A 31 Day Series

Introducing a 31 day series. The topic?Simplify Series // 31 Days // BrownSugarToast.comBecause this topic has been on my mind a lot recently.
As evidenced by the great purge of ’14, my hoarding pictures, and my pursuit of an intentional closet.

Because I’m 100% sure our society screams against this.
As evidenced by the amazing advertisement industry.

Because I’m 100% sure you need this in your life too.
As evidenced by my awesome mind-reading skillz.

Join me. October 1. The Simplify Series.


an intentional closet

Since the great purge of ’14, I’ve been much more intentional about the ‘stuff’ I allow into our home. I even avoided the clearance endcaps at Target the other day. Now that’s dedication.

I’ve been greatly intrigued lately by the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I first read about it here, but the idea originated from Un-Fancy.

Basically, the idea is that you think through your wardrobe for a specific season, buy what you need to fill it out, and then don’t buy anything else for the rest of the season. Oh – did I mention you can only have 37 items?

You might think it sounds cuh-razy. And I did too at first. But the more I’ve thought about, the more it really appeals to me. You see, it goes along with being intentional about stuff. Instead of just buying a piece of clothing because “I like it!” or “it’s only 2 bucks!” I’d actually be buying something with forethought. Plus, if you’re like me, you probably have your favorite clothes that you wear over and over again instead of wearing everything in your closet. So, doing a capsule wardrobe would be like picking only your fave pieces to wear each season.

I haven’t committed to the whole capsule wardrobe idea for this fall. But I have been thinking through my closet. And last month, I went through everything in my closet and got rid of at least 20 things. (sidenote: the fact that I can get rid of 20 things in my closet and never miss them is…ridiculous.) Some of the clothes didn’t fit. Some were from high school. All of it got put in a ‘donate’ or ‘trash’ pile.

One thing I am trying to do is to go through my closet and think through pieces I would like to get. I can’t call these essentials. Because really, as long as you have clothes, you’ve got the essentials covered. Buuut, I’ll call these items that I would totally put on my Christmas list. Except for the fact that some of the items shown below are insanely expensive. So I plan to keep my eyes open for replicas. I’ll letcha know what happens with this great search.5 fall pieces.

1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 (not sure?)

A lot of neutrals, right? But these are some pieces that can be worn in so many different ways – especially 1, 2, & 5. The shoes aren’t totally my favorite, to be perfectly honest…but I really love having colorful shoes to add a little pop to my outfits. Actually, I’ve been looking for red flats for a while, so I would be pleased as punch to find some this season. And #4…I have been prowling around for a cute, warm, squishy hoodie for a couple years. This one is uber cute. But it’s also over $200. Let’s just make a pact here – you and me – even if I randomly receive a massive inheritance from a long-lost relative, I promise that I will never spend $230 on a hoodie.

Maybe $229.

kidding. obvs.

So, there you have it. I’m going to be making a list of holes in my closet and attempting to not buy anything unless it’s on the list. I’ll let you know if I find all these items for killer steals. Deal? I’m on my way to an intentional closet.

p.s. most of the ideas for these pieces were from my Style board on Pinterest. Follow me?

the funny thing about stuff

the funny thing about stuff. via BrownSugarToast.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff lately. Mostly due to my purging.

You know, there’s something funny about stuff. It seems to add goodness to our lives. But did you know that every time you add something, something else is subtracted?

Let’s start with the most obvious.

1. Every time you choose to bring stuff into your home, you subtract money. If I add this Ikea blanket into my home, I’ve just subtracted $20 from my wallet.
“Oh, but I got this at a yard sale and only paid $4 for it!” Fabulous! But you still subtracted $4.

2. Every time you choose to bring stuff into your home, you subtract energy. Because you’ve just committed to take care of that item for the duration of its residence. Use the blanket while you’re eating ice cream and get a big drip on it? You’ve just committed to taking care of that problem. However you choose to take care of it is up to you. But whatever method you choose (stain removal, trash the whole thing, gift it and hope nobody notices the stain, etc.) will require energy from you.

3. Every time you choose to bring stuff into your home, you subtract white space. Do you remember looking at the picture in this post and talking about how much we loved it? Do you know one of the big reasons you loved it? Because there was white space.

Every surface was not littered with knick-knacks. Or trash or books or anything. There was space to let your eyes rest. Each time we add something else to our homes, we’re choosing that stuff over space.

So, what’s my point?

Too often, I don’t think about subtraction when I do addition. I usually consider the $ subtraction. Because, obviously you have to think about that factor before you bring something home, right? But I usually don’t think about the subtraction of energy + white space.

I’m committing myself to think about everything – every. single. thing. - I bring into my home. Like, even the mail. Is it junk? Then don’t even let it through the door.

Clearly, I have an easier time with mail than with, say, Target’s clearance stash. Gah.

So, how are you at subtraction + addition with your stuff? Any subtractions I left out?
p.s. I’m opening comments for this post because I’d love to hear if you have any input on stuff!

pictures that could nominate me for hoarders.

Last week, I mentioned that I was purging my home of unnecessary items. AKA junk.

