My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall

My favorite berry shade for fall

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall

Quick caveat here: I am not a beauty blogger… Despite my recent foray into fashion blogging, I have never been particularly into makeup. Yes, I wear some if I’m leaving the house, but it’s only a little bit, and it’s never creative.

One category of makeup I’ve always especially had trouble with is lipstick. While I constantly have Burt’s Bees on my lips to keep them hydrated, I have a hard time remembering to reapply lipstick throughout the day, and I’m very conscious about getting lipstick all over the place at meals. Not to mention, my husband isn’t crazy about having lipstick all over him. 

Several months ago I asked a girl whose lipstick I noticed never budged throughout the day what her secret was, and she surprised me by telling me it was a long-lasting formula from Chanel

I ran right out and bought a brighter pink shade that was my go-to this spring and summer, but now that the seasons are beginning to change, I wanted something a little richer to wear. 

So the other day while I was out and about I stopped by Gus Mayer’s Chanel counter and picked up this lovely berry lipstick shade in the same long-lasting formula, and I’m officially #obsessed. 

Here it is as seen on my Instagram right after I applied, and right before I stepped into a luncheon:

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall

And here’s what it looked like 6(!) hours later after a meal, several glasses of water, and lots of, ahem, smooching my husband:

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall

Yes, the majority of these pictures were taken after a day of pretty hard wear. Can you believe it? 

At $37 a pop, Chanel’s lipsticks are more expensive than what I’d normally spend on a lipstick, but because it actually sticks all day without me needing to reapply, and somehow doesn’t dry out my lips in the process, it is well worth the price to me.

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall Simply apply in the morning, and add a fresh coat of gloss occasionally throughout the day for the longest-lasting results, but I’ve found it still lasts quite a while even if you want to go for the matte look! 

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fall

My favorite berry lipstick shade for fallDress: Harvè Benard (TJMaxx: similar) || Purse: Coach (similar) || Lips: Chanel Rouge Double Intensité in Milky Blueberry || Sunglasses: RayBans (similar) || Watch: Apple Watch Series 2 || Necklace: Blue Nile || Earrings: Gift from my sweet uncle (who also helped design my engagement ring and several other pieces I have!) (similar)

Milky Blueberry is what I’m wearing here, but I also have Bright Raspberry, and will likely go back for a few other shades once my beauty budget is replenished :)  


Silk Wrap Skirt and a Confession

Silk Wrap Skirt

Silk Wrap Skirt

Skirt: Earthbound Trading Company (similar) | Top: Target (old, similar) | Shoes: J.Crew Factory (old, similar) | Necklace: At Home (local store) | Apple Watch

I have a confession:

I really really like clothes. I like dressing up. I like the process of putting together outfits, and the confidence that comes with knowing I’m wearing something cute and flattering.

And for years I’ve gotten compliments on the way I dressed and said to myself that once I finally lose that 10, 20, or 30 pounds I’ll start blogging about fashion and share my style with the world. 

Well, it’s been 5 years since I started blogging, and I haven’t lost the weight, but I have lost patience with my self-criticism. 


So what if I don’t feel like I look as good in pictures as I feel in real life? 

So what if I’m not shaped like Karlie Kloss? I’m actually pretty cool with being shaped more like Ashley Graham

Silk Wrap Skirt

So what if I’m 6 feet tall? I’m going to wear heels. 

I’m tired of waiting to look like someone else to put my best face forward. I share words and ideas for a living, and I’m excited about finally sharing another facet of my creativity for fun. 

All of that being said… Get ready for more outfit posts!

Silk Wrap Skirt

While hippywear isn’t my usual go to, there was something about this silk wrap skirt I found in Earthbound Trading Company a few days ago that made me really happy, and to me the most important thing about a piece of clothing is how happy it makes you feel to be in it. 

The skirts are made out of silk saris that Indian women sell to Earthbound, who then washes them, sorts them by color, and sews them into these gorgeous skirts. AND you can wrap them in tons of different ways! 

Suede Flats from J.Crew Factory

To make my look a little more chic than hippy I paired the skirt with a chambray top and some colorful suede pointed-toe flats.

