What I Wore Thanksgiving Edition

From Christmas socks to red lipstick, here’s what I wore last week.
Last Wednesday 
Teal henley top…I can’t remember!
Green tank top- Old Navy
Jeans- Refuge Runway from Charlotte Russe

flower pin- The Mercy House, no longer available. Similar.

And because you all liked my socks so much last time:

Christmas socks!
Unfortunately I was too busy on Thanksgiving to take a picture of what I wore. I’ll just have to wear it again sometime so I can show you. 

 Black Friday

Eiffel Tower Shirt- gift from my little sister
Pink sweater- Francescas
Skinny jeans

Headband- also from my little sister, I think from Claire’s.
I must have been subconsciously missing my family, since most of my outfit was a birthday gift from Evi and the pink sweater I bought here in AZ when she and my mom came to visit.

Comfortable flats- Clark’s
My outfit was all about comfort, from my sweater to my shoes. And because I’m sure you’re dying to know what I bought…
Twisted peppermint and evergreen candles, Paris Amour body lotion- Bath and Body Works
Lipstick, “The Red”- Sephora
Not shown- two Body By Victoria bras- Victoria Secret
For some reason, I felt a little awkward posting pictures of my new bras, haha! Anyway, they were buy one get one 50% off. The lipstick was not on sale, but the candles were buy two for the price of one, and I used a coupon to get the lotion for free. 
The lipstick is called “The Red,” for obvious reasons. It’s very, very red. The lady helping me pick a color said it was vintage, like something Marilyn Monroe would wear, so I bought it. It will be perfect for my best friend’s vintage 50s wedding next summer, and it will look lovely with my black dresses. I have some red winter dresses that it will look nice with too. I’m also going to experiment with toning it down with gloss and primer for other outfits, and hopefully work up to wearing it full strength. Since I’m not really a lipstick wearer, the color really scares me right now!
Saturday
headband- from my older sister, from Maurice’s
navy tee-shirt- from Walmart
gray flowered flyaway cardigan- a Christmas present from my younger sister, from Younkers
shoes- Francesca’s

Brian took this picture for me! You can’t see my shoes, but their the same blue striped flats in last Wednesday’s post.

I realized that I owe a lot of my wardrobe to my sisters, especially my younger one. She’s the family fashionista. Thanks Evi!!!

pleated poppy Also linking up with Monday Mingle.

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Thanksgiving, Love, Gifts, and Prayer

Part of me feels like counting blessings like barbecue pizza and candles is trivial, in light of some bad news I received yesterday, that I’ll get to later in this post. But really, all is a gift from God. And in times like these, I have to focus on finding beauty, even in small, trivial things, to remember that God is good.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was thankful for…

Family
We had Thanksgiving dinner with some of our church family; our senior pastor, his wife and kids, and his extended family, as well as some of their friends. Later, we played games and socialized until my SIL arrived. 
Brian’s older sister drove over from LA to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us. She probably doesn’t appreciate this sort-of candid shot, but it’s the only picture I took all weekend with her in it. 
Food
Barbeque Blue Burger, Garlic Fries, and  Baked Potato Fries
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Beet Salad
Pumpkin Pie Shake

Barbeque Chicken Pizza
Originally, I was going to fix a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the three of us on Friday. Instead, we decided to do some errands and go shopping, and eat at Joe’s Farm Grill. I think we made the right choice!
Sales and Coupons
So we did do a little shopping on Friday, at about two in the afternoon, so all the early morning crazies had gone to bed. Andrea gave me a coupon for a free signature item at Bath and Body Works with a purchase. Well, Brian had told me weeks earlier that he really wanted a peppermint scented candle. Bath and Body Works candles were buy one get one free, a really good deal considering that one usually cost $20.
   
