Readers beware...cute photos ahead! This past weekend, we took the littles [Ruby & her cousins, Brody (left) & Braxton (middle)] trick-or-treating at the nursing home where some of our family members work.

This is the way to do it, folks. You get to be inside where it is warm whilst attaining crazy amounts of candy. Plus, the sweet residents get such a kick out of seeing these babes in costumes.

Mandatory Ruby & Mama shot. This expression was perpetually glued on baby girl's face during the event.

I really feel like I dropped the ball (smashed the pumpkin?) in the costume department this year. When you're a creative person (or like to think that you are), there's a lot of pressure to out-do yourself.

Last year, Ruby dressed up as Wednesday Addams. I just couldn't top it this time. I can barely get a meal prepared on most nights, let alone crafting up a kick-arse Halloween ensemble. Such can be the life of a full-time working Mama.

Oh, well. At least Ruby didn't seem to mind. Plus, we're actually pretty big Vikings fans in this household. The more you know...

 CUTEST. FACE. EVER. Showing off all six & a half of her pearly whites...

Little did Ruby know that all of her efforts were in vain; that Mama & Papa would be the only ones to enjoy her spoils. Someday, baby girl...xx


My Super Sweet 30th Birthday

A little bit about me...I was the kid who tried to find out what I was getting every year before Christmas. I'd tear the house apart searching for gifts and, on a couple occasions, actually opened my presents when my parents were away. I KNOW. 

I got over that the older I got. I like surprises now. Heck, we didn't even find out the gender of our baby when I was pregnant! That was THE BEST.

Well, my birthday bowling bash was supposed to be a surprise...You see, Wayde kind of made the mistake of leaving his Facebook account open on my laptop. So, when I opened it up and saw my news feed (we have many mutual friends), I didn't suspect anything out of the ordinary. It wasn't until I glanced at a message from my sisters featuring words like "bowling" and "birthday" and "count me in!" that I knew I was seeing something I wasn't supposed to see.

I felt horrible. I wasn't even trying to find out. And I confessed to Wayde shortly after.

It kind of ended up working out for the best though. Wayde took the responsibility of making my birthday cupcakes ("almost vegan" chocolate avocado), so I ended up being around for that whole ordeal (for lack of a better word). Regardless, I was super happy that he went to all the trouble he did to ensure that this big birthday was a memorable one, and that it was!!

 This photo doesn't do the cupcakes justice, but believe me, they were AMAZING.

So thankful for everyone who came out to help me celebrate!! Y'all made me feel so special:)

Another piece of info about me...I LOVE bowling (hence the bowling party). It is on my bucket list to score a 200 in my lifetime. My highest score: 199.



Oh, It's Such A Perfect Day (I'm Glad I Spent It With You)

Birthday weekend is in FULL SWING!! I'm SO thankful to have a Hubby that is SO willing to celebrate all the days leading up to the big day (he's actually in the middle of baking me "almost vegan" chocolate-avocado cupcakes as I blog).

Last night, we went on an actual DATE!! We had sushi, we saw Looper (um...what??), we went out for a drink. And today, he was willing to take a day trip to my hometown for some thrifting & nostalgia. Because birthdays should also be a time for reflecting (and Lord knows, there's been a lot of that with the big THIRTY barreling towards me...).

I kind of can't believe how hard we scored today thrifting. I had been looking for a vintage toy camera for Ruby for awhile now and found this one for $3. I also kind of can't believe that Ruby pretended to be taking a photo with it long enough for me to take a photo of it. One year olds are kind of impossible to pose for pictures, if you didn't already know.

We walked around the downtown area and stumbled upon the most incredible wall covered in leaves. We couldn't NOT do a photo shoot.

On Papa: Flannel button-down (thrifted), army surplus sweater (thrifted), Baldwin Denim Jeans (Badowers), Red Wing boots (thrifted). 

On Mama: The "Saba" scarf (FashionABLE - check out their website!), Cardigan (TJ Maxx), Plaid button-down (thrifted), Jeans (Express - Plato's Closet), Chanel inspired vinyl-tipped ballet flats (Payless).

 Papa looking all dapper in his new vintage motorcycle jacket.

Do you want to see what else we found??

Vintage pillows. I normally have a rule against buying second-hand pillows (I mean, come on...), but these were practically in mint condition. And at $2 each, I mean, COME ON!! So hot right now, too.

 Vintage thermoses to add to the collection ($1 each). Because I don't already have enough collections...

My biggest collection is probably my library of vintage sewing books, which is kind of ironic because I can barely sew. The illustrations are mainly what draw me in. Or in the case of this book, the typography, which is RIDICULOUS (in the best way possible). Can you frame books?

THESE DRESSES. It can be challenging to find previously-loved kids clothes that don't show any evidence of "the love", but these beauties made the cut. Throw on a long undershirt with leggings, and Ruby can wear these through the rest of the season.

My actual birthday is tomorrow, so I'm soaking in these last couple hours of my twenties. [Sigh]. I'm not one to get super hung up on ages but, not gonna lie, this is kind of a hard one.

Thank you, Lord, for the years. For the lessons learned. Even the difficult ones. Shaping me into the woman YOU want me to become.

I've got some big dreams & goals for this next decade, some that I'm already in the process of working towards. Some are a little too big to share on this blog now, but you'll know when I do.

Here's to the next chapter...xx


The Influence Conference

This past weekend (plus a couple days), I attended the much anticipated Influence Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it was the inaugural conference for lady bloggers/ online business owners of the Christian persuasion.

I’ll do my best to share some of what I learned and experienced, but I’m still processing much of it (as most of us are and probably will be for a long time).

