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Thankful Tuesday: My top 10

As expected, with Thanksgiving approaching, today's Thankful Tuesday post highlights the holiday.

My nature is to be reflective and considerate, giving Him the glory for my daily life. Since Thanksgiving of 2013, my life has changed... And, for the better. As I reflect today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Oftentimes, my posts may seem as though I nor my family have experienced trials. This could not be further from the truth. I have been sad, angry, and confused. We have lost, we have struggled, and we have been scared. Not just for a day, not just for a week, but for up to months at a time. I have prayed for guidance as to what to share and what not to share. I will continue to do so and share as God directs. Ultimately, we have been seen through to the other side of many our trials. And, you can be too.

Today's Thankful Tuesday could not have come at a better time. I am happy to think of the things I'm thankful for today versus the negative thoughts that were overtaking my mind. So, here are 10 things I'm thankful for. This list could go on and on and on... But, I won't do that to you! ; )
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Thankful Tuesday: BIG brother, little sister

A few weeks ago, my brother and sister-in-law took to the highway to travel home and I was thrilled to see them. Family gatherings are limited throughout the year, so we were glad to see them before Thanksgiving! 

In the past few years, these two have transformed themselves into fitness fanatics- the good kind of fanatic! hehe Just as I was writing this blog entry, Amanda posted a Transformation Tuesday photo. Perfect timing!

I couldn't be more proud of them and hope they both know how much I admire them for their dedication and work ethic.  The healthy lifestyle they share is just another connection in their marriage- I love it!
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Love remains

It's been a little over eight years since Travis and I stood in God's house, held hands and committed to love one another under God's guidance.

In that time, we have shared more than we ever thought possible. Our love has changed and grown, with some layers so deep nothing could uncover them. Knowing our feelings will only be understood by one another is a gift, one that only God provides. Our moments together aren't captured nearly enough, so every few years we have professional photos taken. We're not big on the selfies... Each time we look at these sets of photos we reflect on our past days and relish the present.

Our love has changed and grown, but it is ever-present.

We can't thank Megan Rhea Photography enough for her patience and letting us be a part of her art. These photos are us- today. There are quite a few pictures... It was hard not to post our full gallery.

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Thankful Tuesday: The ability to climb

"Life is a mountainous road. Highs, lows and curves come our way. But, I'm not worried. I'm a Southern girl ready to navigate that road."

Yep, I own that quote. At a young age I learned that in the blink of an eye, life can change... and does change. Those we love become ill, friendships fade, pain and fear attack, people disappoint us and the plans we make change. It's not fun to admit, but no one is exempt from the lows and curves that life hold. But, there's always something to be thankful for... God leads and gives us the ability to climb out of the lows back to the top, to see all clearer and the paths that lay in front of us and behind us.

A few years ago I was in a slump... I wasn't feeling well, had little energy, had gained weight and just couldn't seem to find the way out of the valley. I was still a happy-go-lucky girl but knew I wasn't fully myself. I knew I needed help so I turned to a fitness trainer. I didn't know it then but that was the first step to finding my way back to the peak. Then, just a year later, pain and weakness overcame me. I fell back into the slump. This time, I had the knowledge and ability to get back to the top on my own (with God's help, of course). Yes, it took longer, but there's no greater feeling than knowing I have the ability to climb.

Tomorrow may be the start of another slump. It's natural. But, I serve a mighty God who gives me the ability to find answers, find the will, and climb to the top. I have learned from each low, each curve that's come my way. I will always take lessons form those moments; otherwise, I can't grow. I am who I am from all those experiences and am thankful that I not only know how to navigate but want to navigate.
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Weekend Getaway + U by Kotex free sample

As the cooler air moves in and starts to settle, I become more and more anxious for a weekend getaway! The Appalachian Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway feature the best fall weekend destinations. From Blowing Rock, North Carolina to Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, you'll fall in love with the nature that surrounds you. Book a cabin in the woods and explore towns offering roadside restaurants, apple farms, gem mines and the best boutique shopping! The trails, views and other outdoor activities are a given! The mountainsides are covered in bright shades of red, orange and yellow. It's breathtaking. And, let's not forget front porch sitting, reading a book and sipping apple cider. I'm a sucker for dystopian stories... You'll always find me in the teen fiction section in bookstores. What can I say? I'm young at heart.

Book your trip now and grab these items to perfect your escape.
Pants  //  Sweater  //  Loafers (similar)  //  Earrings
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Thankful Tuesday: Short Moments, Monumental Impact

I'm blessed to be in a position that allows me to encounter so many people. Some, I have the honor of seeing regularly. Others, it's a one-time conversation.

