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Peek Into Our Week: FlameFest Ball, New Hairstyles, Growing My Nails Out, SheSpeaks Conference, Family Roadtrip, and Homemade Latte!

Peek Into the Week

It’s been a full two weeks and I’m finally getting a chance to do a recap post… and wow is there a lot to recap!

I went to IL to speak at a Firefighter Wives’ Event called Flamefest. It was held at the Hyatt Lodge at the McDonald’s Campus (the McD headquarters, I guess?) Guess what kind of coffee they served at the hotel? Cracked me up to drink McDonald’s coffee from a McDonald’s cup — at a HYATT no less! 🙂

Peek Into Week

I was the keynote speaker at the Flamefest Ball on Friday evening, so I had fun getting dressed up for the occasion. 🙂 And I also learned a really powerful lesson about courage that night. Read it here.

Peek Into Week

I flew home Saturday morning. I was supposed to get in before lunch, but after multiple flight delays, I ended up getting back into town about three hours later than planned. But that’s just life sometimes, isn’t it?! I’m learning to roll with the punches… or at least I’m trying to! 🙂

On Saturday evening, we went to hang out with our good friends and neighbors, the Hodges. We spent the evening talking, laughing, sharing, and eating delicious homemade salsa and fresh-baked cookies.

While we were there, other friends dropped by to bring us all boxes of cookies and stayed to regale us with hilarious stories. Have I mentioned how much we are loving and being blessed by the community here??

Peek Into Week

Kaitlynn found a tutorial on YouTube for making homemade lip gloss with crayons and coconut oil and just had to try it. She made it almost entirely by herself — and it turned out really well!

This girl constantly impresses and inspires me… and I’m so grateful for the beauty and creativity she adds to our home and life!

Peek Into Week

Move over, Starbucks! I am so excited that I finally learned how to make her own DIY Breve Latte — without a Latte Machine. And it is delicious!! Get the recipe here.

Peek Into Week

It was cloudy and overcast one day… Perfect for snuggling up on the bed and reading chapter after chapter aloud together while the kids created with Legos. I love quiet, at-home days!

Peek Into Week

You know what warms my heart so much? It’s amazing young people like Kass Hodge who love on our kids.

We had another fun neighborhood get together at the Hodges house and while we were at their house, Kass gave Kaitlynn a makeover. You can imagine little fashionista Kaitlynn thought was the best thing ever!

I hope both of my daughters grow up to be as generous, kind, and warm as Kass is!

Peek Into Week

I began last week feeling a wee bit overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done, so I took a deep breath, made some Good Girl Moonshine and painted my now-growing-out nails.

It might seem weird to stop and do something like that when I had a long to-do list to tackle, but I’ve found that sometimes, when you feel like there’s too much to do, making yourself stop and breathe for 20 minutes is the best thing you can do. At least it’s definitely much better than hyperventilating! 🙂

{Also? I think I’ve discovered the secret to growing my nails out!! Not only does it involve keeping them painted in cute colors, but it also involves publicly blogging about your nail-biting habit. Somehow, going public with it, has made me much more disciplined about actually letting them grow out. And every time I look down at my longish nails, it makes me so very happy! So anyway, thank you all!}

Peek Into Week

We left six hours earlier than planned on Wednesday morning to head to North Carolina for me to attend the SheSpeaks Conference. There were storm clouds and rain much of the drive — which is my favorite weather to drive in!

I spent the drive wrapped up in this favorite blanket of mine, reading a good book, having discussions as a family, and getting in some blogging work since I was able to get good wi-fi in the car through my phone’s hotspot.

Peek Into Week

It’s really impossible for me to put into words just how blessed, refreshed, and filled up I was by being at SheSpeaks.

Spending time with these two women was one of the biggest highlights. Not only did we have deep conversations about heart things and struggles, but we also did a whole lot of laughing since both Edie and Ruth are hilarious — especially when you get them both together!

I think I’m sore from all the laughing we did, but it was so very worth it! We only wished that Edie could have stayed longer than just one day!

