2018, Let's Do This: My Goals for the New Year!

Hi everyone, happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  We had such an amazing few days.  My parents, my oldest brother, his wife, and their two kids joined us in our little apartment to celebrate.  My younger brother is currently living in Australia so sadly he couldn't come home but he was sure on our hearts and minds the whole time.  It's a challenge to fit 10 people into a small apartment for days on end but I smile at the memories made in close proximity.

I don't think I have considered making an actual list of "new years resolutions" in a few years but I have really been thinking a lot about a few goals that I want to accomplish in the coming year.  I think goals are great to have as long as we don't tie ourselves to them in unhealthy ways.  For me they keep me dreaming, they keep me productive, and they help me grow.

So without further ado, my 2018 goals...

1. Read 20 books

Though I haven't had a solid list of new years resolutions in a while I always start my new year with a reading goal.  I love traveling to new places, going back in time, and meeting new people through books it just makes me so incredibly happy.  I always set my goal pretty low because this is the one thing that if I don't meet it will drive me crazy.  20 is always a great start for me and if I surpass it, that's even better.  For example last year I had the same goal but ended up reading 29 so it's a number I can feel pretty good about.

2. Read Anna Karinina

This is kind of a sub goal of the first but I have been wanting to tackle this book for a really long time but it's just so intimidating, it's something like 900 pages!  I recently watched the movie version with Kiera Knightly and it was seriously one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen in my entire life and ever since then my desire to read this book has deepened.  The story is pretty raw and gritty but I think at it's core it has such an amazing message that really challenges the world view of love, happiness, and fulfillment. So though I am a little intimidated to read this massive book I am very, very excited!

3. Start sewing

I really want to pick up sewing, mainly to make cute clothes and hair bows for my two girls.  My husband got me a sewing machine a few years ago and I have yet to touch it but I really want to make an effort to put it to use this year, I think I would find it really enjoyable!

4. Learn a new language

Ok so I 100% do not expect to be fluent in another language by the end of the year but I want to work towards it.  I find the concept of language extremely fascinating and I would love to become fluent in another one or two during my lifetime.  For a few years now I have been dabbling into French on an app called Duo Lingo and it has really helped me learn a lot of the basics (right now they have me rated as 28% fluent LOL) and so my goal for this year is to finish an entire language package on Duo Lingo, which is quite a lot but I think I can do it.  Once I'm finished with that I think I might try to find a community college that offers language courses so I can go even further with it.  Maybe next years goal? ;)

5. Be more hospitable

I am, by nature, and extreme introvert and because of it I have always had a really hard time opening up to people, especially in my adult life.  Luckily I married a man who is the complete opposite of me and he has really been helping me grow.  I just have this desire to invite more people into our home and build strong relationships around our table.  I think it's a great way to not only do life with people but to also practice servitude.  Even though I think this one will be the most challenging I think it will be the most important because I want both of our girls to grow up with this being exemplified through both of their parents and not just their dad because it comes easy for him.

6. Learn more about photography

In the past year I have found that I really enjoy taking pictures but to say that I am an amateur is an overstatement.  I know nothing!  I want to start learning new things about different settings, lenses, lighting, and even editing.  I think this will push me to be more creative and will also help me put up better content on my blog!

7. Study more art

Some of my favorite classes in my college program were my art history classes! There is something so fun about looking at a piece and picking the artists brain.  There are so many 'Easter eggs' hidden throughout different artwork and I love the challenge of finding them out!  I just recently finished up with school so that's why I kind of want to make this a goal.  Just because I am no longer in an academic setting doesn't mean I can't still learn!

8. Make saving a priority

This is something that both my husband and I want to be even more serious about.  This will come along with another goal, which is to be more intentional about spending.  I sometimes buy things on a whim because 'it's cute!' or 'there's a party coming up, I need a new dress!' I just want to plan out my purchases a little better to make sure that I am only buying things that 1. I really need or 2. I will really love and use regularly.  Saving is really important to us because it helps prepare us for the occasional flat tire but also because we really want to be able to travel.  We don't want seeing the world to not be an option just because we don't make 'x' amount of money a year.  In the past we have both been able to go to some pretty amazing places and it's because we have thought ahead so it's a goal to continue to make saving a priority.

