{friday mixing bowl} fall favorites, part 339829

I will never pretend to have any chill about fall. Even though I’m still wearing soccer shorts and drinking breakfast smoothies here in Oklahoma, it’s OU/Texas weekend, I put a new fall-ish doormat out, and the pumpkin patch is open for the season! At least the smell of fireplace on my 85-degree walk through the neighborhood makes me feel like I’m not the only delusional one 🙂 Here are my favorite things lately:

* Fall flowers and baby pumpkins from Trader Joe’s, pretty much the extent of my decorating skills, only $7 total, and conveniently located right in the middle of my morning routine!

Credit: APLetters.com

* This gorgeous and artful fall bucket list from AP Letters. You’d better believe I will check off every box. 

* Currently reading: All Made Up by Kara Isaac. Don’t miss this stunning reunion romance, my new favorite book from one of my favorite authors/friends/people to share room service creme brulee with.

* If you’re a woman and have any creative inclination in your body, I’m STILL thinking about the Collaboration episode on The Next Right Thing podcast. I even copied her Wholehearted Creative checklist from the transcript and printed it off to keep by my desk. Short, sweet, and full of powerful truth!

Credit: @ChalkFullofLove on Instagram

* #1 on my wishlist: this Stars Hollow Fall Festival T-shirt from Chalk Full of Love. 

* Several mugs per day of The Republic of Tea’s Hot Apple Cider herbal tea. Get in my belly. 

* Current nonfiction read: One of my favorite podcaster/speaker/ writer/storytellers, Annie F. Downs, just released her latest book, Remember God. I just finished listening to it, and wow. I cannot adequately express how much this book meant to me. She talks about hope, disappointment, seasons of wilderness, the nature of God, and ends with this prayer that left me a changed (crying) woman: “I would do it ALL again for who I’ve found You to be.”

Credit: DamnDelicious.net

* It’s not fall without soup, and your tomato soup needs these Grilled Cheese Roll-ups for scrumptious dunking. 

I told you. It was a lot 🙂 What are you enjoying so far this season?

PS: If you’re not ready to move forward with football and fireplaces, you can get a little dose of summer romance in my new novella, That’s When I Knew. Available on Amazon for 99 cents through the 15th <3 

{friday mixing bowl} favorites lately

It’s been a minute since I did one of these on the blog, but I do send it out once a month in my newsletter! Here are some of my lately favorites:

The hardcover versions (gorgeous gray and coral) of my favorite CSB She Reads Truth Bible are 50% at Lifeway today! This isn’t sponsored in any way except to tell you I have read my Bible more in the year+ I’ve had mine than ever in my life. I love the format and the aesthetic of it. Dudes, your lady would love this for Mother’s Day!

If I ever win a million dollars, I will give about half of it to Sal Khan and his incredible website. Some of you know I’m taking classes, and nobody helps me understand Lewis structures and stoichiometry like him! If you have kids in school, this website provides videos that break down pretty much any subject from the ground up (and in a way that’s ZERO% condescending). So helpful if you haven’t taken a math class since 1993 🙂 Did I mention it’s FREE?

My committee meetings with Jaime Jo. If you have trouble prioritizing time with your people, put it on the calendar like you would a work thing and call it a committee meeting. I learned this from my sweet friend Pam, and it works like a charm.

Cheap Trader Joe’s flowers + a lit candle make work feel less like work and any space feel 100% more cheerful and cozy.

For ages, I’ve told myself I didn’t do audiobooks because who has time for a 7-hour time commitment? But I just discovered the Hoopla library app, and it changed everything! I’ve been “reading” in the carpool line, doing the dishes, answering emails, and taking walks. This week alone I’ve “read” three books that have been sitting on my shelf for ages — nonfiction read by the author is my jam. The secret is to put it on 1.5x speed, which is a hair slower than Mickey Mouse voice 🙂

Comfort Food Sundays are a new thing in our house. We’ve found it helps us eat cleaner, healthier dinners through the week because we can look forward to all things pasta, cheese, and cream on Sunday nights. (This was the beginnings of chicken and dumplins — no “G” to be found.) There is something about the slow, unhurried act of chopping vegetables and minding a bubbling pot that makes me right with the Lord before a busy week.

What are you loving right now? I’m always on the search for things that make life easy, comforting, and joyful.

{friday mixing bowl} spring and other things in the air!

Happy Friday, friends! After a week of winter and another of summer (??), spring is finally in the air here. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

My very first box of author copies arrived yesterday! It was surreal and way more emotional than I thought it would be to: 1)  hold a book in my hand and 2) open it to see words I spent years writing and rewriting. Wow. Just wow. So this is With No Reservations, a clean contemporary romance about food and healing. I don’t have its section up on my Books page yet, but you can read more about it (and pre-order, if you’d like) on Amazon or mark it To-Read on Goodreads. Eeeeee!

Speaking of food, I’ve been watching a lot of the Great British Bake-Off on Netflix and told a friend that I was almost as proud of making this as I was for having my kids. A little exaggeration there? Maybe. It’s the Deep Dish Chocolate Cream Pie from Tastemade, and it has a delicious amount of espresso in the filling, coffee lovers. Like the pie version of a Jamocha Shake.

I’ve been working on a three-book proposal and a client editing project this month, but I’m excited to get back to work on my new website and a brand new manuscript of my own next month <3

From emergency appendix surgeries to computer glitches to back-to-back-to-back-to-back illnesses in my house, it seems like it’s been two steps forward, ten steps back with my March goals. But I’m still here, working hard, trying to be diligent about rest, and incredibly grateful to get to do what I love. The Lord is faithful and generous. I’m so grateful for how much He loves me through you all! So please remind me of that next month when I’m in the thick of training for my 5K race on April 29. *Cringe*

While we’re on the subject of friendship and loving well, I’m so excited about this book! Lisa-Jo Baker is my internet BFF whose words always make me feel like I’m sitting across from the older sister I never had with warm cups of tea between us. Every woman needs the wise insight of someone who’s gone before them, and Lisa-Jo has a lot to share about friendship, mean-girl-PTSD, and more in Never Unfriended. If you pre-order before April 4, you can enter your purchasing details on the book’s website and get a bunch of goodies 🙂 I’ll be including it in an upcoming post about my Spring TBR pile. So many good ones releasing soon!

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source: CrunchyCreamySweet.com

  • My son’s second birthday is next week, and I’m making these Birthday Cake Mix Cookies from Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet for our little family party! Aren’t they so cheerful?
  • One of my biggest priorities this year is to deepen my study of Scripture. (Okay, if we’re honest, to start really studying Scripture.) But look at this new Bible from one of my favorite Bible study resources, She Reads Truth! It’s beautiful, has a ton of features like timelines/reading plans, and is designed to make the Bible easier to navigate, which is great for people like me who know the vitality of diving into the Word but need a little help in the discipline department. I’m going to make this (one of) my book release present(s) to myself 🙂
  • Self-protection can cost us our heart: SO much wisdom in this article from the International House of Prayer about Keeping an Open Heart When Relationships Fail.
  • Making this Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Pasta for dinner tonight. It’s so springy and delicious with a side of asparagus or peas! The Recipe Critic has some great meal ideas.
  • Everyone’s favorite Lin-Manuel Miranda created a playlist for writer’s block, which The Nerdist wrote about here. Can’t wait to check it out, and I know it will prevent so much *headdesking* from creatives everywhere 🙂

< around the web >

So grateful for and blown away by all the love for our little novella collection. Getting Nick and Chelsea’s story into the world has been such a fun and humbling experience. We have been featured/reviewed on:

Teresa Tysinger | Amanda Everett’s Spring Break Reads | Faithfully Bookish’s First Line Friday | Alexis Goring’s God is Love Blog | Fantastic Fiction | Book, Line, and Sinker | Bibliophile Reviews | The Robin’s Nest

Is it spring where you live yet? What are you cooking and reading this weekend?

{friday mixing bowl} slow mornings, renewing of the mind, and unicorn cake!

Hi, friends! Is anybody else really glad it’s Friday? This is where I am this morning:

I know oatmeal is probably the most unphotogenic breakfast, but after a lifetime of hectic mornings, I’m grateful for a slow, lazy one. I’m going to post a monthly update and my goals for March next week, but one of my favorite things about February was my morning makeover. I’ve been waking up before my kids to get stuff done and have a slow breakfast with a giant glass of lemon water. It’s made all the difference in my day.  🙂

My schedule has been somewhat unpredictable, so I have been using block scheduling to get things done and setting aside chunks of time to do them. (Like naptime!) As always, the 15-minute drill has also been my lifesaver. It’s amazing how much you can get done in one episode of Mickey Mouse if you focus on one thing at a time. I’m currently working on an editing job, writing a proposal of new book ideas for my editor, preparing for my book launches, and training for a 5K. Life is full and happy 🙂

This week I got to meet singer-songwriter-podcaster Christy Nockels, whose music and gentle spirit have been instrumental since I was a tween, pretty sure. But her Glorious in the Mundane podcast has been especially encouraging to listen to as I clean my house 🙂

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    Source: ThePaperSpoon4U on Etsy

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  • The novella collection I’m part of releases next week, so things around here have been a giant pre-release party! Here’s the book page with the playlist, the story behind the story, and all the behind-the-scenes info about That’s When I Knew!
  • On The Writer’s Alley this week, I shared what I learned from writing my novella, celebrated the writing community, and shared a sneak peek!
  • The lovelies of Coffee Cups & Camisoles posted our interview today!
What have you been up to this week? Are you as excited about the weekend as I am??

