Listicle Series: 12 Reasons that Fall is My Favorite Season

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Darker nail polish colors.

Apple cider.

The early morning / late night chill in the air.

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Layers, like soft sweaters and leather jackets…yum!

Soup season.

Pumpkins on the front porch.

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Candy corn.

The leaves changing colors.

Bonfires, corn mazes, and hayrides.

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Boots, beanies, and scarves.

Friendsgiving.

The knowledge that there are only 11 Mondays until Christmas. ♥

New Listicle Series + 7 Places to Find Good Eats

In the last decade, the internet (arguably Buzzfeed, more than anyone else) has popularized the “listicle,” or an article that appears in the form of a list. According to research, lists help organize our brains and save us time by breaking information down into bite-size pieces. Plus, to be honest, they are fun to read and share because they are typically more conversational than a traditional “article” or blog post.

To be even more honest, I LOVE LISTS! I have wanted to do a list series for a long time, and I finally decided to just do it! My goal is to share at least two listicles per month through the rest of the year. I thought it might be a fun way to share a little more about myself, and I’d love topic ideas from the audience, so please feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions in the comments. In the meantime, to kick it off, here’s a list of my favorite restaurants (in no particular order) and what I usually order!


Restaurants

  1. Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The Goodnight is usually my go-to burger, but the real hero is the Parmesan Truffle Fries with truffle aioli. I kind of want to cry every time I eat them.
  2. Braum’s. Hands down, my absolute favorite chocolate ice cream to date.
  3. The original Ceviche in Durant. It’s since been bought out and turned into another Mexican place, but the old Ceviche from when Daniel and I first got married was AMAZING. I’m still mourning the fact that I can’t ever have that grilled chicken salad dressing or the chicken + black bean ravioli again. RIP, Ceviche. :(
  4. Torchy’s Tacos. Holy WOW is this place good. I’ve tried several tacos but I love the Trailer Park the most. The chips and green chili queso are BOMB. And the Lil’ Nookies are to die for – fried chocolate chip cookie dough, guys. *drool*
  5. Shake Shack. Their cheese fries and salted caramel shakes give me life.
  6. Roma Italian in Durant. Tbh, I’ve had better pasta other places (like Scarpetta in Las Vegas), but I have had actual cravings for Roma’s Alla Pana sauce. I love to dip their warm rolls in it, and the Chicken Alla Panna Pizza is my current go-to.
  7. Chick Fil A. Don’t roll your eyes; y’all already know this is my place. My order is the same literally every time: #1, no pickles, fries, and a gallon of Chick Fil A sauce. #theLordschicken #itismypleasuretoserveyou

There’s about 112 other places that I also love, ranging from hipster to fancy to kinda trashy (Barrio’s in OKC, Hideaway Pizza, Rick’s Chophouse, Chili’s, Kobe Express, Hula Hut, Chuy’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Asian Gourmet, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle), but I figured I’d better start small with my first list or people might quit reading. ;) More listicles coming soon!

Tell me two of your favorite spots: one local and one chain!

Florida Vacay: Part 2

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From Part 1: When we got back to the beach house, I decided to go take a look at the ocean for the first time on the trip. It was so nice to be so close! We spent the rest of the day cooking, playing games, and watching movies….and prepared our minds for DISNEYWORLD!

I don’t know if I can explain how many dreams came true on this day. The entire time leading up to it – the road trip to the park, waiting in line to get our tickets, riding the ferry, walking down Main Street, U.S.A – it felt surreal. I kept saying, “Is this really happening??” I’ve wanted to go to Disney World since the very first Disney movie I ever watched, and I can’t thank my sweet parents enough for making this amazing trip a reality. ♥

To tell you the truth, we really didn’t take very many pictures. But I don’t even care, because we got the important ones and spent the rest of our time enjoying ourselves!

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Observations:

  1. HOLY CRAP there were so many people, and yet, the park operated very efficiently – we were really impressed!
  2. Even though we had to wait awhile for a couple of rides, the only one that wasn’t exactly worth the wait was the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. But only because it rained while we were in line and they had to close the ride down twice. By the time everything was said and done, we were too invested to just leave the line, so we stuck it out. It was still fun, but not exactly worth 3 hours of waiting…lol. *thumbs down* Other than that, the lines moved relatively quickly, and our second longest wait was for Space Mountain (which was expected, and also the first ride we did).
  3. Dole Whip lived up to the hype! So good!
  4. I literally have no idea how people do multiple parks in one day.
  5. Probably one of the best moments from the entire day was Mom getting to relive her college days and ride Space Mountain again – she never stopped laughing. :)

Funny enough, the place I took the most pictures (besides the castle) was the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse! This movie was a Simma kid favorite when we were growing up, and it was also the first movie Daniel and I watched together, the night we finally confessed that we liked each other. ♥

I know. We’re cute.

