Monday, September 26

Current Obsessions

Clearance school supplies. Or really, school supplies in general. Especially these pens for 44 cents and the tape for 30 cents. Also, since when do Crayola colored pencils go on sale? I wasn't one to argue!

Plus, mint M&M's. What's even better is that they are quite strong, so I can only eat a few at a time.

Ohhhemmgeee, this "B" mug from Anthropologie is absolutely stunning!

This giant wooden crochet hook (I got mine from Michaels). I've been prepping Christmas gifts already and LOVE this hook! Although it works best with extremely chunky yarn. I found a brand at JoAnn's (can't remember the name of it right now) which - coupled with this 10mm crochet hook - creates the most darling and trendy scarves and blankets. It's just so, so, so fun.

The Purl Soho website with all it's lists of projects by different craft type. I adore every project they create!

My KAMsnaps maker. It's simple to use and fairly addicting to add snaps to, well everything.


Tuesday, September 20

What I'm Reading: September

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch // I love the cover of this book! It definitely catches your eye. The story is based on a once celebrated writer named M. He had great success with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance of a history teacher who went missing one winter after having a brief affair with one of his students. This book catapulted M's career, but now it's fading. This book bounces around in alternating points of view, and the reader quickly learns that they don't know who to trust.

I was captivated by this novel. It was my first Herman Koch book, and I remember hearing that his book The Dinner was on the New York Times bestseller list. That always gives me more confidence to crack open a book by a (new to me) author. This book was masterfully crafted. Koch was able to fully immerse me in this story of "M" and the very tangled lives in the book. I give it two very large thumbs up for the suspenseful nature and interesting story.

Play with Fire by Bianca Juarez Olthoff // This is the first book from Bianca, and the first time I heard her name was when I picked up this book. From reading about her online, she's a popular speaker and teacher, with an Instagram following of 36K. The premise of the book is that God isn't waiting until you have more of anything (spouse, money, job, influence, etc) to use you. But more than that, she wants to remind us that God does indeed have plans for us. In her words, "He's whispering in the wind and speaking through the fire and shouting in silence the extraordinary dream He is birthing in you. His dream for you is far greater than the dream you have for yourself. It's not your identity or income or influence that will made this happen."

I'm a tough critic on Christian living books (lately it feels like the market is over-saturated and there's only so much we can be doing to better ourselves, our walk with God, etc. - it's gotten a bit overwhelming). While I loved the concept of this book, I wasn't able to connect with Bianca's writing style. There was something missing in it for me, and as a reader I didn't feel the power of her words on paper. There's a large part of me that absolutely hates writing that because there's nothing more powerful than Christian women standing together to support one another. Maybe it was part of my mindset the day I read this book? Maybe I was nursing some kind of life cynicism or perhaps it was just as simple as my focus being "off" that day? After doing more research about who Bianca is in real life and the great work she's doing through the A21 campaign and Propel Women, I can see what a faith-filled woman she is. And from what I gather, she is a powerhouse speaker. Perhaps if I had known more about her or had seen her speak, picking up this book would've been a different experience.

Disclaimer: The books this post were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Monday, September 19

Monday Dose of Mocha

Because we all need more fluffy cat pictures in our lives...especially on a Monday!


Friday, September 16

Current Obsessions: Bible Edition

Recently, I have stumbled upon a few new and fantastic resources to use during my Bible study time. Last year I did a similar post and thought it was time to update blog-world on my most current favorites.

At the top of my list of new finds is my Moleskin journal. It's the Volant series, and I'm literally obsessed with them. I may or may not have five other colors waiting in the wings to use when I'm finished with my current journal. Truly, obsessed!

Along with the new Moleskin obsession is my years-old fixation on Target Dollar Spot's ballpoint pens. Besides the fact that the designs are always on trend, they write so smooth! And fine. I'm guessing they are .5mm fine tip, versus how most pens seem to be .7mm tips and write with a medium fine thickness. The extra thinness of the ink makes a difference when you're writing in the margins of a Bible (I can write smaller and fit more notes in the margins). And as much as I adore the new Papermate InkJoy Gel pens and my tried and true Papermate Flair felt tip pens (they don't smear!!), these Target pens don't bleed through my pages.

