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SUMMER BLING


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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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