How To Put Together The Perfect Valentine’s Date Outfit

How To Put Together The Perfect Valentine's Date Outfit

{2/3/2018 Update}

Somehow it happens that I wrote this post a year ago?! Don’t ask me how that happened.

I just had to re-post this year to give you an update. I absolutely *love* the Nicole dress. It has held up so well and looks just like it did in these photos. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it, and it’s my go-to for any fun occasion.

If you’re still a Lularoe hold out or need a new group to join definitely check out Keli’s–she’s still going strong!

Original Post:

Can you believe that Valentine’s Day is coming up so quickly?! Crazy!!!

So how do you celebrate the day? Some couples love to go All Out with a big, fancy, romantic meal and date.

Others prefer a nice but family-friendly celebration that’s fun but not-too-fancy. (We did this for years when hubby was in the military and there were no babysitters around)

Still others prefer to just stay at home, order-in or cook together, and snuggle on the couch watching their new favorite show.

No matter how you choose to celebrate your love, I’ve got your look covered this year with these 3 adorable looks that are *perfect* no matter how you’re celebrating! Want to know my *secret weapon*?? It’s totally  Keli Jennings’ LuLaRoe Group!

Amazing LuLaRoe Outfit

Now, odds are you HAVE heard of LuLaRoe (if you haven’t yet…ummm..welcome back to the internet because I assume you’ve been gone a long time?)

If you have heard of this company it’s very likely you fall into one of two groups.  The first group is already Lula-obsessed and wants to join All.The.Groups and Buy.All.The.Things.

The second group (which I was a member of until *very* recently) has looked longingly at the beautiful and bright pieces from afar but has held out with all determination. You see, I knew that once I tried them I’d be in love, and it just wasn’t the right time.

Amazing LuLaRoe Consultant

If you’re in that second group, as I was, I have to tell ya, girl, there is no better time to fall in love than Valentine’s Day. So come on in, join the craze, and the fun! 😉

I’d love to have you in Keli’s LuLaRoe Group along with me! She’s also on Instagram so be sure to follow her over there as well! We met each other when we were both Coastie Wives and stationed in North Carolina. Sadly, we were only able to get together a few times, but since then we’ve stayed online buddies and kept in touch through both our our many moves! Her hubby is still in the Coast Guard and she is a busy work from home mamma just like me!

She was SO sweet to send me these pieces to try out and to style together. With just 4 pieces you can put together these three completely different and totally versatile looks! ((Pssstt….be sure to read aaalll the way to the bottom as she’s *also* so sweet she’s giving out an amazing prize that you can win!))

Date Night At Home

Look #1 Comfy Date Night At Home  — perfect for a night of Netflix marathoning, video gaming together, board games, cook outs, or roasting s’mores on your fire pit!

Since I didn’t have tons of experience with this brand when I heard LuLaRoe I thought Leggings. I love leggings, or at least, I always loved the concept of them! (feel as comfy as wearing jammies but look totally cute and on trend, yes please!)

I’d never really found super comfy ones previously, though. When all my friends started raving about how amazingly comfy and soft the LuLaRoe leggings are (they’re nicknamed Butter Leggings), I knew I wanted to add them to my closet! Some of my favorites are the super unique, amazing, and wild patterns that they have. For my very first pair, however, I wanted to go with some that I can wear aaalll the time with nearly all my clothes. So, of course, this gorgeous slate blue pair was just the thing. #allthebluethings

Date Night At Home

If you’ve never tried on a pair before, one thing to know about these leggings is that they really are leggings–not jeggings. I’d describe them as really thick, but super comfy tights that do feel soft as butter and comfy enough to sleep in. So you absolutely, positively need a long, loose shirt to cover up with, at *least* down past, ahem, what my mom-in-love calls your “hineybow”.

Good news, LuLaRoe actually sells those, too! This is the Classic shirt and it’s just perfect because it can completely be dressed up or down according to whatever you’re doing. You’ll see I used it for both my most casual *and* my most fancy outfits–so awesome!

This outfit and look are just aaalll about the comfy! The leggings are all that they claim to be, and the shirt is super soft and flowy and comfy, too!

Oh–and meet our newest kitty addition! I’m quickly becoming a crazy cat lady as we recently adopted a kitty to be friends with Sylvanus! This is Arwen and she is the sweetest cat you’ll ever meet! She will sit and meow at me if I don’t give her a thorough snuggle session every few hours, it’s hilarious!

u part wig

Here’s Sylvanus! She’s gotten SO FAT it’s hilarious! It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown since she found us as that itty bitty kitty that was the size of Amber’s hand! And she’s just as crazy as ever. It wasn’t planned but our kitties look uncannily alike! You can tell them apart by Sylvanuse’s pretty white dipped paws and chest, and she’s about twice the size of Arwen!  They made the perfect props for this shoot! 😉

Paired with big, comfy boots this look is great for any at-home date night! For a final touch, you’ll want to add just a bit of fancy to this look. It is a date, after all! So I topped it off with two long faux pearl necklaces, fun drop earrings, and a pretty bracelet. I did my hair in half up twists and did my makeup in my everyday way. No need to be fussy with this look, just let your every day pretty that your hubby fell in love with shine through!

Look #2 Date Night Out — Perfect for going to the movies, a sit-down restaurant with a kids menu, or around town to play tourist.

Out of all 3 looks, this is the look that feels most like ME. Lately, I’ve been wearing dresses, styling my hair, and doing my makeup complete with contouring and all the shadow even just for an everyday occasion. Not *every* day mind you, #aintnobodygottimeforthat , but I try to do it pretty frequently. When I feel like I look my best, it just brightens my mood and as a result, it makes everyone in our families day better!

Plus, did you know that dresses are MAD COMFY???? For real!!! I’ve actually gotten to the point where if I want a “comfy” day I find myself reaching for one of my dresses OVER a pair of jeans–true story!

