Birthday Bags

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For my birthday, I picked up two beautiful bags and I thought I would share them with you! Using a gift card from my work girls (thanks ladies!!), and some birthday gift money, I chose to update ny handbag situation. I actually don’t own too many purses, aside from two Vera Bradley Hipsters, and a Kate Spade “Eat Cake for Breakfast” tote, which I love. I was on the hunt for a nice everyday carry purse, preferably black. I also wanted a sleek clutch or a small bag to carry to weddings, parties, and dates, that wasn’t too fussy. With that in mind, I went on a browse.

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I am a huge online shopper, so naturally I chose to check out the sites first. I happened to find myself on ASOS, drooling over their bags, when I saw it. On a major sale. The Whistles Rivington Clutch in the most beautiful, bright coral. Now, I have been dreaming of owning a Whistles clutch for some time now, ever since I saw Anna, from viviannadoesmakeup.com with her gorgeous Whistles collection of leather goods. This clutch was marked down like 70% or something crazy, and I may or may not have had a mini freak out, before quickly submitting an order. I am so happy with this clutch. Not only is it bigger than I though it would be, it came with a chain to be able to worn as a small bag. It’s sleek, bright, and incredibly roomy for a clutch bag. Whistles does a great job of creating beautiful bags and I am so excited to be the owner of one! Sadly, I can’t seem to find this exact one on the ASOS site anymore, but they do have other beauties on their site. If you are in the market for a nice clutch, I highly recommend this brand.

Next up, the handbag.

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The next bag I picked up was from TJ Maxx. They have a great selection of high-end, brand name bags for a good deal less than their original price. I picked up an Olivia + Joy black handbag with gold hardware. It;s a beautiful, roomy, heavy bag, with lots of pocket’s and an envelope style pocket on the bag. It’s a nice size, and my Whistles clutch even fits inside of it! This bag is perfect to carry everyday, to keep all my contents organized, and it is just a great bag to carry all around.

I promise this is the last birthday related post I will post. This year. Let me know what you think of the bags!

Happy weekend!

Steffanie

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Birthday Blog

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This past Monday I turned 24, and it was such a lovely day, that I thought I would share a little about it! I ate lots of carrot cake, had a lovely dinner with my husband outside under fairy lights in our backyard and another dinner with my sister (we are twins, so naturally we had to go to dinner), and my brother in law at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant. Lovely.

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This year, for a gift I asked for our bedroom to look more like a lived in, loved space, and less like a university dorm room haphazardly put together. We have lived in our house for a little over a year, and we had saved up some to be able to fix the room the way we wanted. With a little paint, a little (alot) of muscle, and a few new touches, our room became one of my dreams. The result is so us, and I am so in love with it!

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All birthdays tend to make me nostalgic and reflective. I start thinking about who I am, where I’ve been, where I’ll be, and at 24, I have a few things figured out, I think. I know what clothes I like to wear, how to properly apply blush and lipstick, and I know what wine I like to drink. I know that I love to write, and that published or not, I am a writer, through and through. I know how to workout by myself, how to budget well, and how to prioritize my time slightly better. I cook more. I am married, I have a dog, and a house. I get really happy in the homewares section of any store. I know myself a little bit better, and I am almost (just almost) starting to feel like an actual adult. I know what football (soccer) team I like to root for, and I know that I am incredibly, insanely blessed, and that I have a God that is so good to me. I don’t know where I’ll be in the next five years, and I’m finally okay with not knowing, not having a finite plan. I have a feeling 24 is going to be a good un’.

So that’s it! My birthday was a beautiful, chill, lovely day, and I am so thankful for another new year. Here’s to 24 more!

Steffanie xo

PS. I’m going to do a whole post over the process of redoing our room soon, so look for all the details in that post.

Date Night!

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My husband and I are big date night people. We try to go on a good one, to a restaurant that we really love, or to one we have never been to before, a couple times a month, with the odd lunch dates thrown in. This month, we visited a couple old favorites, and a couple new ones. I thought it would be fun to do a review of the places we went, in case you were in need of some ideas for this beautiful Saturday. I know I’m always looking for good restaurants to try and I figured you might be too.

