what’s in my bag: baby and me.


Having a baby means I have a lot of stuff with me, all the time. Recently, I became overwhelmed by the amount of gear it seemed to require to leave the house with E. I felt like I was packing up the whole house every time we would leave, even if it was just to be gone for an hour.

So I pared it down. I dumped out E’s bag and my own, and repacked just the essentials: the things I knew I would need and he would need, to get through the day.

In my bag, which is my favorite bag,  (Madewell, you my fave!) you will find:

+ a journal: I literally have to write everything down now or I will 100% forget. Rifle Paper Co. has been my favorite stationery store for a few years, and this journal lays flat to make writing easier.

+ water bottle: S’well keeps coffee hot, and water cold. I love the matte black look of this one.

+ a hairbrush: this is technically E’s (one of this set from natemia) but I keep it on me in case my hair needs a quick brush through.

+ sunglasses: DIFF eyewear makes some high quality sunglasses. I love the lenses on this pair. I bought these last year on a sale for $45 and they still look just about brand new.

+ clutch wallet: I hate carrying a bunch of cards, and with bigger wallets, I sometimes feel the need to fill it with every loyalty card and business card I have in my possession. This wallet from ABLE is minimalist in its design, and functional for keeping cards and cash in.


+ perfume: rollerballs are the best way to freshen up if you are in a hurry and forget perfume (which is me 90% of every day). I like this one from Good Chemistry because it’s made from essential oils, so I don’t have to worry about it bothering E. The scent is ‘wild child’ and it’s a citrus-y, slightly musky scent.

+ hand sanitizer and lip balm: Two things I cannot ever be without. Both are from Grove Collaborative and both I am obsessed with. The hand sanitizer is moisturizing and keeps my hands clean for when I’m out and about with a baby and the lip balm is like a way more moisturizing version of the Burt’s Bees lipbalm.

+ setting powder: glossier is one of my favorite makeup/skincare companies. I especially love this powder, which keeps me looking matte and oil free all day long.

+ deodorant: I’m going to be really transparent here. I don’t always remember to put on deodorant before I leave the house…. I know, I KNOW. But never fear, I always have some with me in my bag. I use the coconut and vanilla one from native and I love it. It’s the best natural deodorant I’ve tried so far (they now carry native at Target, btw!) and I can’t wait to try the other scents they have

+ book: I have a book with me, at all times. I simply can’t leave the house without one. I never know when I will have a free minute to read, and right now, every minute that I get to read uninterrupted, is precious. I’m currently reading We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

I also keep a tinted lip balm, one lipstick (usually NARS ‘Rita’ or MAC’s ‘Velvet Teddy’), mascara (currently using Soap & Glory’s Thick and Fast) my keys, gum or mints, a few bags of tea, and extra hair ties in my bag, as well as a supply of pens, and breast pads (#nursingmomlife).


E’s Bag:

I’m still using my Jem + Bea bag, and I really adore it. It’s sleek, stylish, and when I’m not using it for him (i,e. When he is with his Mimi or daddy- he has another diaper bag for days when he’s with them), it acts as my work bag/breast pump bag during the week.


+ a lovey: this raccoon one is from Jellycat, and it was given to him the day after he was born. I love it and he does too. He’s recently started trying to hold things in his arms, and this is perfect for him to do so. It goes everywhere with us now. Jellycat makes the best teddies and lovey’s.

+ white bodysuits: I keep white bodysuits stocked up. they go with everything, you can bleach them if they stain, and they’re easy to replace. I really like the organic ones from gerber baby. They’re soft and thick and only have two buttons instead of three (weird detail but I really like that about them).

+ jogger jeans: because what is better than a tiny pair of baby jeans? I mean honestly. E has a dark wash pair and a light wash and he wears them all the time. These are from Cat + Jack at Target.

