10 Things I’m Loving Lately

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

 

  1. Southern Savers

Y’all. Guess who can’t make sense of numbers and therefore is super bad at budgeting?! Yep. This girl. But then I discovered two things that help me stay on budget dramatically, and one is this website. LITERALLY it’s every manufacturer AND specific store coupon compiled in one spot – you can print off any coupon and use whenever. (I saved $7 on just 3 items at Target yesterday!)

  1. Paying with cash

I believe Dave Ramsey says to do this…keep all your money in separate envelopes and pay using cash – not card – so you have an idea of how much you’re spending, and if what you’re buying is really worth it to you! I only use this method with my spending budget for the month, and it’s been a game changer.

  1. Hershey’s nuggets

Because the nuggets give you more chocolate per bite than the kisses. And sometimes you just need more chocolate.

hersheys

image via amazon.com

  1. Half & Half Coffee and Half & Half Tea

If you make your coffee half caffeinated and half decaf, then you can have more cups per day! Because why wouldn’t you want that?

Sweet tea was always a little too sweet for me, but un-sweet tea was too boring, and so when I heard my mom order a “half sweet half un-sweet tea,” I tried it, and it’s now my favorite drink. Especially in the summer.

  1. Beth Moore’s bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place

The Old Testament can feel like wading through pudding at times. Beth takes Genesis and Exodus and points out the story God is weaving specifically for us as women through these pages. Highly recommend.

9781415855812

image via lifeway.com

  1. My critique group!

I don’t know how anyone gets published or even finishes a book without a critique group. If you’re a writer….find one! I promise, it’s not scary. Literally, just google critique groups in your city. I bet you’ll find one.

  1. Hoka tennis shoes

Y’all. The people at Big Peach running recommended these shoes to me since I’d had surgery. I don’t know why I ever wore ANYTHING ELSE even before surgery! These shoes make me feel like I’m running on clouds. Or marshmallows. Or both. They range anywhere from $100-130, and they’re worth every penny.

1012045-BJNC_1

image via hokaoneone.com

  1. Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

Michael and I make this recipe at least twice a month. It’s ridiculously easy and way too yummy. Make some coleslaw, buy some fresh slider buns, and you’re good to go.

  1. Jergens Daily Moisturizer

I used to only use this on my legs, but I’ve seen the light!! I was just in a wedding with a pale gray dress (lovely color!) but I didn’t want to blend in with the dress and look, like, see-through or something. I used Jergens all over my arms and neck area, and it looked super natural and gave me a “healthy glow” 😉 with no streaks. It was a win, and a lot cheaper than a spray tan.

product_revitalizing_moisturizer.png

image via jergens.com

  1. Making the bed

For me, this is revolutionary. And somehow it makes the whole house feel cleaner!

 

Have a great week, and blessings to you,

 

Robyn

Advertisements

just as friends

“Hey, so I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner with me.” Michael’s voice on the phone sounded excited and rushed and I was fairly confident he was pacing whatever room he was in.

I, on the other hand, was paralyzed in shock and bewilderment on my bed in the sorority house.

It was our sophomore year in college.

“Who is it?” one of my roommates whispered, probably after seeing my face revert to an awkward shade of tomato.

I answered Michael. “Um, sure! Dinner is good,” I blurted haphazardly into the phone, trying to sound normal.

But I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I just agreed to go on a date with a boy – and boys, to be sure, were currently on my “no” list. I’d written off dating entirely after my senior year of high school, and I’d held pretty steadily to that standard up to this point.

But at least, I figured, this boy seemed like a nice one.

Last year, he’d agreed to carry my large, mysterious trash bag full of something out to my car at the start of Spring Break. The trash bag exploded in the parking lot, resulting in an avalanche of stuffed animals. (They travel with me. Don’t pretend you don’t also have a teddy bear or something. I just happen to have a million.)

Michael had laughed then, and asked me if they had names. (Of course they did.) Unhesitatingly, he’d picked them all up and brushed them off, cars whizzing past.

