Recent Reads

Celebrity memoirs/essays are seriously the best! I love reading them and think it’s even better when the author reads it themselves. It’s just so much fun to hear it in their own voice and with their own inflection, and you can just imagine them saying the words to you like you were having a conversation. And that’s exactly how I felt when I listened to Ellie Kemper read her book, My Squirrel Days.

I loved hearing stories about her growing up in St. Louis, especially since I grew up in that area, too! I loved hearing stories about her planning her wedding. I loved hearing stories about getting her start in the comedy community. But most of all, I loved hearing stories about her time on The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! She talked about having to wear those hot pink pants ALL THE TIME and I was cracking up. This book is definitely more of a “make you laugh” rather than a “tell you all the down and dirty true details” but if you’re looking for a light-hearted easy read, this would be an excellent choice!

The other book I finished recently is a suuuuuuuuuuuper short one, but I really enjoyed it! I had been meaning to read The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson for YEARS but just never got around to it. (You can actually get a free copy of this short book on her website!) I don’t remember how I heard about Stephanie for the first time, but she was a cute and well-spoken Christian who seemed right around my age, so I signed up for her emails at some point in time and really enjoyed everything I saw from her. Then I found out that she was starting a podcast called Girls Night where she talks with friends about faith, relationships, friendship, and life in general and I started listening and I LOVE it! It might even be my favorite podcast at the moment… she just has such good things to say and it seems like I’m texting a quote from just about every single episode to a friend to share the wisdom!

But enough about all that – I’m here to talk about her book! It is written in a very conversational way, which is not everybody’s favorite style, but I really enjoyed it. I’m used to hearing her talk, so this was a very comfortable cadence to read for me. She talks about how God was the furthest thing from her mind for a very long time, the things she was going through in college, and the semester abroad that changed her whole view of God and faith. She could have ended the book right there, but she went on to show how she struggled as a new believer, how she grew in her faith, and how her life was beginning to change. It was just a really sweet story and it made me love Stephanie even more!


My Julep Favorites – Nails and Skincare and Makeup, Oh My!

I don’t actually remember how I first heard about the beauty brand, Julep, but I do know that it was back in 2012. 2012!!! That was so long ago! And yes, I only knew that because I looked on the website to see when I placed my first order and it said 2012!! Once I learned what Julep was and gave them a chance, I feel like my life was changed. I got hooked and I gave them all of my allegiance, which has only grown and grown over the years.

They started out focusing on nail polish and they did (and still do!) it so well. The colors are so rich and they glide on without any issues, and now this is pretty much the only nail polish brand I use. And then. And then!!! And then they started adding more items to their arsenal and I have loved every single one I’ve tried (except for one…). I love them so much, that I looked around my bathroom and realized that the majority of my beauty routine is done using only Julep products!

Since I’ve tried a ton of their product line, I thought I would share the ones I love the very best and HIGHLY recommend you try, too!

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First up, obviously, is nail polish. I just love the way that the color glides onto your nails. It’s a thicker polish, so you can get away with just one coat most of the time, and they have an almost unlimited choice of colors and glitters and shines to choose from. But the thing I SWEAR BY is on the far right in my image – the Freedom Polymer Top Coat. This stuff is AMAZING. I know I’ve shared it before once or twice, but everyone needs this in their life. It dries your nails in 5 minutes (like touch your nails go on with your life dry) and it makes your nails SO SMOOTH! It feels like you got a gel manicure, and this top coat makes my nail polish last way longer than any other top coat I’ve ever used.

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When Julep started adding skincare, I didn’t really care. I already had my “favorite” items and didn’t really need to try anything else. But then I got their love your bare face cleansing oil. And then I tried their night shift sleeping mask. And then I got the what your skin needs facial milk. And then I was hooked. But by far, the BEST thing that they have (in my opinion), and the ONE THING YOU SHOULD TRY if you were only going to try one thing, is the Triple Quench face mask system. It ROCKS. Something about the three steps working together does such wonders for my skin, it’s almost unbelievable. The next day my skin is SO soft and smooth and looks so amazing, people have stopped to ask what I did differently to make my skin look so good. Seriously, you need to try it!

