Book Club: Four Winds

It is my favorite day of the month! It’s the day I get to tell you about the book I just read and reveal what my next pick is.  For February I chose Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.  I am a big fan of Hannah and haven’t read one of her books that I didn’t like.  This time was no exception.  In fact, I didn’t just like this book; I loved it.   It was one of those books that you get so invested in that you don’t want to put it down, and you don’t want it to end. This story was definitely a 5 out of 5 for me.  It had all the elements that I love in a story.  It was a little bit of historical fiction (my favorite genre) with excellent character development, and it had a strong female lead.  I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book.  

This story begins and ends with Elsa.  Her beginning was very isolated.  She was the daughter of a prominent family in northwest Texas who treated her with kid gloves due to an illness when she was young.  She was made to feel worthless and unloved.  She was repeatedly told that she was unattractive and too weak to find a mate.  She was left alone in her room with only books to fulfill the void left by her family.  Inspired by the heroine of one of her novels, Elsa went out on the town one night in a handmade red dress.  That one unexpected night left her in the arms of a young man named Rafe, the only person who had ever paid her attention or made her feel any kind of human connection. After a few more secretive meetings with this young man, Elsa wound up pregnant and alone.  She was instantly disowned by her family and left on the doorstep Rafe’s family’s farm.  

As Elsa struggled to find her place in her new home, her affection grew for her new family and the land that they so dearly loved. Following the birth of her daughter, Loreda, Elsa realized that she had finally found the family she had always longed for.  The land became a part of her soul.  She took her place working hard on the farm and filling her duties as a wife and mother.  Eventually, her son, Anthony, was born.  She was living the life that she had never dreamed possible until the family found themselves in the midst of the Great Depression and the devastating drought that swept across the mid-west leaving the land decimated.  Each day was a struggle for survival.  After years of barely getting by, Rafe left the family in the middle of the night in search of something more fulfilling and was never to be seen or heard from again.  Devastated by his departure, Elsa was determined to stay on the farm and protect her children, Rafe’s parents, and the family farm. 

It wasn’t until the dry, dusty land almost killed her son, that Elsa realized that the farm was no longer a safe place to be.  She packed her two kids and as many belongings as could fit in their truck and made the long, harrowing trip to California, which promised work and a better life.  It wasn’t long after arriving in California that they realized that promise was a lie.  They were left living in a tent in a field with all three begging for work every single day.  The work they did find was back-breaking work with so little pay that they barely could afford to eat.  This journey left them broken and in a fight for fair pay and better working conditions that would forever change the course of their lives. 

Not only was this a story of survival, but it was also a story of finding strength in the most unexpected ways and places.  Elsa learned to fight for what she believed in, and she found her voice when she had none before.  She used that voice to survive and took a stand for what she believed was right.  This was also a coming-of-age story that explored the mother-daughter relationship and the journey of finding one’s worth.  I thought that the character development was excellent, and I could feel the agony they felt struggling to survive on barely any food and in the harshest of conditions. Hannah really brought the story to life and made you believe you were right there in the trenches with each person.  I found myself rooting for them and at the same time feeling the devastation when they struggled.  This story was exceptionally written, and I highly recommend it. It was such a good read, and I was so sad when it ended.  

I can only hope that my next pick will be as exceptional as the last.  For March, I have chosen another instant New York Times Bestseller and historical fiction novel entitled The Book of Names by Kristin Harmel.  This story is set in the midst of World War II.  It revolves around a woman named Eva who is taken back in time after coming across a photo of a book in a magazine to a time when she helped Jewish children fleeing to Switzerland.  Here is what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about this novel.

“Harmel (The Winemaker’s Wife) brilliantly imagines the life of a young Polish-French Jewish woman during the depths of WWII. IN 2005, Eva Traube, 86, lives in Winter Park, Fla., and works at the library where she reads a newspaper story about a man in Germany returning rare books looted by the Nazis to WWII survivors. The story includes a photo of a book that once belonged to her, prompting her to leave immediately for Berlin. Harmel then transitions back to 1940s France, when 23-year-old Eva and her mother escape the roundups in Paris and end up in the tiny town of Aurignon. Eva meets document forger Remy Duchamp, who draws her into the Resistance; Remy trains Eva, and the two inevitably grow closer as they work to provide papers for those fleeing the Nazi regime. Eva and Remy devise a method of recording the names of unaccompanied escaping children, coding each name in an old library book, which Eva saw in the newspaper story. Now in Berlin, Eva hopes to recover and decode the names, and learn the fate of Remy. Harmel movingly illustrates Eva’s courage to risk her own life for others, and all of the characters are portrayed with realistic compassion. This thoughtful work will touch readers with its testament to endurance of hope.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

