Monday, August 8, 2016

July 2016 Favorites

July 2016 Monthly Favorites

July has flown by, and I can't believe August is here! Even though I'm not currently a student & I don't have kids, I still get all giddy at the miles of school supplies that have started popping up in the stores. I also love it because it means there are plenty of options for file folders to make my favorite DIY New Parent Gifts!

Last week I came down with a couple of different infections. I tend to need antibiotics the first week of August each year--how strange is that? So I'm a bit late with this post but I'm really excited about these items!

Some of you may remember this donut pool float from my Instagram page back in May on National Donut Day. Well, my sister in law was paying attention and picked up this beauty for my birthday!
I've gotten to use it a few times, the first being at my aunt's house for July 4th, and I absolutely love it! It's nice and big and holds up really well, doesn't tip over too easily, and my cousin discovered that the bite section can be used for a friend to cozy up next to the float. :) 

This book shares a title with the Dakota Johnson/Rebel Wilson comedy, but that's about all it shares. The novel follows a writer from New York who travels around the world researching how being single, dating, and relationships work for women in different countries. It also follows four of her friends back in the city. It's definitely a humorous book, but I found a lot of it really fascinating and it went in depth and to the "unpretty" places of women's emotions as they navigate through single life. 

This night cream is amazing. It smells vaguely citrusy, is not super light or super heavy, and I can feel a difference in my skin in the morning. It's very hydrating and almost smoothing. Origins also makes a really good night mask for intensive moisturizing that I tend to use once or twice a week as well. 

Ricky & I have been outside more this summer than in the last few years (he's gotten into the Pokemon Go craze, and I've been happily accompanying him on walks to the park) and we've been using this sunscreen pretty exclusively. We both have acne prone skin and I always feel like sunscreen tends to make acne worse, so I was excited to see sunscreen that actively fights against that. I don't feel like it clogs my pores, and it's pretty easy to wear makeup over or under as well, which is another thing that can be hard to find. I tend to wear mine in conjunction with a moisturizer or primer that has SPF in it, since 30 isn't always enough, but I've seen that they make an SPF 55 version so nab that if you see it!

This is a new fave of mine. I just got this little duo of the new Bare Minerals Gen Nude Liquid Lipstick & Lipgloss a couple of weeks ago and fell. in. love. Like I don't want to use anything else right now on my lips. The duo comes with a liquid lip in the shade "Boss" and a gloss in the shade "Sugar." I'm really pleased I got the duo to try out before committing to full size products (a tip I always recommend--makeup is a personal thing and this isn't a drugstore priced brand). I'm especially pleased with the shades they included because Sugar goes with everything and Boss is a deeper shade than I probably would have selected on my own, but it's beautiful and actually works well with my skintone! The gloss is great but the real star of this duo is, for me, the liquid lip. It goes on smooth & thin, not goopy or streaky like some other liquid lipsticks tend to do. It stays on for hours, has very little transfer, and when it does wear off it does so evenly without chunks or flaking. Of course you'll want to prep your lips, especially if they're chapped, but it's not nearly as hard and fast a rule as it is with other liquid lips I've tried. Big thumbs up! I already have my eye on Weekender and Infamous. 

How to Get Away With Murder

Ok, so this show definitely plays out a little like a soap opera, but I've been guilty-pleasure watching it this last month. I was really drawn in by the Viola Davis character--a strong female lawyer who stops at nothing to win her cases, and also teaches & employs law students. I don't want to give anything away, but if you're into mystery & drama, you'll love it!

And there you have it! A round up of the things I've been obsessing over this past month. What have you been loving recently? Let me know in the comments below!

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Top 5 Drugstore BB/CC/Tinted Moisturizers

Top 5 Drugstore 

BB Creams/CC Creams/Tinted Moisturizers

In the summertime, it can feel like overkill to wear a foundation on your skin every day. It can feel heavy in the heat, and who wants to worry about whether their makeup is melting off when it's 90 degrees and 100% humidity? 
Enter BB & CC creams and tinted moisturizers! These beauties feel like a moisturizer, add some SPF (always a must in the summer!) and best of all are light and dewy on the skin. Here is my roundup of my Top 5 favorites from the drugstore!

This one from Neutrogena also has skin clearing agents to combat acne! Since breakouts can be worse during this time of year due to sweating, and since acne is often a reason people reach for a heavier coverage option, this product is one of my favorites! It helps me battle those breakouts so that I'm more comfortable with the lighter coverage it offers. 