Side Note: Can any of you experienced fashion bloggers out there help me out with how to look natural in pictures when it’s just you and your photographer (in this case my patient and wonderful husband)? 

Have any of y’all struggled with feeling comfortable in front of the camera, or held yourself back from doing something you love because of you can’t get outside your own head? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

Silk Wrap Skirt

Football Recipes! High Seas Sour Cherry Limeade Slush

High Seas Cherry Limeade Slush

High Seas Sour Cherry Slush

Football season is here! In celebration, I’ve joined a group of bloggers from all over the country — all of whom are big football fans! — to bring you football-inspired recipes this season. Last month we shared our favorite tailgating recipes, and now we are sharing more than 60 recipes ideas for celebrating on game day. Click on their links below to join in!

One of the first things I learned about my husband is his love of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While they are in somewhat of a slump (but on the rise!) now, when he and I were kids they were unstoppable and chock full of incredibly talented players like his favorite, Warren Sapp. 

It’s no secret we’re huge college football fans around here, but as I’ve gotten more into Fantasy Football (I’m 4-0 in one league right now and 3-1 in the other!) Saturday’s football celebrations have begun to bleed over into Sunday, and even Monday. 

As you probably know, Buccaneers were the original “pirates of the Caribbean,” attacking and looting ships.

In honor of the Bucs, my love of cherry limeade, and to prevent scurvy, I present this High Seas Sour Cherry Limeade Slush!

High Seas Sour Cherry Slush
An easy, slushy cocktail (or mocktail!) to enjoy on gameday.
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. Limeade concentrate
  2. Maraschino cherries
  3. White rum (optional)
  4. Crushed ice
  1. For each drink you want to make add 1/2 cup of crushed ice, 5 Maraschino cherries, 1 T of liquid from the cherry jar, and 1 large spoonful of frozen limeade concentrate into a blender. Blend until it reaches your desired consistency! Add 1 shot of rum per drink if so desired :)
  High Seas Sour Cherry Slush


High Seas Cherry Limeade Slush

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans — and we want to share our love for our teams, the game and the food that brings us all together on game day.


60+ recipes inspired by football teams! Show off your team spirit with everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more as you cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans
60+ recipes inspired by football teams! Show off your team spirit with everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more as you cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans

Red Sea Party Punch by Celebrating Family
Bird Gang Sonoran Nachos by Love Bakes Good Cakes
GameDay Cheesecake Bars by Body Rebooted
Healthy Dirty Bird Dip by Dash of Herbs
Purple Potato Salad by The Culinary Compass
Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake Parfait by Mom’s Messy Miracles
Easy Buffalo Chicken Sliders by Beer Girl Cooks
Quick and Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Sliders by The Life Jolie
Blackened Steak + Blue Cheese Nachos by Feast + West
Easy Pimiento Cheese Crackers by Family Food on the Table
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Breadsticks by Honey & Birch
Italian Beef by Bread Booze Bacon
Welcome to the Jungle Cocktail by Love & Flour
Bengal Striped Bundt Cake by Foodtastic Mom
Polish Boy Potato Skins by A Mind Full Mom
Sweet and Salty Brownies by The Secret Ingredient Is
Cowboy Cookies by The BakerMama
Cowboy Chili by See Aimee Cook
Green Chili Pulled Pork Poutine by Cake ‘n Knife
Blue and Orange Jello Shot Gummies by Sustaining the Powers
Greek Town Loaded Potato Skins by The Mexitalian
Marbled Scotcharoos by Club Narwhal
Beer Cheese Fondue by Off the Eaten Path
Easy Beer Cheese Soup by Hello Little Home
Chicken Stack Sandwich by Around My Family Table
Bratwurst Sandwiches with Pub Mustard by What A Girl Eats
Game Day Cupcakes by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Brownie Batter Dip by The Crumby Cupcake
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes by Two Places at Once
Tomahawk Cooler by Mixplorology
Spicy Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip with Real Cheese by Simplify, Live, Love
Game Day Snack Tray by Coffee Love Travel
Bacon Mac Cups by West via Midwest
South Beach Punch by 2 Cookin Mamas
Miami Mahi Mahi Sandwich by foodbyjonister
Swedish Meatball Dip with Tater Tot Dunkers by Peanut Blossom
Fruity Dessert Pizza with Peanut Butter Chocolate Glaze by Bucket List Tummy
New England Rum Punch by Order in the Kitchen
Crawfish Etouffee by The Speckled Palate
Cajun Crawfish Fritters with Remoulade Dipping Sauce by For the Love of Food
Reuben Sliders with Homemade Russian Dressing by A Dish of Daily Life
Big Blue Cheese Steak Stromboli by Simple and Savory
Spinach & Artichoke Bites by Lauren’s Kitchen
Herb Pesto Arancini by A Little Gathering
Beluga Lentil Hummus by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Philly Cheesesteak Nachos by And She Cooks
Philly Cheesesteak Cheesecake by Nik Snacks
Game Day Cookie Cups by Me and My Pink Mixer
Primanti Style Sliders by Macheesmo
Pineapple Salsa by Living Well Kitchen
Tex Mex Cream Cheese Wontons with Bacon by Shaws Simple Swaps
Blue Cheese Blitz Dip by Cafe Terra
Chicken Adobo Fries by Brunch-n-Bites
Game Day Candy Bark by Life’s Ambrosia
Chicken Teriyaki Pizza by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
High Seas Sour Cherry Slush by Lizzy is Dizzy
Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs by Casa de Crews
Avery Williamson American Cake by Loaves & Dishes
Game Day Sriracha-Honey Nut Mix by An Oregon Cottage
Double-Stuffed Potato Skins by A Simpler Grace
Red Skin Potato Chili Nachos by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

