Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)


Or, we could just call this piece the everything-all-at-once post.


As usual, it’s been too long since I’ve found this place. Life just keeps zipping by, and I can’t believe it’s almost March and that I have a seven month old.

Time can slow down Any. Day.

I started writing a pretty deep post last night…and when I hit 1,400 words and was still only about half there, I decided maybe now’s not the time for (too) deep thoughts. Though there’s plenty of rambling going on here.

You’ve been warned. πŸ˜€

But occasionally I have a day when there are a zillion thoughts swirling that aren’t as deep, and so why not hit the blog? Mac is napping, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m basically killing time until we can sneak out for a walk. (And last week when we had those gorgeous, basically-spring temps? It was Mac’s first time sitting up in the stroller and…OH. MY. HEART.)

Mac in stroller

But back to writing…the honest truth is that I’ve been pretty quiet the last year. It felt like the internet was so, SO noisy, and I just felt overwhelmed even entering conversations. And so I’ve hung back and learned to be still and listen more…and it’s been really, really good. Mostly.

But writing is the one thing I don’t want to be too silent on. Sharing words gives me life. I’m not ready to hang up this place yet.

So I’ll keep running back to it and finding words when there are some.

I also haven’t done a favorites post in forever, so I thought I’d do that, too. You know, because sometimes it’s just good to catch up on life, if not for the good of everyone else, at least for me. And how about a giveaway? Cause I love a good one. (Keep going.) :)


I’ve been reading a lot.

Mostly the Bible…I started the beginning of the year in 1 Samuel, and I decided to just read straight through. Some days it’s eight chapters (usually not, though) and some days it’s two. I’m just trying to open my Bible more…and I’m finding that, for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying it. That sort of makes me sad to say, especially after five years of Bible college, but it’s pretty true.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on us.

He’s renewing my heart and showing me a deeper relationship with Him.

I’ve been reading through a couple other books, too…slower than normal, but sometimes I can’t process it all at once, ya know? πŸ˜‰

The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp) is amazing. I got so excited when it came out that I ordered a few copies. And the study guide. And the DVD. So if you’re local, there might be a Bible study coming up sometime. :)

Uninvited (Lysa TerKeurst) This one just speaks to the season I’m in right now. Some relationships are a little up and down/confusing, I’m not sure where I fit anymore, and I need the reminder that God wants me…even on the days when no one else does. Maybe we all need that reminder?


I’m a sucker for cute hoodies, and I’ve loved Evy’s Tree since I first heard about them. Their hoodies are awesome quality but a little on the expensive side…but once in awhile, I splurge.


I spent some of my Christmas money on this beauty, and I think it was worth the splurge. :) It screams spring, and I love that, until I tone the last bit of my baby belly, it hides it all…well, when I zip it up anyway. πŸ˜‰ Plus, it’s just cute. If I had an endless cash flow, I would buy ALL. THE. HOODIES. But I don’t and that’s probably better for everyone. :) And yes, yes I do take pics late at night with messy hair and smeared makeup and a wrinkled shirt. That’s just how I roll.

Speaking of toning a baby belly (and not speaking of hoodies) I finally, for the first time ever in the U.S., joined a gym. I’ve been doing a 5:45 a.m. spin class twice a week…and oh, boy. Once I get there, it’s actually enjoyable. (And sweaty) The dragging myself out of bed at 5:15? Notsomuch. But it’s good for me, and it’s one way I can take care of me.

Another thing I’m still loving…earrings. ALL the earrings. πŸ˜‰ And though I typically gravitate toward the bigger-and-more-dangly-the-better, kind, my most recent pair from Fair Trade Friday kind of has my heart. And the story behind these brings tears to my eyes, too.

FTF earrings

So I’m breaking my rule and wearing them anyway and totally loving them. :)

And should you want a cute pair of earrings in your mailbox every month, go here. It’s the best $13 I spend every month…and every pair comes with a story of redemption. That’s just cool. :)


Other than This is Us (and we’re two episodes behind, so SHHHHH!) or some HGTV here and there, I’ve barely turned on the TV in weeks. I go in spurts…lately I’d just rather read or create or get something done around the house.

Maybe I’m getting old. πŸ˜‰

The truth…and this isn’t the first time I’ve shared this here…is that the “older” I get and the older Mae gets, the more there’s a filter on what comes into this house.

I didn’t always filter what I watched, but especially now it just seems like there’s so much garbage out there. I don’t need all kinds of bad language going into my head, and I don’t need sexual references in just about every show there is. Sometimes I feel like an old prude for voicing all of that. And some days I miss watching Friends, too. (Honesty here.)

But God has been working on me in a lot of ways, and one of those is praying for the strength through Him to make choices that honor Him. So I don’t apologize for trying to do the right thing…the right thing for me and my family. I’m definitely not perfect at it. (No judgment here on what’s right for everyone else.) It’s tough some days, though…and I think it’s ok to admit that, too.


