Friday, February 27, 2015

February Loves 2015



Let's All Be Brave // This book is an obvious choice for February favs as it has already been in two of my other posts here and here. Josh could not have given this to me at a more perfect time seeing as I am living halfway around the world (and without him). I truly hope Annie thinks that is brave as I truly do miss my husband every day. But God surely does call us to be brave in some crazy ways and following Him is never disappointing.

Loreal Miss Manga Mascara // I honestly thought that this was a bit of a gimmicky product when I first started to use it. The brush can actually flex back and forth and I wasn't a very big fan of it the first time I tried it. However, I've been using it all month and I am really loving the way it makes my lashes look. They are long and voluminous and even more importantly, in the hot Ugandan sun, it does not smudge under my eyes at all. Loving it!

Your Love Is Better // by Will Reagan and United Pursuit. This song is beautiful. Like breathtakingly beautiful. It is about the fact that we can choose to live comfortably in our tiny little worlds or we can decide to step out into the unknown and actually fall deeper into a relationship with God. Because it is when we are in the uncomfortable that we cling to God more and just knowing that loving him is better than anything else out there. It's amazing. You gotta check it out!

Watoto Church  // They have the most beautiful worship I have ever been apart of and I am loving it every time I get to be in a service. The spirit is so incredibly present in the uplifting of voices to God and I honestly just get lost in my worship. It is an unforgettable and life changing experience.

My Gorgeous Husband // Being that February is the month of our anniversary, I felt it only necessary that I include him in my February Favorites. He of course is my favorite every day, but having a day to celebrate when we dedicated our lives to each other is priceless. I am in love with his amazing spirit and beautiful heart. I already talked all about our first year of marriage here and the amazing lessons I have learned so don't forget to check that out.

That Adorable Baby Face // I have completely fallen in love with the gorgeous children at Baby Watoto and I am thrilled to be here with them for a third time. Check out their site to find out exactly what they are all about, the vision Watoto has for the children of Uganda, and all of their amazing endeavors because I can hardly do them justice. But yeah, this face in particular is one of my favorites!

Hugs & Punches Blog // This beautifully written Blog is done by the gorgeous Teresa and I absolutely adore following her incredible family adventures. From her 6 children, to her brand new move, to her fantastic inspiration, I would absolutely suggest checking her out. You will not be disappointed that you did.

Skype // So for any of you who have lived abroad, you know how absolutely massive your phone bill can get talking to your loved ones. Thankfully we live in the age of incredible technology and skype has been such an asset to my convos with my hubby. Not only can we talk, but we can see each other too. I love it! And it's free to join. Awesome sauce! However, for a very small monthly fee, you can also purchase unlimited phone calls to people's cells and it costs them nothing. If you are traveling for long trips, skype is the way to keep in touch!

Drop Dead Diva // Yes I do understand that this went off the air last year but here at our apartment in Uganda we don't have cable so we watch alot of dvds and tv shows on dvd. Drop Dead Diva is constantly playing on my laptop during my free time and I'm loving this show so much. Almost every season is on Netflix so if you haven't seen it yet, watch it. It's hilarious!


February was an incredible month that has seriously gone by so fast I can't even believe it. I hope that you loved your February, where ever you are. Let me know in the comments what things were your favorites this past month!


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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Cuddles & Gorgeous Smiles // A day in Uganda


These are my peeps! We hang out just about every day and get to know each other. These cutie pies have a long day of structured schedule including, eating, sleeping, laughing, repeat. They are honestly some of the sweetest little tiny humans I have ever met. I would love to bring you along on a day with us so you can see just how much fun we have regularly!


We start the day off with a nice warm bottle and after that we get our bath, washing off all of the previous night's sleepies. It's good to be all clean and fresh for the day.


Next we head into the center of the building to meet up with our friends from other rooms. Altogether we get out instruments and sing songs about Jesus. (However sometimes we eat our instruments instead of play them.)


By this time we are a bit sleepy, and we settle in for our morning nap!


