Saturday, September 23, 2017

On My Nightstand: Church of the Small Things (Book Review)

Hi, Friends!

I hope this blog post finds you doing fabulously well and not clinging for dear life to the glorious fact that fall break is now just five days away...
so close...
oh, friends....
we're soooooo close!!

I mentioned last month that one of the highlights of my summer was serving on a launch team for Melanie Shankle's newest book coming out on October 3rd, Church of the Small Things.

(you can pre-order now on and on Amazon).

(I can wait...go ahead...) 😉

If you're not familiar with Melanie, she is the author of Big Mama Blog (so, SO funny) and three delightful books: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and Nobody's Cuter Than You (also SO wonderful and funny).

When I started this one, I really didn't think I could possibly love a Melanie Shankle book more than the ones I had already read (because what other book have you read that caused you to sing vintage Diet Pepsi jingle for weeks?)...the bar was already so high!

But this book, oh my goodness!!!!

This book spoke directly to my heart!

I really had a hard time composing a blog post about this book because I enjoyed it SO much, I was afraid I couldn't tell about it without spoiling all the good parts! So, I decided to keep my review short & sweet (which is a lot like this precious book).

There were so many parts that I loved in this one, lots of growing up moments and parenting moments that I could totally relate to (because I have done the very same stupid things myself).

My most favorite parts were Melanie’s reflections of her childhood growing up (a child of the 70's & 80's). I absolutely loved the stories she shared of spending time with her grandparents, Big Bob and Nanny. Her memories (and pop culture references) were so funny and precious (and so similar to the times I spent with my own grandparents).

None of these things were big, they were just simple stories of little things that she remembered about that part of her life. But looking back as she did, it became clear that all those small, everyday things really were the BIG things!

Another part that I loved was a chapter on parenting
(titled "So You Think You Can Parent"). 😏

This particular page in the book stood out to me so profoundly because parenting high school students with a phone is pretty much the hardest part of this parenting gig that I have encountered yet!

(( & I will be the first person to stand up and tell you that social media is Satan's greatest work!))

I could not agree with her more! 💗

This book will encourage you,
It will lift you up.

It will also make you stop in your tracks and reflect on what you are doing in your own life. 
Are you missing the small things?

Knowing that I am not the only introvert who would rather die than be the center of attention, who suffered in agony the growing out period of some particularly bad 9th grade bangs, remembering the shredding (pun intended) pain of the great Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred of 2008, feeling more normal because my life is also run by a pack of crazy, wonderful dogs and most importantly taking that beautiful trip down memory lane because my beloved grandparents were exactly the same...

All the while being reminded that every single precious memory is just a small, simple detail in my life.

It really is the million small things that make up a life.

This book is going to speak to SO MANY people!
I'm so grateful that I have had the opportunity to share the message!

Great job, Melanie!!
Great job!!

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit, friends!

Don't forget to pre-order your copy at or Amazon today!



Monday, August 28, 2017

For the Love (of things I love right now)...

I haven't done a FOR THE LOVE post in awhile,
and they're so fun! 😉
I do love to toot a horn about things I love!

For the Love of Healthy Skin!!
Right now I LOVE the new Arbonne RE9 Advanced Anti-Aging Skincare!
I have tried SO MANY different things in the past two years! I want something safe and natural, but I also want something gets results!

In the past two years, I've used the skincare lines from both Doterra & Young Living and I have also religiously used SkinCeuticals...but absolutely nothing I have used has shown me results like this new version of Arbonne's RE9!

(Because I'm the cheapest person alive) I have only been using the cleanser, renewal serum, restorative cream with sunscreen & the night repair creame at bedtime.

I told my sister last week, this skin care line has just blown my mind! My face feels smoother, the ridges of crows feet under my eyes feel smoother and my skin has a healthy glow to it now.
I am tickled to death!

Next month I'm planning to add the corrective eye cream to my regime as well, I'll keep you posted.

I have been faithfully using Arbonne products for nearly 15 years now (I swear by their Immunity Boosters, y'all), they are a trusted brand at my house! If you want to order anything, give me a holler & I will let you use my consultant discount. 😉

For the Love of a Clean House...
The kids are back in school & my days have been filled entirely with getting my life together (also known as cleaning & organizing all things)...

At this point in the game,
I think I LOVE this Norwex Rubber Brush even more than my own family!

This thing is SO awesome!
I use it EVERY DAY!
I use it with the Norwex mop set to get the dirt off before tossing it in the washer:

I use it on my sofa and chairs pretty much EVERYDAY to get the dog hair off!
And recently, I went crazy and used it on my front & back stairs...
which pretty much looked just like this (maybe grosser).