9. Be more intentional about resting

I tend to be a huge perfectionist, which in my eyes is both a blessing and a curse.  It pushes me but it can also really hinder my ability to rest.  I want to work on being able to just sit down with my family and watch a movie even if there are still a few dishes in the sink or to take a bath without feeling guilty that I didn't vacuum the house first.

I have been thinking a lot about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) both of whose character is equally inspiring.  I believe there is a way to be a Mary and a Martha without sacrificing the qualities of one for the other.  Rest is about balance and about priority both of which I struggle with.

So I think the main take-a-way this year for me will be to rest and then work rather than work and then rest.

10. Work more on growing my blog

I love what I do here on my blog it has really become my 'baby' and I really want to see it grow in the coming year.  So I just have a few goals to build better and genuine relationships within the community and just continue to be creative and share what's in my head.  Within that goal I have two sub goals.

The first is to start doing more fashion related posts.  I have always loved fashion and I went to school for fashion so I definitely want to implement that side of me into blogging.  I haven't been doing it because I don't think I have been confident enough.  I think there are a lot girls out there who do it far better than I ever could and I also feel like I have never been in good enough 'shape' to do it.  But I think it's time that I stop making excuses and start challenging myself to take this next step.

The second is to write more about my faith.  This is something that is really important to me because whatever I do with my talents, abilities, and time I want to minister through them.  So in the coming year I want to be more intentional about this blog through prayer, asking the Lord to lay His will on my heart so that I can write about it and share his love and light with anyone who comes across this space!

2017 Highlights

Since it is New Years Eve tomorrow I thought it would be fitting to reflect on all of my favorite things that happened in 2017 as well!

1. Welcoming Hadessah into our family

Ok, so technically Hadessah was born at the very end of 2016 but 2017 was our first full year with her and what an adventure it was.  I loved getting to know our new baby bear throughout the year.  She is such a sweet, spunky little girl and our family is just that much more complete with her in it!

In addition I loved watching Ezrah become a big sister!  She loves her little sister so much and I feel so blessed by their special bond!

2. Bryan getting a new job

A while ago we made the decision for Bryan to move from active duty to the reserves and he was just hired for a new job and in turn we will also be moving to a new city!  It's a little scary but we are so excited for this next chapter!  I will be writing a little more about this in another post, to come soon.

3. My trip to the Middle East

Last but certainly not least visiting Israel and Jordan was the trip of a lifetime.  I got to go with my parents and my grandparents.  Three generations in the Holy Land together, I never would have dreamt of it.  It was a time of rest, adventure, and revelation.  I will always look back with a joyful heart.

Bonus goal:  Find out how I can make going to Israel an annual thing for my family and I ;)

What are some of your goals for the coming year?

Wishing you all the best year ever, let's do this!

How To: Cheese Board for Entertaining

Ok guys, I don't know about you but I loooove cheese, in fact the only two people I have ever met that don't are my husband and my sister-in-law and I think they are seriously missing out ;) So when I found out kind of last minute that we would be hosting Christmas this year at our house I knew that I wanted to put together a cheese board for everyone to snack on Christmas day after we finishing opening up gifts!  I thought it would be fun to share with all of my fellow cheese lovers what I came up with and hopefully give some last minute ideas for your own get-togethers!

And just in case you are interested I will leave links below to all my cheese board essentials such as my tray and knife set.  I mean the simplest answer is that I got them at Target just like the rest of my possessions hahaha but you get the idea!

I started by choosing four different cheeses and then went from there.

