My Winter Favorites

My Winter Favorites

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{ image via Donna on Unsplash }

It may be a little late to be talking about winter, but spring came very late this year. In fact, I’m fairly certain we’ve only had about two weeks of it. So, late or not, here are some of my favorite things from the months of winter…

Movies & TV //

The Greatest Showman – Oh my goodness. I cannot put my love for this movie into words. It is joy and magic and acceptance and love personified. The story, the cast, the music…everything is simply perfect. If you haven’t seen this yet, you are missing out. Big time.

Wonder – I pretty much never use this word, but this movie was a delight. Taking the message of accepting people’s differences and not judging them down to the level of middle schoolers was fantastic. This is one of the few instances when I believe the movie actually was better than the book.

The Resident – If there’s one thing that I obviously needed, it’s another drama to watch. (But, this is a medical drama, and usually I stick to crime, so there’s that!) This new show tells the story of senior resident Dr. Conrad Hawkins, who is assigned to train first-year resident Dr. Devon Pravesh. With the help of surgery resident Dr. Mina Okafor and nurse practitioner Nic Nevin, they basically become hospital vigilantes. Two of the most important physicians at the hospital, as well as the hospital CEO seem to be involved in some shady stuff, and being the awesome people they are, they just aren’t going to stand for it. This show actually takes on a lot of important issues ranging from immigration to medical insurance issues and shows the dark side of hospital administration.

This is Us – I have watched maybe five episodes of this show. I’m not kidding – that’s it. I started with the infamous Super Bowl episode, because everyone was talking about that thing that was going to happen and it was on TV so why not? Now this show is basically my life and I needed season three to start yesterday. Also, JACK PEARSON HOW DARE YOU?

Gilmore Girls – When I picked out a new show to binge-watch, I had no idea that I was picking a show that would become a way of life. I am a Gilmore Girl. I can identify if you are a Gilmore Girl. I am basically Rory, with a little bit of Lorelai and Paris mixed in. In case you couldn’t tell, this show has taken over my life…but I’m happy it has. (Also, just so we’re clear, I’m #TeamJess.)

Beauty //

Mario Badescu Rosewater Facial Spray – Okay, I kind of used to think these sprays were fake news. Like, what do they actually do for your face? While I have not noticed any benefits from all of the vitamins, etc. this supposedly contains, and while I don’t really notice a difference in the way my face looks when I use it without putting any makeup over it, it feels really nice. Mainly, I have come to love using this before doing my makeup. I honestly do feel like it works a bit like a primer and helps keep things from looking too dry.

Milani Make it Last Setting Spray – Setting sprays: another thing that we must question the function of. Do they really work? This one does. I truly do notice a difference in my makeup’s longevity. So, for that, I give it my approval.

Philosophy Fresh Winter Morning shower gel and lotion – I got this as a set at Ulta on Black Friday, and I absolutely love it. I had never previously considered what a winter morning smells like, but I think this is actually it. It’s crisp, it’s snowy, and it’s bright. (How awesome am I at describing scents?!)

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black perfume – My sister gave this to me for Christmas, and it has become my confidence perfume. (Really. I wear this when I give speeches in my Public Speaking class.) The scent is a bit darker, making it good for the colder months, but I think it’ll work for any time of year. Also, it gives me flashbacks to my Mary Kate and Ashley fangirl days. (Elizabeth & James is their brand.)

Books //

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – As I said above, I liked the movie better. But, this book was still great. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives it was told through, and I found myself loving all of the characters. Plus, I think the book drives home the message of acceptance and love even better than the movie.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I read this for the first time for school in fifth grade. I had never read anything remotely science fiction before (those were my Nancy Drew days), so I was hopelessly confused and eventually gave up on trying to understand what was happening at all. Re-reading it now when I’ve got a bit more experience with the genre under my belt, I adored it. The message, the symbolism – it was all so beautiful, and L’Engle’s writing style is nothing short of stunning.

