Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The line between fussy and non-fussy when it comes to table tops.

(First, I loved all your sweet comments on yesterday's post.)  I'm getting ready to host a lot of events between now and the end of April.  I looked to Pinterest for my inspiration, and am pleased to report that it didn't disappoint.  It's just full-up with inspiration!  Gathered here, are a bunch of my most favorite table-inspiring pins.  (By the way, if you don't see me making this jar/candle/chandelier for my patio this summer, please, someone... pull me aside and have a little talk with me.  I love it to pieces!!) 
 My first kid event will be JJ's birthday party followed by Ava's.  This is for a girl, and we can all agree it's inspiring, right?  I'm pretty sure I don't need to really go all out for JJ since he opted for a bowling alley celebration.  I think if I put a big plate of carrot cake out, alongside some chips, he'll be thrilled.  So for him, I'll probably go the balloon and cake route.  Love the combo of place mat stripes and polka dot napkins for Ava's party though...  She wants gray and turquoise and we're going with a dolphin theme. 
 I'll also be hosting a Seder dinner and that usually involves a lot of guests.  I'm inspired by this, even though it's not at all my style, and I'll be working a gray and orange theme in to the mix.  Somehow. I only have three ideas but I think it's a start and of course it will be cute in the end.  I hope.
Though if I had to pick one table for all time, that kicks all other tables hineys, it would be this one.  Pretty much everything about it screams my name.  Seriously, it does.  I think I'm going to make this table for myself.  Maybe for MY birthday!  Ha!
 Do you see what I mean?  "Sasha!!!!!"  I do believe that little pop of golden yellow sealed the deal for me.

As I scan my pins... I have come to realize something about myself. (Besides the fact that I love yellow and white.)
I like nice, orderly tables.  I loathe cluttery ones with junk everywhere.  I like my centerpieces dead center, or in a nice, agreeable line, like this one. 
I like soothing, but I also love a good punch of color. So basically I'm a walking contradiction.  Or a dining contradiction, rather.
And most of all... I love casual but pretty.  I always come back to this picture... It's been around for years, and has been pinned thousands of times.  How can you not love a good ol' piece of brown paper and simplicity like this?  So I'm off to put all of this inspiration to work now!  I have something super sweet in the works for this weekend's celebration for my mama's birthday table- I can't wait to share!  (I'll give you a hint though... I showed the paper plates and napkins the other day in a photo post!  Which, admitedly is odd for me, since I normally use real plates etc.  They were so cute I had to go with it.  I'll try and make them "paper done right.")

What's your favorite way to set a table?   How about centerpieces- do you prefer fussy or non-fussy.  Lots of fluff on the table, or keep it simple?  And HOW ON EARTH would you pull gray and orange off?  Seriously, I'm asking.  There's not a lot of that out there... help!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A brush with what might have been...

There was one lane separating us.  She moved through the water cleanly, her technique neat and precise, as my friend and I slipped down into the slow lane for laps.  I didn't pay any attention to her, other than to note her lane was filled.  Down and back I went, finally stopping to catch my breath and reach for my flotation board.  That's when I saw the woman next to me, frozen, standing straight, watching something in shock.  I looked slightly beyond her to the man carefully flipping a woman over onto her back, and at the same time a lifeguard plunged in, simultaneously blowing his whistle.

A flurry of activity commenced, and everyone in the pool stood, watching.  She was blue and still.
I was struck with a force of chill bumps and the sudden, intense urge to pray.  Immediately, I began whispering prayers over this unknown woman.  Praying over the lifeguards who were working to get her onto a board and out of the water.  Praying as the fire trucks rolled up and men in navy uniforms came pouring in.

We sat on the bleachers, onlookers in another person's life story.  Hushed bits and pieces of eyewitness stories, and variations from so many perspectives were whispered almost reverently. Scattered nervous laughter, serious eyes, and worried expressions wove together to create the fragile chain connecting us.

As the woman on the stretcher began to move her feet, a surge of thanksgiving flowed voluntarily from my heart and I began praying thanks over the lifeguards quick actions, the fire department's immediate response time, the wisdom of those trained in life saving maneuvers.  But most of all, I thanked God, that for this emergency, there was no life claimed.

