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T W E N T Y - E I G H T || One Little Word {February's Reflections}

We made it! You and I powered through 28 days and 28 prompts together, and I had a blast! Some posts were shorter than others, and some provoked more thought than their neighbors, but over all I am so thankful that so many of you joined me and I truly enjoyed getting to know each one of you better!

Today's prompt is unique because I am pairing the final day of this challenge with the monthly link up for the One Little Word 2014 workshop.  I have shared about my participation in OLW twice so far, and it will continue to appear on this blog throughout the year. For those of you joining us from OLW, welcome! The link up is at the bottom of this post :)

This month's prompts and project included monthly reflections and the creation of action points for the year. I chose to only include the reflections because my action points need to be refined and reshaped for my album. I spent a large portion of this month traveling and would rather revisit the February prompts with more intention than blast through them while burning the midnight oil just to say I completed them in February. 

When it came to my reflections, I wanted to treat them as a place to record a high/low of each month. However, when I thought back to January, I had a hard time remembering what all happened that month, so it was indeed a general reflection. I look forward to reading these throughout the year and getting a glimpse of what my journey with my word for the year (surrender) will have been.

I look forward to seeing how my #blogeverydayinFEB friends interpret this prompt, and for my One Little Word-ers to share their pages from this month! Don't forget to grab a button for easy linking.

One Little Word Blog Hop

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T W E N T Y - S E V E N || Daily Blog Lovin'

Ah! How are we already one day away from the end of the #blogeverydayinFEB challenge?! This blows my mind. I have so enjoyed this journey (all the ups and downs and days without wifi included), and I am excited to share my response to today's prompt with you.  Below are the blogs I read daily and they each come with a 5 star review and recommendation from yours truly. I actively follow more than a dozen blogs and I have many sweet friends who are bloggers, but for longevity 's(or brevity's sake) I've stuck to these lucky 7. Check them out, my friends! You won't regret it!

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Michaela Noelle Designs
If there is any proof that God uses the blogging realm for His purposes, Michaela's blog is it. I have followed her for several years, and when I first stumbled upon it she was living in Seattle. I had no idea that I would move to her city two short years later, just after she moved back to Cali. But the city was being planted in my heart and I had no idea. Michaela Noelle Designs is a great source of inspiration and encouragement. She has a great eye for design, incredible fashion sense, and such a sweet heart. 

Such a gem this one is! Victoria and I were sponsoring another blog simultaneously, and I never could have guessed the friendship that would spark because of those two little sidebar ads. She is also a Texas gal which sweetens this tea even more, and I had the joy of hugging her neck and meeting her for lunch last summer. At Happily Ever Strader, she shares her heart and the adventure that is married life, as well as her love for neutrals, Anthropologie, her hubby, and their adorable pup Matilda. Drop by and say hello!

Bloom the Blog
Nicole is one of the most precious bloggers out there. I found Bloom almost a year ago and promptly fell in love with her genuine writing and ability to encourage women in all walks of life. Bloom showcases her love for Christ, her desire to please Him above all, and her zest for life in general. She and her hubby (another newlywed!) have recently started a wedding film company and you can tell that Nicole puts her heart and soul into whatever she does. I'm so thankful for this lady and the light she is for so many!

I knew the book before the bloggers, but I have come to love both equally! John and Sherry are pro home owners and DIYers, sharing their knowledge, trials, and tutorials simply and splendidly on their blog. They invite their readers into daily happenings as well as far off dreams, all the while entertaining us with snarky one liners, made up words, and the antics of their toddler. If you're looking for projects to spruce up your space (whether it is a first home, final home, or feisty temporary basement nook) they are a great go-to.

Under the Sycamore
Ashley Ann Photography was one of the first blogs I actively followed. I remember being perched on my bestie's recliner four summers ago, scrolling and scrolling through the archives of this beautiful family. Ashley is a great photographer, an adventurous mom, and an advocate for those who most need one. She shares camera settings and crafting ideas with a unique voice and inviting spirit. Her kids are hilarious and every time I hop to her page I am reminded and encouraged in my dream of having a large family that pursues Christ and creativity in all our days. Plus, one of my favorite illustrators Katie Daisy did her blog design, and isn't it just lovely?!