It ended up being a process that lasted pretty much the whole week. Part of that was due to my 3 sweet children. You know, they kinda wanted to eat and play during the great purge. Imagine that?! And my little Miles was extra fussy due to teething. Sad face. He’s mostly back to his happy self now, though, so that’s a blessing for the entire family!

Anyway, I snapped a few pictures with my phone before I started this whole cleaning/organizing project, so I thought it would be fun to show you the before/afters. What do you think? It’s always fun to look at someone else’s mess when you don’t have to get involved in it, right? I always tend to NOT take any before pictures, because I’m so embarrassed at how it looks and I don’t want anyone to ever know I let my house look like that. Whatever. We all have our messes, right? Besides, I have proof that I cleaned it up. So you can’t actually nominate me for any hoarding show. Unless there’s money involved, in which case I may consider messing it up again. #kidding #partially

Here’s the biggest area that got my wheels turning:


And if you take a closer look, you’ll see this

mattress junkdon’t worry, those diapers are clean.

and this:

crazy junk

This is in our family room/laundry room/craft room area. There are a bajillion windows + a fireplace in this room. The windows are rather old {ie. drafty}, so when it’s cold outside, it’s cold in this room. And vice versa. Thankfully, there’s a large glass door that separates this room from the rest of our home, so we usually keep it closed to keep out the drafts.

Anyway, we have jokingly referred to this area as our garage. Because we need some place to keep our bikes, strollers, etc.

However…this brings me to another problem area:


This is a long closet right by our dining room. Long & skinny, it’s the perfect place to stow…well, just about everything as you can see from the dark-ish picture above.

I started wondering if the bikes would fit in that long closet one morning and decided to just find out. Of course, in the process of pulling everything out, I discovered a lot of junk which led to purging which led to organizing…and basically I created my own rendition of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. 

But after a good deal of donations, trash, and sweat, I was able to fit the bikes & trailer in our long closet!

long closet

Above the bikes, we have our Christmas tree, camping stuff, and other random accessories such as a cupcake stand, wet/dry vacuum, fall decor, etc.

This leaves me with this view in our family room area:

new and improved area

Much better, right?! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with this de-junkified space.

I came across that pink/white fabric and 2 pillow inserts while cleaning out my closets and craft area. {if you follow me on instagram, you already got a sneak peek at it!} So I decided to make some pillow covers. Of course, that all sounds like it was just a quick and easy venture. But considering I haven’t used my sewing machine for many months, I had to fight it out with my machine first. But after a bit of oiling and dusting, we called a truce and he decided to cooperate with my lack of sewing skillz. I used the same envelope pillow cover tutorial I used for these pillows.

And if you look closer, you’ll see this:

tool area

That is our new tool + paint area. Plus umbrella stroller + wood. I mean, so it wouldn’t be featured in a magazine. But, you know, it looks better than before. ;)

And for now, I’m storing these items behind the couch. Most of it is going on craigslist, so I’m hoping it will be gone in the next week or so.

behind couch

 Let’s have one last look at that main before and after, shall we?

before and after purging

Yippee! I tell ya, it’s like a breath of fresh air to go out there and not be assaulted with a view of so much stuff.

For now, I’m going to try not to fill up my newfound space with things. Like that Ikea blanket I told you about. Let’s see how long that lasts…


2014 has been a time of purging.

And I don’t mean anything to do with food or drinks.

I feel like all year has been filled with spurts of organizing and getting rid of things. Redefining my goals for things and possessions. Trashing, donating, moving, etc.

and it feels so good.

This morning, my guy and I had a little texting convo that went like this:


He’s a winner. And the house did/does still look like some wreckage has passed through.

I came across this picture {via this site} and loved it for many reasons.

lovely and clean

But you know the biggest one?

It’s clean. There are no piles of junk sitting in the corner, under the sofa, etc.

Now, I realize the fact that I have 3 kids is going to make my house look quite a bit different. And I’m totally cool with that. My intent is not to make it look like no kids live in my home – so the fact that there are toys out is awesome. (unless it’s a block with sharp edges and it comes in contact with my foot. then it’s not so awesome.)

The fact that I have stuff sitting in my home that I haven’t used in over a year and probably won’t for another 5? totally not awesome. So I’m working on it. And it’s quite freeing, believe it or not. I actually vacuumed under my bed this morning. Hello. Who does that? Clearly I don’t.

So, are any of you in a great purging mood? Let’s have a yard sale together.
No, let’s not. Too much work. 

Let’s celebrate instead by going out and buying more stuff to fill up all our new empty space.

“Let all things be done decently & in order.”
1 Corinthians 14:40

take it to Jesus.


when life piles up on you.

when the pressures seem to multiply.

there’s an answer for that.


God doesn’t give us overwhelming situations so that we will be overwhelmed, but so that we’ll give them to Him.

Recently, there have been a lot of areas in my life where I feel burdened and overwhelmed:
several friends rejecting Jesus and pursuing sin.
a sweet Pastor dying suddenly of a heart attack.
my close friend having a miscarriage.
coming off a full summer.
my husband beginning work on his doctoral degree.

In all these things, the lesson God keeps teaching me is this:
God wants these pressures to take me closer to Him. Closer.

