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Dear {Praise the Lord It's} Friday

{Linking up at Friday's Letters}

Dear Friday, you came out of the blue. No, really. When did you get here? 
Dear Mom & Dad, I love love love the new house! Keep up the amazing {and hard} work putting things together. Remember it will all be worth it in the long run. 
Dear Shelby, you sneaky sister you... way to be smart and conveniently be on vacation in Florida when moving day arrived. Don't worry, I raided your closet while you were gone {and moved it all to the new place} and picked out plenty of jewels to take with me on my trip. You'll get them back.. eventually.
Dear Braum's, the fact that you are four blocks from my new house is both exciting and horrifying. We will become fast friends. Frequent friends. For sure. 
Dear Study Abroad Trip, I am so close! I am only four days away from boarding a plane and setting off for London. Then Stratford. Then Paris. Then Brussels. When I signed up for you three years ago, I thought you were an eternity away. Now you are less than half a week from me. Way to go.
Dear Anderson Family Crew, I am so thrilled to have won the giveaway! What an unexpected surprise! By the way, your blog and children are precious. You are such an encouragement to follow and I must say welcome to Texas! Your next adventure has just begun.
Dear Roommates, this first month in the house has been such a blessing. You ladies are spectacular and I am going to miss you like crazy the next three weeks. You all need to get Skype asap ;)
Dear Crickets, you are no longer allowed in our house. Yes, I'm looking at you, bug.
Dear GAP, oh my goodness, your sales were amazing today! I would say I spent too much money, but I didn't because everything was so cheap! These new additions to my wardrobe are going to look great in London.
Dear Nanny & Pop, you two are continual blessings to me. Though you'll never read this {your laptop has sat untouched since Mother's Day, but that's alright} I still declare that I have the best grandparents a girl could ask for and I can't wait to see you in a few days.
Dear Lovely Readers, I leave on Tuesday for 20 days in Europe {eeeeee!} BUT I won't disappear completely. I have a few bits scheduled for you all AND I may even be able to update a few times from the trip. Keep checking in and I can't wait to share my journey with you all.
Dear Gracious Savior of Mine, You convince me daily of Your love for me. In the little things and the big, You are always faithful. All glory and praises and thanks be to you. Always and as You wish.

Keep On Carrying On {What's In the Bag}

I am less than a week away from Europe! Sometimes it just hits me and BAM! I realize I'm almost there! It has taken so much self control over the past few weeks not to pack too early, but I am now at the point where it is perfectly acceptable --even wise!-- to do so. My suitcase is going to need a few more once-overs. Which would make them twice- and thrice-overs. I tend to over pack. BUT my carry-on bag was far easier to pack. Here's a look at what I've got inside:

1. Bible & Journal. Truth be told, these go with me most everywhere. They are small, pocket-sized, and incredibly special to me. Honestly, I'm expecting to finish my journal in the next few days, so I'm either bringing a different one or buying one when I get there. 

2. Canon Rebel T3. Oh, girl, this is definitely coming with me. There is no way I would go off to Europe without my camera. Last time I went overseas, I borrowed a Rebel from the yearbook department (perks of being photo editor) and it did far better than my mom's point-and-shoot. My spiffy, ruffled camera strap cover from Abigail is too cute not to bring along.

3. Extra SD Cards & SD Card Reader for iPad. I cannot tell you how much I recommend getting an SD card reader if you have an iPad. It has saved my life multiple times. When a card fills up, I plug in the reader, import my pictures, and voila! New empty card with the pictures saved! No worrying about losing the tiny things or running out of room while on the trip. I feel well prepared here.

4. Book Light. For once, I'm not bringing a physical book with me on this trip. I am relying on my Kindle app quite heavily to keep the entertainment coming. But, I do like to journal so this light will come in handy. And should I decide to buy any books or plays --which, most likely will happen-- I will be glad to have it.

