Apr 30, 2012

Caroline: A Southern Summer

Today, I have asked sweet Caroline (ha!) to share with us. She lives in Fort Worth, so basically I am the most jealous person ever and want to fly to Texas right now and add her to my already amazing group of friends there. If you go to Trinity Chapel, you might run into cute Caroline and her hubs there on a Sunday.

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Hi Arizona Russums readers! So happy to be here today! My name is Caroline and I write over at Sew Caroline about crafts, DIYs, fashion, life as a newlywed, and being totally unorganized in life!

Jen asked me to post on Summer Goals.. and let me tell you, I have them!

Although I don't really have a "summer break" it seems that I haven't been out of school long enough to really break from the habit of semester, Christmas, semester, summer, etc. Its just a rhythm I've been in since childhood that's just easy to be a part of.

That being said, although I won't have time off this summer.. its still SUMMER, PEOPLE! EXCITING!

This summer I really want to accomplish some things.

1. Organization.
Every time I write a post like this (ie: goals...) I write about how I want to be more organized. Let's just say this one is a work in progress. My brain isn't organized and I have to really focus to stay on top of things. I want my house to be organized, my laundry to be on schedule, meals to be planned... I am working on it, y'all. Promise.

Source: apurposedrivenhome.com via caroline on Pinterest

2. Staying fit. 
I want to stay on top of my workout//running//biking schedule this summer. My husband definitely helps me out on this one. Its something that is important to me, but definitely takes the back-burner when other things arise.

3. Emails.
This sorta kinda goes along with organization... but I seriously want to be more on top of responding to emails, blog comments, questions, etc. I hate it when it takes someone a year to respond to me, but HELLO, I, unfortunately, do it too.

Source: Uploaded by user via petSIM on Pinterest

4. Hike a mountain.
Yep. I said it. David and I are headed back to Colorado this summer and Lord-willing I will actually climb a mountain. Last year, my lungs could. not. make it. This summer I plan to be more fit and ready to conquer Everest! (ok, ok, not Everest...)

Do you have any crazy summer goals?

Thanks for reading!
Come visit me sometime on my blog or chat with me on twitter! I'd love to meet you :)

Apr 29, 2012

Heather: Summer in a New Abode

Wanna know what I'm doing? Writing papers... not blog posts. I would like to be writing blog posts, but that's not how my life works at the end of the semester. While I'm writing (and then grading) and anxiously awaiting the start of my summer vacation, I've asked some darling girls to guest post this week about their summer goals. First off, we have the darling Heather of Brown Eyed Bell(e). Read her fun list below, then pop over to her blog to say HI!

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When Jen contacted me to do a guest post on Summer Goals I got a little giddy. I mean, come on, who doesn't get excited thinking about summer being right around the corner? Though in Florida, it's technically already here. We get "hot" and "hotter" for our seasons :) I am here today to share some of MY summer goals (i.e. over the next few months) with YOU.

This summer I am looking forward to:

♥ My husband learning how to use our new grill and getting much use of our pool/patio area. We just moved into our 1st home in February so this is our 1st summer living here. I can't wait to make beautiful memories.

                                                                        Source: hwtm.com via India Rose on Pinterest

♥ A visit from my sister. She is supposed to come visit me for a week in August. This is an amazing blessing because my sister and I were not raised together. She was adopted and we did not even meet each other until we were in our early twenties. We have only met a handful of times in person as we live in different states. We communicate daily via texting and have an extremely close bond. I can't wait to have her with me for a whole week. We will be cooking up a storm! She's ready to teach her little sis everything she knows! I think we need more than a week!


♥ Speaking of cooking, I am so looking forward to trying some new recipes via pinterest this summer.

                                                                Source: abeautifulmess.typepad.com via Heather on Pinterest

                                                                      Source: dipitinchocolate.blogspot.com via Heather on Pinterest

♥ MAYspiration: During the month of May I am looking to inspire and motivate change. If we want to see change in the world, we have to BE the change. I have various guest posters lined up throughout the month and I can't wait to share inspiring and motivating things with you. Maybe you will even learn about a cause you'd never heard of before. It is sure to be an exciting month and I hope you will swing by to say hello, and maybe even link up at the end of the month. I'd love to hear what YOU are doing.