In that parking lot moment, I had decided Michael was nice. And comfortable to be around. Even if he was a boy.

“Great!” Now, on the phone, I could hear the smile in his voice after I agreed to dinner.

I panicked. My mouth got dry. Then I turned to my roommates. “It’s Michael,” I finally whispered.

One raised her eyebrows and smiled. The other silently squealed.

But I didn’t. I was trying not to faint or hide under my covers.

“So, what’s your favorite place to eat dinner around here?”

“…Moes.”

I was sophisticated.

“Erm,” he chuckled. “I like Moes, too, but how about somewhere nicer?”

I blanched. My mouth had lost the ability to speak without croaking, but somehow we settled on a place called Transmetropolitan in downtown Athens. A pizza place.

It ended up being a great date, I was surprised to admit.

We ate pizza and pasta, then went back to his apartment to watch Chronicles of Narnia while wolfing down Junior Mints.

I made sure to sit on the edge of the couch the whole time, on the entirely opposite side from Michael. I was practically perched on the arm rest like an awkward parrot. He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice. He was actually ENJOYING himself.

Why is he so calm? I wondered. We’re on a date. A DATE. (!!!!!!)

IMG_3001 (1)

college babies

After he dropped me off with that big, goofy grin I’d later come to fall in love with, I answered my roommates’ questions about the evening.

“It was a great date,” I admitted. “He even bought me junior mints because he didn’t have any chocolate at his apartment.” This was a big plus for me. Because chocolate.

 

“But…” I continued explaining, my brow furrowed in bewilderment. “I just don’t think it’s the right time. I don’t know why. I don’t want to be any more than friends right now.”

I prayed about it a lot in the days that followed, and I felt certain about my decision not to date him. I couldn’t explain why. It just wasn’t the right time.

And when I told all this to Michael, he shrugged his shoulders with a small smile. “Welp. If you prayed about it, then I can’t argue with The Lord!”

He said this good-naturedly as a joke, but there was tangible disappointment in his voice. I wanted to jump into a nearby bush and stay there a while. But I was also relieved, because boys, in my 20 year-old opinion, made things too complicated.

I wasn’t ready for it.

A few weeks later, I got another call. “Hey!” Michael’s voice.

My stomach dropped.

“Hey,” I croaked. Hadn’t I totally disappointed him? Why was he still talking to me?

“So, I was wondering. Would you come to my fraternity date nights with me? You know, just as friends.”

“Um. Just as friends?”

“Yep. I had such a great time with you, I’d really like to hang out with you as friends.”

Okay. But just as friends!”

If someone were to tally the number of times I repeated the phrase “just as friends” in the year that followed, well, we’d have a lot of tallies.

And so I went on his Christian fraternity’s date nights. Over and over and over.

And every time, I double-checked: “Just as friends.”

He’d agree every time. And every time, we had fun.

But I was stubborn. Like a donkey, or something.

Fast forward to that summer. We both signed up to work at a Christian sports camp in Colorado, literally by coincidence. Neither of us knew the other had signed up or had been hired.

But I quickly figured it out when we showed up at training together.

I was set to shovel snow away from the buildings (we were living at 9,000 feet above sea level), and Michael ambled up next to me and started helping.

“You don’t need to help. I’ve got this,” I said forcefully.

He wasn’t deterred. “Well, I want to help you!”

Gosh, I thought. This guy! Do I need to say “just as friends” again?

me and michael snow day (1).jpg

still college babies

But somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach, I was glad he was there next to me. I was a little homesick.

And so we shoveled.

He worked the first half of summer, and I spent the first half of summer at home in Georgia.

When the last half of summer rolled around, I flew out to Colorado in a pit of nerves. Being away from home wasn’t natural for me. I was scared. But I was also excited. I could tell I was right there in the exciting, albeit painful stage of truly growing up.

I arrived at camp.

