Part of Me Blog

lissa's lists: 13 ways to save money with your mindset

Shawn and I both use the Every Dollar app to watch our monthly budget quickly and easily from our phones.

Shawn and I both use the Every Dollar app to watch our monthly budget quickly and easily from our phones.

When Shawn and I were first married almost 15 years ago, we honestly had no idea what we were doing financially. We had out own tendencies- Shawn’s was spend, spend, spend, and mine was hoard, hoard, hoard, which has completely flip-flopped at this point, in an ironic turn of events. It took us about 3 years to realize neither of us really knew how to pay bills and we finally read the Total Money Makeover and got on the same page. So many of these tactics are things we learned from Dave Ramsey and over years of using his system- this is not a paid endorsement, haha- it is honestly just things we have seen work for us!

Since then, we rarely argue about money. In fact, it’s one of the ways we enjoy collaborating most. We love setting goals and working toward them so that we can accomplish mutually shared dreams and visions.

Recently I was reminded of a few habits and tricks we’ve acquired over the years that haven’t cost a thing- and have actually saved us money over and over again.

So on today’s edition of Lissa’s Lists, here are my 13 ways to save money with your mindset:

1) Sleep on it. This is a great principle, and it works especially well with big purchases. This tactic helps avoid emotional purchases. I distinctly remember one occasion where I was VERY pregnant (yes, totally blaming this bad decision on the hormones) when I got a flat tire and Shawn sent me to the tire shop to get it fixed. Instead of walking out with a repaired tire, I spent about $1,000.00 on a whole new set of rims, mainly because I was exhausted and emotional. Ugh. I still regret that one. The bigger the cost, the more nights you may need to sleep on it.

2) Be in agreement with your spouse. This one sounds simple, but is actually pretty complicated. It requires listening (even if you don’t agree) to your spouse’s concerns and desires, and counting them as legitimate and worthy pieces of the decision. If we are trying to make a decision on a big purchase and aren’t in full agreement on it, as a rule- we do nothing until an agreement can be reached. Either spouse acting on their own at this point would be a major breach of trust and a clue as to deeper issues.

3) Don’t buy another until the first one runs out. This one has been SO good for me, as I stated before I tend to hoard things. This works well with beauty products and cosmetics– I am notorious for having 3-4 different types of shampoo in the shower at any given moment. It’s also great for other categories: Cars. Tires. Shoes. I ran this post by Shawn before publishing and he wants you to know that this is not recommended with milk. Or deodorant. Definitely stock up on deodorant.

4) See how long you can go without it. I personally love this type of challenge, because I am a justifier and can conjure up a good enough reason to make any purchase. So, to prevent myself from spending all our money, I will test myself and see how long we can go without. 90% of the time, we don’t actually need it or I can find something we already have that works just as well.

5) Have a no-spend day once a week. In the same vein, you can extend your challenge to a household no-spend day once a week. Tightwad Tuesdays, perhaps :). This is a great tactic if you are working to get rid of debt, and a great way to build trust and a team mentality in your marriage. Not a great tactic if you just choose to overspend the day after. :)

6) Use something you already have, or borrow it. How many times have you purchased something, only to realize you already had one? Guilty. Another thing I am guilty of is declaring a need for a new bag or decorative item, when I already have options at home. If a room needs a refresh, move things around or see what you might already have hidden in the hall closet.

7) Put it on a list for later. Or if you’re like me, and put it into your shopping cart and don’t actually check out, haha. Shawn makes fun of me, but the little “save for later” feature in my Amazon shopping cart has saved us THOUSANDS of dollars. I still get the satisfaction of “adding to cart”, but don’t actually check out. This really works well for me on Amazon and Target. And often, companies will send you a discount code for items you have not purchased that are already in your cart. So if you do need to purchase them eventually (after a good night’s sleep and consideration, of course), you have a discount code.

Additionally, if you are anticipating a big purchase, make a long-term list and order those items by priority. We do this every month at our household budget meeting and have watched these items either change in order of priority, disappear altogether, or come to fruition by way of saving up monthly.

8) Get grocery delivery or pickup to prevent impulse purchases in-store. This is a “mindset” tactic in that it saves you from those impulse purchases and keeps you sticking to a list and a set budget.

9) Don’t compare. This one is tough, and for me has been more about calling myself out when I slip into the den of comparison. A good reminder for me is that you’ll never know fully what someone else’s finances are like- they may be in debt up to their eyeballs and driving brand new vehicles, or sporting a junker car and be a millionaire. A great book for some perspective is The Millionaire Next Door.

10) Have absolutes on debt. Once we went through Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey’s financial class, we said “no” to debt. We know that it is not an option for us, and if it causes us to personally go into debt, we are not interested. This has kept us in the black for the majority of our marriage, and has allowed us to actually accrue a decent net worth.

11) Budget spending money for yourself. This tactic helps you avoid a victim mentality when it comes to spending. If you have an allotted amount to spend on whatever you like, there will be no need to justify purchases because you feel like you were overlooked/never get to spend money on yourself (insert your excuse here). This also gives you permission to make an emotional purchase within a safe spending limit. Emotional purchases are totally ok- as long as they don’t kill your big plans and stay within the budget.