Y'all. This woman is a world changer. And a super hero. A self-proclaimed nap time abolitionist, Liz is part of an organization started by my church called Unbound which actively works to educate about sex trafficking and makes efforts to end it. She is currently in the process of raising funds for the adoption of siblings from Burundi and she blogs about those efforts as well as a myriad of other inspiring topics (and some super challenging, which are just as impactful!) at Lark and Bloom. Fun fact, she was part of the team that started the church that I now attend in Seattle. I love the way she says yes to Jesus so bodily, so freely. Can I be her when I grow up? ;) Definitely check her out!

Lara Casey
I'm unashamed to say that this woman is on my bucket list to meet. If you know anything about Lara you know her heart is as big as the Texas sky and as sweet as honey. She is the editor of Southern Weddings Magazine, the force behind Making Things Happen and the ever-popular Power Sheets. We share a background in theatre, a passion for the arts, and a desire to see people activated in their dreams and daily goals. She's got a few years on me and in my opinion she has hung the moon! Her blog follows the antics of her adorable 2-year-old Grace and is an open book to the lessons she is learning along the way. You won't regret following her, and you may become as obsessed as I am.

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T W E N T Y - S I X || Erin of The Emerging Foodie

Hey lovely readers of Anchored in Love Divine! My name is Erin and I'm the sole creator over at The Emerging Foodie. I was lucky enough to meet Bailey in October and have been blessed to get to know her the past couple months; isn't she just the sweetest? Bailey and I have always talked about doing a joint blog effort one day so when she asked me to share one of my recipes with you all, I jumped at the chance!

What I'm sharing with you today is a recipe that, I guarantee, will be a hit with whoever is lucky enough to have a piece. Not only is it incredibly addicting but it is also laughably easy. 5 ingredients here people. And the flavors-my, oh my, the flavors-- are dessert nirvana. Not even kidding.

Peanut butter chocolate saltine toffee. See what I mean? Pure dessert bliss.

Saltine toffee has been floating around the internet for a few years and I've never tried it until now. But I didn't want to make the typical saltine toffee and post it, showing you new pictures about a mundane recipe. So I kicked it up a notch. By adding peanut butter. Because who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate? No one? Exactly, I thought so too.

The flavor combination in this peanut butter chocolate saltine toffee is rid-onc-ulous. Yes, that is a word and yes, it describes this insanely delicious toffee. At first you'll be hit with the super sweet toffee layer. Caramel-y, buttery, rich toffee. Yes please. The saltines add a slight touch of salt to break up the sweet while providing some extra texture and crunch. Whoever thought up this saltine idea was brilliant. And on top of these two layers is the euphoria-inducing peanut butter chocolate layer. Do I even need to describe the nutty, sweet, addicting combination of peanut butter and chocolate? No? Okay great.

The end result is all of these flavors in one big sweet symphony in your mouth. You need to try it --you'll instantly be hooked.

True confession: This peanut butter chocolate saltine toffee is candy crack. Take one bite and you'll be glued to the plate of toffee until it has suddenly disappeared. Ok ok, you're right, I don't actually know what its like to be addicted to crack. But I do know what its like to be addicted to candy crack. I'm telling you--one bite and you're addicted.

This addiction is a good thing, people. Life before trying this toffee is bleak in comparison to what it is now. Exaggeration? Maybe. But seriously this stuff is to die for.

Can I just mention the elephant in the room? Isn't this stuff gorgeous?? I don't know if I ever would have called toffee gorgeous before this. But I sure am now. Just look at all those pretty swirls and gorgeous golden hues. This stuff is a stunner. My mom's piano students and families said they initially grabbed it because it was pretty (they had no idea what was about to hit their tastebuds) and kept coming back because it was so delicious. Win-win combination.

The final brilliance about this peanut butter chocolate saltine toffee is that it is easy peasy. 5 ingredients. Some boiling, some oven time, some melting. You're good to go. This took about 10 minutes total to make. The longest part was waiting for it to cool and harden. It probably felt longer than the actual elapsed time because i stood watching, waiting for it to cool so I could get my hands (and camera) on it. Easy, fast, delicious. This recipe is a guaranteed win.

Get boiling and get ready for the toffee experience of your life.