I have a secret.

I love biscuits

And I LOVE Conecuh sausage.

Wait, you already knew that? My bad.

Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

But seriously, when I saw Conecuh Cheddar biscuits at a local coffee shop I knew I had to give them a try, and I’m so glad I did… Because mine were better.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have never eaten Conecuh sausage, it is a hickory smoked pork sausage, somewhat similar to andouille sausage (which you can sub if your grocery store doesn’t carry Conecuh). It’s made right here in Alabama, about 3 hours south of Birmingham in Conecuh County. 

Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These drop biscuits whip up in no time, and have less cleanup because there’s no rolling or cutting involved. 

These are a great brunch option, or part of a heavy breakfast, or even with dinner. They are savory and satisfying, and not very diet friendly. But you should make and eat them anyway. 

Conecuh and Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Yields 12
Easy and delicious, if not diet-friendly, drop biscuits with smoked sausage and cheddar.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 3 Links of Conecuh sausage (about a pound)
  2. 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  3. 1 Stick cold butter (salted or unsalted) cut into small pieces
  4. 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  5. 2t Baking powder
  6. 1t Salt
  7. 3/4 Cup cold whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice Conecuh sausage into medallions (kitchen shears are perfect for this job) and brown over medium heat in a skillet. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Cut butter into small cubes and place in freezer so they remain as cold as possible.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Cut in cold butter until it resembles coarse meal.
  6. Mix in Conecuh and cheese.
  7. Stir in milk until all flour is just moistened.
  8. Spoon onto greased baking sheet (or Silpat)
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops and bottoms are golden brown.
  1. These are best served warm, but they reheat beautifully in the microwave or a toaster oven.
 Process photos below!

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Conecuh Cheddar Drop Biscuits

‘Twas the Night Before Football

'Twas the Night Before Football

'Twas the Night Before Football
‘Twas the night before football and all through the field,
Some teams who will conquer, and others who’ll yield.
The Yellow Hammers have been stirred by the Gumps with great care,
In hopes that Saint Nick will give the Trojans a scare.

Bulldogs, Aggies, Tigers, and Cats,
were dreaming of touchdowns and padding their stats.
With girls in sundresses and guys in their caps,
The dreaded offseason had finally lapsed.

Last season is gone the record is wiped clean,
all players are tougher, and faster, and mean.
States, Techs, and Directions, we all have a chance,
of crashing the party, of making the dance.

When 9AM came the alarm started ringing,
For Big and Rich tunes we now will be singing.
Gameday is on, the analysts talking
Some predictions they make are really quite shocking.

