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Friday, November 10, 2017

5 Friday Favorites: November 10, 2017 Edition

I am so happy to see Friday come this week. Even though we had two days off of school, it seemed like a really long, stressful week, so I'm ready for the weekend. Even when you're not feeling like your best self during certain weeks, there is usually some light to find, even if that light comes in the form of a really awesome eyelash curler. Here are some of my favorite things from my not-so-favorite week.

1. Still by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Like I said, this was one of those weeks when every little thing seemed overwhelming to me and every big thing seemed practically impossible. I spent so much time worrying that I might as well have just built myself a prayer closet and lived in it all week. One morning I woke up feeling so burdened that I made a list in my journal of all the things - from the smallest tasks that were weighing on me to the biggest fears I had. Let's just say the list was loooonnngggg. Then I went to our good friend, Google, and typed in "Bible verses about Worrying" and read all of them. Later that day I heard this song and I must have listened to it 30 times. As I sit here this morning in the stillness, I find that the Lord has taken care of at least half of that list. He is faithful. He is good. I am grateful.

2. Old Navy Open Front Long Line Sweater

Cold weather has finally arrived here in Northern Virginia, so it's time for sweaters, boots and more pumpkin spice flavored things than are reasonable. I've mentioned before that I have a hard time finding sweaters that I can wear because I appear to have an allergy to wool, so I was happy to find this long cardigan at Old Navy. It's thin enough to wear inside your heated house all day, comes in lots of colors and is a great length - not overwhelming if you're a short person like yours truly. Bonus: it is marked down to $17.50 from the original $34.99. I got the color on the model above which is referred to online as "mauve". I guess the Old Navy folks are color blind because in my Texas Longhorn mind, mauve is a maroon-Texas Aggie-type color and I am forbidden from wearing anything in that hue for all of eternity by my people. This is actually an oatmeal color and I've worn it all day long for two days in a row.

3. Marathon: The Patriot's Day Bombing

We had two days off of school this week and it was cold and dreary, so we spent a lot of time inside reading and watching movies. I had heard great things about this HBO documentary and it's been sitting in our DVR queue for months, so Steve and I finally watched it. This is such a heartbreaking, maddening, yet beautifully triumphant story of some of the survivors of the Boston bombing. It is definitely worth your time.

4. Baked Sesame Ginger Chicken

I got this recipe from the Whole 30 Instagram page and it was created by Kristen at The Endless Meal. All of my people loved it and it is totally Whole 30 compliant - no bad stuff.

8 Chicken Drumsticks or Thighs
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 heaping teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (I accidentally used 3 Tablespoons. I think it was good idea.)
1 heaping teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chicken in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the sesame oil. In a small bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the chicken and toss to coat. Place the chicken on the baking sheet, skin side up and bake for 45 minutes

5. Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

I don't know what's going on these days, but I can't help but notice that some women out there have upped their game considerably in the eyelash department. I have become obsessed with eyelashes  because I feel like everyone from my dental hygienist to the cashier at the grocery store has stunning lashes. The other night I could barely concentrate on ordering my cheeseburger because I was staring at my waitress's lashes. I know that some folks are getting extensions and false eyelashes professionally applied and that there are all manner of serums out there that make your lashes grow. Sometimes I think it's overdone and I'm not sure I'm up for that, plus I'm especially hesitant to spend a gazillion dollars on some magic potion. So here's my question for you, dear reader. What is your mascara of choice? Do you get extensions? How long do they last? Is it expensive? Does it hurt? Someone told me that they tape your eyes closed for an hour. Um, no thanks.

Anyway, right now this is my eyelash game: cheap mascara from the drugstore and this Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler - by far the best I've used in my lifetime. I have never been completely loyal to one brand of mascara, but I'm liking this one right now. That is a total bill of around $26.00 so you can see that I'm a super fancy big spender. Comment below if you have eyelash ideas!

Well, that's about it for a week I'm glad to see go down in the history books. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

13 Reasons Why . . .

I'm so glad you're mine today.

1. The way you're always up for a party.

2. And might even help with the clean up.

3. Your hugs.

4. Your hustle.

5. That fierce fight in you that frankly scares us a little.

6. The way you never hesitate to be the biggest goofball in the room.

7. Except when you're dead serious.

8. The way you encourage and find joy in your friends.

9. The way you never give up.

10. Those freckles.

11. The way those two faces together makes me melt.

12. The way you make us fit together perfectly.

12. That smile. That smile. That smile.

13. And because all of these reasons together are an ever-present reminder that the very gift of you to our family is evidence of how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

"For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
-Psalms 139:13-14

Happy 13th, Littlest Love. How wonderfully made you are.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dear Baseball Season . . .