This CC cream from Aveeno feels very creamy and emollient and offers a little more coverage than a BB or tinted moisturizer but not quite as much as a foundation. It's a great in-between option for me on those days when I maybe have something that needs a little more coverage but it's blazing hot out. 

I like this Rimmel option because it just seems so easy. I can use my fingers to apply it like a moisturizer, smooth it all out, and because it's a lighter coverage it doesn't look like it requires blush or bronzer afterwards!

This Garnier BB cream is one of the first I ever tried, that really sold me on BB creams. It feels silky on your skin and sinks in well, has good longevity, and feels like it's really hydrating your face. 

This one has been my go-to recently for "no-makeup, makeup" days. I can throw it on as my moisturizer, add a little cream blush & mascara and be put together without looking like I've tried too hard. Big thumbs up from me!

Check out my Top 5 Drugstore Primers & Top 5 High End Primers as well, and keep an eye out for more in the Top 5 Makeup series!

Do you enjoy lighter makeup in the summer? Or do you stick to full-coverage foundations? What are your favorites from this list? Let me know in the comments!

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*Some links above may be affiliate links. This does not change the price you pay. Thanks for your support. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

Please Don't Stop The Music--Playlist #2


My Current "Get Ready" Playlist 

(See previous playlist here)

I don't know about you, but I need some mood music to get me up & going in the morning. Music is and always has been such a big part of my life! I like creating playlists each season or so of songs that I've been really into, and going back and listening to old playlists puts me right back in that time frame. Last fall I shared a playlist that I was using to get ready to in the mornings, but of course I've updated that list a few times since then. The only song that is on both is "Angeles" by Steve Carlson featuring Jensen Ackles. It's actually entirely sung by Jensen but just appears on his friend Steve's album. And it's heavenly.
The whole vibe of this playlist is ethereal, whimsical, and chill. It doesn't shock me awake, but it does give a good background for a pleasant morning.
I've also included my Spotify playlist & YouTube public playlist at the end if you'd rather listen along on one of those platforms.
Hope you enjoy! 

I Love You-Alex & Sierra

Stay-Eli Lieb

Roses and Violets-Alexander Jean

Angeles (feat. Jensen Ackles)-Steve Carlson

You Are Mine (feat. Holly Maher)-Spencer Combs

In My Veins (feat. Erin McCarley)-Andrew Belle

Kings and Queens and Vagabonds-Ellem

I Get to Love You-Ruelle
If this song existed four years ago, we totally would have danced to it at our wedding. 
I think this one is gorgeous!

Kindly Calm Me Down-Meghan Trainor

Make it Rain (from Sons of Anarchy soundtrack)-Ed Sheeran

Come Home-Jon Foreman

You and I-Ingrid Michaelson

A.M.-One Direction

You First Believed-Hoku

You're That Way-Jon Troast

Still Got Tonight-Matthew Morrison

Goodbye to You-Michelle Branch

When I'm Alone-Nevertheless

Wildest Dreams-Taylor Swift

Your Love is a Song-Switchfoot

Spotify playlist version , YouTube playlist version

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Budget + Free Printable!

Budget + Free Printable!

Today I'm excited to share with you our budgeting plan & a free printable for you to print out and use at home. We would really like to be able to buy a house & start a family in the next couple of years, and hopefully this plan will help us do that--and help you reach some of your financial goals as well!

This spending plan is the one that Ricky and I have been using the last several months to keep our monthly budgets. We have used the Dave Ramsey program in the past and had a lot of success with that, but fell off the wagon sometime last year. This spending plan is based loosely on that concept of a zero balance budget (that is, budgeting out even the money you will save or use for "fun money" so that the amount at the end is zero each time). I've made this plan into a printable for all of you in case you're curious, so you can click on the link to download it and use it yourself!

Allocated Spending Plan
(Downloadable version doesn't have Ricky's & my names on it ;) )
For each paycheck, you can enter the pay period & amount at the top, then deduct expenses all the way down. For Ricky & I, since we are a two income household and we are paid bi-weekly, we use one budget for each month and in the pay period date box, I also put (J) or (R) so we know which paycheck we are working with. You can adjust to your own pay schedules as well. 

We tend to combine this with the envelope system, making it even more Dave Ramsey-esque. Again, we were on fire with the envelopes for about a year and a half and then once we missed a month, we just never got going again. So this is my commitment--making it in public that we will start up again!
Using envelopes for your cash categories instead of always using a card helps keep track of what you're spending your money on, but the bigger benefit for me is that it makes the spending feel more "real"--I'm less likely to make impulse buys because I'm watching the amount in that category dwindle down. 