12) Take time to do the research and get educated. This has also been a huge tactic on big purchases for us. We have learned not to spend money on anything we don’t understand (this includes investments). And if we don’t understand yet, we need to do the research and/or get educated. Those have been such gifts and at times have changed our minds on what we actually spend our money on.

13) Do a budget (with your spouse if you are married) and stick to it. If it’s not clear yet, we are pretty hardcore about budgeting around here. At this point in our marriage, it is a 30 minute meeting once a month, and no big deal. It didn’t start out that way, though- and definitely took some practice to perfect. This is the ONE key item that will change your trajectory. If you want to learn how to do a budget, read the Total Money Makeover.

I realize how many times I have referenced Dave Ramsey in this post, and no- this is not a paid endorsement! It is just a relatively simple system that has worked well for us. If you need direction, I would start with The Total Money Makeover book or enroll in a local Financial Peace University class.

I hope this has been helpful! Which tactic speaks to you the most? Do you have any to add to this list? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

fall family styles from walmart!

LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglinComment

Yes, I am a professional photographer, but MOMS- I’m in the EXACT same boat as you are trying to figure out what to dress everyone in for family photos. I love getting a new family photo every fall, and I really love all the fun options for clothing this time of year, but when you’re styling an entire family, it’s a bit overwhelming.

So while I was at WalMart last week, I did a little browsing and was SHOCKED at how many options there were inside that one store! I’ve complied a list of all my finds (plus some additional ones I found online), and I hope that this is helpful as you put together your outfits!


Their inventory frequently changes, and many things sell out quickly. Some items are in-store only, or only offered online for a short time. So, if you want to avoid going in the store, I suggest you buy what you can online ASAP, and return it if it doesn’t work- because it’s likely to sell out or not be available any longer.

Also, every store has different inventory, so not everything will be in every store- just another reason to shop online if you can! When I wasn’t able to find something online, I tried to mention it below.

Full disclosure: this post is not sponsored by WalMart, but I do make a small commission if you purchase items using my links. Thanks for supporting my crazy. :)

Mix and match everything you see here! I did my best to include some more colorful and more muted/neutral options for every member of the family.



I found so many great options for Mom, including some leopard, great cardigans and plus size options. This flowy top comes in several different colors and WILL sell out, so grab it quick if you want one! Sadly, the cute knit cardigans in the photo above are in-store only, so you’ll have to go in to get one.


I was also pleasantly surprised at the shoe selection for women. A great chance to go trendier for photos and not have to pay a premium price!






There were a LOT of great choices for Dads, too- whether your man is more casual or traditional/dressy. Layering is key for Dads, and these items can all mix and match!


I also could not believe how many great shoe options there were for men! This is just a small selection of what I found in my store.






The baby selection in my store was disappointing- not too many non-character outfits, but I found a LOT more online and have tagged them below. I also loved these headbands, but they are in-store only.




LITTLE BOYS (Sizes 12m-5T)


Much of what I found in-store wasn’t available online, but I did find some cute sets that weren’t in my store on the website. My advice is to keep your little boys as comfy as possible for the best photos!




LITTLE KID GIRL (Sizes 12m-5T)


I was slightly disappointed in this selection as well, but there are a few super cute options. The dresses above are in-store only, but the adorable ruffle shirts are available online. However, they did have some great shoe options. Lots more I found below!




OLDER BOYS (Sizes 6-12)


Really loved so many of these options for older boys! Sadly, the cute jacket sets above are in-store only, and so cute! They also had a great shoe selection, too.




OLDER GIRLS (Sizes 6-12)


Lots of great options for older girls, too- loved the denim and chambray options, along with plenty of shoe choices.



I hope that was helpful, you guys! Let me know if you enjoyed this round-up and what you’d like to see next!

easy freezer meals for the month

LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglinComment

If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you know I am a big fan of freezer meals. I shared on my Insta Stories a few of the recipes I made this month and thought I would share it here, too - with a little updated info and the links!

If you’ve never done freezer meals before, get started by reading this post (4 years old, but still the way I do it!) which contains a ton of information on how I do freezer meals:

Some updates since this post:

  • Our grocery bill has gone up about $150 per month with the addition of a new child and the fact that they all eat more these days. I still grab some fresh produce and a few essentials every week and try to stay in the $30-40 range.

  • Costs for the freezer meals per month are about the same ~ $300.

  • I have stopped trying to bake anything while making freezer meals. It gets too complicated and makes more dishes to clean. Plus I will inevitably burn something.

  • I WAAAYYYYY prefer “dump” meals - meaning ones I can dump in a gallon freezer bag, freeze, and then dump out into my crock pot or instant pot when it’s time to cook. Most of the recipes I use are dump meals.

  • Most of the meals I make really just consist of the main protein for the meal. I will also stock up on frozen veggies, bread, and rolls in the deep freezer so I can bust those out as sides.

  • I typically sub ground turkey for any ground beef for the heart health benefits and lower cost. So, in all of these recipes, I actually use ground turkey.

  • I also started browning all my turkey in the oven using a roasting pan. HERE is exactly how I do it. I do this first thing so that it is cooking while I chop and combine the rest of the ingredients. It saves me a ton of time when it’s time to actually eat the meal - I just thaw and reheat!

