I hate my winter capsule wardrobe

Photo Credit: onesieworld via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: onesieworld via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: the photo above is not me.  I may not love her outfit, but you’ve got to admit – she is OWNING it.

I’ve been struggling to write this post for weeks.  I mean, we’re more than halfway through winter already — Hi Mr. Groundhog! —  shouldn’t I have this post done already?  Shouldn’t I have my winter wardrobe finalized?  Short of going on a shopping spree (which is exactly what I’m trying NOT to do with these limited seasonal wardrobes) I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my winter clothes and I are just not getting along.

Putting together a winter capsule wardrobe was much more difficult than I expected.  I’ve been doing this capsule wardrobe thing since summer, but the winter wardrobe has been the hardest by far.  I’m not sure if it’s the wide range of temperatures we’ve experienced in the last two months (from 70 – 0 degrees!), just the fact that I don’t like being cold, or feeling perfectionistic about trying to find the perfect wardrobe that will all mix-and-match together, but it’s been a 6 weeks in the making and I’m still not happy with it.

Clothes selection process:  My theme for the winter wardrobe was “warm and cozy,” and I chose black and white as my main colors, with accents of purple and green. (This has more to do with what was already in my wardrobe than any intentional choice on my part, or trying to be in style.)  I work in a business casual office three days a week, work at home two days a week, and have very casual weekend days, dressing up for church about the same as I do for work.  My wardrobe needs to be about 50-50 professional and casual clothes, and I try to look for pieces that can crossover for both categories.

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This is a lot harder than it sounds like.  I have a few tops that fall into that green “just right” category, but not many.  I’m still in a stage of life where my casual clothes are likely to be used as a snot rag or be worn during a preschooler wrestling match or crawling around on the ground.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but here are the staples of my capsule wardrobe, from most worn to least worn items.  (I was tempted to seriously geek out and make a spreadsheet for this, but instead I settled for various symbols to indicate my uses and issues with this wardrobe.)

  1. Black dress pants ! @ +
  2. Gray dress pants ! @ +
  3. Dark-wash skinny jeans ! ~ +
  4. White button-down shirt ! @
  5. Black jeans ! ~
  6. Gray half-zip cabled sweater ! @ ~ +
  7. Snowflake printed fleece jacket ! ~
  8. Purple turtleneck sweater ! @ ~
  9. Bright blue running shoes ! ~
  10. White beaded long-sleeve T-shirt ! @ ~ +
  11. Ratty old Mizzou Law long-sleeved t-shirt ! ~ +
  12. Tall flat black boots ! @ ~ +
  13. Brown short boots ! @
  14. Dark-wash boot-cut jeans ! % ~
  15. Black turtleneck * @
  16. Chambray button-down shirt % @ ~
  17. Purple button-down shirt @ +
  18. Another pair of black dress pants % @ +
  19. Black tuxedo suit jacket in a soft material @
  20. Light gray wool dress % @
  21. Gray tweed skirt with big bow @
  22. Teal polka-dotted cardigan % @
  23. Green and white striped long-sleeved T-shirt ~
  24. Long cream printed sweatshirt * ~
  25. Black short boots @
  26. Teal quilted flats % * @
  27. Tan dress pants ? % @ +
  28. Crazy patterned leggings * ? ~
  29. Gray oversized knitted vest % ? @ ~
  30. Black pencil skirt ? @
  31. Brown velvety jacket ? @ ~ +
  32. Little black dress ?? @
  33. Thick black leggings ?? ~
  34. Black short-sleeved T-shirt ?? ~ +
  35. Black cardigan * ?? @

Key:

* New purchase     + More than 3 years old    Hardly worn    ?? Not worn at all

! Worn a lot           % Don’t like how it fits      @ Work             ~ Casual

I think it’s really interesting that most of the items I wore the most had already been in my wardrobe for 3 years or more.  Even though I am not that happy with my winter capsule wardrobe, I know I learned from it.