5. Travel Books/Composition Book. I have already mentioned the Knopf Mapguides in a previous post and I seriously cannot get over them! Their sections and fold out maps are going to be lifesavers on the trip and I'll be browsing these pretty much every evening to prepare for the next day. I also have the Top 10 Paris guide for a little variety and a composition book for class assignments. I suppose since I am getting class credit for this trip I should do some of the homework.. maybe.

6. Up2U Gum. When flying, my ears hurt something fierce. Chewing gum during take-off and landing always seem to help. They help the popping. I recently discovered Up2U gum. Half of it is minty, the other half of the package is fruity. I can never decide and it's more convenient than carrying two packs.
 The flavor does not last terribly long, but I tire of gum quickly anyway.

7. Sunglasses. Enough said.

8. Mini colored-pencils. I like to doodle. And draw in coloring books. But these are coming along for journaling purposes. They're just fun and will add a little variety. Don't judge ;)

9. Handy-dandy Earbuds. My white earbuds are the kind that came with my iPhone. I'm really not a huge fan of this kind but they will suffice. I'd much rather have the kind with the squishy ends (their technical name escapes me) but I don't want to spend $14 on a new pair when that could buy me a ticket to see a show at the Globe (ahhh!). Little white Apple earbuds it is then.

10. Wallet. Happy Snails seemed like the perfect Vera Bradley pattern to pick when choosing a new wallet for this trip. Well, it wasn't ONLY for this trip but Mom offered to get me a new carry-on bag with matching wallet so I didn't complain :) It has many pockets and dividers, perfect for sorting euros, pounds, and American dollars.

11. Passport. Another Happy Snails appearance in my Vera passport cover. My last passport expired in October which was a total bummer. It had stamps from Germany, Wales, and Ireland and I was hoping to continue to fill it. That didn't quite work out. Obviously my passport is a must-have for this trip and I thought it might as well look cute!

12. Basic Makeup. We are taking a night flight from Dallas to London with a full day ahead of us. While the rest of my toiletries are going to be tucked away in my suitcase, a little eyeliner, mascara, lipgloss and powder will be nice to have handy to freshen up with once we get to the hotel. Oh, and the pattern is Buttercup, also by Vera.

13. iPad. The biggest surprise for me last Christmas came in the form of an iPad and I am so thankful to have it for this trip. I am not bringing a laptop because I think this will work just as well. It has everything I need. I can update the blog (I'll do my best to post once or twice a week to keep you all in tune with the trip!), check e-mail, Facebook my parents, and save my pictures. I have several movies and podcasts to entertain me on long plane, train, coach, and ferry rides and the Kindle app is loaded with several books to keep me company. My iPad will be the perfect traveling buddy, sitting cozy in it's  Mocha Rouge case.

And that's that! I may tuck a few more things into the case as the trip nears but for the most part, there you have it. I also seem to be trying to set a record of how many different Vera patterns one girl can carry at a time. {I'll most likely be adding three more. My toiletries case is Make Me Blush, my coin purse is Purple Punch, and I have a cross body bag in Poppy Fields. Oh goodness.}

Am I missing anything? What else would you carry on?

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat {Shooting Indoor/Outdoor}

Another Disney reference, I know, but I couldn't help myself. It fit too well! Aristocats anyone? Sigh. Alright, moving on.  You may recognize a few of these faces. Grace, Kira, and Michael all had me take their headshots before the opening of their summer show Indoor/Outdoor.  This show was quite a bit longer and had much brighter colors than Gruesome Playground Injuries so I had to take a completely different approach to shooting it. Again, another learning experience.

Indoor/Outdoor is about a cat, played by the lovely Kira, and her journey of discovering life indoors and outdoors, and the path to deciding what she wants out of life and where that --and she-- resides. Michael played her owner, a quirky, introverted man devoted to his work and his pet who, with the assistance of a vet office receptionist by day/cat-whisperer by night played by Grace, learns about himself and his cat. Cisco played a variety of characters including an alley cat named Oscar who made multiple appearances throughout the show.

