8 Things I Learned in February

learned feb

It’s time to share the things we’ve learned this month. The What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 8 things I’ve learned in February.


1. Twitter is made for award shows.

I didn’t laugh much at the Oscar jokes this year. But that’s okay. The funny folks on Twitter more than made up for it.

This tweet with Jesus-y Jared Leto in the haloed background of Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech — totally wins for Best Oscar Tweet. Laughed till I cried.

leto arquette pic


2. Panera’s Soba Noodle Bowl is late-winter’s comfort food for the body and soul. I want to marry it.

Soba Noodle Bowl with Chicken


3. The divine nectar that is Lyle’s Golden Syrup



Where has this been all my life?

A friend gave me a loaf of homemade bread last week and a tin of Lyle’s. I cannot accurately describe its deliciousness, only that I toasted 6 slices of bread, slathered them with butter and Lyle’s, and woke up in Heaven surrounded by baby angels.

Lyle’s hails from England and originated in 1881. You can drizzle it on bread, waffles, pancakes, ice-cream…or swirl it into your tea or coffee. The web-site has loads of recipes and ideas. It can be found in some grocery stores or, again, you can shop like a lazy person and order from amazon. And wow, that totally sounded like a commercial.

Though I love the aesthetics of the tin, I think I’ll order my next batch in the squeezable bottles. I’m a tad messy with my confections.


4. The discovery of Neutrogena Hand Cream

{Because my hands turn into those of an iguana’s by this point in the winter.}

I actually consulted Google to find the best product and this came up.


Google doesn’t lie. It is the BEST HAND CREAM EVER. At first it feels almost like an ointment and then it turns into a magical potion from a fairy godmother. Get thee to your favorite drugstore. Or you can grab a 2-pack from amazon and give one to a friend.

5. I have a new favorite drink at Starbucks.


The flat white, with one sugar. Perfection.

6. How to shred a lot of chicken in 30 seconds


One of the best kitchen tips ever from a friend of mine. Toss your cooked chicken {whether it’s been marinating in the crock pot or baked in the oven} into your Kitchen Aid and let it do all the hard work for you.

7. Meaningful work goes a long way in pulling oneself out of a funk.

Yesterday I opened the Real Pretty Shop for its third sale.

shop button 300

Just the day before, I was struggling to find the meaning of life. Not really but it’s been a pressure cooker of a Jan / Feb and the shop has been on hold. On Wednesday I’d had enough of my funk and finally said to myself, Girl…have an extra cup of coffee today and let’s do this.

I was buzzing the rest of the day. And not just from extra Starbucks. I’m prone to discount the joy and fulfillment that bubbles up when I’m engaged in work that’s creative and meaningful to me. Getting the sale ready felt like project therapy.

There’s been plenty of work over these many months, work that has seemed fruitless and draining and still has us scratching our heads. While there are seasons when the non-essentials have to be shelved because real life yells for all hands on deck, I’m reminded not to neglect my favorite work, even if it shows us in smaller and sparser doses.

8. Sleep deprivation makes you dumb.

Which is why I only learned 8 things this month. At the rate I’m going, I will already have forgotten them by next month.

Names I totally know, easy-to-spell words, everyday terms — they are all dead to me.

I can’t remember if I’ve filled out forms or recall where I’ve put, well, anything. I bought a thousand pound bag of chicken at Costco when I already had a thousand pound bag in the freezer. I locked my keys in my van a week ago and left a child at church on Sunday. {Though I wasn’t totally to blame for that one.}

I go to bed early and nap when necessary. Still, when your racing mind keeps the Zzzzs at bay and the Zzzzs that do come are less than quality, you feel your mentally capacity slipping. And by slipping I mean falling off a cliff.

I pray that normal sleep patterns and quantities will one day be mine again. But until then, my apologies for the poor spelling and not remembering your name. Send grace and Starbucks.

Love, Marian

What did you learn this month? 


Favorite February Posts

“He leads me beside streams of toilet waters.”

When Hope Dissolves into Disappointment and Comes Back to Life as Trust

The Real Pretty Shop Opens for its 3rd Sale

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The Real Pretty Shop is Open for its 3rd Sale. Come on in!

S3 shop header

Happy Sale Day, friends!

Welcome to the Real Pretty Shop! New? Go here to learn more about the sales and the inspiration behind the shop.

This sale showcases feminine and colorful sweater ensembles that you can wear now and right into spring. Most of these pieces will transition from season to season and mix up beautifully with pieces you probably already have in your wardrobe.

