Friday Favorites: Fashionista in Training (Just Kidding!)

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving lately!

This week, my daughter has been obsessed with shoes!  Carla May will hardly ever keep her own shoes on, but she loves to crawl around with her hands in mine, especially this gorgeous pair of red mules that I picked up at a local Fashion Flash Sale recently.

Another thing Carla May has been doing that has had me cracking up this week – she loves purses and bags and has made the connection that when mommy grabs her purse, it’s time to leave the house.  SO whenever she happens upon a bag she puts her arm through the handle and drags it behind her while she scoots off yelling “byyyyeeee!”  I really love this age!

Here are a few more things that have brought me joy this week:


I am so proud of my home state right now!!!  I had mentioned my support for Doug Jones here on the blog before, but only a small part of me thought that the people of Alabama would elect him since “democrat” seems to be a dirty word in much of the state.  In this case, to be proven wrong is such a thrill!

Watching the election coverage on Tuesday night was so inspiring for me.  I am very excited to see what Senator Doug Jones will accomplish.

Sidenote:  I love the fact that the majority of the 22,000+ write-in votes were for University of Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban!  Roll TIde!

Library Extension for Chrome

friday favorites library extensionFor my library enthusiasts, this may be a life-changing tool for you.  It certainly has been for me!  The library extension for Chrome is available for FREE download here.

When you are browsing or or any other online bookseller, the library extension shows you whether that title is available at your local library.  The extension window allows you to place a hold on that book with just one click.

I can’t tell you how much money this has saved me by encouraging me to check books out from our fabulous public library rather than purchase them!

The questions I get asked most often (surprisingly) from blog readers or Instagram friends are usually about what I am wearing.  You may have noticed from my blog and Instagram posts on Wednesday that I am using a new tool called, which allows me to more easily share with you products I like or similar clothing items to the looks I am wearing in my photographs.  I’m sharing this with you on Friday Favorites because is a somewhat exclusive program, so I am excited to have been accepted!  I even have my very own profile on their website and app (screenshot below)!

friday favorites liketoknow.itWhat this means:  If you click on any of my links from my blog or Instagram and make a purchase, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you), which helps me cover the expenses of running Hello Marilu, so thank you in advance for your support!  I’ll always try to link products or items of clothing that appear in my blog posts or photographs.  Also, I’ll likely create more fashion or style-centered posts in the future, but don’t worry!  I’m not going to go all fashionista on you.  I’ll stick with my usual mixture of classic neutrals and quirky, fun pieces!

How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Merry Christmas from the Morgans!

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Merry Christmas from the Morgans!

This year, we had Darris Hartman take our Christmas card photos in her studio.  Carla May was a wild child during the shoot – crawling all over the place, reaching for the camera and the lights, and trying to pull down the wreath.  You can just tell from her expressions what a mischievous mood she was in!  Poor Chatham was sick with a terrible chest cold during the photo shoot, but he was a good sport and plastered on a smile anyway.  I was praying that Darris might come away with one good photo, so I was so pleased to see she got this many!

Carla May is wearing the Zulily dress I mentioned on the blog awhile back, and I am wearing my favorite flannel shirt and jeans that I got at Madewell last year.   My Frye boots were a gift from Chatham about six years ago and they have really stood the test of time.  I wear them every winter and love them!

Shop Similar Shirts
Shop Similar Boots
Shop Similar Little Girl Dresses


Did you take Christmas photos this year?  How did they turn out? 

Do you have any tricks for getting a toddler to behave during photo shoots?

Let me know in the comments below!

Merry Christmas!


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Monday Musings: Still Thawing Out from the COLD Weekend

Welcome to Monday Musings, where I share some thoughts and some links I’ve been loving lately!

Destin Christmas Parade

This weekend was the Destin Christmas parade.  My husband is a Destin city councilman, so we got to ride in the golf cart while he passed out candy.  Chatham really outdid himself on the candy this year – he went to Sam’s Club and bought cases and cases of full-size Butterfingers, Almond Joys, and Sour Patch Straws to give out to all the children of Destin.

We were a little worried about Carla May making it through the entire parade route without throwing a fit.  It was COLD (40 degrees, very cold for Destin!), and the parade started at 10:00 am (she usually naps at 10:30), but we needn’t have worried.  As soon as the golf cart started cruising, she snuggled up in my blanket scarf and fell asleep.  She hasn’t slept on my lap like that since she was a newborn, so supporting the warm, sleepy weight of my tiny human for a mile and a half of slow cruising was a real treat for me.

Outfit Details

I’ve gotten a few questions on some of the items of clothing that show up in my photos, so I’ll start linking them (or similar styles) here for your convenience!