Speaking of the Target Dollar Spot, that brings me to two of my other current favorites. This crayon highlighter and those gold metal paperclips! I hate to use traditional highlighters in my Bible because they bleed through the pages...and that DRIVES ME NUTS. So this is quite the perfect tool.

One of the newest items I've received in the mail is this new Bible. It's the HCSB Illustrators' Notetaking Bible with a nice medium brown leather cover. While I'm not very familiar with the HCSB translation, I was looking for a different translation from the NIV I have grown up reading. Something that is still accurate with the original language and text, but with a slightly different tone that will help me engage in what I'm reading. It's not that I don't love the NIV translation (because I do!), but having read that translation my entire life, it's exceptionally easy to gloss over the words/stories because my mind fills in the details. It's like I'm too used to the NIV. This translation - the Holman Christian Standard Bible - is a trusted, original translation with a team of more than one hundred scholars from seventeen denominations behind this version, using the guidelines that each word must reflect clear, contemporary English AND each word must be faithful to the original languages.

This Bible combines two big current trends in Bible study. Coloring and large margins for note taking. I am not artistic enough to take blank pages of my Bible and create watercolor or painted images to describe what I read off the page. This Bible includes blank drawings - some floral, geometric shapes and phrases - scattered throughout the pages for readers to include snippets of guided creativity. All the pages have wide margins, perfect for note taking.

Another one of my most recent discoveries is the Gratitude Journal. Made out of heavy cardboard covers and full of interactive pages, this journal is definitely...different. I think in a good way? The jury is still out. Normally, I'm not a big fan of this kind of structured journaling because it can feel forced and cheesy. BUT in the spirit of keeping an open mind, I decided to give this journal a shot. It is undeniably lovely. (Do you SEE how gorgeous that page is with the shades of purpley-blue flowers?) Each page is meant to get your heart and soul focused on God and prayer, while trying to bring creative journaling into your quiet time.

I've tried a few adult coloring books within the last year when the craze first hit. The idea of them is catching and grabbed my attention right away; however, one of my friends and I were just talking about how hard it is to sit and actually color. We've lost the art of capturing our imagination in this manner. All that to say, I like the idea of this journal in forcing me to sit quietly with God and my imagination.

And finally, if you're searching for a very structured prayer journal, look no further than the Val Marie Paper prayer journal. It looks like she's moving away from the colorful paperback version (like pictured) to a hardback, spiral bound version for 2017. You can see more images of the inside of her journals on her website.

Disclaimer: The books this post were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All the opinions expressed are completely my own. Also, affiliate links used. This means that if you purchase a book via the Amazon links, I'll receive a small percentage. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Wednesday, September 7

Fall Capsule Wardobe

Building a capsule wardrobe is something I've kept at arms distance. It's extremely popular right now and I love the idea; however, I hate the idea. It makes me feel like I have to spend money. It's not hard to envision the strain on my wallet when the whole concept is to invest in less "fast fashion" and in more well-made clothes (read: appropriately pricey due to fair labor practices). Frugal Elise hates to spend more than $20 on any item of clothing. Like, seriously. My local Goodwill stores have ruined how I shop because I'm able to find name brand items in perfect condition for $2 on their half price deal days.

Here's lookin' at you, Citizens of Humanity jeans that retail for $175 on clearance, but only cost me $2.28.

But I was so inspired by Caroline's return to blogging and how lovely Lindsey's and Valerie's spring capsule (I think Valerie just blogged about her fall capsule today too!) turned out that it seemed like a good time to attempt an official seasonal capsule wardrobe for the first time. If you're new to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I encourage you to follow this link to Caroline's blog to read more about it and download her wardrobe planner

In thinking through my fall wardrobe, I wanted to cut down on costs by including as many secondhand/thrifted and handmade items as I would have time to find or sew. In the end, I didn't finish sewing all the items I wanted to make for my fall wardrobe. That was also my hang-up with posting about a spring capsule I decided that I wouldn't let it hold me back from finalizing my fall closet. The handmade items I want to add, but haven't made their way off my WIP pile are noted at the bottom of the post.