+ lotion: E gets really dry skin around his chin (no idea why) and while I don’t always have this in his bag, I do try to make sure he gets lotion on him everyday to keep his baby skin soft. sunbum makes the best bodycare, hair care, and sun care products and they all smell like heaven in a bottle. I use the sunbum soap on E as well, and he always smells slightly like he just came from the beach. 🙂

+ hair brush and comb: natemia on Amazon makes some of the best bath time products for babies. The materials they use are great quality (E has a panda towel that is the softest towel I have ever felt in my life). I love this little brush and comb set and use the brush every night after his bath.

+ pacifier: it’s a bad day when we leave the house without a pacifier. I have a few different ones for E. He has a wubbanub (a fox, of course), a couple avent ones (his favorite) and this one from natursutten.

+ a toy or a contrast book: as he’s gotten older, E has started to respond to toys and animals and rattles, so I take this little fox rattle with us when we are out. I honestly don’t know where it came from, but he loves it. I also take a black and white contrast book with us, in case he needs something to occupy him.

+ a bib: copper pearl is my favorite shop to get bibs and burp cloths from. He has quite a few bibs and burp cloths (because babies spit up so.much.) and these are super absorbent and thick.

I usually have a few diapers, a backup outfit, water wipes (the best wipes EVER), Desitin, socks, a swaddle blanket, and a changing mat on hand as well. Sometimes, I take a bottle of expressed milk too, if I know that nursing him will be difficult wherever we are going (or if mama wants a glass of wine or a g + t :))

So there you have it. What’s in my baby’s bag, and what’s in my bag. I hope you enjoyed this post!

xx Steffanie


What I’m Into: Spring/Summer Edition


Hello friends!

It has been quite some time since I have blogged/written anything. Plenty of new, exciting things are happening at the Ballinger house and blogging/writing/journaling had taken a back seat for a while. But I am trying to be better about taking the time to do it, because I do love this little space.

As far as updates go, my husband and I are expecting our first child (!!!!!!) who will be joining us in July. I will do a blog post over all the feelings, nursery, etc at some point, but for now, just know we are very excited to be welcoming a sweet baby boy into our lives.

This post will be  mashup of everything I am using/loving/recommending at the moment. Some are pregnancy related, as I am now 7 1/2 months pregnant, and there are some things that are ESSENTIAL to my everyday comfort level. Let’s chat!


+ This box set from Envie de Fraise. This set is maternity wear, and it’s so comfortable. It’s a bit more stylish than your average sweatpants and a t-shirt. I got the small size and it still fits really well. I have lived in it, and it’s definitely going to be a staple after our boy is born.



+ This dress from Dwell + Slumber. GUYS. This dress is my favorite thing in my closet right now. It’s cozy (again, essential), lightweight, and easy to thrown on. I’ve worn it around the house, to run errands, to sleep in, and it works on every level. I’ve kept my eye out for when the black one comes back in stock, because these dresses are the greatest thing. I also love that it’s not strictly maternity, so I’ll be getting a lot of use out of it after the baby comes.

+ This nursing bra from Kindred Bravely. Kindred Bravely makes some fantastic maternity wear options, but this bra is my favorite item I own from them.  Super soft, stretchy, and comfortable, I have lived in this bra since I found out I was pregnant. (I also ordered these reusable organic nursing pads for when baby comes -can’t wait to try them out!)



+ This perfume from Jo Malone London: Jo Malone makes the best perfumes. Peony and Blush Suede is my favorite. Light, but pretty, floral but not too floral, with a hint of citrus. Perfect for spring and summer.

+ This lipbalm from Fresh Cosmetics: this lip balm is pigmented and super moisturizing. Easy to wear and goes well with any everyday makeup look. My favorite shade is Petal but I also have the Rose one, and it’s great for a very minimal color option.

+ These sandals: my new go to sandal for summer. I also have these heels and both are super comfortable. TOMS makes the best shoes.


+ This bag: Technically my diaper bag for baby, I’ve been test-driving this as my everyday bag. It’s so roomy, great quality, and has an insulated pouch for bottles (or a protein shake!) Also, it comes with a changing pad. Definitely a splurge bag, but I’m super happy with it.