Then I saw Michael. And I stared. And stared. And stared.

He was really…handsome. And, dare I think it? REALLY ATTRACTIVE.

He politely greeted me with a friendly hug. “You’ll love it here,” he assured me. “Best summer of my life.”

How is he so confident? I feel like I’m going to pee in my pants. And who are all those girls looking at him and smiling at him? Don’t they know he likes me?

 

Does he like me, still?

He went home, and I worked at camp. It was hard and awesome. I grew more than I think I’ve ever grown in the span of six weeks.

But still, by the end of the term, I couldn’t stop thinking about that goofy-grinning boy. Goofy-grinning man, more like it.

I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about him, and I couldn’t talk without talking about him. (Sorry, Jaime.)

But by the time I got home, I was utterly confused.

God, I prayed. I like this boy. I do. And I’ve been telling him ‘no’ for over a year now. I’m sorry I’m so all over the place, but, if this is something You want for us, could You do something about it?

I wasn’t about to call Michael myself and profess my love because, honestly, couldn’t he get mad about that? Say something like, “Well it TOOK you long enough. Sorry. Too late.”

So I didn’t call.

Instead, he did.

The day after I prayed for our maybe-relationship, Michael texted me. “Want to go on a walk?”

Yes.

And we went.

Three months later I decided I wanted to marry the man.

And I don’t think we’ve ever said the phrase “just as friends” ever again.

DSCN1020.JPG

UGA graduation

_MG_5663.jpg

when I said YES!

0436.JPG

happy campers 🙂

Politics are tiring. Instead, here are 5 of my favorite things lately!

Favorites Lately

  1. Coffeemate *Limited Edition* Marshmallow Hot Cocoa creamer = #winning.

Basically, it’s a lot like a mocha flavor, but more subtle and light and…fluffy…like a marshmallow! coffee-mate

  1. Essie “Ladylike” nail polish. After PT one day I convinced my dad to take me to the drug store (Rite Aid seems to have the best polish selection, I’ve noticed), so I could get a new fall color. I wanted something neutral-ish, but lavender-ish, and also feminine. Enter Essie Ladylike! It’s my new favorite nail color. (buy here)
  1. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies…

…made the way you made those easy pumpkin muffins! It’s SO EASY.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (or Muffins!)

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix 1 box of Spice Cake mix with 1 can of pumpkin.
  • Fold in chocolate chips (I mean, you don’t have to, but why wouldn’t you?)
  • Fill muffin tins ¾ full OR…
  • …drop in 1½ inch balls of dough on a cookie sheet and BAKE AS COOKIES!!
  • Eyeball the oven time. It took my cookies about 8 minutes.

This is the same beloved muffin recipe lots of us use, but made instead as cookies! Perfect to take to a party or tailgate.

  1. Home Depot décor (and crazy beautiful succulents!!)

Michael and I went to Home Depot to get pumpkins. (We were late to the pumpkin game, thanks to my surgery adventure, so we figured the pumpkin patches would be picked over.) And not only did Home Depot have pumpkins, but they also had great fall decorations, pretty mums, and an AWESOME assortment of succulents.

So…we went to Home Depot for a pumpkin, and I came home with a UGA pot full of cute succulents for my office 🙂

  1. S’more Feet Warmers…I don’t even think I need to elaborate. Why shouldn’t EVERY household in America have s’more feet warmers? They plug into your laptop or desktop while you work. And warm your toes. And they even SMILE AT YOU.

Mic drop.img_6760

No matter who wins the election this year, just remember. The real winner is those of us with fuzzy s’mores warming our feet. (Buy here)

Blessings and lots of chocolate and warm fuzzies to you,

Robyn

guest blog: heather nelsen [[embracing the days with your littles]]

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I literally couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to Heather Nelsen. I met Heather years ago through one of my favorite high school teachers, whose son was dating Heather (and is now married to her 🙂 ). My teacher would rave about Heather and her sweetness – and show our class slideshows of her engagement pictures (which were completely every high school girl’s DREAM) – and so of course I thought Heather was the COOLEST.

