in praise of.

IMG_20150731_110129

In praise of this season, so full of connection, and grace, and newness. In praise of routine, normalcy, and daily life.

In praise of new beginnings, new adventures, and stepping out on faith. In praise of a new business, and the blessings I am already seeing from the work I am putting in. In praise of cute office supplies, an office space, and late nights in that space, creating and dreaming.

In praise of love, and a husband who loves me with a kindness and mercy only Jesus can teach to a person. In praise of our marriage, and the home we have built together. In praise of our little house, all wooden floors, trees, and antique tables. In praise of the table, new to us, but old to others, where we will sit with our kids one day, sharing our days.

IMG_20150802_160421

In praise of connections, with old friends and new, that make my life richer, fuller, and sweeter. In praise of long talks over lattes, dinners around our table, and prayers shared with a friend. In praise of long nights around a fire, and late night talks on the couch, listening to my nephews sleep soundly.

In praise of Sundays, because we can rest, and it’s beautiful and much needed. In praise of longer days, slow nights, and tea. Always tea. In praise of beautiful stories that inspire me, and writers, whose words overflow from their souls. Books can’t ever be replaced, and I am so thankful for that truth.

In praise of safety and security, and for the lives that are lost to protect us. In praise of bulletproof vests, and a strong community, which ease an anxious spouse mind. In praise of our officers, firemen, military, and doctors, who do what they can to make this world easier on us.

home.jpg

In praise of tea, and coffee, fresh food and cold water.  A bed to sleep in, and a place to call home. In praise of quiet nights for reading, and long days for working. In praise of the perfect mug, and the perfect cake recipe. In praise of a big kitchen, seemingly built with my name in mind.

In praise of Jesus, who makes my life better just for beginning to know His love. In praise of His sweetness, His kindness and His sacrifice. In praise of the love HE so strongly believes in. In praise of the life He blessed me with, and in praise of the forgiveness he gives me, over and over. In praise of hopes and dreams and challenges. In praise of failing forward, and grace for getting better. In praise of the future, certainly, but also praise for the beautiful present, for which I am trying to appreciate everyday.

IMG_20150802_104703

In praise of you beautiful people, and your encouragement, and your love. In praise of you, certainly. Amen.

Steffanie xo

Advertisements

Artists & Engineers.

wpid-img_20150604_211701.jpg

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

Black & Gold.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I have always been in love with black accessories and gold hardware. There is just something so chic and simple and beautiful about the combo, and it’s one I gravitate towards every time. Today’s post is over three items I own that fit the black and gold bill perfectly.

First up, the shoes.

I recently posted this picture on Instagram, stating my love for my new sandals. Looking through my wardrobe, I noticed that I lacked a good sandal. For most of my adult life, black Old Navy flip flops were my shoe choice for summer. I have a pair of TOMS wedges that I bring out for the dressier times, but most of the time, you would see me in flip flops. This year, I decided to take it up a notch. I found these beauties online at Nordstrom. They are from Topshop, a brand that never fails to disappoint when it comes to quality. I had a hard time deciding between the black and tan versions of these shoes, but in the end, black and gold won out. These shoes are so comfortable, and with a small heel, are perfect to wear with jeans, dresses, and shorts.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

To pair with the shoes, after a browse on Asos, I found this beautiful black and gold clutch from New Look. For $13. What a bargain. It’s nice and roomy, and has s small zip on the inside that is perfect for keeping my phone safe. It has a turn-lock closure, to keep everything inside. IT also comes with a chain to be worn as a shoulder bag. If I’m going to be honest, it isn’t the best quality of material (after owning a Whistles clutch, I’m spoiled) but it works well for nights out and dinner parties. It’s also a beaut to look at.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I can’t remember the first time I saw Daniel Wellington watches, but I am pretty sure it was about 2 years ago. Ever since, I have been drooling over their Instagram, waiting for the day that I would own one. For our anniversary, my hubs got me one and I am in love with it. I’ve worn it everyday since I received it. From the oversized face of the watch, the thick leather band, and the rose gold hardware (which is probably my favorite part), it is perfect! I did have to add an extra hole on the band, because I have super tiny wrists, and it fits much better now than it did when I first got it. Daniel Wellington is my favorite, and if you haven’t checked out their watches before, do. They are beautiful, classic, and simple. Mine is the Classic  Lady Sheffield, in case you were wondering.