This dress is the Nicole dress from LuLaRoe. I know, I know–it was MEANT to be. And honestly, I’m pretty sure they had ME in mind when they made this.

(Just kidding! It was actually named after the founder’s *daughter* who helped get the company started almost on accident! The Story Behind The Company is SO inspirational, so be sure to go watch that!!)

I seriously adore this dress. It really is like it was made for my body type!!! I’m smaller chested with a bigger booty and for some reason the fat I have decided to migrate to my upper arms once I hit 30.

Now, I’m not complaining! I’m just letting you know–these clothes are made for REAL people who are REALLY moms and have mom bodies! I certainly have one! They are cut in such a way that they flatter all your gorgeous points while being so forgiving with the parts that are maaayyybbee just a lil more full or lumpy than your high school self had.

The half length sleeves, fitted bodice, and flowy skirt to just below knee length are a dream for me!

It’s stunning and comfy and makes me *feel* beautiful. And isn’t that what *really* matters. When you FEEL pretty you exude that, and that’s what people focus in on and see!

Oh, and it’s totally twirable, too. One of the tests Amber loves to do with dresses is to see “if it twirls”. Well, I know from careful testing 😉 that this dress totally twirls *and* it also makes for some epic curtsies!

Trust me, your hubby (or boyfriend) is going to L O V E this look!

Look #3 Total Glam for a Fancy Date — perfect for going to see a play or orchestra, a restaurant with white tablecloths, or if you just want to watch your man’s jaw drop when he sees you!

Isn’t it crazy how you can take the same Classic top from couch to five star worthy with just a few changes?! When I saw this *gorgeous* Cassie skirt I was in love. I believe my exact (facebook) words were “THIS ONE!!! PLEASE!!” As you can see it has this epic and beautiful detailing, and the color is one that I’ve been obsessing over for awhile now. Even when it goes off-trend I will still wear it because it’s so pretty.

I’m so superly in love with it!!! I wasn’t sure which Classic T I wanted to pair it with, so I let Keli pick one out for me. I’m usually soooo matchy-matchy that I wouldn’t have thought to pair these two together, but the result is simply perfection! She can put together the perfect look for you, too!

For a super fancy night out I paired these pieces with high heeled boots, big curls in a half up style, and plenty of bling!

Go all out on your makeup, too! This is the time to break out your favorite Youtube makeup tutorial (if you don’t have one yet just go on there and search for one, there are tons and I’ve learned sooo much through watching them! Amazing makeup tricks for the win!). For this look, I went for bright, pretty eyes and a bold lip.

Absolutely stunning enough to be worn on your fanciest date (short of needing a formal) this outfit is oh-so-comfy too! The skirt is also very easy to pull up or down, so you can keep it the length you need. I have a very short torso, so it rode high on me when I kept it knee length, but these days I prefer the top to my bottom pieces a little higher, anyways (remember that 2 kiddos and after 30 years old bod I mentioned earlier)? This is another pairing that perfectly flatters beautifully real mommy bodies!

So there you go! 3 Totally different looks for any celebration you have planned! And, of course, these don’t have to be Valentine’s Day looks only!!! These are the perfect solution for any date, or life scenario, ranging from working from home (top) to church (either look 2 or 3!).

Want to know the best part? One reader will win their very own gorgeous Cassie skirt! So don’t forget to Join Keli’s VIP LuLaRoe Facebook Group and Follow Keli on Instagram then enter below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Easy Ways To Fill Your Holiday With Warmth & Joy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #LayerOnLove #CollectiveBias

Easy WAys to Fill Your Holiday With Warmth & Joy Ad

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!

Right???

While this month *should* be filled with warmth and joy, it can easily spiral into stress, discontent, and exhaustion. So today’s post is all about taking just a few moments to re-align your focus onto what really matters. This includes making sure that your family is filling your month with that warmth and joy that truly bring the most wonderful time of the year.

As we get started we’re going to focus on the word Easy. For so many people work this month is at its all time busiest thanks to retail, marketing, and year-end scrambles. After you clock out don’t forget to throw in the programs, the purchases, parties, traditions, expectations, travel, doing good, a sickness or two, (are you getting exhausted just reading that list???)

Well, the last thing I want to do is make you feel like you need to add one-more-thing to your schedule. Also, quite honestly, the fact is that adding warmth and joy is often found in embracing things the easy way!

So now that you can take a deep breath and let it out, here are my best ideas!

Coca-Cola One Warm Coat Ad

Start a new holiday tradition of giving back

This is the best time of year to focus on what we’ve been blessed with, and to pour that blessing out towards others. However, even giving back can quickly become all too easy to get overwhelmed with. On top of everything else that is going on, doing good can become something that’s another complicated, expensive “to-do” list item. Which means that it’s no longer about helping others, it’s about getting unhappy and stressed.

This year I’d love to share an amazing option to give back in a way that is meaningful, affordable, AND easy! Last year Coca-Cola worked with One Warm Coat to provide a layer of love for over half a million people in need. This year, they’re doing it again and want to make it easier for you to get involved.

So what is One Warm Coat? For most of us, when the temperatures drop too low for short sleeves and sweatshirts, we solve the problem by tossing on our heavy jackets. But for the nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a winter coat is something “extra” that isn’t in the budget.

Growing up in Wyoming with the brutally cold winters, I cannot imagine anyone going without a heavy winter coat. I was very surprised, however, when we moved to the south at what a necessity having one still is! During the winter months, the weather fluctuates wildly, and the added humidity makes it feel like those lows cut right through to your bones without a warm coat.

One Warm Coat’s mission is to provide anyone in need with a warm coat free of charge. They are doing all they can to make sure that this necessity is no longer something those in need have to try to make due without! This year there are two amazing and easy ways that you can help Coca-Cola at Walmart’s “Layer On Love” program!

