Ten Things I’m *Loving* Lately

It’s time for another Ten Things Tuesday

 

Here are ten things I’ve been *loving* lately (starting, of course, with the all-important coffee category):

IMG_0268.PNG

photo by Elah Tree

  • Nestle Coffeemate Chocolate Toffee Truffle Creamer – Do I really need to elaborate more than this name implies? I think not.
coffee

image via coffee-mate

  • Dunkin Donuts Caramel Coffee Cake Ground Coffee – All I’m going to say here is, “You’re welcome.” Plus, this coffee doesn’t have any sugar in it! Just delicious flavor. Also, side note: I get the impression it’s seasonal (as if we needed another reason to love fall), so get it before December!
ground coffee

image via walmart

  • Fall decorations via the Target dollar section – Tucker ate our last fall centerpiece which was a plastic pumpkin. I didn’t know cats liked to eat plastic but…I mean, I can’t really explain Tucker. Anywho, I bought a very cute ceramic pumpkin centerpiece from Target for just $5. Pretty sure Tucker can’t chomp into ceramic. Although…I wouldn’t put it past him. I’ll keep you updated.

 

  • Going on walks just for fun – And I mean the kind of walk that isn’t for exercise. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good run. But separate from running, I’ve really enjoyed taking work breaks by stepping outside for a minute or two, putting in a podcast, and enjoying the fall air (while killing it on my fitbit…because, let’s be real, why walk at all if your fitbit doesn’t give you virtual fireworks at the end of the day?
spring landscape

image via SheWorksHisWay

  • Taking my iPad to the gym – Okay, okay. I know. This one is so millennial of me. But it really does make the elliptical/bike/treadmill much more entertaining! And now that Netflix lets you download certain shows onto your device, you don’t need wifi to watch while you’re at the gym! Just download an episode or two while you’re at home (may I suggest Parks and Rec?), and then watch it at the gym!

 

  • The Glorious in the Mundane podcast with Christy Nockels – I didn’t know her speaking voice could be just as soothing as her singing voice, but it totally is. This is a podcast I love to listen to when I’m doing mundane chores like dishes or laundry. She uploads about one podcast a month, and each one is full of encouragement, entertaining small talk, and feel-good deep talks.
  • On that note…Be Held, a lullaby album by Christy Nockels – Pretty sure this came out less than a week ago. It’s an album full of lullabies, and one of the songs, Pitter Patter Goes the Rain, features her children and husband singing, playing the ukulele, and drumming. It’s adorable and refreshing.
  • “Surprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis – Now, to be totally honest, I haven’t yet finished this book. But here’s the truth 100 pages in: it’s fascinating. This book is basically Lewis’s autobiography of his childhood/early adult life, and it’s been quite an interesting read. Disclaimer: it’s not for kids. Lewis, a strong believer himself, is pretty frank about certain things that young eyes don’t need to read.

 

  • Lularoe Butter Leggings – They are what they sound like. Leggings that glide over your legs like butter. You will never wear real pants again. Never! Just kidding. Sort of. You should probably wear real pants. BUT when you are in the mood for leggings, look for a retailer on Facebook who sells lularoe, or find a friend who sells it (yes, I know. It’s one of those, but it’s a great product). They’re $25 each. I have three pairs. I would have more, but Michael keeps mentioning this bizarre concept to me called “a budget.”

IMG_9127

  • Homemade Sweet Potato Fries – Y’ALL. They’re so good. Like, this one time, Michael and I just made a boat-load of these fries and ate them (plus some cookies) for dinner. Literally all you have to do is cut up your sweet potato into little fry-looking strips (warning: cutting through a raw sweet potato is like cutting through brick. But it’s totes worth it!), toss them in olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet, salt and pepper them, then bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they’re crispy to your liking.

 

Enjoy, and Happy Fall, lovely friends!

 

Blessings,

 

Robyn

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

 

  1. Southern Savers

Y’all. Guess who can’t make sense of numbers and therefore is super bad at budgeting?! Yep. This girl. But then I discovered two things that help me stay on budget dramatically, and one is this website. LITERALLY it’s every manufacturer AND specific store coupon compiled in one spot – you can print off any coupon and use whenever. (I saved $7 on just 3 items at Target yesterday!)

