Ice and Snow...

Ice and Snow...

I've been looking out the window constantly since I got  up this morning, watching and waiting for the snow we've been promised. Unfortunately, all we've gotten so far is ice... sleet, freezing rain, whatever you want to call it. Snow is soft, fluffy, and beautiful... ice is just ice. Cold, unrelenting, and damaging. 

I've thought a lot today about how often forecasts are wrong... and how in life, we aren't given a forecast. Sure, we can plan and predict how things will turn out, but there's no daily update from a guy in a suit pointing out the ups and downs of our day, no likelihood of tragedy or excitement, no "bad with a chance of awful." 

We plan for days of snow that coats everything in a pure, white blanket and erases the hard edges of life with its softness. Sometimes, no matter what we plan or what we predict, that snow doesn't come, and instead we're pelted with ice... covering our world with a slick, dangerous sheet that makes living a lot harder. Not only can we not know exactly how life will play out, we can only guess (at best) and sometimes our guesses (even educated ones) turn out to be very wrong. The forecast of snow (or sunshine) is eclipsed by storm that is not of our planning, or of our choosing. 

I feel like my world is swirling with storms right now... not my own, particularly, but of those around me. Why do these storms come? Beyond that, how do we possibly prepare for something we cannot predict? It's a scary thing to watch the sky shift from blue to nearly black in a matter of minutes; our lives can do the same. A phone call, test result, accident, or decision can throw us into a season that is totally unexpected and seemingly impossible to endure. I've been wrestling with these questions for the past several weeks. I've heard many preachers say it's not right to question God, but if we're not willing to ask questions during the storms, then why would He allow them? 

I guess we should be asking what God wants us to learn, how we can use our experience to help others, and whether we are responding in a Christ-like way. I understand that most of the time during one of these unexpected days (or weeks or months or years), our knee-jerk reaction is to want to scream into the nearest pillow, not make sure we're gaining every nugget of spiritual wisdom possible from a trying time. And, from my life that has been relatively tragedy-free for these 24 years, it's easy for me to say that. But the last year has been a challenging one, and while I'm not facing anything remotely close to the situations I've already mentioned, I have struggled with (and hopefully improved in) this area of asking the right questions. 

We all face discouragement, and trials, and seasons of sadness. But true joy is never found by having peace 
in your circumstances; it’s found by having peace in your spirit, and only Christ can give you that. If you're in the middle of a situation that wasn't part of your "life forecast" then by all means, scream into a pillow, cry, wrack your brain for what in the world is going on... and then remember God is sovereign. He, unlike us, doesn't need a green screen covered in predictions to know exactly what is happening in your life, including whatever it is you're dealing with. And what has caught you totally by surprise was planned before time began by Him, for a specific purpose. I don't know what that purpose is, and you probably don't, and we may never fully understand. But there is one. I don't know about about you, but I find it comforting that something I didn't plan was planned by the Creator of the universe, and all for my good.

Genesis 50:20 says, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant into unto good, to bring it to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Of course this verse is referring to Joseph and how the Lord preserved his life so that one day he could save his brothers (and all of Egypt). But, like everything else in the Bible, it's applicable to us. Things that are bad, things that we couldn't possibly see as good, things like death and cancer and illness and depression and betrayal... these things aren't part of our ideal forecast. They're not beautiful, like snow; they're damaging, like ice. They wrap their frigid grip around our hearts and threaten to freeze out any life at all... but they can't if we don't allow them to. God means them for good. 

Honestly, I don't understand why these storms are present...a friend struggling with medical issues and unresolved questions... a friend dealing with a parent's battle with cancer... a student's unexpected, tragic loss of both grandparents... a church family grieving a lost loved one... another family dealing with the health issues of a child.... friends facing an uncertain future...I don't understand these things, but God does. Joseph didn't understand a lifetime of being misunderstood, misrepresented, and mistaken, but God did. It was for Joseph's good. Trials are for our good, and ultimately God's glory... we need no greater example of this than Calvary. 

So please, those who are hurting tonight... and you are many, I know... trust Him. Endure the ice, allowing the storm to force you to answer the tough questions (or ask them). Learn, change, or help if that's what is required. And then wait for the snow... the soft, pure blanket that covers the hurt and becomes the thing of beauty that He planned. 

Why This Isn't a Fashion Blog..

Why This Isn't a Fashion Blog..