The director was actually one of my high school directors who is now at BU in the graduate program. I really enjoyed the performance and I heard they had a sold out crowd each night. Way to go friends :)

Happy, Happy, Happy Day! {It's My BIG's Birthday!}

I should probably simply title this post "Ode to Carissa" because that's what it is going to be! She has appeared on the blog several times before and it makes absolutely perfect sense because she is one of my best friends. Today is her 22nd birthday! She has always made a point to follow and check out my blog(s)/tumblr, bugging me to keep posting and checking up on how things are going. She's started blogging, too and I'm a big fan of what she writes.

I met Carissa on Move-In Day my freshman year at BU. She and Corey appeared at my door with a bag of gifts and goodies in hand to welcome me to campus and to the theatre departments. They were to be my Bigs and wanted to make sure their Little was getting all settled in. We connected right off the bat.

This was basically our first meeting ;) She gives amazing hugs.

Carissa and I actually go way back. Something we didn't find out until later that fall when she came home with me for Fall Break. Come to find out, our parents were dance partners back when they used to swing dance competitively. Crazy huh? We knew each other as babies and didn't know it until just a few years ago. Looks like we were meant to be friends from the start :)

I have been so, so blessed by knowing this lady! She has always supported and encouraged me, challenged me and carried me, and I know our friendship is going to last far beyond college. I miss having her in town but she's just a few hours up the road. Distance won't break us. 

Carissa Jade, you are my hero. Happy birthday, beautiful BIG!

Phenomenal Cosmic Powers {Itty Bitty Living Space}

Aladdin reference anyone? Anyone? I couldn't help it :) Anyways, today I want to introduce you to my room. Believe it or not, I still have four boxes to unpack. Otherwise -four weeks into the move- I am nearly settled in. I live with five other girls, but have my own room. And it's really not that itty bitty. It ended up being much more spacious than I expected! I've spent the weekend hanging pictures and mirrors, putting final touches on several of the corners. Here is a glimpse into where I spend my evenings and some of the bits & bobs around the room.

Say hello to my dresser. This nine-drawer yellow beauty was found at a Goodwill for $25. It was already yellow, outlined in white, with beautiful detailing on the legs and handles. As you can see, it is home to many a picture and candle, as well as all of my jewelry. The wicker mirror is from my childhood bedroom (the last ounce of wicker remaining in my possession, thank goodness..) as is the orange shelf beneath it. 

The two plates hung on the left were sale finds at Anthropologie, and the picture hanging with them was a gift from my grandmother. I believe it's a sketch of Shakespeare's home in Stratford found at her favorite thrift store. Two of my favorite pieces in this hodge-podge collection include my peeking owl figurine (isn't it cute?) and the mini topiary roughly center. 

Left is an up-close picture of my jewelry tree. This jewel I picked up at First Monday Canton for $15 and the bird's nest was a recent addition from the local boutique Roots. It was too perfect not to sit among my necklaces. I have far more than I actually wear, but I keep them all out on display, especially since many of them were costume jewelry and personal jewelry from one of my grandmothers.

Next is my monogrammed mug from Anthro. It houses my absolute favorite type of pen (which went on sale this week at the bookstore for 25cents per package! I was so thrilled and bought too many...). It is perched on my desk (which you'll see more of later on) next to my bucket of sticky notes. Yes I said bucket of them. I am slightly addicted.

To the right of my dresser is my closet and crafting corner. The tall dresser is home to my sewing machine and six drawers of crafting supplies. It is still a baby pink from years ago, so don't be surprised if it gets a make-over later this summer. Across my closet door -which proudly displays my scarf collection; I'm going on 40- is the rest of my crafting goodness. 

This orange case was from Plum, another local boutique, and a Christmas gift from Mom. The bulletin board serves as an inspiration board and a great place for rogue needles and pins. My Martha Stewart glitter set sits in the jar next to a cup and saucer full of chalk and pushpins. The sign on the right is a chalkboard, another Canton find, and it serves as a great reminder.

