Friday, December 15, 2017

My Yearly Book & Reading Recap 2017

Welcome to my annual book post-- the time when I recap all that I've read for the year, and I give out awards!  This is the third year and counting that I have read 50 books. Four years ago, I started writing down how many books and which exactly I read, and I read 30 books.  I actually upped the ante, this year, and was hoping to read 60 books. Although I didn't go up in my grand total {this year}, instead, I feel like I blew the goal of 50 to smithereens. Which is fine. Just fine with me.  :0)  It is exciting to think that I have read 180 books in total in 4 years! :)  To check out my reviews and see my reading challenge in total, click here.

On to the awards.... just FYI, I love to read! These award categories are self-created and designed, and based on the types of books I *want* to read. (so important).  If I'm interested in a book, that's either because (a) it's brand new (Not all of these are, FYI),  (b) it's a great story from the get-go, (c) it's simply a fascinating work of nonfiction, (d) it's a quick read, (e) it's heartwarming, or (f) everyone is saying it's awesome and it just is awesome from page one.  So on that note, and with that in mind, aaaaaand without further ado, here they are... my awards for the best books I read this year!

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Although this isn't new, this is the best book (by far) that I have read in years. I'm giving it the award for best nonfiction because I've read a considerable amount of great fiction this year. But, listen: I have read a lot of mediocre books. Take my advice and drive right past them. You can go straight here and you won't be disappointed or led astray. :)  Louie Zamperini lived an endlessly fascinating life. It's a true story and it will suck you right in.

Best Fiction read of the Year:

Rebecca  by Daphne Du Maurier

I had been wanting to read this classic for a while, and folks, it is a hyped classic for a reason.  It is about the mystery behind a woman's older but new husband: Who was his wife, why and how did she die, and what is Rebecca's role in all of this. (???) The book has a twisty plot, a mysterious but satisfying ending, and it absolutely lives up to its promotion!  I definitely hope to re-read this someday.

Most Readable (Quick Read):

Hillbilly Elegy  by J.D. Vance

I enjoyed this autobiography, and I found it immensely readable and even absorbing.  I could relate, being from the South, and yet I felt like an outsider looking in because I simply wasn't raised this way. (For various reasons).   I loved following his story into the military, into grad school Ivy League, and what he came away with from his roundabout journey to success.  I give it 5 stars because he is able to explain the upward-downward mobility and how many of his peers are trapped by poor, rural education  (and I sincerely agree) do not even glance at the type of lifestyle he ends up leading/living.

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard 

I almost didn't pick up this memoir, but I bought it in the Spring and fell in love with this sequel to her first book Lunch in Paris.  I'm so glad I gave it a chance: her honesty, humility, and vulnerability are just so relatable, and her recipes do not dash hopes.  She touches on some deep notes of humanity and parenting that are rarely explained with such profound wisdom and truth.

Honorable Mention: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I loved this memoir, and I had to mention it.  I unintentionally read it in a day. Wasn't this such a fun year when Gilmore Girls reunion show came out?!  She may not be master of her craft, but Lauren Graham is a GREAT author-- give her a chance. :0)

All in all, this category was a toss-up.

Award for Feel-Good and Heartwarming:

Toss up: between Summer Island by Kristin Hannah and The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.

I just love books that are absorbing and fun, and both of these fit the bill. I can unconscionably recommend these without reservation. Kinsella can crack me right up. Hannah has a soft and special place in my heart because not only is she a great writer, her novels take place in the Pacific NW where my sister lives - good memories. They both have the skill of writing and wrapping up an amazing, true-to-life story that hooks you from the get-go.  If you're looking for a bit of fun in your reading life, let the others in my list fall to the curb as compared with these!

Best Book of Faith: 

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

I am adding a new category of awards this year, and I hope to keep up with it in the future! This book was stunning. I love love love his unguarded tone. As much as we need wisdom, intelligence, and people who are highly educated and well-spoken (Like Pope Francis), we also need people who are real and profoundly vulnerable.  You see the fruit of the holy spirit in his life and story. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... etc.)  These people are the ones who are growing. These people are the ones who have many friends. These are the people who love unapologetically.  I have read other memoirs. Let this one by Brennan Manning take the cake. :)  Buy it now, and love it!