+ Sparkling Water: I am a huge sparkling water, mineral water fan. La Croix, Topo Chico, San Pellegrino, Perrier… love them all. Lately, my favorite has been a Topo Chico with lots of lime in it. I usually put it in a fancy glass and pretend it’s a gin and tonic. I also have been obsessed with lemon water, especially with a few frozen berries thrown in. Perfect for hot, summer weather!

*Sidenote: I recently bought this cup to make sure I’m getting all the water I need throughout the day. Really like the size of it and the lid that slides closed.


+ This pillow: My sleep has not been the best lately, but it has been miles better thanks to this pillow.

+ This humidifier: Both my husband and I love this thing, especially now during this allergy season. Easy to use, cheap, and works constantly all night.

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+ Everybody Always by Bob Goff: Such a good reminder on how to love difficult people well. One of my favorite reads so far this year.

+ Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: revisited this book recently, and it is so good. A great read if you have elderly family members or work in healthcare.

On my to-read list: Jane Harper’s new book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, The Baby Sleeps Tonight, and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

+ This blog: Laura Tremaine has long been a favorite follow of mine, and I am so excited that she started another blog. Definitely check it out if you like blogs that recommend all the things.

+ This podcast: I cannot say enough good things about this podcast. Jamie Golden and Knox McCoy are hysterical and this podcast, while giving some great, fascinating insight on the Bible, will make you laugh. Alot.

+ Evil Genius on Netflix: a true-crime documentary that blew my mind. It’s about a case from 2003 in Erie, PA. I won’t give any details, but believe me, it is GOOD.


And that’s it, folks! I hope you are doing well, and I look forward to posting more soon!

Happy Sunday! xx




January Favorites

Hi lovelies!

It’s a bit early to do January Favorites, but I’m in the mood for a blog post so here it goes!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMy skin has been so dry lately, thanks to winter, and I have a couple things I’ve been using that are making my skin feel a bit more normal. First up, is the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. I use this in the morning and at night. It’s light enough to wear under my makeup. Non-greasy, super hydrating, and doesn’t break me out. Two thumbs up. Next up, I have been using the Fresh Cream by Philosophy Body Lotion. Guys, this stuff smells so good. So good. Like vanilla cake. It’s light, fresh, and super moisturizing. I love Philosophy and have honestly forgotten about them until I saw this scent on Instagram. If you like sweet but fresh scents, check this out. I’ve been living in it. Lastly, I recently picked up the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Balm. I’ve heard so much about the Agave Lip Mask and when I saw that they released the Lip Balm version, I promptly ordered it from Sephora. Bite makes such good lip products (their matte creme lipsticks are some of my favorites) and this lip balm is no exception. Very hydrating, light and smooth. It lasts for hours and the packing, as with all Bite products, is so sleek and cool. I love this lip balm and highly recommend it!

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I’m pretty low maintenance with my hair. I mostly wear it straight or curled with a curling rod, or leave it curly on days where I want to give it a break from heat styling. I don’t have issues with volume, but I do occasionally notice that my hair gets flat when it’s humid out. To cure that, I use the Living Proof Dry Volume Blast. This stuff smells amazing, and works so well to add texture and volume to all types of hair. Now, I use this more on my super clean hair days, when I need a better hold or texture. One of the best texturizing sprays I’ve found. Living Proof is the best when it comes to hair products. I love their Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo as well.

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For Christmas, my sister and brother in law gave me a Kate Spad card holder, and I LOVE it. I like to go without a purse whenever I can, especially if I’m just running a quick errand or going somewhere where a purse will be a hassle. This little card case is perfect to carry just the cards I need, and make them easily accessible. It’s my new favorite thing.


