Let The Church Say Amen.

I'm kind of an IKEA fan.

There. I said it.

My love for all things cheap and Swedish is expansive... And expensive, because furniture adds up when you can't seem to stay away from the IKEA store.

I'm not going to lie - I do love me some furniture displays. I can wander around IKEA for hours, much to my husband and sister's dismay - it's fascinating and wonderful and inspiring and CHEAP!

It's definitely not a quick trip stop, though. If you've been to an IKEA, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It sucks you in with pretty doodads and cheap furniture, and oh, the endless possibilities!

So to be fair, I have to point out that my multiple-hour shopping trips to IKEA [and subsequent ish-ahs packing multiple pieces of furniture into my car] are partially my fault. I have an admitted home decor obsession, and it would just be rude not to admit that.


Those stores are like a stinking maze. And heaven help you if you have kids in tow [or, you know, unwilling family members] and aren't interested in leaving them in the childcare room [unwilling family members aren't accepted in the kids room - I checked], because they WILL have to go to the bathroom. And you WON'T be able to find a way to get there without tracking down one of the elusive white elephants, also known as IKEA employees, to navigate the aisles and sections and back alleys to get you there.

It's criminal. The layout is dreadful in terms of efficiency for the customer's sake. And I'm not the only one to notice this, either - I found this article about their merchandising tactics. Totally true story.

And all I have to say about that is AMEN.



Fashion Friday

Before I go any further than the first sentence, let me state that my distressed khakis are loose, very light [read INAPPROPRIATE FOR WINTER] and are really hard to keep pegged.

Just so you know.

Khakis, Old Navy, YEARS ago. Originally bought on clearance for an unknown purpose - possibly to be skirtified. Fit very loose/baggy, so it works.
Denim shirt, thrifed.
Belt, alloy.com, $20
Shoes, Dillard's, also in grey, $59.99
Gold and floral enamel jewelry, garage sale.
Nude leather bag, gifted from a friend.

Happy weekend!


The One With The Sniffles.

I've been struggling to find something interesting to share today.

So far I've got... Nothing.

I'm a little off my game, though, since I've had The Crud for a few days now. Nothing major enough to run to the doctor for, only just major enough to make me want to down a double dose of Nyquil and hunker down with my fleece blanket.

You can understand how tempting that is just from reading it, can't you?

I'm also tempted to wear nose plugs to class tonight, because the thought of being That One Sniffler in the quiet classroom [it IS statistics, afer all - there's not a lot of noise in a subject like that] is something akin to a Greek tragedy.

However, as Gene Krantz allegedly said on Apollo 13, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.

So there.


What Would You Do?

I read the original blog post that spawned a movement, an outcry, and the above book, and suffice to say, I was neither swayed nor impressed with the 'openmindedness' [because, um, SPINELESS much?] of the parents in this situation.

This has nothing to do with me, of course, being childless and female, but the subject came up when sweet nephew Ray, two years old, grabbed his aunt's headband and proclaimed himself to be "a beautiful princess".

You can imagine how quickly his uncle D set him straight.

I'm a firm believer in parental responsibility - children need and deserve to be taught right from wrong, yes from no, and acceptable from unacceptable.

And neglecting to guide one's child into the yeses and nos of life is pure shame.

It's not okay. It's not normal. And there are definitely no heroes in that situation. But it IS something to consider as we plan for our own future children, because a world where lines are blurred to the point of complete reversal of basic morality is a scary place to raise a kid!

It's sad that correcting a child in love could be considered a BAD thing. Sad is exactly what sweet Ray wasn't when we took the headband away.

Come to find out, he's cool with being a handsome prince, 'cause that one comes with a sword.


Plucky Me!

Doesn't she look confident in her grooming abilities, y'all? Whoever this gal is, she's got it going on.

Unlike me.

Because I have just had one of the most traumatizing eyebrow experiences in my life.

And I'm only being dramatic just a teensy-tiny bit.

Just so you know where I stand.

I feel confident that you'll understand just how traumatizing this is to me, even though I should have known from the start that something was amiss; after all, one can't expect delicacy and precision from a woman who can't speak English and charges $3 to wax eyebrows.

But I wasn't prepared to have chunks of skin ripped from around my eyebrows and upper lip, and I definitely never expected that I'd be paying a total of $20 for the pleasure.

Yep. Not only am I missing patches of facial skin, I am a sucker. I still tipped her, even as my face swelled up, bled, and wept a little.