Note: Obviously, these restaurants are in Oklahoma, local to my area. 

Firstly, let’s start with a favorite. Iron Starr Urban Barbecue. This restaurant is the most perfect place. Picture a dimly lit, candle-heavy space, with hard, original wood floors, antique hanging lights, a gorgeous chandelier, and waiters who have more tattoos than a tattoo artist does, you have Iron Starr. It’s a delicious urban barbecue, serving up your traditional ribs and brisket, but with a little more class than your average potato salad with mayo. Their dutch-oven sweet potatoes are to die for, and their cornbread, literally has chunks of corn and jalapeno peppers in it. Delicious. The decor combined with the food, makes this restaurant a favorite for date night.

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Next up, we have a favorite sushi place to discuss. GoGo Sushi Express & Grill, a fairly new sushi place put up in the heart of Moore. I can’t even count how many times we have been here for lunch/dinner/etc. It’s a great little place, with a friendly staff and some of the best pork tonkatsu. They offer a vast array of sushi, and also hibachi style meals. Our favorite roll is the Sunset Roll (pictured below), a tempura California roll with avocado and spicy mayo. Drool. Also, I love their Bento Boxes, which come with four pieces of a California Roll, tempura veggies, rice, salad with the most amazing sauce, and your choice of a meat. I always get the pork tonkatsu. Did I mention that it’s cheap? $8.99 for a Bento Box and $5-$12 for for a roll, depending on what you get. Definitely a good date-night spot. They’ve also opened up their own sweet shop next door, which we have yet to try! Dinner and dessert, all right there.

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Another on the cheap place that is super delicious, resides in downtown Norman. My husband and I discovered it when we were out and about, and a little hangry for some lunch. We thought about going to GoGo, but decided to go for something new. He mentioned that a gyro sounded good, so we stopped in a Ole Town Gyros & Kabobs. Let me just say, these gyros are huge! Huge! The one we got was about the size of my face, and left us both giggling as we tried to work out a way to eat it. Do we cut them? Dive in? For about $7.99, be prepared to be stuffed for the next five hours after eating one of these babies. But man, they are so worth it. While Ole Town may not be the nicest, fanciest restaurant, if you are looking to impress someone with some authentic Mediterranean food on the cheap, this place is for you. The service is quick, and the food is lovely.

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And last but certainly, not in any way the least…German food. Holy. I am a big German fan. I love German food, German beer, German football players, etc. I lived there for a small time of my life as a little kid, and though I only remember about three things about it, I know I am still a German lover at heart. Knowing my love for the Deutschland peeps, my husband took me to Royal Bavaria this past week. What do I even say?! I am in love with this place. First, let’s talk about the building. It’s like a barn turned restaurant with a very old-timey look to it. Hard, stony floors, lots of traditional German decor, and waitresses in their dirndl, this restaurant stole my heart right away. Onto the food. First, let’s talk beer. I love a good German beer, and on the tap that night, was the King’s Weizen, a wheat beer, which is personally my favorite style of beer. Royal Bavaria has their very own brewery, which you see inside the restaurant. It was the smoothest, most satisfying drink I’ve ever had. So impressed. Highly recommend trying a weizen if you haven’t ever had one. Moving on to the food, they have everything from a traditional weiner-schnitzel to a half rotisserie chicken with fries, which is what I ordered. (Oddly, I wasn’t really feeling beef that evening). Hubs got the meatloaf, which was delicious. Every meal comes with a traditional house salad, which included vinegary green beans, leafy greens, and a homemade dressing that was amazing. That night we also ordered the cheesy dip with the pretzels imported from Munich. Plates usually run anywhere from $14-20+ dollars, making this a bit more on the expensive side, but worth every penny. The atmosphere and the food made for a perfect date night. Royal Bavaria is definitely one of my favorites. (Fun fact: They own Das Boot Camp, a more casual German restaurant in Norman, which I also really like. Cheaper, less food options, but still good beer and good food.)