{friday mixing bowl} 2017 on my mind

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Can you believe it’s the last Friday Mixing Bowl of 2016? It’s been a year, friends. Okay, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How was Christmas?

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These cuties, my husband, and I had our most chill Christmas ever. It was SO nice! We did pasta instead of the traditional ham spread, had great conversation with both sides of the family, and that was the best gift of all.

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This was my book haul 🙂 I feel so loved and known. I am going to regift the extra cookbook (from one of my favorite bloggers) because it’s so awesome, but what should I exchange Love & Gelato for?

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In the meantime, I’ve been making progress on my novella rewrite! Such a relief now that I have this battle plan. The orange Post-Its are everything I need to rewrite, but it’s so nice having a vision and plan in place.

source: Cultivate What Matters

Speaking of plans, I just got my notification that my Lara Casey / Cultivate What Matters Powersheets have shipped! This planner nerd couldn’t be more pumped –> majorly geeking out over here. I have huge plans and dreams for 2017, and after watching enough people fill out their Powersheets on Instagram, I knew where to spend my Christmas dollars 🙂 The sheets ask questions designed to incite action and to plan ahead for success — right up my alley with all of the gorgeous elements that will help me as a visual thinker. (Definitely more on this to come.)

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source: Our Vintage Farmhouse

If you don’t follow Our Vintage Farmhouse on Instagram, you should fix that! She has literally curated my dream house, and I love the inviting, cozy, magical spaces she’s created — especially that porch. She posted this picture, and I took a screenshot immediately because it made me think of 2017. My word for the year is JOY, and I’m definitely not waiting until 2017 begins to get started on that mindset.

Here’s to a year that includes hard work, healthy rest, transformation, and the ever-present warmth of cozy sunlight on our shoulders. <3

What are you looking forward to in 2017?

{friday mixing bowl} current favs

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Happy Friday, friends! I know it sounds like a broken record when I say that I’m in the editing cave (at least, it does to me), so I’m just going to show you some things that have been my favorite lately.

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Mardel’s bargain shelves. I went into Mardel for kid Christmas party favors and came out with all of this. Oops. But you can get amazing books for $5!

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Loaded almond milk cocoa + brain breaks. I can make it to my specifics without having to endure the after-drop-off soccer mom brigade at Starbucks 🙂 Let this toasty mug also symbolize the brain break I’m currently taking. It’s the best thing ever. My podcasts and blog queue are lining up, books unread (this week), and nothing but work and the very occasional Netflix rerun of The Wonder Years is going in my brain. Someone once said there are seasons of input and output in life, and the cycle for output is definitely upon me <3

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Fuzzy slippers. And wearing them everywhere — even to the grocery store. They are like a fluffy cloud for your feet, and I’m pretty sure they’re borderline socially acceptable in public because they’re moccasins, right? My husband told me I was going to have to stop wearing them out or else they wouldn’t be allowed on the carpet, so I have a tough decision ahead of me. What would you choose?

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Little girls in their first soccer uniforms. Enough said. I’ve been enjoying time with my kids during this holiday season, including a quick trip to Branson. That’s what it’s all about!

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Luxurious working conditions. In my older age, I have become like a cat, curling up to work in patches of sunshine, except with a giant caffeinated beverage in hand. And…without the naps so much. There are pluses and minuses to being my own boss, so I’ll take what I get. You know the novella I wrote in October/November? Well, I’m rewriting that. Completely. I’ve never felt so compelled to rewrite a project from scratch before, so fortunately it’s about 1/3 of the usual size of my work.

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My 2017 TBR Pile. Okay, y’all. Clearly you saw my paperback stack above, but this is what my Kindle looks like. Pretty sure my 2017 TBR pile is set. I’m going to do a new post about books soon because there have been some lovely and wonderful ones involved lately. Have you read any of these?

New fall TV. It’s been a few years since a new TV show captured my interest. With everything on hiatus right now, it’s the perfect time to go back and give some new ones a try while you’re recovering from Christmas ham coma. My first favorite is Pitch. The storyline is incredible, the issues explored important, and the characterization brilliant. Plus, it has Lumberjack Zack Morris in a baseball uniform, so you can’t go wrong.

My next recommendation is Lethal Weapon. I was a little skeptical but had to try because 1) I love the Wayans brothers, and Damon is my favorite. And 2) Clayne Crawford (Martin Riggs) is one of my favorites from Leverage, and I knew he could do wonderful things with his former Navy SEAL turned wounded-crazy-cop role. I love the dynamic between Riggs and Murtaugh, but the biggest surprise is how much I love Murtaugh’s smart and fierce DA wife. Roger and Trish are MAJOR couple goals.

Last but not least, the winner of Lindsay Harrel’s new book is Kelly Blackwell. Congrats, Kelly! 

That about wraps it up. What are you reading and watching in between last-minute Christmas present buying and making? 

{friday mixing bowl} spa caves + a little bit of fancy

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Happy mid-November, friends! The high is in the 50s here after topping off at 85 yesterday, so I am wishing hot cocoa and campfire coziness on all the land! I’m back in the editing cave, finishing final edits on my May release…

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But not before escaping to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a glorious few days with my husband! It was our first beach vacation with no kids since 2009 — nothing but reading a few feet from the ocean all day, exploring the city with ice cream cones at night, and finishing my novella at this amazing #beddesk on our balcony with the ocean waves as a soundtrack.

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This spa cave may or may not have been involved too. I seriously stayed in there for a few hours because I didn’t want it to end and knew moving there forever wasn’t a viable option. But you know what? This is how I’m going to envision my proverbial editing cave. So if you need me, this is where I’ll be!

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It’s a good thing we had a few days to get that ocean chill in our bones, because real life hit hard with deadlines and stomach bugs and Daylight Savings sleep regressions when we came home. Things are finally back to normal … we hope. At least the natives are cute.

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And some of our neighborhood trees are changing colors. Better late than never!

<< link love >>

source: Taste and Tell Blog

source: Taste and Tell Blog

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Back to the editing cave I go with 7 days until deadline! What are you working on, and more importantly, how are you relaxing this week?

{friday mixing bowl} trucks, glue muffins, and other updates

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It’s Friday, friends!! I hope you aren’t like me and thought yesterday was Friday too. Did you have one of those weeks? There’s a cure for that, and it’s called Real Friday! Here’s what’s been going on in this neck of the woods:

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You’re hearing this first here, but I am working on a huge rebrand of 1624 Communications with a fresh focus and possibly even some dream collaborations. I can’t wait to unveil it, hopefully around the beginning of the year. But in the meantime….

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After some unexpected events at the beginning of the month, my novella truck is finally chugging along! I’m on track to finish just a week later than planned, by the grace of God. At my writing group last night, we talked about how the creators of Marvel and Pixar admitted that, at some point in the production process of all of their amazing blockbuster movies, they were convinced it was the worst movie ever written. And then they turned into those masterpieces. Well, I have faith that, with a lot of love, this novella project can’t get any worse and will get a whole lot better 🙂

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After my autoimmune symptoms returned this month after two years without them, I’m a few days into a clean-eating challenge — just me, myself, and I. Cutting back on the processed food and sugar and majorly upping my protein and water intake, complete with meal plan spreadsheet in typical Laurie fashion. It feels fantastic and tastes amazing for the most part, but I did make some yogurt muffins the other day that tasted a little like glue. Don’t make muffins that taste like glue, friends.

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  • This butterbeer fudge definitely isn’t clean, but it embodies everything I love about October. My friend Mary Weber recommends making them to help cope with this election season, and I think they’d be perfect to accompany your month-long Harry Potter viewing fest.
  • In the interest of Selah, my holy yoga teacher created a gorgeous and amazing Lectio Divina guide, with an emphasis on REST. I know yoga gets a bad rap with some, but I love her classes that draw their life and meditation and energy on the Word of God. Can’t wait to dig into this weekly plan!
  • Gilmore Girls fans who are personality nerds will love this assessment of the beloved characters’ enneagram numbers!
  • If you’re a pre-published fiction author looking for a great example on doing marketing well, look no further than my friend Teresa Tysinger. She is releasing her first short story via newsletter soon, so be sure to sign up! I’m super excited to read it! (She’s also our author spotlight on The Writer’s Alley today!)

<< in case you missed it >>

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May your weekend be filled with cocoa, cuddles, extra crunchy leaves, and muffins that don’t taste like glue! What are you looking forward to right now?

{friday mixing bowl} what I would buy everyone if I won the lottery…

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Allllll the praise hands that it’s Friday. Seriously, y’all. I am looking forward to a relaxing typical fall weekend because it’s been so crazy here lately. Today, I thought I’d share some cute things I will buy everyone if I ever win the lottery. Don’t think I won’t seriously go all Oprah on you…

I need these tees from J. Lilly’s Boutique in my life. This heathered purple + everything it stands for = so dreamy! And pumpkin + gold + pretty lettering are pretty much the ways to my heart.