I’m itching to take a trip…it’s been a few years since we’ve left the country, but it’s not gonna happen this year. We’re currently having our garage door replaced, and that desperately needed to happen. (Ask me sometime about the morning I spent three minutes, when we were already late, trying to get the stupid thing to stay down.) πŸ˜€

AND…since Mac was a boy instead of a girl, we need another bedroom. πŸ˜‰Β  And I LOVE that he’s a boy, but facts are facts. So we’re (hopefully) adding a two-story addition to our house. I’m super excited for an extra family room, a bigger bedroom for him and us (with a walk-in closet and little sitting/writing/drinking coffee area overlooking the river) and just more space.

I guess we finally dug those roots down deep. It feels good.

And also, we’re never moving. Ever. :)

indo green

And the truth is that, most days, I’m sure of that. I don’t usually miss Indonesia anymore.

But I did today. I saw a picture that brought back a memory, and it was hard and the ache was deep. And, again, I had to breathe and wrap my mind around the fact that the Indonesia part of our life is over.


It won’t ever be again, even if there are trips back to visit. Life there has changed and gone on and morphed into something that isn’t the Indo we lived. It’s good because life has to keep going and kids need to know our Father, but sometimes it hurts that we aren’t there for it all.

But we know we’re where we need to be, and so…hello, house addition. :)

As I look out the window and see the sunshine coming through bare branches, it calms my heart and reminds me, once again, that my God is so very good.

Even in the changes and the unknowns and wonderings. Even if, sometimes, we have to stop and just give thanks for what was, what is, and what’s to come…even if, and especially when, we don’t feel gratitude.

I wonder how many times I can share this song on one blog…but it’s a perfect metaphor for life and it resonates so much right now.

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced,
Teaching us to breathe.
And what was frozen through is newly purposed,
Turning all things green.
So it is with You and how You make me new
with every season’s change;
And so it will be, as You are recreating me…
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring

And how ’bout a giveaway? Nothing like changing the subject. πŸ˜‰

Presents are my love language and I just feel like brightening someone’s day. So I fell in love with this Pioneer Woman mug at Walmart a few weeks ago. (Yes, you read the Walmart part right. I’m currently on a stay-out-of-Target-for-the-sake-of-our-budget kick. And I’m doin’ good.) πŸ˜‰


So I’m giving away this mug, some of my favorite coffee (try it with some vanilla almond milk…YUM!) and this chocolate because duh. Chocolate. And a cute pair of fair trade earrings that came in my box last month…they weren’t as much my style, but they’re still stinkin’ cute and someone out there needs them. :)

Wanna win?

Leave me a comment here or on facebook and tell me something. Anything. A blessing, a smile, a way I can lift a prayer for you. I’ll pick a winner Wednesday night.

That’s it.

I hope your week is overflowing with blessings, friends. Happy Monday!


June Favorites (But Not on a Friday) :)

Tbirthdayfampic final

So I’m not exactly sure where June went.

But here we are.

My daughter is five…she’s been five for TWO. WHOLE. WEEKS. and a day. And we’ve also had possibly the craziest June ever which was topped off with two performances of The Lion King, where my girl was the uber cutest lion cub ever. And we all say, awwwww! Plus we celebrated my hubby yesterday and tonight there’s gonna be cheesecake with friends because…well, because birthdays. And friends. And cheesecake. They’re all really, really good and we like them in our house.

MaeLionKing final

But, sticking to the theme…and the fact that I LOVE writing this post, I bring you some of the faves for the month. :)

June faves final


I didn’t read quite as much in June as I did last month. That could be because of the crazy of VBS and other things that occupied our time…and the fact that it’s now warm enough to swim and play outside every day. (Well, when it’s not raining. We’ve had PLENTY of that, too, this month.)

Row For Freedom: Crossing an Ocean in Search of Hope (Julia Immonen) This book was handed to me at Allume last fall by a publisher, and like just about every book does, it landed on my bookshelf for a few months. (If you’ve been to this conference, you understand the tons-of books-problem. It’s almost overwhelming to even know where to start.)

But a few months ago, I picked it up, read the back, and added it to my I-need-to-read-this, stack. I’m so glad I did. SO. Seriously…not only is the message behind this book powerful, it also made me want to go find four of my closest friends and convince them to row the Atlantic with me…really, any ocean will do. Or a large sea? (Some of you are looking for a place to hide right now, aren’t you?!) πŸ˜‰

And while it’s not a book, this list of ENFP struggles is so worth the read. I mean, it’s worth the read if you ever want to begin to understand your good friend, Mel. πŸ˜‰ It’s almost frightening how accurate most of the list is.


Well, I’ve been oh-so-patiently (not really) waiting each week for the new episode of When Calls The Heart. Still a favorite.

