Five on Friday {Top Five Posts of 2017}

Hey y'all,

I love reading other people's blog recaps of the year and I thought it would only be fitting to post my top five posts of 2017 on a Friday as three of them are Five on Friday posts!

five. Five on Friday {October 7}

For Fall I was loving that Fall TV was back, a challenge to eat real whole foods, fun earrings, pumpkin cookies, and a new book was being released! This post I also included a lot of fun links at the bottom for some items I was loving, recipes and a blog I had discovered.

four. One Room Challenge {Week One Inspiration and Room Tour}

This was one of two posts for the One Room Challenge when I shared some of my inspiration, my bedroom tour and the ideas I hoped to accomplish. Well Fall was a bit busier that I would like so I have put a lot of projects on hold and hope to complete everything by May. I have learned even slow progress is progress.


three. Five on Friday {January 27}

January was all about fun mail, brand new Kate Spade earrings, National Green Juice Day, and getting into Ephesians with friends.


two. All Things Fall with the Blended Blog.

This year I discovered the ladies of the Blended Blog and participated in their fun Fall themed questionnaire. Since I love Fall I understand why this could be a popular post. I even posted their holiday questions this month that you can find here.


one. Five on Friday {September 29}

The number one post of the year was about my sister, Kate's birthday, Carolina Football, Barre3, a new community, and some fun links.

So it looks like in the New Year I will be continuing to post Five on Friday on this little space since you love them!

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.

What are your favorite posts to read?

Best,
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Weekending {December 18}

Hey y'all,

I have no idea how we are only one week away from Christmas but that means this is also my last work week of the year! I am ready for Friday to come so that I can be out of the office for 10 days. Since we are so close to Christmas, I tried to find a balance this weekend of busy and relaxed.

Friday

Friday was a good day at work as some things were resolved before our big staff holiday lunch. After lunch I had a visitor in the office but I was able to wrap up some items and dwindle my to-do list. It's always the best feeling before heading into the next week.

Friday night I met up with my friend, Shelby, for dinner at McAlisters and then helping her finish up her Christmas shopping by wandering World Market and REI. I was home in PJs before 9pm which is a win in my book.

Saturday

Saturday started bright and early with a 7:15am Barre3 class. It was a burner and the perfect way to kick off the weekend. After class, I headed to the grocery store to grab a few items then get ready for the day. 

At 10:30 I went to my WeightWatchers meeting and I am down -1.8lbs. Don't ask me how that happened with a week of holiday parties but I will take it! After my meeting I went to go get my nails done at Paintbase in Cary. I love this salon and I chose the color Fosses Fingers by Smith and Cult. It is a gorgeous terracotta color perfect for the holidays.

After that bit of self care, I met up with my bible study leaders to wrap some presents for the missional family we are connected with. The family has served in South East Asia for a few years but are currently state side so our group went and purchased Christmas gifts for the family this week.
The rest of the day was spent teaching my Pre-K class and attending service at church. I spent the night just hanging out after a quick stop at the WholeFoods Hot Bar and watching Younger Season 4.

Sunday

Since I went to church on Saturday evening, I slept in and enjoyed my Sunday morning. I went to the 9:45am Barre3 class, went to yet another grocery store since when I went on Saturday morning they didn't have everything I needed for the week. When I got home I spent the early afternoon meal prepping, wrapping presents, baking for my book club party, and relaxing.

3pm rolled around and it was our Annual Book Club Christmas Party. We have a potluck with lots of yummy items and then we have a white elephant exchange with books. I was the most stolen from person. I started with the Woman in Cabin 10 (Its a great one if you need a recommendation), then I had The Things We Keep, then I had Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and finally I ended up with The Buccaneers.

After book club, I went to babysit for a few hours which meant I was able to catch the Hallmark movie, Christmas Connection. I ended the night trying on two pieces from LuLaRoe I ordered earlier in the week. I wouldn't necessarily wear them together but I am loving the skirt for our Christmas service this week.

What was your favorite thing about this weekend?

Best,
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Saturday Story Time {Vol 10}

Hey y'all,

It's finally the weekend! Each Saturday I pose a question and I would love for you to answer the same question in the comments. I have loved getting to know my readers through these posts and you can catch up with the previous questions here.

