Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Getting Ready for Valentine's Day~ Crafts, Snacks, and Drinks

I could spend hours reading, but unfortunately crafting has taken a backseat recently. I look at women whose hands are occupied by crocheting blankets and knitting hats and I think "How I wish I had that skill or had time for that!" That being said, I have a special place in my heart (so punny) for Valentine's Day and it lights the creative bug for me each year (that may be a mixed metaphor, but I'm not sure what I was trying to say...). My Mom always helped us celebrate in a frugal, do--it-yourself style. I've tried to embody that in our own home. It seems like lately, however we have celebrate Valentine's Day or other holidays in our home by purchasing decorations, eating candy, and buying Valentines (or other supplies) from the store.

I have been searching for ways to celebrate Valentine's Day in a more DIY way. I'm trying to save money, make a big production of it- without stressing out, or losing my head- or wallet.

I have been searching for ideas, and here is what I've come up with. I can honestly say I am more excited about celebrating Valentine's Day this year with my kids, because I'm planning to have fun with it, eat less candy, and not stress out.


~1~ Valentine's Day themed donuts (I would be picking these up-ha)

~2~ Make your own S'mores Valentine trail mix via

~3~ Make your own DIY fabric Valentines via

~4~ Make your own Valentine pillows (If you are a crocheter, which I'm not!;) via

~5~ Make Valentine's Day Punch via

~6~ Make Pink Applesauce and Pink Bubbles via

~7~ Make Construction Paper Crafts and Valentines via

~Bonus~ Play Musical Hearts via

For all of these fun Valentine activities, here's what you will need:

-donuts, skewers, paper
-ingredients for trail mix
-red and valentine-themed fabric
-needle and thread
-yarn, crochet hook
-ingredients for punch
-construction paper, glue, & scissors
-pink dye

I don't see "beaucoups of money on Valentine decorations" or "mountains of candy" on that list- mostly it is just stuff you have around or will get at the grocery store anyway! :0) yeah-ya.

My past frugal DIY Valentine's Day crafts/activities: (These are the DIY projects I have accomplished in the past)

~Red heart sachets with peppermint oil

~Red hot cookies
~Valentine's Day sign

~Homemade construction paper Valentines filled with cotton balls and stapled shut

~ Valentine's Day Box

~Felt Valentines

Happy planning, and Happy Valentine's Day!
Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monthly Recap vol. 41~ January 2017


I was a good, albeit chaotic January. We finally got a little snow, which was fun. The kids went sledding at the grandparents' house, and I took the baby for a snowy walk and snapped some pictures. We honestly spent most of the day drinking hot cocoa and virgin wassail cider, playing and enjoying the taste of whipped cream.  The kids ended the day with popsicles, which I still can't explain or understand. ๐Ÿ˜‚Anyway, we had a good kick off to a new year, and I'm thankful for my family.
Snowy walk!

Annabel getting spoiled by Grandma :-)

We found out what we're having. Another boy! I was so surprised. I have only had time to be shocked and surprised that I'm even pregnant at all. I think since the ultrasound I have accepted it and I'm feeling- to be honest- relieved and much more excited about this baby coming. Another boy ... Anders will have a brother now. #thankyouGod #nothingifnothonest


I already knocked out two books from this list. I got lucky with Kindle deals this month, so I saved a lot of money that way. :0)

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Hmm... what do I even say?  from sleeping with her husband on their first date, a mention of cheating on him (if I understood that passing reference correctly), to self-absorbed whining, I pretty much just couldn't wait to be done with this book. I often do not find reviews on Goodreads ... that I completely agree with... but besides a tiny shred of resentment, I couldn't agree more with everything Juliette had to say about this book: Read her review on Goodreads here. #whatdoievensay

A Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I had mixed feelings about this book. It was on the one hand, really well written, and easy to read. On the other hand, it was rather depressing at moments and I would be doing ya'll a disservice if I didn't tell you that. ;)  That being said, I think it's worth a read. He articulates the truth of the South/hillbilly culture almost perfectly. His own story is hopeful in its own right.  He has a lot to say about upward mobility and how hard it is for many trapped in this particular brand of Southern culture. ;)

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

{this review contains one slight spoiler}
This book... what to say, what to say?  Mixed feelings for sure.  My main quibble is that Jacqueline Woodson's tone comes through and she sounds really lost to me. She was raised Jehovah's Witness and the book portrays an Islamic family with a main character that ends up lesbian.  While she is able to tackle issues of racism and has a gift with storytelling, I felt she could have done more with the characters and it left me feeling sad and slightly disappointed.

