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Adventuring in New York City, Part I

Just writing the title of this post I had half a dozen tunes floating through my head. From little orphan Annie singing “N…Y… C…!” at the top of her lungs to T. Swift’s opening track “Welcome to New York,” the Big Apple has had its share of love songs. After last week I can certainly see why.

I always knew my first trip to New York would be special, but I didn’t know in what way. When Claire and I signed up for the Broadway Teachers Workshop earlier in the spring, I knew I wanted to make the most of my time in the city, but I also wanted to limit myself (and my wallet) to seeing as many shows for as inexpensive as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do that and we used them ALL.

Our workshop was a three-day weekend full of master classes and musicals, mingling with other teachers, and prepping for the year to come. I arrived in New York a full week ahead of time to spend the weekend (and my birthday!) with a dear friend from college. Micah and I explored parts of New Jersey as well as the city, but it was HOT HOT HOT. On my birthday we had brunch at The Standard before wandering Chelsea Market and the High Line, but we were soon melting under the sun and decided to ferry back home.

We met up with her friends for drinks at House of ‘Que (yes, this Texas girl went to an “authentic Austin barbeque” place in New York) and to wait out an unexpected rainstorm. We’d been there the night before to watch the dueling pianos which was INCREDIBLE. While we were there, a children’s birthday party was going on in the front of the restaurant. When they left, a single Elmo balloon remained floating over one of the tables. One of our group snagged it and insisted that we keep it. Once Micah’s friends found out it was my birthday, they insisted on singing to me, and I posed for a picture with said Elmo balloon. Doesn’t everyone have Sesame Street characters at their 25th birthday party?

A few minutes later a toddler went running by, eyes wide and pointing happily at the balloon. One of the girls took it down and tried to give it to her, but the poor thing went off screaming and crying to her mom. It was hilarious and sad at the same time. Once the rain let up we headed back to her apartment, but not before picking up junk food and face masks for a girls’ night in. We ordered pizza and watched our way through 13 Going on 30 and The Prince & Me.

On Sunday we went to church then camped out at a Starbucks to get some work done. We went to the local beer garden and chatted over some super chill live music before going to see a movie. That’s a whole other story… I’ll keep it short and say the major takeaway? Don’t trust the ticket gal when she tells you the theatre number. It could be very, very wrong…

On Monday Micah went back to work, and I got up for a phone interview with a high school back in Texas. It went very well and I hung up feeling confident and expectant. For those of you have been following along with my job hunt journey, you know it’s been going a long time without any fruit. It felt great to leave that call knowing I had done my best and with the hope of a job on the horizon.

Shortly thereafter Claire flew into town and we made our way to our hotel just off Times Square. It was there, standing in the middle of the hustle and bustle, that I got a phone call with a JOB OFFER! Praise the Lord! I accepted it then and there and immediately felt such relief and peace! It looked like I’d be moving to Aggieland after all ;)

To say I was on cloud 9 would be an understatement, and that joy carried me through the week. We saw 8 shows in 6 days, mostly musicals with one straight play for a matinee, and I returned home so excited to begin the next chapter. This week that chapter begins with organizing my storage room and hunting for an apartment. Next week we will load the moving van and make the move officially.

Stay tuned for more details on the shows I saw. Those deserve a post of their own.

Have you ever been to NYC? What was your favorite part?!

Illustrated Faith: I Am Strong

I probably say this about every Illustrated Faith devotional kit that gets released, but "I Am Strong" by Wilna Furstenberg is reading my mail! By that I mean the words she has so carefully and prayerfully written have been speaking straight to my heart and into my season. I should really stop being surprised by this because the Lord has used the women who write these devotionals again and again to share His heart on topics that so many of us face and that are released at just the right time.

"I Am Strong" thrilled me from the first sneak peak. I've always been a fan of pink and orange (and I may or may not have had every other wall in my room painted those colors as a teenager...) and I love a bold black and white stripe. Not only are Wilna's images STUNNING as per usual, the 14 day devotional has a message that reaches far and wide, then pulls you in close.