1. Brie

2. Gouda (my personal favorite) 

3. Aged Cheddar

4. Provolone

Cheese goes really well with both sweet and savory so I just tried to pick out a few different options for both.  For sweet I went with grapes, honey, and apples.  Unfortunately mine got a little brown after I sliced them soooo if you want to avoid this you can soak your apples in a little bit of lemon juice!  I also added some bourbon praline pecans for a little sweet and salty at the same time.  I normally don't go for pecans but these are seriously delicious!  For some more savory notes I went with salami and prosciutto.  And then I added some artisan crackers to act as the base for all of these delicious combinations.  You could always go with bread too, can you ever go wrong with a little bread?

You could of course always serve this with your favorite wine but my parents aren't drinkers and so to be respectful we don't drink around them.  A sparkling cider will do nicely, I picked up an apple peach to go along and I think it will be delicious!

Hosting can sometimes be a bit stressful and I know a lot of you must be feeling it as we get closer and closer to Christmas but just remember how many people are receiving the blessing of your hard work!  Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed just think of that.  One of the biggest stress relievers in this world is to simply put the focus on other people and to think of how you can serve them with your talents and abilities.  The end result, lots of smiles and full bellies!

I am so excited to share this with my family this year and just spend quality time in their company.

I am wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!


Nutella Hot Cocoa and My Favorite Christmas Movies!

Hi everyone, welcome back! We are deep into the Christmas season and so I thought it would be really fun to share a hot cocoa recipe that we recently tried and loved!  It's super simple and as you already know from the title it involves Nutella, you better put on your stretchy pants because you are going to want more than one mug full, trust me, it is rich and creamy and just so delicious!


1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

6 cups of milk (I like using whole milk)

1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of Nutella

2 cups of marshmallows


Start by pouring your milk and heavy cream into a sauce pan and heat over a medium setting.  Heat until the mixture is hot but not boiling.

Remove from heat and add in both kinds of chocolate and vanilla extract then stir until smooth.

Now add your marshmallows, cover with a lid, and return the sauce pan to a low heat setting for about five minutes.  This will melt the marshmallows and turn your drink into an ooey gooey delight.

Top with whip cream or another favorite topping and you're ready to serve and enjoy!

Now, is there anything better than curling up with your hot cocoa next to your Christmas tree and watching Christmas movies?  It's literally one of my favorite things and there are a few Christmas movies that I have grown to love so much over the years and so I thought I would share my favorites!

1. Christmas with the Kranks

2. Arthur Christmas (Especially since we started having kids!)

3. Home Alone

4. Elf

5. The Santa Clause

*and of course any cheesy original tv movie from Freeform, Hallmark, Lifetime, or Netflix.  My husband literally cannot take it but I am alllllll about it! 

These are in no particular order but I just feel like the season isn't complete unless I have watched all of them throughout December (or November)!

What are some of your favorite Christmas recipes and movies?  I would love to know!

Virtually holding up my cup of hot cocoa to yours...cheers to the weekend!

Christmas Gift Guide for Her.

Hi everyone!  I had so much fun putting together the last gift guide for girls that I decided to put together another one for all those special women in your life.  I chose nine different categories and then picked an item to go with it.  So whether you have a friend who loves wine or a sister who loves beauty, I've got you covered! 

1. The baker - I am a strong believer in making an experience out of everything and using an ordinary object in an extraordinary form can add to that experience, which is why the once humble rolling pin has made it to my list.  If you have someone who loves baking a rolling pin with a little artisan touch is such a great idea.  Not only is it something they will use but it's also something that they can put on display in their kitchen.  I found this one at Target and of course you can never go wrong in the home section at Anthropologie

2. The wine connoisseur - Rose All Day by Katherine Cole is a super cute book all about the beloved millennial pink drink that bridges the gap between lovers of red and lovers of white.  It goes over things like its origin, how it's made, food pairings, and much more.  Not only is it really informative but it would look great on any coffee table too.

3. The writer - I think we all know someone who journals the way we wish we would!  I personally have a friend who brings a notebook to church every Sunday for notes, I can hardly remember to bring my Bible!  If you're looking for something pretty to bless someone with, look no further than Rifle Paper Co.!