And, somehow, the first ten Love Comes Softly movies are available, on DVD, from Amazon for 13.99. I don’t know how, but I don’t ask questions. I watched the first three in a week and decided I’d cried enough, but when I have more emotional strength, I will venture to the next one, which I’ve already seen and just about wrecks me completely. (Who comes up with these plot lines? Seriously.)

And, yet, I still watch. Over and over because I’m me and because I apparently own stock in Kleenex.


dress & earrings final

Hmmm. Well, my hubby gave me (let me buy?) an early birthday present in the form of a cute dress. (That you can see here because…well, I took this picture so late that I had to do a selfie.) πŸ˜‰ It’s my favorite, at least for this week. I wore it a week ago on Sunday morning for praise team, and then I liked it so much that I wore it the rest of the day, too, even when we played three games of bags and frisbee that included running around. πŸ˜‰ My sweet daughter asked me why I didn’t change clothes, and I just smiled at her. Because Mommy likes cute dresses.

And, also, my Fair Trade Friday Earrings of the Month about took my breath away. Seriously, these are GORGEOUS and my new favorite. I sometimes give my earrings of the month as gifts (because even I don’t need that many earrings) πŸ˜‰ but these are mine. I wore them on Sunday with my cute dress.

It was just a cute day. πŸ˜‰

And if you’d like to learn more about the Earring of the Month club, you can check it out here. I highly recommend it. It’s an awesome way to make a difference in the lives of women around the world AND to have a tangible reminder to pray for them. (Plus, cute earrings? Yes, please.) I think it’s the best $12 I spend every month. (The ones from this month are available here, too.)

fair trade friday logo final

Last week I took my guitar to my voice lesson just to change things up a little. I’d been strumming through a few of my favorite songs, and my teacher and I ended up on Stronger.

I’ve loved the song for awhile now, but it took on a new meaning that morning. I told a friend later that sometimes I struggle with believing the words that I sing, and her response was something I needed to hear. Sometimes we sing them TO make ourselves believe them.

There are hard weeks, there are struggles, there are days when we fight to trust our Father…and I’m certainly no exception to any of these. I need the daily reminder that He is Lord of all. That He always has everything. Because He’s stronger than all of it.

So I hope you’ll have a listen to this one by Hillsong. It’s incredible and it’s meant a lot to me in the last weeks. (And if you’re anywhere near my back porch this summer, you’ll probably hear me belting it out at least once. Sorry about that.) πŸ˜‰

And…I think that’s it, at least for this month. What are some of your current favorites? Anything I’m missing? (I’m sure there’s a lot!)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, my friends.


May Friday Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

meandmygirl final

Oh, goodness…is it really that time?

I mean, I love writing this post, but I’m also feeling slightly guilty that I’ve barely written anything in the last two months. Tell me to quit feeling all the guilt, k? And also, I’m sure I’ll make up for it with the word count.


So we’re getting into summer around here, and it’s good. Parks, playing outside, ice cream, friends, making a summer bucket list. I love spending my days with this girl…the one who said tonight,Β Mommy, let’s take a selfie and make our glamorous faces! (At least one of us has it…) πŸ˜‰

I love her so much. Pinch me because I don’t know how I’m blessed enough to be her mama. But I am…and it’s a gift.

And with that little, cute tangent…here are the faves. A bit random this month and not quite as exciting, but keep reading. I feel like giving away one of my favorites today, so make sure you enter!

But read first. πŸ˜‰ So, let’s get to it.


Well, I made up for my lack of reading in the past few months with this month.

I *think* I read five books and am reading two more right now, which might be a record for me. (As in, five GROWN-UP books. I may or may not read a lot of children’s books too.) πŸ˜‰

A few favorites:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Though it’s a classic, I’d read mixed reviews on it. There’s no real plot twist, and in a book of that length, that can start to feel mundane. I found myself caught up in Francie’s story, though, and the more I read, the more I wanted the story to just keep going. And when it ended, I was sad.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy at Allume last fall, and I sat down to read it this week. Friends, I burned through this book in less than a day. I couldn’t believe how gripping Megan’s story (and, really, God’s story) is…and once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this one. It reminded me a lot of Kisses From Katie, which is another of my all-time favorites.

Northanger Abbey. I decided to work on my brain power and read some Jane Austen. πŸ˜‰ It’s been a Long. Time. since I’ve read anything like it…and I feel like this story took a bit to get going, but I’m liking it. Enough that I might actually read another of her books in the near future. :) (If you’re a Jane fan, please leave me your recommendations in the comments?)


Hands down, When Calls the Heart has been the winner this month. Jessica Turner recommended it on her blog one day about a month ago, and she didn’t have to twist my arm too much. I love dramas that take place in that time period, and as usual, this one sucked me in immediately. I’m slightly embarrassed at just how quickly I managed to get through the first season. (Psst…it’s available on Netflix streaming. For some of you, I think this might be the best news of your day.) πŸ˜‰ Golly, I love this show.