Peek Into Week

Lookee whose book just came out in paperback?!?! I’m so stinkin’ proud of my girl, Ruth Soukup, and all the amazing things she’s doing!!

Her book, How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul, is truly the BEST blogging book I’ve ever read.

It’s available as an ebook on Amazon or the new and expanded paperback version should be available on Amazon next week.

Peek Into Week

It was so fun to get to spend a little time with the amazing A.J. Gregory! She ghost-edited my last book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, and I’m so honored to be working with her again for my next book.

We’ve been mulling over the next book’s concept for months and are so excited to finally be ready to jump in and start the intensive writing process together. I think you’re going to LOVE the topic — or at least *I’m* super stoked about it! 🙂

Our plan is to have the manuscript finished by December 1 of this year and, if all goes according to plan, it should be in bookstores by the beginning of November 2015!

Peek Into Week

Listening to Michele is always a huge inspiration to me. I love her to pieces! If you’ve not had the chance to listen to her speak before, you are majorly missing out!

Peek Into Week

I won’t lie: the reason I went to SheSpeaks was because Ruth was speaking. So yes, I may have been having trouble containing my pride and excitement while she was up on the stage.

A few months ago, Ruth and I were talking on the phone. I was celebrating with her that she was going to be speaking at the SheSpeaks conference — a real honor to be asked to be apart of, but one Ruth was wholly deserving of.

Then she said something that I totally hadn’t considered, “You should come, too.”

Since I try to limit my traveling to only a few speaking/business trips per month, I didn’t think it would work out. However, my husband knows just how much Ruth’s friendship means to me and he concocted a plan to make it work, because he’s amazing like that. Truly.

His idea: we turned the trip into a family roadtrip/visit with my sister and her family who live nearby in South Carolina. While I was at the conference, he did fun activities with the kids and spent time with my sister’s husband and her kids.

Peek Into Week

These are some of the beautiful ladies I had the chance to get to know better at SheSpeaks. Courtney (who created the adorable Scripture cards above) is just a doll. Ruth and I instantly loved her! {Photo credit: Courtney}

{And notice my Cents of Style tee in the picture? I bought it during the last sale they ran on their t-shirt line and I absolutely adore it!}

Peek Into Week

One of the highlights of the conference was getting to see my dear friend, Renee, kill it in her morning keynote. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to know this woman in real-life.

This was my first opportunity to hear her speak in front of an audience, so I had to try to keep it together so I didn’t bust out with loud proclamations like, “Isn’t she AMAZING?!?!?” 🙂

Peek Into Week

I just LOVE these girls! Each one is a true gift in my life! Oh the laughter, memories, stories, deep conversations, love, heart-to-heart talks, cups of coffee, and experiences we shared at SheSpeaks! We may not have gotten much sleep, but it was so very worth it!!

Peek Into Week

We capped off the conference with a late night (and into the wee hours of the early morning) PJ party in a hotel suite most of us had shared together during the conference. It was a blast.

The above picture makes my heart feel like it just might burst. These women are some of the dearest women I know and we are committed to walking alongside one another in this journey and adventure of life. Their friendship is a true gift.

Peek Into Week

My family re-joined me at the hotel on Sunday and we spent the day sleeping and taking it easy before we drove over to meet up with my sister and her family.

All the cousins had a fantastic time being together. They are old enough now where they mostly play together really well and it’s so fun to observe them!

The dads took all the kids on Monday evening and Brigette and I went out shopping with a few gift cards we had. We tried to see how much we could get without spending any money out of pocket. We got some great deals, had a lot of fun, and only went a few dollars over the gift card amount at one store. Score!

Afterwards, we came back to their house, put all the kids to bed, made snacks, and then stayed up way too late watching a movie. I knew we could all sleep in in the morning, so it was worth the late night. 🙂

Peek Into Week

We got up late this morning, took our time getting around, and left for home around noon.

It was a mostly uneventful and relaxing 8-hour drive home: rocking my first messy bun (thanks, YouTube!), enjoying some yummy and fairly healthful snacks (who says the gas station only sells candy bars and soda pop??), listening to my favorite playlist on repeat, knocking out some blog projects thanks to more good wi-fi in the car, and soaking up the beautiful scenery.