Lessons Learned

  • No skirts or dresses in winter.  It’s just too cold.
  • No more leggings until I get some longer shirts!
  • I have too many things in my wardrobe that just don’t fit me well anymore.  (Having two kids will do that to you!)  Future clothes shopping needs to be focused on replacing things I know I like instead of chasing the latest fad.  (I think I wore those patterned leggings two times?  Maybe once?)
  • Overlapping work and play clothes doesn’t work very well for me, I just end up with stuff that’s too casual for work and too dressy for home.
  • I miss wearing bright colors.  I know it’s partially a seasonal thing, but a neutral palette is just boring to me.
  • I shouldn’t buy things just because I think they’ll be good “staples.”  I wear cardigans quite a bit for work, but I wear that polka-dotted teal one 10 times more than the plain black one.

The groundhog says 6 more weeks of winter, so I’m going to suck it up and live with these clothes that annoy me for a little while longer.  But I am SOOOOO excited for spring!

I have to ask – does anyone out there actually like winter?  Are you sick of all your winter clothes like me?

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Thriving in January

Hiking in January = giant icicles!

Hiking in January = giant icicles!

Month #1 of 2015 is in the books.  And you know what?  2015 has been pretty good to me so far.  I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer today to talk about what made my month great.

Raspberry oatmeal cookie bars.  It’s one of those desserts that I love to eat but I’d never actually made.  I needed a quick dessert for a small group Bible study at my house and they couldn’t have been easier.  Any jam will work, but the tartness of raspberry balances out the sweetness of the cookie part the best.  (Why yes I’ve made this recipe twice in one month.  I didn’t eat them ALL myself, I promise!)

Sleep (more specifically, enforcing a bedtime on myself!)  Since my word for the year is Steady, I’ve been doing some brainstorming about things that make me feel steady vs unsteady in various situations.  I’ve come to the conclusion that almost everything in life is more manageable after a good night’s sleep.  My baby still wakes up once a night most nights, and I have to wake up around 5:30am on the days I commute, so it really is essential for me to go to bed at a decent hour.  My goal is 10:30, and I’ve made it most nights, even when I’d rather stay up and watch another episode of Friends!

Moisturize moisturize moisturize.  Fingers crossed, knock on wood, no whammies no whammies no whammies… I think I’ve managed to avoid the horrible dry skin and never-healing cracked knuckles that plagued me last winter.  Earth Science Almond Aloe SPF 15 face lotion + argan oil for the dry patches on my face + Aveeno body lotion + Made On hard lotion for my knuckles and cuticles + eos Sweet Mint lip balm is my winning combination.  (Wow… that’s a lot of stuff.  I swear I’m not really that high maintenance!)

Temperate Vortex.  I don’t think the warm streak we had mid-January has an official name, but 50s and 60s in January is AMAZING.  What a difference from last year!

Emergen-C.  Even with the warmer temperatures, there seem to be lots of colds going around.  It’s probably just in my head, but I’m convinced that a daily dose of Emergen-C makes a difference in staying well.

Cocoa almonds.  I bought a big bag of them in the Christmas clearance aisle, and they’re so good for a chocolate fix!  I know I probably eat more of them than I should, but it’s better than a handful of chocolate chips.

A Million Mutu Mama Workouts app.  I’ve written before about my diastasis recti, but I didn’t realize what a long road it would be to heal it.  I’ve been working on it for almost a year now, and at this point I’m convinced that there are certain exercises I will probably never be able to do again.  Even though I won’t miss doing crunches, it can be hard to come up with good modifications when I’m working out, which is why I love this app.  It’s pricey for an app ($8.99) but cheap compared to the cost of the full Mutu video system ($50-100 depending if you catch a sale) and it contains a lot of the same information, plus even more workouts and ideas for safe ab strengthening exercises.  Anyone who really wants to focus on core strength could benefit from this app, but especially postpartum moms who just can’t seem to get rid of the pooch.