Disclaimer: this post is self-deprecating, yes, but in a facetious way. Some concerned readers have chided me reached out in concern that I am too critical of myself but I am kidding, really. I don't really hate how I look (except in most pictures. That part is very true.) So, no worries. I have a healthy self-image and an unhealthy sense of sarcasm.

Every now and then, someone will say to me, "Well, you know, since you have a fashion blog" or "You're a style blogger, right?" and I'm like... woah, woah, woah. Hold up there, sister. This blog is many things but a fashion blog is not one of them. I have absolutely nothing against fashion bloggers... in fact, nearly every blog I follow regularly features mostly outfits and style posts. I read style blogs, I follow fashion bloggers on Twitter and Instagram, and (shockingly) I really love shopping and clothes and all that jazz.

So why, since I love all those things, do I not identify as a fashion blogger or turn this blog into a full-on style blog? I've certainly considered it, but there are several reasons I haven't (and won't, I don't think.)

- I know you don't have to be perfect to be a fashion blogger, or stick thin or a hair model, but really? Have you seen my hair up close? Or my face?(Or my crooked bottom teeth that I blame entirely on my mother who threw away my retainer thus negating the three torturous years of orthodontia I experienced?) I'm not terribly insecure about my frizz or my inexplicably treatment-resistant blackheads or my complete ineptitude for makeup but... I'd feel a little silly chiming in about my latest beauty purchase (um, Clearasil? Toothpaste?) while not having mastered the basics of applying eyeliner. I know that that really falls more under "beauty blog" than "style blog" but let's be honest... there's nothing beautiful or stylish about the tears that roll down my face after I poke myself in the eye with an eyeliner pencil (or about my neglected brows.) And while I am thankful, from a financial perspective, that my first Bare Minerals purchase lasted me for over three years, I don't think that's how it's supposed to work. 

- I'm not just saying this... I really do not like pictures of myself. The whole over-the-shoulder-smolder or gaze-in-the-distance-wistfully poses look fantastic on others but I simply do not have it in me. My profile is... not flattering, I can't do a serious face to save my life, and "candid" pictures (laughing, talking, etc.) really and truly say, "Poor girl... why does she look angry (and slightly deformed)?" If you don't believe me, you can look at any unfortunate shots from my wedding. Literally the only time I look decent in a picture is when I'm facing the camera head-on and smiling. I do like my smile. Other than that, pictures aren't my friend.

Yes, Jim... I understand.

- Speaking of pictures of myself, this might sound crazy, but... my hair is not photogenic. Is that even a thing? Maybe not, but I'm convinced it's true at least for me. I can be having the most amazing hair day, snap a picture, and suddenly those perfectly rippling waves look like I just air-dried after a bout in the Atlantic in which I arm(fin?)-wrestled Bruce from Finding Nemo. I can't explain it, but it's true. No stopping it. 

- Clearly I'm disqualified from being a fashion blogger because my home does not feature a) a plain white wall with perfect lighting for me to pose in front of or b) hardwood floors on which I can artfully arrange my outfit for my Instagram followers to see. Seriously, isn't that true? And I'm not knocking it... I'm really just jealous because if I had the perfect place inside my house to take outfit pictures I certainly wouldn't be skulking around my backyard away from prying eyes to snap them. And I do dream of hardwood floors, but mostly because I hate vacuuming. 

- A lot of the time I'm kind of a mess. I haven't mastered the "messy on purpose" look either. I know not every fashion blogger looks perfect at all times, but very often I have wrinkles, uncooperative collars, wrinkly legs, and beat-up shoes (I seem to be very hard on my footwear.) A half-tuck? "Why didn't she tuck in her shirt?" Cute mismatched cuffs? "Why aren't her sleeves even?" It's not for everyone.

- Every outfit post doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, but most of what I wear is not really that exciting. I mean, I like my clothes and most of the time I like what I'm wearing but come on... I'm a teacher. How many variations of a cardigan do you want to see? My favorite bloggers wear outfits that are, well- wearable. But then again, there are a million fashion bloggers (especially the "pros") who look like they get paid to get dressed and create an "arm party" every day... but I get paid to get up in front of teenagers and desperately try to maintain their interest for all of 45 minutes at a time. Therefore, what I'm wearing is typically not anything that's going to be featured in InStyle for... "You CAN Wear... Scuffed Flats!" I could write a feature, I suppose, for InStyle on wearing blazers to age yourself in order to make students think you're older than they are. I guess that one could be called, "Find Your Perfect: Shoulder Pads."