  1. Paying with cash

I believe Dave Ramsey says to do this…keep all your money in separate envelopes and pay using cash – not card – so you have an idea of how much you’re spending, and if what you’re buying is really worth it to you! I only use this method with my spending budget for the month, and it’s been a game changer.

  1. Hershey’s nuggets

Because the nuggets give you more chocolate per bite than the kisses. And sometimes you just need more chocolate.

hersheys

image via amazon.com

  1. Half & Half Coffee and Half & Half Tea

If you make your coffee half caffeinated and half decaf, then you can have more cups per day! Because why wouldn’t you want that?

Sweet tea was always a little too sweet for me, but un-sweet tea was too boring, and so when I heard my mom order a “half sweet half un-sweet tea,” I tried it, and it’s now my favorite drink. Especially in the summer.

  1. Beth Moore’s bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place

The Old Testament can feel like wading through pudding at times. Beth takes Genesis and Exodus and points out the story God is weaving specifically for us as women through these pages. Highly recommend.

9781415855812

image via lifeway.com

  1. My critique group!

I don’t know how anyone gets published or even finishes a book without a critique group. If you’re a writer….find one! I promise, it’s not scary. Literally, just google critique groups in your city. I bet you’ll find one.

  1. Hoka tennis shoes

Y’all. The people at Big Peach running recommended these shoes to me since I’d had surgery. I don’t know why I ever wore ANYTHING ELSE even before surgery! These shoes make me feel like I’m running on clouds. Or marshmallows. Or both. They range anywhere from $100-130, and they’re worth every penny.

1012045-BJNC_1

image via hokaoneone.com

  1. Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

Michael and I make this recipe at least twice a month. It’s ridiculously easy and way too yummy. Make some coleslaw, buy some fresh slider buns, and you’re good to go.

  1. Jergens Daily Moisturizer

I used to only use this on my legs, but I’ve seen the light!! I was just in a wedding with a pale gray dress (lovely color!) but I didn’t want to blend in with the dress and look, like, see-through or something. I used Jergens all over my arms and neck area, and it looked super natural and gave me a “healthy glow” 😉 with no streaks. It was a win, and a lot cheaper than a spray tan.

product_revitalizing_moisturizer.png

image via jergens.com

  1. Making the bed

For me, this is revolutionary. And somehow it makes the whole house feel cleaner!

 

Have a great week, and blessings to you,

 

Robyn

just as friends

“Hey, so I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner with me.” Michael’s voice on the phone sounded excited and rushed and I was fairly confident he was pacing whatever room he was in.

I, on the other hand, was paralyzed in shock and bewilderment on my bed in the sorority house.

It was our sophomore year in college.

“Who is it?” one of my roommates whispered, probably after seeing my face revert to an awkward shade of tomato.

I answered Michael. “Um, sure! Dinner is good,” I blurted haphazardly into the phone, trying to sound normal.

But I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I just agreed to go on a date with a boy – and boys, to be sure, were currently on my “no” list. I’d written off dating entirely after my senior year of high school, and I’d held pretty steadily to that standard up to this point.

But at least, I figured, this boy seemed like a nice one.

Last year, he’d agreed to carry my large, mysterious trash bag full of something out to my car at the start of Spring Break. The trash bag exploded in the parking lot, resulting in an avalanche of stuffed animals. (They travel with me. Don’t pretend you don’t also have a teddy bear or something. I just happen to have a million.)

Michael had laughed then, and asked me if they had names. (Of course they did.) Unhesitatingly, he’d picked them all up and brushed them off, cars whizzing past.

In that parking lot moment, I had decided Michael was nice. And comfortable to be around. Even if he was a boy.

“Great!” Now, on the phone, I could hear the smile in his voice after I agreed to dinner.

I panicked. My mouth got dry. Then I turned to my roommates. “It’s Michael,” I finally whispered.

One raised her eyebrows and smiled. The other silently squealed.