So that’s it. My favorite black and gold accessories that I own. I’m sure if you see me around, I’ll be wearing a combo of at least two, if not all of these, all summer long. Are you a black and gold person? Or do you prefer solid colors? Or black and silver? Let me know in the comments.

Steffanie xo

getting lost.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It’s been a while since I’ve gone to the bookstore, left with a book, and devoured said purchased within hours of reading it. If you are a reader, or a writer, you know that books are our food. They feed our souls, our minds, our creativity and our empathy. They teach us, they form us, they sometimes break our hearts a little. My love for books started when I was young, (Harry Potter, anyone?!) and has grown into a steady love affair since. I’m convinced I could live without a television, or another movie, as long as writers kept writing.

I long to be a published author one day, and though I have yet to figure out just what the heck I have to say, I firmly believe that I have to be a good reader to accomplish the goal. Reading is how I learn, how I create, how I am fed. Most every life lesson I am taught, there is a book I can name that helped me, taught me, sculpted me in that season. Most are non-fiction or memoirs, but some are YA, plain old good fiction, and poetry.

If you are not a reader, I encourage you to try. I know that reading isn’t everyone’s thing (which is sometimes unfathomable to my literature obsessed mind) but I do believe there is something out there for everyone. Just like I believe there is an album out there for everyone, I believe there is a story for you.

Just a little celebratory post that I finished a book in less than two hours, in complete silence, on a Sunday. Please, and thank you.

The aforementioned purchased book:

“This is What Happy Looks Like” by Jennifer E. Smith

If you are a fan of Gayle Forman, John Green, or Robyn Schneider, you will love this book. An easy read, a story about a boy and a girl who meet online, through a mistakenly sent email. They keep up an exchange, and then eventually meet in person. As the stories unfolds, unbeknownst to both, they discover each of them has a secret.

Read on, my friends.

Steffanie xo

when it comes to plans.

image

I won’t pretend I know all there is to know about life. I don’t and I’m not sure I ever will, which I think is the whole point. What I do know about life, is that things do not always go according to plan. Things don’t always pan out the way you would like them to. For those of us who live by plans, lists, and time frames, this is one of the most frustrating parts of living.

I planned my life from the time I was little, like maybe age 9. I had goals. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be a teacher of some form. I wanted to write. I wanted to marry someone I truly loved, and I wanted an old house to live in. I wanted trees in my yard, and I wanted to travel.

Almost fifteen years later, I have a few of those things, but not all. I am married to someone I am truly, deeply in love with. I live in a fantastic old house, with a huge backyard (with like 5 trees!), and I went to college. I write, which I am not convinced that makes me a writer, but a girl can dream. I haven’t traveled, and I am not a teacher, but I did teach dance classes for several years.

If I had stuck to my plan, I would have graduated college two years ago, a newlywed, and I would be preparing a lesson plan right now. I would be writing a book on a fancy laptop, and I would have gone to London by now, for sure. I would have done a lot.

As it happens, I am doing none of those things. I am writing on my couch, in my fantastic old house, on my phone because my laptop won’t start. I work part-time at an office, full of some the funniest, sweetest people and this year I’ll celebrate my third wedding anniversary. I have not been to London, nor is that in the cards for the near future. Oh, and I didn’t finish college.

I didn’t follow my plan. I don’t make as much money as I thought I would, and I don’t have a degree. I don’t have a fancy house, and I don’t have a working computer. I don’t have a lot, and on days when I felt crappy, sometimes that gets to me. I wallow, and moan and groan about the broken garage, the money, the degree.

And then I walk outside. I sit in the middle of my huge yard, under my tree and I look up. I look around me and I remember how stupidly blessed I am. I grab some tea, take a deep breath, and make a list of the things I do have, the plans that did work out, the prayers that were answered. I am married to a man who loves me with a fierceness all stories try to capture. I have trees in my yard! I have a job I love and I have a place to live. I have a dog, who makes my days that much brighter. I have a family and friends, who are some of the most loving and beautiful people anywhere. I have a life that was given to me by the most amazing Creator. I have love and I have life.

