Christmas card reveal! …and the joys of being single at Christmas.

This year I finally sent out Christmas cards, and today I’m so excited to share with you what they looked like.
Brace yourself. It’s a candid photo but I think it really captures the Christmas spirit and the playful bond we have… our Valentine’s Day card didn’t really capture that.

christmas cards // stephanieorefice.net

 

Ha!

Obviously I (attempted) to photoshop that.

But let me take a minute to be real…. after I share with you this John Mayer lyric.

when it comes to December, it's obvious why no one wants to be alone at Christmas time ~ John Mayer // stephanieorefice.net

I try not to be all ultra-whiny single person. I’m happy for my friends who are married and pregnant and stuff. But I want a freaking cool, printed Christmas card with my face. But sometimes my friends do that. They send me a Christmas card of just them. and I think…. this is so weird. It really is weird. And I’d like to not draw attention to the fact that I am single any more than I need to.

The other night I picked this bell ringer up and she started talking to me about if I was married or had a boyfriend or anything and I said no, and she told me I was WASTING MY LIFE AWAY. She seriously said that. and I laughed it off and continued to ask her about the fried chicken she had in her purse, but it hurt.

Later that night I was telling someone about how I have this fear of getting hurt. The context was in regards to like physical pain, but it’s even more true when it comes to emotional pain. I am terrified of being hurt. In the past I have let people in. and I’ve been guarded. and they’ve said “it’s okay, trust me.” and I will. and then you know what they’ve done? they have stepped on my heart and kicked it around and spit on it for good measure. and then I turn into this:

Seriously, when I saw that… I almost cried. because it’s so true for me.

So then Christmas rolls around and my normally guarded, strong heart starts to melt away because everyone’s posting about “Fun Holiday date nights!” and “cute gifts for your man” and then “everyone link up your Christmas cards!” and it’s like my weak spot has been exploited and suddenly I feel like I’m left out of a cool club and I don’t even know why.

and I don’t really know what the answer is. Celebrating singleness seems fake and shallow, especially during a time when it is such a huge, inconvenient bruise we keep bumping into things. But it also seems unfair to throw my wounded little heart a pity party, because the people who attend those seem to just bring gifts of bitterness and jealousy, and who wants that?

I guess it’s somewhere in the middle, being able to admit that I’d love the headache of what to buy the boy I love or choosing which picture to put on our Christmas cards… but also being able to admit that I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything less than God’s best. and sometimes that takes a lot of pieces being put together – pieces that might not even be in my life right now.

…but man.

The struggle.

So real.

BorrowedHeaven

The best song of 2014.

The Best Songs Of 2014
If there’s one thing I can really get excited about… like REALLY excited about, it’s music.
Music kills me and then brings me back to life and has me wanting to dance through fields of flowers and/or lay on my bedroom floor and cry until I puke.
I just love music.
So I’m excited to link up with Helene and share the best songs of 2014.
Except here’s the catch.I only have one.

It’s the best song. Like… THE BEST song. Of all time, perhaps ever.

I drove to Seattle…. and back…. with just this song on repeat.
And let me be real, I don’t even know some of what he sings in this song.
WHO CARES, right!? WHO FREAKING CARES!

Here’s another catch.
It’s not just the song.
It’s the video.

THE VIDEO IS SO FUN! He moves like magic. and butter. like magic butter.

Okay here it is.

 

 Just in case you’re like “eh…. they don’t look like they have THAT MUCH fun…”

Basically no other song that came out in 2014 even matters or compares to this song at all.
Also.
It took me forever to figure out what the words were. I thought it was “Girl city, hallelujah.” Then Emily said it was “Girl sent you, hallelujah”… but I’m pretty sure the words are “Girls, it’s your hallelujah.” WHO EVEN CARES!? IT IS THE BEST SONG EVER.
Thank you Mark Ronson, the under appreciated genius behind this.