The first brings joy to you and others! Because, after all, holiday surprises don’t always come in big boxes with bows.

By purchasing Coca-Cola™ products at Walmart during your holiday shopping trips you help support the company that supports this amazing cause and program!

I picked up Coca-Cola™ Classic. It’s a treat that I always love to enjoy during the holiday season, and knowing I’m helping do good just makes it that much sweeter!

You don’t have to stop there, though! There’s another easy way to give even more warmth and joy. Coca-Cola at Coca-Cola at Walmart is already getting the snowball rolling by helping to donate 500,000 coats, but you can help them to donate even more! You don’t even have to leave your house, just follow these simple steps!

Text “LOVE” to 501501 to donate $5 to One Warm Coat

With just a few moments of your time you can help donate to this awesome cause. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! I’m always amazed at how much joy giving back brings my entire family. It is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season the right way and really does add such warmth to our lives!

Another way to add joy and warmth to the holiday season is by creating and celebrating yearly traditions. In this social media age, it’s so fun to find out what other family’s traditions are, and get inspired by new recipes and ideas that can add even more fun to your holiday.

Now here comes the however…(are you sensing the theme of this post yet?!) While so many of these things are good and amazing, at a certain point having too many takes away the joy.  It can be so easy to get caught up in feeling like you HAVE to do ______  to make the season magical. Because if you don’t it’s going to be an epic #momfail, right?! After all, *everyone* else is doing it for their families.  So you shoot for the stars and do all-the-things. So what happens when you’re worn to a frazzle and all your time, money, and efforts meet with a lukewarm response from your over-booked-and-over-holidayed family? Well that, my friends, is the recipe for how NOT to have a holiday filled with warmth and joy. That’s why my next big point is to:

Only Do Traditions You All Love

This year take a deep breath, step back, and take a quick look at your current tradition list. It might even help to jot them all down quickly. Once you have, as you look over each one pay attention to your initial gut reaction. Does it make you excited? happy? eager? Does it put that merry little twinkle in your eye just thinking of how your family is going to respond? Or does it fill you with an overwhelming or exhausted feeling just looking at it?

I now give you permission to cross out each item that fills you with those negative feelings. Pow-wow with your family after you’ve done your initial list to get their feedback on what they’re most excited about this year. Is one of the crossed off items on your list one that your family does love even though you don’t? There’s probably a way to tweak it so that it’s simpler or less expensive. Just by talking you might be surprised at what they have the best memories of, and what things no one really enjoys.

Soon you’ll have a manageable list of easy traditions that everyone can love and appreciate. Also, scaling back also gives you a schedule that is not so overfilled so you have time to anticipate and savor them!

There you go! I promised it would be easy! Add these steps and actions into your holiday this year to help make a real difference, and to fill your lives with warmth and joy!

Don’t forget to help Coca-Cola™ at Walmart’s “Layer On Love” program by picking up your favorite Coca-Cola drink for all your holiday occasions!

Make giving back easy this year when you Text “LOVE” to 501501 to donate $5 to One Warm Coat!

Ways To Track and Save During the Holidays

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SaveWithHopster #CollectiveBias

The holidays should be full of joy, happiness, time with family and friends, and the creation of precious memories.

Often, though, the busyness and strain from added expenses and to-dos turn them into anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Recently I shared a post with you on how important it is to step back and realign with what really matters during this busy season.

Today I’m tackling the other half of the problem by sharing how to track and save! Once you get your holiday budget under control it’s a lot easier to enjoy the season.

First off, let’s start with the saving–because once you get a good handle on that you’ll have more money to put back into that gift budget you’re tracking!

For savings I’m sharing a great app with you that you might not already know about! It’s Hopster Mobile Rebates! One of the best ways to get more money for holiday fun is by saving on the items you already buy. You can download it here and start saving because it’s super simple to use! You just follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose your rebates from a large selection of brands

You’ll find rebates for your favorite groceries, beauty essentials, pet supplies, plus new products you’ll want to try.

Step 2: Shop at your favorite store — most of the rebates you can redeem from *any store* or you can pick from a list of your favorite retailers!

Step 3: Take a picture of your receipt showing the items you purchased–it walks you through exactly how to do it!

Step 4. Rebates will be redeemed and the cash credited to your PayPal account as soon as the redemption is validated. That means you don’t have to wait to reach a certain number or value of redeemed offers!

You can see for yourself how simple and great this is for saving! As you make your shopping list it’s so easy to hop on, scan for items you can take advantage of rebates on, and then scan in the receipt right after you put the items away! All those rebates can add up to a nice little chunk of change to roll into your holiday budget. Which brings us to the tracking part!

The best ways to track your holidays and helpful tips before you dive in!

I’ve mentioned this to you before, but it really is such a lifesaver each year! This year I’ll also cover a few things you’ll want to do in case you’ve been using this or a different system before!

Set A Budget

I know, I know, but trust me, knowing how much you *can* spend actually frees you up to enjoy it and not stress out. Sit down with whoever else is involved in the money situation in your house and come up with a budget to stick to.

(Tip: Start using Hopster and also think outside the box for ways to save on normal things during the holiday months. Maybe you can cut back on a service or plan. Take your extra savings and put it right into your holiday budget!)

Make A List & Check It Twice

Growing up and getting married and all having babies is super-ly amazing and fabulous!!! It does make for a long, long, long  Christmas list after just a few years, though! And things can get awkward when you keep buying presents, and they stop, or vice versa. This year have a pow-wow with your extended family. Often you might find that they’d prefer one family gift they all can enjoy, they just want gifts for the kids, or you might discover it actually blesses everyone the most if you no longer exchange gifts. Just like the budgeting thing, it’s far better to clarify in advance, then to be disappointed when reality strikes.