  • Make your list, and ORDER YOUR GROCERIES. Seriously. Instacart for the win, you guys! Ordering your groceries and having them delivered TO YOUR DOOR is 100% worth it, especially when doing freezer meals because the shopping portion can get very tiring. If you haven’t tried Instacart yet, here is a coupon for $10 off your first order!

Now for what I made this month! All of these are “dump” meals and can be frozen in gallon ziploc bags.


Click on the meal title to be taken to the recipe.

BBQ Chicken (x4)

Sides: Hawaiian rolls or baked potatoes, frozen veggies

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs (x4)

Sides: rice or noodles, frozen veggies

French Chicken (x4)

Sides: rolls or baked potato, frozen veggies, Brussels sprouts or asparagus

Asian Lettuce Wraps (x4)

Sides: Romaine lettuce, frozen dumplings and/or rice

Taco Soup (x 4)

Toppings: Tortilla chips, avocado slices, sour cream, cheese, sliced olives

This recipe was created by a family friend and has always been a favorite. This recipe makes a LOT so if you are cooking for two, you’ll definitely want to split this into two meals. I have tweaked the recipe a bit, so here is my version:



1.5 lbs. ground beef or turkey
1 red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 28 oz. can stewed tomatoes (crushed is fine, too)
1 16 oz. can Ranch Style Beans
1 16 oz. can hominy (if you’ve never tried hominy before, it is delicious in this recipe so don’t skip it!)
1 16 oz. can black beans
1 16 oz. can whole kernel corn
1 packet ranch seasoning
1 packet taco seasoning


Brown beef and combine all ingredients (no need to drain canned goods). You may need to add 1 can of water (16 oz) to thin the mixture. Heat until onions are clear and soup is bubbly. Top it and eat!


If making freezer meals, cook beef in bulk and portion evenly into 4 Ziploc gallon bags. Then, empty the rest of the ingredients into the bag and freeze. When it’s time to cook, let thaw and heat until onions are clear and the soup is bubbly.

I hope this was helpful for your fall meal planning! I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to our favorite freezer meals.

fall fashion staples


Every new season, I like to stock up on a few new items- and over the years, I’ve learned to select things that will easily mix and match, so I never get bored. This fall I’m definitely seeing a theme- and I can’t wait to share some of my great finds with you!

  1. A great denim jacket. It’s been a staple in my wardrobe for a while, and it’s perfect for those days in West Texas when the weather has no idea what it’s doing (which is every day, August through November- haha!). If you haven’t found a good denim jacket yet, here’s a great one.

  2. Leopard Jeans. I’ve been on the hunt for some leopard jeans for about a year now- and finally found some that are actually more like a legging- buttery soft and stretchy. These are super comfy and sure to be seen on days I am feeling more badass than usual :). I’ve always agreed that leopard is a neutral- so it’s easy to pair these with just about anything! I’ve also loved wearing these with longer tunic or oversized tops.


3. Oversized Sunnies. I love these designer dupes I snagged on Amazon and was surprised at the good quality.

4. Geometric Barrettes. The barrett trend is here and I love these simple gold barrettes. I’ve never claimed to be great at styling my hair, but I love the way these feel a bit sophisticated and are easy to use. They’re under $8 for a set of 5!


5. Snakeskin Booties. Another item I have been hunting for- and finally found a GREAT pair. These are super comfy and I love that they are neutral in color and can be worn with pretty much anything. Snakeskin is HUGE this season!

6. MOM JEANS. If you follow me on Insta, you know how obsessed I am with these pants. They are super comfy and I love the distressing. They’re also super affordable! I’ve also linked a darker version below if the light wash isn’t your jam.

7. Lightweight cardigan. I actually bought this cardigan last year and have been surprised at how much I’ve worn it. It’s a great fall color and longer so I’ve enjoyed layering with it.

8. Grey Leopard Tee. This is a super soft tee I picked up that I’ve worn a lot already. I went up 2 sizes for a baggier fit, and I love it! I’m linking a brown leopard tee I found below if you prefer that color too!


9. Moto Jacket. Another item I’ve been on the hunt for- and I found a great affordable one! When I tried it on, it just fit perfectly. The fitted look makes my jeans and tees a little less boring, too. This will be great for a football game or cool evening.

10. Tie dye tee. Tie dye is back in a big way- and this super soft tee is also super affordable at $9! I would size up one or two sizes, though, as it runs small.

11. Golden Goose Dupes. I have had stars in my eyes (literally, haha!) over Golden Goose sneakers for years, and now we are finally seeing some great dupe options at literally hundreds of dollars less than the real deal. These are very comfortable and the only dupes I’ve seen that have the distressing just like the actual Golden Goose sneakers. You’ll be seeing these everywhere- and the website I bought mine from have several different colors.


12. Madewell Overalls. I splurged on these last year and still LOVE them. They are super comfy and a fun addition to any wardrobe!