  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 40 saltines (I used Premium Original topped with sea salt)
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. peanut butter chips (can find in baking aisle)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Line a large baking sheet (one that will fit 40 saltines spread out) with parchment paper–don’t use wax paper.
  3. Spread out saltines so they’re lined up in rows (I had 8 columns, 5 rows) and touching.
  4. Over medium-high heat in a medium pot, melt butter and sugar. Once boiling at a large boil, let boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. After 3 minutes, remove from heat and pour over saltines. With a spatula and a light touch, spread the toffee mixture over the saltines. It’s ok if the saltines spread out a little bit but try to keep them together as much as possible.
  6. Once toffee is spread, put in 400 degree oven and bake for about 5 minutes. The toffee should be bubbly.
  7. While these 5 minutes are elapsing, melt chocolate chips in the microwave starting at a minute, stirring, and repeating for 15 additional seconds if needed. Stir until melted.
  8. Right before 5 minutes are up, repeat with peanut butter chips. Set both melted chips aside.
  9. Pull saltines/toffee out of the oven.
  10. Pour out chocolate on one column, peanut butter on the next, chocolate on the next, etc. until all rows are covered with alternating melted chips and all the melted chips have been used.
  11. Spread the melted chocolate and pb evenly over each column. Don’t yet swirl. Once your columns have been spread, take a small spatula and swirl together two columns (a chocolate and a PB column) at once. Repeat with the whole pan.
  12. Let cool at room temperature until hardened. Alternatively (if you’re impatient like me), place in refrigerator for around 15 minutes.
  13. I like the rustic look of these broken into pieces so you can either break it up into desired sizes or cut with a knife.
  14. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container.
  15. Enjoy!

Y'all. If that doesn't convince you to follow The Emerging Foodie, I don't know what will! Erin is amazing in the kitchen, and I have the joy of basking in the brilliance of her cooking skills each week at our Lifegroup potluck dinner. She is inventive and inspiring! Hop on over to her blog and show her some love! I can't wait to check out your recipes today. And can you believe the challenge is almost over?!

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T W E N T Y - F I V E || Sweet Sixteen Bailey Jean

Dear Bailey Jean,

Enjoy your golden year, my dear. You turned sixteen on July 16th, and I promise it only gets better! Yes, your junior year will be hard. You'll get your first and only C and, honey, you will survive. You'll fall in love with Shakespeare and begin the oh so daunting task of looking at colleges and trying to choose a major. Don't stress, you'll change it all last minute anyway ;)

Six years from now you will be miles away from where you ever expected to end up (and yes, literally 2,000+ miles away) and it will be incredible. My biggest piece of advice to you is to enjoy the ups and the downs, and remember to look for joy in your trials no matter your season, state, or status. It will make all the difference. Yes, prom will bring drama, but it will also be a sweet memory. Yes, you'll struggle through college algebra and statistics, but there is laughter to be had. Yes, you'll experience heartache and loss, but your support system will surprise you.

Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep at it even when people let you down or put you down. God has given you passions and talents for a reason. He will show you the way at exactly the right time.

Give Mrs. Wood an extra hug, and tell Mr. McKeever thank you a few more times. Remember that you don't have to do it all but what you decide to do, do well. Enjoy your last two years of high school. Don't pressure yourself so much. It will all work out. 

And be careful with your heart. You're saving it for something --and someone-- special. I'm not sure who it is yet, but your 22 year old self will be proud of the choices you made even when they went against the grain. 

I'm proud of you, dear, and someday you will be, too.

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T W E N T Y - F O U R || Victoria of Happily Ever Strader

Hello there sweet loves! I'm Victoria from Happily Ever Strader, and I'm taking over Bailey's blog today. First, let me say that I am truly honored to be able to post and say hi to you. Bailey is an incredible woman full of joy and grace, and when you came here expecting her, you got me. I recognize that and truly count it a blessing to be getting your attention on here. 

This summer I got to meet Bailey, a "blog friend", in real life. Let me tell you my take aways from just a short trip to Chick-fil-A with her.