And, turns out, she is! She totally is.

All my mama friends, Heather is right there with you! She has some sweet words of encouragement for you, and an awesome blog to check out.

Hop on over to her blog and read about my Top 5 Favorite Books, too!

***********************

Hey there! I’m Heather Nelsen and I write over at Notes from the Nelsens. A big thanks to Robyn for letting me share her space today!



In the picture above you’ll see my husband, Matt, who I swooped up in high school, our two kids, Ryan (2) and Natalie (8 months), who have made our lives so much richer, and our dog, Tally, who we refer to as the first born because we made the mistake of treating him like a child before we had real children. 😉



Travel, food, family, and faith are just a few of the things you’ll find me writing about over at my blog, so feel free to stop by, and say hello when you do!

 

————————————————————————————————-


I don’t know how many of you read the post that went viral on Facebook a few months ago called How a Stranger’s Comment Changed the Way I Parent (you can read the entire post here), but just in case you missed it, I’ll give you a brief synopsis:

 

A younger couple with two small kids was spending the day at the beach when a storm started to roll in, so they quickly started gathering their things to head home for the day. 

 

If you are a parent with small kids and have ever attempted a trip to the beach, you know there are a LOT of things. And because there are a lot of things, gathering those things plus the kids makes for an interesting/challenging game of how much can you juggle before everyone/everything falls over. 😉 

 

So as they started the walk from their spot in the sand to head home for the day, the mom overhead an older man turn to his wife and fondly say, “Those were the days, weren’t they?”

 

Gah, it made me choke up the first time I read it and still makes me choke up as I type it out today.

 

We are living “the days.” Right here and now. We are smack dab in the middle of them.

 

Matt and I like to say that these days are a good kind of crazy. Because they are definitely crazy! But they are OH SO GOOD too.

 

In fact, we moved into a new house just a few weeks ago, so our crazy got REAL crazy for a stretch and is just now starting to settle back into our new normal

 

For various reasons, since moving into the new house, nap times have been a little off and haven’t been coordinating well (as in they haven’t been asleep at the same time for long), so I haven’t felt like I’ve had much time to get things done around the house during they day, let alone have any down time.

 

So early last week, Matt surprised me with text about mid-afternoon saying that he was going to come home early and wanted to give me some time while he took the kids to the park. GLORY!!

 

Let me be clear… I love, love, love getting to be home with my kiddos and would not trade it for anything in the world, but I also recognize that during this stage of life, time alone during waking hours is a rare and beautiful and sometimes needed thing, so I excitedly accepted his offer and started thinking about what I would do with this whole hour of time. 

 

After much thought, I decided that a bath with a glass of wine and a food magazine was exactly what this mama was in the mood for that day. And for the next few hours, that was what I envisioned come 5 o’clock.

 

Matt is honestly great about being home when he says, but on this particular day, he got a phone call from a client that had to handled immediately and texted to say he was so sorry but that he would be home later than he originally planned.

 

So at 5:45 when he got home, he swooped up Ryan, Natalie, and Tally and set off for a little neighborhood walk/bike ride for Ryan.

 

As soon as everyone was out of the house, I raced up the stairs (totally skipping the wine- no time to waste!), filled up the bath, and got my magazine and favorite candle ready for my relaxation time. Ahhhhh.

 

Literally, as I was stepping into the tub, I heard crying from downstairs. Matt, Ryan, Natalie, and Tally soon appeared in the bathroom with a tearful little Ryan asking for mama and saying he took a little fall on his bike (before they even made it off the driveway, poor guy!). I asked him what would make it better, and he excitedly said getting in the bath with mommy would make it better.

 

Matt looked at me with a sweet look like, “I’m sorry!” And I looked back with a look that said, “You tried!”

 

As much as I was looking forward to that little stretch of time, I knew that the window of my little buddy wanting his mama when he’s hurt and being able to crawl in the tub with me is such a short one.