But I didn’t. I was trying not to faint or hide under my covers.

“So, what’s your favorite place to eat dinner around here?”

“…Moes.”

I was sophisticated.

“Erm,” he chuckled. “I like Moes, too, but how about somewhere nicer?”

I blanched. My mouth had lost the ability to speak without croaking, but somehow we settled on a place called Transmetropolitan in downtown Athens. A pizza place.

It ended up being a great date, I was surprised to admit.

We ate pizza and pasta, then went back to his apartment to watch Chronicles of Narnia while wolfing down Junior Mints.

I made sure to sit on the edge of the couch the whole time, on the entirely opposite side from Michael. I was practically perched on the arm rest like an awkward parrot. He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice. He was actually ENJOYING himself.

Why is he so calm? I wondered. We’re on a date. A DATE. (!!!!!!)

IMG_3001 (1)

college babies

After he dropped me off with that big, goofy grin I’d later come to fall in love with, I answered my roommates’ questions about the evening.

“It was a great date,” I admitted. “He even bought me junior mints because he didn’t have any chocolate at his apartment.” This was a big plus for me. Because chocolate.

 

“But…” I continued explaining, my brow furrowed in bewilderment. “I just don’t think it’s the right time. I don’t know why. I don’t want to be any more than friends right now.”

I prayed about it a lot in the days that followed, and I felt certain about my decision not to date him. I couldn’t explain why. It just wasn’t the right time.

And when I told all this to Michael, he shrugged his shoulders with a small smile. “Welp. If you prayed about it, then I can’t argue with The Lord!”

He said this good-naturedly as a joke, but there was tangible disappointment in his voice. I wanted to jump into a nearby bush and stay there a while. But I was also relieved, because boys, in my 20 year-old opinion, made things too complicated.

I wasn’t ready for it.

A few weeks later, I got another call. “Hey!” Michael’s voice.

My stomach dropped.

“Hey,” I croaked. Hadn’t I totally disappointed him? Why was he still talking to me?

“So, I was wondering. Would you come to my fraternity date nights with me? You know, just as friends.”

“Um. Just as friends?”

“Yep. I had such a great time with you, I’d really like to hang out with you as friends.”

Okay. But just as friends!”

If someone were to tally the number of times I repeated the phrase “just as friends” in the year that followed, well, we’d have a lot of tallies.

And so I went on his Christian fraternity’s date nights. Over and over and over.

And every time, I double-checked: “Just as friends.”

He’d agree every time. And every time, we had fun.

But I was stubborn. Like a donkey, or something.

Fast forward to that summer. We both signed up to work at a Christian sports camp in Colorado, literally by coincidence. Neither of us knew the other had signed up or had been hired.

But I quickly figured it out when we showed up at training together.

I was set to shovel snow away from the buildings (we were living at 9,000 feet above sea level), and Michael ambled up next to me and started helping.

“You don’t need to help. I’ve got this,” I said forcefully.

He wasn’t deterred. “Well, I want to help you!”

Gosh, I thought. This guy! Do I need to say “just as friends” again?

me and michael snow day (1).jpg

still college babies

But somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach, I was glad he was there next to me. I was a little homesick.

And so we shoveled.

He worked the first half of summer, and I spent the first half of summer at home in Georgia.

When the last half of summer rolled around, I flew out to Colorado in a pit of nerves. Being away from home wasn’t natural for me. I was scared. But I was also excited. I could tell I was right there in the exciting, albeit painful stage of truly growing up.

I arrived at camp.

Then I saw Michael. And I stared. And stared. And stared.

He was really…handsome. And, dare I think it? REALLY ATTRACTIVE.

He politely greeted me with a friendly hug. “You’ll love it here,” he assured me. “Best summer of my life.”

How is he so confident? I feel like I’m going to pee in my pants. And who are all those girls looking at him and smiling at him? Don’t they know he likes me?

 

Does he like me, still?

He went home, and I worked at camp. It was hard and awesome. I grew more than I think I’ve ever grown in the span of six weeks.