- I really don't think that the majority of people that visit my blog come to find out what I was wearing (or where it came from or how much I paid for it or the love I have for the lady who gave me the discount, although I'm happy to share those details) and at this point if I did blog exclusively about clothes I'd probably have to start another blog to do it. And I'm lazy, so that's out.

- The world simply doesn't need another "life and style blog" who writes about "fashion and things I love" in "my little corner of the internet." I'm not knocking people's corners of the internet, I just don't think mine needs to be exclusively about what I'm wearing. 

- Outfit posts are a time commitment... no joke. If I even do one small collage or photo editing of any kind I feel kind of like I ran a marathon (even though I'm not sure what that feels like because I can't even put on tights without cramping, so clearly running's not an option.) I'm in awe of women who regularly shoot, edit, AND post pictures (let alone multiple pictures) because it's hard work. And if you think it's not, try it. 

The sad thing is, I love to put outfits together and I love to talk about clothes and shopping. I get asked on a fairly regular basis for shopping/clothing advice, and I don't think it's necessarily because I'm the most stylish person in the world... I think it's more like my friends know I like to talk about it so why not give me a chance to? And I must confess... it's a pretty heady feeling to be "that person" for someone... you know, the one they send the dressing room picture asking "should I buy it?" or "what colors should I wear with this scarf?" I get quite a Stacy London-esque rush to be entrusted with such counsel, but does the internet really need another blog dedicated to educating the masses on how to tie a scarf, layer chambray, or accessorize with statement necklaces? Sadly, no... and I dearly love all those topics. But the lack of necessity, coupled with my inability to pose in any way but this, it seems: 

...don't worry, I'm more embarrassed on my own behalf than you are.

Truthfully, this collage should prove why I'm not a fashion blogger (and why I shouldn't even try to be). Really... this was just the last few outfit posts. I stopped scrolling because I was afraid if I found any more pictures that my right hand would permanently affix itself to my hip "I'm a little teapot" style. 

So, everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief... I'm not going to stop talking about clothes or sharing my shopping victories or even the occasional outfit post. But I am going to leave the fashion blogging to the pros... and get myself a different pose before I'm humiliated any further by my utter lack of creativity. 

For style bloggers who are doing a bang-up job already, go visit JanssenAudreyMerrickGrace, or Ashley or click over to my favorite blogger board on Pinterest. But if you reeeeally want some outfit inspiration that DOES include identical poses and poor photo quality you can always come right back here.

I'll be waiting.


P.S. I am really am truly not "down on" anyone with awesome photos or great poses or hardwood floors... I wish I weren't so dreadfully lazy and I know I could be much better about that stuff but I'm not. This is not an excuse for my low-quality outfit posts... more like hang-ups (like hating my own pictures) that keep me away from the pressure of high-quality outfit posts that a fashion blog requires- hence the text-heavy posts you typically see here.

Out of Place...

Out of Place...

I know that outfit pictures should probably be coordinated with the right type of background and nothing screams "Incongruity!" like a floral skirt and neon top that rivals the sun in brightness posed in front of a bunch of dead leaves and an overcast sky. It's just my outfit, folks... nobody needs to accuse me of making art, guys. There was no deep thought of "how ironic... the light and the dark, the living and the dead..." here. I'm merely trying to make use of natural sunlight without venturing into the public eye and having people stare at the girl nearly melting into the sidewalk in embarrassment. (Clearly I have no such qualms about being spied by our neighbors.)

Skirt: Loft 
Top: Kohl's 
Cardigan: Aeropostale (old, can you believe it?)
Tights: New York and Company 
Flats: Belk

In case you missed it on Instagram, these saggy tights made me think of Ramona Quimby telling her teacher, "Mrs. Rogers, your pantyhose are wrinkled just like an elephant's legs!" I find this comparison slightly less endearing now that I'm the teacher with the wrinkly legs. 

Deep in thought over which pose to try that will make me look less ridiculous... clearly I never landed on one!

When I bought this skirt, I paid more for it than I normally would and I knew that I loved it... but nothing could have prepared me for the deep, deep fondness I have for this particular skirt. I've worn it so many ways and continue to delight in finding new outfits to make with it. It's so bright that I didn't really think I'd wear it in the fall or winter but with a dark grey cardigan and tights I think it works... it's a nice thick material so it doesn't feel too flimsy to wear in the cold. I hate to name a favorite and hurt my others skirts' feelings, but let's be honest... this one is in the winner's circle for sure.