My own real blood and everything.

I'm pretty much convinced never to go back to this woman, but there's no one in town that threads [my first choice for eyebrows] and, you know, this facial hair situation MUST be kept under control.


Right now I'm using a heavy-duty concealer and praying for divine healing. But I'm considering investing in some eyebrow guides and industrial tweezers and having a go at my own eyebrows.

I covet your prayers.


Fashion Friday

If grandma chic was a look, this would be it.

And don't you dare sass me about it, either.

I like to throw bright colors into my neutral outfits to keep things interesting.

That's also what I tell myself when I carry a bag that doesn't match my outfit because I forgot to change it after my LAST outfit.

It's ok. It's not catching.

Floral peplum-waist shirt - JCPenney, $29.99
Black circle skirt - Target, years ago.
Coral leather purse - No brand, Ross', $19.99
Leaf earrings, stackable bracelets - Hippie shop
Crochet scarf - Kohl's, $19.99
Nude peep-toe booties - Dillard's, $59.99

Happy Friday!


Confessions Of A Procrastinator.

I have something to admit to the world.

This applies to almost every situation that requires backtracking, and it's probably indicative of a larger issue that I don't care to explore, but it's true.

Did you forget something vitally important at the house we just left 10 minutes ago? You'll be fine. No, really. I'm not turning around, you WILL WEAR MISMATCHED SHOES to the ball, Cinderella.

What? Unpack my suitcase from last week's trip? Let me empty it out my own way, day by day, as I slowly wear my way through the pile of clothes I didn't really need to take, in the first place. THEN I'll put the suitcase up.

And undecorating? That's the worst of all, especially in regards to Christmas decorations.

I'm not afraid to admit that it strikes a little fear and nausea deep within me.

That's why I'm SO GLAD that my precious Mom so generously agreed to take apart all the holiday decor at our house last week.

Why was our Christmas decor still up last week, you ask? Well, it's simple, really. We like the ambience. And also, Christmas is only 11 months away. So we're early, if you think about it.

And I might have considered sticking some hearts on it and calling it a Valentine's tree.

As you may have noticed, my loathing for undoing anything I've started runs deep.

We're lucky to have my Mama, because I was really starting to lean toward the hearts.



Tax Away! ..Literally, Take Them AWAY!


You know you're starting your week out right when you're thinking about income tax, right?

Or maybe not so much. I mean, the deadline for W2s to be sent out is rushing at us like a freight train in the country [because we all know that trains move at a snail's pace when they're actually, you know, blocking a ROAD or something], but a good majority of America will probably try to ignore that chore until April 15th.

Because we're still paying for Christmas, yo.

I hate paying taxes. I hate that I have no say over the money I work very hard for. I hate that taxes are constantly increasing.

But I DO love me some tax refunds, and even though I was self-employed last year, I'm hoping we can qualify for a little something something this year. Without kids to claim as dependents, our chances of making any money around tax time are slim, but still, a girl can dream.

That's why I'm keeping an eye out. Not exactly anxiously, because 'anxiously awaiting' implies an action like, oh, say, organizing all of my paperwork in preparation, but still, I'm mildly excited.

To be fair, I'm also very busy consulting Googles about tax refunds. So far I've got this article on tax deductions, but be assured, I'm very thorough with my mouse and keyboard. As long as I can sit here and conduct such clearly important research, I totally will. ;)

Anyone else an early filer? Or do you hang on until April to send in your forms?


Fashion Friday.

Sometimes all you need to make you feel empowered on an off day in the middle of winter is a really cute coat. ;)

Khaki ruffle front coat - m-butterfly, $49
Black denim pencil skirt - Marshall's- I can't remember the price!
Vintage chanel earrings - Garage sale
Charm bracelet - Garage sale
Love message necklace - Forever21, also available on etsy.



Broken Hallelujah.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me
all day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the
house of God under the protection of the Mighty One, with shouts of joy
and praise among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:1-5 [NIV]

My head was pounding, louder and harder the longer I waited for the right thing to say. My heart ached as if a giant fist slowly, painfully squeezed the life out of it. Even though my eyes clenched shut, the tears slipped out, and I was at a loss for words as they streaked down my face.

I knelt across my bed, trying to find a way to pray about some tough emotions surrounding an ongoing situation in my life.

Pain. Confusion. Fear. Desperation. Anger. Longing.