Got problems? Pressures? Overwhelmed?
Take it to Jesus. Just keep running to Him.


Women of the Word :: book review + giveaway

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I was pretty stoked to read it.

Women of the Word :: book review + giveaway

Although I’ve been reading & studying the Bible for years, I have never read a book about how to study the Bible. So I dove right into this book with an open heart.


The first 2 chapters deal with common misconceptions of Bible study as well as why women should be interested in honing these skills. The next 5 chapters go through the 5 “P’s” of Bible study. Wilkin advises to study with:

  • Purpose

“From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God.”

“Studying the Bible with purpose means keeping its overarching message in view at all times.”

  • Perspective

Wilkin warns that you may feel as though you’re back in English class during this chapter on studying with perspective. And with good reason. She offers 5 helpful questions to ask while reading the Word to gain perspective on both cultural and historical contexts.

“Knowing the purpose for which a text was written guards us from reading it solely for our own purposes.” [chapter 4]

  • Patience

Sometimes, people can come to the Bible looking for something to encourage them in their day ahead. Instead Wilkin offers this advice: “Rather than reading a specific text to try to meet an immediate need, give the benefits of your study permission to be stored away for future use.” [chapter 5]

  • Process

This chapter is all about Wilkin’s process for studying the Bible, including what materials she uses and the questions she forces herself to answer from the text. She walks you through 3 stages of understanding: Comprehension, Interpretation, & Application.

  • Prayer

“Prayer is what changes our study from the pursuit of knowledge to the pursuit of God himself.”

“let prayerfulness imbue your study from start to finish.” [chapter 7]

The final chapters are entitled Pulling It All Together [chapter 8] & Help for Teachers [chapter 9] and offer final tips for both the student & teacher of the Bible.

Personal Analysis

Women of the Word very directly challenged my methods of Bible study. I’ve never been one to just flip open my Bible to a random passage and claim that as my divine message for the day. So I guess I thought since I already thoughtfully and systematically read through portions of Scripture, I didn’t have much to learn. I guess I was wrong. ;)

Actually, this book has been so helpful to my understanding of Bible study that I’ve been referring to it each morning during my personal devotions. I’m working through the book of Ephesians and attempting to study with the “5 P’s.”

I have already recommended this book to several of my friends, so of course I recommend it to you as well. This is an excellent resource both for individuals and groups. In fact, I think this would be a great book to go through with a friend and then study the same book of the Bible together. Grow closer together while you draw near to God. Just a thought.

I leave you with one of my favorite sections from the ‘Conclusion’ of this book:

“Our study of the Bible is only beneficial insofar as it increases our love for the God it proclaims. Bible study is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a means to love God more, and to live differently because we have learned to behold him better. And it is a means to become what we behold. The reciprocal love of God is a love that transforms.”

I contacted Crossway to see if they would be willing to give away 2 copies of Women of the Word and they said yes! Just enter below – 2 winners will each receive 1 copy of this book. I trust it will be a resource that will serve to advance your understanding of the Bible & draw your heart closer to Jesus!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


aaaaaaand we’re back!

The past 3 weeks have been full! I mentioned a little bit of our activity here, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I wanted to give you a little re-cap of our missions trip to Brazil. Most of it will just be in picture format. Our main goals were to help the missionary family we were working with by assisting with VBS, a youth rally, tiling in several church rooms, and other outreach activities like English classes & canvassing.

Naturally, I didn’t take pictures of every activity. But I chose several that I thought you would enjoy and would give you a little taste of what happened over the past couple weeks. I’ll give a little recap at the end in case you wonder what in the world is going on in these pics:
brazil recap

1. chillin’ in the Charlotte airport, just waiting for our flights…
2. the chillin’ got boring for some people, so they proceeded to do pushups. I was totally content to be bored.
3. we made it! this was a sign in the Brazil airport that I just thought was too cool to pass up.
4. this sweet family had us in their home for dinner. the food = amazing. I was a little nervous about it, because I was planning to eat whatever they served. there was no need for nervousness. everything was delicious & there were no adverse effects. in case you were wondering. ahem.
5. this guy. love him. and hats are awesome too. especially when you’re shoveling sand + dirt and you look like a hot mess.
6 -7. these kids were just about the ages of my kids. and so I hung out with them a lot. I took videos of them being silly and Anna Grace loves watching them!
8. snack time at VBS. this little guy’s smile and laugh were so contagious!
9. I looked over during the youth rally and saw Jonathan protecting this little girl from the big ball. I mean…I just had to take a pic. #whataguy
10. some friends I met during the youth rally. they taught me Portuguese & I taught them English. thankfully, they knew way more English than I knew Portuguese, so we were able to communicate pretty well.
11. Big Ball at the youth rally! they loved it!
12. the flight home. AKA discarded food trays & a fun movie.
13. first sighting of my beautiful Charlotte.
14. okay, this was clearly the best part about coming home. these 3 precious kids stylin’ in their Brazil shirts while Daddy reads them a story.

Overall, the trip went well and we’re thankful for the many times we saw God answer our prayers. He gave much grace and we are so grateful!