♥ Gardening. I don't have a green thumb, that I know, BUT, I want to attempt gardening. I think I've missed the prime time for planting fruits and veggies but I am going to into it.

                                                                          Source: Uploaded by user via Kelly on Pinterest

♥ A possible trip to Savannah, Georgia. A good friend of mine just moved there last week and I am really hoping to head that way for a weekend visit this summer.

                                                                 Source: media-cache3.pinterest.com via Emile on Pinterest

♥ Annual Anna Maria Island trip with my girlfriends. Every August my closest girlfriends and I venture out for an all girls getaway to AMI. My mother passed in August 2001 and it's always been a hard month for me. Now, instead of dreading the month, I look forward to it every year as I know I have beach time with the girls. Thanks to them, August is much brighter for me.

Those are a few of the things I am looking forward to this summer. What about you? Any summer plans?
Thanks again Jen for having me here today!

Apr 26, 2012

Flowers Fade Friday: Family

I have been feeling blessed by my family lately. I’m not a live down the block, family dinner every weekend, call my mom every day type of person. I’ve always been way too independent for that type of thing. But I do have an amazing family and I feel overwhelming blessed by my relationships with them.

Not only do I have a best friend/sister, an awesome little brother and loving parents who are about to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary, but I also have the treat of living by my aunt, uncle and cousins now that we’ve moved to Arizona. We don’t get to see them all the time, but we usually spend holidays with them along with a few other visits throughout the year. This fall I am planning to do a triathlon with my cousin, Leah. She is a pro. I have never done one. Pray for me…

My family...

All the cousins on my dad's side together for this first time in years this past Christmas...

And Micah’s family is an added bonus to being married. Micah’s sister, Kayla, lives with us and we love it. We want her to live with us forever! And although I’ve heard plenty of mother-in-law horror stories, mine is the greatest. We get along well and she inspires me constantly with her faith and wisdom. Micah also has a rockin’ little sis and a little brother who is getting married to one of my favorite girls in the whole world this summer, so add another amazing sister to the list! So excited to celebrate their wedding in Washington this August!

Can't wait for these two to get married!

Headed to Stomp with MIL and SIL...

Then Micah has cousins upon cousins, many of whom have become close friends. I became blog friends with some of his girl cousins in the Midwest before I even met them in person last Thanksgiving. And Micah’s best friend/cousin, Josh, happened to marry a darling English teacher named Brittney and I love her with all my heart.

One of our favorite couples to hang out with...

This is not to brag that my family is so great… They are great, but we have our ups and downs like any other family. I have lots of relatives that I hardly see and cousins I wish I knew better. I should call my little brother more often and I could be sweeter to my mother from time to time.

But, overall, both Micah and I are abundantly blessed by families that love us, pray for us {his grandparents pray for every grandchild by name every day}, encourage us… and are just plain fun to be around… Thank you, Jesus.

But maybe your family isn’t so great. Maybe your heritage is fraught with fighting, divorce, and brokenness. I don’t want to tell that it’s okay. It’s not okay. You have probably experienced hurt, betrayal, and hopelessness that I will never understand. And that's wrong.

But I am here to tell you that there is another family for you… far better than your earthly family, even if your family is pretty great.

If you are in Christ, you are a part of a spiritual family. The family of God. One of my favorite Bible verses is this…

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 
Romans 8:28-29

No matter how great my family is, there are times when I feel downcast and hurt by people or circumstances around me. It is in these moments that I remember that Jesus is my big brother. As the oldest child, I’ve never experienced what it’s like to have a big brother who loves me, protects me, believes in me, encourages me, and advocates on my behalf. I like to imagine what that would be like, because I know that is exactly what Jesus does for me at the right hand of God in heaven. And someday, he’s coming back for me… like a big brother who protects his little sister from her enemies or rescues her from trouble on the playground… I’m not trying to sound cheesy, but I know that there is a special bond between an older brother and his little sister, and it’s one I delight in picturing with Christ.

So whether your family is horrible, broken, amazing, distant, abusive, uplifting, suffocating... there is another family waiting for you if you are in Christ. Maybe it includes your own earthly family, but it is so much bigger than that. Jesus is your brother and God is your Father and there are countless others who do "the will of God" and will be your joyful, loving family for eternity. Rejoice in that, sister.

