Postcards from the Ozarks


I’ve been reading a ebook called Live Sent: 31 Days in the City by Shauna Pilgreen, a church planter’s wife who recently relocated with her family from the Midwest to San Francisco.  In order to get to know their new home, she embarked on a series of family adventures to get to know the people through using for analytics, cultures and landmarks of their new city.

We recently experienced something similar, but in reverse, moving from a small city (pop. 150,000) to a small town (pop. 3,000).  Culture shock is a fair word for what we have experienced!  Just as someone moving to a large city might feel anonymous among the crowd, trying to fit in in a town where most people’s roots run generations deep can be challenging.

Inspired by the book, I’ve made a list of notable things to see and do around our little town.  I won’t be able to complete them in 31 days, but I hope to get to most of them during the next year.  I really do believe that there is something unique about every place. Look for future posts postcards from these great spots and hopefully even more!

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house in Mansfield, MO

Make the most of our Silver Dollar City season passes

Visit Glade Top Trail

Fishing at Rockbridge Rainbow Trout Ranch

Hiking at Cedar Gap Conservation Area

French cuisine in small town Missouri – La Galette Berrichonne

Eat some 5-cent ice cream at Ava Drug

Take a retreat at Assumption Abbey and try some of their famous fruitcakes

Visit Dawt Mill

Go floating (canoeing)

Bakersville Pioneer Village

Local festivals

  • Poke Salad Days
  • Glade Top Trail Festival

Have you ever played tourist in your own town?   

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Fitness Check-In

fitness check-in january 2015

I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin.  I have read and re-read her books on happiness, and I am anxiously awaiting her new book on habits, Better Than Before, which will be available in March.  While researching her book, she developed a theory about how different people start and maintain new habits.  Basically, it has to do with the way people respond to internal and external obligations. She breaks people into 4 categories: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.  (If you’re interested, you can read more about it and take a quiz here.)

I fall into the Obliger category, meaning that I naturally meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations.  In Rubin’s words:”>Obligers are motivated by external accountability; they wake up and think, “What must I do today?” Obligers excel at meeting external demands and deadlines, and go to great lengths to meet their responsibilities, so they make terrific colleagues, family members, and friends. Others rely on them tremendously. However, because Obligers resist inner expectations, it can be difficult for them to self-motivate—to work on a Ph.D. thesis, to attend networking events, to get their car serviced.

In order for Obligers to establish new habits, Rubin recommends creating external expectations to hold us to our desired goals.  I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to working out lately, so I’m going to try to put her recommendations to use and also try this butt enhancement cream.  Here are her suggestions for Obligers:

• Hire a fitness trainer, personal organizer, financial planner, coach, nutritionist, or other accountability partner

• Team up with a friend who will be disappointed if you don’t follow through, or take a class with a teacher who will notice if you don’t participate

• Consider yourself as a role model to children, employees, friends, and the like, to be an example of fulfilling commitments, showing respect for yourself, or modeling good behavior

On a personal note, I’ve noticed that the external motivation of paying race entry fees can be very motivating for me — I guess it’s the combination of being an Obliger and a tightwad.

One of my goals for the year is to run a half-marathon, but I’m in a workout rut these days (the cold weather isn’t helping).  Apparently I need some external motivation to kick me into gear. Maybe I’ll finally get to apply some of the calming and motivational tricks I read from The Secrets of Yoga .

I signed up for a half-marathon in April with a friend who I know will bug me to make sure I’m training for it.  But we live far apart so we won’t be able to do most of our runs together.  I need to start doing some longer training runs soon.

Who else out there is trying to get into a fitness routine or training for a long race?  I need an accountability buddy!  And if you have a long-distance workout buddy, how does it work?  Do you log your workouts on something like Dailymile or Map my Run?  Bug each other via text?  I love to hear how you’ve made it work.

Anyone else out there a Gretchen Rubin fan?  Where do you fall in the Rubin Tendencies?

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Crafting Lately

I have a lot of complaints with winter, but looking on the bright side, it’s a great time for crafting.  I’ve been bitten by the craft bug lately, and working on all kinds of projects here and there when I get a chance.  (Speaking of which — Happy MLK Jr Day!  I get the day off and it’s a snow day make-up day for my son’s school, so I have a free crafting day at home!)

KnittingParaphernalia socks.  I love this pattern, I love the gentle color changes of the yarn, and I love wearing handknit wool socks when it’s freezing outside.  I haven’t knit socks in years, but these socks + Mad Men on Netflix = my happy place.