If I ever moved, I would light this homemade bread candle until it smelled like home. All of the comfort, none of the gluten! Freckled Hen Farmhouse has the cutest branding and is only located about two hours from me! Their shop has tons of awesome things!

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Someone named Swagrid posted this on Facebook, and I couldn’t agree more: rain, bed fort, Harry Potter movies, and pizza. This day is near the top of my fall wishlist — except maybe stew instead of pizza 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I just got a massive book box this week. (More on that next week.) But as soon as my book allowance replenishes — it’s magical like that — get thee to my bedside table, gorgeous YA covers and favorite food bloggers!

What’s on your fall wishlist? Is your perfect fall day in the forecast this weekend?

{friday mixing bowl} until boots and sweaters are my world

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I wasn’t going to do a Friday Mixing Bowl post until next week, but there was so much goodness to share today! It’s birthday week for my little lady, so we are soaking up every minute celebrating. Here’s what else we’ve been up to:

 

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Fall arrives in my world when I say it arrives, okay? 🙂 I’ve been burning my favorite fall scent and making lots of soups with the hope that the temperature will soon get the memo. As Jen Hatmaker said this week: September, you need to get right with God.

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My Huckleberry and I cleaned up nicely for a belated birthday date to this bohemian pizzeria downtown. It was enchanting and divine and delicious! Also–mushy alert–after 8.5 years of marriage, this guy still made my knees weak when I saw him walking toward me in the parking lot at the gym yesterday. All the heart eyes for my Huckleberry!

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The home stretch is in sight on this round of rewrites, thanks to real coffee. Yes, you read that correctly. Real coffee. Voluntarily. Even if only once.

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May I introduce you to the most perfect shirt for me in the history of the world? Okay, maybe tied with something that has Chewbacca’s face on it. I am a sucker for 90s R&B — sucker! — and though love is more than just all the feels, those songs, y’all. *Swoon*

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My hip flexors are lifting up the praise hands because our gym added a Holy Yoga class just when they need it in the very middle of the week! While I’ve always loved yoga for the physical benefits and the mental benefits always taken in the context of my Christian beliefs, these classes actually draw from specific scriptures and biblical truths woven throughout the stretching and bending and balancing. If you need me on Wednesdays at noon, you know where I’ll be.

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Speaking of yoga, my brilliant friend Katie is developing an amazing resource. If you have a creative bone in your body, please take her quick, two-minute survey to help make her project as awesome as it can be. If you’ve never done yoga, I promise you don’t know what you’re missing and your body and renewed relaxation will thank you!

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In the spirit of fall, here is the shade I’ve deemed my signature fall nail color — Essie’s Angora Cardi. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and I absolutely adore it!

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I feel like the worst list-lover in the world because I hadn’t heard of Google Keep. Someone in my writing group told me about it this week, and I immediately downloaded it. So far, it sounds like a simpler version of Evernote, which is a little too much for me, yet with more functionality than the generic iPhone Notes app that currently hoards all of my mind’s various info dumps. I’ll report my progress when I’ve had the chance to explore it more, but I feel like it’s going to be a game-changer for those 2am bursts of inspiration.

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source: Giphy

source: Giphy

  • Swooning over everything in this list from Bookstr: “Fall Reading is Wonderful
  • I made this mixed berry crumble from Taste’s Lovely for community group this week, and it was tres delish! Benefits: 1) uses frozen berries, so no need to defrost and 2) likely doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store and 3) delicious!
  • What if brave is really dancing the two-step with doubt? “You’re Braver Than You Know” by Holley Gerth for (in)courage was one of my favorite reads this week!
  • There was a Friday Night Lights reunion and the president of Team Riggins was not invited. It’s fine. Totally freaked out anyway. I still have clear eyes, full heart, and can’t lose 🙂

Even if boots and sweaters and hot cocoa may not be in your forecast this weekend if you live anywhere near me, I hope you capture some coziness this weekend!

What have you been up to this week? Have you discovered anything brilliant lately?

{friday mixing bowl} the most wonderful time of the year

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Happy weekend, you guys! It’s been a minute since I did one of these, so I have lots of goodies to share. I’m in a fantastic mood because I had a wonderful date with my son yesterday, fall is coming, and my book due out in May officially has a title. Yay! It feels like a real book! I love it and can’t wait to share it soon. Here’s what else has been going on around here:

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The 2016 ACFW was a whirlwind! I’m still processing it but plan to post a recap of what I learned soon. The most important thing you need to know: I got to spend time with my sisters, including celebrating Jaime’s 40th birthday with literally the best meal of our lives. I loved seeing them and getting the chance to pitch my books, connect and reconnect with my writerly people, and learn lots!

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I made Boyfriend Bait Cookies from the I Heart Naptime cookbook. Picture a chocolate chip cookie loaded with M&Ms, ground oats and blitzed milk chocolate. So delicious! You must make them for the people you love immediately!

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Two things happened this past Saturday. First, we were awakened by a pretty sizeable earthquake here in Oklahoma, which was memorialized by the National Weather Service accordingly. Oh, Mylanta…

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Here are my kids comforting each other right after it happened. It was the strongest and longest one I’ve ever felt!

Second, college football made a dramatic return! The most wonderful time of the year! My team celebrated by going into double overtime, winning on this play. I literally have. no. chill. about college football!

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I am, on the other hand, trying to add a little chill to my morning routine. Prepping the necessary things the night before and getting in the right mindset to start the day before the kids wake up is a huge game-changer! In an ideal world, I could get work and some exercise in without having to scramble to school on time, but baby steps!

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My planning woes seem to be solved. I have found a bullet journaling system that I absolutely adore. It helps me track cleaning, selah, and workouts in a way that works and is much less…disheartening for an unpredictable schedule than other layouts. Thanks to my new bullet journal crush, The Bullet Journal Addict! I have been geeking out over her gorgeous layouts!

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source :: The Recipe Critic

source :: The Recipe Critic

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What’s on deck for you this weekend? I will break from the editing cave to go on a belated birthday date with my husband tonight and watch some college football this weekend.

Do you follow college football, or are you more of a books and Netflix kind of person? I think I’m both 🙂

{friday mixing bowl} conference prep, celebrations, and new discoveries

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Happy Friday, y’all! It’s the last Friday before ACFW Conference, so I’m what my friends call nerv-cited, which is a tiny bit of nervous and a whole lot of excited. My husband just got back from 10 days away for work and play. Don’t feel bad — he was in HAWAII. Here’s what’s been going on in this neck of the woods:

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You guessed it. More from the editing cave, working on my novella, and prepping for conference. I’m going through the manuscript and toning down the villain in one of my characters and changing a work situation for my hero this week.

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This is a little peek of my one-sheet mock-up where I played with images, fonts, and colors. The final version looks much different than this, but it was sure fun, especially with these fonts.

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Celebrations are in order for my beloved writing sister, Anne! She announced her first book contract this week, a novella in a new Gilded Age collection from Barbour Publishing. I couldn’t be more proud of her!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I started Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. It is life changing. Life. Changing. A few weeks ago, I posted about my need for more rest/Selah in my life, and this book unpacks why. It’s perfect for the people pleasers and hustlers, making sure we keep a healthy perspective on our work and life and sanity.

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Speaking of sanity, I finally ordered these Tombow Dual Brush Pens on an Amazon lightning deal. I’ve been eyeing them for months and falling down so many Instagram and YouTube rabbit trails that showcase the magic of these pens. I can’t wait to practice my lettering with them!

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Last but not least, if you’ve wondered where I’ve been lately, the answer is the Olympics. I am definitely an avid Olympics fan — ever since 1996, and even though my US Women soccer team got eliminated early, I had so much fun watching gymnastics and swimming and track. You know how much of a sucker I am for a good story, and every single one of these athletes has literally worked their entire life for this moment! The resilience and bravery and fierce prowess of these individuals are super inspiring — especially the moms!

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Have an awesome weekend — and if you think about it, please say a prayer for everyone going to ACFW 2016!

{friday mixing bowl} the jewels of the summer

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Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxation (possibly some swimming?) with my family after a busy week.

What we’re enjoying…

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We bought a huge flat of our nectarines, which are everyone’s favorite. They are so delicious this time of year! Notice the grubby baby hand attempting thievery.

What I’ve learned…

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I made two cakes this week with THE BEST chocolate and buttercream frosting from Add A Pinch, who also taught me how to make my vanilla buttercream extra white: You cream the butter by itself for several minutes, and then you add the sugar in half-cup increments, beating the mixture on high for 10 seconds after each half cup is incorporated. Life. Changing.

What we accomplished…

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My daughter and I completed our second #LittleFreeLibrary mission this week at another little kiosk not too far from our home. We added two of my writing sisters’ books and found a Sofia the First book for my kid.

What I’m working on…

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Still in the editing cave for the unforeseeable future. Thankfully I have a lot more time than I originally thought I would!

<< link love >>

source: AddaPinch.com

<< in case you missed it >>

Podcast Recommendations for Writers (1)

Whew! I think that covers everything. What’s your favorite thing you’ve discovered lately?