There are people that have came into my life that I don't truly know, but have made a monumental impact in my being. Today, I celebrate them- the ones I will never forget despite brief encounters.
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Fall Preview: Get 'em before they're gone

Ah, the cooler evening air and foggy mornings are coming! For years now I have debated on my favorite season, claiming spring then fall then spring again. Well, I've finally settled on fall. The colors that fill the landscape are warm and inviting and the personal style that accompanies the season does the same.

Here is a fall preview! I've put together a cozy, relaxed look complete with two shoe options. Aren't those oxfords adorable? Some items are on sale, so hurry before they're gone!


Happy Shopping!

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Thankful Tuesday: Extra Ordinary

"with no special or distinctive features; normal."

"more than is usual or necessary."

A Friday night date to many is another Friday night date. But when your special someone works odd hours and typically works weekends, the actuality of a Friday night dates becomes a holiday. You may think we would do high-class or exciting things on our Friday night date, but we're just the opposite. Our Friday night date was simply extra ordinary, normal. An hour drive to the tri-cities, a visit to the mall, an added stop to the bookstore and dinner at our favorite restaurant completed our Friday night date.

Our days consist of typically passing one another, making brief phone calls just to say "I love you" and occasionally grabbing a quick lunch. So our Friday night date was much needed. The simplest of tasks, like going to the bookstore, was extraordinary to us. Enjoying our favorite meals and only talking about our amazing food were extraordinary to us. While we don't have "regular" schedules, the time apart makes our time together extraordinary.

It's always been my nature to take in the basics of life. An ill father, religious upbringing and hands-on parents contributed to that nature. Having lived away from my family and having limited one-on-one with my husband has only amplified my awareness of how special the simple actions in life are. Time in silence enjoying nature, sharing laughs and small talk are just as meaningful to me as going to a long awaited concert. Our minutes are measured.

Today, I am thankful for the lifestyle we live as it only makes the basics memorable.

Yes, I will fail to recognize life's simple pleasures at times. But, someone always shows up just in time to remind me to open my eyes and my heart. I bet you know who that someone is.

Be grateful for all moments and make the extra ordinary extraordinary.

God Bless.


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Thankful Tuesday: Husband

Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:2-3

I remember when our eyes first met. His were deep blue and intense. He didn't blink. It seemed nothing could break our gaze. Today, we still share that lock, but on an even more intimate level. He knows me in and out, including when to pick me up, when to dig deeper, when to be quiet and when to laugh. He also knows how to aggravate me like no other. I am thankful for it all, even those irritating times. Sometimes, I even find myself hoping he will pick on me because it's his love. Maybe we shouldn't tell him my true feelings though... ; )

Eight years of marriage have brought more than we ever expected, thought possible or knew we wanted. We celebrated our anniversary just two weeks ago typical Fannon-style with a concert and sand and sun. Eight years has also brought trials upon trials. Marriage is not to be entered lightly. From sickness to bad times, we have been hit, but we've risen above. It may have taken time but we've overcome. We've let each other down more times than we can count, but we've also lifted one another up more times than we can count. We are not perfect and never will be. Glory be to God for helping us learn, recognize our faults and reveal strengths along the way. I continue to pray for guidance for days to come.
Our 5 year anniversary

No amount of praising seems to do justice to the gratitude I feel to God for blessing me in my marriage. The trials have strengthened my trust in Him and He has helped Travis and I to grow in ways we didn't know existed. It's a powerful thought, knowing love can prevail. Patience, patience, patience is a fundamental in marriage. Patience for yourself, your husband, your family, friends and others.

Prior to our wedding day we met with the pastor to officiate our ceremony. One principle he said has never left my mind and never will.
"Never go to bed angry."
I have broken this principle once. I was disappointed in myself and never want to feel the sadness that accompanied that fault. There's nothing like beginning and ending a day with a smile from your spouse. If you're entering marriage, abide by this principle.

Marriage is constant, ever-growing and a contract among three. God is to be first.
Photo by Jessica Leigh Hood Photography

To my husband, I am thankful for you always, more than you know I'm sure. I crave your smiles, embraces and gazes and look forward to the new nicknames we'll share as our relationship grows. I love you!

To those entering marriage: be patient, be forgiving, be loving and be thankful.

May God bless you!

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LET'S GET AWAY + U by Kotex free sample

There's just about nothing I look more forward to than getaways and particularly those in the summer time. My ideal dream getaway isn't so much about a location but about relaxation, fresh air and quality time with loved ones, especially the husband. But, hey, the beach is a pretty good compromise.
So, what are my must haves for my getaway bag?
I have been on the search for THE perfect getaway tote. Not too big, not too small, light weight, a personality and comfortable straps. Ding, ding, ding. I found it!

READING MATERIAL // JOURNAL  //  HEADBAND (similar)  //  SUNNIES (want)

Hydrate your hair and put your best smile forward.