My fingers were chilled and my heart was heavy with questions.  Who was she?  What if they had gotten to her a second too late.  What if the man swimming in her lane wasn't near enough to her to sense she was in trouble.  And as I close this post with the scent of "what might have been" still clinging to my skin and hair, I want to ask you a question.  What if it was you?  Do you know without one doubt, that you would find yourself safe, in the arms of Jesus if your time was up?

I do.  I want that for you too and if you can't shout a resounding and confident "yes" to my question, you might consider reading this for direction.

Life is a gift, but it does have an expiration date.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Me. And some of my weekend photos.

That post I wrote the other day... the one about how I finally handed everything over to the One that controls it all anyway?  Yeah.  I'm still basking in the sweet glow of that knowledge,  but I wondered if it would prove to be one of those changes of heart based on a changing whim of the moment.  A feeling at the time.  And oh how I hoped it wouldn't be!
As we cruised into our weekend, I had an opportunity to find out.
I got a call from not one, but two realtors wanting to show our house which is odd because we've had pretty dead traffic for quite some time.  And then one of them called back because they want to show it for a second time to the same people, tonight.
And guess what?
I didn't freak out, scouring the whole place from top to bottom in nervous anticipation, worry and fretting.  I didn't call all of my peeps and beg for frantic prayers of hope.  I didn't really do anything.  I simply prayed, "Your will be done," and left it at that.
It shocked me.  This thing called trust that I thought I was doing all along.  I really must have had it wrong.  I was trying so hard... and it wasn't about trying.  It was about letting go, wasn't it?  (You can say, "I told you so" because so many of you did tell me it was about letting go.  I heard you.... I agreed.. and yet I must not have heard you.  You know?)
I told my man, "This time, for some strange reason, it didn't drive my emotional status... it just was." 
And if we get no feedback, no word, no information (like we normally do) I hope and pray that my reaction will remain steady and trusting.  Mostly, I'm not thinking much about it- which is also different.  I'm just going about my business, letting God do His thing since it's certainly unclear what that thing is to me anyway.  It's not like He needs my help... Ha!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5

So that's my world... how are things in yours?  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Out of the quiet...

It's a quiet Saturday, and I've been sipping tea with my babies and reflecting while my man is away for the day.  This is pretty much my favorite season of the entire year.  While I love the preparations and buttoning down of Fall, and of course delight in the hustle and bustle of family-filled holiday season, the season of Lent is my all time favorite.  If I had to choose one favorite holiday, out of all holidays, (which of course I adore) it would have to be Easter.  I love the way my little family celebrates and prepares for this most special holiday. 
 The funny thing, is that I never observed Lent until this year because 1) I'm not Catholic, (though I love and adore many a good Catholic) and 2) I mistakenly wrote it off as a Catholic-only ritual where you do little things like give up sugar for 40 days.  I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't understand it's significance as a time of reflection and growth.  Now that I do, I'm excited to incorporate this into our life over the next month.  (Lent has already begun, and I'm late posting this, but it was a busy week last week with my man out of town on business, so please bear with me.)
 In our family, we prepare for Easter with a few fun traditions.  We celebrate passover by hosting a Seder Dinner, which is always the most amazing blessing, and we always make resurrection cookies the night before Easter morning.  All of these things weave together, to prepare our hearts for the startling realization that Jesus Christ gave up His most precious life to pay the price of our sins, was buried, and then, because He was God, rose from the grave, life beating death.  We believe this with all our hearts. 
  I read this, and for the first time, suddenly understood the purpose of Lent.  Rachel Held Evans asks the following questions about Lent on her blog, and I loved them so much, I wanted to post them here so we could chew on them together. 

1) When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? 
2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself? How do I address that habit over the next 40 days?
3. Is there anyone in my life from whom I need to ask forgiveness or pursue reconciliation?
4. What practical steps can I take to carve out time for daily contemplation?
5. What spiritual discipline do I need to improve upon or want to try?
6. What are some things in my life that I tell myself I need but I don’t? Can I give one or two of them up for 40 days?
7. Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter?
8. What am I going to tell myself when self-denial gets hard?
9. Is it necessary/helpful for me to share the nature my fast with others or should I keep it private?
10. What do the ashes mean to me this year? What  does baptism mean to me this year?