She wanted to bless me. I have gone back over this so many times in my head and never told her... but I have a regret from my meeting with Bailey. She wanted to purchase my meal and I didn't let her. I felt like I would be rude to let a "stranger" buy something for me.. but really I wasn't allowing her to bless me out of the overflow of love in her heart. I should have let her buy my cobb salad, and since that day, I am grateful and accepting of loving gifts. Next time I get to hug your neck, Bailes, the Chicky is on me! ;)

This girl is PASSIONATE about the union of faith and creativity. I know nothing about theatre. NOTHING. NADA. It's not something I have excitement about unless it includes me and the hubs checking out a musical. However, I was CAPTIVATED by hearing Bailey talk about how her love for Jesus and her love for theatre go hand in hand. It was a really cool thing for me to sit and talk to someone I met via the inter webs and hear about how she was living out her love for the Lord through  the pursuit of a career in theatre. Eye opening thing number two: people all have different dreams and passions and it's so cool to see how they make them about their faith. It was so fun to hear about the journey of someone so different from me, yet exactly the same.

So there's my opener. Things about Bailey that I learned and wanted you to learn too. 
You're reading a good blog, y'all. :)

Now, a little about me. I thought that today I would share with you a few Instagrams I've posted that I think give you a realistic look into my life and joys. I figure that a lot of times with guest posters, short, sweet, and full of pictures can be really fun. :) If you like what you see, come follow me! @victoriastrader!

We recently completed a kitchen renovation and I'm basically living in a dream world because of it!

First married Christmas morning... take me back!

Last summer I completed my first sewing project and made curtains. It's funny how different the rest of our living room looks now, but I still love the curtains. :)

Date nights with my sweet husband are basically the best thing.

Okay. Can you tell I miss Christmas? :) 

One of the highlights of my year life was being featured in Southern Weddings magazine!

We are total homebodies.. this date night from fall is one of my favorite memories!

Our Saturdays consist of a lot of homebody-ing on the couch, too. :)

I LOVE interior styling. SO much. 

This is our precious English bulldog, Matilda. She's my love bug.

Thanks for letting me stop by and share a bunch of randomness today! Yay! :) Come check out my blog, here!

Didn't you LOVE meeting Victoria?! She is such a sweetheart, and when she sent me her post I was blown away and so blessed by her sweet words. Girl, I'll be back in Texas before you know it and we'll have a Chick-fil-a date ASAP. Hop over to her blog and instagram to follow this sweet friend of mine, and if you stop by today you'll see a familiar face ;)  Don't forget to link up with your guest posts below!  

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T W E N T Y - T H R E E || The Joys of Blogging

Oh, blogging, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Really though, it would take several hands to count the reasons that I love blogging and the way it has blessed me. I have called Anchored in Love Divine home for two years now and it has become quite the retreat for me. I previously blogged at Yellow Shoes & Grace and prior to that you could find me at More than Canaries. However, Anchored has brought the most joy and has truly been a gift these past two years. For Day 23 of the #blogeverydayinFEB challenge, I'm sharing my three greatest joys of blogging. See below :)

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1.  Creative Outlet
My little corner of the internet has provided a much needed release over the years. It is a space where I can be raw and vulnerable, quirky and curious, all the while using the white space and blinking cursor to catch the thoughts that run a mile a minute through my mind. If I am sad, frustrated, excited, or simpler reflective, I can pop onto blogger and find a way to organize this white-water rapid-esque stream of consciousness. I can write, I can share inspiring pictures, and I can dabble in photoshop, giving friends new and old a glimpse into my life. For a journaler with little time to journal, it is a great time capsule and an easy way to reminisce, wandering into days gone by. I don't plan to leave it any time soon.

2. Cultivating Community
Some of best surprises of my time blogging have been the friendships that have blossomed. Parents caution you about talking to strangers via the internet, but this community is levels beyond anything I have ever experienced. When women (and men) share their lives so openly and invest in the lives of others in this way, a powerful impact is left. The people I have met and connected with through this blog have been a much needed source of encouragement and inspiration, and I am made better by knowing each of you!

3. Countless Opportunities
Blogging can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. If someone asks me why or how to blog, those are the first words from my lips. There are opportunities to face your fears and to put your heart-matters into words. There are opportunities to make friends and influence people. There are opportunities to connect with brands and organizations, rallying together to do good and to share experiences. What I love about blogging is that there is so much room for grace. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison, but when I do I focus back in on the reason I began in the first place. To share my heart my way on  my time. It's that simple. Only complicate it if you want to, and don't feel like you have to because others are doing it. Take the opportunities that suit you; you don't have to suit up for battle to blog. Just be you. That's what we want to see :)

Why do you blog? How did you get started and what are some of your favorite parts of the process?