Me: jacket (size down), sunglasses (sold out of brown), blanket scarf (similar), hat (similar), boots

Carla May: hat & gloves (sold out of white, but this color is cute!), boots (similar), jacket (similar)


Here are some links I’m loving this week:

How was your weekend? What are you loving lately?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Friday Favorites: I must have been hungry this week….

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly post where I share what I’ve been loving this week!

After compiling my list, I realized that I have FOOD on the brain this week.. What can I say? –  The holidays tend to rev up my appetite!  Here are my Friday Favorites – things that have brought me joy this week:

Lionfish Tacos

friday favorites lionfish tacosIf you follow my Instagram stories, you saw my Public Service Announcement about Lionfish earlier this week.  If not, then let me enlighten you! Lionfish are an invasive species in Florida that reduce biodiversity and threaten native species.  Read more here.

You won’t see lionfish on restaurant menus often, because the work that goes into cleaning the fish is very intensive.  Lionfish have poisonous stingers that must be avoided in preparation.  But, if you see lionfish on a menu, order it!  Not only is the tender, white fish delicious, you are actually helping the environment by encouraging the fishing of the species.

This week, La Paz and Dewey Destin restaurants here in Destin had lionfish on the specials menu.  I had lionfish tacos for the first time and they were wonderful!

Momofuku Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Peppermint Corn Flake Cookies

friday favorites momofuku cookiesI am a huge fan of Momofuku Milk Bar truffles, so when I saw a recipe in a magazine for these cookies a few weeks ago, I had to save it.  I was invited to a friend’s holiday cookie swap last weekend, and I knew this would be the perfect recipe to try out, and I am so glad I did!

These cookies are packed with all of my favorite holiday flavors – chocolate, marshmallow, and peppermint – and they have a delightful texture that manages to be both crunchy and gooey at the same time.

Try the recipe for yourself here!

Slow-cooker Hash Brown Soup

friday favorites Loaded Crockpot Hash Brown Potato Soup - FamilyFreshMeals.comTo simplify my week, every Monday morning, I throw dinner together in the crockpot.  After I posted an Instagram story on Monday showing off my crockpot full of hash browns and veggies, I got several requests for the recipe, so I thought I’d share it here on the blog.

This  simple and tasty loaded baked potato-style soup recipe uses frozen hash browns instead of cut-up potatoes.  I added extra carrots and threw in some celery since I had it in the fridge.  I also used Muenster cheese instead of Mexican because that’s what I had, and it was delicious!  The recipe made enough for me for dinner on Monday, plus four extra servings for later in the week.

Star Projector Tree Topper

friday favorites tree topperAnother thing I posted on Instagram stories that I got lots of questions about was my new tree topper, which not only lights up the top of my tree, but projects spinning stars onto the ceiling above it as well!  My husband thinks it is a little tacky, but I think it is fun and festive!  The clamp made this easier to attach to my tree than any other topper I have had.  It comes in both silver and gold.

How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Book Reviews: What I Read in November 2017

Wow!  Until I put together these book reviews, I didn’t realize what a dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction kick I’ve been on.  SO, if you are a fan of that genre, I’ve got LOTS of recommendations for you this month!

My thoughts on each of this month’s reads are below, listed in order of when I finished each book (no spoilers, I promise).

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven book reviewsWhat if everything you love disappeared without warning?  That is the question I found myself asking as I read this enchanting post-apocalyptic tale. The book is set up as a collection of short chapters, almost vignettes, switching back and forth between characters and time periods, with each vignette beginning to connect until the pieces seem to all fit together, forming a (somewhat) complete picture at the end.  The premise is based on an apocalyptic concept often covered in pop culture – a disease outbreak that kills most of Earth’s population – but the author keeps the narrative fresh by focusing on the characters’ development and the search for meaning in society.  Station Eleven was the well-deserved winner of the National Book Award for Fiction back in 2014.  This novel made me feel nostalgic for things I haven’t even lost, and I was sad when it was over.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

1q84 book reviewsOh boy, where do I even begin?  This is one of the longest, strangest, and most intricate stories I have ever experienced.  1Q84 is a 47 hour audiobook, and I believe it is over 1000 pages in the physical book format.  The setting is Tokyo in the year 1984, and the chapters alternate between two points of view – that of Aomame, a female self-defense instructor, and Tengo, a male aspiring author and math teacher.  Aomame enters into a parallel universe that is almost the same as the one she comes from with several noticeable discrepancies.  As the story progresses, the characters’ paths become more and more intertwined.  This was a very strange book, with some extremely weird and sometimes graphic parts, but the excellent writing and incredible world-building more than make up for it.  Listening to this story was a truly unique experience.