Linking up to Call Me Blessed.

Apr 25, 2012

On Nordstrom and #hashtags and things...

I am officially declaring this week Instagram week here on the blog. No, it's not an official series. There's no button. There's no linky party or anything... but almost every post this week has revolved around Phoebe and the pictures she takes for me. I love that girl.

I'll try not to make my Flowers Fade post tomorrow about Instagram. That's a stretch.

Okay, tangent over. The point is... I am always a dunce when it comes to hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. #YOLO took me a couple minutes to figure out. I had to ask my friends what #NBD meant. And I'm still convinced #fb means something in addition to Facebook. Flashback? Someone help me out here and tell me if #fb has another meaning.

#OOTD is another one that had me stumped for a minute. It was like solving a puzzle in my mind... "Okay, this cute girl keeps posting a picture of her adorable outfit every morning and the hashtag is #ootd. Think about it... think about it." And then I figured it out... Outfit of the Day. {Confession. I just looked it up as I was writing this to make sure I was right. I'm still a bit insecure about my hashtag vocabulary...)

Banana Factory tank // Buffalo by David Bitton shorts // Target sandals // 
Banana Factory bracelet // DKNY watch

And can I just say I love #OOTD pictures? I have a friend from college who just opened a boutique in New Orleans {which I can't wait to visit when I finally go to NOLA someday... travel bucket list}, and she takes a fun outfit picture every morning which she shares on Instagram. This makes sense. It's her job, literally, to be fashionable and to share fashion with other people. But I have no reason. I don't own a boutique. I'm not a fashion blogger. I am no one. But then I think about how strongly I considered working at Nordstrom for a career after I graduated from college {this was my post-graduation-do-this-until-you-figure-out-what-you-want-to-do-with-your-life job} and I get it. I love fashion, even if I did eventually decided to pursue teaching and grad school over walking around Nordstrom in my high heels for eight hours a day...

UO dress // Poetic License sandals // Sunshine Blossoms Dahlia Necklace

So even though I don't have a legit fashionista reason to share this... here are some of my #OOTD pics from this past week.... from a teacher that misses Nordstrom every now and then...

Pink Rose dress // Charlotte Russe boots // Nordstrom necklace // F21 belt // DKNY watch

P.S. While writing this, I decided it would be awesome if someone started a website to decipher hashtags... like an online hashtag dictionary. I was ready to invent it {with serious assistance, of course} and become a millionaire. And then I found out it already exists. You can find it here if you are a hashtag dunce like me...

Banana Republic dress // Banana Republic cigarette pants // Madden Girl heels // 
Nordstrom BP belt // Nordstrom necklace // DKNY watch

{If you want to follow along on Instagam, my name is @jenrussum}

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy, The Letter 4, and Five Day, Five Ways.

Apr 24, 2012

Cardigan Season...

Apparently, it’s cardigan season. For those of you who live in colder climates than I do {AKA anywhere else in the United States} I think this is the season where you joyfully throw aside your winter garb, bust out your sandals and rejoice in 70 degree weather before summer hits. But because it’s spring… and still breezy or stormy or chilly on occasion, cardigans are a key piece in your wardrobe during these transition months, so you can wear short sleeves but throw a cardigan on when the wind picks up or the sun goes down.

At least I think that’s how it goes…

But I wouldn’t know anything about that.

Top: GAP Outlet // Cardigan: Banana Republic Factory Store // Jeans: Levis // Boots: Banana Republic
Bracelet: Banana Factory // Necklace: F21

Here it is also cardigan season, but for a different reason. We celebrated our first 100 degree day this weekend… and I finally had to break down and turn on our AC a couple weeks ago when it was 86 degrees in our house… at night.

So now I wear cardigans… not for the breezy spring days… but for the arctic AC temps inside restaurants, stores, and schools.

Top: Anthropologie // Cardigan: Fossil // Jeans: Banana Republic Factory Store // 
Shoes: Nine West // Necklace: F21

Plus, I still have to dress professionally for school for a few more weeks. Even though we have officially moved into shorts and tanks weather… that won’t cut it for the classroom.