Aren't those amazing questions?  Did any of them hit home for you like they did for me? (#1,2, 6 and 7 really struck me.) Do you typically celebrate Lent and do you find yourself feeling different on Easter morning because of it?  If you feel at liberty to share, what are you planning to give up or improve during this season?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Favorite spaces... and renewal.

This most recent cleaning spree made it's way into my studio, my closet, and basically every nook and cranny of our home.  One of my favorite spaces in the whole house, is my office area.  My desk was feeling cluttered, so I removed a bunch of items, and streamlined it somewhat.  Sometimes, I need simplicity. I loved the big lamp that sat on the end of my desk, but in the decluttering process, this small glass lamp found a new home here instead.
Very soon, my giant dining room chalkboard will be displaced, due to a fun new thing being built for me. (I'm cheering wildly right this second.  And it's very hard to type and cheer wildly, just so you know.)  I plan to place it above my desk, so in the meantime, I took down  a few things that used to hang above it.  It feels a little sparse at the moment, but I'm really looking forward to what's coming......... (see how I create some anticipation there?  What's life without a little anticipation.  The bottom line is, my man adores me and I can't wait to show you what he's cooking up for me!)

I love this little corner in our studio.  I did a little decor fluffing, and filled a metal box with my ribbon spools.  I love how crazy the sketching model always looks.  I think it's running hurdles. (Incidentally, I've been dying to do that my whole life but scared spitless to try.  Isn't that funny?)  The people I live with find it hilarious to pose it.  Often.

I moved my old craft cupboard so that I can see it when I'm in my living room.  I like to look at it.  I think it inspires and calms me.  I also re-hung the curtains I took down when we listed our house. Which brings me to this- Adrain and I came to the same startling conclusion about our home.  There may be some different career possibilities with his employer, over the course of the next year.  One of them of course, would be staying put indefinitely, but financially, that's the least favorite of our choices.  We don't know what his career path will look like this time next year, so our first thought was to remove our home from the market while we ride out the waiting period, and forget all this hope and nonsense of trying to sell.  And then, it was as though the shadow of the past two years finally caught up to us, and firmly assured us that God's got this.  While listed, our home will not sell if it's not meant to. (I'm pretty sure the publisher's clearing house debacle of 2011 proved that one.)  And nothing will keep it from selling at the proper time if it's meant to.  It sounds so simple, and I've been hearing and saying it all forever but believe me, the road to the full realization of this has been anything but simple.  I mean I knew it of course, but now I seem to really know it.  It's as though we suddenly relaxed-truly relaxed-into the abyss of not knowing, and ceased almost caring (or maybe fretting is the better word here?) because the future rests entirely in the most capable of hands- God's.  We can stay or go-  I'm good with either and the peace I finally feel over the entire thing is overwhelming.  In fact, I hardly know what to do with it now that I have grasped it.  I didn't know I lacked it, until I finally had it, and I have no idea how I got it.  It's been a journey, that's for sure.  
I hardly know what to say now that I got that all out.  It seems so insignificant in the black and white of it, but trust me, the words themselves are only the tip of the iceberg in my heart.  There is an overflowing quality happening here.... like I'm no longer an empty shell, just waiting... waiting. 
It's as though life is renewing in my little world, and it has nothing to do with the promise of spring. 
I've been memorizing the book of James.  (I'm sadly not very far along yet.)  What a comfort those first few verses have been to me, and it's possible that I've been in a flurry of spring cleaning because of this renewed growth on the inside.  Like I'm somehow attempting to display outwardly what I'm rejoicing of inwardly.  Does that make sense?
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To the twelve tribes, scattered among the nations.  Greetings.  Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because a man who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."  James 1:1-6
So...after baring my heart to y'all and basking in this new found faith and peace of heart... Do you guys think we are the most wishy-washy people on the planet?  LOL Thank you so much for continuing to ride this crazy roller coaster with us.  I love hearing your similar stories, and wonder, have you ever had this happen?  When something you knew suddenly became something you KNEW?

Or am I the only one?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making it mine... again.... for like the second or third time. I forget.