I picked up a new pair of earrings from Baublebar at Nordstrom, and I LOVE them. Tassle earrings are a somewhat new thing, rather they are to me, but I love the trend. I picked up the Baublebar Paiden Tassel Drop Earrings on sale over Christmas holidays and I’m a huge fan. Now, these guys are heavy. I’ve worn them to work a couple times, but they are definitely on the heavier side and can be annoying to be in all day. But the weight is worth it, because they are so pretty on! I have my eye on a couple other styles like these:

And that’s it! Let me know in the comments what you’ve found recently that you love.

Happy Tuesday!

Steffanie xo


The space.

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Starting a new business has been so fun, and consuming, and has somehow seemed to increase my hours in the day. I stay up later, wake up earlier, and my brain is constantly on. I actually kind of love it, if I’m going to be honest. I love the pace, the work, and the purpose I feel. I love buying the supplies, making the calls, and doing the work.

When it comes to building a business, I know almost nothing, but I do know what a few things that I have learned from watching others, reading, and just from my own personal style of working. One of the things I have learned is to create a space for your work. Not your bed, not your couch. Create a room, a closet, a spot at the coffee shop, or the basement at your friend’s house, and get to work. Clean it up, organize it, and plan some time to get there.  I set up a work space in one of our spare rooms, and I only use that room for work. I have a desk, and a lamp, and a stapler, and all the materials I need to be organized and focused. Oh and also a teapot, because no work space is complete without tea on hand. It’s a must.

Another tip I have learned is that schedulaes are a must. If you stay at home, make a schedule for your day. Plan your lunch, turn off the TV, and get to work. And do it repeatedly, same time, everyday. Setting aside the time ensures that you will work everyday. If you work part-time to full-time hours somewhere else, obviously planning is a little more difficult but not impossible. I work part-time, and my hours are different from each other every day. With my husband working non traditional hours, scheduling gets a bit tricky at our house. But because I am Type A, we have three calendars, and I plan everything. I plan my MONAT hours, and my office hours. I plan grocery trips, coffee meet ups, and my lunch. I plan naps, sometimes, because naps make the world a better place. I plan downtime, which I honestly have not been great about lately, but I attempt to spend a good hour a day doing something I love, outside of work.

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Now that I have my space, I find it much easier to stay organized and focused. Plus, it helps that Target makes the cutest office supplies, ever. If you have any tips on starting a business or would like to know more about my business, please let me know!

Happy organizing!

Steffanie xo

Artists & Engineers.


Perhaps one of my favorite questions to ask kids and people, is the all famous, break the ice, questions. The “when you grow up, what do you want to be?” I love this question because you get a varying degree of answers, especially from the tiny humans. Some hilarious answers, some sentimental and sweet, and some odd. When I taught dance, inevitably, every little girl wanted to be a dancer. I met a little girl the other day who wants to be a director or video producer when she grows up, because she loves Youtube. When I was a kid and someone asked me that question, I answered quickly and decidedly: teacher. Someone who molded minds, inspired, and reminded students how precious they were. I wanted to teach English, maybe even French, and spend all my years blessedly content with lesson plans and verbs and summer vacations.

Thinking about our careers and life goals are such important, huge thoughts, that it’s no wonder we start asking three year old’s what they want from life. We forget that they are still so little, so new to this world and they are not even looking forward yet. So we do it for them. I don’t think this is a bad thing, all the time. In some ways, it’s a good way to get an idea of where your child’s passions lie. What career they admire or gravitate towards. What inspires them. However, I don’t think it’s the only question we should be asking the tiny humans in our lives. Or for that matter, the big humans.  It’s great to know what you want to do with your life, but it’s also such an important thing to know who you want to be in this life, who they will want to be in this life– versus the what they will do.

Maybe instead of asking them if they want to be an artist or an engineer, maybe ask them what kind of artist or engineer they want to be. Get to the person behind the career choice. Who do you want to be when you are older? Do you want to be a passionate person? A kind person? Do you want to be the kind of person who loves without limits? Do you want to fail? How will you handle failure? Do you want to live a full life? These questions are loaded, and deep, and I get that, but I think it’s always helpful to have someone around who asks these questions of us, especially the parents of the tiny humans. Do you want to be a person who teaches others to be kind? Do you want to be brave? Do you want to be humble? How will you become the person you want to be?