No weekend getaway is complete without the perfect travel wear. I've invested in so many of these J.Crew sweaters. They are so light, soft and comfortable. Throw on a pair of relaxed denim shorts and a necklace to amp up the look and you're good to go!
Very rarely is any getaway just me and the hubs. What happens when an unwanted friend comes along on your vacation? You know, the one that is always bugging you, making you go to the bathroom 20 times a day and ruining your style? Wait, what? What did you think I was talking about? Oh, that "friend"... your period. You don't have to be bugged, check yourself over and over or sacrifice style any longer ladies. U by Kotex is the answer.



Introducing new U by Kotex® Ultra Thin Pads with 3D Capture Core*, "a one-of-a-kind center that locks away wetness to help stop leaks." There are plenty of options: Cleanwear® pads, AllNighter® pads and Security* pads.

These pads support U by Kotex's Save the Undies campaign. That's right, Save the Undies. How many undies has your "friend" ruined? Too many of mine! These pads may look like a science experiment, but that's the point- science. A product that protects and absorbs is what we gals need, plus as comfortable a feeling as possible. "That time of the month" is bad enough... make it better with the right products.

Want to give U by Kotex a try? Visit U by Kotex and find the samples that best fit your mission to Save the Undies. Click on the “Get Sample” button and enter your mailing information. Then, sit back and wait, your samples will be on their way!

So pack your bag, dress your way and Save the Undies!

And don't forget your U by Kotex free trial.

Until next time!

Huge thank you to Kotex for sponsoring today's post and helping me #savetheundies!
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"DO YOU WANNA GET ROCKED?"

My answer?

"Let's get, let's get, let's get, let's get rocked!"

My closest friends know another side to me- rocker. I'm actually a hard rock kinda girl. But, there's nothing like 80's rock. Aside from the voices, lyrics, instruments and crazy antics, the wild hair, short shorts, ripped tees, acid wash jeans, and tight leather can't be matched. Travis's favorite band of all time is back on tour. Who could pass up the chance to dance to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" being sung live by the one and only Def Leppard? Not us!

The band's songs are legendary. They're rock anthems. Seeing the one and only Def Leppard perform live... it's hard to put into words. But, let me tell you this. The concert was an experience like no other. It was perfect. The lights, the sound, the energy and the talented musicians made for an unforgettable night. When the curtain dropped, the amphitheater erupted and all there forgot their worries and next day commitments. We can't forget Joe Elliott's accent either! Hearing him say "Guitar," "Drums" was like stepping back in time into another life. I wonder... are we kin folk? Elliott is my momma's family. ; )

We left, slowly, as I could barely move from dancing (hard), our hearing didn't return until the next day and our voices were raspy for two days. Now that's an experience. I'm pretty sure we'll never be the same. I've never seen Travis cut loose that much, sing that much nor smile that much. I captured him on video but I'll spare him and not share (this time).

So any who know about this tour know that KISS is a main draw. We were one of those couples that stayed just to see the band's show and to say we've seen KISS perform live. I know many hail KISS as THE rock band, but we think otherwise. Then we were outta there for some R&R.

Dancing to Def Leppard perform "Pour some Sugar on Me," "Hysteria" and at least 10 other hits live in concert (checked off the bucket list).

I apologize for the poor photo quality and lack of photos. Cell phone only + too much dancing = photo fail.

This kid intruded on almost all my photos...
This is what happens when I try to be "hard." I end up laughing and looking awkward. 

Y'all keep rockin'!

'Til next time!
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FITNESS FRIDAY: CARDIO + STRENGTH


Yesterday I challenged myself, pushed my body harder to test my gains since I've returned to fitness. It was indeed a test but I surprised myself at how well my body and mind performed, at the strength and energy I now have. That's not to say anyone within 100 feet couldn't hear me panting...

It was a gorgeous evening; a crispness was in the air. Why not enjoy it and get outdoors?

I placed the kettlebell (10lbs) and weights (5lbs) at the bottom of the first row of stadium stairs. I left an exercise mat at the top of the last row of stadium stairs. Be sure to use weights appropriate for you. Walk vs. run if needed (I mostly walked). The stadium has four rows of stairs, thus I labeled stadium stairs as "4 sets" in the graphic. I also suggest substituting ab exercises that work best for you. I've found that what works for me doesn't really work for my husband. Warming up is key, as is stretching and hydrating, so don't skip those steps.

Don't know what an exercise is? Visit bodybuilding.com. There, you can search exercises by name and read descriptions and even watch how-to videos.

As a reminder, this is my journey in fitness. You're welcome to come along. But, I am not a licensed fitness trainer or expert, so please use your better judgment and consult a physician.

May God Bless You
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A TALL GIRL IN A NOT SO TALL WORLD

Today's post was inspired by my trip to the gym this evening. So, you're probably wondering, "where are you going with this?"