I call it the cleaning snowball effect.  It usually begins with a gallon of paint, which quickly morphs into a full-scale, divide and conquer type spring cleaning fest, complete with Goodwill donations and a happy Mama.  This time, it began with Fleur de Sel, a paint color by Sherwin Williams, that is literally making my heart go pitter-patter.  It's a soft, light, airy, hazy gray.  And I'm in love with it. I always see these ideas, thinking, "Oh I should do that someday..." but because our house has been for sale for what seems like forever, I hold back.  I don't know what snapped in me, but I hit this place by storm, busting out one idea after another this weekend. 
 Our plan for JJ's room, was replace his dingy, yellowish paint color with something crisp and clean, whip his room into better shape, streamline his storage, and do it all on a squeaky little budget. I shuffled curtains around and he got some old drapes from the kitchen, we consolidated our books onto one bookcase, and he got the other, that sort of thing.  The one thing I wanted to do, was get him some newly updated bedding since he's had the same quilt about eight or nine years.  I found a darling green and blue duvet set for him, at Pottery Barn.  (It was on sale and had free shipping, so it didn't even make it into the splurge category.)  I did a dance.
 I had painted him an old green truck, which just screamed "boy" at me. (I want to list it in my Etsy store, though the print didn't turn out anywhere near as darling as the original, but I can't upload the image for some reason.  You can email me directly at,  if you want one in the meantime.  Please specify 8x10 or 11x14.)
  I thought it would be a perfect wall collage with his guitar, and navy blue chalkboard.   (Still waiting for the wall-mounted guitar hanger to arrive.) As we were painting together, JJ had the fun idea for a trio of clocks, with different time zones marked below, and I immediately turned to my bloggy buddy Leen.  (Seriously if you need vinyl anything, she's your girl.  I mean it.) When we get those vinyls up, I'll post a photo.  I'll also be posting something spectacular that will be going above his bed.  Wait for it...

After JJ's bedroom was done, I was standing in the hallway between the kiddo rooms, paint roller in hand, and gave the wall I was looking at a quick coat of my new paint BFF.  It looks so much better.  By the way, if you need a new color that brings light into a room, look no further.  JJ has the darkest room in the house, and I was shocked at the amount of light in his room now. Once that was dry, I hung some of JJ and Ava's artwork.  I will add to it as time goes by.
 That led to the laundry room.  Mainly because I'd half-heartedly planned it for the past year, but also because I was still wielding a paint roller.  I made short work of that room because 1) I loathe room painting and would rather get it done as sloppily quickly as possible, and 2) it's small.  So there you go.
 Laundry rooms are awful to photograph.  And ours is the worst because it's super tiny, not to mention also the access to our garage, making it double as a mud room.  I did the best I could.  In this room, I spray painted wicker baskets, adhered chalkboard labels, painted an old bench black, decanted clothes pins to a pretty jar, corralled shoes in wood bins with new casters attached to them.
  Oh and did I tell y'all what my man gave me for Valentine's day? (Besides a necklace that resembles Mickey Mouse and a blooming rose card that is hysterical?)  A little quart of chalkboard paint.  I was giddy.  I slathered it all over one wall in our laundry room.  (Incidentally, it's the room we bang into and hit the most, so covering all the old scars with black seemed rather brilliant in my book.)  It will only look that clean for the next 20 minutes, because I made the kids wait til after school to scribble all over it so the paint could fully cure.  (I snuck in there and decorated it with some fanciful frames just so I could show you how cute it was.  They are soon to be filled with foxes, dogs, horses, and "I love you Mama's")
 Lastly... I busted out a few things for my Etsy store.  Still not nearly as many things as I've been planning, but it's an accomplishment none the less.  These cuddly little dollies, using this pattern, from, can be purchased here, in my shop, along with the apron I'm sporting, below.  Cook like you mean it.  (grin.) 
I'm probably about to hit my wall of tiredness soon, but being out sick for a whole week made me crazy.  It feels so good to not be sick anymore!