I finally sent Christmas cards.

christmas cards // stephanieorefice.net

 

Sometimes it’s the little victories, you know?
Like sometimes I get out of bed having only heard two different alarms go off on my phone.
Sometimes I make it an entire day without having any dairy or gluten.
And sometimes I stick to the whole cash-only budget system.

AND SOMETIMES!
After years of collecting 1/2 off cards the day after Christmas, thinking “next year I’ll send these…” SOMETIMES I SEND THEM.

I was driving home one evening, thinking “tonight is the night.” and I realized I didn’t have my copy of Enchanted, which was kind of the ONLY movie I wanted to watch. Then I opened my mailbox and the Disney Movie Club had sent me the whole The Santa Clause collection. I realized I had only ever seen the first one. It seemed like a perfect fit.

For the first two movies, I was on Pinterest looking at all the cool things. Then I remembered… oh yeah! Christmas cards!

And today.

I put 28 Christmas cards in the mail.
With HARRY POTTER STAMPS!

I was a little torn about if it was socially acceptable to put a stamp of Voldemort attempting to destroy Harry Potter on a Christmas card and then I thought… YOLO. and I did it. and I am so excited for everyone to get them. It’s like I sent a bunch of hugs in the mail.

Also. This is #10 on my 101 list. DONE. 7 done in 3.5 months. Off to a pretty good start.

Now I’m going to go bask in the glory of doing one thing I have wanted to do for years by watching a few episodes of an old season of America’s Next Top Model. Because I’m a grown up!

a blog about coffee <3 (and a giveaway!)

but first… coffee // stephanieorefice.net

Hi.
Soooo.
I love coffee. So much.

When I was given the opportunity to review Brooklyn Beans variety pack of K-Cups, I was pretty excited… because coffee. But I was also kind of nervous… because Keurig. It’s definitely not my favorite method of coffee consumption, but when someone offers to send you FORTY CUPS OF COFFEE for free… well let’s just say… here we are.

I LOVED pouring out all of the cups and looking at the different names and pictures on each individual cup. “Variety pack” is a very accurate term – there were so many different kinds!

brooklyn beans coffee roastery k-cup review // stephanieorefice.net brooklyn beans coffee roastery k-cup review // stephanieorefice.net brooklyn beans coffee roastery k-cup review // stephanieorefice.net brooklyn beans coffee roastery k-cup review // stephanieorefice.net

 

I don’t know if you know this, but Christmas is SO BUSY in The Salvation Army, where I work. Late nights doing kettles, early mornings signing people up for Christmas assistance… to say that I’m tired is a complete understatement. EXHAUSTED is a better word. And sometimes, let’s just be real… I don’t even have the energy to grind up beans for a pot of coffee. And when it’s night time, I don’t even WANT a whole pot. All I want is one little cup of coffee to sip on as I reflect on my day.

Enter the Brooklyn Beans Variety Count Coffee Singles.

brooklyn beans roasters coffee k-cups review // stephanieorefice.net

One of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of k-cups is that I can’t control the “brew to taste” aspect. I’d rather have a cup of too-strong coffee that I can alter with creamer than an ultra watery cup that – as far as I’m concerned – cannot be saved. But there were plenty of options in this variety pack that met my standards (especially the Cyclone and Express-o ones).

brooklyn beans coffee roastery k-cup review // stephanieorefice.net

Look. at. that. coffee. Hearts out my eyes emoji here.

Every night for the past few weeks I have had a piece of delicious coconut/banana bread and a cup of Brooklyn Beans Roastery coffee before bed, sitting by the fire with my cozy socks on and unwinding from the day. I am slowly dreading the day I use my last one, and I am seriously considering buying another box so that I am always prepared for the moments when I want coffee but have very minimal coffee.

And just so you know. Coffee is reeeeaaaaal important to me. SO important. I even made this nice picture to prove it :)

i love coffee. <3 // stephanieorefice.net

Luckily for all of you, Brooklyn Beans is also giving all of you a chance to win one of these packs to try yourself! If you live near me and you win, you must promise that I can come and drink one of your Express-o ones. Good luck :)

I was sent the Brooklyn Beans Variety Count Coffee Singles for review through Tomoson.com. All opinions are 100% my own.