Make & Track Using a Spreadsheet

As you can see I’ve been using this system for over 5 years now because it’s that awesome! I put in everyone on my list, put in ideas for gifts before I buy them and then fill in the prices when I actually purchase them, and fill in the slots so I know what has been purchased, wrapped, and shipped for our out of state family. At the bottom I have formulas that automatically add up the totals for each column, and also show my savings.

This is super easy-peasy to create for yourself–but I’m making it even easier for you!! Here is a blank gift tracking sheet just for you!

So, to use this you’ll want to go up to where it says File at the top menu bar. Click on it then go down to “Make a Copy”  here you can name it, and save it to your drive. Then it is private to you and you can customize it for your own personal holiday tracking! If you have any questions about how to tweak it further just drop me a comment and ask!

By putting these simple steps into practice this year you’ll save money and sanity this holiday season! Don’t forget to get started by downloading the Hopster App here!

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Memorial Day — A Look Back

Memorial Day

Memorial Day — A Look Back

As an active duty military wife for 7 1/2 years the patriotic holidays — Veterans Day, The Fourth of July, and especially Memorial Day, have taken on an entirely different meaning.

Sure I love spending time with family and having fun celebrations; but the day usually brings thoughts with it that draw tears to my eyes and prayers from my heart. I’ve shared many of these thoughts with you all over the years I’ve been blogging–so today I want to share these posts from my heart and hope that you’ll go back through to read (or re-read) and remember with me!

Thankfullness A tribute to the many, many different members of my family who have served throughout the years.

Oh Say Can You See – A reminder that service comes with great sacrifice

Arlington National Cemetery – Why it’s such a big deal?

Remembering Robert Romero – A memorial to my great-uncle who died saving others in Vietnam at the age of 21

Becoming a Real Military Spouse A glimpse into what those behind the scenes go through

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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How To Put Together The Perfect Galentine’s Gifts This Year

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SendingYourLove #CollectiveBias

I’ll always remember my worst Valentine’s Day.

I was 16 years old and I’d just broken up with my first boyfriend, who I’d been dating for over 6 months (I laugh at that length of time, now, but if you ever dated in high school you know that’s an impressive amount!). I was a cashier at Walmart at the time and was scheduled to work on Valentine’s Day. Sure enough, they stuck me on one of the 20 Items Or Less registers, and my night was one continual stream of cute guys with lavish gifts for their significant others. After about the 30th beautiful card and bouquet of roses, I was ready to burst into tears.

To put the final crown on the evening, the guy that I had my first and only serious tween crush on for about 3 years came through my register….with, you guessed it, a completely gorgeous and touching card and a bouquet of flowers, plus delicious chocolates for his current girlfriend.

Can’t a single gal get a break??!!

I feel like people are becoming more aware of how painful holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be for those who are alone, or recently lost a loved one. Valentine’s Day, however, is really easy to forget about, as long as you’re in a happy, fulfilling relationship. For the recently or always single, bereaved, or not-so-happily coupled, however, it can be a day of glaringly unfulfilled dreams and crushed hopes that every social media post and couple picture just further inflicts pain upon.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE love. I love my marriage, I LOVE it when people are happily coupled whether they’re in the “You’re so perfect” stage or whether they’re in the “I love you even though I know you’re not perfect” stage. If you are blessed to be in a relationship right now, by all means, be sure to pick up one of the amazing Signature Hallmark cards at Walmart for your spouse or boyfriend, too!

Right now they have an awesome offer going on! $2 off a 2 card purchase (min $2 purchase required), expires 2/15. This means you can buy for everyone this Valentine’s Day!

No matter what your personal relationship status will be this Valentine’s Day, I have a sure-fire way to make sure your day is filled with joy, guaranteed. Want to know the secret????

Fill your Valentine’s Day With Joy, By Sending Love To Others!

This year I wanted to send some love to two amazing and beautiful women in my life, for completely different reasons. Though your Galentine’s Day packages will be completely unique to the amazing women in your life, I want to provide my gifts to give you ideas and springboards into who to bless, and what you can give–whether they live next door or thousands of miles away!!!

My first Galentine’s Day package that I put together was for my amazing little sister Hannah! As you know, she’s actually a contributor for this site now, so be sure to go say hello! She’s my “baby” sister and the last of the Romero kids to still be single. Because the rest of us were a little odd and all married off by the age of 25 (I got married at 19), she feels a little odd having not gotten hitched in her very young 20s. While she’s perfectly content to fan girl while she waits for Mr. Awesome, I know how it must feel a little awkward for her and all her single friends to see Valentine’s Day come each year along with the latest announcement of who is dating who and who just got engaged. I’m thankful I was able to live my single and dating life pre-social media days!

So sadly we’re thousands of miles apart as she’s back in Wyoming while I’m down here in Texas. So here’s my best advice for putting together a Long Distance Galentine’s Day Gift Package!!!!

Of course, every Galentine’s Gift has to start with the perfect card. When I saw this gorgeous Signature Hallmark Card at Walmart I knew it was absolutely perfect for both of the beautiful gals in my life! As you can see above it says “Loved & Lovely” on the front. Then when you open it up is says “Lots of things can make you pretty But your good heart makes you beautiful”

Love. It!!!!!!!

Don’t just sign your name and call it good, though! That empty side is there for a reason–so you can include a sweet, beautiful, and heartfelt message in your very own handwriting. Let the person know exactly why you’re sending your love, and how much they mean to you!

Now that you have the most important part taken care of, it’s time for the gifts! I’ve mentioned before that I take great pride in my family as being known as the “bestest gift giver”. There’s a big secret to this–do you want to know it?

#1 Gift Giving Tip: To be an amazing gift giver you have to give people what they like, not what you like.