I could probably prove my love for this skirt a little better by actually photographing it in a nicer background but until I become comfortable posing artfully on a downtown bench or find a deserted warehouse then the decomposing backyard it is. 

I've inspired you, haven't I? It's what artists do. =)


Linked up with Lindsey!

Parmesan Tilapia...

Parmesan Tilapia...

One thing I've learned about myself since getting married and being forced to cook on a regular basis (more so since we moved an hour away from the comforts of Mamaw's kitchen... boohoo!) is that a) I am not terribly adventurous and that b) I tend to find things that are good and that I'm good at making and make them over and over again. On Sunday, I decided to break outside my little unimaginative box and try not one, but TWO new recipes. Gasp!

 In an effort to avoid processed/chemical laden foods (not entirely, but cutting down bigtime) I've been looking for recipes that don't call for "cream of" whatever or a ton of canned goods. (Clearly I'm not opposed to such things since nearly every recipe I've ever posted on here requires a mountain of cans, but... since it's for Jonathan's health I'm trying not to be lazy about it.) Anyway, both recipes were insanely delicious and didn't involve as much "unhealthy" stuff, so I felt pretty good about them. (By the way, I know that I could make my chicken broth or shred fresh cheese that I've made my from my milking goat or whatever. I'm just going with baby steps, okay?)

I'll get to the recipe in a second. I was going to share the full recipe for this cheesy rice, but I'll just give you the link from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. (By the way, Janssen regularly pins recipes from there and if she endorses a recipe I know it's good.) Basically, you just cook rice with chicken broth instead of water and then add cheddar cheese when it's done cooking. Holy Yum, Batman. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven... it's that good. Also, the original recipe calls for zucchini, which I had the best of intentions to add, but... I didn't. Next time I'll definitely try that or maybe broccoli, but it's glorious by itself. 

Shared on Instagram, naturally.

Three paragraphs? No recipe?

Patience is a virtue, dears. (Or you skimmed ahead... your prerogative.)

Parmesan Tilapia (adapted from Spend with Pennies)

-3-4 thawed tilapia fillets (we used three with a pretty thick layer, but I think you could do a thin layer and have enough for maybe 5)
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
-1/8 cup butter
-1 1/2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (I could be wrong but I think Greek yogurt might work as a healthier sub for this? Maybe?)
-pepper to taste

-Turn the oven broiler on high. Combine all the ingredients except tilapia to form a creamy mixture. 
-Place tilapia on a foil-lined pan and broil for three minutes.
-Remove from oven, flip the fillets, and spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture onto the top surface of each. Return to oven and broil for another 3-4 minutes (maybe even five... just watch.)

The original recipe calls for lemon juice which I forgot to buy, but it was great without it.

Seriously, this was so good... I'm not a huge fish person but these don't have a strong "fishy" flavor and the parmesan masked it anyway. If you prefer a strong fish taste I feel like this would work just as well with another type of fish. With the cheesy rice and maybe some broccoli or other vegetable on the side, this was a really yummy (and easy!) meal. Those are my favorite kind. =)

Happy cooking!




So, ever since the iOs7 update (of which I haven't been a major fan, but since I'm not technologically educated enough to offer an informed opinion I just keep my ignorant "I don't like how it looks" comments to myself) the photos in my phone have been categorized as "moments." While that may be romanticizing the blurry selfies or pointless pictures of my food that no one cares about, I do like the idea that I'm not just storing pictures... I'm storing moments. Again, it's really just a ploy to get you to feel like you're "capturing history" when in reality you're just taking up two thirds of your storage with pictures you'll rarely bother to scroll through, but hey... those are moments! In the words of George Banks, "Don't bulldoze my memories, man." (Five points if you name the movie. Ten if you can name the scene.)

So... moments. Here are a few of my favorites from this week. Pretend to care.

I ordered this necklace from GroopDealz last week and I love it. I know, I know... I need another statement necklace like I need a hole in my frizzy head. But it was sooo cheap and I didn't have anything purple and okay, fine. I'm an addict and I need help (and by help I think I mean more necklaces. Unrepentant- that's the step after denial, right?) 

I got to hang out with my favorite boy at our basketball game on Tuesday. Somehow the travel planets did not align and we were out of town at separate times almost the entire Christmas break (boo!) so I was overdue for some cousin bonding time (which just thrills Matthew, as you can tell.)