Champion by Marie Lu – This is the conclusion to a dystopian trilogy, and I cried for three days over it. That is not an exaggeration. Dystopian books are, of course, about some sort of power struggle and battle, but this one packed so much emotion in with it. It was absolutely fantastic.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” – Maya Angelou

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8

Songs //

The Greatest Showman soundtrack

“I Won’t Let Go” by Switchfoot & Lauren Daigle

“The Middle” by Zedd ft. Maren Morris

“Greatest Love Story” by LANCO

“Different” by Micah Tyler

“Woman, Amen” by Dierks Bentley

“Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” by P!nk

“The Champion” by Carrie Underwood ft. Ludacris

“Broken Prayers” by Riley Clemmons

“Parallel Line” by Keith Urban

“Still the Same” by Sugarland

“Consequences” by Camila Cabello

“You Broke Up with Me” by Walker Hayes

“I Do” by Morgan Evans

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20 Facts for 20 Years

20 Facts for 20 Years

In honor of officially entering my twenties recently (what???), I thought I would share twenty random facts about myself with you all – one for each year. I hope you all enjoy getting to know my strange self better. 😉

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  1. My favorite celebrity couples are Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson and Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively.
  2. My favorite Taylor Swift song from each album of hers (in chronological order) is “Stay Beautiful,” “White Horse,” “Mine,” “All Too Well,” “Out of the Woods,” and “New Years Day.”
  3. I am somewhat of a quote collector and have a ton of favorites, but one that I always remember is: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
  4. I’ve been interested in politics for several years now, but I’ve become very passionate about several social issues within the past year.
  5. My dream job is writing about politics for The Washington Post while doing some political commentary for NBC.
  6. Sometimes I get freaked out watching Gilmore Girls because I literally am Rory Gilmore, so it feels a little bit like I’m watching a TV show about my life.
  7. I read. Every genre (especially fantasy). All the time.
  8. My favorite colors are pink, gold, and mauve.
  9. I might have a slight make-up buying problem. And I strongly believe that you should do your make-up the way that you want and not let anyone else’s thoughts bother you! Wear the bold lip color! (At least that’s what I do.)
  10. My favorite scripture is Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
  11. I’d rather write five English essays than do one science lab.
  12. Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes, and is absolutely one of the reasons I have come to love politics and conservatism so much.
  13. I am so grateful that I have such a close relationship with both of my parents, especially my mom (#besties).
  14. I was pretty much born in the wrong era. I love old music (Frank Sinatra is my favorite) and movies. Audrey Hepburn is flawless and I will never not love Sabrina.
  15. I love true crime shows, especially Dateline. Not to brag, but one of their correspondents, Josh Mankiewicz, has replied to my tweets multiple times. And I would like for one of their other correspondents, Keith Morrison, to follow me around and narrate my life.
  16. I was diagnosed with my first chronic illness when I was three years old.
  17. My all-time favorite albums are Rivers in the Wasteland by Needtobreathe, Where I Find You by Kari Jobe, and Red by Taylor Swift.
  18. I love going to concerts. Some of my favorites that I’ve been to are Needtobreathe, Luke Bryan, and Ben Rector. My concert bucketlist includes Rachel Platten, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and U2 (you gotta aim high).
  19. The first job that I was seriously interested in was being a defense attorney. I think it’s because I used to watch way too many Matlock episodes. I also thought that this would be a very dangerous job, because of those same Matlock episodes.
  20. Although I love politics, I truly believe that art can change more than legislation ever could. We look to music, film, and books for inspiration, not Washington.
2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

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{ Image from Tradlands }

I won’t say 2017 was a good year, because it wasn’t. In fact, I think it was a pretty bad year. I’m not going to miss it. And while I don’t think you necessarily need a new year for a new start, that’s how we act, isn’t it? We tend to reflect back on what we went through the last year, so here we go – my list of highlights of 2017…

