March 2018 Round Up

March 2018 Round Up

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

Hi friend! I’m always looking for ways to make these posts better for you (and more enjoyable for me to write), so that means change! Instead of my monthly “favorite things” post, welcome to the round up! Giving you a bigger glimpse into my month — feel free to share about your March in the comments below.

3 things I’m excited about

  1. Vida Dulce opening up in Cary, North Carolina: This little ice cream shop has been in the works for almost a year and it’s finally coming to fruition. My husband and his family have been working so hard on getting everything prepared — so proud of them and beyond excited to have access to all the sweet treats! If you don’t mind, please say a prayer for a smooth opening and success in this new business venture ❤
  2. Becoming a Simplified by Emily Ley affiliate: It’s such an honor to partner with brands I love and that’s exactly what’s happening here. I saw a post about the Simplified team taking applications for affiliates and I hopped right on it! I believe in their vision and adore their products, so this is a blessing! As an affiliate I will continue to genuinely share about the products I love and in return I earn 15% on Emily Ley products from my affiliate link. Win win, right??
  3. Our finances: I plan on sharing about this more in depth in a post coming up, but yall! Amazing things happen when you’re intentionally working a plan. Eric and I have been working Dave Ramsey’s baby steps (all the praise hands here). We’re focused and working together as a team which is doing wonders for our finances and our communication. I’ve never felt this at peace with my finances. Ever! It’s a good feeling.

Quote I’ve been meditating on

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” — Exodus 14:14

Being still is actually one of my goals for the month. It may seem silly, but it’s a struggle for me to slow down. I feel a need to be constantly busy and productive. Where did this come from!? Why can’t I just stop? There is a time for productivity and a time for rest. I’m practicing resting in Jesus. I want to be still so I can hear His voice instead of getting wrapped up in the chaos of the world. Slowly, but surely breaking the chains on the glorified busyness.

Who or what I’m adoring

Pure Barre! I truly cannot say enough good things about PB. I don’t even know what to call it. It’s more than a workout class (although it is a killer workout)! It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s supportive. It’s also a community. It’s a place I can go to take my mind off the day and just focus on me — focus on how I can become stronger – mentally and physically. I can tell in my body I’m getting stronger and more flexible. I’m all around healthier because I’ve been intentional about getting to the studio. If you’re local and want to try out a class I’d love for you to be my guest! But be careful… you may become addicted too 😉

Favorite memory from March

Our trip to Los Angeles (you can read all about it here)! Since it was at the very beginning of the month it seems like it was forever ago. It was such a fun and memorable experience, but there’s so much more we still want to do in California! We’re already itching to go back!

A good lesson I learned

Things don’t always go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There can still be joy in the moment.

I am a planner. I find comfort in planning out my days, writing a to do list, and having a game plan. But as you can imagine, many days and moments don’t go according to plan. This can be frustrating to me when my perfectly calculated plans are unraveled, but often times it’s for something better. I don’t always see that in the moment, but God works in mysterious ways. He is always working things together for my good. Although it drives me crazy, I’m grateful that my plans don’t always work out! I’m finding joy in the journey and gratitude for His better plans.


So what do we think about the new round up!?

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Hopped off the plane at LAX

Hopped off the plane at LAX

I’ve always wanted to visit California.

We considered going a few years ago when I had a week vacation from my old job, but we realized it was cheaper to travel outside the country. So we went to Punta Cana instead and got engaged 😉

 

Well it was finally time to splurge and make the trip to the west coast! Shout out to our accumulated travel points. Last year we traveled to Vegas for Eric’s birthday and this year we celebrated his 26th in Los Angeles (his actual birthday was spent in airports, but ya know…)

Overall, the trip was amazing! Our visit wasn’t nearly long enough, but is it ever?? It didn’t help that we missed the entire first day due to a huge travel mess.

Original plan was Raleigh –> DC (Dulles International Airport) –> LAX

That didn’t happen.

