Looking Forward and Loving Lately

HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!

I am so looking forward to this upcoming year and all of the things it will bring with it. 2016 is going to be a year of positive change, in my family, my marriage, my finances, and also in my blog! I have some exciting things on the docket for this blog and I can’t wait to share it with you all. You’ll definitely notice a change in looks and even in some content (still the brutiful stuff, but also some more light hearted and enjoyable stuff as well!), along with some other really fun things! I hope to be updating and writing much more frequently. I thought I’d round out 2015 with something fun; another Loving Lately post! You know how it goes: I share with you some of my most favorite things as of late, and maybe you’ll be inspired to try them out too. (No ads here, just things that have genuinely edified my life or made it easier in one way or another.) Enjoy!

 

IMG_8332Mandy Reid Yoga – My beautiful and gifted friend, Mandy Reid, is a wonderful yoga instructor and provides so many yoga videos FOR FREE on her youtube channel. Her intentions are always spot on and practicing with Mandy’s videos has helped me grow exceptionally in my personal yoga practice.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAcure Organics Yummy Baby 4-in-1 Foamer – I love Acure Organics products for myself and was so excited when I found this for Nora! This foamer acts as shampoo, body wash, hand soap and best of all, bubble bath! It smells so yummy and Nora loves splashing around with the bubbles during bath time. She also loves to eat the bubbles, which is why I continue to use this product – I don’t have to worry about her ingesting icky chemicals when she shoves a fistful of bubbles into her mouth.

Frasier

Frasier – I love Frasier. I love it so much. It’s hilarious and witty and so clever (or droll, as Fras would say). It’s one of my favorite tv shows bar none, and I’m forever grateful to Netflix for making it possible to binge watch my favorite snobby psychiatrists whenever I need a really good laugh.

IMG_8331Hyland’s Homeopathic Baby Teething Tablets – I love Hyland’s products for the same reason I love Acure Organics; I don’t have to worry about Nora getting any unnatural or unsafe ingredients in or on her when we use them. That said, these teething tablets are just plain miraculous. They dissolve quickly, and Nora absolutely loves them because she knows relief is soon on it’s way. They help soothe her achy gums and allow her to rest so much better. And yes, I got a little risky and snuck into her nursery while she was napping to get this photo.

IMG_8329Wei of Chocolate – I was introduced to Wei of Chocolate by my friend Suzi over at Gurl Gone Green (whose blog I’ve also been loving lately). These chocolates are organic, fair trade and oh so dreamy. When you open the chocolate, you are encouraged not to chew it up right away, but to let it just sit and melt in your mouth. I love this because it reminds me to slow down, relax, and just enjoy the moment. Right now I have the Wei Joyful, which is citrus dark chocolate and I adore them. I can’t wait to try Wei Peace next; lavender grey dark chocolate!

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Loving Lately

Good morning, y’all! (Y’all is a rarity now that we’re Oregonians so I have to slip it in every once in a while.)

Ready for round two of things I’ve been adoring lately? I hope it’s not against the bloggers code to post a note with the same ingredients back to back, but if it is, oh well I suppose! I’m all giddy with holiday spirit this morning, so let’s get started before I burst.

Carrie McQuaid aka Caroline G ShopProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I mean really. Carrie is just the sweetest thing with the darlingest (if that’s not a word I’m making it one) jewelry shop and blog. Her online boutique, Caroline G Shop, specializes in beautiful necklaces that Carrie puts together and ships all herself. I’m partial to the three bubble necklaces myself. I  have it in mint, red and gold (so far). So cute, right? While the shop itself is for profit, what Carrie does with her income makes my heart nearly explode with joy each time I see a new love project she’s taking on.

Carrie oozes the love of Jesus. She has made it her daily purpose to show love and kindness to anyone and everyone that she interacts with, including friends, strangers on the street, social media butterflies and the like. She often walks around her city, handing out balloons to random passersby, just wishing them a joyful day. A few weeks ago, she loaded up her Starbucks card with $50, and then posted a snapshot of the barcode on Instagram and encouraged her followers to treat themselves to a beverage, or to pay it forward and bless someone else. I’ve said before about Carrie that while I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her, I consider her a friend because she makes herself a friend to all. I am completely inspired by Carrie’s life and generosity and strive to fill my days with even more purpose because of her influence. I highly recommend following her on Instagram (@carolinegshop), keeping up with her blog, liking her page on Facebook (she does awesome giveaways and deals on her jewelry frequently!) and supporting her shop! You will absolutely not regret it.

