Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Style: Hair and Makeup.

I know summer's been happening in Florida for a hot minute but I'm just finally starting to think about my summer style.  I'm now shopping for clothes since I started my 7 month fast on the 1st of this month BUT Jess and I do have a giftcard shopping day planned for August, so I will get a few treats then (I'm taking GC donations, for any of your fellow shopoholics who want to contribute to what will be the best day of this year).

I did pick up a few things I'm allowed to buy this past week (non-clothes/shoes/bags/etc)...

On clearance, with an extra 25% off and free shipping - I purchased a new makeup bag for travel.  This is the St Elmo stripe from Kate Spade. As most of you can probably bare witness to, I don't wear a lot of makeup but I do enjoy playing dress up from time to time and the rest of the time, I enjoy an easy, minimalist look.  I'm working on my makeup collection this summer and I wanted a new home for it as I collect before my next few trips.

As I've been hunting for bargains on a list of makeup items I want to add to my arsenal I found Stila set's at Nordstrom Rack (when I was there making a return) and sprung for them.

I love the blush and lip gloss combo on the left, which is a pastel set.  Pink and peach are really great colors for me, makeup wise.  They also work well with my typically minimal makeup style (as in, this way I don't randomly have red cheeks, dark, lipstick, and street walker eye liner).  The set on the right has a coral and a pink lip gloss as well as 2 lip pencils (I need to practice with these, I've never actually been a lip pencil user).

Here's a little taste of the summer makeup style I love:

I love natural, pretty, simple makeup that highlights a person's best features.  These girls have it down pat.  Now, if only I had a makeup artist to do mine before I'm in pictures, that would be great.  In the meantime, I'v found some fabulous tutorials.

I'm in the process of growing my hair out a smidge and then I will be getting this haircut (just the cut, not the color or the manly facial features of this young lady)...

That's a great length for me and I want to be able to wear my hair in beachy waves later this summer (again, after I finish getting my hair to this length).  I plan to stay reddish brown, and will be opting out of highlights for the 2234932 summer in a row.  Highlights are not a good look for me, I don't have your bone structure (legally blond movie quote, anyone?).

I have a Groupon purchases makeover (haircut, color, foot bathe, and brow wax) scheduled in August, so I plan to make this happen then.  I know the summer will be nearing at end by then but a girl can't make her hair grow faster (or can she? I'll have to Pinterest that).

Not shopping for a month now has been rough, but I'm coming to terms with it.  I'm also making a detailed list of the summer/fall items I desperately want when I do get my one blissful day of shopping for the year (well, unless we add things - the council is allowed that luxury).

So a little late but better than never, you had a taste of where my summer style is going this year.  I also ordered Lauren Conrad's style book this week so who knows what fabulous ideas I might have soon.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: Anything.

If I could give you one caution that has come out of a year of growth for me (which is of course only half over) it would be this, be mindful of what you pray for but don't be careful.  I wrote in December that I hoped the Lord would continue to break my heart for what breaks His.  What perhaps I hadn't considered was that the answer to that, what breaks His heart, might be me.

I pursued the Lord with everything I had while in Haiti this past April.  When you peel away my electronics, my makeup, my hair dryer, my fancy clothes ( I almost just said clothes and realized you'd all be picturing me run buck naked through Haiti if I said that), my job title, and take me literally completely outside my element it is easier to really get me on my face before the Lord.  I didn't want to lose that when I returned.  I immediately dove into the word (the Bible) as well as a select couple of Christian books with a fervor I had never experienced before.

It's almost humorous how each book has built on the next. I started with Francis Chan's Crazy Love which challenged me on what lukewarm Christianity looks like.  It challenged the comfortable Christian life I've built.  After I finished, feeling a little broken and exposed I read Jen Hatmaker's 'Seven: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess' which challenged the life of extreme over indulgence and excess that is the 'norm' in American culture, Christian or not.  It flipped that on it's head and made me uncomfortable, in the best possible way.

Halfway through Seven, I receive an e-mail asking if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing Jennie Allen's newest book, 'Anything'.  I haven't been taking review copies of books in order to free up time to read what I want over the last two years but as I read the description I knew, this book was for me.  If there was any doubt this was written on the back of the book:

We are all chasing something.  Our hearts were made to run hard and fast after things that move us.  But as a generation we are all beginning to stir and wake up, identifying that these words don't satisfy for long, especially when compared to God.  If God is real, and we are going to live with Him forever, should He be everything?

I dove headfirst into this book the day it arrived and at times I felt like I was reading the cries of my own heart.  Jennie wrote, ' I grieved a life that was spent on myself, the excess I had justified while other's suffered'.  My heart ached.  How perfectly worded this cry was for an NFL football coaches daughter who spent half of high school in the 5th richest county in the US, and had just experienced her first week in a 3rd world country.

Jennie Allen's open, honest look at what it means to reach the point in your faith where you can say with conviction 'Lord I'll do anything.  Anything.' was refreshing, challenging, inspiring, and eye-opening. I was almost late for work every morning for the week I managed to make myself stretch this read out over because I didn't want to put it down.  My coworker who finished the book just before I started said it perfectly when he said, 'I was sad to finish it, I just wanted to keep experiencing it'.

I can't think of a single negative about this book.  It was well written, perfectly thought out, and painstakingly honest.  I felt motivated, even as I dealt with some unflattering self discovery along the way.  I finished it with the hope that in the next year or so people will start saying of me what Jennie says of a friend in the book, 'she traded entitlement for surrender, and God took her up on it'. I have spent my time and energy in pursuit of a life I thought I desired.  But this book, and the Lord's gentle prodding at my heart, have chipped away at my plans and shaken me to the core, leaving behind a desire to love the Lord enough to do anything.