When we wake up from our nap, we hang out with our friends again, drinking more milk and enjoying more giggles. With the occasional photo bomber in the background.


Sometimes we get a run away from the other side of the room who comes to join us.


But we welcome her as apart of our group anyway!


Sometimes we have our mid day reflections and contemplate the many wonders of the universe, like why does that darn itsy bitsy spider keep climbing the spout if she's only going to get washed out again?


More often then not, we just need a good cuddle to know that everything will be alright. 


Cereal Time! We just love our yummy cereal and mango.


After we finish our cereal we head off to school where our amazing teacher sings us so many fun songs and shows us how to use our muscles.


Of course there is always time for more giggles!


Then it's nap time yet again. But before I leave for the day, we need to take a selfie. I mean there's always time for a good selfie, right?



I hope you enjoyed a day in my life here in Uganda. Every day is a new adventure filled with excitement, and alot of drool. But it is such a blessing getting to cuddle their sweet faces and let them know just how much Jesus loves them (and how much I love them too, of course). We are all precious in His sight!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Wanderlust Tag

I found this amazing tag on the lovely Maria's blog, Alemint. You absolutely need to check her out! I thought it was so incredibly neat and knew I just had to do it. I absolutely love travel and enjoy getting to see the world as much as possible. So here is the Wanderlust Tag.

Kenya 2009

Where was your first plane to?

I'm actually not fully sure to be honest, but I think it was to Mississippi. I was only a few months old, hence the not actually being able to remember, to go visit my grandma the first time. 

Ireland 2010

Where have you traveled to that you would love to visit again?

Well since I am already here, that's an easy one. Uganda! It seriously is like a second home to me and I absolutely love it. So if I wasn't already in Uganda then yes I would love to be back here again lol.

Rwanda 2011

You're leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?

Bali! I've had Bali on my bucket list for so very long now and I would love to be able to soak up the sun on this gorgeous tropical island.

Costa Rica 2011

Preferred method of travel: Planes, Trains, or Cars?

Definitely planes. It's the fastest and easiest way to get anywhere you want to go. And there are movies on planes (well international ones at least).

Serbia 2011

Top three travel items?

Well obviously you need to have a passport, but if that's not something we are including in the three then I would say great walking sandals, my iphone so that I can connect to wifi and get maps and all that stuff, and then finally my travel makeup bag. I really can't go anywhere without it.

Kosovo 2011

Favorite travel website?

Definitely Booking.Com! I absolutely love this site and find some of the greatest places to stay in country and abroad. There are so many reviews to help with your decisions. If you are traveling I would say that you have to check it out!

Uganda 2011

Where would you travel to just eat the food?

Probably Mexico. I'm in love with Mexican food and if I could I would eat it every single day.

Cyprus 2012

Is there a place you would never go again?

I don't think I could say there is a place I wouldn't go back to. I love learning about new cultures and have enjoyed everywhere I've been so far for multiple reasons.

Uganda 2013

Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

Sadly no, but I should probably learn it.
Mexico 2014

Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?

100% I always need the Aisle. Maybe it's just a control thing, but I need to be able to get up whenever I want.

Uganda 2015

How do you pass the time on an airplane?

I would love to be able to say that it is reading, and sometimes I do spend a little bit of time reading, but it's almost always watching a movie. 


If you are a person who loves to travel, please do this tag and then let me know. I would love to read your responses!


Fun Fact! The baby in the Uganda 2011 photo is the same baby in the Uganda 2013 photo, all grown and healthy!
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Jesus and Java


Today is my day off of work here in Uganda (well technically since you will be reading this on Friday, my day off was yesterday, but you get my point), and I got to spend time with two of my most favorites, Jesus and java! Uganda has truly some of the best coffee since it is situated in the perfect climate for producing coffee. It's delicious, fo real. While I was enjoying my morning cup of joe, I started to reread Ephesians and this verse really stood out to me:

Ephesians 2:10 says,

               "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
                         which God prepared in advance for us to do"

God has called us from the very beginning to do His work, and not just any work, but His good works. The work that He has prepared for us in advance. 