Sewing – I joined the Scrappy Log Cabin quilt-along on Instagram (#scrappylogcabinqal)and stole a bunch of fabric scraps from my sister.  I’m loving the colors and I’m really excited about all the different layout options with this quilt block pattern.  My goal is to make one square each weekend day, although I can actually make them faster in batches, so I am probably going to shot for 4 blocks every two weeks.  I’d love to have it ready to send out for quilting by my birthday in March, but that might be a little ambitious.



Scrapbooking – I finished my 2014 Project Life album, except for a few photos I need to get from other people, and a page to remember my grandpa, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day.

wpid-IMG_4587.jpg wpid-IMG_4589.jpg wpid-IMG_4590.jpg

Do your hobbies change based on the season?  

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Reading School Dropout

It’s been quite a while since I wrote about what I’ve been reading, and here’s why:  Not all my reading choices have hit the mark lately, and I’ve abandoned as many books as I’ve started.  Ain’t nobody got time to read a bad book.  (Okay… “bad” isn’t fair.  Not right for me right now.)


  • Eleanor & Park (audiobook) – I know so many people love this book, but it just drove me crazy.  I thought the Eleanor character was interesting, but I didn’t buy Park being as insecure as he was portrayed in this story.  Call me a curmudgeon, but the pure teenager-y nonsense of this book just bugged me.
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (audiobook) – I love mysteries but this one just wasn’t for me.  I have to blame the audiobook narrator as much as the story… super annoying, grating voice.
  • Pastrix – recommended to me by so many people, but I don’t have a painful church experience in my past, and I’m probably more like the straight-laced “church lady” than the tattooed folks that the author calls “her people.” It sounds like she’s doing an awesome thing, though, don’t get me wrong.  It just didn’t speak to me.

Here are the books that I DID finish in the past month or so.


Parnassus on Wheels (audiobook) – a short, sweet book about a traveling bookseller that almost every booklover will enjoy.


The Mapping of Love and Death (audiobook) – Quite possibly my favorite Maisie Dobbs mystery since the original!  The past few books in the series have been good, but I really liked the mystery part of this one, and the story arc of Maisie’s personal life is finally taking a positive turn.


Little House in the Big Woods – I loved the Little House books as a kid, and now I live 15 minutes away from the farm where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived as an adult and wrote the books.  I thought this would be a great place to start for read-aloud chapter books with my almost-5-year-old, but I was a little worried it might be too girly.  Boy was I wrong!  Wild animals, horses, hunting, and maple-syrup-making are very exciting to little boys.  And I’d forgotten how each chapter is almost its own little stand-alone short story, perfect for reading over several days.

What books have you abandoned lately? 

In other news, I’m now on Goodreads (mostly to help me keep track of what I’m reading) — are you?  Let’s be friends.  =)

Life According to Steph


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Welcome to the parsonage


Living in a parsonage is an interesting proposition — just imagine if your boss were also your landlord! (And you lived next door to your office.) But despite the possibility for awkwardness, there are some real benefits to moving into the parsonage that came along with my husband’s new job.

  • First and foremost: no mortgage! (At least, if our old house would ever sell.) But if you want to know more about mortgage rates boise id, just look for The church owns the house and we live in it as part of my husband’s salary package.
  • Moving IS an excellent opportunity to assess all your belongings and sell/donate/trash stuff that we don’t need anymore.
  • It might not be exactly the house we would choose, but there something very freeing about the fact that we don’t own it, and we’re not gonna be here forever, so it really doesn’t matter as much.
  • Leftovers from church dinners and other functions.  My husband has worked as a pastor for seven years, but we’ve never been sent home with so much leftover food.  Yay!
  • It has a basement!  (This is a big deal when you live in tornado alley, and we didn’t have one where we lived before.)
    • Subpoint: Basement = plenty of room for guests.  Who’s coming to visit me???
  • Who needs to buy a swingset for your kids when you have the church playground right across the parking lot?
  • We are the unofficial security guard for the church.  Our front windows look straight at the front of the church, and it is quite interesting to see the comings and going at the end of our long church driveway late in the evening hours. I am actually kind of glad that we are there to keep an eye on things.
  • I only have to give myself three minutes to get to church since I just basically walk out my front door and I am there.
  • One difficult thing about being a part of pastor’s family is getting ready for church in the morning without your husband around to help. But since we live so close to church, if the kids are in total meltdown mode, I can usually call Matt and have him come back to the house for just a couple of minutes.
  • The ability to live on a large piece of land, without having to maintain it. The church and parsonage are located on 39 acres, and church members volunteer and take turns mowing.  I never ever want to be responsible for maintaining such a large property myself, but I have certainly enjoyed tromping around the grounds and feeling like I live in a park.