Today's question is holiday themed since we are only 9 days away from Christmas!

What is your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie?

Every year, Hallmark comes out with some great Christmas movies and while this year I haven't loved a lot of them, I always watch some of my favorites when they air again. My very favorite Hallmark Channel Christmas move is A Boyfriend for Christmas it came out in 2004 and Hallmark still airs it every Christmas season so you know its a great one. You can watch it on December 19th at 6am or on Christmas morning at 4am if you are allowed down in the living room after Santa has come. Crown for Christmas is also in the Top 5 (it is playing on December 22 at 6am).

Are you a Hallmark movie fan?

Best,
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Five on Friday {December 15th}

Hey y'all,

I love Five on Friday posts and with all the gift guides going on I thought I would actually share five things on my Christmas/Birthday list. My birthday is in late January so I always make a combined list beginning in August. Yes, I am the type-A kid with a Google doc separated into categories and with links to the individual items. Since I am in my late 20s my Christmas list is a bit random. I don't really need my family to purchase anything as I have been settled into apartments for the last five years so these are all fun things that I would like but don't want to purchase for myself.

one. Quilted Puffer Vest. Black.
I have the J.Crew Factory vest in the hot pink from last year and I have worn it non-stop. I wanted to add another color to my collection and asked for the burgundy color called dark wine which sold out before Thanksgiving or the black. This is one of my favorite pieces for Fall as it typically doesn't start to freeze here in NC until December.
Image result for Quilted puffer vest

two. Pyrex 18 Piece Simply Store Food Storage Set
Yep, I did ask for glass storage for food prep. I have a lot of Rubbermaid/Tupperware which is fine but I love the Pyrex glass sets as well. They will add a lot of weight in a lunch bag so I will probably still use my plastic-ware for lunches but for leftovers after dinner, this set is on the list.
 

three.Val Marie Paper Yearly Prayer Journal
 I discovered Val Marie Paper company a few months ago and I am currently working through their 30 day prayer devotion called Fresh Start and I have been loving it. I asked for the yearly prayer journal for Christmas as I have had "keep a prayer journal" as a goal of mine for a while and the prompted sections each month I know will help me. There are sections for prayers for our nation, the world, your loves, your friends, your family, personal prayers, the hurts, etc.
 Image result for val marie paper journal
four. Polish Pottery Tea Set
When I lived in Europe during Middle School, we took a few trips to Poland to purchase Polish Pottery. My family loves Polish Pottery since skilled Polish artists still individually handcraft and hand decorate each piece whether through a stamp or hand painting the designs. It doesn't crack or chip easily and it works in the microwave, dishwasher, oven, and freezer.

I have a few serving pieces of pottery and I already have two individual tea sets but I wouldn't mind a few more. There was a polish pottery store in my parent's town that closed down around Christmas last year so I helped pick out serving dishes for all of us kids for this Christmas but when I found Blue Rose Pottery was just in SC I had to add a few pieces onto my Christmas list.
five. Minnetonka Slippers
I live in my pair of Minnetonka slippers I found at Marshall's one year. They are the cinnamon color and don't have the bow so I often wear them out of the house to the grocery store or to friends homes as the hard bottom is so durable. Well, after 4+ years it's time to get a new pair. I have the cinnamon, pink or grey pair on my list.
 Image result for minnetonka slippers cally

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.

What's the top thing on your list?

Best,
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TBB Asks {Holiday Edition}

Hey y'all,

I know I have kind of disappeared from the blogging world but I have been really debating over continuing to blog when blogging has changed so much over the last five years. I started my first blog after creating a Tumblr called Jane Austen Meets Southern Prepster way back in 2009 when I was a sophomore in college. I then transitioned to Preppin' Postgrad in 2012 and now have Just Jess. I don't think I will ever make blogging my career so while I see the influencers who were blogging back when I started and are now using their blogs as businesses and marketing a ton for brands I don't think that will be this space. It can be a little disheartening but when talking to my friend Traci this week it made it clear that I am going to blog about my life and things I enjoy and leave it at that.

So, I thought I would kick off my return with the Blended Blog's Ask post. I did my first one of these for the Fall time here and I love the holiday themed questions for today. Here we go:

 

1. Real or Fake Tree?

Fake. I grew up always with fake trees and while NC grows a lot of real trees in the mountains we still put up a fake tree. It also helps since I have a cat that I don't have to worry as much with a fake tree if he is over there messing with the water. 

