friday favorites

I loved this simple prompt from Ann-Marie Loves and wanted to borrow it for my typical Friday post. Sometimes it's so fun to see what others are up to!

Eating: The most delicious nectarines thanks to our Bountiful Basket. Seriously, the best I've ever had.

Drinking: As much water as I can. I've also been drinking a LOT of La Croix. It's such a good soda replacement, but completely guilt free since it has no additives whatsoever. Cherry Lime is the best!

Practicing: Letting go .... Work has been so stressful and frustrating. I'm working on letting all the anger I have just go away. I need to remember that when people behave badly, God is just and will take care of it. Whew.

Mastering: Quilting. Kind of. I'm almost done piecing the quilt top together. The more I sew, the more I love it.

Trying: Lots of different smoothie/fruit combos. I always use spinach and almond water. The fruit is whatever happens to be at home. Sometimes I'm delightfully surprised. Sometimes I just push through for the nutrients. 

Playing: This song. It is SO catchy.

Reading: The Woman in White. I'm really enjoying it!

Remembering: What it was like when we first moved into our tiny apartment. I can't believe that a year has already passed and I loved seeing the transition our space has been through. It makes me so excited for our next place.

Wearing: My Steve Madden sandals for the third straight summer. I will be so screwed when they bust.

Cooking: "Lazy Sunday Casserole" on a Wednesday. I subbed chicken spinach sausage and it was delicious.

Wanting: A kitchen like this.

a few of my favorite blogs

I love blogs. Obviously.

I love diving into the story of someone's life - what they choose/don't choose to share, pictures of their lives, and tidbits of their days. I've read so many different blogs and I'm always editing my list of daily reads. But what makes a great blog (in my opinion) can be summarized quickly: good and personal writing, pretty pictures, and varying content.

Blogs are a fascinating topic for many different reasons - one being that blogs are constantly changing, yet always remaining the same. Blogs will always be about communication, will always be a platform. But the type of platform -- that is volatile.

Archives are my favorite. I love finding a "famous" blog, but reading through the deep trenches of past years. I get lost in the narrative and reading posts when fear of offending an audience of thousands didn't exist. Those are the best posts. I encourage you to dig through the archives of these blogs, especially Elise Blaha's blog. She can do no wrong - and it's because she continues to write about what inspires her, not what sells. She communicates this over and over again and her transparency makes her so dang likeable.

Enjoy! I hope you find a new favorite.

Where My Heart Resides
The Art in Life
Tickled Yellow

Varied (and super interesting) content:
A Cup of Jo
EnJOY it - Elise Blaha Cripe
Annapolis & Company

Eat Sleep Cuddle (cutest baby ever)
Oh Hello, Love!

on beauty

Can we get real here? I absolutely hate my thighs. I am twenty-five and I have cellulite. Like real, actual cellulite. I am young, active, healthy, and my legs look thirty years older than my face. How this happens completely evades me.

And here's the deal: I spent more time on our vacation thinking about my thighs than I did anything else. Seriously. I thought about them every day, every time I changed, every time I got in the shower, every time I got in the pool, every time I glanced down. I feel exhausted just thinking about all the time I thought about my thighs.

I know that I'm supposed to feel beautiful. I know that I was made in the image of my holy creator. But sometimes, feeling beautiful is just really hard. I fought it all through high school. NOTHING about acne feels pretty. It feels more like a fake facade. Like it isn't your face at all, but some monster came to take your place. And these thighs aren't really my thighs at all! My gorgeously toned thighs are really hiding underneath.

These thoughts kept surfacing till I read this quote on A Cup of Jo by Anne Lamott:
...Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.
And the more I thought about Lamott's words, the more sense they made. I realized that for me, feeling beautiful isn't about thinking, I'm beautiful. It is about giving myself the freedom to have fun. To enjoy life. To jump in the pool. To let go of the image of perfection I've been chasing.

And suddenly, I'm not so worried about my thighs after all. I'm having a blast.

I'm feeling beautiful. 

book report: 02 - 05

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This was a beast of a novel to get through. The writing was dense and detail driven, but incredibly interesting and well written. (As it should be, since it won the Pulitzer Prize) I originally picked this book because Nora Ephron recommended it to me in I Feel Bad About My Neck. She writes about being in awe as she reads Kavalier and Clay and how accurately Chabon describes the writing process. So I had to read it.