Kicking things off with our hosts - Jessi Connelly, Hayley Morgan, Moriah Sunde, & Casey Wiegand. So grateful for each of their open hearts & hard work in making this event happen.

Day 1 outfit - Chambray top (thrifted) $4; pencil skirt (Target) $6; necklace (antique mall) $6.

I sure like dressing up, but what a lot of people didn't know was that the majority of my outfits from the weekend cost under $25. Total. As in for the whole outfit + accessories (ok, minus the shoes - but those weren't very expensive either).

On the topic of fashion, I was heavily encouraged to start incorporating my finds & strategies into future posts, which just might happen. Because I am still trying to figure out which direction to take this blog in...

The conference was divided into a couple different tracks—life sessions & strategy sessions. I tried to keep a healthy balance between two and am so glad that I did. SO MUCH WISDOM ON DISPLAY.

I had the privilege of attending talks from John Saddington, Hayley Morgan, Nish Weiseth, Jessi Connelly, Sarah Matheny, and Jessica Turner.

Of all the sessions I attended, I think Sarah Matheny's (aka Mama Pea) was like a shot to the heart. No PowerPoint. No bullet points. Simply a beautiful woman sharing her even more beautiful heart. Her words have been resonating with me ever since and I would encourage you to stream the audio when it becomes available online.

The She Reads Truth dinner. I wouldn’t have even known about the Influence Conference if it weren’t for learning about it through an Instagram hashtag.

Dinner attire – vintage Oscar de la Renta dress (Dorothea’s Closet) $25.

One thing I was DEFINITELY looking forward to was the Madewell styling session with The No Brainer Wardrobe author, Hayley Morgan. We don’t have Madewell stores in Iowa, so I splurged a little for the occasion. Without spending a whole lot of money, I will add;)

Day 2 outfit – Granny-chic polyester cardigan (thrifted) $4; purple skinny pants (thrifted) $4; necklace (thrifted) $5; tank (F21) $5.

So many lovely things for sale in the Sashes Market. And sooooo easy to justify a purchase when knowing the hearts behind the business owners. Yeah, I left with a couple things: )

Friends & roommates, Nicole & Adri. I also want to point out the lovely scarf I’m wearing in this photo that I purchased from the Sashes Market. It was handmade in Ethiopia through a business called FashionABLE.

Their mission is to provide sustainable jobs to African women who may have otherwise had to make a living through prostitution. I really believe in what they are doing and am crafting up some ideas to stay involved in their endeavors. Stay tuned.

This pile of business cards represents an extraordinary community of women whose common thread is the good & true message of Jesus Christ. If you are able to extract any of their URLs from this photo, I would encourage you to visit their sites—their stories.

I kept hearing the phrase “come tender” throughout the conference, and that I did. I arrived at Influence as a “small potatoes” blogger who doesn’t have sponsors or even an “about me” page. I am working on both. Needless to say, there were times where I felt a little out of place and humbled by my lack of knowledge, experience, and connections.

There were also times where I wrestled with the disillusionment of my expectations vs. reality. My soul got a much needed exfoliating. And that part hurt. I left feeling a little raw. Grace was a huge theme on so many levels throughout the weekend. And once I got over the junk of some of those insecurities, I had a pretty great time.

I want to thank my roommates - Jill, Adri, Amanda, & Nicole for their encouragement and accessibility.

I want to thank the women who engaged in REAL conversations with me. Women who made me feel that their circles weren’t small enough to let one more person in.

I thank God for bringing me to this conference at a time where I needed this kind of experience the most. I am just so immeasurably humbled by His great love for me. Not only that, but for sending along a companion in my journey to help process everything I learned. It's hard to say what my experience at Influence would have been like without my friend, Nicole.

From the bottom of my heart…thank you.


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Life Lately

This past weekend was pretty low key, as most weekends are for our little family. Papa was in Chicago with Parlours playing the famous METRO venue. Heck, I had even gone to a show there back in the day.

Unfortunately, due to last Monday's finger smushing debacle and my dwindling PTO days, I was unable to join. So Ruby & I stayed with family and enjoyed the crisp Fall weather.

One thing that made it easier to stay behind was knowing the Influence Conference is just around the corner!! I'm a bundle of nerves thinking about leaving Ruby behind. I have yet to spend a single night away from her, let alone four whole days!! I know that she's going to have a wonderful time with her Papa, but I'm still going to miss her a whole bunch.

I don't often get souvenirs from Wayde's band travels, but he surprised me with this hand-screened Beach House poster from the Metro. Good job, babe.

Post-church Dim Sum at Kwong Tung. I love when Wayde shows Ruby how to play percussion with found objects. Rockin' out with their chopsticks out.

New hair! It's a lot darker than I expected, but I am slowly warming up to it. I haven't had my hair dyed in over two years, so kind of a bid deal. And this is the best photo you are going to get for now as I feel so terribly awkward about taking self portraits.

Finally getting my fall fashion groove on. Not so surprisingly, I found everything I was looking for (and more) at Goodwill. For instance, I sort of gasped when I saw this sweater in the November issue of Lucky Magazine. Lucky for me, I discovered this vintage pearl collar while trolling the jewelry case at GW. Paired it with a striped sweater dress I already had and there you go. A $300 savings. I could do a whole ongoing blog series on "alike but different" fashion finds for under $15. Maybe someday.

P.S. I have had major issues with Blogger today - this post has crashed TWICE and published once without my authorization. SO FRUSTRATING. Thanks for bearing with me, although I'm sure this didn't put anybody out.

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