If you're not sure what I mean by "the envelope system", it's a way of taking your budget one step further by taking certain categories (for us, it's food, entertainment, clothing, gifts, travel, household items, etc) and taking out the budgeted amount of cash each paycheck and keeping them in "envelopes". You can use real envelopes, but most people use a form of expanding file or wallet. Then, when your money is gone for that category, you can spend any more for that type of item until your next paycheck fills it back up. If you have excess, you can roll it over to the next pay period. The rolling over helps save up for things you want or need but don't want to spend all at once--you can set aside a smaller amount each month and because it's no longer in your account you won't accidentally spend it. 

Please let me know in the comments if you think this will be helpful to you, or if you have any questions about how to use either the spending plan or the envelope system! You can also check out my Contact Me page and get a hold of me via email as well. 

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Friday, July 8, 2016

June Favorites

June 2016 Favorites

Hey everyone! I can't believe we're already a week into July. I feel like this summer is flying by waaaayyy too quickly! (Not a feeling I ever have about, let's say, winter.) June was a crazy month in my life--very high highs, like my birthday & wedding anniversary, and very low lows, like my grandmother passing away. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster so I'm hoping for a more low-key vibe for the rest of the summer. Without further adieu, here are some of the items I've been loving in the last month! 

Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation & Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer
I'm pretty sure I've talked about these before in a favorites post last summer, but I don't even care. They are so so good. Besides the amazing cocoa smell, which I love & am addicted to, they are just my go to products. I use the powder foundation as a setting powder with a big fluffy brush, a light dusting all over my face when I finish my makeup, and I use the bronzer to warm up the perimeter of my face and on my cheeks. They're very smooth & blendable powders and they give you a matte but not dry appearance. I've gone through at least 3 of each so far, and I'm almost out of my fourth cocoa powder foundation right at the moment. #thededicationisreal #chocolatemakeupalldayerrrday

The champagne glow collection by Becca x Jaclyn Hill (Jaclyn is a YouTube beauty guru who has amazing tutorials) came out in June and the beauty community lost. their. minds! The collection originally included this face palette (shown above, limited edition), the original champagne pop highlight in pressed, poured, and liquid forms (permanent items) and an eye palette. The eye palette was actually removed from stores after Jaclyn & Becca Cosmetics realized that a new lab that had been making the eye palette was using lesser quality ingredients in some of the, so they pulled it from the shelves and offered refunds to anyone who wanted to return their eye palette. I was bummed that I didn't get a chance to try the eye shadows but I think the commitment to quality is pretty impressive.
Now that you have the backstory, lol, I did get the palette with some birthday money (thanks grandparents) and I've been loving it! There are two highlight shades, Champagne Pop & Prosecco Pop, one shimmery blush called Rose Spritz, and two matte blushes named Amaretto and Pamplemousse. The blushes are crazy crazy pigmented, so be sure to tap off your brush before applying, especially if you have a fair skin tone! It also has one of the best mirrors I've ever seen in a compact. #bonuspoints

Just a few days ago, Jaclyn announced the final items for the collection, the split pans (shown below) which are limited edition. They will be available July 14th and they're a great way to get to try out the options from the face palette if you missed it! 

Maybelline recently came out with this line of lip paints that seem very similar to Too Faced Melted Liquified Lips and I'm a big fan. The two shades that I got are above, in the shades called Stripped Down & Never Bare which are great dupes for Too Faced's Peony & Chihuahua shades. They really do feel like a melted lipstick, they're a velvety texture that's not quite matte, not quite cream. They're not liquid lipsticks in the sense that they're not the drying, transfer proof formula that's gotten popular in the last couple of years, but they are fairly long wearing and they have some beautiful shades! I imagine there are a few more Too Faced dupes in those shades as well. At $9,99 they're not exactly cheap for the drugstore but they are a much more affordable option than the $21 Too Faced ones. 


If you feel like the world around you is going down the toilet and losing intelligence by the day (and who doesn't lately?), you need to check out Smarter Every Day. Destin Sandlin, an engineer from Alambama, makes detailed videos about various scientific facts or processes, but breaks them down in such a way that the average person can understand. He also got to interview President Obama this year, and it was great to see two intelligent men who approach life from very different vantage points but who both want to make the world better and are respectful of each other's opinions and thoughts. He's incredibly entertaining, a stand-up guy, and an aspiring astronaut. I've learned a lot about a lot of topics that I never would have run into in my regular life by watching his videos and really enjoy him as a creator. Check him out!