But still, by the end of the term, I couldn’t stop thinking about that goofy-grinning boy. Goofy-grinning man, more like it.

I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about him, and I couldn’t talk without talking about him. (Sorry, Jaime.)

But by the time I got home, I was utterly confused.

God, I prayed. I like this boy. I do. And I’ve been telling him ‘no’ for over a year now. I’m sorry I’m so all over the place, but, if this is something You want for us, could You do something about it?

I wasn’t about to call Michael myself and profess my love because, honestly, couldn’t he get mad about that? Say something like, “Well it TOOK you long enough. Sorry. Too late.”

So I didn’t call.

Instead, he did.

The day after I prayed for our maybe-relationship, Michael texted me. “Want to go on a walk?”

Yes.

And we went.

Three months later I decided I wanted to marry the man.

And I don’t think we’ve ever said the phrase “just as friends” ever again.

DSCN1020.JPG

UGA graduation

_MG_5663.jpg

when I said YES!

0436.JPG

happy campers 🙂

the thing about hope

What are you hoping for right now, dear heart?

What are you praying for?

Please don’t stop.

Don’t stop believing the best.

Don’t let fear bully you into shrinking back from your hope.

And this is not the “prosperity gospel.”

This is the freedom-giving, life-breathing, hope-multiplying command from our Savior, our Hope Anchor.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…so now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:7,13 emphasis mine).

My knee has been injured for over a year. 

DSC_2725

After months of trying-procedures-and-them-not-working, after all the money poured into this part of my body that was preventing me from even just playing hopscotch with my favorite littles, I finally had knee surgery to fix the problem.

After surgery, I was afraid to hope for a bright outcome. My fearful knee-jerk reaction (see what I did there?!) was to wait for the other shoe to drop and…my doctor – my doctortotally called me out on it.

“Robyn,” he said.

“Yes?” I squeaked. (His authoritative, tough-love presence makes me talk in squeaks for some reason. Maybe that’s why he always leaves the room laughing.)

“You HAVE to get out of your own head. You know, worrying can actually hinder healing. It’s proven. You’ve got to believe me when I say This. Is. Working.”

My doctor even knows! Medical practices even know the truth that God has already so lovingly clued us in on:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” (Proverbs 17:22).

Why do we accept worry and cynicism as normal? Why? When the Author of our very own hearts has given us a better, life-breathing way?

For me, it’s simply fear. Fear of the unknown, I suppose.

But by God’s grace, I will not be bullied by fear anymore.

No.

And it’s true: I don’t know the outcome of what my knee will look like a year from now. A month from now. Tomorrow.

I don’t know.

Meadowview-1000.jpg

But faith hopes for the things not seen and I know my God has told me, “Pray to Me honestly. Tell Me the desires of your heart. After all, I know them already. Don’t hide from Me.”

Father, I want to run again. I want to skip and hop and bound down the stairs, Lord. It’s what I want. I want to be hopeful and unashamed. Please heal my knee. Please fill me with Your hope and Your peace and Your Perfect Love, which casts out all my fear.

And suddenly, Jehovah Shalom comforts and quiets and yet at the same time, makes my heart fill with hope like a deer prancing upon the heights (Ps 18:33).

I don’t know what my knee will look like tomorrow. I’m not saying the lie that you can “Just picture it and it will happen!” Because that’s a big, fat lie.

But God tells us, He commands us, to hope. Not because we always get everything we want, but because hope is truly the language, the thought-pattern, the heart medicine from the Lover of our hearts Himself that balms over fear, transforming it into trust.

I will choose a cheerful heart: the heart that stares uncertainty in the face and says “My God is able. My God is Healer. And He loves me. I will not be afraid. I am in His hands.”

“Now may the God of hope fill [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).

Grace, peace, and hope you, beloved hearts,

Robyn

[work-from-homers] & [stay-at-home-moms]: wins, losses, and the ever-present question of how long is it socially acceptable to stay in one’s pajamas?!

Hey there! Lots of you know that working for yourself OR working from home OR being a stay-at-home mama is [[ a w e s o m e ]].

