Favorite Things


I got knocked on my feet by the stomach bug on Sunday night. As I watched the Seahawks kick tail to make it to their second Super Bowl ever in franchise history! my stomach rumbled like a freight train, and about 20 minutes afterwards, I lost it. Quite literally.

After spending all Sunday night in full-on sickness (so bad I even fell off the bed and knocked over a lamp and got a huge bruise), I did absolutely nothing yesterday but lay in bed and sleep. (And watch Property Brothers and Love It or List It.) And as I drifted in and out of consciousness, my amazing husband (who had the stomach thing just the night before me), took care of every single little thing, including laundry. He’s pretty incredible.

Now that I’m fully rested and able to eat something more than Saltines, I feel like throwing caution to the wind today and sharing a few of my favorite things right now! I’m just so happy I’m not sick anymore, I had to share the joy with the world.

birchbox-logo copy


I have seen other bloggers write about their Birchbox subscriptions and been intrigued, but never was ready to pull the trigger until now. And so far, I’m a fan.

What it is. Birchbox is a monthly subscription to a selection of beauty/grooming/skin care/etc samples. For just $10 a month, you get four to five samples of products that are either well-known brands or emerging ones. They are sample sizes of each product, so you can try out a ton of new products without committing to a full-size product and realizing after two tries your skin or hair hates it, or it just doesn’t work for you. There are boxes for women and men (men’s are $20; would make a great gift!) and include everything from skin care to makeup, and sometimes non-beauty extras.

The Shop. If you decide you love any of the products and want a full size of it, you can shop online and receive points for every purchase. You also get points for referring friends to Birchbox. Collect enough points and redeem them for any purchase.

What I Love It. There are many reasons this has been so fun for me:

First of all, a box of beauty products in the mail!

Second, I live in the mountains where purchasing beauty products is limited to what’s available at the grocery store.

Third, I’m closing in on 41 now, and $5 grocery store skin care isn’t going to cut it anymore. Times past when I’ve upgraded to something more than $9.99 at CVS or whathaveyou, at least half the time I’ve thrown away the items after less than a week of using them because they make my skin break out, or I hate the product completely. With Birchbox, I’m able to try something new without committing to an entire full-size product, which will always cost more than the $10 I paid for the box.

Lastly, it introduces me to products I would never have otherwise tried. I’m not a habitual Sephora or Ulta shopper, so if it’s not Neutrogena or L’Oreal, I’m ignorant.

You Should Try It Too! If you’re interested in giving Birchbox a try, you can do so by clicking right here! You can cancel at any time with no cancellation fees. Basically a win-win.



Have I written about Stitch Fix before? I can’t remember. But it’s like Birchbox in that it’s a monthly subscription, too, but it’s for CLOTHES! And, it doesn’t have to be monthly…you can schedule it to arrive anytime…be it every five months, once a year, Whatever you want! Unlike other bloggers, I have not taken any pictures of what I look like in any of the items, because I simply cannot find any poses that don’t make me look awkward or constipated. So I am sparing you.

What it is. First you go online and answer tons of questions about your personal style and what you like/don’t like in regards to clothing. Then for $20 per box, you receive five items of clothing ranging from pants to shirts to dresses to accessories. Try on each thing in the privacy of your own home, and you have three days to decide whether or not you keep it. For any item(s) you keep, your $20 goes towards the purchase of that item; send back what you don’t want in the prepaid envelope. Then go online and fill out a questionnaire about what you kept, what you are sending back, and why. Pain less.

What I Love It. Again, I live in the mountains. If I do get to the Big City to shop, I pretty much only have time to swing by Target, Old Navy or Kohl’s. And that gets really boring and puts me into a significant rut.

I have to say — Stitch Fix has sent me items I would have completely overlooked had I been in a store — and turns out I love them and keep them after all. It’s opened me up to things I would have otherwise passed over. Also, I don’t do the monthly subscription — I end up requesting a box every other month or so. Doing it that way for me makes me spend less, because I’ve always kept at least one thing each time. I just can’t help myself.

You Should Try It Too! If you’re interested in giving Stitch Fix a try, you can do so by clicking right here! You can cancel at any time with no cancellation fees. Basically a win-win.  You can also select your price point for clothes — from cheapest possible to high-end. Your call. (Side note: they have pretty lengthy wait times right now due to popularity, so if you’re interested in getting started, I’d sign up now!)



please pardon the selfie.

I found these earrings over Christmas at Francesca’s Collection…they are matte gold large ball stud earrings, and I have worn them basically every single day since I bought them. They are perfect for everyday wear; they add just enough pizzaz to spruce up your blue jeans without being too dressy for your Old Navy quarter-sleeve top. (For example.)

Sadly, Francesca’s doesn’t have them online, but these are the closest I could find. (They’re from Etsy and I can assure you I paid nothing close to the cost of these.)



the grab-n-go. just darlin’.