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T W E N T Y - T W O || An Uphill Battle

When I look back at the list of prompts I put together, sometimes I just have to laugh. They are so timely! In the past month I have dealt with more stress and anxiety than I have in a year. Graduation came and went, I moved across the country with ease, and I settled in to a new city and community in the blink of an eye. But 2014? Man oh man, has it been a trial and a test. And it's only February! 

Last year, I would have said that I function well --even at my best!-- under stress. I typically do not know how to handle free time and I pack my schedule to the brim to feel most productive. But this year I have seen a major change. I need sleep, rest, and time alone to thrive, but there is a delicate balance to be had. I can easily become a recluse, hiding out in my room almost afraid of the effort it takes to pull myself out and into community. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going to Lifegroup and to church, and even out with friends, but when my stress level has risen I hide. I duck and cover and close the door to my hobbit hole, retreating to the safety of social media. I feel connected but content in my little corner.

One thing I am learning is that while I cannot control what happens, I CAN control how I respond.

I can choose to hide.
I can choose to remain inactive.
I can choose to see only the negative.
I can choose to ignore the Lord's presence.

Unfortunately, I often choose the above list. 
Fortunately, there is grace and a God who pursues me.

I can also choose joy.
I can also choose positivity.
I can also choose to worship.
I can also choose to trust Him daily.
I can also choose to activate my faith. 
I can also choose to make the most of my situation.

Instead of complaining, I can grab my 1000 Gifts journal and list my blessings.
Instead of diving into sweets, I can grab a water bottle and take a prayer jog around the lake.
Instead of retreating into my hideaway, I can call up a friend and Skype or grab coffee.
Instead of indulging in the lie that I am alone, I can seek out a mentor or gal pal to encourage.
Instead of remaining discouraged and feeling un-pursued, I can pursue Jesus.

There is always an alternative to resigning myself to anxiety. I just have to choose it. Just as I have to choose to believe Scripture when it says that He is always with me and that He is already victorious.

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T W E N T Y - O N E || Home Sweet Home

The word "home" floods my mind with memories and meanings. I'm sure you and I share many of these familiar feelings, but when it boils down to it, home has a unique significance to everyone. I immediately think of a dozen songs that use the word, movies that center around a particular house or tale of traveling home, and a handful of quotes that try to sum up the idea in ten words or less.

HOME, right now, is The Blue Door. This is my current place of residence, where I rest my head at night, and where I retreat to after a long day. This has been my home since September and I am here for another six months. My home includes four roommates, a dog, and a friendly set of neighbors. I live in a "hobbit hole" of a room in the basement, and it has become my sanctuary. This home is temporal but it is where I am headed.

HOME is also --and mostly-- Texas. If you ask where home is, that's the first word off my lips, even though I currently reside in over 2,000 miles away. Texas is my history and hopefully in my future. It is family, friends, faith, and forever. Home is sitting at the kitchen table, chatting with Mom and Dad. Home is birthday dinners with Nanny and Pop, Christmas morning surprises, and family reunions for Thanksgiving. Home is small town living with the big city less than 30 minutes away. Home is a lifetime of transitions and changing schools. Home is Baylor University and all things green and gold. Home is a place I can and will return to, and it will seem as if no time has passed.

HOME is unique in its way to shift over the years, but to always remain rooted in the same place in my heart. When nothing else is certain or consistent, and even when it is a time of smooth sailing and success, home is Jesus. Home is heaven. Home is knowing there is more to be had and more to learn from Him. If you anchor yourself to Christ, you'll always be home. You'll always have someone to return to, retreat with, rest near, and be refreshed by. A familiar song sings "Home is wherever I'm with you..." and it's so true. I may not be the homemaker that I want to be, and I may be single for quite a while, but I always have Someone to come home to. And He is Someone who goes with me even when it is far from my physical home.

HOME is what I am excited to build in the future. I want to fill my home with friends and family, scripture and song, and cultivate a place of worship, fellowship, and discipleship. I want to have a space that is open and welcoming to anyone who needs a retreat, be it for an evening or a year, and I want to be intentional with what I bring in. I want to build a family and to raise children in the way of the Lord, and I want to value the people within my home more than the possessions I have. But I also don't want to wait. I can contribute to my home now. Even if it looks different than I expected. Even if it is temporary. I can choose to build a home in this way.
What is home to you? By the way, thanks for your patience! A lack of wifi has thrown me and this challenge for a loop. 