Knitting.  I have a renewed love of knitting these days… it’s just so relaxing to hang out on the couch with a good TV show and knit a few stitches at the end of a long day, and I love seeing the steady progress and having a completed project at the end of it.  I feel like so many things in my life have to be done over and over (laundry, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, etc) or never have a clear end point (most of my work projects), so I love the fact that with knitting, when you’re done, you’re DONE — plus I have a new pair of cozy socks to wear!

Instagram.  You guys… I’m SO over facebook but I can’t completely quit it.  There are just a few groups and a few friends that make it worth it to stay.  But Instagram I just love.  Everyone I follow is friendly and positive and real.  (My username is skerner if you want to follow me — I’ll follow you back as long as you promise no political rants and links to depressing news stories.)

Snow day make-up days.  I get not one, but TWO holidays this winter (MLK Jr Day and Presidents Day) that my son has to go to school to make up snow days.  WOO HOO!  You’ll find me knitting and watching Downton Abbey.  And hopefully taking a nap.

The sun.  Have you noticed?  It’s staying light a teensy bit longer each night, and it’s making me so happy.  I know we have a lot of winter days ahead, but just seeing the sun stick around a few extra minutes at the end of each day gives me a lot of encouragement.

Gas prices. I won’t torture you with a picture of a gas station sign or a gas pump, but for someone who drives over 300 miles a week, gas below $2 has made a huge difference in my budget.

Styling wand. I have stick-straight hair. I know people who straighten their hair every day would kill for that, but honestly it gets kind of boring. I bought a styling wand for myself recently after consulting with some younger friends and my hairdresser about how it works. I am still learning how to use it, but it’s really fun to have some curls every once in a while!

How did January treat you?  Do you have any secrets for avoiding getting sick in the winter?

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Happy Holidays — see you next year

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When this post goes live, I hope to be sleeping in, then enjoying a one-day-early Christmas morning gift-opening session with my husband and kids. 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. Bags 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:

  • Legally Blonde
  • The Sound of Music
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • Elf

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.

 

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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)
  • 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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6 ways to wear a patterned top

patterned top collage

Today I’m teaming up with two other bloggers for a fun post about how to get the most out of your clothes.  Patterned tops are fun to buy and very flattering, but for the longest time I didn’t wear them very often because I felt like they were so unique that everyone would notice I was wearing the same shirt over and over again.  I’ve come to two conclusions about this line of thinking:

(1) No one is paying THAT much attention to what I wear, except me.

(2) Mix it up!  You can wear the same small number of clothes in so many different combinations.  (Hello, capsule wardrobe!)  In fact, I think limiting the number of clothes in my closet actually forces me to be more creative about what I wear.

My two “ways to wear it” were an office look and a more casual date night look.

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For the office look, I paired my patterned blouse with my workhorse Little Black Dress (this thing is at least 10 years old).  I think the trick to making this look work is a thin blouse (mine is polyester) and a fully lined dress, so the crinkles of the shirt underneath don’t show through.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Dress: Liz Claiborne

Shoes: Born (I always get tons of compliments on these)

Jewelry: Banana Republic (always check for jewelry on sale at Banana.  You can find really great deals sometimes.)

 

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For the date-night look, I did a patterned shirt + black skinny jeans combo, and added a bit of color with a red belt and red peep-toe shoes.  A red statement necklace, scarf, or hair accessory would go great with this, too.

Shirt: Pixley via Stitch Fix

Jeans: Ann Taylor LOFT

Shoes: Banana Republic

What’s your favorite way to wear a patterned top?  Do you have something in your wardrobe that’s truly stood the test of time (like my little black dress?) 

Don’t forget to visit Jacquelyn and Carrie for more ways to style a patterned top!  And if you liked this post, I would love it if you pinned it!  You can click the Pinterest button at the bottom of the post or repin from my Style board.  Thank you & have a great Thanksgiving!