 2. Favorite Christmas Cookie?

Buckeyes. My dad makes them every year and they are the best!

3. Home on Christmas Morning or Travel?

Home! I love being with my family at my parent's house on Christmas morning since I am a single gal I spend the majority of the holidays at my parent's home.

4. Clear or Colored Lights?

Colored. While I love white lights on the exterior of homes, I love colored lights on my tree.

5. Send Christmas Cards? 

I have sent them before in the past but it can be a little hard sending them when it's just you. My parents send out a newsletter in their Christmas cards every year and I always contribute to that.

6. Favorite Christmas Present Received?

I love a practical gift now that I am older and out of college. Recent gifts that I use all the time: my TV, vaccuum, money I spent on my mattress/box spring, this KS necklace, and my pots and pans.

7. Favorite Christmas Present Given?

I love giving gifts so this is hard. I love making gifts or finding something unexpected that people would love. 

8. Stockings or No Stockings?

Yes! Our stockings are now typically filled with an ornament, a Barnes and Noble gift card, some chocolate, scratch-offs (I won $50 one year), and a few other random items my mom finds throughout the year. Items have included mini figurines like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, a Belle Pez dispenser, puzzles, etc.

9. Christmas PJ's?

We don't coordinate our PJs but we do hang out in PJs all of Christmas morning. It is one of the benefits of always attending the Christmas service on Christmas Eve with the children's holiday program incorporated.

10. Favorite Christmas Carol? 

Growing up and being in my church's childrens program I have sung a lot of Christmas carols. I think my favorites are What Child Is This, O Come, All Ye Faithful, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

11. Favorite Holiday Tradition? 

When we were little after church on Christmas Eve we would drive around a few neighborhoods looking at all their Christmas lights. On Christmas morning, we have a lot of rules involved with the morning:
1. No getting out of bed before 6:30am.
2. You can open your stocking at 6:30am but no presents. You have to wait until everyone is up.
3. You cannot wake the parent's before 9am.

At 9am, we have cinnamon rolls and then after breakfast the opening begins.

Each person opens one present at a time. We typically go by age so it goes like this: Dad opens a present, then after he is finished, my Mom opens a present, then my older siblings, then me, then my baby sister, then my Dad gets to go again. Presents typically last until 12pm when we turn on the Disney Christmas parade special.

12. Early Shopper or Last Minute? 

 Early shopper. I am done Christmas shopping this year. I decided to keep it simple and only get gifts for my immediate family. No while elephant/Dirty Santa exchanges. This girl is on a budget and has a goal of being debt free by Christmas next year.

13. Favorite Christmas Movie or Show?

I love a good Hallmark movie-A Boyfriend for Christmas is my favorite. We also always watch The Year Without a Santa Claus (Heat Miser and Snow Miser are the best), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated version), The Town that Santa Forgot, The 12 Days of Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and in the past few years, Prep and Landing. My siblings also tend to put on White Christmas and the Santa Clause.

14. Favorite Holiday Beverage?

I love hot chocolate or a fun holiday tea like Candy Cane Lane or Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride.

15. Cookies and Milk for Santa? 

We used to leave out cookies and milk for Santa but after we were all in middle school that tradition stopped. We still tend to make sugar cookies and a few other holiday treats when we are all home with my parents. 

Feel free to answer the questions and link-up with the Blended Blog here.

What is one of your holiday traditions?

Best,
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What I'm Reading Wednesday {Mackenzie Family}

Hey y'all,

Summers are always a time when I read a ton of books. I think it comes from wanting to earn prizes at the library for the summer reading club as well as finally having the time to read all of the books I had to put off in college until I was home on break. I recently discovered Jennifer Ashley thanks to Kristen of See You in a Porridge who recommended the Madness of Lord Ian in her books lately post.Jennifer writes what is known as the Mackenzie/McBride series and I have read almost all of them at this point. The first four are listed below and follow the main Mackenize brothers before we start adding in books of other relations.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, #1)

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted-especially with a lady. Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord. Despite his decadence and his intimidating intelligence, she could see that he needed help- her help.
Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was … the madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