Jennie shared several writings by Katie Davis, who unsurprisingly wrote the next book on my 'to read' list (I told you all my books are feeding into each other lately).  Katie was a lot like me.  She grew up in a successful, affluent Christian family.  She was raised with a keen awareness of the Lord as well as the desire and ability to excel.  That's where our stories part ways.While Katie dropped out of college to live in Uganda as a missionary and adopt 14 girls, I kept on pursuing the American Dream while dangerously allowing myself to believe that it was God's dream for me.  Success, affluence, comfort.

It seemed to me that Katie's story helped push Jennie harder towards wanting 'anything'.  One of the blog posts Katie wrote that Jennie shared says this, ' Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to put it back together more beautifully.  I am in Love with Him.  Period'.  Jennie Allen seemed to hunger for that, even as her book has left be hungering for the same.

Allen's book will take you on her journey from comfortable Christianity, through praying 'anything', and into what I bet is just the beginning of her 'anything'. Her anything included adopting a child (a common theme among my reads this year) and into that same place of being wrecked to be rebuilt more beautifully.  If that desire is tugging at your heart, pick this book up.  You'll laugh and cry with Jennie on her journey and like me, it will show you where you are in your own journey to a personal 'anything' and encourage you to take the plunge.  The overwhelming feeling I finish this book with is hope, hope for all the Lord has for me as I let go of my American Dream and pursue hard after His anything.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

Whew, this week has managed to be both long and short at once.  Don't ask me to explain that, I've been up since 4:45 this morning.

And so, it's ok... have bags under your eyes from time to time. drink too much coffee and be a blur around the office in your Coach flats that for some reason are fitting your feet weird today. be stoked you finished 2 books yesterday, and Goodreads is finally back to telling you you're ahead of schedule instead of behind. Whew, it was making me sweat! be stoked you got a raise from one of your clients this week - just because they appreciate you. be thankful that you have a close friend who works night shift, so you always have someone to text when you have to work super late or super early (thanks for the 5am chat today, Tyler) be currently obsessed with one of the books you're reading. finally have narrowed down your 'currently reading' list to 3 instead of 6.  6 was just too much, even for me. have finally stopped moving long enough to be excited about the fact that I have a beach vacay with the fam in a few weeks. be thrilled about being chosen for the summer voxbox! want to buy a new book everyday...and read one, for that matter. be oh so grateful for good friends, skittles, and glasses (being blind is no fun). have no exes that live in Texas and to spike a  Bieber fever whenever 'boyfriend' plays.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Council.

Recently I read a book in which the author referred to her friends whom she'd go to for advice, support, encouragement, prayer, etc her 'council'.  I was thinking about that last night as two of my girlfriends came over for 'taco night'.  I normally have a standing Tuesday night commitment but I had last night off and knew enough in advance to make other plans.  I've been purposing to spend more of my weeknights investing in my friendships/relationships.  I invited the girls over and said I'd throw together an easy, healthy dinner.

We had ground turkey tacos with whole wheat tortillas AND we tried greek yogurt instead of sour cream for the first time and I can safely say we all agreed, it works!  I believe I read that idea on Pinterest. Anyway, I came home from work and threw together a taco bar (to which Jen said, 'do you always display your dinner so beautifully?' the answer is no, I don't).

We spent the next couple of hours talking about life.  From buying houses to budgeting to where are in our walks with Christ.  We laughed.  No one cried (ha ha).  And we ate our tacos and talked with no topic too big or small. And I thought, this is what Jen Hatmaker meant when she was talking about the council.  The people you do life with.  The people that you talk about the good, bad, ugly, and hard with.  The people who know your career goals, your deepest desires, and who will laugh about your awkward date experiences with you over diet cokes and skittles.

I've had an interesting friendship year.  I prayed going into this year for wisdom and discernment and I have to say that one of the hardest results of that has been the ending of a few relationships. I've seen the light and as a result, walked away. I've let go of people, of guys I liked, and even of commitments this year as the Lord has slowly but surely revealed truth to me in situations.  It's been a stretch.  

But sitting there in my sweatpants and baseball cap, eating the healthiest taco I've ever made, and telling my friends all the Lord is teaching me this year I realized, He's filled in those gaps.  I've had to move forward, move on, and even move away but in the holes created by that growth there has been time, energy, and focus on the relationships that remain.  The people I'm doing life with now aren't perfect but more and more I find that I'm investing in relationships I fully expect will weather the storms.

I'm continuing to put together my council and I find they're a wise, flexible, challenging bunch.  More than that I've had to take a long hard look at what kind of council member I have been for those who have placed me on theirs.  Am I bringing wisdom, discernment, and truth to their lives?  I'm working on that.  Daily.  In the meantime, I'm praying diligently for my friends and for continued growth in my life.

Put some thought into your own council this year. Who belongs and perhaps, who doesn't.  And consider what you're contributing as well.  Life is challenge for each of us as we encounter new seasons and who's in your corner, or on your council during those times makes a world of difference. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Playing Catch Up/Summer Reading.

After Amber and I decided to up our reading goals for the year last week (I'd already increased mine once but kind of a wimpy increase), I was behind!  I hate being behind at anything (I know this won't shock you, since you all know how OCD I am).  So I've spent the last week getting back on track. I have a book review posting on Friday and I don't want to ruin that so I will just tell you a little about the rest of my summer reading/catching up...

This wasn't my favorite Weiner book, but I liked that she did a 'murder mystery', a change up from her usual.  Still 'chick lit' to be certain but with a new twist for a writer with a niche.

I loved this book, which surprised me since I could never get into the Shopoholic series that was written by this author (under another name).  I'm not really sure what I enjoyed about this one, the story line wasn't one I normally would have been into, but I loved the way it was written.  I picked this up for $3 at Big Lots and it beat all my expectations.

Wasn't as into this one.  I loved the cover,which is why I bought this book but I have to say this story about life in the South was more than a little depressing.  I almost put it down without finishing but pressed through. I wouldn't recommend this one, even though it seems to be well read on Goodreads.