  • My trip to Nashville. If it weren’t for my chronic illnesses, I never would have gone to Nashville at all. My real reason for going was to go to the dysautonomia clinic at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (You can read about that here.) That was not the best experience in the world, and I ended up getting sick from some of the testing they did. But, after I got over this insanity, I was able to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, and, of course, a couple of stores that we don’t have here in the middle of nowhere. (Shoutout to the ladies at Lush at the Green Hills Mall! They are the sweetest employees ever.)
  • I went to a Luke Bryan concert. My sisters were sweet enough to give me tickets to a concert I desperately wanted to go to for my birthday – Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, and Brett Young. I become a huge Brett Young fan, I cried over Brett Eldredge (I don’t have a problem…), and I screamed the lyrics to every Luke Bryan song (and maybe cried some more). Other than an acoustic jam sponsored by a local radio station, this was my first country concert, and it was beyond what I could have hoped for.
  • I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. This year, my cousin got married, and I had the honor of being one of her bridesmaids. I also got to help throw her bridal shower, which was beyond fun. Being a part of her bride tribe is a memory I will hold onto forever. Also, if you missed our bridesmaids dance, I’m sorry you’ll never get to witness that beautiful moment in time. (JK, people are probably having nightmares about it still.)
  • I saw the solar eclipse. I live right in the path of totality, and I saw it all. I saw the sun covered. Then I saw it uncovered. It was all great. (Although maybe slightly less of a bigger deal than people made it out to be. Also I got bitten by approximately twelve [not exaggerating] mosquitoes.) Other than that, it was great.

And, now, a few favorites…

My Top 10 Most Played Songs of the Year:

  1. “Better Man” by Little Big Town
  2. “Legends” by Kelsea Ballerini
  3. “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten
  4. “Every Little Thing” by Carly Pearce
  5. “I’ll Find You” by Lecrae ft. Tori Kelly
  6. “How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho
  7. “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur
  8. “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young
  10. “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina

My Top 5 Favorite Albums of the Year:

  1. Unapologetically by Kelsea Ballerini
  2. Flicker by Niall Horan (clean version, y’all)
  3. Wonder by Hillsong United
  4. Waves by Rachel Platten
  5. Brett Eldredge by (you guessed it) Brett Eldredge

My Top 5 Favorite Movies of the Year:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Greatest Showman
  3. Beauty & the Beast
  4. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
  5. Hidden Figures

My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year:

  1. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  2. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
  3. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  4. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
  5. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

2018

{ Image from Pinterest }

And now, we’re in 2018. I can’t say that I have very many New Year’s resolutions; I’ve just never really gotten into that kind of thing. I forget them in two weeks and then feel guilty about it later. But, this year, I’m making more of an effort here. I picked a word for the year: Grace. Not just the kind of grace we receive from God, but the kind of grace we should give to ourselves. So I guess that’s one of my goals: to be a little bit easier on myself. To remember that I’m human, and God expects me to be worthy now, not perfect. And, I have a scripture picked out; it’s Doctrine and Covenants 82:10: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” So, English translation: When we do what the Lord says when we are obedient to His commands, he is bound to His promises. He will do what He has told us to do. But, if we don’t obey him, then he is not required to give us his promised blessings. So trust him in the waiting, and do what He says in the meantime. You’ll get your blessings in His time.

I don’t know what’s coming this year. It could be great. It could be horrible. But I’m here, and I’m ready for it.

My Fall Favorites

My Fall Favorites

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I’ll just tell you up front that this favorites list will be a shorter one. You can thank Mother Nature for that. She decided that I only needed about three weeks of fall here. (Fall is my favorite season, and I still haven’t gotten over the pain of not having it longer.) Although fall was short this year, I did have the chance to find a few things that I liked a lot. So, let’s begin.

Movies & TV //

Designated Survivor – If you haven’t seen this show, what are you doing with your life? A “designated survivor” is a person from the president’s cabinet chosen to stay in a separate, completely secure location during a big event, such as the State of the Union address, in which all members of the government are in one place. So, this show’s premise is that the unthinkable happens and the designated survivor does in fact become president. One of the major plot points was resolved last season, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this season as much, but it is still as fantastic as ever. Can Tom Kirkman be real? And run for president in 2020? Please?

NCIS – This is an old favorite for me. I feel like I’ve been watching NCIS forever. I have to admit, there were a few seasons (mainly after Ziva left *sniffs*) when I wasn’t really enjoying it as much. All of that has changed with the past two seasons. The team that they have together now is absolutely perfect, and they’re fighting crime within the Navy and Marines better than ever.

The Middle – In my opinion, this is the best comedy on TV now. How can you not feel endeared to the Heck family when they keep a spare quilt in their oven, their son, Axl, is driving a school bus after recently graduating from college with a business degree, and their other son, Brick, is, well, Brick. I can’t believe this is the last season that I’ll be spending with one of my favorite TV families. (But don’t worry – it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon.)