Why I don’t do sponsors (but meet my friends!)

These days, every blog has a sidebar with a “Sponsors” option. It has a list of various sized images of different bloggers who paid money for a little tiny spot on the side of their blog. In the non-blog world, this is referred to as ADVERTISING, but for some reason within the blog world we’re all about “community” and the word “advertise” sounds a bit more cold than “sponsor.”

Here on my blog, I’m never going to do sponsors.
Instead, I’m just going to keep my little “friendlies” section.

They are people I KNOW. and people I LOVE. and whenever I tweet about them or write about them on my blog or share what they’re doing… it’s not because they paid me. It’s because I believe in them.

and because I believe in them, I want to take a minute and introduce you to the people I want you to know.


Mary-Keith
If you have paid any attention to my blog over the past 10 weeks, you’ll notice the name Mary-Keith has been popping up more and more often. I met Mary-Keith on Instagram two months ago, and we have become quick friends. Not just the comment on each other’s blogs kind of friends, but the non-stop texting maybe if I got married she’d be a bridesmaid kind of friend. She is sincere and honest and driven and I am honored to be her friend. Mary-Keith just gets me. She makes me feel #blessed.

29


Susannah
Susannah and I were paired up for a blog swap awhile ago and when we realized that we live basically in the same city, we decided to meet up in real person. We have had coffee a few times since then, and I absolutely adore her. She is brilliant… one of those people who knows a lot but doesn’t throw it around like it is where her value lies. And now she is mom to one of the cutest little baby boys I have ever seen in my entire life. He is tiny and wonderful and he is lucky to have her as a mom. And Nate as a dad, though I’ve still yet to actually meet Nate so I am not sure if he is real or if Susannah has mad photoshopping skills. :)

29


Robyn
Robyn is one of the first bloggers I immediately decided that I loved when I started branching out into the world of blogging. I am drawn to her sincerity. Not once have I felt like Robyn is trying to get people to believe she is something that she is not, and I appreciate that. She is a true gem in a world where so much seems styled and staged and I hope to one day be able to meet her.

29

Jess Loves This Life
Jess
Similar to how I met Susannah, I met Jess through a blog swap. She has an annual pass to Disneyland and so do I, so when I was down in California in September we went to Disneyland together for the afternoon/evening and let me tell you… if I still lived in SoCal, I would spend so much time at Disneyland with her. She is so incredibly sweet and genuine and FUN. If only I could do some of her cool DIY crafts with her and then go to Disneyland and watch the fireworks! That would be perfect. Oh and she’s getting married in February and her fiancé is just fantastic and I am already dying to see the pictures, because it’s going to be magical.

29

the ruff adventure
Meagan
When I was little I went to music camp. My arch nemesis was this guy named Aaron who was always better than me and won awards before I did and ugh. He’s grown up to be a perfectly decent human and then he married Meagan, who I have only encountered a few brief moments in real life, but I only hear great things about through the Sarahs – Aaron’s aunt and cousin, who are two of my closest and dearest friends. I wish I lived closer so we could walk around Camp together with coffees in our hands more often, but in my heart we’ve already done that a zillion times.

29


Ryan
Endless Pursuit is a faith based multiple sclerosis non-profit run by my good friend Ryan. It’s weird how one day you don’t care about something at all and the next day you realize how strongly someone you care about is affected by it and suddenly you give all the craps in the world. That is me – MS – Ryan – my craps. You know how there are those “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce” mugs? I want one of those but substitute the name Beyonce for Ryan Thompson, because he also is a co-owner of Pines, my favorite coffee place (and that is how I met Ryan). All that and he still makes time to engage in deep emoji conversations with me. The one thing he hasn’t made time to do is watch Catfish, even after I made him a list of the 5 best episodes. Can you all do me a solid and help me convince him that watching Catfish is time well spent? Thanks.

(the best) Gluten/Dairy-Free Coconut Banana Bread (in the world!!!!!)