So, I got Brian the peppermint candle and myself the evergreen one, and a lotion for free!
I also got good deals on some other things I wanted. While I don’t like the idea of going crazy on Black Friday and buying a bunch of stuff right after we were supposedly so thankful for all we had, it was a gift to be able to get good deals on some things that had been on my list for awhile. 
Relaxation
From Thursday to Sunday, we slept in, and I wore my pjs most of the morning. We also watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 and 2, and the special features. After those movies, we transitioned into the Christmas spirit with Elf, White Christmas, and A Miracle on 34th Street. 
While watching White Christmas, Andrea baked an apple crisp, and I made a pumpkin pie.

I read in Better Homes and Gardens that baking is a great stress reliever because it makes you focus on one thing at a time. Plus, eating the dessert is a good stress reliever too.
I’m also thankful for…
  • Christmas music, and that I can now play it loud and proud.
  • The Christmas decor strewn around the dining room, waiting to be put up.
  • Brian allowed me to go shopping, however unwillingly.
  • Brian told me at random times over the weekend that I looked cute, or “cute as a button.” How sweet 🙂
  • Getting to meet a high school friend of Andrea’s who lives in Phoenix. We all met up for lunch, and she was a super sweet girl and fun to talk to. Plus, it’s always nice to meet fellow Iowans, especially those who attended Iowa State University. 
  • I’m thankful that Brian is skilled at fixing cars. Not only does he keep our cars in good shape, but he was able to fix Andrea’s broken door handle over the weekend.
  • Brian mailed my residency application. It’s been a long time in the making, and I so appreciate that he’s handled the paperwork, putting it together, and getting it sent. 
  • Brian and I have had several good talks about life, work, and what we as a family should do. I love his heart for people and for serving God. 
  • When I emailed Brian yesterday to tell him that I was going to be very busy with final projects this week, he readily offered to help with dinner, dishes, and house cleaning this week. 
  • He is also doing a great job at finding potential houses and analyzing our finances.
  • Yesterday he got us pre-approved for financing. 
  • I’m very thankful that Brian understands how loans, credit scores, etc. work. Because when he tries to explain to me how they decide how much money to loan us, I don’t understand a word.
I’m most thankful that I have Brian to lean on. Last night I got a phone call from my dad, which usually isn’t a good sign. My Aunt Joy, who, as I’ve told you about before, was diagnosed with brain cancer, was in the hospital in critical condition. Her brain is swelling, and the doctors are trying to get it under control. 
My dad and my older sister said she has gone downhill fast. She’s very swollen from the steroids she’s been taking for the pain, she’s losing her short term memory, has difficulty speaking and walking, and started having seizures last week. 
I’m afraid that this might mean that we have less time left with her than we thought. 
When I got off the phone with my dad, Brian was there to hold me. I’m very thankful for him. And, I’m very thankful to those of you who follow me on facebook and let me know that you were praying. Thank you so much for your prayers. Please don’t stop. 

Join me at these blogs to practice gratefulness…


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What I Wore Wednesday

I’m so excited to be linking up for What I Wore Wednesday for the first time ever! Lately, I needed some serious motivation to change out of my pj’s every day. So, here are my best outfits from the last week.

pleated poppy

Last Wednesday:

pink long sleeve tee – old navy. Similar: Mango Women’s Basic Long Sleeve T-shirt
gray tank top – old navy 
boot cut jeans – refuge runway Charlotte Russe (on sale this weekend, 10% off)
Ok, it is very hard to take a picture of yourself without a tripod. If anyone reading this is looking for a gift idea for me: TRIPOD. As it is, for this picture I balanced the camera on one of the bookshelves that was about the right height, but I’m so far away! 

Since you can’t see them in the first picture, here’s a close up of my cute socks. 