We are in a hard place, right now in this world. People seem to be less tolerant, less understanding and a little meaner. We have debates on Facebook for hours, and we post our views, begging the world to listen to us. We feel the need to make comments we shouldn’t and ignore things we should say something about. We berate the Republicans, or the Democrats, and call our cops racists. We burn churches, and we destroy cities. We say hateful, hurtful things, and we are not loving. We condemn those who believe different, and we generalize way too often.

I wholeheartedly believe our issues are stemming from the fact that we have stopped asking each other the harder questions. The deep, scary, loaded questions. I also believe that because we are unwilling to speak to others face to face, that we are creating an avenue of hurt and mistrust. Through the media and social media, we are hiding behind ourselves. We have stopped gathering around tables for conversations and debates, and now look to the internet to support our views. We’ve stopped forgiving face to face, and we now hide behind screens or walls. We have stopped loving each other well, and that’s scary because a world without humility and love, is not one I am excited to be a part of.

I hope my kids will learn to be the kind ones. I hope that when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up, they will answer excitedly, with their career choice. But I hope they also add to that: I hope they say they will choose to be kind, and loving, and tolerant, and gracious. I hope they will teach others about the love of Jesus, not this world’s way of Jesus, but the Jesus way of Jesus. The real stuff. I hope they answer with who they want to be as people, and lovers of Christ. I hope they answer with faith, and humility, and kindness, always kindness.

Whether you are a tiny human or a big human, I hope you think about who you want to be, instead of just what you want to be. I hope that if you choose to be an artist, or an engineer, you choose to be a kind one. We need you to be kind.

Steffanie xo

The weekend.

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I love the tempo of the weekends. The freedom and the rest that they tend to carry, the every once in a while chaos. When people ask me how my weekend was, I usually always say the same thing. “Oh it was great, I didn’t do much of anything.” It’s a fine answer, I guess, but I sometimes feel like it portrays a lack of interest in life. Like I don’t really remember nor did I do anything amazing, so why bother talking about it. I love it when people describe their weekends and days to me. I like details. I like to know the color of the dress she wore, or how melty and delicious the pizza was. I like to know about the stars that night, or the sun that morning. I love it when other people are telling me their beautiful details, but I don’t always pay attention to the details of my stories. I skip them, because I believe them to be boring or insignificant; dull.

This weekend, I decided to pay attention to my details. To the life and beauty and tide of my weekend. 

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+ Friday: I woke up late, around 10:00 and had breakfast with my husband. We chatted about his work, and  I went to do some grocery shopping. That afternoon I took a glorious nap, drank strong black tea and ate the best Irish soda bread of my life. Just as the sun was setting, I went to a skincare launch party for one of my beautiful sister-in-laws, where we had tiny cupcakes and flavored coffee. I also ate Mcdonald’s at 10:30pm that night. Best.


+ Saturday, I got up early, turned on the Keurig and went to spend a few hours with my nephews. We watched the Lorax, ate cheerios, and chatted about toys and movies. We had a dance party in the kitchen, and I rocked with both boys in their floral armchair. That afternoon was beautiful, so I took one of my fuzzy throw blankets, a book and a cup of tea and laid outside for an hour or two. I read that book all day long, and while doing the laundry and cleaning, I watched Dr. Who re-runs. I made fish and chips using Jamie Oliver’s recipe and left my hair in a bun all day. I took a long, hot, bath that night, and talked to my husband on the phone about work and funny stories. I stayed up super late, no thanks to my noisy neighbors, who eventually had a visit from the police. Fun times.

