Wear It Well Wednesday: Red Jeans + Black Shoes

When I found this pair of red skinny jeans in the box my sister-in-law sent me from her recent closet clean-out, I had a feeling they’d work well for me. And they do! They are so comfortable, the kind I like to throw on our bedroom chair at the end of the day and then put back on again in the morning. (I home school, so I can do that.)

I recently wore this outfit to church and had fun putting it together–particularly because I didn’t know how well the top would go with the pants.


The jeans are actually a pale shade of red, and the shirt features some pink/coral detail. But I am very happy with how this pairing turned out! Besides the hand-me-down jeans, the shirt and tank top (worn underneath) were Christmas gifts from about 3 years ago–as was the clock necklace I’m wearing here. I also have on the “Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.” cuff that my parents gave me for Christmas this past December.

Since I wear both my cowboy boots and the shorter, tan boots so much, I decided on a different pair the morning I wore this combo to church–the black semi-high heels I bought last summer at a thrift store in Colorado. I own 5 pairs of shoes:  two pairs of boots; one pair of athletic shoes; a pair of Keens sandals; and these black pumps.


The Mary Jane-type shoes cost $8, so for the entire outfit seen here, I paid just that–$8. And that was money spent on a secondhand item. As I like to say, If you love God’s earth, buy second first!

And speaking of love…it’s Valentine’s Day! It’s also the first anniversary of my Papa’s death; I’ll call my Nanny and send her my love today. Go hug your loved ones or send them your love. And do something you love. This week, I submitted 2 stories I’ve written to outlets for possible publication. We’ll see what happens! I love the gift of anticipation, too.




Something New Saturday: Elderberry Syrup

Over the past year or so, we’ve purchased elderberry syrup made by a central Florida mom named Julie. We’ve been so pleased with what she produces as part of her cottage business, but it’d become increasingly hard to meet up to buy her product.

So…given the fact that this year’s flu season seems especially nasty, I decided I would make a batch of elderberry syrup myself to help boost my family’s natural immunity.

elderberry syrup
Reusing a jelly jar that was a Costco purchase…

This post is not intended as medical advice–everybody needs to do her own research and make decisions best for her own family. With that said, I’m intrigued by the reputed benefits of elderberry syrup.

You might be able to find elderberries yourself at Whole Foods (although I haven’t looked there) or simply buy the syrup ready-made at a pharmacy or online. For ours, I ordered a batch of organic elderberries from Amazon (with a Prime membership, which we make extensive use of every single year), and this order provided the perfect amount for making a batch of syrup. I used the honey my parents harvest from the bees they raise at their home in Mississippi, along with ginger and cinnamon. I also threw in some turmeric (for its anti-inflammatory properties), although my children are of the opinion that I added too much turmeric. With that particular spice, a little does go a long way. Here’s the recipe I used (although I omitted the cloves because I didn’t have any). I give each of my boys about a teaspoon a day to help ward off colds and flu (the same for my husband and me).

Here’s hoping that an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure! With “plenty” as my word of the year, I want to give my family plenty of resources to battle cold and flu season.


Wear It Well Wednesday: Neutral Outfit + a Splash of Color

For today’s installment of Wear It Well Wednesday, I accessorized with secondhand pieces to go along with my hand-me-down clothing. I have worn this outfit a few times before:  at a reception at Cru headquarters for serving 20 years(!) with our ministry; on the last day of our New York vacation last fall; and, of course, to church.

neutral dress brown leggings

It’s comfortable and casual, yet dressy enough. The swing-y little top is a cast-off from our friend Vivian. The boots are from my aunt Anna (also hand-me-downs). The dark brown leggings I actually bought second-hand a few years ago at a resale boutique that supports survivors of human trafficking.

And the necklace and bracelet were Valentine’s Day presents from the boys that Mike helped them pick out years ago at a consignment store called Plato’s Closet. They both know I love aqua–Garfield used to bring me aqua-colored wooden building blocks when he was a little guy, happy to point out my favorite color. The pop of color from the jewelry rounds out an outfit that would feature little color otherwise.