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

I loved this book. Ruth Reichl is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors. I was eagerly looking into all of her other books after reading this fascinating memoir. Her journey with food and her personal stories from life intrigued and inspired me. Her writing is absolutely top-notch, especially for a memoir! If you consider yourself a foodie do yourself a favor and check out Ruth Reichl:0)

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

I wanted to like this book, but it struck me as another shallow not self-deprecating enough memoir intended to incite me to jealousy/make me wonder where the brain was amidst all of this "heart!"If this resonates with you:
"If anything, I was thinking bartending, or at least waitressing. Good money, tons of laughs, guys everywhere."
then you'll love it! ;-)
I tried several times to get into it, and after wading in three times, I was done. {abandoned book}

~Funny Things They Say~

Me: Anders, there is a baby in my tummy. It's a boy! You're going to have a brother...
Anders: (Looking at my tummy in shock) Is it in your mouth?!
(He says this every time we talk about the baby... I guess he thinks/assumed I swallowed it... he's working it all out I guess.... but he is excited๐Ÿ˜†)

Me: (Annabel was jumping on the bed and Molly caught her just as she was about to fall off) That scared the tar out of me!
Molly: You don't have any tar in you!

Madeleine: {looking at pictures in a book about Easter} Jesus died on the cross, and someday he will come back and rise again.
Me: He already rose from the dead!
Madeleine: Did he rose in Chattanooga?

Annabel, say Yo-Yo...
Annabel: Ro Ro!

Anders, can you make a word?
Anders (spelling with his letters) P-I-S-D-O-F-F

Madeleine: I like the Snow White witch's hair but I don't like her. (sooooo Madeleine) ๐Ÿ˜‚


I discovered a new-to-me podcast this month that I'm really enjoying. It is called "Sounds From the Trail," and it is about hiking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. (And I guess others...) So far they have had interviews with people who are in the midst of hiking, are almost to completion, and those who have already completed a thru-hike. The host "Gizmo" is great and I love it when I find a podcast that I immediately want to listen to all of the backlog of podcast episodes.  It is inspiring and very interesting to say the least! Worth checking it out for sure! ;-)

And... that's it! I haven't really made time for Netflix this month at all. ๐Ÿ˜•

Every year at this time, I make a Spotify playlist for the New Year. I've been enjoying some old standbys, and also a little bit of new music. I found some really good stuff. I promise that if you click over to Spotify to give it a listen, you will not say sorry. You will like it. You like it....

1. Mountain Dew by The Clancy Brothers

Fun. ;-)

2. Saint Mary's by The Chieftains

Because sometimes you just have to get up and dance while you make dinner.

3.  King of Yesterday by Jude

Reminds me of high school and all that jazz. Such a good song. 

4. Ohio by Over the Rhine

I went to see this band live (ok, multiple times), and I was smitten. Every album I've bought by them makes it into constant rotation with no regrets. One of my favorite albums of theirs and this is the title track. ๐Ÿ˜

5. Publish My Love by Rogue Wave

Mmmm.. Rogue Wave. Such a good band that reminds me of riding with friends in cars in Florida, on a visit right after college. Fun, carefree, & cool... ๐Ÿ˜Ž

6. All That And More by Rainbow Kitten Surprise

I heard this band on the radio, and honestly I thought, "That's a ridiculous name and I won't listen to this band," ... and then I heard this song. I ๐Ÿ’›.

7. I Will by Alison Krauss

This cover of a Beatles song is *so so good.* ๐ŸŽต

8. Better Together by Jack Johnson

Every dreary day needs a little Jack Johnson to cheer it up. This could be a parenting theme song. It is probably more likely my baby's theme song. (could refer to the baby in utero or Annabel, really) haha! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ˜˜

9. Over You by Echo and the Bunnymen

This band has a nice Morrissey - The Cure throwback feel.

10. She's Losing It by Belle and Sebastian

I discovered this band in high school and then I rediscovered them in college, and I loved their music so much. One of my favorite songs by them. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

11. Time Will Tell by Gregory Alan Isakov

I found this song through song-matching on Spotify, and it is such a good way to go out. SUCH a good song.  ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ˜•


I finally saw La La Land.  It's about a girl in L.A. who is trying to make it as an actress, when she meets this handsome guy who can play the piano like nobody's business. From there, things turn a bit magical, and I almost felt like I had died and gone to Heaven. The music, dancing, storyline, and overall effect really were that good. I find the Ryan Gosling fanaticism a little bit nauseating and his acting in this movie seemed to mimic the acting of the past. His dancing and other skills, however- namely doing all of his own jazz piano playing, though - wow. That redeemed it. I think you should see it for sure.
who says reading isn't good exercise?! ;-)

~Kids Are Reading~

The Cricket in Times Square by Garth Williams

Stephen read this out loud to the kids earlier in the month. His sweet Mom gave it to him/them as a Christmas present. ;-)

The Chime Travelers Series by Lisa Hendey

Molly has been picking these up. She has the one on St. Patrick and I think one other....

