Wednesday, March 22, 2017

dressing pretty with elle belle boutique

happy wednesday, friends!
i'm coming at you today with a super fun (and pretty) collaboration + giveaway with elle belle boutique!

for more deets on the giveaway and how to enter, head on over to my instagram! (everything will be posted on wednesday, march 22!)


i came across elle belle boutique in the craziest way: i first saw her clothing line from Katie's blog. her clothes were so cute, so i decided to check out her (Stacy - the owner of elle belle boutique) online boutique. i quickly found stacy's instagram, + found out she lives in the same city as me.

like, what are the odds?!

so, i attended her pop up shop at her home a couple weeks ago, + we decided to collab! whoop whoop!


stacy is a stay at home mom that runs this awesome boutique out of her home. her clothes are oh so cute + oh so affordable. she always has new arrivals, + clothes to meet anyone's style standards!


in my photos, the white scalloped cardigan (sold out), the pink scalloped shirt (sold out), + the white jeans are all from elle belle boutique.


side note on the white jeans // they are so flattering, + not see through! i'm very picky about my white jeans, but these definitely hit the mark! i sized up on these because they are pretty form fitting.

if you live in the area, stacy does pop up shops that you can shop in person at! if you do one at her home, you can even try on the clothes before you buy to make sure you absolutely love them! if you don't live in the area, you can shop elle belle boutique online! i do recommend sizing up if you order online. i noticed that i went for the larger size in clothing when i tried them on for comfort.


if you're looking for cute, affordable, and flattering clothing and accessories, be sure to check out elle belle boutique!


+ don't forget to enter the giveaway on my instagram! i'll also be sharing a coupon code when the giveaway ends for all of my pretty friends like you to use!

xoxo, Brandi

Monday, March 13, 2017

trust

the past few weeks have flown by in a whirlwind, yet have seemed to take 5 years. i’m exhausted from trying to sell this house. when we sold our last house, we had moved out within a week, and showings were much easier to accommodate to because we weren’t there.

this time, each time we have a showing, i have to pack up the baby and the dog, and go drive around for an hour until i can come back, and then turn around a couple hours later and do it again.

don’t get me wrong, i’m so grateful for all the showings we’ve had. we live in an new neighborhood that everyone is fighting at the bit to live in - well usually, more on that in a minute. but it’s just flat out exhausting constantly having to leave the house, and pray that a showing isn’t during nap time. and kyle started his new job today, so it was a whole lot harder to get everyone out of the house without his help. and trying to keep up with all of that, run both of our home businesses, and some how keep everyone fed? well, you get the point.

trying to constantly keep the house clean with a 17 month old and two animals is about as equal as trying to brush your teeth while eating oreos (ew). we are always rushing around, always telling lilli “no, don’t make a mess”, and not feeling comfortable at home so it can always be “show ready”.

and although we live in a new neighborhood, it’s taking a while to sell. most houses in our neighborhood are on the market for 2-6 days. but, because of whatever unknown reason, the couple of houses that are for sale in our neighborhood, ours included, are taking much longer to sell. i know that i have no right to complain, but 3 and a half weeks on the market seems like a whole lot longer with a baby and animals in tow. 

because of the financing we are doing with the new home, we aren’t able to legally close on the new house until we legally sell this one, so we can’t move or start renovations (it’s a fixer upper, which is a dream of ours, but that dream feels so far away right now that i can’t even think about it). and the real sucky part - since the new house is contingent on this one selling - we only have so long for this house to sell before the contract is voided, which is coming up way sooner than i like to think about. and, even worse, the sellers of the new house are allowed to accept a new offer at any time, and unless we sell the house within 72 hours of that offer, we lose the house. and all of this will be for nothing and we have to start all over.

i’ve had an incredibly tough time trusting in this season. when we first made the decision to move, it was very clear to us that this is what God wanted and that we were making the right decision. but now, as each day passes and this house sits on the market, it’s so hard not to question it, and wonderful if we made a huge mistake.

i’m not a very patient person, and i get discouraged very easily. but maybe that’s why God is having us go through this? to prove to us how almighty He is? to show us that He never fails, that He wouldn’t have put us through this journey if it wasn’t for a reason that is beyond our own comprehension? and that maybe, just maybe, we will be a bit more patient and a bit more positive at the end?

via
i know in the end, it’ll all work how however it’s meant to. and i’ll look back on this blog post and chuckle to myself. but right now, i need about 6 glasses of wine and 12 naps. 

xoxo, Brandi

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

currently reading

if you know me at all, you know that i'm a lover of reading. i always tell kyle that if "reading" ever becomes a job, i'd be employed in a heart beat.