All in all, was a great trip, but it’s also so good to be HOME!

We’re happy to be back for the rest of this week so we can spend time with friends here and catch up on laundry and sleep before we leave again for a trip to Arkansas and Missouri next week. 🙂

How was YOUR last week (or two!)? Anything interesting or exciting happen at your house?

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  • Rebecca Dula says:

    Where and when in Missouri? I saw you a few years ago in Joplin. I am in Springfield. You are such an inspiration! Plus, this is my first year homeschooling my daughter. Love all your homeschool freebie posts. Such a blessing.

    • Part of our trip will be celebrating Jesse’s Dad’s 60th birthday with all of his side of the family. We’re all heading to Branson for a few days of celebrating, memory-making, and fun together. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement!

  • Tam Hodge says:

    You pack a lot into a couple weeks!

    Welcome home, friend!!

  • Ai says:

    Sounds like you had a fun couple of weeks! How do you not get overwhelmed when there’s so many things happening one after another? Or maybe it just seems like that because you’re recapping.

    • There HAS been a lot going on recently… sometimes there are just seasons like that, you know?

      One thing that has been helpful to me is to be intentional about carving out at least 1-2 days per week where we have NO commitments and stay home all day long.

      Another thing that helps me is to just focus on that specific day and what needs to be done/accomplished that day — and then to trust God with the days to come. I’ve found that if I worry about how everything is going to get done three days from now or three weeks from now, it’s an exercise in futility. So I just work on living one day at a time and trusting God to be faithful to give me what I need for that day… and He always is so faithful!

  • Sarah says:

    I really enjoy how your posts have changed recently to be more personal. I’ve followed your blog since about 2008 I think. I was a newlywed and young mother and found your site. I live a about two hours away in Huntsville, Alabama. Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your site. If your looking for great nail polishes you should try Orly brand (Sally’s beauty supply has them).

  • Lana says:

    Because of your post on making homemade lattes I bought my husband an Aeropress for his birthday and he LOVES it! Years ago on a business trip to Michelin France he had espresso in the company cafe. He has reminisced about that coffee ever since. He made the first cup with the Aeropress and tasted it and his face just lit up. Just like Michelin France! He is one happy man and I was thrilled to have been able to buy him a gift that he loves.

  • Wow – I’m tired after reading about your week!! 🙂 That conference sounds amazing, but I’d love to know which conferences you’d recommend for a blogger who is just starting out and can’t invest too much money into expensive conferences. Any thoughts? Also, way to go on the nail painting!! I’ve been keeping mine painted since May and I haven’t been biting since! Cute, summery colors are the best! 🙂

    • Hmm, I think my best advice would be to see if you can develop a few close relationships with local bloggers or even a few online bloggers. I think there is a lot of value in going to some of the conferences, but that most of the value comes from the people you meet and network with. The sessions can be good, but the relationships are usually what ends up having long-lasting impact.

      So I’d focus on relationship-building with at least a few other bloggers so you can not only encourage one another, but also bounce ideas off of each other and get feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.

  • I just kicked off a no sugar no carb cleanse with the hubby. It’s been totally fun bonding and keeping each other accountable! And I am so gonna try that good girl moonshine too…it’s too weird not to! So glad you are enjoying your new home, and more importantly your lovely new nails. 😉

  • Cris says:

    I know this post was already long (and fun) but it would be interesting to see what kinds of bargains you and your sister got with the gift cards, like when you took Kaitlynn out to the mall for her birthday! Her hair looks amazing after her makeover by the way!

  • Congrats on the 2nd book! Very exciting stuff. 🙂

  • Deanna says:

    You have been busy but it sounds like having lots of fun! We are heading to Branson Friday-Tuesday. Meeting up with part of our family and will hopefully be hitting SDC if the weather cooperates! Love that place!

  • Dawn says:

    Ahhh Stuckeys. My grandfather was a pastor in SC all my growing up years and we made many a stop at a Stuckeys on our way to their house. Man that picture brought back memories for me!!