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After the most turbulent 6am flight ever and 2 failed landing attempts at Dulles we diverted to Pittsburgh. It was honestly one of the scariest experiences of my life. It felt like we were on a rollercoaster (I love rollercoasters!) but then I remembered we were in the air thousands of feet above ground. So that rollercoaster feeling became a lot less fun. Also, so many people were getting sick because of the turbulence. We were sitting in the very last row right in front of the bathroom — just the place you wanna be in that situation. Except nobody was allowed to get up and use the bathroom because the seatbelt sign never shut off.

I was so happy to finally be on the ground in Pittsburgh! The two flight attendants in the back of the plane told us that was one of the worst flights they’ve ever been on. Super not comforting. But we made it safely to the ground!

We sat around Pittsburgh airport for hours. After missed connections and boarding/de-boarding the plane, our pilot got news that multiple planes had landed at Dulles, so we went for it again. And praise God, we landed! The whole plane cheered. God was seriously on our side because we somehow made it to Los Angeles despite packed out planes and being put on standby for two different flights. My checked bag even made it! Victory!!

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We arrived in LA at midnight (aka 3am back home). Naturally, our first stop: tacos.

It was a bit rainy and overcast our first full day, but that didn’t stop us. We took the long, scenic route to find food and ended at a delicious restaurant called Paty’s. So delicious! The mimosas were a great decision.

 

I know they say California traffic is bad, but I didn’t realize to what level. It wasn’t even as bad as usual because we were there on the weekend. It would take 40 minutes to go 9 miles. I loved California, but I’m not sure I could deal with that on the regular. It does allow you to see a lot of things.

 

Next stop: Santa Monica! One of my main things in LA was to capture a California sunset. We spent hours walking around Santa Monica beach and the pier. We actually ended up missing the true pink sunset because we thought it was over. We were struggling. The weather and time change had us confused I guess. But we did see it! That’ll just have to be a goal for our next trip.

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We tried to do the Warner Brothers Studio Tour on Saturday, but of course tickets were sold out. So we went ahead and purchased our tickets for Sunday morning at 8:30am. I’m still not sure how we all managed to wake up, get ready, and make it there by 8:30, but it was so worth it! Plus they have Starbucks in the lobby, so that definitely helped.

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The studio tour was so cool! There are different studio tours in LA, but I think Warner Brothers was the best because they have done so many popular shows and movies. We got a behind the scenes look at where the Hollywood magic happens.

I wish I would have been able to record everything our tour guide said because there was so much! We got to see the front door from Annie, the Alibi Room from Shameless, the church and high school from Pretty Little Liars, the alley from Friends, the Ellen stage, the house from Fuller House, jungle scenes from Jurassic Park, and so much more.

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The front of the Alibi Room from “Shameless”
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Church from “Pretty Little Liars”
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Rosewood High School from “Pretty Little Liars”
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The “Fuller House” House
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Each stage has a red light like this — when filming the light is lit, so be quiet

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Where Ellen stands to do her monologue
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Ellen’s stage

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Hubby and I hanging out at Central Perk from “Friends”

I have so much respect for those involved in entertainment — it’s amazing what they can do! If you’re ever in LA, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour is a must. But make a reservation or purchase your tickets ahead of time!

So many more pics and tidbits of info I could share, but we’ll leave it here for now!

Demonstrating how they use forced perspective
It was Oscar Sunday, so duh
Screen writing for “Shameless”

Actual fire escapes from New York — wanted them to be authentic

The Hollywood Sign is of course another must do when in Los Angeles. We were planning a hike, but a little bit of birthday celebrations happened… Can’t say no to sangria and guacamole!

 

Once we got there and saw how long the hike would be, we decided against it. Maybe next time! It was still really awesome to see the sign and the Hollywood Hills.We even drove down Rodeo Drive on the way. Not as impressive as I had imagined, but the houses nearby are gorgeous! I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the California real estate market in real life.

 

Turns out we were staying a block away from the Academy Awards for Oscar Sunday. We had no idea until we were there and they kept mentioning it at the studio tour. Turns out the Oscars are a pretty big deal in Los Angeles. We were so close to the action that the street our Airbnb was on was actually blocked off. We had to show proof to a cop that we were staying there — that was first. Too bad we didn’t see any celebrities! From now on the Oscars will be way more interesting.