i tend to go through a couple of books a month, either on my iBooks app or actual books, and i've definitely found some must reads, and some yeah-I-wouldn't-recommend it.


must reads

the magnolia story || this is going to sound so crazy. haha. but God told me to read this book. kyle gave it to me for christmas, along with a few other books. I was trying to decide which one I wanted to read first, and clear as day, I just had a feeling that I was meant to start the magnolia story.

well, a few days later, kyle lost his job, and God turned everything we knew as the present to the past, and made some major changes in our lives. He was calling us to further our small businesses, and then a few weeks later, He told us to sell our house, and set our sights on a fixer upper on a plot of land.

sound familiar?

i told you guys it was going to sound crazy. haha. this book was awesome, and i definitely recommend it to everyone. but it also was such a motivator and reassurance for me to read, and in a way, it felt like God's way of speaking to me and making our dreams seem like they could become a reality.

overall, its a 10/10!

a time to dance + a time to embrace || besides my boo nicholas sparks, karen kingsbury officially has my heart with her books. my mother in law gave these to me, and i kid you not, it took me three days to finish both books cover to cover. i loved them. i recommend them to any engaged or married couple, as they focus on marriage and the hardships this world can bring to them. trust me when i say that they'll put a whole new (wonderful) view on marriage.

overall, 10/10 for both books!

the year we turned forty || i found this book on a clearance rack, and it sounded good enough to buy but not great. but i turned out to be totally wrong. i finished this book in one day. granted, i had the day to myself (i know, that's the weirdest thing i've ever said on this blog), but i have a feeling it wouldn't have taken me much longer during my regular schedule. it was definitely a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of story, and i would read it again.

overall, 10/10.

if you're bored reads

most of the books i read on iBooks are usually free or cheap. my book light broke a while back, so i've been reading on here at night more often than keeping the lights on to read my hardback books. most of them haven't been great, but haven't been so bad that i stopped reading them.

crazy love (linked, but free on iBooks) || like i said, i haven't read anything great on here yet, but this one wasn't bad. it wasn't written in the greatest manner, and was a really easy read. but the storyline was pretty good, and it had enough drama in it to keep me reading. it took me about two nights to finish. the only thing i really disliked is that it leaves you on a huge cliffhanger, as in you have to buy the next book (i think it's only $2.99 on iBooks, but still) to know what the heck happened. i would recommend it if you're bored, but not if you're looking for something super dynamic.

overall, 6/10.

not for me reads

i say not for me, because someone who has completely different taste than me may love/hate what i love/hate, but as always, i'm just giving my complete opinion.

the wolf of wall street || i saw this on the same clearance rack that i saw the year we turned forty, and i love to read books that turned into movies because i'm so intrigued by the back stories, and by everything they had to leave out of the movie. (unless i've read the book first, and then see the movie, like nicholas sparks.... then i just cry the whole time BECAUSE THEY FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART) anyway.

this book was not one of those books for me. i rarely ever stop reading a book because a part of my soul just dies, but this one, i only made it maybe 2 or 3 chapters in when i put it down. it was way to vulgar and graphic for me. the amount of cuss words in this book is astronomical (and yes, i know, there's a ton in the movie. but trust me, it's worse in the book.) and they go very into detail with graphic scenes, and i'm just not okay with reading that. the story itself is very intriguing to me, but i wasn't able to get past the rest to read the story.

overall, for me, 3/10.

Bible studies

i usually do about 2 book Bible studies a month, one with kyle and one for just me. we started two new ones this month:

two as one || this book was given to us by dear friends of ours, and we love it. the Bible studies are fairly short - one page of study, one page with a couple talk questions, and then prayer. we love how blunt it is about everything. it's so direct and gets right to the point, and even though each study is short, it always leaves us with something profound at the end.

overall, 10/10.

19 gifts of the Spirit || i literally just started this book, so i won't be able to give a full review until next time. but, i will say that it's very intriguing, and different from most Bible studies i've read. i'm only on chapter one, but so far, i like it.


what are your must reads, if you're bored reads, not for me reads, and Bible studies that you're currently reading?!

xoxo, Brandi

Monday, March 6, 2017

favorite essential oils

my family and i have been on a journey for a couple years to have a healthier lifestyle. we've been cautious of the things we eat, things we put on our bodies, and medicines we ingest. we were introduced to young living's essential oils by a friend a while ago, and we've been hooked ever since.

i've been asked in the past what my favorite essential oils are, and which ones i recommend. this post is dedicated to just that, and i hope you find it helpful!