A from the top view of my headband, from Tres Chic Boutique. 
Thursday:
striped button up- old navy
striped shoes- Francesca’s Collections
skinny belt – came with a skirt
not shown: the same jeans and a similar gray tank to the ones I wore the day before
I forgot to take a picture of my outfit Thursday, so I dug it out of the laundry the next day and took a quick picture. 
On Friday, I had a hard time convincing myself to not stay in my pajamas. I compromised by wearing this super comfy t-shirt and putting on jeans. I figured that as long as I have to put some pants on, they might as well be jeans. 
Saturday:
gray t-shirt -Old Navy
navy tank – Old Navy
headband – Maurice’s
On Saturday, Brian and I celebrated our 1 year and five month anniversary, so I dressed up a little! 

This is the best picture of my headband I could manage. 
Sunday
 Dress- Maurice’s? I’ve had it forever.
black pumps – Payless? I’ve had these for almost forever.
purple long sleeve t-shirt -Old Navy
Gray fabric shoes- Payless
I wore the dress to church in the morning, and changed to the casual outfit when we came home. We had friends over all afternoon, and then youth group that night.
Tuesday
white t-shirt -Charlotte Russe
pink tank – Old Navy
knit skirt- Forever 21
Headband- Maurice’s
Yes, this picture is the best of the three that I took.  It’s kinda ridiculous how unphotogenic I am. I was having a really bad day on Tuesday, and then I realized at 11:30 I was still in my pjs and hadn’t showered. I decided to wear a skirt and fix my hair in an attempt to lift my mood, and it worked! This was  a landmark day for me: it was the first time in my life I succeeded in putting my hair into a bun! 

I definitely could improve my outfits with some necklaces or scarves, I think.

Speaking of scarves, I found this incredible video this week. I’ve watched it several times, and then I got addicted to Wendy’s channel. I watched all of her videos over the course of two days. She’s got a very quirky, peppy personality, and super helpful tips!

Using pictures to motivate myself to get dressed in the morning definitely worked for me!

works for me wednesdays

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Love and Gifts

Today I’m combining the challenge from Newlywed’s Bliss with counting gifts.

Dear Brian,

1. Thank you for listening so sympathetically all week as I struggled with a research paper for school.
2. And thank you for telling me “I believe in you,” when I was ready to give up on it entirely on Friday night.
3. And that same night, I love that you brought me Starbucks, it definitely helped!
4. I love your willingness to fix dinner on nights when I’m busy. It lifts a huge load of stress off of my shoulders.
5. I love that you’re a very creative and adventurous cook, and you’re good at making something with whatever we have.
6. I love that you took the time Saturday afternoon to clean out the inside of the Ford. You knew it’s messy state had been bothering me, so I really appreciate that you took care of it! Thank you for taking good care of both of our vehicles.
7. I love that although you resist doing something outside of your comfort zone, afterwards you’re glad that you did.
8. I love the fact that you are so talented at grocery shopping. It’s such a blessing to me, because I really don’t enjoy doing it at all, and you can do it faster and better than I can any day.
9. I love that you’re seeking what God wants you to do with your life, and you want to serve Him more than just make money.
10. I love that you want to make a difference in the world by loving people.

A few excerpts from my gratitude journal…

593. A breakthrough idea for the gift guide. Keeping it on pintrest saved me hours of time!
594. Every one of my blog readers. You are a gift!
595. Brian’s work load has gotten lighter.
601. We had a great turn out for our first week of linking up at Newlywed’s Bliss. Reading your posts was a gift, and I hope writing them was a blessing to you.
604. Brian taking the dog to the park. So nice to have total quiet, and some of the dog’s energy used up.
607. An encouraging facebook message from my best friend.
608. A letter from our sponsor child in Honduras, Bessi, with a picture of herself. Tears on my part.
609. I smashed my fingers in a window, but after keeping ice on them for awhile, I was able to finish typing the aforementioned research paper. They’re only a tiny bit sore now, and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to type the paper with one hand.
610. Brian’s sister is coming to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us!

Will you join me in giving thanks for your spouse this month? What gifts have you been blessed with TODAY?