I've been on a break from my relationship with Sparks after everything he wrote started to sound the same.  But as I previously committed to do, I'm working through my bookshelves and this had been gifted me (I know it was a gift because it was hardback and we all know I'm way too cheap for that).  But I have to say in contrast to The Lucky One, I was really into this book.  I had it read in less than 48 hours.  The ending wasn't what I expected (rare with Sparks).  I think I will be saving this one for my older sister for a beach read when we head to Myrtle Beach next month.

Watch for my review Friday.  I'm currently working on 5 other books, so there will be much more summer reading to come.  I'll keep you all updated here, and if you're a reader and not already on it, I highly recommend you join the rest of us on Goodreads.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Deets.

Happy Monday to All!

I know Mondays always feel a little rough after a good weekend, but I hope you all feel as prepared for this week as I do. I was semi-here semi-not last week as I dealt with some personal things that came up midweek.  I'm happy to report that things are going well and this weekend as a blessing disguised as a giant tropical storm. But before I get there....

I worked Saturday morning and then drove up to Orlando to downtown Disney (you know, the most magical place on earth) to finally meet face-to-face with my blog friend turned text friend turned faithful prayer warrior and now finally real life friend: Kate!

Kate is precious and was so sweet to work me into her work trip/family time and let me join them for dinner on Saturday night.  It was so fun to finally meet her and I loved her even more than I thought I would, as well as the rest of the clan!  Hopefully it was the first of many meetings we'll have - maybe the next one in Pittsburgh when I head there for work later this year!

As my local readers know Tampa has fallen victim to Tropical Storm Debby.  I feel very blessed to report that my area of Tampa while in a constant state of water works seems to have survived well.  There were tornadoes in many surrounding areas but none that hit the south part of Tampa and I was actually able to enjoy a peaceful Sunday at home as a result.

I caught up on 5 loads of laundry, cleaned up my house from a busy week, and managed to bake a few loaves of bread for friends and neighbors as well as pan of brownies by request.  I spent much of the day in my pajamas and ventured across the street to lunch with some of my neighbors (I literally have the best neighbors in the world). I took them homemade bread AND I tried a Pinterest recipe for Texas Roadhouse's cinnamon butter.  It was a hit!

The one and only time I left my house by car all day (due to flooding) was to run to Target for new laundry baskets and a fresh stash of movies.  I wrapped up the night with a laundry folding party and the movie Bride Wars.

I really enjoyed it!  I like both the actresses in it (though Anne and I had a falling out after all the nudey scenes in Love and Other Drugs - eck).

(my Sunday night)

I also got to spend some time reading, which you all know I love.  I'll share later this week what's been going on in reading world.

Hope you all had a safe weekend and I'm grateful the Lord kept my Tampa blogger friends safe throughout a crazy storm!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Show Us Your Life: Dining Room.

I'm linking up with Kelly today and showing you all my dining room.  Unfortunately I still don't have much on the walls so this is really going to be a bunch of photos taken over the last few months of my dining room set for entertaining.

One of these days I will get a really cool piece of furniture to displace my fun plates in and some wall decor and then I will really show you all my whole dining room.  But I didn't want to miss the link up in the meantime!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

Here we go again...

It's ok... be having blogger palooza this week with fro yo with Kari, dinner with Kate, AND girls day with Jess within 4 days of this week. finally be back in a good groove with your workouts and loving it. be missing your sweet niece. now be one of TWO Christensen girls who are homeowners!  Congrats to my sis and bro-in-law! have been in bed by 9 3 our of 4 nights this week to read before bed. be a little intimidated by raising my reading goal for the year by 50 books! hate e-mail beyond all measure. be avoiding negative people like the plague lately.  I've had as much of it as I can handle.  I'm now giving them the Heisman. (yes, I overuse football references) want to read every spare minute of everyday. be so proud of my 2 friends who are on a new fitness/healthy eating regimen with me. be so grateful for Amber and her friendship. She has the kindest heart. miss shopping. le sigh. I've almost made it a month of the 7 months of the fast. be hopeful. We'll leave this one vague. be stoked I won a necklace from Ashley's blog.

Happy Thursday - it's ok!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back to the Basics: Budgeting.

Last night after work one of my sweet friend came over for breakfast for dinner, a workout, and a pow wow about budgeting.  One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a young adult out on my own was managing my money.  My parents were prime examples of budgeting done well but managing my own money on my first 'real' income (I've been working since I was 15, but I hadn't actually supported myself).  One of my girlfriends just got her first full-time job recently and I agreed to have a sit down with her to help her do it better than I did, my first go around.

Don't worry, I also very much encouraged her to take a one day Dave Ramsey class my church is offering in July.  I'm not confident enough in my own abilities to be the only resource anyone uses on money. I'm still learning myself, naturally.

As I prepared for this pow wow, going back over the basics inspired me to tighten up my own budget.  I've been living on a budget for three years now, but budgeting is a little like doing through your closet.  You could go through and throw out everything that doesn't fit or look good, and then go through it again and find 5 more.  It's just how it goes.  So as I went back over the basics I realized my budget had some leaks as well. I wasn't making my money work as hard for me as I could.

And so, I've tightened it up and taken a few deep breaths to keep from panicking.  It seems I've been doing a lot of this as I've been addressing the basics in most categories of my life.  It's all kind of connected, isn't it? It all comes back to discipline.  As I've tightened up my schedule, my workout routine, my diet, my budget, and my reading goals for the year I'm reminded of the value of revisiting the basics in your life.

If it's been a while since you went back over your goals and checked yourself (preferably with a friend) to see if your habits are working towards those goals, do it.  You may find that, like your closet, there's still some extra weight in there.  This is me encouragement to keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself to meet your goals and make sure you take the time to celebrate each of them.  Rest assured, I'll be celebrating when I pay cash for my next car and pay off my house someday.  Maybe sooner rather than later.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Recap: Daytona Beach.

