On Baby Names

Alright, it’s another busy Monday so let’s get this going.

If you didn’t know, I’m expecting a baby next month! I have less than five weeks (if she stays in there as long as she’s supposed to) and she is still unnamed, poor girl.


There’s our little girl!

So get your comments ready, I need some input today.

To me, a name is very important. Your name truly has an impact on your personality and the person you become. Naming a child is kind of a huge responsibility and I want to get it right.

First of all, it’s very important to Luke and to me that we choose a name that isn’t oh-so popular. We were loving the name Zoe until we found out it was number 7 on national popularity list. Maybe that seems like a silly reason to give up a well loved name but think about how many Ashleys, Katies, Michaels and Davids you know. They’re great names, but you always have to follow it up with a last name or “Katie from work” vs “Katie from church”. A name is supposed to distinguish you  from others, and so we let Zoe go and still haven’t landed on that perfect name.


She’s hiding her face. Must be camera shy like her mommy.


What do you think? How important is it for a child to have a unique name?

I personally don’t like anything too off the wall, but number 7 is pretty high up there. So we turned to our previous middle name contender, Noelle. Unfortunately, we then couldn’t think of anything that sounded good as a middle name for Noelle. To make a looooong story short, we have a shortlist but nothing that really grabs us. We are open to suggestion. Let me give you an idea of what we’re looking for:

1. Nothing too popular

2. Something with a classic sound, not trendy

3. A good, strong meaning

4. A pretty sound with a middle name that flows

5. Something with a potential nickname (not necessary though)

So there are the criteria. And here are the names we’ve come up with so far:






These are all old names with good meanings and a pretty sound. We’ve been trying to come up with a combination of these but Noelle keeps ending up as the middle name, and right now it’s our favorite first name. A one-syllable middle name would sound good with Noelle but we don’t want to use something typical like Lynn or Grace.

A two-syllable name with emphasis on the second syllable would also sound good. Christine or Marie for example, but again we just don’t love those.


So, what would you suggest? Got any ideas for us or know of some good websites that can help narrow it down?

I’ve been loving the Baby Name Wizard tools like the Name Matchmaker and Nameberry has good articles and lists.

If you’re expecting or just love baby names check these out.



Aerial shot of her tummy and crossed legs


Just for fun here are a couple of lists I’ve come across:

Celestial Baby Names

Color Names for Baby

Flower Names For Girls

Baby Names All Your Friends Will Think Are Cool


Comment away!

Love always,



A Thousand Apologies and Four Tutorials

Dear Readers I don’t know what it is about this natural foundation powder post that is giving me so much trouble but yet again I have failed you.

In my defense, I’ve come down with the flu and thus have not felt up to anything of the sort. I’m trying my best to rest and drink fluids so I can kick this flu’s butt and get on with my life. I can’t help but be extra nervous since I’ve been pregnant. Any little twinge, ache or pain has me worried, and the flu is so much worse.

Anyway, I don’t have much to offer you this bleak Monday but I wanted to at least check in and thank you for your continued support, comments and likes. They are always encouraging and appreciated.

My humble offering to you is to mention this Organic Wear mascara from Physician’s Formula that I picked up *on sale* last week. The bottle is big and shiny and the product is great. It only cost a couple of dollars more than the kind I usually buy (and trust me I’m not one for expensive makeup) and it’s free of any harmful chemicals or unnatural ingredients.

Here’e the one I got.

They also have a False Lash Effect type:

and a Curl+Care formula that makes for healthier lashes:

Besides all these, Physician’s Formula has many other organic and hypoallergenic products available. Check them out.

I got mine at Kroger 🙂


While I’m at it, I might as well share a few natural beauty DIYs and makeovers I’ve found.

Green Tea Toner: Boil 4tsp green tea in 1 cup of water and leave it aside to cool. Pour the green tea in a bottle and add a few drops of essential oil to it, tea tree oil is great for acne prone skin. Keep the homemade toner in the fridge for later use.

5 Amazing Beauty DIYs Using Green Tea

TheAmazingWorldOfJ: MOTD - Tarte Rainforest After Dark + TUTORIAL

Tutorial using almost entirely Tarte brand products (chemical free, cruelty free) Skip the two products that aren’t natural or substitute for something that is natural.

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This easy tutorial uses only chemical-free and safe products.

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Another easy to follow video showing some different options for natural and vegan brands.