I know, it seems so simple but often people don’t follow this advice that seems like a no-brainer. That’s why registries and wish lists are often ignored and instead you wind up with something you would never use, want, or wear.

There’s great news, though! These days it’s so easy to find people’s likes, interests, and tastes! It’s called social media! For Christmas, I wanted to give my sister-in-law a pair of earrings. The thing is, that while I *love* her gorgeous style it is totally and completely different from my own. So instead of guess what she “might” like or give her something in my taste that I knew would “look great on her” I did a little investigation. Profile pictures are an amazing thing! Through going through all her pictures I was able to pinpoint exactly what her favorite earring style and color are and picked out a pair that “were so perfect” in her own words.

So your gift bundle will and should look completely unique to the lovely lady you’re gifting it to! Here is what I included in my sister’s far away package, along with why I chose each item and some that different ideas in the same category.

Great Ideas For a Far Away Galentine’s Day Gift Package

  • Cozy Hat & Sweater — Wyoming is having a record breaking year for snow and cold! My sister is also working nights at a newspaper during all of this, and so she’s having to go out into that a lot! Because of this, I got her this adorable hat and scarf. Bonus??? Down here in Texas we’re reaching the 70s already, which means that my Walmart has all cold winter gear on clearance already! If your recipient isn’t into hats and scarves (for example, I never wear either item) then you can substitute another fun item to wear. Maybe she loves boots, long tunics, or a cozy sweater!
  • Earrings — If your recipient wears jewelry this is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift to include! Walmart has pretty items at low prices, and by doing a little snooping you’ll find the perfect necklace or pair of earrings! To make it feel even more upscale take it off of the plastic holder and place it inside of a cloth or gauzy bag, you can find these inexpensively in the craft section of most Walmart’s.
  • Journal — My sister graduated last May with her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Because writing runs in her blood, like mine, she usually has a million different things she’s furiously working away at. She, like me, also loves to use pen and paper. Because of this journals are always appreciated and used by her! For your recipient, you might gift a new best-selling book, a few magazines, or an adult coloring book!
  • Masquerade Mask — If there’s one thing Hannah loves, it’s plays! She has an entire wall dedicated to the plays that she’s seen. When I found this gorgeous mask in the clearance aisle (It was originally a Christmas decoration!) I knew it would fit right into her room and that she’d love it! Don’t forget to check out Walmart’s clearance aisle! Stocking up year round makes for generous gift giving come special occasions!
  • Pampering Mask — All girls love to be pampered and feel beautiful! Hannah doesn’t do a ton of makeup, so this relaxing mask was the perfect pampering touch to include! Simple and fun she can use it during her next bath and feel luxurious and beautiful! This is great for any woman, but feel free to include makeup, perfume, or nail polish in place of this!

Put all of this together and it makes what appears to be a lavish gift bundle. By choosing items that they will love, and purchasing them at Walmart, it’s completely possible to put together this epic gift without going beyond your budget!

The next Galentine’s Day Gift Package I put together was for my sweet & beautiful Mom-in-Love. As you might remember, this sweet lady let my family live with her for 4 years while my husband got his Bachelor’s Degree. Amazingly, not only did living together go very well, we came out of it as best friends!

She truly is loved and lovely, and has one of the most beautiful hearts I know!

She’s a totally different case, as she has been married to my father-in-love for ages now (over 30 years). But even if you’re in a happily ever after marriage, you know that the longer it goes, the more likely it is that you won’t really be celebrating or celebrated on Valentine’s Day. Leave that as you will, it’s just kind of the case with most of the guys in my families. Because of this, I wanted to give her some special love on Valentine’s Day. We owe them so much, that I’ll always be looking for ways to let her know how thankful I am and how loved she is!

Also, unlike my sister, my Mom-in-Love *loves* to shop and self-confessedly has more books, knick-knacks, clothes, and well, everything, than she needs. For people like this, I love to gift mostly consumable items, along with just one special piece. Since she’s still close by at just an hour away, I can easily gift food and flowers to her!

  • Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies — A nearby gift from me almost always contains some of my “famous” homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re one of my mom-in-love’s favorite desserts, so of course, a big plateful is always a great start to a gift for her!
  • Flowers — These are a Valentine’s Day Cliche for a reason! There is just something about gorgeous cut flowers that brightens up the world! When buying flowers for another gal I always forgo roses. While they are my very favorite flower, they’re also the most expensive, and they also have the shortest cut lifespan. If you opt for flowers like baby carnations, or daisies, you can get gorgeous colors like these, they last for weeks, and when you buy them from Walmart you can get a gorgeous bouquet for under $5!
  • Necklace — As I mentioned, I love to give one “keep it” gift in a bundle/basket like this one. Diane loves beautiful, long, fun necklaces and when I saw this one it just screamed “her” to me! It was just the right amount of bling and sparkle and colors I know she loves and wears often. Look for one piece, no matter what it is, that you know your girl will love and cherish and that will remind her of you each time she wears or sees it!
  • Lunch Date — For all my close gals I love to give the gift of delicious food and time together to round this package all out! Whether it’s meeting up for coffee or taking her out to lunch, plan a girl date so that you can have the most precious gift of all–conversation, connection, and making memories together!

Here are some ideas for how to let the girls in your life know that they are loved and lovely this Valentine’s Day! Here’s a list of some of the ladies you might want to send a card to this year!

  • Singles
  • Those who recently went through a breakup
  • Widows
  • Women who have been married for a very long time
  • Military & Law Enforcement Spouses (they usually have to celebrate the day with their husbands working long shifts or completely away/deployed)

Looking for more amazing Valentine’s Day ideas AND additional coupons and offers here!