{friday mixing bowl} I’ve got the power

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This is going to be short and late because we JUST got power back! I know, in the grand scheme of everything that’s happened across the globe, this is so minor and a first world problem, but after a massive storm knocked out our power for two days, I am so happy to have it back! Here’s what (else) I’m loving this week:

That noodle bowls are a thing right now. I have this slow cooker lo mein from Damn Delicious pinned to make next week and trust Chungyah as the ultimate source in all things noodly. But seriously. Google noodle bowls, and see that the food bloggers have done amazing things with them!

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Pokemon Go. Have you heard of this phenomenon? Look for the nerds walking around looking extra intently at their phones. Just kidding. Kind of. My four-year-old daughter and I downloaded the app and caught three before we decided it wasn’t our cup of tea. But I had to include it here because it has made for some excellent internet entertainment when it’s been otherwise bleak.

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Mom nights out. My friend Cait took me to this enchanting pizza place in downtown Tulsa. The interior, chicken pesto pizza, and — wait for it — SMORE CALZONE were all magical, not to mention the company. This boss lady is a working mama of three, including twin two-year-old boys. So, yes. Mom nights out are so very necessary!

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Okay, have you heard of Yoga with Adriene?  It’s a YouTube channel with full yoga classes. I’ve only taken one, but I feel like I hit the jackpot for when I need to loosen up and get my strengthen and stretching on but can’t make it to the gym for a class. I literally turn my laptop around on my desk, and my office floor becomes my practice space. Let’s be honest for a minute. I used to think yoga was a hippie thing, but nothing has been able to help my lower back and hips quite like yoga. It’s relaxing, too!

Thanks to Amazon Prime Day, I finally pulled the plug on this Instant Pot pressure cooker, which can cook rice, steam veggies, saute, braise, and more. Supposedly, according to multiple trusted friends, it has so many safety features that I will not destroy my kitchen with it, either. It literally just arrived on my doorstep, and I can’t wait to put it to good use!

<< in case you missed it >>

Hope you have a fun and recharging weekend 🙂 We are heading to a wedding sans kids tonight, and I can’t wait!

{friday mixing bowl} making space, three mentions of cookies, and the horizon

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Everyone take a deep breath! It’s Friday, your doozy of a week is almost over, and hopefully you have a three-day weekend coming up. Can I get an amen? 🙂 Here’s what’s in my mixing bowl this week…

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I just saw a t-shirt that said, “I bake so I don’t punch anyone in the throat.” While my baking needs aren’t that intense, it’s my daughter’s love language. We love baking together almost as much as we love surprising people with random cookies on their doorstep. I will include my tried and true recipe in the links below!

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I got my first editorial letter back this week (unless you count the first revision request) and experienced first-edit paralysis, which, according to seasoned author friends, is a very normal and real thing. But then I sat my booty in my chair, started typing, and sent ideas back to my editor with nary a moment of overthinking, so that was nice. (And new!) As you can see in the picture, I also switched out my plotting board and put up the first few Post-It Notes for my new project. Love this fun milestone! I will continue to brainstorm and write new scenes during my edits. Working both sides of my brain at the same time seems to be good for both kinds of work. Go figure.

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Okay, Oklahoma. We’ve had some glorious sunsets this summer. It’s kind of nice that, even in the middle of a suburbia parking lot, God finds a way to show off. Even when I’m rushing inside the grocery store with 12 minutes left before their cluck & chuck $2.99 meat sale ends, God can take my breath away and remind me to stop and really see.

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After looking for the perfect kimono since last summer, I got this one from LaRue Chic Boutique and can’t wait for it to come in the mail! It takes me forever to make a clothing decision, which is why I rarely get new clothes. It was long overdue 🙂

<< link love>>

source: Bakerella.com

  • As promised, this is the chocolate chip cookie recipe I have been using for years and years. I like to make it with Kerrygold Irish butter and mini-semisweet chocolate chips. It. is. perfect. Bakerella never fails, y’all. Make it this week and give half to someone who could use a smile (it makes 3 dozen).
  • I discovered Christa Black Gifford on a podcast and love everything she writes, including the worship songs I never knew she wrote like “One Thing Remains.” Her recent article on worship  really resonated with me: Why am I ONLY singing about God on the outside of me, around me, pouring over me—instead of the reality of Him living inside of me? Why am I asking God to set me on fire….when my heart is a FIREBOMB of the Holy Spirit that I can never put out? Check it out, friends!
  • Adding some of these novels from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s list to my TBR pile: 9 books you should have read in high school that are totally worth reading now. Some of them, however, I cannot and will not endure a second time. No names mentioned to protect the innocent 🙂
  • Last but not least, my sister Brett Tubbs shared an invitation to step out of the hustle for a second, find your space, and be inspired to stay the course. Love her work and everything she’s learning inspires me so much.

<< in case you missed it >>

Why I'd Love

  • I started a series about why I’d pick age 30 over who I was at 20 any time, starting with the friendships. Can’t wait to continue this series next week!
  • It’s a new month! I’ll be sharing my July goals + how I won and fell short with my June goals soon!
  • Keep an eye out on The Writer’s Alley for my list of recommended writing podcasts! It goes live on Tuesday.

That’s it — a short representation of my special crazy this week! Have a happy long weekend celebrating our great nation.

(Unless you’re international, in which case, just make sure to celebrate for no good reason <3 )

{friday mixing bowl} making me happy

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Happy Friday, friends! Did you have a good week? I sure did! Here’s what’s been making me happy this week:

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Ever since I hit up that huge sale at Mardel, I have been enjoying the Savor devotional by Shauna Niequist! With an invitation to read and learn and pray and cook and share, it’s right up my alley. Powerful things can happen when you start your day with truth and a good to-do list.

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I’m not normally a fresh flowers kind of girl, but I love adding a bouquet of something pretty to my basket at Trader Joe’s. And they are economical enough to justify because they usually only last a few weeks with this black thumb 🙂

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My sweet friends have been amazing this week. Some friends from our community group at church brought me a gift bag full of favorites, indulging my sweet tooth with Tuxedo cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory and my color coding addiction with allllll these pretties! I’m so grateful and inspired to love and celebrate others well. <3

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Until my edits arrive, I’m working on a brand new project. This is how I envision my hero and heroine, even if my Chelsea is a little older than Kat McNamara the actress. As always, this may change as my authorly mind settles on what’s right for the story. Aren’t they cute? It’s so fun to start a new story for the first time in years!


If I’m honest, my Elton John playlist is making me REALLY happy 🙂 I saw him do car karaoke this week, which set me on my semi-regular Elton kick. Love him! #sorrynotsorrykids

<< link love >>

<< in case you missed it >>

What’s going on with you this week? Any new discoveries to share?

{friday mixing bowl} work, rest, and link love

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Happy Friday, friends! Hope this weekend will be full of rest, fun, and recharging for you! Last week, we celebrated my husband’s birthday — the big 4-0. We had a lot to celebrate last week that I can’t wait to tell you about, so keep your eyes open for some news hopefully by Monday!

<< currently >>

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…getting my fitness on! I have been enjoying more consistent workouts since I’m between deadlines this summer. There’s nothing like some good tunes and a couple of miles of trail under my shoes!

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…ogling this book! A friend who knows me well sent it to me, and I can’t wait to dive in! Chefs, organization, work, clean? These are a few of my favorite things 🙂

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…realizing the importance of rest. I love the concept of naming it Selah, a word often found at the end of the Psalms that some believe to signify rest. I like to picture it as a sigh of relief with praise still resonating in the room. Naming rest makes it more intentional, for some reason.

IMG_5747 …enjoying this loot! Hobby Lobby and Mardel moved in right next to each other in Tulsa, which as I said on Instagram, could be dangerous were it not for their amazing sales! I got all of this in the $20 range. My kids and I definitely won’t have a boring summer, that’s for sure.

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…enjoying a celebratory bagel. If you’re on my newsletter list, you’ve already known why for a while. If not, hopefully you’ll find out Monday!

<< link love >>

source: www.chef-in-training.com

<< in case you missed it >>

How Case Studies Can Make You a Better Writer

What are you doing to relax/recharge this weekend?

{friday mixing bowl} in the interest of trying something new

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Happy June! How was your week? Mine included a girls’ night, seeing old friends, and getting some good work done! Did you know it’s National Doughnut Day? After I post this, I’m going to pack up my kids and do something about it 🙂 Here’s what we’ve been up to:

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I’m trying my hand at a novella, the first I’ve ever written. For friends who aren’t of the writerly persuasion, this will be about 25K words compared to the full-length 80-90K I usually write. I know it’s way different than novel writing, so I’m researching the typical structure so I can pace my story properly. Can’t wait to tell you more about it later!

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This week, some friends and I had a craft night. Just as important as the dreamcatchers we made were the conversation, raincoast crisp crackers with cranberry goat cheese, and orange-double chocolate cookies. If you haven’t had a night out with friends in a while, make it happen soon! Not crafty? Me neither. Buy a couple packs of colored pencils and a coloring book and ask everyone to bring a snack or dessert and coloring book. It’s more relaxing than you’d think, and the conversation flows when people have something to do with their hands 🙂

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This lovely came in the mail from the even lovelier Jessica R. Patch. So excited to read it and let you know what I think. If it’s anything like her first romantic suspense, Fatal Reunion, I have a feeling we’ll all love it!