Favorite Book of the Year:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Underrated (I feel, don't you find?), but just so amazingly good! :)  This was a hard choice, and I easily could have gone with something by Nick Hornby or played it safe and said Rebecca again.  I'm choosy and I just think Gaiman is brilliant with ideas, contemporary society, and the mind of children.  He captures the childlike imagination with spotless, imaginative, and memorable prose. He is able to cross between literature for children *and* adults with unique wit (I think it may be that he is British and just so very charming!?), and he creeps me out (as he did in Coraline) without making me feel unsafe or betrayed in any way. Let's put it this way: I don't feel like I'm making a compromise when reading his work.  Rare find, and so gratifying when you're looking for something a little thrilling.

Reading Challenge 2017 (for more info, see this)

A Book You Chose For the Cover ~ Idaho
A Book With a Reputation For Being Unputdownable~ Talking As Fast As I Can
A Book Set Somewhere You've Never Been But Would Like to Visit~ Winter Garden
A Book You've Already Read ~ Hinds' Feet On High Places
A Juicy Memoir~ All is Grace
A Book About Books or Reading~ The Writing Life
A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid~ Gift From the Sea
A Book You Don't Want to Admit You're Dying to Read~ Seriously, I'm Kidding
A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author~ Truly Madly Guilty
A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste~ Crossing to Safety// Winter Garden
A Book You Were Excited to Buy or Borrow But Had Not Read Yet~ Graveyard Book
A Book About a Topic or Subject You Already Love~  Tender at the Bone

books from the "reading for growth" category 
A Newbery Award Winner~ The Giver
A Book of poetry, play or an essay collection~ The View From the Cheap Seats
A Book of any genre that addresses current events~ They Say We Are Infidels
A Book Published before you were born~ Rebecca
A Book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending~ The Graveyard Book
Best Beach read book ~  Summer Island   👍

What I read, and when.... :


Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

A Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl


Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

The Hypnotists' Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier


Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

The Revenant by Michael Punke


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Talking as Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham


A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself by Judy Blume

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry 


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides 

Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

High Fidelity  by Nick Hornby

About a Boy by Nick Hornby


The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks


Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Home by Toni Morrison

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

Bridget Jones' Diary  AND >> Bridget Jones' Baby (!!!!) by Helen Fielding

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella


Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver


Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan{not done yet}

Gift From the Sea -Anne Morrow Lindbergh (reread)

Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (reread)

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (re-read!)

reading challenge on goodreads

What I Read 2016
What I Read 2015
What I Read 2014
What I Read 2013

One quick last note, on audiobooks:  I am, by nature not really an auditory learner. I have bad hearing from too many college-days concerts, and I'm often cupping my ears during movies so that I don't miss a line.  I do enjoy the occasional classic on audiobook, (I adore my classic app), but I'm often bored and lost if a book is too slow. I will say I've "read" it and listened to the entire audiobook, but often I end up cheating (skipping some of the book, or the ending, etc) and I just don't like myself if I don't understand a book or didn't finish it because I tried it on audiobook.  I say that because I don't tell you I read a book unless I really actually read and understood the whole book. :)

Linking up with MMD's >> Quick Lit <<  :0)

Have you read any of these books? Any you want to read? Let's chat new books in the comments!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

God helps those who... (finding peace in the hustle, an Advent reflection)

Recently, I experienced a situation on the interstate in which I really had to reach for my big girl jeans.


 I was stuck in traffic. It was standstill and a tractor trailer had flipped, blocking the entire interstate. On a curve, and on a hill. Cars were creeping slower than Christmas, and it. was. terrible.

We waited for 30 minutes (at min), we had a full car as I was on the way home from school pick-up, and I believe everyone in the car had to use the restroom except those wearing diapers. I was about to sprout some real tears.

I saw the man next to me flip several cigarettes out his window as we waited.  I saw him throw up his hands in anger, so high I could probably smell his armpits, then grab his cell phone.

"What a jerk, no patience" I said and thought- and I was soon rebuked by my oldest.