4. The beauty guru - I feel like perfume is such a Christmas staple so I debated putting it in here but the question is, what perfume do you get?  I would suggest going with something timeless and classic my best recommendation would be Miss Dior, I just think it is such a beautiful, feminine, and sophisticated scent and in my experience it lingers for most of the day, which can sometimes be hard to find in a perfume.  

5. The traveler - Isn't this passport cover the most darling thing?!  I love the pink and rose gold combination.  I actually used this on my recent trip to the middle east and it held everything I needed quite nicely so it's definitely as functional as it is cute! 

6. The crafter - Think about the girl on your list who can just try anything on Pinterest and succeed, she needs a pair of scissors like these to help her in all of her crafty endeavors (If she doesn't already have them).  Seriously, is there anything more Pinterest worthy than a pair Eiffel Tower scissors?

7. The fashion girl - A vintage piece of jewelry could be a great option for someone who is really into fashion.  You could check out some of your vintage shops in your local area and pick out something really unique and special.  It would be a really great way to support a small business this Christmas season as well! 

8. The bibliophile - For the girl who loves literature and beautiful covers, the Vintage Classics Austen Series is perfect! 

9. The Christmas lover - If you have someone in your life who starts playing Christmas music in October then a beautiful ornament would be perfect!  Anthropologie has such a wonderful selection.  They are all so unique and whimsical, I especially love this sweet little swan with feathers! 

Well that's all I have for today!  I really hope you found this helpful in some way, thanks so much for reading! 


A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Birthday.


Where do I even begin?  Ah, maybe I will begin with my disbelief.  I still vividly remember the day they laid you on my chest the moment you were born, like it was yesterday.  It almost feels like I could still reach out and touch your little newborn fingers and toes, so trust me when I say, I can hardly believe you're one.

And what a year it has been.  Every moment with you big or small, messy or wonderful, has been a rich addition to my life and I am forever grateful.  I love the way you light up your father's eyes and the way you make your sister giggle uncontrollably.  I love the way your cheeks form tiny dimples when you smile and your intense curiosity for the world around you.  I love that you look more like your dad then you do me and I love that you have completely taken over your sisters chair in the living room.  It's about time she waves her white flag.  My sweet girl, you are so so special and you have filled the void that our family was missing before your arrival.

I keep going back to a thought I had once your older sister was born.  For months I dreamed of the way she would look and of the personality she would posses and it was the same way with you.  I couldn't stop thinking about you, all the days leading up to your birth.  Oh, your dad and I would stay up late and talk for hours about you, our girl and her arrival.  Would you have blue eyes like me or would they be brown like your dads?  Would your hair be light, dark, curly? And then you were born and like your sister, God's design in you completely surpassed my own and I just know that He created you with a twinkle in His eye.  Yes, you had brown eyes and dark hair like I had imagined but there is just something more about you that goes beyond my realm of thought.  I may not ever be able to put my finger on it but that's ok because I know that I love you so incredibly much and that will always be enough for me.

Hadessah, if you read this someday I encourage you to live your life like this.  I hope you imagine and I hope you dream but that you trust the Lord's design even more.  I pray that you would trust in His plans for you and faithfully walk in the path He has set before you.  Because whatever it is and however excited or reluctant you may feel towards it, just know that it will be the very best thing for your life.  When you surrender your desires to the Lord, in return He will bless you a hundred fold with things that you never even thought possible, just like he blessed me with you. 

So now we're here, to the part where I have to admit that you are growing out of your clothes and slowly losing your baby smell.  Walking is your newest mode of transportation and soon you will be able to do it completely on you own, without my help.  Yes, I have to admit that you're growing and my heart is bursting for what I'm losing but also for what I'm gaining in watching you bloom.

So, Hadessah, as you grow I pray that you would love others fiercely despite the fact that every one of us is far too good at being human, that you would seek the Lord in all that you do, and that you would always, always know that size and age aside you are my little girl.

I am wishing you the sweetest of birthdays, I love you to the moon and back!

That's a Wrap: Christmas Wrapping Ideas!

I don't know about you but I take Christmas wrapping pretty seriously (apparently, serious enough to feel the need to blog about it haha!)  I know that it might seem a little over the top but I just love it so much and its just my way of making giving a little extra special.  So I thought that I would share with you all, how I am wrapping my presents this year! 