I felt these so deeply that I couldn't be sure if the frustration I felt so sharply was because of my situation or because I couldn't grasp my own overwhelming emotions in a control hold.

And my soul whispered to Jesus.

Help. Fix this. Change this.

Fix me. Change me.

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas,
and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison,
and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.
When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell
and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was
such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.
At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Acts 16:22-28

This is my broken hallelujah. My shattered heart, bared completely to a Father God Who can - Who MUST - respond. To my pain. To my heart. To my sacrifice.

Broken Hallelujah
With my love and my sadness
I come before You Lord
My heart’s in a thousand pieces
Maybe even more

Yet I trust in this moment
You’re with me somehow
And You’ve always been faithful
So Lord even now

When all that I can sing
Is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
Is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
I will worship You and give You thanks
Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah

Oh Father, You have given
Much more than I deserve
And I have felt Your hand of blessing
On me at every turn

How could I doubt Your goodness
Your wisdom, Your grace
So Lord hear my heart
In this painful place

When all that I can sing
Is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
Is shattered praise
Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
I will worship You and give You thanks
Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah

I lift my voice
Your Spirit moves
I raise my hands
I reach for You



Happy Birthday...

To my awesome Mama.

January is just bursting with reasons to celebrate in our family, and I don't mind at all, because it keeps the holiday fun alive and it's a great excuse to go after-Christmas shopping. ;)

There are a lot more reasons to celebrate my Mom than shopping, though, even at 80% off. ;) She's one of the kindest people you'll ever meet, if you meet her, which I highly recommend, and she has a heart big enough to love everyone she comes into contact with, a left hook strong enough to keep us in line [just kidding, Mom, really! ;)], and a beautiful, gracious soul. She leaves her mark on everyone who knows her.

We could all learn a lot from her, I'm just sayin'.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!



New Year's Goals..

I can't take credit for the shot [after all, there's no wonky flash issues and lopped-off appendages] but I love the style of this photo from KLP in Chicago. One of my goals for 2011 is to have photos done of D and I. When we married, the opportunity for a shoot with a professional wasn't available, and while my little sis and I did a pretty good job [if I do say so myself] with our wedding pictures, I want us to have a couples shoot to celebrate our lives together.

Yep. It's sappy and unnecessary. But it's ON MY LIST.

And of course, that makes it a real, live goal. ;)

I'm trying to convince D to take me to Chicago so I can book with this fabulous photographer. Kristen La Voie does awesome work, and Chicago is FULL of great places to photograph. Except for being a city that is not at all significant to either one of us, it's, you know, PERFECT.

Which probably means it's not a good idea.

Still, I'm totally working the angle. ;)

I'm not gonna lie, picture taking is a GREAT motivator to lose this extra weight I'm carrying around, too. After all, they say the camera adds 50 pounds [it's 50, right? it has to be!] and these hips don't need any additions. ;)



Back To School... Again!


I'm going to go for it!
I'm enrolling in classes this week to knock out the last few credits I need to complete my degree... FINALLY! I've been working on this BA for 8 years.

Yep. You can stop and count 'em.

EIGHT STINKING YEARS. Spent working on the same degree.

There aren't enough words to describe how slackerish that makes me sound - and feel!

The good thing is that I'm still hanging in there, though. I'm on track to enroll in MBA boot camp [because my current major is Psychology and I'm switching to a Business major, I have some catching up to do before I jump into the MBA program] and I'm excited to be working towards my goal again.

Now if I could only find Ann Frank folders and My Little Pony pencils, this back-to-school thing would feel just about right. ;)


Fashion Friday

I'd like to think that this is how I'd dress for church if I were, say, British royalty.

Holla, Windsors!

Since I'm not British royalty and the Windsors probably didn't hear me holler, I'm doing the knockoff version for my own church.

'Cause why not?

Black pencil skirt - SO old. It's from JCPenney's, but I can't remember the price.
Cream 80s blouse - Thrifted, $2.
Red trench - Old Navy, two years ago. $50.
Black pumps [no, mine aren't Jimmy Choos!] - Target, $29.99
Gold/silver stud belt - Buckle, $29.99
Military brooch - Buckle, $8
Silver rock ring - Hippie shop, $6.99
Rough gem necklace - Hippie shop, $12.99
Black/gold enamel earrings - Forever21, $7.99
Chanel purse [mine's not really Chanel, but it's quilted and vintage, so that counts!] - Thrifted, $.50.