Sadly, there were much less tutorials using natural makeup than I anticipated. Pinterest was especially barren on this front. But that simply means we have some work to do. A couple of the videos I watched mentioned that natural makeup tutorials were highly requested. If we speak, they will listen. If you have a beauty blog you frequent of a YouTuber you subscribe to, start requesting! Or, better yet, start making your own. That could be a great way to break into the YouTube or blogging world, which, fyi, you can monetize and make that sweet moola.

Got any natural or organic products you love? Let me know in the comments!

Btw, I’m not affiliated in any way with Physician’s Formula or the other products mentioned today. I just wanted to share some cool products with you that will help you on your journey to a more natural you. Enjoy!


The Art of Tea and Downton Abbey

Today I have sworn myself to the task of making natural powder foundation.

But this afternoon, I indulged in a little guilty pleasure of mine: The Downton Abbey premier paired with a kettle of tea and a handful of truffles.

Over the past year I have become increasingly obsessed with the art of tea. It’s like magic in a cup. Not only does it give me a wonderfully romantic nostalgic feeling, but it’s also incredibly healthy. I always get excited when I discover that something I already like is actually good for me!

There are so many types of tea and so many benefits it’s hard to understand why some people “just aren’t tea drinkers”. It seems that Tea Drinkers and Coffee Drinkers are pitted against each other, as if you can’t appreciate both. Well, I do.

But today is about tea. My hope is to teach you something you didn’t already know and make a Tea Drinker out of you  yet.

The number one reason you should drink tea? The health benefits. If you suffer from anything from headaches to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you should be drinking tea. I found a handy list of teas that help with specific ailments that I’m sure you’ll find helpful:


click the pic to flip through a gallery complete with brewing instructions

If you’re not convinced by the health benefits, think about the fun.

I received a ton of fun, cute tea things for Christmas including this kettle

with this accessory that keeps your tea warm

this beautiful tea-infusing travel cup from Kati

and these adorable tea infusers

(infusers are little mesh baskets that hold your tea leaves so that they aren’t floating around in your cup)


Besides all that, tea tastes amazing and don’t think you have to give up your caffeine boost. Black teas and several others contain caffeine. Although if you’re trying to kick the habit, there are also tons of teas that have little or no caffeine and you can always get decaffeinated (small caveat, some decaffeinating processes use harmful chemicals. If you’re drinking anything decaf, check if a chemical process was used or if the Swiss water method was used)


So have I convinced you?

If you’re looking for something relaxing for this frigid evening (the wind chill is -10 here in Indiana!) put on a kettle (or warm up a mug of water in the micro) and settle in with a cuppa and the Downton Abbey season premier, which you can find at PBS.org.

And if you need something sweet with your tea check out this amazing recipe:

Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles. So quick and simple.


Are you as obsessed with Downton Abbey as I am? The fashion alone makes the show worth watching not to mention the addictive drama and the oh-so quotable Lady Violet.

Tell me your favorite thing about the show in the comments and let’s get a conversation going.


Now, if all that doesn’t put a little wonder in your week, I don’t know what will 🙂

Stay tuned for that powder foundation tutorial!

Love always,


Get Your Nails Did (Naturally)

As I predicted, I did not have time to try the homemade makeup recipe yesterday.

The odds aren’t looking a whole lot better today. Tomorrow I don’t have any music lessons so I’m determined to get it done then.

For today, I wanted to share something similar but even easier. I love doing my nails. I’m not all that good at it but the recent discovery of Winstonia nail stamping plates and other such marvels have made it easier and lots more fun.

I received some for Christmas and have tried out several designs already.

I also received these skinny nail tapes. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m trying to cut out chemicals and live more naturally. Nail polish is one area I’m thus far failing at miserably.

Fortunately, there are a lot of toxin-free choices out there nowadays for the nail art obsessed. And these nail tapes are a great way to add a wow factor to an otherwise plain manicure, without any toxins or dangerous chemicals.

So, I’ve assembled a list of some great nail tape tutorials and ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Take a look, try some out and post the results. I tried one for New Year’s Eve and loved the way it turned out, but so far haven’t discovered the secret for making them stay put for more than a couple of days.

I’d love to see your results and read your tips so don’t be shy.


No Link Ideas (no tutorials but you’re smart)

These are killer

Pink Negative Space Nails | All Nails Everything

Love the idea of having a blank space in between- reminds me of a backless dress

Id just choose one design and so it for all of the nails

Very “Tiffany’s”

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Love the ring finger

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Blue and gold always look good together

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Looks great with upper finger rings

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Not sure I could pull it off but I love looking at it!