Beauty //

Bath & Body Works Peachy Keen Body Cream – This is one of those scents that I’ve liked for a while now, and I finally decided to pick it up with a coupon. (Pro tip: B&BW has the best coupons in the world. Sign up. Now.) It’s moisturization with a light, fruity scent that’s not overpowering at all. What more could you want?

Bath & Body Works Fresh Autumn Blooms Shower Gel – I got this shower gel right when the store was bringing out their winter products and trying to get rid of their fall products, meaning I got it for half price. I was a bit worried that this would feel a little more appropriate for spring, but somehow they managed to make floral smell like fall, which is basically my dream come true.

Philosophy Fresh Cream Hand Cream – I got this last Christmas in a gift set (it was three hand creams and called the “Handbook”…get it?). This one has become my favorite because it has the lightest, most neutral scent, so I find myself reaching for it the most. It really does help with my dry, eczema-prone hands during this chilly time of year.

e.l.f. Blending Brush – Historically, I’ve preferred to blend out my foundation and concealer with a blending sponge (a.k.a. a Beauty Blender knock-off, because ain’t nobody got $20 to spend on a sponge), but I recently gave this brush a try because I had it and why not? I don’t know if I necessarily like it more than using a sponge, but I definitely like it at least as much. This brush blends foundation/BB cream/your base of choice easily and quickly. Bonus: It’s only $3.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Color – Normally I’m not a big fan of Revlon products, but I was intrigued by this liquid lipstick and decided to give it a try. Of course, I used it once, liked it, and then forgot about it. I have recently rediscovered it, and it’s become a favorite in my collection. The formula is great, it’s easy to apply, and it’s staying power is pretty good. Definitely a win in my book.

Garnier Moisture Bomb Antioxidant Super Moisturizer – I got a sample size of this in an Ulta skincare kit, and I love it. (I actually just used it up, and I’m heartbroken.) It has an almost gel-like consistency, but is on the thicker side, which is perfect for the dry weather that comes with the cooler months. I definitely think I’ll be purchasing this in the future.

Miscellaneous //

Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather Candle – I have a lot of candles. It’s a bit of an obsession for me. So, even though I wanted to pick up about twelve for fall, I reigned myself in and kept it down to one. I bought this online, and actually had no clue if I had ever smelled it in-store before. I had heard good things, so I went for it, and I’m so glad I did. This candle is the definition of fall. It’s crisp and a little outdoors-y, but still cozy. I almost used all of it up in one season.

Booties – Last year, I bought my first pair of booties. I know that seems super late, but I was a regular boot fan, and didn’t think I wanted to mess with those half-boot things. But, as they became more popular, I decided to give them a try. I picked up a pair on Black Friday (obviously), and I don’t think I wore other shoes again until spring. I have since expanded my collection, and I now complain about wearing regular boots – it’s such a first-world struggle to have to maneuver jeans into them and make them look right. Booties are easy and cute. End of story.

Yoga – Yes you guys, I started doing yoga. Between my POTS and my chronic migraines, I was struggling to keep up with exercising regularly (even though it’s supposed to help those two conditions). Cardio was rough, even when gentle and low-impact. So, knowing it would keep me active and possibly reduce my stress level, I decided to give some yoga videos a try. I swear by Yoga with Adrienne’s videos on YouTube. She is such a cool yogi, but also very aware that everyone is at a different place in their journey. So, yoga is my new thing. And, yes, it is hard work. I promise.

Books //

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer – This fall, I decided to give my second all-time favorite series a re-read (second behind Harry Potter, of course). This is a five-book series of fairytale retellings with a twist – they take place thousands of years into the future. There are great fantasy and sci-fi elements to these books, and they take you on a super fun adventure. I absolutely adore them, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“Your brokenness is welcome here.” – Jordan Lee Dooley

“We keep offering God our successes; all He’s asking for is our hearts.” – Bob Goff

“If you don’t know the guy on the other side of the world, love him anyway because he’s just like you. He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It’s one world pal. We’re all neighbors.” – Frank Sinatra

“Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?” – Alma 33:14

Songs //

“Female” by Keith Urban

“In Between” by Kelsea Ballerini

“Call it What You Want” by Taylor Swift

“Dare Ya” by Carly Pearce

“So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong United

“Thunder” by Imagine Dragons

“Perfect for You” by Rachel Platten

“Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett

“Havana” by Camila Cabello

“Liability” by Lorde

“The Rest of Our Life” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

“Dear Hate” by Maren Morris and Vince Gill

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

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Fall may be my favorite season, but Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. I love celebrating Jesus’ birth, spending time with family, and everything else that comes with this beautiful season…including the music. I mean, who doesn’t love Christmas music?