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3 Ways to Wear… a patterned pencil skirt #capsulewardrobe #unfancyfriday

Just for fun on a Friday…
Part of creating a capsule wardrobe is finding lots of ways to wear the same items. I’ve had this leopard-print skirt for a couple of years and I always get compliments on it when I wear it, but I am always unsure about how to style it. I’ve been playing around with it on Polyvore and I think I’ve found a couple of very doable options, as well as a crazy one I might try if I have the right occasion.

The first option is my standard look — when in doubt, pair a print with black.  Good basic office look, with ankle boots to make it a little more current.

 

Rawr

 

Next up, something slightly more daring — mixing print with a bright color. Basically this is treating the print like a neutral, which I hear is what you’re supposed to do? #fashionclueless

Not so casual Friday

 

And finally — in true SEC football style, we’ve got the “football fancy” look that those Southern girls have down pat and we Missourians are just learning about. Honestly, the shirt probably needs some sequins or something.

Football Fancy

 

Have a great weekend!

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Five weird reasons you should buy my house

Reasons you should buy my house...despite its quirks!Our house has been on the market for about 6 weeks now, and it hasn’t gotten too many looks yet. I know someone will fall in love with it if we can get more prospective buyers in the door, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a post about the upsides of the house’s little quirks. (Every house has some, right?)

 

1.  There’s no bathtub in the master bathroom and the bathroom is too small. How often do you take a bath — really?  That’s a bogus complaint.  Onward.  The bathroom is fairly small, and seems even smaller because it’s divided up into a tiny room with a shower and toilet, and a powder room area with the mirror and sink. Why this is awesome: you can use the sink or get ready while the other person is in the shower or using the toilet. Bathroom multitasking at its finest!

 

2.  A bathroom/laundry combo — yes, it’s another multi-tasking room on the lower level (just inside the door from the garage). Oddly not pictured on my realtor’s website (hmm… wonder why?) but it does serve one purpose very well – you get a little reminder not to leave your wet laundry to moulder in the washing machine whenever you step inside to use the facilities.  Handy, eh?

 

3.  There’s a balcony off the master bedroom.  Cool, right?  It even has a beautiful view of a dogwood tree that flowers beautifully in the spring.  Except… we never used it.  Maybe I should have put a coffeemaker in my bathroom so I could sit on the balcony with my first cup of coffee in the morning?

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4.  Some people seem to think there’s not enough storage.  True enough, the house was built in the late 1970’s and doesn’t have the gargantuan walk-in closets that some newer houses have.  But the master closet is big enough (and we even put in an awesome closet system!) and do your kids even need walk-in closets anyway?  Consider smaller closets as my gift to you learning to embrace minimalism.

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5.  The kitchen.  Okay, no quirks here.  You know you want this kitchen.  That’s a five-burner gas stove over there!  Now, who’s gonna buy my house?  (Open house next Sunday!  All photos courtesy of Scott Rose, Realtor.)

 

What quirks does your house have?  Have you ever sold a house before?  (It’s my first time — please tell me I don’t need to worry and it will sell soon.)

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Where I’m From

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I am from chalk drawings on the driveway, from She-Ra masks and picking up pinecones for pennies.

I am from rolling fields of corn and soybeans, from a quiet neighborhood in a small town there the high school mascot is painted on the water tower.

I am from the dogwoods in the forest and the honeysuckle hedges around our backyard.

I am from Sunday roasts at Grandma’s house and family tailgates at Tiger football games; from Cowherd, Eden, Skelton, and Stever.

I am from the smart, reserved, and — yeah — the bossy.  From We aren’t quitters and I’m proud of you.

I am from feltboard Sunday School lessons and youth group mission trips.  From Praise God from whom all blessings flow and meeting Jesus at a camp in the Colorado Rockies.