And the tutorials: (click the pic)

Easy! - Pella Zab

I love textured nails and this one’s easy and classy

Manicure Monday: Chevron Nail Tutorial at LuLus.com!


Would look great with other color combinations, too

And a couple of videos to make it even easier:

Black and Pink Tape Mani

Sea Foam and Gold with Pearls

(the pearls were a bit large for my taste but this one could be very cool with some adjustments)

Easy Striping and Scotch Tape Tutorial- Pink, Black, Silver

I Feel For Ya, Garfield

Monday. I hate Mondays.

Being in ministry, the weekends never feel much like weekends for me and Luke.

We don’t sleep in, we don’t rest and enjoy each other’s company, we don’t goof off and play Donkey Kong Country for exorbitant amounts of time. But I’m not about to complain.

Yesterday was a rare Sunday that we were caught up on what we needed to do (for the most part) and were able to spend some time lounging in bed after church and a nice lunch. We were back at the church at 4:00 to prepare for youth group and not home again until 7:30, but we both love the youth group kids and wouldn’t change anything.

All this to say; Mondays are the worst. Either 1) you do get a nice relaxing weekend and come Monday everything’s piled up and you so aren’t ready to tackle another week or 2) you had a productive weekend and worked steadily and you’re not rested enough to tackle another week. At least that’s how it feels to me.

So, to get to the point, today won’t be a super-involved post. I did want to share something I’ve been putting a lot of time and thought into, though.

As you know, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to live more naturally and healthfully. One of the ways I’m doing this is by kicking out chemicals and beginning to make my own hygiene, beauty and cleaning products. I decided to start with beauty products as that seemed like the most fun and immediately rewarding (something I need to keep myself motivated). I wanted an easy recipe to start with, and not too expensive. I found this free Kindle book on Amazon and am going to try out the Spicy Powder Foundation.

For detailed ingredients and instructions grab the Kindle book. If you’d rather try a recipe out first, you can follow my instructions and check back for pics and further tips later this week.

Ingredients: arrow root powder (or cornstarch if you KNOW your skin isn’t sensitive to corn or are willing to give it a try), cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg, turmeric, ground ginger

Instructions: Pour about a tsp arrowroot or cornstarch onto a paper plate. Slowly add other spices (about 1/8 tsp at a time) until you’re happy with the color. Test frequently on the back of your hand. Use your current makeup as a quick comparison. KEEP TRACK of how much you add of each spice. Write it down as you go. When you’re finished, save the recipe, give it a shade name and keep it for future use. Store it in whatever little container you have/prefer and apply with a kabuki or fluffy brush.

(this is a kabuki brush from a brand i like)

You can double the batch and use half for a creamy foundation. We’ll tackle that later on.


I’ll be doing that later this afternoon (or maybe later this week… my day is already getting away from me) and taking pictures to share the results with you, but for now I thought I’d share the recipe and see if you’d like to make this attempt with me. I also want to try out a super simple body scrub made from three kitchen ingredients.

Grl Look at Dat Body (Scrub)

click the pic for the original post for this scrub

As the author of “Kick Chemicals to the Curb” said, “If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on your skin.” 


So what do you think? Maybe it seems a little odd and hippie-dippy to you, but keep in mind there are so many benefits of living naturally and no real reason not to. We’ll definitely be spending more time on this subject, but in the meantime have fun researching and experimenting with all the ways to live more naturally by diy-ing and making things your own (I love that you can make all of these look cute and it feels good knowing you made it yourself. They also make great gifts!)

Hopefully this makes your Monday a little better 🙂

Love always,


UPDATE: Apparently the Kindle book now costs $2.99 but it is well worth it!

3 New Types of New Year’s Resolutions

Today is the second day of the new year but to me it feels like the first.

January 1st is always a travelling/unpacking/catching-up day because we make the trip back from my grandparents’. A large portion of the day is spent in the car and the rest is spent doing laundry, putting things away and lamenting the egregious amounts of food we ate the past two days.

This year, swollen ankles and an aching back made for an even lovelier New’s Year Day.

Complaints aside, I’m looking forward to jumping in to my resolution list. First off, I have to actually make the list. As I said before, I had a general idea of three things I wanted to focus on, now I need to narrow them down.

General Idea #1- Live more naturally and healthfully

I plan to do this by…

Making, almost exclusively, from-scratch meals

Eating the recommended 5 fruits and veggies per day

Cutting out chemicals and preservatives from food, household and beauty products

Making an exercise plan and sticking to it (more on that after the baby comes)

These will clearly be ongoing processes.