Wilna also used the Amplified Version for many of her verses which is one I love but don't see included too often.  For example, the AMP was used for this familiar verse on Day 1:

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] 
shall change and renew their strength and power; 
they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] 
as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, 
they shall walk and not faint or become tired. 
Isaiah 40:31 AMP

Isaiah 40:31 was the school verse when I was in elementary school, so you can bet I heard it over and over and over again. We repeated it at every chapel, it was printed on all of our shirts, and our mascot was even the eagle. I loved getting a chance to look at this familiar verse in a new way (AND illustrate it on the next page so I could remember the newest meaning).

I am also always on the go during the summer, so I was thrilled when my kit arrived in time for me to take it to New York City. I packed the full kit in a small carrying case, much like the one that comes in the Genesis kit, and then I chose the remainder of my supplies that kept with the same color scheme. I didn't carry my journaling Bible with me on the trip because my carry-on was already full, and this gave me the opportunity to really dig in within the kit itself.

I made sure to grab my Faber-Castell pens and my Illustrated Faith precision pen so I could take notes on the go. While there are a TON of supplies to choose from, keeping it simple while traveling helps me focus on the message and heart of it all rather than elaborate designs.

When I first started Bible journaling, I would sketch household items into the pages, so that when I looked at my favorite candle, teacup, or blanket I would immediately remember the verse. Woven wall hangings have been super popular in recent years, and seemed like the perfect choice to go with Day 1's message and verse. I now want a hanging that looks just like that for my quiet time corner ;)  I worked in a few more of the gorgeous stamps and highlighted the phrases that most stood out to me, keeping it simple but meaningful, even on the go.

The collaboration between DaySpring, Bella Blvd, and Illustrated Faith is truly that of a dream team. Heartfelt messages, beautiful illustrations, and quality products are sent out into the world again and again, month by month, encouraging women all over the world to walk forward in their faith with courage and creativity.

Get your I Am Strong kit HERE!
Don't forget to use the code THANKYOU for 25% off!

*This post contains affiliate links. They won't cost you a cent more, but your purchase may help fund this future-teacher with some much needed caffeine. Enjoy!

Lovin' July's Playlist

By the time you're reading this, I will have been deep in the heart of New York City for almost a week!  If you aren't already following the adventure at @lovebaileyjean, head there now! Remember, I broke up with Snapchat last week, so Insta is the way to go!

When it comes to traveling, I love building the perfect playlist for the drive, the flight, you name it. Honestly, I'm listening to music practically every hour of the day, the only exception is when I'm sleeping. To say I'm passionate about it would be an understatement. So many songs send me back into favorite memories, and I'm always delighted to discover a new favorite. 

In college I started creating monthly playlists in iTunes to put my current favorites on repeat, and they are their own form of scrapbook to that season in my life. I sadly lost a lot of those playlists when my computer crashed, but I started doing it again on Spotify a few months ago! I started out with seasonal playlists, but the monthly ones are back in action.

One of my favorite features about Spotify is the feed on the side that lets me know what my friends are listening to, and it's been a fun way to share with my friends/followers what I've got playing these days. I have also TOTALLY been caught listening to Christmas music in July October, but hey, it's the internet. Someone was bound to catch me at some point ;)

All of this to say that I'm starting a new monthly feature! I'm going to share my monthly playlists with you here on the blog, and follow along on Spotify as I add new tracks throughout the month! July is chock full of old favorites and a few tunes that are putting me in the summer mood. My favorite tracks this month include "Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder. 

What about you? 
What are your favorites? 
What would you add?

Seventy-Three at Twenty-Five

Twenty-five is here, y'all! My birthday was on Saturday, and I have to say it was pretty darn great. Micah and I explored a bit of NYC, starting with brunch at The Standard and adventuring around the Chelsea Market. The heat here though was brutal so we headed back to New Jersey, and met up with her church friends at an "Authentic Austin Barbecue" place called House of 'Que for drinks, ending the evening with face masks, chick flicks, and pizza for a girls' night in.