 

There will be many days in my future (okay, maybe far away future, but still) 😉 where I’ll be able to sit in the tub and peacefully read an entire magazine… and in those moments, I may even think back to the years when our kids were little and would ask to crawl in with me. And I’ll probably miss them a lot.

 

So I will keep perspective during these crazy, good days, and remember what that sweet man said to his wife when he was watching the young couple with their small kids on the beach,

 

“Those were the days, weren’t they?”

 

————————————————————————————————-

 

 

Thanks again, Robyn, for having me today!

 

~Heather

facebooktwitterpinterestbloglovininstagramfeed

 

why you can actually love yourself (and not in the creepy self-help way)

I don’t usually say things like “love yourself” (unless I’m quoting J Biebs. Can I get a what, what?!…Bueller? Bueller?), because “loving yourself” sounds very Oprah-y. And sounding Oprah-y is not one of my goals. Nor is sounding like the Biebs. As much as I love the kid.

But, here’s what I mean:

I had to learn to be comfortable in my own skin this week. I’m writing full-time now. It’s literally my dream come true. I can’t believe this is my job. Writing. ALL. DAY. WHAT?!

Yes. Just me. And the cats. And coffee. And pajamas. And….my characters.

I spend time getting to know my characters during my 9 to 5. I genuinely enjoy the fictional people I’ve created in their fictional worlds and it sounds so goofy saying that..and yet…

…to write authentic, real, riveting books with depth and heart…I have to actually spend time with my characters, getting to know their pasts, their hobbies, their desires, their likes, their dislikes, their fears, their hopes, their hair color, from which parent they inherited their hair color, how do they even feel about their parents, why do they feel that way, and about a million other questions.

img_6451

just me and the crazy one being…us

And then there’s the task of building other worlds. It could not be more fun. Really. How much fun do you think J.R. Tolkien had in creating Middle Earth, or J.K. Rowling had in creating Hogwarts, or C.S. Lewis in creating Narnia, or – let’s just pause and consider the greatness of this for a moment – the fun Jane Austen had in creating Mr. Darcy for Elizabeth? Sigh.

But earlier this week I felt insecure about spending time in my imagination all day.Because,” Insecurity sneered in that snarky tone, “What are other people doing right now? Something more productive? Something more normal? Don’t you wish you were like other people?

Yes, I was tempted to say. “Yes, I do. I want to be like other people.”

Because…don’t we all sometimes?

But then God swooped in, like He always does, (Aslan…it’s why we love that Lion) and swept me up in this refreshing truth: God is the Creator. He’s the One who dreamed up giraffes and stars and dandelions and porcupines and men and women and humor and emotions and so…

He’s creative, too! He’s the Creative One! Any creativity I have, any desire to dream up characters and worlds, any desire to string together words to form a specific beauty for His glory…is from Him and is for Him and…my own creativity is merely and gloriously a reflection of His own perfect creativity.

dsc_2450

And if I’m too afraid to embrace who He’s made me to be, then the world is missing out on the piece of His image He’s so fearfully and wonderfully purposed (psalm 139).

I’m so glad C.S. Lewis didn’t shrink back. And Jane Austen. (WHERE, I ask you, would this world be without Mr. Darcy? Far less romantic, that’s where.)

So then I began to wonder…who else is being hoodwinked into thinking they should try to be someone other than who they are? Who is being hoodwinked into listening to insecurity rather than the One who came that we might have life, and have it to the full? Who else is being tricked into hiding the glory of God that He has so lovingly imparted to them?

We are His workmanship, not His “mistake.” We are His beloved, not His “okay, fine,” we are part of His plan, not just His “well, here he is, I guess.”

Don’t be hoodwinked. Gift us with who you are. You’re very much on purpose.