<< link love >>

<< in case you missed it >>

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  • I shared my goals for June on the blog this week, from this pantser’s plotting ambitions to my goal to get my exercise on once a day.
  • This week also marked the first in my Table Talk series with advice from my late college mentor, The Grammar Hammer. <3
  • On Tuesday, I’ll be talking about how “case studies” can help writers on The Writer’s Alley, the first time I have posted in what feels like ages!
  • If you want to know the totally weird and random job I would love in an alternate universe, be on the lookout for my interview on Robin Elizabeth Mason’s website next week!

Thanks to my little hiatus, I’m all caught up on podcasts and blogs. What should I check out next? Do you have anything planned this weekend?

{friday mixing bowl} the declutter in every possible way edition

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The long weekend is almost here! Hooray! Here’s what I’ve been up to…

<< I’m currently >>

in a state of limbo…

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…because I turned in my book and proposal! As of right now, all of my major projects are in others’ hands. So the picture above is what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. I see lots of naps, Netflix, and reading in my future.

at least for now…

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…because I can’t keep myself away from writing for too long. What’s next on the agenda? Rewrites from my agent, planning my next book, and plotting a super secret project that I can’t talk about just yet.

celebrating…

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…the life of my dear college mentor Jim Wilcox. Can I just raise my voice and echo everyone else when I say I hate cancer? When I found out he was retiring early because of his health, I mourned for the decades of college students at my alma mater who would never have their lives impacted by him like we did. Now I’m mourning for his family, the wife he adored and respected so much, his twin brother, sons, and grands who miss their Pop. But I’m also celebrating his impact with so many of his students who wouldn’t have the talent or professional gumption had they not been nurtured by him. I wrote a letter to him before he passed and also added my voice to the many tributes on Facebook. We seriously had the best professors! <3

in the mood to…

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…seriously declutter. Maybe not this drawer because it’s too fun and pretty, but my whole house. We’re talking serious rampage on clothes, baby toys, and junk drawers. But I’m procrastinating by reading all the Art of Simple articles on decluttering because I know that, if I begin a huge project, I’ll get an email from my agent two days in saying I need to rewrite my whole book or something. And then I’ll have half-undone closets and piles all over my house, and that simply will not do. Baby steps!

reading…

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Just One Summer, a novella collection by some of my favorite authors. I’m believing that, if I read a book about summer, the rain will go away! I just finished my critique partner’s latest manuscript and can’t wait for its release. SO GOOD! On my Kindle, I also have the latest romantic suspense from Jessica R. Patch, Protective Duty. I’ll report back on both of these soon!

catching up…

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…on rest. Both the physical kind and the mental kind. I got to attend a 24-hour women’s retreat with my church girls, and we had so much fun getting away to a gorgeous and relaxing ranch about 1.5 hours outside the city. (If you’ve seen yesterday’s “Welcome to My Table” post, the beautiful table in that image was there!) My brain is full of so much information that I haven’t had time to process over the last few months, so it’s nice to be able to journal and sort through it all. I need to create more space for rest in my busy! 🙂

<< link love >>

image credit: FifteenSpatulas.com

  • If you’re in charge of breakfast this weekend, treat yo’ self with these cinnamon roll pancakes from Fifteen Spatulas!
  • Which Christian fiction author are you? Take the quiz and find out! (I got Serena Chase.)
  • I love this philosophy on strong friendship that Relevant wrote about. The most important thing is just showing up.
  • Turn yourself into a wordsmith quickly with this tool, Wordnik. It shows multiple definitions, synonyms, context, other forms of the word you type in. So ridiculously helpful! Am I the last writer on earth that didn’t know about it?
  • This video of Jenny Kutz speaking at a conference? Wow. Talks about how we measure success and our significance in God’s eyes. Please listen! I might transcribe parts of it for my first Table Talk post, in fact.

<< in case you missed it >>

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Will you get the chance to relax and rest this weekend? Any advice on decluttering?

{friday mixing bowl} rapping, running, and signs of life from the editing cave

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Hello from my editing cave! How is it Friday already?? As we speak, my princess-loving daughter is at Disneyland for the first time with her dad, and the bear child and I are relaxing and holding down the fort at home. Here’s what my week has looked like:

<< I’m currently… >>

hoping…

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…everyone had a good Mother’s Day, even though I know it’s such a hard day for many.  Can I just tell you how much I was thinking of all of my brave single mama friends I respect so much, the girls with complicated relationships with their mothers, my mamas who have lost babies this year, and my babes who have lost mamas this year. I hope you felt love and comfort that day whether you are a mama or have a mama <3

you guessed it…

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…still in my {messy} editing cave. But this time, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! I have so much I want to share in this space that my poor brain is about to burst like a biscuit can. (Ooh — I need to add that metaphor to my book! LOL) After four edits/rewrites/fast drafts in a row, my final send button is at the ready!

listening on repeat…

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…to DC Talk. On the way to church, I may or may not have turned to the kids in the backseat: “Just a minute. Please don’t talk while mommy’s rapping!” In the ’90s and 2000s, this band was every youth group’s soundtrack, and I listened to their cassette tapes on repeat for ages (when repeat mode meant popping open the cassette deck, flipping the tape, and pressing play again). For the last few weeks, they’ve been counting down to a big announcement, which I hope hope hoped would be a new album of upbeat songs I can run to. Speaking of which, I am reviving my running hobby! But — spoiler alert — it was a one-time cruise we likely won’t be able to get to go on. Womp womp. But that won’t stop this girl from rapping along <3

making time for…

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…relaxing in the midst of the crazy! On my first night lassoing the cub for bedtime, I treated myself to a magazine I don’t normally read plus some Good Pops for a little relief from our Oklahoma heat wave. Sometimes mamas just need a quiet house, a reprieve from work, and to let the dishes sit in the sink for a bit. Not pictured: Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals playing in the background on Hulu.

fighting HANGRY with…

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…this amazingness! Sargento recently came out with these snack packs in different flavors. This one’s my favorite: almonds, cranberries, and natural cheddar portioned for a perfect snack when you’re out of time or meal supplement when your children end up eating most of your meal. Don’t get hangry; get this!

looking forward to…

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…tackling this gold TBR pile and sharing some book recommendations with you next week! Seriously, y’all. I love writing and plan to do it {almost} every day for the rest of my life.  But back-to-back-to-back-to-back edits, rewrites, fast drafts, and more edits is a lot of hustle. I am also looking forward to getting back on a semi-normal sleep schedule, deep cleaning my house, going on cooler early morning runs, making a giant meal plan of healthy and delicious recipes, saying no to more good little things to make room for big fantastic things, catching up on my blog reading and writing + podcasts, plotting my next book, and (leisurely) working on a super secret project I’m really excited about! Can you tell I’ve thought about this list just a little?

<< link love >>

image source: Kickstarter

  • A Kickstarter all book lovers can get behind! How awesome would it be to wear your favorite writing — or get it for your favorite author’s book launch? Looks like their goals were reached and then A LOT, so I can’t wait to see what they do with it!
  • Bookmarking this list of lighter iced Starbucks drinks so I can keep cool and caffeinated without sacrificing my health goals!
  • Google Calendar has a new Goals feature inspired by an app it acquired called Timeful. This article shares a little more about how it can help with your productivity!
  • Do you regularly communicate via pen or keyboard? Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid that are even helpful reminders for the most stringent of grammar geeks!

<< in case you missed it >>

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Hope you had a wonderful week! Shout out in the comments if you’re reading this and tell me what you’re up to this weekend so I can have a little glimpse of life outside the editing cave <3

the friday {NON} mixing bowl

For the next few weeks, my life will not be a mixing bowl.

It will look exactly like this.

Post-It Notes, all the pens, edits that have color categories,
plus a whole lotta caffeine and Jesus.  <3

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And this is a mild spread!

I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to hit send.
There are lots of adventures to update you about.

What’s new in your neck of the woods?

{friday mixing bowl} a mixing bowl of loveliness

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In the middle of wiping stuffy allergy noses, there was a lot of lovely this week with a pinch of fancy.

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It was our anniversary! So hard to believe this was eight whole years ago. Isn’t that church gorgeous??

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We got all fancied up and went out to a nice dinner. Our photobombers weren’t too sure what was going on, but they got to have a fun pizza party with their Aunt Bethany! (Thanks, Bethany!)

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I went bold and brave with a pink lipstick, which is so not like me. But I kind of like the extra touch of fancy! And I love that my husband makes me feel just as beautiful when I change back into my topknot and yoga pants at the end of the night 🙂

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We went to my favorite place, where I was on the hunt for an early copy of my critique partner’s awesome new romantic comedy, Close to You. (Pre-order it now because it comes out on Tuesday!) We didn’t find an early copy of it, but I did find cover inspiration for the manuscript I’m currently editing — LOOK at that typesetting! <3 Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this… #sorrynotsorry

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The rest of the week was business as usual. The most gratifying kind of hustle.

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…while others didn’t exactly pull their own weight.

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Real life: this is what my sink looked like after a few home-cooked meals (opposed to the 23938293 nights of takeout) and enjoying gorgeous spring evening walks with my family instead of doing dishes. Totally. Worth. It. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to listen to my podcasts while I washed!

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This week reminded me how important it is to treasure quality time — not multitasking, but being totally present. Like dating my husband, picking out fresh strawberries from the farmers market with my girl, and having a raspberry blowing competition with my little cub.