Listening to Christmas music is one of my favorite ways to get into the spirit of the season. After all, in the words of Buddy the Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” (And Buddy the Elf is the ultimate authority on all things Christmas.) I have multiple Christmas playlists (yes, more than one is necessary) and albums that I’m always listening to during this time of year.

So, because of my love for Christmas music, I thought I would share the songs that I feel make the ultimate Christmas playlist. I’ve got old classics, new favorites, songs to remind you of the reason for the season, and songs to just make you happy. It’s all right here.

The Ultimate, All You Will Ever Need, Christmas Playlist

  1. “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson
  2. “You’re Here” by Francesca Batistelli
  3. “Jesus, Savior” by Chris August
  4. “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande
  5. “The Christmas Song” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  6. “Glow” by Brett Eldredge
  7. “Carol of the Bells” by Pentatonix
  8. “We Three Kings” by Tenth Avenue ft. Britt Nicole
  9. “Just a Girl” by Brandon Heath
  10. “The Day that Love was Born” by Dara Maclean
  11. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Sam Smith
  12. “Santa Baby” by Michael Buble
  13. “Baby Boy” by For King & Country
  14. “It’s Christmas” by Mandisa
  15. “Go, Tell it on the Mountain” by Needtobreathe
  16. “Heaven Everywhere” by Francesca Batistelli
  17. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Lady Antebellum
  18. “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber
  19. “Christmas in the Sand” by Colbie Caillat
  20. “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” by Brett Eldredge & Meghan Trainor
  21. “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
  22. “Where are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill
  23. “One More Sleep” by Leona Lewis
  24. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Buble
  25. “Silent Night” by Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire, and Trisha Yearwood

So, tell me, what’s your favorite Christmas song? Or album? And do you agree with Buddy the Elf?

My Summer Favorites

My Summer Favorites

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Ah, summer. Who doesn’t love the season of sun and warm temperatures? Now that we are about a month in to fall, I thought it would be a good time to finally write about my favorite things from the summer. Although, in my defense, I’m pretty sure Mother Nature got the memo that it was actually fall only about a week ago.

Movies & TV //

  • Wonder Woman – Do I even need to provide an explanation? I feel like I have been waiting for this movie my whole life. Diana (Wonder Woman) is an incredible role model who strikes the perfect balance of being strong, fierce, and independent, while still being compassionate, generous, and kind. A wonder woman, indeed.
  • The Shack – I had my doubts about this one. I just want to say up front that, despite what this movie’s creators and the author of the book it is based on might lead you to believe, much of this movie is not based in Biblical doctrine. That being said, I don’t know if I have ever been so inspired by a movie in my life. I laughed, I cried, and I came away with a greater sense of gratitude for God’s love.
  • Lion – Long version: Lion tells the true story of the life of Saroo Brierly. Saroo grew up in India, but, after being separated from his brother at a train station, he ends up riding a train that takes him hours away from his home. He is too young to identify where he is from, so he is eventually placed in foster care and adopted by an Australian couple. Later, when Saroo is in college, he begins to wonder about the family he lost. He uses the new (at the time) invention Google Earth to meticulously comb through India until he finds the small town where he grew up, leading to him being reunited with his long lost family. Short version: Prepare to sob.
  • Victoria – I absolutely love period dramas. And I also happen to love the Victorian era. And, ever since I watched The Young Victoria when I was barely old enough to understand anything beyond her being a pretty queen who got to wear fancy dresses, I have been fascinated by the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This new series from Masterpiece (aka the people who brought me the love of my life, Downton Abbey) has captivated me so far, and I can’t wait for the second season.
  • America’s Got Talent – Watching AGT is my summer tradition, especially now that we have the perfect judging panel (Simon Cowell fan for life right here). I loved this season, and I feel like there truly were so many standout contestants, many of whom were sent home far too soon. But, thankfully, my top three, Preacher Lawson, Evie Clair, and Mandy Harvey, made it to the finale. Alas, the top prize ultimately went to the also very talented Darci Lynne.

