Saturday, March 30, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a fantasy and sci-fi fan, through and through. I spent a year in high school reading through first, The Hobbit, and then lugging around a humongous paper back copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I own all three of the 5 disc extended edition versions of the movies as well. I even loosely based the theme of my wedding on LOTR (Celtic music for the reception, the bridesmaids carried lanterns, the colors, I was going for the feel of Lothlorien, one of the places where the Elves live). Check out my dress and bouquet (and my handsome Dad!):
So, needless to say, when I heard Peter Jackson was making The Hobbit, I was pretty excited. And it was worth the wait! 

For starters, there was so much to love about this movie. The visuals were absolutely stunning and tie-ins from the first movies were rewarding for the fans. The book was quoted often which is something that I really like in book to screen adaptations. The characters were engaging and many of the scenes were just downright epic. I think my favorite scene (and the part my husband thought was stupid) was when the Dwarves started singing in Bilbo's Hobbit hole. You can almost feel their pain as they drum out their somber tune and it helps you to emotionally connect with their story. I also enjoy how Bilbo was allowed to slowly progress in his acts of courage and how the group and its leader ultimately come to respect him. Also, the movie is void of sexual content, language or crudeness.

There are some things about this movie that not everyone would like, however. It is very violent. Heads get chopped off, people get stabbed and there are a lot of nasty creatures. If you have seen any of the original movies, expect more of the same, (not suitable for young children). If you have not seen the original movies and know very little about the story, you may not get everything unless you really pay attention. In my opinion, this one was made for the fans. Also, I'm glad I was for-warned that they are making a trilogy and not just one movie or I would have been really disappointed by the ending. That being said, by breaking it up they are able to keep many of the wonderful details that they otherwise might have had to cut out. Lastly, the movie was a lot more Dwarve-contered that the book. The book was really all about Bilbo, whereas the movie lets the Dwarve's story take center stage. This is not an altogether unwelcome change either, however, as The Hobbit was written for children and the movie was made for adults.

My favorite quote from the movie was spoken by Gandlaf:

"Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. 
I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. 
Small acts of kindness and love." 

This is a story of good vs. evil and in the end, good wins! I can't wait for them to make the rest of it. J. R. R. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors and I love seeing his works come to life. LOTR marathon anyone?

To get a more in-depth review check out Plugged In, a media review site by Focus on the Family.

What did you think the first installment of The Hobbit? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Heart of Modesty

Ever since doing this post, 5 Questions to Help you get Dressed, I have wanted to expound a little more on the issue of modesty. Growing up, I was raised with standards of modesty, but, to be honest, until I got married, I never really completely understood the "whys" behind the rules. Some of the books that we read for our pre-marital counseling helped shed some light on the issue for me as well as talking with my husband. It wasn't that I was stupid before that, just naive about a lot of things. I think there are a lot of young women out there who are just like I was and just don't realize the effect that their clothes can have. If they did, I think they would look at the issue differently. In the rest of this post are some things that I would like to share with you that I have learned about modesty.

First of all, no matter your size or shape, people DO notice you! One of my biggest excuses when I was younger was that I was overweight, and therefore, no guys ever looked at me "that way". First off, I was a little skewed in my body image. I may have weighed more that I wanted too then, but I would love to be that weight again now! Second, if your clothes are too tight, or show too much skin, it DOES NOT MATTER how big or small you are, people, especially men, are going to notice. Nobody can use the fact that they think they are too fat or too skinny as an excuse.

Second, you are just as responsible for a man lusting after you as he is if you dress in an immodest way, even if you do it in ignorance. The Bible calls it "defrauding our brother" and it means that if we dress in a way that encourages men to look at us in a way they shouldn't, then we are sinning as well. Now please, hear what I am NOT saying. I am NOT saying that men are not responsible for their own thoughts and actions. It is just as wrong for them to look as it is for a woman to invite them to. I AM saying that the responsibility belongs to both parties. An exception to this would be all the perverts in the world. If you are dressing and acting in a modest and respectful manner and a man still lusts after you, that is his problem, not yours.

Finally, and most importantly, modesty begins in your heart. It is something that should not just govern what you wear, but how you act and speak, and even think as well. The idea behind modesty is that there are things that should be kept for marriage alone, and a person (man or woman) who realizes this, will do their very best to guard those treasures to be enjoyed as God intended. When I stopped associating standards for modesty with "rules made up by men to take the fun out of life" and started seeing living in modesty as a way to protect my marriage and honor God, it was then that I was able to fully embrace it. I started dressing a certain way, not because someone else thought it was right, but because I knew it was what God wanted me to do! It was His plan and best for my life.

