Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's the little things.

My man has been gone since last week and he gets home late tonight.  Every time my man goes away on a business trip, I find a ton of little things to tweak around the house.  Mostly, it keeps me busy after the kiddos head to bed, but it's always good to do a little tweaking now and then. You don't have to spend gobs of money (I sure didn't) to do that either!  I am always amazed at how sometimes, it's the little things that can make the biggest difference.  Hmmm kinda like life.
  When we moved into this house ten years ago, it was a brand new spec. house.  Every thing was already done so I didn't choose anything... I certainly didn't chose the builder-grade brass fixtures, but I was so happy to have a three bedroom house that I didn't even care!  It actually took me years to change them, one by one.  The final brass fixture remaining, was in JJ's room.  I could never find a light that worked in there.  I wanted something boyish but also neutral.  I found an ugly, dirty old brass light but saw it's potential. (Don't ask me how I forgot the "before" photo.)  It was about $5.00 so I grabbed it.  His room is gray and green so I thought glossy gray with an Edison bulb would be perfect... We are so happy with it.  (When my man returns he gets to install it.) 
 
 And in between house tweaks, I worked.  I watched episodes of Foyle's War into the wee hours of the night while embroidering. (I've restocked my shop this morning, and there are still a few left... )

 I also added more oil cloth pennant flag banners to my shop, just in time for Valentine's Day!  (There are a few of these left too.) Remember how cute they looked hung from my ceiling? They really make me want to throw parties. 
I swapped out the big chalkboard that was above this cabinet and traded it for a framed place mat that had been hanging where the ladder now resides. (Which incidentally got painted rustically, with a creamy coat of white.  And when I say "rustically" what I'm really saying is "sloppily."  I painted a sloppy coat of white.  I adore this ladder.  I mean, I liked it before... but oh my word, now it's even better!! Just saying.)
 The matching cute canisters that said "flour" and "sugar" broke.  Well, one of them broke.  I was going to replace it... but I couldn't find it's twin anymore so I settled for these giant canning jars from TJ Maxx.  Sadly, my mismatched tea cups that I used as cup measures didn't fit inside.  Bummer.  Love those teacups. (I will find another place for them though... don't you worry.)
 This was a midnight whim.  See those antique-y crocks?  One holds my kitchen utensils and the other, a small collection of vintage rolling pins.  (LOVE.) I taped them off, primed and painted the bottoms cream, and now they look like they were dipped in paint.  I can't tell you how blissfully happy looking at these make me.  The problem with them before was "blah."  They were just a blah color.  I liked them... but they needed something.  So I "dipped" em.  I will add a glossy top coat at some point to seal them. But I was too busy doing other things, so for now they are fine.

 I added an old stand-by bucket of fake forsythia from my bedroom, to the table.  I really needed a pop of bright yellow and I don't even care if it's fake. 
 I found random places for my beloved antlers...
I covered this lampshade in Charlie Brown's shirt.  Ha!!  I'm still on the fence about it. 

I can't lie, it's beginning to grow on me. 
 I cleaned my tiny studioI know, it's hard to tell.  You should have seen the January crafting explosion that previously happened in here.  There were baskets and piles all over the place.  I thought my husband would appreciate not tripping over anything as he stumbles into bed tonight. 
 
 I organized my thread one night.  It's ombre now.  Kinda.
 I organized my small supply of shipping supplies.  I realize this probably isn't a huge deal to you, however I felt compelled to photograph and share.  I do that sometimes.
While I was at the Goodwill getting my son a Pottery Barn-ish light fixture, my heart fell in love with this small soft chair.  (My Ava has been begging me for a grown up girl room makeover in orange and hot pink.  I've been attacking it bit, by tiny bit, as payday's allow..  It wasn't exactly a "need."  Then again... big blue eyes and sweetness do funny things to a Mama's heart and I get super thrifty.) One thing Ava has been asking about for the past few years, is a reading chair in her room.  I spied this one at Goodwill for under $15 and though the front lower part has some dirt on it, (that I am currently scrubbing as you read this) it was in fantastic shape.  You should have seen her face when she saw it. 
 My final fun "project" was a little sick day package for my girl, Alli.  I spied this almost exact idea on Pinterest... and flat out copied it.  Honey bear, tea, lip balm, a sweet little meyer lemon, and some tissues.  Almost makes me want to get sick. 

