Friday Five v. 2

In case you've forgotten what Friday Five is...

There are times I just really want to share things with you when I happen onto funny or inspiring Instagram posts...or yummy looking recipes on Pinterest...or a super cute pair of shoes I found online. You know, the fun stuff you text your best friend about.

So I do a post from time to time called Friday Five...which is five things I've come across that week that I loved or wanted to share!

Here are this week's Five!


I'm in the middle of reading this book and it is so stinkin' cute!! If you need a sweet read, this is totally for you!

Here's a review from Amazon:

Charlotte Malone, the owner of a successful bridal shop in Birmingham, Alabama, believes the "right" dress finds its bride, not the other way around. But Charlotte can't find a dress for her own upcoming wedding. When she discovers a beautiful hundred-year-old wedding gown in a battered trunk with a welded lock, she’s compelled to uncover the mystery of the dress and the three women who wore it. Eleni Pappageorge's light, airy voice fits this lovely story of faith, mystery, and magic. Her Southern accents are convincing, and one can hear a smile in her tone. Although her portrayals of the story’s elderly female characters are sometimes a bit “gushy,” they simply add to the charm.


An interior designer friend is helping me with a fun office redo. The words I gave her are: Playful, Clean, White (with pops of color), Creative, Full of Story

Want to see my pinboard for it?! I can't wait to start painting!


IMG_0826 2.jpg

I just sent the final FINAL draft of my book in to my editor in yesterday!! It's currently at the printer! Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

And shhhhh...Presales have officially opened on Amazon. But we're not really announcing that yet because we're going to do a bunch of fun gifts for those that DO preorder and we haven't announced those yet. Stay tuned!


Some super sweet friends gave me a gift last night during the planning meeting for our Women's Conference and I'm just over-the-moon about it. They had gone in on it together to remind me that even though Abreham is no longer living with us, he's still ours...and we're still his. That family is forever. Isn't it amazing and thoughtful?

And doesn't it SERIOUSLY look like all of us?! Even the outfits and hair are either things each of us wears in real-life or we would wear!

Want your own? (of course you do) Click here for Nicolle's shop!


Speaking of sweet and sentimental, I'd happened on to some tear-jerker videos this week while looking for inspiration on a project I'm working on.

Take a look at some of these (sob).

Moms...grab a box of kleenex for this next one.

The kids are off from school today so we're headed to our favorite Ethiopian place for lunch...gotta go! If you're ever in Denver and decide to try it, totally get the Doro Wat. You can thank me later.

Enjoy your Friday and the beauty of the weekend!

Take Joy,


Summertime GIVEAWAY!


Summer is such a perfect time to gather, don't you think?

Whether it's spreading out an old sheet for a picnic in the park, dinner under twinkly lights on your patio, a casual BBQ with all the fixings, or an outdoor movie in your backyard...these warm months make everyone want to live a little slower and enjoy moments more fully.

In honor of opening our door and inviting people in, I thought a giveaway full of fun hosting essentials would be a fantastic way to welcome summer.

Who says paper plates need to be boring?  These pretty floral plates will liven up your outdoor tablescape (even if you have a black thumb in the garden, like I do)!

Wondering what this cute little swan is? Leave it to Anthropologie to come up with the cutest bottle opener ever (PS I have it, too! With a maiden name like Swanstrom, I'm kind of a fan of swans).

Ahhhhh linen. I may not wear linen clothes often because hello, wrinkles! But there's something just so elegantly casual about using this beautiful fabric on the table (especially when it comes from Williams Sonoma). And this light mint color is neutral enough that it can be used all throughout the year!

Truth be told, I nearly kept this little salt grater. How cute would she be on the table (yes, it's a she)? I found it at Williams Sonoma the day I bought the tablecloth, but realized later you can find it for less on Amazon (yay Prime)!

What meal is complete without pretty napkins? I'm including not only cocktail napkins for drinks and appetizers but floral cloth napkins as well!