I was inwardly judgmental, but I was honestly just as angry as he was, and replace "Diet Coke" with "Cigarette" and I was doing the same thing as him. :0)  Not to mention I had had a spinked drink the night before, which means I was probably overtired and needed caffeine more than I would normally!

Amidst the crazy, I prayed and asked God to give us patience. People were screaming in my car and not in a cheerful, elf-y way.  Despite what you might think, I did actually feel patience amidst the humility. I think it is all the fresh air I have been getting recently. I felt God's peace and his blessing.

Asking for peace in the midst of the bustle of this busiest of seasons is a wise move, I think. :)

And it made me wonder.

Who does God bless?

Is it true, the saying, "God helps those who help themselves?"

I think a better and more biblical phrase would be (not that I'm a master of the Bible):

"God blesses the poor in spirit." #humility  What does it mean to be poor in spirit?  It means we are honest about our shortcomings, mistakes, and weaknesses (idols, even).  It means we aren't self-righteous even though many- including our leaders- are shockingly arrogant.  It means we are seeking God's spirit- his love, joy, peace...

So, in this Advent season, let's take a minute to reflect... God blesses those who:

1. Keep his commandments


We have a way in which to walk. It is found in his commands. And a higher law, the law of love and gospel of peace is found in the Beatitudes.  Need a refresher?  And here is quite a beautiful Bible for sale!

2. Truly believe


The season is magical only if you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, born to man, died on a cross, rose again (truly!) and is coming back. He is the Savior of the world, and he came to set us free from sin.

3. Live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God


Tremendous blessing will come if you surrender your entire life over to his teachings. Gotta problem? The Bible has something to say about it.  Start by reading the Psalms and Proverbs every morning or every night before bed.

4. Live generously


People who are truly happy- the happiest- in my book are people who are willing to live their life for others. Give it away... be creative, but share your ideas and gifts with others. This is the joy and magic of the season-- everyone is thinking about what everyone else wants! Right? Right? :)

5. Pray and ask earnestly - and with faith- for blessing


If you're really stuck in a rut and jealousy is the name of your primary game, I think it is good to share that once, I was there. For me, it was wanting to get married in my twenties. I prayed for a husband and I'm not kidding, by the next Spring we were dating steadily. But I had to really believe! I prayed with faith that he would answer that specific prayer! And he did!

6. Are educated in the ways of God


All in all, the Bible is where we start, but we need to understand the deeper meaning to the commandments and never beat it over others' heads.  Love is a garden-- have you heard the saying, "Plant kindness, harvest love"?  I know my Mom has something in her house hanging somewhere and it says that.  I see that fruit in her life and I know it is because she knows and lives it. (and has real faith)

and Finally

7. God blesses those who love."


He loves us and never shirks our cries for mercy. Believe him and love him, for he will bless you as he longs to do!

And remember that fresh air works wonders.

cross-posting at the ACWB

Thursday, November 30, 2017

monthly recap vol. 50~ November 2017 & my trip to Seattle

This was a great month.

I can honestly say I feel 100% invigorated after a lovely NOvember month and Thanksgiving spent in Seattle with my sister, her family, and her friends {friendsgiving there was everything I hoped for and more, as their house is gorgeous and their friends in that city are just the best}.

I read some good and great books this month. #libraryfinds Four in total, one still in progress.

If I'm honest, I hated Truly Madly Guilty  by Liane Moriarty. It is long, drawn out, and utterly boring.  Normally, I love this author. If you've only read What Alice Forgot and this one, I HIGHLY recommend reading Big Little Lies next. It is SO MUCH BETTER than many of her other/more recent books. I was fanatical about it when I finished it. Her ability to weave an intense plot together and come out utterly surprising comes to a pinnacle in this book.  I'm honestly surprised I stuck this one out to the end. :-0

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

This book is gripping, and it is about a serious medical situation (a coma-- not a spoiler) without hitting triggers and scaring the crap out of you.  Her writing is sensitive, and the tone is daring and bright.  I will definitely read more by this author!