13. Camo tee. Also a print I consider a neutral, this tee has a fun collar detail and is a steal at $8.

There are a few more things I’ve found and loved but aren’t pictured above, so I’m linking them here! Just click on the photo to be taken to the item! Happy shopping and YAY for fall!

seriously AWESOME back to school kids' looks

MOMLIFE, STYLElissa-anglinComment
When you can make your 8 year old a superhero, you absolutely do it. :)

When you can make your 8 year old a superhero, you absolutely do it. :)

Back-to-school shopping. It always sounds fun in theory, but in reality, I usually just end up ignoring it until we realize that someone literally has no more pants that fit. 😂My son, Knox, is super easy to please- as long as what he’s wearing is comfortable. But I also want him to look cool, too- and depending on where we’re shopping, that can be tough.

When I saw these rainbow sequin skirts, I knew the girls would LOVE THEM. And they do! My favorite thing is that they are lined with a soft jersey fabric so they stay comfy.

When I saw these rainbow sequin skirts, I knew the girls would LOVE THEM. And they do! My favorite thing is that they are lined with a soft jersey fabric so they stay comfy.

I’ve also never been a huge girly-girl- and so it’s quite ironic that I have two glitter-rainbow-sparkle-loving girls. A lot of little girl clothing is just too much tulle/rhinestone/crazy for me (thanks a lot, JoJo Siwa)- so anytime I can find something fun for the girls we ALL like, I am ON IT.

When Mom says you can have some hot chocolate after we take a photo!

When Mom says you can have some hot chocolate after we take a photo!

So, I was so excited when I got in my order from Rockets of Awesome. From the first look at their website, I knew I would love everything they had to offer! I love finding versatile and fun clothing that is also comfortable for my kids. The girls are not a huge fan of jeans, so we wear a LOT of leggings/dresses and comfy tops.

These rainbow crew shirts are SO incredibly soft. The girls love them and there are so many ways to style them.

These rainbow crew shirts are SO incredibly soft. The girls love them and there are so many ways to style them.

Gosh I love this ever-growing boy. This AWESOME sweatshirt for perfectly with a bit of growing room.

Gosh I love this ever-growing boy. This AWESOME sweatshirt for perfectly with a bit of growing room.

The price point was a bit higher than I would normally spend, but if you order 4+ items from their site, you will automatically get 20% off which made all the difference.

When we got our box in the mail, I was SO impressed with the quality of the items. The shirts were so cozy and soft, and I know we will get a ton of wear out of them. The kids were also excited about them, which means I won’t have to struggle to get them dressed in the mornings!

Rockets of Awesome also has a great subscription box, which you get to customize to fit your child- and not just size-wise- they ask you about your individual child’s preferences, so if you have a kid who’s picky about their clothing, this is incredibly helpful. They’ll send you clothing every 3 months (perfect for each new season) and you just keep what you’d like (at a special 25% off subscriber price!), and send back what you don’t.

No dragging your kid to the mall? Comfy, cute clothing that will last? DONE and DONE.

They’ve got a TON of cute pieces on their site- here are a few of my faves! Click on the image to be taken to the website and shop!

Rainbow Stripe Sweatshirt Dress
Metallic Stripe Ruffle Sleeve Dress
Rainbow Comfy Crew
Print Raglan Tee
Rainbow Romper
Chambray Dress
Flip Sequin Skirt
Tie Dye Active Capri
Essential Tank Dress
Rockets Of Awesome X State Backpack In Pastel Rainbow
Cheetah Capri Legging
Tres Mermaid Comfy Crew
Awesome Sweatshirt
ROA #Goals Active Tee
Fuzzy Tiger Tee
Pinata Llama 3-D Tee
Birdseye Jogger
Reflective Stripe Active Short
Quilted Bomber
Rockets Of Awesome X State Backpack In Camo Neon

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you decide to shop and find something you love, I’ll earn a little to go do the same. Thanks for your support!


our stay in seaside, florida

TRAVEL, LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment

It’s been many, many years since I’ve visited the Florida Panhandle- in fact, we were staying in Destin when I first watched the movie Jaws! Not the best choice for a beach vacation, haha! But this summer we made it back and absolutely loved it. Our family drove (yes, 15 hours one way!) to Seaside, Florida a few weeks ago and could not believe how family-friendly it was.

2019-06-22 11.07.57-1.jpg

About 30 minutes east of Destin, the entire town of Seaside is idyllic and literally picture perfect- they filmed The Truman Show there! The perfectly-planned streets are lined with palm trees and beautiful beach “cottages” (some are much too large to be called a cottage!). People are biking or walking everywhere, and there are plenty of opportunities for a shopping, a snack, or a delicious meal.

2019-06-22 17.57.53-1.jpg

One of the biggest pros to Seaside for us was the ability of nearly every restaurant to accommodate our large group quickly. In all, our group totaled 13 people- my side of the family came with us and we had 5 kids in that group. So, we are used to long wait times at restaurants and difficult table configurations- but had zero issues in Seaside!

Our kids LOVED the bunk beds! They were large enough that the girls actually shared one.

Our kids LOVED the bunk beds! They were large enough that the girls actually shared one.

There are many, many places to stay in Seaside, and condos or homes outnumber hotels by far - which is our preference, anyway. After doing some research, we decided we could save quite a bit by staying just on the other side of 30A (the main thoroughfare that the area is named after- it follows the shoreline). So, while we didn’t have an oceanview, we were able to walk there quite easily and felt it was a really good decision!