Some fans are yapping, and talking big smack
insistently shouting their glories are back.
Goal post to goal post there the truth lies
which teams are pretenders and which claim the prize.

The tents are set up, the TVs are tuned,
Toes will meet leather come just after noon.
The long wait is over, no longer just near
so grab a cold beverage, and sit down right here.

The players and coaches, all focused and prepped,
Know legends have walked the same places we’ve stepped.
For bookies and band geeks, all the above
Here’s America’s sport and the game we all love.

Celebrate Football Season with Tailgate Tacos!

Celebrate football season with tailgate tacos!


Celebrate football season with tailgate tacos!With the official start of football season around the corner, it’s time to tailgate! In celebration, I’ve joined a group of bloggers from all over the country — all of whom are big football fans! — to bring you 64 tailgating recipe ideas for a terrific football party, including my easy recipe for Tailgate Tacos! Click on their links below to join in!

Y’all. After nearly 8 months of waiting, it’s FINALLY football season!!! 

If you’ve followed me at all for the last several years, you’ll remember that my entire family, including my dear husband, is really big on football, and in recent years, particularly on tailgating. 

Every year we tailgate at a few games, and not only is it a wonderful way to get out in the gorgeous fall weather and spend time with our loved ones, it’s also a great excuse to create tasty dishes to share!

Between my huge family and the dozens of guests who inevitably stop by, making sure we have enough food for everyone has become embraced as a good-natured challenge. 

Because of the nature of tailgating (You’re outside all day, but no crockpots allowed!) it has been fun coming up with ways to make sure we not only have enough food, but that we can quickly and easily heat it back up on the grill.

Enter: Tailgate Tacos

You simply mix up a bunch of your preferred taco meat (I’ll show you how to make delicious chicken today!), throw it in an aluminum foil pan, throw it in the cooler with all the fixins, and heat the entire pan back up on the grill. So simple!

Here’s how to make delicious chicken tacos:

    64 recipes for the perfect football tailgate! Check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans

    64 recipes for the perfect football tailgate! Check out everything from appetizer recipes, entree recipes, cocktail recipes, dessert recipes, side dish recipes and more to cheer on your team! #foodiefootballfans