Possession by Byatt

I'm still not done with this, but it is meaty, engaging prose. I'm enjoying it! :0)

The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

This book was all over the map and nothing like my favorite book by her The Year of Magical Thinking. The stuttering prose is hard to get into and it sucks you dry. I am just going to come out and say I do not recommend this book. I felt like I went into a coma reading it.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

I have so many strong feelings about this book. It is a novel about global warming and a somewhat or seemingly lost individual named Dellarobia who lives in small town, poor Southern USA.  She discovers monarch butterflies who have mistakenly migrated to her town for overwintering (staying the winter) and although I'm not sure if this premise is completely true, her philosophies are incredibly interesting (endangered species, carbon emission, etc).  Loved: Her ability to capture this economic bracket (and culture, definitely) with depth, sensitivity, and wit. Hated: her plot weaving, which reminded me of that old 90's cartoon Fern Gully. ("Don't cut down the trees!") It just stumbled and plodded along. Nothing was gripping enough to totally suck me in.  Even The Poisonwood Bible was more interesting, less boring than this book (and that book felt Looooong to me).

the maple syrup latte.... was yummy.

also read this ... on the plane to...

(yes! i actually went there.... :)

{photo by Ivey} :0)

Let's see... what did we do?

Coffee Shops Galore!

Bookstores/ KEXP (Bucket List= CHECK!)
They have a coffee shop, a stage with live music, and a CD/record store to peruse. fun!

Seattle Center (Fish Market and Pike Place Market)

We attended Church; together we went to Mass at St. Therese parish

Lots and lots of play time with my niece and nephew 😂

In Seattle, Little Free Libraries are shrink-wrapped haha :) #seattlestyle

What we didn't do:

 get a reservation at DELANCEY b/c it was already booked until the week after I left!!!! #singletear

renovate the inside and outside of our house... {and totally ruin it in the process } #what


With all of the heavy holiday food, I'm taking respite in green smoothies. I can make the Bolthouse Strawberry and Banana juice last all week by combining it with any of the following: bananas, juice, frozen mango, frozen berries, yogurt, or even a dash of milk, vanilla, or a little bit of ice etc.I just pour all in our vitamix and run Smoothie program. I love making it last all week for my kiddos. But my *favorite* addition is a cup of spinach. It is delicious!


Stranger Things

I absolutely loved- no, adored- binge-watching this with Stephen.  We laughed, we cringed, we screamed in terror, and we may have cried-- I'm not saying.  I loved having someone to put his arm around me during the watching of this show.  Someone's leg to squeeze-- required! :) #majorpropstohubby #babes


Yeah... nope. Stephen and I really didn't enter fandom really at all for this movie. I guess I'm glad I saw it so I could see *why* there was hype, (and the street child theme wuuuuuz much-appreciated) but it didn't ring true for me.

uno episode of The Walking Dead
it. was. disgusting!!!!
"so gross and so dumb!" - my friend Libba 


I'm so impressed by Adele's impeccable style
Very American, no?
And I'm obsessed with her office 😍😻

nada much this month.

listening- My Seattle playlist {inspired by KEXP best songs of all time}

~what's keeping me going~

-the Riverwalk in town.... I have found steps! I run from a tennis club to to the Bluff View art district, do the steps, go up and down 5 times (it's a long flight!) and turn around and run the half mile back to my car!  My legs feel like rubber at the end every single time.

-the beautiful fall leaves big and small, here and there, West coast, right coast

-The light... the best time to walk is in the afternoon, but right now I'm doing it in the morning some and skipping the steps.... I can do hills multiple times though! It is so pretty walking with the stroller -- before the trees are naked!

-the Happiness podcast with Gretchen Rubin is >>>> the only podcast to me right now that doesn't feel like a sermon or a commercial! So, major props to her!!!

-the refreshing experience of getting on a plane, traveling to the home of relatives, being received with hospitality and Christian/Christ-like love by my sister and her friends

It has been a good month! An absolutely wonderful month, friends. :)

Hi, Leigh!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Very Merry Advent {Shopping Guide}

So, wait?! I can't start celebrating Christmas right now? ....Well, I guess I'll twiddle my thumbs.