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But what week can go wrong when it starts off like THIS?

<< link love >>

  • One of my favorite new podcasts is The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. This week, she hosted Shelley Giglio in what was the last straw in a common theme for this week: confirmation that I’m supposed to act on a dream God put on my heart 10+ years ago in college! (More on that later.) My favorite part was when Shelley talked about how her focus is on encouraging people to believe they can do the work God has called them to do. Their talk was fun and real and inspiring!
  • Jenny Bravo of Blots & Plots totally did it again with this comprehensive guide to social media! If you’ve ever wondered what role each social media platform should play and which content should go where, then get there now!
  • God has chosen YOU — not someone else.” Ohhhhh, Bob Goff. The man is smart. “God can use anyone, for sure. If you can shred on a Fender or won Best Personality, you’re not disqualified—it just doesn’t make you more qualified. You see, God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done.

<< in case you missed it >>

Happy weekend, y’all! Tomorrow I head to OKC for a mini-conference headlined by Allen Arnold. What are your plans?

{friday mixing bowl} fun donuts, alarm woes, and other finds and fails of the week!

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I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I couldn’t compose this post. It’s because I was using my Writer’s Alley posting client.

It’s been one of those weeks 🙂

My Friday Mixing Bowl looks different today, but here’s what I will remember about the fun and beautiful mess it’s been:

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This week, I attempted to get on a new schedule. (Insert cringe face.) Look, I set my alarm with pretty emojis! Yay! Done! Or not. On the first day, my kid woke up six minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, and our adventure began 1.5 hours earlier than usual. I’ll do better next week, I promise!!

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I’m currently in client editing mode, working on a really fun manuscript. Another client just sent off a book proposal — for which she almost immediately received an enthusiastic response. So we are super excited about that, even if I’m wondering how this unicorn of a rockstar managed to get a reply so quickly! 😉

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Confession: I had to swallow my pride and email my agent saying I needed a little longer on these edits than originally planned. Normally I would stay up all hours of the night to GET THE THING DONE at all costs, but after back-to-back-to-back edits (and since it’s not under contract yet), I am trying to be good and give the story space so it can be the best it can be. This recovering people pleaser needs to practice the whole healthy boundary thing more often. But look how pretty and shiny my book baby was when I picked it up from the printer this week!

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Huge bright spot: I surprised my kids with a donut date before school this week at a little place by our house. Whole Foods waffles from home for the Cub, ice cream cone for the Little Lady, and BB-8 for this geeky mama! If you ever come to Tulsa, I will take you.

CHILLS watching this girl bring it on The Voice! New favorite = Shalyah from Team Adam. You might think this is blasphemy, but move over, Beyonce. Who did it better? The youngest contestant on The Voice! 🙂

Hope you have an amazing weekend!

 

 

{friday mixing bowl} a very mindy reprieve + a little fancy in the mess

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How are the weeks flying by so quickly? I have no idea! As you will see, I’ve been very boring this week with client projects to work on + spending lots of time with my little family! To me, boring is never a bad thing. So here goes.

<< I’m currently >>

enjoying perfect spring evening walks with my little family

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The tree in this picture, when we were walking up to it, looked rose gold because of the way the sun was filtering through the white blooms next to it. Wish I could have captured that in a way that did it justice with my measly little phone!

loving the work I get to do every day…

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…even if it can get a little crazy sometimes. is that a theme around here?

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trying to add a little fancy here and there to make even a Wednesday lunch with my kids more special

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fitting in some reading…

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…in the middle of taxes and other adulty things!

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plus somehow watching…

via Bustle

The Mindy Project on Hulu when my brain is crammed to capacity and needs a little reprieve. Enough people told harassed me it would be the perfect show for me, so I tried it and can’t quit it as a little refresh button for my brain. Confession: I can confidently say that 94% of why I stayed is because Mindy’s nurse Morgan makes me wheeze-laugh.

<< link love >>

source: Bakerella

  • I don’t care who you are or what you’re currently eating or eliminating, you need a good chocolate chip cookie recipe that unites all people and soothes all that ails. This one from Bakerella has been my go-to for years. My daughter and I made them this week when her friend came over to play, and they are magical.
  • Loved this article from Canva on font pairing in their newsletter. For one, if you don’t have Photoshop and are not using Canva to make images for your social media and online marketing, you need to check them out now! And use this article as a guide for professional looking images. It  has exactly what I’ve been looking for to take my online marketing game to the next level!
  • My feedly might self-combust for being way behind on my blog reading this week, but my inner Hermione Granger geeked out at these 12 dozen places to educate yourself FO FREE, compiled by Marc & Angel Hack Life!
  • I also was floored by this post on getting dumped from Bob Goff on the Storyline blog. Love him! >> “God’s grace comes in all shapes, sizes, and circumstances as God continues to unfold something magnificent in me.” YES!

<< in case you missed it >>

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  • I wrote THE END on my third manuscript this week and threw a party! Still lots of work before it’s ready, but just having the bones of a story in place (for now) feels so good!
  • On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing my self-editing checklist on The Writer’s Alley —  unless a more timely topic hijacks my plans.
  • I’m also compiling an April Reads post that will go up at some point next week, along with my manifesto for this blog, if I ever figure out what that looks like 🙂

Do you ever have packed, boring, adulty weeks like this with a little fancy and loveliness squeezed through the cracks? Just me?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

{friday mixing bowl} watercolor wishes, birthday buttercream, and more

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<< I’m currently >>

in disbelief that…

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…my little Cub is ONE! His birthday was yesterday, and we had some family over to celebrate. When it was Cubby’s turn to smash his cake, he took one taste of the whipped cream and spit it out. So I gave him some of this luscious buttercream to sample, and he spit THAT out. Who is this kid? Undeterred, I stuffed it in his face because I was going to have that first birthday messy cake picture! Wouldn’t you know, he was so offended that I would make him eat buttercream of all horrors and didn’t calm down until I gave him his pouch of spinach. Yes. Spinach. I don’t even know…

working on…

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…all the workish things. I had a productive naptime on Thursday while my daughter was at school, and I’m hoping to put a few projects to bed very soon! In book news, I’m still plugging away, but there’s a story I hope to be able to share soon that deserves its own post…as soon as I type The End on Blake and Lacey!

biding my time until…

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…I can spend some time with this bad boy. Isn’t it gorgeous? I want to practice my brush lettering as a hobby, and those blues and greens and pinks and purples have my name allllll over them.

listening to…

 

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…these podcasts. Trying them out, so I can’t vouch for them yet. As I’ve said before, I have fallen in love with listening to podcasts while doing the mundane holy things like washing old bottles that have been lost under the couch for a week and folding tiny jeans. Any recommendations for me? (And please don’t mind the little red numbers if they bother you as much as they bother me 🙂

looking at…

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…my new lock screen from French Press Mornings. She regularly releases gorgeous lock screens for free! I first heard of her via my agentmate Ashley’s Twitter post, and I’ve had a few different French Press Mornings lock screens ever since!

<< link love >>

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  • If you saw that gorgeous cupcake above, this is the chocolate buttercream recipe I used from the Add a Pinch blog. It was perfection (don’t listen to weirdo Cubby!), and I had to put the bowl in water immediately to resist eating additional spoonfuls of it.
  • LOVED this post from Sarah Bessey this week. It’s a reminder not to discount the holy work in the more mundane, adulty things. To never think that where you are right now and what you’re doing isn’t important.
  • “How to pursue your hoped-for work when you’re busy with your right-now life.” THIS. Kind of related. Definitely necessary reading.

<< in case you missed it >>

Instagram

  • On The Writer’s Alley this week, I shared an easy Instagram trick to help market your various content around the web.
  • I also stole a fun idea from my friend Teresa and created a Beyond the Bio, an enhanced set of facts and confessions that let you get to know the real me beyond the formalities of a professional bio 🙂 Bonus one since I’m a romance writer: Country music is not my thing despite the whole Texas/Oklahoma roots, but the song “Making Memories of Us” by Keith Urban and “Then” by Brad Paisley are two of the most romantic songs ever, in my opinion! Your turn to do one for you!!
  • This website got a tiny makeover, too! I downloaded a theme from Angie Makes that more fits with what I’m going for in this space now — and I have my eye on one of her premium themes to invest in soon!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend! What will you remember most from this week?

{friday mixing bowl} the holy grail for bloggers, happiness for mama hearts, red bubbles, yellow puppies, and more

NEW STOCK(2)

Happy Easter! What a special Friday and week <3 I have been working on edits, deadlines for clients, and getting my husband back from a 2-week work trip, but through the busyness, there’s this extra layer of hope. Love it!

