St. Augustine | Travel With Me

I recently went on vacation to St. Augustine, Florida, and it was absolutely beautiful! I was the only member of my family who had never been there. (Apparently I had been there when I was little, but to me that doesn’t count. I don’t remember any of it.) It is the oldest city in the United States, where it is said that Ponce de Leon thought he had discovered the fountain of youth. Since it’s establishment in 1565, it has become a hodge lodge of paved and cobblestone roads, Spanish and English-style buildings, an eerie Castillo de San Marcos, with museums and shops galore.

One thing I highly recommend doing is the trolly tour! They take you through the whole city and explain every important area of St. Augustine. It was fascinating to hear the history of this old city. It was pricey, but the ticket lasts all day and you can hop on and off to visit different areas. After the tour we decided to hit the shops on George St. While it’s mostly souvenir shops, I enjoyed looking around at everything. We didn’t have time to visit the museums, but when I go back I would like to see Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Lightner Museum.

As far as places to eat, the Columbia restaurant is the place to go! I highly recommend the famous 1905 salad and the Cuban sandwich. It was delicious, the staff were very friendly and accommodating with my baby, and the bread and butter that are complimentary are to die for. If anything, I would go back for the bread and butter. Let me know if you’ve visited St. Augustine and what your favorite spots were. I’d love to hear!

With love,

Em

Mama, Get Off Your Phone.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time. This is also to myself because I struggle with this daily. It’s something that I think many of us struggle with, regardless of whether we have kids or not. Our phones are a thief of our time. They also destroy our self-esteem. They create monsters inside of us called jealousy when we see an influencer’s new wardrobe, or their third new home in the last few years; each one more grand than the last. I should know because I’ve experienced these emotions and consequences. Yet it does have its virtues believe it or not.

Our phones connect us in ways past generations thought impossible. My daughter loves to FaceTime our family that lives 1,000 miles away. We can send pictures and videos instantly to our friends and relatives. Our phones also give us the ability to find the best deals on Facebook Marketplace, for example. Youtubers give us opinions and advice about products for our littles so we can make a sound purchase. See, I told you our phones have some good qualities!

Yet how many moments have I lost scrolling through Instagram, or watching video after video on Youtube? Moments of my daughter’s life and mine that I cannot get back. I believe that we would have so much “more time,” if we took a minute to see how much we waste on our devices. I love the screen time feature on the Apple iPhone. It was a rude wake up call to see how many endless hours I was wasting on my phone PER DAY. I’ll get transparent so you don’t have to feel as bad. I was averaging about five hours a day on my phone. What the heck?? I will also admit that it was mainly social media that was stealing that much of my time. Endless scrolling and mindless viewing.

I got to work and thought about what I could do with five hours of my day. I could definitely work on laundry. I could finish that book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for a year. I could throw in a thirty minute workout that I keep telling myself I don’t have time for. I could work on a mommy blog that I’ve been dreaming about (hello!) and make it a reality. There’s so much you could do that you “don’t have time for” if you looked up from your phone.

You know, it’s incredible how much comparison steals our happiness. I have to keep myself in check every day when looking on Instagram. I see her immaculate house, her expensive wardrobe, the endless hauls of hundreds of dollars she spent on a whim, the exotic trip that we all know cost her nothing because it was sponsored. That green monster of jealousy rears its ugly head and I become ungrateful for everything I do have. Do you want to know the secret to squashing that annoying monster? Get off your phone. If you’re a christian, get in your Bible. I cannot tell you how much better my day goes when I reach for His Word in the morning when I wake up before I open social media. If you’re not a christian, then I suggest keeping a notebook and write down a list of what you’re thankful for. How about the roof over your head? The fact that you were able to eat dinner last night? The fact that you and your family are in good health? How about the realization that it’s a luxury to have a smart phone? (Obviously these are examples, and it is different for everyone.) I remember always hearing, “If you have breath in your lungs, thank the Lord, because He’s the one who put it there.” How many times do we ever think about how blessed we are to be alive? Probably never. We’re too busy complaining about things we don’t have.

I hope this was encouraging for someone. I’m talking as much to myself as I am to someone else. No one in particular, I promise. I meant in general. I want to challenge you to utilize that screen time feature on your phone and schedule a part of your day where social media is blocked. Put your phone in your bedroom, in a drawer, in a safe, I don’t know. Just leave it somewhere you can’t get to it. Take a minute and breathe. Start on that hobby you’ve wanted to learn. Read a book. Journal. Go on that walk you didn’t have time for. Crack open those dusty recipe books and find a new one that looks delicious. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done this. Leave me a comment or connect with me on the contact page! Or we can add each other on social media (I know it sounds ironic, but if it’s in your allotted time I’ll allow it 😉) and let me know that my blog sent you!

Let’s to this challenge together. Starting the month of July. Let’s go.