The Requisite Diet Post. Also, NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS!


Do you have any?

Resolutions, that is. ;)

I have a diet resolution every year, I'm not gonna lie. Ever since I gained a small child's worth of excess a few years ago, dieting has been a come-and-go companion in my life.

I'm really, really sad to say that although I'd banished the fat kid, a steady diet of McDonald's and Taco Bell during the past year or so brought the excess back with a vengeance.

I'm thinking I'd like for my husband to get to see me at my normal, healthy weight before I go and swell up with babies down the road [no, not anytime soon! I'm just forecasting, y'all], and I'm very, very impressed with what Weight Watchers, a personal trainer, and a chef did for Jennifer Hudson.

The last two are a little bit beyond my reach as a normal person, but I can probably swing a WW membership. So I'm thinking about it.

Just like I'm thinking about the 2,341 other things on my resolutions list, because I am nothing if not ambitious and organized in my fictional goals.

I mean - snorkel the great barrier reef? I CAN BARELY SWIM.


In the meantime, although I'd really like to consider revisiting #1,147 [make a perfect cheesecake, which, CHECK, that happened!] I should probably focus on the weight loss goal again.

Here it goes. AGAIN.

Pray for me, y'all. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. ;)



31 Bits.

You may have noticed a trend in my shopping habits.

I mean, goodness knows I talk about shopping enough, right?

I am a sucker for a gift with a cause, and I love nothing more than to contribute to an organization doing good in the world. I have a deep-seated thankfulness for everything I've been given, and if I may be very candid, I know what it's like to go without some things.

I'm blessed, and I've never been forsaken, but that doesn't mean I've always been able to stretch my pennies quite far enough to cover my basic needs, like, you know, toilet paper and tuna.

And that is just another story of how an awesome God and some incredibly kind parents saved my skin.

But back to the shopping.

I found this company, 31 bits designs, and fell a little in love with their beautiful jewelry collection. And it's made of recycled paper beads! Gorgeous.

Not everyone is into the accessories, even though some of the bracelets would be FAB watches - and I respect that - but if you ARE, these are pretty much amazing pieces to consider, I'm just sayin'.

The fact that the organization is designed to help enrich the lives of women in Uganda makes the collection even more special. Health training, financial and business training, and a link to a worlwide market are just a few of the things going on in Gulu, Uganda, through the work of 31 bits.

So, if you're shopping for your own after-Christmas gifts, have a look around 31 bits, ok? I promise you won't be disappointed.



Apple Birthday.



How wonderful is the concept of Mac + cake? I was on the hunt for unique [and, you know, USER FRIENDLY] cakes and found these beauties for the true Apple fan [freak].

*Ahem* Not that I'd know anyone Mac-crazy enough to appreciate these, or anything.

Since Leah's a PC kind of gal [and also not a nerd, bless her super-cool heart] these sweet treats didn't make the cut for her day.

But you've got to admire the sheer creativity, right?





You can tell she's excited about Monday, right?

On another note, can you even get over the fact that it's 2011?

I can't!

But that's not only because time flies by like a space rocket these days - it's also due to the fact that I'm far too busy with vacation to be counting.

Yep. I'm on vacation! I'm having a blast right this very second as I wait in line for the bathroom. Coincidentally, it's a little difficult to find time for blogging, since I Refuse. To. Give. Up. My. Bathroom. Time.

While I'm waiting [WHY WASN'T I FIRST?!?] I'm amusing myseld with the 'how old is your body' quiz over at the Daily Mail.

Not even playing. My hand is sore from pinching.

Good thing it's my turn for the bathroom, hey? ;)

Have a great, happy, wonderful Monday!



Happy New Year's Birthday!

On this day, 21 years ago, a chubby, squalling baby girl came into the world a little earlier than anyone expected, and for the little family waiting for her, she was the most perfect gift we could ever have hoped for.

She's grown into a lovely young woman - without an ounce of that extra chub she brought into the world with her, bless her skinny heart - and she has such a beautiful personality, too. She's fiercely loyal, generous to a fault, and she has a kind smile for everyone - and a penchant for collecting friends like some people collect shells or beanie babies or, you know, old receipts for no apparent reason.

Because we don't know anyone that does THAT.

She also happens to be my best friend and closest confidant - and sometimes, my partner in crime. ;)

Happy birthday, beautiful sister of mine! I love you dearly!

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