***This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Looks for Less: Target

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I see a cute shirt that I love and buy it. Then I get home with it and don’t know what to pair it with, so it ultimately sits in my closet for a while before I figure out how to put it into an outfit.  I love when I see adds with models or mannequins dressed in a complete outfit from head to toe.  That then gives me an idea of how to put an outfit together.  I have been known to walk into a store and buy the entire outfit that I saw on the mannequin in the window because I thought it was so cute.  I’ve even spent hours on Pinterest getting outfit inspiration.  That place is like a rabbit hole that I can’t get out of sometimes. Anyway, that is why I like making complete looks for you from head to toe.  It’s so much easier when someone else does the work for you, right?  You can think of me as your personal stylist! LOL!  If you see an outfit you love, you can purchase the whole thing, or you can get inspiration of things to pair with pieces you may already own.  I am certainly no fashion designer, and I don’t have any kind fashion degree or experience.  I just like clothes and shopping.  These outfits are a reflection of my personal tastes, which may or may not match up with yours.  My goal is simply to show you some pieces that I love that are currently on trend and to maybe offer a little style inspiration.  

¾ Sleeve Smocked Blouse/High-Rise Skinny Jeans/Kolie Wedge Sneakers

Graphic T-Shirt/High-Rise Distressed Mom Jeans/Brittin Sneakers

Long Sleeve Half Placket Blouse/Super High Rise Straight Cropped Jeans/Kalliope Sneakers

Sleeveless Dress/Long Sleeve Trucker Jacket/Brenda Cork Platform Sandals

Short Sleeve T-Shirt/Tiered Midi A-Line Skirt/Cari Cut Out Ankle Boots

Tie-Dye Long Sleeve Tiered Dress/Torri Two Band Slides

Long Sleeve Button-Down Femme Top/High-Rise Wide Leg Pants/Ema Block Heel Pumps

Short Sleeve Sweatshirt/High-Rise Tapered Cropped Pants/Shaelyn Espadrille Sneakers

Sweatshirt/High-Rise Straight Cropped Jeans/Violet Mules

¾ Sleeve Voile Top/Cropped Wide Leg Pants/Violet Mules

Happy shopping!


***This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Olive Oyl

Weight has been a constant piece of my life since I was a young girl.  It may not be in the way that you would think, either.  I don’t have some kind of unhealthy thoughts about it nor do I have any type of eating disorder, but it still has been a constant piece of me for as long as I can remember.  It’s not just about me either.  It is a big part of one of my children’s lives as well.  Weight is always in the back of my mind every day.  

It all started back in my younger days and throughout high school. I was always the skinny girl.  I was active in basketball and cheerleading throughout middle and high school, but I wouldn’t say that I was super athletic. I wasn’t a kid who liked to work out or run or anything like that. In fact, I hated it (and still do!).  I never really had to even think about exercise back then because I was naturally skinny.  It was simply a part of my genetic makeup.   I was a pretty picky eater back then, but that didn’t have an affect my weight.  I still ate plenty.  I may not have been the healthiest eater, but no matter how much junk I ate, I still didn’t gain weight.  I just got taller.  Some may think how lucky I was or be jealous, but it wasn’t always cool to be the skinny girl.  I often got called “Olive Oyl” from Popeye because I was so tall and skinny.  People even joked about me being anorexic, but I wasn’t.  They would push food at me all the time and tell me I needed to eat.   I really didn’t even care how much I weighed or how skinny I was.  It never crossed my mind until someone said something about it. It wasn’t until I became an adult that it started to impact me.

