Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Julep #1

About a week ago, I bit the bullet and signed up for Julep. It's a subscription service, kinda like Birchbox, which sends out beauty products once per month. It's definite claim is nail polish, although there are cosmetics and face/nail treatments as well. I'd found a promo code somewhere (FREEBOX), was highly intrigued, and just so happened to have a fresh manicure.

Unfortunately, regular manicures at a nail salon just aren't in the budget. This is a real bummer, because I LOVE having a fresh manicure. I'll catch myself admiring my freshly done nails throughout the day and then I'll tell myself to paint my nails more often. So the fact that I was already loving my greige-colored manicure definitely played in Julep's favor that afternoon.

I'd heard and read up on Julep and about how fun-slash-great it was and decided to go determine my color profile. Even though I was matched as a "Classic with a Twist" after my style questionnaire, I was really digging the Boho Glam colors so I opted for that instead. The It Girl polishes were also super cute, but after digging through the polishes I already owned, I realized I had both of those colors! No wonder I liked them so much... Anyway, my Boho Glam box came with 2 colors and a cuticle pen. I also added a third color and the freedom polymer top coat.
Colors L to R: Michelle, Blakely, Aisha. The bottom is also Blakely. Not pictured is the cuticle pen or top coat.
Aside from learning that I am pitiful at painting my own nails, I also learned that I really liked the Julep polishes. I went with Aisha first, which is kind of a dark raspberry shade. For some reason, it photographed much more brown (see below), but it's actually a nice berry/purple shade. I was really surprised how much I liked it and got several compliments on it yesterday at work, which is always a great thing. It went on easily, despite my clumsiness, and was perfectly opaque in 2 thin coats. I started out with an OPI base coat and topped it with the Freedom Polymer top coat. Julep says the top coat will create a gel-like finish.

So, I put it to a real test.

A 12 hour shift. Complete with 2 vaginal deliveries. We're talking lots and lots of hand washing-slash-alcohol foam.
Please forgive my painted cuticles. L to R: Before work, after work, this morning.
(Side note: After spending a manicure-centric weekend with a group of high school girls, I learned the absolute importance of the "accent nail." Hence, the extra coat of OPI's Princesses Rule! on each ring finger. Final verdict? I kinda hate having one different nail. It feels like I have two different socks on, or like I'm wearing a brown belt with black shoes. Meh. No thanks.)

After a long work day, my nails looked surprisingly fantastic! A little bit of wear around the tips was all I noticed. Also, the top coat dried totally hard in about 20 minutes and left a shiny, smooth surface (my nails were pretty rough after peeling off the shellac polish that was on them). Unfortunately, I broke a nail this morning trying to get Isaac into the Ergo backpack-style. I guess now I have a good reason to remove the polish and try a new color!

It also just so happens that Kate from Small Things Blog is also talking about Julep today, so apparently we're on the same cosmetic wavelength. I consider that to be pretty good company. I should also tell you this isn't a sponsored post, just something I'd like to share!

Interested? Check out more here (or see the button in my sidebar). And use the FREEBOX or FREECOLOR promo (if it still works) to get your first order for free!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Girls Retreat "2013"

I was honored to spend this last weekend with a fantastic group of high school ladies. It was high on laughter, low on sleep. High on junk food, low on drama. I had an awesome time and I'm hoping that these sweet students did also. Originally, our retreat was scheduled for November, but after running into some major scheduling conflicts, I moved it to this past weekend. It turned out to be full of conflicts as well (there's just NO way to avoid all things for all students.), which is a bummer, but God can do amazing things in any setting or circumstance. Who am I to put Him in a box?

Our weekend was oriented around the book, Gods at War by Kyle Idleman. He's the guy who wrote the uber popular Not a Fan. In short, Gods at War is a fantastic book. I was encouraged to read it by a friend and within the first couple pages, I knew this was going to be a great read... AND great girls retreat material. It's the kind of book that is like a punch in the gut on each page, and yet, it's a really easy read. There are even some laugh out loud moments, which kept me coming back again and again. In going through the book to pull out questions and points for our weekend quiet times and small group sessions, I probably read it at least 4 times. Surprisingly, each subsequent read was more fruitful than the last.
The book challenges the notion that idols and false gods are bronzed statues of people... and instead they look like everyday things -- even "good" things -- that we mistakenly allow to take over the throne of our hearts. Idleman states, "Idolatry isn't just an issue, it's the issue."