It's no secret I love to travel but I'm a little sad to admit most of my travels that few years have involved flying.  That's not to say, I don't love a good road trip.  In fact, I love to drive for hours by myself (that sounds weird, doesn't it?).  I picked up a few books on CDs at the library last week, filled a cooler with diet coke (totally unnecessary but awesome), and hit the road for Daytona Beach Saturday morning after a quick workout and a few cups of coffee.

My niece, Noa, is now 6 months old and my sister and bro-in-law were coming down to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of his parents.  35 years, isn't that amazing?  Lucky for me, they usually let me tag along when they visit so I can get extra time with both families, whom I adore.

So here is my quickly growing 6 month old niece, Noa June:

(please excuse the disaster that is my hair in this picture)

She's growing so quickly these days, it makes it hard to be the faraway Floridian aunt B.  But I cherish every second that I do get with my sweet niece.

Saturday night was the official party so Noey and I got ready and went to the beach clubhouse to celebrate Nan and Ned's big 35!

This is my older sister,Rachel and of course Noey and I at the party Saturday.

Noey and her Aunt B.

This is my favorite picture of the weekend.

A special thanks to Jess for lending me the dress, loved it.

I drove back last night to play catch up before today when I'll return to work.  But it was a perfect 36 hours away with my family.  And I'm so thankful it will only be 4 weeks til I'm reunited with them all in Myrtle Beach.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Simplicity, More or Less.

How many times have you heard someone say 'less is more'?  It's humorous that we even bother to keep this saying around when America operates under the impression that more is always more.  In fact, we like to not only have more but we want our 'more' to be better, faster, newer, shinier, and more exclusive than our neighbors, friends, and family members.  Or as my friend recently pointed out to me, everything is a competition.

Now this is where that territory gets extremely dangerous for me.  I compete.  I was the girl who started applying for post-graduation jobs in September of my senior year.  By Christmas I had my interviews lined up for Spring Break, when I interviewed, accepted a position, and started my progress towards my first 'real world job' while still working on graduating.  I wasn't going to be at the back of the pack, I was going to beat this tough job market/economy and be the alumni my school would be proud of.

Worse still?  I compete with myself.  I'm always pushing myself and never content with where I am.  3 years ago I read 50 books in a year.  This year it's at 60.  2 years ago I got debt free now it's about paying cash for my next car, having a 6 month emergency fund, paying off my home before I'm 40, and being ahead of schedule to save for retirement and start investing.  I am a pusher.  I am a competitor.  And I am in a constant battle with discontentment.  Or perhaps, was.

I first heard about Jen Hatmaker when my friend Paige had a link up to a blogpost Jen had written.  The title snagged me and I clicked through and read her post.  It was fabulous.  Afterwards I noticed a few people in my inner circle were reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  The title snagged me.  Post-Haiti I've been more mindful than ever of what I have, what I'm doing with it, and what I'm wasting. Flash forward a few weeks and my Mom came into town talking about this book and how she wanted to read it.  Boom, let's do this.  We bought it at Barnes and Noble the first night she was in town.  Two days later, I bought a copy and had it shipped to my best friend.

My copy is headed to Indiana to be read by my sweet friend Meagan who may be one of my only remaining friends who isn't terrified of my book recommendations right now.  This book inspired me to give up shopping for clothes, accessories, and shoes for 7 months.  From June 1st-January 1st I'm taking a step (read: a mile) back from consumerism to change my attitude.  If that scares you for me, then you may really be terrified when I tell you that may just be the beginning.

I am sick to death of my own bad attitude.  Of wanting, wanting, wanting and never being nearly grateful enough.  In all fairness, I am grateful for my home, my family, my job, and what the Lord has given me.  But this year more than ever I'm tuned into the idea that discontentment still reigns supreme in some aspects of my life.  When is enough really enough?  After reading the chapter on possessions in this book I wanted to wash my own mouth out with soap for all the times I've said 'but I NEED....' fill in the blank as you will (a black cardigan, more work clothes, another bathing suit, a better stash of beach towels).

For 7 months Jen Hatmaker fasts from something to get to the root of excess in her life.  She lives radically different each month as a result and she catalogs her journey through each in a journal-like style in Seven.  Her writing style is quirky and at times a little over-the-top for me but I love the heart behind this book.  The questioning.  The rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty with the 'why' and the 'what' of your own excess.

As this year continues I appreciate people who are willing to do the hard thing while asking the hard questions. This book reeks of that.  I've shared a little along the way about examining my own heart but I encourage you if you're interested in taking a long, hard look at your own life and the excess there, pick this up.  But I warn you, it may just change your life.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Ok Thursday/Rumor Busting.

Its Ok Thursdays

Oh friends, I need this more than usual this week.  Not only because writing 'real content' takes a lot more time and energy, but because I'm a quirky mess these days.  And so, for today at least, it's ok...

... to have a trip planned for every.single.month. this year.  In fact, I will have only NOT been on a trip in the month of January I believe, this whole year (when it's over). be thrilled to be road tripping to Daytona Beach this weekend to see my sister, bro-in-law, the in law family (I know they're not technically my in law family but I count them) and sweet baby Noa ( my 6 month old niece). have spent your lunch break on Tuesday vacuuming your staircases because you were working a 15 hour day and hosting a lunch the following day. have been thrilled when your friend/workout buddy announced Monday: 'minus the vacuum cleaner and basket of laundry, your house looks ready to be featured in a magazine' (winning!) finally, at least temporarily, be back in a good reading groove. have a few secrets. : ] tell those secrets to a few people, so they're not totally secret anymore (I can't help myself, thank goodness with the girls) hate being in the rumor mill. So much.  I over share people, you know PLENTY...don't fill in the blanks with your own crazy ideas.  In fact, let's clear a few things up...