Kavalier and Clay spans the long relationship of two cousins - Kavalier, a Jew on the run and trained escapist, and his shorter, polio-pained cousin Clay. Together they create comic book magic, all against the backdrop of WWII. War propaganda is one of my favorite things to study in history, and Chabon does such a great job of describing the power of comic books and their influence on children and adults. My favorite bits were the chapters on the comic book characters themselves - so good I wished they were real comics I could read later. All in all, an epic novel and a bit sad, but so much good writing.

Bittersweet by Shauna Niquest
This book. Goodness, I loved it. I loved it more than any book I've read this year. It was almost as if my older, more mature self was writing to me. Shauna's words were exactly what I needed to be reading. Her premise is simple: we can't have the sweet without the bitter. Life wouldn't be grand if we didn't have to struggle for the good things. And we don't truly understand the story of Christ if we haven't been broken -- if we haven't been reborn.

I especially loved her chapter on being twenty-five, and struggling to grow during your twenties. She talks about questions that you should ask yourself each year, like, What have I learned about God? What kind of friends encourage me to grow? What do I like about myself? How am I moving forward? Instead of being stunted during your twenties - use this crazy evolving time to mature into the adult God is shaping you to be. Don't let the decade just pass you by. 

Highly, highly recommend. I can't wait to read her other books.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Have you read Special Topics in Calamity Physics? Stop what you are doing and add that to your Amazon wish list. STCP is one of my favorite books and I was thrilled when Annie let me know Pessl has just written another book. It was at my doorstep in two days. (Thank you Amazon prime.)

The story follows an investigative reporter who tries to discover the truth surrounding the suicide of a famous horror director's daughter. Cordova, the director, has a huge cult following. His movies have been banned and can only be found on the black market or underground screenings. Secrecy surrounds him, his family, and the way he directs his films.

The book has a lot of fun, visual pages - like a Time magazine photo gallery to introduce Cordova, or clippings from magazine articles. I was always so excited to get to another visual page and loved what they added to the story. I'm not one for any type of horror film, but this was more like a thriller than a horror book. I was gripped the entire novel and loved the way it was wrapped up in the end. Very satisfying read and I thought about it for days afterwards. 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
I have to admit - I was imagining this to be more of a beach read/romance. But the story took me in a completely different direction. It jumps from character to character, and spans almost 50ish years, but it was done so seamlessly. Even though I only heard from each character three to four times, I felt like I really knew them.

In the author interview at the back of the book, Walter talks about book themes, and how regret plays into Beautiful Ruins. But I think this book was also about making something from regrets - not passively accepting them. I liked that the ending was unpredictable in that it was so much like reality. In a good way. A fun read, and the scenery/Hollywood descriptions were my favorite part.

25 secrets

I think about ice cream almost every day.

My favorite flavor usually involves caramel.

I have a pint of mint chocolate hidden in the back of the freezer right now.

I cross each day off my calendar as it passes. It makes the month go quicker.

I think cats are better than dogs.

All of my most favorite movies are rom coms.

Kathleen Kelly is my all-time favorite character.

So I based part of my senior thesis on You've Got Mail.

The first time I watched it, I was 10, and it was the free movie of the week at our public library.

I miss having real summers - with mornings free and easy.

My hair is my favorite feature.

My thighs are my least favorite.

I was 17 when I had my first kiss.

But 21 when I first fell in love.

I've never listened to "Stairway to Heaven."

And "soft rock" on the radio will always remind me of home. 

Taylor Swift plays in my car often.

I loved seeing She & Him in concert, but Zooey Deschanel has terrible stage presence.

That made me feel better about life.

Once every few months, I dream I'm back in South Korea and can't get home.

I always choose sweet over savory.

I never put earrings in my second ear hole.

But I miss my nose ring sometimes.

"Bad Day" by Daniel Powder will always be my favorite music video.

And sitting in the sunshine is my happy place.

Post inspired by Elise Blaha Cripe's secrets.

the senses

Fresh cut grass. Summer is here.

Coldplay's new album. Honestly? It seems to fall pretty flat. And is anyone else listening for hints/secrets about his breakup with Gwyneth Paltrow?