Your life will not go as planned. You won’t always get that thing you want or pray for, and you will go through hard times. You will not always be happy and you won’t always feel great about your life. You won’t have it all figured out and your plan may fail.

But be confident, friend, because there are things that you do have. I don’t know what those precious things are for you. If that is family, travels, love, a career you love, a talent you have, whatever, you do have something. Something to be thankful for. And you also have something to learn from. Failed or changed plans can often teach us if we take the time to learn, and listen to what they have to teach us.

I’m thankful my plans didn’t turn out the way I wished. Because I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have the experience of learning to live with a change. Life is constantly changing, and I’m thankful that I’m learning how to change with it.

I’ll leave you with this brilliant piece of writing I found a couple of weeks ago:

“There are few sure bets in our lives. There’s no guarantee that our husbands will make it safely home from work or that our children will ever be truly safe at school. No one can promise that our deepest, longest-held dreams will come to fruition, or that next week’s schedule will look the way we think it will. Even financial security is a mirage, bringing new and unexpected uncertainty to the few who attain it. Planning and precautionary measures are well and good, but they do not save us.

When it comes to true certainty, our true living hope is our shared inheritance with Christ. It is the salvation of our souls and the eternal hope that is ours through faith in Jesus.” #SheReadsTruth

Here’s to changed plans.

Steffanie xo

Bath Bombs for a Cause

IMG_6044

I know a girl who has a heart of gold, and her name is Harper. Harper is a fantastic human being. She’s smart, hilarious, and incredibly brave. She also recently started a campaign against bullying, right here in good ol’ Oklahoma. Having experienced bullying and unkindness firsthand, she decided to do something positive. She started making bath bombs.

Yep, that’s right, bath bombs. Sparkly, fizzy, essential-oil-infused, homemade, bath bombs. She calls them “Bully-B-Gone Bath Bombs” and she sells them for $3-5 a bomb. To be used in your bath, they lift your spirits and de-stress your mind. The bombs smell amazing (especially the Relaxation one, with real lavender leaves thrown in), are so moisturizing and a great reminder to slow down, run a bath, and reflect. I was lucky enough to be able to try a couple of them and to blog about them. Harper donates the proceeds that she makes from sales of the bath bombs to the Kind Campaign.

The Kind Campaign is an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.” It’s a movement to stop bullying and to promote kindness within schools and specifically towards girl on girl bullying. It was started by two college girls, Lauren and Molly, who both want better stories for girls than what they had at their schools. It’s an amazing campaign, with a ton of resources to inform about bullying.

Harper, Molly and Lauren want a better story for her friends, and for girls everywhere. I’m so blessed to know someone who is so insanely brave and smart and lovely, and to be able to share this bit of her story with you all. I hope that you will check out the Kind Campaign and Harper’s story, and buy a bath bomb or two. They would make amazing gifts, especially for a little girl who you think may need a pick me up.

Everyone should be this brave and this determined about kindness.

To learn more about the Kind Campaign, click here.

Be kind. Be brave, my friends.

Thank you to Harper for allowing me to blog about this and try your awesome bath bombs! You’re an amazing soul! xo,

Steffanie

Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara: A Review!

IMG_2938Recently, I was given some of the Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara to try out and review on my blog. Now, fiber mascara is a completely new thing to me. My usually mascara hails from the holy aisles of Target, usually the brand Maybelline or Covergirl. But this mascara has been making the waves with beauty lovers around me, so I was super excited to try it out.

IMG_2944

Fiber mascara is so odd but so wonderful and definitely takes some getting used to. But once you do, I promise, it makes it hard to love any other mascara equally. My lashes are always so long and defined and doe-eyed when I wear this. I don’t have long lashes at all so any mascara that adds lots of definition and volume, I quickly become a fan of.