There are a lot of things in this life, and I believe this is one of them, that when we die we will look back on and wish we had done better at. We will realize that what we thought was so important, really wasn't. Sure, I understand that finding modest clothes on the racks of stores today can be a challenge. I'm right there with you. I still want to look cute and put together and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But, I found that when I embraced modesty, finding cute and modest stuff (or fixing it so that it worked) became a whole lot easier. If you find yourself struggling with this issue at some point in your life, just do a little soul searching and talk to God about it. I think you will find that if you give this to God, knowing that you are pleasing Him will make you a whole lot happier than what you give up ever did.

A great style blog to check out by a woman that does a fabulous job at both dressing modestly and beautifully is KRISTINA J. She has some great tutorials and outfit posts and is even coming out with a book soon.

I would love to hear your thoughts about modesty in the comments!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Style: Bring on Spring!

Today's outfit post was inspired by J's Everyday Fashion. She is a fashion blogger that I enjoy following because of her playful use of colors and budget sense. Many of her outfits are re-interpretations of things that are popular right now with pieces from her own closet. I, in turn, have copied her with pieces from my own closet!
Although there is still snow on the ground outside the window where I am, this is the last outfit picture that I have on hand until I take some new preggo ones. I thought it was fitting since it technically is Spring and I would much prefer to be wearing stuff like this instead of my tights and coat! Also, I don't think I would ever has considered half tucking my shirt in until I started following J, but it actually works. Usually, I'm worried about everything being smooth at my waistline but this breaks it up nicely.
Tee - JCP
Tank - Aeropostale
Skirt - Old Navy
Belt - Vanity
Sandals - Payless
Necklace - Rue 21

Warm temps! Oh how I miss thee! What is your favorite thing to wear in the Spring?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fabric Flower Necklace

You need:
Needle and Thread
Hot Glue Gun
Beads, Gems or Buttons for center (optional)

I have had this tutorial in my stash since before Christmas, as I intended it as a possible gift, but I never got around to making more than the first one. I saw the above Pin on Pinterest and fell in love. I knew that it would be a very simple DIY with endless possibilities for customization. Finding out that it was from Anthropologie was just icing on the cake! To start, I made several flowers, two in each size using these directions. I ended having to make two extra because my original 5 were too big. I would go smaller than you think at first, as you can always go bigger. Then I arranged them on the corner of a piece of felt and glued them down.

 Next, I trimmed the excess felt off. Then I glued on some ribbon to the corners and topped it with a small square of felt for extra security. Play around with the angle of your ribbon before gluing it down so you know it will lay right.
Done! I didn't have a good outfit to model it with at the time, but once I am home, I think this will be an adorable accessory for summer! Also, if your ribbon is long enough then you can raise or lower it to look right with your neckline.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tips on Maternity Clothes

Building a maternity wardrobe is a bit of a challenge. Is buying a whole new wardrobe really worth it for just a few months? What if what you buy the first time is for the wrong season the next time around? What if it's out of style by the time you get pregnant again? These are all questions to consider when deciding what to buy for your pregnancy. I want to share some things that I learned the first time around and what I will be doing differently this time.
1. Shop your own closet first!
This is me at 40 weeks and nothing I am wearing is maternity. The cropped cardi is just a regular one. I wore those a lot once my belly was bigger and regular ones looked funny. The tank was a plus sized one that I wore before becoming pregnant because it had a higher neck line. The skirt was one that was once a dress. I wore this outfit through my entire pregnancy along with several other pieces, like elastic waisted skirts, from my own closet. This won't work for everyone (especially if your wardrobe is full of more tailored pieces) but I had a pretty "flowy style", as my friends would say, to begin with!
2. Buy some inexpensive transition pieces.
I bought this green shirt from Wal-mart for about $10 pretty early on in my pregnancy and was able to wear it for quite a while. Skirts and tops in the next size up will help get you through those early days when your normal stuff starts to look and feel too snug. I have found that, in the beginning, anything that feels tight on my belly at all just brings the nasuea on, so looser fitting stuff is a must. The good news is that you may be able to wear some of these pieces after you give birth until you can get back into your old clothes.
3. Borrow clothes if possible.
I was given the opportunity to borrow many of my maternity clothes. I wore the above skirt at least twice a week and the striped shirt I wore pretty often for lounging around. These clothes were mine to use but had to go back once the baby was born. Right now, my best friend, who is several months ahead of me, has a few of my maternity pieces that I'm not ready for yet. It's a great way for everyone to get more wear out of their maternity stuff.