Lately I've felt taller than usual... am I getting taller or are people getting shorter? Or, is it just a feeling and not reality? My 5'11" frame struggled at the gym tonight and I couldn't help but think of the goods and bads that tall peeps face. I got so tickled over my challenges today! Enjoy!

The struggle is real...
- Exercise mats are a good foot too short. I have to choose if my calves and feet hang off the mat or my head... I'm sure you know which I choose.
- A gym bench is too short... lying down means I tend to fall off...
- My head is not in view in most mirrors in public restrooms... I have to squat or bend forward to see my reflection.
- Low ceilings and especially low ceilings with fans + tall peeps = ouch
- It's hard, okay, pretty much impossible to hide in crowds.
- Jeans/pants shopping is a nightmare.
- Shopping for shorts is pure torture.
- High rise is more like mid rise. I won't even share what mid rise and low rise are like...
- Peplum tops just don't fit.
- Crop tops are like bathing suit tops.
- I often have to buy fall/winter tops one size larger so the sleeves actually touch my wrists.
- My husband (also tall) and I go through body soap in a matter of a few days... we need more, ya know?
- I won't even address the pains of riding in cars/airplanes that just aren't meant for anyone over 5 ft.
- I no longer know what good posture feels like. I have to bend down so often just to hear what people are saying...

After all that, and that's not all of the struggles, I wouldn't trade my height for anything! Y'all know the benefits, right? My height allows me to do much on my own which provides a wonderful sense of independence and capability. It's also easy to describe then identify me: "tall, blond." And, sure, there are many others, but I'll spare you.

Thanks for reading!
God Bless!

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WHEN GOD SPEAKS

God is real.
God is alive.
God is here.

These three things I know to be true. These truths were placed in my mind and heart and I want to share these truths with you. Do not doubt these truths as I have felt His presence, I have heard His words and I have seen His works. And, I continue to feel, hear and see. 
He will not cease.

It's not easy to always do as God desires. You can be conflicted. We are faulty. The devil challenges us with every thought, feeling and action. Do not fear though as God loves you. I challenge myself and you today. When God speaks, listen. Yes, I have faulted. I have not thought, felt or acted as God has directed me. When I have faulted, I have immediately felt the repercussions. More than anything, I felt disappointed in myself and ashamed. Fortunately, God's love is never-ending. Being the recipient of God's love is a privilege. I made a commitment to embrace His love and share His love. None can love as God, but we can strive to do Him proud.

Do you listen when He speaks? I am not perfect. You are not perfect. But, take the time to embrace Him and listen.

His words and desires for you can come in subtle ways, or it can come like an unexpected wave engulfing you, filling your body and leaving no part untouched. When your heart begins to pound, when the chills cover your body, when your mixed thoughts turn to one, listen. When you hear Him speak, when His words enter your mind and you feel as though hundreds of arms are wrapping you in love, listen. Fall to your knees. Raise your hands to Him. Turn your thoughts to Him.

God is real.
God is alive.
God is here.

Acknowledge Him. Choose Him. Live in Him.

"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

God's love conquers all, wins all. Let His love lead you. Listen, for I know that God is real, God is alive and God is here.
Image of LOVE WINS I
SS Print Shop

May God Bless You


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THANKFUL TUESDAY: FAMILY LOVE

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day celebration!

Travis and I were so lucky to be able to spend the 4th and 5th together. We're usually lucky to spend one to two holidays together a year, but we've amazingly been side-by-side for the past several holidays.  To celebrate the holiday we did the family thing. You know, cookouts, music and fireworks.

Saturday was all about the sun. Locals, if you've never been to Natural Tunnel State Park's pool, go!

The next day was the best Sunday fun day! Front porch sittin', bean stringin', and berry pickin' were the agenda for the day. It's not just family time at its finest, it's Southern family time. 

We created and shared memories that day as many families did. The sound of breaking beans was soon muffled by our voices reminiscing of the days not so long ago. Before my adult years, I lived on a family street- my grandparents across the road, my great-grandmother beside our home, and uncles on the hill. Summer colors filled the garden as veggies galore grew up and out.  My maternal grandparents and great-grandmother have passed, but their doings and sayings are still fresh in our minds and hearts. I remember many summers of sitting under the carport stringing and breaking beans, watering my great-grandmother's flowers, the smell of pickles souring the air, and family tending to the beans, peppers, lettuce, and cucumbers that would soon feed us for weeks and even months to come. As my fingers grew rough and sore from handling the beans, the presence of my family passed grew stronger. We shared stories much like my grandfather or "papaw" loved to do.