    Spicy Mexican Cheese Dip by 2 Cookin Mamas
    Salsa Verde by A Dish of Daily Life
    Skillet Sausage Dip by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen
    Sausage, Peppers + Onions Pigs in a Blanket by A Little Gathering
    Grilled Jalapeno Poppers by A Mind Full Mom
    Beer & Brats Bake by A Simpler Grace
    Black Bottom Maple Pecan Pie Bars by An Oregon Cottage
    Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings by And She Cooks
    Blackberry BBQ Sticky Wings by Around My Family Table
    Cheesy Pull Apart Garlic Bread by Beer Girl Cooks
    Black Bean & Corn Salsa by Body Rebooted
    Roasted Garlic BBQ Chicken Wings Recipe by Bread Booze Bacon
    Smoky Jalapeno Poppers by Brunch-n-Bites
    Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos by Bucket List Tummy
    Deconstructed Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno by Cafe Terra
    Chicken Spinach & Artichoke Dip French Bread by Cake ‘n Knife
    Cuban Sandwich Quesadillas by Casa de Crews
    Grilled Asparagus Spears by Celebrating Family
    Sweet and Salty Blueberry Popcorn by Club Narwhal
    Buffalo Chicken Poppers by Coffee Love Travel
    Sea Bass Skewers + Blackbeard Cocktails by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
    Buffalo Chicken Poppers by Dash of Herbs
    Easy chicken roll ups with cream cheese and veggies by Family Food on the Table
    Bottled Tailgate Cocktails by Feast + West
    The Best Tex-Mex Arrachera Fajitas by Foodal
    Loaded Guacamole by foodbyjonister
    Cincinnati Nachos by Foodtastic Mom
    Cajun Red Beans and Andouille Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms by For the Love of Food
    Grilled Shrimp Pizza by Glisten and Grace
    Mini Bell Pepper Nachos by Hello Little Home
    Slow Cooker Sweet Spicy Meatballs by Honey & Birch
    BBQ Chicken Wontons by Lauren’s Kitchen
    Loaded Tailgate Tots by Life’s Ambrosia
    Ricotta & Fig Bites by Living Well Kitchen
    Tailgate Tacos by Lizzy is Dizzy
    Nashville Hot Chicken Wings by Loaves & Dishes
    Cincinnati Chili Dip by Love & Flour
    {Slow Cooker} BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches by Love Bakes Good Cakes
    Tailgate Bloody Marys by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
    Sweet Korean Chicken Wings by Macheesmo
    Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots by Me and My Pink Mixer
    Beer Sangria by Mixplorology
    Crab Pretzels by Mom’s Messy Miracles
    Hot Bacon Dip by Nik Snacks
    Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar by Off the Eaten Path
    Chowder Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers by Order in the Kitchen
    Old Fashioned Sweet by Peanut Blossom
    Baked Mac and Cheese Cups by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
    Texas Toothpicks with Buttermilk Ranch by See Aimee Cook
    Pretzel Turkey Meatballs (GF, DF, SF) by Shaws Simple Swaps
    Hearty Vegetable Chili by Simple and Savory
    Focaccia Pizza by Simplify, Live, Love
    Sweet Potato Skins Stuffed with BBQ Ranch Pulled Pork by Sustaining the Powers
    Bacon-Wrapped Cheeseburger Bites by The BakerMama
    Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad by The Creative Bite
    German Potato Skins by The Crumby Cupcake
    Old Bay Trail Mix by The Culinary Compass
    Meat Lover’s Pizza Bites by The Life Jolie
    Raspberry Chipotle Black Bean Dip by The Mexitalian
    Grilled Asian Chicken Wings & Shishito Peppers by The Secret Ingredient Is
    Blackened Shrimp Tacos by The Speckled Palate
    Honeydew Melon Refresher by Two Places at Once
    Grilled Sauerkraut Stuffed Brats by West via Midwest
    Sausage Apple and Sage Hand Pies by What A Girl Eats

The Perfect Chambray Shirt

I FINALLY found the perfect chambray shirt!

I’ve been on a quest for a few years now. The perfect chambray shirt is a staple, and I hadn’t found the perfect one until just a few days ago, and like many great discoveries, it happened completely on accident.

I was walking by Cato Fashions the other day when the window display caught my eye. Now, I haven’t been in a Cato in YEARS—it just isn’t on the list of places I like to go when looking for clothes. 

Here are a few reasons why this shirt is absolutely the perfect chambray shirt

I FINALLY found the perfect chambray shirt!

1. It’s long enough

At 6 feet tall, I have a hard time finding shirts that are long enough to cover at leas the top half of my booty. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than having to pull your shirt down all day long. 

2. It’s the perfect weight

Light enough to wear in spring and summer with the sleeves rolled up, or layered in fall and winter!

3. The fabric

It’s made of Tencel (also known as lyocell), which is a sustainably raised fiber made of reconstituted cellulose that is  soft, absorbent, and even more breathable than cotton. Again, perfect for wearing all year round. 

4. The Price

One of the things that’s kept me from investing in other chambray shirts has been their price… If I’m going to spend more than a hundred dollars on a shirt it better be PERFECT, and I haven’t found one (even a $100+ one) that checked all the boxes. This one DOES, and would you believe it was only $30?!

Shirt: Cato Fashions $27.99
ants: Counterparts (I got them for $16.99 at TJMaxx, but they’re around $30 on Amazon)
Peep-toe booties: Kenneth Cole Reaction ($45 at Marshalls, around the same price on Amazon)
Necklace: Kendra Scott $90



Only wear comfortable shoes: Your no BS guide to an awesome Italy trip

Piazza de Michelangelo

Your No BS Guide to a Fabulous Italy Trip

In June James and I took an amazing 10 day trip to Italy! We had an absolutely incredible time traveling with another couple, and we can’t wait to go back.

Should I use some more superlatives? 

But seriously, if there’s one thing I can tell you about Italy it’s that it is in no way overhyped. 