So cardigans it is for now… until I live in my bikini in my backyard all summer long.

Top: GAP Outlet // Cardigan: Banana Republic // Cropped Pants: Banana Republic //
Shoes: Nine West // Necklace: Francesca's

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy, The Letter 4, and 5 Days, 5 Ways

Apr 23, 2012

About an iPhone.

I have an iPhone. Her name is Phoebe. I love her with all my heart. You can read about my obsession here and if you really want to laugh you should probably read this.


Everyday with Phoebe brings something new. Some new feature to explore. Some new app to download. Phoebe makes my somewhat mundane life as a grad student a bit more spicy.

Thank you, Phoebe.

Recently, I have been playing around with lots of new photography apps. So many, in fact, that I now have a folder on my phone to hold them all. Except for Instagram, of course. Faithful Insta is found at the top left hand corner of my screen always.

I know that photography is supposed to be all about natural light and minimal editing and all that jazz. I get it. When I shoot with my Rebel, I try to find the best lighting possible and use my frame well and so on. But when I have my iPhone in my hand I am going to edit and filter and crop my pictures to no end. Because I can. And because I wouldn't feel I am using Phoebe to her full potential if I didn't.

So here are some of my favorite apps... and some of my recent photos I've edited with them.

Instagram... obviously. Everything goes through Insta for its final edit.
Camera Awesome for new filters and textures. You have to pay for some of the features, but its basic features are pretty...well...awesome.
Phonto for adding fun text to photos.
Labelbox... another way to add text to photos.
Diptic to make collages.
PostalPix to print Instagram pictures {I just placed my first order, and I'm obsessed with the result!}

The best thing is that all of these apps were free except for Diptic. The only reason I paid for Diptic is because I had heard good things about it, but there are plenty of free collage apps that I'm sure work just as well. Pic Stitch, Pic Collage and Frametastic are all free and have good ratings.

So, friends, tell me... what are your favorite photography apps? 
Is there anything else I need to add to my photography folder?

{If you want to follow along on Instagam, my name is @jenrussum.}

P.S. It's the last day of class for the semester! 
Can I get a hoorah for summer vacation just around the corner?

Apr 22, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

Every semester I tell myself that I will go into hiding the last month of the term. No parties. No social outings. No visitors. So I can get all my presentations prepped, papers written, and students' papers graded in peace. At a non-frantic pace.

And you know what?

It never happens.

If anything, we have more visitors and traveling and craziness during the final month of each semester. I don't know why it happens; it just does! And I love it. Last year, I was sitting at a beautiful breakfast with my best friend on the day my last paper was due. After she left for the airport around noon, I desperately finished it before the 5pm deadline. Fun? Yes. Frantic? That too.

My office mates told me they get all their papers done two or three days in advance. I admire them...

But my life just doesn't work that way. My life works like this...

Had to make the transition to Timeline... Facebook doesn't respect my attempt to be studious.

This is Malachi. My first laptop, purchased in 2005. This year he died completely, and I threw him in the trash can the other day when I got sick of looking at him in my closet. RIP Malachi.

Jaunt to Vegas for Micah's birthday.

With friends in tow!

The kitchen bulletin board needed an update... obviously.

Break for ice cream.

The closet needed to be cleaned out. My favorite activity of all time.

Shopping. Old Navy has some legit deals right now.

Sister came for her spring break. My spring break doesn't match up with anyone else's, so basically I celebrate spring break at least three times each year with various visitors. It's a win/lose for me. Super fun, but not very productive.

Another ice cream break. Micah thinks I have a problem...

Another quick trip to Vegas. Yes, we had to climb the gate at Grandma's house to go on a Starbucks run...

That sister. Can't get enough of her...

When sister comes, a shopping break is a necessity. I tried on 38 items at Nordstrom Rack. 
Don't worry. I only bought one. 

Oh, and I threw a baby shower...

Then I had to relax after said baby shower...

Then I had to attempt to fit back into my pants after a month of way too much traveling and parties and fun...

And, now, it's time to study...

{If you want to follow along on Instagam, my name is @jenrussum}.

*Linking up with Finding Beauty and Bits of Splendor.*

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