I've been using these a lot more lately for papers that I don't want to file in a multi-pocket or in a filing drawer. Putting individual projects or tasks in here allows me to carry them around, file them in one place here and another later, and the little tab on the side holds them in so they don't fall out easily. I have four personal ones that I carry back and forth in my workbag each day, and I use them a lot in my job as well. You can color coordinate your categories, or just enjoy the rainbow. :) 

I'm not going to give away all the goods today, but I've been making a few tweaks to my balcony lately. The chairs above are involved, but you'll see the whole thing, along with a source list, in my Summer Home Tour series very soon! You can see how I started the process last summer (which was our first time ever having outdoor space!) in this post here. Sadly, our cute beverage holder/table combo lost it's top during a severe storm this spring so now it's just a standing cooler, no tabletop option. But I think we can make up for it in other ways. I wouldn't call it a full reveal, but I'm excited to show you guys the changes we've made!

And finally, I couldn't not include my Grandma Lois & my family in this post. Everyone has really come together during this difficult time & loved on each other and I really appreciated getting to spend some time with them, even though it wasn't the ideal circumstance. Family has always been a big part of my life, and even though I live 6 hours away from my hometown, it was a good reminder to put some focus on the people who matter in your life. Hug your loved ones for me!

And there you have it! A round up of the things I've been loving this past month. What have you been loving recently? Let me know in the comments below!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

4 Yummy 4th of July Recipes

4 Yummy Independence Day Recipes

Thank you all so much for your kind words on Facebook, Instagram, and here on the blog regarding my grandmother's passing. I appreciate your support during this tough time!

For all of you US readers out there, Independence Day is fast approaching! It's one of my favorite holidays with my mom's side of the family--we have two birthdays on the 4th & 5th, so it's nice to see those people, it's fun to hang out outside, swim, eat, & watch the fireworks. I always think it's fun to include red, white & blue into the decor and the food as well. These 4 recipes incorporate those colors into fun & festive treats for your 4th of July celebration!

These recipes can also work for any readers whose country colors are red, white & blue or can be modified to your colors of choice, whether that be for your flag, your wedding, or your favorite colors for a birthday or party!

How festive and easy are these firecracker cookies? The link's recipe uses cake batter, which would be fluffy and delicious, but you could also just add sprinkles to your favorite cookie recipe and have an easy and patriotic treat. And definitely make sure to call them firecracker cookies! I think it just adds an extra element of cuteness. 

I love this idea! These are probably the cutest popsicles I have ever seen, including the ones my husband makes that are shaped like lightsabers. Made with blueberries, raspberries, and greek yogurt, these are also a healthy way to stay cool in the hot July sun. 

Another healthy-ish dessert option is this no bake berry trifle. The linked recipe teaches you how to homemake cream cheese frosting, but I've made it before with angel food cake, berries & whipped cream to keep it nice & light & simple. :) 

And of course I had to include a drink option! This sangria recipe is especially adorable with it's star shaped pineapple pieces and can be modified to a non-alcoholic punch recipe as well. Make sure to use a clear pitcher or bowl to show off those stars!

What are your go-to 4th of July recipes? Do you try to use patriotic colors or just go with whatever tastes good? :) We'll definitely include our summer cookout standbys as well--burgers, pasta salad, deviled eggs....I better go, I'm making myself hungry! Enjoy your holiday!

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Monday, June 27, 2016

10 Days

10 Days

Isn't she lovely?
10 days ago, on Friday June 17th, we lost my grandmother as she passed on to be with Jesus. While there is much to be thankful for (it was peaceful, she had a long life, 7 of her 9 children were present, etc), nothing makes it easy to lose someone you love. These 10 days have been tough. 

Grandma and her children, June 1990 (a few days after my birth)
I decided to use today's post just as a brief highlight of my grandma's life. She had 9 kids, 21 grandchildren, & 14 great grandchildren with a 15th on the way (not mine!). She had siblings & nieces & nephews and friends who loved her. She was a colorful, sassy woman at times but also incredibly caring and devout and was always praying for her friends and family.

Mother's Day on the left, maybe '97, and Christmas '09 on the right
She loved all things musical, including singing, dancing, and playing the piano. She never learned to read music but played beautifully by ear. Some of my favorite memories of her are from family get-togethers (large family get togethers) with groups talking and laughing in each room and Grandma playing our baby grand in the dining room. 