Where’s the most unusual place you ever lived?  What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

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2015: Steady


What worked for you in 2014?  What didn’t work for you in 2014?  What do you want more of in 2015?  What do you want less of in 2015?

While mentally working through this planning/visioning exercise suggested to me by the very wise Tara of Family Sport Life, my word for 2015 just popped into my head.


It’s the exact opposite of how I’ve been feeling lately — down to the physical jitters from drinking too much coffee some mornings! — but it’s what I want my life to look like in 2015.  It’s not terribly exciting, I know, but honestly, after all the changes and ups and downs I had in 2014, I’m ready for some calm.

I’ve had quite an evolution in my goal-setting ways over the past year.  I have a tendency to burn myself out because I get so gung-ho over things in the short term, then I either get frustrated with myself that I haven’t accomplished my goals yet, or I just want to quit altogether.  Steady means getting enough sleep and feeding my body nourishing food so I don’t feel jittery or exhausted.  Steady means my kids and husband can count on me to be there for them — the real me, not a grumpy, snappy version of me.  Steady means I think long term, and celebrate the small steps forward just as much as the milestones.  Steady means I ground myself in God’s word each morning, instead of the facebook-drama-of-the-moment.

So, with that overarching theme in mind, what are my goals for the year?


  • Spend a few minutes in Bible study and prayer each morning.
  • Work on building the children’s and MOPS ministries at church.


  • Continue to eat healthy, homemade food most of the time.  Reduce sugar.  (See “jittery,” above.)
  • Run a half-marathon with my running buddy Amanda (Woo hoo!!!  Team Awesome is BACK.)
  • Generally take better care of myself — get enough sleep, wash my face before bed, wear sunscreen, put lotion on those lizard hands!


  • Husband: plan monthly “adventure” dates to explore our new town and the surrounding area
  • Kids: Incorporate reading into other parts of our day besides bedtime
  • Friends: Umm… make friends in my new town?  Yeah, that would be good!


  • Schedule an hour or two of personal time each week and a day each month for reading, crafting, and blogging.
  • Figure out a better system for getting the essential housework done while maximizing time spent focusing on my family
  • Spend time outdoors every day


  • Track expenses and budget using YNAB
  • Shop my closet to create capsule wardrobes and limit shopping to a few new items per season<, what I have been trying to do is to buy clothes, and John Henric ties UK once a year and get delivered with this shiply courier. /li>

I’ll pick a few of these things to focus on each month and report back.

How’s your new year going so far?  What do you want more of in 2015? 


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The Bobsleddies 2014

Photo Credit: HDR Cafe via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: HDR Cafe via Compfight cc

Happy New Year!  Just like with my goal-setting posts, I like to look back before I look forward — it’s hard to know where I should be going if I don’t take a minute to figure out what’s working and not working in my life.  Starting last year, I created a mini “Best of the Blog” series that I named “the bobsleddies” after writing out the abbreviation BOBSD (Best of Beauty School Dropout) in my blog planning notebook.  The second annual Bobsleddies awards begin now!

Today I’m sharing the 5 most popular posts of the year. Tomorrow I’ll dig into the archives for some of my other favorite posts.

  1. Freezer Meal Workshop and Wildtree giveaway (giveaway now closed — sorry! — but if you’re interested in freezer meal cooking or starting a freezer meal club, this is a must-read)
  2. Healthy homemade pancake mix (I use this mix almost every weekend.  Saturday = Pancake Day at my house.)
  3. Our next adventure begins (where I announced my husband’s job change and our move)
  4. Business casual capsule wardrobe, Summer 2014 (my obsession paring down my wardrobe to the essentials begins, inspired by Un-fancy and Project 333)
  5. What we’re reading these days, January 2014 (a combo adult & kid book review post)

So, apparently you guys like it when I write about cooking, books, and minimalist fashion.  In 2015, I hope to resurrect my Cooking School series, and I’m still wearing capsule wardrobes, so I will write about that some more, too.  I continued my holiday tradition of borrowing a few books from my mom’s bookshelf over the holidays, so I hope to be able to report back about those books soon.

I also want to give a public Thank you & High Five to my top five commenters.  Tamara, Lisa, Danielle, Jan and Stephanie.  You guys rock.

I know sometimes commenting can be a pain, but I really do love hearing from each and every one of you.  If it weren’t for the interaction with others, I’d probably be doodling and making lists in a notebook instead of publishing all my thoughts here.