I can’t dump all my makeup and cleaners in one day and I haven’t been grocery shopping yet for from-scratch meals. This is more of a goal to reach by the end of the year rather than something to start today and stick with all year.

General Idea #2- Become more spiritually disciplined

I plan to do this by…

Having a morning devotion that includes straight up scripture reading

Having at least one set-aside prayer time every day

Listening to more worship music

Memorizing verses/passages of scripture

General Idea #3- Use time more wisely

I plan to do this by…

Starting the day with spiritual discipline routines

Making a cleaning schedule

Prepping, cooking and freezing more homemade meals

Planning out posts and editorial tasks

Doing Rosetta Stone lessons at least 3x a week

Finishing at least one book per month

Practicing guitar at least 3x a week (not including teaching time and worship team practice)


So there are my New Year’s resolutions. Pretty traditional approach. But maybe the traditional approach isn’t for you.

If that’s the case, look at these 3 new types of resolution lists I’ve come up with that might help you make this your best year yet.

#1 Try It List

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*Approach: Bucket List type *For: those who want this year to be more adventurous/want to step outside their comfort zones *Qualities: less stringent, more specific

HOW: Make a list of things you’ve wanted to try but made excuses, things you’ve been scared to try,  and/or changes you’ve been too uncomfortable to make. FOCUS ON: overcoming fears, being more adventurous, gaining experiences

#2 Less/More List

*Approach: Do This, Not That type *For: those who want a simple way to start new habits and kick old ones *Qualities: less stringent, more general

HOW: Make a list, divided down the middle, of things you want to do more of and things you want to do less of, in a more general sense. FOCUS ON: making small changes that lead to bigger ones; an ongoing process rather than a set of rules

#3 Year in Review List

*Approach: Taking stock *For: those who need encouragement and want to improve this year more than last *Qualities: less stringent, more reflective

HOW:  Look back at what you accomplished in 2014. Maybe you still have or know the previous year’s resolutions. How did you do with those? What other things did you accomplish that weren’t necessarily a resolution?  FOCUS ON: the positive. This is not a time to beat yourself up about the resolutions you didn’t meet, but  a time to reflect on the good things that happened and the ways you improved. Use that as a springboard for what you hope to accomplish this year. If you’re feeling pretty negative by the end of this list, resolution lists probably aren’t for you. (Bonus sub-category) Try making lists at the end of every week or every day of what you accomplished. As you do this, you’ll want to accomplish more so that you’ll have more to list by the end of each week (or day). Then at the end of 2015, you’ll have a much more positive Year in Review list.

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Remember not to get discouraged when you slip up. It’s hard to form new habits! Research says it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, and that’s if you’re practicing it every day. If it’s something like a weekly yoga class, it’ll take longer to get into the habit of exercising, so don’t give up.

Whichever way, make sure you’re focusing on things that will help you improve yourself and your experiences. It’s important to be able to look at ourselves honestly and acknowledge our shortcomings without being too critical. If you’re a believer like me, just remember that it’s how God sees us that’s most important. Try to look at yourself through His eyes, especially when you’re not happy with the results of your last WeightWatchers weigh-in.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’re entering the new year with a positive outlook and a renewed spirit.

Later this week we’ll talk more about ways to make the most of this new year, as well as have a fun tutorial and some recipes.

Love always,


P.S. If one of your goals is to become more spiritually disciplined, join me in memorizing a verse/passage every other week or so. Here’s a link to a list of 24 verses with pretty printables of each one to help you get started.

24 Bible Verses to Memorize and Study in 2015

my transition to a completely chemical-less beauty routine

I found this post super helpful and inspiring. I’m reblogging for my “Live more naturally and healthfully” New Year’s resolution. Check it out if you’re doing the same!

almost exactly blog

i’ve decided to put all of my knowledge and experience of going no-‘poo and dropping chemicals from my beauty routine all together. hopefully this answers a lot of questions and helps you guys 🙂 warning: LONG POST, but i think it’s pretty helpful. i hope you do, too!!

my transition to a completely chemical-less beauty routine

“wait, WHY do this??”
i chose to drop all chemicals from my beauty routine to be a healthier me. quite frankly, the cosmetic industry gives me the heebee-jeebees (seriously, check this & thisthis out). it’s really not regulated and products are FULL of chemicals that have been PROVEN to cause cancers and other bodily harm, like reproductive issues. uhh, No Thanks. 

our bodies know how to take care of themselves. we’re the ones messing it up by stripping it down, coating it, and filling it with man made crap that is in no way, shape or form good for us.

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