30 By 30

Uh…….. I’m turning 26 in two days.

Let it be known, first of all, that I LOVE my birthday. I’ve loved every single one of my birthdays. I love my birthday so much that I kind of maybe irrationally expect everyone else to know when it’s my birthday, and if someone who knows me doesn’t wish me happy birthday, I’m disappointed that they forgot about my birthday.

That said. Turning 26 is weird.

Turning 25 felt exciting, like I became a new kind of grown-up. I felt important in a more sophisticated way. “Oh, me? Yeah…I’m 25.” (Cue the smug smile.) Turning 26 feels a little like waking up the day after you run a marathon: you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished, but also a little bit ready to just die already.

To cheer myself up, I’m taking a leaf out of a fellow blogger’s book! My friend Caitlin Boswell from Absolutely Bositively created a list of 30 things to do before she turns 30, and I’ve decided to do the same! I’m obsessed with list-making, and I like having stuff to look forward to.

30 By 30

1. Have babies.
This one makes me go “…….whaaaaaaaaa!??!?!!?!” a little bit, but it belongs on the list. :)

2. Take an Alaskan cruise.
Daniel and I have had this on our list for awhile! We loved the Caribbean cruise we took last April, but the next one we go on will have to include mountains, snow, and whales.

3. Pay for someone’s dinner anonymously.
Someone did this for us once and it was so neat! I want to make someone else feel the way I did.

4. Go on a big adventure.
I’d love for it to be some crazy awesome vacation, but I left this one vague for a reason because with Daniel as my best friend, who the heck KNOWS what shenanigans we’ll get into in the next 4 years.

5. Throw someone a surprise party.
I. LOVE. SURPRISES. SO. MUCH. And I love throwing parties, so this is pretty much a necessity.

6. Read 10 new books.
First on my list is a gift from Daniel: Bossypants by Tina Fey!!

7. Learn how to curl my hair.
I know…I know. :( I’m stylistically challenged, but my bestie got me a curling wand for Christmas, so I have no more excuses.

8. Make a complicated recipe.
You know what I’m talking about – the one you’ve had pinned for four years but never attempted because you’re daunted by the ingredients list alone? I’m gonna do it.

9. Complete the 52-Week Money Challenge.
Seems easy enough! And it’s enticing to think about getting to the end of a year having saved that much so simply. The hard part will be not dipping into it for spontaneous unnecessary purchases, like a dog sweater that Fitz would destroy before wearing it but it would look so cute OH MY GOSH.

The Color Run - the happiest 5K ever. I will do this.:

10. Participate in a Color Run.
I hate running with my whole being, but this looks really fun.

11. Deliver meals to new parents.
Because allllllll my friends are having alllllllll the babies. And also because I love to give gifts that they’ll actually appreciate and use!

12. Turn MONAT into an actual job.
This is a biggie, and I kind of scared myself by putting it on here. But this is something I really want.

13. Host a backyard dinner party.
I’ve wanted to do this for years, and now we F I N A L L Y have an awesome backyard to do it in! Come on, summer!

14. Plan a “stay-cation.”
How delicious does it sound to take an entire day off from work, dress up your bedroom like it’s an upscale hotel room, and do nothing but watch movies and EAT? Ahhhhh.

15. Take Fitz on a trip.
I’m not 100% sure that including this one wasn’t a huge mistake, considering he never stops moving right now and is a hyper terror on walks…but after all, he is still a puppy. He’ll grow up eventually and I would love to travel somewhere fun with him as a sidekick!

16. Create a new annual family tradition.
Any suggestions?? What’s one of yours?

photos from each state they visited - glued onto a giant map and cut to fit the shape of the state.:

17. Make a map of places we’ve visited.
I really like this one, this one, and this one. Can’t wait to make one and put it on the wall!

18. Take anniversary pictures with Daniel.
I told myself “Oh yeah, we’ll take pictures every year after we get married!” and that definitely hasn’t happened. Time to be a woman of my word.

19. Spend a long weekend tucked away in a cabin.
Nothing is for sure yet, but we *might* be able to check this one off in a couple weeks! Eek!

20. Update my home decor.
Since we got married, my decorating style has been a weird combination of re-purposed wedding decor, homemade gifts we’ve been given, and odds and ends I’ve bought on clearance from random stores. I’m ready for everything to go together so I feel happy and comfortable when I walk in a room.