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N I N E T E E N || Little-Known Facts

We are on Day 19 of the #blogeverydayinFEB challenge! Nineteen, can you believe it?! I certainly can't. When planning this I didn't realize just how challenging it would be to update every day, but I've really enjoyed it so far! Today we are talking about little-known facts. Having a blog has been a great outlet over the years, and some of those little-known facts have been known to be revealed here before anywhere else. However, there are also many things that my blogging buddies might not know about me, so let's dive into those shall we?

You probably knew THIS, but I spent the last four days in San Diego with my family. We hit the hot spots: Legoland, Sea World, and Disneyland, and I got to spend plenty of quality time with this guy. What a treat! I'm on my way to Chicago today, interviewing for grad school tomorrow. Prayers are appreciated!

The Little-Known Facts

1. Ooh, la, la. Not sure I'd call this a fun fact since most people know this, but my last name is actually pronounced "ro-bear". It's French. I don't put an accent mark on it, and surprisingly when I make new friends they are more likely to find out my middle name is Jean than to learn how to say my last name. So... now you know :)

2. Just around the river-bend. I mentioned this in passing a few months ago, but fun fact #2 is that I am related to Pocahontas. My dad has done some digging into our family history and he was able to trace us all the way back to her. I know it's a rather embellished version of the truth, but I now have more reasons to love the Disney classic.

3. Never tickle a sleeping dragon. I can't believe I just typed those words... ;) I am a Harry Potter nerd, and I have been a proud one since first reading the books in the early 2000's. I went to midnight book releases, read and wrote fan fiction in middle school, and I've gone through the entire series multiple times over. Any time the movie marathon comes on ABC Family, I camp out on the couch and (if my schedule allowed) I would watch them all the way through. I know too many little details and random facts, but they just stick. And that odd phrase? Well, it doesn't hold much significance but it's one of those funny facts that has remained all these years later. Believe me, I could go on for days.  I should probably stop while I'm ahead.

4. V! V-I! V-I-C-T-O-R-Y. Surprise! I used to do competitive cheerleading. Sort of. Can you tell that I'm reaching for little-known facts? If I think of any more, I promise I'll pop them in to the next couple of posts. You probably have better ones that I do. I can't wait to learn something new about you ladies!

Happy Wednesday!

DIVERGENT: A Book Review

Use Grammarly's GRAMMAR HELP because it's the best thing since sliced bread. But really, nothing butters my biscuits like a well written paragraph. I wish I had known about them in college; it would have made my English class a piece of cake. Grammarly makes it simple, and they're snarky while they do it. Check out their Facebook page here.

I always seem to jump onto a book bandwagon late in the game. I'm a self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd, but I didn't discover the books until at least 3 were published and the first movie had been released. I love The Hunger Games, but I picked up the first with the second and third books already on my shelf. Okay, that's a lie. I read the first book then bolted to Barnes & Noble as soon as I finished reading it. The same could be said of Divergent by Veronica Roth. 

Before beginning my month of traveling, I had three books in mind, one for each trip. The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, and Divergent. The first two were devoured during my flights to and from Alabama, and the latter kept me occupied on the trip to San Diego. But once I touched down in the sunny city, I had only 3 chapters left and was soon left wanting more. Mom and Dad dropped be off at B&N to pick up the second book, Insurgent,  before our 2 hour drive to Disneyland, and I finished it last night on the flight home. I may or may not have run back to the bookstore this morning to pick up Allegiant before going to the airport.... ;)

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When I bought Divergent, I had heard mixed reviews. Many of my friends loved it, and several of them did not care for it at all. I never like to take one friend's word as law over another, so I thought I'd give it a go myself. Plus the movie is coming out next month and I wanted to be able to compare the two. My opinions about the casting of that movie will wait for another day... and I should probably keep those thoughts to myself until I've actually seen it. 

All in all, I enjoyed Divergent. The concept was very interesting and seemed thoroughly explored, though the writing was not as strong as I had hoped. I have to remind myself that it is young adult fiction and the simple style made it an easy read and may have been purposeful, though I found some of the characterization to be inconsistent and some of the plot points too neatly manicured. For a book with the potential to remain raw and really kept readers guessing at first, I was soon able to predict several of the major twists and map out much of the second book. This did not keep me from reading or rushing to get my hands on Allegiant, but it does have my wheels turning about how the movies will adapt the trio and curious as what is to come from Veronica Roth next.

