Monday, June 6, 2016

Jenn Went Shopping Again: Vol 2.

Oh, Target. Youuuuu seductress.

Unexpected free time is dangerous, because the "home" button on my internal GPS is whatever Target I am closest to at the moment. And that's how all of this happened.

For starters, I walked in wearing the Targetest Targety outfit that ever did Target. The only thing on my body that I didn't buy from Target are the jeans. And, okay, the jewelry. But literally every thing else...good 'ol Tar-get.

Do you ever wonder if Target employees are suspicious of you when you walk in wearing so many Target things? This time, thankfully, most of my outfit isn't currently on the racks, but in the past I've absolutely gone back wearing a shirt I bought the day before. Hashtag Target Lyfe.

The madness (so fitting) began with this adorable Alice In Wonderland shirt. I'm currently reading Alice In Wonderland for funsies, and also planing a fall Disney trip and Disney shirts are a must. I loved the floral design (FLOWERS!) and the length in the back, so this was my first yes.

Next was a cute-enough tank with a pretty lacy trim that I found on a clearance rack. I could have easily added this as a cute staple to my closet, but it didn't overly wow me. And sometimes that has to be the deciding factor at Target, or I'd own the whole store.

This next shirt rode around in the cart with me for a while so I could decide what to do about it.

I was crazy about the cut - both belly and bra friendly with unique sleeves - but the print was too busy and really-really not me. I kept wondering whether or not I should step out of the box for it, especially since it was only $10, but I ended up putting it back.

Did I mention my little dude was with me? He is the best shopping buddy there ever was.

Next up, another tank. I loved the zipper in the back, but it was frustratingly just shy of bra friendly. Like seriously another 1/4 inch and it would have been great, but I didn't want to struggle with stuffing bra straps back in constantly, so this one stayed at Target, too.

I'm a sucker for a ruffle (thanks, MJC for that particular obsession) and I noticed some ruffly pieces in their new "wear to work" line or whatever it's actually called. I found this top and got all heart-eyed over it, but truthfully it photographed better than it looked in person. The fabric was really strange - like an obviously fake silk material, which made it hang a little oddly, and I questioned the ease of washing it. (If something is dry clean only or not dishwasher safe, that ish doesn't come home with me. Because it will be dirty for the rest of its life.)

I also suspect that I needed a smaller size - I felt sort of swimmy in this, so maybe the next size down would have done it for me, but at the end of the day I didn't have $25 to spend on another cute tank.

But man, it's cute isn't it.

Welp, I'll be stalking this for the next month. Cool job, me.

And finally....this shopping excursion is book-ended by things that actually did come home with me, because I could not say no to this:

This is not only the most comfortable hoodie in existence, it's the perfect weight for spring and summer, has this crazy unique and adorable cut on the sides, comes in the prettiest purple, and....wait for toooooootally legging friendly. It covers all the bits. A thousand yesses.

You win again, Target.

I at least managed to not come home with all of these things, and instead texted them to Matt letting him know that these would make great gifts because they were basically designed from my brain:


Before I close this particular shopping chapter, I'll fill you in on the fact that I also procured these leggings:

See, I do love the Lula every now and then. They just have to speak my language.
Which is flowers, obvs.

AND, Grove Collaborative is still woo-ing me with their wizardly organic products, and I can't even tell you why I am so ridiculously obsessed. My second shipment included...

Acure Organics Facial Toner Balancing Rose + Red Tea
Acure Organics Pore Minimizing Red Clay Mask
Acure Organics Coconut + Argan Cleansing Towelettes
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
Grove Collaborative Glass Spray Bottle

My next cart is filled with Mickey-themed soap by Method for the kiddos, and a razor that's made from recycled yogurt cups. No lies. (PS, you can still grab $10 off with my link up there, if you'd like it.)

Okay, time to put the wallet away again. Until next time ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Lifegiving Home (Review & Thoughts on Homemaking)

One afternoon, after being blessed with a sunny spring day, I went about my ritual of cleaning up the house before Matt comes home. I tidied up the living room, vacuumed the carpet, opened all the windows, set up a table fan for a light breeze, and lit a candle. My littlest guy was napping, and my other two were quietly playing with action figures, so I took a seat in my recliner and opened a book.