21. Make our backyard fun.
I am bursting with ideas, and first on my list is globe lights!

22. Grow the blog.
To be completely honest, I’m not really sure what I mean by “grow” yet. Maybe it’s monetizing, or extending my reach, or writing content that goes viral. Or maybe it’s none of those, and it’s simply learning to create without apologizing for it. We’ll see!

23. Take a group vacation.
When Daniel and I took our Caribbean cruise, we kept thinking the whole time how fun it would be to go back with some of our friends. Fingers crossed that this one happens soon!

24. Give away a few blessing bags.
I discovered these via Pinterest and they are SUCH a neat idea. I hate driving by homeless people with nothing to give them. My goal is to make a couple and always keep one or two in my car.

How To Host A Favorite Things Party! | Twin Cities Moms Blog

25. Have a “Favorite Things” party.
This sounds like so much fun! I think the most complicated part will be deciding what my “favorite things” are – I have wayyyy too many favorites.

26. Visit 5 new states.
It’s really sad how few I’ve visited. The west coast is completed untouched, so this one will be really easy. Especially if we make that Alaskan cruise happen!

27. Go on a fancy dress-up date.
There’s something about a dress that really fits, scarlet red lips, and a good pair of heels that makes a girl feel sassy. We went on one in Dallas about a year and a half ago as part of a marriage retreat weekend. We were the most dressed up we’ve ever been (besides wedding clothes, duh), and we STILL didn’t feel quite fancy enough to be there. We had a blast!

28. Really establish a cooking/cleaning routine.
I’m convinced I’m the worst wanna-be housewife in the entire world. I really really want to be good at things like cooking and cleaning and scheduling, and SOMEtimes…I am! I do like to cook, and I love organization. But somehow I just haven’t mastered the art of housewife-ing. And I want to. So bad. My poor husband.

29. Publish my book.
O     M     G.
Those three words together are terrifying. But it’s honestly long overdue. I need to quit kicking the idea around and actually do it.

30. Take a road trip.
I love the idea of having an ultimate destination in mind but just hopping in the car and driving without too much of a plan, stopping whenever we want, and finding funny little things to take pictures of along the way!

What do you think of my list?? Any suggestions?

To find out how I’m doing at crossing things off, visit my 30 By 30 page.

Unboxed: February Birchbox

 

My February Birchbox was a big win! February is my birthday month, so I’m probably overly excited about everything in general, but I really was happy about this box. I only got one sample that I won’t use!

Sample #1: Dasein Winter
The ‘minimalist designer’ in me is OBSESSED with the simplicity of this brand’s marketing. The colors, the fonts…everything is so soft and pretty! The scent itself is really nice too – a little on the woodsy side for me, but with just enough fruit/flower notes to tone it down.

IMG_0126
Sample #2: Not Soap, Radio Body Wash
Click the link to see the names of the different scents! I love creative marketing, and this box was full of it. I definitely got a good laugh out of it, but I’m not sure I want to spend $16 on body wash…


Sample #3: PARLOR® by Jeff Chastain Detangling Leave-In Conditioner
This is the one sample that I’m not going to use. I almost feel guilty not using it, but at the same time, I’m so sold on my MONAT stuff that I haven’t used any other brand on my hair since October! I wasn’t sure what to do with them for awhile, but some of my girls on Facebook suggested that I donate them to a women’s shelter – and I’m going to do just that!

Sample #4: ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm
I was the BIGGEST skeptic about this! I had the chance to pick one of my samples for this box, and I chose this lip balm because I was intrigued about the possibility of watching my lips change color (while, albeit, also nervous that it would turn my mouth 80’s bubblegum pink). The balm is really smooth and felt so moisturizing, and it left the tiniest amount of shine too, like lip gloss but not sticky! The color change was pretty subtle, but I’m definitely a fan. The real miracle will be if I can actually finish the entire tube without losing it.


Sample #5: (MALIN+GOETZ) clarifying clay mask
I LOVE masks. They are one of my favorite things to sample, and I’ve never used one I didn’t like! (MALIN+GOETZ) hasn’t failed me yet, so I’m excited to try this out.

Stay tuned for next month’s box!