It is intended for readers 13 and up, and I definitely agree. A few scenes were rather racy, but as a whole Roth kept it pretty clean (save the violence) and spared us the foul language that pollutes some of the best and most compelling stories of our generation.  I'd give it 3 stars out of 5, and I will most likely read it again. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, here is a brief summary: Society as we know it is no more; it has been divided into factions, or smaller communities centered around core values and a dominant personality trait or characteristic. These factions include Candor, those that value honesty above all, Euridite, for the knowledge-seekers, Dauntless, the brave and adventurous, Amity, those who seek peace, and Abnegation, the selfless. At age sixteen, students are tested and given the opportunity to choose their faction; they may decide to remain with their families in the faction of their birth or abandon home for an altogether new faction and way of living. There is a rare few who take the aptitude test and are not immediately categorized. These are called the Divergent, and our protagonist, Beatrice Prior, is one of the special, feared few.  She is forced to decide where to hide her divergence, and how to respond to the single-mindedness of her new faction. When new truths are unearthed and society begins to crumble, she must choose to embrace what it means to be a Divergent and rally those around her to survive. It is definitely worth a read.

This post was sponsored by Grammarly, but any opinions expressed in this post belong 100% to yours truly. 
I look forward to sharing more exciting companies such as Grammarly with you in the future!

E I G H T E E N || The Style Secrets

One of the perks of landing a job at Anthropologie after graduation was the opportunity to transition my style from college to post-grad. The stellar discount helped and the gals I work with brought plenty of inspiration. Instead of throwing on nike shorts and a t-shirt (the stereotypical college gal's uniform) or paint-covered clothes to work in the props basement, my style found a new definition. I am still learning to lean toward staples instead of this month's trend, but over all I am pleased with what has appeared in (and been tossed out of) my closet.

[one. two. three. four.]
SPRING. top left. 
I don't own a pair of colored jeans, but they're on my list. This outfit is the ideal Seattle spring outfit in my book (even though this is the first spring I'll have spent in the city). The weather is still crisp and rain is almost always in the forecast, but pastels begin to brighten the day and lace adds a feminine touch. I gravitate to dark colors and neutrals, so this look would be a happy medium. And I love a good statement necklace. 

SUMMER. top right.
I hate shorts. Is that weird? If I wear them, they are a denim bermuda pair and I still don't love it. I much prefer flowing skirts and solid tee's, but I will do the occasional denim capris with a tank and cardigan. Maxi dresses/skirts are also a go-to for this gal, and I bought a few at the end of last season that I can't wait to break out again.

FALL. bottom left.
Another great transitional season, my favorite of the bunch. Fall starts early in Seattle and I love it! I would be happy in jeans, boots, and sweaters all year round. I push the limits with how early I wear this type of ensemble and how late I'll hold on to it. Pattered button ups with solid cardigans, paired with dark denim and leather boots are what you'll find me in most days. I like to keep hair and make-up as natural as possible, but a red lip and a messy bun are how I mix things up from time to time. I'd say I live in this ensemble most of the time.

WINTER. bottom right.
Who doesn't love bundling up for the cold? Chunky sweaters, colorful scarves, and knit caps are an easy find in my closet. I lean toward navy blue, gray, and black in this department, but the carves are a great opportunity to add some color. Layer in a long necklace and a great coat (I scored a plaid pea coat on super sale at Old Navy last week!) and I'm golden. I'm not ready for this season to end!

I'm going from one extreme to the next this week in particular, from sunny southern California to the depths of winter in Chicago. Looks like I'll find a reason to see all four seasons within seven days. But I'm not complaining. ;)

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S E V E N T E E N || Five Favorites

Oh, you people are so gracious. This weekend was more go-go-go than I expected, but I should have been better prepared with posts scheduled to keep up with the challenge and not leave you lovely ladies hanging all day. I am on vacation with my family in southern California, and we have been taking the city by storm! Legoland, Sea World, downtown San Diego, and quality time with my dad's side of the family. And today I'm at the happiest place on earth: DISNEYLAND. But this week's prompts are scheduled and will appear as promised each morning. Thanks for the extra grace, and I can't wait to read about your favorites today!