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Prepare for Thanksgiving By Taking Your Guest Bathroom from Blah To Fabulous!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Prep4Gathering #CollectiveBias

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And BOOM! Just like that Halloween whizzed by in the blink of an eye and we are full-on barreling towards Thanksgiving! I absolutely adore this time of year, as Thanksgiving and Christmas are both my favorite holidays. For years when Bob was in the military, we had to spend Thanksgiving alone. But ever since moving to Texas, it’s now full of family, fun, and messes! We always spend the day with Bob’s parents, and every other year his brother and family make the trek over from the East Coast to share in the fun. This is one of their years to come, and we can’t wait to catch up with them!

This year marks a very special holiday occasion, as well. Since we just purchased our first home this summer it means that it’s the very first time we get to host everyone at OUR place for Thanksgiving. I’m SO excited to dust off my hostess hat and put all my skills and tricks to the test.

When you think of Thanksgiving, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is all the food! There is a crucial part of your hostess home, however, that you absolutely do NOT want to forget. It can really make or break a visit. What all-important room is this??? The guest bathroom, of course!

This room is sure to be used by your guests, and it’s one that you want to make absolutely sure that they’re happy and comfortable in! Guest bathrooms tend to be a wee bit overlooked in the scheme of the house, though, so I want to share with you today some great ideas and practical ways that you can take yours from ‘Blah to Fabulous’ before this Thanksgiving! Best of all, none of them are super time consuming, and they won’t break the bank either!

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The first thing you need to do is take a trip to Home Depot. They are our favorite retailer for stocking up on all things Happy Home related!

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I firmly believe that a clean home is a happy home, especially when it comes to the bathroom!! That’s why you’ll be spending a bit of time stocking up in the cleaning supply aisle. Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • Glade® Apple Cinnamon 3.4oz Candle
  • Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz
  • Pledge® 9.7oz Multisurface – Antibacterial
  • Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
  • Windex® 26oz Original Glass Cleaner

If your bathroom is really in need of a facelift, you can also purchase some upgrades for it at Home Depot. They have an amazing selection of rugs, art, shower curtains, and shelves!

For your guest bathroom, try picking a fun and unique theme that really expresses your family’s personality! Classics like the ocean or lighthouses are always fun (that’s our master bath theme), but really let your imagination go wild and have some fun with the guest bath. We chose to go with Fantasy for ours. It’s a totally unexpected one for a bathroom that works really well and makes me smile every time I’m in there!

Now that you’re armed with all your goodies, it’s time to go home and make the magic happen! If you haven’t paid attention to your bathroom in a while, getting it guest ready can feel intimidating, even if it’s a little space. Here’s a plan that will break this project into bite-sized pieces, with some tips and tricks thrown in!

 

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10 Minutes A Day

Even the most busiest of us can squeeze a 10-minute project into the day. Every morning or evening from now until Thanksgiving set your timer for 10 minutes. The very first thing to do is de-clutter. None of your cleaning or efforts will be any good if it’s lost in a sea of half empty products and items that don’t even belong in there. Consolidate, move items that belong somewhere else in their proper homes, and throw out any old cleaning products, medicines, or personal hygiene items. Now that you’ve cleared out all that cabinet space, it’s time to fill it back up, at least temporarily. For all the personal hygiene items you keep, tuck them away in the cabinets during your guests stay, even if you usually leave them out. This will instantly give your bathroom a de-cluttered feel, and if you have overnight guests it will give them a place to keep their items.

Once you have your bathroom totally de-cluttered, it’s time to tackle deep cleaning! Here is a list of items that you’ll want to do. Don’t get overwhelmed! Just do it for 10 minutes a day and stick with the timer. When it buzzes, you’re done! You’ll be amazed at how quickly you work when you have that buzzer on your phone motivating you!

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Guest Bathroom Deep Cleaning List:

  • Clean Shower & Tub Top to Bottom, Inside, and Outside using Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
    • Many years ago I was struggling to find a bathroom cleaner I really loved. I went on Facebook (of course!) to ask for recommendations. My childhood bestie told me how much she loved Scrubbing Bubbles® to tackle the mess. I immediately bought it and have loved and used it faithfully ever since! We all know that for the cleaner, the secrets that happen in the bathroom are not so secret. Can I get an Amen, Mamas?! I love that Scrubbing Bubbles® gets that, so no matter what we’re facing, we don’t have to handle it alone!! My best tip is to follow the instructions on the back. Spray the whole area down, and then let the product sit for about 5 minutes. During that time you can tackle a different area of the bathroom and let those bubbles do their work! Once the time is done you can wipe all the grime away easily!
  • Wipe down or clean shower curtain/door
    • If you have a curtain rod be sure to hit the top of it and the rings.
  • Thoroughly Clean Vanity using either Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
    • Which product I choose to use on the top portion just depends on the grime level, but both work fabulously! Also, be sure to use a damp cloth to wipe down
  • Clean the Mirror and any other shiny surfaces using Windex® 26oz Original Glass Cleaner
    • My family has used Windex® Original Glass Cleaner for as long as I can remember. I have memories of my Mom using it to clean our house, and it’s my go-to now that I am a Mom with a home of my own, as well! It’s just so perfect for so many of the surfaces throughout our home including windows, mirrors, sealed granite and marble, glass shower doors, chrome bathroom fixtures, tile, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, and more–most of which are found in the guest bathroom!
  • Sweep & Clean The Floor
    • If your rugs aren’t new from Home Depot take them outside and give them a good shakedown!
  • Wipe Down any mystery smudges or fingerprints from Walls, Doors, and Baseboards
    • If the doors have stubborn spots you can use Pledge® 9.7oz Multisurface – Antibacterial on them
  • Replace any light bulbs that are burnt out and clean those fixtures using whichever of the products listed above works best for their type

Voila! You’re almost there!! Take a minute and stand back and admire all that hard work. With these amazing products and breaking it into 10-minute chunks it didn’t feel that hard, did it?!