No! >>Don't Jump The Gun.<< Some people have all their bases covered, even an Advent playlist (!!!). But what if you're a newbie to the Advent game? It starts in two weeks!  What is needed?

In honor of the fact that I'm going out of town, today is a special post! Here are 20 things to kick off your Advent celebration and observation.  

and.... joke time.
Stephen: Why does Sufjan sound so sad when he says "Rejoice"?
Me: He's happy, but he's expectant.  #laughcry

1.  Silver Advent Wreath

Here is a pretty wreath that is simply that: it holds your candles.  I have searched every where for an Advent wreath like the one we have, but I actually found it at a Lutheran thrift store during our Annapolis days. It is wonderful for adding living greenery!

For so long, I celebrated using red candles, because that felt seasonally appropriate to me. I have finally- I'm proud to say- converted! *yay!* And I use the pink and purple candles, now.


These are pretty purple placemats to Advent-up your table during the season.

To be honest, I have never done Jesse Tree observaton. But I think this would be a good one to start with. It would be great for kiddos who want to be involved in the celebrating!

5. St. Nicholas movie (A Story of Joyful Giving)

This Veggie Tales classic is a must-see for our family during this time of year. Try a Chocolate Brunch on St. Nicholas Day. (This year-- It's December 6th-- coming soon!!!)

It is a tradition to place coins, candy canes, and maybe a little gift in some shoes for the Feast of St. Nicholas. Here's a good place to start.

7. Tomie dePaola Books

Joy to the World: Tomie's Christmas Stories is wonderful and I have already sung the praises of our family's favorite Christmas/Advent book author and illustrator in this post.

My Mom has a collection of these gorgeous dolls on her mantle.

These are adorable and little hands will want to grab them and interact with them.  Fun!

I have not bought these yet, but I simply adore the idea of this and I'm putting it on our wishlist.!

11. Chocolate Coins

Tuck these in some shoes on the morning of the Feast of St. Nicholas!

This version is quite expensive, but we have this on our shelf and we absolutely adore getting it down every year!

13. Jesse Tree books

This would certainly be helpful to add to your collection.

14. Books for The Legend of St. Nicholas and St. Lucia

Read them on the Feast Days and celebrete a special Brunch with your children.

15. Our Lady of Guadalupe

This book of feasts around the world looks like it would be helpful (although I cannot vouch for sure as we do not own it ourselves).

16. Playmobil Nativity Set with Manger

This sweet set would be the perfect playing pastime for kids celebrating the season in December.

17. Little People Nativity

18. Advent Tablecloth

19. Advent Door Wreath

20. Advent Garland

I hope that helps!  Now I'm just waiting for a Charlie Brown Advent movie to come out.  👅#justintimeforchristmas

God bless you!!! :0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Planning~ Why Celebrate and What's to Come

Have you bought your Advent candles yet? Soon it will be time to pull out our Advent wreath as we anticipate Christmas and remember the coming of Jesus in our hearts. I've long been an advocate of planning and observing Advent in our homes.  Like the analogy I offered last year, celebrating Christmas before the 12 days is like popping in some sugary bubblegum right before you brush your teeth, or eating a bunch of sticky candy right before you hop in the Dentist's chair.

Don't jump the gun, if you're tempted to say it is already Christmas on December 1st (or sooner!) It may be common or popular to decorate for (celebrate) Christmas early. Yet, but we cheapen the "joyful expectation" when we stuff ourselves full of shopping and sweets and cookies and Christmas carols this time of year.  There is a purpose for the expectation and the waiting!

This year for Advent, I'm taking that to heart, and I will be blogging less. In fact, going to only post twice during Advent.

Last year, I posted what was probably "my best" and most thorough Advent recap of all of our Christmas traditions and the things our family is dedicated to doing! Because I'm pretty sure I can't top that, I will just link to them here.