Gluten and Dairy Free Coconut/banana bread // stephanieorefice.net

Okay. So on my 101 in 1001 days list (AFTER I POST THIS I AM LINKING IT TO THE FRONT OF MY BLOG I PROMISE), #38 is “perfect a signature gluten-free banana bread recipe.”

Because I LOVE ME SOME BANANA BREAD. I used to buy a piece of banana bread every time I went to Starbucks. Then I discovered that gluten was making me itchy and cranky and tired and headachy. For nearly two years I have been trying to figure out THE BEST gluten free banana bread recipe. I’ve tried like fifteen gazillion recipes. And finally…. I nailed it. I found a recipe and adapted it and it is seriously the most delicious banana bread I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.

FOR THE RECORD. I am not a food blogger.
I will never be a food blogger.
But listen. This gluten and dairy free coconut banana bread is the song of my heart right now. It’s so perfect. If I could somehow frame this banana bread in my room I would because it is just that good.

PLEASE TRY IT! and tell me how you like it.

gluten/dairy free coconut banana bread // stephanieorefice.net

Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick.

INGREDIENTS
3 mediam bananas, mashed

1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (there’s no real limit to this if you love coconut as much as I do… I just keep pouring until I remember that not everybody loves coconut and wonder if they’d like it with all the coconut I’ve added)

gluten/dairy free coconut banana bread // stephanieorefice.net

#1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
#2. Grease and set aside a 9″x5″ loaf pan.
#3. MASH THOSE BANANAS!
#4. Stir together the coconut oil and sugar in a large bowl.
#5. Add the eggs, vanilla and coconut and whisk together.
#6. Pour the flour, baking soda & salt on the wet ingredients and gently mix until it is smooth.
#7. Gently fold in the bananas and coconut until it’s all mixed up.

#8. bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
(with 15 minutes remaining, sprinkle some extra coconut on top of the bread for some extra, ultra coconut)
#9. Let cool before cutting. This part is hard.

THEN.
Eat it. With a cup of coffee. and love it so much you want to MARRY IT!

Linked up with Weekend Potluck / Weekend Recipe Linkup Party /

It’s hip to be square.

Sometime at the end of the summer of 2013, I decided to start using floating rectangle pictures on instagram. I have no idea why. I guess I thought they looked super cool. But then sometime a few months ago, I started getting really jealous of the squares. I started thinking that maybe I was missing out on something because I wasn’t squared.

So a few weeks ago…. I did it. I went back to squares.

Because it’s hip to be square or something. I don’t know.

This has been life since I made that big decision:

it's hip to be square // stephanieorefice.net

one //
My best friend Emily is hilarious. Together we are the funniest people in the entire world, even if we live far away from each other. On this day we were particularly funny, like almost peeing our pants funny. Naturally we were sending each other pictures of ourselves cracking up. and FYI, the thing that was so funny… gets more and more hilarious every single day.

two //
You guys. I have discovered the very best banana bread recipe in the ENTIRE WORLD. It’s coconut/banana bread. I’ve basically had a loaf of it in the kitchen at all times for the past 3 weeks. It’s moist (I’M SO SORRY THAT’S JUST THE BEST WORD TO DESCRIBE IT) and coconutty but also banana-y. It’s just perfect. I’ll share the recipe soon.

three // 
In Nashville, I have these friends Travis & Megan. And they have this friend, Brandon, who I met the lat time I was there. And he is funny. We video chatted and as we said our goodbyes, he threw out this brilliant little sentence that I had to write own because it was so funny. Then when I looked at it the next morning, I realized it seemed like he was writing a worship song about himself. Haha.

four //
I recently spent the evening with Becky from Oh My Gosh Beck. She is fantastic and SO THOUGHTFUL. She gave me a little bag of goodies. On the day we had just met! All pink and all perfect. She gets me. Tomorrow we’re going to the movies together and I am so excited!

it's hip to be square // stephanieorefice.net

five // 
In The Salvation Army, Christmas = kettles. and late nights. and maybe my 11th day in a row clocking in. But I’m okay with it because we’re raising the money we need to keep feeding the hungry members of our community.