Not long after I was married, my husband’s commanding officer called him into his office one day and had a talk with him about me.  He told my husband that he and his wife were concerned about me because I was so skinny.  They just “knew” that I was anorexic and wanted to make sure I was being taken care of.  I was furious when my husband came home and told me this.  Of course, my husband assured him that I was fine and was most certainly did not have an eating disorder.  I was so angry that someone would have the nerve to tell my husband that he needed to take better care of me and acted like they knew me better than he did.  I had never deprived myself of food, thrown up something I ate intentionally, or even thought about dieting in my life.  I was just a skinny person. My mom was the same way and so was my grandmother.  You hear about “fat shaming,” but you rarely hear anyone talk about “skinny shaming.” It does exist.  I can’t tell you how many people have been concerned or commented on my weight over the years.  There were even times that I was made to be so self-conscious about my weight that I actually tried to gain weight. I was drinking shakes and things to boost my calorie intake, but it never worked.  In all my years as the skinny girl I was never once told by a doctor or medical professional that I needed to gain weight or that I was underweight. It was only the people around me who made comments or whispered about it. They made me feel like something was wrong with me.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I gained about 30 pounds.  Within a week after I had her, I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans.  Now, keep in mind that my daughter was born 3 weeks early and weighed only 4 lbs. 8 oz.  I had a partial placental abruption, so she wasn’t getting enough nutrients to grow.  People didn’t seem to care about that and only commented on the fact that I must not have eaten enough for her to grow.  Yet again, I was accused of being anorexic and made to feel like I had done something wrong.  My husband can attest to the fact that I actually ate so much Taco Bell when I was pregnant that he thought I might give birth to a taco!  I can assure you that I ate a lot! I also never threw up once while I was pregnant with her.  I had zero morning sickness.  My body and my metabolism just didn’t allow me to gain weight and allowed it to easily come off.  There was nothing wrong with me but people made me feel like there was. I felt like a bad mom.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child that things changed for me.  I gained about 50 pounds with her.  A big part of that was water weight.  I was so swollen that I looked like a giant puffer fish.  I threw up constantly and could barely keep food down.  My feet grew a whole half size and never went back to my pre-pregnancy shoe size.  Because I was so swollen, sick, and miserable, I was put on bed rest for the last month of my pregnancy and was induced a week early.  My daughter weighed 6 lbs 14 oz.  This time the weight didn’t fall off as fast. In fact, my daughter just turned 13 last week, and I have never been the weight I was before I got pregnant with her again.  I have never once been accused of having an eating disorder since then either.  From the day she was born my focus has been shifted from my weight to hers.  It has gone from me worrying about being too skinny to worrying about her being too skinny but for different reasons.  

If you have been following me for a while, you know that my daughter has had a plethora of medical issues and has been extremely underweight as a result.  As skinny as I was at her age, she is even skinnier and much shorter.  She actually has been diagnosed with an eating disorder because she is literally afraid of food as a result of her disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, going undiagnosed for so long.  It is not because she is worried about being overweight, and she certainly isn’t starving herself to keep from gaining weight.  She is afraid of food and what pain it will cause her.  Yes, part of her low weight is due to genetics just like mine.  We simply come from a line of skinny women.  However, her diet is also extremely limited.  She doesn’t even make it onto the growth chart when we go to her doctor appointments.  I walk a very thin line when it comes to her weight.  I don’t want to her to feel judged or self-conscious about her weight like I was, but I also need to make sure she is healthy.  It has gotten so bad at times that her doctors have threatened to put in a g-tube to get more nutrients into her or send her to an inpatient treatment facility.  We have spent years in feeding therapy to get her to expand her diet.  At every doctor appointment, we discuss her weight and whether she is gaining weight, loosing weight, or staying stagnant.  People often think she is way younger than she is because she is so small.  Every day is a battle over food and it has been a very long and bumpy road.  People have gone from commenting on my weight to commenting on my daughter’s.  Some don’t hesitate to tell me how to parent her differently or point out the things they think I have done wrong when it comes to her eating.  I’ve been told to force her to eat, allow her to starve, and so many other unsolicited pieces of advice. It is a never-ending saga.  

Weight is a huge part of my life and has been for its entirety.  I don’t foresee it going away any time soon. Yes, I can probably stand to lose a few pounds these days, but I try really hard not to let it consume me or the opinions of others affect my view of my body or my child’s.  We as women are scrutinized enough as it is already, and we don’t need to add body image issues into the mix.  Instead of judging and criticizing people about their weight whether they weigh a lot or a little, let’s build each other up.  We have to learn to accept the bodies we have been given and love them.  Yes, we need to do things that are healthy and take care of ourselves but loving who you are in the skin you are in is just as important.  Embrace who you are and walk confidently in front of the naysayers. Don’t let them affect how you view yourself.  That’s what I want my child to learn and do most of all.  Your weight doesn’t define you.  It is a part of you, but it doesn’t make up all of who you are inside.  Who you are at your core, is the person everyone should come to see, love, and value.