Math people, I love that you understand numbers and order. Nurturers, I love that you comfort so well. Snorters, I love your laugh. Curly-haired people, I. Love. Your. Hair. Thinkers, wow, we need your ideas. And what’s amazing is…it’s all to His glory. Not to ours. We’re just receivers of Him and His grace…there’s no pressure here. Just gratefulness and awe. We’re created by Him and to Him and through Him and He loves us the way He made us…How much fun is that?!

We have nothing to be insecure about. Quite the opposite, friends. Quite the opposite.

In Jesus, we’re fully secure, fully His, fully alive, fully loved. No pretending need.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Ephesians 2:10.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen,” 1 Peter 4:10-11.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” Psalm 118:24.

dear messy-bun mom at chick-fil-a

Dear Messy-bun Mom at Chick-fil-a,

You know how people a little older than you, a few steps ahead in life, look really cool?

How when you were in 3rd grade the 5th graders looked awesome, and when you were in high school, the college kids looked awesome?

Hear this: my pre-mom self thinks you’re awesome.

With the ketchup on your lap and the crying toddler squirming in the chair because you won’t give her the ice cream first or because she refuses to eat anything besides globs of sauce and I see you take a deep breath and close your eyes and eat a fry….

Gosh. I think you’re so cool.

DSC_7900

Wearing your workout clothes and no makeup (or yesterday’s makeup) because showers aren’t as readily available with the pitter-patter of little feet

You are literally gorgeous, with traces of “mama” all over you. Seriously. 

When it’s raining outside and so you brought your little to the play area at Chick-fil-a just to get. out. of. the. house

You’re brave. Littles aren’t easy to transport. I was a first-grade teacher. I know. And you didn’t have to leave the house. But you did. You’re brave.

When you wipe you’re little’s sticky face when she’s done eating, when you talk about going to the potty, when you sigh and attempt to explain why we don’t throw food on the floor even though we’re all done,

You’re the hands and feet of Jesus. You’re valuable. You’re irreplaceable. You’re doing good work that no one else could do but you. I want to be like you someday.

When you think you would really love some adult interaction right about now…

That makes total sense. You’re selfless.

When it reaches the end of the day and you’ve done two loads of laundry and attempted to clean the house while keeping the little humans alive and happy, but somehow the house is even messier than before because you spent fun time playing with the littles…

Jesus sees you. He’s so proud of you. He knows the importance of little children, too.

And I see all of you gorgeous messy-bun moms at Chick-fil-a all the time. And I mean this: I want to be like you someday.

Because you’re literally awesome.

So keep on going!

And don’t forget to order yourself extra waffle fries.

 

a book for all you girly girls

For all you females who want a light-hearted, hilarious read that’s perfect for your bedside table even though you’ll probably finish it all in one sitting and it won’t even make it to the bedside table…I have a book for you!

A few things first:

1) I’m very choose-y about the books I read that are written for anyone over the age of 7.

And by choose-y, I mean, as much as I love a good Nicholas Sparks beach read, I skip over any and all sex scenes. Because they are awkward.

I don’t like books with sex scenes. I’ll just say it. But that’s a whole other story.

I also don’t like books with a lot of curse words. Curse words are not pretty. That’s also a whole other story.

What I’m getting at is: if I recommend a book, it’s “clean.”

2) This is a book whose target audience is teenage girls, the same way Harry Potter was targeted at youth. I still love Harry Potter, and I’m 26. So even though this book is targeted at teenage girls, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think you might, too.

It’s called, “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You.”

image3 (2)

The title sounds ominous. But it’s not.

The basic plot is about a 15 year-old girl who attends a secret boarding school for spies. And she’s hilarious. Her problem is that, and I quote, “Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man seven different ways with her bare hands, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl” (Ally Carter, Hyperion).

The book has also been optioned for a film by Disney. So basically, you know it’s good. (Think “Princess Diaries,” which was also picked up by Disney.)

Best part? It’s a series! So you can just keep reading about girls kicking butt using lipstick as weapons and it’s awesome!

Blessings and Happy Reading to you!

Robyn