Monday, March 20, 2017

Recent reads. (March 2017)

  I mentioned in January that I want to read more books this year. I set out with a super practical goal of 2 books each month (24 books for the entire year). I'm all about realistic, practical, and specific goals and that seemed like a good number to start with. 

  It's mid-March and seems like a good time to pop in and give an update on how that goal is going. As of today, I've read 12 books since January 1st. I KNOW. I surprised myself and have been a reading fanatic! It's is as if I opened the floodgates and honestly fell back in love with reading. Ok, that's sort of dramatic but you get the picture. As a bit of a back story, I'm sort of an intense reader. I can't slowly thumb through a book over a few days or weeks' time- I truly need to finish a book within a day or two of starting it. Probably not the most healthy way to read, but its like starting a movie and having to finish it in one sitting (except most movies last only 2 hours or less...).

  All around, I'm so glad I set this goal. Reading is a treat for me and I let myself sit down for a bit to read after the boys go down for their naps and before I start working. Or if Justin wants to watch Narcos in the evening (I can't with that show.). A couple of months ago Justin also shared with me an article he read about millennials and how we are trademarked by being constantly glued to our phones. While I wouldn't say that's true of me all the time, I do work primarily on my phone and I genuinely enjoy social media. The article was a great catalyst for stepping back a bit, and I even went so far as to fast from Instagram for Lent. Suddenly, I have even more free time to read!

  Blah blah blah- here's the real point to this post! Below is the list of books I've read so far this year; highlighting my favorites and the one I think you'd do yourself a favor to not read. I'm still chugging along and taking any/all fiction book requests, so comment with your favorites!

  • Sweet Girl Rachel Hollis
  • Beach Town Mary Kay Andrews 
  • The Decent Proposal Kemper Donovan (Not exactly a love story, but in the best way. Pretty interesting premise) 
  • Ladies Night Mary Kay Andrews
  • How To Party With An Infant (no no NO do not read this. It was such awful writing and not a good story at all. Just a waste of 8 hours)
  • Spring Fever Mary Kay Andrews
  • The Weekenders Mary Kay Andrews (Maybe one of MKA's best books, a cute beachy read with a mystery twist thrown in)
  • Fool Me Once Harlan Coben (YES you have to read this one. Couldn't put it down and was surprised up to the very end)  
  • Days Like These Sue Margolis
  • Sunshine Beach Wendy Wax (I found out too far in that this was part of a series, but it would be worth it to start at the beginning. A lighthearted read with a little mystery thrown in) 
  • The Things We Wish Were True Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (would make a good book club book- lots of characters and intertwining stories to think about)
  • Save The Date Mary Kay Andrews (Ok, I think I've officially read all of her books by now. They're so good and fast and lighthearted! I love every single one)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday. (a weekly round-up)

  Guys. Spring officially starts on Monday and I can't wait. I have huge plans for Spring and Summer and they 100% consist of our family NOT being sick. While we haven't had anything crazy (I know RSV hospitalizations have been crazy this winter and thankfully we've escaped that), it's safe to say we have (read: I have) reached our capacity for the number of fevers, amount of infant motrin, and canceling full weeks of plans because we're contagious. GO AWAY WINTER GERMS.

  On a happier note, it's Friday and (if the fevers break) we're taking the boys swimming this weekend. If their fevers don't go away, it won't be too awful because Justin can help tackle cuddle duty! I also have a full, unopened bag of Reese's eggs in the pantry and a short list of fun projects I can try this weekend while Justin watches basketball. Dear Lord, thank you for weekends!

  In case you need some fun weekend reading, here's what I'm loving around the internets this week (including a fun freebie!):

// You've probably seen this viral video, but I'm laughing equally as hard at it's spoof!

// Free stuff! Shop today, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, and get a fun surprise. (see all the details here

// Really, truly I can't get enough of this show

// I've been slowing reading through this cute book and I think it would make a great (under $10) gift for a friend or even yourself.

// I stumbled on this blog I used to love and remembered how great it is for inspiration. This post about doable, small DIY is wonderful! 

// And this isn't so much a link as it is a little poll. Justin and I are in a rut with shows to watch together. All of our old favorites are becoming SO predictable/unrelatable or just not as funny (Suits, Designated Survivor, Modern Family, etc). Have any favorite shows? We need ideas! 

Happy weekending! 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday. (a weekly round-up)

 Hi hi! The sun is shining, its the third day of Lent, and its Friday! Those three things together are just making me smile right now. Spring in general does this to me every year- makes me feel hopeful and excited and sort of like I'm waking up after hibernating all winter. I don't think I would appreciate it nearly as much if I lived in a place without four seasons (but you wouldn't have to pull my leg to live by the beach). And after nearly a full week of potty training (hooray!), I have a night out with my sisters planned for this weekend. Wine, laughs, and NO POOP PATROL. I'll take it!