Dear Baseball Season,

Listen, we need to take a break. It's just time. I'm not saying forever, but dude, it's November now. Stop telling me that we could just travel down 95 and find a warmer ballpark. I will not be swayed - even by the promise of a Sonic down south that sells a perfectly mixed fountain Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke with flawlessly crunchy ice. And really, Baseball, isn't that just running away from our problems? We both want better for each other, don't we? 

I'm not liking the person I've become with you lately. She is grouchy and cold and shivering with her shoulders all scrunched up to her ears. She is huddling down, wrapping herself in a blanket and rolling into a ball in her Dick's Sporting Goods folding chair. She is a shadow of her former self. You see, one has to learn to love herself before she can love another. And this girl with her hood pulled tight around her head, her face chapped red and her teeth full of baseball dirt? She's starting to look like the Unabomber - not the fresh faced, smiling, pony-tailed fan you used to love.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ghouls, Goblins, GIFs and Game 6

Well, it's Halloween and I'm having a little anxiety, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm sure there will be a plethora of creepy clowns walking around tonight and that it will take all of my power to resist eating every peanut M&M on the planet.

Actually, I'm having all kinds of feelings and they all have to do with Game 6 of the World Series tonight.

It took me about four cups of coffee and a nap to recover from the big bowl of crazy that was Sunday night's game. It is my opinion that the best thing that has happened to championship sporting events in the past few years is the invention of the GIF, Twitter and text chains. I stayed up until 1:38 am EST watching Game 5. None of my people stayed up with me, so all the while I was participating in three different text chains, sending GIFs and checking Twitter and laughing my rear end off with my brother, my parents and my son, Joe, who was watching in his dorm room. It was so much fun that on Monday morning I was basically like this:

I didn't care one whit about the Houston Astros until a week ago. It doesn't matter though. Once the World Series starts every baseball fan has to pick a team, so because I'm a Texan and our people in Houston suffered so much with Hurricane Harvey, plus the fact that I have lots of good buddies in Houston, I had to pick the Astros. But let's be clear. All of that stuff pales in comparison to the main reason that I have taken a front seat on the bandwagon for the Astros and that's this guy.

Baseball Fans, I'm telling you the truth. If you aren't watching Jose Altuve play baseball, you aren't living your best life. I think he is the MVP, not of just baseball, but of all of the world for 2017. As my grandmom would say, "Ooooo. I declare! Look at that boy. He sho is showing out." 

Due to our mad GIF searching skills, my brother, my dad and my son and I were able to relay the gamut of emotions we were feeling during what seemed like a 15 hour game in an instant. I laughed so hard at one point that I woke up my dog. 

Altuve ties it up with a 3 run homer?

The Astros player makes that crazy good play on the bunt to get the Dodger out who was trying to score?

Dodgers tie it up in the 9th?

And also:

When we knew we were in for extra innings, it was 1:00 am so Joe sent me a text that said "Class tomorrow?"

Eventually, when most of us were sure that we would never go to sleep again, there was the walk off by Alex Bregman in the 10th which happened at 1:38 am to bring the Astros the win.

At that point, I was so tired, I could barely see, but I tapped out a "Good Night" message to Joe and he sent me this in response.

Here's hoping you have a fun, safe Halloween and an equally fun and safe Game 6. Do yourself a favor, baseball fans, and find your GIPHY app because it makes a 57 inning baseball game a delight. In fact, even if you're not a baseball fan, but perhaps need some help expressing your feelings - I'm not a psychologist - but I think the GIPHY app is a useful tool.

Also, come on, y'all. Just remain calm. I mean, please, relax. It's just a game. 

Go Astros!!!

Friday, October 27, 2017

5 (or so) Friday Favorites: October 27, 2017

Happy Friday!

I have to say that for me this was an A+ week. The weather was spectacular - probably too warm for some, but I'm a fan of warm Octobers. I started off Sunday with a brunch with some of my favorite girlfriends who haven't been able to sit around a table for a long while together. We talked for hours and it was a great way to start the week. Monday we were able to sleep late because there was a teacher work day. On Wednesday I hopped in the car to take mid-week trek to State College, Pennsylvania to spend 24 hours with Joe, my freshman at Penn State University. I stayed right on campus at the beautiful Nittany Lion Inn and I learned how to make coffee in a Keurig like an honest to goodness grown-up. Unfortunately, however, when in Rome, I decided to eat like an 18 year old freshman boy. Yikes.