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

We are alternating between me reading this out loud to Frances, and Molly reading it to herself. ;-)

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Molly got this as a birthday present, and she read it in a day (it's a short-ish chapter book). She loved it!

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Molly reads for 30 minutes a night as a part of her homework, and she just picked this one up! ;-)

A million and twenty-two read alouds.... they are LOVING Eric Carle right now, especially this book and also of note: Katie and the... books are a big hit at our house. Stephen bought Katie and the British Artists a few years back, and he has been adding to that collection over time! We used to see some of the featured paintings (especially Impressionists!) on our visits to the National Museum of Art when we lived in D.C.! If you want to teach your kids about art, I highly recommend these books (book series) by James Mayhew.
nailed it. ;-)



I have a lot of links this month, because, January. I hope you take a minute to read them, and check them out! ;-) Bored? Read! I think I've found some good ones. Not all same-same, not too homogenous you know?!

New year, same marching orders @ Humble Handmaid

I love her tips, especially the one about Facebook! #icanrelate #facebooksucksyourlifeaway

A Letter I Wrote For Your Sake @ Emily P. Freeman's chatting at the sky ;)

This is great, and it is such a good reminder if you've been blogging for very long at all!

Wow... just wow. (no exaggeration!) This particular coverage is excellent. ;-)

How to Set an Evening Routine @ Keri Lynn Snyder

We all get (too) busy sometimes. I love these tips, especially the one about the phone. ;)

Watch Ashley Judd's biting speech on Trump #fraud #misogyny 

"Jesus Isn't Shaping My Anything" @ The Christian Post

I love John Legend, but honestly, his wife sounds like a nightmare. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Once again, I wish I had the comprehensive and fair (read: not one-sided) view/understanding of politics, a la Simcha. She really does an excellent job putting into words my feelings, without condescension (...ahem) time and time again. If you want to understand me better, or if you want to know my heart and what I'm aspiring to, read several of her recent posts. ;-) They are all really good and they leave me searching, which is something I think we all need. Nuance. #tryit #andyoulllikeit Someday I hope to understand and articulate politics as well as her. For now, I'll just keep linking to her website. ;-) ;-)

Jim Gaffigan's tweet on the day of the Women's March๐Ÿ˜‚ Check out my Twitter feed and recent happenings and all of my hilarious retweets over there by clicking here And without sounding pushy (I hope!!!), friends, don't forget to follow me over there!! ;-)

Linking up here and here

Friday, January 27, 2017

7QT~ Our Little Snow Day & Life Lately

~1~ We had this splendid little snow day that surprised us earlier this month. It was just enough for the kids to go sledding, make snowballs, and drink hot chocolate.  I loved walking around and seeing the snow and breathing in the cold freezing air! Apparently we have a forecast for "wintry mix" this weekend... once again the kids probably won't get out of school, but we'll see. ;-) They love having days off to play in the snow.

~2~ I was able to get out for a girls' night about a week later. It was so nice. I met two of my dear friends from our parish here in town at a City Diner, and we drank decaf coffee and ate the most amazing Texas Fries and Cheesecake. We had such an awesome conversation, and I had a blast catching up. I was so wired/fried when I got home. I was hyper on life, but in a good way.

~3~ The next morning, the weather was great, we were all in a wonderful mood, so I took the kids for a walk, and I finished my leftover cheesecake.  I got some exercise, got out with friends, and the weather turned extremely mild... All was well. All was abnormally blissful, in fact... which should give you a clue that...

~4~ I usually take the kids into the Doctor, but as you can imagine lately with my pre-natal appointments, hair appointments, counseling, and other kids' doctor's appointments and what have you, I have kinda dropped the ball on being able to make it to regular well-visits. So that afternoon, Stephen took Frances in for her 6 year well check-up. About an hour after school got out and I had brought the other kids home, he called me with an "Uh-oh, guess what" tone in his voice.

~5~Frances had head lice. "Check the other kids," he said. I checked them, and we gradually but surely discovered that three of our kids- Molly, Frances, and Madeleine- had head lice. I don't remember ever having lice, although my Mom said the four of us kids did have it once. Stephen doesn't remember ever having lice. Our ignorance eventually bloomed into crap. HA.;) Just joking. Actually, I called a friend and then my parents to get some advice.

