Good Things for You. From Me: January 2017 Edition

throw pillows

Pour an extra cup of coffee and congratulate yourself. You’ve made it through January.

Raise your hand if you have a complicated relationship with this first month of the year.

We start out resolved and hopeful, taking life by the horns and showing it who’s boss. And then somewhere in the middle we realize we might be depressed {because it’s winter, yo}  so we commence to baking two ginormous batches of monster cookies in a four-day period.

This month has been harder than I anticipated. I realized that our three dear children are somehow in four different sports, thanks to a 6-week overlap in cheerleading and soccer. I don’t do the busy sports-mom thing very gracefully or graciously. And yes, I do realize how un-American that sounds.

Our family lives or dies by our color-coded calendar these days and the busy-ness is hard for me. When our kids were younger, we decided not to do lots of outside activities during the little years. In my lazy mom opinion, the chief end of childhood is play. I’m so grateful for those unscheduled years and I miss them.

Don’t get me wrong. The teenage years are their own brand of awesome. {Gilmore Girls marathons! Everyone can bathe, feed, clothe themselves!} But I also feel like we’ve climbed aboard the busy train and this locomotive will not be slowing down anytime soon. I have no choice but to hop on and endure enjoy the ride. Once I finally get to the bleachers or the sidelines or the event, I realize it’s all going to be okay and I find great happiness in watching my kids display equal parts impressiveness and awkwardness. Plus the concession stands sell popcorn and candy and I feel I’ve earned it.

cheer

This January has also made me grateful for the most important things in this world — my people. Two weeks ago my husband and youngest son were in a car accident. Our car is totaled but my two people emerged mostly unscathed. The car’s side-curtain air bags likely saved my husband’s life. The funny thing is — we didn’t even know the car had those. It felt like a miracle.

Sometimes God’s mercy shows up unexpectly like that and it’s a game changer. Suddenly our schedule, our bank account, our piled-up laundry, our various struggles — they all faded into gray.

The accident has made me grateful for the gifts of bleacher-sitting, laundry-folding, and minivan-driving. Things can change in an instant, can’t they? I don’t want to be ruled by fear and what ifs, but I do believe that it’s such grace when we’re reminded of our truest priorities. I can never have enough arrows in my life that point me toward gratitude and remind me of the real value in my right-now work of loving people in the daily rhythms and making a home for all of us.

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One idea I have for this new year is to offer a Favorite Things sort of post at the end of each month. I’ve been blogging for almost a decade and when I first started out, I figured my blog would simply be an online space to share recipes and favorite things. I never imagined I would emerge as a writer. Many hundreds of posts later, I’ve bared my soul and shared my stories. But I still have a weakness for dishing about the fun stuff and I want to make it more of a regular thing instead of a few times a year thing or a weekend links post.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

In the Kitchen

Easy Honey Mustard Baked Chicken from Good Life Eats

My entire family loved this dish which felt like a modern-day miracle!

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source

 

Flourless Monster Cookies from Life in Grace

I made two batches in 4 days. Let that shameful truth speak for itself. These cookies are everything.

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source

 

Watched

I enjoy all sorts of movies but I have a weakness for independent films. These first two movies are quirky like that.

Big Eyes

A drama about the awakening of painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s. ~imdb.com

St. Vincent

A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door. ~imdb.com

 

The Crown {A gorgeous series on Netflix. SO GOOD!}

The early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is portrayed. ~imdb.com {Dear IMDb, I feel like you can provide a better description than this.}

As always, do your research. We all have different sensitivities when it comes to media. Just because I recommend something, doesn’t mean I recommend it without disclaimers.

 

Currently Reading

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson

Poetic, slow, beautifully written, and not for those who want a fast-paced, plot-driven narrative. I’m taking my time with this one and it’s teaching me to approach literature in a different way than I’m used to. Rush through this one and you’ll miss the whole point of it.

old books

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

I mentioned this book in my earlier January post. This is my second time to read it and it’s speaking to me in a whole different way than before.

God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nostrum

I’m reading this on my Kindle but wish I had a hard copy so I could write in it. There’s just so much wisdom to underline with an actual highlighter. J.I. Packer has lived a looooong time and I appreciate his wise voice. It feels like I’m reading a book that one of my grandfathers would have written and something about this comforts me.

 

January Gifts from the Internet

home office

Fun fact: This was my awesome but very brown and brick office a year ago. She looks so different now, thanks to a spontaneous December makeover. I’ll have to show her off on February’s monthly post so stick around!