Married Monday: A Letter to the Singles

394664_3569573445095_305776213_n

“I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.” Haggai 2:23b (NIV)

“And you shall be called Sought After.” Isaiah 62:12b (NIV)

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16a (NIV)

“You are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4 (NIV)


Sweet singles: I think I owe you an apology.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be single when you’ve been married for a while. You’ll have to forgive me; I don’t always realize that some of the things I’ve said to you were more hurtful than helpful. I’m so sorry for reducing your feelings with true but inconsiderate statements like this:

“Jesus was never married and look at His ministry!”
“Paul said it’s better for us to be unmarried anyway!”
“You just haven’t found the right guy/girl yet.”

Once again, Valentine’s Day has made me aware of how much our churches emphasize the importance of marriage, and how our culture constantly highlights losing your virginity as this ultimate life goal to be achieved. In light of that, it’s easier to understand why you struggle with having unfulfilled desires and understanding your value to the church. I know that you know your relationship with Jesus is most important, despite the Bible’s emphasis on marriage and family. I know that you know your ‘season’ of singleness gives you the unique chance to draw nearer to God. But I also know that it’s hard to be content in your singleness, especially if you’re surrounded by friends who are getting married right and left. You want to believe that if you have a godly desire, it will automatically be fulfilled, and it’s hard to grapple with the honest reality that you may never get married. I get it, friends. I really do.

        Mostly, I just want to encourage you with a few truths. I’m sure you probably already know these things, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.

You are valuable.
You are important to God.
You have special worth as a single.
You are funny.
You are smart.
You are appreciated.

You are no more or less important than me, married people, single parents, pastors, janitors, or career missionaries.

There are two things I want you to do. First, remember that it’s okay to want to be married. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting that; it’s a good thing. But secondly, instead of sitting around wishing, start actively pursuing love instead of marriage. I love what John Fisher says: “Marriage is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. Marriage is the servant of love. If we are pursuing marriage we are pursuing the wrong thing because love then becomes subservient to marriage. We start coming up with our own ideas of what love is.”

        Here’s the truth: whether you get married or not, if you focus your eyes on God completely, you will still experience the vast fullness of His love. Don’t worry, friend! You aren’t lacking or missing out on anything! God has lots of ways of revealing Himself to us, and although marriage is one way, it’s not the only way or the most important way.

 Lots of x’s and o’s, Laura

P.S. Want more on this topic? Check out the rest of what John Fisher says about Purposeful Singleness here, or visit www.singleness.org/.

Married Monday: Valentine’s Day Ideas

Couple Heart Hot Air Balloon Card

I LOVE giving gifts, even tiny little silly things. But – this seems to be a theme for me this year! – Valentine’s Day snuck up on me, so I miiiiight not be entirely sure what I’m giving Daniel this year…whoops. In the past, I’ve come up with some pretty creative ideas for Daniel on the fly though, including this stinkin’ awesome candy bouquet!

Candy bouquet for my 2014 Valentine. :) It was ridiculously easy. Click to see the tutorial I used!:

It may be a little sad how proud I still am of this.

I don’t want to give him the same thing every year though, so I’ve been looking for some new inspiration. How fun are these ideas?


1. Set up a tent date.

Tents are magic. I love this idea, especially since we have a fenced-in backyard now, and I could even set it up inside if I wanted to!

Overcome the Outdoors.
2. Man Crates.

These are seriously awesome. They have all different kinds of packages, with themes like “Eating,” “Outdoor,” and “Sports.” Each crate is delivered in a box with an actual crowbar to open it with. How much more manly does it get?

Food Passport - write a bunch of restaurants inside a mini notebook and give as a "gift" with a sleeve of stickers to code each place you visit. Green = awesome, yellow = okay, pink = never go back again. Fun for a weekly date night! This would make a great gift for a newly married couple.:
3. A food passport.

How I wish that the original link for this idea still existed! :( I found this a few years ago and really want to duplicate it. You write a bunch of restaurants inside a mini notebook and give as a “gift” with a sleeve of stickers to code each place you visit. Green = awesome // yellow = okay // pink = never go back again.

You're a Fox Available as a Single Folded Card or Boxed Set of 8
4. A funny card.

I’m partial to Rifle Paper Co., as you might already know, and I have a special place in my heart for truly unique, creative greeting cards!

What do you want for Valentine’s Day?

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

IMG_0086.JPG

Guys.

This might be the best grilled cheese I’ve ever made in my life. A plain old grilled cheese will no longer suffice.