And that’s about it in the watching department, at least this month. Obviously, when I read more, I watch less.

Novel idea, huh? (Pun totally intended.) πŸ˜‰


Well, I finally jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon. I’m not necessarily the girl who wants the latest and greatest with everything, and I thought it over for a good, long, four months before ordering this one. I like that it makes me intentional about things like Getting. Off. My. Bum. and walking around more. It’s also very motivating for me to get up early, go for a run, and see my step total skyrocket.Β What can I say? I’m a slight dork.

Also, I tend to drink more water when I get the satisfaction of logging it. I don’t so much enjoy admitting to my dashboard that I ate too much cake when I have to log those calories, too, but hey. Baby steps, right? πŸ˜‰

Also, I’m pretty much addicted to all-things-maxi-dresses-and-skirts. I found this one, super-clearanced, at Maurices, and it’s one of my new favorites. I wore it on Mother’s Day, and aaahhh…it just makes me happy. :)

Also, still loving the earrings, but no new pairs to share that I can think of. I’m just having fun wearing the same ones over and over. Though I did let hubby know that I’m in love with these, and if he wants to buy them for my birthday, I’ll totally let him. πŸ˜‰


This whole album. Seriously. I’ve had it downloaded for several months and have even listened to it here and there, but just recently, it’s found its way to repeat on my playlist.


Especially the song, You Make Me Brave. I could listen to it and sing it all day long. (Ahem. Sometimes I do?)

Anyway, I’m giving away a free download of the album.Β :)

To enter, just leave me a comment. Share some sunshine from your week or a current favorite. Or, really, just say hello. I’m not picky. :) (I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning and send an email with the details.)

And while you wait to see if you’ve won, have a listen. Love this song. :)

Happy weekend, friends!

(And I’m borrowing this idea from my sweet friend, Crystal. Make sure you hop over to her space to catch up on her favorites, too. She always has such a great list!) :)


January Friday Favorites {and a GIVEAWAY!}

early morning coffee final
Ok, seriously, y’all. I win.

It is 3:40 a.m. and my eyes are W.I.D.E. O.P.E.N. so I win something.

I’m not sure what that is exactly…perhaps an extra cup of coffee?Β Because I’m definitely going to need it. πŸ˜‰

And you can definitely believe that the coffee is flowing this morning, thanks to my new, awesome-and-slightly-obnoxious-aqua-colored, Keurig. Yes, friends…dreams do come true in the form of coffee makers. I finally have my Keurig!!!

Cue happy dance at 3:45 a.m. πŸ˜‰

So I am completely in love with the Friday Favorites linkup my awesome sister, Crystal, is hosting at the end of each month. I just HAD to participate! Plus, it’s always fun to share my favorite things with you anyway. And I love to give things away because giving gifts is my love language times about a thousand. (Ok, ok, yes cake is my love language, too. And if you’d like to send me some, Please. Do.)

Here ya go…my current favorites. And, keep reading for a fun giveaway at the end! :)

Jan 2015 books final

I love books. A little too much, perhaps, which I would realize if I took take the time to count the number in my house or on my Kindle. I guess if I’m going to do something with my free hours, (haha…free?!) reading is potentially the best thing I could be doing. Or, one of them.

The Best Yes (Lysa TerKeurst) is the book my Thursday Morning Moms’ Bible Study is going through. It’s good stuff, and I love the discussions we have. I feel like that book choice was a God-thing as I’m really trying to have better priorities.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things (Sara Hagerty) Oh, good grief, I have cried more than I haven’t cried reading this. (I even broke down in front of the neighbors’ dog during the first chapter and freaked her out a little. Not kidding here.) I’m about halfway done, and it has been a process…each chapter leaves me feeling wrecked and it takes a day or two to be able to pick it up again. And, yet? One of the best I’ve ever read. I can’t put it down even when I can’t pick it up.

The Hardest Peace (Kara Tippetts)Β I’ve had this book for a few months, but it’s honestly taken me awhile to begin. It’s just been a hard season, and I knew this would be an emotional read. I’m not too far into it yet, which means I’ll need to give you an update next month. Also, would you say a prayer for the author, Kara, and her family? You can catch up on a bit of her story here. Also, the Kindle version of this book is just $2.99.

Back Home (Michelle Magorian) I loved the Disney Channel movie in the early 90’s and can’t find it anywhere on DVD. So I figured the next best thing was getting the book. (I’m a sucker for the used books on Amazon that cost a penny plus some shipping.) Good book and it gives me a change of pace. I normally prefer nonfiction, but occasionally I’ll pick up a fiction book. I like this one.