Are you in absolute LOVE with these metal rose gold napkin rings?! I sure am.

If ever there was a season for salad-eating, Summer would be it. These wooden salad tongs are a favorite in our kitchen!

Need some Entree salad recipes (and great summer dressings, apps, and an easy/yummy/beautiful make-ahead dessert? Click here!)

I know, I know...I had you at Kate Spade. These charms will definitely help you remember which drink is yours! 

Are you a fan of place cards? I sure am. I love helping my guests get outside their comfort zone, sitting them next to people they don't know well (but folks I know they would love!).

My favorite part is seeing guests sit down uncomfortably at the beginning of dinner and exchange phone numbers and hugs with their new bestie by the end of the night!

I just had to include this little bag of coffee by Two Rivers Coffee because, well...doesn't an iced coffee just sound so good right about now? I bet your guests would agree!

I use these paper bowls all the time. From ice cream to popcorn to watermelon wedges and frozen berries, they're the perfect way to add color to the table without having to wash a single dish! And the wooden spoons just remind me so much of buying ice cream from the ice cream truck when I was little. So nostalgic.

Speaking of paper, if you've ever been to a party at my home, you've probably sipped a cool beverage through a cheerfully colored paper straw. I'm more than a little obsessed with them.

What do you think? Good stuff? Entertaining essentials you'd LOVE to use at your own little dinner or brunch?

Which are you most excited about??

You ready to talk rules??



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The winner will be chosen at random (by looking at Mail Chimp's list of those subscribed to the blog as well as Survey Monkey's response) and will be announced on Instagram and Facebook on Friday, June 16.

If the winner does not provide their mailing address by Tuesday, June 20th, an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good Luck!

Take Joy,


If We Were Hanging Out - Chatting about Austin, NKOTB, and an ironic pool party

I thought I'd start a new series called "If we were hanging out" that I'll do every few weeks. It'll be a Coffee Chat type post that holds a whole lot of random things...really how conversation would be if we were at the park together with our kids or sitting in the sun with a glass of lemonade in our hands.

I just feel like blogging is so one-sided sometimes. Ya know? I don't want to talk AT you...I want to chat WITH you!

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that some girlfriends and I flew to Austin a few weeks ago. It was the most fun and hilarious girls weekend ever.

Like E-ver.

I've never been on a girl's trip before, have you? At least not since know the type: when you travel around in hostels, praying you have enough money in your bank account so you can pull your dirty laundry from your I'm-an-American-traveling-through-Europe sized backpack and find a laundromat. I actually don't remember where I washed my clothes while traveling around during spring break while going to Bible school in England. Hmm. Did I wash them?! Eew.

But this is beside the point. This is not what I'm still chuckling to myself about.

Five of us girls (college and post-college friends who live around the country) decided we would fly to Austin for the Boyz II Men, Paul Abdul, New Kids on the Block tour.

No. I'm not kidding. And yes. We are that cool ('er nerdy).

Have you seen this video? I laughed so hard and then sent it to everyone I know. (bahaha...Including my mom). If you're over 30, you'll love it.

I told you it was HILARIOUS, right?! Hold on. I'm going to watch it again real quick. ; )

Renting an Airbnb on 6th Street, we planned nothing aside from the Sunday night concert.

After flying in from various parts of the country, we came together Saturday morning and wandered around looking at shops and coffee houses. We tried on vintage clothing and things that really, let's be honest, no one our age should actually be seen in because we thought it'd be hilarious. And cuz we're total dorks.

This video is totally what I'm talking about. Watch it. You'll die laughing. (NOTE: it's not for kids though so put your earbuds in if they're around).

Thanks for all your dining, shopping, and other recommendations via Instagram! We ended up dining at Seersucker that evening. If you ever have the opportunity, go. It's amaaaaaazing and darling.

The five of us may be very different, but one step down from our love for Jesus is a passion for 90's hip-hop.

