four brands I love.

Since hopping on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon (winter capsule coming soon!), I have started paying more attention to what clothing companies I support with my dollars. Here are four brands I discovered last year that I love and highly recommend:

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1) Everlane

What they do best: modern basics

Why I love them: Everlane is known for their unique radical transparency. They have found the best factories in the world, and have personal relationships with the people creating their products. They are completely honest about their pricing structure and will tell you exactly how much it costs to make their products.

Products I have purchased and love: Ryan Tank, Linen Tank, Ryan Pocket Tee, Silk Tank, The Ponte Short Sleeve Dress

Products on my wishlist: Silk sleep set

Sign up here.

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2) Nisolo (<—get a $25 coupon)

What they do best: shoes, jewelry, bags

Why I love them: Every shoe is made by hand and is seen as a work of art. Their products are created with quality materials made to last. Their styles are simple, effortless, timeless, and made to live in.

Products I have purchased and loveEcuador Huarache Sandal

Products on my wishlist: all of the jewelry, Austin Smoke

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3) Seamly.co (<—-get a $10 coupon)

What they do best: versatile, effortless clothing

Why I love them: Seamly products are created with surplus fabric, and sewn right here in the USA. They produce clothing responsibly, with thought and soul and care. A lot of the products can be worn different ways, which works very well for a capsule wardrobe because you get multiple looks from one garment.

Products I have purchased and love: The Convertible Pantsuit

Products on my wishlist: No Sweat Pants

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4) Brass Clothing

What they do best: dresses

Why I love them: Brass offers designer-quality dresses at the right price. Their styles are flattering, well-made, and neutral in color so you can easily style and accessorize them to your taste. Brass is all about great fit, and they’ll even pay the tab at your local tailor if you need to get a dress hemmed.

Products I have and loveThe Navy A-Line (SO FLATTERING, and it has pockets!)

Products on my wishlist: the tank maxi, the shirt dress

I’ll be back next week with my winter capsule! Have you discovered any new great brands recently?

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thriving, not surviving.

Thrive-1It’s early. 5:30am to be exact. I am the only one awake in my house and it feels wonderfully peaceful at this hour. My coffee is hot and I’m curled up on the couch in my pajamas, listening to the sound of the heater warming the rest of the house. I wish I was a morning person, that I could do this every day. I wish I could wake up before anyone else and write in the dark. The only reason I am here right now is because I went to bed at 9pm. Yes, I went to bed at 9pm on New Years Eve. I’m not even sorry.

My instagram and Facebook feeds have been full of inspiring posts the past few days. Everyone is setting intentions and goals for the year, picking one little word to guide them for the next 365 days.

To be honest, I haven’t given it five minutes of thought.

Which is so unlike me, come to think of it.

I am usually all about New Years. New year, new me, new you. I love a fresh start, an empty page, for my life to be a blank canvas on January first.

Coming off the tails of 2015, I can say with absolute certainty that this was one of the hardest years of my life. Transitioning from one kid to two kids was more than a year-long process, one marked by severe sleep deprivation and a deeply needy baby who could barely function outside of my arms. I have been in a fog for most of this year: tired, exhausted, worn out, drained physically and emotionally. My body has suffered. My marriage has suffered. My writing has suffered.

If I had to put a word down for 2015 it would be survive. This past year I was barely treading water, kicking my legs as hard as I could just to stay afloat. There was not a lot of balance. I think I read less than five books all year. I saw maybe three movies. I drank way too much coffee, and ate way too much takeout. I cried a lot. Every day was a hustle, and not in a good way.

Ironically, 2015 was perhaps one of my best work years to date. Coffee + Crumbs continues to grow in all the right ways. We published 156 essays, ran a successful pledge drive, opened our online shop, and just this week launched a writing workshop. I signed with a literary agent and worked on a number of book ideas and proposals towards the end of the year. I attended my first photography workshop in October and, as a result, did an overhaul of my photography site, vowing to show more of the work I want to book. My brain never stopped working in 2015. I chased every dream I could think of and walked through every door God opened. Every night after the kids went to bed, I opened my laptop and worked till I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was wonderful and tiring, inspiring and taxing.

To put it simply, I am grateful and proud and exhausted at the end of 2015.

Today, as we enter a new year full of endless possibilities, I can only bring myself to make one resolution. One intention, one word.

In 2016, I want to THRIVE, not simply survive. 

I want to play more and clean less. I want to cook more and eat cereal less. I want to rest more and work myself into the ground less.

I want to flourish.

I don’t want to tread water anymore; I just want to swim.

See you at the lake?

***

My favorite posts from 2015: You Just Had A Baby, Inconvenient, To Be Brave With Your Art, Mommy Doesn’t Go To Work, When Love Is A Relay, The Hard Way, The Year We Didn’t Sleep, When You Say Your Dreams Out Loud, Taking A Leap

and a few from Coffee + Crumbs: Meeting In The Middle, Enjoy This Time Dear, A Tale Of Two Birth Plans, Imposter Mom, Velcro Baby, The Battles We Choose

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my prayer for coffee + crumbs in 2016.