Beauty //

  • Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Foundation – If you’re like me, and you’re so pale that people should just start calling you Casper, then you need this foundation. I have the worst time finding a good foundation match for my skin tone; even the lightest shade in a particular range is often still just a bit too dark for me. But the lightest shade of this foundation is literally perfect for me. Bonus: The formula is also fantastic.
  • Catrice Liquid Camouflage Concealer – I picked this up at Ulta after hearing one of my favorite YouTubers, KathleenLights, rave about it. Since then, it’s become my favorite concealer. It has medium-to-full coverage, and never feels heavy or cakey (which is a beautiful thing).
  • L’oreal Lash Paradise Mascara – This. Mascara. Is. Amazing. I have tried almost every mascara at the drugstore, and this one is certainly a stand out. It gives a really nice voluminous look, without being too clumpy. It adds just enough oomph without being over-the-top.
  • Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk – When I bought this product (with a Target Cartwheel coupon, obviously), I thought I would probably use it as a detangler/leave-in-conditioner. But, as it turns out, this is actually an amazing styling product to use on slightly damp hair. I use the one specifically for curly hair, and it tames my kinks and frizz while still giving me the slightly messy look that I love.
  • Wet ‘n Wild Liquid Catsuit Lipstick – Okay, I have tried a lot of liquid lipsticks since they first became a thing, and let me tell you, nothing (not even high-end options) compare to this. And it’s only $4.99. It lasts through meals easily, and doesn’t start to fade for hours. My personal favorite shade is Rebel Rose.

Books //

  • Portraits of Courage by George W. Bush – Okay, confession: I love George W. I mean, how can you not? During his presidency, President Bush made his love and respect for our military known, and has continued his dedication to them since leaving office, hosting events in Texas for veterans to get together and find healing through sports. Coincidentally, President Bush has also taken up painting as a post-administration activity. This book combines these two passions, telling the stories of veterans he has met, most of whom suffer from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, along with pictures he painted of them. The stories are beyond inspiring, and President Bush’s love for the book’s subjects practically jumps off of the pages.
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – This was my first ever Agatha Christie book. I read it in preparation for the film adaptation coming out in this month. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did, I was hooked. I honestly could not predict who the murderer was, and I was completely caught off guard by the ending. Not only was the book great, but I think it will translate very well to film.
  • The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson – This is the third book in Dickerson’s Haggenheim fairytale retelling series with a Christian twist. I have read several books in this series (you don’t have to read them in order), but this is by far my favorite. Based on Beauty and the Beast, it was inspiring, but also featured plenty of conflict and action to move the story along.

Quotes & Scriptures //

  • “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
  • “You’re allowed to be broken and a total mess and love Jesus.” – Jordan Lee Dooley
  • “I am a woman. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a Mormon.”
  • “To the girl who reads by flashlight, who sees dragons in the clouds, who feels most alive in worlds that never were, who knows magic is real, who dreams…This is for you.” – Megan Spooner
  • “She’s the kind of queen that knows her crown isn’t on her head but in her soul.” – Adrian Michael
  • “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8, 10

Songs //

  • “I’ll Find You” by Lecrae ft. Tori Kelly
  • “Yours” by Russell Dickerson
  • “Broken Things” by Matthew West
  • “God Bless This Mess” by Jillian Jacqueline
  • “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten
  • “Glimpse” by Kim-Walker Smith
  • “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett
  • “My Girl” by Dylan Scott
  • “Hills & Valleys” by Tauren Wells
  • “Even If” by MercyMe
  • “Legends” by Kelsea Ballerini
  • “The Long Way” by Brett Eldredge
  • “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur
  • “Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift

 

{ Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash }

My Spring Favorites

My Spring Favorites

Summer is now officially upon us. While it seems that everyone loves summer, there is definitely something special about spring, when everything that had died comes back to life (and when it is not yet 100 degrees outside). Before I jump fully into summer, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things from spring.