I loved this book since it was so non-traditional for a romance novel. Ian has Asbergers Syndrome according to Jennifer Ashley's Goodreads response but of course there was not a term for that in the period of the novel. I loved the connection between Beth and Ian and learning all about the past for the Mackenzies made me want to read more.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (MacKenzies & McBrides, #2)

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again–this time by leaving him.
Now the reformed Mac has returned, and he wants one thing: Isabella back in his life, his house, his bed. He’ll do anything he has to, play any game, as long as he gets her back. Isabella resists, but when she agrees to pose for explicit paintings he’s been working on, she realizes her body has never stopped craving her husband’s very skilled touch. Mac is determined to show Isabella that he’s a changed man, but three years without her has only increased his hunger for her.
When an ingenious forger with designs on Mac’s paintings, and Isabella herself, comes dangerously near, Mac sets himself up as Isabella’s protector and vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not. 

After meeting Isabella and Mac in Ian/Beth's story I instantly wanted to know about their relationship. Married but never together? What caused the rift? Could it be repaired? I loved the art forgery story line within the novel as I love a good mystery element and I did not predict the forger which is always refreshing since I watch way to many crime dramas.

 The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (MacKenzies & McBrides, #3)

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron

Lord Cameron Mackenzie is intrigued when he finds the pretty widow, Ainsley Douglas, hiding in the window seat of his bedchamber. Cam remembers Ainsley Douglas all right—six years ago, he’d caught her in this very bedchamber, during a house party in the Mackenzies’ Scottish manor. Enchanted by her ingenuous excuses, he decided to seduce her, but stopped shy when she’d made a rather touching appeal about her “good husband who didn’t deserve to be heartbroken.”
Later, Cameron learned that her visit to his bedchamber was part of some female intrigue against him, the kind his late wife used to practice. Ainsley protested her innocence, but Cameron’s anger made him never want to see her again. Now she’s back, at another houseparty—and Cameron finds the gray-eyed minx in his bedchamber, again. Her excuses are just as ingenuous, but this time Cameron is determined to teach her a lesson.
They have unfinished business, Cameron tells her. He asks her how many of her many buttons she’ll let him unclasp, promising that before the houseparty is over, she’ll be asking him to undo them all.
Ainsley’s dismay is real. She’s on a mission to prevent embarrassment to Queen Victoria, and time is running out. Though the needs he’d stirred long ago during her unhappy marriage rise again, she knows it would be foolish to fall for love-them-and-leave-them Cameron Mackenzie.
But he asks her a question that challenges her beliefs about love and happiness, and she finds herself risking all to be with the black sheep of the Mackenzie family.

Yet again, scandal is always a part of the Mackenzie family and that is no exception in this book. Ainsley is connected with the Queen and is on a mission to protector her. Cameron has had a terrible time with women after his wife's death. Add in a son who causes lost of mischief and running a horse racing empire and you have one interesting story.

The Duke's Perfect Wife (MacKenzies & McBrides, #4)

The Duke's Perfect Wife

Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancee, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.
Hart has it all–a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him–his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He’s also suffered loss–his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.
Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart’s doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes–and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination–Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.

Hart Mackenzie is always the mystery in the series. I loved learning more about the boorish Duke and his history with Eleanor. Hart plays a large role in all of his brother's lives but to finally get a glimpse into his was a great way to wrap up the brothers. 

What have you been reading lately?
 

Best,
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One Room Challenge {Week 2}

Hey y'all,

I am back from my long weekend away and here to share a few changes I have made to my room. If you are not aware, I am joining up with over a hundred guest participants of the One Room Challenge hosted by Calling It Home. You can see all the room progress  of the guest designers here and the featured designers here.

Since last week, my new duvet arrived. I wanted to keep the navy and I love this simple duvet cover from PB Teen. It was on sale and the duvet and shams together were under $80.

It also appears that Max approves of the new bedding decision.

I went to Ikea while I was away this weekend and picked up frames for my gallery wall and a new nightstand. Yesterday I made the nightstand and changed it out. I still want to paint the nightstand white to match the rest of my furniture but that will occur on another weekend when I paint my desk as well.
This nightstand is a little larger in width allowing more for styling on the top of the nightstand. I also decided to shift my to-read list over to the nightstand to free up space on my desk.
 Max of course had to test if the nightstand would work in this space.
Next week, I hope to share the progress on my gallery wall as I am waiting on a few pieces and frames to arrive.