SO Good. Definitely a "must read."

Even though originally the retreat was an out-of-town kinda weekend (when it was scheduled in November), since we ended up having it in town, we were able to work in some local ministry on Saturday afternoon. We went to a local nursing home, delivered cookies to the staff, and painted the nails of the residents (even a couple of the men got manicures! ...clear polish, of course!). It was a sweet time of service for the girls and me.

The high point of the weekend (for me) was all waking up together and having a sunrise quiet time.
Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, I think it was everyone's favorite weekend moment. Something about watching the sunrise over the ocean while spending time in God's Word... perfection.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Music Monday

I've only got a few minutes to blog, so I thought I'd bop on in and quickly share a couple of suggestions to you my friends! I'm always looking for great music to listen to, and recently I've happened upon two "new to me" bands that I think are pretty great!
All Sons & Daughters. Many thank yous to Kelly's Korner for suggesting this gem. I have LOVED this cd so far. AS&D is kind of like a Kari-Jobe-meets-Civil-Wars-ish kind of sound (Edit: Hurried mom brain making its appearance here... I definitely intended to describe the second band, The Head and the Heart as being Civil Warsish. Sorry for anyone who looked into All Sons & Daughters and was confused. It's still totally worth checking out). It's so great. A little on the folksy side, but with great vocals and some majorly fantastic lyrics. You may not have a pulse if you're not prostrate and tearful by the end of "Brokenness Aside." It just feels more like authentic worship. It's good all over from start to finish.
The Head and the Heart. I read about this band in Relevant magazine and even though these guys aren't 'Christian' in nature, it's still a good little album. It's also a little folksy-slash-artsy, which is apparently what I'm most into these days. It kind of reminds me of older Gungor. My favorite song on this cd by far is "Gone," which just so happens to be the very last track. Some of the lyrics are a little on the strange side, but they're also devoid of coarse language, which I appreciate. This makes for some good, calming background music during Isaac's play times.

What new or "new to you" bands/music have you found recently?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's on my side table? (hint: Books. and clutter.)

I ended up getting quite a few books for Christmas, which has jump started a fresh interest in reading. Does anyone else go through peaks and valleys when it comes to reading? It always seems like I read voraciously for a few weeks and then less excitedly until finally I'm trudging along and each page seems to take an eternity to flip. A few months later, I'll pick something back up and begin cycle again. It's been a while since I've been actively interested in reading. And a while = I can't remember the last book I read. Snuggle Puppy, Pat the Bunny, and Dr. Seuss obviously don't count.

Between Christmas, a Beth Moore free-for-all on Amazon, a few books that I've had laying dormant on my iPad (which was also laying dormant under my bed for what seems like a millennia), and some other books that I've acquired, I've got a lot of reading ahead of me. I've currently got them all piled up on my side table waiting to be cracked open... right next to Isaac's monitor, a glass vase/bottle thing, an empty picture frame, a picture frame with Isaac, and some dusty fake "flowers." The real clutter is on the lower shelves, which I've conveniently left outside the picture.

Here's what you'll currently find on my side table:
To Be Read:

  1. Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Insurgent (same author)
  5. Allegiant (same author) (and a Pampers reward sticker that has yet to be added to our growing account)
  6. A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
  7. A Billion Reasons Why by Kristen Billerbeck
On the iPad (to be read also)
  1. Believing God by Beth Moore
  2. Jesus: the One and Only by Beth Moore
  3. When Godly People do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore
  4. Praying God's Word by Beth Moore
  5. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
  6. What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp
  7. Crazy People by Jennifer Crusie
  8. Feathers From My Nest by Beth Moore (currently reading)
  1. Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson.  Dr. Dobson is a very loud voice in the parenting world, between all of his mega-successful books and Focus on the Family. I'd heard that this book is a "must read" for all moms of boys, and considering I know nothing about raising boys, I also considered it a "must read." In the end, I was a little disappointed. It started out strong, with lots of science behind the male brain and the role that testosterone plays on behavior and development. I enjoyed the chapters detailing the role that each parent plays in a boy's development, what mom and dad have to offer and what can happen when a parent is absent. Then the train kinda derails a little bit. Things start to get repetitive. And worst case scenarios start popping up everywhere. And instead of offering practical take-home advice about being a parent to a boy, Dr. Dobson continues to stress the need for 2 involved parents (again and again and again.... or else your child will be in prison for life), talks about how the education system fails boys, talks about how the media emasculates boys, and leaves the reader (or left me at least) feeling like there's no hope for boys these days. It became hard to finish. Final Grade: B-
  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. In my dreams, Mindy Kaling is one of my BFFs. Kinda like Katy Perry. We'd all meet up for frozen yogurt and be awesome together. I didn't keep up with Kaling on The Office, but The Mindy Project is one of my favorites. I'd heard her book was hilarious, so I asked for it when Christmas rolled around. It's a super quick read, but it wasn't nearly as laugh out loud funny as I was hoping. In all, it's pretty much just an autobiography, which is just a leeeeeettle conceited (as are all autobiographies. Come on, people.) It reads very much how you would expect her to talk if she was sitting on the end of your bed recounting stories from her childhood and college. There is some coarse language thrown in here and there. All in all, it's cute, not all that clever and not nearly as funny as Kaling can be. Final Grade: B-
I'll update again as I knock out more books. I'm really looking forward to... well most all of them. I don't know how much longer I can keep my hands off of the Divergent trilogy, so they're next once I'm finished with my current book. Also, in the process of writing this, Isaac took over the keyboard for a few moments, leaving a wake of destruction in his path, including my fancy little signature. I don't know how he did it or how to bring it back, so lets all just pretend it's still down there, ok? Lastly (i promise this is the end), just ignore all of my inappropriate handlings of Proper names of books and TV shows. I don't remember if they're supposed to be in quotes or italicized. Forgive me, grammar lovers of the world. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Final Countdown

I'm less than 6 months away from my 30th birthday.

This is the Final Countdown! (Cue Europe)

Come June, I'll enter a whole new decade. I'll be out of my 20's forever and to be honest, I'm kinda psyched about it. Not that my 20's were bad, I mean, I toured Europe, (not to be confused with the 80's hair band in the aforementioned link), graduated from college, got married, moved to Texas, survived seminary, bought a house, had a baby... all good things. And now onto 30!

Sorry, this isn't a "30 before 30" kinda post. Mostly because I'm boring and I could hardly think of a handful of things that I'd like to accomplish before June, much less 30 things.

Instead, here are a few others who were born, invented, created, or debuted in 1984 and will turn 30 in 2014:

  1. A&E The home of syndicated all-day-every-day marathons of Criminal Minds and Law & Order. Oh, and Duck Dynasty.
  2. Katy Perry. I secretly think we could be BFFs if given the opportunity. 
  3. Red Bull. I've never actually drank a red bull, but they've been giving plenty of people "wings" for three decades now.
  4. The Macintosh. Is that a floppy disk drive??
  5. LeBron James
  6. The Neverending Story. Falcor, Atreyu, the giant rock man, the Nothing... 
  7. Papa John's Pizza. ...and now I'm hungry for pizza.
  8. MAC Cosmetics. Hallelujah.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Wow. Where did that year go?

2013 was a year like none other.

It was a year of growth.

For the first time ever, I feel like a completely different person compared to who I was on January 1, 2013.

As a wife.

A mother.

My own self.

I watched my little love go from a quiet newborn to a precocious boy. I'm still learning how to be his mama. We've had our moments of pure joy. And we've had days full of tears and frustration. But we've both done our share of growing.

Maybe in 2014, I'll learn to get up early if I want to take a long, hot shower without a curious onlooker.

Learning how to balance everyday living with the needs of a baby, and then also making time for my marriage. Learning how to be intentional in our relationship, to reconnect on a regular basis, to communicate.

Maybe in 2014, I'll learn how to love and respect my husband on an even deeper level.

I learned how to lose my identity in the everyday. I take that back, I learned I had a new identity, a new season in life. New important things replaced the old important things. Sacrifices were made. Life is just different now than it was a year ago. I still struggle to make time for myself, and I think all mothers do.

Maybe in 2014 I'll learn to be more intentional; to carve out time each day to commune with the Lord.

2014 will be about balance. Putting down the junk and picking up the worthwhile. A year about laughter. Choosing to take myself a little less serious. A year about joy. And most of all, 2014 will be about love.
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