I’m from the green hills and black dirt of northern Missouri, but with Ozarks roots.  I am from parmesan chicken, twice-baked potatoes, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

I am from the smell of old books and fresh copy paper in my dad’s law office, and “lugging the logo” of Apple computer when it still had rainbow stripes.

I am from running races at family reunions, playing basketball after Thanksgiving dinner, and avoiding cow pies on walks across my grandparents’ farmland.

I’m from tall navy blue silos and painted ranch gates, lettered with my family names.

I am from photos proudly displayed on the piano, from quilts stitched with care, from stories recounted around the dinner table, and wisdom passed down from my parents’ parents.

Where are you from?

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~~~

I was inspired to write this post by Alison at Writing, Wishing.  It’s a writing exercise based on a poem by George Ella Lyon.

 

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What I’m Into, September 2014

 

This month, I was into SHIPS!

This month, I was into SHIPS!

Goodbye September, hello “What I’m Into”!  I love reading everyone’s post in this link-up hosted by Leigh Kramer.

Reading…so much!  Between listening to audiobooks while I drive and staying up too late to read just one more chapter, I’ve read so many great books lately.  I know I’m late to the party, but I loved The Invention of Wings.  And JK Rowling’s second mystery in the Cormoran Strike series, The Silkworm, was even better than her first.  I could listen to Jim Dale read anything, but The Night Circus was a great story, too, although the end seemed a little unsatisfying.

Watching…I didn’t watch too much of anything in September, but I’m excited about the new fall shows!  Looking forward to old favorites Parenthood, The Mindy Project, Scandal, and Parks and Rec, and interested in checking out

Listening…to Spotify playlists while I work.  They have some good instrumental ones for when I really need to concentrate, but I have to admit I’ve been rocking out to Welcome to the 90s!  Takes me right back to my high school and college days.

Fitness-ing…I’ll talk more about this in my monthly goals update in a couple of days, but my motivation is still at a nearly all-time low.  I think if I had more than a handful of full night’s sleeps in the last 14 months, I might be more excited about getting up early to run.

Thankful for…the mile loops that’s recently been mowed around the perimeter of the church property where I live.  It’s been great for going on walks by myself and with the family.  The local cross-country team practices on it once a week, so they’re inspiring me to get out there for a run, too.

Planning…summer vacation for next year.  Yes, it’s a long time off still, but my parents want to do a trip with the whole extended family, so we’ve been having some epic group text conversations about locations, condos, and the logistics of traveling with 6 adults and 5 kids.  (Right now we’re thinking about a beach vacation near Gulf Shores, AL.)

Wearing…not too many fall clothes yet.  Each day starts out cool, foggy, and fall-like, but by after it’s nearly 80 degrees and jeans and boots just make me feel gross and sweaty.  So I’m sticking with summer clothes for just a little longer.

Traveling…to Baltimore!  I love traveling (especially sorrynotsorry traveling without kids.  Love them to death, but they’re creatures of routine and travel is like the anti-routine.)  I’ll be back to the East Coast next spring on a trip with my husband to the Q Conference.  Yippee!

Cooking…ALL PUMPKIN EVERYTHING.  (Check out these dried pumpkin chips from Gigi Eats Celebrities!)  Also, fall=chili season!  I love regular beef chili (with sour cream and crumbled up tortilla chips, please, hold the Fritos) but I think my absolute favorite chili these days is this Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili.  I’m taking it for my office Soup Day today, and I bought double of everything to make a freezer meal too.  (Dump all the ingredients in a freezer bag and freezer flat.  When you’re ready to cook, thaw overnight in the fridge then put in crockpot all day.)

Looking forward to…seeing my 4 year old play in his first soccer game.  I don’t think he’s clear on the point of the game, and just knows he’s not supposed to touch the ball with his hands, so it should be interesting.

Excited about…a Southwest Missouri blogger meet-up later this month, and hearing what’s coming next for Missouri Women Bloggers.

Have you ever been to Gulf Shores?  What do you do when your motivation is low?  What should I read next?

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