April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

NYC family final
Well, given that I’ve barely written a single word this month, I figured I’d better get my word quota finished in one post.

Sorry about that…this one’s pushing has long passed 1,500. (But I think it’s worth reading, just for the giveaway at the end!) πŸ˜‰

Some months are like that…and, honestly, there’s been a lot of processing going on…just not a lot of sharing the words. I’m finally good with that, I think.

But I really love this end-of-the-month post…the chance to update and just share my faves with y’all. And there were a ton this month because, between Easter (helllooooooo, cute dresses!) and a crazy-busy, FUN week of vacation for the three of us, there are just lots of stories to share.

So let’s get to it?

OH. And I’m throwing in another category…EAT. Because…NYC and Philly. πŸ˜‰

I’ve also got a few fun things to share and a giveaway and the end of this post. Because one cannot travel and discover so many awesome things and NOT share them with the rest of the world, or at least her ten readers, ya know?

I know! (And also, I just love presents.) :)

I bring you the April faves…there are some goodies!!!


So I finished The Hardest Peace. There were a lot of tissues involved…it was one of those books. Heart-wrenching, painful mixed with absolutely beautiful. I recommend it. Read it.

This, too…a friend shared it with me last week, and it’s spot on. Plus, I had a conversation with another friend before she even sent it to me that was basically the same thing. Will you pray for me, friends?

Right now…I’m a mama. And I want to love it completely without wishing for more. My more will come someday.

Also…I’m dying to read the latest Shopaholic book. Just because I haven’t read it yet, and she is stinkin’ FUN. NY.


My hubby and I have been sorta-kinda-addicted to Flip or Flop on HGTV. Seriously…I have no idea why watching a couple buy houses in absolutely disgusting shape and transform them into stunning beauties is so enthralling, but it is. (Psst…Netflix has the first season available for streaming.) I mostly-seriously said to my husband earlier this week,Β I think you should quit your job and we could flip houses! Wouldn’t it be fun?!

He didn’t go for it.


Also, with the loss of my childhood TV crush last week, Jonathan Crombie (aka: Gilbert Blythe), Anne of Green Gables has been on my TV a lot this week while I’ve drowned my sorrows in red currant wine. (Ok, not really. But someone tweeted that, and I thought it was insanely clever.) πŸ˜‰ I totally bought the DVD trilogy back when…I don’t even know. When it first came out on DVD. Gotta admit that I’m a little devastated. I loved him. I think we all did. :( Rest in peace, Gil.

jonathancrombiephoto credit: IMDB


I’m still rockin’ the earrings. (At least I think I’m rockin’ em.) Golly, where have I BEEN? Now my ears feel naked without them. I’m loving this pair from Work of Worth, an awesome fair trade company. They’re huge, and these Might. Actually. Take. Over. My. Head.

But I don’t care because they’re so cute. (And I also realized that you can’t see them too well here, but it’s late and I’m lazy. But I did manage to take this in my kitchen. Really, Mel?! OY.) :)

another earring selfie final
And, this dress. So, funny story. I ordered it from Maurices a week before Easter, which is a lot in the ordering-online-from-Maurices, world. (They are usually up there with Amazon Prime in terms of shipping. Yep.) But it didn’t even ship by Thursday night, even though I’d ordered it Sunday. And so I dashed…dashed…out of the Maundy Thursday service and sped (just a little) my bum over to the closest Maurices, skidding in the door ten minutes before they closed.

Aaaahhhh…breathe. They had it in stock. In my size. And, I LOVE it. It’s my new favorite dress. Maybe forever. :) Also, if you want one, you should buy it pretty fast because it’s selling out quick. I’m a 6ish, sometimes size 8, and I bought a medium. It was perfect.

Here we are on Easter. We’re cute, I know. And also, these two are my favorite favorites. :)

Easter2015 final

Ok. I’m a world traveler, and I love…LOVE…seeing new places. But my husband and I have confessed, many times, that while we’ve seen the world, we haven’t exactly seen our own country.

And so we added a couple new places two weeks ago…and the whole vacation deserves its own post, which it’s going to get…but I couldn’t not mention how much I now love the East Coast. Philly was fun, the bit of it we saw, and the friends we saw it with were even better. My introduction to the city happened at Reading Terminal Market in the form of this donut.

And, really, there’s a REASON there’s already a bite out of it. Warm, gooey, cream filled, salted caramel-ly…it was beyond delicious.

donut&coffee final 2
Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.

That was the best donut ever. I’m still thinking about it. Often. (The coffee there was pretty awesome, too.)

And when we decided to do NYC for a day, I knew I couldn’t go there without getting a bagel with lox. Dude, I’ve read about these forever, and I had to try one. Had To.

And so when we stopped in a little deli for lunch, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. $3 for a bagel and cream cheese…and I added some smoked salmon. Never even LOOKED at the price.