Aside from the obvious things like “drink as much cheap delicious house wine as you can” and “the people watching is amazing,” here are a few of the other things we learned in Italia.

1. Only Pack Comfortable Shoes

I really just can’t stress this enough. Only pack and wear really really comfortable shoes. 

There will be bloggers who will tell you to you must be as fashionable as possible to keep up with the locals, and even that some restaurants won’t let you in unless you’re wearing heels. 

These bloggers, to put it delicately, are absolutely full of it. 

I toted a pair of Coach wedges in my pack the entire trip. We went to cheap hole-in-the-wall restaurants, we went to restaurants that would make the nicest ones in Birmingham blush, and everything in between, and I never wore those shoes once. 

You know why? Because in Italy you walk everywhere, and even if you think you’re used to walking quite a bit, you almost certainly aren’t used to walking 7-10 miles a day on cobblestone streets. 

Your No BS Guide to a fabulous Italy Trip
Cinque Terre

Here’s an important corollary: If you think you might be hiking, where appropriate footwear. Ignore this advice at your own peril.

Our first day in the gorgeous seaside area of Cinque Terre we went on a somewhat-impromptu hike after our boat tour ended earlier than we expected. My quite expensive, very comfortable Naot sandals will be just fine, I thought! 

Your No BS Guide to a fabulous Italy Trip

Hear me all you who have eyes to listen: nothing looks less fashionable than having to wear socks with your $155 sandals because of enormous blisters. 

2. Absolutely do the touristy things

Vatican? Check. The Colosseum? You betcha. Il Duomo? OMG. The Pantheon? Don’t you dare miss it. La Piazza de Michelangelo? I’ll write more about that in a minute, but YES!

Your No BS Guide to a Fabulous Italy Trip

Every single  “touristy” thing that you’re “supposed to see” in Italy is 100% worth the lines and crowds. 

Just don’t be a hipster traveler. Yes, there are TONS of hidden treasures to be discovered that we adored, but if something has been drawing tourists for the better part of a millennium (or two!) there’s probably a really good reason for it. 

3. Don’t be afraid

While we were preparing to travel I probably spent as much time trying to find the perfect pickpocket-proof purse and learning all about how to protect myself from everything gypsy swindlers to terrorists. 

And then there was the anxiety of learning exactly how to say several common Italian phrases in the perfect accent that would make me look like less of a typical American tourist. 

Newsflash (to me): You’re a 6 foot tall naturally blonde woman from Alabama. You aren’t fooling anyone. 

But even if you aren’t an amazon from the deep south, chances are you are not going to blend in with the locals after only a few days in a foreign country.

Yes, it is really nice and an appreciated gesture to attempt to speak the language (it’s beautiful, and if you took high school Spanish, it’s was actually really easy to pick up), but in Western Europe nearly everyone in the service industry knows enough  English to bring you delicious food and wine. 

Your No BS Guide to a Fabulous Italy Trip

On the safety and security front. Just don’t be stupid. Wear a crossbody purse, pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t buy the dadgum roses from the dadgum gypsies. But have fun! The cops are there to help you, and the very heavily armed and highly trained military men and women are there to protect you from the bad guys. 

Life is too short and the world is too big and beautiful to stay home out of fear. 

4. The whole country is some kind of entertainment district

Most cities here in the states have what are called entertainment districts where you can openly drink alcohol on the street. 

To the best of my knowledge the entire country of Italy is an entertainment district. 

Drink the wine. Be careful. Have fun.

5. Watch sunset on La Piazza de Michelangelo 

Piazza de Michelangelo

In Florence (my favorite of the cities we visited) looking over the city is the Piazza de Michelangelo, where Michelangelo’s David used to be displayed. My favorite evening of the entire trip was when we climbed up to the top with a few bottles of good wine and sat on the steps for several hours anticipating the sunset. 

We made friends with a world traveler, a group of middle aged women from Brazil (Salute!), and dozens of romantic couples. 




’nuff said.

In all we went to four locations: Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, and Pompeii/Mt. Vesuvius. 

We can’t wait to go back! 