With my grandpa on the left (he passed in '87, before I was born),
& with my mom at my parents' wedding on the right
Another favorite for her was old movies, especially musicals--I've been craving Judy Garland all week just from thinking of her. Although it was kind of fun to try to explain current pop culture to her, I always enjoyed going over and seeing what classic she was watching at the time. 

With Grandpa on the left, at her 90th birthday on the right
She loved sunshine--she moved to Florida for a few years just seeking the sunshine, but eventually moved back to her town & family. She got a sun lamp a few years back to help out during the cold, dark midwestern winters but she was definitely happiest when real sunshine was coming through her window. 

Mom's side of the family at my wedding--Grandma in the second row towards the left
But mostly she loved her family--all buckets and buckets of us! I'm so grateful that she did, because I love spending time with them all and was so happy to see so many of them honoring her life this week with their presence and kindness. It was great to see some that I haven't seen in years and reminisce together.
My cousin Savanna, me, & my second cousin Ellie later in the evening, the day of Grandma's funeral
Also....please note that this was after wearing this makeup for about 10 hours in 90+ degree heat. Be kind. 
I'll leave off with a paragraph that my sister posted to Facebook the day of the funeral, because she totally nailed it and I'm all out of the appropriate words.   

Today is a hard day. Today I attended a beautiful funeral, and said goodbye to my Grandma Lois. Today I watched my mom get up and speak at her mother’s funeral. 

Mom-Thank you for sharing your heart, it was beautiful. I’m so proud of you and your siblings for being so strong and loving during this difficult time. 

Grandma- You looked beautiful today. Truly you did. Your hair was perfect and those colors looked fantastic on you. All your kids looked great too-even you would think so . 

Her whole life my Grandma has been one to turn heads. She could light up a room just by being there, and you could light up her eyes just by telling her so. My grandma fell in love a few times during her life. But there’s one man who’s always had her attention, who she’s always been enamored with. Jesus. She’s had his pursuit for 90 years. He was waiting for her at the end of her aisle of life, handsome, loving, and perfect. And when He looks at her He sees beauty. Not her physical beauty which we all can see, but the profound perfection of the spirit that He gave her. They are together now, happy, pain free, and eternal. 

So Grandma, you look beautiful today. More beautiful than you have ever looked in your life. You are perfect, you are free, and I’m excited for the day I get to see what that looks like for myself.

So right now it's been 10 days--but I love that I will be able to look back in 10 weeks, 10 months, 10 years, 50 years, and remember the amazing woman that was my grandmother.

Thanks for sticking with me through this heavy post--love you all! Part 2 of our Home Tour coming to you soon!

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Look for Less: Black Crossbody Bags

Look for Less: Black Crossbody Bag

A couple of years ago, Ricky & I were visiting Kansas City and went to Worlds of Fun amusement park for a couple of days. I'm a big fan of small crossbody bags on trips like this so that I don't have to have anything in my hands or over my shoulder when we're out & about, but that trip I had forgotten to pack one. We stopped by Target and I picked up a bag that was very similar to several high end crossbodies I had seen. I was really pleased by the quality & look for the price point--especially considering that for me, crossbodies are more for events & trips rather than daily use.  This week I spotted an almost identical one by Kate Spade (you know it's my favorite brand!) and thought that in case any of you feel similarly about crossbodies, I'd share the less expensive versions I've found for you here.

Kate Spade $178
I obviously love Kate Spade--I have other bags, a wallet, phone case, accessories...but for a bag that I would only use a few times a year and that I would need to be able to not worry about while sightseeing or at amusement parks, for our lifestyle, $178 is a little steep. I have no doubt that it's high quality and beautiful but not quite in my budget for a vacation bag without quite a sale!

Halogen $98
This is the middle-ground bag. It's still a bit pricey for a vacation purse in my book, but for those of you who could see this being your everyday bag, $98 is a little more reasonable for a higher quality that will last you day in and day out for a longer amount of time.  

Target $27
It's pretty close, right? I like the tassel feature, love that it still has the outside pocket for keys & phone, the strap is nice & sturdy, and I have worn this thing for several trips, concerts, etc., and it is holding up beautifully so far. It wipes clean easily, although I would like to spray it with a leather protectant this summer for extra protection as I'm planning on using it a few more times this season. For $27, I'm totally sold!