1. The last rumored 'mystery man' that I received literal calls about?  That was my Dad, and we're not dating though I do adore him and sometimes he takes me on dinner dates when I'm home.  We're also 30 years apart in age and look exactly alike, so I'm not sure how a facebook picture of us started a rumor...

2. I am not...

Married, eloping, publishing a book (unless one of you wants to pay me for one), buying a second home, starting a business, running a marathon or adopting any children.

Just so we're clear.  Any other rumors you'd like me to squash while I'm at it?  I'm in the mood.

... to be proud of yourself for making it almost 2 weeks without buying any clothing, shoes, or accessories...6.5 months to go. love borrowing clothes, now that I've tried it.  Praise the Lord I have stylish, generous friends! dream about traveling. Literally. apparently be the one and only 26 year old girl who wants nothing to do with marriage or kids anytime soon (maybe ever for the kid thing).  Like, think 30 people.  Yes, really. set everyday reading goals and put them on your to do list to mark them off.  Yes, I realize this is a nerdy, OCD freak thing, and I do it.  Every. Day. be slowly, slowly getting better about calling people. On the phone.  And actually talking, not typing.  This is a big step, appreciate it. hate when people talk on the phone around you so therefore, to have initiated a 'my phone stays in my purse when I'm with you' rule for myself.  I left lunch with 9 texts, 2 phone calls, and 8 e-mails Monday and I felt great about it.  That's 19 missed interruptions to one of the best lunch time convos ever! be changing, changing, changing at a rapid rate. be totally and completely in love with life, lately.  I swear that whole positive attitude pledge has really worked a miracle.

Happy Thursdays.  These posts have literally made this one of my favorite days of the week.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Bathroom Reveal.

Whew...I know I know I've been taking forever to get this stuff up here for you all.  Cut my some slack, I've been in a fulls sprint since April.  But without further ado...

 (note: the counters, faucet, and mirror were part of the revamp)

 (Over the freshly hung towel racks...whoo no more chrome)

(my mom is not in love with this shower curtain, but I kind of's one of two I alternate between, the other is out for dry cleaning)

You can really only see if from the side here but my Mom built that piece over the toilet because this bathroom has minimal storage and I bought an excessive amount of towels ( when you like unique colors you can't be too careful, right?).

So my bedroom and bathroom were both finished my summer and have already had 2 guests.  Looks like there will be a few more on the couple of weekends this summer I'm actually in town.  


Monday, June 11, 2012

Becca Lately...

I’m always tempted to make even the sweet things in life a little snarky. But today’s topic, though funny in some ways, is a sweet one.  Here’s a little taste of where my heart is at lately…

I twittered on Sunday during a lazy couple of hours at the pool with books (yes, several) a warning to each of my friends to ignore my phone calls this week.  If you’re in my tight knit friend circle then you know exactly where this joke comes from.  I am a recruiter.  I am constantly recruiting a friend to do something with me so that I never have to undertake anything alone.  If I had a crazy idea, a get rich scheme, a latest project, or a flash of inspiration I will immediately turn around, pick a friend, and start selling them on it.  In the midst of all that is going on in my heart and life these days, my friends should proceed with caution in any of my hair brained schemes.

Haiti was one of few ‘big things’ I took on alone.  I rarely do things completely by myself, but when I do, they count.  I moved to Tampa less than 12 hours after finishing college 17 hours away.  And in December of 2011 I decided to go to Haiti with a group of strangers.  This would be not only my first mission’s trip but my first time out of the country and I was going without a support group of people who already know and love me.  Naturally this shocked friends and family alike.  Why now? Why Haiti?  Why this group?  The answer is simple, I knew.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was supposed to go.  I didn’t need backup.  I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was a good idea. I  just needed to buy that ticket, pack those bags, and hop on that plane.  I knew.

I spent the time I was given alone in Haiti being purposeful.  I read. I prayed. I wrote.  I pursued.  I earnestly sought that I would come back from that trip and never be the same girl who left.  I desired to grow.  I desired change.  I was craving it in a way that I never had before.

Now in the event that my closest friends or my parents are reading this I should pause here to say that I am NOT about to announce that I have decided to sell my condo and move to a third world country. At least, not today…I make no finite promises about the rest of forever, though.  I catch some of the people that love me the most being a bit torn by my new found love of international affairs and whether to encourage them or discourage them.  I sense that they are afraid I may let my passion take me far far away, and I am in fact grateful that they would prefer to have me close.

At the risk of sounding like a pun, I came home from Haiti hungry.  I committed to spending the first part of my days with the Lord and trying to keep that eagerness I’d acquired while away from my iphone, ipad, computer, job, friends, family, facebook, blog, and other various distractions I adore.  Probably the biggest commitment I made though was to ask hard questions.  To question everything I know, everything I’ve learned, and most of all to question the way I’m living. 

In addition to reading straight from the bible every morning I try’n read a Chapter of a book as well.  Over Easter weekend Francis Chan gave away three of his books for free on ereaders and I snagged that.  So back from Haiti, I dove into Crazy Love.  If you want to stay the same, if you want to stay comfortable then I recommend avoiding third world countries followed by tough reads.  Whew.  Here I am, fresh off of this amazing, humbling, life-altering trip to Haiti and I start reading things like this:

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” 

Oh hey Francis, comfortable was working pretty well for me until Haiti and now that I was toying with  the idea of stepping out, you have to give me that.  Oh it gets worse?  

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.” 

Do you by any chance mean reading the most books or owning the most amazing collection of ballet flats? I’m not allowed to be comfortable and now you’re asking me to question the success I’m achieving’s worth and value in the long run?  Ok, I guess I’ll just keep squirming through this book…

“Lukewarm living and claiming Christ's name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God.” 

Ouch.  Just ouch.