Use Your Gift-2Coffee + Crumbs is not a “Christian” blog, and that is by design. While you may find faith-based content throughout our site, religion is not part of our official brand.

That was an awkward decision to make in the beginning, but I made it, and I stand by it to this day.

There are a lot of people in this world who hear “Christian” and run for the hills. Maybe the Christians they have encountered are overly judgmental. Perhaps they witnessed one too many Christians spewing hate in the name of Jesus. Maybe they had an awful experience at church. Maybe they went through a hard season, and their Christian friends were the last to show up.

I have seen this in action; I understand why some people run away from that name.

The way I see it: branding Coffee + Crumbs as a Christian blog would have been like inviting all the moms on the Internet to come to church with me. That would have been a big ask, you know? Some people are terrified of church. Some people straight up hate the idea of church. Some people (including myself) have scars from a complicated church past, and some people have anxiety over the mere thought of hanging out with church-goers.

I didn’t want that for Coffee + Crumbs. I didn’t want people to turn away at the very beginning without even walking through the door. I wanted people to give us a chance, to see who we really are, to see who Jesus really is, to see this love, this grace, to let these stories unfold.

So I decided to make Coffee + Crumbs…..a beach.

(We all love the beach, right?)

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join. Nobody is scared to come to the beach. It’s pretty here. We’re all just chillin in our swimsuits, practicing the art of vulnerability, watching sunsets together. You want to talk about c-section scars? Have at it. You want to cry? It’s nice to cry at the beach. You want to swap warrior stories, and talk about the hilarious thing your toddler said yesterday? I hope you do.

And if you want to talk about Jesus? Well….I’d love that, too.

When I first launched Coffee + Crumbs, I gave my writers the following charge: You are allowed and encouraged to write about your faith in whatever capacity your heart is inspired to do so. Over time, we might all share bits and pieces of our testimony in that space. Because, well, Jesus is part of our motherhood story. It would be an injustice to keep Him out of our writing.

I started a tradition last year around this time to write a prayer for my writing at the beginning of the year. For 2016, it felt right to make that prayer for Coffee + Crumbs. Whether you’re a believer or not, I hope you always feel welcome there.

***

My 2016 Prayer for Coffee + Crumbs

Dear God, thank you for instilling in each of us a love and talent for writing. Thank you for giving us voices and a significant platform to reach others. We know every ounce of success that Coffee + Crumbs has received was given to us straight from you, and we are so grateful for that.

Lord, I pray for the ministry of Coffee + Crumbs—that you would use our words to plant seeds of the gospel among unbelievers. I pray that you would use us as beacons of hope and light and truth on the Internet, where darkness and evil can often be prevalent.

I pray that you would use Coffee + Crumbs to encourage mothers around the world, and that the right people would find the words they need to read when they are feeling alone or desperate. I pray that our words will always represent motherhood in all of its beautiful and messy glory, and that the collective picture we paint will always be accurate and honest.

God I pray for a layer of protection around our writers, that you would shield us from hate and harsh criticism. When we encounter negativity, I pray for the strength to ignore it, to persevere, to remain unshaken in the calling you have placed on our hearts.

I pray for boldness, for braveness, for vulnerability of the deepest kind—that you would open our hearts to the messages you want us to share with the world.

I pray that you would keep our eyes on the message, not the numbers; on the mission, not the financial success; on You, not on us. We hold Coffee + Crumbs as an offering to you, and we know there is no better place for it to be than in your hands.

We know you have placed these gifts in our hearts and we know you want us to use them for your glory. I pray that you will continue to affirm us in these talents and that you will continue to open every door that you see fit for us to walk through. We pray for wisdom and discernment with all opportunities that come our way.

I pray that each of us will use these gifts as faithful stewards of your grace, today and everyday, both in our Coffee + Crumbs endeavors and in our own personal writing.

In Jesus’ name we humbly pray,
Amen.

***

After I wrote this post, a girl named Konnie reached out to me and told me all about her dream – an Etsy shop filled with beautiful art created from bible verses and song lyrics. And then she did it! I asked her to design this “Use your gift” print to include in my Christmas gifts for the C+C writers. The print is based on one of my favorite verses, 1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

Konnie is based in Australia, but she offers lots of digital downloads. I especially love this one and this one

p.s. We’re doing our annual reader survey this week! This is like our yearly report card, and we’d love to know your thoughts!

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on splinters, tonsils, ear tubes, and trust.

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“Mommy, I got some-fin in my foot!”

It was five minutes till bedtime, not like I was keeping track. (Okay, let’s be honest: I am always keeping track).

His dirty blonde hair was still wet from the bath, and a post-dinner belly protruded from the top of his spaceship pajamas.

“What’s in your foot, buddy?” I asked.

I pulled him towards me, and he sat down in my lap as we both examined the foot in question.

“I dunno! Some-fin!”