We spent the rest of our Florida days playing more games, watching more movies, and laying on the beach. Before Daniel and I flew home, we also got to meet some of Corey’s coworkers, learned how to play Jackbox games (which are awesome!!), and ate some seriously good Cuban food at Mambos Cuban Café. If you’re ever in Jacksonville, you neeeeeed to go there!

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Ready to go back! Just let us know when to take off work next summer, Dad… ;)

Florida Vacay: Part 1

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As of this summer, my first trip to Florida is officially in the books! What a great almost-week spent with my family. ♥ We hadn’t been all together since our group road trip to Colorado last year, so our time together was precious and long-overdue.

We stayed in this CHARMING beach house (which Dad has already said he would like to stay at again…!) that was only two blocks from the beach. My brother Corey moved to Jacksonville last Christmas for a new meteorologist position, and he worked at the station a few times while we were there. But he spent as much time with us as he could, and we filled our days with lots of fun outings, including beach trips, exploring St. Augustine, and a day at Disneyworld!

 

I really enjoyed our trolley tour of St. Augustine. Corey had taken Mom and Robyn when they visited him earlier in the year, but they both liked it so much that they decided they wanted to go back to show the rest of us. Trolleys stopped at 20+ locations across town, and you could hop on/hop off as many times as you wanted to see the sights (and get some gelato, of course).

 

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My people.

 

One particular place my dad wanted to stop and see was the Lightner Museum, a huge historic hotel in downtown St. Augustine. It was filled to the brim with bizarre collections of antiquities – everything from crystal dishes to shaving mugs to musical instruments to pocket watches. The picture above is a cafe now, but when the building was a hotel, it was actually a giant pool!

 

Daniel, Robyn, and I explored the St. Augustine distillery, which had a very cool atmosphere. We even got to taste-test a few things and try a sip of their bourbon on National Bourbon Day.

 

We met back up with Corey and my parents at the Castillo de San Marcos – the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. Unfortunately, we were a little too late to go inside, but it was still neat to walk around the outside, and the view of the bay was gorgeous!

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The Shades were reunited after all these years. ;)

 

When we got back to the beach house, I decided to go take a look at the ocean for the first time on the trip. It was so nice to be so close! We spent the rest of the day cooking, playing games, and watching movies….and prepared our minds for DISNEYWORLD!

Part 2 coming soon!

Hendrickson Family Photo Shoot

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I don’t have anything to say but WOW. This was such a great morning, and although I could write for days about how fun/sweet/loud it was spending those hours with Cromer & Co., I’m just going to let the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy! ♥♥♥

 

 

I still can’t get over how cute the photos of my in-laws are – Christy captured them so well, and she even got Steve to smile with his teeth! ;)

 

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And just look at these babes… ♥ ♥ ♥  I love being an aunt so much!

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Thanks again to Cromer & Co. for making our session such a terrific experience! Wrangling 17 people (including three very squirmy littles) is no easy feat, and Christy was a champ. Two thumbs way, way up. You can see more of their work on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Daniel’s 30th Birthday Party

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I really might have outdone myself this time.

I know I say this about every party…(and I’ll probably never stop saying it)…but seriously, this was one of my all-time favs. I had so much fun planning it, and I did my very best to make it a party that DANIEL would like, not just a party that I wanted him to like. I owe a HUMONGOUS thank you to Les and Dara Wesberry, who graciously let me use their backyard/kitchen and went above and beyond to help me get everything ready – y’all, I could not have done this without you! I love you both! ♥

 

My inspiration for this party was Daniel’s favorite things: soft pretzels, backyard games, a bunch of his best bros, a cigar bar, and a scotch tasting.

I borrowed tables and chairs from our church, tablecloths and burlap runners (and the tree trimmings) from Dara, and started each place setting with a beer flight placemat from Target and a mini bottle of Jack tied to a bottle of Coke. I got to re-purpose my donut wall from Brianna’s baby shower for the soft pretzel bar, and desserts included chocolate cake in a jar and homemade cupcakes (chocolate whiskey and peanut butter cup).