I’m already ready for our next cross country adventure! As long as our flights are much smoother. I’d love to go back to Los Angeles. San Francisco, Laguna Beach, and Napa top the list as well among others. So much to see, so little airline miles! All the more reason we’re working towards financial freedom. So we have the freedom to travel and experience the world! It feels so much better to travel without debt.

Until next time, we’ll be dreaming about (and planning) our next trip!

Where’s your next adventure!?

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Monthly Favorites | January 2018

Monthly Favorites | January 2018

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

January has been full of so many awesome things! The start of a fresh year, motivation for new goals, and some pretty fantastic things that have made my life easier and more flourishing. That’s the point of these monthly favorites posts — to share what’s working for me with you! Lets help each other flourish! Here’s 5 things I’ve been loving this month

Steamer

I’m not sure how I’ve gone almost 26 years without one. Well for a majority of those years I didn’t have to worry about it, but ya know. My adult life has greatly improved with this handy tool. I used some of my Christmas giftcards to order this steamer off Amazon and I’m a big fan! I definitely wanted one that would be affordable, simple to use, compact enough to travel with and use on the daily if needed, and work well. This one hits all the marks!

So far I used it on a pair of white jeans and a delicate white shirt that has a sheer overlay. With both pieces the wrinkles came out in just a few minutes. The steamer heats up quickly (it says within 2 minutes, but it seems a lot faster to me!) and gets to work. I’ve never been an ironing girl, so this is a major win! No more wrinkly clothes when we’re traveling or just too lazy to get out the iron and board. If you don’t have one already, you should probably add it to your Amazon cart, like now.

E-Cloth Home Cleaning Set

In an effort to detoxify our home and our products and to be less wasteful, I was on a search for a cleaning product that would meet both those needs. I’ve always just used the disinfecting wipes or different cleaner sprays with paper towels. I saw these in someone’s Instagram story that was thinking about trying Norwex, but didn’t want to deal with the cost.

I’ve used the kitchen cloth a few times now and am transitioning to using the others as well. This 8 piece set includes pretty much everything you would need to clean your home. Each cloth is for a different area (two Glass and Polishing Cloths, a Kitchen Cloth with scrubbing pocket, a Bathroom Cloth, a Window Cloth, a Dusting Cloth, a Stainless Steel Cloth, and a Range and Stovetop Cloth) and they are labeled on the cloth so you don’t have to remember, although you’ll learn the more you use them.

They only need water, remove 99% of bacteria, and are guaranteed for 300 machine washings. Less wasteful: check. Non-toxic: check. I’m excited to use them more throughout our home!

Essential oils

The more I learn about and use essential oils, the more I fall in love. I ordered a starter kit from Young Living in November, so I’m still new to EO, but I’m incorporating them more and more into our life and home. I love diffusing them instead of candles to freshen up a room and assist with whatever I’m needing at the moment (some faves are a sleepy blend in our bedroom for sleep or Purification in the kitchen when I’m cleaning or cooking). I’ve also made a few different roller blends: Sleep Tight, Glowing Skin, Happy Tummy, Early Mornings.

We had a sick house over the holidays and having the starter oils gave me so much peace of mind. When you’re not feeling good, you’re willing to try anything to feel better, right? Anything I could do to boost our immunities and give some relief was done. I was amazed by the oils’ powers to support our bodies. I’ve got my eye on more oils to add to my collection based on recommendations and different healthy DIYs I want to try. Need to budget them in first of course 😉

Simplified Planner

I’ve been a planner girl for as long as I can remember. I always have my phone on me, but I just need that pen and paper to keep my life straight. This is my first year using a Simplified Planner by Emily Ley and I’m not sure I can ever go back to anything else.

I adore this planner for a couple big reasons first being the heart behind it. I love Emily Ley as a person (don’t know her, but wish we were best friends). She’s on a mission to help women simplify their lives so that they can focus on what matters most. Yes please! Not to mention, the planner is beautiful! I look forward to using it and making progress through my days. It helps me stay organized through my busy days without feeling overwhelmed. I can just take it a day at a time and do my best.