 

It’s Hard to Admit that You’re Lonely by Rebecca K. Reynolds 

What to do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything at All by Jon Bloom via A Holy Experience

Nothing is Everything by Kendra Adachi at The Lazy Genius Collective

3 Things I’m Doing to Keep Life Calm by Deidra Riggs

 

Listened to

This podcast with Sally Clarkson on The Simple Show

She talks about the book she co-wrote with her grown son, Nathan. I listened intently to every word of her interview. If you’re raising a child who’s “different” and “out-of-the-box,” I highly recommend listening to Sally’s and Tsh’s interview.

 

The Still Small Voice, a sermon by Tim Keller

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this sermon but it’s one that restores my soul each and every time. God’s ministry to his people is ever so personal and more nuanced than we tend to minister to people {or allow ourselves to be ministered to.}

girl-on-a-hill

This song by Bethel Music

On Repeat. Because Fear has been loud and bossy and all-consuming lately and this song helps.

Cleopatra by The Lumineers

One of my favorite albums and one that I associate with summer. But I started listening to it on a whim this month and I can’t quit. Is it too early to begin craving summer?

 

Stuff

Fine Tip Expo Markers

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I found them on amazon and they’re perfect for the aforementioned calendar that sticks to our fridge. Where have these been all my life? {Store them in a cup, tip side down or the ink will be way too light.}

 

Born This Way Foundation by Too-Faced

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source

It’s spendy but my 43-year-old face says it’s worth it. Plus I had a $20 credit at Sephora. Listen up. This stuff is amazing and a little goes a long way. I prefer a more natural make-up look {on the days when I actually wear it.} This foundation feels and looks natural but it evens out my skin tone and somehow covers up my age spots and undereye circles. I don’t even use concealer anymore. Plus you can layer it in places where you need it, like under your eyes. Best of all, it doesn’t settle into your lines.

“What are lines?” ask all you twenty-somethings. Ah, they are the marks of wisdom and grace, young readers. And also proof that you never slept through the night for years after you started having babies.

I digress but the moral of the story is this. It works so well, it might be sorcery. But at least I’ll be making my way to the dark side with an even skin tone.

 

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Just in case you were worried that I was turning into a beauty blogger with that last product mention, I’m going to let the pendulum swing to the other extreme with this one. Hold on to your homestead. I made dishwasher detergent.

We ran out of dish tabs so I googled “dishwasher detergent substitute” as a good 21st-century homemaker does. This recipe came up first so that’s the one I tried {a few drops of dish soap + baking soda + salt} and IT WORKED.

As the girl who knocked over a bottle of hydrochloric acid that ate up everyone’s lab papers in high school chemistry class and also exploded a glass beaker {two separate incidents}, the success of this experiment made me inordinately happy. {Who’s winning at science now, Ms. Matthews?}

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That’s a wrap, friends.

Happy end of January! May your resolutions still be going strong and if not, that’s why God made monster cookies and Netflix.

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If your life isn’t compete without art house photos of monster cookies, follow me on Instagram! {@marianvischer or just click the pic}

New here? I’m all about “writing the real” and helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

And I have a gift for subscribers:

school made simple freebie header

If you’re overwhelmed by the many educational options for your kids, if you’re curious about the most important questions to ask, I have a FREE resource created just for you!

 

*Some affiliate links are used in this post. This means that when you make a purchase {like a book} through one of the links, I make a small commission. Thanks for kindly supporting this little corner of the internet!

2016 Favorite Everything List

favorite-everything

Raise your hand if you love a good favorites list.

That’s what I thought. I love them too! In the spirit of fun, reflection, and simplicity {just the top 3 faves in each category}, I bring you my 2016 Favorite Everything List.  

Here we go.

BOOKS

Sadly, I don’t read as many books in a year as I want to. {I start way more than I finish.} And this was one of those years where I loved almost everything I read. But in the end, these three very different books jumped out at me:

All the Pretty Things: The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went Through Fire to Find Her Way Home by Edie Wadsworth

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I read Edie’s memoir in one day and it stunned me. Writing about hard things and difficult people with grace and compassion is a complicated task but Edie does it beautifully and the world is better for it. This book made my heart swell with love for Edie and for her family. It also gave me hope for my own relationships and complicated story.

 

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

flat-cover

This is the third book I’ve read on the Enneagram over the years. If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram but you’d like to, this is the book to begin with. I’m a bit of an Enneagram junkie {my friends call me the Ennea-vangelist}, but I fully admit that it can feel tricky and overwhelming at first. Numbers! Arrows! Wings!