  Here's what I'm loving around the internet this week (with a fun  giveaway at the end!):

// I work and do housework during the boys naps each day. Since my part time job is all computer based, its nice to have a background show on at the same time. I'm probably really late to the game, but I just discovered this fun BBC show this week! (available on Netflix)

// I had the hardest time finding Elmer's glue for Valentine's crafts last month and now I know why.

// Justin started Whole30 this week and as a 'farewell, sugar' treat I made our favorite cookies over the weekend.

// Whether you're participating in Lent or not, this podcast is great. Short and great for listening to on your commute to work or while you fold laundry- I love their challenge about reading the Old Testament.

// I'm really excited about the Spring Noonday Collection launch! To keep the excitement going, I'm giving away one of my most favorite (and used) things- a VMP Prayer Journal- to every single person who places an order or books their own trunk show from now until Saturday night! Simply place an order or shoot me an email to book your show (I have some March and April dates open!) and you'll have a fun surprise in your mailbox next week :) Here is the link to shop (or get a head start on Mother's Day and teacher gifts!): 

Happy weekending! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weekly round-up.


  We're tackling potty training this weekend, and the timing seems sort of perfect since the temperatures have dropped outside. It's a great excuse to hole up inside and hopefully not have to clean up a dozen potty training accidents! For some reason, I've really been in the mood to shop lately. That's not like me and unfortunate because I'm sticking to a budget right now. But I'm sharing some of the things I would be buying right now!

// One of my favorite shops for stationary is having a spring cleaning sale and there are so many cute notecards to stock up on. These orange cards!

// Hands down my favorite sign shop is having a BIG and rare sale- 25% off their entire shop (code: THANKYOU25) through tonight only. I AM SO SAD that I don't have money in the budget to buy one right now!

// I love these slip-ons from Target- and the price tag is just right.

// Someone asked me the other day for some Noonday gift ideas that don't break the bank and I was excited to stumble on the Under $40 List- gah, SO many pretty things. If you're looking for a budget friendly but cute gift idea (or just something for yourself!) here are my favorites that are all actually under $20! this bracelet is being discontinued (and I'm so sad bc its my all time favorite!), fancy earrings, colorful bracelets, the prettiest accent cuff, and one of the most popular pieces from our India artisans. Bonus: shop this weekend and you'll have a great chance to win some fun giveaways from the Spring launch. ;) 

// I'm on a big reading kick lately and love every book by this author. Fast, easy, mindless reads!

// I've had a serious craving for Mexican lately and this restaurant is my favorite right now. Technically its Tex-Mex, but its for sure amazing. The jalapeƱo ranch dip!

Happy weekending :)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday. (a weekly round-up)

 Hey friday! Justin's out of town for a few days on his annual snowboarding trip, so this won't actually feel like a real weekend. The boys both came down with the flu this week, and that, coupled with Justin gone, means lots of movies, Vicks, and snuggling. I don't mind one bit! It's supposed to warm up again here this weekend, and I'm hoping the sun stays out long enough for us to get out and about. I'm holding to my resolve for savoring February, but man, I won't be sad when Spring officially begins! 

Here are some fun links for you weekend:

Hilarious and a bit sad- why is America the last one to offer this?

Pink isn't usually my favorite color, but I'm obsessed with these shoes

One of my friends just open the cutest etsy shop.

After listening to this (SO SO GOOD), I want to buy this new book for every mom I know (including myself). 

I'm making plans to put Caleb's room together (we just plopped furniture in there when we moved 6 months ago) and I don't have many ideas. BUT I am in love with this 'awesome' pillow (just not the $40 price tag). SO CUTE. 

I feel like I've already shared this before, but we discovered an amazing chipotle chicken cheesesteak recipe.

My kids are so weird. I made sloppy joes from this cookbook last week and they refused to eat them. Isn't it a meal designed FOR KIDS?? 

Happy weekending! :) 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Toddler Valentine's.


 2.5 seems to be the perfect age for all the cheesy crafts- they can follow simple instructions and have fun creating things and the novelty of making a mess is still real. It's also the age of 3 minute attention spans. 