I’m not a big TV watcher…I’m just not. Sometimes I’ll turn on a movie just to fill the empty. (Yeah, I’m an extrovert and noise is my friend.) But other than a few guilty pleasures that go in spurts, I’m pretty out of it most of the time when it comes to TV.

Also, Tobin and I have been discussing the kind of things that happen on our TV screen, and we want to be careful and show integrity whether our daughter is in the room or not. We have seen a couple good movies lately, though. :)

The Impossible was a really intense movie we watched early this month. It’s about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and a family that miraculously survives it. It’s powerful and a tear jerker and makes my heart pinch because you all know how SE Asia holds such a special place in my heart.

The Good Lie was a powerful one, too. I watched it twice in the span of 24 hours because I wanted to get my money’s worth from my Amazon rental…and because I wanted my hubby to see it, too. (I watched it alone the first time.) It’s one of those that made us stop and remember how blessed we really are. There is suffering in the world that we cannot even imagine…it made me look at some things differently. Just be warned…I’m pretty sure I cried all over the couch the first time. (You’ll need tissues.)

Also, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl. With friends, and I honestly like that part more than the actual game. πŸ˜‰

ipsy final JanWear

One thing I’ve really started loving lately is eye makeup, and Ipsy has helped with that.

Ipsy a monthly subscription for $10 (free shipping!) and you get a beauty bag with 4-5 items, some sample-size and some full-size. My latest bag (picture above) was awesome…and, actually, I haven’t had a bad bag yet. They sent me some gel eyeliner and an eyeliner brush…those were my favorites this month, some eye shadow, eye cream, and some sheer glo cream. (That was the only product in my bag I was a little meh about…I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. But it was sample size, so I didn’t care too much.) πŸ˜‰

To sign up, you answer some questions about your preferences and are sent the items from a pool of 20-30ish different options, based on the products available for the month. You don’t get to choose, but honestly, the items are so awesome that I’d be happy with almost all of them. And for a cool $10? What’s not to love?! (But be aware that there is a wait list for this. There are things you can do to bypass the wait list, but I chose not to and waited about two months.) And if you sign up through this link, I get some bonus points for freebies. If you feel so inclined. πŸ˜‰

Also, I’ve been eying this dress…but alas. I don’t really need another dress. It is cute, though. (And maybe my hubby will read my blog today, too…size M, darling.) πŸ˜‰


I’m a music girl, and there are a lot of songs that have resonated lately. This one is probably one of my favorites…and I need the reminder on a daily basis, too. Have a listen. :)


So I kind of love to give gifts. I just do. Plus, it’s been a long time since I’ve given anything away here.

So…leave me a comment and share one of your current favorite things with me, and I’ll enter you to win a $15 Amazon gift card so you can order a new book or watch a new movie or find some new makeup. Something fun. :)

I’ll email the winner on Monday. Good luck! :)

Friday-Favorites 300


Behind the Scenes: That Time I Made a Scarf

So a few months ago, I wrote a post about a vest.

Maybe this picture will remind some of you you? Yes? πŸ˜‰


I love a good, funky piece of clothing.

And, sometimes? Well, sometimes I’m willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get it…like stalking eBay for years and then getting into bidding wars. You know, hypothetically. πŸ˜‰

But this vest isn’t what I’m writing about…even though, oh my heart. I love it. :)

You see, y’all (love that word…my heart is totally Southern) were so amazingly sweet when I posted this. I got comment after comment…online and in person…I’ll make one like that for you! Or, I’ll teach you how to make that!

The one thing I didn’t mention in that lovely little post is that I actually can crochet. And, true to Mel form, I taught myself. About a year ago.

Oh, there’s no way I could make that vest…most of what I come up with are in the scarf or cute-hat-with-a-flower categories. And most also are given away. I rarely make anything and actually keep it for myself.

But about a week ago, I watched this cheesy, Hallmark-ish movie. It was a remake of The Gift of the Magi, and in it, the main character had this scarf.

Oh, goodness, this scarf.

It was waaaaay more interesting than the actual movie…and this slightly hippie, Boho-lovin’ girl couldn’t stop staring at it.Β 

And as I continued to focus on that funky scarf and completely ignored the plot line, I thought, I can make that. It was just a bunch of granny squares sewn together…something I didn’t know how to do, but hey. What’s YouTube for, after all? πŸ˜‰

Sunday afternoon I finally had a little time to sit down. True, again, to Mel form, I just pulled out my hook and yarn and got to work, sure that it would be a piece of cake to whip up a few of those squares.

Ha. Ha. And Ha.

Nope, I threw away my first mass of tangled yarn and pulled up YouTube later that night. Ten minutes later I had it figured out…and once I got going, I couldn’t stop. (And I may-or-may-not-have stayed up until an ungodly hour of the morning making those cute little squares…which maybe weren’t looking so cute at…ahem…one in the morning.)