And I can't even tell you how many times I whispered thanks to God for leading my boy to that school. So many times, I'm pretty sure He was all, "Dude. Give it a rest. You're welcome already."

Later in the week, there was an answer to a prayer I've been praying for a long while. Trust and patience are hard for us, but when He comes through in just the way we hoped? Man, do I love it when that happens. I also had some long conversations with a friend or two that reminded me again of how faithful is a God who does not leave us alone and confused in the seasons of life when we feel we have exactly zero idea of what in the world is the right thing to do. This week I was so grateful for His presence and the way He has put people in my life to be His hands and feet and ears. My life is not remotely perfect. I have a boatload of worries as many of us at this stage of life do. Kelly Corrigan calls it the middle place - that place when we are caught between concern for our parents and our children, all the while trying to figure out what in the world is to become of us as each season continues to pummel us with change. I hate change. But God doesn't change. Ever. It's perhaps my favorite thing about Him.

It was a good one, friends and it's not because it was all ease and dance parties. It was because I chose to look for Him and He was right there giving me hope for each day. Anyway, here are some other random bits of happy from the week.

1. Kate's Hair Bow Nail Color

Go here. Right now. Read about Kate. Look at her sweet face and her pretty bow. Order this. That's all.

2. RX Bars

When I was doing the Whole30, I was always looking for something to have when I was away from home (which meant I was at a baseball field) and needed to eat, but couldn't find anything that was compliant. I read about these RX Bars and found some at Trader Joe's. I will tell you they're not easy on the teeth, but they are really yummy. Later, I read an article that said Whole30 was removing them from the compliant list because people were misusing them as a way to curb sugar addiction as opposed to being used as in an emergency situation when food is unavailable. And to that I say, "What part of "IF I HAVE TO EAT ONE MORE PIECE OF CAULIFLOWER I WILL HARM SOMEBODY." is not an emergency? Don't be such a jerk, man."

3. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I know I mentioned that I bought Gabrielle Union's book last week, but I've read so many memoirs and non-fiction lately that I wanted to read a fiction book or two next. I've had this book on my list for a long time. Here's part of the synopsis from Amazon:

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

"All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."

The central character is a 17 year old girl who has just lost her mother to suicide and has started a secret relationship with the pastor's son. I'm only 30% in - thanks for that info, Kindle - and the characters are all people that feel so real that you want to sit down, have a chat, and get to know them better. I don't know which way the plot will turn next, but so far I'm a fan.

4. Dirty John Podcast

I know. This seems really "sketch" and also "sus". That's "sketchy" and "suspect" for you who might not have had the enlightening experience of driving a car full of teenagers around. This six episode true crime podcast is both of those things. It's not porn though, I promise. Think what we used to watch on Dateline/PrimeTime/20/20 every week. I heard about it on The PopCast with Knox and Jamie and decided to download it before I took my road trip to State College. I finished it on my way back. OH MY WORD. So creepy and so good.

5. Gap Luxe Tees

During part of the day while I was visiting Joe, he had to go record a sports podcast and for some reason I guess the hosts weren't looking to have someone's mom join them as a special guest. Whatever. Anyway, I took that opportunity to go to a few outlets near the university. These tees were 50% off and I bought them in two different colors. I actually went in to get a short sleeve tee to wear with these pajama pants because I am a weirdo who can only sleep in long pants and short sleeves. No shorts. No long sleeves. Anyway, these tees are so soft and fit so well that they can be worn for sleeping or for waking. Any time a piece of apparel can go from my bed to outside in the real world, I'm in.

6. Aldie General Store & Cafe

If you are in my area, I would suggest gathering up your girlfriends - or your husband and kids - and finding your way to this adorable Aldie General Store & Cafe right down Route 50 West. There is outdoor and indoor seating and the atmosphere is so fun and unique. (All I'm saying to my local peeps is this: It's not Panera. Yay! ) It has an amazing menu and the brunch was great. The sweet gal who took our order has a fabulous Australian accent, so be sure to ask her lots of questions so you can listen to it. Highly recommend this precious place.

That's all, folks. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stitch Fix Summary: October 2017

My Stitch Fix box came this weekend! Last time nothing really fit, so this time I was happy to see that everything they sent fit perfectly. Also, after my last shipment I went into my style profile and changed some of the prices I was willing to spend to lower price points. The stylist did take this into consideration and I found that the costs of the items were down this time. I kept three of the five pieces from this box.