One was told of my papaw searching for seeds to fill the garden soil all with oxygen and a walker in tow. My mother accompanied him and feared for his health. She wasn't wearing the best of shoes and blisters wore on her feat as she followed him row after row. She dared not say a word though as his smile was as big as ever. Another soon followed of my grandmother stumbling across a snake and screaming for help, and a third of my great-grandmother sitting on her back porch watching the days unfold. I could see each scene as if it were playing on a movie screen. They were Christian as Christian could get- they loved all and shared that love and I was lucky enough to receive that love for as long as I did. 

Picking blackberries with my parents was new to me. I had never braved weeds and spikes just to get that perfect berry. Wild blackberries = deliciousness! We wore rain boots to block potential snake bites, gloves, and smiles all around. Yep, this is country livin'. The air was filled with giggles, "ouch" and "ahhh." It will be a memory shared years down the road.

I'm blessed with parents that honor family and make memories effortlessly. 

What's a better time to honor family, love and all we have shared than during a holiday weekend that celebrates America? I'm thankful for those that served and serve today, for the men that fought to give us this life and for the men and women that work and fight to protect it. Without them, my memories would be different. Many of my family served, including my grandfathers and I'm proud of their contributions.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, embrace those you love and those who love you. No better memories are created than those built on love. A simple blackberry picking is all you need! Be genuine. Take advantage of what we as a nation have.
May God Bless You and God Bless America!
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BEAUTY PRODUCTS THAT MAKE "THE" DIFFERENCE

As I approach the end of my twenties, I am taking steps to take better care of my skin. I know many say your thirties are the best years of your life, and I am actually looking forward the big 30.
But, my skin may not be up to the challenge without a little help! I can see and feel that my skin isn't quite as vibrant as it used to be. I've developed a few fine lines around the eyes, puffiness and redness. Now, the fine lines I attribute to smiling and smiling a lot, but they're there.

So, what's a girl to do? First, treat yourself to facials! Wow, I mean, wow! I just had my first facial last month... Why did I wait so long? Well, I was worried about the treatment aggravating my sensitive skin. You may have that same concern. I had no idea about the effectiveness of an acne facial. My skin is smooth, bright and the best part- less breakouts! So, go ahead, do it for yourself.

Next, invest in skin care products. It's so worth the $$$. I'll share my routine next week!

Now that I've shared the steps I took to improve my skin, let's talk other beauty products that can amplify your makeup/beauty look. Some even benefit your skin! These products truly make "the" difference! What girl doesn't want to put their best "face" forward?
1 - MAC Prep + Prime CC (Neutralize)
2 - MAC Prep + Prime BB Balm Compact
3 - MAC Brush Cleaner
4 - Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray
5 - Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer + SPF 50
6 - Crest 3D Whitestrips
7 - Eyelash Curler

So, let's begin my review! My favorite makeup artist at MAC suggested I try the Prep + Prime Color Corrector in Neutralize to help tone down the redness to my skin. The yellow tint to the CC is what makes this product work. And, yes, it does work! The red tone is neutralized and my overall makeup look is softer, brighter and lasts longer. Next, the BB compact is gorgeous- smooth, easy to build, and feels great on my skin. I use a tad bit darker shade to contour. It adds that "just kissed by the sun" look. The best part to these products- they're SPF 30.

Now, do you clean your makeup brushes and do so regularly? Well, if not, doing so will change your life. I'm not kidding! Regularly cleaning your brushes doesn't just make them last longer, it also makes your makeup go on smoother. It's also just better for your skin!

Okay, summer weather and makeup do not mix well. That's my experience anyway. Let's be honest, I sweat more and my makeup melts. For a while now I have searched for a product or products to aid in this problem. Urban Decay's All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray does wonders! My makeup lasts longer without being shiny. Just a few sprays and you're good to go! I've had no issues with this product clogging my pores or irritating my skin.

I'll talk more about Cetaphil next week, but I discovered Cetaphil's moisturizer with SPF via the Crowley Party blog. How cute is Alycia? Anyway, I've tried so many sunscreens for my face and all have wreaked havoc on my skin. Not this! This moisturizer is my substitute for facial sunscreen.

A girl's best feature- her smile! Brighten it up, ladies. If your teeth are sensitive I suggest you use a less powerful system.

Lastly, invest in an eyelash curler. When I say "invest," just buy one! haha
I know many ladies don't use one. It'll be worth the $.

These products will take your look to the next level. Their not pricey or fancy, just simple.

Give them a try!

God Bless!
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SUMMER BLING


1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5  //  6

Let's talk about bling, baby! Okay, I love jewels and all things shiny. I prefer, though, to usually wear one standout piece and be a bit more minimal with my other accessories. These pieces will work well to be that standout piece or to be built on.