But the lack of sleep? Totally worth it. :)



Happy Tuesday, friends! Today is the day when I join some sweet friends at Crystal’s space for Behind the Scenes. We’re sharing the silly and sweet and sometimes-tear-jerking moments that happen behind the camera lens…I hope you’ll take some time and pop over to read some great stories.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them.Β The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.


Behind the Scenes: THE. VEST.

She stood on the American Idol stage in March of 2010.

Didi Benami.


Oh, she had a good voice…and I noticed that a little as I heard her sing her heart out for all of America to hear and vote.

But mostly?

I was staring at her vest.

It was the most colorful, crazy, fun, piece of clothing that this hippie/boho-clothes lover has ever seen in her life.

I swooned.

It might be the only time I’ve. Actually. Really. And. Truly. Swooned. over an item of clothing.

Oh, I enjoy clothes.

But this vest was in a league of its own.

The next day I hopped online, just to see if anyone happened to love her vest as much as I did. It was that short, online, browsing session that confirmed two things for me.

First…Yep, a large portion of the female population of the world adored it.

And, second? Forever. 21.

I couldn’t get to their website fast enough.

I scoured the site and the internet until I found one in my size. (Let’s just say that the U.S. viewers…those lucky ducks…they got American Idol TWELVE WHOLE HOURS BEFORE I did…therefore, they got a huge jump on the cool-vest-shopping.) I found it on the Canadian Forever 21 site, and the price tag ran around $40. Plus shipping to the U.S.

Hubby said no.

He wasn’t mean about it…I mean, we’re talking $50ish.

We were living and working overseas and extra money wasn’t something we had a lot of.

I was pregnant, and my six-month belly was already popping waaaaaaaaay out. (A local thought I was at nine months around then, FYI.) πŸ˜‰

And $50 from our small salary was a lot.

So I let a tear drip…and then I let it go.


We moved back to the U.S. a few months later, had our baby girl, settled into life here.

But I never really forgot about the vest.

Occasionally I’d pop over to Ebay to see if one had miraculously surfaced. In a potentially bored (or desperate?) moment, I once even checked Craigslist.

I know.




Once every few months…I’d look for a few minutes. Just to see if someone had gotten bored with their wardrobe and needed to rid themselves of the coolest vest the world has ever seen. :)

I always came up with zero search results.

Then, toward the end of June this year, it was about time to look again, so I did it.

Hopped over to Ebay…and GUESS? WHAT?

I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard my joy.

There it was!

In my size!

And, oh…the bidding war that was already happening. (With five days left, there were already ten bids on it.)

Clearly there are other people out there who agree that this vest is fantastic.

Hubby and I (ok, mostly hubby) are pretty good at figuring out Ebay. We don’t bid right away, we simply watch and attempt to trump at the end. I quickly did the math and realized that at the very moment the auction ended, I’d be in the car headed to Iowa.

And so I asked him to please-please-oh-pretty-please watch the auction for me and do our usual, trump-all-the-bidders, thing at the end.

I told him how much of my birthday money I was willing to spend on it. (I’m just throwing out here that it wasn’t that much…because I don’t want you to think I throw money around like crazy. :))

He set a reminder in his phone, I left a few days later for Iowa.

I was so busy catching up with my dear friend early into the wee hours of the morning that I actually forgot about it. (I know.)

The next day, I shot him a quick text.

Remember the vest?

Guess what, friends?

He. Remembered. It…

And? He. Got. It.


I arrived home a few days later, and there it was on my dining room table in all of its rainbow glory. (Pardon the drama. ;))

I waited until our anniversary last weekend to wear it for the first time. :)

I love it.

I know there are probably a lot of people out there who look at it and think, Wowza, that’s kind of crazy. I’d never wear that.

And that’s ok.

It’s totally cute.

It’s totally me.

And it makes me break into a silly, cheesy grin (possibly accompanied by a song…) when I see it. πŸ˜‰

And I have the sweetest-ever hubby, one who went out of his way to make sure I could have a completely unnecessary, once-in-a-liftetime, in-his-words, psychodelic…vest.



Happy Tuesday, friends! This is one of my favorite parts of the week…the Behind the Scenes link up at my sweet friend, Crystal’s space.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I hope you’ll take some time to stop by and read about the crazy and fun, the sweet and sentimental, (and sometimes the vests!) of life behind the camera lens. The writers are some of my favorite people, and I know you’ll love their stories! :)


A Mess of Batik…and Identity

The other day I was digging through some boxes we’ve stored in our basement.

Some of them contain items we shipped back to the States from Indonesia three years ago, and while we’ve gone through the boxes at least once since then, we weren’t in the place yet where we could just start pitching everything we don’t use. (Though that day is definitely closer now. ;))

I was actually digging (and making a total mess…really) for a book that I’d had shipped to me in Indonesia and thought I’d brought back. It figures that I didn’t find the book, but I did find?