It occurs to me that I have quite a few new readers since I first started blogging about Stitch Fix so if you aren't aware of how it works or need a refresher, here's the gist:

You go to the Stitch Fix icon about mid-way down this post to the right which will take you to the website. You will then fill out a survey answering questions about your style tastes, sizes and amount you normally spend on different items. Combinations of outfits are pictured and you rate them as something you would love, like, or hate. You can sign up for monthly or every other month shipments. You pay $20/box for a stylist to pick five items for you based on your survey and then those five items are shipped to your door. Once you get your box, you have three days to try on your items and decide what you like.  If you choose any of the items, your $20 is credited to the total. You then send back the items you don't want in a postage paid envelope that is included with your box. If you buy all five items, you get a 25% discount. If you are kind enough to use my referral code then I get $25 off of my next box. You can copy and paste this code:

Here's a look at what I received this month.

Item 1: Just USA Paola High Rise Distressed Scissor Hem Skinny Jean

Item 2: Mixed Threads Rydel Cold Shoulder Top

Here's the thing. I don't need any more distressed jeans and I thought about not even trying these on my body, but then I couldn't help myself. These were great. They're really comfortable and the perfect length. They don't bag in the knees and they cost less than any of the previous jeans I've been shipped. As I live 99% of my life in jeans, I decided that these were a keep.

Now, let's talk about this awesome plaid shirt. Part of filling out your style profile for the Stitch Fix stylist is to include your Pinterest board or blog if you like. My stylist mentioned that he looked at my blog and found out how much I like plaid. Smart Stylist. If you read here a few weeks ago, you know that I have some misgivings about all the elaborate sleeves going on this season and I've had about enough of the cold shoulder business. I have so far resisted owning a cold shoulder top, but now that the trend is likely on its last legs, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon. I am powerless over plaid flannel when it starts really feeling like fall outside which has caused me to make this clearly dumb decision because now I will actually have literal cold shoulders. Oh well, it's a keep.

Other outfit details:
Born Felicia Boots Similar Cross Body Bag Similar Earrings

Item 3: Fate Bessi Button Sleeve Detail Pullover
Item 4: Tom's Classic Alpargata Solid Canvas Slip-On Flats

While the stylists clearly have been reading many of my comments, they simply haven't heard my plea for no wool in any garments they send. I feel like I've emphasized it over and over to no avail. This cute sweater only had a small percentage of wool, but that's still a deal breaker for me. I realize this limits my sweater options, but I just can't do it. I really loved how the sweater fit. It wasn't too bulky, but was still comfortable and had great button detailing on the sleeve which is slightly less annoying than other sleeve madness I've seen. The side slit also made it unique. I would love to wear this sweater if it wouldn't make me feel like I had a combination of pink eye and chicken pox. This was a return. :-(

The Tom's canvas slip ons are a great neutral color and would have looked perfect with tons of items in my closet this fall. My problem is that I have a really high arch and Tom's just don't have enough support for my feet. These were a return.

Item 5: Tinsel Tameria Distressed Colored Skinny Jean

I received my box on a Saturday, opened it on a Sunday and pulled out these great army green colored denim pants right away. I was out the door minutes after opening the box wearing this exact outfit to brunch with a bunch of my girls. The color makes them a bit different from regular jeans and perfect for fall. The fit was perfect and the distressing was just the right amount. These were a keep.

Other outfit details:

Well, that's it for this month. I was happy to see that the stylist did take my comments into consideration for the most part. The prices were more reasonable and as usual they hit the nail on the head with style and fit.

Remember you can get Stitch Fix for Men now, too! Don't forget my referral code.

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Home is Where My Knuckleheads Are: A Remodel Recap

Well, it's been awhile since I talked about the remodeling/renovation/re-whatever we did to our house. About 18 months ago, we moved into our home which was about ten years old. We started fairly quickly with updating the kitchen and family room. It seemed like it took forever as most people who had gone through remodeling said it would. 

I have zero talent in interior decor or design, so I was quick to hire a designer - Marisa Moore at Interior Style Design - who did an incredible job. She is brilliant and talented and without her I would have likely retreated to living in a tree in the woods behind my house rather than face picking out counter tops, backsplashes and bar stools all by myself. I need to emphasize this because she is solely the reason that my house now feels like my own. I gave her some general ideas about colors and styles I liked and she made it happen. So let it be known that from this point forward when and if I use the terms "We did", "We decided", and or any other use of the word "We" with a verb following it, that is a lie. She and all the people who work with her did all the things.