Our condo was perfect for our family and had two bunk beds, a pullout couch and 1 king bed with 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen, living area and enclosed balcony. One major perk of the place (besides the location) was the huge crate full of beach toys, chairs and even a beach cart. It was also above an ice cream shop, urgent care clinic, and surf shop which we utilized at different times throughout the trip. The condo we stayed at is called Cassine Station, so look for that when searching vrbo or AirBnb.

Our property also had access to a pool which was handy when there were 2 red flags up at the beach and we were unable to get in the water. This happened 2 days we were there, but it wasn’t a huge issue- the kids still played in the sand and then we swam in the pool.

This is what they call Ocean View, not Oceanfront. 😂 Still, we loved our little spot by the ocean!

This is what they call Ocean View, not Oceanfront. 😂 Still, we loved our little spot by the ocean!


FOOD…because it’s our favorite souvenir

There were so many great spots to eat around Seaside, and we didn’t scratch the surface- but here are some we’d definitely visit again and enjoyed-

Pizza By the Sea

Pizza By the Sea

Pizza By The Sea- my favorite meal! Wine and pizza and the beach…welcome to my dreamland. The pizza was amazing and went beyond basic ingredients. They also had a shelf of children’s books to entertain while waiting on food. We ate here the first night, and it worked out really well because Publix is next door and we were able to buy groceries after dinner.

Fantastic frosé found here!

Fantastic frosé found here!

Great Southern Cafe- This was a delicious meal! Of course, we all ordered seafood and it did not disappoint. I would say this is more adult-friendly, but it was no problem to have the kids there. We also hit up the little stand right next to the restaurant for some frosé before our meal which was totally overpriced but delicious and hey….vacay!

Cafe Thirty-A- My parents volunteered to babysit one evening, so we got to go out with my sisters and brothers-in-law for dinner. This is the most upscale place we ate, and it was so delicious. Great service and menu variety- everyone loved their food and the drink list was extensive. Great for a date night.

Seagrove Village Market Cafe- We ate on the patio for this dinner and it had a great atmosphere. This place knows how to fry food, for sure- most of what is on their menu is fried (but good!).

Seagrove Village Market Cafe

Seagrove Village Market Cafe



Frostbites- We had to stop by this Seaside staple for a snow cone one day! It was a great break from the heat and the entire area beside this food truck is adorable. There are several more food trucks in this area and space to play for the kids.

It’s Heavenly Shortcakes & Ice Cream- We ordered wayyyy to much here (read: lots of sticky ice cream mess) BUT everything was so yummy. Centrally located in Seaside Circle.

Bud and Alley’s- This restaurant has a casual bar with an ocean view, or a more formal restaurant. The night we dined at the restaurant, it was getting late and we had cranky kiddos, so the formal setting was a bit much for us. We should have just gone to a burger joint! But, the food was great. However, this was one of the more expensive meals we had.

Walking to The Perfect Pig

Walking to The Perfect Pig

The Perfect Pig- This was a great breakfast/brunch place just a short walk from our condo, and was so delicious! Great coffee and GRITS!

The amphitheater at Seaside Circle. This was a fun spot to people watch and let the kids run around. So many great shops and food nearby- and a short walk to the beach!

The amphitheater at Seaside Circle. This was a fun spot to people watch and let the kids run around. So many great shops and food nearby- and a short walk to the beach!

Now for our Tips for Seaside:

  • Buy groceries (but don’t overdo it!)- We planned to eat breakfast and lunch at the condo, and that worked really well for our family. I made sure to buy things that were super portable, and didn’t require any real cooking, haha. Pop tarts, sausage biscuits, Lunchables (our kids don’t get these first three at home very often so this felt special to them, haha!), snack cheese, turkey pepperoni, crackers, etc. We also grabbed paper towels, extra wipes, sunscreen, and a couple of inner-tubes. The Publix in Seaside has plenty of beach toys if you need any!

  • Consider skipping the ocean view- Let’s be honest, if you’re traveling with kids, there won’t be a lot of time for porch-sitting and basking in the view from your condo- unless you wake up super early, and on vacation, we don’t. :) It was such a huge savings for us to be just off the ocean, and we’d do it again.

  • Set a timer for sunscreen- I mean, this isn’t that revolutionary, but we needed to! After we forgot to reapply the first day and had several bad burns, we were pretty hard core about it. We aren’t used to that extra sun at the beach, and so we literally needed a reminder.

  • Take a break in the afternoon. Most days, we had an intentional slow start to the day and wandered out to the beach by 10-ish, and stayed until 1 or 2 when we’d come back to the condo, eat lunch and make the girls take a nap. This worked really well for us and that rest time was my only “peaceful” moment to read, nap, etc.

  • Don’t bring it to the beach unless you want sand on it. Again, obvious, but worth remembering when packing! We designated a waterproof cosmetic bag I had for our phones, wallets, etc. and that worked really well.

  • Hit up the beach in the evening. We did this one night and loved it so much. At 5 pm, condos that set our beach chairs for their guests pick them back up for the night, and many people leave for the day. It was cooler and much less crowded in the evenings, and in the future we’ll visit more often during this time.

  • Don’t reserve rentals ahead of time- I wondered if we needed to reserve rentals in advance (there are a TON of rental places that rent everything from beach chairs, to bikes, to baby cribs), but I’m glad we didn’t, because our condo had everything we needed.