"For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the clouds." Psalm 108:4

And then the tower. The leaning tower of books. I used to have two bookcases, both wicker, which went into the garage sale after the move. I was in such a hurry to get all things wicker out of my room that I forgot I needed to replace the bookshelves with more to house my library. For now, this will have to do. I have 470+ books piled here and to the right (which you can barely see under the sound machine) including fiction, Christian inspiration, plays and textbooks. The piles are working for now, I just have to be gentle shutting the door so they don't all come tumbling down :)

Lastly, while i was taking pictures of the knick knacks on my desk, I came across this tiny jar from Anthropologie. Carissa had deemed it the "Jar of Hope" on her last visit and I thought that a lovely fit. Of course, I set it back on its shelf after instagramming the beauty only to hear a crash and see that it had dropped, splitting in two. Just my luck. A little super glue should set it straight. I hope...

Shooting Summer Shows {Gruesome Playground Injuries}

This week I've had the opportunity to learn even more about myself and my camera by shooting the dress rehearsals of two summer shows at BU. The first was Gruesome Playground Injuries. We read this play in Contemporary Plays last semester, but seeing it performed was an entirely different story. Jason and Eliza were amazing! It's shows like these that remind me why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Just a quick update tonight. It's quite late and I've just come in from shooting the second show Indoor/Outdoor. I'll have those for you to peek at soon!

InstaWeek; Amazing Wonders

What a week! I am so thankful that it is finally the weekend. Sometimes the days just pass before you know it, and it was one of those weeks. I spent my mornings 9-12 volunteering at a local Vacation Bible School. This year's theme was Amazing Wonders Aviation. Last year I was in charge of snacks for the elementary school kids, which included making 600 taxis out of twinkies and snack packs with m&m's and twizzlers. I smelled like twinkies for a week. 

This year I was in charge of leading preschool music. And when I say leading I mean running because it was me, myself, and I. I had five groups of children each day, the youngest at 15 months old and the oldest almost 6. It was chaotic but fun. The little blonde boy below had the most precious laugh and he giggled at everything. Made my day.

On Thursday, Carissa came to visit fresh from her trip to New York. We had dinner and did a little shopping, and spent the night catching up on life. I really miss that girl when she's gone. Of course, there's always a bit of mischief when Carissa is concerned; this time she found my clothespins and made a point to hide some around the room. Gifts, right?

This week was also the first week in a month that I haven't had to go home more than once. I don't mind the two hour drive, it goes by pretty quickly, but I've been making it rather frequently since we're moving. Every time I come home more furniture has disappeared. The dining room has been sold and the living room is flooded with cardboard. We close next week and move in the following one! Almost there!

It's felt a little like Christmas this week with all the packages I've been getting. The plays and travel books I need for my study abroad trip (17 days!) as well as gadgets for my car --phone charger, gps cord, etc-- made their way to my front door. My favorite package came in bright orange and it was my prints from Shutterfly! I love their 101 free prints promo and always hold out for it. So many wonderful memories from the past year and they are ripe & ready to decorate my room.

Did I mention our neighbors were getting a dog? They oh so kindly informed us of this last week, and I must admit I wasn't thrilled. Especially after I heard it was 83% wolf. WOLF. The house down the street has a great dane. I'm simply not a fan of big dogs and the thought of having one living in the same building as us wasn't thrilling. However, Koda was picked up yesterday morning and I am in love with this pup! She is so sweet, simply precious, and so chill! Not hyper or loud, just content to mosey around and be loved on. Now that I can do :)

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Wednesday, you are more than welcome here. Now, the mosquito I keep glimpsing around my room.. not so much. But in other news, today I am linking up {here} for What I'm Loving Wednesday. Let me tell you, there is plenty to love.

The Color Run
*I first heard about this over at Under the Sycamore [one of my absolute favorite ladies to follow!] when Ashley was listing the 5k's she was planning to run. It came up again this week on Pinterest and I knew it was something I wanted to do. It is a 5k where at the marker for each kilometer, volunteers for the walk throw dry paint of a certain color onto the participants. By the end you are joyfully splatter-painted as you cross the finish line. I am hoping the races appear in Austin and Dallas again next year since I've missed them this spring.