 

My favorite part was the cigar and scotch bar. The vintage matchbooks were a unique touch, and the scotch was a Scottish Highlands brand that was new to most of the guys, but a huge hit nonetheless!

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I even managed to snag a picture with the birthday boy. ;)

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But before you start thinking that this party was perfect…let me assure you that one thing went terribly, terribly wrong. And that was the beer cheese. I had found a recipe on Pinterest that looked super easy, and it was super NOT. I don’t know exactly where I went wrong, but this was a MASSIVE party fail. Just goes to show that you never know what happens behind the scenes!

If you need help planning a party, let ya girl know – I’d love to get ice cream or coffee with you sometime and talk about your vision!

Married Monday: 21 Little Ways to Love Your Husband

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Look at those babies, y’all! ♥

Daniel and I were 23 and 21, respectively, when we took these engagement photos on that cold November day, and we were absolutely crazy about each other. I remember thinking, “How could I possibly love this guy more??” I couldn’t imagine feeling any more affection for him than I already did. But as we have experienced marriage together over the last six years, I have learned that love really can deepen, and methods of showing love can change. You find out that there’s way more to romance than flowers and date nights.

According to Gary Chapman, there are five emotional love languages, or ways that people feel loved by others: physical touch, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time, and words of affirmation. Most people like all of them to a certain degree, but there are usually one or two that stand out more than the others. A lot of times, spouses don’t have the same love language, which is why it’s so important to be aware of what they are. A husband could spend all day doing acts of service for his wife because that’s what makes him feel cared for, but the wife will just be frustrated because he didn’t spend any quality time with her. Daniel and I are that way: he is pretty evenly split between physical touch and acts of service, and I am all about words of affirmation, although gifts is a really close second. Knowing what love language speaks the loudest to your husband (and to yourself) can be life-changing for your marriage.

If you’ve never taken the quiz before, give it a whirl and ask your husband to take it too. When you get his results, check out the ideas below for ways to love him in the way that’s most meaningful to him. If you aren’t married, you could even have your family members or close friends take the quiz to find out how to best show them love too!


PHYSICAL TOUCH:

  • Give him a back rub/neck rub/foot rub. Don’t wait for him to ask – offer!
  • Grab his hand anytime you’re walking together.
  • Prioritize intimacy. Receiving affection from him coldly or going long lengths of time without being together can be devastating to a “touch” husband.
  • Sit close and cuddle on the couch when you watch a movie.
  • Always make hugs and kisses part of your hellos and goodbyes.

RECEIVING GIFTS:

  • On your weekly grocery run, pick up his favorite snack. Instead of putting it in the pantry, tie it up with a bow and put it on his side of the bed for him to find later.
  • If he has an Amazon list or something similar, keep an eye on it and buy something off of it once in a while. Not for a birthday or anniversary; just because.
  • Make a special dessert you know he loves – bonus points if it’s something he likes but you don’t.
  • If you need gift ideas, pay attention to sentences that start with “I’ve always wanted ___.” (Personally, I keep a private note on my phone to keep track of things Daniel says he would love to do or own.)

ACTS OF SERVICE:

  • This skill grows with time, but learning to anticipate your husband’s needs can be a huge gift to him. Make his coffee while he’s in the shower. Replace his toiletries or favorite snacks before he runs out. Pack or lay out outfit ideas for him to pack when you go on vacation. Make sure the clothes he wears for work are clean and ready when he needs them. Intentionally watch for little ways you can make his life easier.
  • Do a chore for him that he dreads, liking mowing the lawn or taking out the trash.
  • Pamper him: run him a bath, bring him a cold drink, give him a warm towel straight out of the dryer, rub lotion into his tired feet, etc.
  • Get his car detailed for him, or detail it yourself.

QUALITY TIME:

  • Plan a fun day together or a date night – something he enjoys doing and something that will allow you to have comfortable conversations with each other.
  • Go for a scenic drive or take a walk and ask him these questions.
  • Ask for his advice about something and really listen to what he says. Show him that you value his input.
  • Whatever you’re doing together, put your phone away. The key word here is quality time. Don’t make him compete for your attention.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION:

  • Write chalk love notes on the sidewalk for him to read when he gets home from work.
  • Text him throughout the day – how hot he looked when he was working out, how thankful you are to be his wife, how proud you were to see him serving in your church…the mushier, the better!
  • When he works hard on a project or does something nice for you, point it out and tell him how much you appreciate it.
  • Hide a sweet card for him to find in his sock drawer, his car, or his briefcase.