  • Double check amenity deals before you go. Our condo offered some special deals on fun things like parasailing, jet skis, mini golf, etc.- but there was a catch- one free adult per day (and you can’t stack your days) AND most of the activities were at least a 30 minute drive. We considered doing one or two of them, but decided that this trip, we’d rather just have more beach time. I think we will probably be into this stuff once our kids get older and can participate.

  • Get a condo with washer/dryer and do your laundry the day before you leave. I would assume that most condos have one, but it was SO handy. The condo provided one extra pack of laundry detergent, which wasn’t enough for us, but I brought some travel detergent. So, you may need to buy that or bring some extra.


Whew, lots of info and that’s not even half of what I could tell you about! All in all, we will definitely be back. Seaside was charming, laid-back, and that sugary white sand was the best we’ve ever experienced.

I hope this post was helpful, and if you have more Seaside tips, please let me know! Also, if you haven’t checked out my Road Trip Travel Hacks & Must-Haves, you’ll need to! That was a whole other portion of this vacation I didn’t get into this post. :)

Our Travel Hacks and Must-Haves

After 40+ hours in the car, here’s what we know…

my year in books - book review

LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglin1 Comment

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Charlie Tremendous Jones

One of my favorite quotes, and a great excuse to read, read, read! It’s been a long while since I’ve shared an update on what I’m reading- and I’ve never really reviewed any of these books, so I thought it would be a good habit to start!

In this post, I’m reviewing all the books I’ve read since last July. You guys, there are some DUDS and SO MANY GOOD ONES! Hopefully you’ll enjoy my regular-girl quick reviews on these.


In no particular order- let’s go!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

EVERYONE was telling me I needed to read this one- and they were all exactly right! Odds are you’ve been told this as well- and if not, hear me say it! The book is described as a coming-of-age story meets murder mystery, and it is- woven with such beautiful descriptions of the North Carolina swamp it made me actually want to go visit. This one is culturally interesting (the South in the 1950’s-70’s) and had a great ending. I read it in 3 days- it’s that good.

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

I bought this one at an airport bookstore because I liked the cover, haha- and I’m so glad I did! As I was reading this one, I couldn’t figure out why I liked it so much- but I just HAD to know what was going to happen next. This book is about a girl going through a bad breakup, who also needs a job and ends up as the admissions director of a private school in New York City. It is understated but entertaining. In the end, I really think the beauty in this one is the depth that Poeppel gives her characters- insight into their thought lives and what makes them act the way they do. I ended up loving this one- one of my favorites of the year.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

Oh, you guys- this one is understated yet so significant. I still don’t believe I really have processed all that God spoke to me while reading the beautiful, imperfect stories Shannan has so thoughtfully documented in this book. This book forces you to really think about the everyday in new ways- our “inconveniences”, our “needs” and being thankful in everything.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

This is a really easy and fun read- and if you love Tom Hanks, you’ll probably enjoy this book of semi-random short stories he wrote. Reading it I kept hearing his distinctive voice in the text, and about 3 or 4 stories in I realized the common theme- there is a typewriter woven into every story. My favorite story was the one about time travel. I gifted this book to my Dad for Christmas and he loved it too.

Everybody Always by Bob Goff

This is a great book with a great concept- and many quoteables. I love Bob Goff and the way he thinks. The stories inside this book are proof of how God truly does love everybody, always, which is also our calling as believers. I didn’t love this book as much as Bob’s previous book, Love Does, but it is a good read.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Ugh, I wanted to love this one- and in some ways I did- but it was missing something major to me. Let me explain- I have all the respect for Rachel Hollis- she is full of gusto, honesty, and I loved reading her boots-on-the-ground, learning-as-I-go stories, but I wish this book had Jesus in it. Yes, Rachel is a Christian, and did intentionally choose to make this book not geared toward one religion, but I feel like because of that the message is much more “save yourself” than “Jesus died to save you”. However, lots of great content and encouragement, especially for women business owners.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

So after seeing Hamilton the musical, I really wanted to read this one- which is a historical fiction book about Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, who accomplished a LOT in the 50 years she lived after his death. I enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book, but after that it just felt really slow and political which wasn’t my jam. But hey, I know a lot more about the founding fathers now! So, if you love American history/colonial era, go for it- if not, might want to move on.

Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

I found this book at Dollar Tree (yes, for $1!), and thought it was an interesting concept. The entire book is a series of hotel reviews by one man (apparently on a popular travel review site like TripAdvisor). His reviews reveal unusual glimpses into his life that are intriguing, a little disgusting, and also made me chuckle. I really loved Rick Moody’s descriptive writing style. I can’t say I loved this book so much- but I won’t forget it soon, so take that for what you will.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

READ THIS. It’s great. So intriguing. Another one I devoured in about 3 days. 1990s in suburban, idealistic America- mystery, mother-daughter relationships, coming-of-age…it’s got it all and so many will find a relatable moment while reading. Little Fires Everywhere is going to be miniseries on Hulu starring Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington so this is a great one to read before it releases!