Yes, it kind of fits me like a great, big, batik, tent. πŸ˜‰

But, before you cringe…let me tell you the back story.

During our years in Indonesia, I loved all things batik, especially the patchwork kind. Purses, shirts, even skirts…I couldn’t get enough of it. When I stumbled on this tank top in a little batik shop in Yogyakarta during our Christmas trip of ’08, it was like finding a treasure. And so I bought it and wore it and loved it. (And I’m guessing packed it up to ship home way before I actually left Indonesia because my prego belly was probably way too big for it by then. ;))

And that shirt wasn’t the only batik thing I brought home. A couple skirts, shirts, a kebaya, blankets, more bags than I can count… IndonesiaBags

Yep, I stocked up. (And, bonus points to the person who can count how many batik purses are hidden in all of that.) πŸ˜‰

I wanted to make sure I had enough batik to get me through however long it took me to…

Well, I’m not exactly sure how to finish that sentence.

For several months after my return, I wanted that piece of Indonesia.

The kind I could look at and hold in my hands, the kind that could remind me of the place that still held so much of my heart, even if my feet weren’t planted there anymore.

I’d wear those batik shirts around and carry the cute bags and find a little piece of my identity in the fact that even if I couldn’t be there, at least I could remember it.

But eventually that day came…the day when I pulled out a bag I bought at Target. And I dressed in my jeans and and equally-Target tank top, probably with some Old Navy flip flops thrown in there, too.

I’m not sure how, or even exactlyΒ when, it happened, but I became ok with not having that piece of I’ve-obviously-been-somewhere-most-of-you-haven’t-and-that-place-is-my-identity, thrown out there for the world (or at least my little C’ville) to see.

Finding that shirt the other day brought me back to that place…and reminded me of the silly things I sometimes find my identity in.

While a cute bag is always nice (can I get an amen, here?! ;)) and so is a fun, unique shirt…if I’m choosing to label myself with something that trivial, then I have a long way to go.

I guess I still do.

We all do.

That’s why I’m thankful that I’m redeemed, that He’s called me by name, that I’m precious and honored in His eyes…that He loves me.

That. I’m. His.

And as I sit here writing this, still wearing that tent-like tank top, it’s a beautiful reminder, one I need every day.

Thank you, Father.


But, seriously…I added a striped sweater. Don’t you totally think I should wear this on our next date night?! πŸ˜‰Β 


Stitch Fix…the Experience


A few weeks ago, I signed up for Stitch Fix.

The concept is pretty cool, actually. You go online, fill out your style profile, sizes, preferences, etc…and then one of the designers picks out five clothing or accessory items for you. They ship it to you, you try things on, keep what you like, return what you don’t.

It costs $20…which can be applied toward any items you decide to keep; if you decide to keep everything, they knock a cool 25% off the total price. Returns are free (return envelope included!), and you can schedule your “fixes” anytime.

Really, for $20, it sounded appealing. Even fun. A few of my blog friends have tried it out and had mixed reviews…some loved it, some not-so-much. I was intrigued.

So here are my thoughts and opinions…completely unsolicited. Just my Target lovin’, bargain shoppin’, cute clothes adoring, opinions.


So when the box arrived, I was pretty excited. (But I totally made myself clean up our bedroom first so I could properly take photos without you seeing any potential messes I’ve created in the last few days due to my clothes throwing tossing habit. πŸ˜‰



Even the inside of the box was cute. Stitch Fix really knows how to get a girl excited about clothes!

The first item I pulled out? These beauties.


I swooned. Really. I would never have picked out a pair of cantaloupe-colored skinnies, but I was actually happy with the color choice. Unfortunately, at least with these pants, they fit like juniors. And this normally-size-six girl doesn’t wear that size in juniors. I could get them on, but I really shouldn’t post that picture for y’all. I guess, from reading other reviews, it’s not completely uncommon for things not to fit, especially the first time. So, a little bummed,Β but I’m gonna be honest…no matter how much money we have, I can’t justify $88 jeans.

So I slipped into my favorite skinny jeans to try on the rest of my fun fix!

Next up was an adorable, gray tank top. This is totally something I would choose…at Target. Meaning, I’m probably not going to pay this kind of price for a tank top, even if there are some adorable beads around the neckline. But it was cute under my turquoise-y cardigan with the bubble necklace they also sent me.


Honestly, I adore bubble necklaces. But I don’t adore gold jewelry…so while it was fun to model, I’m not going to keep it.


This one was actually my favorite. I’ll be honest…when I saw the bird print, I cringed. I’m am, almost always, NOT a print girl. I like my stripes and polka dots and the occasional flower…but this is cute. I really love the style, but again…I can’t swing $68 for a shirt.


When I saw my fix, this last one was the one I thought I’d keep if I kept anything. I do like it, despite the fact that I have exactly one red item in my closet currently. But it looked too much like a Target shirt to me…agree?