I figured I’d get a slice or two of salmon, eat my bagel like a real New Yorker, say yum, and call it good. Bucket list, check.

Nope. Tobin comes over to the table with our food. Um, Mel? I’m not even going to tell you how much that bagel cost.

Huh? It’s a bagel with cream cheese AND. SOME. FISH.

the bagel final
Nope. Apparently, adding TEN INCHES OF SALMON to my bagel shot the price up FOURTEEN DOLLARS! Dude, we’re not poor, but really?! And so, the saga of Mel’s $17 bagel began. (And ended rather quickly because there’s no way I could eat all of that. Or even half.)

It was good. Not the best thing ever, but it was good. And if it happens again, I will specify…how about $2 worth of salmon instead of $14? πŸ˜‰

But there was plenty about New York food to love, and the roasted cashews at Battery Park were a favorite, too. But I’ll get to that all next week. Aaahhh, New York, you now hold a piece of my heart forever. And, also, I need to come back for your pizza. I ran out of stomach space for that one.

But I’ll be back in October, and I can’t wait!!! (More on that one later.) :) :) :)


God gave me a gift while we were in Pennsylvania…the chance to attend Winsome, a retreat that is the God-sized Dream of a dear sister, Kim. It was a God-thing that the timing and location worked out, and being there was such an amazing gift. I got to reconnect with dear friends, share heart chats and LOTS of coffee, go deeper with friends I didn’t know as well, worship with my hands raised, listen to Truth from women who are doing such incredible work for God…

Winsomefriends final
The tears are running down my face right now because I just want to go back and do it all again.

One of the moments that weekend that meant so much was when a friend just asked,Β How ARE you?Β And she listened while I went on and on. πŸ˜‰ And she had no idea how much I needed that. And now I miss her like crazy, too.

I also need to write more about the weekend.

So clearly, I have a lot of writing to do. Someone please make me do it? πŸ˜‰

And how ’bout a giveaway? Golly, I love to give presents. :)

bagearringsgc giveaway final
Last week, I was exploring a little town in Iowa when Mae and I made a quick visit there to see some family, and I wandered into a little store, The Silver Spider. I fell in love with pretty much everything there, and it’s a miracle that I walked out without more treats. But I did discover Blue Q bags, and am now carrying a messenger one that I adore. (I also have the bicycle print one on my please-buy-me-this-for-my-birthday, list. Just fyi in case that’s important information for any of you.) πŸ˜‰

But because I loved the bags so much, I bought this zipper pouch for one of you to win! Because, hello. Bicycles = SO. CUTE. and this pouch is awesome. It would work for makeup or a Kindle or your chocolate stash. (An iPad mini fits in there, too, if that gives you an idea of the size.)

And I’m completely on an earring kick lately, in case you haven’t noticed. πŸ˜‰ These are from ViBella, one of my favorite fair trade organizations, and I think they’re adorable…as is pretty much ever piece of jewelry on their site. I hope you’ll give their facebook page a like and then hop over to the site to do a little shopping! Seriously…there are some gorgeous pieces there, and your money is going to provide jobs and education for people in need. Win-win. :)

And because it’s spring (YAY!!!!!!!) and that really deserved more exclamation points, but I’m trying to show some restraint, and because Dunkin’ has their any-size, 99 cent iced coffee between 3-6 pm back…a $5 gift card, which will cover your caffeine fix for a week. (Grammar people, please don’t pick apart that last sentence.) πŸ˜‰

I’m throwing caution to the wind and using Rafflecopter for this one. (Rafflecopter and I have a love/hate relationship.) Click the link below and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck! And I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning.

I’ve missed you all. A lot. Thanks for being here. :)

The happiest of weekends to you. May you find some sunshine and a quiet spot to enjoy it all. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday-Favorites 300


A Lesson from Qatar + A Bucket List

So a couple months ago we took a trip to Indonesia. This post has been a long time coming…and it took awhile to write, so we’re going back a couple months. πŸ˜‰


That’s in Qatar.

Here you go…a map, just so you don’t have to go and look it up. :)

So we layed-over in Doha, Qatar, both going to and coming home from Indonesia. When we first booked our flight with Qatar Airways, I had to look it up on a map. Where is this mysterious country? Is thisΒ even a country? (Ahem…clearly, geography was not my strong suit. Actually, it was, but I missed out on this one.)

So I located it, a little peninsula of a country sticking out into the Persian Gulf and, in my opinion, just a bit too close to the country of Iran, but whatever. A motto in my life is to embrace the world, and so I at least try to doΒ that.

So I can’t really tell you, probably due to my lack of coherence (and sleep) at that point in my day, exactly what my first impressions of Qatar…or, at least the airport, were. I remember that we took stairs off the airplane, boarded a big bus, and took a ride to the actual airport, where we went through security again and then made our way to a lounge for eight hours. (Hubby and a guy from Britain decided to strike up a conversation about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane at this time. Gee, thanks…just what I want to talk about as I’m traveling. by. PLANE.)