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I loved Small Admissions so much, I couldn’t wait to read Amy Poeppel’s new book, Limelight. This one is entirely different in subject- but is so enjoyable. It’s the story of a mom who becomes a teen celebrity’s (think Justin Beiber-like) personal assistant on accident. It’s set in New York City so I loved the story of a family moving from Texas to the Big Apple- seeing their transitions mixed with the celebrity antics is entertaining. It’s a good easy read.

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

This book is full of research on what it takes to really captivate people. I wanted to read this one after hearing Vanessa Van Edwards interview on a podcast. She is incredibly well-spoken and I loved her practical applications- like suggestions on where to stand at a party and how to connect with people quickly and effectively. I’m going to have to re-read this one a few times just to take it all in.

Small Victories by Anne Lamott

I picked up this one after reading Uncommon Type, thinking another volume of short stories by one of my favorite authors was a good idea. I LOVED Bird by Bird and so I had high hopes for this one. This book is a collection of more spiritual essays by Anne Lamott focusing on “improbable moments of grace”, and I have a feeling I will appreciate this one more at a later stage in life. I’ll keep it around but it wasn’t my fave.

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

This one was SO GREAT. It was perfect for me, in this stage of life- trying to raise kids, work, be a great wife and friend. I really appreciated Jessica’s practical perspective and also her ability to make me think about what really matters the most to me. I went in prepping for a guilt trip (as if we working moms need another one)- but that’s not at all what this book is. It’s freedom-giving and encouraging- reassurance that we’re not alone.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended to me by several friends and I’m glad I’ve read it- though I did feel it got a bit long. It’s a great book about racism with twisted moral dilemma that drove me to keep reading. In the end, I enjoyed this book though it got a little long.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

I read this one on the tail of finishing the Crazy Rich Asians Series (I don’t know- I guess I was on the Asian current?!), and it was disappointing. The concept is a bit Beverly Hilbillies-in-reverse- a wealthy family falling apart after experiencing fabulous wealth and then total material loss. There were a few funny moments but in the end I didn’t love it.

Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Another historical fiction book, this one is based on the true story of an Italian spy during World War II. It is a truly incredible story- if you love this time period, or have any connections to the Alps, you will love this. I did feel it got a bit long and boring, but there are also quite a few moments that are so incredible, it’s hard to believe it’s actually a true story.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

If you are a Christian creative, this is a MUST READ. I love Emily’s work (I say this as if I know her personally! ha!) and this may be my favorite thing she’s ever written. It is FULL of gems about God’s purpose for creatives and how to create with that understanding. It’s already time for me to read this again.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’d seen lots of great reviews on this one, so I picked it up to read on vacation. It is charming and mysterious- getting to know Eleanor as she simultaneously makes a friend (seemingly her first ever) is sweet and awkward all in one. There is a great twist at the end of this book, but I can’t say I really loved it.

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

This was the second time I gave this book a go. I’d heard it referenced so many times on the Dave Ramsey show but wasn’t prepared for it to be so textbook-like. So, when I decided to try to read it again, I was a couple years older and had some more life under my belt. I feel like every household needs this book- it’s a great reference on healthy relationships and how to keep them healthy. My favorite quote, which my husband quotes to me often, is “You are responsible to other people, not responsible for them.”

The Crazy Rich Asians Series by Kevin Kwan

I kept seeing this series and wasn’t sure what it would all be about- but a chapter or two in, I couldn’t stop reading. This series features an extremely wealthy elite group of Chinese families living in Singapore- their escapades, relationships and inheritances. It was romantic and funny- and of course made me want to visit Singapore. My favorite book of the series was the last one- Rich People Problems, where everything is tied together nicely in the end.

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

This book is a great kick in the pants and actually encouraged me to start exercising regularly. It is a very simple strategy for getting things done explained by optimistic-yet-real Mel Robbins (a woman!). If you’ve seen her viral Ted talk, this book is the result of that. I also listened to this one on Audible and it is read by Mel and includes several extra offsides and stories you won’t get in the book.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Another one I devoured in just a few days- this book is a great novel about the volatile relationship between police and African Americans, and is such a relevant and important read. I loved Starr’s character and her interesting relationships with her family and the rest of the world. This is a definite page-turner and thought-provoker. Shawn and I watched the movie after I read this and we both really liked it.

And, if you’re not the page-turning type, I’d recommend checking out Audible. I’ve had a membership for a few years and love it- I listen to books while driving, working out, editing, doing laundry etc!

our road-trip travel hacks + must-haves

TRAVEL, LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglin1 Comment
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So far this summer we’ve spent about 60 hours in the car as a family, getting to our vacations. :) It’s not been near as bad as I anticipated, and we’ve learned a few trips along the way- so I’m here to share!

Our best road-trip travel hacks:

  • Slip on shoes for kids. Keep in one place when inside the car so you don’t have to search for them every time you need to get out. We especially love Natives so this is usually what they are wearing.

  • Small neck pillow and blanket for each kid. We keep in a basket of these in the back of the car all the time.

  • We are big fans of leaving early in the morning so that we can take a pit stop at lunch. So, we get up early. To help the kids sleep, and because I just love it, I keep my car diffuser on all the time- usually with a relaxing scent like lavender. I will throw some peppermint oil in there if I’m driving and feeling sleepy and it perks me up right away. This is the one I have, and it works well, though I wish I would have tried this one since it doesn’t take up a cupholder.