Most items are jewelry with the exceptions of #3 and #5. I mean, how gorgeous is this chain belt from Zara? It's on sale for $15.99! The catch- it's a size 34. So, if you need it altered, it's an easy fix as the sides are elastic. Snip, sew and you're done. This head band would be just gorgeous paired with so many pieces- a flowy dress, skirt, blouse... And, it's gold. So, that's a no-brainer. Again, this piece is available at Zara and only $19.99!

All these pieces have just the right touch of color and bling with a vintage flair, which I adore. Most are also on sale, so they won't last long! Hurry!

Thanks for stopping by!

God Bless!

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LET'S GET FIT

Are you ready to bare all while lounging at the pool? How about just showing those legs in shorts this summer?

Well, I for one am not! For a few months now, I've slacked off exercise (other than walking a bit) due to medical tests and restrictions. That also means I've put on a few extra lbs and lost some muscle. : /
Now, it's time to get back to it! And, at full-speed!

I've mentioned the varying "sides" to me; well, when I'm in the gym I'm no longer the Southern belle.

I've shared workout suggestions in the past and many of y'all found the exercises to be effective without being overwhelming. I like to mix-up weight training with a little extra "oomph" to keep my heart rate up. Once a week, I will post a workout or series of workouts.

Remember, consult a physician prior to exercising. I am not a licensed trainer. I'm only sharing what works well for me.
So, you may not know what "superset" means. A superset is one exercise performed right after the other without rest. Visit bodybuilding.com for more details about supersets.

Here's how this workout works. To begin, warm up! 

Next, do 10 reps of bicep curls. Choose your weight carefully because you will fatigue faster without resting.  I chose 8lb weights. Immediately following those 10 reps, do 10 kettle bell swings. I suggest starting with a 10lb kettle bell. Next, do 10 bicep curls followed by 10 kettle bell swings. Follow this pattern for the entire workout. I rest 30 -60 seconds between sets (for example, between the bicep curls/kettle bell swings set and the hammer curls/kettle bell swings set). The kettle bell swings help maintain a high heart beat, add some variation to weight exercises, and give me that "oomph" I need in the workout.

I follow this workout with three to four ab exercises for three rounds.

For details on how to perform exercises, visit bodybuilding.com. There, you will find exercise descriptions and how-to videos.

Don't forget to enjoy your workout! I turn up the radio (Five Finger Death Punch, of course) and give it all I've got. Water is also a good idea. ; )

I will keep you updated on my progress!

God Bless!
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THANKFUL TUESDAY: SMALL-TOWN LIVING

As a teenager, I remember hearing "I can't wait to leave" and "I want to live in a city" (and others) from my friends and classmates. I never had those thoughts. I grew up with parents who showed me and my brother the beauty of small-town living.

Church on Sundays and other church functions during the week, rides in the mountains, family gatherings,  smiles and hugs among most I saw, and a bit of "self-doing" were my life. I didn't grow up hearing sirens daily; instead, I heard coal trucks or trains blowing their horns as they hauled coal to its destination. My parents arrived home after a day's work within ten minutes, not one hour. I graduated high school with friends I had since kindergarten. I felt safe, loved and comfortable.

Sure, there were times when I wished that everyone didn't know everyone (and everything about everyone). But, that changed when I made the move to a city. At first, it was a bit freeing. But, in a very short time, I realized my heart longed for home. For three years, I walked into restaurants not knowing a soul, lived among the unfamiliar, and shared my usual smile or "hello" with strangers with nothing in return. I didn't dislike that life; it just wasn't me.

I'm blessed to be back to small-town living where I'm approached with a smile, chit-chat in the grocery store, and have an extended family. Ma & Pa shops line the streets, American flags are proudly displayed, and dining is at its fining in my small town. What's better than a cheeseburger, fried cheese sticks and pickles and an ice cream for dessert? And, at the end of the day, families sit on their porches sharing stories while the sun goes down behind the mountains. While some may cringe at the thought of living near family, I'm greeted with a smile and wave each morning by my grandmother living next door.

At the heart of small-town living is comfort, love, laughter, family and friends, community, and the word of God. Even more so, it's Southern Appalachian living. And, let's not forget about the views.
We're each different and I'm not knocking city living. I'm so proud of all I know (and don't know) who thrive in that environment! 

But, I will always be a small-town girl. I live in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and this is where my heart is.

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SOUTHERN GRACE

 
Dress  //  Earrings  //  Bracelet  //  Shoes (Steven Ravesh-sold out) (Similar)

I don't think I will ever get used to seeing photos of only myself, but it's easier when the images are easy to love. The last year was filled with the unknown and I lost a bit of myself. These pictures were taken just days after learning good news! When I look at these pictures I see a young woman at peace.