And most painfully of all?  This one:

“Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.” 

Do I want the Savior or do I just want the life insurance of knowing my debts will be paid for and hope to avoid the wrath of my mistakes?  Chan asks the hard questions and I love him for it.  With all I had just seen, I’m not sure I could have ever been in a better place to be asked these questions.  But the truth hurts. In fact, most days it stung like a slap right in the face.   Good Morning Becca, you selfish, comfortable lukewarm Christian, you…what are you doing that matters?  What sacrifices are you making?  What’s the value on the love you’re giving others?  How are those ‘me time’ days treating you when you could be serving?  What are you doing that’s making a difference?

I’m still reeling from these questions, so I can’t give you all the answers today.  But know this, I have never been more painfully self-aware.  I have lived a comfortable existence of being lukewarm.  I have basked in the ease of claiming grace.  I have spent far less time pursuing the Lord than I have the American Dream.  I have wanted to be saved, but I have not always wanted the Savior.  I have been that lukewarm Christian. I have wanted a place in heaven but I have not been willing to let go of the idea of having one on earth.

Some of you are about to tell me that it’s ok, I’m doing a good enough job.  You’re about to compare me to others and maybe think I’m doing better than them.  Don’t.  I am increasingly aware of this:

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money’ – Matthew 6:24

Not worried about the money part?  Insert whatever you’ve made the lord of your life.  Your family.  Your friends.  Your success.  Your comfort.  Your marriage.  Money isn’t the only master that keeps us from serving the Lord. And the bible makes no allowance for this…

But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.  – Joshua 24:15

And so you see, that my heart and my mind are churning.  I am learning.  I am growing. And mercy, if I’m not stretching.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.

I wanted to start to tell you about the next tough read I took on and how that’s continued to rock my world but this ended up being deeper than I expected.  This post took on a life of its own. And so, I suppose, I shall tell you to stay tuned for Part Two.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Revealing: The Guest Bedroom & Giveaway Winners!

Hello lovies.

Let's start off with the giveaway winners.  I feel so honored that Kathryn would choose to giveaway three of her books on my blog and I know that each of your would benefit from her wisdom and advice.  I could of course only pick 3 of you and so this was a tough decision.  But I pulled in some help and finally have chosen three followers in very different phases of life! And they are:

Mia - who's married to a football coach and has had to move a lot and recently downsize while they sell. Being from a coaching family, I understand!

Mark and Melissa - who are homeschooling two kids! If you're going to be home all day you absolutely need that space organized!

Bet - a wife and new mom. I can certainly see how adding a third would rock your former order!

Congrats to each of the three winners! I hope Kathryn's book provides just the guidance you need! And by all means, when you've read it I'd love to hear or see pictures of how you use it!

I have a big announcement to make today. While 'Oh The Places You'll Go' is here to stay, it has given birth to a new idea for a second blog. It's been in the works (mostly in my head) over the past month or two and I will finally be introducing you all today. I want to keep this blog personal. I want to continue to muscle through the hard stuff, share my journey, travels, adventures, and big moments with you here. This blog is about my life and all the good, bad, pretty, and ugly that go with that. And so, I've found a new destination for another love of mine.  You will find the the progress and pictures of my guest bedroom here at She Hosts the Most.

I will only be posting there on Fridays and Fridays only. I don't expect you all to want to read posts from me everyday here and everyday somewhere else. Whew. Furthermore, I do not wish to drown in blog writing when I have so many other tasks and interests to attend to as well. I love to blog but I want that love to grow and continue, not to become a chore. You dig?

So scoot on over there and see what I'm newly up too. And before you stress, I'll be here, right where you left me, a few days a week until potential further notice.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Bedroom: Before & After.

I've decided since I wanted to share this anyway to link up with Kelly for Show Us Your Life: Bedroom week.

Ok, I've been sharing that I've been working on my crib the last 2 months.  I showed you the revamped bathrooms, the new color scheme, etc.  But I haven't really shown you one the simplest yet biggest transformations of the summer so far - my room!

Jess and I painted my magenta wall after I moved in and it was a labor of love.  However, when I saved up and forked over the money for a professional paint job, it was time to say farewell to the magenta wall in favor of future selling of the batch pad options.  I admit that while I loved the wall, I probably wouldn't have been interested in a town-home with a magenta wall in the master bedroom and so I figured would the case when I one day decide to sell.  

So the before:

A few months back I had decided if might be time for a more grown up, serene look for my bedroom.  I had fun with the pink and the funkiness of have a zebra room, but maybe it was time to have a bedroom that looked like a 26 year old professional rested there.  I found a groupon for a plain white down comforter and went ahead and ordered it, thinking when I revamped, I would use it.  While my Mom was here she helped me piece this together and so I present to you the new and some might say improved bedroom of mine:

Simple, streamlined, classy.

I also added my reading corner which got a new lamp last week, bought on major clearance at Kirklands and I think it really completed things:

Beside my chair is a black leather...tote for last of a better term which is housing the books and magazines I'm currently working on.

I do have a new throw on the way for this corner.  The one pictures is fine but I got the chance to get a really nice bamboo and cashmere (odd combo, I know) one from One Kings Lane and I had several credits from them to pay for it.  The great thing about my color scheme is that I can move things around and repurpose them.  So this old throw came from somewhere else and will find yet a new home within the house.

The other side of my room with the dresser, TV, etv has stayed the same though all bits of pink have been craiglisted away to go towards future home projects.   You know me: reduce, reuse, or resell!

So welcome, to my new room!  The combo of a few great finds, and a little touch of minimalism!  More house posts to come, so stayed tuned over the weekend.