AKA: Olive Oyl 🙂

Time Well Spent

Last week I wrote about the sudden onset of stress and anxiety in my life.  It was causing the tell-tell signs in my body that I had let it get too far.  It was causing me to lose sleep, and I had a tingling in my face.  I shared how I needed to find ways to release that stress but that I ultimately needed to give it all to God and actually let go of it.  Well, I feel like I was surprisingly able to do that for once.  My sleep has improved, and the tingling has subsided.  I am definitely feeling calmer than I did this time a week ago. If anything, though, I should be really feeling the effects of stress right now because this week is insane for me. We have so much going on with tons of moving parts, and then mother nature has thrown in the threat of snow in the middle of all of it.  It’s like everything that was crazy about our lives before the pandemic and everything that we missed out on has all been thrown into this one week.  

This past weekend, my oldest, along with her high school gymnastics teammates, clinched the Regional Championship and secured their spot at the state competition on Friday of this week.  They are heading to defend their state title for the 4th year in a row.  It is super exciting. However, the competition is approximately 3.5 hours away, and the forecast of snow is threatening to derail their chances of being able to compete, not to mention the difficulties of traveling in the snow if we are allowed to go. The dilemma comes with whether or not she and I travel down on Thursday to get ahead of the snow if the school system doesn’t prevent us from going altogether.  If things go according to plan and the girls are allowed to compete on Friday, my oldest and I will at least be there overnight on Friday night since they won’t get done until late.  My husband and my youngest will be heading to another location on Friday afternoon for cheer where my oldest and I will meet them on Saturday morning sometime.  I will do my youngest’s hair and makeup and then go watch her compete while my husband and oldest wait in the hotel room (only one spectator is allowed per athlete due to COVID).  When that is over, my husband will then take my youngest and drive back home so she can be at practice on Sunday morning.  My oldest and I will stay at the hotel for her to compete on Sunday.  Also, in the middle of all this, we have to drop the dog off for boarding while we are all gone and then pick her back up at some point. If any one thing goes wrong, it will be a domino effect for the whole weekend. 

Crazy, right?  This is when I should be feeling the stress and anxiety, but surprisingly I am not.  I’m fairly calm about the whole thing.  I guess that is a good thing, but it is a little weird to me.  I keep waiting for it to come.  I know that is the wrong attitude to have but years of experience have me skeptical.  Have I really found inner peace and a way to keep my stress and anxiety levels down? I don’t know, but maybe. You may be asking what I am doing differently than all those times in the past.  Well, let me tell you my secret. I am spending time with God every morning.  I truly believe that is what is helping to keep me calm and the anxiety at bay.  I used to do my devotion and daily prayers at night.  I would often forget or would be too tired by the end of the day so I would go days or even weeks without really spending quality time with God. Sometimes I would even fall asleep in the middle of my prayers. I always thought that my mornings were too busy and that I needed to get all things done first before I could truly focus on God.  I was wrong, and I knew that I was wrong. Look…I’m not the perfect Christian, but I’m always willing to grow. Trust me, I have heard sermon after sermon about how you should start your day with God, but I never really put it into practice. Well, I take that back.  When I was teaching, I would pray on my drive into work in the morning sometimes, and I loved how it made me feel.  When I stopped teaching, though, that stopped.  Over the last couple of months, I have slowly been making a switch.  I still don’t do it first thing when I wake up like so many have said you should do.  I have had to find what works best for me.  Instead, I get up, get ready, and do a few household things if needed.  Then I head downstairs to my office to begin working.  Before I open my computer or do anything else, I read a short devotional.  I started with just doing that and then reading the little prayer provided for me and maybe adding in one or two sentences of my own.  Then last week when I felt the effects of my stress, I started closing my eyes and really praying from the heart. I even spent some time in silence just listening for God’s voice.  Some days my prayers are long and sometimes they are short, but I actually take a moment to spend time in the presence of God.  It almost always feel a sense of peace wash over me.  Sometimes I even get chill bumps, and I know that is God laying his hands on me.  It makes me feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.  I feel more connected with God. When I do this consistently every single day, the stress and anxiety just fade away.  