But since twenty-five feels so BIG and this year is FULL of potential, I thought it would be fun to snag these 73 questions from Rachel and document this stage in my life here and now. Brace yourselves, it's quite the list!

73 Questions at 25
  1. What are you most excited about these days?  Being in New York City for the week! It's my first trip to the Big Apple, and I'm over the moon about seeing my first (second, third, and fourth!) Broadway shows!
  2.  Favorite holiday? Christmas without a doubt! 
  3. Favorite season? Fall/winter. Wearing scarves, cardigans, jeans, and boots? Yes, please! Snuggling up with a good book and hot chocolate? All day every day (if I could!).
  4. Recent hobby?  Hosting Create in Faith retreats! The first one is coming up in August and you should join us!
  5. If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?   Lara Casey. She's such a gem, her family is precious, and her job looks so fun!
  6. If you could have coffee with someone from the past, who would it be? Elizabeth Elliot. 
  7. What’s the best thing that happened this year? Directing Almost, Maine TWICE was certainly a big and grand thing! But joining the Illustrated Faith creative team has been a life changing part of the past year for sure!
  8. What’s the best way to decompress? Curling up with a good book and some instrumental music or Bible journaling the afternoon away.
  9. What’s the weirdest word in the English language? Uhhhhhhh.... any word you say over and over again until it becomes incredibly strange.
  10. If you had one superpower, what would it be? Teleporting. So I could travel anywhere at any time.
  11. Who do you miss most? My Seattle family and friends.
  12. Who was the last person to text you? Rachel Nordgren!
  13. Who are three people, alive or dead, that you would have dinner with? Oh gosh! My group would be so random!  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anne Hathaway, and Ann Voskamp.
  14. Last book you read? I'm currently reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, a birthday gift from Carissa! It's absolutely fascinating so far!
  15. Book you plan on reading? Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
  16. Book you read bc everyone else in the world was reading it? All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I LOVED it!
  17. A book from your childhood that positively shaped you? The Elsie Dinsmore Series by Martha Henley.
  18. Favorite tv show that’s currently on tv? Don't judge me.... I'm currently following The Bachelorette... but otherwise it's Grey's Anatomy, Chicago PD/Fire/Med, and Once Upon a Time.
  19. Favorite ice cream? Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate
  20. What makes you smile the most? Theatre. Love stories. Heart-to-hearts with sweet friends.
  21. First pet? Prissy the shitzu. 
  22. Worst subject in school? In college? FRENCH. I did not learn well in complete immersion and STRUGGLED through three semesters.
  23. Favorite game? Oh man! Catch phrase probably.
  24. Coolest thing in the world? The ability to make friends via blogging/instagram. It has rocked my world for many years.
  25. Cutest thing in the world? Babies and baby animals. So stinking cute.
  26. Favorite thing in the world? Books.
  27. One talent you wish you had? Singing.
  28. One thing you still have from your childhood? My American Girl dolls. 
  29. What’s your patronus? It would likely be something small but surprisingly fierce. A barn owl, maybe?
  30. Last song you listened to on your phone? "Ambre" by Nils Frahm (instrumental piano)
  31. Favorite song lyrics? All of Hamilton: An American Musical.
  32. What song would you probably be caught dancing alone to? Anything from Footloose.
  33. If you could work the runway, what song would it be? It's a funny choice, but I love the beat to "I Just Want to Make Love to You" by Etta James. I could strut my stuff down the runway to that just fine ;)
  34. Best gift you’ve ever been given? The ability to go to Baylor University. It would not have been possible without the generosity of my family.  
  35. Fashion icon? Kate Middleton.
  36. What did you wear to your prom? A flowing green dress with a beaded strap the first time and a turquoise/teal mermaid-esque dress the second. 