Our Bountiful Basket purchase.
I get so excited each week to see what's inside!

Cloudy skies - such unusual summer weather for us. But I'm not complaining.

I've been quizzing Tyler each night and I'm ready for a nap after this week's test is over.

an intentional summer

Last summer just flew too fast. We got married the first weekend in June, and the rest of the summer months just felt like catching up after being in wedding mode.

This summer, I want to be intentional with my time and my very limited number of summer weekends. We can't go too crazy - Tyler's back in school. At first, that really bummed me out. I didn't realize in all my cold weather fantasies that Tyler would have very limited free time, if any at all, during the summer.

So a lot of my summer goals include solo activities. Even if Tyler is doing homework, I can still make our house feel like summer (aka always have popsicles around) and still do summery things on my own.

Plus we have some big changes coming! We'll be moving into our new place/job in less than a month. That means a whole new remodel to tackle. I'm so excited because I really understand what we need in a space now that we've been married for a while. (More closed storage - a place to put our keys by the door - somewhere for Tyler to put his million pair of shoes) I've been making a mood/idea board for our new place and I'm feeling really inspired and ready to diy.

Hey summer - let's do this.

what this coffee cup reminds me of...

It reminds me of waking up before the sun, double checking my suitcase, nervous about the weight.

It reminds me of driving with my parents, sun still hiding, unable to stop worrying.

It reminds me of thinking over and over, "What am I doing? What am I doing?"

It reminds me of squabbling with my mom, because we didn't know what else to do.

It reminds me of
saying goodbye, knowing I wouldn't see my parents for over a year.

It reminds me of calling Tyler in the San Fransisco airport, crying so hard I couldn't talk.

It reminds me of my first night in Seoul, bed as hard as the floor.

It reminds me of teaching, and those first few miserable weeks.

It reminds me of meeting new friends, and going to Korean church for the first time.

It reminds me of
riding the metro - head buried in a book.

It reminds me of discovering new neighborhoods, new coffee shops.

It reminds me of my three month anniversary dinner in a restaurant that felt like Tuscany.

It reminds me of
my tiny, oven-less kitchen, of take-out pizza, of no bathtubs.

It reminds me of
laundry day, American movies with Korean subtitles, and kimchi.

It reminds me of Seoul Tower, Busan, and the bus to visit Rae.

But mostly, it reminds me of Tanja, my soul-friend. The person God sent to get me through one of the roughest and richest times of my life. And that time we visited the delightful Hello Kitty Cafe.

moments from the weekend

1. Having a unplanned day-date with Tyler. It started with the first Bahama Bucks trip of the season, and ended with checking out the progress on our new apartment.

2. Grilling Friday night.

3. Finally starting Lost, Season two.

4. Getting our first Bountiful Basket! Our kitchen was taken over by produce.

5. Finding the best cinnamon rolls in Lubbock at the most unlikely place ... reJAVAnate at Cardinal's sports store. I know ... but that coffee shop is the best. So quiet and comfy.

6. Cutting our 8" grass. Our backyard feels so tamed now!

7. Hiding under a gas station carport to wait out a hail storm. Serious wind gusts people.

8. A three-hour Sunday nap while it rained.

9. Starting a new book. Gobbling up the first 40 pages.

10. Becoming completely obsessed with the Waterlogue app.

what we've learned

We've learned...

Lauren is a morning person.

Tyler is a night person.

Sometimes it is difficult to mesh the two.

Compromise is a must.

Weekends usually mean less sleep.

And pizza.

Lauren can't watch TV with a sink full of dirty dishes.

Now Tyler can't either.

The Office will forever be in rotation.

A clean house always trumps clean cars.

Nature is our happy place.

We've learned...

How to decipher insurance choices.

How to deal without cable.

How to split meals at a restaurant.

How to cook for two.

How to budget for two.

How to save.

How to spend.

How to pray together.

How to ask for forgiveness.

How to say sorry. (And how to say sorry without saying, "I'm sorry, but ...")

I've learned...

That I didn't have it all together before we got married.

That I struggle with change. Especially quick changes.

That I am not the fairest fighter.

That quality time is my love language. 

That I crave time alone in the mornings, and don't function well without it.