The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

devil in the white city book reviewsThe Devil in the White City is a fascinating nonfiction book covering two concomitant stories, that of the design and development of the Chicago World’s Fair, and that of the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who prayed upon the fair’s attendees.  I had never studied the Chicago World’s Fair, so the historical account of its creation and importance were very interesting to me.  The sections on Holmes were pretty scary and sometimes quite gruesome, and it was horrifying to me what he was able to get away with for so long.  I love a nonfiction story that reads like a novel, and this one kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Deal of a Lifetime – Fredrik Backman

deal of a lifetime book reviewsThe Deal of a Lifetime, a new Christmastime novella by the bestselling author Fredrik Backman, is a short and poignant story reminiscent of A Christmas Carol. Told from the perspective of a successful businessman with a rare form of cancer looking back on his life and choices, the message I took away from this thought provoking story was that time is the most valuable currency we have. Beautiful color illustrations are sprinkled throughout the pages of this book.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

ready player one book reviewsI had heard mixed reviews on this one before I started – some people absolutely love it and some people think the writing isn’t very good and that it leans too heavily on nostalgia.  After listening to the audiobook, I find myself somewhere in the middle of the two camps.  I have to admit that the writing is not incredible and that it is heavy on the 1980s-nostalgia, but I loved the campy nature of the story and the world that Ernest Cline created.

This dystopian novel is set in 2044 after most humans are living in poverty as a result of global warming, an energy crisis, and overall societal problems.  Almost the entire story takes place in the Oasis, the virtual reality where many humans now work, live, and play.  The reader follows Wade Watts (username: Parzeval) on his quest to discover an Easter egg, and associated treasure, hidden by Oasis founder and 80s fanatic James Halliday.  Fans of video games and/or 80s pop culture will enjoy this one.  I am delighted to share that Steven Spielberg is directing a movie version of this story, which will be released in late March of 2018.

Future Home of the Living God – Louise Erdrich

future home of the living god book reviewsFuture Home of the Living God was my November Book of the Month Club selection, partly because I have a weakness for dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature and partly because the guest judge who selected it is Tavi Gevinson, who I’ve been fascinated with ever since she sat front row at New York Fashion Week in a crazy hat at 13 years old.

The premise of this novel is that evolution is starting to go backwards – women are having babies of an earlier human species, often to the detriment of the mother’s life.  In order to preserve the human race as they know it, the government is seizing, incarcerating, and impregnating fertile women.  Future Home of the Living God is written as a series of diary entries from the main character, Cedar, to her unborn child.  Author Louise Erdrich tells an introspective and unexpectedly quiet story about Cedar’s pregnancy and her relationships with her biological and adoptive parents in the tumultuous time in which she lives.  This book is often compared to The Handmaid’s Tale (reviewed here), and it is definitely a story that makes you think.

Have you read any of these books? What was the best book you read this month?

Let me know in the comments below!


What have you been reading lately?  Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more book reviews.

FYI: If you decide to purchase any books from this post, I recommend you buy them from a locally owned bookstore if that is an available option for you.  If you decide to purchase from Amazon by clicking on any of the book covers from these book reviews, I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).  Also, if you sign up for the Book of the Month Club (which I highly recommend) by clicking on any of the links in the book reviews, I get a free book. Thank you!

Monday Musings: Cookies for Breakfast are Allowed in December, Right?

A little late today… okay, a LOT late today, but I finally got my Monday Musings post together.  You may have seen from my Instagram stories that Carla May is teething and has been a little needy the last few days.  One of her favorite activities is to “help” me type when I have my computer out, so attempting to blog can be pretty frustrating when she is awake.

We had a fun and busy weekend, which included ordering Christmas cards, baking SIX DOZEN Christmas cookies, going to Christmas parties, and getting in a holly, jolly spirit.  We tried to visit Santa but the line was too long, so we’ll be heading back to the North Pole later this week.  I’m hoping she reacts the same way she did with the Easter bunny, but who knows?! Any tips for making baby’s first visit with the big man a success?

monday musings christmas baby in the airHere are some links I’m loving this week:

  • maybe she’s born with it.. maybe it’s something else
  • questions to ask to get to know someone instead of making small talk
  • SNL skit that speaks the ugly truth in the cutest way
  • how to get a tiny bit more sleep

How was your weekend? What are you loving lately?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Friday Favorites: You Should Go See Lady Bird ASAP

Welcome to Friday Favorites, in which I share what I’ve been loving this week!