  37. Who was your date to your prom? The only two guys I dated in high school, only I wasn't dating either of them when we went to prom. My freshman boyfriend was my date junior year, and my sophomore boyfriend was my date senior year. Funny how that worked out.
  38. Favorite movie of all time? Pride & Prejudice (2005).
  39. Favorite movie of the last five years? Cinderella (2013). 
  40. Movie that made you cry? Benjamin Button. I SOBBED through the entire thing.
  41. Movie that made you laugh the hardest? We watched The Prince & Me this weekend, and I forgot how cheesy that movie was!
  42. If you could make a documentary, what would it be about? Broadway behind the scenes maybe?
  43. Favorite TV show? One Tree Hill will always be a classic in my mind. 
  44. If you could make a cameo in any TV show what would it be? Grey's Anatomy!
  45. Best plot twist of all time? Tough one! But My Best Friend's Wedding took me COMPLETELY by surprise (and I wanted to throw things at the tv)...
  46. Twitter or Instagram? INSTAGRAM. Duh.
  47. Who should everyone be following right now? Caroline (@ckelso). Her illustrated daily affirmations are great! And Tara (@radandhappy). She speaks the truth in such a fun font and with all the sass.
  48. Favorite food? Macaroni and cheese.
  49. Favorite dessert? Oreo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. (A recent favorite is peach cobbler from... well, just about anywhere!)
  50. Favorite band? Bethel Music. 
  51. Favorite solo artist? Lauren Daigle. 
  52. If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be? Hunter Hayes.
  53. What would be the title of your autobiography? Love Bailey Jean. Expect to see more of that around these parts soon!
  54. Favorite sound? Rain, coffee shop ambiance, and piano/cello music.
  55. Least favorite sound? Squeaky hinges/shoes/floors.
  56. Favorite animal? Small fluffy dogs! 
  57. First celebrity crush? Justin Timberlake. I was an NSYNC fan early on.
  58. Current celebrity crush? Theo James (Four in Divergent). So dang good looking and that BRITISH accent tho! All the heart eyes.
  59. What is your kryptonite? Chick-fil-a.
  60. Guilty pleasure? E.L.Fudge cookies and Fixer Upper marathons.
  61. Most proud moment? Getting into Baylor Theatre then being selected to be in the advanced directing class.
  62. Biggest weakness? Comparison. It's the trap I fall into again and again.
  63. Skill still unmastered? Cooking. 
  64. What is the definition of misery? Running. But really, it's a feeling of hopelessness, darkness, no end in sight.
  65. Biggest learning experience? This season. Oh man. With everything so up in the air and uncertain, I'm learning a WHOLE lot about myself and my expectations/tendencies/abilities/you name it.
  66. What is your idea of a perfect date? Coffee/hot chocolate or a sweet treat to go (depending on the time of year) in a quaint downtown area to walk and talk, Mexican or Italian for dinner before a show, then drinks or dessert afterward to finish the night.
  67. An experience when you felt the most nervous? Moving across the country to Seattle after graduating college.
  68. At what age were you the happiest? Twenty-one was pretty great, but I have high hopes for twenty-five. It's off to a great start ;)
  69. What’s one vice you wish you could give up? I have very little self control when it comes to comfort food/sugar. 
  70. If you could teach a college course, what would it be called? Shakespeare Today and Yesterday
  71. If you could star in any movie remake, what would it be? Harry Potter. Or You've Got Mail. Or Pride & prejudice. ;) 
  72. If you were an Olympic athlete, what would your event be? Well, I'm athletically challenged, but if I COULD be an Olympic athlete I'd pick figure skating.
  73. If you could offer your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Don't be so hard on yourself, but trust your gut. The Lord will lead you where you want to go and there is FREEDOM in that. Also... just say no to the perm. You'll get braces a week later, start high school the following Monday, and your yearbook picture will be a hot mess. Sorry, girl.