1. The Winter Olympics
I have watched more of the Olympics this year than ever before. Honestly, I've only ever cared about the figure skating and this year has been incredible! I watched several of the events at the guys' house and their commentary might be my favorite thing ever ;) It was hilarious! And the Russians who took the gold absolutely deserved it.

2. Let It Go
I should really say that I love the entire soundtrack from Frozen, but this song has been in my head for days. My roommate Emily showed me this cover a few days ago and I was stunned to silence. Absolutely incredible!

3. San Diego, CA
Our family vacations were almost always to this beautiful city. My dad grew up here and his family is still on this side of the country, and it has been so nice to be back on his stomping grounds. The weather is perfect and the company is great. The only thing missing is my younger sister who stayed behind to kick her pre-physical therapy program in the rear. So proud of you, girl, and I miss you bunches!

4. 1001 Ways to Cook Southern
I posted this book on Instagram a few days ago, and I cannot wait to begin cooking my way through it once I'm back in Seattle. Luis and I frequently mourn the lack of Southern cooking in the PNW and this book looks like a great way to try my hand at it. I'll keep you posted on the progress ;)

[find it on Amazon here]

5. This Quote
I need this tattooed on the back of my hands to remember daily. There is a verse that says do not despise small beginnings, and I believe the heart of God rejoices with every small step we take toward our dreams and with every little act of obedience. It is easy for me to count myself out before I begin, especially if I let comparison step in early on. Sometimes a simple reminder speaks volumes.

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S I X T E E N || A Hard Lesson Learned

Today's prompt is so well timed. The lesson I learned the hard way is...

...don't forget to check to see if your blog post saved after the webpage froze.
...don't trust that the weak wifi connection will be up and running in a couple of hours.
...don't host a blog every day challenge the month you are traveling across the country 14/28 days.

But I love you guys, so I'm camped out in the lobby tackling a few of the upcoming posts. Because you know what: tomorrow is DISNEYLAND!

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F I F T E E N || Dare to Dream Big Dreams

It is common knowledge that I dream in six different directions at once. Actually it is one of my favorite things to do. Dreaming big gives me a opportunity to look my fears in the face and to declare that my God is bigger. I let my imagination run wild and anything is possible. Well, for a while until reality and doubt come in to burst my bubble.

I wrote about one of my biggest dreams HERE.

Honestly, I want to dream bigger. I want to dream so big that I know it is beyond my doing and will take an act of God to come true. I want to have that kind of trust and that kind of faith, but I won't have it unless I practice. I want to dream with other people, putting my prayers behind their passions, and practice petitioning the Lord daily for others as well as myself. According to C.S. Lewis, prayer doesn't change God; it changes us.

[dream big paperweight]

Last month I had the joy of attending an event called BRAVE: LOVE SEATTLE. It was a weekend full of heart-to-hearts, powerful prayer, and worshiping with women I previously hadn't known from Adam but now I know as sisters. Over that weekend, we shared about the power of uniting as women uniquely created with a mother's heart and a capacity to love that directly reflect's the Lord's love for His children, and one of the main rallying points was simply that: we should rally with each other and see our big dreams come true. Covering one another in prayer and supporting these dreams by acting and walking along side our sisters is POWERFUL. What would happen in our city --our world!-- if women joined forces and helped one another activate their dreams and pursue the calling God has for them instead of competing?

Ha, that's a-whole-nother conversation in itself, am I right? ;)

So how can I pray for you, friends? What dreams do you have and how can I support you in them? I want to be passionate about what you are passionate about!

And if dreaming big scares you, go listen to "I've Got a Dream" from Tangled, and trust me, you'll smile.

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F O U R T E E N || It's Valentine's Day and...

...you are loved.
...you are beautiful.
...you are wanted.
...you are not alone.
...you are believed in.
...you are prayed for.
...you are just getting started.
...you are something special.
...you are on a grand adventure.
...you are fearfully & wonderfully made.

...you are halfway through the #blogeverydayinFEB challenge. Woohoo!

Also, it's Valentine's Day and I'm on my way to California for a family vacation! I hope to get caught up on comments this weekend,  and I want to check in with you lovely ladies who have been barreling through this challenge with me. Keep using the hashtag and I'll pop around over the next few days. I'm excited about these upcoming prompts. Way to go everyone! We're halfway there!

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