lavender || this is by far my favorite oil out of them all. it's the most versatile one i've found, and it's the one we use every day. we use lavender every evening in our diffusers and/or on the bottoms of our feet to help promote better sleep. we like to use it in our baths, on lilli's lovey that she sleeps with,  and in our beauty products. whenever i'm asked which oil someone should start with, this is always the one i suggest!

gentle baby || i used this oil a ton when lilli was younger, and we still use it frequently in her baths. when she's having a rough day, or just needs a little extra "calm", we add it to her baths or put some in coconut oil and give her a rub down.

lemon || this is also another oil that i recommend to first timers. we use it almost every day as well. we like to diffuse it during the day to bring some uplifting smells to the home, and it's a great oil to use in DIY air fresheners, or in your diffusers in rooms you want to smell nicer. we also like to put some drops on our nose and neck when we are feeling stuffy.


stress away || as someone that frequently deals with stress, i love this oil. i use it a lot on my wrists, almost as a perfume. i use it a lot on my diffuser bracelet so i'm able to breathe in its scent all day. it's such a calming aroma to me, and i love how it smells.

digize || as someone who also struggles with stomach issues, this oil is on repeat frequently in our home. i like it mix it in some coconut oil and rub it all over my stomach when it's giving me fits. it always calms down my stomach and makes the day easier.

peppermint || this is another great versatile oil. it's great to use on your stomach during days you're feeling nauseous or just yucky. we used it a lot during our stomach flu days to help with the symptoms. we also use it in our DIY spider repellant, and in our allergy bombs (two drops each of lemon, lavender, and peppermint in a diffuser to help with symptoms of seasonal allergies).

grapefruit || this is one of the newer oils that we have tried, but we love it. kyle uses a drop of this and a drop of lemon in a glass of water in the morning to give him an extra boost in the morning. we also diffuse it, and it makes the house smell like pretty days. i also rub some on my stomach and chest when i'm having a craving for something sweet. just the smell itself helps ward off that intense craving!


what are some of your favorite oils? you can find all of these oils and more at YoungLiving.com. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me to find out more!

{you can find this shirt at EllyandGrace, and the diffuser bracelet at PeachLeavesBoutique.}

xoxo, Brandi


Thursday, February 23, 2017

living with chronic illness

so i posted on instagram a while ago that i deal with chronic illness. i wasn't expecting anything from it, but i had an overwhelming (in a good way) amount of response to it, + lots of questions about it.
hopefully this post helps answer some of those questions, + explain a bit of what it's like living with chronic illness.

i should start by saying that i deal with four chronic illnesses in total. not all of them are as severe as others, but they all debilitate (and aggravate) me just the same.

the first chronic illness: my first chronic illness started when i was in elementary school. i remember sitting in class when my head started to hurt. it got worse real quick, and it physically made me sick. i went home, crying because i was in so much pain, and my mom had no idea what was going on. i couldn't move without feeling sick, and every inch of my head and body screamed at me. it wasn't until she took me to the doctor that i found out i had had a migraine. he said it probably wouldn't be an often occurrence, and to go home and drink a lot of water.

i really wish he had been right.

ever since then, i've gotten more migraines that i can't even begin to guess how many i've had. in college they got so bad i was convinced i would never been pain free again. i was having 3-4 a week, and when i didn't have one, i was busy trying to recover from the last one. my doctor diagnosed me with chronic migraines, and although i'm not able to take medication for them anymore (more on that later), i've tried my fair share of migraine "remedies". none of them help, unfortunately.

if you've never had a migraine, please say a prayer of thanks. they aren't something you can really describe to someone who hasn't had one. your head literally feels like its on fire, that it's going to explode at any given second. you feel like you're underwater; the auras around your eyes make it impossible to focus on anything but the pain. the smallest amount of light feels like sun is 2 inches from your face. the nausea, oh the nausea. it's like morning sickness on steroids. you can't move because the pain literally knocks you back down or makes you throw up.

it's truly awful. if you deal with migraines, i am so sorry.

the second chronic illness: it was only a few months into my marriage when the second illness hit me. i had had a horrible week of stomach pain. i was going on day four of severe nausea, not eating or drinking, not being able to sleep, and horrible pain in my upper stomach. my husband said it was acid reflux, and i tried to treat it on my own for a few days to no avail. on the night of day four, i was in so much pain that i couldn't see straight. my body was literally shaking and i couldn't get it to stop.

i literally thought i was dying.

kyle took me to the ER, and thats when i officially had my first case of pancreatitis.

i say first because since then, i've been hospitalized twice, spent the night at the ER more times than i can count, and have had even more pancreatitis flares than that.