This week, I put up my Christmas tree and decorations and determined that I am too old to enjoy the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  If you watched my Insta-stories this week, you already know it took me almost all day and a therapeutic trip to Target to get my tree up and decorated, thanks to my not-so-helpful assistant.  But it is up!  Next up, the outdoor Christmas lights…. and possibly some more Christmas crafts because there is something wrong with me.

This is my daughter’s face after I tell her, once again, not to climb the Christmas tree.  We went with a smaller one this year just in case it ends up toppling down.  Any tips for keeping toddlers from tearing down the tree and breaking the ornaments?  Leave me a comment!

Here are my Friday Favorites – things that have brought me joy this week:

Baby Animal Watercolors

friday favorites libbo morgan baby animalsMy sister-in-law Libbo is an incredibly talented artist (I’ve written about her work here before), and she has a new series of watercolor baby animals that I absolutely adore!  They are so whimsical and beautiful and you can check out more examples on her Instagram here.

Lady Bird

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Chatham and I went to see Lady Bird this week, a movie making headlines for smashing Rotten Tomatoes records as the “best reviewed movie of all time” (well-deserved, IMO).  Lady Bird was highly recommended by my sister-in-law Jane, who even came over to watch our kid so that we could go see it.  Starring Greta Gerwig, the film is a coming-of-age story about a high school girl who feels misunderstood in Sacramento, California, where she grew up and dreams of a future on the East Coast.  More than anything, the film is about her relationship with her equally-strong-willed mother.

Packed with emotion, humor, and nostalgia for the early 2000’s, I would recommend this movie to anyone who was once a teenager (i.e. EVERYONE).  I’ll be shocked if this isn’t an Oscar darling.

This Dress

friday favorites Cloth & Stone Flutter-Sleeve Tunic DressI went Black Friday shopping last week at Anthropologie and fell in LOVE with this dress.  The fabric is a high-quality chambray, and it is so, so soft.  I am obsessed with the bell sleeves and the open back with a tie (click on the photo for another view).  I did not buy it, because the lines for the dressing room and registers were too long and my daughter was getting cranky (that’s what I get for going to a store on Black Friday, right?), but I will probably order it before too long.  This is a perfect dress that I could wear now since it is still hot here in Florida.  It would also be a great dress to wear all spring.  I can think of so many ways to dress this one up or down.

Pantsuit Politics Podcast

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I have been listening to SO many podcasts lately and one of my favorite political/news podcasts is Pantsuit Politics.  The two hosts, Sarah and Beth, represent views from the left and the right respectively.  Twice a week, the women open-mindedly discuss current events and important issues in an entertaining and informative fashion.  I tend to steer clear of mainstream news channels and talking heads because all the partisanship and fear-mongering makes me anxious.  Pantsuit Politics is a refreshing alternative.


How was your week?  What are your Friday Favorites?  What brought you joy?

Giving Tuesday: Nonprofits Need Your Support!

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On Thanksgiving, we are grateful for all we have and enjoy the holiday with food, family, and festivity.  Then, all madness breaks loose as we give in to our consumerist natures, shopping and spending like crazy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (the dollars don’t count if you’re “saving” right?!?).  Giving Tuesday is a perfect bookend, grounding us once again in what the holiday season should be all about: love, grace, gratitude, community, and charity.

Giving Tuesday is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”  Giving Tuesday is a day to atone for our glut and greed and to spend our money and time where they make the most impact: our local charitable organizations doing important work in our communities.

Today, on Giving Tuesday, I encourage you to donate your time or dollars to a charitable organization that is near and dear to your heart, be it a church, a soup kitchen, or an animal rescue center.

Here are the charitable organizations that mean the most to me:

E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

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The amazing team of educators and scientists at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center promote conservation and environmental stewardship by educating thousands of children each year free of charge with a concentration on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.  The Biophilia Center utilizes their incredible campus and trails through Nokuse Plantation, a 54,000 acre nature preserve, as an outdoor classroom to enhance the experience of students, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to take a walk in the woods.  The Biophilia Center is also home to many rescued animals, including birds of prey, reptiles, skunks, and bobcats.  Beginning Summer 2019, the Biophilia experience will be open to out-of-area children as well, with the opening of Camp Longleaf, a nature-themed summer camp program!

Junior League of the Emerald Coast

giving tuesday junior leage of the emerald coastThe Junior League of the Emerald Coast is an incredible women’s service organization that focuses on developing women as trained volunteers and community leaders, as well as helping local children in need.  The Junior League partners with other charities benefiting children in the area to provide materials and trained volunteers.  The JLEC’s signature event is the Child Clothing Project, in which the League takes between 300 and 400 needy children shopping each year for a new set of clothes.  The excitement on the children’s faces as they receive sometimes the first new clothes of their life is truly magical.