After I went through my closet to narrow down what I wanted in my seasonal closet, I packed away ALL my other clothes in storage totes, and then sorted out three bags of clothes and one bag of shoes to sell to local secondhand stores. Literally the only things hanging in my closet right now are the items detailed out in this post. It feels so light and airy!

Soooooo here we go...46 items for my September - November very-affordably-done capsule wardrobe!

Denim sleeveless (Madewell via ThredUp) // Striped sleeveless (Anthro via Goodwill) // Tank (Loft via Schoola)

Patterned tank (H&M via Schoola) // Striped tee (Target via Goodwill) // Graphic tee (Target via Goodwill)

Striped oxford (Gap via Goodwill) // Open weave sweater (Old Navy via Schoola) // Denim (Gap via ThredUp)

Gray 3/4 sleeve (Topshop via ThredUp) // Striped sweatshirt (Old Navy via Schoola) // Sweater (Gap via Twice)

Patterned tank (Loft via Goodwill) // Eyelet top (Cynthia Rowley via Goodwill) // 
Comfy cardigan (Lou & Grey via Goodwill)

Sleeveless button-up (Old Navy via Schoola) // Safari vest (Madewell via ThredUp) // 
Olive button-up (Anthro via ThredUp)

Boyfriend button-up (unnamed brand via Schoola) // Plaid oxford (Eddie Bauer via Goodwill) //
Pheasant top (unnamed brand via Goodwill)

Flannel button-up (J. Crew via Schoola) // Neutral sweater (J.Crew via Schoola) // 
Patterned blouse (Cynthia Rowley via Schoola)

Olive peplum top (Loft via Goodwill) // Polka dot sweater (J.Crew via Twice) // 
Navy flowy blouse (Gap via Goodwill)

 Denim button-up (Gap via ThredUp) // Striped sweater (Gap via Twice) // 
Crochet topped blouse (unnamed brand via Goodwill)

Striped cardigan (J. Crew via Goodwill) // Medium gray cardigan (American Eagle via Goodwill) //
Patterned dress (Mango via Goodwill)

 Basic sleeveless button-up (Old Navy via ThredUp) // Striped dress (Joe Fresh via Goodwill) //
Black cardigan (Express via Schoola)

Light wash (Gap via Schoola) // Medium wash (Citizens of Humanity and Gap both via Goodwill) //
Darker wash (Gap actually purchased from Gap)

 Olive shorts (Express via Goodwill) // Cuffed shorts (Gap via Twice) // Shorts (American Eagle via Goodwill)

Black shorts (Loft via Goodwill) // Black skinnies (Gap via ThredUp) // Black leggings (LuLaRoe purchased new)

What's left to add to my fall capsule wardrobe? These handmade items:
  1. Raglan tee (Lane Raglan pattern by Hey June)
  2. Baby blue sweatshirt (Halifax Hoodie pattern by Hey June)
  3. Gray quilted dress (Out and About Dress pattern by Sew Caroline, fabric from JoAnn's) 
  4. Patterned flowy top (Soho Blouse pattern by See Kate Sew
A couple notes about how I've chosen to do my fall capsule wardrobe. I didn't include shoes because I'm such a creature of habit that I literally wear one pair of sandals, shoes or boots at a time, occasionally another pair gets added into the rotation. Also, this capsule doesn't include workout attire, leisure attire or camisoles/tanks for under my tops. AND, not included in this list are a few items that increase my work wardrobe. My current job allows me the ability to wear jeans to work, so most of the items pictured are work appropriate for me. However, I needed the flexibility of adding items that will only get worn once/month for board meeting presentations, plus a couple extra sweaters because it gets REALLY cold in my office.