A disclaimer: This sale has a disproportionate number of smaller-sized ensembles. Please don’t hate me. I had trouble finding an array of pieces in an array of sizes but I am working hard to remedy this issue for the spring sales and I have some cute stuff coming your way. {I’m already referring to them as pieces from the Spring Line.}

If you really love something but are unsure about size, just ask me in the comments. I’m happy to measure anything. 


I’m going to lead off with my personal favorite. Girly and dotty with an anthro + vintage vibe, I present to you…

S3 label 1 S3 #1 turq sw + dotty bl S3 outfit 1 collage

Fits like a generous XS / tiny S. Also? This one is my personal favorite of the sale. {Have had to hold myself back from taking it for a test run.}


  • Skinny jeans or pants
  • Booties, wedges, or sassy flats
  • Tuck in the blouse and wear with a pencil skirt or fuller A-line skirt.
  • All 3 of these fun and girly separates will add personality to whatever you pair them with.
  • Red lipstick. Trust me.


S3 label 2 S3 outfit 2 S3 outfit 2 collage For all you prepsters. Or hipsters. Or bored bohemians who may want to inject a structured vibe into your look.

This J.Crew cable v-neck sweater in a maizey goldenrod is a classic. I’ve paired it with a crisp white and blue striped oxford that shows off the MOST DARLING ribbon detailing behind the buttons. {So that maizey color won’t be sitting directly beneath your face, if you’re worried about that. The oxford is the brightening buffer.} And the icing on the prepster is the tassel bracelet, handmade with love by yours truly.

Fits like a generous XS or a small-ish Small.


  • Any and all jeans
  • Slim-fit pants or cuffed chinos
  • Pencil skirt with booties, wedges, or sassy flats. {Because flats should always be sassy.}
  • Wear the whole ensemble under a blazer. {Go here for more on the awesomeness of blazers and how to wear them.}
  • Break them up and wear the oxford under a graphic tee. When warmer weather comes calling, roll up those sleeves and wear untucked with your favorite summer shorts and flip flops.



S3 shop label 3 S3 outfit 3 S3 outfit 3 collage I promise you, this plum perfect sweater will become your go-to top. Comfy and soft as a sweatshirt, this fits like a dream. Wide band at the bottom, a blousey middle, and a real gal’s v-neck. As opposed to the J.Lo v-neck. And see that fun sweatshirt-style stitching? The photo does not do this sweater justice. It’s flattering and easy and just perfect.

And can we talk about these earrings for a sec? They will be your FAVORITE. Brushed-gold dangly geometric fabulousness. I bought a pair for a friend and she wears them every time I see her.

Purple hues pair beautifully with green so these stretchy bracelets provide just the right contrast.

Fits like a true small. But an XS gal could wear it too.


  • Any and all jeans. But this color looks especially great with white jeans. {You can totally wear white jeans year-round now.}
  • Since it has a blousey middle, skinnies or slim-fit pants provide balance.
  • A colorful contrasting scarf
  • Booties, cowboy boots, or sassy flats



S3 outfit 4 label S3 outfit 4 S3 outfit 4 collage This raspberry, soft merino wool, dolman-sleeve sweater is GORGEOUS. You can dress it up or dress down. Super flattering and so easy to throw on. The cowl-neck, banded bottom, drape, and fabulous color will revamp your ho-hum black pants or dress up your skinny jeans. A color like this is its own accessory, but it also pairs beautifully with contrasting hues. I’ve added gold geometric earrings and a green marbled bracelet.

Technically an XS, I feel this would fit anyone from a size 2 to a 6 because of its drapey shape.


  • Everything
  • Any and all jeans
  • Skinnies or slim-fit pants
  • Pencil skirt and sassy flats or heels for work
  • Wear with black, white {my favorite}, navy, or have some fun with a complimentary contrasting color — like chartreuse, coral, or teal skinny chinos. It works! I promise.
  • Skinny pants / jeans + booties or flats


These next few outfits are MED / LG {ish}. Because they’re cardigan and blouse sets, they’re forgiving, size-wise.

I often buy cardigans and button-ups in larger sizes because I prefer them loose {and my life is 99% casual.}

So keep that in mind and don’t rule something out because it’s not precisely your usual size. I’ll do my best to tell you how they fit and again, if you have any questions about size, ask me in the comments and I’m happy to measure something.

S3 outfit 5 label S3 outfit 5 S3 outfit 5 collage Ready for spring yet? You will be with this darling number.

Check out the festive beading on the lapel of this 3/4-length sleeve coral cardigan. And the RUFFLED seersucker blouse. Not to mention this is my favorite of all the tassel bracelets. This look is simply a festival of preciousness.