Fancy Friday: Week 5

It's Friday #5, y'all! Annnnnnd it's the day I've been waiting for since... well... forever: I'm off to New York City! I'm currently perched at the airport at o'dark early, hoping this storm rolls through and away before we take off in a couple of hours. I've got a few posts scheduled for the next week, and I definitely plan to document the adventure along the way, so stay tuned.

Todays Fancy Friday include some recent favorites, future releases, and a couple of features worth checking out for a little afternoon inspiration. I hope you enjoy!

A Hymn for Him Guest Post

As a member of the Illustrated Faith Creative Team, I have the JOY of guest blogging for them twice a month, and one of my favorite pages to date was shared this week HERE. I had a Hymnal Girl by Beth of FreeSpiritFarmhouse hanging in my apartment before I moved, and I was THRILLED when I found out she would be designing them for Illustrated Faith. I tucked this sweet girl into Song of Solomon alongside a poem from one of my favorite books series from high school: The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. Read the full details HERE.

Illustrated Faith Starter Kit

There are so many fun new releases coming out this August by Bella Blvd and Illustrated Faith, but I think my favorite might be this starter kit! It is brimming with beautiful products to jump start your Bible journaling journey, and it is complete with instruction sheets for a few of Shanna's favorite techniques. Tabs, alphabet stickers, washi tape, paint, all in a pretty box which reads "I Color In My Bible". I've been illustrating my faith for over a year, but I still plan to put this to good use! Read more about the starter kit HERE.

Be Still Magazine

Oh my heavens, I am so excited for this! When Kristin of Kristin Schmucker Shop asked me to contribute to the premier edition of Be Still Magazine, I leapt at the chance! She asked me to write about the joys and struggles of being single, so needless to say it was easy to pour my heart out. When I received my copy of Be Still in the mail this week and re-read my own words, I laughed out loud. My feelings about being single sway almost daily, and honestly I'm not as perky and content about it these days as I was back in March. The scriptures I shared then encouraged my heart all over again, and I cannot wait for the encouraging words of the other wonderful women featured to be in the hands of so many! Be Still is set to be released in two weeks, so stay tuned!

The Leaning Pear in Wimberley, Texas

Last weekend my mom and I traveled down to San Marcos so I could take my teaching certification test, but the trip wouldn't have been complete without a visit to see family friends in Wimberley. Deep in the heart of Texas, the gateway to Hill Country if you will, Wimberley is full of charm and character! The last time we went we stumbled upon a little cafe called The Leaning Pear with THE BEST skillet macaroni and cheese that I have ever had! It was a must-do this time, too. I can't wait to take a few gal pals there in the future, and if you're ever in the area you HAVE to check it out!

Heart Melting Animation

Have you seen this yet?! If not, stop what you're doing and watch now! If you just watched it, then  you know why I included it ;) I saw this floating around Facebook and actually almost turned it off the first time I watched it. It really is worth watching all the way through to the end. I may or may not have teared up. Twice.

That's all for now, and it's up, up, and away for me!
What fit your fancy this week?

A Breakup Letter to Snapchat... Two Years Late

My Dearest Snapchat,

Actually, that isn't fair. I shouldn't call you that. After a year of abandonment, though I think of you fondly, I've lost the right to call you "my dearest". I picture the look you're giving me right now, complete with some sassy filter, glaring a la America to Maxon saying "I'm not your dear" and walking off, or signing off, in a huff. 

(And for my letter-readers who haven't read The Selection yet, consider this my breakup letter to you until you do... Go. Read. Now!)

Anywho. Snapchat, you shiny, sultry, sneaky, scheming thing you. We had fun once, didn't we? And then... for some reason... we didn't... Maybe it was you, maybe it was me, but something had to give. You shook in your square on my screen, waiting for me to move you into another folder, as I often did, and then I broke your heart, swept the slate clean, and clicked the shivering "X" in your top left corner. 

Maybe it was you, maybe it was me.

Recently, I've looked back upon you with fondness. Stepping into other people's snapchats, watching their lives float by, rooting for the romance of Mystery Girl and Viking Fan with the rest of the internet, and I wondered... what if? What if we made a comeback? What if I gave you a second chance? What if I took the plunge and put you back in your place of honor, right next to Instagram on the top right of my screen?

I had it all planned out. I was going to roll out the red carpet and snap away on my first trip to New York City later this month, filling the world with envy over my adventures. They'd follow as I fan-girled over seeing Hamilton, got lost in the Big Apple, and ate every last Instagram worthy dessert I could get our hands on. I'd ring in 25 with style, you at my side, and all would be well.