1. paper - I usually pick out at least two different paper designs and I try to find ones that coordinate.  This year I went with a plain brown paper that I found at Hobby Lobby and a really pretty mistletoe print from Rifle Paper Co. I love the way that these two look together and I think it says "Christmas" without being "too Christmas" you know what I mean? 

2. ribbon - I went with two different types of ribbon too, a plain white and a white and gold twine.  I really like using actual ribbon as opposed to the plastic bows.  It just elevates it a little bit AND you don't have to worry about your bows getting squashed if you have to transport your gifts from one house to another.  To get different looks you can just play around with it a bit.  On some of my gifts I actually doubled up the twine and I really like how it turned out! 

3. greenery - This is a great way to add a pop of color and texture and it's super simple because you can just go outside and grab a few branches and be done if you wish.  I added some eucalyptus and cedar! 

4. gift tags - In lieu of traditional gift tags this year, I went with these stickers that I also found at Rifle Paper Co. I thought it was a great way to tie both papers together and they are super cute! 

So that's pretty much all there is to it!  I would say that I hope you don't think of me as the crazy Christmas lady now that you have read this but I think I would totally be ok with that haha!  I celebrate hard from Thanksgiving until the 25th so bear with me! 

I am wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season, thanks for reading! 

Christmas Gift Guide for Little Girls

I have been finishing up with Christmas shopping for my girls this year (I start pretty early) so I thought I would share with you all, a little gift guide.  Some of these things I actually bought for my girls and some I didn't but I still wanted to add a few more things that I think would be great for under the tree!  I will start off by saying that some of these things are on the pricy side but we really don't buy our girls a ton of toys throughout the year so I really like to focus on a few really special things during their birthdays and Christmas.  We really believe in quality over quantity and also in things that are going to stretch the imagination.  This also really helps keep our house from being overrun with toys haha! 

one - We already have the book, Gaston and love it but the companion book, Antoinette recently came out so I had to grab it!  If you don't have either the Gaston & Antoinette box set is so perfect! 

two - One brand that we have really come to love in our household is Maileg!  Everything is so unique with a beautiful whimsical spin.  This little cat and mouse comes in a shoebox that turns into a ballet studio.  I just think it is the most precious thing ever and I can just see my four year old loving it too! 

three - You can never go wrong with hair bows!  This would be a great stocking stuffer! 

four - This is Little Pig, Baby Bacon and I got this for our youngest, Hadessah who will be turning one very soon.  I just see her snuggling up to this cutie and I secretly hope that she sleeps with it until she's 25.   

five - We won't be getting our girls a dollhouse this year but I just had to share this, even though most of you probably already have the lo down on the new Magnolia collection for Target!  This dollhouse is just so darling and I love that it's wooden and minimal in color and style. 

six - If you have a baby one or under it can be kind of hard to decide what to get them since they are so little but why not get them something practical?  You can still get the experience of them opening (probably with a little help) a gift but it will also be useful.  Raise your hand if you feel like teething lasts a lifetime!  You can never have enough teethers, I found this one from Happy Hadley Handmade and I thought it was really unique and feminine.

I really hope this was helpful for any of you girl moms out there.  Thanks for reading and happy shopping! 


Crossing into Jordan

If you read my last post you will know that I recently spent some time in Israel but before coming back home we actually spent a few days in Jordan as well.  From Jerusalem we drove to the boarder to go through customs and then off we went to Mount Nebo.  Mount Nebo is where Moses viewed the promise land, since God had not permitted him to enter in due to his disobedience.  I LOVE this story even though at first it seems a little harsh for God not to let Moses enter into the promise land after a lengthy escape from Egypt and an even lengthier wandering in the desert.  But the first reason is because of God's tenderness towards Moses in his death.  God HIMSELF buried Moses.  The burial process is such an important process weaved into the human existence and what a tender act of service and love we see displayed in our God.  He loved Moses with such a fatherly love and he extends that same love to us.  The second reason is because no, Moses didn't enter the promise land, he entered eternity.  We know this because in Matthew 17 during the transfiguration, Moses is seen with Jesus.  How amazing is that?  Even in a moment of loss, God had something more in store for Moses, the loss was ultimately temporary.  What a special thing to hold on to!  You can read more about Moses on Mount Nebo in Deuteronomy 34. 