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+ Sunday: Sundays are always such beautiful days of rest, and today was none the different. Both my husband and I woke up very late, and were onto our second mugs of coffee before we made conversation. It was a super slow start, but we decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather (70 degrees!!) and take Romeo The Brave to the park to walk. We drove the short drive to the park, and walked about a mile and a half, holding hands, chatting with people about the size and beauty of Romeo the Brave. We came home and curled up on the couch, watched a bit of TV, and then the hubs went to work. I read some blogs, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen and took Romeo the Brave to get ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie dough on a waffle cone: perfection. Now, I am writing to you, drinking coffee, and being thankful. Tonight, I’ll take another bath possibly, curl up in my room with a book (possibly a Donald Miller one, or Shauna Niequist) and a mug of steaming tea. I’ll pray for my husbands safety, let Romeo do his rounds around the yard, and go to sleep.

In the best way, this weekend was a re-charge. A long, restful, clearing reset. A beautiful, sunny, warm weekend, filled with lovely faces, lots of time, and lots of fresh air. It was a breath, one I very much needed to take. This week has a lot of plans, and I won’t see my husband for longer than an hour until Saturday, but we had this weekend.

You never get days back. Make them count, even if it seems like all you are doing is the same old thing. Choose to remember them well, to give yourself the freedom to love rest and monotony, just for this weekend.

It was a fine one, indeed.

Love to you all!

Steffanie xo

the record player.


About four-ish years ago, I received one of the best presents I have ever received, from my husband. Brooke Fraser, who is a singer/songwriter/person that I am in love with, came out with an album called Flags. She self-produced, wrote and designed the entire album herself, and collaborated with other artists to create the beauty that is the album. When she made this album, she made a coffee table book, filled with drawings, lyrics, pictures and snippets of her time making the album. She also included a vinyl with four songs on it, a signed copy of the CD, and a documentary of her time making the album. It was one of the first times I ever became so excited about an artist and their music.

I’ve had that vinyl for four years and have never listened to it, mostly because I didn’t have a record player. When we got married, we hung the record on the wall, and it wasn’t until recently that I began to really think about what was on that vinyl. I’ve always wanted a record player, and my husband, knowing this, took me to Hastings and bought me a Crosley Portable Record Player. Mine is turquoise and gorgeous and I am so in love with it!!

I’ve been using it everyday, winding down at night with Bach, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Romeo & Juliet’s Ballet, and of course, Brooke’s record. I’m loving how the sounds sort of float through the house, making music sound that much more beautiful. I’m currently making a wish list of vinyls on Amazon, and I am so excited to start perusing the shops for some more records. Although, I am covered if I am in need of a Haunted House record, thanks to my husband.

Let me know in the comments which records are your favorite, or if you recommend any good ones out there. I’d love to know!

Steffanie xo

PS. I promise to be back soon with some product reviews. Keep an eye out!

Begin Again


I’m sitting here on my comfy two-person chair, in my living room. It’s late afternoon, and I have no makeup on. We have garland and fairy lights still up on the TV stand and coffee table, because hey, Christmas just ended. It’s cloudy and cold outside, so the heat is on, and all the lamps are on. It’s cozy, and I’m drinking a green tea, and listening to The 1975. I’ve got these fuzzy, knit bootie slippers on, and I’m thinking. I’m thinking and I’m rewinding through 2014, as I do at the end of every year.

This year, 2014, was such an awesome, stupidly blessed year. And I don’t say that about every year. We had a hard year in 2013, so I was hoping for this year to be quieter, and quite frankly, just not terrible. Anything but terrible was good enough for me.