4. Shop secondhand.
This option takes a little time but can really save you some money. At Goodwill, I have found maternity tops and walking shorts, and even an Old Navy maternity jean skirt! You can't beat the prices there at around $4 each, but you have to take the time to look through the racks as they often don't have a designated maternity section. Alternatively, Craigslist almost always has listings where you can buy a "lot" of several pieces for one set price, usually all in the same or similar sizes. I have a friend who bought one of these lots, picked out what she liked, and plans to resell the rest. This option also takes times as you have to browse the listings and typically drive to wherever the seller wants to meet. I like to filter the findings so that only posts with images come up in my search. It's much easier to make a decision about pursuing an item if you can see it first.

5. Skip the boutiques and shop discount stores. 
I never could bring myself to drop $50 on a maternity dress. I just couldn't do it. Instead, I have found maternity clothes at places like Target, Ross, and Bealls Outlet. This time around I am very excited that Old Navy has brought back their maternity line (Praise the Lord!) and I even found a maternity section on the Wal-mart website. Also, check out the plus sections of discount stores for tank tops and undershirts.
6. Don't buy the investment stuff too early.
I'm talking about bras and any nice maternity stuff that you might want to splurge on. Most women move up a bra size early on, but that's usually not the best time to buy nursing bras. I bought a few bras to get me by but waited to get the nicer ones until I was a little more settled into the nursing routine. Then my friend, an experienced breast feeder, help me realized something that revolutionized my thinking on this subject: you don't actually need nursing bras! After I had the hang of nursing I tried it in my regular bras and it was no problem. Typically, nursing bras aren't very supportive so getting back into my normal ones made a big difference for me! This time around I might just get a few new sleep nursing bras as they are helpful when you're trying to feed your baby while half asleep. Also, many women like to buy something special to wear for their maternity pictures or their baby shower. I didn't buy the above shirt for either of those occasions but I loved it so much that I ended up wearing it for both! I would wait until pretty close to those occasions to buy something, however, so that you can ensure a good fit.
7. Don't be surprised if you don't want to even look at your maternity clothes after you baby is born.
My daughter was a week old when we had her newborn pictures taken and by then, I already did not want to have anything to do with the clothes I had just spent the several months in, especially if the label said "maternity"! To me, a lot of the clothes that are out now that double as both maternity and nursing wear are tempting, but I know myself better than to buy them because I know I won't want to wear them once the baby comes. I was able to get back into a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes pretty quickly (I lost all of the 25 lbs that I had gained in 2 weeks), but things did not fit the same! This is when some of those non-maternity transition pieces from early on might come in handy again.
I hope these tips will help you as you start to build your wardrobe. Every Mama (and pregnancy) is different and what is important to me may not matter to you and vice versa. With that in mind, I would love to hear your thoughts and additions in the comments!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Style: Fun with Orange

I have not felt like taking pictures much lately, nor have my outfits been very interesting either (more on that later, perhaps). I am not in the cute baby bump stage yet, not even close! With my daughter I could easily have hid my pregnancy up until at least 6 months and really didn't start to show significantly until around 7 months, and I'm wondering if this kid will be the same. So, I decided to pull out some old outfit photos that I never got around to posting, both featuring orange. I love this color! It's so fun and vibrant (I'm actually wearing it right now)! If you're afraid to wear brighter colors, like orange, try introducing them in small doses, like a tank or necklace at first, until you get used to them.

Sweater/Belt - Target
Skirt - Dress bought at Southern Women's Show remade into skirt
Boots - French's
Necklace - Sears

Vest - Charlotte Russe - love the back!
Lace Top - JC Penny
Belt - Rue 21
Skirt - Walmart dress made into skirt
Shoes - Rack Room Shoes
Necklace - Premier
Watch - Target

I enjoyed wearing both these outfits! I really have fun in my closet when it is available to me!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Big News!

Our family is growing this year!

I am very excited to share that we are expecting another baby due October 2nd! As my daughter took her sweet time coming into the world I expect this one will as well so I am thinking this new baby will actually come around October 10-15th. We were hoping to have another baby before we left for Costa Rica and are very pleased that God decided the time was right as well! The timing does put us expecting right in the middle of Missions conference season, but we will figure more of that out as the time comes closer. For now, I am 12 weeks, almost at the end of my first trimester, and hoping that with its end will come the end of my morning sickness and fatigue as well! We will be able to find out what the baby is when we return home in May.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: Northern Lights Trilogy

This is another review for the website Blogging for Books that I first introduced you to here. I had the opportunity to review a series this time which was much more enjoyable that just part of one. This time I chose the Northern Lights Trilogy by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

The story follows two sisters and a friend (as well as the men in their lives) as they move from Norway to America for new opportunities in the late 1800s. 