I could NOT BELIEVE the nasty stuff that rubber brush worked out of that carpet!!

If you get invited to a Norwex party & don't know what to buy, I HIGHLY recommend this one (plus, this mega awesome thing is just $14.99)!!

For the Love of Laughing!
I love to laugh so very much, it's something I love right now & every day!

My kids have had me laughing a lot lately & it has me loving this age that they are at the moment.
Evan has been particularly cheeky (but if you know how sweet natured he is, it comes across as just hilarious), I think he's starting to ease into that middle school snarky phase.

  • A couple of weeks ago we were out to dinner and it was FREEZING in the restaurant!! I had my elbows on the table & my chin on top of my fists while we were all talking and waiting for our food. I must have paused and looked thoughtful for minute because Evan looked at me funny all the sudden and then smiles a sly smile & says "are you praying to Jesus that they will turn that air conditioner off?"...(no, but that's a good idea)

  • Earlier this week he gets in the car after school and randomly says to no one in particular "I don't know why I have to take that stupid computer class, I can type faster than my computer teacher"...(oh, can you now...)

  • And my absolute favorite was last week when he was having a REALLY hard time going to bed & came into our bedroom looking gravely serious and says "I can't sleep. I need to talk to you about the Lord" (which he pronounced "Low-ord"). ((Go to bed!))
And an honorable mention is a text conversation I had with Olivia one day (during school, I might add...WHY are you on that phone during school??)...

For the love...

For the Love of a Good Show!
I asked for recommendations for a new show to watch over on my Facebook page & boy did you guys suggest some good ones!! I decided to try this show on Netflix over the weekend:

AMC's Turn, Washington's Spies
TURN: Washington's Spies takes viewers into the stirring and treacherous world of the Revolutionary War and introduces Abraham Woodhull who, after aligning with a group of childhood friends, forms the Culper Ring -- America's first spy ring.

Wow, wow, wow!!
I absolutely love a good historical fiction story and this series has had me on the verge of an anxiety attack from the very first minute I turned it on!
It's so, so good!!

If you liked the movie The Patriot, you will LOVE this show!

For the Love of Whole30!
Y'all, I have been working on a post about Whole30 and will share it (cough, someday)...but let me just briefly tell you about my LOVE for this incredible eating plan (it's not a diet, you will never be hungry doing Whole30)!
I did my very first round in May and it completely changed my life!

I was fighting a horrible sugar addiction, I was being led like a mule with a carrot by bread...I was exhausted ALL THE TIME, could not accomplish a single thing, no motivation of any kind!
I just did NOT feel good. 😢
I was so unhappy about it, it was making me MISERABLE!!!

I was so scared to try this program.
I stood in my pantry & thought, there's no way I can do this...

I am SO GRATEFUL that I made myself try!
In less than a week of starting this program, I felt like a different person!
My norm was sitting on the couch all evening watching tv, too tired to do anything & craving something sweet...

By the third week, I had energy like I have not had in ten years!
I walked by bad food, processed food, & junk food with my NOSE IN THE AIR!
This Whole30 will empower you!
You will no longer be controlled by sugar or bread or anything else!

((Oh & I lost 12 pounds eating deliciousness like avocadoes every day...))

I joined an AWESOME Whole30 Group on Facebook & we are starting our round on Sept 5th (but I am starting right now to eat better so that I will not be detox shell shocked that first week).

I can't wait for that cool weather to get here, I'm going to slide right into my pants like a pat of butter ghee! If you want to feel AMAZING (& slide into some pants you miss wearing), come over & join us!

For the Love of Pecan Pie (Larabars)...
One of the positive things that happened to me while doing my first Whole30 was falling IN LOVE with the Larabar!

Since doing that first round of Whole30 I have eaten a yummy breakfast of scrambled eggs, a banana & a handful of blueberries nearly every day. But on the mornings I am short on time, a cup of coffee and a pecan pie larabar is my FAVORITE on the go breakie!

and last, but not least...

For the Love of Francine Rivers...
My absolute FAVORITE author has a new book coming out next year, I nearly came out of my chair when I saw this pre-order link on Amazon!!!!

Have you read any of her books?
Which one is your favorite (it's hard to pick just one)...
This one is mine...The Mark of the Lion series.
It is LIFE CHANGING good!!

Well, I've got to hop up here & get busy!
We had a wonderful, relaxing weekend with my sister and her boys this past weekend, but I did not do one lick of housework all weekend and my house is in shambles!!