As we walked away with full bellies, we heard live music drifting over from an alleyway/patio bar nearby. And like a moth to the flame (cue Janet Jackson reference), we beelined over.

Because three of the girls are military wives, one of them began talking to the bouncer, telling him we needed to get in for free because their husbands were sacrificing so much (I mean, if your husband is deployed, why not play that card?!).

After a bunch of bantering back and forth about how awesome we are and how we really do need to get in without paying the cover, the guy shared he was a Marine and with a knowing wink, the big teddy-bear of a guy let all five of us in and showed us to a front table next to the stage.

As the band started, we looked around and realized somehow over the last decade...

We became those goofy middle-aged people who Just. Got. Down.

You know, those people where you're like. " This is a car accident. I cannot look away!" Yes. We were those people. And it was amazing.

Is there a better way to begin a 90's throwback weekend than hearing a 90's cover band named Hip Hop Horray?  Our lives were changed. I was in junior high again.

We were out till 1:30am dancing our 13 year old hearts out to Kris Kross, the Beastie Boys, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Will Smith and DJ Jazzy name it, they played it.

The next morning we were up early (because hello, we're moms and our bodies no longer know how to sleep in) and after grabbing coffee and going for a stroll, we enjoyed a leisurely brunch at Annie's Cafe. you have bad food? Because everything we ate was to die for.

Taking a cab over to South Congress Street to do some window shopping, we heard a DJ spinning some more great music. Drawing us over to a totally retro place called Austin Motel. Crossing the street to see what was going on, we pressed our noses through the fence and took in the scene.

You guys, I can't even. It was like a movie set, it was so cliché and fantastic.

My best friend Kiesha walked up to the gate and asked someone what was going on. As we stood there, mouths gaping at such a fun party, they invited us inside explaining it was a hosted pool party in celebration of the end of the music festival (which we had no idea was going on).

We giggled like total nerds as we huddled in the corner of the pool area, under a red and white metal umbrella that was probably made the same year I was born. We asked each other, "From 1-10, how uncomfortable are you?"

My response was a 7.5.

Or maybe an 8.

I kept thinking, I am NOT cool enough to be here. This is so hilarious.

When I say I'm not cool's what I mean:

Looking around, there were girls in vintage inspired swimsuits that looked as if they needed a petaled swimming cap upon their heads. Perfectly done makeup that made them look like pin-up girls from the WWII era, wearing long vintage robes with their names (and the name of the party) hand-embroidered on it. Totally Laverne and Shirley looking.

Those not ready to pull a petaled swim cap over their perfectly quaffed hair looked like they were halfway stuck in the fashion-forward 60's, while their other half was stranded in the grungy flannel-wearing 90's. With thick blunt cut bangs and straight hair which curled out at the chin, their faces were void of makeup, but the thin arms beneath their ironic t-shirts showed beautifully drawn tattoos from fingertips to shoulders.

And then there were the guys. I don't even know where to start, but think waxed, twisted handlebar mustaches, American Flag speedos (please, no), and floor-length robes with the same hand embroidery with their names and name of party on the breast. They were drinking cold brewed coffee slushies...infused with essential oils. 


WHAT?! (belly laugh appropriate here)

There was also a girl floating around in the pool (fully dressed) on a blow-up hot dog. She was eating a hot dog. And there was a hot dog (Dachshund) by the lounge chair behind her. 


It was amazing. I can't even handle it.

We kept laughing, "Is this my life right now?" and "I picked my kids up from soccer yesterday. Today I'm crashing an ironic pool party."

As we started chatting with people (like the lady drinking Rosé while wearing a "Rosé all Day" sweatshirt. I couldn't pretend this if I tried), our uncomfortable levels went down from 7.5 to about 3.5 and we left with nostalgic pins in our lapels and blow-up flamingos stuffed in our purses.

A successful pool-crash, for sure.

Later that night, we braved a torrential rain that basically soaked us as we got from our condo to the concert venue. But we didn't care because we were about to see Boyz II Men, Paul Abdul, and NKOTB!!