If you are not beginning your day with God, stop making excuses like I did and do it.  Tune everything else out.  Close your eyes and speak from your heart.  Then sit in silence and let the Holy Spirit wash over you. Get to know God on a personal level.  Build a relationship with him.  I promise you, when you do this consistently, you will notice a difference in your mindset, your attitude, and the way you approach every day.  It will absolutely change your priorities, too. Seek him first above all else, and he will lead you through every step of your day. It will be time well spent!

Anchored in Christ,

***This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Beekeeper of Aleppo

I am a week late on posting my book club book review. I must admit that I had not finished the book on time to write this post last week.  I got a late start on reading my January pick, The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, because I decided to read another book first.  At the beginning of the month someone recommended that I read In Pursuit of Love by Rebecca Bender.  It is Bender’s real-life story of how she became enslaved into human trafficking and her journey to freedom.  It was an excellent read.  It covered a very tough topic and was truly heartbreaking, but it opened my eyes to the real crime that is happening right here in the US.  Bender’s struggles led to her creating a huge online academy for survivors of human trafficking where she has hundreds of women. So much good has come from her sharing her story and advocating for change.  I highly recommend it! 

My reading of the other book coupled with me struggling at first to get into The Beekeeper of Aleppo put me behind in finishing it.  I don’t know if my struggles to get into the book initially were because my mind was still blown by the other book or what, but I found myself having to reread a lot of pages in the beginning.  Once I got into to the storyline and figured out what was going on and all the characters, I did enjoy this book.  It was a story about a beekeeper (Nuri) and his wife’s (Afra) journey to freedom in the midst of the war in Syria.  After losing their son and the Afra becoming blind, the two made the decision to flee their home in Aleppo for fear of their safety.  They had a long and treacherous journey to the UK where they would meet up with the Nuri’s cousin and business partner who had fled before them. It was a story of loss, heartbreak, survival, and healing.   By her own admission, the author, Christy Lefteri, explored what it means to really see in this book.  This was a journey of sight not just for Afra who had been blinded, but also for Nuri as he learned to cope with so much loss.   

The story flashed between the beginning of their journey and the end of their journey.  It was interesting how the author switched between the present day and the past within one chapter.  I don’t know if there is a technical term for the way she did it or not, so I may butcher trying to explain it.  Each chapter would begin in the present day but would switch to the past halfway through.  I didn’t catch what she was doing at first and was a little confused until I figured it out.  One sentence would begin as the present day, and the last word of that sentence would be cut off.  Then you turn the page to have that last word in a larger font and bold at the top of the page, almost like a title.  That word will have ended the previous sentence of the present day on the previous page, and that same word would be the start of the next sentence into the past.  Here is an example:

“It is”

a key

“was placed in my open palm.”

“It is a key.” was the end of the portion of the chapter about the present day.  “A key was placed in my open palm.” was the beginning of the portion of the chapter about the past.  I hope that makes sense.  When this happened in the first chapter, I thought I was missing pages, or something was wrong with the download of the book.  It took me until about chapter 3 to figure out that this was intentional and what the author was actually doing.  Maybe I am slow and should have caught on instantly, but I didn’t. Once I understood what was going on, the story began to make much more sense, and I began to enjoy it so much more. I would give this book 4 out 5 stars.  I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but I did enjoy reading it.

My pick for February is a much-anticipated book by Kristin Hannah.  I have been a fan of hers for a while and am excited to dive into her newest book, The Four Winds. It is a historical fiction novel set during the Great Depression about a mother trying to protect her family.  Here is what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about this book.

“Hannah brings Dust Bowl migration to life in this riveting story of love, courage, and sacrifice. In 1934 Texas, after four years of drought, the Martinelli farm is no longer thriving, but Elsa is attached to the land and her in-laws, and she works tirelessly and cares for her children, 12-year-old Loreda and seven-year-old Anthony. Her husband, Rafe, has become distant and something of a hard drinker, and after he abandons them, Elsa reluctantly leaves with her children for California with the promise of steady work. Her dreams of a better future are interrupted by the discrimination they face in the unwelcoming town of Welty, where they are forced to live in a migrant camp and work for extremely low wages picking cotton. When Elsa’s meager wages are further reduced and she has the opportunity to join striking workers, she must decide whether to face the dangers of standing up for herself and her fellow workers. Hannah combines gritty realism with emotionally rich characters and lyrical prose that rings brightly and true from the first line (“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love”). In Elsa, a woman who fiercely defends her principles and those she loves, Hannah brilliantly revives the ghost of Tom Joad.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