However, that is not to be. 

Was it you, you sneaky Snapchat, that convinced Spotify to play "Stand by Me" just now? If so, you're cute and clever, but we're never getting back together. Ever. 

Now that I've got old school T. Swift on my side, I feel like I can see this through. Yes, it would be fun. Yes, it would be easy. Yes, we'd have a grand old time and everyone would be green with envy. But no, ain't nobody *this girl* got time for that. At least, I'm not willing to make time.

In a world where we are glued to our phones, the goal for me is NOT to pick up my phone MORE. I want to experience my travels not watch them pass by through a filtered lens. (You don't want to know how many times I've checked Instagram while writing this. You'd be jealous.) 

You may be cute, and you may look fun, but I knew you were trouble when you walked in.

You may be listed under "essentials" in the app store, but you're not essential to me.

Swifty references aside, I'm trying to clear some of the clutter. Just because I have the capability to do something does NOT mean I have the capacity to do something. Just because I COULD add something to my day/routine/plan does not mean I SHOULD. And sometimes a social media channel must fall into that category. 

So this is goodbye. Forever. And ever. And ever.

Or until I change my mind ;) 

Bailey Jean

25th Birthday Wishlist

FIVE DAYS. That's it, friends. I'm FIVE DAYS away from turning twenty-five. What. in. the. WORLD?! I am equal parts excited and terrified. Eager and hesitant. Embracing and in denial. Twenty-five feels big. It feels different. I mean, it's a QUARTER OF A CENTURY. I think it's safe to say the quarter-life-crisis started a few months prematurely, but what can ya do? ;)

With this in mind, today I'm sharing my birthday wish list and I'm oh-so-excited about it! Come on, what says "Happy 25th Birthday!" like a coloring book? Nothing, if you ask me. Except maybe a trip to Disney World which I'd wholeheartedly accept. Just saying.

I don't have anywhere to hang it, but I'm dreaming of swinging in that macrame hammock. I've also been a Vera Bradley girl for YEARS, but I've recently decided to sell my old patterns in favor of the newly released Baylor collegiate green and the classic black. Any other Vera girls out there?

And the hand lettering on the stamp, tee, and print! I have all the heart eyes for various types of calligraphy, so these certainly fit the bill! I'd also be happy to pretend to be a pro in the kitchen with the floral and gingham apron/oven mitt set. Who wants to come to dinner?

While I'm five days away from turning twenty-five, I'm only FOUR days away from visiting New York City for the first time. It's gonna be a big week! I'll be sure to recap it here, but make sure you follow the adventure on Instagram at @lovebaileyjean.

Any of these catch your eye?
What would YOU wish for on your 25th?!

Fancy Friday: Week 4

[Image credit: Etsy]

I had grand plans for today's Fancy Friday, but after this week's events I'm having a hard time sharing passing favorites. Too many souls have been needlessly slain already, then last night five Dallas police officers were shot downtown, on the same street where my mother works and my sister attends classes. My heart aches, my head hurts, and my words feel feeble. Lord, be near!

So today, I'm sharing an article that I posted on Facebook earlier this morning. And I'm asking God to move in this place. In this country. In this world. We need Him. Oh, how we need Him.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." 
Romans 12:21

The Book Lover's Guide to Audible

*The following post contains affiliate links but was not sponsored by Audible. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I caught the reading bug at age nine. Historical fiction and mysteries were my fuel and favorites. I wrote my first novel at age twelve, and my best friend and I combined lockers so we could have our own book in-class library that same year. I wrote my second novel at age fourteen, my friends passing the spiral bound story back and forth behind the teachers' backs, leaving notes in the margins about what could, should, or would happen next, or about their favorite characters. I devoured books by the dozens, on the bus, during class, at the lunchroom table, then late into the night after curfew. Reading became my thing.

I'm also a physical book girl at heart, so I was initially wary of e-books and audiobooks. Eventually I downloaded a reading app and a few books to take on my tablet, but I'd get a few chapters in and buy the paperback to finish. When I first heard about Audible, I thought my interest would last as long as my stint with podcasts (aka about a week). Much to my surprise, it's stood the test of time! Well, about six months, but it's still going strong!