It will also, given enough time, drive you to having full-on convos with the cat. Or with the TV. During your lunch break. Because the judges CLEARLY “chopped” the wrong chef, and so it’s up to you to explain that to the screen with a mouth full of Cheetos.

(Oh, that’s just me? Oh….cool.)

Anyhoo, let’s just cut to the chase. I’ve divided today’s diary into 3 parts: wins, losses, and pajamas.

I’ll start with wins.

Working for Myself: Wins

  1. PAJAMA TIME PAJAMA TIME PAJAMA TIME!!! (!!!)
  2. The ability to take breaks without people staring at me because I’m walking in place while watching re-runs of Downton Abbey just to rack up points on my fitbit.
  3. Picking my hours. If I have an errand or appointment, I can do some work at a different time and it’s totes no bigimg_0246
  4. I just flat-out love my job. I get to spend ALL DAY with characters I love. It’s the best. I feel like I have adventures all day without even leaving the desk…did I mention I’m a cat lady?
  5. Working at the library has become one of my FAVORITE THINGS. BOOKS ON BOOKS ON BOOKS.
  6. …it’s 3:21 p.m. and it’s STILL PAJAMA TIME!!!!!!!! People of the world!!! It’s 5:00 somewhere and this girl is STILL IN HER PAJAMAS!!! #winning

Working for Myself: Losses

  1. Why am I still in my pajamas? Is this socially acceptable? It’s so comfy…but seriously. Is this normal?” [commence going back-and-forth in my head while staring at my clothes, thus wasting an entire break when I could have been walking in step with Lady Mary.]
  2. Extroverted me needs people. All the people. Please?!! People?!! Hello? Bueller?
  3. Picking my hours…sometimes it’s actually really hard to stop working and turn it off when the day is over.
  4. Writer’s Block.SWHW-1000.jpg
  5. Tucker tears up the furniture when I’m not giving him enough attention. But he also tears up the furniture when I do give him attention, so maybe that one doesn’t count.
  6. When I actually forget to take breaks…and then at the end of the day I’m drained.

Working for Myself: Pajamas

People!!! When on earth are we supposed to change out of our pajamas?!!! This is the most important question of the year. Feel free to tell me your answer. I might listen. Unless you tell me to put on normal people clothes. In which case I won’t listen. And I’ll go buy more pajamas. 😉

 

Blessings and a productive day to you,

Robyn

Politics are tiring. Instead, here are 5 of my favorite things lately!

Favorites Lately

  1. Coffeemate *Limited Edition* Marshmallow Hot Cocoa creamer = #winning.

Basically, it’s a lot like a mocha flavor, but more subtle and light and…fluffy…like a marshmallow! coffee-mate

  1. Essie “Ladylike” nail polish. After PT one day I convinced my dad to take me to the drug store (Rite Aid seems to have the best polish selection, I’ve noticed), so I could get a new fall color. I wanted something neutral-ish, but lavender-ish, and also feminine. Enter Essie Ladylike! It’s my new favorite nail color. (buy here)
  1. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies…

…made the way you made those easy pumpkin muffins! It’s SO EASY.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (or Muffins!)

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix 1 box of Spice Cake mix with 1 can of pumpkin.
  • Fold in chocolate chips (I mean, you don’t have to, but why wouldn’t you?)
  • Fill muffin tins ¾ full OR…
  • …drop in 1½ inch balls of dough on a cookie sheet and BAKE AS COOKIES!!
  • Eyeball the oven time. It took my cookies about 8 minutes.

This is the same beloved muffin recipe lots of us use, but made instead as cookies! Perfect to take to a party or tailgate.

  1. Home Depot décor (and crazy beautiful succulents!!)

Michael and I went to Home Depot to get pumpkins. (We were late to the pumpkin game, thanks to my surgery adventure, so we figured the pumpkin patches would be picked over.) And not only did Home Depot have pumpkins, but they also had great fall decorations, pretty mums, and an AWESOME assortment of succulents.