Florida Wildlife Federation

giving tuesday florida wildlife federationThe Florida Wildlife Federation promotes conservation through education and political action, advocating for the protection of Florida’s wildlife and natural environment.  A recent campaign the FWF led was on educating the public about Florida’s threatened gopher tortoise species.  Many people toss gopher tortoises into the water, thinking they are helping them, but tortoises do not swim!  FWF has been producing educational signage and posting signs in natural habitats throughout the state of Florida to prevent any accidents.


American Lunch

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American Lunch‘s fleet of food trucks, or mobile soup kitchens, provides healthy and hot meals to anyone in need of a free lunch in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Athens, Knoxville, and, soon, Destin!  Read more about the good work being done by American Lunch volunteers here and here.

Are you donating your time or money for Giving Tuesday this year?  What are your  favorite charitable organizations?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Monday Musings: It’s Time to Stop Ignoring the Net Neutrality Issue

Net Neutrality is a system of regulations in place to prevent cable companies from taking advantage of consumers and small business owners.  By repealing net neutrality, as the Federal Communications Commission has proposed, broadband providers will be able to control what websites you can visit, speed up or slow down service, and charge you for access similar to how cable companies charge for different channel packages.  This will fundamentally change the internet as we know it, and not in a positive way for consumers or small business owners.  Read more here, here, and here.

I urge you to call the FCC, your Representatives, and your Senators and tell them how important net neutrality is to you (or leave a message, since they never actually answer their phones ).  I recommend using, which provides you with the phone numbers to the offices of leaders in your district and also gives you a handy script in case you get tongue tied.

In other bad news, Alabama lost the Iron Bowl this weekend in a very ugly fashion, but at least I got a cute shot of my crimson family:

Here are some links I’m loving this week:

  • a hilarious and instructive Thanksgiving letter
  • what self-care really means
  • in case you need another reason to own a dog
  • the best gift guide I’ve come across yet: gifts that empower women

How was your weekend?  Did you call your politicians about net neutrality yet?

Let me know in the comments below!


BLACK FRIDAY Favorites: Best Sales of the Day

How was your Thanksgiving?  I tried a new recipe for sweet potato biscuits.  They were flaky, delicious, and so easy to make.

On this special edition of Friday Favorites, I am rounding up the best Black Friday sales from across the web below.  I’ll be heading out to Grand Boulevard today to look at all of the Christmas decorations and check out the Black Friday sales at my two favorite stores: The Zoo Gallery and Anthropologie

Ann Taylor – 50% off everything with code THANKFUL through 11/24.

Anthropologie – 30% off everything online and in store plus surprises and treats in local stores.

Asos — 20% off everything with code WIN20 through 11/28.

Baublebar – Up to 30% off.

Boden – 30% off and free shipping wiht code CY8H through 11/27.

Crate & Barrel – 15% off full-price items with code SAVE15 through 11/27.

Everlane – Money spent on Black Friday helps build an organic farm in Vietnam to feed their workers for free!

Garnet Hill – 25% off full-price items and free shipping through 11/28.

J.Crew — 40% off everything with code THANKU through 11/26.

Kate Spade – 30% off everything with code GIVEJOY through 11/26.

Loft – 40% off everything with code GIFTITUP through 11/24,

Lululemon– Select items discounted.

Macy’s — 20% off with code HURRY through 11/25.

Madewell — 25% off everything with code DONTSTRESS through 11/26.

Nike – 25% off sale items with code EPIC25 through 11/28.

Nordstrom – 20% off select sale items through 11/27.

Old Navy – 50% off select items.

Outdoor Voices– 20% discount with code STOCKUP through 11/27.

Pottery Barn – Up to 50% off and free shipping with code BLACKFRIDAY.

Saks – Up to 60% off through 11/24.

Sephora – Up to 50% off.

Shopbop – 75% off sale items and 30% off full-priced styles with code MORE17 through 11/27.

Show Me Your MuMu– 40% off select styles with code BLKFRIMU.

TopShop — Up to 50% off and free shipping through 11/27. 

West Elm– Up to 30% off and free shipping with code SAVEMORE.

Urban Outfitters — Buy one, get one 50% off through 11/24.

Zappos – Discounts on discounts on discounts.

Will you be shopping the Black Friday sales online or in person today?  Or are you saving your money for Small Business Saturday tomorrow? 

Let me know in the comments!


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