See my previous Look for Less posts, Rhinestone Crossover Ring, Structured Handbag, & Gladiator Sandals, for more inexpensive fashion ideas. The strappy sandals are my favorite--I still wear them almost daily in the summer months!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

May Favorites

May 2016 Favorites

I remember when I was a kid and I couldn't wait for May to end each year. I wanted summer to begin, school to end, and my birthday to roll around. Now that I'm an adult, it seems like the opposite is true--although I still love summertime more than any other season, it felt like May flew by this year!

Here are some of the things I have been obsessing over for the last month:

This mascara is an awesome volumizing option. It has easily made it into my top 5 high end mascaras! (Post coming on those later on this month.) It has kind of an hourglass shaped wand, lots of thick bristles, and really deposits a lot of product without making your lashes too clumpy. It reminds me a bit of the Better Than Sex mascara from Too Faced--also a high volume, feathery looking mascara. I've been wearing this anytime I have a fair amount of eye shadow on--it adds a sultry, smoky look. 

This color is awesome! It's a bold coraly-hot-pink shade and I like it best with minimal eye shadow , lengthening mascara, and glowy skin. You may have seen an Instagram post from me a couple of weeks ago in which I was raving about bright coral/pink colors--and this was one of them. I also just really like the butter lipstick formula from NYX. They're super creamy traditional lipsticks, and I'd probably recommend a lipliner for a bright color like this but I often skip it because I'm crazy bold. 

I like to ease up on the high coverage, more matte foundations in the summer time. Heat calls for dewy, fresh skin. This CC cream is more like a foundation than a BB cream or tinted moisturizer, but still gives a really natural looking finish. I probably wouldn't wear it to an outdoor picnic or anything, but it's great for work or church in the summer. It also comes in an illuminating formula that I would love to try!

I am so in love with these. I have both colors that I've shown here and I pretty much live in them on days that I'm wearing pants (as opposed to dresses....not just forgoing pants). They're incredibly soft, hold their shape well, and don't feel too super thin like a lot of jegging-type jeans do. I also like that they don't look like jeggings--they just look like skinny jeans and can be easily dressed up or down. They also come in short, regular, and tall which makes me very happy because many brands offer those for regular jeans but not jeggings and mine are always way too long. #shorty 

My mother-in-law took my sisters-in-law and I here for lunch a few weeks ago and I fell totally in love. As far as I can tell, there isn't a bad item on the menu. It's a little on the fancy-bistro side which I adore--I had a bistro type place in my hometown that I frequented but hadn't found a replacement in Lincoln until now! Hopefully I can eventually get Ricky on board, but so far that hasn't been successful. Oh well--more girls' lunches is fine with me!

Guys, have you heard about the Gilmore Girls reunion coming to Netflix?? I am so super pumped and to celebrate, I have been rewatching some of my favorite episodes. The whole series is available on Netflix, but I've linked the box set in case you a) are one of the few people who haven't gotten on the Netflix bandwagon yet or b) just love the series so much that you feel compelled to physically own it. I have every season at home, so I'm with you!

This month I found out that one of our student workers at my new workplace has never seen Phantom, in any version. Say wha?? Granted, she is 20 so she hasn't had as much time under her belt, but Phantom is a classic and, in my humble opinion, should be required viewing material for every well-rounded person. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic but I told her we had to rectify the situation immediately! And we have now set up a viewing time. :)  The 2004 version is definitely my favorite movie version, but if you have the chance to see it on stage, it's an incredible experience!

This book was amazing. It's told from multiple perspectives about a woman who disappeared when her daughter was three. The majority of the book focuses on the daughter and the people around her who are helping her look for her mom, with flashbacks of the detective who handled the case and the mother herself. All of this would have likely intrigued me on its own, but one of my favorite things about this book is the correlation with elephants. The mother had been an elephant researcher, and she and the father had run an elephant sanctuary. The whole book deals with grief and provides anecdotes and trivia about how elephants experience and deal with their grief when they lose an elephant family member. It was incredibly well written and fascinating.

My connect group at church read through this book this semester and pretty well wrapped up in May. It was a really good read and helped expand my perspective on several different issues. If you're invested in your spiritual journey, I would definitely recommend this one!

It seems like so many of our friends are pregnant or recently gave birth! We have two new little friends in our connect group and 3 more on their way at church. Plus we are still loving the aunt & uncle life to our little nephew who just turned 1. It's baby central at church right now and I love it. Helps me live vicariously while we wait for Ricky to graduate and to buy a house. #babyfever #patiencegrasshopper

And there you have it! A round up of the things I've been loving this past month. What have you been loving recently? Let me know in the comments below!

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