In 2014, I kissed the beautiful faces of my nieces and nephews every chance I got. I cuddled them and changed their diapers, and spent thirty minutes trying to get one asleep for a nap. I prayed hard for my baby nephew to make it through his surgery, and cried when he did. I stayed up until 2 am to finish an argument with my husband, because I hate going to bed angry. I cooked a lot more, and made Lemon Drizzle cake about sixteen times. I laughed so much, and I cried after finishing more books this year than I ever have. I said goodbye-for-now to a relationship that was very important to me, but also harmful. I wrote a lot of blog posts, drank a lot of coffee, and discovered how much being an adult changes the way you think about money. I went on numerous dates with my husband, and spent a lot more time with my sister. I made an effort to talk to the bag-boys, the baristas, the waiters and waitresses, and the re-headed girl who works at the drugstore I am always at. They’re people too, and I bet they get tired of being ignored. I tried to pay more attention to my day, to the people I met, and I watched a lot of movies. I learned how to wear red lipstick, and started wearing sunscreen everyday. I read even more books. I was a bit more vulnerable with my Lifegroup, which is always a scary and sort of awesome thing to do. I was angry, sad, lonely, and stressed some this year, but I think I handled it better than I have been doing.

I now know the kind of music I like, I know how I feel about some political issues, and I know that I am absolutely in love with the person that my husband is. I know what wine I prefer, and that working out doesn’t have to be a big feat everyday. I apologize more, and I try to be an honest person. I know what clothes I like, and I know where I like to buy them. I eat better, but I still consume pizza and sugar on occasion. I drink more water, and green tea. Also, I love french fries, which I am also convinced will not change.

2014 was a year in which I feel that I maybe understand my life, my God, and love a little bit better. I know that I can be skeptical for absolutely no reason, and that I put too much stock in people’s words. I know God’s love for us a bit better, and I know that I don’t have to work for it. I know that I am loved regardless, which is an amazing and scary thing. I’m not any better at texting back, which I am convinced might not ever change. {Sorry, peeps, I am trying!} I am a bit better at managing my time, and managing it for my marriage and my health. I have a job now, a job that I love. It’s hard work, and I work with the best people in the world. I’ll stay there as long as they keep me. I write in pencil a bit more, and I have learned that flexibility is a good trait to have.

I’m going into 2015 so thankful for who my God is, for the ways in which we have been blessed this year. I’m going into it hopeful, with a list of books I want to read, and with gratitude. Because this year was awesome and beautiful and so, so good. New Year’s is “do-over” day, as some people call it. It’s the chance to start the year off right, different, better. I choose to think of my New Year’s this year as it is. Another day, in which I will begin again. I will turn on my Keurig, make some coffee, play with my dog, kiss my husband, and spend the day probably reading something. I’ll make dinner, and watch something on TV and go to bed. I may do some yoga. And then I’ll begin again. My days will look different from each other; I may (hopefully) take a trip in 2015, and I’ll write some more. I will have bad days, and great days, and ones in between. I’ll keep falling in love with God, and my husband, and with books. Hopefully I’ll continue to fall in love with people, and learn to love them better through their flaws. I’ll hopefully be a little wiser, and write more essays.

Do me favor, and do New Year’s differently this year. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, a piece of paper or a notebook, or your computer. Grab your friends, make a circle, pass around some pens. Write ‘Begin Again’. And do it. Don’t make resolutions, don’t beat yourself up over your imperfections or for eating one too many donuts. Be honest, be kind, and love who you are, and those around you. Try, do, and begin again. You’ll never have another 2015. Do it well.

Happy New Year’s, lovelies!

Steffanie xo

Recent Reads #2


It’s no secret that I love a good book. It’s been a good while since I’ve done a book post on here, so I thought I’d share of my favorite recently read books. I must say, this one is quite the line-up.