Small Group

I am absolutely loving our small group! We finally launched our Young Married Couples Small Group on January 11th and it’s incredible! There is something so special about face to face community. I’m especially excited that it’s a group of people that are at the same life stage as we are: young, married, no kids yet. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people of all stages because we can all learn from one another, but it’s also important to have those people that are walking the same path at the same time. When we go through struggles, we have a group of people that can help carry us through. When we’re celebrating victories, we have a group of people that can cheer us on!

In our digital world it’s becoming more and more difficult to have those face to face interactions. We live busy lives and can feel a simliar connection through the power of social media, but nothing can ever replace in person. Grab coffee with a girlfriend, seek out a small group in your area, or even start a group of your own! We all crave community and connection and it’s so fruitful to do life with others. 

What have you been loving lately!? Leave your favorites in the comments below ❤

The best hot chocolate | Recipe

The best hot chocolate | Recipe

Are you team egg nog or team hot chocolate?

Both have a time and place during the holiday season, but as a chocoholic, I can never say no to chocolate! Especially one this good.

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Recently there was picture of a Crockpot Hot Chocolate recipe floating around Facebook, so when it was time for us to get together with my in-laws for a pre-Christmas celebration, I thought that would be the perfect addition! I found a good recipe on Pinterest and adapted it to make it work for us.

Yall. This hot chocolate is ahhh-mazing! I’m forever spoiled. That instant stuff + hot water will not longer cut it (I mean, it never really did, but definitely not gonna happen now). I was nervous about this recipe because a) I’ve never made anything like it and b) I was trying it out for the first time with a group of people. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I’m so happy to say it was easy peasy AND tasted delicious!

The Best Crockpot Hot Chocolate

Serves 8-12 people (depending on how big the mugs are) 😉

  • 16 fl oz heavy whipping cream
  • 5.5 cups 1% milk
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mix of milk chocolate and semi sweet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Any desired extras (I put out marshmallows and candy canes!)

Add all ingredients to your Crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring frequently). Once chips are melted and mixed in, you can reduce to low. Serve and add in any extras — enjoy! If serving later or people are helping themselves at different times, put the crockpot on the “warm” setting so it’s not piping hot.

Know what’s wonderful about this recipe?? It’s amazing when it’s made, but it’s also just as good reheated later! Yes, I enjoyed delicious hot chocolate even days after I originally made it! I overestimated the amount to hot chocolate we would need, so we actually had a lot left over. We put the remaining into glass cups (or any microwave safe container) that we reheated in the microwave later. Reheat for 1 minute, stir, and reheat longer as needed. How perfect!?

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This is now a must have for the holidays and I can’t wait for the many memories we’ll make in the years to come with this delicious hot chocolate in hand. Family Christmas movie nights, driving around to view lights, opening presents. I can just see it now ❤

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

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Monthly Favorites | December

Monthly Favorites | December

The days are sneaking away from me quickly with the fun of the holiday season, so I wanted to go ahead and share my favorites for December before the new year begins! There will be lots of blog content coming in January all about goals and progress and I’m so excited! For now lets have some fun with favorites! 🙂

JustFab

I may be in the minority on this, but I’m not a shoe girl. I enjoy purchasing clothes and handbags, but shoes are more of a necessary item. My collection is pretty much all black or neutral nude, but that gets me through pretty much every event!

My first experience with JustFab was a $17 pair of nude heeled sandals that are perfect for work or play. I placed my second order with JustFab a few days ago because they were running a BOGO free sale — how can you resist!? I’ve had over the knee boots on my wish list for a while now, so it seemed like the perfect time! I also snagged some basic black booties because I’ve pretty much worn out my favorite brown ones. Gotta have a backup, ya know??

I can’t wait to share them once they arrive (should be Saturday!) I’m 5’2 so praying the over the knee boots aren’t actually thigh highs 😉 They’re actually running a 50% off sale right now, so treat yourself girl!

Pretzel Treats

These were super easy to make and SO delicious! I was trying to figure out a good treat to give to neighbors and coworkers as a little holiday gift and these were it! I wanted something that would be affordable, yummy, and not spark any common allergies (I would have loved to do something peanut or peanut butter related, but didn’t want anyone to have issues).