Now I am an avid vacation and travel goer, as is probably already apparent to you if you are familiar to my blog. I absolutely love exploring new places. Now, in vacation organizing, you wouldn't just buy a plane ticket not knowing where it is headed (well I mean maybe you would, but for most people this is not the case.) When Josh and I are getting ready for a vacation we spend meticulous time planning and organizing. We know that we have very little time in the location that we are headed so we want to be able to make the very most of it. We want to make every second count. So we do our research to find out where the best restaurants are and which attractions we want to see. We gather all of the information to be able to have the most amazing vacation. 

In a way, life is a vacation, from our home (being heaven) and now is the season to be making the most of it. In comparison to eternity, our time here on earth is so very short. We need to be producing the greatest amount of health and joy and blessing that we can out of life now, while we are still here. And here's the greatest news, to live life well we don't even have to go through all of that meticulous vacation planning. Our good works, the things that will set us apart to live significant lives in Him, have already been prepared in advance for us. Our incredible journey has already been set. And all we have to do is come into relationship with God and ask Him where it is He is sending us and to whom we are meant to engage with. He will show us the way and we can trust in that because His word has already said it. 


I started asking God a few years back where it is I should go and who I should build relationships with, and in that, God has sent me to some really incredible places. He has sent me halfway around the world to Africa five times already! And He has introduced me to some of the most beautiful people I know. He has given me the amazing opportunity to do His good works over and over again. He has let me see miracles happen along the way. My life has been forever changed for the better, simply by asking God what works He has for me to do today.

Now let me be clear, works does not mean that you have to travel to a foreign country. There may be something that God is directing you to do right where you are in this very moment. You know it because you can feel in the very pit of your stomach, and you may even think to yourself, "Nah, I could never do that. That will never be me." But it's something that continues to plague your mind and your heart in the strangest of ways. 


Starting this blog was a very strong push that I felt from God. To take that step out in faith, when He was telling me I had a voice that people would want to listen to and I was saying, "God, you cray," is something that is still somewhat scary to me, even as i write this now. Blogging to me was actually more scary than getting on a plane by myself and flying to Uganda because it is a more intimate act. But I know that God is calling me to do it. This is something that He has prepared for me, so that I can communicate with people about His love and grace. And my life has honestly been increasingly blessed since I have let go and followed that plan already laid out. 

What is that thing, that good work, you have been feeling Him call you to do? I challenge you to write it down. Do it. Right now. Write it down and ask God if this is what He has prepared for you since the beginning of time. If it is, then you know that you can trust Him and you can follow it. It will lead you into blessings greater than you have ever imagined.  


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Anniversary Fun & Long Distance Dates


So since I was busy with packing week last week and preparing for my new journey, I didn't have the opportunity to let you all know about my amazing 1 year anniversary. It was such a gorgeous weekend filled with love and a lot of food lol. Like all good anniversaries should be. Josh took me to our absolute favorite spot for dinner on Friday night, Seasons 52. That's where he took me the night we got engaged and where we tend to celebrate so many milestones in our lives. The menu changes to reflect the season and the week and each dish is 475 calories or less. It's delicious!  


The next morning I awoke to the amazing smell of delicious breakfast on the griddle. My incredible husband was cooking me banana pancakes...my favorite. He's beyond sweet and makes my heart melt. The pancakes were so so yummy and this only continued an already amazing weekend.


We went out to dinner to a new Mexican restaurant in our area for dinner Saturday night called Distrito. It was seriously amazing. Mexican is one of our favorite types of food so finding a new Mexican restaurant that is truly delicious was the cherry to a wonderful weekend. 

Sunday morning, our actual anniversary day, we had a sweet breakfast together and exchanged gifts. Since anniversary 1 is celebrated with paper, this is what we did for each other:

My DIY Vows Frame


I first went to Staples to print out our vows. Rereading this after a year actually brought tears to my eyes. These words are just as true today as they were a year ago and they will continue to be true for the very rest of my life. I picked up some washi tape and this frame from Target. 