What are some things you are loving right now?
Hop over to Facebook and let me know!

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit.
Have a wonderful Monday, friends!



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We Survived: The Great American Eclipse 2017

Hello, sweet friends!!

Did you get to experience The Great American Eclipse yesterday!?

We were SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY to live right in the path of totality and got to experience this once in a lifetime event right in our own backyard!

I have to be honest.
I wasn't sure at all what to expect yesterday...
And the insane frenzy over this event was starting to get on my very last nerve...

But I have to say the actual moment of the total eclipse exceeded anything I could have ever dreamed up in my head or watched in a movie theater!

The total eclipse lasted out here at our house for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds
and it was nothing short of AMAZING!!

Even though middle Tennessee was in the path of totality, our school system decided to remain open yesterday (despite every surrounding county voting to close school). We were assured that absences would be considered excused and decided to keep our kids home so that we could be together to experience it.

((and let me just say that I am so grateful that we made that choice, because it was overwhelming, emotional & a little scary))

P Daddy came home for lunch and we enjoyed a little family eclipse party out by the pool.

We didn't take many pictures because the actual event happened so fast, I didn't want to miss a second of it fooling with a phone or a camera!

But, from the pictures I did take you can see the change in lighting is very obvious.
This first picture is after the eclipse had begun, not quite a quarter covering yet.
((& yes, I put sunscreen on his sweet head...bless him))

This picture is when the eclipse is just a little over half coverage.
Still completely bright, but there was a creepy haze forming.
(& thank you children for your enthusiasm here, I can always count on you)

THIS picture is of totality!

I'm glad the flash was not on so that you can see that it is grainy dark (but it never got black dark like night, it was more like dark when a bad storm is rolling in).
You can see the reflection of the eclipsed sun in the water here also.

It was obvious immediately that what we saw on the camera screen of our phones & iPad looked nothing like what we saw with our eyes and everyone just put their devices down to take in the moment.

It was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life!
It was eerie silent.
For two minutes it was absolutely SILENT and still!

The big, white float on the patio behind P Daddy had been covered with a swarm of probably 100 bees (a perk of backyard beekeeping that is about to get on my nerves). During totality, we realized that they had all completely disappeared & had returned to their hive!

We also saw shadow snakes on the ground both before and after the total eclipse and this completely blew my mind! It was thrilling & terrifying at the same time! When it was over, I felt so drained & emotional. It was an incredibly raw, spiritual event!

This picture below is just after the total eclipse and the sun is still covered about 80%.
The lighting is similar to the first picture I shared, but still with a lingering haze.
And...our roosters were crowing!

I'm so very grateful that we did not have to endure a crowd of people and we were able to be together at home. I'm sure that the teachers worked very hard to make the event fun and educational for the kids, but absolutely NOTHING could have made this event better than being together as a family to experience it!

Except maybe being together with these special peeps too.

I hope you were able to spend this magical time with the people that you love as well.

Thanks for stopping by to share it with us.

Have a beautiful, blessed Tuesday!



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ramblings of Family, Fun, Back to School and Dolly Parton...

Hi, friends!

Can you believe it is already on the backside of AUGUST!?!
My goodness, time just keeps flying by!
I hope this post finds you and your family all doing well, I do love all my sweet friends that I have made through this crazy blog. ❤

In normal Crazytowne fashion, it has been pretty busy around here!
I have started four different blog posts in the past three weeks & cannot for my life sit still long enough to finish any them!
So, for the sake of anything sane I decided to implement the Three C's here...Condense, Combine & Catch up in one quick rambling of a post (won't that be nice?)...

So, we go! 😉

Weekend getaway at Dollywood...

This past Christmas Santa brought the kids season passes to Dollywood as their "something to do" gift (the kids only get 4 gifts from Santa, smartest parenting move I've ever made) and we have been enjoying that beloved Dolly Parton all year long!

If you grew up in Tennessee in the 1980's, you might have had the opportunity to visit Opryland themepark (also called Opryland USA) in Nashville. We were VERY lucky to live just 30 just minutes away and went several times a year. My sister and I have the fondest childhood memories of visiting Opryland and share a true, unwavering hatred for it's replacement...Opry Mills...(hiss, spit)!

Dollywood is similar to Opryland in a lot of ways;
it's small,
slower paced,
and all sorts of wonderful bluegrass & country.

Last year, she & I decided it was time to make Dollywood our children's Opryland (and instead of that short 30 minute drive, we're hauling them three hours to Gatlinburg)...but the memories they are making with family are so worth it!