Do you guys have any projects in the works or things you've been wanting to do? 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The best laid plans

It happens every weekend.  I begin with a plan to photograph every little thing, so I can document it somehow like a good blogger, and photographically tell some kind of breathtaking adventure story.  For whatever reason, perhaps absence of breathtaking adventures, I seem to lack follow-through for this and half way through the weekend I've already given up.  So here, in broken pieces, mixed with random thoughts, are my photos from the past two days.  Not the weekend days necessarily... just regular days with my family.
 You know... I can be... just a little (she cringes) bossy.  I like to think of it as more like lovingly suggestive.  (I might be pushing it with that description.  I realize that.)  Well, I married a very easy going man.  Calm.  Solid as a rock, self assured, quiet and relaxed.  A guy who handles stress with the greatest of ease, always with a smile on his face.  And he picked me- his polar opposite, in nearly ever way.  He's this big easy guy, and I'm a little fire ball of feisty.  He smiles and lets me have my way a lot, because truthfully if it was some big earth shattering decision, I'd never make it without his input anyway so it works.  I'm talking about all the little things, like decorating choices.  That sort of thing.  But one area the man has not and I daresay will never budge and let me boss him, is his wardrobe.  (Truthfully I do love this about him.  I wouldn't want a man I could push around all over the place anyway.  I married a man, not a piece of wilty lettuce!) However... when he came out with a hockey jersey on this morning, I honestly said, "Really?  You just woke up this morning and thought, 'Today I'm wearing this.' "

And yes.  Yes, he did.

He looked down at me, and gave me the "Hey little miss bossy, you'd better back down" look.  And then said, "It's hockey season."   So for that... please know I had nothing to do with his clothing today.  Not that I ever do. 
 We woke to liquid sunshine today.  Both kiddos got up this morning and climbed into our tiny, queen-sized bed with Adrain and I, and as squirming elbows began to irritate everyone, I hopped out and suggested donuts!  So we bundled up and braved the blowing rain, to go find some gluten free donuts. 
 My man asked me if I realized that everyone in the shop was watching me run outside into the rain, and take photos.  To be honest, I wasn't.  (I think they were actually looking at his hockey jersey. )  Bloggers are taking over the world.  Everyone knows that.  Silly man.

 I have to say my kids were troopers.  The huge case was filled with gorgeous, plump donuts, glazed, sprinkled, and drizzled within an inch of their lives, and in a small case to the right, was a tiny tray with about six very small, almost pathetic looking "donuts."  They gazed longingly at the big case and then back to the gluten free case and finally... up at me.

 I felt like a person doling out prizes at a carnival booth filled with over sized, impossible-to-win items.  "You can have any of the prizes in this six inches of space right here.  Basically you can have this pencil or this lollypop." 
 We agreed that Adrain should have a regular donut.  He chose some massive concoction with pineapple in it.  And in spite of his loud wardrobe choice, we felt he was quite deserving of this treat, for all the times he chokes down gluten free food alongside us, with nary a complaint. 
 Somehow, we managed to inhale them all in a matter of seconds.  JJ looked up at me and said, "Mine's already gone..." in a sad, almost pathetic little voice.  I laughed and pointed out that if it wasn't for the shop making gluten free donuts in the first place, we wouldn't have been able to get any at all.  He quickly nodded in agreement, but I'm pretty sure he'd have eaten about five more, given the chance.  We seem to be at a "always hungry" stage of life with our boy.  I hear this is quite normal and going to get increasingly worse with time.  The good news... I love feeding people, so I'll have an opportunity to soak this up.  
 Always look on the bright side of life.  Right? 
 Then we let the kids bounce around for a few minutes, high on sugar, and I snapped a picture of Mr. Hockey and his warm, caramelly brown eyes.  By now, I'd almost forgiven him for the jersey.

 I'd like to enter this photo as Exhibit A, as proof of what happens when I feed my hoodlums sugar.  Okay, this might have more to do with his Sensory Processing Disorder than sugar... but I'm pretty sure the sugar encourages it.  Also.  I want this child's abs.  Isn't he the cutest thing on the planet? 
And now I'm going to disappear for the next few days, because I'll be repainting kid rooms a soft, neutral color.  "Fleur de Sel" by Sherwin Williams.  I loathe room painting.. but it needs to be done and JJ's room re-do is scheduled for this week, and I want the painting knocked out first.

Also, yes, our house selling situation is still up in the air.  But to be honest, I've put this off for the last few years and unless something wild happens this week, I'm betting we'll be off the market by next weekend, prepared to stay a while.  Life is too up in the air right now, and we feel more and more strongly, that until we know more... we need to stay put and wait.  Again.

So weird, but I'm oddly okay with that.

 How are you guys doing?