Fit: Shirt is a medium and sweater is a large, but they work together perfectly. If you’re anywhere from a size 8 to a 10 / 12-ish up top, this will probably work for you.


  • Skinny chinos / skinny jeans for spring! Again, white pants or jeans would be perfect. Slip on wedges, flats, or sandals.
  • Wear now with sassy flats or booties.
  • Tuck in the blouse and pair with an A-line or pencil skirt. You can even add a skinny belt to create silhouette.
  • Break up these pieces for endless possibilities throughout the seasons. The ruffled top would be adorable with summer shorts and skirts, while the cardigan is perfect to throw on over spring and summer dresses. You can still wear it in fall and winter over a long-sleeve denim or knit shirt.



S3 outfit 6 label S3 outfit 6 S3 outfit 6 collage I love the color and personality of this one. This leopard is one sassy kitty. I’ve paired this soft and easy cotton cardigan with a raspberry tank that has asymmetrical draping.

Fit: Sweater is a medium and fits like a true medium. The drapey shell is from Old Navy and has plenty of stretch. It’s also a true medium. A long, chunky, wooden beaded necklaces finishes the ensemble with casual, exotic feel. Everything about this is fun.


  • Dark-rinse jeans
  • Slim-fit chinos
  • Linen pants
  • Cowboy boots, booties, cute flats {that don’t compete with all that pattern and color}
  • Cardigan would pair great with a denim button up or graphic tee.
  • Shell would look great under a blazer. Then wear it in the summer with white jeans, dressy shorts, cropped slim pants, or tucked into a flowy summer skirt.



S3 outfit 7 label S3 outfit 7 S3 outfit 7 collage Classic and oh-so-pretty, this silk watercolor cardigan and fuschia tie-blouse {both from Ann Taylor, both silk} are so pretty and feminine. Rich fabrics speak for themselves and that’s definitely the case with this ensemble. The blouse is cut on the bias and zips up the side. It has the loveliest ruffled v-neck that ties. {I love blouses with ties. And ruffles.} The navy sweater has two front chiffon-like panels with a floral watercolor print. I added simple and classic gold earrings.

Fit: Sweater is a large but I think it could also work for a medium. Blouse is a size 10.


  • Definitely a dressier ensemble, this is great for work or church. Pair with dressy pants {navy, white, taupe.}
  • Tuck in the blouse and wear with a pencil skirt or high-waist A-line skirt.
  • Dress it down by wearing a solid tee or tank under the cardigan instead of the blouse and pairing it with skinny jeans. Or wear it over a denim shirt and with white jeans and booties or flats.
  • Perfect cardigan to wear over a dress in any season.
  • Blouse will be a perfect shell to wear under blazers right now or by itself in warmer months. {I mean, not totally by itself. You should probably wear some pants or a skirt with it.}



S3 outfit 8 label S3 outfit 8 S3 outfit 7 collage

You’re digging this one, aren’t you? Me too. Ruffled flannel shirt with pine, dolman-sleeve, sweater vest.

Fit: Again, the sizing will sound so wonky but I’ve tried it all on together {and on my mannequin} and it works. I promise.

Shirt is a long, drop-waist ruffled flannel from American Eagle, size 8. I love the colors. Fits like a true medium. The sweater says XL but it’s not; it’s more of a roomy medium. The proportions are great over the long flannel. I feel the entire outfit fits like a true medium. But the cut and style are such that you could pull this one off as a generous small or a smaller large. It’s very flexible and forgiving either way. {I’m typing this late at night and I fear it makes no sense. Does this make sense?}


  • Any and all jeans.
  • Cowboy boots or booties.
  • Long flannel would be so cute on its on with skinny jeans, a puffer vest, and booties or moccasins.
  • Sweater would pair equally well with a long-sleeved striped shirt, denim button-up, or any of your favorite button-ups.



S3 outfit 9 label S3 outfit 9 S3 outfit 9 collage I have a feeling this one might be a favorite for a few of you because you’ll want to wear this sweater with everything. I love the color combo and freshness of this outfit! Not to mention the versatility of each of the pieces. And how those earrings are having a party no matter what you wear them with.