  With all of that in mind, I really wanted to make some Valentine's crafts with Caleb this year without putting too much effort into it. My kid likes the idea of crafts more than actually doing them- I weekly pick him up from school and church with blank papers in his backpack while watching other kids carrying papers COVERED in crayon and paint. So spending money on supplies or taking tons of time to plan out crafts seemed silly. I walked to our basement storage room to find all my pink/red paints and construction paper, printed off some heart outlines, and did a five minute google search to see what I could make with all of that. When Tyler went down for his nap this morning, I already had all of our supplies set up and let Caleb create for a few minutes at a time between playing, snacking, and his new favorite game of 'race' where we literally just run laps around our house :) 

  So, if you're in the market for some easy and doable Valentine's crafts with your toddler- here are my favorite (tried and true) four! I'm no art teacher and these are crazy basic, but I promise they'll come out super cute even if you have a kid who doesn't have a big attention span when it comes to crafts.

You'll need: 
construction/scrap/wrapping paper
white cardstock
white crayon
paint (I used acrylic)
paintbrushes, q-tips, or pencils
heart templates (I'm an awful drawer so I downloaded these for free)

Dotted Valentine's// This was my favorite! And Caleb surprisingly loved it and actually did it! I taped down 4 hearts from the printable above onto one 8.5x11 cardstock using washi tape and gave him red, pink, and dark pink paints to dip q-tips into. He went to town dotting his paper all over! After doing one, he was done. We came back to it a little later and he did another. After they dried and I had pulled the taped hearts off (washi tape comes off easily), I cut each sheet into fours to create little Valentine cards we can attach to his bags of cookies he'll drop off for friends next week!

Scrap paper heart// Well, we didn't actually do this one yet (which is why you don't see it in the picture). We don't have any liquid glue (lots of glue sticks though!) and Target was all out. Justin's picking some up for us today so we work on these tomorrow! You just make a large heart outline in glue on paper and have your toddler put pieces of colored paper onto it (that either you or they have torn/cut into little pieces). I found some cute red&white wrapping paper scraps to use to add some fun patterns. I imagine it'll be super easy, take all of 5 minutes, and I'm hoping to frame it. 

Painted heart// Similar to the dotted hearts, I taped one heart from the printable above in the middle of an 8.5x11 white cardstock. He was sick of q-tips by this point so we switched to different sized paint brushes and I let him paint all over the page. After the paint dried, I simply cut the page down to 5x7 and now it's perfect for matting and taking out each year as a little Valentine's art!

Watercolor hearts// Ok, 100% he was over crafts by this point and just wanted to watch me 'find the baby hearts.' Starting with white cardstock, I drew small hearts with a white crayon. We don't have any watercolor paints, so I simply mixed water with a small drop of acrylic paint to create some (I used red paint to make this pinkish color). Then Caleb and I (aka mostly me) painted over the entire paper to 'find the hearts'. We're going to try this again tomorrow to see if he likes it more!

...and as a bonus from all the painting with heart templates, we also have a handful of cute heart cutouts that are painted! Unintentional (because I didn't even think how cute they would turn out) and fun for writing notes on to stick in Justin's suitcase while he goes snowboarding this weekend. 

  I'm positive I missed some other fun and easy toddler crafts- have any other ideas for me? (Not the toilet paper roll squished into a heart one- Caleb refused to do that one at school this week!)

Monday, February 6, 2017

What is Noonday Collection?

  This post has been a long time coming! I've been posting more and more about Noonday Collection and that has meant more questions or skeptical looks from friends. I know home-businesses are all the rage these days and Noonday isn't quite as popular as those shakes or clothing lines- so I wanted to answer some of the questions I keep getting. It's a bit long-winded, but guys, I can't tell you how wonderful Noonday is and how I 100% believe that every single person reading this will love it, if they don't already!

What exactly is Noonday Collection?

   In one sentence? Noonday Collection is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. 

  But to be more specific, Noonday Collection designs and sells a collection of accessories made by artisans around the globe. As a socially conscious Certified B cooperation (that's a big deal!), Noonday partners with artisans to help create sustainable incomes, preserve families (orphan prevention!), and create change around the world in communities that need it most. Don't be fooled though. Noonday doesn't give artisans a handout- they work hard and are crazy talented. The jewelry and accessories sold by Noonday Collection are truly beautiful, well made, and each carries its own story of social justice, empowerment, and hope. 

  You can purchase all Noonday accessories in only two ways- directly online or through in-person Trunk Shows. Trunk shows are vital to the success of our artisans because they create real life marketplaces for their work to be sold. When you open your home (or local happy hour spot) to a Trunk show, you create a place for artisans living in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. Their stories are told and your friends are given a real, tangible chance to use their purchasing power for good. In addition, Trunk Shows can serve as adoption fundraisers for anyone you know who may be in the process of adoption! And after your Trunk Show, you keep the good work going by sending out all those ladies who now quite literally wear the stories of our artisans and can pass along the mission and heartbeat of Noonday Collection! More Trunk Shows are hosted, and more work is created for our artisans. All of that means families are preserved, positive change is created, and more dignified jobs are offered!