But the lounge was nice. It needed more beds…really…but comfy chairs, showers, food, and the coolest coffee makerΒ ever more than made up for the lack of places to ACTUALLY. LIE. DOWN. πŸ˜‰ (And I tried to take a picture of the coffee machine and got yelled at…yep, apparently using my iPhone in the food area of the lounge was a big no-no. Though the woman who scolded me had no argument to back up her scolding. Just trust me…it was cool.) πŸ˜‰

QatarCoffeeBut I DID sneak this picture of my COFFEE. IN. THE. LOUNGE. (Hand slap.) πŸ˜‰

Anyway, back to my purpose in telling you all of that. πŸ˜‰ Since the food was all-you-can-eat, we chose those hours to make up for the less-than-stellar airline food we’d been served, which had gone mostly uneaten. (Except for the bread, the cheese, and the little KitKats.) πŸ˜‰ And, oh, the food. It was a spread of yummy deliciousness…pastries, breads, sandwiches, fruit, and hummus.

I swooned over that hummus. (And ate as much as I could without feeling physically ill. Or maybe I did feel a little sick. A little.) πŸ˜‰

It was while I was munching on, yet another, triangle of pita doused in hummus that I realized it…Eating hummus in the Middle East should have been added to my bucket list. You know, the bucket list I’ve been saying I would write for years and never actually HAVE?

Yeah, that one.

The reality is that I probably should write it soon before all that’s left is for me to go skydiving. Because I will never go skydiving, so there.

If you’ve had a conversation with me regarding the trip we took, you may know that really the only negative thing I have to say about our trip to Indonesia involves laying over in Qatar…probably something we will not choose again. (Though the hummus was good.) But there was a takeaway from our time there, and for that I am thankful. (Oh, and I also bought a mug and a little stuffed camel, so I guess I took those things away, too.) πŸ˜‰

I took away the inspiration to write a bucket list for us. Me in particular, but I’m hoping Tobin and Mae will jump in, too. They’re invited, and so are you. :)

So here it is…the beginning of it all at least, complete with my happy little commentary.

And, of course, subject to additions for the rest of my life. πŸ˜‰


1. Learn to play another instrument and actually play it somewhere. (If anyone will let me!)
2. Sell a piece of my art.
3. Publish my book. (Finish it first, I guess…and then find an agent, too!)
4. Become fluent in another language. (I seem to have a good head-start in Indonesian…) πŸ˜‰
5. Learn to roast coffee beans.
6. Speak at least once at a writer’s conference.
7. Build a coffee table.


1. Visit the pyramids in Egypt.
2. Take a boat ride on the Nile and maybe even swim there. (I know, I know. Let’s not talk about the crocodiles, k?) πŸ˜‰
3. Shop the markets in Turkey. (Must. Buy. A. Cute. Bag.)
4. Take a mommy/daughter trip to another country.
5. Do an overland safari in Africa.
6. See Machu Picchu in Peru.
7. Visit Australia and hold a koala. (Except for Antarctica, it’s the only continent we have left.)


1. Adopt a child.
2. Visit an orphanage with Mae.
3. Read 100 chapter books aloud with Maelie.
4. Return to Indonesia as a family for an extended period of time to serve.
5. Spend a year as a family doing acts of kindness for others.
6. Let Mae choose any adventure she wants to take for her 10th birthday and just go.
7. Do something wild and unexpected for a friend.
8. Do something wild and unexpected for a stranger.


1. Buy plane tickets, pack our suitcases, and just go…all in the same day.
2. Buy a home in Bali for retirement someday.
3. Take our friends on a crazy, other-side-of-the-world, getaway for my 40th birthday.
4. Buy a motorbike/scooter in the U.S. (T made me add U.S. ’cause I had one in Indo…) πŸ˜‰
5. Go a month without using a car at all.
6. Get a tattoo.


1. Break 27:00 on a 5k.
2. Run a 10k in under one hour.
3. Run a half marathon.
4. Do CrossFit for six months.
5. Learn to do yoga.
6. Run a 5k as a family. (All of us. Running.)
7. Complete a triathlon. (Shakin’ in my Nikes already…)


1. Read through the Bible in six months.
2. Memorize the book of Philippians. (I’m 3/8 of the way done. At least I used to be.) πŸ˜‰
3. Lead an overseas mission trip.
4. Spend a year volunteering for Mercy Ships in Africa.
5. Go to Uganda with Sole Hope.
6. Learn to love like Jesus.

Did I miss anything? (Of course I did…every time I proofed this list, I kept adding to it!!!) πŸ˜‰

What would you add?

Here’s to a beautiful life…join me?Β