Being off at grad school, I lived four to five hours from home, depending on traffic, and I soon found that nothing made the time go by as fast as a good audio book. Audible by Amazon provided the perfect solution for those long drives across Oklahoma and Texas, keeping me good company withheld favorites and new finds.

With Audible you can listen anytime, anywhere, with your smart phone, and with a subscription you can snag audiobooks at a discount whenever your heart desires. There are thrillers, mysteries, biographies, series, romances, histories, and more, and many of them are narrated by your favorite celebrities!

I'm a HUGE fan of the Pride & Prejudice film with Kiera Knightley, so when I found the audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike (she played Jane in the film) I snagged it right away! A favorite book found new life when read aloud --and there's something about British accents that get me every time. I loved it!

Similarly, I LOVED The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, and when I spotted The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet narrated by Ashley Clements (Lizzie herself!), I squealed. She did so many of the voices so spot on, and it was captivating to follow. 

Today, I wanted to let you know about a STELLAR DEAL Audible is offering! I mean, who doesn't love free stuff? Sign up for a free 30 day trial and get TWO FREE AUDIO BOOKS! How many times can I say free? Oops, I said it again ;)

This is what got me started and got me HOOKED, let me tell ya! Up next on my list is The Great Gatsby read by Jake Gyllenhaal (I swoon!) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone narrated by Jim Dale (I cry tears of nostalgia and joy!).

*And for those of you who want to barrel through, Audible also gives you the option to listen to books at various speeds. In a time crunch? Double it up!

Will you go for it? Start your 30 day free trial today!
Which TWO FREE AUDIO BOOKS will you pick up?!
You have to let me know ;)

Believe 2016: July Goals

Happy July 5th! Much less exciting than the 4th, I'd say, but it is what it is. I hope you all had fantastic holiday weekends wherever you are! I'm off to another interview this morning then a day of work at a little boutique, and this week will hold more of the same.

June was an unusual month, caught in the middle of an unsteady transition, but still progress was made! Let's take a look back at last month's goals and then plan ahead for July, shall we?

Making June Happen
Verse of the month: Colossians 3:12-14
"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."

1. Summer goal refresh! While I had every intention of doing this with my PowerSheets since the goal refresh fell between the June and July tabs, I've decided to put it on hold. 
2. Visit Rachel! Yes, oh yes this was a delight! We relaxed at the house, retreated to the pool, and rested for three solid days. I'm so thankful for this gift of a friend!
3. Help my sister wedding plan! Dress? Check! Venue? Check! Caterer? Check! These are just a few of the things we accomplished last month, and I'd say things are falling into place.
4. Finish The Contentment Challenge + Study. I've finished The Contentment Challenge, but I don't think it's quite finished with me. I still have a lot to learn in this area and plan to continue it another 3 months at least.
5. Pack the apartment to move. Check and check! Everything is packed, I simply have yet to figure out where I'm going. Praying that is sorted out soon.
6. Read 5+ books. Well, I finished a few but not quite five! I started Notes from a Blue Bike, and I hope to finish it later this month. I did finish I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See and I loved it! I listened to How to Catch a Prince on Audible. 
7. Complete online certification. Halfway there, y'all! Halfway there! I take my certification test this weekend, so prayers would be appreciated! 
8. Creative team duties and collaborations! Check and check. You can find my Illustrated Faith guest posts HERE and HERE!
9. Prioritize heart healthy habits. Progress was made, a few pounds lost, then all caution thrown to the wind to enjoy yesterday's festivities. Ketogenic eating is a game changer, and I'm learning more about it all the time.
10. Get new headshots/revamp BLB! Yes! You've seen the new look around here, but it's not done yet. AND I got new headshots taken by Emma of Rose Wheat Photography . Stay tuned for the rest of the changes.

Making July Happen
Verse of the month: Proverbs 31:17
"She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm."