no, i'm not an alcoholic (the main cause of pancreatitis). i simply have chronic idiopathic pancreatitis. 20-30% of chronic pancreatitis cases have no known reason; it simply is. and i'm the lucky few of that 20-30%.

there's nothing anyone can do about it. i simply have to deal with it until it passes, and if it doesn't pass, i go to the hospital for fluids and pain medicine until it does. it's indescribable, just like migraines. the pain feels like you swallowed a knife and its stuck in your stomach. there are many days where i simply can't eat, can't drink, can't do anything but lay there and pray.

because of the number of times i've had pancreatitis, it has damaged my stomach in so many areas. the lining of my stomach is super sensitive, the acid reflux i deal with is insane, the stomach pains and cramps i get is sometimes as bad as a labor contraction. it's basically a waiting game until i get the next flare up. it's the worst game i've ever played.

because of the damage, i'm not able to take a lot of medications. they don't agree with my stomach, and they aren't digested properly. my body quite literally rejects them, so i stay away from any medication i can.

the third/fourth chronic illness: i say three and four, because they are intertwined with each other. some might not view either of these as an illness, and that's okay. but i do. because i deal with both of them on a daily basis, and they can be debilitating. and if you've ever dealt with either of them, then you know how i feel.

according to my doctor, its a generalized anxiety disorder. which basically means i have really bad anxiety, that causes panic attacks. sometimes something triggers it...sometimes my body just gets upset and there's nothing i can do to calm it down.

if you've never had a panic attack, it goes a bit like this: a sense of dread literally fills every fiber of your being. you can't calm it down, and you can't talk over it. you shake, and you can't stop. your body goes into some kind of mode that you can't control. you can't think straight, you can't move. a fiery heat goes through your nerves. your heart feels like its going to beat straight out of your chest. you literally feel like you're going to die right then and there. and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

my anxiety got significantly worse after my first episode of pancreatitis, which is some sort of weird side effect of severe trauma to an organ. who would have thought?

those who deal with any kind of anxiety disorder are more prone to any kind of depression. which is where my "fourth illness" comes in. my doctor had told me that i would be significantly prone to postpartum depression after i gave birth to my daughter. he said if it got bad, he would simply prescribe some medicine and i would be fine.

but as i said ^^ up there, i'm not able to take 99% of medications, so it was back to the waiting game.

i didn't get hit with it right away, and i actually thought i had dodged a bullet.

but then one night, lilli stopped breathing and was taken to the children's hospital. she came so close to death that night, and that's officially when my postpartum depression started. it's not near as bad as it once was, but i still have my moments.

i don't want to go into details with this one, because it's a lot more involved than I have time to explain, and its quite frankly a really difficult subject for me to talk about. there's a lot of people that judge way too harshly when it comes to PPD, and i don't want to be the start of any battle. one day, i might talk about it more. but i don't feel led to talk about to right now. so for now, i'll move on.

this is about the extent of what i deal with day to day, every day of the week. to anyone that doesn't deal with a chronic illness, it's okay if you don't understand. i'm sure there are many that will read this with judgement or confusion. and that's okay. i don't understand things that i don't understand, and that's okay. there's no point in being bitter over something i can't control.

i thankfully have had quite a few friends enter my life who also struggle with chronic illness, and some that don't, that i can vent to, and my husband is the most understanding man i know. he takes care of me more often that i care to admit, and then he turns right around to take care of lilli. he never complains, never gets mad, never holds it against me. he simply lives out his vows every day, and he's my hero for that.

if you do have a friend who suffers from a chronic illness, i hope that you are understanding of them. understanding that sometimes they can't go somewhere, have to cancel plans, have to leave early. they aren't doing it on purpose, and they definitely aren't doing it to hurt you. trust me, it sucks just as much being on this side. it sucks being someone who is completely dependable, but her body isn't. who has to cancel plans because they physically can't go. and feel terrible for days, weeks afterwards because they had to be undependable. instead of being angry with them, love them. offer to come over and watch a movie. offer to watch their kid, make them dinner, or just come over to talk. chronic illnesses aren't contagious, and the only thing you'll catch from us is friendship.

if you struggle with any sort of chronic illness, know that i'm praying for you. i'm praying that one day you won't struggle with any illness anymore, and until that day, that you have the strength to overcome any battle you have. our Heavenly Father is one of miracles, but He's also one of strength. and He is way bigger than any illness that overcomes our earthly bodies.

sweater

"I don't want my pain and struggle to make me the victim. I want my battle to be a light to someone's darkness."