Most definitely, my favorite thing about our Dollywood trips has been staying at the new Dollywood Dreammore Resort!

Oh, friends!!


It reminds me of a Disney resort.

They offer all sorts of perks to their guests for visiting the Dollywood themepark, like free timesaver passes (like fast pass but a little bit better), free shuttle rides to the park, etc; in addition to a full schedule of events at the hotel like park ranger talks, kids crafts and nightly S'MORES down by the pool (they had me at s'mores).

The hotel itself is just gorgeous! They have a lovely outdoor pool with a lazy river and little kid water spout area, heated indoor pool, an beautiful spa, a huge kid's game room, a workout center, coffee shop, gift shop, ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS buffet restaurant downstairs and tons of really neat memorabilia from Dolly Parton's career.

I think my favorite part though, this hotel is staffed by precious LOCAL people. I always have goosebumps when I am there and realize how many jobs Dolly is providing for her community! These are good country people who are incredibly proud of their East Tennessee roots. If you've been wanting to take a trip to Gatlinburg, I have to HIGHLY recommend this beautiful hotel!

Back to School Meal Prep & FREEZING Food...

School has started here & CRAZY came right along with it!

Last weekend I got in survival mode & broke out my Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime Cookbook to get myself in the right frame of mind!

Busy Mamas, if you do not have this cookbook you need to order it RIGHT NOW!

In January the freezer went out on the fridge in our kitchen and being the absolutely spoiled rotten mama that I am, it totally screwed up my groove because...

FROZEN FOOD is my life!

I have been so incredibly grateful to my hard working husband getting us a new fridge this summer (especially after we found out that fixing the broken freezer on our other would cost about as much as a new fridge anyway, ridic!!).

I could write a very long post about my love for this Dinnertime cookbook, but I won't.
I will just say that I do a lot of the things that Ree does: stocking her pantry with staples and prepping food to freeze and it makes my life so much easier!

For example: I buy a HUGE package of ground beef at Sam's Club and cook it all at one time. When it has been drained and cooled I put it in gallon ziplock freezer bags and label them for the freezer as "Beef for tacos, spaghetti, chili etc". I also do a few with beef and sausage browned together for dishes like lasagna or manicotti.

In addition to meat, I also do a lot of veggie prepping to freeze. I buy monster bags of carrots, celery & I especially love it when I can get my hands on about 50 ears of homegrown corn to cream. If it looks like we are not going to eat all those bananas before they go bad, I break them in half & toss those jokers in a freezer bag as well for quick smoothies.

(&I cannot even begin to describe the wave of relief I feel some days to open that freezer and see that I don't have to stand in the kitchen and chop carrots or potatoes for a dish!!)...

That one day of meal prep time that I carve out is always TIME WELL SPENT!

If you lay your ziplock bag down flat in the freezer, it will freeze that way and be slim and sassy and save you all kinds of valuable space in your freezer.

Probably my FAVORITE freezable food is BREAD!! I buy four loaves of sandwich bread every time I go to Sam's & immediately put it in the freezer. If French bread is on sale in the bakery, I grab 2-3 of them, Hawaiian bread (which makes the most divine little ham roll sammich), hot dog buns BOGO, rolls, etc...I have our garage freezer stocked full of bread & it makes my life SO much easier!!

Meal prep & freezer food is a HUGE time saver when the going gets crazy during the school year, especially on days that you FINALLY get everyone picked up from all their stuff & arrive home to realize you've not given one thought to what you might fix for dinner!

Meal prep day is a busy mama's very best friend!
Add one to your calendar soon, you will not be sorry!

Do you have any meal prep tips or timesavers?
I would love to hear them!
I'm always looking for new ways to keep the crazy corralled! 😉

I just noticed that PW has a NEW cookbook coming out in October, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! You can pre-order it on Amazon right now for $20.39 (regular $29.99). This would be a GREAT Christmas gift for any mama or teacher on your list!

And Speaking of Books...

One of the highlights of my summer was serving on a launch team for Melanie Shankle's newest book coming out in October, Church of the Small Things (you can pre-order now on Amazon).

If you're not familiar with Melanie, she is the author of Big Mama Blog (so funny) and three delightful books: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and Nobody's Cuter Than You (also SO funny).

Part of my commitment to the launch is sharing a review on social media outlets.
I will be sharing a post exclusively about this book next month. This one is really special, I'm excited to share it with my book nerd buddies! 😉

Other News & Notables...

Miss O turned 15 this summer...