Lunchtime kind of stresses me out. Daniel and I both have 8-5 jobs, which means we have an hour for lunch, and I hate spending the whole hour cooking instead of taking a bit of a breather. I like easy lunches, things I can throw together quickly, and today’s creation was definitely a winner!


Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

The perfect lunch – buttery, cheesy, bacony. So much yum! Serve with fruit or veggies.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

4 slices of bread (homemade if you’re ultra domestic)
1 whole avocado
6 bacon strips
Sharp white cheddar cheese (I’m partial to Cabot!)
Butter, softened
Pinch of salt

Instructions

1. Slice cheese and avocado; set aside.
2. Cook bacon in whatever method you like best.
3. Spread one bread slice with butter and place in skillet. Layer cheese, bacon, and avocado on top, sprinkling the avocado slices with a pinch of salt.
4. Leave the sandwich open-face and fry until golden brown, then remove from skillet and set aside on a plate.
5. Butter other piece of bread and fry until golden brown, then place on top to complete the sandwich. (*Tip: Toasting the top half by itself keeps your sandwich from falling apart from flipping it!)
6. Repeat steps 3-6 for the second sandwich.


What’s your favorite thing to make for a quick and easy lunch? I need some ideas!

Unboxed: January Birchbox

I know, I know – it’s no longer January. I’m behind…sawwwry. *sigh*

If you’ve never heard of Birchbox, it’s a $10 monthly subscription service that sends you a box of health/beauty samples! They ask you specific questions about your hair, skin, style, and other stuff and tailor your boxes toward those preferences. They also let you review the samples you receive and earn points, which you can turn around and use on any full sizes on their website! I LOVE it. Mostly because I love getting mail, but also because it gives me the chance to try a bunch of different brands that I might never try otherwise! Not to mention the fact that nearly every single one of my makeup go-to’s (mascara, eyeliner, lip stain, etc) has been a Birchbox discovery.

This month, they sent a set of stickers inside the box with instructions to pick a word and attach it to the front of the box, declaring 2016 to be the year of ___. “Ambition” just grabbed me. I’ve got a lot of new things in front of me, but I believe the Lord will equip me for each one if I walk beside Him!

IMG_0038
Sample #1: derma e® Hydrating Scrub
I was really happy with the size of this sample. Sometimes the bottles they send are wayyy too small and it feels like you don’t have enough product to sample. Haven’t used it yet, but the reviews on it are great! In a previous box, I got the derma e® hydrating night crème and it was AMAZING, so I’m excited to try this out.

IMG_0039
Sample #2: TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint
OH. MAN. You guys, this lip stain ROCKS. After it dries, it doesn’t feel sticky and it doesn’t wear off quickly. I wore this almost all day and only reapplied a little bit once. I drank from the same cup at work all day and never left red on the rim. And the color is perfect – kind of a cranberry red with the tiniest hint of pink. Two thumbs way up!

IMG_0044
Sample #3: Supergoop!® Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream
I thought this eye cream was nice, but nothing really special about it. I’m not necessarily worried about aging just yet, haha. But Supergoop!® is a really good brand, so I’m not complaining! I’ll probably take it on our next beach vacation to use as face sunscreen.

IMG_0043
Sample #4: Ciaté® Mistress Nail Polish
Nope. Nope nope nope. The nail polish itself might be grand, but this color was not for me. It was a kind of salmon/tangerine hybrid with gold glitter, more of a glitter polish than color. I was a bit confused when I saw the color, because my virtual box made it appear that I would be receiving the Mistress polish (red). I also discovered when I opened it that the lid had cracked in the middle during shipping and nail polish leaked into the crack. I will say one good thing though – the polish brush was awesome! I kind of want to give it another try, I just wish I had gotten a better color as a sample.

IMG_0040
Sample #5: IPKN Flash Cream Radiant Primer
This stuff is like WHOA. I’ve used a bunch of different primers, but this one is probably my favorite. I don’t usually wear a lot of face makeup (like foundation), so I don’t necessarily need a primer, but I loved the natural glow this stuff gave me! It added a little more light to my face without feeling heavy. Really, really liked this sample.

FYI: Birchbox did NOT ask me to do this review, I just thought it would be a fun addition to the blog! However, if you like the idea and want to get your own boxes of samples in the mail, here’s my referral link.

I’ll review my newest box each month after it comes in the mail, but I’m thinking about doing a special post about my actual makeup bag – like, my favorite products and how I use them. Anybody interested?

Happy February, everyone! ♥