So, in the end, I’m out $20…with the conclusion that Stitch Fix probably isn’t for someone like me. I love clothes, but I love actuallyΒ going shopping for them. I also love a really good deal…which makes me a bargain shopper, I guess…and also makes their prices a little too high for my taste. :) But it was a fun way to spend a little moneyΒ one time.

And…I can see how it’s a good thing for really busy moms who either don’t have a ton of time to go shopping or would prefer not to take their four kiddos along. I get that and I only have a little girl. So…it is a really great thing for some people. :)

Just my opinions…what about you? Have you tried Stitch Fix? Or been thinking about it? I’d love to hear about your experience!

And if you use this link to sign up, I do get a $25 credit to use for another fix, if I decide to try again. πŸ˜‰


Five Minute Friday: Random

A blogging friend does this, and it’s simple…write for five minutes, don’ t change any

thing. (Ok, I concede…I corrected a couple grammar errors. I canNOT publish something with bad spelling or grammar…that would be like leaving the house without brushing my teeth. ICK.) Anyway, I have to admit that I’m slightly nervous to try this because my best writing doesn’t come out in five minutes. Well, usually.

But, I’m intrigued. So here we go.


I bought some killer shoes tonight.

Since returning to the States last year, I’ve only bought a few new pairs, and I really needed some nice ones (aka: something other than flip flops) to wear with the skirt that, yes, I am actually going to wear on Easter. So I went online and found them…and when I got to the store to buy them, they were even on sale.

πŸ˜‰ Love days like that.

They are clunky, have four inch heels…and borderline on crazy.

And I will probably break my ankle wearing them.

Here’s a pic…aren’t they SO cute?!

Our GPS complicated my evening. I left the house around eight, which left me ten minutes to get to Old Navy and fifty minutes to shop…which should have been enough time.

However, I now agree with a certain friend who will know exactly who she is…in that I dislike Randall Road and how stinkin’ hard it is to find anything there. I ended up taking an extra fifteen minutes because I just couldn’t find it! Oh, I long for the day when I can find where I need to go without the GPS.

We had a funny in our house tonight (that actually made Tobin’s status for facebook) when we looked over at dinner to find Maelie with her finger up her nos

e… grinning the whole time.

We. Just. Laughed. That’s the way it should be for awhile. In a few months, we’ll start telling her no.


On a more serious note, my sweet girl has pinkeye. She woke up this morning with one eye completely matted shut, so I took her in.

The sad thing is, she probably got it from me.

That itchy, red eye I had on Wednesday? Her doctor said it was probably a viral form of pinkeye caused by that lovely sinus infection. Needless to say, we are both taking the drops that were prescribed for her. Shhhh…

Wow…five minutes, huh? Not a lot of substance, but hey…it’s entertaining. Have a great night. :)


I’ll Admit It…I Conformed

Those who know me will not be surprised that I’m blogging about this.

In fact,Β you’re probably wondering why it took me a whole week at my new site to rant about it.

I just. don’t. get. this. trend. (But that hasn’t stopped me from conforming. I know, I know.)

I went through a mild bout of reverse culture shock when I went to buy shoes this past October. For those of you new to my world, I’d been living in the tropics since 2005, thus wearing flip flops every single day. (Yes, it was wonderful, since you asked.) But my toes were getting just a bit too cold in flip flops, so I knew I needed to go shopping for real shoes.

Kohl’s was my store of choice. I like it that they carry name brand shoes without charging ridiculously mahal (expensive) prices. (Hang around here long enough, and you’ll get a good lesson in Bahasa Indonesia. :))

When I first went to the shoe section, I really thought part of it was missing. There were boots, flats, more boots, more flats, and even more boots. But where were the actual shoes??? I remember my heart starting to pound a little bit, and I honestly didn’t know what to do.

I felt like a little lost puppy (it’s ok to cry here…I actually let a few tears drip) as I wandered the rows, wondering what the heck had happened to shoes in the past five years.

Thankfully, Sketchers stepped in and saved the day…or at least my heart rate.

Tucked back into the corner of the shoe section, I found a few pairs of shoes labeled Sketchers Classics. Just normal semi-clunky shoes like what I had wanted.

I tried them on, made a super quick decision (brown vs. black…brown won), and got out of there as fast as I could.

But the whole boot thing…I just couldn’t get over it. I didn’t love the whole let’s-wear-boots-over-our-jeans look.

But everyone was wearing them, and as a girl desperate to fit back into America, I wanted to wear them, too. It took me a month or so before I finally decided on these.

And even a few more weeks before I was brave enough to actually wear them in public.

And they are sort of starting to grow on me. Sort of.

So although I have caved and conformed, inside I am still silently protesting this trend that I think we will regret (and laugh at) in the very near future.

And when we do, we will all be stuck with more boots than we know what to do with.