I first met Sarah, the owner of Ara Collective, while living in Uganda in 2013. Her magnetic personality invites people of all walks of life into her world. She exudes passion, talent and beauty in everything she does, whether it is hosting a dinner party, traveling the world or designing artisan hand crafted pieces. I have been so excited to follow along on her new journey of Ara and I can’t wait for you to take a peek inside of this beautiful collection!



Indigo Jaspe Pillow – 16″x 16″ – $69.00


This Indigo Jaspe Pillow is officially one of the most beautiful items of our home.  It was woven in the Guatemalan highlands on handcrafted foot looms with locally sourced materials. I can’t get over the beauty woven into the design of this pillow. Knowing this item was hand made by women who were once the most marginalized and isolated people in their communities and have now found such a incredible way for sustainable living makes me love it even more.


The best part of this product is that 10% of it’s proceeds go back to helping the collective of Pixan to help provide scholarships, education and health initiatives for their artisans. There are 6 different groups of artisans in this collective and each is made up of passionate, creative people who make one of a kind goods for Ara. I LOVE looking at my Indigo Jaspe Pillow knowing that it is an item from a passionate group of artisans who love giving back to their own community and have been honing their craft for many generations.



Ara Collective is offering my readers a 15% discount when you use the code MARY15

I invite you to head on over to Ara’s shop to find the perfect rug, pillow or throw for your home. Educate yourself on the amazing artisans that are handcrafting the products that you will invite into your world and see how you will be helping their world with your purchase.

I will leave you with a beautiful quote from Ara’s mission:

“we believe every person—despite the social, economic or geographic situation

they were born into—deserves the freedom to discover, to dream and to thrive.”




  • July 23, 2015 - 1:46 am

    Maddy T - Omg! Your shoes are so cute! Where did you get them at??ReplyCancel

Debt Free Dating

He asked me if he could take me out on a date Tuesday evening and I’m not going to lie, my heart totally skipped a beat. I had butterflies all day! We hadn’t gone out on a real date in so long, mainly because we were on such a strict budget and a reason we got into a mess of debt was because we spoiled each other rotten a little bit too much. I told JP one day that I realized that it was’t him picking me up and taking me on these lovely dates full of LA dining and experiences, it was actually a credit card company. It made me sick to my stomach and definitely didn’t welcome the thought of many dates in our near future.

But when he asked me out this week, what I really heard him say was “challenge accepted!”

A Love Note


When we decided a few months ago that we were really strapping down on our spending and sticking to a tight budget, there were a few things we decided immediately to cut out from our lifestyle. For me, fresh flowers and manicures were on the list. I am a girl after all!

I came home to this sweet note after a meeting on Tuesday and I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. I love how he still knew the way to my heart and it cost absolutely no money at all!

A Weekly Deal


Like I mentioned before, our dining out is what really helped us accrue a lot of unnecessary debt. We both love food and trying new restaurants so this was a recipe for disaster without a strict budget! When JP asked for our date to be a on a Tuesday, I knew what he was thinking!

Our local Whole Foods has a great deal on Tuesdays and Saturdays; two street tacos for only $3. We both were rather hungry so we ordered 6 in total. We walked out of the market with our dinner in hand for only $9!! When do you ever walk out of Whole Foods only spending $9 much less a dinner for two people?! I felt like we robbed a bank.


A Free Place to Wander


We live in Glendale, California and it is home to one of the most beautiful outdoor malls, The Americana. We drove a mile down the road, parked our car and began to walk around. Side Note: remember to get your parking validated so you don’t have to pay that extra money. JP always sneaks into the movie theater to do this. Some may see a mall as a HORRIBLE place to go to when you are on a budget but for us, we just love wandering and people watching. Going later at night helped too because Madewell and Apple aren’t even open then. 😉

When we got there we realized we were walking in on the middle of The Goonies playing on the lawn! I wish we would have known about these free movies as that would have been a great place to cuddle up and be outside. Do you have any local events like these? Concerts? Movies?


Bookstore Cuddles


I. love. bookstores.

Seriously, when all else fails, just bring me to Barnes and Noble and I am happy girl. I will grab some intriguing books off the shelf, find myself a little corner and be content. I asked JP if we could go cuddle over a good book and he happily agreed. He grabbed the Humans of New York coffee table book and pulled up a couple of chairs. We flipped through the pages laughing and crying, shared stories that we had heard on podcasts the past week and just enjoyed being by each others side with no agenda.