~6~ I drank caffeinated tea and Stephen and I picked nits for what seemed hours. We killed the nits with Rid Shampoo, and then picked nits. We put olive oil in their hair with shower caps to sleep in and then, the next morning, washed it out with dish soap and picked nits again, using a head lamp and fine-toothed comb.  Nit-picking is not an easy task, and besides that, you must use the right combs to get them all, or the eggs will hatch again.  Stephen dipped the comb in water and there were hundreds of nits floating in there when he was all done.

Now. Let's be clear. Lice has nothing to do with your income, status, or the cleanliness of your home. It hits across all levels of income and class/social status.  Kids get it when it is going around, and there is nothing you can do except treat it just like anything else. It's hard to treat and zooming in on picture of lice on the internet is, indeed, disgusting. In real life, they look like tiny gray fleas- as big as a sesame seed, so big enough to pick/comb out, but not big enough to be gross really at all. It's a sad/yucky feeling for the kids and it is overwhelming for the parents. HOWEVER. Let's erase the stereotype that it's "yucky," or that we should shun children for having lice.  It's normal and it is not something to lose sleep over. ;-) Pray and lean on your spouse during these times of trial.

~7~ Now-- you knew there would be a curve ball, didn't you?  We got all of the nits after having the girls sleep with olive oil on their hair for almost an entire week. We did Rid shampoo a second time to prevent reinfestation. But wouldn't you know that on Tuesday night, Stephen turned to me and said, "Anders has nits in his hair." UGH! We started the process over again with him about a week later. Prayers and fingers crossed for the whole process. As far as I can see right now, we are lice free.

Final thoughts and words and what I learned over all from this:
~When these things happen, I feel like getting to the end is like a thru-hiker getting to Mt. Katahdin.  It's easy- when the kids are home- to work without peace, but we have to work peaceably- work together, not against each other. Depend on each other. Don't freak out!

And if you do happen to freak out, find peace again through conflict resolution. If this hadn't happened, I never would have had the chance to wash all of our sheets and towels and clean out/reorganize our linen closet. #silverlining The kids ate popsicles and ice cream as a reward/distraction while we tried to get our sanity back. I got a lot of support and words of advice and comfort from friends and family! ~

Linking up with Kelly

~By the way... I will be posting my monthly recap on Tuesday and it is a beast. ;-0
I also posted a political thing impromptu yesterday What My Conservative Friends Missed About the Women's March and we ended up with some good comments on the post itself. ;-)  ~

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What My Conservative Friends Missed (Didn't Understand) About the Women's March

I consider myself fortunate to have friends that divide right down the 50% between liberal and conservative. I went to college in California - for goodness sake- and grew up in Tennessee and lived in Maryland for seven years.
I can scroll my feed and see people from all opinions, views, and walks of life.

What frustrates me to no end isn't the spicy liberal rhetoric. What disturbs me isn't the blasphemous signs from the march.

What frustrates, disturbs, and downright frightens me is the blind post-Bible-thumping rhetoric of Conservatives.

Conservatives, before you mud-sling about nasty signs, 'impotent' rhetoric, and unfortunate/inappropriate signage, you need to understand a few things.

1. Being a liberal isn't easy.

It isn't easy to adapt to modern-day rhetoric.

It isn't easy to understand the changing tide of this rhetoric.

It isn't easy to stand up for things when people assume your motivation is pure evil, all the time.

2. Everyone had a different reason for marching.

Don't take a picture of an unfortunate sign and assume all of the women were marching for that reason.

What I saw was people upset that the President of our United States has approved of language concerning "P**** Grabbing."

What I saw was people mortified that the First Lady of our people has nude modeling on her resume.

What I saw was women who don't have a damn thing in common with Ivanka's materialism and frankly, are shattered by this opinion that women should be Amazonian Saleswoman with a side of nepotism and interior decorating abilities.

3. It's super-easy to misunderstand liberals. What's hard is to hear what they're saying/trying to say.

3 million women marching around the world for women's rights says something.

What's easy is to thump the same Pro-life viewpoint until your thumb and your brain are numb. What are you even saying anymore? Does it honestly apply to this situation?

No I don't think it does. Not at all.

Women everywhere- all around the world- stood up to defend our 





The divide in our culture is simply about power.  Conservatives stop being threatened by something that - when done right- is all well and good. These people are your sisters because these women have a brain.
Some would say--- a much better brain than you.

I now consider myself a moderate, and a swing voter with leanings in neither direction prominently. Ok, I may have a few more dominant liberal leanings lately.;-)

If you want to talk about it, discuss in the comments.
While I do not mind (At All) discussing these issues on my blog, I'm honestly not interested in debating on Facebook itself (anymore).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What the World Needs Now is Healthy Confrontation

Cross-posting at the ACWB today!