As I sat there, fully enjoying the feeling of that room at that moment, a thought came to mind. A simple, obvious one. 

"I created this environment. I set this up with my own hands and my own effort, and it's kinda cool that we can craft an atmosphere like that."

I can't tell you why I had those particular thoughts or why they came to me that way, or even more simply - why that never occurred to me before? There was just something in that moment I chewed over. This idea of being an environment crafter - an atmosphere creator - it energized me for some reason.

One way to make peace with chores, and a review of The Lifegiving Home by Sarah & Sally Clarkson

I kept that nugget tucked away, not knowing exactly what to do with it, until I started struggling again with caring for my home.

It really goes against my nature to constantly stay on top of chores and homemaking, and when I do, and my hard work is demolished by the life of little ones, I am left feeling endlessly defeated. I kept wondering if I would ever make peace with housework, or if there was another way to approach homemaking other than the two operational frequencies I've noticed (and lived.) Those being: you either live a sloppy life and try not to care about it, or you live a meticulous and tidy life and spend as much time trying not to be miserable as you are on the actual chores. And not even because chores suck, but because once you do them, and someone messes it up over and over again, you get really mad! (That is where obsessive coaster users are born.)

Wanting to do a little research on my quest for a happy medium, I picked up The Lifegiving Home (affiliate) by mother-daughter duo Sally & Sarah Clarkson. I didn't know anything about it other than what I could glean from the title, but it seemed as good a place to start as any!

When I first cracked the book, I was surprised to know that it had a heavy religious theme. That doesn't scare me away if it's done right - I am somewhat spiritual, and as long as you give actual useful information along with your testimony, I can roll with it. As much as I long both for a home church and a bigger God presence in my life, I don't want to feel cornered or like I've been smacked over the head with a bible while trying to do some personal development, yanno?

The Lifegiving Home Review & Thoughts on Homemaking

So anyway, at first I was pretty skeptical. Though I was totally into their descriptives of living quarters, and really related to what they were saying, I still felt like they were really going to have to sell me somehow. Mostly because of this quote, which was a quote itself from a book called Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge:
"[...]it was homemaking that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that man erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil."
When I read that I thought....hang on, you're trying to tell me that if I don't hurry up on those dishes, demons are going to sneak in through a mousehole? I know I'm simplifying here, but I really couldn't grasp this idea that being a Cinderella would keep us spiritually sound. I believe in loving others and serving them when you can, but why does that have to mean dirty, unrelenting and unrewarding grunt work?

Don't tell me sweeping crumbs off the floor ten times a day is keeping the devil at bay. 

Somehow, though, these ideas slowly leached into my thought process. Despite my cynicism, this was somehow becoming the best version of "this is your art" that I've ever heard.

I've tried to think of my home as a bustling business with me at the helm - running operations and making tough decisions.

I've tried to set goals, play games with myself, craft schedule after schedule to fit everything in while also being flexible, and I've even hired help. None of that furthers my pride in homemaking.

Yet two ladies describing to me the importance of setting the stage in each room of your home for love and life to bloom and prosper within spoke to the deepest recesses of my soul. 

It's a calling. I've been asked to do it. By - pick your force - God, the universe, fate, the human species, my husband, my family. I am given the opportunity, every single day, to create art in my home. Both in the decor, objects and settings that I craft, and in the interactions and experiences that they in turn create.

As I read along through the authors' personal experiences, ideas for things to do in my own home, and the importance of crafting a lifegiving home, I kept thinking back to that afternoon when I finally realized that it's kind of amazing that we are able to manipulate our environments and inspire gratitude and love. There is something deeply gratifying for me knowing that I'm the person who does that for my family. My husband and my kids (my favorite people on the planet) experience their environments because I crafted them. My friends and family come to visit and they think and feel a certain way because of what I've presented to them. And at any given moment, I can move a few things around and flip a switch or two, and make everyone feel like they're in a totally new (and maybe even indulgent) place.

The Lifegiving Home review & how to deal with chores

That idea spoke to me before I even picked up The Lifegiving Home, so to have it confirmed and presented in different examples was a really good thing for me. I think my struggle with making peace with dishes and laundry and picking up toys is that if I ask myself the question, "Will I feel like a million bucks because I got the dishes done for the third time today?" the answer is no, because they will be on their way to being dirtied again the second I stop. But if I ask myself, "Will I feel cozy and proud in my kitchen if walking in there feels bright and fresh?" the answer is yes.