With love,

Emily

 

Finding Love in an Unexpected Place | Journal

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I would categorize myself as a hopeless romantic – one who believed that someday my prince would come. I know I sound like a Disney princess movie, but that was my view. Those movies had a very large impact on my life, okay? Yet reality is so much different than a fairytale. Throughout the years of never having a boyfriend or never holding someone’s hand in a romantic way it had an effect on me. Every single Christian girl can vouch for me when I say I’ve heard all the remarks from older generations on marriage and “the one” and I was sick of it. I was immensely tired of hearing that my time will come, or that there are plenty of fish in the sea, or something along those lines. Well, he wasn’t really coming in my timeline at all. I was supposed to be married three years ago with at least a little one on the way by now. Reality had a cruel way of showing you that life isn’t a movie, and social media also has a way of letting people pretend that they’re perfect and happy, giving you the feeling of loneliness that amplifies into untruths. I have a love-hate relationship with social media.

I wanted a relationship so bad for so long, I eventually gave up hope if I’m being completely honest. In January of 2017, I threw in the towel and wrote a letter to my future husband and to God, saying that I was done looking. I was fed up with my own failed timeline creating doubt and disappointment. I was finished with feeling sorry for myself and painting false ideas on myself that I wasn’t pretty enough, or outgoing enough, or just plain likable. If I claimed to be a child of God, it was time for me to start acting like one.

I did a lot of soul searching, and found that I was not ready for a relationship with someone when I wasn’t strong in my relationship with God or myself. I leaned on what God said I was, and started to finally place my worth in what He said versus what the world said a young twenty-something girl should be. (I could go on about how social media is a blessing and a curse to society, but that’s another soap box that I need to not step on, otherwise I could go on forever.) Let me tell you, it’s hard changing your mindset. The beauty of serving a mighty God is that it didn’t take very long for me to be free of those untruths. It starts with talking to God and telling him your fears, your concerns, your failures, and just giving them up. It also means finally being okay with HIS timeline.

I wrote a post on here a few years ago proclaiming that I was done with dating (I’ll link it here if you’d like) and while for the most part I stuck to this, words are easier said than done, because after that I still struggled. Just being completely honest. Yet who knew that I would meet my husband eight months after truly declaring, by myself at night in my room, that I was handing it to the Lord. Also, who knew that the internet/social media was the way I would meet him. I know, I just went on a little tangent about social media, but remember I said I have a love/hate relationship with it? Well I found him on none other than ChristianMingle. Yes, you read that right. At first, I was skeptical of trying it. I thought and prayed hard before I started and during the whole process. I kept my mindset pure and on God. At first, I felt like it wasn’t right for me to give my dating life to God and then turn around a few months later and look for him myself on an internet dating site of all places. However, I prayed a simple prayer, “I’m going to try this for a little while, and if it’s not what you have for me, God, then shut the door.” Surprisingly, he didn’t shut it.

I want let this phrase sink in, because it is so true: God’s timing is PERFECT. All those years of wishing and crying and wanting someone taught me to trust in God’s plan. If I didn’t, I would have never met my husband, because all this time he was 1,000 miles away from me until he moved to Michigan in June of that same year I gave it all up to God. In August, we had our first date and talked for hours. We both opened up to each other and asked serious compatibility questions, like ones about finances and other relationships. I know it sounds crazy, but I was not messing around, and neither was he. By our third date, we both knew that this was it. We had found our soulmates. In December, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. In August of the next year (two months ago) we made the most important covenant between a man and a woman official. I’m telling you, when God is in the mix, things just happen. I look back at all those “wasted” years of being single as a lesson. I put the word “wasted” in quotations because they were not wasted at all. All those years of saving myself and growing into the person God wanted me to be paid off. We each other’s firsts in everything. And that is something truly special that I thank God every day for. When we do relationships and marriage God’s way, it is truly beautiful and the most romantic love story of all.

I want to say this as a sort of disclaimer – God’s timeline for everyone is different. I know I would read these types of posts and say to myself, “Okay, if that’s how it worked for them, I’ll try the same things and see if they work for me!” It never did. If you’re struggling with singleness and all the other issues that come with that, I understand your pain. I was right there with you for many years. Remember this: a girl should be so lost in God that a guy needs to seek him to find her. That way the struggle is easier, and the waiting doesn’t seem like an eternity. I hope my story resonates with someone, and if it does, then my goal is made. I will see you next week with another blog post (I’m determined to keep this thing going)!

With love,

Emily

What I’ve Been Up to….

Well hello there! Let me dust off the cobwebs and find you a better seat. I know it’s been a while – I don’t even know who keeps up with this blog anymore, but if you still do, bless you. Life has been so busy as of late, mainly because I got a boyfriend, got engaged, and got married within a year. I know, I know. That’s a lot, right? I have so much to catch you up on, so many posts to sit down and write, so many ideas in my head for new reviews, new outfits, new discussions about life and my walk with God, and new habits to talk about that are changing my life. So don’t worry, I have a goal this month to be consistent with this little blog, and one of my new found habits is helping with that. To give you a little hint, it has to do with waking up early. However, that is for a separate post I want to write. I’ll keep this one short for now, but I am so excited to get back into this. I will see you this Thursday with a post about meeting my husband and hopefully encourage someone out there who is struggling with loneliness and aching for their soulmate. Well, time to get writing and taking/editing pictures for this blog – see you soon!

