cup and painted it all with watercolor. I'm very new to watercolor, but I kind of enjoy the unpredictability of the paint on the plasticized paper. I used letter scrapbooking stickers from Michael's, the glitter ones to emphasize "LOVE YOURSELF" in the verse.

Then, and this is my favorite feature of this page, the little card that is taped in like a flap is a lined journaling card from Project Life and Stampin' Up! I taped it in with washi tape so that I could journal about my counseling session and the growth that came from it, while still being able to flip it out of the way and read the whole page. I also like taping sermon notes from my church bulletins like a flap, and then sketching whatever sermon illustration pops out at me. While I have no qualms about covering text with images, I do like being able to keep journaling on flaps and out of the way.

Do you do any Bible Art Journaling? I have a really fun board on Pinterest, you should check it out! Have you ever made flaps like this?

Have you been filling your own cup only with the purpose of pouring it back out? Doesn't it feel like you can just never catch up, like you're always drained? How are you going to commit to leaving a little something in your own cup?

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Guest Post with Allen Michael: 3 Tips to Fast Track Your IVF Savings Plan

I have the distinct pleasure of hosting a guest blogger today. Allen of has written quite possibly the most comprehensive list of money-saving ideas I have ever seen. And I've read a lot of frugal blog posts! He's here today to share some of the ways he and his wife saved for IVF treatment, but these items and the other on his full list are great ideas for ANYbody looking to reduce expenses and save toward a specific goal or just a more comfortable financial future. Thanks for sharing, Allen!


Aside from the emotional and physical toll that the IVF process can take, it is also very financially burdensome. More and more, health insurances are not covering any infertility-related procedures, and this includes the various artificial insemination processes.

For my family, once we determined that IVF was our next step in order to have children, we sat down to look at the finances of the process. And, we realized we were going to face a five-figure bill. The next steps for us were to put together a detailed plan and budget so that we could afford the process.

Several years later, I’m happy to report that we have a beautiful little girl, and were able to pay for the IVF process without going into debt. The entire process for how we saved money every month is outlined, but here are a few specific examples to get you started.


It sounds obvious, but you need a budget. Not just a general budget either – you need a very detailed budget. It is hard to sit down and put together a detailed budget, but it will serve as your guide through the entire process.

Setting a budget doesn’t mean you need to cut every single thing out of your life, but it does mean you need to plan and allocate for every expense. Knowing where your money is going means that you can begin to control it.

We used an app called Every Dollar to set up our budget. There is a free and paid version, and we opted for the paid version because it automatically synced with our bank account.

Almost immediately, we noticed areas we were wasting money. It was amazing (and shocking), and this is where the rubber meets the road… you’ve got to do something about what you discover. Cut out the areas of waste, and you’ll be saving money for IVF much quicker than you thought possible.

Coupons, Rebates, and Earning Programs

One area we saved and earned money in was through a combination of coupon clipping, using rebates, and participating in several earnings programs.

It is amazing how much money you can save every week by using coupons. We would plan our weekly meals based on what was on sale. This actually had several benefits. Not only did we save a lot of money (chicken on sale for $0.79/pound!), but we had variety in our meals every week.

We also realized there are a lot of rebates available, ranging from energy to water to appliances. Starting looking for rebates you can take advantage of, and then make sure to look into them before making any future purchases.

Lastly, we joined Ebates (<- Katie's husband's affiliate link. Join through our link, earn $10 when you qualify! We'll get a perk, too.) and started getting paid for all of the shopping we were already doing.


This is a broad category, but it was probably the single biggest area that we paid for IVF with. I mentioned earlier how we cut out random expenses through our budgeting, but it didn’t stop there. We changed our entire perspective on how we spend money.

It’s funny how setting a goal can invigorate your mindset. For us, setting our goal and then seeing how small changes had big results lit a fire under us. The result was a changed mindset, one that focused on cutting expenses at every turn.

We didn’t just clean up our budget – we changed the entire way we spent money. We stopped going out to eat, and instead opted to cook at home every night… and we enjoyed it. We stopped buying new things, and only bought used… and we enjoyed the game of finding the product. We set up a home gym, got rid of the gym membership, and worked out more frequently as a result.

For me, this speaks to the mindset of saving. My wife and I wanted a child very badly, and we used that to focus our efforts and motivate us to sacrifice. In the end, it almost became a game.