The chocolate covered pretzels fit the bill perfectly! With just 3 ingredients needed, they were easy to make and affordable to purchase. I’ll share more in depth on these treats soon (don’t want to completely give it away for any recipients reading!), but you’ll love em!

Crockpot Recipes

I know that the Instant Pot is all the rage right now, and I would still love to give it a go, but my Crockpot will always be my MVP! There’s just something about throwing a bunch of ingredients in the pot and letting them cook all day. No fuss. All deliciousness.

Two recipes I’ll be sharing with you soon: Crockpot chili and Crockpot hot chocolate. One is an old faithful and one is a new-to-me recipe. How about I put together a Winter Must Haves Recipe post!?

Glass Water Bottle

We have WAY too many water bottles in our house, but a glass water bottle is an absolute must have! I found one at Target and its become my go to. Of course mine is pink, but there are a ton of colors! Drinks just taste better out of a glass bottle, do you agree?

They’re also necessary if you’re adding essential oils or citrus to your water. Essential oils and citrus fruits like lemon can actually erode the material, so don’t use a plastic bottle! Glass or stainless steel are the way to go. Many oils are not safe for internal use, and others should be used with caution

Christmas Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’ve always loved Christmas: the lights, the treats, the gifts, the time with family and friends, the joy, the fun! But it gets sweeter ever year as my relationship with Jesus deepens and grows.

Christmas is the the beginning of the most powerful love story in history — the love of God for His people. Prior to Jesus coming to Earth, we were in a broken relationship with God. Sin had entered the world with Adam and Eve and ever since then, God had been pursuing and planning a true reconciliation with His most prized. With us.

A Savior was born and the world would never be the same. It’s so amazing (and still mind boggling) to be reminded of this beautiful story every December. We are loved and adored all year by an incredible King, but there’s something special about the Christmas Season. Maybe it’s because it’s on display for believers and nonbelievers the hope of Jesus. If you don’t know Him or maybe you’ve grown distant from Him lately or maybe even you’ve completely turned away from Him, I’m praying for you. And I’m always available to talk and pray with you, no judgement or questions asked. You are a gift! Merry Christmas!

What have you been loving lately!? Leave your favorites in the comments below ❤

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Monthly Favorites | November

Monthly Favorites | November

Usually I want to get this roundup put together before the next month, but wow did November fly by! Isn’t it only appropriate to use Thanksgiving’s food spread for the November featured image!? 😉

In the spirit of contentment, everything I’m going to share with you ranges from free to affordable. We’re on a money saving mission which is reflected in the things I’m loving this (well, last) month — goes to show you don’t have to spend a lot of money finding things that’ll make your life better and easier!

Thanksgiving

I appreciate Thanksgiving more and more every year. The family time, the amazing food, the opportunity for everyone to slow down and be together. I know it’s not a product or something you can tangibly use, but I have to recognize the Thanksgiving spirit.

I love that it encourages us to give thanks for our many blessings. Gratitude is so good for your heart and soul. I challenge you to acknowledge at least one thing you’re grateful for each day. Are you up for it?

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

This book is incredible! We’ve been listening to The Dave Ramsey Show (Dave’s radio show/podcast) and decided to read the book as well. It goes into great depth on each of the baby steps and even uncovers many money myths.

Eric and I try to read at least a couple pages each night. We’ve been working through the baby steps even before we started the book, but it’s especially helpful to have the background and more information on each one. I’d love to take his Financial Peace University 9 week course, we’ll have to see how things go!

PowerSheets

If you follow my blog, you’ve seen me post about my PowerSheets in a monthly goals and progress post. I can’t imagine my year without this tool! If you’re not familiar, PowerSheets is an intentional goal planner. It’s not a planner in the way you’re probably used to — it doesn’t have calendar and a place to write your day to day appointments/meetings/etc.

It’s a place to intentionally plan your year by identifying the goals most important to you and then breaking them down each month. That might sound overwhelming, but I promise the PowerSheets walk you through it page by page. The most beautiful part? Little by little progress adds up and your PowerSheets reflect that!