So…we went to Home Depot for a pumpkin, and I came home with a UGA pot full of cute succulents for my office 🙂

  1. S’more Feet Warmers…I don’t even think I need to elaborate. Why shouldn’t EVERY household in America have s’more feet warmers? They plug into your laptop or desktop while you work. And warm your toes. And they even SMILE AT YOU.

Mic drop.img_6760

No matter who wins the election this year, just remember. The real winner is those of us with fuzzy s’mores warming our feet. (Buy here)

Blessings and lots of chocolate and warm fuzzies to you,

Robyn

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Y’all. Y’ALL. I did it.

I took my original chocolate chip cookie recipe and TURNED IT INTO SOMETHING EVEN BETTER.

“What?!” you say. “But your cookie was already doughy! And too chocolately to eat in a dignified manner! And too soft to stay in one piece whilst cramming it into one’s mouth!! What could be better?!”

Adding s’mores, my fellow dough lovers. Adding s’mores makes. EVERYTHING. better, it turns out.

img_6601

 

 

I am only sorry it took me this long to realize.

Here’s how my jubilant discovery was made:

It all started when the Dawgs lost on Saturday…and it was heartbreaking. (I typically spend just as much time in my coloring book as I do watching the game on TV, but this match-up was SO NAIL-BITING I couldn’t even color.)

And that’s saying something, my friends.

There were 10 seconds left in the game – the Dawgs scored – the Dawgs rejoiced – too much, apparently – 4 seconds left – the Vols scored – we lost.

I almost cried. Seriously. Embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. Fellow extremely emotive people – I got you.

Hubby looked over at me, saw the totally rational pathetic look on my face and said, “Come on! Let’s go to Publix. Nothing cheers my wifey up like going to Publix.”

(What? You don’t cheer up at the grocery store, too? Weird.)

So there we were. The only people strolling through Publix at 9 p.m. on a Saturday. (#sorrynotsorry, amiright?!)

What will cheer me up? I wondered. I stared at the baking aisle. And then boxes of graham cracker crumbs spoke to me. No they didn’t. But as soon as my eyes landed on those boxes of grahamy goodness I thought, S’MORES. I WILL EAT DOUGHY S’MORE COOKIES TONIGHT. AND I WILL USE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK BECAUSE THIS NIGHT CALLS FOR THAT LEVEL OF DOUGHY-NESS.

img_6576

I grabbed the ingredients and put them in hubby’s basket and felt the corners of my mouth curve upward in victory. Because the Dawgs might have lost. But when you decide to make s’mores cookies, you’re actually a winner.

So, without further ado, here is my original recipe for S’more Cookie Cupcakes (they’re cookies – but must be made in cupcake tins – because they’re THAT DOUGHY. You’re welcome.)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter

2 cups of white sugar

¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk

1 tbsp of vanilla

1 egg

2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of graham cracker crumbs (plus some extra for garnish)

1 tsp baking soda

A pinch of salt

Mini chocolate chips (I never use a number on chocolate. Eyeball it. Use a logical amount the whole bag, probably.)

2 break-apart Hershey’s bars

Marshmallow fluff (usually found on the baking aisle)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the sugar, egg, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and graham cracker crumbs.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on a low speed.

  • I add a little bit of dry ingredients, and then some chocolate chips, mix them in, and repeat both steps until all the ingredients are mixed together.img_6582

Spray a cupcake tin with non-stick spray or wipe the tin with vegetable oil.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of the dough into each cup. (I used an ice cream scoop to do this. The cookie dough scoop is a bit small for this particular endeavor).

Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes. (Eyeball it. The edges should be brown and raised when they’re done.)

When done, take the cookies out and place one square of Hershey’s chocolate into each cookie.

Give each cookie a dollop of marshmallow fluff on top of the chocolate, and garnish with graham cracker crumbs as desired.

Lets the cookies cool for at least 10-15 minutes in the pan (or else they w
ill fall apart!)
These cookies are for the “doughy-ness” lovers among us. Tread carefully. They WILL fall apart if you take them out too early! (But does that really stop us anyway, fellow cookie lovers?)

 

Enjoy!!!

And, as always, GO DAWGS!

Robyn