***This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Cast Your Cares

Over the last week or so, I have been feeling stressed and anxious.  I’m not really sure where it is coming from, but it is hitting me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere.  I’ve gotten the tingling twitch back in my cheek at night which is a tell-tell sign that I am stressed.  Competition season is back in full force (different but still a lot) for the girls, and I have been questioning some things in my life lately.  I guess those things could be the cause of the sudden onset of anxiety, but I’m not sure.  Life is not even close to the level of craziness that it was pre-pandemic, but my body is starting to feel like it is.   I’m not sleeping well, and I am getting more headaches.  Those things coupled with the twitch in my face, are all the signs that tell me I need to get it together.  It is funny how are bodies are affected by stress and anxiety.  It is like nature is saying, “Whoa, knock it off!”

This past weekend, we had some crazy, unexpected changes with the cheer schedule due to the snow and a few other things.  It just about sent me over the edge because it was causing conflicts with something I had to do that I had been looking forward to for a long time.  I got upset and even angry about it.  My emotions were definitely all over the place and blown way out of proportion.  It all worked out totally fine so there was no real reason for me to get so upset about it.  Part of that is that I am a serious type A personality.  I like schedule and order, and I don’t like unexpected changes or surprises. It just seems to throw me off my game.  We had another unexpected schedule change yesterday, though, and it didn’t seem to bother me at all.  Why some things send me over the edge and some don’t is a mystery to me.  I wish I had the ability to control it, but I don’t. 

I have to figure out a way or some kind of outlet to keep my stress levels low and to fend off my anxiety.  I guess maybe I need to take some time for myself.  Ultimately, though, I know that I need to spend some time with God.  He tells us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us.  Easier said than done, right? I think this is the biggest thing that I struggle with in my walk of faith.  I have a really hard time giving all my worries and stresses to Him and letting them go.  I can pray about it and say that I am giving it all to him, but I don’t really ever let it go.  I still carry the burden of it on my shoulders.  I wish I knew the secret to letting it go completely, but I don’t.  I don’t know how to stop it from throwing me under the water until I can barely stay afloat.  I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I am drowning in it all.  I know that I will if I don’t put a stop to it now.  The physiological symptoms are just the first step to me crumbling.  I know this.  It has happened time and time again.  I am grateful that I am more aware of the signs now than I used to be.  Hopefully, that will allow me to not let it get any bigger.  

All I can do is to continue to spend time in prayer, take time for just me, and try to avoid the things that bring me stress.  My apple watch keeps telling me to breathe.  Maybe that will help too.  I’ll try just about anything to relieve my head and my body of all this stress and anxiety, so send your tips and tricks my way.  I will simply keep reminding myself to give it all to God until the day I figure out how to truly do that.  Maybe one day I will be able to let it all go completely.

Side note: I am currently listening to a Bridgerton playlist on Spotify that someone shared with me. I have never watched the show (it’s on my list), but I find it oddly soothing. Music does have that affect on me. Prayer and music! Maybe that’s the secret!


Looks for Less: Target

Happy Groundhog’s Day! We are on our third day in a row of snow here, so I’m thinking we are in for some more winter weather! I’m totally ok with that, though. I love seeing the glistening white everywhere I look! Just give me a warm blanket, a fire, and some hot chocolate and I am happy as can be.  

Today I have put together some more outfits together.  Creating them is one of my favorite things to do.  These are complete looks from head-to-toe curtesy of Target. They include some super cute new arrivals that may just get you in the mood for spring no matter what your weather is outside.  I saw tons of florals and pastels that are going to be great as we transition to spring in the coming months. 