It’s not too late to grab your own set for 2018, we can even plan and make progress together! Check out my “Intentional Living” tab to get a feel for what you can expect (although they only get better every year!) If you’re ready to grab your own, you can order here

Stranger Things

I totally know this isn’t a new thing, but we started (and got addicted) to Stranger Things in November! I had been wanting to watch since so many people were raving about the show, but it took a while for hubby to be up for it. One Sunday we were searching for something new to watch on Netflix and I suggested Stranger Things — the rest is history 😉

Honestly, Eric fell asleep during the first episode, but it didn’t take long for him (and me) to get completely hooked! We had to stop ourselves from letting Netflix start playing the next episode when it got too late and we finished both seasons in a matter of weeks.

I’m not usually a sci-fi fan, but the show was well done and you can’t help but love the main characters. The writers are from Durham, so there’s even some NC references — pretty cool! I was freaked out by the Demogorgons at first, but once I got over that I was good. Will there be a season 3??

Silicone makeup blender

Amazon wins again (the ones I got are sold out, but I’m sure you can find something similar). These are the best!! I know they look like the inserts from a pushup bra, but stick with me here. It seemed impossible to fully clean my sponge beauty blender, so an Amazon search for a new sponge blender brought me across these silicone ones. I’m so glad it did!

They are so easy to use and clean! To clean, once I’m finished applying my foundation, I just wet the blender and rub on a drop of soap then pat dry. Done! It feels much better for my skin to be using a fresh blender each day. Another win: they use a fraction of the makeup product. Since it’s not soaking into the sponge less product goes a longer way. Easy to clean and less waste — I’m in!

Alright yall, that’s all for November! What are you loving lately?

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Book Review | Staying Stylish

Book Review | Staying Stylish

** I received a complimentary copy for my honest review from the publisher.
All opinions are my own. 

I have always been a DJ Tanner fan (I mean, who doesn’t love Full House!?), but after reading this book I’m truly a Candace Cameron Bure fan as well. I admire who she is as a person and can totally relate to her values and views on life.

I had a complete fan-girl moment when I was selected to be a part of her Street Team to help promote her newest book! Friends, I introduce you to Staying Stylish: Cultivating a Confident Look, Style & Attitude!

It was so much fun to have a “behind the scenes” look into Candace’s life through Staying Stylish. Of course I don’t know her personally (I wish!), but she seems like a woman who has her priorities in balance — faith, family, fitness, fashion. She knows who she is and what she needs to do to live her best life!

Not only is Staying Stylish a gorgeous book, but it’s packed with applicable tips and wisdom. I’m a reader, but I will forever love looking at the pictures! Between the pictures and the brilliant content I had a really hard time putting this book down. Just one more page…

I’ll admit I was a bit uninterested when I first heard about this book. I thought it was only going to be about fashion. But as you can see from the Contents above, Staying Stylish is so much more! There is nothing wrong with fashion — I enjoy wearing cute clothes and looking my best, but I was happy to learn that Candace addressed many of the important areas in a woman’s life.

No matter what, we all have an area or two that we could improve on. Skin care and self care are of particular importance to me right now. These areas change as we move through different seasons, so it’s especially helpful to have this book as a resource when the focus needs to switch.

If I want to life a long and fulfilling life with my husband and kids, then I have to focus on my health and make it a priority.”
– Candace Cameron Bure, Staying Stylish

You might think it just takes the clothes you’re wearing to be stylish, but true style and confidence shines from the inside out. It’s not only the way we shop, but also the way we organize our lives, take care of our skin and bodies, dig into our faith, and love our lives.

Life is a beautiful gift, and we all have to remind ourselves to receive that gift.
– Candace Cameron Bure, Staying Stylish

Staying Stylish would make an amazing gift for yourself or any woman — sister, mother, daughter, friend — in your life! We can learn so much from each other. It’s a beautiful thing to be inspired by each other! Lets lift each other up so we can all become the incredible women God created us to be!

As Candace reminds us, “staying stylish doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult.” You are unique and beautiful, so celebrate YOU! And if you’re unsure what your style is, I’m sure Candace wouldn’t mind you borrowing hers ❤

What book has inspired you lately!? 

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