It was really hazy, windy, and dusty this day so we really couldn't see very far but on a clear day you can see, of course, Jerusalem!

After Mount Nebo we drove about three hours to our hotel outside of Petra.  During our few days here we spent a lot of time driving and let me tell you, you really get a sense of what it would have been like to wander around in the desert for 40 years because Jordan is just that, desert!  Before we checked into our hotel we went to the site where Moses struck the rock (reason why he couldn't enter the promise land, Numbers 20).  This was a really interesting site because the stream of water literally just flows through town next to modern day streets and shops but it was cool to get to see it!

Before leaving for this trip I read a lot of things about the people in Jordan being some of the kindest people and I can now attest to that!  Our first night there some of us went out at night and walked around a little bit.  Sand art is a really big thing there, where they create scenes with sand from Petra in bottles, it's amazing! Anyways, there were a lot of artists out working and they just invited us to come and watch them and they would explain to us their craft, it was just so cool to get to interact with these people.  Anywhere I went in Jordan I felt so welcomed!

The next morning we woke up and we made our way to Petra!  The first thing I was surprised to find out is that you can actually ride a horse or even a carriage down to the siq, which is the main entrance of Petra.  I wasn't going to take advantage of this at first but then one of my friends convinced me to do it and I am so glad I did!  I had never rode a horse before and I can't think of a better way to first experience it!

To enter into Petra you have to enter through a siq also known as a narrow gorge, which a little less than a mile.  It is really quite amazing that there is an entire city hidden at the end!

The whole history of Petra is pretty extensive so I will leave a link here for those of you who are interested in reading up on it!

The first official glimpse of Petra at the end of the siq is the Treasury.  This was such a breathtaking experience, I have never seen anything like it!

Before visiting Petra I had mostly seen pictures of the Treasury and the Monastery so I really had no idea how big this place actually is.  You really need at least a solid two days to see everything.

 Inside there are locals with donkeys, horses, and camels everywhere so we of course got a chance to ride them, which was so much fun!  My dad also dared me to kiss a camel and I took him up on it but I am really glad I went in for the kiss slowly because the camel was not happy about it and he warned me good and well before I got too close!  I loved seeing all of the local people do their thing inside Petra.  It was a really cool cultural experience.

I won't lie, it was a pretty crowded place but at one point I looked around and took in the crowds and the people riding camels this way and that way and I tried to imagine what it would've been like to live there thousands of years ago.  It really would have been something else!

After leaving Petra we went for lunch and the restaurant had such an amazing view but the most amazing thing is that Petra is located in those mountains in the distance.  Can you believe that such a huge city is hidden in there?!  I guess that is precisely the reason why it is famously known as the Lost City because to the untrained eye you could pass by here a thousand times and be none the wiser!

I can't wrap this trip up without introducing Masie the Mouse aka my guardian angel.  It was really hard for my to leave my girls to go on this trip.  I knew without a doubt they were in capable and loving hands with their dad but I just missed them so much!  When they and my husband dropped me off at the airport I cried like a baby!  So I decided to bring along Masie, their little mouse friend to keep me company.  She went everywhere with me every single day and it was such a lovely reminder of my girls.  It reminded me that they were perfectly loved and safe and that I could enjoy my trip in peace!  My daughter, Ezrah still talks about how her little mouse went to the Middle East.  I think a new travel tradition has begun!

So now that's my trip to the Middle East in a nutshell!  I had so much fun visiting these two countries.  I learned so much, met so many lovable people, and the memories will go with my fondly forever.  If you are thinking of visiting Israel or Jordan or both I could only recommend it to you about a thousand times and I really hope that someday, you do!