In looking at my fall capsule wardrobe, I didn't intentially purchase any new items. Several of the Goodwill purchases were from last Saturday's Goodwill 50% off Saturday sale, but were purchased because I simply fell in love with how they fit my body, not intentially for my capsule wardrobe. All the other items were pulled from storage, already on regular wardrobe rotation or were purchased with referral credit from the secondhand websites ThredUp or Schoola. And now that my wardrobe is set until November, I'm officially on a shopping freeze. Fingers crossed I don't get tempted by the next couple months Goodwill sales!

This makes me proud. It negates my previous fear that a capsule wardrobe would force me to spend loads money. Also, I'm over here thanking God for companies with great referral credit policies...and exceptionally awesome people who donate quality clothes to my local Goodwill stores!

Click here to get $10 of referral credit to Schoola (they have free shipping with a $25 or greater purchase) and I'll get a $10 credit when you make your first purchase.

Click here to get $10 of referral credit to ThredUp and I'll get a $10 credit when you make your first purchase.


Thursday, September 1

Our Trip to Savannah + Orlando

Joel and I haven't taken a vacation as just the two of us in two years. The last trip was a vacation to Denver to celebrate our first anniversary and becoming debt-free. Nothing says "Yay! We're debt-free" like spending $1K on vacation - ha! Don't worry, we saved for that trip and paid cash. Just like we did for this vacation - well, technically, we used a credit card to get the can you even book a flight by paying cash anymore?

We coupled this vacation with something we've been meaning to do for over a year - see Joel's sweet grandmother. Grandma King lives in Savannah, GA with Joel's aunt. In the five years that we've been together, I have never met her and Joel hasn't seen her either. She's so special to my husband because she lived with his family while he was growing up. It was definitely time we made the effort to spend a little time with her.

After spending an afternoon/evening with Grandma King, we spent the next morning of our vacation exploring Savannah. It was my first time, and to say that I fell in love with the character and history of the city would be a gigantic understatement. What a city! We were regretting not spending the massive amount of $$$ to stay at one of the cute B&B's in the historic section of town. Especially the B&B that was within walking distance to the Girl Scouts founder's house full of Thin Mints just read for my consumption. We happened upon two cute coffee shops and a hat store, so those were fun too!

Sad to leave Savannah, we continued on to Orlando! We spent one day at Universal Studios (because HARRY POTTER, y'all) and the two days at Disney. I can't say enough good things about our time at the two Universal Parks. All the details in the Harry Potter exhibits (...sections...attractions...what would you call it?) were fab-u-lous. For this big HP nerd, it was borderline the best place I've ever been.

The store fronts (not all of them were actual stores) were exactly what I had pictured from reading the books. I want to go back and re-watch all the movies to see if they are similar to the set for the movies. We ate lunch at The Three Broomsticks, tried a butter-beer (not alcoholic, it's butterscotch flavored), walked through Hodsmeade and Diagon Alley, even a smaller scale Hogwarts. The Kings Cross Station had a platform 9 3/4 where we caught a ride on the Hogwarts Express. (Also, is it weird that spell check auto corrected "Hogwarts" to the correct spelling?) My favorite experience at Universal was the Gringotts ride. The extra early hour of park admission from staying at a Universal Hotel meant that we were able to ride the Gringotts ride two times before the lines got too long. 4D and very cool!

Ready for photo overload??

We gave our Disney park experience a solid 7 out of 10. Neither of us had been to any Disney park before this trip and weren't quite sure what the expect. Most of our friends and family RAVE about Disney. It set our expectations high, and I'm hesitant to say that Disney was disappointing...but it was, just a tad.

That to say, we still had a lot of fun! We were just expecting a little more roller coasters. And it didn't help that we both didn't have childhood memories to bring the extra sentimental heart-squeeze of excitement to be back in the land of Disney magic. My favorite rides were the Peter Pan ride (waiting in line for that one was surprisingly interesting as they had a bunch of interactive things to keep you from getting, air conditioning!!), the Seven Dwarfs' Mine ride and the Monsters, Inc. show. The creepiest ride award goes to the It's a Small World ride. Too many dolls. Just too many. And don't get me started on the clown dolls hanging from the balloons.

Another photo overload! I can't remember the last time I posted this many photos in one blog post.

Soooooo...that was our vacation!