Lots of my friends post about their 'home business' on social media. How is Noonday different?

  I can't sell you products that will clean your house naturally or help you lose weight or colorful leggings (all of those are great!). But, as a Noonday Collection Ambassador, I can sell you something that will help to change the world. I'll go out on a limb and guess that you already regularly buy accessories for yourself or as gifts. Noonday Collection simply offers you a unique way to continue doing that while also making the world a better place. I think that's what we call a win-win? :) 

  Noonday Collection is also not a real Mid Level Marketing company- I am not trying to recruit people to work for me so that I can make money off of them. There is a 'sisterhood' mentality where there is a chance to become a team and work together, but it isn't a pyramid and there are not gold, diamond, or platinum levels. Just women cheering each other on, both here in the US and across the world. So, in a nutshell, it's not a scheme to be wary of. 

Why do you talk about it so much?

  I am intentionally taking time off from my career in full-time social work while my boys are little (I will be so excited to go back when they're in school!). Even still, I want to do something. To impact social change and share with others how they can, too. So I joined Noonday as an Ambassador! It is the best outlet for continuing my passions while also providing a little of income for my family.

 As a licensed social worker, I am so passionate about social justice and doing something. Just having knowledge isn't enough- how we react and use that knowledge is what really matters. Noonday Collection embodies that. Problems have been identified around the world (human trafficking, orphan crisis, lack of living wages in developing countries, etc) and Noonday provides a tangible way to address those problems- giving dignified work to artisans and selling gorgeous accessories to women who have purchasing power. 

  You have purchasing power. And I do mean the specific you that is reading this, not the collective anyone who happens on this page. No matter what your income, you buy things at some level. You give gifts and fill your home. That's a good thing! On a similar note, there is nothing safer than jewelry- it is literally one size fits all! And the very reason I talk about Noonday Collection when I have the chance. Because I want to encourage you to use your purchasing power for good, to help create a flourishing world! Noonday Collection is just one way to do that and I don't hesitate to share lots of others too :)

I get it, Noonday is doing good stuff. I'll keep liking your photos, but I'll pass on hosting my own Trunk show, ok?

  I get it. It's always a bit awkward to invite your friends over to spend money. Especially when you get 10 messages a month asking you to host some sort of party or try some sort of new product a friend is selling. And you can't say yes to them all, right? 

  This is where I want you to really hear that our artisans around the world truly depend on women just like you to open their homes, invite their friends in, and shop Noonday Collection. We don't sell in stores or do online Trunk Shows- those both take away from the dignity and real stories of our hardworking artisans! It may seem insignificant to sell 5 necklaces to your friends, but it is not. Every single sale matters and every chance to tell the stories makes an absolute difference! In the Noonday community, we throw around the term 'better together' a lot- and we mean it. We need you! It takes so little effort and makes an incredible impact. 

  But really? Trunk Shows are also fun. They aren't like other 'home parties' you've been too and you are opening the doors for friends to hear about social justice or ethical fashion in a way they never have before!  Plus, you'll earn free stuff! Trunk shows are a beautiful way to invite your neighbors, your coworkers AND your people into a mission that matters. They are a space to step out behind our screens and into the reality that we are more alike than different. Host your own Trunk Show and see!

  And if you know a local family adopting, let me know! We can make any Trunk Show an adoption fundraiser. SO FUN! Even more, if you're interested in becoming an Ambassador- let's chat. You don't have to be on my team (I don't have a team!), I'd just really love to chat with you about the heartbeat of Noonday and how wonderful it is to work alongside a company making real changes in the world. 

  Ok, I'm super impressed with anyone that read through this entire post. But I hope it helped you understand Noonday Collection (and why I truly love it) a bit more! I'm becoming a bit braver when it comes to talking about it (I always worry it comes off too sales-y and people will hate that) and committing to encouraging other women to join and host and share the stories of how buying jewelry can make a difference around the world. It's as simple as that!

  If you want to host a show or learn more about how you can get involved, let me know! And if you're in the Indy area, I'm hosting a fun Galentine's party this month to say thank you to all my girlfriends who have supported Noonday! Please come and bring some friends! I will be giving away lots of Noonday and non-Noonday stuff. Its a chance to (of course) see the brand new Spring Collection, but mostly just to win some free stuff and eat yummy food because I'm thankful for anyone who has stepped up and helped change the world with Noonday :) Leave a comment or shoot me an email and I'll send you an email with the date and address!