Next I taped the two pieces of paper together and outlined the entire piece with the washi tape to make a border. Then I placed it in the frame. 


Josh and I handed each other gifts "wrapped" in the bags we bought them from. Are we meant for each other or what????


These are the two incredible books that Josh gave me for our anniversary. They have both been books that I've been dying to sink my teeth into and I was super excited to get them. I've already started tearing through Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have and I honestly can not put it down. It is so super insightful about how God is calling us to live a life that is brave, and when we step out for Him, He will always stand by us through that brave decision. I'm loving it! The second book he bought me was Breathing Room: Letting Go So You Can Fully Live and I can not wait to start this one up next!


And finally, we come to celebrating Valentine's Day long distance. Since our anniversary is only a few days before Valentine's, we tend to celebrate them together. However, we did purchase each other some really sweet cards that we opened together via Skype on the 14th. We were able to spend over an hour laughing and talking and enjoying each other's company. There are moments where technology is overwhelming but in cases like this, I am oh so happy that I can spend time seeing my adorable husband even when we are thousands of miles apart.


How do you celebrate special occasions with the people you love??
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Stepping off the Plane and into a New Journey


I get off the plane and it hits me, the smell. I love that smell. I can't even begin to explain it in words but Africa has a scent that is so very different than anywhere else in the world. I'm completely fixated by it and even though it may not be for everyone, the smell hits me with a flash flood of memories. Isn't that crazy how a scent can do that for you? It's like one whiff can transport you back so vividly to another moment in time. It's breathtaking.

The last time I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country of Uganda, I spent the first month in more of a suburban setting that was so peaceful and visually magnificent. This year I am living in an apartment in the heart of the capital city. It's loud and hectic and beautiful. The city is so alive with the gorgeous people who live here. I love to sit out on the balcony and watch all of the bodas (motorcycle taxis) drive by and the people walking and chatting with each other as the gorgeous sun reaches my skin. Oh the sun! How I have missed this incredible part of my life during the harsh winters in the northeast. It feels amazing. I could honestly sit here forever.

Life is slower here. Calmer. More Peaceful. I walk into this new world and gone are all of the stresses of home. Gone are the frustrations. They leave and I find only peace. My heart is overjoyed to be in this place at this time. Even if this trip is only just a wisp of smoke, a short breath, I want to make sure that I am taking the time always to enjoy this exact moment with all of my heart. To not take it for granted, for I know all to well that it will be gone as quickly as it started. To live every day in the moment.

My friends here are lovely. I've enjoyed an amazing weekend with some of the most wonderful people I know, catching up and sharing photos. Old and new friends both. It's been incredible. I'm thrilled to be able to create so many more stories and memories over the next couple months. New journeys can be intimidating but they lead to so much beauty and growth. And I can't wait to grow here because even though I don't know what is coming, I know that if it is God's will it's going to be so worth it! I want to encourage you all that if God is calling you to a journey, take a chance and step out in Faith. You will not be disappointed. What journey have you been wanting to start lately? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Extended Stay // What's in my Suitcase?


Packing long term can get quite overwhelming pretty quickly. The first time I ever tried it I had lists upon lists of everything I could possibly need. I didn't want to forget or miss anything. By now I have a pretty basic system of all the things I enjoy to use without it getting out of control. I pack my favorite items and the rest I pick up when I get to the place I am headed. 

To start I have all of my basic soaps and cleansing products. This includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face cleanser. Garnier Fructis is my favorite for shampoo and conditioner in the Pure Clean style. This really gets all of the product and yuck out of my hair for the day. Caress does a great job with this Burnt Brown Sugar and Karite Butter and it smells absolutely delicious. I just stumbled upon this Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo while I was shopping for my trip and I really enjoy the smell so I'm hoping this will be a great buy. Neutrogena's Deep Clean Scrub is one of my absolute favorites and also a must have in my travel kit. Round that all off with some great face wipes from the Simple Brand and I am ready to go!