After four years with a folding wallet that would rival George Costanza’s, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

I bought this wallet at Target (see?!) over Christmas and I LOVE IT because it’s easy to grab for those moments you’re running into the coffee shop for your afternoon drip with two shots. (For example.) It’s big enough to hold my phone too, so if I’m doing a grocery run I can just grab this instead of my entire lip-gloss filled purse. There’s plenty of slots for credit and gift cards, receipts, everything. And that front part is a pocket too. It does not have a checkbook  holder in it, which is perfectly fine with me because it’s 2014 and who writes checks for things like groceries or coffee anymore? You can get it here.

Alright friends. That’s all for now. I was going to try to come up with another thing to end on five, but I’m feeling a bit woozy and think it’s time to eat something and get some more Gatorade.

Don’t forget to tune in next Tuesday when we start the A Beautiful Life blog series, with guest posts from some of My Most Favorite People. It’s going to be so awesome.

Have a great Tuesday!

(Please note: I was not compensated for this post, and my opinions are truly my own. However, if you do sign up using one of my links for Birchbox or Stitch Fix, I do get referral credit, which is just lovely.)

not-so-happy endings (a thought collective)

It’s been heavy lately. Really heavy. First my unofficial sabbatical, then the sick that’s lingered around me for 8+ days now, and then the cancellation of one of my most favorite shows ever, Happy Endings.

(I knew the move-to-Friday was a nail in the coffin, but prayed an eclectic group of hipsters that wear non-prescription black-framed glasses and skinny jeans would discover it on the Friday night death slot and resurrect it.)

(Because evidently, two close-to-middle-aged parents who go to bed at 10 pm couldn’t help.)

(The memorial service was Saturday.)

It’s bringin’ me down, man. Time to fight the power and lighten things up a bit. (I’m not sure which power, but I’ll find one. And then I’ll fight it. To the death!)

Here are a random collection of thoughts in no particular order:

  1. School is out in precisely 15 days.
  2. I need a new swimsuit and am in no mood to go shopping for one.
  3. I’m completely addicted to afternoon iced coffees right now, and have spent approximately $147 on them in the past two weeks.
  4. I’ve been sick, and so I consider this my little treat to feel better…the iced coffee.
  5. I watched the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductions the other day, and have a few thoughts: still not a huge Rush fan; Donna Summer’s daughters are gorgeous; Flava Flave…still crazy after all these years; and those musicians…they sure like to use the swear words.
  6. I’m currently reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and dying laughing out loud all by myself.
  7. I would like to now be BFF’s with Mindy, and get together and talk about Waiting for Guffman while drinking (let’s all say it…) ICED COFFEE.
  8. Let’s be clear: when I say I went “running,” I’m using the term very loosely. A more correct definition of what I do would be “wogging,” but it doesn’t sound nearly as cool or give you the mental image of me traipsing like a gazelle through mountain trails. Especially when I wog on roads, not trails.
  9. My daughter has informed me, approximately 14,700 times in the past eight days, that all my coughing is really annoying.
  10. I bet Mindy is a HUGE fan of Happy Endings.

What’s going on with you? Any random thoughts to share so we can laugh at with you?


Spring Breaking

I meant to say that I was going to be a little silent this week, as it’s my kids’ spring break. And my goal for this week has been quality time and fun (in between work stuff, of course).

And we have had a LOT of fun:


  • We went to Atlanta and saw our friend in Seussical: The Musical
  • Spent time with the Gamma and the Papa
  • Paxton has slept until about 9 every morning (which is enough fun in and of itself)
  • We got off the mountain and had lunch at Sonic and played games at the Fun Factory (our version of Chuck E. Cheese)
  • Jaana & I had a mommy-daughter date day and had lunch, saw a movie and went shopping
  • I’ve slept until at least 8 every morning (and one day until 9!)
  • We’ve been to Target TWICE
  • Jaana had a sleepover
  • I am slowly but surely catching up on my DVR full of ridiculously delicious television

All in all, it’s been awesome and it’s only Thursday!

So I might do Five Minute Friday tomorrow…or I might not. Just depends on how tired I am from all the fun. (And how discouraged I am that my clothes are ill-fitting due to an overload of the Cadbury Mini-Eggs and none of the running.)

So anyway. I might see you tomorrow, or I might see you Monday.

Have an amazing and lavishly blessed Easter — may the resurrection of our Lord be new and fresh to you this weekend.

If We’re Gonna Be BFF’s…

I consider you all friends. Is this okay?

Because as friends, I think it’s important that we share all the crazy quirky things that make us who we are. I saw this post idea over at Little Miss Momma and thought it was awesome. So I’m totally copycatting. The only caveat to this is that if you’re going to read you simply have to share. Don’t leave me to hang all my crazy quirky out there to dry alone.