To apply the mascara, you first start with your favorite everyday mascara. For me, I’ve been using a new one from Covergirl. It’s their Full Lash Bloom Mascara. The first thing I love about this mascara is how bright the packaging is. This mascara is great as just a basic, reliable mascara. It’s very similar to Maybelline’s The Rocket Volum’ Express, which I love. After applying a coat (or two) of your regular mascara, you then apply the Transplanting Gel to your lashes. After applying the gel, you apply the fibers, which literally just looks like a bunch of fuzz. But don’t let them alarm you. They work. I usually apply a little at a time of the fibers, because it is easy to go a little overboard. After applying the fibers, you apply more transplanting gel, and voila! beautiful, lengthened, full lashes. I don’t think my pictures do the mascara justice, so just trust me when I say the stuff is pretty magical.

IMG_2930

For this mascara, it runs about $29.00, which is pricey for mascara, but as I’ve said above, it works. I’d recommend this for use for any special occasion, date night, party, or just as a really dramatic everyday mascara.  My good friend Rachelle sells it locally here in the OKC/Moore area, so if you live close by, she would be the one to go to for it. She also has a link for you to buy it online, which is pretty wonderfully convenient. If you buy this mascara, or are interested, please let me know, because I would love for you to experience the magic that this stuff is.

Mascara, for the win!

Steffanie xo

Best of 2014: Books

IMG_5862IMG_5863

The Secret Place by Tana French- I would read anything Tana French writes. Anything. Her mysteries are the only ones that truly envelop me, and I always enjoy reading her books. This one is quite a different setting from all the others, but the story is just as interesting and puzzling as her other books.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman- I am not sure why I haven’t yet picked up the sequel to this, but oh my. It was so good. I finished it in about a day.

FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell- As someone who grew up obsessed with all things Harry Potter and Doctor Who, it’s hard not to love a character who is obsessed with a story. It was my first introduction into the world of fan fiction, but the book was hilarious, sweet, and because I am a twin, made me a little more thankful for mine. Loved this book.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg – Memoirs are my favorite books. Hands down, favorite. I loved this one, because not only did it include delicious, fresh recipes, Molly’s way with details is so great. She makes you long for Paris and chocolat chaud and a good meal. Pretty sure I’ll read this again this year.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Why on earth I am just now reading Lauren Oliver’s stuff is beyond me. She’s brilliant. Delirium is a dystopian novel, with a bit of a twist.Imagine a world where love is thought to be a disease, where passion can literally kill you. So it is removed at a certain age, and you live forever “cured.” Classic boy-girl, catastrophic event, cliffhanger at the end sort of a story. I loved it so much, and I’m reading the sequel, Pandemonium, now.

Paper Towns by John Green – Can I just say how excited I am for this movie?! I can’t wait to see Nat Wolf play Q. The book was fantastic, and lovely, and confusing, and lovely. I love John’s work. Great book.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Hands down, the most hilarious book I read last year. Maybe even the funniest I’ve ever read. I love Amy Poehler.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – Mr. Ishiguro’s writing holds a certain reverance for me. It’s beautiful. I always struggle to describe his writing, but he is really one of the best out there. I urge you to read this, and Never Let Me Go if you haven’t.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff – The most unique format of writing, being that the book has no quotation marks, but it is a novel. A YA novel at that. It’s such a beautiful story, about loss, and young love, and war, and a world away from normal.

Jesus, my father, the CIA and me by Ian Morgan Cron – Another great memoir. The story of the firecrackers still makes me laugh to this day.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessy- Sarah Bessy is so hardcore, and I love her. Her writing is so educated and almost poetic, and inspiring. She is also a fellow Whovian, so that makes her even more awesome.

Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick- For anyone who struggles with the negative voices from their childhood, or from the present, read this. Steven is one of my all time favorite pastors and speakers. This book changed a good deal of how I think about my faith, my inner voice, and God’s way of speaking to us.

August Beauty Favorites

DSC04522

August was such a busy, crazy, all over the place month and I am so excited September has arrived. We finally have some cooler weather, and my body has started that need coffee all the time craving, which means fall is right around the corner! August was a good month for beauty products for me, some old favorites re-discovered, and some new products to talk about.