When I saw how much IVF was going to cost us, I almost felt like it was too much to overcome. When we started saving for IVF, we realized that we needed a detailed plan to make it work. In the end, we accomplished our goal a lot sooner than we thought, mainly because we had a dramatic mindset shift. For us, the result was not just a successful IVF campaign, but we now have a financial mindset that will serve our family for decades to come.

Allen Michael is the founder and editor of The Stick Vacuums, a website focused on helping others keep a clean home as efficiently as possible. Allen stumbled onto stick vacuums while trying to help his family keep their home clean with less work, and has since become an expert on saving money and time in your home.

Friday, February 2, 2018

My Keto Valentine: Treats for Your Keto Sweetheart

Valentine's Day is coming up quickly! In past years, I've tended to celebrate my sweet Valentine with decadent desserts, candy treats, and fancy dinner. Valentine's Day can involve a LOT of sugar! Since June, my husband has been losing weight with the ultra low-carb Keto lifestyle. He has lost 85 pounds as of the writing of this post, and I am so proud!! But it did require me to shake up my usual Valentine's Day routine.

Here are a few ideas for ways you can treat your Keto Valentine. (Some links may be affiliate links - if you use them, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)


If you like to start the day off with breakfast (in bed?), breakfast is the meal of the day when keto really shines! Eggs, meat, and cheese are all keto staples, so scramble, fry, or omelette up some eggs, make some bacon or sausage, get your sweetheart a nice hot cup of coffee just the way they like it (black, bulletproof, or try a nice sugar free syrup), and you're off to a great start! If your Valentine loves bready breakfasts, check out this recipe for "macro pancakes" or this one for "Keto Paleo Almond Flour Waffles" or even this one for cinnamon rolls for a really special treat.


I think a nice homecooked meal, served on real dishes at the dinner table after the kids are in bed is all kinds of romantic! Three of our favorite keto meals that feel luxurious to us are:
  1. Shrimp Scampi. Serve this with a cauliflower mash (make your own here, or purchase pre-made in the freezer section), or low-carb noodles like any of these (here, here, or in the freezer section).
  2. Salmon. I used to think salmon was fancy and tricky. Turns out with an Instant Pot, it just about could NOT be easier! There are a bunch of keto-friendly salmon recipes on Pinterest, but I keep it really easy: Place frozen filets skin side down on the wire rack in the IP, fill clear IP cup about 3/4 of the way with water, top off with lemon juice. Add to the IP. Sprinkle a tiny bit of dried dill weed and a pinch of salt on top of the salmon, add a dash of Old Bay to the liquid in the bottom of the pot. (I don't LOVE the taste of Old Bay, so I just like a hint in the cooking liquid.) Close lid, seal, set to "steam" for 9 minutes.
  3. Parmesan Crusted Chicken with bacon cream sauce. Again, this is great with a cauliflower mash (and maybe some mashed potatoes if one of you is non-keto. Like me, haha.)


My faaaaavorite part of a romantic meal! These all look decadent and so hard to believe that they're keto-approved!
  1. Chocolate Lava Cake. My friend Beth sent me this and I promptly drooled all over my phone screen :-)
  2. Chocolate Mousse
  3. Keto New York Cheesecake.


  1. Check out these gummies (above!) I made him last week! I'll probably be getting some more use out of those heart molds before the 14th. :-) (Here's the recipe.)
  2. Lily's Chocolate Bar - These come in several rich varieties, and my husband is a big fan. The Blood Orange and Creamy Milk are his favorites.
  3. Fat Bombs - Some fat bomb varieties I've seen just look UNREASONABLY yummy!! A quick Pinterest search will turn up all sorts of options for you; I'm sure you can find one that will thrill your Valentine!


  1. How about a shirt declaring their love for Keto? Etsy is filled with great options, starting with this one.
  2. A water bottle with a fun Keto saying on it? Hydration is super-important for Keto (and, well, everyone), so help them keep up with this thoughtful and playful gift.
  3. A Keto Box or Keto Krate - monthly curated boxes with full-sized samples of new Keto-friendly snacks and treats. My husband has discovered some really cool products this way!
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Let me know if you try any of these, or if you have any other awesome additions to the list! <3

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