There are many sides to me, which you will see in my posts, but at the core I am a Southern girl with a touch of grace. This outfit is the perfect expression of this part of me. This Betsey Johnson dress is the definition of grace with its soft yellow color, white and yellow embroidery and lace overlay. I felt like a Southern belle in the dress paired with BaubleBar x Anthropologie earrings and my grandmother's rings. There are many new arrivals that scream southern, summer and elegance at betseyjohnson.com, so visit the site soon!

Thank you to Megan Rhea Photography for the gorgeous images! Be on the lookout for more from this talented gal.
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THANKFUL TUESDAY

Have you ever heard of family members saying one thing they're thankful while sitting around the dinner table? No? I've seen this happen in movies so it must be "a thing." No? ; )

Well, since my blog is more of an "anything, everything" platform, I'm starting a new series called "Thankful Tuesdays." I love sharing whatever is on my mind, or whatever "tickles my fancy." In this series, I will share one thing I am thankful for... it won't always be so serious.

As ya know, Sunday was Father's Day. So, for my first entry in this series I'm going to talk about my daddy. I could write a book on all I'm thankful for from him, but I'll keep it simple. 
I'm thankful for my daddy, for all he's taught me.
- Geography
- Mechanics
- Plumbing
- Carpentry

And, the loves I now have because of his influence.
- Science Fiction (Travis just doesn't get it...)
- Nature
- Knowledge
- Muscle Cars (anyone want to buy me a 69 Camaro SS?)
- Exploration

My father is a man full of random knowledge. He's inquisitive and I have a bit of that information-seeking mind. I value his fact giving more each day. He was a forest fire fighter and loves the outdoors. When he felt well, every weekend meant car rides on backroads exploring, learning and bonding.

I learned confidence, self-sustainability, and perseverance from him. Despite an illness, my dad always finds a way to "be there" even though it may not be in person.

Most of all, I'm thankful for the example he set of trusting God, always.

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THE PROMISE

"Our God is an awesome God" is on repeat. All I can do is smile and sing this song. I'm putting my fingers to the keyboard to share why.

About a month back, I shared a bit about my recent struggles with pain, tingling and numbness in my upper extremities. It can get very intense, but usually subsides after a few days/weeks and returns to a lesser degree. The preliminary diagnosis is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which sounds way worse than it is! We also know I have bulging discs in my neck. But, a brain MRI revealed something I didn't expect- a small lesion or plaque. The lesion could signal a few things: Alzheimer's (unlikely considering my age), migraines, or Multiple Sclerosis

But, my eyes kept going to the words "Multiple Sclerosis" that were repeated on the report. The plaque was described as consistent with MS. The more I read, the more upset I became. I was nervous. I was scared.

My symptoms are consistent with MS and the disease was all I had on my mind. The brain MRI results meant I needed one more test. After a "tour" of MRIs, blood tests, EMG and others, next up was a lumbar puncture. We needed to rule out MS. The doctor referred to the need for the test as being to "rule out" MS, not diagnosis MS. That approach was some comfort.

But, worry was overtaking me. I couldn't help but to think of me, my family and the future I envisioned, sans MS.

Sunday morning I woke up with a cough and had no plans to attend church. But, as time went on, I kept looking at the clock debating if I had time to get ready for church and finally got in gear. God was leading me.

The guest preacher began the sermon with 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

A smile came across my face. 

The preacher also sang "Amazing Grace."  When he sang "Good has PROMISED good to me" I knew then that all is and will be okay. Nothing is finished until it is good. I am so thankful for His grace. God reminded me of His promise.

Friday came and I headed to the hospital. I was very nervous about the procedure as I had only heard horrible things about the process. But, let me reassure anyone who may have this upcoming that the procedure is not painful. I just felt pressure. The fluid withdrawal took no time and I was in recovery. I felt good about the results. I knew whatever may come that God has promised good to me. That doesn't mean I wasn't nervous about a "different" life if it was to be, but I knew I could do it.

I was told to call the physician's office for the results. So, I did. The nurse said the doctor would call if the results were abnormal. Otherwise, I would receive a paper report. Well, you might have inferred from my intro that I received a paper report in the mail. My test results are NORMAL! When I received the report I kept reading each page over and over looking for "abnormal." But, it's not there. The only word repeating is "normal." I finally told myself, "it's normal" and praised God.

My tears of fear have turned to tears of joy.

 God has promised good to me.

My husband, family and friends have prayed for me and I am so thankful. My trial is small compared to others. But, I have faith that He will provide no matter what.

Our God is an awesome God!

No matter your struggle, don't let it live your life. You live your life. And do so with Christ. Words from my parents, btw.

Praise God and God Bless!
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CASUAL SUMMER DAYS ON A BUDGET

Now that the summer rays are here to stay for a bit, you may be in need of some new goods to get through the long days. But, goods don't always come "cheap." Here are some goods on sale and other affordable pieces perfect to get you through a summer day, even a cooler night. While all these pieces come together for a complete look, they also serve as basics/neutrals to mix and match! All pieces also have a relaxed, beach vibe.