Happy Friday loves!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

This week I think it's ok... immediate become obsessed with food with your on a restrictive eating plan.  Curse you 17 day diet, I need chocolate. read many many books at the same time, as long as your actually finish them so you can reach your goals. make everything a competition with yourself. hate Keurigs and their coffee.  Mr Coffee, yes please. have thought 15 times per day of things you'd buy if you hadn't just made a pact to go 6 months without buying clothes, shoes, or accessories.  What was I thinking? ; ] be rebounding from a brief vacay from snail mail.  I'm baaack. have your parents think your insane for having met 'blog friends' in real life.  My Mom thinks I will one day be a dead girl in a Lifetime movie because of this. love to Craigslist things. always be hungry for knowledge and ideas.  Can't.Stop.Reading. take little vacays from phone calls, as long as you call everyone back when you return. love 'to do' lists, but take days off where you just do what you want. have to scoop dog poop.  It's gross, but it happens. be proud of yourself for making a new savings plan that's really going to get the job done.  Deep breath. feel proud of yourself for being back in the gym 6 days a week.  Come on summer, let's do this.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Mouthful of Money

The expression put your money where your mouth is has left me choking on mine lately. I'm growing increasingly hungry for simplicity. I desire that my life be one of purpose and that I keep my treasure where it belongs (and amazingly I don't mean my walk-in closet). Sunday as I was sharing all I've been learning and feeling challenged by with a friend while at the pool (after writing yesterday's post) I managed to talk myself into a challenge.

My sweet friend Jess and I are probably the ultimate consumers. We love clothes, fashion, furniture, decor, travel, and trinkets. And we have put our money were our mouths are as we seek to get away from a lifestyle driven by wanting what's new and what's next. For the rest of 2012 we are saying goodbye to all clothing, footwear, and accessory shopping and hello to grateful hearts for what we already have.

I spent a week in Haiti and experienced the joy of orphans who keep all of their belongings on the foot of their bunk. I promised myself I would learn from that experience and grow because of what I've seen.  The next six months are about attitude. About killing the constant inner nagging for more. For focusing on being thankful for my healthy, happy family, my beautiful little home, my loving friends, and all that the Lord has already blessed me with.

 In addition to learning to live without a few wants, we're refocusing that energy on meeting a few needs. Over the next six months we've committed to use some of the money we would be using on cute new summer clothes for travel and such on meeting others needs. I desperately desire to live generously. To consider the next 6 months a success I truly hope I end them not wanting to go on a giant clothes buying bender but having killed my gimme gimme gimme nature in favor of contentment.

So today I raise my dairy free, fake sugar'd coffee to the soon-to-be simple life.  Fair well ultimate consumerism and hello contentment and joy.  Now begins the journey...


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Does Crap Count?

This is one of those posts where honesty hurts. It's what I love to hate about blogging. Being real is important but it stings to be honest with yourself let alone letting people into the core of your selfish heart.

 Since finishing crazy love I started a book by Jen Hatmaker. The book, entitled 'seven: an experimental mutiny against excess' seemed timely coming off from living in a third world country for 7 days in April. I didn't come back feeling guilty for being from a country of wealth and opportunity and I didn't come back patting myself on the back for being good enough to go help others either. I came back self aware and asking questions I wasn't sure I was ready to answer.

Chapter three of 'Seven' hit me where I'm tender. Giving. In chapter three Jen addresses 'posessions' by giving away 7 things a day for a month. Now here's where I confess I'm always looking for a clever way to beat the system. While counting calories and dropping 70 lbs I would sometimes eat all my calories in chocolate for a day or go wild on Mexican knowing it'd make me so sick I'd get rid of those calories anyways. You get idea.

So here I am thinking 'well, I'm only one person so I wouldn't have to give as much away' (Jen has a family and would be purging from her husband and kids stuff too).  I also thought of the goodwill bags I constantly keep in the garage and add too, and thought 'I can pull that stuff out and count it if I decide to try this month'.  This is when I had to get honest with myself. I know God loves a cheerful giver but does he really love when I cheerfully give my crap?

See the challenge in giving away 210 things is that being a purger by nature I'd quickly run out of junk I don't use and have to give away things I like, want, maybe even 'need'. But that's the point right? That you burn through the crap and you actually give things of value. You know, that ugly word 'sacrifice'?

 I immediately thought back to the orphanage in Haiti. They offered to feed our group of 20 dinner while we were there. Mind you, these kids don't always get three meals a day like you and three meals, two snacks, and a sonic happy hour drink everyday like me. These kids would have gladly given up their dinner for me but would I even have been as willing to give a shirt I wear once or twice a year to someone in need in my own community? I keep wanting to count my crap. My leftovers. What I don't want or need... And still see myself as generous. Caring.

 As the Lord grows me and challenges me in this season of my walk with Him I realize, he doesn't care about the stuff half as much as He cares about my heart! And clearly, that's what needs the most work. Francis Chan challenged me in crazy love that WE are the rich people the bible talks about. Were in the top 4% of the world in wealth, friends. And I finally see why the bible talks about a camel making it through the eye of a needle easier than a rich man into heaven... Because here I am, wondering if my crap counts. Wanting to give away junk and count myself generous enough. Totally missing that my heart is in all the wrong places.

Before you write me a really sweet comment telling me I've lost mind mind, my crap counts, and I should stop being so hard on myself...don't.  I wrote this post from the comfort of my living room on an iPad, before spending the rest of the day by the pool with one of my best friends and my neighbors who I adore.  My life isn't hard.  I'm not going without.  And I'm finally dealing with a selfish heart I've let go for far too long.  I want the challenge. I want the growth.  I'm craving change.


Monday, June 4, 2012

A New Found Friend and Three Giveaways!

Followed this blog long?  Then you know that I use to crank out book reviews like it was a second third job.  But eventually I grew tired of reading what I was told and realized reading is one of the only things I do for the pure love of it.  After which, I promptly said goodbye to both publishing companies I was working with and started picking my own books.  Since then I have written rare reviews, only when I find a book I truly enjoy and believe you all would too.