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Let me know what your favorite date night restaurant is, and what type of food you like most, in the comments!

Happy date night!

Steffanie xo

The Wardrobe Clear Out

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I consider myself to be quite an organized person. I like a minimal, clean, well kept space. Lately, though, my closet had been a madhouse. Clothes all over the floor, clothes hiding in nooks and crannies of the closet, and generally just an awful mess of the wardrobe area was going on.

A clear out was definitely in order.

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Inspired by Anna, from Vivanna Does Makeup, I decided to give my closet a clean up, removing all the clothes that I had not worn in the past year or so, and put some to order to the array of my clothes I decided to keep. I then made a list of some essentials that I’ll need to purchase in the upcoming future: jeans, tops, a few cardigans, the like. If you want to see what I plan on adding to my wardrobe this fall, pop on over to this post, in which I show you just what I need.

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Life feels so much better when your clothes are organized, am I right? Now, when I open my closet, I can actually see the clothes I need and can easily see where I need some filling in. Although my hangers aren’t all matchy-matchy, and I am only semi color coded, it still has much more space and organization than it did before. Thank you Anna, for encouraging us all to get our closets cleared out. It was much needed.

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Does your wardrobe need a clearing out? What pieces are you looking to add to your wardrobe this season? Let me know in the comments!

Happy organizing!

Steffanie xo

 

Books that have changed my life for the better

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Perhaps by now you guys know that I am a reader. Books, to me, are like gifts. Perfectly crisp little presents, each waiting to be unwrapped and praised. Books are gifts that keep on giving, each re-read showing you something new and beautiful. This list contains all of my most favorite reads, ever. Books that have made me weep with joy over beautiful writing, laugh out loud, and left  me hungry for that “first time reading” feeling. This list is a well thought out one, and is for sure to grow as I make my way through more books, but here it is so far. These will be numbered from all time most favorite, can’t live without story to still love so much but not as much as my number one. Fair ranking system, right?

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Side note: I’m not going to include Harry Potter, because really, it’s so ingrained in my life that I don’t feel it justice to include it here. It is the all time favorite book series, ever. Let’s just say this list is a “after listing all of the Harry Potter books, my next favorite books would be….” list. 🙂 

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1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“If you knew how you were going to die, when you were going to die, and why you were going to die, how would that affect you? How much differently would you live your life? Would it be different at all?” Kazuo Ishiguro, in an interview about Never Let Me Go

I’ve spoken about this book before, and probably told everyone I know that they must.read.this.book. It’s my all time favorite for a good reason. The story is so unique and I’ve never read anything else like it. Ishiguro’s narration through his characters is chillingly unsentimental. The language he uses is so subtle, such normal phrases that somehow equal a slightly devastating feel. I honestly don’t know how to describe his writing, but he is amazing. This story is about three people, Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth. They attend a school called Hailsham, but it is unlike any other school you or I attended. It has a different purpose, one that all the students accept and know, but they don’t really know. “They’ve been told, and not told.” It’s not until they are adults that they begin to understand, to know, what their lives are really like. And how different they really are. The book is a good one. Sad, beautiful. Amazing writing.

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2. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Being a Christian can have a negative meaning in today’s time. Unfortunately, instead of being known for love, some “Christians” tend to make a name for being judgmental hypocrites. Unforgiving, unloving, and ignorant. That isn’t a label I ever want to identify with. Donald Miller writes a beautiful memoir of his life as a person of love, a person confused by a great God, and a person in love with humanity. He attends Reed College, appropriately named the most Godless campus in America. Don’s book teaches us that love really knows no bounds, and that humanity is great and broken and so beautiful. His book teaches us that loving people has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with why Jesus came for us. His book teaches us that we are no different, that we are all trying to figure out this thing, and that we are so much better together, as a race, as a species, as humanity. This book changed my life for the better.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you. I am haunted by humans.” Death, p. 550

Oh my. Oh my. OH MY. Markus Zusak is a genius. The Book Thief is a forever haunting novel, a story that rips you open, and makes you rethink the Holocaust, death, and life. Liesel is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read. This beautiful story is one of hope, life, life after death, prejudice, hatred, love, and the change that one book can make in a person’s life. And I love that this book is narrated by Death, such a fantastic point of view to read a book from. It’s an amazing, beautiful story.