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Once I started trying the Julep makeup line, I was SO impressed with just about everything… except the mascara that I tried. But I’m very particular about my mascara. But anyway. Everything else has been absolutely wonderful to use and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially the eyeliners. The gel and liquid are both great, and I love that the gel pencil liner comes in SO many shades. The one I’m using right now is a very dark purple and you can’t really tell but it makes me feel a little more fun. The eye shadow is perfect and applies so well.  But if I had to choose just ONE thing to recommend you to try, it would without a doubt be the It’s Whipped Matte Lip Mousse. It goes on so smooth and dries into a nice matte finish that lasts all day. Seriously, all day. I eat and drink and this stuff doesn’t go anywhere. It’s amazing.

Now that I’ve shared my absolute favorites from Julep, I wanted to share a little hack with you, too… I don’t pay full price for any of these items. Nope – I sure don’t! Spend $20 on lip gloss? Nope. $12 for a face mask? Are you kidding? Nope. $14 for nail polish?!?! What?!?! So what do I do to get these great items at a discount? I joined their membership program, Julep Maven! There are a lot of things I love about it.

It’s only $20 a month and you get three items, which makes the price of each item very reasonable. 

You can customize your box each month, so you aren’t stuck with a nail polish color you’d never wear or a shade of blush that would look terrible on you.

There is NO PENALTY if you skip a box for that month! They don’t care, and it doesn’t remove you from the program! (I probably only get 2-3 boxes a year, if I’m being honest.)

You earn points with each monthly box you get, and you can use those points to get additional items or even a free box!

So because I get the subscription box, I make sure that I’m getting my favorite things, or new things I want to try, at a much cheaper price. It’s the best way to do it!

How to Pack and Stay Organized Before a Trip (FREE Packing List!)

While I may be terrible at unpacking, (like, the actual worst… I still have things in my bathroom bag from my trip a few weeks ago…. so…) I’m surprisingly VERY good at packing. I always make a very detailed packing list (man do I love lists!!) and I can pack a week-long trip into a small carry-on. I actually don’t know how it happens, but it is really nice never having to check a bag. I could say it’s just magic or packing elves helping me out, but I’m pretty sure the reason I’m so good at getting everything perfectly in my bag is the fact that I make a packing list each and every time I travel.

Since I’ve been making my packing lists over and over and over again with all the traveling I have been doing recently, I thought I might save some time and a little bit of sanity and make a MASTER packing list for myself that came pre-loaded with all the things I take on every trip no matter what. I need to start packing for a trip I’m taking on Friday, so this was the perfect time to make this happen.

But first, I had to make a list that was completely blank. When I’m making my normal packing lists, I always divide things into categories, so that’s what I did for this one, too. (I’ll post the link to download and print your own blank packing list at the end!)

Now that I had that done, I started adding things that I usually pack for every single trip. Things like pajamas, deodorant, socks, toothpaste, etc. Things that I’m always afraid I’ve left off my packing list on accident, but thankfully never do.

Once I got that made and printed out, I started to fill in the rest of the list with things that need to get packed for my trip!

And now that I have my fancy packing list ready to go, I can start packing and be confident that I’m not going to forget anything important! I’m super excited to use this pre-made packing list going forward – it makes my structure-loving enneagram 1-wing very very happy!

Now that you made it to the very end, let me give you a link to have a FREE blank packing list of your very own! Just click here and enjoy!

Making the Magnolia Pilgrimage (aka a trip to Waco!)