My Review:
I really enjoyed this series. I had never read anything by this author before but I liked the style and pace of the books. Each chapter opens with a different character and switches between their intermingling story lines. One of the things I liked the most about this series was that it wasn't just about love but also loss and redemption, as well as plenty of action and adventure! This is one of those books that will keep you reading late into the night! I also appreciated the clear presentation of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as well as the very present moving of God's hand in each of the character's lives.

There really wasn't too much not to like about this book. Some of the themes and scenes were a little intense (an adulterous husband, rape) so I would not recommend it for young teens. Also, a few of the plot twists were a little predictable and thus did not quite get the emotional effect that perhaps the author was seeking.

All in all, however, this was a very enjoyable a read that was both uplifting and encouraging, as well as just plain fun! It was a glimpse into something I don't know much about, shipping and sailing as well as life in the West in the late 1800s. I would recommend this series to anyone, late teens and above, who is looking for a light and enjoyable Christian fiction read.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wrong Way

Have you ever found yourself having a hard time driving in a new place? Try doing that for a living! We were in Hagerstown, MD recently between meetings and left our hotel to get some dinner. I saw on the GPS that there was a Roy Rodger's Restaurant about a mile away and since we had never been there before, we decided to give it a try. It was so-so. The best part was the burger toppings bar where you could fix it yourself just the way you like it which was great for this pickle lover!
Well, on the way out I thought I knew the way back to the hotel and that there was no need for the GPS. All we had to do was turn left and our hotel should be about a mile down on the right. The hubs pulls out to the light and puts his left blinker on and when the light finally changes we both realize, yuck, lots of traffic and no left arrow. That's when the honking starts. Several cars behind us are just letting us have it! What is going on? Why are they beeping? Well, traffic finally clears and we take our left . . . onto a one way street going the wrong way! Opps! So that's why they were honking. Thankfully there was no one in the lane and we were able to go a few more feet and pull out of the road into . . . a police station of all places. Yes, we had just made an illegal turn onto a one way street in front of a police station. Thankfully there was no one from the station watching and we survived without incident. We just laughed it off, because really, what else were we going to do?! We will definitely pay more attention next time!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Recently I had the opportunity to take my daughter to an indoor inflatable playground for free! One of the ladies in the church organized for us to take our children there and they do not charge for children under 2 or adults. I was hoping my daughter, now 18 months, would enjoy it and after just a little trepidation, she had a blast! Her favorite part was going down the giant slides all be herself! With a little coaxing, she would climb to the top and go right down with a big grin. I think I will be trying a to find a place like this to take her again!

I would definitely recommend this activity, under close supervision, for any adventurous 18 month old, especially if there are not a lot of bigger kids there.

Friday, March 8, 2013

101 Posts! And a New Name

I accidentally let post 100 come and go! So, we'll celebrate post 101 instead. Once again it is time to go in another direction, at least for a little while. I have decided to drop the "Lilouwyn" from the title and shorten it to just "The Traveling Housewife". Also, due to being a lot more heavy on the traveling part right now, I am going to be doing more posts related to that instead of the craft and cooking stuff that I enjoy so much. I may even write about my personal life a little more often. With that in mind, here's what's going on in our family currently.
We left our home at the end of February and won't be back until the beginning of May. That's about 10 weeks of living out of our car and suitcases! Sometimes we are in a place for 4-5 days, sometimes just one night. I think the longest we are in any place during this whole trip is 5 or 6 nights. Sometimes we stay in hotels, sometimes in houses or rooms that churches provide, and sometimes with families that we just met. Unless we have been there before we usually walk in knowing very little of what to expect. With little exception, things are usually great and families and churches are very sweet and kind to us. It's an adventure.
Awesome views of NYC without actually going there!
While traveling, we also get to see a lot of things that we normally wouldn't get to. Already on this trip we were near NYC and attempted to see the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, it was closed (who knew it closed?) so we settled for Hoboken and Carlo's Bakery from The Cake Boss instead. It turned out to be a nice trade off!
In this trip we will be going all over the north to visit churches in NJ, OH, TN, MI, KY, IL, IN and PA! We are supposed to be going to a showing of Sight and Sound's "Noah" as well as seeing a city we really enjoyed before, Philadelphia.
So what does that mean for my blog? Well, I didn't pack a lot of clothes, I didn't pack any craft supplies and I doubt I'll be in the position to do any fancy cooking so unless something comes up unexpectedly. Until May I will probably just be telling of our little adventures instead.