Christmas and Advent Books
Christmas and Advent Movies

Week One (Preparing Our Home)
Week Two (Family Traditions)
Week Three (Seasonal Celebrations)
Week Four (Christmas is Here-- includes Christmas carols)

Instead of trying to recreate that this year, I will post two Advent recaps (total) and stay more involved, over on instagram, to share seasonal traditions with my followers! :)

Expect more of the same around here-- celebrating the Church's feast days (St. Lucia, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Nicholas), Seasonal celebrations (School Christmas Program, Breakfast With Santa, Family Christmas card photos), and Family Traditions (Making Spice tea, Glitter playdoh for the holidays, Christmas tree, baking cookies!)

And of course, lighting the Advent wreath and observing the season with an Advent calendar!

All of that, plus a giveaway and also-- look for a post detailing how I shop, how to celebrate the `12 days, and then....  Epiphany!

Some posts I have found helpful around the internet in preparing your home/house/heart for Advent:

Planning For Advent and Christmas @ Catholic Icing

A Brunch For Our Lady of Guadalupe @ Shower of Roses

Brunch for the Feast of St. Nicholas @ Catholic Cuisine

How We Try to Celebrate Things In Their Proper Order Without Feeling Like Total Jerks @ Catholic All Year

Friday, November 10, 2017

weekly minutiae vol34-- just checking in + stuff!

I'm joining up with 7 QT today "I can have one, since I quit"*  philosophy (from Cigarettes and Coffee) to share my weekly ramblings.  Nothing original here, just a report of recent thoughts and doings... reading, buying + what I'm prepping for!  Christmas/Advent prep is just a brainstorm away here in these parts. #pumpkinfog
I call this photo "I should be a retarded food blogger" (i know that word went out of style in the very early 90's)
because I burnt a chocolate cake, then set it on a hot stove and it exploded literally everywhere


I think, you guys, that I have finally learned (maybe mastered?) the art of reading several books at once.  Ever since I can remember, I have struggled with multi-tasking, reading included.  I'm not sure why, but the most I could handle was one book on my iPad and one hardback.  I have never been a bedside table reader. Usually, I was a "devour" type reader who would be All In a series or novel or even novella. Loved binge-reading The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agencry.  But you guys! I am finally reading three books-- parallel synchronization-- total right now and I'm really enjoying it. I've been pondering it, and I think the key is that they are all differently paced. One is slooooow but rich and good (Possession, recommended by Fountains of Carrots), one is quick, fast-paced and rather simple (Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg), and the other is dense and thoughtful and meaty, but not quite as slow-as-molasses as the first (Flight Behavior by Kingsolver).

I'm really happy I've made this discovery ... as I have always envied those who seem to have twenty books going at once (How *do* they do it?!)  #passthepizza


So this week. Ya'll, despite what you might think and despite my actions to the contrary (definition of hypocrisy? I think yes).... I have been saving money.  I am sticking to a budget and we are getting so much better at hardcore saving (Dave Ramsey, yada yada... cough cough... EMERGENCY FUND people!!!).

I am doing a cash-only policy. So when I saw this beauty at a consignment store marked way down from the original price, (owers were sooo good to it, too!) I checked and I didn't quite have enough cash to buy it.  I said a quick prayer, then searched my wallet for my VISA credit card and then remembered I gave it to Stephen over the weekend. I was upset but I put it on hold. Came back the next day, and tried to write a check, but learned they don't take checks!  So.... I called my Mom.  Aaaaaand, suffice it to say I basically asked her for an early Christmas present!  And yes- epic!- she agreed to buy it.

Isn't it lovely! Just perfect for our perfect baby. :) (ha ha) :0)


I don't get too much into Christmas prep (I don't start buying presents until December- seriously, ya'll) but this post and youtube video (short!) are really helpful.  @ >> Come Home For Comfort<< This is one blog/channel I have actually really been enjoying over the course of the past year. (really really!!!)  Whitney is thoughtful, very organized, and best of all extremely real and honest. refreshing totally so go check her out.

I call this photo "joyful hope"

I am excited about it.


Other than saving, I have been a little busy trying to take on a new challenge. New, for me.. which is to be a little more involved on instagram (grow a following, yada yada).

I participated in the #onedayhh hashtag yesterday and it was fun!