Upon further investigation under his teepee twinkle lights, I spotted a splinter. No doubt, the result of him playing barefoot at the park a few hours prior.

“Sorry, buddy, you have a splinter in your foot. Mommy’s going to have to get that out for you.”

He looked at me, wide-eyed, unsure how to respond. I cautiously explained the removal process: that I would have to use tweezers, and that it would pinch a teeny tiny bit, but it wouldn’t hurt. He seemed skeptical.

We migrated to my bathroom for tweezers and better light. Panic set in.

“No mommy, I don’t want to!” he cried.

I reassured him over and over again that I was going to help him, not hurt him, but as things like this normally go with three year-olds, he was quickly flailing about on the bathroom floor like a fish out of water.

I looked to my husband for reinforcement, and within seconds he was contained in his daddy’s arms. I grabbed the affected foot and gave careful instructions, “Everett, mommy is going to take the splinter out. Be very still. This won’t hurt, I promise. You have to trust me, okay?”

He looked suspicious. Slightly terrified. The weight of my own words echoed in my mind. Does my own son not trust me? Have I ever given him a reason not to?

Just when I thought I had screwed everything up, counting the number of times I’ve said, “this won’t hurt” or “we’ll do that next time”, a single tear rolled down his cheek and I watched his body exhale.

He relaxed into my husband’s arms, and waited for me.

I squinted, and carefully removed the splinter in one quick motion. He didn’t even flinch, my brave boy.

“All done!” I exclaimed proudly.

He smiled as a wave of relief washed over him, a fish falling back into water.

My husband released him to the floor, where he immediately ran his fingers over his foot and looked at me, bewildered.

“It’s gone! My foot is all bed-der!!!”

“I told you, buddy. Mommy will always take care of you, okay?”

“Oh,” he smiled.

I gave him a kiss on the cheek and that was it, a lesson in trust.

***

Everett is having his tonsils and adenoids removed this morning, as well as tubes put in his ears. We are all up before the sunrise. This is early, even for us.

I’ve packed his Elmo and blue blanket carefully in his backpack. I bought him a new Lightning McQueen sippy cup so he can stay hydrated in style after the procedure.

I know he needs this. But when I picture the needle, the anesthesia, the cutting, the blood, I can’t lie—I get a little lightheaded. I’m not an anxious person by nature. I’m the “relaxed” one in our family. But this morning, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit panicked. On the outside, I’m cool and calm and collected, but on the inside, I’m just like Everett staring at the tweezers. Suspicious. Slightly terrified. A fish out of water.

The doctor said he will be fine afterwards. “It’s a very basic procedure,” he told us. He’s probably done this hundreds of times.

So here we are.

This morning I will sit back, and I will try to relax, and I will be brave for my boy like he is brave for me. I’ll say a prayer. I will kiss his cheek before they wheel him away, and then I will wait. Wait. Wait.

A lesson in trust.

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all the things.

Calendar-2It happens every year in December. The hustle and bustle. The Christmas cards, the parties, the cookies, the gifts, the menus to plan, the places to go, the people to see. On top of normal December chaos, I am up to my eyeballs in Coffee + Crumbs projects. I started a blog post a few weeks ago about splinters and trust, but never finished it. Then I started a post about a few new brands I love, but never finished it. Then I swapped out my fall capsule and replaced it with a winter capsule, but never got around to photographing it. Then I started a post all about what I learned at a photography workshop in October, but…..shockingly…..never finished it.

This poor blog. 

I have big dreams of finishing all of those posts in the new year, and also writing about my one and only resolution for 2016 (is the suspense killing you?), but in the meantime, may I direct your attention to all of the awesome things that Coffee + Crumbs is doing this month? This is my heartbeat, friends. This is the thing I think about before I fall asleep each night, and the thing I get excited about first thing in the morning. God is opening so many beautiful doors for us, and I have no choice but to step through them with absolute faith. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again because it always bears repeating: this is my dream job, and the magic of that is not lost on me.

1. We made a calendar! And not just any calendar, a calendar for moms. Each print features a gorgeous watercolor illustration and a quote intended to make you smile and remind you that you’re not alone. This is the perfect Christmas gift for yourself, or for your momma friends. If your husband needs a nudge, I am happy to send him the link directly.

2. We are hosting an online fundraiser for Carry The Future, a group committed to serving refugees traveling toward asylum by providing a baby carrier for their youngest ones to safely travel in. When you make a donation, you will receive a beautiful “Be Brave” printable. It takes bravery to be a mother no matter where we are, but right now, we can honor the extraordinary amount of bravery our refugee sisters are displaying for their babies.

3. We are launching an online writing workshop! This is something I have been dreaming about for…..exactly four weeks? You know how I do. The storytellers of Coffee + Crumbs are crafting a six-week course to breathe fresh air into your lungs. We’re prepping lessons on creativity, vulnerability, writing with an X factor, and more. Look out for an announcement soon!

And, well, what do you know? My essay is up today. Click here to read about that one time my three year-old boycotted his bed for an entire year. Good times.

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