3 - Chambray Jacket (Belk) M & L only ($30)
Chambray Jacket (ModCloth) ($49)
4 - Shoes
5 - Shorts
6 - Tee

I don't know about you, but a long day in the heat calls for easy pieces. The Chambray Jacket is the softest jacket I've ever felt. It's the perfect weight to carry me through early fall. These shorts are my all-time favorite for functionality. They aren't too short and are also very soft.

Looking for more tees? Check out Stately Type for tees with your state name. The VA tee is available for pre-order. I LOVE this design. The company also has country tees. This is my favorite!
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BEAUTY BUY

This was a good weekend! Why? It was filled with two of my favorite things: shopping and mail day.

First, my sweet husband sensed I needed a day out and battled the rain to take me shopping. The following day, my momma and I headed for a girls day out which meant the car was filled to the top with purchases. That's the only way to shop. Right? Well, we did buy furniture and home goods, so that takes up quite a bit of space. I'll be sharing details of the house soon now that we're settled in.

But, for today's post, I'm sharing my beauty favorites. During my shopping trip, I stocked up on beauty products- some I've used regularly and others are new to my product family.
 MAC Matchmaster Foundation
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
Anastasia Beverly Hills Duo Brow Brush (#12)
Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Undereye Concealer

First up: foundation. I've tried many products and I am happy to say I'm in a long-term relationship with MAC's Matchmaster Foundation. I have sensitive, oily skin. This foundation provides coverage but isn't heavy. In fact, it's the lightest I've ever used. I suggest using two shades: one shade for all over and one shade darker for contouring.

I was using another brand of concealer but wasn't satisfied. Then, during the move, I found a tube of Lancome's Effacernes Waterproof Undereye Concealer in my makeup stash. Why did I stray from this? It's outstanding. It covers well, is waterproof and leaves my skin soft and smooth. Did I mention it's waterproof?!

Now, to a product new to my collection: Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade. I've read and watched many reviews of this product but was concerned with the "pomade" factor. I have naturally blonde hair which means my eyebrows are very light. They are my "sore spot." After watching Alycia Crowley's review of The Crowley Party blog, I took a chance on it. And, I'm in love. One thing I learned immediately is to use a very small amount. It goes a long way. From the color to the consistency to the application, it's superb. I wanted the duo brow brush #12 but had to settle for #20. I'm on the lookout for a #12 in stock. #20 is not angled.

Looking for a highlighter?
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish (Lightscapade)

Look no further than MAC's Mineralize Skinfinish. It's perfect for summer with a hint of shimmer.

What are your latest beauty finds?
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ONE-PIECE SWIMSUITS TO LOVE

Now that the summer heat is here, it's time to head to the pool, lake or beach! Or, maybe all three! ; )

Last year I posted one-piece swimsuits that were figure flattering yet appropriate for a twenty- or thirty-something. Y'all loved the suits so I'm doing another.
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SUMMER DAYS: STRAIGHT AHEAD

I think we can safely say "goodbye" to colder days for the next few months! With that, we say "hello" to summer days filled with warm rays, days at the pool and outdoor adventures. Here are my necessities for beating the heat.

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YOU'RE NOT FORGOTTEN

Today is a day for remembering and honoring the brave men and women who gave it all for you, for me, for us.

Please take a moment to pray for family and friends that lost loved ones.

Thank you.

And to those that serve(d).

I pray for you and say 

"thank you."

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"DON'T STOP, THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW"

Two months have passed since I've posted. I've missed recording and sharing my blessings. It feels good to have my fingers moving across the keys typing for pleasure.

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BACK AND EVEN BETTER

Last post I mentioned how eventful and busy the past few weeks have been. Let me fill you in.

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LUCK OF THE IRISH

Finally... It's been way, way, way (you get the point) too long.

It's been an exciting, eventful, busy few weeks. Last week was spring break and I decided to embrace the "break" component and took one! More about that in a post to come.

It's St. Patrick's Day! Today is yet another reminder of just how blessed I am. A few years ago (or maybe several years ago) my dream of traveling to Ireland became a reality. Visiting this serene country still feels like a dream. The welcoming people, the majestic scenery, and the monumental remains of time long ago will never be forgotten. 
Kissing the Blarney Stone proved more difficult than expected.
Blarney Castle

So, how am I celebrating? Well, today is a Monday and it's the first day back from break... so... that means I'll be drifting off to dreamland in no time. But, I've thought about my experiences, what St. Patrick meant and still means to many, and the blessings bestowed upon me. I did wear green though, but today's cold rain meant a typical warm sweater. I may have also googled Colin Farrell for mcm. ; )

AN IRISH BLESSING
May the Irish hills caress you.

May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
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