With autumn arriving, good moisturizers are key. While I have yet to find a good face one to brag about, I found a face and body moisturizer that I love. The Body Shop Body Butter in Japanese Cherry Blossom. I have heard so many good things about this scent from lots of people. Typically, I’m more of a coconut, brazil nut, shea butter girl, but seeing as though my local Marshall’s has a few tubes of these for sale quite often, I decided to try one. I use this mainly at night, because the scent is so spa like and comforting. It’s not as thick as the coconut or shea butters are, more the consistency of a thicker lotion. It smells wonderful, and makes my skin so moisturized. The hand cream I am using is The Body Shop Hand Cream in Wild Rose which I have been wanting to try for ages. I love it. I will say the packaging is a bit of a faff, because the lid doesn’t screw back on properly, but that might be user error. I do love the hand cream though. It’s light, smells great, and is super moisturizing.

DSC04510

As I have mentioned before, I used to not be much of an eye shadow girl. But when a good one comes around, I use it like crazy. Recently, Maybelline released a new batch of 24 Hour Color Tattoos, which are my favorite cream eye shadows by far. I picked up Creamy Beige, and paired with Bad to the Bronze, they make for a perfect, long-lasting, neutral eye.

DSC04511

DSC04512

For nail polishes, I usually tend to go for polishes that are way out of the seasonal color range, because I am a rebel like that. However, aside from my ColorClub Bright Lilac nail polish, I have been loving Essie Bahama Mama and Nails Inc. Gel Effect Polish in Porchester Square. Love both of these colors for fall, love the formula. I also picked up a new topcoat from Revlon’s Color Stay Gel Envy line. I really like this one because once it dries (definitely not as quick as Seche Vite) it makes your polish last for at least five to six days. I really like it for a good alternative to my Seche Vite. And the nail polishes in this line are amazing as well.

DSC04527

Lastly, for lips, what lip color says “Fall” better than MAC Plumful? None, I think. This is my favorite fall lipstick. The color is plummy, beautiful on so many skin types, and it lasts for quite a while. MAC just makes the best lipsticks. (I posted a picture over on my Instagram recently, if you want to see it on. Link below.)

That’s all for favorites for August. I’m looking forward to posting some new recipes, book favorites, and wardrobe additions soon!

Steffanie xo

Hair Dye at Home

 

DSC04400

I’ve been known to be quite fickle with my hair when it comes to color. I used to have it dyed twice a year, right before each semester, to ensure the start of my semester with gorgeously shiny, healthy looking hair. That rarely ever happened with other dye kits I’ve used, so I always ended up going to my hair girl due to the unsavory reaction my scalp tended to have to home dye kits. My hair felt like straw, my scalp itched constantly, and the color was less than fantastic. I was quickly losing hope in the lack of results I was getting from home dye.

And then.

I discovered L’Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss. 

DSC04290

Holy wow, this stuff is amazing. Running for about $9.99 a box, it is the only ammonia free home dye kit I’ve come across. Which means, no strong, eye-burning smell, and no itchy scalp! Big yes! I have naturally very dark hair, but every now and then I like to refresh it a bit. This time around, I went for the color Black Currant, which is described as a Vibrant Darkest Auburn from the Red Luscious range. With just a hint of red undertones, my hair is shiny, vibrant, and so soft. No insanely dry, straw like hair, and no itchiness, which is huge if you know my hair dilemmas in that area (see this post.)

DSC04344

This kit produced a healthy, shiny, and super soft mane for me, and I could not be more pleased with the color payoff from it. The reddish tint only really shows up outside, but I am totally okay with that. My faith has been restored in at home dye kits, specifically this one, and although I won’t do it more than about once a year or so, it’s nice to know a good option is around when I need it.

DSC04349

Do you color your hair at home? Have you tried the L’Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss formula? What is your color? Let me know! 

P.S. Shout out to everyone who has been commenting lately! I love getting to meet new people on my blog! Comment with a link to your blog and an answer to a question above, and I’ll follow your blog! 🙂

Happy coloring!

Steffanie xo