It seems like just last week when she made her first blog appearance (but it was seven years ago).

Don't blink, friends!
Don't blink!

P Daddy & I celebrated 21 years of being married to your best friend in the whole wide world!

And we've made some exciting additions to our backyard!

Backyard Beekeeping...

And Backyard Chickens!

They have both been pretty fun so far, but I am becoming impatient to get some eggs!!!!
Any chicken whisperers out there?!?!

All in all...
we've just been trying to keep it as simple as possible out here & enjoy precious everyday moments.

Because at the end of the day, that's what it's really about anyway.

If you're still reading way down here...
I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit!

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying those precious everyday moments too!

Much love,


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stylish Southern Mama Summer Staples

Hi, friends!!
I'm so glad you stopped by!

Today I'm teaming up with Nordstrom and sharing some
Stylish Southern Mama Summer Staples!

You might remember, this spring I expressed my lack of love for the off the shoulder & that cold shoulder trend, I just have no love...I don't know why.😂
I have to say,
I was VERY surprised to find that I DO have love for the ONE shoulder trend...

I don't feel quite so naked, like I can pull that one shoulder sleeve up to my collarbone & feel like the conservative semi-senior citizen that I am. 😉

Check out some of this sassy Nordstrom goodness that I have found this summer!
(always free shipping & free returns)
(affiliate links included in this post)

These Vince Camuto Ruffle One Shoulder Tops...oh, my!
They are DARLING!!
I LOVE how it has some length and the ruffle makes it easy to wear without a bra (yippee)!
It runs large, so make sure you check the sizing.

Blue Ikat Stars Ruffle Top (might be too thin to go braless, but still so fun)

Pinstripe Banded Ruffle Top (so sassy!!!)

I have bought a few things in the past year that are Madewell brand (which I think is a JCrew company). I REALLY like this brand & the quality is SOOOO GOOOD!

I have one of their has washed up so well, no piling, no fuzzing!

And these darling raw edge pull on shorts...
get in my closet!!!

Olivia picked out this cute cold shoulder dress by French Connection.
I don't love the cold shoulder look, but this dress was really cute on her (& it's half price right now).

I clearly have a thing for railroad stripes...
I bought this dress for graduation & it is the cutest thing!

This dress is nice quality & really cute on (the blue is much brighter in person)!
It is junior sizing, (I'm wear the large & it's just right).

Y'all know I am the cheapest person alive...
(so you will believe me when I say that this strapless bra is worth every penny!)

I actually bought it,
talked myself out of it,
sent it back (because mama don't spend $65 on a bra),
then saw it in the store & bought it again...

It's awesome!!
It's smooth seamed, stays put, it has removable straps that can be worn conventionally, halter style or crossed in back. I'm normally at 36B, but bought the 36C & it is the best bra ever!!!!!

Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless Bra...seriously, y'all...BUY ONE!!!

I have had several compliments on these gorgeous beaded earrings that I found recently.
Panacea Beaded Earrings just $18!

I will be buying this brand again, they're great quality & are so pretty!

I bought them to go with this top (which is sold out at the moment but might come back in stock soon, so check back).
For the price, it was really cute!
(& does it not look perfect with those earrings!?!?)

It fits me, but the style is so generous (without being frumpy) that it fits Olivia also.

We also picked up these AWESOME Raw Hem Denim Shorts!
They fit Olivia perfectly & I'm tempted to buy some for myself (except for the part where nobody wants to see that much elderly leg...).

I also bought her the blue boyfriend shorts as well.
They look trendy, but they don't look floozy
(mama prefers young ladies in non-floozy shorts, please).

If you love shorts in the summer, these are GREAT quality shorts for $39!

THIS is by far my favorite purchase this summer!
It comes in several colors...Black, Navy, Burgundy, White, Blue Stripe & this FABULOUS Black Gingham (that will be so fetching paired with some white jeans and big orange accessories on game days this fall)....😉

It's $59, but I really LOVE it so it's worth the money to me.
It's such a fun top (that I may or may not be wearing a bra with, I'll never say).
Order one, you will LOVE IT!

Well, that's all I have to share this time.
But, I will be back soon to share some summer to fall transition finds (because it stays in the 90's here well into October...holy mercy).

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit!
I have missed sharing since I closed down my Stylish Southern Mama blog.
(that was just not me, y'all...
I love to shop, but I don't shop all the time).
I plan to share at least once a month right here on Crafty Southern Mama, so let me know if you are hunting for anything special & I'll keep an eye out for it.

Have a beautiful summer Sunday!!



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