Recently that included this post about Organizing Small Spaces. I  borrowed this book from a department of my work ('s resources and I started reading. My review of the book and was really my way of passing on to you something that grew me as a homemaker.  It was completely unsolicited....

So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up last Thursday morning to an e-mail saying 'Kathryn Bechen' has left a comment on your blog.  I thought, 'no way....', but yes way, the very author I had praised on the blog had found my post and responded!  She wrote:

Dear Becca,

Thank you for so thoroughly reviewing my book, Small Space Organizing, on your blog. I am so happy you enjoyed it and found it useful and your insights into what you liked about it were very helpful to me as an author. Great job on your purging! Wishing you happiness, beauty, and order at home always, whatever the size of your space! I have a newsletter and blog, so hope you will join me there at :) 

Sincerely, Kathryn Bechen, Author

                                        (meet Kathryn, pictured here holding 'Organizing Small Spaces')

Isn't she darling?  Better still I realized later in the morning on my drive to work that she had also sent me an e-mail to blog's e-mail account.  I was so honored she'd found my blog and taken the time to not just read what I wrote about her book and respond but in her second e-mail (after my reply) she told me about several of the posts on my blog she'd read and why she enjoyed them.  She even mentioned that she would love to send me an autographed copy of her book for my 'reading corner' which I showcased last week after finishing it.

If all of this isn't exciting enough, her second e-mail said she'd love to give you all  (my readers) something as well!  So, Kathryn has graciously agreed to give not just one, not two, but THREE of my readers a signed copy of 'Organizing Small Spaces' as well!  Now, the tough part about this is that I have to pick the winners!   So here's the scoop.  If you're truly interested in getting your small space organized and you think this book could be a life-changer for you, we want you to have it!  So, comment below and tell myself (and Kathryn who might be stopping by to read what you all write as well)  why you need the book.  You could tell us what your small space is like, a problematic space issue your place has, and/or what you most hope to learn from the book.

You have until this coming Friday 6/8 to get your comment in, as I will pick the winner Friday night and announce it on Saturday.

In the meantime, feel free to read what I wrote about her book and checkout her website as well:

Good luck, I can't wait to read your comments and a special thank you to Kathryn for this surprise giveaway!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Catching up From Crazy (a few updates).

Remember that time I went to Haiti, came back and renovated my house, left the next day to explore DC, came home for 2 days before hosting my mom for a long weekend, and now my life is so low key I barely know what to do?  That was now.

This spring has been crazy and perfect. I've had the best time and honestly, I'm a little sad that life is slowly going back to normal-ish.  Oh fine, you all know me well enough to know nothing in my life is ever really normal.  But in a surprising twist of fate, this week has been pretty fabulous.

Here's a few reasons why/updates/etc:

I managed to get my room put together AND clean this week.  Always a good feeling especially going into the weekend.

I also managed to finally find the right colored bath towels during a lunch time trip to Marshalls the other day:

Side note: Lascoste and I see eye to eye on colors.  Marshalls and I?  We see eye to eye on price!  Love.  I had the idea of the color I wanted based on the fact that it's worked into the granite I recently had installed in my bathroom. This isn't the best picture in the world but you'll get the idea.

And after getting the bathroom clean and the new hand towel hung on the towel ring Mom and I put up last week I present to you, the new look:

Also happening at the batch pad this week?  A dog.  Yes that's right, crazy clean freak me who's known for not wanting pets or children has taken in a dog for a week.  May I introduce to you all, Buddy:

Buddy belongs to some sweet friends of mine who are in KC this week, and so Buddy and I are bonding over scary movies and poop scooping this week and having a delightful time, I must say.

I've been playing catch up around the house, having friends over for lunch Friday (more on that later), and will be playing catch up in the work and read worlds this weekend but by the time you read this on Sunday, I will be here:

Ah, short weeks, you do have your appeal.  Nothing but love coming from me to Memorial Day and the week that followed.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finishing What I Started: Revisted.

You may remember this post from March where I challenged myself (and some of you) to knock the dust off those books on your shelves and get around to reading them.  Many of you share my love of reading and maybe my love of books.  I have an ipad, a kindle, and a small library of physical books all of which I adore.  I can never have enough books in my possession, enough in my currently reading section of good reads, or enough on my excel sheet of books I've read.

But I wanted to revist my goal and so I went back and counted from my reading list for this year how many books I've read from my own shelves or eshelves.  Curious? 17!  So far in 2012 I have read 17 of the books I've been saving until I get around to them while constantly buying more.  But I pretty much paused the buying in order to dominate some of what I already have!

Better still, I've continued my love for passing them on!  Amber and I have been exchanging books like crazy this year but I've also passed on books to Mia, Jo, and Lindsey too!  It's clearing spots for the books people keep generously giving me and those I keep acquiring whether through purchase or trade.

The last post got a great response from many of you who thought you should try the's it coming?


Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Club Friday.

I try not to over linkup, so I'm a little spotty with book club posts.  This is not to say that I haven't been reading as much as ever, and loving it.  I've actually had book after book that I've enjoyed which I know will shock Mia if/when she reads this because she says I'm stingy with my Goodreads stars! ; ]

This week I wanted to write about and highly recommend Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

My best friend, Candy, and I try to read one book the same.  We recently finished a book called 'Me and My Big Mouth' and I promptly started Crazy Love thinking it would give me a chance to get ahead. Since I'm always reading multiple books at once I sometimes read slower in one than the other.  However, this book gripped me from day one and within a week (about 3 months faster than I tackled our last book) I had this book dominated.

If you're connected with me in social media world you may have been catching bits and pieces of what I've been reading/loving in this book as I've been using quotes from it on facebook and twitter. This book really rocked my perspective and kept me wanting to read more.  If you're a believer, this is a must read on my list...and if you're not but you have an interest in religion, check it out.  Chan is a great writer and he makes convicting points.