    BTW- I never commented on the fingernail post, but I bit my nails until I was in my mid thirties. I’ve had them long for about 10-12 yrs now I guess. The urge DOES eventually go away. And I LOVE my nails!! A good French manicure makes me so happy. Good for you for sticking with it!!

    • I don’t know that I’ve ever been to Stuckey’s before, but I was really impressed with their selection of items and prices — lots of snacks for $0.50!

      And thank you for the encouragement about working on kicking the nail-biting habit!

  • Tara says:


    Thank you for sharing these peeks into your life – makes the blog even more fun to read!

  • I’m glad you had such a good time with your friends, we all need friends like that! Your hair looked beautiful for the fireman’s ball but that was a little bit of a tease to not show us your whole outfit 🙂

  • Jody says:

    I don’t comment as much as I used to (new baby) but I still read everyday and I always love reading your blog, even more now with the more personal posts! And I love taking advantage of the deals you post (like the recent horse illustrated magazine). My son is about to try hippo therapy (horse therapy) so it was a perfect purchase for him in this season!!!

    Anyway I’ve learned so much from you and if there’s a purchase or an idea from you I want to try and I let my husband know I saw it on moneysavingmom my husbands always game, you’ve earned his respect from all the good stuff (tangible and intangible) our family has been blessed with as a result of your blog 🙂

    So now that my life is settling a bit into a good routine with my he daughter I’m gearing up to read Saying Goodbye to Survial Mode again! Excited you’ll have a new book in 2015 also…looking forward to it!

    I also had a quick question for you…awhile ago I saw you post about a gratitude journal and wanted to know if that was something still in the works? I saw it and was super excited about it! I saw it had the color theme of Saying. Goodbye to Survival Mode. The first time I read the book I remember thinking that would be awesome to have a companion journal with place for goals and priority list and a gratitude journal. Anyway glad to see you had an awesome couple of weeks!

    • Aw, you are so very, very sweet!

      The Choosing Gratitude Journal has a release date of August 1 and is available to pre-order on Amazon. We plan to do some fun things with it closer to Thanksgiving/Christmas, but if you don’t want to wait until then, you can go ahead and order it now on Amazon. Just to clarify, it’s only focused on Gratitude and not as a companion journal to SGTSM — though you could certainly use it as such. 🙂

  • michelle says:

    I love that card your friends gave you! Made me LOL 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    So your kids must be at the age where they entertain themselves in the car? All that free time to snuggle with your blanket and read has me feeling envious! We just traveled to CA with a 1, 4, and 6 year olds. I was exhausted from the 4.5 hour flight plus 1.5 driving, waiting for rental car, etc. My husband had asked oh aren’t you going to load some books on the Nook? Ha! no there’s no time for that with the three littles!

    • For the most part, they don’t need a lot of entertaining from Mom now that they are older… a few years ago, it was a very different story, which is why we mostly avoided car trips if at all possible. 🙂

  • Anne Hall says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your shift to include more personal posts. I feel like I have really gotten to know you better reading through them. Through these posts you’ve also given me lots of things to consider about myself and my life. And I thank you for that! These posts are challenging me to grow personally. I really appreciate that. Thank you for your transparency! It inspires me to be more transparent with those I am close to in my life and to develop deeper relationships with friends, old and new. Thank you!

  • Kim says:

    I love reading your weekly recap posts! I have 3 boys (ages 9, 3 & 1) and 1 (age 5) girl and needless to say we have more boy stuff in the house. My daughter is okay with it and she can hold her own in any wrestling match or rough housing, but my husband had been telling me that I should do more “girl” stuff with her. I think the homemade lip gloss that Kaitlynn made is just the thing! Thanks for the great idea!

  • Chelsea says:

    It seems like your heart is full- so happy for you!! Also- I wish I would have known you had never rocked a messy bun. I totally would do your hair in one. I was dubbed the messy-bun pro while in high school many years ago. Any hair type, texture, length- I was the goto! Yours looks great, of course. 🙂

  • Em says:

    Please be careful riding with your feet on the dash…if you are in an accident you will be seriously injured by the air bag. We need you around to help our lives, to make us smile and to be real 🙂

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