This book is a primer for real people and we needed it. I love it so much and feel like I’ve already sold a thousand copies through my word-of-mouth endorsement of it.

 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

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I know. This one may not appeal to those of you who aren’t writers but I loved it so, so much and have gone back to it since my first reading. {Always a good sign.}

Because I’m not a fan of horror or Sci-Fi, this is the only Stephen King book I’ve ever actually read. And even though he’s a fiction writer and I’m not, so much of what he teaches — through his life story and witty, direct instruction — applied to my own writing in a powerful way.

This is a book about his personal life — as a son, a creative soul, a husband, a father, an alcoholic. But it’s told through the lens of his writing life. It’s really a beautiful story and I came away with boatloads of respect for him as a writer and a human being.

FYI: Since 2009, I’ve kept a running list of most of the books I’ve read. Click here to check it out.

 

TV Shows

tv

I just rigged up a tiny TV in my newly-painted office and I never want to leave.

Per usual, I’m late to the party on each of these shows. I was too busy having babies and surviving the toddler years when these came out on actual television and watching TV was HARD back then! There was no instant streaming and binge-watching. There was setting the VCR or the TiVo {if you had one} or renting entire seasons from the library and then paying a fortune when you forget to return them on time.

My kids don’t know how we ever survived.

But sometimes it’s nice to do things later. I waited to read Harry Potter until I read them to my kids and it was so fun to experience the story together for the first time. The same has been true for all three of these shows. I’ve watched them with my daughter and it’s the stuff dreams are made of. {The Ministry of Netflix has been one of my favorite gifts / discoveries of 2016.}

Lost

The characters! The edge of your seats storyline! The moving back and forth between present, past, and future! The best.

Friday Night Lights

Again with the characters. They are so human and approachable. They make the worst decisions and you’re rooting for them anyway. It goes without saying that Eric and Tami Taylor are one of my favorite TV marriages ever. I’m crazy for this show.

Gilmore Girls

I mean, could I be any later to this one? We started watching it in October of 2015 and I’m not gonna lie, it took me a while to get into it. Lorelei and Rory use SO MANY WORDS and the plot moved painfully slow. But then the magic begin to fall from the sky like snow in Stars Hollow and we were All In. We’ve put all other shows on hold and are watching this one like it’s our job because we’re dying to get to the newly released season.

 

MOVIES

{I saw none of these in the theater. Shocker.}

the-imitation-game

Spotlight

“A team of reporters and editors at the Boston Globe relentlessly investigate a shocking child molestation cover-up by the Catholic Church.” {from Netflix}

This movie made me want to quit my life, move to a big city, and become an investigative journalist. It was such a well-done film and covered a difficult topic without being gratuitous or sensationalist. And the acting was superb!

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch + Keira Knightley + WW2 + code-breaking + drama. Yes please!  This one will both inspire you and break your heart.

Jane Eyre

I never actually read Jane Eyre though I do plan on it one day. And I usually don’t watch movies if I haven’t read the book. But I broke the rules for this one and I’m glad I did. It’s worth it for the cinematography alone.

 

FAVORITE DISCOVERIES

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source: voxer.com

Voxer

Again, nothing new about this. But I had to get the app because my Artists Bench friends {a group that began last spring} used it to communicate.

And then I wondered why I’d waited it so long! It’s a combination of text + voicemail + voice memo + ability to send pictures. When I try to explain it to people, they don’t see why it’s a big deal.

You just have to use it. I feel like it’s talking on the phone for introverts. It’s convenient, you respond when the timing is right for you, and you can adjust the speed in which the person is talking. {Perfect for when you’re listening to me because I tend to ramble and talk too slow.}

 

If you swipe left on texts and hold, it shows the time.

I mentioned this in November on “What I Learned” but it bears repeating because I use it all the time.

My teenage daughter showed this tip to my husband and me. He and I were all “minds blown” and she was all “Um, everyone knows this.” Because of course.

Here’s a little tutorial that explains it better than I can.

text-time

 

Bullet Journaling

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source

I take a super slack approach to bullet-journaling because if something isn’t easy, I won’t do it. {A lesson I’ve learned 15 million times and always the hard way.}

I started mid-year with a $4 notebook from Walmart to try it out. It’s totally for me but only if I keep it as mind-numbingly simple as possible. I just ordered a legit bullet journal from bulletjournal.com and I’m so excited to begin a new year with it! If you haven’t heard of bullet journaling, I won’t try to explain. Instead I’ll point you to my favorite resources.

bulletjournal.com

How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide {The Lazy Genius Collective} 

Bullet Journaling Made Easy {Edie Wadsworth}

When I watched Edie’s video, I realized that I’d sort of been bullet journaling for years, minus the index approach. She gave me permission to be way more laid back about the whole thing and that’s what makes it work for me.