Boyz II Men = amazing (no surprise here). They sang the song my friends and I sang during our graduation ceremony so I got teary of course. Their voices haven't aged a day.

Paula is pretty much the cutest, tiniest, most darling woman ever. I have no idea how she is behind closed doors...but she just seems so lovely. She had a wardrobe change every single song and every one was just so fun. I loved that she danced to some of her old music videos that I hadn't seen since my MTV days and adored the tribute she had to Gene Kelly and Singing in the Rain (the movie that inspired her as a child to learn to sing and dance).

And NKOTB - Uhhhhhh where do I start? Maybe at the screaming? It was like I happened on to the Beatles back in the day. I literally thought the ladies behind us were going to pass out. It was unbelievable.

The New Kids concert was over the top and they are obviously performers over singers at this point. I laughed and laughed. Like tears running down my cheeks laughed because it was so funny seeing big, massively muscular men (like a Walhberg brother) doing boy-band dance moves while attempting to sing in falsetto.

There were even a few songs where one of the guys would burst out laughing in the middle of a high note saying, "I'm sorry, I just don't have a 12 year old voice anymore".

It was glorious. Slightly inappropriate, I'm not gonna lie. I rolled my eyes more than once. But still fantastic.

And then suddenly the weekend was over. Forty eight hours just went too massively fast, but with a very full and rejuvenated heart, I'm going around in my normal day, while giggling to myself.

If you've never had a girls weekend, make it happen. It doesn't have to be anything major, but just opportunity for relaxing with your friends, and LOTS of laughter.

90's hip hop optional. ; )

Have you ever done a girls trip? What was your favorite part? Where'd you go? Who went with you?

Take Joy,


A gift that reminds your husband that you pray over him daily + GIVEAWAY

Do you pray over your husband daily? Though the years, I've begun underlining and drawing circles around various passages in my Bible that I've coined as "his verses" and pray very specifically using them. I have passages for the girls, the little boys, big boys, and Ben. Each child has a verse that I've hand-picked depending on how I feel the Lord is positioning their hearts.

Ben has been interviewing for a position since November 2015. Yes. Two-thousand-FIFTEEN! We're still jumping up and down that the door has swung wide open in 2017 and he began his new job yesterday. I wanted to get my sweet husband something really special that would remind him daily that God is good and that I pray these specific verses over his life.

With this in mind, our friends at JORD sent him the most exquisite timepiece. You guys, it's so over the top gorgeous. I squealed in delight when they said I could inscribe a message to him on the elegant box it comes in, or upon the watch itself.

I placed the box in his hands yesterday as he readied himself to step into a new season of his life. I love knowing the words of the Lord are close to him. As this new year begins, I thought perhaps your husband would like one as well. Maybe for Valentines Day, or just as a reminder that they're in your heart and thoughts throughout the every-day.

PS And yes they have women's watches, too!! I have major heart eyes over the Rosé and Rose Gold pieces!

Our friends at JORD want to help you get one of these gorgeous watches for your own wardrobe! All you need to do is enter your name and email address here to be entered to win $100 gift code to use at JORD. The best news of all? Everyone who enters will receive a consolation code worth $25.00 at the end of the contest! Contest ends February 28, 2017. ENTER TO WIN $100 TO JORD

My prayer for my husband:

(everything in parenthesis is obviously how I changed the wording to pray specifically over him)

16 I haven’t stopped thanking Him for you. I am continually speaking to Him on your behalf in my prayers. Here’s what I say:

17 God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of (Ben). Give (him a) mind ready to receive wisdom and revelation so (he) will truly know You. 18 Open the eyes of (his) heart, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling (Ben) to embrace. Reveal to (him) the glorious riches You are preparing as (his) inheritance. 19 Let (Ben) see the full extent of Your power that is at work in (him) who believe(s), and may it be done according to Your might and power.

Ephesians 1:16-19 . The Voice Translation

Take Joy,