I'm just thinking about how grateful I am for irl community. It is so important to stay afloat in the midst of the muck and yuck and jealousy that is early motherhood (your thirties), and all that goes with that. To those of you bearing a particular burden or cross, know that others look at you and think "Perfect life"! We are so impressed by what you do. And you should *never, ever* sell yourself short or think you aren't capable of something. Harness that creativity baby baby and GO for it! Whatever "it" may be... an etsy shop, a book, a painting, a poem, whatever your "it" is.  Do it and don't let the world miss out on your genius!  In the mean time, stay connected where you are and don't forget the light you are to those who feel they may be missing out (on something).  I think the key is to slow yourself down and take care of that human being first (you you girl)... get therapy or irl community at the very least!

Have a good week ya'll!

*I gave up link-ups a while back :0)
Hi Kelly!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How I DIY-ed My kids' 6 Halloween costumes

This year, I decided I wanted to DIY my kids' Halloween costumes. It was so much fun (if stressful) and they turned out great!  This process had 2 purposes-- both working for me! One, when you DIY you can really do the costume your kids are really itching to be. Second, it is much cheaper and easier on the budget not to buy brand new costumes for everyone. As you'll see I definitely could have kept the DIY costume tradition cheaper.... but it will work for now, and hopefully down the road, I'll learn the art of keeping traditions affordable.

Let's start with Madeleine and Annabel, my two youngest girls, because that's the easiest to explain.  Madeleine wanted to be Mal from Descendants with a fiery passion. I knew the decision was easy, but pulling off the look would be harder.  Mal wears a leather vest and jacket in many scenes of the movies.  I found some metallic-looking leggings, a purple belt, and black boots at Walmart.  When I was looking for a little owl/owlet costume for Annabel, I happened upon a 4 T butterfly costume that included the blue dress Madeleine ended up wearing. And of course, hair spray-painted (using special  wash-out spray we already had from Claire's). For Annabel's costume, I bought a black dress that fit her, and I used fabric paint to add a pretty butterfly to the front of her dress. She simple added black leggings, and the wings and headband that came with Madeleine's dress. Done! and Done. Simple!

Anders knew right off the bat that he wanted to be a big, green lizard. He loves finding lizards and bugs in our yard, so this was perfect for him!  I ended up buying a dinosaur costume from Walmart, who I soon beheaded, because Anders specifically said he didn't want to be (riding) a dinosaur.  At first, my Mom added some button eyes. Later we decided to get him a green shirt and simply safety pin the lizard belly to his shirt.  I made a green mask using green fabric, white felt, and a glue gun.  It tied in the back like a ninja mask. DONE! And he absolutely loved it! :)

Frances may have been the hardest costume to pull off. She explicitly requested Evee from Pokemon. This is a hard look-- it's sort of a cross between a deer and a fox!  I knew brown would be hard to find because it isn't one of the trendy colors right now. I found a gold and grey dress from Target, and I simply sewed a brown collar, tail, and ruffle to the dress using a size 2T deer costume that we found at Walmart.  This costume came with a deer headband, and we cut off the antlers and simply left the deer ears-- perfect! It was quite a bit of sewing to cross two store-bought items, but I call it re-purposing. (I had to completely cut apart the deer costume!) BUT--  to say Frances was pleased was an understatement!  She wore it around the house for 3 days straight playing Pokemon with her siblings! It was a huge hit! This was her favorite show to watch this past Summer, so she was all in!

Molly is last but definitely not least. I have to say I *enjoyed* the process of DIY for her costume the most! It was such a cute look to do Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson books/movies, and it was so much fun to make.  I bought the orange t-shirt and fabric paint from Hobby Lobby, (which is also where I found the materials to make Frances' tail).  We bought a horse stencil and letter stencils and pained the shirt ourselves, although it is available to purchase on Amazon. We did buy a dagger/Roman sword, and to complete the look she got black Chucks (she needed new shoes for school anyway!) and an owl necklace and simply wore it with jeans.  We actually already had the hat on hand, so didn't have to buy it! :-0 :)  I am so happy this worked out, because Molly is a huge, huge fan of these books and movies. Rick Riordan anything is right up her alley!

And Conrad was yoda!*

I hope this encourages you on your journey of DIY *and* repurposing! :)


Win, win, wine!