That I haven't lost my individuality or freedom - like I feared before we married.

That Tyler is a better man today than the man I married.

That when one of us angry - the other is usually pretty calm. Like a balancing act.

That trusting Tyler is like using WD-40 ... everything in our marriage just runs smoother.

That marrying Tyler has been my best decision.

I love you Tyler! Happy one year anniversary!

Photos taken by Paul Norman Photography.


  • Scuba diving. Tyler loved it. I liked seeing the snorkelers above us. 
  • Staying in Galveston the night before we got on the ship. It was so nice to relax and sleep in.
  • Eating. We loved the burgers, pizza, and unlimited soft serve. What is it about free/unlimited that makes me want more than I usually want? And I cannot cannot say enough good things about Guys Burgers. Amazing. 
  • Not having to use any of the emergency pack I made. 
  • Having room service on our balcony. Just the balcony in general. It was my first cruise with a balcony and I loved it. It felt so quiet and private and I loved reading on it as we pulled in and out of ports.
  • Our dinner-mates. We met the neatest couple at dinner our first night, and had such a great time getting to know them. Tyler and I are usually very introverted on vacations, so it was such a pleasant surprise to make friends. The last two nights we closed down the dining hall!
  • The beach. It just gets to me. I love it.
  • Driving home through the hill country and rain. Parts of the drive got a little stressful, but the greenery was amazing and I loved our stop at Torchy's Tacos on the way home. Yum! 

Lessons Learned:
  • Do not take seasick medication if you are not seasick. We thought we'd be preventative, but it made us so dang drowsy that we slept through the entire first day. 
  • Always do an excursion. It just makes the day that much better. Our last day we wandered into an all inclusive that let us purchase a day pass. That was such a fun afternoon. 
  • Don't over pack. I wore the same two t-shirts the entire time I was there.
  • Bring your own lanyards. They said the lanyards were "free" but we had to fill out a credit card application. So we skipped that.
  • Tyler and I decided that we really aren't cruise people. We like the freedom that comes with a normal vacation. We like getting to eat a different restaurants. I think the overall food quality of a trip is a bit better that way. I think I'd like to rent a house for our next big trip. Or something with a kitchen so we can do some cooking. 

Overall, it was a great trip. I'm so thankful for what we got to do - that we budgeted carefully, and only spent the cash we had. I loved coming back and feeling proud of our financial choices. Honestly, that was the biggest highlight of the trip. I love being a responsible adult. Is that okay to say? I'm saying it. 

she & he: may

The highlight of the month was vacation - hands down.

She spent the days reading.

His highlight was scuba diving.

They can't wait to get the film developed from their underwater camera.

He started grad school.

And now she has a lot more free time in the evenings.

They finished the first season of Lost.

She's having a hard time waiting to start season two...

Their grass is growing like crazy.

The weeds are even crazier.

She is loving the warm nights and pool weather.

He is getting into the groove at school.

She is pleased with the way her quilt is coming together.

He is pleased with his hardworking study group.

She saved up her money for the new Coldplay album.

He counted down the days to buy Lone Survivor on dvd.

And they are both savoring this last, quiet month in their newlywed apartment. 

post vacation

So we've been home a week and all I can think about is how much I miss Tyler. I don't miss the ship, or the food, or not having to do the dishes. I don't miss the beach or the pool. I'm actually glad to be home and cleaning and cooking. It makes me feel more like a real person.

But I miss Tyler. I'm so glad we planned the vacation when we did, because the day after we arrived, Tyler started grad school. And I haven't really seen him since. These next 8 - 10 weeks will be rough, as Tyler goes through Anatomy. We'll eat dinner at different times (which BTW, makes meal planning/cooking so much harder) and go to bed a different times.

Man, have I been spoiled this past newlywed year.

I've gotten so used to the endless togetherness we seem to have. To leaving work at 5 and not thinking about it again until 8 the next day. To weekends with blank slates. To paid vacation days and nights without homework.

So it was nice to have ten long days of togetherness under my belt before we jumped headfirst into the pool that is graduate studies.

But I am so proud of Tyler. He is doing something that is not easy. He is choosing something difficult so that we can have a better life later. He is not settling for "good enough." He is fighting for better. And for that, I am so thankful.

Thanks cutie!