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Ever Grateful

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for our family. Not just our biological family, but our church family. In the last year, our church has really become our family.

This is our second Thanksgiving in Arizona. Hard to believe! Last year we were adopted for a day by our senior pastor’s family. This year, our plans are still up in the air. We’ve been invited to two different families’ homes, and Brian’s sister will be coming later in the day. We’d also like to volunteer at the Salvation Army, but we might save that for a weekend when we can take the whole youth group.

Speaking of the youth, this experience of leading them has been amazingly stretching and rewarding. I can’t even express how much I care about each and every one of these guys.

The teens at camp

One way leading them has been stretching, was having them over to our house. All 15 of them came. I’d never entertained that many people before! I wish I’d had this back then:

DaySpring

This month I had the pleasure of reviewing the Give Thanks – Wooden Caddy from DaySpring’s (in)spired deals. I’ve never been disappointed by DaySpring’s products, and this was no exception. It’s sturdy, detailed, and elegant.

The plaque on the front says “Give Thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love. Psalm 107:8”

It’s a perfect reminder for me, when I’m about to get stressed out about the prospect of having people over. It’s a privilege and blessing!

This Give Thanks – Wooden Caddy is available for $29.99. Check out the other DaySpring Ever Grateful Products,  like the Ever Grateful – 12″ Cake Pedestal.

Or the Ever Grateful – Full Adult Apron.

For added incentive:
Get $10 off orders of $60 or more from DaySpring with promo code: 10off60






Disclosure: I was given this item free of charge from DaySpring, but my opinion is my own! See my disclosure policy at the bottom of my site for more information. 
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Give Intentionally

Most of you reading this post consider yourselves pretty average people. I consider myself a pretty average person. I believe that inside most average people is the desire to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, most of us never do anything with that desire, because we’re afraid of doing what we know we should, or we want something else more. Giving costs. 

But sometimes changing the world is a lot easier than we think. You don’t need to become a doctor and live in Africa to make a difference. You can change the world right where you’re sitting, right now, at your computer. You can change the world this Christmas, one present at a time.

This Christmas, I’m hoping you’ll choose to buy gifts intentionally. That’s what this gift guide is for. I’m hoping that you’ll use your money to give a gift that gives back and support a cause with your purchase, giving two gifts for the price of one.

Join me, and check out the Holiday Gift Guide tab at the top of the blog.

Thankful for My Husband

I posted about it on facebook, but in case you haven’t heard, over on Newlywed’s Bliss tomorrow we are giving you an opportunity to give thanks, specifically for your spouse. We’re asking you to make a list of 10 things you love about them, once a week, during the month of November. Then, link up with us on Tuesdays. I hope you’ll join me over there, even if you don’t consider yourself “newly wed.”

Here’s my list, mainly of things that occurred just last week:

  1. You are more patient than I am, and you’re good at trouble shooting. I couldn’t have figured out how to set up this linky without you. 
  2. You do and say hilarious things in your sleep. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. 
  3. I love your laugh, the deep, belly laugh when something is REALLY funny and your face turns red and you gasp for breath. 
  4. I love that you always want me to come to bed at the same time you do.
  5. I love that you make me coffee every morning. It makes my day so much better!
  6. You agreed to forgo looking at cars on our date last Friday, and instead got wings and watched Lord of the Rings with me. It was epic, and I had a great time!
  7. You let me use you to hide behind during the scary parts during Lord of the Rings. 
  8. You are real and honest. 
  9. You take care of maintaining our yard, so I don’t have to worry about it. 
  10. Sometimes you read my blog. It really means a lot to me babe!