"I'm not confrontational."

"I'm a perfectionist."

Have you ever heard one of these above statements?

Life is hard. It can be burdensome, challenging, and parenthood and all that that entails is often "easier said than done." I think we make it harder, though, when we portray to the world that everything is well and good- perfect, even- and we don't allow the light of vulnerability to shine in and make community possible and even reachable. On the one hand, I hate going too deep here in this space, for fear that the messages I bring sound condescending, or preachy, or rude. Yet sometimes, I feel God laying on my heart something that humbles and strengthens me. If this message gives even a tiny shred of hope or truth to just one person, then this post has purpose, and I don't regret writing it. In light of this, I will wade a little deeper.  Every once in a while, we chat all things spirituality on this blog and so I hope to do that here with you today. ;)

"I don't like criticism."

Because it is only human not to like constructive criticism, advice, or correction, we would rather hide in our sin. These are the lies we tell ourselves to avoid looking in the mirror at the marring effects of our own sin.

We say, "Don't give me advice."

No one - and I mean no. one.- likes to see their own faults.

Scripture says that if we love God, we will hate the world.

But we say, "We all have strengths and weaknesses."

Friends I think this is nothing more than harmless-sounding sugarcoating for sin.

If we look our weaknesses in the face, however, we realize that sometimes, often, these things have become sins.

I heard this philosophy recently:

"I can't confront someone... I have to wait until they come to me when they are struggling."

Again, a comforting lie that we use to sugarcoat the reality of sin.

The reality is that sometimes sin needs confronting because lies, hypocrisy, and jealousy can be very damaging. We run to the things that make us feel better about our mess, but in the end, it only makes everything worse. Without the truth we're like the walking dead.

The nature of sin is to steal, kill, and destroy. It is the work of the Father of lies, Satan.

Sin destroys and kills. If you had anything else fading in and out of your life - a disease, a carcinogen,  or a gangrenous infection- that destroyed and killed- how long would you wait to go to the ER to address it?

In the same way, we need to address the rottenness of sin.

You can't let a gangrenous sin grow until it is untamable. It must be rooted out, and this is done through spiritual confrontation.

Yes .... it is true that we should go to confession, and there are times when we have to wait for the Holy Spirit to do its work in someone's heart, so that they realize their mistakes, change, and apologize for their sin.

Could you also sometimes speak truth to the person, and wouldn't that help?

We run the risk of being judgemental and/or running the full gamut all the way to hypocrisy when we confront. We should be very careful that we aren't stepping on toes, or speaking out of self-righteousness when we meddle. Is it your job to take something into your own hands? That's why this is touchy, and it should be approached with great care. In our day, though, sadly often gossip takes the place of truth-telling. So often, we don't speak the truth to others because we are so busy gossiping.   We can tell the truth about others' sin when it isn't to their face.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Did you see her {take for example....}  instagram picture? How could she post that? Doesn't she know that's {perhaps} a mortal sin? She's provoking others to lust. She's causing envy to herself and others.  And on top of that, she is putting it in a public place, where she could be putting herself at risk and in serious danger?!

Why is there anything wrong with this conversation?


1. Gossip is an infectious sin.

2. Gossip does not tell the truth to the person who needs to hear truth.

3. Gossip can spread rumors which can be very hurtful and threatening to the person being spoken about.

For once, take the sin to the person in the spirit of Biblical confrontation.*

I think that what the world needs now isn't just "love, sweet love." It's healthy confrontation.

We need to see each other, and love means we help to root out the sin that hurts our friends and loved ones.

Try it. See if it has healthy results.

You might say, no, I'm not like that.

But this is called communication.

Do you know how to communicate honestly? Or do you shrug and turn to someone else to gossip about the sin of others?

How can you effectually confront a gangrenous sin today?

Also, as a somewhat unrelated sidenote, I think that perhaps the reason women in our day and culture turn to this type of sin is out of a lack of confidence. We should attempt to show mercy and feel some compassion for this type of thing. If someone hasn't developed their own talents or interests- things like dancing, hiking, reading, writing, art, arts & crafts, music, etc- they will or can turn toward less productive hobbies. Encourage someone struggling with self-doubt to develop her talents. Imagine how healing this could be for someone with low self-esteem! :0)

*Matthew 18:15-17 explains how to effectually confront a brother or sister caught in a sin: "If your brother sins {against you}, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

Does this mean unfriend? Yes and absolutely. I can safely say cheers to that!