Even though Texas is SO STINKING BIG, it can really feel pretty small at the same time. Like the fact that it takes 2 hours or less to get from Dallas to Waco. That doesn’t seem like it should be possible, but it is! And I’m so glad that it is! If you’re a fan of HGTV, then you already know why I’m glad to be so close to Waco. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it’s because the show Fixer Upper filmed in and around Waco and the stars of the show have taken over (in a good way!)

Before they started their show, Chip and Joanna Gaines had a store, Magnolia, in Waco. With the success of their show, their store great and grew and now they have a HUGE location with tons of outdoor space, a restaurant, and a bakery! My mom had never been down there, and neither had some of my sister’s husband’s family – so we took a little girls trip to see all the Magnolia madness in person!

First let’s talk about the restaurant, Magnolia Table. I had heard two things about it before we got there. 1- the food is AMAZING. 2- the wait is ridiculous. We went down early on a Friday and so we hoped that the wait wouldn’t be too terribly long… and for me, it wasn’t! We took two cars down there (since there were 6 of us total) and the first car got to Waco about an hour before ours did. They got to the restaurant right away and got our name on the list to wait for a table… and no joke as soon as the car I was in pulled into the parking lot our table was ready! We were so thankful for the gals who waited and we were all ready to eat some delicious food! And guys…. it was SO delicious!!! One of the best brunches I’ve had for sure!

Joanna’s mom was walking around the restaurant while we were eating, talking to all the tables and she was just the most adorable lady ever! My mom tried to find her when we were leaving to ask for a picture with her, but we couldn’t find her.

When we were done with our meal, we headed over to the Silos – the main store. It was WAY bigger than I imagined it would be when I went for the first time, and I think my mom was similarly impressed with it! Even though it was raining, we still had fun walking around the property and checking out the garden.

We also enjoyed going inside the store, and not just to get out of the rain! The merchandise was all super cute and fun and I pretty much wanted one of everything, but I was most blown away by the decor all over the store. It was like a fall dreamland and I was taking pictures and getting inspiration around every corner.

Oh! And while we were leaving, we saw that Jo’s mom was at the store now! My mom went over to say hi again and she got her picture! I think this was the highlight of her entire weekend – look how cute these two ladies are!!

The bakery is on the same property as the Silos, and I was so excited to check it out – it wasn’t built the last time I went down to Waco and I’d been hearing great things about it! And it did NOT disappoint! I think I got two cookies and a cupcake to split with my sister (which oops we did not split sorry Sarah it was delicious!) and everything was so good. I REALLY wanted to try the cinnamon roll, but apparently so did everyone else and it was all sold out.

We went to a few other shops around Waco (including their original little shop where they sold discounted items) and just had a lot of fun together. It was a really short trip, but totally worth making the short drive down for! I think everyone liked Waco a lot and now I can’t wait to go back again the next time!

Recent Listens

Happy weekend, everybody!! I’m so excited for the next few days – I’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned with new and old friends and I think it will be one of those weekends that is good for the soul. Plus we are having a block party at my church and I think that will be a blast! But along with all the fun stuff, I have a lot of less exciting things to do, too, like cleaning and running errands and finally unpacking from my last trip so I can start packing for my next trip. (One of these days I’ll actually unpack like a normal person but this is not the day.)

Next weekend I’m going to Boston with some of my very favorite people for a weekend of fun! We don’t really have an agenda except for to enjoy each other’s company and eat as much delicious food as possible and it will be amazing. Part of the trip will include a little mini road trip around the surrounding states to do some good leaf peepin. And you know what every road trip needs?! An awesome playlist!

I’ve started adding songs to a list and it is making me even more excited for all of my girlfriends to be together again! I’m trying to make sure I add songs that I know each of us like, but I’m also just adding some really fun songs that I’ve been listening to lately and I know the group with love (or love to quietly have playing in the background while we chat nonstop!) So I thought I’d share some of these great songs that I can’t get enough of with you all! I’m always looking for fun, new artists to listen to, and so maybe this will give you some fun, new artists to check out!