Will you join me in linking up your list tomorrow over here

Cleaning and Organizing the Kitchen and Pantry: Days 4 and 5

I have a confession to make. I got so into cleaning and organizing the kitchen, I just wanted to get it done. So I forgot to take “before” pictures. I can just show you the after pictures and tell you how it used to be. 
Before
The flour, coffee, and tea canisters were on the counter on the other side of the sink, where they weren’t noticeable. They are too cute to be hidden away, and besides, I do most of my cooking on the other side of the sink, so it just made sense to keep them there. 
On the other side of the sink where the canisters used to be, there also used to be a big pile of mail. When Brian comes in from the garage door when he comes home from work, he sets his lunch box and the mail down right there, and often it piles up. I try to always meet him at the door, so after we say hi and start talking about the day, I pick up the mail and sort it right there. It’s convenient because our recycling is right there too. 
After

Before
The bottle brush and scrubbing pads were scattered behind the sink in a pile, but when I was cleaning underneath the sink I found that little white caddy.

After

Instead of using chemicals to clean, I used a recipe from the index of Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living. The cleaning solution consisted of vinegar, baking soda, and water. It was super easy to make, and it really worked. I was very glad I used it when Brian accidentally knocked over the bucket and spilled it all over the floor. Right away, the dog started lapping it up. Good thing it’s non-toxic, otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to him!

Before
Picture these counters with the coffee maker, utensil container, and knife block, along with a toaster, smoothie maker, and spice rack. I found other homes for three of those appliances, and now I have a lot more room!

After

The book says to take everything out of your cupboards and drawers, clean them all out, and then put it back in a way that works better for you. Well, I didn’t do that. I just wiped down the fronts and rearranged the ones that weren’t working for me.

Before
The pantry definitely wasn’t working for me. I took most of the stuff out, and thought through what I used most often. The top shelf was a catch all for all kinds of stuff, and the bottom shelf was a mess too. There was so much space going to waste, and after cleaning off the counters, I wanted to use some of it to store some of the appliances.

After
I threw out prescription information from prescriptions that had been used up, and removed objects that belong somewhere else.  Then I categorized the rest, and sectioned off areas for it. We needed to get groceries at the time, so there’s lots of free space still.

I put appliances and cookbooks on the top shelf because they’re big enough that I can see them from below without having to pull out the step-stool. I put cooking and baking ingredients on one side of second shelf and breakfast stuff on the other side. The next shelf is for snacks and beverages, the one under that is for spices, sauces, and pasta. On the bottom shelf that’s partly obscured by Kopek, canned food takes up half and plastic bags and the step-stool take up the other side.

A few days later, I bought a metal shelf stacker thing. It doubled the space! It was a great purchase. Here’s a similar one from Organize.com that has even more space:

Silver Mesh Pantry Organizers

I used silverware containers to corral seasonings that don’t go on the spice rack.

When’s the last time you cleaned out your pantry? Does your kitchen space work for you?

Day One: Organized Simplicity
Days 2 and 3: Redecorating and Decluttering the Living Room, Office, and Dining Room
Days 4 and 5: Cleaning and Organizing the Kitchen and Pantry
Day 6: Decluttering and Organizing the Bathrooms
Days 7 and 8: Redecorating and Organizing the Bedrooms
Day 9: Redecorating and Organizing the Master Bedroom
Day 10: Organizing the Linen Closet and Entry Way

Redecorating and Decluttering the Living Room, Office, and Dining Room: Days 2 and 3

Day One of the Organized Simplicity ten day program was a sweep of the whole house, collecting items that were obviously trash, needed to be put away, or donated. I didn’t take pictures of that, so we’ll pick up at Day 2 and 3, The Living Room. For me, that included the office, the dining room, and the actual living room. 
Way Before
It’s really shaky, and the camera makes my voice sound weird, but here’s the house part 1, video taken right before we moved in, so it’s all nice and clean and uncluttered.

This is a picture I took of the room that was the dining room when we first moved in. We switched the office, consisting of a large bookshelf and a desk, with the dining room so that the dining room was closer to the kitchen. 
Before
Here’s that same wall, now with the bookshelf and desk. When we first moved in, I unpacked the books and arranged them by topic on the shelves. Until Brian could get used to it, I marked the topics so Brian could find them with sticky notes, as you can see in the picture below. 
I liked being able to find the books on a similar topic all together, but I didn’t like how cluttered and random it looked. I considered organizing them by color or size, like these pictures from pintrest. 