Fit: Again, the sizes will sound wonky but bear with me. It works. It really does. Blouse is from Express and is a size small. But it’s a very, very generous small. Now, it would look cute on a true size small but it’s going to be a loose and blousey fit. {Which I love.} I feel it’s more of a true medium. It has sleeves that can roll up and button mid-way up the arm with a little tab. The cotton sweater is a Merona, size large. Again, this could work for someone as a loose and generous small or as a smaller large. {How confused are you by this point?}


  • Spring and ice-cream cones and a new purse and kitty cats and balloons. {Who’s excited for spring?}
  • Skinny jeans or slim-fit chinos with booties or flats.
  • Blouse looks great with black or white skinny jeans and booties or flats. Add a statement necklace or printed scarf.
  • Cardigan will be your new BFF, showcasing your favorite graphic tees and inspiring all sorts of pattern mixing. It’ll also want to marry your denim shirt. And then you’ll throw on some colored skinny jeans with it and Chuck Taylors or cute flats and feel just adorable.



S3 outfit 10 label S# outfit 10 S3 outfit 10 collage

This last ensemble is so easy and comfortable but still stylish and interesting. The Simply Vera {by Vera Wang} cardigan drapes just the way you want it to and has a sheer navy band that edges the lapel. I love that kind of feminine detail. I’ve paired it with a wine-colored tee that has lots of stretch and a wooden beaded necklace for a casual and effortless look.

Fit: Both are XL but I feel it would also work as a large.


  • Drapey tops tend to need some balance with a more fitted bottom so I suggest skinny or slimmer fit jeans or pants. But any jeans will work. Again, this is an easy outfit.
  • Cowboy boots or booties
  • Cardigan would pair well with bright, contrasting colors like hot pinks, chartreusey greens, or coral / orange. Also great with a denim shirt or to throw on over a summery dress.
  • Quality, stretchy tees are great staples. You can wear this one with white summer shorts, a maxi skirt and sandals or wedges, or under a blazer.



Here’s how the shop works. {Be sure you read this part.}
  1. See something you like? Go to the comments section and tell me what number outfit you like.
  2. Then include your PayPal address in the comment box. This is very important. If you don’t include your PayPal address, I can’t send you an invoice. {Or your outfit.}
  3. The comments section will stay open until Friday night at midnight. If there are multiple people who all want the same outfit, I’ll draw a name and send you an invoice on Saturday. That way everyone has a chance to get their hands on an outfit.
  4. If there’s more than one outfit you like, go ahead and comment on both. Let me know your first and second choices.
  5. Even if someone has already commented on the outfit you want, comment anyway since you all have the same chance to win. The comments will close at midnight EST on Friday night {Saturday morning.}
  6. I can’t ship your items before payment.
  7. All outfits will ship USPS priority mail flat-rate shipping. You guys, shipping is expensive. I really didn’t know. So in an effort to keep this truly affordable, your ensembles will be smushed into a tiny gelatin capsule that you’ll have to soak in water for 20 minutes and then poof, your outfit will dislodge. Kidding! But it might be tightly folded up like origami when it arrives. I apologize for the wrinkles. Blame the USPS. Throw your duds in the dryer with a dryer sheet and a damp towel and you’ll be good to go.
  8. No returns…much as it pains me. {My people-pleasing self hates this rule but it just has to be.} If for any reason an item doesn’t work out, you can pass it along to a friend, split up the items {keep what works for yourself or pass along what doesn’t to someone else}, or donate it to your favorite thrift shop.
  9. Like the shop? Know someone who would dig this sort of thing? Spread the word. You can use those share buttons at the bottom of the post.


Have ideas for what you’d like to see in the shop? I’d love to hear. You can let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail. 

The Next SALE! Tomorrow 2 / 26 {and a sneak peek}

dotty sneak peek

Just popping in mid-day to announce THE NEXT SALE — tomorrow, February 26th. I hope to open the shop first thing in the A.M.

What do I have for you? Sweaters. An array of lovely and layery ensembles that will take you right into spring. Feminine and colorful and fun, you’ll totally be able to layer these lovely ladies with pieces you already have. {Raise your hand if you need to unwrap a little fun at this point in the winter. That’s what I thought, ALL the hands.}

I’d planned to dish up this sale a month ago but then, you know, there were issues. Like Toiletgate 2015 and the dissolving hope.

Serving up pretty sweaters is just the happy and fashionable diversion my sulky and slightly unstable self needs at the end of a looooong February.

Want another sneak peek? Of course you do.

mustard sweater sneek peek blue and dotty sneek peek

If you’re new, just go here to get all the scoop on….

shop header lighter

Okay, off to over-caffeinate myself and make good on my word. See you {and all your friends that you’re gonna tell} tomorrow!

Love, Marian


Don’t want to miss a post? Or a sale? You can subscribe my e-mail in the box below. And of course, you may unsubscribe anytime you like.