six // 
Okay so I’m all about these Stumptown coffee cartons and I was soooo excited to try this Winter Cheer brew. It was weird and thumbs down and I wished I’d spent my $4 at Whole Foods on a regular carton of iced coffee. But eh. You live and you learn.

seven // 
“You can do it all. But you don’t have to.” <<< God bless you, Whole Foods. I really needed that encouragement.

eight // 
Once a week I go to Trader Joe’s and buy asparagus and coconut chips. That’s probably a really weird combination but eh. That’s what I do. Sometimes I shake things up and even buy almond butter or green peppers. But they had these fresh, wonderful smelling wreaths outside. I wanted to sit next to them and soak up their scent.

 

Well.
There you have it.
An ultra exciting look into the last week and a half of my life.
:)

Holiday Wishes from Idina Menzel (review)

This Thanksgiving, we had a very special treat in our house. One of the girls in my youth group, who is a foster child, came and spent Thanksgiving with us. She loooooves Christmas and Christmas songs, so we decided to pull out our Christmas decorations a few days early so that she could help us decorate the house.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Idina Menzel‘s new Christmas album, Holiday Wishes, to blast through our house while the Christmas decorations went up.

Christmas decorating // stephanieorefice.net

It was a cozy morning, the house smelled of banana bread, candles were lit, and the house got sparklier by the minute. Hearing Idina Menzel’s big voice fill up the empty spaces of our house got us all in the Christmas spirit.

First – let me say that I love Michael Buble. A lot. And Idina Menzel does a duet with him. and there’s a music video for it that is FABULOUS. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. And Idina Menzel and Michael Buble singing a duet? Stop the world now. It is perfect.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is The Christmas Song. The arrangement of it captures the feeling of Christmas beautifully in a way I don’t normally think of when I hear the song. I think it’s the jingle bells. :)

The whole album is fabulous, except for one thing.

The one downfall of the whole album.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

I love the song, but I will skip it 100% of the time in order to listen to another version. It’s a little too scream-y for me. I actually felt like she was screaming in my face, and it made me scared. Can someone else please back me up on this, or am I just ultra-sensitive to her voice?

Anyway.

I love that the track listing doesn’t just consist of the typical Christmas carols, but it also included some overlooked, beautiful winter songs: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?, December Prayer, and River (which Lea Michele once did and it sounds the exact same to me).

 

and you want to know what was some unexpected holiday magic?

When You Wish Upon A Star. WHAT A GEM! Who knew that worked as a Christmas song? Apparently Idina Menzel. You can pick up the album on Amazon or iTunes and hear it for yourself.

So now our house is all decorated for Christmas. It’s sparkly, green and red, and cozy. I’ve been spending my evenings sitting next to the fireplace and drinking cups (multiple cups) of coffee.

Christmas // stephanieorefice.net Christmas // stephanieorefice.net Christmas // stephanieorefice.net Christmas // stephanieorefice.net

 

 

I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

How the Kiss InstaWave is making my dreams come true.

I. want. to. be. a. Disney. Princess.

And you know what Disney Princesses have?

FABULOUS HAIR. Sometimes I have tried to curl my hair. I will spend 45 minutes curling my hair and then two hours later….

instagram.com/stephanieorefice

That’s real. That really happened. To me.

But then.

THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT CHANGED MY LIFE.

I received the Kiss InstaWave to review. And I’m like ultra impatient. I took a picture of it and then busted into it right away to see what was up.

Kiss InstaWave Review // stephanieorefice.net

This is what my hair looked like before. and I sometimes tend to look like a psychotic serial killer when I take pictures of myself smiling.

IMG_9071
A few minutes later, I took this ultra artsy out of focus (okay not ultra artsy just super lazy) picture of my hair:

Kiss InstaWave Review // stephanieorefice.net

 

I was excited to keep figuring this InstaWave thing out, so I decided to document what happened the next time I used it. Here are the before and afters:

IMG_9075 IMG_9077IMG_9080

Here’s what makes the InstaWave so cool.