The key is asking yourself how you want to feel. (Hello, The Desire Map, there you are again.)

My one issue with The Lifegiving Home is that as it moved along through the months of the year (which is how its chapters were organized), I felt like writing moved farther and farther away from the point. Their ideas were spoken in the first few chapters, and then they just kept explaining them in more and more personal ways, which felt a little counterproductive. No one will live their life quite like them, and honestly I think the average reader will feel intimidated by their family because they spoke of it with an air of perfection. And the amount of things they do and accomplish in their lives? Yeow!

But the book certainly helped me put ideas to a feeling, organize my disjointed thoughts on an area of my life I've been struggling with, and even inspired me to complete some projects and start some new traditions. If you can overlook or be objective about the rest, this book may be worth it for you.

A super simple tip to make your chores more appealing? Get products that will make you enjoy it even just a little bit more. My favorite go-to items are heavily scented candles (lighting one in a freshly cleaned room feels so indulgent), and my lilac scented dish soap. I am so crazy about lilacs that the scent, and a homemade embroidery piece hanging above my sink combine to make it a much happier experience. Sneak what you love into the mundane!

Grab a copy here --> The Lifegiving Home Paperback
Or load your kindle with it here --> The Lifegiving Home Ebook

PS - There is also a companion workbook that goes along with The Lifegiving Home called The Lifegiving Home Experience. It's meant to help you suss out some ideas for things you can do around your home and with your family to improve your environment and celebrate tradition in a 12-month format. Check it out (click the linky!) if that's your jam!

Monday, May 23, 2016


I'm going to go ahead and start this off with a big fat apology to the LuLaRoe lovers of the world. I know that this can get intense and emotional (as most shopping addictions do.) But I first want to tell you that I adore both shopping as much as you do, AND the feel of these leggings because my gosh....where has this fabric been all my life?

Hopefully you can see that I'm not trying to be a hater, here, and rather I'm just sort of stepping back from the fury for a sec to say.......ummmmmm, what?

Because for real - some of these patterns make me question a LuLaLover's sanity.

I feel like if we'd see mu-mu cut shirts with patterns of ugly colored horses on a rack at Target we'd all be like....da faq, Target? (With our shocked emoji faces on.) And instead, because they come with a rainbow square label and bitches will cut you just to post their PayPal email first, everyone eats it up.

So I just wanna say........WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Since when did we start going bonkers over Doritos dresses? Tell me, please - other than a launch party for a new Doritos flavor (and I can't even imagine how you'd get an invite to that), where would you be going that warrants adorning this dress? The chip aisle at the grocery store? A cosplay convention for The Flintsones?

I suppose you can argue that the patterns they use makes it so there's something for literally everyone. Like....

Are you into both the Illuminati and Hunting? There's leggings for that.

Or have you ever visited a Frank Lloyd Wright house and thought, damn it, I wish I could wear those windows on my legs? Boom.

Or, or.....for the fans of demonic Chihuahuas? You can now live in comfort as you tell the world about your creepy fetish.

There's even a shirt that doubles as self defense! You can hide this puppy under a sweater and if someone comes at you, flash them your shirt - insta-seizure. They'll be rendered useless.

To me, though? These patterns look like something on a clearance rack that you don't even want to part with $3 over. I truly love the solids and the florals that LuLaRoe pumps out, but these weird patterns that seem to make up the bulk of every seller's inventory are really confusing to me.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to fast track my way to looking like I've succumbed to dressing from the clothing section of Walmart, but paid a more boutique price for it. 

So where is all this rage coming from?!

There are legit adorable pieces to be had. I know, because I've gotten them. Like these three pair of leggings that I am obsessed with and rotate around constantly (ps, I need a pair of dark grey OS and will always be ready to pounce on an adorable floral if I cross paths with it.)

So tell me, LuLaObsessives - WHAT is the deal, here?

When did wearing soul-stealing Chihuahuas as a second skin on your legs become worth $25?
(Or $80, if you're ebay-ing your unicorn?)