Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some DIY spa time for you!

I know, I know. You're tired of the book reviews and the quotes. You want something different. I aim to please...

So I'm sharing with you a few of my homemade spa recipes from Pinterest! Three easy recipes with simple ingredients! I'm on a health food kick right now and it has spread into my showering/skin care as well...why not put food on your face, too?! I've tried each of these a couple times and love the results so far. Tonight I showered after a long day of horseback riding and boating on the river-- was incredibly refreshed and pampered after using the lavender facial scrub and the coconut sugar shaving scrub! I'm so excited to share these with you!

One: Lavender Coconut Facial Scrub

This baby cleans, exfoliates, and moisturizes. And smells heavenly. I've been leaving it in my shower but only using it about every other day just so I'm not scrubbing too often or overdoing it with the coconut oil on my acne-prone skin. All you do is take equal amounts of coconut oil (virgin, non-refined please!) and baking soda and mix them together thoroughly until you have a grainy paste. You may then add 5-10 drops (depending on the amount of oil/soda) of lavender essential oil and finish stirring together. It's so fabulous! The baking soda granules smooth and scrub away while the coconut oil leaves you moisturized. And I love the lavender relaxing!

Two: Coconut Sugar Shaving Scrub

This stuff is pretty amazing too. Simply mix equal parts of coconut oil and white sugar together to form once again a grainy paste (will be more grainy than the baking soda mixture above...more like a typical sugar scrub would look). That's it! I know! I keep this one in the shower as well in a Mason jar with a spoon and then use it as my shaving scrubs and exfoliates my skin, provides an easy shave without knicks or scrapes, and leaves my legs looking shiny and smooth! It took awhile to get used to because the oil melts when it hits your skin so you don't have the cream or the lather you might be used to with other shaving products. But I haven't gotten a cut yet and I love the addition of the sugar for exfoliating so I don't have to put on lotion afterwards if I'm in a hurry.

Three: Spicy Honey Face Mask

This one is supposed to help with acne/inflammation. I've only used it a few times and didn't see miracle results but did see what I felt was improvement in my overall skin. Knowing that the ingredients have bacteria-fighting, anti-inflammatory effects, I'm sure it's not a placebo effect. And it feels and smells great, too. To make this recipe, mix equal parts of honey (I use raw honey), cinnamon, and nutmeg. It will be a thick brown paste. Spread onto your face and leave on for about 10-15 minutes (it will warm from your skin and be a little drippy!). Then rinse off thoroughly and enjoy the fresh, clean feeling.

I'd love to hear your homemade recipes for skin and hair care!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Signs of Life: A Book Review

So as promised, my summer reading continues! Lounging on my deck this evening, I finished Signs of Life, by Scott Hahn. The author is one of favorite theologians because he has a crazy-massive amount of knowledge when it comes to Scripture and Church history yet always, always remains humble and sincere. No pride, no legalism, no aloofness. His knowledge totally travels down to his heart and he desires that same thing for his readers.

This particular title by him intrigued me and was less known to me than some of his other books. I absolutely love being Catholic and I love the extras that come with it (the Saints, Holy Water, Sacraments, Feast Days, etc.) Though often our Protestant brothers and sisters from the outside looking in see this as empty rituals at best or idolatry at worst, Scott so beautifully explains that the practices of our Faith are far from that. Rather they're an outward sign of an inward reality. A gift of our loving Father and Creator who knows that we are both soul and body. The invisible expressed by the visible. He covers the Sign of the Cross, the Rosary, religious medals, and more.

And each of these "extras" as I called them are not only helpful in devotion and following Christ, but also deeply rooted in Scripture and have been practiced by Christians from the very first centuries. One of my favorite things about this book was the section at the end of each chapter: "Ponder With Your Heart." Scott Hahn shares a writing from early Church fathers, Scripture, or other Church leaders on the topic of the chapter and encourages the reader to prayerfully consider how you can apply what you've read to grow closer to the Lord in your daily life.

This book deserves five stars and I'd recommend it to anyone with a desire to grow in your faith and knowledge of Scripture, the early Church, and devotion to Christ. If you are Catholic, you'll renew your awareness and gratitude of the richness of our Faith. If you are not Catholic, you'll learn much of the Scriptural/ancient church background of why Catholics do such weird things sometimes!

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with this review copy at no cost! The content of this review contains my honest and original words and thoughts.]

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The nation doesn't simply need what we have. It needs what we are."

-St. Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I've Never Been to Vegas, but My Luggage Has: A Book Review

I know! What a catchy title! You'll have to read the book to find out the story behind it...I 'met' Mandy Hale as a blogger before I discovered she was also an author. I absolutely love her enthusiasm, joy, and adventurous spirit! I was excited to see her second book as an option for reviewing this month.

I read her first book, The Single Woman, and while it was inspiring and enjoyable, it read more like a collection of short stories (or even blog posts). Luggage instead is an engaging memoir-style retelling of her personal growth through her twenties and thirties. Mandy is refreshingly open and honest, humble, and hopeful throughout the ups and downs. I love authentic people and she is that. I also appreciated her relationship with the Lord and how that affects her life and her vision.