Lineage of Grace
*I have just finished this collection of stories by Francine Rivers and it is now among my favorites. She takes what we know of the five women listed in the genealogy of Christ and explores their stories, highlighting how God used women of all kinds, simple, faithful, fallen, and unsuspecting, to bring about eternity's greatest gift. You'll visit Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary as they love and learn to follow the Lord. I highly recommend it.

Mindy Gledhill's Album "Anchor"
*Her voice is beautiful and clear, her lyrics just the same, and playing this album on Spotify instantly brightens my mood. My favorite songs include "All About Your Heart", "I Do Adore", and the album's title "Anchor."

Snow White and the Huntsman; The Score
*Originally, I was hesitant about this movie. I am not a Kristen Stewart fan but the story intrigued me. Plus, I am definitely a fan of Chris Hemsworth :) The movie pleasantly surprised me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But the score! Oh, it is lovely. I listened to it non-stop the first few days after seeing the movie. A great addition to any reading play list.

Knopf Mapguides {London, Paris, Brussels}
*Ahhhh! It's coming up so soon. Three weeks from right now I will be on a plane headed for London. Seriously, it cannot come fast enough. Last week I picked up a few travel books at Barnes & Noble and swiftly became obsessed. They had the same type for London and Paris, and I ordered the one from Brussels which came in yesterday! These Knopf Mapguides divide the cities into regions and have a little fold out map specifically of that region to simplify things and highlight attractions. I shall be highlighting and marking things soon.

Ruche's Summer Look Book
*This is perhaps my favorite look book so far. I now want to run off to Tuscany and dress this fabulously, doing nothing but shopping in farmers' markets and taking in the scenery. Anyone want to come with me? :) The pieces are beautiful and the styling of the shoot is lovely. See more at shopruche.com or at A Joyful Journal's peek into the look book {here}

The 66th Annual Tony Awards
*This is the first year I've actually been able to sit down and watch the Tony's all the way through. Once I did, I couldn't believe I never had before! What an incredible night honoring brilliant theatre! And this year was especially exciting since a Baylor Theatre alum was a nominee! Sic'em Elizabeth A. Davis. She was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in Once. She did not win but we are still so proud to call her one of our own. Plus, she looked fabulous on the red carpet.

Rifle Paper Co.
*Y'all. This is where I gravitate to in The Paper Source and Anthropologie. I am a lover of stationery and the Rifle Paper Co. is my brand of choice. Their botanical garden series can be found in several places on my desk, and I have recently been eyeing their set of travel notecards {pictured below}.

All for now, dears. What are you loving this week?

A Sunny Afternoon {Headshots with Grace}

Laughter is infectious. No one's laugh is as beautiful as that of my dear friend Grace. Goodness, this girl brings me so much joy. This beauty and I work together at the theatre and she has become one of my sweetest friends. She is talented, enchanting, and so kind hearted. A dreamer, a thinker, and a go-getter, I am so proud of this miss and I'm so bummed that I'm losing her to NYC this summer! Oh well, we'll conquer the city together one day.

Even caught mid-laugh, this lady is beautiful! 

Isn't she stunning? And I'm really enjoying learning more about my camera every time I go out. Practice makes perfect.

{Linking up @ And Then She Snapped}

The Blueprints of a Home

Home sweet home. Apartment sweet apartment. Oh, how nice it is to have a place to call home.

I am truly blessed. Blessed to be living in an apartment/duplex with five amazing girls (three who are here this summer) that challenge and encourage me daily. We have been here one week and every day it feels more like home. Soon, we are all getting together to talk about our wants and desires for the house, how to be purposeful in building up and serving each other as well as keeping our home open to others and a nurturing environment.