<< currently >>

loving…

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…SPRING! My foodie heart is so happy that the seasons are changing. Soon my Instagram followers will be inundated with gratuitous farmer’s market pictures #sorrynotsorry. But in the meantime, I am starting to re-introduce spring greens and lots of bright flavors in my kitchen. And it smells and tastes phenomenal!

reading…

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this one! If you’re a mama or have a young mama you love, this book is incredibly encouraging. My pen got such a workout underlining everything I took to heart, which was about 1/2 the book 🙂 Do yourself a favor and get a headstart on Mother’s Day!

happy…

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…because I finally got to spend a morning with Christen! We talked writing for a glorious, kidless stretch at my favorite coffee shop and then got lunch with my kids. So, so good for my heart to see this lovely!

digging…

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…the Random Olive Instagram feed! I am drooling over this girl’s brush lettering skills and amazing tutorials! I even bought the water brush she uses so I can experiment since the brush I was using to practice this week…notsomuch. We shall see if, in time and with lots of practice, my letters will be half as cute as hers!

working on…

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…edits! If you saw my Facebook post this week on my author page, I was totally talking about myself and the many red Microsoft Word bubbles in my latest manuscript. This is the very end of the email I got back with my edits from my critique partner. Do you see those Xs she used to try to defuse her cute and snarky little warning? But seriously, I’m grateful to have a wonderful critique group and welcome the beating and red pen slashes because we couldn’t make magic without each other!

celebrating…

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…this yellow pup! Did you see it was National Puppy Day or something this week? I’m convinced social media makes up these arbitrary “holidays” but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating! Sampson is my late night co-worker, foot warmer, and gentle giant/playground for my kids. He turns 6 next week (on the same day our son turns 1)! Want to take a nap with him? You can borrow him, as long as you give him back!

<< link love >>

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image via The Pioneer Woman Food & Friends

  • Love love love these adorable bunny cupcakes! Perfect for your Easter activity if you are Pinteresty and talented like that!
  • Okay, y’all. This is the holy grail of free stock photos! I’m only sharing it here because I love you. If you blog, like to create memes, or whatever, these are all licensed under Creative Commons, which makes things easy!
  • Excellent encouragement here to look after your “other half” — the part of you that often gets buried underneath the busy and the necessity. And this applies to everyone with a heartbeat! I wish everyone would take this advice.
  • Bookmarking this post from Janet Grant because of the sheer terror in my life every time I’m asked what my book is about. It’s so terrifying and awkward, y’all — and I do it FOR A LIVING for other people’s books!
  • I just discovered The Nectar Collective, a resource for all things online marketing, blogging, and small business. If any of those things interest you, I highly recommend subscribing to her newsletter because her free online library has allll the great info!

<< coming up >>

  • I joined Jeff Goins’ 7-day challenge for better blogging practices — and got stuck on the first day, the blogging manifesto. I’m still trying to articulate that but hope to have it ready to roll in the next week!
  • On Tuesday, I’m up at The Writer’s Alley, and I will be sharing an awesome Instagram “hack” for writers and bloggers!

Hope everyone has a great Holy Weekend — in which you get a good nap!

 

 

{friday mixing bowl} almost to THE END, two references to cake, and more

{friday}

Hi, y’all! This week’s Friday Mixing Bowl is coming to you on Saturday 🙂 I’m getting back into the swing of things after a whirlwind (and AMAZING) trip to Seattle, solo parenting for two weeks while husband is away on work, finishing a book, and finalizing my client line-up!

<< I’m currently >>

working on…

Blacey

the last stages my third manuscript, an inspirational New Adult story. Technically the first draft is finished, but it was too short! This is a “sequel-turned-prequel” to my first book, but I decided to strategically shelf it several months ago to start a new series with my second book instead. So I’m currently reading through it, filling in some holes with new scenes, and editing as I go. My lovely critique partner is shredding it up in 100-page increments, so I will get to those edits next.

listening to…

This Spotify playlist, a compilation of some of my favorite powerful worship songs right now. There is a lot going on in my headspace right now, and these songs keep me happy and sane. It’s very female-centric, which I don’t mind one bit 🙂

reading…

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I read an amazing book while I was in Seattle, Sway by Amy Matayo. It’s an inspirational new adult novel like the one I’m currently writing, basically the unicorn genre of the CBA and one that’s very close to my heart. This was my favorite of hers yet! OR if you’re looking for more of a straight-up contemporary romance, The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson is beautiful and poignant. Check them out!

still stuck on…

credit: theartofsimple.net

this article on The Art of Simple website. “Those of us who choose to walk a path with intention through life can be a little prone to overthinking. (Wait. Is that just me?) We know we want to live lives connected to our communities, our neighbors, our friends, but sometimes we get so bogged down in good intention that we collapse under the weight of our own standards and do nothing at all.” The author learned that making a difference can really be as simple as putting a chocolate cake on someone’s porch. The idea of community and its ramifications has been heavy on my heart lately, so this article was timely and inspiring.

<< link love >>

source: iambaker.net

  • I did it again, y’all. I talked about cake twice in one blog post. But my tiny little baby is turning ONE in less than two weeks, so I have been researching frostings. Keep these recipes in your back pocket the next time you need to whip together an impressive cake, okay?
  • Ten TED Talks from Authors. I haven’t listened yet, but my dishwashing time is about to get a lot more interesting!
  • I’m very proud of my friend, Teresa, who wrote about  the importance of being teachable and doing whatever it takes to make your work better — even if that means starting over.

<< in case you missed it >>

Join us on The Writer's Alley!

  • I hosted author Liz Johnson on The Writer’s Alley on Tuesday, where she talked about why launching her career with Love Inspired Suspense prepared her for the release of her contemporary romance, The Red Door Inn. This is a subject I’ve always been curious about, so I was grateful she obliged me!! 🙂
  • Author Hillary Manton Lodge invited me to be a part of her author roundtable discussion about good writing/story music. So much fun to be featured with talented published author friends!
  • I also shared contest tips last week. Hope those come in handy during this busy contest season, whether you entered the Genesis or not!

Hope y’all are having a great weekend!

What are you up to?

{friday mixing bowl} unicorn blondies, lunchboxes, endorphins, and more

{friday}

Hey, y’all! How are you? I hope good. I had a pretty fantastic week. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

<< I’m currently >>

geeking out over…

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this beautiful Instagram feed. Foodie + Organization = ME in a little box. Currently saving up for some of these so I can embarrass my daughter with beautiful OCD lunches. Hold on. TIMEOUT. Um, hello! In my research, I have discovered there is a Groupon deal for these right now. You’d better believe I just got us some!

working on…

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…allllllll the things. But work has been fun lately. I’m re-reading The Storm Siren by Mary Weber with the teen I tutor and brushing up on literary devices. At the same time, I’m helping with a cookbook proposal for another client and starting a new full-length editing project I’m excited about. My goal is to write two scenes and do a little brainstorming today!

rocking my…

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VOTE! Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right? 🙂

listening to…


Wow. I have been listening to this Sarah and John Mark McMillan song. Just wow. Those words. That heart. That soul. Can I please sing like her when I grow up?

celebrating…

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…my return to running with this totally unedited glam selfie of happiness! You may not know this, but before kids, I was a runner and half-marathoner. Due to health issues, I have not been able to run outside in a few years. But I’m BACK! There is something about running that makes me feel whole and healthy. It’s just good for me all-around, and I was so happy to have fun running. No timing watch. No distance calculations. Just me and my music and fun!

practicing…

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…my hand-lettering! I have wanted to learn how to do this for quite a while (because I’m totally a handwriting geek) and got this class as a Christmas gift. It was so fun to practice lettering and experiment with different devices. I want to implement this practice into my life weekly because it’s so pretty and relaxing!

<< link love >>

source // bakeat350.blogspot.com

  • The winner of this week’s insanely ridiculous recipe is these Unicorn Blondies from Bake at 350 blog! Obviously these are too pretty and fun to be real life, and I’m sure they taste fantastic!
  • Gah. I have a feeling I’m going to be sharing a lot of Aliza Latta’s links in this space because for real. The girl hit it out of the park again with this letter to the girl who thinks she’s not enough. So much powerful truth.
  • This is a fun bucket list of things to do before age 40. But don’t let age stop you by any means! Some of my favorites are writing a letter to the five people who have most impacted your life and finding a mentor and a mentee. Lots of exciting and meaningful stuff here!

<< in case you missed it >>

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  • On The Writer’s Alley, I did a super fun and amateur video interview with my writing sister Jaime Jo Wright because she celebrated her first BOOK BIRTHDAY this week. I couldn’t be prouder of this amazing girl!
  • I also posted a review of the amazing new contemporary romance from Nicole Deese, A Season to Love. Can’t recommend this book enough!
  • Next week, I’m planning to share my goals for the month and an Instagram trick for bloggers! If you’re here looking for more writing-related things, follow my author Facebook page or check out my posts on The Writer’s Alley!