Bookstores help me dream big! We flipped through pages of Treehouse books, choosing which one we would live in. We also walked to the Christian Life section of the store and looked at the shelf. We found the spot where all the authors with the last name of M reside and wondered what it would look like with a book squished in the middle with the name McLeod on it. We declared the dream of me writing a book out loud, prayed over it and chose the prettiest one we could find for inspiration. There is nothing more romantic to me than dreaming big with my husband and that is certainly free!


A Free Treat


We love Pressed Juicery! This is mainly a cold pressed juice store located in Southern California. A few of their locations also serve frozen juice. Picture a frozen yogurt experience but instead, it is just juice! They have a selection of healthy topping options like sea salt, chia seeds, fruit, almond butter, etc. We chose vanilla juice with cacao syrup and granola. So delicious!

The best part of our late night treat was it was absolutely free! We frequent Pressed Juicery and have a number on file with them. Every purchase you make, you get a point. After a certain amount of points, you get free juice! We knew we had enough points to get a free juice so we planned on that! Let me tell you, it was even yummier not having to pay for it!


This was our first date out on our debt free journey! I can’t tell you how amazing it felt getting creative with ideas and we are already scheming what the next adventure will be.

What are some ways you and your partner have saved money when it comes to dating one another? We would LOVE to hear all of the tricks you have up your sleeves!!

  • July 20, 2015 - 9:06 am

    Alicia - What a fun night! I LOVE date nights and trying new restaurants too, but I love how you were so creative in making it a memorable AND super fun night without spending a lot of money. Plus, any reason to eat Whole Foods is a good one with me. 😉ReplyCancel

  • July 30, 2015 - 6:46 pm

    Elysabeth Ratto - Oh my goodness, I love this post sooo much! We too live on a very strict budget being a family of 3 in New York, but I find that it really allows us to get creative. My favorite part of this entire post is when you two pray over your dream of writing a book. What an amazing moment. And Savor would be the prettiest book in that section! 😉 SO GOOD.ReplyCancel


I used to really hate my name. As a young girl, I never resonated with it. There were too many nursery rhymes and children’s songs for one to feel special. I felt disconnected with a lack of my own identity. I grew up Catholic and the Virgin Mary is a very beautiful symbol in this denomination of religion. I remember staring at the statues and paintings that were on display in the church wondering what it must have felt like to be her.
Can you imagine an angel appearing from heaven and declaring you have been favored by God and that you will carry His one and only Son? Oh, and that Son is going to be the Messiah? How the heck did that conversation go when she told her soon to be husband Joseph? What I have grown to admire most about Mary is her obedience. God called her to live radically and step forward in a very unknown situation and she agreed. Having to flee her hometown, be considered the outcast and having so much gossip said about her is enough to break any individual. But the day that Jesus was born, all of God’s promises and truth came to life and Mary’s love for Him grew stronger and more faithful.
I want to live a life of obedience like Mary and Joseph. I want to listen to God’s insane plans for me and JP trusting that He will guide us exactly where we need to go. I want people to look at our lives and see God, just like they did/do with Mary and Joseph. I’m sure more times than not people will think we are crazy and that is okay. God’s love for us is absolutely crazy and if we continue saying yes, He will invite us to live out the most amazing story.
In the past week, my birth mother has come up in conversation a lot. A couple of friends have asked if I would ever want to meet her and I have never been able to give a confident yes or no answer. It is a sensitive subject as I have never had any communication with her, besides the time we spent together while I was in her womb. To be honest, I really do believe those 9 months were enough. She is the person I admire most in this world as she gave me life. Did she have to? No. But she obediently made the choice of carrying me to full term. Deep down in my heart, I feel this intense love from her. I feel like she spoke to me, prayed for me, cared for me enough to last my lifetime. She did what she knew she had to do, no matter the chaos it caused around her, to fulfill God’s purpose of her life and ultimately mine.
That is selfless, obedient and sacrificial. Just like the Virgin Mary. Just like everything I strive to be.
It’s easy to look at the Virgin Mary and my birth mother and call them crazy. These are two incredibly hard situations to be put through but I believe through taking those courageous and humble steps forward, the love they have felt in their hearts is like nothing else.
Now, at 28 years old,  I LOVE being Mary! For the life I desire to live, I honestly could not think of a better name for myself. I am reminded whenever I write it on paper that my birth mother gave me the most selfless gift which then led me to my parents who gave me this name. When my husband whispers it after “I love you” I am reminded that I have an incredible man by my side who supports me no matter what situation God calls us to. And of course, my Savior is the result of such an incredible young woman obeying God, which makes her a saint in my book. Because of them, I am loved fully and strive to share that love as vulnerably as I can on a daily basis.
  • July 15, 2015 - 10:43 pm

    Gabrielle - Mary’s Song of Praise 46 Mary said ” My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because God my Saviour, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant ! From now on all people will call me happy, because of the great things The Mighty God has done for me. His name is Holy; from one generation to another he shows mercy to those who honour Him.”