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4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“That’s the thing about pain, Hazel Grace. It demands to be felt.” -Augusts Waters

I mean, do I even need to say anything about this book? Come on. Talk about tears for days. This book made me so excited for life, and love, and thankful for the chance to be living a love story. It made me rethink how I see cancer, and the people who unfortunately have it. It made me so thankful for teenagers, and the brilliant, wholeheartedly, encompassing way that they love. John Green somehow manages to perfectly capture a teenage love every time he writes, and I am so thankful for it. Read it, grab some tissues. (Sidenote: THIS MOVIE IS SOOOO GOOD!!)

5. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

Shauna is a perfect writer. I hope, when I write a book, that I will write with a smidgen of her beautiful writing. All of her books are like my favorite blanket and cup of tea, perfect for any season, words for comfort on hard seasons. I am so thankful that she is a writer and SO excited that she is writing a new book this fall! Her essays are life lessons to be revisited, over and over, gentle reminders of how important community, love, faith, and hard work is. Bittersweet is my favorite out of her three books, but really, I re-read all three of them all the time.

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6. Emma by Jane Austen

You can’t make a favorites list without including a classic, right? I love Emma. Emma is one of those rainy day stories, to curl up with and dream about the English countryside. To imagine yourself at the ball, or on a picnic or spending all day reading or exploring the grounds of the huge house. I love this story, how witty it is, how ridiculous Emma is, and how hilariously wrong she is about love. She figures it out eventually 🙂 Close seconds to Emma, are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. 

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This is an iconic story, one that makes me want to shake hands with Stephen Chbosky. Charlie is such a brave, unique character. The story is a quintessentially high school narrative, a story of love, confusion, drugs, parties and a past that everyone tries to keep hidden. It has a bittersweet ending, and Charlie kind of breaks your heart slowly. But it’s phenomenal. And the movie was good too.

8. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

This book is so hard to find! I’ve looked at every bookstore nearby and I think I will just have to order it. I kept it captive from the library for a while, but had to give it back. This story is scarily close to reality, with the premise of if a World War were to break out again, what would change? What would stay the same? Would anything? Set in the English countryside, a family of kids tries to figure out how to live when adults are missing, a war has started, and love starts to make an appearance between two of the cousins. There is no traditional narrating (no quotations at all) which threw me off a bit, but I loved it. Great book. (Also, fantastic movie. Careful of the language.)
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9. Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
C.S. Lewis was easily the most brilliant man that ever lived. This book blew my mind, and I read it every now and again for a spirit refreshing. So good. Definitely a slower read, perhaps with a cuppa present. 
10. The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad Book #2) by Tana French 
I had to include a novel. If you have not read Tana French, you are seriously missing out. Her books are intriguing, and the “whodunit” is actually hard to figure out sometimes. Irish mystery novels are like my new favorite thing, and hers are so descriptive and personal to the characters that I really get invested in these books. The characters are all mentioned in each book, but each one has a different front man. In the Likeness, for example, Cassie is the main girl, going undercover into a oddly close knit group of students, investigating the murder of a girl who has a scary resemblance to herself. The Likeness is my favorite, but I love them all. (Her newest book will be out in September!!)
And there you have it! My top ten favorite books of all time. Obviously there are so many other books I love and recommend constantly, but you will hard pressed to find a moment when I don’t recommend some of these. Let me know if the comments if you have read any of these. Also, let me know what your favorites are! 
Steffanie xo

My Workout Essentials

Hey all! So recently I have been trying to be more disciplined and stick to a regular workout schedule/healthier lifestyle. Less pizza, less sugar, more fruits and veggies. I’ll share my favorite protein-juice smoothie blend (think kale, hemp protein, lots of berries, celery, lemon), and also the workout regime I have been enjoying later on, but for now I’ll share my favorite workout bits that I have been loving.