Things my BFFs should know:

  1. I crack myself up all the time. And most of the time, I’m the only one I crack up.
  2. If I see Golden Girls is on TV I will stop everything and watch. Dishes drop out of my hands and food burns on the stove. For real.
  3. You will consistently find half-drank (drinken? drunk?) cans, bottles and cups of mine around the house. Drives Greg insane.
  4. I used to make my little brother try do the Dirty Dancing lift with me, but we never quite got it right.
  5. There’s a soft spot in my heart for Bell Biv DeVoe and all other 90s hip-hop rap groups.
  6. I can help you rationalize and justify any decision you’re trying to make.
  7. In high school I wanted to spell my name “Monikkah” until a friend loudly sounded it out phonetically making fun of me.
  8. In my mind I dance like a Fly Girl.
  9. In my mind I sing Adele.
  10. In my mind I might be a little bit cray-cray.
  11. I cannot be productive at all if I don’t have shoes on.
  12. I hate being barefoot.
  13. Lakes gross me out to swim in, but boating is fine.
  14. If my husband wouldn’t make fun of me for it, I’d still wear nose plugs in the pool.
  15. I’d tell you all about my procrastination issues, but let’s wait until tomorrow.
  16. See number 1.
  17. I really am so very introverted which makes me a tad antisocial. Big gatherings and parties totally stress me out. I’m afraid my introverted-ness comes across as snobby at times because I tend to hang along the wall or glom on to one person like a leech. But it’s really just because I’m pretty insecure and totally uncomfortable. Like totally.
  18. I practically ran down the aisle at my wedding because as soon as I entered the chapel I saw everyone staring at me and I freaked out. I figured the sooner I got to the pastor, the sooner I didn’t have to see people watching me.
  19. See number 10.
  20. I need alone time like some people need air.
  21. Whenever I see the clock says 12:34 I say “make a wish!” even if I’m alone.
  22. I am very methodical about my grocery shopping and always start and end in the same exact way.
  23. I am very haphazard about my meal planning and am always scrambling to figure out what we’re eating come 5:30 pm.
  24. Nothing would be better than an 8 x 10 of Will Ferrell’s face on my desk so I can laugh on command when necessary.
  25. I never, ever, ever eat seafood. Not a single bit of it. Grosses me out. This is why they kicked out of Washington State.
What about you? As your bloggy BFF, what do I need to know about you?

25 Things to Be Happy About (Part Three)


When I was in college I picked up a little book called 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. It’s simply hundreds of pages of stream-of-consciousness lists of things that make you happy. When life was stressful or I was feeling blue, I would just pull out that book and smile like crazy. And I would take a red pen and make marks next to the things I really loved and different marks next to the things I really liked and other marks next to things I hoped to experience.

Things like:

  • mason jars
  • the cool underside of a pillow
  • hearty stew in white bowls
  • late Sunday brunches
  • dandelions and buttercups

See? It’s the perfect little book to let your mind wander and help you to exhale, even just a little bit.

Even now, every once and again my mind starts keeping a running tally of things that make me smile — silly things like the first few chews of bubble gum and the names of Northeastern towns like Kennebunkport and Montauk, and finding one last chocolate-covered caramel in your Sea Salt Caramel gelato. And after a while that tally in my head gets too long and I’m reminded again of that sweet little book.

Because while I give thanks and express gratitude to God all the time for most things, sometimes I forget to just appreciate the little things that bring a smile. You know, the small, seemingly insignificant things that help you enjoy life.

So I decided it was time to write part three in this very inconsistent series. (You can read the first post here and the second one here.) And in no order of importance whatsoever, here are 25 things that make me happy:


  1. kids singing the Veggie Tales version of “9-to-5” at the top of their lungs in the car
  2. singing along with them
  3. pink lady apples crisp and cold from the fridge
  4. the smell an empty coffee bag leaves in the kitchen
  5. gray and yellow anything
  6. a full water bottle with ice and fresh-squeezed lemon
  7. school lunches made the night before
  8. new batteries in your wireless mouse
  9. accidental snort-laughing
  10. accidental snort-laughing in public
  11. accidental snort-laughing alone in public
  12. your husband’s smooth dance moves
  13. a new phone case
  14. liquid laundry softener
  15. warming hands on a hot mug of tea
  16. peanut butter granola
  17. thinking about someone and they suddenly call you
  18. freshly manicured short, red nails
  19. finding a favorite item at the grocery store is buy-one-get-one free
  20. exquisite candle jars with exotic scent names like elysian garden and saijo persimmon
  21. white, coral and turquoise in the spring
  22. the voice translation Bible
  23. pinterest
  24. singing along to music while running when you’re sure no one is around
  25. being totally alone in your house, even for just a little bit

What would be on your list?