Anyway, a few readers had asked to see the finished updates so here we are. The before pictures were taken before we moved in. I will tell you upfront that the after pictures were taken about three minutes after I had a cleaning service come through the house, so I can assure you that it wasn't long after my kids and husband got home that day that my pretty island was covered with paper sacks of food from Wendy's, a dirty baseball cap or two and a pair of someone's cleats. 

Most of the furniture was purchased through my designer in the magic land where they find these things so I actually don't have and/or don't remember the names of those vendors. I've tried to include some of the vendors and/or colors and brands of things where I could though. And because I barely can remember my own address, much less the name of the color we used for cabinets, those lists are short. Also, the photos are the best I could get with my phone.

First, the kitchen.


Rather than put in brand new wood flooring, we had the original floor sanded and stained with a darker color. I love how it turned out and it was much less expensive than going with new wood. We also decided that we would have the cabinets painted as opposed to putting in all new cabinets.

You might notice in the before photo that there is a sharper angle where the sink is. I had never had a kitchen island in our previous home and really wanted to have a big one to accommodate my big boys and their big friends and all their big food. To do that we had to push that angle back. We had a brand new island built and I love it with my whole heart.

Bar Stools are from World Market. Cotton Stems and Square Wooden Tray from Magnolia Market, Paint in kitchen is Mindful Grey by Benjamin Moore, Countertops are Cambria Brittanica.



We also took the breakfast bar area behind the sink from bar level to counter level so as to open up the view of the morning room which has become the place we spend 99% of our time unless sports is on tv which I suppose brings us down to about 10% of the time. Marisa found these awesome Loom Bar Stools. All the heart eyes.

Previously the microwave was above the stove, but we opted to have a chimney hood above the stove instead and move the microwave on the opposite wall next to the ovens. The original plan was to have the microwave in the low cabinet, but with a pretty tall husband and boys that are growing we felt like it would be better to have it more accessible to them. That left us with an area that I had to fill up with some sort of decor. This sent me into a tailspin of doubt and anxiety. (#superfreak) We had it framed out with some reclaimed wood and after a few trips to Target and Home Goods and a gift or two from a friend, the shelves turned out okay.



Again, the morning room is one of my favorite spots in the house. I was completely confused on how to furnish that area, but like the superhero she is, Marisa came through with the perfect pieces and rug. I will point out that yours truly picked out the two end tables and the lamp. It only took me five trips to various home stores, four returns to said stores and about a million texts to my sister to pick out those three items. Please hold your applause for my superb talent.

The kitchen table is perhaps my very favorite piece picked out by Marisa. I had the Big Sur table from Crate and Barrel in my previous house and I loved it. I wanted to have the same rustic design, but I needed a longer table for the space and for the previously mentioned growing boys. We have two extra bistro chairs which fit perfectly when we have a larger crowd.

Gold/White Chevron Chairs from Pier One,  Grey Metallic Bistro Chairs from World Market (Similar Here)

Next, the Family Room

I was genuinely at a loss about the family room and I'll tell you why. The fireplace was not centered on the wall. This gave me an eye twitch the likes of which I had never had because I am a fan of symmetry. I simply couldn't imagine how I could remedy it. I was shocked that this did not alarm my designer at all. She drew up some built-ins that are beautiful and lined the back of the shelves with metallic grasscloth which is hard to see in the photos. (PS I had never heard of grasscloth before in my life even though it is apparently a thing everyone knows about). We re-rocked the fireplace and added a mantle of distressed wood. I absolutely could not be happier with this room.



This was a little bar area in the family room. We had the cabinet with doors taken out. We used the same countertops as in the kitchen, had the cabinets painted, and added the shelves.
Drawer Pulls are from Anthropologie

Last, but not least, I must point out that we are flummoxed by these little "niches". There are two in the house and I have seriously considered having them drywall over them so I can put up art or a photo because what the heck am I supposed to do here? And also the word "niche" annoys me for no particular reason.

This was Drew's idea which is highly irritating. And yet, that thing has been there for a few months and I keep rolling my eyes at it and leaving it there.

But perhaps the most brilliant idea came from one of the older boys who sent me this.

I loved my previous home and it held a lot of wonderful memories for us as we were there for seventeen years. I brought home two babies to that house and one dog. I am very anti-change, so I thought for awhile that I would never feel comfortable in this new space, but I finally do. That is a credit to my designer who worked magic for me. But really, it is a function of knowing that wherever my knuckleheads are, there is my home, my heart and my happiness. And they are here. I am so grateful.