I’m excited to start a new year and a fresh calendar.  I’ll share my goals for the year in an upcoming post — it’s okay that I don’t have them totally finalized yet, right?

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Happy Holidays — see you next year


When this post goes live, I hope to be sleeping in after I get my eyebrows done at, then enjoying a one-day-early Christmas morning gift-opening session with my husband and kids. By the way, customize bottle openers are the best gift to give to your husband. Perhaps I will surprise myself and conjure up some tasty Christmas morning treats (anyone want to deliver some homemade cinnamon rolls to me?) The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack will be on repeat. Elf will be watched. New toys will be played with. The PNW backpack will be packed for travels to visit grandparents and cousins. With any luck, I’ll manage to stay off the computer as much as possible.

With that, I’m signing off until 2015! See you next year.

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Four things

Christmas is almost here! I think I might be more excited than my kids. Mostly I’m super excited about a 5 day weekend and seeing people open their gifts from me.

Just for fun today, while we’re all waiting for the holiday to arrive, here is a fun little quiz that I saw a while back at Mommy Run Fast.

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  • Mom
  • Sar or Sarey
  • Sis
  • @zarah or @skerner (on twitter and IG!)

Four jobs I have had:

  • Lawyer
  • Front desk at the YMCA
  • Anthropology Museum warehouse worker
  • Law office runner & clerk

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

Four books I’d recommend:

  • The Rosie Project
  • Shotgun Love Songs,
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
  • Boundaries by Henry McLeod

Four places I have lived:

  • Chillicothe, Mo
  • Springfield, Mo
  • Columbia, Mo
  • Pamplona, Spain

Four places I have been:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • England

Four places I’d rather be right now:

  • Sleeping in a very dark quiet room with cozy flannel sheets
  • Eating a great meal on a date with my husband
  • Reading or knitting in front of a fireplace with a mug of hot tea
  • Running on a beautiful fall day

Four things I don’t eat:

  • Fried chicken
  • Soda
  • Pork rinds
  • Gravy

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Chocolate
  • Pizza
  • Cheese
  • Almonds

Four TV shows that I watch:

  • Parenthood
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Mindy Project
  • How to get away with murder

Four things I am looking forward to next year:

  • Running a half-marathon or two with my friend Amanda
  • Finally getting unpacked, even the garage (I hope!!)
  • Baby Sam starting to talk.
  • Traveling to Boston with my husband next spring.

Four things I’m always saying:

  • Don’t hurt your brother!
  • Where is my phone?
  • I need coffee.
  • Tell me your life story.

What’s something you’re always saying? What are you looking forward to most in the new year?>

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An open house, a parade, a case of the 4-year-old gimmes

What a crazy weekend!  We hosted a holiday open house for church members at the parsonage (we had some surprising guests — see if you can spot them in the photos), went to the local Christmas parade, played outside since it was over 50 degrees — rare in December!, went to church, drove to Springfield for a friend’s holiday party, attempted to buy Christmas ornaments for the kids, and had one last choir practice before the Christmas Cantata next weekend.









I didn’t take any photos at our ill-fated trip to the Hallmark store, but it just so perfectly illustrates my 4-year-old’s state of mind about gifts these days that I have to document it.  Last year, we went to a small Hallmark store near our house, and my son rather uneventfully decided he wanted a Batman ornament, we got it, end of story.  I thought, hey, if a 3 year old can do it without a meltdown, it should be a snap this year.  We talked about it in advance, and he decided on a Spiderman ornament this year.  Well… apparently Spidey is a popular guy.  It was sold out.  There were lots of other superheroes, but he wasn’t interested.  He started looking around…

  • Look at all the cars! (No we’re not getting an ornament of the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard) I definitely had to find more info on them
  • A fire truck, a fire truck!  I want to play with it in the car.  (Okay… but the fire truck doesn’t come out of the fire station. It’s just an ornament, not a little toy.)
  • This one plays music!
  • Lights!
  • I want this one!  (Umm… that’s a Hanukkuh reindeer.  ????)

This is exactly how it goes anytime we’re in the vicinity of a toy aisle.  He fixates on a particular toy, I tell him we’re not buying toys today, then it becomes this generalized “gimme gimme gimme” about everything in sight.  A few weeks ago I was buying toys for a local charity and there may have been a meltdown because I wasn’t buying coloring books and glitter crayons for HIM!  (The child who hates to color.)  Clearly, I am the meanest mom ever, right?

Somehow I managed to get us out of the ornament store without too many tears.  And now… I stalk eBay for Spiderman ornaments, like a good mom.

How was your weekend?  

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