 

FAVORITE THINGS I USE {ALMOST} EVERY DAY

Mamuye Tote from Fashionable 

I talked about this purse in November but she deserves a place here too.

Over a year ago, I purchased this bag from Fashionable. For ages I’d been looking for a fabulous leather tote but I also loved the idea of purchasing with purpose. I’ve waited a full year before I talked about it because I wanted to see how it held up.

mamuye-tote

I’m happy to report that this Mamuye tote is going strong and gets better with age. It serves as my everyday purse {and I keep a clutch inside of it that I can grab in case I just want to run into the grocery store, sans tote bag.} It holds all my regular purse stuff + my bullet journal + work notebook + laptop + wadded up cardigan. Basically, it has the capacity of a piece of luggage but the lightweight-ness of a knapsack. It can rest flat on the floor without falling over but doesn’t have so much structure that it’s stiff.

It’s the best, is what I’m saying. But what’s really the best is that when I buy a bag, I’m creating jobs for heroic women in Ethiopia who are working their way toward opportunity, one stitch at a time.

Click here to learn more about my favorite bag and to scoop up something FashionABLE for yourself!

 

Non-stick slow cooker

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A while back my mom and I were at the flea market and a woman was selling a brand-new, in-the-box slow cooker. My old crock pot was so old that it had started cooking things fast instead of slow, resulting in disappointing pot roast and dinner that was ready by noon instead of 5:00.

So my mom treated me to a $20 slow cooker and it happened to be non-stick.

I will never, ever return to a regular slow cooker again. Because crock pots are awesome and make life easier…until you have to clean them. A non-stick pot is the best friend you didn’t know you needed.

The one pictured is the one I have but it looks like they don’t make it anymore! Womp womp. But I did some research and came up with this one.

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I’m sorry, it’s expensive but it does get fantastic reviews. Apparently non-stick slow cookers are super hard to find. Let me know if you find one and I’ll add the link!

 

L’oreal Colour Riche Balm

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It’s color that you can’t really mess up + balmy goodness. {I’ve purchased three of them because a certain 15-year-old in my house likes them too.}

Here’s an amazon link in case you’d like a tube and don’t want to leave your house, but you can also find them at your local drug store.

 

FAVORITE POSTS

How a 92-Year-Old Woman Taught Me the Real Value of My Right-Now Work

This post is a story, a confession, a wake-up call, and an invitation to trust. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written and apparently it was one of yours too. {This is something I need to read on the regular.}

graveside-flowers

 

For the Overwhelmed Mom of Little Kids: 8 Things I Wish I’d Known

Inspired by a night of home movies from when my kids were little. If you have little ones or even big ones, there are 8 takeaways here for all of us.

for the overwhelmed mom

 

How I Almost Let a Horrible Light Fixture Ruin My Life

That time an Evil Light Fixture conspired to ruin everything. And by everything I mean a surprise weekend makeover of my daughter’s room.

Did Evil triumph? Or did my hot glue gun and yarn get the last word? You’ll have to read on to find out. : )

light fixture header pic

FAVORITE SERIES

Okay, so it was my only series, but it’s a series that includes some of my favorite posts {that are some of your favorite posts too.} Of all the creative work I did this year, these posts were my favorite. Living in the tension between our right-now lives and our hoped-for work is a topic I long to explore more in the coming year. I invite you to join me.

How to Pursue Your Hoped-For Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

Click here or on the picture for a list of all 8 posts in the series. The new year is a great time to Begin Again. Again. {And I am 100% talking to myself here.}

right now work header

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At the end of another year, I want to say I’m grateful for each of you. Thank you for making space in your day and room in your inbox. At some point I’d love to do an official reader’s survey but that doesn’t mean I can’t do an informal ask now.

What would you love to see more of? Less of?

Favorite topics?

New topics?

Questions I can answer? 

I’m all ears. You can reply in the comments or hit reply to this e-mail {if you’e reading as an e-mail.} Or e-mail me directly: marianvischer @ gmail dot com.

We can also connect on Facebook, Twitter, or {my FAVORITE} Instagram.

insta collage

Happy New Year, friends. I’d love to know some of your favorite things from 2016!

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New here? I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

And I have a gift for subscribers:

school made simple freebie header

If you’re overwhelmed by the many educational options for your kids, if you’re curious about the most important questions to ask, I have a FREE resource created just for you!