If you missed my room tour and plan, you can check that out here.

Best,


Saturday Story Time {Vol. 9}

Hey y'all,

It's finally the weekend! Each Saturday I pose a question and I would love for you to answer the same question in the comments. I have loved getting to know my readers through these posts and you can catch up with the previous questions here.

Today's question is a little random but I thought of it when I was indulging in fast food on Sunday.

What is your favorite fast food place?

I would have to say that I frequent Chick-fil-A the most and a lot of that has to do with my small group meeting up for dinner a lot before bible study on Wednesdays. I typically order the grilled chicken sandwhich or grilled nuggets.

My guilty pleasure fast food place is Taco Bell. I only go a few times a year but when I do it is so good. My go to order is the Nachos Bell Grande.

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?
Best,
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Five on Friday {October 7}

Hey y'all,

This week has been a long one and I swore on Wednesday that it should have already been Friday. My out of office message goes live at 5pm and I am out for a whole week! Now to just make it to 5pm. As usual, Fridays mean that I am sharing five things and linking up with some amazing bloggers. Also, this marks 200 blog posts published on this little space! Let's get started:

one. 

Scandal is Back. I finally caught up on season six of Scandal this week in prep for the premiere last night. Scandal's return means more than just the show is back, it also means that weekly wine+cookie+popcorn nights have resumed. Years ago, my friends and I started a tradition of scandal nights where we drink wine while watching Olivia Pope try to handle the world. It is a fun chance to get together, catch up, and see the show.
Image result for scandal

two. 

Real Food Mini-Pledge Program. Today is the last day to register for the Real Food Mini-Pledge program. I am joining the challenge and hope that in the next six weeks (just before Thanksgiving) I will be feeling great by eating real foods. Each week you get a pledge to help you incorporate more real food into your diet. Weeks include: only whole grains, no fried foods, etc. I'm excited to start the challenge when I get back from vacation and be mindful of the first pledge during the weekend but really start week one on October 16th.

three. 

J.Crew Earrings. About two weeks ago I spotted these tortoise hoop earrings on J.Crew's website. Well, when they went on major sale the other day I snatched them up along with this pair and this pair. Together, all three pairs were around $30 since I had them shipped to my local store. I am currently debating snatching up this pair.
Image result for j.crew tortoise earrings

four.

Southern Sugar Bakery. This sweet bakery in Raleigh is owned my two Meredith college grads and Christian used to blog at Carolina City Girl. Well, since ending her blog, they have started a sweet bakery and make the most gorgeous custom cookies. I snagged a set of their Fall PSL cookies for my small group and they were a hit this week. You can see a handful of their custom cookies on their Instagram.
This poor PSL is only Pumpkin Spice.
 

five.

Dance Stand Run. I have been apart of the launch team for Jess Connolly's newest book, Dance Stand Run this summer and I am so excited that the book officially launches this month! Being apart of the launch team has meant that I have had access to the chapters throughout the summer and y'all this book is challenging but necessary in the conversation of grace. You can even read the intro chapter here. A copy might even show up in a giveaway soon. :)
Image may contain: text
From Chapter 8

Fun links.

 Thinking about making your costume, check out these fun DIY costumes

Are you visiting someone for Thanksgiving? How about giving them these adorable dish towels as a hostess gift?

I received my first holiday party invitation this week and it makes me excited for throwing my annual ornament exchange! Crate and Barrel already has their holiday items up online and I think this narwhal needs to be added to the tree.

Emily Ley's second book A Simplified Life is available for pre-order! I loved Grace Not Perfection and you can read more about meeting Emily and the book here.

Have you ever thought about making your own clothes? Allie's blog makes me want to break out the sewing machine and get going.

Did you miss out on National Taco Day, Wednesday?  Whip up tacos tonight with these recipes.

Did you know that the pets of the NC Governor have their own Facebook page? I love that the Cooper's show off all of their pets like the First Mantis, Daisy. Yes, as in an orchid mantis bug that was even at Bug Fest this year in Raleigh. They are even taking a vote on what to name the two new koi fish right now.

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika

What's one thing you are loving this Friday?

Best,
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