When I wear this outfit, I feel pulled together (even if I do have my hair twisted up in a knot because it was a bit less than clean). Happy hand-me-downs to you!


2018 Goals: Where I Am Now

One of my January goals was to complete a scrapbook from our family vacation to New York City last fall. I finished it on January 30, and, although it’s certainly not the most artistic presentation, it reminds us all of a wonderful adventure.

For 2018 as a whole, I set myself a handful of goals and blogged about them here. Now that a month or so of the new year has passed, I’m taking a quick review of those goals.

good morning coffee

  1. Continuing on the journey of being faithfully frugal… We did go ahead and cut out Netflix, and our one-month no-Netflix venture will end mid-February. We’ve been totally content without it (and haven’t had cable in many years). The boys like to watch Popular Mechanics for Kids on Amazon Prime a few times per week, and Mike and I watched a movie on Hoopla together in January. Hoopla is a free service provided through our public library (and many others across the country), allowing us to check out more e-books, audio books, and even movies and TV shows than we could access through our library alone. We just haven’t missed Netflix, and it’s been freeing to go without it–financially and otherwise. The jury’s still out on whether we’ll reinstate it after our one-month fast finishes.
  2. Using my mid-day downtown for quiet time with Jesus… I have continued this practice, and it’s been one of THE most effective uses of my time. I have energy; I don’t feel rushed. My thinking is clear. I think I’ve found a real sweet spot with this habit.

joy candles

3. Write + submit, submit, submit! Good news to report on this front:  I learned in January that a brief article I wrote on generosity will be published in December in a magazine called Purpose. As well, a Christian magazine for girls (called SHINE brightly) will publish a piece I wrote in their summer 2018 issue. This feels like such a victory. Whereas these 2 works are non-fiction, I also wrote a short story for a magazine called Brio (published for girls by Christian ministry Focus on the Family) that is being, as one editor communicated to me, “shown to the other editors.” The 2 articles that will be published later this year will come with a small stipend, and I plan to add that to the money I’m acquiring for extra giving projects. Which brings me to my next goal of…

4.  Raising $300 to give to needs… Right around New Year’s, I connected with a person on Craigslist who needed to have assistance with proofreading a story he’d written. I spent about 5 hours working on the project and earned $50. Then I sold some excess hand-me-downs at 2 separate consignment stores, earning $75.50. Less than 2 months into 2018, I’ve seen over $125 of my giving goal met! With that, we’ve helped a woman from our former church with funds for her cancer treatments. We mailed restaurant gift cards to a family facing huge transition due to a medical situation. And I bought a Valentine’s wreath made by some teens raising funds for a mission trip to help rebuild in hurricane-affected areas of Puerto Rico.

kids playing

5. and 6. Continuing parenting with the trust that Christ is my source of unshakable peace and teaching with the trust that the work of my children’s growth is done by the power of God’s Spirit… Somebody said, “Attitude is everything.” Or, if nobody said that, somebody should have. When I am resting in Christ’s sufficiency, I experience more peace. I combined these 2 goals, which I listed separately on my “2018 goals” blog post in January. I read a book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham over December and January, which has encouraged me in my parenting. I also recently finished an e-book titled The Homeschooling Housewife, by Amber Fox. It’s given me some good ideas to implement in our home, even if the title is a bit off-putting.

7. Creating more Wear It Well Wednesday blog posts… Check. Woodrow loves taking pictures, and he often snaps photos of me for these posts featuring outfits I put together for little to no money (through hand-me-downs, gifts, and items occasionally picked up at secondhand stores or yard sales). Please don’t be fooled by these posts that I actually get dressed every day. On cold days–well, cold for central Florida–I sometimes stay in my sweat pants from the night before, throw on a zip-up jacket of my husband’s, and call it a day. Hmm…maybe I’ll need to work on that as a goal for 2019.