The next thing I pack up are all of my hair products. Now I know they may seem a little excessive, but for me, I tend to air dry my hair in curls or loose waves while I'm in a hotter climate. So these products always seem to tame the mane. John Frieda has some of the best curl mousse in my opinion and I love using this to hold some of my natural waves and curls. I've talked about the Toni & Guy and Psssst products here before and I am really loving using these alot. They all definitely help leave my hair defined without being sticky or crunchy. For a bit of a stronger hold I use the Tresemme Extra Firm Hold hairspray and everything stays perfectly in place all day. I absolutely adore the newer fragrance Wild Madagascar Vanilla. I wear it constantly and it smells divine, so these two items from Bath and Body Works round up this collection of products. 


Important electronic devices! These are my necessary items for daily function over in Uganda. They cost me a bit of money the first time I ever went so I held on to everything, knowing that they would come in handy when I returned. The first item is my internet stick from Orange. I purchased in Uganda and simply need to add more data to it every time I return so that I am able to use it. The second item is my Ugandan cell phone. For me, keeping in touch with my friends in the country while I am there is so much cheaper with a local phone. This has definitely been a great investment over the years. Finally I have my Apple World Travel Adaptors. This box contains an adaptor for every country so that you can use your apple products where ever you go without issues. I highly recommend purchasing one of these if you are a frequent traveler. 


Since cable is not the easiest thing to come by while I'm away, I always tend to devour tons of books. Here are a few of the awesome reads I'm bringing with me on this trip. 







I am so incredibly excited for this journey to begin and to have the ability to share it with you all. Talk to you in Uganda!! Love ya'll!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Travel Makeup // Keeping it Minimal


Traveling overseas as much as I do, I always get questions about what type of makeup products I use while I'm away. When I am going on a mission trip in particular I try my very best to pack a more minimalist makeup bag. Now I am very aware that for some people this may not seem like the most minimal bag, but for me it is very much downsizing lol. I learned a very important lesson on my first long term overseas trip, and that is I need to be myself. The friend that I was traveling with had advised me not to really bring any makeup with me and that, coming from a more experienced traveler, I took her advice. But I didn't feel like me throughout most of the trip and since then I made a decision that when I travel, I don't want to act like a different person while I'm away. I just want to be me because that's the best person I know how to be. Ok, enough with the speech and on to the makeup!!


The first thing that I find to be essential while I'm away is a great face wash and moisturizer. This trip I am bringing the Time Wise 3-in-1 Cleanser from Mary Kay. I am accompanying that with the Time Wise Age-fighting Moisturizer which I am just loving at the moment. It keeps my skin feeling mega hydrated without having a slip and side type of feel. Lastly I have my Mary Kay Oil Free Makeup Remover which is amazing at getting any left over eye makeup off of my face. 


The bronzer that I will be packing is the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer and I grabbed this since I know my skin will be getting alot more sun living in Uganda so I wanted something that is a bit darker. The middle blush is the Milani Baked Blush in the color #5 Luminoso and I seriously love it. This product gives the perfect bit of peachiness to my cheeks. The last blush I'm bringing is from Sonia Kashuk in the color #14 Pink. This is a gorgeous light flushed color and it's perfect for giving cheeks just a slight pick me up.


Creams, Powders, and Shadows!

Cover Girls's Ready Set Gorgeous in the shade #115 Buff Beige

Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind  concealer in the shade #110 Fair

Revlon's Nearly Naked Pressed Powder in the shade #10 Fair


Cover Girl's Whipped Creme is one of my favorite light foundations, however it isn't really sold in stores anymore, sad face. However this one will be making the journey with me!


I am bringing with me this easy to travel with brush case from Victoria's Secret that carries my eye shadow, bronzer, and blush brushes. My brows will have the pleasure of being shaped by the lovely Anastasia Brow Wiz in the color Taupe. I've already talked about this product here and my love for that, so check it out, as well as my love for Maybelline's The Rocket. My final mascara is going to be the L'oreal Miss Manga which I just started using recently and I'm not sure I love it yet, but I'm still checking it out.