I have always been skeptical of those "engineer prints at Staples for super cheap" pins on Pinterest, but lo and behold Brook was brave and took the plunge and hers turned out great so I ordered one and here it is. This is my favorite picture of all time and I love it! (It's 18x24 and cost $1.97. Woohoo!) I will say that sometimes when I walk by it (and it's not on the couch anymore, fyi) that I'm like, "Woah! That's a lot of Ashley!" but I'm getting used to it. =)

So, I've never been a huge monogram person (maybe it's that most of my life wasn't spent in the South? I don't know) but my friend and fellow teacher Lamanda came in a few weeks ago in a monogrammed sweatshirt and I am nothing if not a covetous copycat and I immediately asked her make me one too! (Btw, I found mine at Old Navy.)
Lamanda has a monogramming business and if you're local you should totally use her for all your monogramming needs. (You know, if you have those.) Check out her Facebook page for prices and stuff! She does a great job!

Um... talk about a gift from Heaven. It's been pretty to live up to my word of the year (delight!) when we get news like this TWO days in a row. Sure, North Carolinians are super wimpy when it comes to cold weather but WHO CARES? Coming to school at 10:00 could easily be the most (dare I say it?) delightful schedule ever. I feel rested, I have time to leisurely get ready, I'm in a much better mood... why isn't this a permanent thing again? Let's make it happen. Contact your Congressman.

Last but CERTAINLY not least... the premiere of Psych was just as wonderful as I anticipated- although the lack of Jules, Lassie and the rest of the SBPD gang was a bit jarring- and I'm sure Season 8 is going to be unforgettable (especially since it's most likely going to be the last. Tears!)

See? Moments. This blog is practically my scrapbook. Thank goodness or my children would have no clue what their mother wore, watched, or ate for the first several years of her marriage. 


Word of the Year...

Word of the Year...

Last year, I chose contentment as my word of the year. (Also, I chose it in March, so maybe my word should have been procrastination.) I've thought about what my word for 2014 should be, and with everything that's been going on in our lives, I've thought a lot about Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

My word this year is delight. Looking back on 2013, there were many moments and experiences that, truthfully, weren't what I'd call "delightful." I described the year as challenging, and of course that can be a good thing, a necessary vehicle for change, but not always super fun to deal with. I'm not one of those people who believes that happiness is the ultimate measure of success or that it's necessarily even guaranteed by doing right or serving God. Sometimes circumstances make it next to impossible to be happy, and that's okay. I prefer the word "joy" which indicates an established mindset, not a fickle emotion. So, with that qualifier in place, I also believe firmly that God wants His children to be happy... after all, He is able "to do exceeding abundantly above what we could ask or think." (Eph. 3:20) And with the challenges we've faced, I know in my subconscious that I should be popping out of bed every morning with a smile on my face and thrilled to pieces to go about my day because I get to serve the Creator of the universe... but has that really happened? More often than not... no. And it's time to change that, in every area possible.

I want to delight in my walk with Christ. I want to delight in my marriage. I want to delight in my home. I want to delight in my relationships. I want to delight in a healthy lifestyle (haha.) I want to delight in reading good books. I want to delight in new opportunities, without deflecting them in fear. I want to delight in pushing myself to accomplish things that had never even crossed my mind before the past couple of years. I want to delight in encouraging others (which is usually more beneficial when I'm down than waiting around for someone to encourage me.) I want to delight in a few new things occasionally, savoring new purchases because I really love them. I want to delight in saving up and taking trips and exploring. I want to delight in searching the Scriptures and discovering truths from God's word. 

Speaking of God's word, I have often read this Psalm 37:4 and thought (and heard it talked about this way) that it meant, in essence, "Get close to God and He'll give you what you want." I wasn't picturing a prosperity gospel but more of the misguided "Romans 8:28, all things are for good" kind of thinking that sounds great and looks nice on a Pinterest graphic but is not necessarily true. (That's for another post, though.) But when I used a commentary, it said that the first part, "Delight thyself in the Lord," means to expect all your happiness in Him. Not just, "I love Jesus so I'm happy," but literally, "I cannot be happy apart from Jesus; in fact, I expect Him to be the source of all my joy." I think we're all big boys and girls and have learned that circumstances, places, and people let you down. At the end of the day, if I'm "expecting happiness" or delighting in anything other than Christ, I'm going to be disappointed. So if I want to "delight in" the things mentioned above, I better be certain that each of them, each aspect of my life, is centered firmly on God.