How’s your 2018 going so far?

Wear It Well Wednesday: Black Top + Gray Pants

For my birthday, my sister-in-law who lives in Alabama sent me a big box of clothes (gorgeous, quality, in-great-shape clothes) that she’d cleared from her closet. She’d gotten inspired by my organizing the boys’ closet and drawers–they helped, too. And I was the beneficiary of her round of closet clean-out!

black top with gray pants

The charcoal gray pants I’m wearing here arrived in that birthday box earlier this month. They are so comfortable and stretchy. And they fit well. I’ve already worn them several times (maybe even a few days in a row, but who’s counting, right?)

black top arms spread

So the pants are from my sister-in-law, Brandace. And the rest of the story:  The black top–with those interesting, unexpected cape-like sleeves–is a cast-off from our friend Vivian. The boots (which I wear at least weekly) you have seen many times before; my aunt Anna passed them along to me over a year ago.

Normally, I wear a long necklace with this shirt, which I brought on our New York vacation last fall. But today, I decided instead to don this little pin that belonged to my Nana before she passed away in 2005. It adds a little sparkle to such a dark outfit.

black top waist up

On the day I wore this outfit last week, I only went out to 2 places:  the library and the park, where the boys and I biked to meet up with friends to play. I wore different shoes to bike in this outfit, but otherwise, this hand-me-down combo proved versatile and just warm enough for the cool, breezy day.

Wear It Well Wednesday: Chevron Print Scarf

Last summer in Colorado, we shopped at quite a few yard sales. Woodrow looked for Nerf guns and Nerf-related supplies, whereas Garfield was on the hunt for Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.

I bought only a few items myself, but on one of these early Saturday morning yard sale excursions, Mike and the boys picked up several scarves for me–while I stayed back at our Colorado apartment and slept late. One of the scarves they bought me I featured in this Wear It Well Wednesday post of last summer. Today, my Wear It Well Wednesday outfit also showcases one of those scarves–each one purchased for a just quarter.

chevron scarf

I handed my husband my cell phone and said, “Make me look skinny.” For what’s it worth, here’s a bit of unsolicited advice:  Nobody’s getting any younger. Take photos of yourself in clothes that make you feel good and save those pics. Stop obsessing over whatever it is that causes you to feel self-conscious about your appearance and just take some pictures of yourself–or have somebody do it for you–and look back on those pics in years to come. At 84, we’ll gaze upon pictures of ourselves at 44 and reminisce about how great we looked, even if we don’t feel it now–at least, that’s my working theory.

scarf and jeans

I’ve worn this ensemble numerous times this winter–to meet up with a friend at Starbucks; out to see a movie with another friend; to the LEGO construction competition the boys competed in last Saturday. The details:  Scarf:  yard sale purchase. Jeans:  handed down from our Texas friend, Vivian. Shirt and boots:  cast-off goodies from my aunt Anna. And secondhand comes in first again!



Wear It Well Wednesday: Dressed Up with Some Place to Go

On the next to last day of 2017, my family and I attended a showing of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever–The Musical at the Orlando Rep. We adore this story! Between the end of November and December 30, we enjoyed this story in 3 different formats:  book (I read it each Christmas season); movie (we found the TV movie of this story on Youtube); and then live musical.

For this outing, I needed (and wanted) to dress up a bit. Cue the hand-me-downs…

allison at oak tree

The weather was cool but not cold, so I got the chance to don this lightweight swing-y top over gray leggings. Both these pieces are second-hand items courtesy of a friend’s cast-offs, along with the navy top worn underneath. The boots are hand-me-downs from a family member. The necklace was purchased second-hand at a consignment shop several years ago as a gift to me. All for free (to me).

My bracelet–worn on the hand that’s peeling back a layer of hair (maybe I was attempting to show off some strands of gray, I don’t know)–is a brand-new Christmas gift from my parents. And I love its message:  From Micah 6:8:  Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. What an appropriate reminder as we begin a new year…