spring faves

Movies & TV //

  • Hidden Figures: I first saw Hidden Figures in theaters for my birthday, and I fell instantly in love. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae do a fantastic job portraying Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, three female African-American NASA employees who did nothing short of change the world. As a woman, I feel so grateful for what these three women did and the sacrifices they made.
  • Beauty & the Beast: Does this even require an explanation? The original has always been one of my favorite movies, but the remake certainly outdoes it. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle was perfect, and I love the closer focus on Belle’s intelligence during a time when this was not welcome in women.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: I am, and always will be, the biggest Harry Potter fan. This movie was a great addition to the magical world without trying too hard (*cough* Cursed Child *cough*). Also, Newt Scamander is basically the most adorable character ever.
  • Downton Abbey: Yes, I have finally fallen into the inescapable hole that is Downton Abbey. The story, the characters, the history – I love it all. Obsessed is a strong word, but I might be at that level. I just finished the entire show, and I’m still trying to recover.

Beauty //

  • Essence Pure Nude Highlighter: I have just gotten into highlighting in the past few months (what was I doing with my life before?), and this one is by far the best that I’ve used. It’s not over-the-top, but it definitely leaves a visible sheen. In my opinion, it’s perfect.
  • Maybelline The Colossal Big Shot Mascara: I am a mascara junkie. I’ve tried all the drugstore classics, and a few high-end favorites as well. This is definitely the best mascara I have ever used. It adds the perfect amount of volume and length, without one over-powering the other. It is certainly not for the faint of heart, though – this is definitely a false lash look.
  • CoverGirl Oh Sugar! Lip Balm: This stuff beats every other tinted lip balm I have ever tried (and I have tried quite a few). I love keeping the shade “Candy” in my purse for when I need some moisture, and using the shade “Punch” for when I want a wash of color.
  • L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation: My skin tends to lean in the combo/oily direction, so luminous foundations scare me. But, I decided to give this one a try before it got too hot, and I love it. I definitely won’t be able to keep using it through the summer, but it’s perfect for the cooler months.
  • Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in “Stepping Out”: I got this in one of those Sephora favorites kits, and I’m obsessed. I never would have thought that I would like this color on myself, but I do. With my complexion, it looks like a nude with a mix of rusty orange.
  • Colourpop Lippie Stix in “Lumiere”: I had had my eye on this shade for a while, but I was hesitant to purchase it because I rarely wear cool-toned lip colors. But once I finally got this shade and started wearing it, it was like I had been missing it my whole life. Seriously.
  • Bath & Body Works Bonjour Paris Lotion: I honestly have no words for this lotion. It’s a newer release from B&BW, and I have to say, they are killing it with their new products. This scent (a little floral, but not too much) is everything.

spring swatches

Books //

  • Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird: This is a Christian nonfiction book that features the tagline “God’s radical design for beauty, femininity, and identity.” I am very picky about the Christian nonfiction books I read, and I didn’t agree with every single thing that sisters (and bloggers) Kristen and Bethany wrote in this book, but I still loved it. It was perfect for my done-with-modern-feminism heart.
  • Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth: This is my favorite book I have read so far this year. Basically, it’s a dystopian about two warring peoples. But that’s not the reason I loved this book. One of the main characters, Cyra, deals with chronic pain, and has been severely psychologically affected by it. I have never read a book that features a main character with a chronic illness before, and I think Veronica Roth handled it perfectly.
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: It will come as no surprise that historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. This book, which focuses on the rarely-discussed labor camps created during World War II not by Hitler, but by Stalin, is incredibly moving. I cannot recommend it enough.

Quotes & Scriptures //

  • “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” – Sheila Walsh
  • “But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest ye haply be found even to fight against God.” – Acts 5:39
  • “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2
  • “…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14
  • “If you feel a little overwhelmed, take that as a good sign. It indicates that you can sense the magnitude of the trust God has placed in you.” – Henry B. Eyring

Songs //

  • “Every Little Thing” by Carly Pearce
  • “Better Man” by Little Big Town
  • “Magnify” by We are Messengers
  • “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina
  • “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger
  • “May We All” by Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw
  • “The Cause of Christ” by Kari Jobe
  • “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young
  • “Beauty & the Beast” by John Legend & Ariana Grande
  • “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran
  • “Once” by Maren Morris
  • “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
  • “Back to God” by Reba McEntire & Lauren Daigle

So, there you have it – my favorite things from spring 2017! Let me know what you were loving last season, and whether or not we share any favorites, in the comments below.