    Hello Mary what a beautiful statement you wrote again. Scripture says in Isaiah 49 : 1 Before I was born, The Lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant. Which recalls Mary’s Song of Praise. When you go through the whole scripture you understand how the name we have been given is a sign of our Mission here and our calling. Verses 15 so the Lord answers ” Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. 16 Jerusalem, I can never forget you ! I have written your name on the palms of my hands. ” Everytime God calls us he calls our name. Oh Lord! God is Good. He knows why your name is Mary and he will use you through it.
    Mine is Gabrielle and my story is different. I always loved my name because of what it means in Hebrew : ” God gives strength “. I have always been thankful to my mum for picking that name. I always thought it was a blessing. But it just in the recent years that I really embraced the mission behind it : being a Woman of God as God called me to be through my name. Indeed in American/ French the meaning of Gabrielle is Woman of God.
    God bless,ReplyCancel



I can’t help but get that Will Smith song in my head during this time of year. Am I the only one? This is one of our busiest years to date as far as traveling for work and wedding season here in Southern California. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Ketchikan, Alaska for a little bit of work and play. Actually, a little bit of play and a lot of work. During our down time, we managed to capture a few sweet memories of our trip up north.




How happy(and handsome) does JP look? I promise I was so excited for our sushi date as well!


So we have this really bad habit of not bringing our nice camera with us when we are exploring new places. Especially on work trips. Our most recent trips to Iceland, Norway and Cape Town are hardly documented besides the pictures we took on our phone which lets face it, end up right on Instagram. It makes me really sad that we don’t have more images of the places we travel to, so we tried to change that this time. We barely succeeded.




We decided to hike Deer Mountain Trail the morning of our wedding we were documenting. Was it the best decision? Probably not. This 7 mile hike is just minutes away from downtown. We started on the trail head and a couple of hours later made it to the very top as we adventured through the mossy forest below. The view was so gorgeous and it was so nice to be away from the tourist hustle and bustle of the city. Our legs may have been shaking on our way down the mountain and in a lot of pain the rest of the trip, but it was so worth it!



I didn’t know much about Ketchikan before we arrived but soon I learned so much! The welcome sign alone informs you that it was the first Alaskan city and that it is the salmon fishing capital of the world. So we knew our goal was to eat as much fish as possible on this trip! We found ourselves at the Alaska Fish House on the 4th of July and it was delicious. I scarfed down my salmon chowder so quickly as we watched people enjoy the holiday festivities right outside our window.


Are you traveling anywhere this summer? Is it with family? Friends? Solo? If not, where is a place you DREAM of traveling to?

I have ONE more discount code to give away for the Nine Retreat. If you would like a chance to win this code, please leave a comment sharing your summer plans/dreams below! I can’t wait to hear what you all are up to this summer!

Last weeks $500 discount code giveaway is:

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Congratulations Morgan!! I’ll be writing you shortly giving you all the details! So happy we will get to retreat together!




This week I am sharing some items that I use in my everyday life. I stopped dead in my tracks walking down the vitamin aisle at Target one day..how beautiful is this vitamin packaging?! The best part is they are gummy vitamins! I actually look forward to taking my vitamins…I have never said that before! I carry this 17oz bottle with me everywhere I go, it’s perfect for your purse! Your water stays cool for up to 24 hours, perfect for my active lifestyle. These amazing headphones were a lovely Christmas present from my husband. I would never buy them on my own but I am absolutely in love with them! He knows me better than myself. I listen to A LOT of podcasts with these beauties!



Water Bottle- Swell



Vitamins- Olly Multi from Target



Headphones- Beats by Dre

  • July 12, 2015 - 8:01 pm

    Sarah - I just started getting really into podcasts for entertainment on my evening walks around my neighborhood. Would love to hear what some of your faves are!ReplyCancel