Club Naked

christmas_naked_logoDon’t be afraid to click that link! I promise you won’t see anyone’s naughty bits. Club Naked is our wine club! Let me explain. Naked Winery is a fantastic little wine shop down in Old Mill District here in Bend. With their wines provocatively labeled things like “Oh!”, “Penetration”, “Cougar”, “Fling”, “Vixen” and so forth, while a tad saucy, that makes the atmosphere at Naked Winery relaxing and so much fun! Wine tastings are offered weekly at no charge to club members, who are encouraged to bring guests, which is how we were introduced to Club Naked. A group of wonderful people that Shawn has the pleasure of working with invited us to join them at the wine tasting several weeks ago and we were hooked. For only $40 every quarter, we get two bottles of wine of our choosing (each quarter), free weekly wine tastings, birthday specials, discounts and deals throughout the year, access to limited edition wines, invitations and priority access to special events and so on. As a result of Club Naked, Shawn and I have begun developing fun friendships as well as been able to expand our knowledge of wine and our palettes. We love Club Naked!

Duolingo

J’aime boire du vin. 

If it weren’t for Duolingo, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you in French just now that I like to drink wine (without googling it). When Shawn and I found out that we were moving to Bend and agreed that I would be a full time homemaker, I decided to sit down and make a list of goals for myself since I would now have the opportunity to accomplish them. Along with teaching myself how to gourmet cook, finding organizations for positive change to be involved with and working towards a healthier lifestyle, a huge goal of mine was/is to learn the French language.duo I think French is so beautiful, and I’d really like to be able to speak it when Shawn and I make our trip to Paris someday. While Rosetta Stone always comes as the highest recommended resource for learning a language, it’s also extremely expensive. Eventually, I’d still like to purchase the Rosetta Stone program, but in the mean time, I have found this little gem.

I found out about Duolingo from my dearest friend in all the world, Callie, as we’ve both lamented about the ever costly Rosetta Stone program and how we so desperately just wanted to learn. She sent me a link to the website and I began exploring. Duolingo offers courses in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian. So far I have found the course I’m taking to be thorough and so fun. The best part about Duolingo? IT’S ALL FREE! I’m having a blast delving in to my little French lesson each day, and I know Shawn is getting a kick out of hearing me throw around beginner French phrases like I’m an intermediate or something.

Fur Lined Moccasins 

Let me tell you something, Bend gets ca-hold in the winter. We’ve had temps drop down to -15 after sunset as of late. I love it, I love it, I love it. Truly, I do. But after fear of losing my little feet to frostbite do to the insane amount of shoes that I own that don’t require socks, I decided I should probably invest in something a tad warmer. Enter these babies. Processed with VSCOcam with 7 preset

I was kind of anti fur lined anything for a while because I tend to get too warm to quickly, and this gal does not like to sweat. I loathe it. But when I saw a girl at PDX after we returned from our trip to NYC where I wanted to cut my own feet off, wearing fur lined moccasins, it occurred to me that she was, in fact, a genius. Her feet looked like they were nestled in little clouds. So I  began my search. I found the perfect pair at Target. Sure. Technically, they’re labeled as slippers. But if wearing this particular pair of slippers as shoes is wrong, I don’t want to be right. These mocs are adorable, sturdy and ridiculously comfy. Maybe if you’re very sweet and ask nicely, Santa will bring you a pair too!

Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummushummus

OMGYOUGUYSTHISHUMMUS.

Truthfully, in the past, I’ve always kind of had to choke down hummus. But since we are trying to work on this whole living a healthier lifestyle (ugh) thing, I thought I’d give it one more try. Holy Hummus Batman! This stuff is incredible. It’s Trader Joe’s label, Mediterranean style, topped with pine nuts, a touch of oil, red pepper, parsley and paprika. Mmm, so so tasty. I do my best to pair it with sliced bell peppers, raw broccoli and snap peas, which is unbelievably delicious, but it’s not unheard of for me to make a bag of sea salt pita chips disappear when I pair it with this magic dip.

Christmastime in Bend

Yeah, this is just a glimpse of what I see at the end of my street. You. Guys.

Yeah, this is just a glimpse of what I see at the end of my street. You. Guys.

Oh this? Out the back window. No big.

Oh this? Out the back window. No big.

Last, but certainly not least, Christmastime in Bend. I am just gushing with holiday joy and spirit right now and a lot of it is due to this beautiful part of the country we have moved to. Bend is so lovely on it’s own, with it’s majestic mountain views, breathtaking sunsets and lush evergreen trees, but when you pair that with winter air, snowfall and Christmas decor, it becomes so magical.

Processed with VSCOcam with 7 presetWe had the loveliest snowfall here last week and I’m praying praying for a white Christmas. I love seeing all the lights up in our neighborhood! The sun sets around 4:30, so Shawn and I have been taking a lot of night walks in the snow lately and it is gorgeous.