Since moving in, I've been trying to process just what this move means. Living in a house of six is different than living in a house of two. BY FAR. Both are great things, simply different. It will take some getting used to.  I am excited for the adventure :)

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers Michaela of Michaela Noelle Designs posted a canvas project which included the following quote:

By wisdom a house is built, and through knowledge its rooms are filled with lovely, rare, and beautiful treasures, overflowing with peace and joy.

That is what I want our house to be. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," says Joshua 24:15 and we want this to be true. We will serve the Lord, loving Him and following His ways, but our house will serve Him, too. Be it hosting Lifegroup, housing discipleship, or simply providing an avenue for deeper relationships between the roommates, we want it to be God-glorifying. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for Him. 

Those of us who are here for the summer have begun decorating the house. I must say I am quite pleased with what we've done so far! Two years ago, I bought some house plans/blueprints at an antique store for $1 per set. Today, Alyssa and I "wallpapered" the dining area with them.

To the left of the kitchen table (which was my parents' first table when they got married), we have a large blank wall above part of the pantry (our pantry consists of random sets of shelves since the house did not have one built in). To fill the wall we found items from my last apartment and combined them like so: an old shutter, an empty circular frame, a thrift store painting, an oval mirror, and a church window.

The living room is quite the hodge-podge of furniture, but we don't mind too much. My mom's antique buffet sits under the television, VHS/DVD combo (I still have my entire collection of classic Disney tapes; they are watched frequently), and two lamps rescued from Goodwill. There is a spare/random drawer bought at the Habitat for Humanity Restore that is currently holding Christmas lights, but will someday keep more movies. Quilts are piled to the side for a home-y touch, and Kristen's giant rug covers the tile. We have a matching black couch and chair, a red love seat, and an oversized armchair, too. Quite the cozy spot.

The following is just one of many maps found about the house and it, too, was a Goodwill find for around $3 (seeing a trend here?). The mirrors were bought at a different Goodwill (I really have no self control in those places...) over a year ago and I never hung them. Until now :) These sit beside our front door and welcome guests from all across the world. And the neighborhood.

My room is taking me the most time to unpack and get settled in to. The furniture is in place but several boxes still need to be emptied. My closet... yeah, let's not go there yet. This room will get a post of it's own soon, but for now here is a glimpse of it on move-in day. It's not so bare any more.

This year has so much potential. I can't wait to spend it in this beautiful new home.

Rachael Getting Married {Wedding Weekend in Wichita}

Last weekend was a whirlwind, but it brought so much joy!

On Friday, four of my new roommates and I moved into our new place. My room is now nearly unpacked and the see of cardboard boxes have been returned to my mother (who is also packing to move). I will post pictures of the space soon, but it's still messy from the transition ;)

Friday was long and tiring with our dear friend Murphy tagging along all day. Murphy as in Murphy's Law which says everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Boy did it. Between a broken a/c and the truck breaking down, amongst other things, we had a rough day. BUT I got to spend more time with my family than I was expecting, so that's a plus.

Saturday, after an evening of unpacking, sent me to Wichita Falls for the wedding of my good friend Rachael. Grace and I loaded into the car, picked up Kelsey along the way, almost ran out of gas, and arrived just minutes before it began. Rachael was stunning! Her dress was amazing, her backyard was transformed, mason jars hanging from the trees with tea lights setting the mood just after sunset with ease. The music was beautiful, the vows were so sweet, and the evening was a success.

It was great to see everyone from theatre outside of their element. Or at least the element in which we know each other best. Carissa was there which made it even more fun, and we saw a few friends who had been out of the department for over a year. 

I am so thrilled for Rachael and Mark and wish them the best. Just a short update today. The rest of my boxes are calling :)

Out and About {Headshots with Michael}

I've been at it again and I certainly learn more every time that I go out. Michael was such a trooper and so kind with my unprepared self; the first time we went out I forgot to bring an extra battery pack. We spent half an hour shooting on Monday then half an hour on Tuesday, and here are a few of the shots we came away with. Still working on the others but they may have to wait.