  • It’s really tangle free. The few times my hair has gotten a little tangly, a quick pressing the button the other direction untangles it.
  • The curls can go in either direction, left or right. You just decide which way you want it to spin, and press a button.
  • It can get up to 420 degrees. I’m too much of a scaredy cat to put that much heat on my hair, so I tend to stick with the low setting.

I like it so much that I even decided to make a video about it. If you happen to be looking for a magic hair wand for your Christmas list…. you’ve gotta add this one.


I was provided a Kiss InstaWave for review by BrandBacker. All opinions are 100% my own.

Existing Explanations.

For the most part, I’m okay with being single. I get to live a pretty cool, spontaneous life and I am enjoying it as fully as I can in case it changes.

But dangit, sometimes it’s really hard.

And by sometimes I mean…. Tuesdays and Sundays.

Once at our little area youth pastor meeting, all eyes were on me to answer the question, “what is the hardest part about being single and in youth ministry?,” because I was the only single person at the table. “Not having anyone to talk about it with,” was my answer. There have been nights where I’ve had kids straight up tell me they hate the stupid church and roll their eyes at me and say they’re never coming back. I deal with it alone. I go fill out attendance and stats alone. I drive home alone. I go to sleep alone. I RARELY talk to ANYONE about what has happened at church on the day it happens.

Sunday I had a rough day. I was sitting in my office, frustrated to the point of tears and I realized that the people I’d instinctively reached out to were single, God-fearing men. and I hurt because of that truth. I started texting Mary-Keith about it, which was good…. but then I’d brought these kind boys into the midst of my problems so I could use them to temporarily fill an emotional void in my life. I reached out in the hopes of finding an interim significant other for a few minutes, because I craved the intimacy of someone loving me enough to hurt with me.

Obviously I survived Sunday but now I’m frustrated. I’m a pretty okay person. I’m loyal and I’m really really funny. I try to be a better friend than I was the day before, and I have actually accepted my role as an adult in society pretty well the past few years.

I have lots of people who are just a text message away.
But I don’t have a person.

and I kind of don’t understand, because I’m not just pretty okay… I’m actually pretty awesome.
and super humble, too.
But really…. I’m cool.

I don’t understand.

I did what I always do when I’m too frustrated at God to pray but still wanting to be reminded of all the ways that is a stupid decision. I turned to Madeleine L’Engle.

"Just because we don't understand does not mean that the explanation doesn't exist." ~ Madeleine L'Engle // stephanieorefice.net

 

“Just because we don’t understand does not mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”

Dang.
It kind of felt like we were sitting at The Q Cafe talking about life and she responded to my frustrations with those words, because they hit hard. Her words are what “trust” means in the frustrating times. When I put my trust in the Lord, I’m acknowledging that God has a reason for things. He and I don’t operate on the same level at all, so I will actually understand very little of it.

People die.
My loving friends are still without child.
My friends hurt from disease.
and I am alone.

It’s stupid. I’m not going to be gentle about my feelings towards it all, because God knows my heart and I think he’d rather me be honest than to be a hurting spirit in the shell of a good Christian. It’s all stupid and it makes me angry and I don’t understand at all.

The goal is not to understand. The goal is to trust. 

There are two boys in my church that always get in trouble. Sometimes I’ll ask them to split up before they’ve actually been in trouble, because I see them slowly starting to get out of control and I want to help save them from trouble. They’ll get angry at me because they don’t understand. I ask them if they believe I’m on the same team as them. and I ask them if they trust that I love them and want them to do well. and they say yes, and I encourage them to trust me.

I guess that’s what God does in my moments of frustration.

“Stephanie, do you believe that I am for you?
Do you trust that I love you?
Do you believe that I will not do anything to harm you?
Do you trust that I am good?”

More often than not, my “yes, Lord” looks  a lot like the little boys…. feet kicking at the floor, head down and eyes to the side. Then a loud, overdramatic sigh when they are asked to get up and be on their way.

…ugh.