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After many hours spent on my bum watching the World Cup, and many hours reading, I decided that I need a bit of activity in my life, on the regular. Here is what reach for during and after those sweaty sessions.

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1. Asics Running Shoes

I’m not an expert in running shoes, by any means. But for some reason, Asics seem to work the best for my feet when it comes to running. I don’t experience the annoying shin split type problems with them, nor do they make my toes feel like they might fall off. I do love Nike Free Run’s, because of how comfortable they are, and I do wear them for strength training. But I have not found them to be the best running shoes for me, so instead I opt for Asics. 

2. St. Ives Even & Bright Facial Scrub

After a sweaty workout sessions, nothing feels better than a good face wash. I regularly use a face mask about 1-2 times a week, but after a work out, I feel a little exfoliating, good cleaning is in order. Lately, I’ve been loving this one from St. Ives. It smells great, is almost sticky to the touch and is very exfolitating. It just gives your skin a little glow, makes it clean and fresh feeling. I use this in addition to my regular skin care regime.

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3. Homemade Deodorant

Obviously, we all want to smell good after a long workout session. Usually, I would opt for a Dove deodorant and antiperspirant, (they smell so good!) but that was before I knew how unhealthy antiperspirants are for our bodies. Our bodies were created to sweat, to detoxify themselves on their own when the heart gets pumping. The purpose of an antiperspirant, while helpful when not working out, can actually prevent your body from detoxifying during a workout. Which means, your body keeps all the toxins in, instead of pushing them out. So, instead of going for a store bought deodorant, I use this homemade version that my sister made for me. Made with coconut oil, arrowroot flour, orange essential oil, and baking soda, this deo gets the job done. It smells great and is strangely exfoliating. It will last for ages as well. I’ve had it for about a month or so already, and i have barely made a dent in it. 

4. Sonia Kashuk Moisture+ Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 15

I don’t usually put on makeup to get my workout on. However, if I already have it on, I’m not going to waste it and wash it all off, if I am planning on going somewhere later. This tinted moisturizer is the best, I find, to wear if you are a makeup wearing work-outer (??) It’s light, but with a matte coverage and incredibly moisturizing. It has SPF, in case you are out in the sun for a run…or fun. 🙂 I love this stuff, and have used it pretty much everyday of summer since I purchased it a month ago. 

5. Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

This dry shampoo is much better than the Dove one I previously spoke about. I am in love with this stuff.  It has a lighter texture, and doesn’t leave a chalky residue in my hair. Nor does it have that white residue left after I spray it on. It smells great, it works great, and it’s only $4.00! I use this anytime my hair starts to feel a bit greasy after a workout. Being that I don’t wash my hair everyday, I opt for this whenever I need a spruce.

6. Ed Hardy Love & Luck Perfume

I love the Ed Hardy perfum that is in the pink bottle. It smells amazing and sweet and girly. This one, is a little more musky, with a slight citronella note. It isn’t usually a scent I’d go for, but I swear I get compliments on it every time I wear it. It smells fresh and a bit like spring, and I love it. I got mine at TJ MAAX for about $15, which is a huge steal. 

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7. Blender Bottle, 12 oz.

Last but not least, a good water bottle. I saw this bottle a couple weeks ago, and mentioned to my husband that I loved it. He brought one home the next day, filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis. Sigh. He knows my heart so well. This bottle is amazing. I use it for my smoothies, water, and Powerade if I need an electrolyte boost. It cleans easy, is dishwasher safe, and is hot pink! We do have the full size ones at home, but I like this for a carry-with-me size bottle. I fill it up quite a lot too, which makes me feel like I am drinking more water. 

 

That’s it! Those are my workout essentials! Let me know that you like to use for your workout sessions, in the gym or at home. Have you tried any of these products? Also, let me know what your preferred workout is. Running? Yoga? Circuits? Let me know in the comments below.