– – –

Well, I suppose that just about wraps it up for now. I am ever so grateful for the life that I lead and for God’s provision and presence in it. I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of this holiday season with my darling husband, our fat cat, and friends in our wonderful home. Sending you and yours our warmest and happiest holiday wishes!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Loving Lately

I thought as a nice way to break up my sometimes heavier posts, I’d start incorporating a thread called “Loving Lately”. These posts will be much more lighthearted and fun, as I’ll name a handful of things I’ve just been crazy about over the last few weeks or month, depending on how often I decide to post. This is by no means an original idea. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with High Five for Friday on the Lauren Elizabeth blog, or Friday Favorites that Lysa TerKeurst sometimes shares on her blog. I just thought it would be a fun way to share a bit of the things I am really enjoying and maybe they will be things that some of you learn to love as well.

I actually adapted the title “Loving Lately” from a recent post I read on Jen Hatmaker’s blog. Wouldn’t you know it, that is the perfect segway into my first point.

JEN FREAKING HATMAKER.

I love this woman, truly, I do.books If you haven’t at least taken a peek at Jen’s blog, I beseech you, do it now! And then buy her books. All of them. I have never in my life been so challenged in my purpose while simultaneously cracking a rib from laughing so hard. I love Jen’s writing and I so admire her confidence and spirit. She is bold, witty and unapologetic about truth and love. I am telling you, you will love her. Now, go start reading 7 so we can chat about it!

Moorea Seal

scarf and bagSurely I don’t have to tell you how much I enjoy shopping. Be it groceries, clothes, gifts, whathaveyou. I love it all. Lately I’ve felt the Holy Spirit (and Jen Hatmaker) really challenge me in my heart to be more aware of my shopping. My whole life, I’ve always shopped with the mindset of benefiting myself. I mean, isn’t that sort of the whole point of it? As it turns out, no. I wasn’t purposing to be “sinful” or “selfish” in that, I was just a little ignorant. Guys, there are SO MANY wonderful organizations that offer shopping to benefit more than just me. I have discovered some gems recently. Noonday Collection, Story Company, Better Life Bags and Scoutmob to name a few. These online boutiques feature some lovely products that promote fair trade, pour money back into local communities, provide fair jobs and wages for skilled artisans who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to support their families and so on. But my favorite as of late has been Moorea Seal. She is based in Seattle, so she has my Pacific Northwest hook, and 7% of all proceeds from the store benefit five non-profit causes, such as caring for animals, children’s needs, protecting our planet, health and wellness and women’s causes. I really appreciate the opportunity these organizations and shops give me to pour into the lives of others and divert my focus from myself. Plus, the items are high quality, and most of them handmade. I mean look at that adorable campfire scarf from Moorea Seal. (I definitely asked for it for Christmas.) I’m jonesing. Also, that bag.

-Tim’s Cascade

tims

::sigh:: I am ashamed at how many bags of Tim’s Cascade chips have been devoured in our home over the course of the last three weeks. I discovered Tim’s when we moved here and have already agreed to give up my firstborn in exchange for a lifetime supply. These chips aren’t clean, they’re not organic, they’re not likely benefiting my body or my health in any way. They are, however, crunchy, salty and sinfully delicious. THESE CHIPS ARE MY CRYSTAL BLUE. Gah, I just can’t even. Brace yourself, my Iowa and Illinois kin, Tim’s Cascade are better than Sterzings. There. I said it. I have no regrets. Original, Sea Salt, Jalapeno, Salt and Vinegar. I love this cast of players. Come to me, my precious…

Benefit Fakeup

fakeupWhat does it say about me that my favorite make up is concealer…? I won’t dwell on that. Anyhow, typically I use CoverGirl’s Fresh Complexion Under Eye Concealer to cover dark circles and brighten up my eyes. I really like it. But because it is liquid concealer, it often dries out my under eye. That stings, y’all. I don’t like it. A few months ago I discovered Benefit Fakeup and it changed my world. The sun shines brighter, the birds sing louder…it’s wonderful. This under eye concealer is hydrating! It soothes my burning under eye when I’ve been a little too generous with my liquid concealer. Because this product costs a bit more than I feel is necessary to spend on a vanity item, I consider it a treat and I don’t use it daily, only when I really need it. Truthfully, since it is a fancy pants brand, I do a little hey look I’m a cool kid happy dance when it comes in the mail.

-My front porch.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIt’s been a little dream of mine for many years to someday have a darling home with a lovely front porch. Little did I know that when God was arranging details for our move to Oregon, He had this one on the list. I love our porch. It spans the entire front of the house and is the perfect size for the two of us. When we moved here, I immediately went out and bought pumpkins to adorn it with. I can see my whole street from the front porch. It’s a cozy spot to sit and enjoy the beautiful Bend autumn we’re having or enjoy some early morning tea with my love. I am so very grateful to the Lord for paying special attention to this little desire of my heart. It is so special to me.

Last but certainly not least…this fatty. Always.Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

So, there you have it! Just a few things I’ve really been digging lately. Maybe you’ll be inspired now to read some fantastic books, or shop with a little more purpose. If you do dabble, I sincerely hope you come to love these things as much as I do. I’d absolutely love to hear some things you all are just loving lately! Feel free to share in the comments!