Now that you have a completely gorgeous and sparkling bathroom, it’s time to put the finishing touches on it! Nothing brings a smile to my face more than walking into a sweet-smelling bathroom. To make sure it stays that way, you’ll want to equip your home with a Glade® Apple Cinnamon 3.4oz Candle and also Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz.

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Keep these feelings going by putting Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz into the bathroom. I love to keep mine in a pretty basket right on top of the toilet. That way all your guests will see and feel free to use it!

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Now that your bathroom is totally guest ready, you still have a few days left until they arrive! Now just set your timer for 5 minutes each day and pop in to check everything and spot clean any little messes that come up. You’ll also want to do this daily during their visit.

If you follow this easy plan you’ll have a fabulous guest bathroom that leaves everyone smiling! Want more amazing ideas on how to be the hostess with the mostess? Check out all these great Tutorials for Thanksgiving Hosting Prep!

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How To Make Your Kitchen Feel Like Christmas: Cleaning & Decorating Tips and Tricks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubSeason #CollectiveBias

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There is no denying it now, we are up to our eyeballs in holiday festivities! I personally, am loving it! Texas has even finally agreed to act like it’s the holiday season and has graciously dipped its temperatures below 80. For me, this signals finally getting to wear jeans and boots again, woo hoo!

It also means that I get to do something I’ve been waiting on for years now–I get to decorate my very own home for the holidays! Through the years when all our things were in storage I kept purchasing Christmas decorations here and there and tucking them away, in hope and anticipation of the home we would be buying once hubby graduated from college. This will be the very first year celebrating Christmas in our own home, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. I absolutely love decorating for Christmas, it’s my hands down very favorite holiday!

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It’s a hard decision, but if I had to narrow it down I would say that the kitchen here is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It has the gorgeous cedar cabinets, granite countertops, and tile floor that I’d always swooned over on Pinterest. Add in some beautiful big windows in the eat-in nook and a fun paint scheme and I’m in love with it! Because it’s such a central part of our open layout home, I wanted to make sure to give it extra attention and love while preparing for Christmas this year. Here are some tips and tricks to make prepping and decorating a joy in your home as well!

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The first thing you’ll need to do is haul down all of your Christmas items and take inventory of what you have. Next, you’ll need to do the same, but with all your cleaning tools and products. Most of the dish cloths I had stored away were ones that we were given as gifts for our wedding. Needless to say, after all these years tattered is a kind adjective for them. I knew I wanted some new ones that would be multipurpose and that could tackle any job from protecting my delicate china to scrubbing away crusted on messes. After I made my list of need it and want it items for Christmas Kitchen Decorating I headed to Walmart (of course!)

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There I found the New Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths in the aisle with all the other kitchen cleaning products like dish soap and sponges. The New Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth gives you non-scratch scrubbing power with the wiping and drying functions of a dish cloth. The premium, textured fiber dish cloth features two sides with scrubbing dots technology on one side originating from their stay clean sponges. The icing on the cake? The Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth is fully washable, reusable and sturdy. I also loved their fun color options–my store had Tan and Coral but it’s also available in Navy and if you shop online you can get it in Gray & Mint!

Right now you can also Save $1 on any two Scotch-Brite Products (Scrub Sponges, Lint Rollers, and Scrubbing Dish Cloths). So definitely print it out and stock up on them! I love them so much I’ll be printing it off and heading back for 2 more of the 2 packs!

Now that you’re back with all you need it’s time to get down to business! Here’s your plan of attack!

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How To Make Your Kitchen Feel Like Christmas: Cleaning & Decorating Tips and Tricks

Step One: De-clutter

Set your timer for 20 minutes and use that time to de-clutter your kitchen, specifically, focus on all the visible areas. That pile of papers lying on the counter that has been needing to be filed? Do it! Those papers on the fridge from the first day of school? Take them down. Those random items that migrated into the kitchen that really belongs anywhere but the kitchen? Send them off to their proper home! During this time look around for special items that can be used in your Christmas decorating. You know all those fancy crystal dishes and vases tucked away in your china cabinet and in your cupboards? Pull them out! I firmly believe that you should use the special things you have, and what better time than to celebrate Christmas?

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Step Two: Wipe Down

It’s hard to create Christmas magic with crumbs and smudges everywhere. Set your timer for 20 minutes again and give your whole kitchen a good rub down using Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth. The soft side is perfect for tables and cabinets while the scrubbing dots handle sticky countertops like a pro. Also give a pass over items like coffee pots, toasters, and those vases and crystal bowls you brought out. If they’re super grimy you’ll want to save them for the next step, but since mine were in my china hutch they just needed a gentle pass over.

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Step Three: Wash Up The Decor

Fill up your sink full of soapy water and your Christmas decor. If it’s not too bad you can just wipe it down, but after 4 years in storage in Texas, my items were all a little yucky! If you have any really stuck on gunk allow the items to soak for 10-15 minutes in super hot water before you start scrubbing them down.

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Again, the Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth is the perfect tool for the job. The non-scratch scrubbing power of the one side was perfect for my delicate glass ornament candle holders (how cute are they?!) While the scrubbing dots tackled some wayward soap scum that had accumulated on my snowman soap dispenser.

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Step Four: Set Up Your Decor

Now that you have a gorgeous sparkling kitchen with gorgeous, sparkling decor it’s time to set it all up! I was excited to get to set up a tablescape for the first time. Since we eat at the table every day I wanted it to be pretty but not overly large to give us plenty of room to sit and eat. A cloth tablecloth & napkins lend an elegant feel while also being super practical even with kids or if you’re a wee bit clumsy like I am (easy to throw in washer and dryer to get clean!). For the centerpiece I purchased this beautiful silver cut out place mat at Walmart. I topped it with the decor I’ve gotten over the years, and my crystal candy dish filled up with seasonal candy. Two vases from my wedding are filled with these gorgeous flowers that I got from Walmart as well! Buying carnations is an easy and inexpensive way to make your space feel instantly festive! I’m so in love with these blue and silver bouquets!