  • Unlimited screen time & cell phone hotspot or downloaded movies. That’s right- we give our kids unlimited screen time and turn on one of our cell phone hotspots while driving. We came really close to using up all of our data this month, but didn’t and it was worth it for the peace and quiet! Also, we say “unlimited” screen time, but in reality they fall asleep watching or their devices die. If you don’t want to turn on your hotspot, you can download selected movies from Netflix for free. They expire in a week so be sure to do it just before your trip. A couple of must-haves for this are some good headphones (we have had plenty break, these are the best), durable iPad cases. We keep a designated backpack to hold all 3 tablets, headphones, and chargers so that they are easily found when not in use.

  • Stay hydrated- We also always bring an insulated mug for both Shawn and I and a water bottle for each kid. The kids know they are in charge of their own cup, so it gives them a little responsibility- though we are still picking them up a lot! Did you know you get a .10 discount if you bring your own mug to Starbucks?! Also, on this note- you’ll want to check out the travel potty that we love because it definitely came in handy!

  • I bought several snacks in bulk at Sam’s before the trip and they really came in handy and kept us from buying junk at the convenience store. (However, my love for chewy Sweet Tarts did overpower me once!) For these trips I bought fruit snacks, Goldfish, Pop Chips, zBars, turkey pepperoni, bottled water, powdered flavorings for water, Babybel cheese, and apples. We kept them all in my favorite travel cooler bag with these flexible ice packs and the cold items stayed nice and cool!

  • Get a good gas station routine. To cut down on time and confusion at pit stops (and there are many when you have 3 littles), we stick to this plan every time- Shawn gets gas and takes Knox to bathroom, I clean out trash and take girls. Seems small, but saves us a lot of stress.

  • I always bring a small dish brush (this one fits in my toiletry bag) and a travel sized container of dish soap. I’ve used it for so many things- namely cleaning our water bottles, but they have come in handy with shoes, stains, and lots of other things!

  • I love to pack with compression bags. I have found I can fit so much more in and keep it all organized with them.

  • When there’s room, I bring a foldable laundry hamper that I set up in the room where we are staying. Makes doing laundry after we get home a breeze and keeps the room clean.

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I love a good list- so here are some things that makes life easier for us when traveling!


AUX Cable with iPhone/iPad charger port

• Band-Aids (these are for practical purposes but also entertain when you’re in a pinch! Warning- they make lots of trash)

The Best Portable Potty Seat + Liners (we LOVE this foldable potty seat and the throw away liners. It comes with a bag to store everything in and fits under a seat!)

Car Seat Protectors & Kick Mats


Cute backpacks they can carry

Contigo cups

Boogie Wipes (we love the grape ones)

Kid’s Melatonin (We first used these to help with jet lag while in China, and they work so well for our kids that we now take them with us whenever we travel.)

Kickee Pants Blankets So soft and lightweight, fold up to a small size

Boogie Board

Water Wow

Wikki Stix

• Our Favorite Activity Books

Durable Headphones

Tough iPad Cases


Tula Carrier

Airlight Carrier - we used this when the Tula was too hot. The airlight is mesh and breathable, perfect for a newborn to about 6 months. It packs small and is also great for water/splash pad/pool situations because it dries quickly. Of course, I wouldn’t swim in it- but it was nice to have when I was supervising one child while wearing another.

Snack Cups

Portable Placemat


• Mineral Sunscreen (my favorite for face, for body)

Essential Oil Carrier

Oils that I typically carry are

  • Thieves - germ blaster

  • R.C. - excellent for congestion

  • Lavender - sooooo many uses but great for allergies, bug bites, promoting sleep

  • Peppermint - Shawn swears by this for headache relief, great for tummy aches and cooling in the heat

  • DiGize - for all those tummy troubles after adventurous eating

  • Geranium - this is a MUST HAVE for us because Liv gets nosebleeds and this oil stops them quickly

  • Oregano - ear infections, other infections)

Travel Size Dry Shampoo

• Travel Size Dish Soap

Small Dish Brush

Thieves Hand Sanitizer (Young Living)

Probiotics (we use Life 9 by Young Living)


Hardside Rolling Suitcases - These are great because they are expandable and hold a lot.

Foldable Laundry Hamper

CamelBak - I bought one of these years ago and now Shawn mostly carries it. It’s been great for family camp and other days when we’ve been outside a lot.

Tough Luggage Tags with Privacy

Compression Bags

Double Inline Stroller - This one folds down relatively small and we have loved it!

• Extra Gallon Ziploc Bags/a few empty plastic grocery sacks- these are great for alllllll sorts of things. Use them as a dry bag or to cover super dirty shoes. They don’t take up much room and I love having them because I always find a use for them.


Foldable Cart (Beach) - Thankfully, the condo we rented had one of these, but we found out quickly that the wheel size matters! This cart is pricier but worth it when you’re dragging your stuff across the sandy beach.

Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Pop-up Beach Tent - a MUST HAVE with an infant!


Freezable Tote

Dried Chile Mango (addicting!!!)

Larabars (Lemon is my fave!)

ClifKid Zbars

• Turkey Pepperoni

• Beef Jerky

Yeti Ramblers for Coffee

Nalgene Water Bottles