Emily

What I Wore | Winter Wonderland

We’ve had quite a snow storm here in the mitten, and so I asked my fiancé if he would brave the elements with me and take some outfit pictures! I’m bummed we couldn’t get boot pics since the snow was so deep (stupid snow), but they are over the knee with a chunky heel and too adorable for words. I want to get more into outfit pictures – and now I’ll have a full time photographer husband soon so it’ll be way easier. 😉 Source of everything down below – Enjoy!

Duster Jacket – LOFT

Shirt – Kohl’s

Leggings – Marshalls

Boots – Marshalls

Lips – Em Cosmetics

Face – IT Cosmetics

Mackinac Island | Travel With Me

Mackinac (Mack-in-aw) Island is one of the most beautiful places in Michigan. I have not been to the island since I was a young girl, so reliving everything again was breathtaking (even in the frigid, rainy temperatures). There are no cars or any motorized transportation on the island, so the only way to get anywhere is by a bicycle or by horse. With there being no cars allowed, you have to take a ferry to get onto the island, which makes the experience more memorable.

Though I have biked around the island many times, this was the first time I experienced riding in the horse-drawn carriage. Even though it’s pricey, I highly recommend the private tour if you take a carriage. The private tour takes you around all of the private cottages on the island, plus you get to see the governor’s summer home.  I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice. One of the benefits to biking around the island is seeing the beautiful views around the island, which is only eight (approx. 8.2) miles around.

Besides bikes and horses, Mackinac is known for its decadent fudge. There are at least three fudge shops to choose from. Plus, they give you as many free samples as you want! The restaurant I would recommend is Millie’s for their kid-friendly meal selection and great selection of options for adults as well. The truffle oil fries with blue cheese appetizer is one to definitely try. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my food, but I got an olive burger with swiss cheese and Millie’s olive spread. It was a pretty good burger, even though it was messy.

If you have never been to the UP (Upper Peninsula), or at least at the top of the mitten, I would put it on your bucket list. Michigan is a beautiful place, and I’m glad I get to call it my home.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

Stratford, Ontario | Travel With Me

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

-excerpt from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I have been to Stratford many times on school trips to see a play, usually from Shakespeare, for my English class. It has been a while (six years to be exact – yikes) since I had been to Canada and Romeo and Juliet was playing this season. I had always wanted to see Romeo and Juliet live so I begged my mom to come with me. Soon we told my sister and it turned into a birthday excursion for my sister.

We had the most wonderful time there, myself in particular. I strolled through the streets, soaking in everything I remembered as a young teen. We ate at Downie Street Burgers for lunch (you can see the pic of my meal below) and it was delicious. They have many other options to choose from if you’re not into burgers per say, but I highly recommend this place. It is a little pricey, but with the exchange rate it is less in the long run for Americans. For dessert I chose a lemon tart, which was amazing, from a little coffee shop I used to go to every time when I went in school.

If you are interested in plays and love little towns, then this place is one to check off the bucket list. It is not far from Toronto, so if you are ever around there you should definitely make a little day trip and go see a play, explore the little boutiques, take a walk by the river, and eat some delicious food.

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

 

Busyness: a New Disease

I usually like to write about what I am going through at a particular moment in my life. I am going to school (yes I am almost twenty-four and still in college – that’s a testimony for a later post lol) and working full time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and I love being back in school and getting a higher education. I will say, though, it comes at a cost.

I have found that I hardly have time for anything anymore. I get up early, go to work, come home, and go to bed. On school days I get up early, go to school all day, go to a coffee shop to get my homework done, go home, and go to bed. That is my routine five days a week. I forgot to mention: I also have photo sessions on the weekend. I have no time for a social life, and I feel that I have no time for me. Yet I feel that I have no choice – I have to have so many classes in order to not be in school forever, and I have to work so many hours to pay my bills and stay afloat.

Remember when you were a kid and could not WAIT to be an adult and make your own decisions and have your own car (insert anything you wanted as a kid, but could not have)? Yeah, it is not what it is cracked up to be. In fact, it is downright awful.

The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you have. That also pertains to your spiritual walk with God. No one holds your hand anymore. Your parents do not make you go to church anymore. YOU are your own responsibility. It has to be YOUR choice to shimmy in some time with God, no matter how “busy” you are.

I am not afraid to acknowledge that I have been lacking in my spiritual walk. I really detest the “holier-than-thou” attitude, so I will not be one of those people. Every one has ups and downs in his or her spiritual walk. I believe we should not be afraid to admit our faults for fear of judgement, rather confess our weaknesses to seek support and help. Yet busyness is a dangerous place to be in your life; I am learning this right now.

What happens when you do not have time for God?

With Love,

Emily