 

*Some affiliate links are used in this post. Thanks for kindly supporting this little corner of the internet!

 

8 Things I’ve Learned This Fall

8-things-i-learned-fall

The “Let’s Share What We Learned” posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.” I love these posts so much.

If you’d like to join in, just head over to Emily’s and link up.

In no particular order, here are 8 things I’ve learned this Fall.

1. If you swipe left on texts and hold, it shows the time.

My teenage daughter showed this tip to my husband and me. He and I were all “minds blown” and she was all “Um, everyone knows this.” Because of course.

Here’s a little tutorial that explains it better than I can.

text-time

source

 

2. If you use the navigation app, Waze, you can change the setting to Madea’s voice.

I can’t type this without smiling from ear to ear because it makes me so happy! I feel safe with Madea as my co-pilot. “Don’t worry, I gotcha, Boo.” Yes, she says this.

 

3. We’ve all been pronouncing Roald Dahl’s name wrong.

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Mr. Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid. He still is. My middle son received a boxed set of his books for Christmas several years ago and he still reads them over and over. My youngest and I recently finished The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory {possibly the favorite book of my childhood.} Which is why it’s crazy that we’ve been pronouncing our beloved author’s name incorrectly all these years.

So how do you pronounce it?

“ROO-ALL.” Don’t believe me? Hear it for yourself on this video in which he says his own name.

 

4. My phone autocorrects “wowzers” to “wieners.”

I don’t know what to tell you about this. It also corrects “thrifting” to “thrusting.” Apparently my autocorrect has her mind a teensy bit in the gutter.

 

5. Nestle makes sugar cookie dough sheets.

cookie-sheets

Christmas just got more awesome didn’t it? I posted this fun fact on Instagram and a friend of mine thanked me for saving Christmas. Just doing my job.

 

6. A digital Sabbath is good for the soul.

I wrote about this as one of the ways I hope to stay merry and bright through the holiday season. But it’s become a practice that I now crave every week. Our weary souls need a break from all the input. And from all the output.

 

7. Every now and then, it’s fruitful to find your own people so you feel less like a weirdo.

Recently I attended the Hope*Writers workshop in Charlotte. I learned so much. But one of the greatest takeaways wasn’t taught in a workshop session. Rather, I felt it in the gathering of kindred spirits.

hope-writers

Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I could just be normal. Be a wife and mom and manager of my home. Work my day job. Live in community with others. The end.

But I have to complicate everything by pursuing the writing life on top of all that. I have things to say, words that {I hope} matter. It’s hard to live in the tension between the non-negotiables of my right-now life and the tug of my hoped-for writing work. Regularly I wonder if I should pack up my words and my blog, tuck them inside a box, and place them on a shelf until the timing is better.

Being with other likeminded artists reassured me that I’m not alone and that there’s no one right way to do this. Lots of us are living in the tension and writing our words, messy lives and all. My friend Emily Freeman reminded me that “movement is not the opposite of waiting. We can move and wait at the same time.”

I write quietly in my journals. I tap out thoughts in Notes on my phone. And I offer words for you in this online space. This is how I intentionally move in the right-now, even as I patiently anticipate the hoped-for.

 

8. A good bag is worth the investment.

Over a year ago, I purchased this bag from Fashionable. For years I’d been saving my pennies for a fabulous leather tote but I also loved the idea of purchasing with purpose. I’ve waited a full year before I talked about it because I wanted to see how it held up.

mamuye-tote

I’m happy to report that this Mamuye tote is going strong and gets better with age. It serves as my everyday purse {and I keep a clutch inside of it that I can grab in case I just want to run into the grocery store, sans tote bag.} It holds all my regular purse stuff + my bullet journal + work notebook + laptop + wadded up cardigan. Basically, it has the capacity of a piece of luggage but the lightweight-ness of a knapsack. It can rest flat on the floor without falling over but doesn’t have so much structure that it’s stiff.

It’s the best, is what I’m saying. But what’s really the best is that when I buy a bag, I’m creating jobs for heroic women in Ethiopia who are working their way toward opportunity, one stitch at a time.

Click here to learn more about my favorite bag and to scoop up something FashionABLE for yourself!

Your turn. What have you learned lately? You can share in the comments or join in over at Emily’s

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New here? I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

And I have a gift for subscribers:

school made simple freebie header
If you’re overwhelmed by the many educational options for your kids, if you’re curious about the most important questions to ask, I have a FREE resource created just for you!

*Some affiliate links are used. Thanks for kindly supporting this little corner of the internet!