 During
When working on each room, the book says to take EVERYTHING and put it in one central location out of the way. By everything, that means…everything. 

“Remove everything but furniture, rugs, and curtains, and put it all in one central, roomy location.” -Tsh Oxenreider, Organized Simplicity pg. 131

I cheated, because there was no way I was taking down ALL of those books on the big book shelf. But I did take down most of the non-book items, and I dusted around the books. 


It was much faster and easier to clean with all the stuff out of the way! After moving everything, I started at the top with the ceiling fan and dusted down, then washed the windows and blinds, and finished by cleaning the floors. I listened to TED videos while I worked, and it made the time pass quickly.


Here’s the bookshelf in progress: 

I decided to keep the books arranged by topic, but within each topical section wherever possible, I arranged them by color. It’s subtle, but it looks put together. 
After
I slowly re-introduced decor items to the shelf. I didn’t want to put back anything I didn’t absolutely love and want.
I added some leaves and fall sprigs:

During
That isn’t the only book shelf in the office. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a before picture of this one. Those letters were in a pile on the top shelf, the marble bust wasn’t there, some large candles were. The bottom shelf was just magazines, and there wasn’t really anything else on it except the black box containing stationary. 
The marble bust fit better in this room, in my opinion, because it’s a little more formal. Ideally, I’d put the LOVE letters on the wall, but I didn’t have time to mess with that this time. I moved my school notebooks from a cardboard box to the shelf, and my filing system, which was hidden under my desk before. 
 After
Final touches: leaves and candles. The leaves are from the dollar store. They came in a big bouquet for only a buck, and I snipped them apart so I could spread them out. 
 After
Remember seeing this in the video? This had two shelves then, and it drove me crazy because I couldn’t figure out a nice arrangement. Finally, I took out the shelf and just made one big open area. It took me all week to arrive at this arrangement, but at last, I’m really happy with it! 
This used to be in the living room area, but we moved it to the wall where the bookshelf used to be. It’s perfect for storing board games and fancy dishes, right next to the dining room table, where we use them!
Here’s the dining room table after being decorated for fall:
And here’s my favorite thing about this house: 
The beautiful floor! 
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that picture most of the time. I have to sweep every day because of this guy: 

But he’s cute enough, it’s worth it. 
Here’s the sell and give piles after days 1-3: 
It was slow work, but finishing those rooms was very motivating. I couldn’t wait to tackle the kitchen next! 
Linking up with Works for Me Wednesday!
Day 6: Decluttering and Organizing the Bathrooms
Days 7 and 8: Redecorating and Organizing the Bedrooms
Day 9: Redecorating and Organizing the Master Bedroom
Day 10: Organizing the Linen Closet and Entry Way

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well friends, I’ve been busy lately. I can’t wait to show you the pictures of our house now that we went through the Organize Simplicity challenge, and decorated for fall. However, I’m still working on editing the pictures to make up for the poor lighting in some, and I want to do a video tour of our house as the grand finale. Hence, no post yet. I know, it will be CHRISTMAS by the time I show you my fall decorations!

Besides trying to get that post ready, I’m also trying to put together something special for Thanksgiving over on Newlywed’s Bliss. I’ll blog about it next week, but I hope you’ll all get involved!

And in addition to that, I’m also trying to write some freelance articles in hopes of getting published. And applying for residency at ASU, registering for my final semester of college, and getting ready for graduation (!!!). And, this weekend is a marriage seminar at church, which will be awesome, but I won’t get much else done.

So, thanks for your patience, my friends. I hope to be back up to full posting speed soon. By the way, in case you missed it, I’d like to publish you this month!