Long Sleeve Pintuck Top/High-Rise Wide Leg Jeans/Boots/Bead Drop Earrings

¾ Sleeve Voile Top/High-Rise Straight Leg Ankle Pants/Ballet Flats/Pearl Necklace

¾ Sleeve Smocked Blouse/High-Rise Supper Skinny Jeans/Wedge Sneakers/Sunburst and Paddles Drop Earrings

Long Sleeve Half Placket Blouse/High-Rise Distressed Straight Cropped Jeans/Sneakers/Stretch Bracelet Set

Balloon Sleeve Blouse/High-Rise Tapered Cropped Pants/Cut Out Ankle Boots/Diamond Shaped Drop Earrings

Long Sleeve Knit Top/High-Rise Corduroy Skinny Jeans/Slip On Sneakers/Druzy Stud Earring Set

Long Sleeve Ruched T-Shirt/Ankle Length Paperbag Trousers/Mules/Layered Pendant Necklace

Flutter Short Sleeve A-Line Dress/High Block Heel Pumps/Oversized Link Chain Bracelet

Ruffle Long Sleeve Blouse/Skinny Cropped Pants/Mules/Thread Wrapped Teardrop Hoops

Happy shopping!

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Jump On In

I mentioned yesterday that it is a big week for me with my Trades of Hope business.  It is our yearly national retreat.  Unfortunately, it is all virtual this year, but that doesn’t mean that the content isn’t as great.  One of the quotes that I heard from yesterday that has stuck in my mind was shared by one of our leaders.  She shared a quote by Marie Forleo who said, “One of the most underrated secrets to success is to start before you are ready.” I wrote it down in my notes and spent a lot of my time yesterday pondering it because it really struck a chord with me.  It goes completely against everything in me to jump in when I am not ready.  I am a planner by nature.  I don’t do things spur of the moment because it gives me anxiety.  I think I use the excuse, “I’m not ready yet,” to put things off all the time.  I think a lot of us would admit to doing the same.  We tell ourselves that we can’t start on our dreams because we aren’t ready yet.  We don’t have enough money.  We don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough resources.  We don’t have enough knowledge.  The excuses pile up and prevent us from taking the next step towards reaching our goals or fulfilling our dreams.  As a planner, I tell myself that I can’t go for it yet until A, B, and C are done first.  That may mean that I never even get to working on the goal at all because I haven’t passed step A yet. I have this need to feel like I know everything and that everything is in place before I even think about starting something new.  I am coming to realize that is the wrong way to think because it is only holding me back. 

I think what Marie Forleo was trying to say was to simply go for it.  Put the excuses aside and just do it.  Stop letting things hold you back from going after your goals and dreams.  You really never know if you are ready unless you try.  Easier said than done, right? It is for me, anyway.  Throwing everything that I know out the window and just going for it makes me very uncomfortable.  Simply thinking about it gives me anxiety. However, I am starting to see that I am my own biggest obstacle.  I am the only one holding myself back. It’s not all of the excuses that are preventing me from going for it.  It’s me.  I am the one coming up with the excuses.  I have a need for control and the fear of things getting out of my control are stopping me from moving forward.  

How do I get outside of my head and over the excuses? I think one of the important things to do is to reflect on all those excuses I am giving myself for not going for it.  What is behind those excuses? Is it my insecurity? Is it fear of failure? Is it that it is really not the right goal or dream that God wants me to pursue?   I think that by looking at the reasons behind the excuses, you can maybe attack those excuses head on and get past them quicker.  I also think that self-talk is a good way to move forward.  I know that it works for me.  I’ve mentioned before the power of mantras and of speaking truth to yourself out in the open consistently.  It is a way to remind myself that I am worthy, I can do it, and I’m ready.  It is all about changing your mindset and turning the narrative around in your brain.  Prayer is another way for me to get out of my head.  Being still and listening to God’s voice and ignoring my own voice allows me to hear the truth.   Ultimately, though, I simply have to push it all aside and go for it.   I have to trust myself to make it work and know that God is with me each step of the way.  If I fail, I can use it as a learning experience, but if I succeed….oh, the reward will be so great! 

I can only think of one time in my life that I jumped into something with both feet without being ready.  It was totally out of the ordinary for me and completely out of my comfort zone.  It was starting this blog.  I got the idea in my head and just went for it.  It has turned into one of the biggest blessings in my life that I probably would have never known had I listened to all of the excuses I could have given myself.  I wasn’t ready for it by a long shot. I had no experience and no clue what I was doing.  I am not a writer and make grammatical and spelling errors frequently, but I have not let any of that stop me.  I went for it and I am so glad that I did. I think Marie Forleo is right. I think I will hang this quote in my office to remind me that jumping in before you are ready can sometimes lead to the greatest success. All you have to do is go for it.