Yes Please by Amy Poehler: I have to start off with Amy Poehler. It must be done. I heard from several people over on the Faceboom, that this book was pure genius. So, naturally, I powered up my Nook, downloaded the free sample, laughed out loud for a solid thirty minutes, and bought the book the next day. Her book is called Yes Please and it’s the funniest, most honest, quirky book. I am reading it slowly, because I don’t want it to end. In this book she talks about her life so far, acting, divorce, babies, Tina Fey, and her childhood. I highly recommend anyone in the mood for a good laugh and maybe a tear to pick this up. Yes please, indeed.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg: Molly is the author of Orangette, the most beautiful food/lifestyle blog I’ve ever seen. Her photography is straight gorgeous. A Homemade Life, her memoir, is what I believe encouraged my kick for cooking more meals at home. For a while, I felt I was in a serious rut when it came to cooking. Her book, though I haven’t made a single recipe from it, inspired me to crack out the ol’ cookbooks, and create some stories with my meals. It also really made me want to go to Paris, and induced a Nutella-baguette craving that I couldn’t ignore. She has another book out called Delancey that I am still on the hunt for.


Where She Went by Gayle Forman: This book is the sequel to If I Stay, which I read about three-ish years ago. I can’t explain why I waited so long to read this one, other than that I didn’t want to really know what happened next. Mia and Adam are so all over the place, and maybe my heart wasn’t ready. I won’t go into any spoilers, but this book is so good. And I’m so glad I finally read it. I think I gobbled it up in about 3 days.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman: Um, Gayle is a freakin’ genius. A genius! She writes the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, addicting books. This one, set in Paris, the States, and Amsterdam, is a twisty, bittersweet, slightly confusing story between a girl and a boy. You may think “such is life” and that’s true, but this story had me hooked from start to finish. There is a sequel (squeeeeee!) and methinks I’ll pick it up this weekend.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider: Hello, John Green in a woman’s body. This book made me angry for a while. I won’t tell you why, but if you tend to get emotionally involved in books, tears may be shed. You may feel like throwing the book, you may even do it, and realize you’ve thrown your Nook, which will cause slight amount of panic. It’s a great book, but it does not have a happy ending. Sigh.

We Were Liars by e. lockhart: I’m starting to see a theme here….I promise I don’t always read sad books so close together. But this one, oh my. Hands down, one of the best I’ve read this year. This one left a tiny hole in my heart for a few days. It’s one of those books that gives you that “something is not right now” feelings, all the way through. I haven’t re-read it, although I did love it, because it’s that good and that sad. I’m warning you now. Huge twist at the end.

Panic by Lauren Oliver: This one wasn’t great but wasn’t bad, and definitely got better towards the end. It’s centered around this game, this illegal, secretive game, that these students play to win money. Whoever survives, and completes all the challenges, wins a huge sum of money. Each character has a motive for the money, and each one has something to lose. Tigers are involved.


The Secret Place by Tana French: I am convinced she will never write a bad book. I own every book she has written in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. I really liked her first two books, The Likeness and In the Woods and every one since then has been definitely on par and well-written. Her books are the kind that incorporate personal stories into her characters, victims and suspects. They’re incredible. Great books for mystery-lovers.

Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these! I’d love your recommendations as well!

happy reading!

Steffanie xo

basic fall outfit.


I’ve been absolutely loving the weather we have at the moment, which has been a beautiful 60 to 70  degrees, windy, and sunny, so I’ve been popping outside quite often to read, drink tea, and play with the pup. And, to take pictures for the blog. Fall is the best season, so I’m  making the most of this gorgeous weather and the beautiful background it brings.



I went outside to take pictures for some upcoming posts, and enjoyed a nice coffee and a sweet treat as well. My husband came out with me, and took some pics (thanks honey!) of me in my typical autumn uniform. A basic, black, top, this one being a thin sweater from H&M, Topshop Vintage Pansy Leigh jeans, and Topshop Mont2 cutout boots. I also grabbed my Whistles Rivington Chain Clutch, (which I know is not the most autumnal shade, but it is so beautiful) and my favorite jacket, a faux-leather number that my husband bought me a few years ago from Express. I’ve been mostly writing blog posts all day, and doing some much needed laundry, so it was nice to get outside for a bit.





Keep an eye out for some upcoming posts, in which I share the products for my everyday makeup for autumn, autumnal lip shades, and a cookie recipe (above) that almost all chocolate lovers are sure to like.

Happy weekend!

Steffanie xo