Once you’re done stand back and do a happy dance to Christmas music as you admire in your beautiful kitchen!

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Don’t forget to Pin This Post for easy reference this year!

Be sure to also check out other great recipes and cleaning tutorials for this holiday season here!

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Noble the Movie

 

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The movie Noble is about the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman from the mid 1900’s, who has had a very difficult and trying childhood and life growing up in Dublin and then moving to England, but throughout it all she holds onto, even if just by a thread of hope, her faith in God.

In the midst of her suffering and crying out to God for understanding and beseeching Him with questions about if He has forgotten about her, she has a vision of children from Vietnam consumed by war and devastation that their little innocent hearts does not deserve to have to endure through. She dreams of children, who are desperately in need of love, protection, and help. She vows that one day, somehow, she WILL go to Vietnam and carry out her vision that God has placed within her heart. The movie goes through her journey in Vietnam in 1989, as she is trying to set up a home for the street children so that they can be safe, loved, nurtured, educated, and receive any medical care they need.  The movie also has many flashbacks about her life as she was growing up and all the intensity and sorrows she went through to make her into the woman she was destined to be.

Her spirit is one truly comprised of gold to go through all the pain she went through, and yet to still have a song on her lips, radiating joy in her heart and love for the “least of these”, the poor and abandoned children, in abundance. She is such an inspiration in how she pours and selflessly gives out of herself to these children in desperate need on the streets of Vietnam. She is as bold as a lion, and in the movie, she even rescues some young girls from being preyed upon by evil predator type men who have nothing but the vilest intentions with these young girls, which adds for quite the dramatic plot twist as she “storms the castle”, so to speak, for these young souls. She is a hero in the truest form of the word, in my humble opinion.

The movie was such an inspiration and very moving.  I found this movie to be quite surprisingly splendid and refreshing because sometimes, with more feel-good/faith films, they can be quite cheesy and low quality, but this movie was quite the opposite. I loved the more serious parts, and how they were expertly broken up by little scenes of humor and amusement that left me giggling and smiling.

The actress who portrayed Christina Noble, Deirdre O’Kane, was delightful! She had such a passionate and vibrant acting personality, and the Irish accent in her voice, both singing and speaking, was beautiful to watch and hear!

In this movie, I laughed, I cried, I was, to say it again, very much moved by this movie.

Watching Christina’s story drew something out from within me, it reignited a passion, so to speak. Children are the future, and we are called by God to love the children, widows, and orphans (James 1:27 and Psalm 82:3 in the Bible), and for someone to embrace that divine calling so selflessly and fully with a wide open heart and boldness of a lion…that is true faith and religion in my opinion. Serving with abandon and loving everyone you come across with and protecting them from themselves even. There is no greater calling, than to be NOBLE and BRAVE and to LOVE, no matter the personal cost (John 15:13)!

Have you seen this movie yet? What were your thoughts on it?

Beloveds, my ending question is one that convicts me to the core and puts my priorities in alignment, and that is: What is something both noble and brave you would accomplish with your life if you were guaranteed NOT to fail because God was on your side?????

To find and connect with other “noble” women, search the hashtag on your favorite social media “#sheisnoble”.

Now may I add this as a follow up to that question?

GREAT NEWS!!! He IS on your side, and if He has placed a dream within you…no matter how huge or minuscule, if it is from Him…NOTHING can get in your way. Fear has no place where love is (1 John 4:18), and God LOVES you and is FOR YOU! Go be bold and brave like Christina, and do great things for the Kingdom and for His glory alone! You are VICTORIOUS in Jesus!!!

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Now for some homeplay (homework but better):

Here is the trailer for the movie and a link to their phenomenal, beautifully done website! Go check them out and give them some lovings and go watch this movie!

Here is the official synopsis from their website:

“They broke everything but her spirit. They took everything but her dream. NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision to escape the slums of Ireland and risk everything on the streets of Vietnam.

Winner of six U.S. film festival awards, including the Panavision Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the powerful biopic drama written and directed by Stephen Bradley is heralded by critics as “raw and genuinely powerful,” “captivating” and “moving.” The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a joyful and rousing affirmation of the human spirit that will resound widely.”

With great affection, as always,

Rebekah M. Clark

Make It & Take It OREO Snow-Ball Party

This shop for OREO Cookie Balls has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OREOCookieBalls #CollectiveBias

We’re so excited for the holidays, are you?! Lately in addition to being super excited about the upcoming festivities and time off of school, Amber’s been missing her friends that she used to see at playdates all the time, but doesn’t get to play with anymore now that they’re all in school. Week days are full of school, weeknights have all those extra-ciricular activities, and weekends are busy with family and church, so it’s hard to even just find time to keep up these friendships. We have had to move so often in her lifetime, however, that I really don’t want to see these special bonds she’s made over the past few years we’ve been here fade. With the holidays right around the corner and things kicking into full gear I wanted to do something to celebrate, but not something that would feel it would be adding an extra stress for moms with full schedules during that busiest time of year.

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7 Layer Cookie Bars Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser Planters. All opinions are mine alone. #GoNutsForNuts #CollectiveBias

I have to admit–one of my very parts of the holidays is the baking! Ever since I was a little girl I looked forward to making our classic holiday favorite recipes! One staple that we had to make every year was our 7 Layer Cookie Bars, it honestly wouldn’t feel like the holidays if we didn’t make these and Fantasy Fudge every year! These are also just perfect for giving out on cookie platters as gifts–so you might want to pick up enough ingredients for multiple batches!

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