Do you have any questions about what to see and do in Italy? Travel tips of your own? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

All things working together for good — Comfort in grief

Beach in Cancun

Beach in Cancun

And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

There has always been something about that verse that hasn’t sat well with me. It feels like a cop out, something we read when we need to feel like the God we worship isn’t a God we understand, or even particularly like. Ever leaning on it felt like the grownup version of a high school football team choosing Philippians 4:13 as their rallying cry. 

Like, God doesn’t care about high school football, quit co-opting my gospel.

Don’t get me wrong, Romans 8 has always had an incredibly special place in my relationship with James. The story of grace and forgiveness in its verses formed, in many ways, the foundation of our eventual romance and now our marriage. The 28th verse has just never really been my favorite. 

But when your life is shaken to the core with a single phone call, sometimes all you can do is cling to the Good News. 

Hiking on the Beeshland ca. 2014.
Hiking on the Beeshland ca. 2014.

On a hot July morning that phone call came from my beloved husband; a phone call whose quick and heartbreaking conversation I have been unable to erase from my memory in the last month.

“Liz,” James told me shakily, “Brad just called. Dad’s died.”

World. Shaken.

Larry Michael “Mike” BeShears was a helluva man who spent every moment he had helping and loving others.

Whether it was wielding a chainsaw in the great privet battles of 2013-16, making homes in Appalachia warmer, safer, and drier on ASP, or reclining in the basement watching college football and eating pigs in a blanket, he was always the most pleasant and gracious man in the room.

The great Privet Battle of 2015.
The great Privet Battle of 2015.

The number of ways he blessed my life are far too many to count in the last nearly 6 years I knew him, but the way he impacted his family is absolutely innumerable.

There are so many things for which we are thankful in the wake of this tragedy, but perhaps the largest thing from my perspective is that Mike saw James fully into manhood.

I don’t know if he considered himself a feminist, but he sure as hell was one. He loved his wife with reckless abandon, and was an equal partner in all things—two practices whose example James has followed since the first days of our relationship.

Everything he did kept his family in mind; there was never any question where his priorities laid. There is no question that I love and respect my husband as much as I do is in large part because of the illustrations drawn out by his earthly father throughout his life.

So how. HOW. could his unexpected death be any evidence of a good and elaborate plan for good? 

The last month has been a blur. It wasn’t like a bad dream, it was like a black hole. Everything has been dark and stretched out, occurring both in the blink of an eye and in the length of eternity. 

But as we’ve begun going through the stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, little things have been revealed to us, and Romans 8:28 has been spoken to me, first in a whisper, then in a shout like rolling thunder.

“You know Mike wouldn’t have hurt his family in a million years, for a trillion dollars,” I’ve heard God say. “Do you think I would?”

James and Daddeh working copy

There has been glaring evidence of the hand of God all through the last month, from decisions made years ago, to inconveniences that week in July that ended up being the largest of blessings. 

“See?” God shouted in the details. “This isn’t fun, but I have a plan.”

Still, I would think in a refrain too often repeated by those who suffer evil at the hands of others, why would a loving God allow something so needlessly horrible? 

“Don’t you get it?” God began to lovingly roar, filling my ears and heart. “As much as Mike loved you, don’t you know the Creator loves His creation infinitely more? I love you. I am working for you. Your job is to trust me.”

So while I still can’t possibly comprehend what good could come of losing one of my most loved humans, we’re choosing to listen. We’re choosing to grieve and celebrate. We’re choosing to cry and laugh.

We’re choosing to trust that all things really are working together for good. 

Back on the Bookshelf: Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
All cover art is property of the publisher.


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Short Summary: The beautifully told story of the legendary Pope Joan who fooled a world dominated by men. 
Date Completed: July 9th, 2016
Where I read it: Birmingham, Alabama
Format: Paperback borrowed from the library
Would I read it again: Probably not, but I definitely recommend it!

As I’ve mentioned before, historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre, and this story about the legendary Pope Joan did not disappoint. As Cross goes over in the conclusion of the book, there is actually ample evidence that a female Pope actually existed in the late 9th century.

A lot of church history and a little romance, Pope Joan’s story, whether fictional or not, was a reminder both of how far women have come and how far we have yet to go!