A couple of caveats for these lists:

First of all, I am NOT advocating that a wife should be the only giving/loving spouse. Marriage is supposed to be 100/100: both of you seeking to out-serve each other. Husbands should work just as hard to love their wives. But I am not a husband; I’m a wife, so I’m writing from the wife’s perspective. And although I don’t have control over what my husband does, I do have control over what I do. Therefore, I AM advocating that wives go out of their way to spoil their husbands with love. God intended wives to be their husbands’ #1 fans, after all!

Second, attitude is EVERYTHING. You might be doing something nice, but if you have a dead look on your face or act distant, bored, or inconvenienced while doing it, your actions are useless. Try to think about if the situation were reversed. If he acted that way toward you – doing kind things purely out of resigned obligation – would you feel loved by that?

Third, when marriage is hard, you won’t feel like doing these things. Love is a choice, and respect and kindness are gifts. At some point (even if it’s just for one 10-minute argument), your spouse will not deserve them. Give them anyway. They are much easier to give when they are earned, but it is much more powerful to give them when they aren’t.


I hope you find these tips helpful! I love lists almost as much as I love practical ideas for making my husband feel special. My last piece of advice today is that no matter what your husband’s primary love language is, one of the absolute best ways to love him is to pray for him. Pray scripture over him for the times when he is overwhelmed (Ps 27:1), when he feels inadequate (John 14:27), when he is overcome with worry (Eph 3:20), for his relationships with others (Luke 6:36-38), and for his relationship with you (Phil 2:1-6). I think we underestimate how powerful prayer really is, and in the fight against sin, no weapon is stronger or more effective. ♥

This post is part of a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

Life Update: The Park + The Coffee Shop + The Woods + The Desert = The Memories

One of my favorite things to do, weirdly, is go back through all of my pictures on my phone. I always come across random things I documented that I forgot to post on social media, or funny screenshots of texts from family members, or ideas for parties that I wanted to save on Pinterest. I especially love getting to relive good memories, and this last photo purge was FULL of them!

#1: The Park. What a blessing it was to spend time with my dear friend Brittany and her cuties earlier this summer. She actually has another boy now, too – I think an east Texas road trip is in order to go meet him!

#2: The Coffee Shop. A new coffee shop opened in Durant this year, and even though I’ve only been a few times, since I’m not a coffee drinker, every visit has been spent with good friends. I love the atmosphere of the place, and I’ll definitely use it for a shower or two in the future.

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#3. The Woods. Boy, have the Love County woods been good to us. I absolutely love going to see Daniel’s family and adventuring on their land! It’s my favorite place to take Fitz because he can run around like a maniac, we take four-wheeler rides on the trails, and we get to revisit the spot where we married 6 years ago.

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And also I get to snuggle my nephews (one of which has too much energy to actually snuggle or take pictures with me), which is always a good time. :) Also, this picture is already so out of date – Luke is HUGE now!

#4. The Desert. I had the privilege of traveling for work earlier this year – Merrill Lynch hosted us at their annual client conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. And HOLY. MOLY. I felt like a queen! The resort was beautiful, my suite was huge, and there was so much attention to detail: chocolates on the pillows, mini jars of honey for your tea, and my toiletries were even organized for me by the housekeeping staff.

One of the best parts of the trip? The “field trips” they took us on: dinner, dancing, and hot air balloon rides in the desert, and an evening at the Musical Instrument Museum.

We were so spoiled for days with delicious food, musical performances, and guest speakers, including Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank!

One of the best things that happened all summer was Mother’s Day weekend with my bestest best and her little family. After YEARS of hard work, Jennifer graduated from med school and is officially a doctor!! I am so crazy proud of her.

Few things are sweeter than getting to hold your person’s little person. ♥

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Finally, here’s a sneak peek at the EPIC 30th birthday party I threw for Daniel! A separate post is coming soon, don’t you worry. ;)

Thanks for reading!

A Baby Shower for Dara + Baby Berry

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Last Sunday, I had the great privilege of throwing a baby shower for my sweet friend Dara, and it was the cutest thing, if I do say so myself! Dara and her husband Les are in my community group from church, and we were just over the moon for them when they told us she was pregnant. I knew instantly that I had to throw her a party – that was the easy part. The hard part came when it was time to pick a theme, because the Wesberrys decided to wait until the birth to find out if “Baby Berry” is a he or a she!