My faves? Instead of focusing on living your single years looking for a mate, Mandy is all about surrendering them to Christ and enjoying them! She sees grace woven throughout the difficulties and messes of the years and how God faithfully uses them to make us stronger, more graceful women. I love her emphasis on personal growth, authenticity, the joyful adventure, and intentional living.

The not so much? Every once in awhile, her story or view leaned a little more toward "prosperity gospel" spirituality. Dreams, passions, success, following your heart....they can all be good things that God blesses and guides us to...but are not the goal in and of itself. So even though I am a fan of personal growth, sometimes it felt overemphasized in her book. And there were a few stories that hit a little too close to home to my own life--areas of my heart that were still raw, but I can't fault her for that!

Overall, I enjoyed it! Mandy Hale is a refreshing, inspiring voice for single women, reminding them to live with joy, gratitude, trust, and passion.

[Thank you, BookLook Bloggers, for providing me with this book at no cost for my review of its content! This review contains my honest and original comments.]

Friday, June 13, 2014

7 Quick Takes [vol.16.5]...because vol. 16 never got published...

It's me again! Happy Friday! And love me some sweet summertime-- are we really in the middle of June already?


However, I'm finally slowing down in life. And it's good. Really good. I stepped down from my management position at the pregnancy center in February and am currently training the new nurse manager while I transition into simply being a nurse counselor/sonographer on a weekly volunteer basis. It was such an incredibly difficult decision! I wrestled with it for months, praying and doing my best juggling both nursing jobs, but something had to give. (Unfortunately, it was this one since my other job holds my health insurance!) But as always, God has been at work throughout the transition process. I'm so thankful for the experience and growth of these past couple years working for the ministry, and I'm excited they've allowed me to stay on in this role--counseling and ultrasound are my passions when it comes to unplanned pregnancies. 


Some of my extra time in the past couple months has been spent with these precious little men!!

Watering Aunt Laura's flowers
L and C's first fort-building experience!

 And welcoming this precious little girl into the world!

They just don't come any cuter than these three!


I've also organized or redecorated almost everything in my home! My mom and sister have been amazing support these last few months and they realize that sometimes when you're struggling, the simple girly things can make a big difference! And as usual, when I'm not exactly sure what's going on in my life, it helps to know what's going on in my cupboards, hee hee! Some pictures again, perhaps?

Crate training for the Little Dog and a homemade bed

Redecorated my room on a dime :) 

The coffee/tea bar I kept seeing on Pinterest!


Summertime reading is in full swing. You'll be seeing book reviews throughout the next couple months, I just finished a nonfiction memoirs-style book and a theology one has just a few chapters to go! And to satisfy my fiction appetite, I've been devouring one of my favorite mystery series by Mindy Starns Clark. Her heroines are such strong and capable, yet gentle and godly women. Tonight I'm reading...


I rode a horse last weekend! My heart is so happy on a horse but I rarely get to ride. A friend from the pregnancy center got a horse this past year and invited me over to ride. When I got there, she handed me a helmet and said her sister was in the house fearing for my life due to the horse's unpredictable nature.

Um. Uh-oh.

But it all turned out okay! I strapped on the helmet and said a quick prayer! (don't try this at home, folks.) Actually, I was very cautious and asked lots of questions before I felt safe enough to try it out. Moon was fabulous for me and barely gave me any trouble. S. was so happy and asked if I would come back week after week to work with her. 

Um. YES!!!


These have all been fun, lighthearted updates. I'll share the other stuff, too. Grace is woven in it all. But hearts can't unload four months in seven quick takes. 


And tummies want snacks. So I'm off to find some strawberries and raspberries in the (organized, of course) fridge.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends! Be present, be at peace, and live with gratitude. This is life. This gift of one moment after another. I'm hugging you right now!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."

-St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesdays

" infinitely wise God has a good purpose for all suffering. We may not understand that purpose in the temporal 'now,' but it nonetheless exists. Our inability to discern why bad things sometimes happen to us does not disprove God's benevolence; it merely exposes our ignorance."

-Norman Geisler

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Hi's me.

You know how sometimes you take a writing break because bad things happen and you need time...time away, time alone...time to process thoughts and emotions and some days even just survive?

So you build a cocoon and retreat from the online world. You wait and you sit tight and you hope for beauty and redemption.

And then time passes and you realize you aren't just surviving anymore--things have changed but life is beautiful-- yet every time you want to write you wonder where to you put it off. You have a few unfinished posts you wrote in the last couple months but never quite clicked Publish.Yet you miss those precious read their think of them--and even pray for them.

And one day you sit down and it happens. You write. Because you want to tell them you're here. And even though you're not totally up to sharing all the details, you want to share with these dear friends. You want to tell them that we serve an incredible, amazing God who walks with us in our pain, who holds us when we cry, who sends us infinite signs of hope along the way. A God who heals more deeply and loves more fiercely than we can imagine. And because of Him, you are smiling and laughing and dancing and learning again. And writing.

This time you click Publish.