xoxo, Brandi

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

valentine's day

happy hump day!! how was your valentines day?! i hope it was {lovely} ;)

we are still recovering from our sugar high from yesterday, but we don't really mind. :)

i didn't capture as many pictures as i wanted to because we literally didn't.stop.moving.all.day.long.
i think we still got some pretty good shots though!

we started off the day with attempted heart cinnamon rolls. (see photo below)

hahaha. good thing the taste doesn't change with the way it looks. ;)

bow

oh, and kyle left me this super "sweet" surprise on the kitchen table before we ate:


lilli grabbed over half of them.

after we went out for lunch, we came home and read our valentines day book, did our craft, and made some yummy pink valentines day cookies! i'm so sad i didn't grab an after picture of these, because they were so pretty when they were done cooking!




after lilli ate her dinner, we put her down and kyle made me a special dinner, complete with bacon wrapped steaks, green beans, baked potatoes, and my favorite candy for dessert. he also surprised me with a rose in an antique-looking bottle, which he said was the whole reason he bought it, which made it absolutely perfect. :)


we ended the night watching fixer upper and stuffing our faces with sugar. it was really the best way to end the day. :)

and of course, i had to capture lilli special valentines day outfit:


my heart can't even handle her.

tell me all about your valentines day in the comments!! what was your favorite part?!

xoxo, Brandi

{ps... be sure to check out my post about my favorite small shops, valentines day edition!}

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

anniversary vacation

hi guys! waving hello from reality, haha!

we just got back from our {late} anniversary vacation! if you follow me on social media, then you saw that we had to postpone because lilli got the stomach flu the weekend we were supposed to leave. we were so disappointed, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise!

we just happened to end up rescheduling for the weekend of the town's winterfest, so there were a ton of events happening around the town we visited that we got to experience that we would have missed had we went on our actual anniversary.

but, enough chit chat - i have too many pictures to share!

friday

kyle and i are huge fans of road trips, so we were actually excited to be in the car for 5 hours.


i don't have too many photos of the hotel, but i did grab one of our view. this is technically a lake, you just aren't able to see it because of the snow! it was a beautiful view, and even more beautiful when the sun was setting!


since we arrived so late, we didn't do any exploring. we ordered room service, and watched the rest of This is Us (which, by the way, is AMAZING. have you seen it?!)

saturday

saturday we had breakfast at the resort, and then we went exploring around the resort - specifically around the ski slopes and mountain top!

we unfortunately weren't able to go skiing, but we did find the perfect spot to watch. there was a competition going on, so we got to see some pretty amazing skiers and we had a blast watching them.


we also went ice skating, which was so much fun - i love to ice skate, and the rink was right in front of the tallest slope, so we got to skate while watching people ski. they had the radio on, and everyone had a drink in their hand. it was the best time!


saturday night we went to a local restaurant that is one of the most popular in the area, and that's when we stumbled upon the winterfest activities.
people from all around the country come to this town and carve a bunch of different things into a big mountain of snow. it was freezing, but it was beautiful to look at with all the lights. 


there was also an ice bar, and i'm so sad i didn't grab a picture because it was gorgeous. it was this giant igloo inspired snow globe with a bunch of lights all around it and reflecting off the ice. there were people everywhere and they had music playing. it was definitely a scene to see!

dinner was really good, and we had a lot of fun relaxing at the restaurant and enjoying dinner. my favorite drink ever is an amaretto sour, and they had one of the best ones i've ever tasted! if they weren't so expensive, i probably would have gotten more, haha!





sunday

sunday we went back to the town area to explore it in the daylight. we saw the lake at night, but it was nothing compared to how it looked during the day. it was completely frozen, and they let people walk on the lake, within the marked areas. it was one of the coolest experiences i've ever had, and we stayed on the lake for a good 30-45 minutes. i couldn't get over how beautiful it was, and kyle had to pull me away to go to lunch!









after we ate lunch, we went to look around the downtown district. we went antiquing, and saw some of the cutest (and coolest) little shops. 



sunday night, even though we were on vacation, we still watched the Super Bowl. it's one of my favorite events and weekends of the year, and we definitely weren't not watching it, haha! we ordered room service and drinks, and hung out in our room and yelled at the tv, lol! it's a good thing we were in a corner room because we were definitely upset. we aren't falcons fans, but we supremely dislike the pats. but, it was a good game and kyle and i had a blast watching it from the comfort of our king size bed and being waited on by room service, haha!

we had such a great vacation, and although it's going to be rough getting back into the normal swing of things, we are so happy to have our lilli back in our arms! it was our first chunk of time without her, and we missed her. but it was great having "us" time :) {thanks grandma and grandpa!!}

have a happy week!!

xoxo, Brandi