What was the best part of your week? Did you discover anything new? Wishing you a weekend as magical as those unicorn blondies 🙂

{friday mixing bowl} american idol, american voting, american thin mint pie

{friday}

It’s Friday again, loves! Time to take this party up a notch because…

– I’m currently –

celebrating…

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…PRESSING SEND! See all those lovely crossed off revision items on my plotting board? That’s the most important thing you need to know about this week. I finished my revise + resubmit project and send it off — and immediately got some work projects to keep me busy in the meantime. So now, we wait. But in the meantime, I’m…

(still) reading…

IMG_3946Nicole Deese’s Season to Love. I picked it up after I pressed send, and it’s glorious. Couldn’t put it down. I rate it three miles on the treadmill scale, i.e. so good I can’t stop reading and forget that I’m actually running until I realize my legs are about to fall off and it’s time for a change of reading scenery. If you love a good snowy contemporary romance, this one will keep you warm for sure. Love the message of healing through tragedy and giving up control of your life.

still loving…

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…my bullet journal. I added a time tracker to the top of each date so I can plan when I’m going to do what. So far, even though I’m still tweaking things, it’s working swimmingly. My other planner is collecting dust, in fact. (BTW: that’s a client’s Genesis entry I’m editing. No plans to enter right now!)

watching…

We haven’t watched American Idol in years. David Cook was the last winner we saw, I think. But since it’s the farewell season and they probably have some cool tricks up their sleeves, we’ve been keeping up with it. Who are your favorites? We like Sonika and Olivia Rox!

getting ready for…

…SUPER TUESDAY! If your state is in green, I hope you’ll read up on the candidates and vote on Tuesday. It’s so important even if, like me, your candidate likely won’t win in your state. Not trying to start a debate at all {and I will cut you if you do 🙂 }, but I will be voting for Ben Carson because I love that he’s incredibly smart, has practical solutions to problems I agree with, and most importantly, isn’t a politician, so he hasn’t been corrupted by the game. He knows how to surround himself with the smartest people to get the job done and can empathize with more Americans and their best interests than the other candidates. Yes, he is clearly an introvert, but I don’t think that would be a problem if he selected a charismatic VP. I can’t sit by and let my country’s presidential election become little more than a reality show without knowing I did my small part. And that’s about as political as I get 🙂

super proud of…

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…this Cubby Bear! I don’t post pictures of my kids often here, but when I do, it’s because they are doing something super sweet. Books are about the only thing that will get this one to stay still. I hope that means he’s going to love reading as much as his mama. Can you believe this little cub is going to be 1 next month??

– link love –

credit: FoodieCrush.com

– in case you missed it –

  • This week, I talked about the *glamour* of pressing send. And by glamour, I mean the mix of real-life and celebration that continued.
  • I also shared my Workspace Wednesday and the 3908398 things that were going on when said picture was taken. More real life, just the way we like it 🙂
  • On Tuesday, I’ll be hosting author and writing sister Jaime Jo Wright on The Writer’s Alley! Stop by and get to know more about her!

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That’s all, folks! What was one thing you loved this week? What are you up to this weekend?

{friday mixing bowl} bullet journaling, texas forever, an unreal chocolate cake, and more

{friday}

Happy Friday! This week was a weird one during which I got slammed with strep and two sick kids! We are on the mend and looking forward to a very spring-like weekend. In my febrile delirium, there have been quite a few bright spots…

– This week, I’m currently: –

experimenting with…

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…bullet journaling. Have you heard of it? It’s pretty amazing. {Here’s the video that explains things, though my version will be a bit different.} learned that I need a weekly spread to keep everything organized, but my usual planner didn’t include a catch-all space this year. I really like the customization of bullet journaling and the fact that you literally have a blank canvas to work with. So if something doesn’t work, you can tweak it for the next week and design it to be exactly what you need! My original plan was to try it for a week, but my week was kind of a wash because I got sick, so I will keep doing it next week and report back with a blog post about it!

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geeking out over…

source: BohoBerry.com

…new-to-me blog Boho Berry. This is kind of a continuation of the last point, but she is the queen of bullet journaling. My list-happy, planner-nerd self nearly exploded when my friend sent me her website. SO pretty. SO many amazing and efficient ideas.

reading…

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I’ve been beta reading something delicious this week, but I sneaked in a little reading at the gym with a smoothie while I waited for my daughter to get out of her workout class. It kind of felt like a vacation 🙂

wishlisting…

credit: Milk and Honey Tees on Etsy

This tee and pretty much everything else from Milk and Honey Tees. Does anyone else feel a Friday Night Lights marathon coming on?

listening to…

…this stunning rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” from Chris and Morgane Stapleton.

contemplating…

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random, I know. we’ll go with ingredients as a metaphor here.

…brand and content. I could write a whole blog post on this subject, but the gist of it is this: I know all the experts say aspiring authors should stick with relevant articles, books in their genre, and talking about writing, but there’s so. much. I want. to write about here. They say it’s important to cultivate content that appeals to your ideal readership, but I think the typical “formula” doesn’t give readers enough credit 😉 Anyway, I am grateful to have this little piece of the web and am deciding how to incorporate more of what I love without being all over the place.

– link love –

source: HowSweetEats.com

  • I think this cake is my food soulmate. Is that frosting even real-life?
  • Please tell me you saw this video of LeVar Burton’s Problems Only Book Lovers Understand that was circling around Facebook. So amazing!
  • This week, I was introduced to writer and handlettering artist Aliza Latta . Love her art and her writing. She has lots of wise and truth-filled things to say!
  • Karen from A House Full of Sunshine shared 250+ Things to Throw Away just in time for spring cleaning.

– in case you missed it –Your art is legitimate and important whether it's your sole income or free therapy tucked into the best corners of your day.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! What have you been up to this week?

{friday mixing bowl} neighbor’s table, harry potter, valentine’s cookies and more!

{friday}

Hello, loves! Happy Friday! It was a full and busy week around these parts. Full and happy 🙂

– This week, I’m currently: –

working on…

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…a full tank. I had forgotten how much the simple relocation to a coffee shop can work wonders for the work-at-home blahs. My husband took over bedtime duty this week so I could escape, fluffy hair and all, to my favorite coffee shop. I was a happy worker bee this week!

giving up…

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Facebook for Lent. I deleted it off my phone, set up a block on my browser, and hopefully I can use that time for prayer and more constructive things. Can I tell you how many times I have scrolled all over my phone looking for it almost unconsciously? I seriously didn’t even know what I was looking for. And my browser plug-in tells me that I have tried to click there no less than 30 times already. It’s sad, but true and going to change 🙂

reading…

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Does my own book count? Because I have read the book I’m revising twice this month! It’s in my critique partner’s hands now. ((Cue all the nail biting and all the hallelujahs.)) Almost ready to press send 🙂

PS: Shameless plug to pre-order said critique partner’s romantic comedy coming in two months! She has seriously ruined me for all other romantic comedy — she’s that good!

geeking out over…

neighborstable

credit: Sarah Harmeyer // Neighbor’s Table

Neighbor’s Table. SERIOUSLY, y’all. Ever since I saw the show Parenthood, I have craved a huge farm table in my backyard with twinkle lights and people I love gathered around it. I was listening to the latest Simple Show podcast from Tsh, who interviewed a girl who started a love mission for that very thing. Her dad builds farm tables with the specific purpose of gathering people — so many different stories and backgrounds and experiences around the table sharing a meal. THIS IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE, you guys. Right here. I am definitely going to see how I can get involved, but I’m so glad I found this!

pre-ordering…


Whaaaaaat? A new Harry Potter book!? For real? Well, technically it’s a screenplay and 30 pages long, but if it tells me what happens next, I’m all over that!

making…

 

credit: Pioneer Woman Food & Friends

these chocolate sugar cookies from Pioneer Woman Food & Friends for Valentine’s Day! I love that they are cut-out cookies but you don’t have to roll out any dough. My daughter is going to freak when she finds out what we’re up to later tonight!

– link love –

LifeisRosier / Via etsy.com
 

– in case you missed it –

ACORN (1)

  • This week, I shared one of my favorite songs lately with the reminder of how much you’re loved. Powerful lyrics as always from Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture in “Unstoppable Love”!
  • It’s my turn at The Writer’s Alley on Tuesday, and I’m hosting lovely pre-published author Teresa Tysinger!
  • I’m going to be announcing a special on Genesis entries next week, so keep your eyes peeled! (Not literally. That’s gross.)

What filled up your week? Any special plans for Valentine’s Day?

{friday mixing bowl} great british baking, #teamlogan, and more!

{friday}

My goal for the near future is to make a more appropriate mixing bowl meme, but I’m knee-deep in edits right now (hoping to hit send this week!!!) so in the meantime, random is what you’re going to get! Gotta stay true to the theme and all.

– This week, I’m currently –

Netflixing…

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I’m a huge fan of foodie reality shows, but the British know how to do it right! They are so much more chill so the focus is more on the food instead of pitting contestants against each other. I like it!

Reading…

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Love me some Nicole Deese <3 Her latest, A Season to Love, just released this week, and I’m so excited to dig in. She is a brilliant storyteller! You can enter to win a signed copy + $50 Amazon gift card and other goodies on her website if you don’t believe me 🙂

Listening to…


I’m in full-on editing mode, so I’ve been listening to a combination of my editing playlist, a relaxing mix of City and Colour + Sleeping at Last, and this book’s playlist on Spotify. This Sleeping at Last song is on BOTH of those playlists!

Obsessing…

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over the fact that one of my favs has signed on to the Gilmore Girls revival! Yes, ladies and gents, I am #TeamLogan all the way. And as I’ve said all along, that’s because LOGAN ALWAYS COMES BACK! Take a cue, Rory’s other boyfriends, because this could make the show super interesting!

Celebrating…

The winner of my newsletter giveaway, the lovely Jamie Lapeyrolerie! Yay! Thanks to all the new subscribers. Hopefully I will have fun book news to share sooner than later.

– link love –

white-hot-chocolate

credit: loveandoliveoil.com

– in case you missed it –

What are you into this week? Any big plans for the Superbowl?

Be sure to visit my author page on Facebook for updates throughout the week!