I'm ending this pack with some of my favorite lippies! The NYX Butter Glosses are seriously some of my absolute loves. They are super hydrating without being crazy sticky. The colors that I am bringing are Vanilla Cream Pie, Apple Strudel, Merengue, and Creme Brulee. Love them all. I'm finishing it off with this super creamy Nivea Lip Butter in Vanilla & Macadamia Kiss. This is one of my most absolute favorite lip balms and helps my lips to feel incredibly soft. If you have never tried this before you need to pick it up!

I am so excited to play around with some fun looks while I'm away, by sticking to what is me. Most days will probably be foundation and mascara, but I love having options and I think that's the best way to keep it minimal but still have fun with different looks while away. What are some of your favorite makeup travel items??
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Monday, February 9, 2015

What's in My Carry-on Bag?? // Long Haul Trips


Traveling anywhere can always take a bit of planning and organizing to be successful, however taking a long haul trip can be that much more stressful. What is a long haul?? I would say anything over 4-5 hours, especially internationally. In my experience, living in the western hemisphere, heading east toward Europe is usually a red eye flight, so bringing items to entertain myself as well as help me sleep are imperative. In my years of travel I have done alot of trial and error that has helped me to organize what I feel is the best collaboration of items for my carry-on.

So first I want to start with choosing the perfect bag. I tend to use a small to medium sized book-bag and honestly that is the only thing I travel with. No purse, no larger shoulder bag. There is nothing worse than having a lay over for several hours and having to tote around a few massive bags, it's just not worth it in my experience. This floral print bag was a gift from my graduate school roommate two years ago, and ironically it was her Christmas present as well that year from my family. Great minds think alike!!

Inside I carry my passport holder/wallet since that is an essential. I purchased this one from Vera Bradley several years ago. I'm not sure if they even sell this model anymore but I love it and get so much use out of it. I also make sure that I have my lap top fully charged with downloaded movies and shows just in case there is nothing crazy interesting on the plane. I love my Vera Bradley laptop case for travel and even though this particular one is out of print, they still have so many others that are fantastic quality. I make sure I pack a neck pillow, eye mask, and ear buds for sleeping in the wee hours of the night. I've found that this trio makes it the perfect combination for getting a few Zzzz's on a long haul flight.

I try to make sure I pack a book that I am reading at the time of my travels. The one that I picked for this trip is by Lara Casey entitled Make it Happen: Surrender your fear. Take the leap. Live on Purpose and I am super excited to get into it. This book is not just a pleasure read, but an interactive experience with real dialogue between you and the author. I also like to have a notebook with all of my important contact info written in it as well as having a place to journal thoughts as I'm traveling. Snack bars round off this part of my carry-on to help with any travel moments when I don't have easy access to food. This trip I've chosen Cliff bars as they are an incredible source of energy while being super tasty!


Now moving into the more beauty items area of my carry-on, these are all real simple, easy to use items that get me through multiple days on a plane. The long haul flight that I am taking to Uganda takes about two days to complete so having some items to freshen up with is so incredibly helpful during the trip. I love to travel with baby wipes which are a great way to wipe and clear your face to keep you feeling fresh. I also like to keep a travel sized version of bareMinerals Purifying Facial Cleanser in my mini makeup bag to wash my face. Being on a plane with very dry air for hours at a time can make your skin start to feel pretty gross so this is perfect to clean up your face. To help keep the moisture in my skin from all of the dry air, I also make sure I have a small lotion, such as this body balm from Perlier. Round that all off with some Burts Bees lip balm to help your lips stay nice and moisturized. And lastly a toothbrush and tooth paste is a much needed essential to keep your mouth super fresh for those few days.

Long haul travel can be exhausting but if you pack all of the necessities then you will be set for an easy and comfortable flight. Stayed tuned throughout this week as I will be adding to #packingweek with all of the items I'm bringing on my upcoming trip. What are some of your carry-on essentials when you fly??

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