Pssst... one more thing before you go--- don't forget to pin this image! :0) ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, January 20, 2017

My 7 Favorite Beauty Products from 2016

Over the past year, I found some beauty products- both facial and non- that I can now say that I swear by.  I hope, with this post, to fill you in on all the latest.... like I do. My style is definitely a more natural look, but when we go out on dates, or that type of thing, I try to use something more dramatic. For church, I usually wear real eye makeup, with lipstick. Today, I'm simply talking about the everyday beauty routine. Hopefully it will be helpful to some of you!

~ Essie nail polish in find me an oasis

I have the hardest time- pun intended- finding polish that doesn't get smudgy and soft as you add coats. This color Essie polish is perfect after about four coats, and I promise you, the coats harden as they dry, rather than getting soft and then smudging. Essie seems to last without chipping, which is a very nice bonus about this product, as well!

~ Coverfx powder from Sephora

I splurged on this powder at Sephora (and I usually do not shop there...), but I am so glad I did. They will do skin matching in the store. I am definitely glad I got it! Why? Because it really, really works!! I have to replace my current compact very soon, because I use it everyday.

~ Sally Hansen gel in Regal Rose

This polish also dries very hard, but it looks beautiful and thick after only two coats. I love putting this on my toes during the winter. It is so easy to apply. Besides, like Essie, this gel lasts without chipping, and remains hard with multiple coats. I will definitely be buying this again, because I'm so happy to have found it!

~ Burts Bees lip gloss in peach

Coconut is pictured, but peach gloss is the best for tint. I have to include this on the list, because I swear by this stuff, and I use it everyday. My lips get so dry in the winter, and I love a little colorful tint, but I hate the feel of lipstick on dry lips. If you've never tried it, peppermint is also a great option, although it does not have a tint. Perfect for bedtime or just keeping on your bedside table.  I hate chapped lips, and this is the best chapstick and lip gloss on the market, imho. Try it! ;)

~ Suave dry shampoo spray

Usually, Suave is the brand to hate on. The shampoo causes build-up and most hairdressers say it's the worst. ๐Ÿ˜– But, when I just do not have chance to wash my hair, I can spray a little bit of this on my roots, and it perks my hair right up! ;) I would like to say I wash my hair everyday, but that's not true. I miss a day here and there. I really enjoy the effect of this product, and let's be honest~ I will definitely replace it when I run out.;)

~ Aveda Brilliant pomade

The *only* product that works on my short hair is this pomade. I asked my hairdresser for something that would make my hair look "wavy and glossy" (maybe a tiny bit wet, or at least non-poofy, especially on the ends), and the things she tried on my hair didn't hold a finger to this product.๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜‚ I use a tiny bit on my fingertips to fight frizzy ends. It just works so well and it smells a.maz.ing.  The best part is that it will last you for over a year. I also have used other Aveda products in the past (their Control paste is a good one for short haircuts and it lasts forever, as well), but this is the best for me right now!

BONUS: facial care tips! fun! ;)

  • I'm no expert, but from my experience, the best way to prevent my face from drying out during the winter is to use a quality moisturizer after washing with a good exfoliating face wash. 
  • I like St. Ives Green Tea scrub exfoliating wash- because it works!
  • I absolutely love and swear by Oil of Olay Complete moisturizer.  I have been using it as a simple moisturizer after washing my face or showers since college. Forever! ;)
  • AVOID: alcohol-based face wipes. They will dry your face out!  
  • If you do end up using some kind of toner, or something with alcohol to clean off your face (such as in an emergency, or with really heavy make-up), find a stronger moisturizer. When my face is really dry, I use this moisturizer shown, sold at the Clinique make-up counter.  It goes on a little thicker than my standard Oil of Olay, and it doesn't cause breakouts usually (so far!). I keep it on hand, but only use it occasionally to save money.
And finally, last but not least...

~ pharmacia perfume in Rose, from anthropologie

I like Clinique's Happy, but I was looking for something a bit subtler. I always shop scents at anthropologie. They have some great options. This smells great- just like roses- and it fit the bill! ;)

Maybe next time I will share my favorite dressy make-up with you! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Do you have any products that you turn to again and again?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So Many Thoughts About La La Land {no spoilers}

I wasn't going to say anything about La La Land because honestly, I was mesmerized by this movie, but I wasn't head over heels either. I saw it the day before awards Sunday. I wasn't totally blown away, but I'm super picky about movies. It takes a lot for me to put a movie on my must-see list. But I think this movie is working its way there, to the top of the list of must-see movies this year. The straw that broke the camel's back? Honestly, when it won seven Golden Globe awards, including best actor and actress, and I started to rethink it.;-) I was really super-impressed when it won, and I was glad it was receiving an overwhelming amount of attention and support. I kept thinking, "Wow! They loved it! That's awesome!" When all is said and done, I think it is a movie that everyone should try to see.