So, if I do that- center everything on God- then comes the good part, right? I get the desires of my heart! I get what I want... and I want it now! (Do I sound like Veruca Salt yet?) Actually, the commentary went on to say this: the Hebrew word for desires is mishaloth, which literally means "petitions." In other words, God will give me the things my heart has asked of Him in prayer. So my selfish desires, my fleshly, carnal wishes, don't apply here. If I wouldn't ask God for it, it doesn't count! (Of course, we do tend to ask God for things, even with good intentions, that He knows are not best for us.) But a desire of mine could be for God to remove a difficult situation just for the sake of making my life easier. But that's not a true petition to God as much as it is a selfish request on my part. These "desires of my heart" that God will give me must be grounded in a God-centered happiness, which eliminates quite a bit of what comes to mind when we think of our own personal wants, right? 

Delight and desire... they go hand in hand. If I'm truly seeking happiness in Christ, then my desires, my petitions, will reflect that. And conversely, if I've got a mile-long list of desires but find myself looking to other areas of life to complete me, missing the "delighting" part, then those desires will go unfulfilled.

I truly believe that my Heavenly Father, who made me, knows me better than I know myself, gifted me in specific areas, and wrote my life story before the world began, wants me to delight in every area. If I'm seeking after Him, He promised that He'd give me the desires of my heart... those things nearest and dearest to me. And that's pretty incredible, because I'm near and dear to Him. He delights in me, and that reality alone is reason to live out and claim this promise. 

This picture exemplifies delight in my mind. =)

Unshakable happiness? Petitions answered? Dreams fulfilled? Sounds delightful.

What's your word of the year?


Wear All the Christmas Presents!

Wear All the Christmas Presents!

One of the best parts of getting presents is spending the first few weeks of January wearing all the new stuff you racked up at Christmas. (Is my materialism showing? Oops, better tuck that away.) Anyway, I had a lot of fun bringing home all the clothes and jewelry I've accumulated over the holidays, either from gifts or shopping, and sometimes the style planets align and things I've found and things I've been given  come together in a fortuitously constructed outfit.

Such was the case with this outfit... my bff Sara got me the necklace and then I just happened to find this little gem of a dress for... wait for iiiiit... $7.56! I just adore those "online purchase" returns that they somehow mysteriously mark down to practically nothing, allowing me to snatch them up. Yay!

Necklace: gift (No idea where she got it... sorry!)
Dress: Target

Boots: Bandolino, a gift from my wonderful husband! 
I fell in love with this two-tone pair when I saw some on Pinterest months ago, and finally found these at Belk. They had the same style in three different brands... Rampage (I don't mind a $20 pair of boots but the "brown" was more reddish and I just really didn't care for it), these, and a pair of Michael Kors (and this little piggy said "Ha, ha, ha" all the way home from the $300 price tag.) I was happy with the mid-range price because they weren't exorbitant but were still really nice quality. I can feel kind of like a biker in all black boots (right, Brook?) but sometimes they are necessary. I think the cognac softens them up a little bit and allows me to wear them literally with anything. Win/win.

Also, is this the longest paragraph ever typed about a pair of boots? Maybe. 

I normally would have worn heels with this but I thought the boots winterized the dress a little bit since it's a pretty thin material. I love that it has long sleeves... it's so rare to find a dress like that! And since it is a lighter fabric I can wear it in the summer with the sleeves rolled up. Or with a cardigan, or a jean jacket... 
....AND it's red, white and blue! Hello Fourth of July outfit!!! (Way to plan ahead, right?) 

A couple more presents I'm absolutely loving: 

My parents got me a new watch (from Belk) and I have worn it every day. I've always been a watch person but for the last few years I've kind of stopped (because the battery on my last watch died and I was too lazy to get a new one) but this is one I love enough to take care of! 

And then there's this scarf from Old Navy. I bought the dark green one in November (after coveting Cori's for weeks!) and Jonathan bought me this oatmeal-colored one for Christmas. I love it. It's warm but not suffocating; when I wore the green one to Stone Mountain last week my neck wasn't cold all day, which was a pretty big deal. (Oh, and this shiny striped top was a steal at Gap last week. Yes, another gift for myself... but how could I afford not to?)

What did you get for Christmas? Are you wearing it all at once? Could you wear it all at once, to make me feel better? Thanks.


Linked up with Lindsey!