Looks for Less: Loft Outlet

I woke up this morning in such a good mood because it is the start of Inspire Week with Trades of Hope. We weren’t able to have our annual retreat in Orlando this year due to Covid, so we are doing it virtual instead. It won’t be the same without being able to gather with my TOH sisters in person, but I am super excited about all the training and inspiring artisan interviews we are going to have. I can’t wait! Anyway, because I am in such a good mood, I felt like being a little creative this morning. What better way to do that than to do one of my favorite things ever…outfit making!  I am super obsessed with all of these looks from the Loft Outlet. The Loft is totally my jam, and the outlet is even better with their incredible prices!  I had so much fun creating these looks for less for all of you.   Check them out. 

Ruffle Shoulder Sweatshirt/Double Frayed Skinny Ankle Jeans/Ankle Booties/Chain Link Layered Necklace

Heathered Crew Neck Sweater/Curvy High Rise Button Front Jeans/Animal Print Scarf/Cheetah Print Sneakers/Twisted Hoop Earrings

Animal Print Tiered Dress/Ankle Booties/Hammered Hoop Earrings

Pointelle Sleeve Sweater /Released Hem Boyfriend Jeans/Ankle Booties/Love Letter Necklace

Garden Tiered Top/Curvy High Rise Cuffed Crop Jeans/Ankle Booties/Pastel Stud Earrings

Striped Heart Boatneck Top/Curvy Chewed Hem Skinny Jeans/Lace Up Sneakers/Beaded Heart Earrings

Heart Cozy Pajama Top/Heart Cozy Pajama Pants/Faux Fur Slippers

Seriously, how cute are these? Happy shopping!


Friday Favorites: Grocery Pickup

I know that I am way late to the game, but I have recently discovered the amazement that is grocery pickup and am obsessed.  One of my best friends has been telling me to do it for years, but I just never did.  She knew that it would have made my life easier back when my husband was deployed and my girls were little.  I honestly don’t know why I never did it other than I never had the time back then to plan ahead.  I totally should have listened to her because it would have made all the difference in the world back then.  I really had no idea how great it was.   

When the pandemic started and I didn’t really want to get out, I decided it was finally time to give it a try.   However, there were never any times available because everyone was doing their best to avoid others and appointments were taken as soon as they went up.  I had even heard that you had to be online at midnight when the new times were released to get an appointment.  I was not willing to stay up to do that, so I just kept going to the store to do all my grocery shopping. I was trying to go at times when it was the least crowded and hated every second of it.  I still kept checking every now and then to try to find an open slot at any store around me.  Well, my persistence payed off and the appointments stopped being jammed a few months ago.  I got my first appointment at Harris Teeter.  I made my husband go with me that first time for moral support since I had no clue how it worked. It turned out that it was the easiest thing ever.  You just pull up, push a button, give your name, and out your groceries come.  They were great about no contact too.  I just opened my trunk, and the clerk did the rest.  It was amazing! Seriously, though, how sad is it that I am just now figuring this out? 

Since then, I have used Harris Teeter and Walmart pick-up multiple times.  Walmart is even easier in that all you have to do it click a link on your phone to let them know you are on the way.  They track your location and know when you arrive.  Then you just let them know through the app, which spot you are parked in and the color of your car.  It’s the easiest thing ever.  I could literally kick myself for not listening to my friend all those years ago and trying this out.  It truly is life changing.  I would be happy never to set foot in a grocery store again! 

I was nervous about purchasing fruits, vegetables, and meats this way. I was worried that they wouldn’t choose good ones or that they would be close to being spoiled. I have to say, though, that I haven’t had any issues with this. Sometimes I even think they pick out better produce than I do. I even feel like they check expiration dates and give me the best ones available. My personal shoppers have always done an amazing job.

I feel like I save money doing my grocery shopping this way too.  I am not tempted by the things I see while strolling down the aisle at the store, so I don’t end up throwing things in my cart that I don’t really need.  If it isn’t on the running list that I keep on my phone as things run out, it isn’t going into my virtual shopping cart.  It also forces me to plan ahead for meals which saves me time daily from wracking my brain over what to cook each night. It really has made life so much simpler.  

If you are like me and have been dragging your heals and have never tried grocery pickup before, do it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  It is soooo easy and saves so much time. I am all about things that make my life better, and this certainly does that.