-Emma Stone's acting

Really, her acting. She is so fresh and real. She's raw and vulnerable. No one can deny the chemistry between her and Gosling. No one else could have pulled this off. I think- if you've seen it- we can all recognize that! But even bigger than that, is the feeling that she believes in herself. She has an inner confidence and an outer beauty that make her so appealing and attractive!

-Ryan Gosling's playing and dancing

When watching this movie, a man uttered the exact thoughts I was thinking near the beginning of the film: "Do you think he's really playing?" And his wife answered, "He is!!!" I was so glad that had this exchange so that I could overhear it, because I was wondering the same thing. I hope Ryan inspires more actors to take their craft more seriously. He stretched himself with this role, and the results are far from embarrassing. His playing is inspiring (it really is too good to be real) and his dancing is excellent.

-The original music

The song, "City of Stars" is haunting and it serves a purpose, which is why I think it won at the Golden Globe awards ceremony. Each and every song kept me on the edge of my seat, and after seeing a lot of mediocre movies this holiday season, that was a refreshing change.

-The themes and directing

This movie has a purpose. Each frame tells a story. All of the subtle details are there by design. The themes are creativity, success, and the heartache of believing in yourself and continuing to try when you are mocked, unwanted, or under-appreciated. Anyone will two eyes, two ears, and a heart will detect this mood and the purpose for this film. The director really sailed his ship into the harbor. He achieved exactly what he was going for. A rare feat.

-John Legend

Seriously, I was so surprised to see John Legend as a guest actor in this movie. He's not a bad actor and his presence in this movie was .... just stunning and surprising. Fun! ;)

I think the overall feeling is that, above all, I was blown away by the themes. I thought the dancing and music were a fantastic, refreshing way to approach a movie, and I hope this theatre dancing and singing style will work its way back into mainstream (or something more frequent/expected for modern acting;). I honestly kept thinking of White Christmas which may sound dorky, but it does make itself into a little bit of a Christmassy movie for several reasons ... and if you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about! ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, January 13, 2017

7 Books I Want to Read in 2017~ & Reading More (Without a Superiority Complex)

Every year at this time, my brain shuts down and I become a miserable wreck, worried that nothing appeals to me, and that I will resign myself to reading nothing except Shakespeare in the coming year. I start to worry that I should be spending more time doing other things.... x,y, or z. And then I remembered the old saying that you should ask a busy person if you need something done. Sometimes I can speed through two easy reads in a day, or at most, a weekend. And I know that just like last year that when I have a moment ... what will I do? I will pick up a book and read it, like I always do.

I hope this doesn't sound like advice, but sharing advice between friends in my experience is normal part of life and friendship. It is more my attempt to articulate to myself how others achieve their goals. How do full-time parents do a masters? How do full-time working parents find time for anything besides kids and earning money?

But even when we start to read *more*, (and this is an aside) isn't it so easy to feel like we are above people because we read "this, not that"? I feel that struggle palpably.  But parenting is the best cure for thinking I'm above people. If I'm talking down to them (or anyone!) I've got the wrong mindset at the outset. Reading also *should* take us down a few notches. The wider our world becomes, the more self-aware we become about how shielded, protected, and/or superior we can be in our ignorance.;)  Formal education- whenever the swooping in to help comes, even if it is college- might be the answer in this case. I'm not sure. I personally love to have the ability to pick what I want to read, and I think it makes me want to read more. However, I am saying that after being forced to read required reading throughout high school and college. I think it depends on the family (and the philosophy;). I know I'll be referencing this reading challenge quite a bit.

I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou this past year- a book that many colleges require for graduation. I would read all classics and multicultural if I could. #fangirl Overall, though, I've had to tone down (or should I say broaden?) my genres to the ones I know I'll love and will tear through like, I don't know something like...

dis;)  lol

 I'm hoping for books that are not fluffy, but feel-good in a not-dumb kind of way. I love foodie books, modern novels, multicultural fiction/memoir, spiritual memoir, classics, and just anything that falls in to the really well-written category.

And so that being said, here are the books I'm deliberately putting on my wishlist and hoping to read in 2017.  Of course, I'm really excited about what will be coming out this year. But these are the ones I've put on backlog and I've been hoping to read ASAP. I have recently discovered kirkusreviews.com (via the recommendation of a friend/cousin on fb) and it is the best place ever to find book recommendations.... next to goodreads and whatever is on sale on kindle! ;-)
Ok, now I'm excited....


-Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This classic just keeps popping on my radar! It sounds like an appealing literary foray, and for some reason it is coming back and making the rounds. I have to admit, I'm curious! I want to join in on that conversation. ;) classics

-Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Although it wasn't my favorite book I'd read all year, I enjoyed her debut, Where'd You Go, Bernadette and I'm interested in this, from what I've heard about it so far.  Semple has a self-aware style that really appeals to me. She doesn't sugar-coat anything, and she is really honest about Seattle culture at large. When it comes to pop culture (current day culture), I like being in the know for up-and-coming authors, and this is one way I'm keeping my dipped toe in that water. modern fiction

-Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Again, this keeps popping up and I admit, I'm interested. I've heard it is just really well written and has a lot of wisdom to offer. I think the themes of Southern lostness and life will resonate.  Wallace Stegner has been on my TBR for over a year, but I have yet to read anything he has written. I hope to remedy that with this book. modern fiction


-Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

I love a good spiritual memoir, and this one seems like something I would totally love! Several of my favorite authors have endorsed this book, which is what led me down this trail and to this book.  I'm trying to add more in this genre, and I hope this fits with my taste ok. spiritual memoir

-Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

I'm super interested in this foodie memoir. I never expect that anything will surpass my very favorite book in this genre though:  Cooking for Mr. Latte-- read, read, read it! ((It is so good and NY Times food critic Amanda Hesser will have you hooked on foodie. I hope)) Lunch in Paris will scratch my itch to find another amazing memoir in this genre. Oh... and get me out of my own little world! Which is always good! ;) foodie memoir

-Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I heard of a couple of people I know who were reading this, then I read a review of it in First Things (we get the print magazine), and from there on, I was very interested to read it.  I grew up in the South among a mix of Northerners and those of (higher class) English descent. I married into a family that does indeed have its roots in the Scots-Irish people of the Knoxville "hills."  I know first-hand a little bit about the hill culture, and/but I hope this book illuminates my Southern heritage and especially, the one I married into ;) spiritual/cultural memoir

Other: (for-fun rereads)

-The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Ok, this is fiction, too. But I'm putting it in its own category, because it's a special one! ;) I put out a call on Facebook for help with finding books to read in the New Year. A friend mentioned this as being her favorite book of all time. I remember loving it so hard when I was reading it in high school, so I'm hoping to reread it sometime this year. ;-) classics/modern fiction

Books I'm Strongly Considering (But Still on the Fence About)
-The Hypnotists’ Love Story by Liane Moriarty 
-My Brilliant Friend by  Elena Ferrante 
-Outlander by Diana Gabaldon all modern fiction
-The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell nonfiction

Do you have any strong feelings about the above four books? I have heard mixed reviews, so I haven't gone completely sold.  I have joined the Reading Challenge over at Goodreads for the year, and I've signed up for 60 books. We'll see how it goes! I'm hoping to up the ante on my Summer reading and hopefully that will push me over the top! ;-)

What are *you* reading this year?

Psssst: No, I'm not selling anything. But, here's a question. Do you want to read more? I jotted down some quick, non-bossy tips for those of you looking for inspiration in all the right places....

-Read on road trips
~and if you don't *go* on road trips, do it! they are so much fun.
-Read when you have time at night
~after the kiddos go to bed, instead of binge-watching episodes of netflix, read!
-Read at the kids' nap time
~if you don't need a nap yourself, read!
-Read when you have babysitters or grandparent help
~we hired a babysitter to come during ballet so that I can take the girls and guess what I do during their lesson? read! Also, I must admit that we have the best parents because both sides have offered to take our kids for the weekend and what should you do? read!
-Finally, read when boredom strikes 
~ all of those little moments and snatches of time add up... read! do it! ;)
(yes, even standing in line at the grocery store!) or just when you have a need to sit down for a few minutes (yes, even sitting in the bathroom or waiting in car line for school pick-up!;)

I actually do not read everyday, otherwise I think I would be able to read a bunch more than I do. I feel the need to take breaks between books, and I am so inspired by others in the blogosphere who never seem to need to take breaks. I don't know how they do it, truly.

For inspiration check out: 9 Tips For Squeezing More Reading Time Out of Your Day @ Goodreads

I think the best advice is to pick books you know you will devour. If your goal is to read more, pay attention-- not-- to what genres others tell you that you should read, but what you really, really like yourself. Write down the genres that keep popping up in your list of TBR and pay attention, because you are more likely to read more of the same, on down the road!
For similar posts, check out my list of 7 books I want to read, from last January.