Soon after they told us the news, our group quickly started referring to the baby as “Baby Berry,” so I decided to carry the berry motif into the baby shower too. At first, I worried that it might be too girly, if Baby Berry is a boy, but then I thought…who cares?? The shower is kiiiiiind of for the baby, but mostly for Mama, and I definitely want a shower that the mom likes. Dara is super girly and always looks so cute, so I knew this theme would be right up her alley.

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The menu included mini berry cheesecakes (thanks Mistie!), mini strawberry shortcakes, and “pop”corn chicken (since, ya know, she’s about to POP). Two of my favorite touches, however, were the strawberry mason jars and the balloon garland. I loved the triple-layer detail of the drinking glasses – doily, strawberry, tied with twine. And that balloon garland….whoo, y’all. Labor of love, right there! I blew all of those balloons up with my own hot air, and tied each one individually to a long piece of twine. It took hours, but it was worth it!! (I have since been told about something magical called balloon decorating strip on Amazon, which I will 100% use next time. lol)

We played a couple of games, including a hilarious round of Baby Pictionary, but my favorite activity was making a birth day banner for Dara. I bought a blank pennant banner and gave each person a piece of it to write out an encouraging note or prayer to Dara. After I strung all the pieces back together, I gave it to her to put in her “go bag” so she can hang it up at the hospital for encouragement while she’s in labor! I absolutely adore this idea, and I hope to replicate it at every baby shower I host from now on.

On the way out, guests grabbed favor baskets – berry baskets filled with a bottled drink, a ring pop, and a note encouraging them to “Pop It When She Pops” and enjoy a toast on whatever day Dara has the baby.

Cute little mama with her mama. :) I swear, I have the prettiest friends, and I know she’ll have the prettiest baby – boy or girl! Can’t wait to cuddle that little one!! ♥

If you need help planning a party, let ya girl know – I’d love to get ice cream or coffee with you sometime and talk about your vision!

Questions I Don’t Have the Answers For

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Why is it that bras for little boobs are pretty and cute and come in 41+ different colors, and bras for big boobs are boring and sad and come in nude and slightly darker nude?

How is it possible to detest everything in my closet, but when I start to get rid of something, I develop a deeply sentimental relationship with it?

What’s the deal with fun-size candy? What’s so fun about getting LESS candy??

How long will women keep getting offended about being told they should be in the kitchen before they realize that the kitchen is freaking awesome because the kitchen has food?

Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? (I’ve seriously wondered this since I was a kid)

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, “I think I’ll squeeze these things and drink whatever comes out”?

How do you find the perfect balance between complete laziness and glorifying busyness?

Why is it that when you fix your hair and put some makeup on, you don’t see anybody, but when you go out in public looking like a homeless ghost, you run into literally everyone you know?

How is it possible to be COMPLETELY full of green beans and yet always have room for dessert?

Why are carbs so hypnotizingly delicious??

If you’re a vegan who ran a marathon and got your dogs from a shelter, how do you decide which one to bring up first?

Are narwhals nars or whals?

Why is pasta so hard to measure unless you’re cooking for 37 people?

Why is it so easy for some people to get pregnant and so difficult for others?

How will we ever know if a color shade is consistent? Like, we can agree that the sky is blue…but what if we’re seeing two totally different shades of blue??

Why, when someone says “30 years ago”, does my brain still automatically go to the 70’s?

What on earth is the difference between fancy ketchup and regular ketchup?

Why do dentists always ask you two dozen questions when their hands are in your mouth?

How long will we continue to fool ourselves into thinking that gossip is a good way to bond with someone?

Why does nail polish on your fingernails chip within the first 2 hours, but nail polish on your toes lasts like 10 million years?

How does losing weight actually work? Like…where does it go?

When do babies maturing into young children stop getting away with chunky fat rolls, big bellies, and leg dimples being cute?

What are neighborhood dogs saying when they bark at each other every morning?

For that last one, I’m 99.7% convinced that my dog Fitz is part of the totally-real communication chain from 101 Dalmatians. Or he has a girlfriend that he didn’t get to bark at all night since we keep him in the house until we leave for work. Or he’s sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We’ll never know for sure.