1. Celebrate turning 25! July is an exciting birthday month this year, the big two-five on the sixteenth! I'm going to be in New York City and I plan to celebrate something fierce! 
2. See my first Broadway show! AHHHHH! I've felt like a bit of a failure of a theatre major to never have been to New York City before, but I'm finally going! AND I get to see my first (second, third, and maybe another!) Broadway musical! So far I'm seeing Hamilton (AHHHHH!), On Your Feet, Fun Home, and Shuffle Along. We're going to rush a few more shows to see what we can get.
3. Take my certification test. This is coming this weekend, complete with a visit to my aunt near Austin. Looking forward to getting this under my belt and seeing family friends!
4. The Contentment Challenge Round 2. I have a lot to learn in this are and want to put it into practice a while longer. This last round was more successful than any previous, but I still have some adjusting to do.
5. Finish the move. Most likely everything will be headed to storage oh so soon, which is a bit sad, but you never know. There is still some time for a job to work out. Either way, I will be completely moved back into the Lone Star State before the month is out.
6. Read 5+ books. This is a goal again! June wasn't as full as the rest of 2016 has been but even so I'm 44 books into my 52 books in 52 weeks goal. Annie suggested I up the number, and I'm seriously considering jumping to 75 or 100. We shall see. 
7. Give myself grace. Grace, grace, grace, grace grace! I have been putting a TON of pressure on myself these last few weeks, inciting anxiety, worry, and discontent by the bucketload. It's time to offer myself some grace and allow myself to be in process this month. I'm no good at it yet, but I'm trying.

It's a shorter list this month, but I think it's for the best.
So what are YOUR goals for the month?
What do you want to make happen this July?

Fancy Friday: Week 3

Why, hello JULY! My birthday month takes off today, and yes I plan to bother the stuffin' out of you about it, thanks. This week has held highs and lows, but it never fails that a few things made me smile in the midst of it all. Below are my latest obsessions, and I know you'll just love them, too.

Joi de Vivre by Bari J.

Oh my heavens, I want to make ALL THE THINGS with these fabrics! Bari J. Designs does stunning work, and her instagram is equally as swoon-worthy. I'm not much of a seamstress myself, in fact my costuming class brought my first meltdown of college, but a girl can dream.

The Joi de Vivre line by Art Gallery Fabrics has tons of gorgeous patterns, particularly the florals, and an alphabet set that makes me want to monogram everything in sight (more than I already do). I may not be able to sew like a pro, but maybe a fun bunting is in my future. I predict pom-poms will find their way into the mix, too.

*NEW* Illustrated Faith by Bella Blvd Beauties

It's reveal week! When the creative team first got a sneak peek at the upcoming Illustrated Faith products by Bella Blvd, we simultaneously squealed. It's been such a hard secret to keep! SO many new products and fun themes are headed your way this year, and all week long on Instagram and the Blog, Bella Blvd has been sharing the upcoming collections.

From pom-pom paperclips to watercolors, tab stickers and bright alphabets, the designs are HEAVENLY. No, really. ;) So far Bright & Brave is my favorite, what with it's popping colors and retro designs. Those typewriters are SO CUTE! The new products will be released in August, so stay tuned for more details!

If you're itching to get your hands on some Illustrated Faith products today, DaySpring is having a STELLAR SALE! Get 25% off your entire order with the code THANKYOU. Find the sale HERE.

America's Got Brian Justin Crum

Somehow this video floated across my Facebook feed yesterday, and I may or may not have teared up listening to it. You can tell from the title how well his audition went, but it is definitely worth a watch! It's videos like these and The Voice blind auditions that I get hooked on in the middle of the night and watch for hours on end.  Enjoy!

Illustrated Faith Revival Camp

I'm featured on the Illustrated Faith blog this week with my first week of Revival Camp. I've been diving into the online workshop and LOVING every second of it. The devotional content is super encouraging, the graphics so fun, and I've loved getting to put my own spin on it.

Find my Revival Camp blog post HERE.

That's it for today friends.
Short, sweet, and to the point.
What fit your fancy this week?