I kid. 

I don't have time to get sick. 
 I am looking forward to doing nothing for the rest of the weekend with my man finally home again.  I might have worn myself out, but it was so worth it!! 

I love that feeling. 



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Laughin' all my days...

I am trying to laugh more.  Recently, I was convicted that I don't laugh half as much as I used to.  And you need to know this about me- I used to laugh a lot.  I've had people recognize me, aisles away, in grocery stores, because they heard my laugh.

(Maybe it's because I have a weird, and crazy-loud laugh?  Adrain assures me that's not the case, but is he really going to tell me if I do?  Of course he isn't.)

I feel as though blah circumstances of life over the past few years have stolen some of my laughter and I'm taking it back!!  I want my hoodlums to remember that their mama could cut loose and laugh her head off.  I want to find the humor in random situations again.  I want "LOL" to actually mean that I threw my head back and laughed... not simply smiled for a second. (SFAS)  You know?
 
None of this really has to do with horses... except that I had a bunch of photos of our favorite neighborhood horse, who makes my daughter giggle with delight, and I realized, it's finding joy in the simple things again... that's where the laughter begins to bubble. That's where I misplaced it.

 When I was a new bride, someone gave me a little recipe card with some wise words.  "Focus on the important, not the urgent." Nearly eighteen years later, those words haunt me because I focus on the urgent... like... always.  I kind of shove the important to the side until the urgent is dealt with.  Oops.  (Admittedly sometimes the urgent IS important... I'm just saying.)  All this urgent business has sucked the laughter from my heart for some time now, and that's no good.

And as for being a Mama...(focusing on the important) I feel like I almost never laugh.  Not at my kids, not with them, not at their silly stuff.  I get into Drill Sargent mode with chores and routines and schedules and my goodness... laughter?  I surely don't have time for that anymore. 
So you know what I did?  I sat down with my hoodlums and we planned a fun thing into each day so far this week.We did stuff.  Randomly important fun stuff. I tucked my phone and worries over urgent "whatevers" and to-do lists aside, gave them my whole attention, and listened to them- really listened and you know what?  They are becoming some funny little people.  They both laugh easily and that makes it easy for me.  I simply have to be open to the moments.  The memory-making-important moments.  And laugh with them.









Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gifts

 Today is one of my favorite kinds of posts.  Gifts and special people.  That's what I'm here to discuss.  Many years ago, when I was a brand new baby-blogger, I stumbled upon Kearsie.  She is witty and fun, and smart.  She made me laugh and smile and think.  She made my man laugh whenever I would read snippets from her writing to him. There was a moment when I first "met" Kearsie that I was literally hanging across my husband's desk laughing so hard I couldn't speak for about five minutes.  If you don't believe me, ask my man.  He stood there laughing, because I was laughing, but he had no idea what we were laughing at.  That makes me laugh. 

Anyway, time passed and sweet Kearsie developed breast cancer.  Our family prayed for hers and I felt a deep love for her in my heart.  As she recovered from treatment I would always see her post things on Facebook that she had created out of felt and fabric.  Really cool things like toy cake.  That sort of thing.

I keep telling her she needs to open an Etsy shop.  She keeps telling me, "Yeah I know..." 

As my little niece's first birthday approached, I began stalking my sis-in-law's Pinterest boards (I know y'all do it too) and found a few different pins for puffy alphabet letters.  I knew I wanted them for her (and my niece)... so I turned to Kearsie.  She whipped them out.  She hand blanket stitched them.  She made them so they can be tossed into the wash, drooled on, and chewed up.  She made them cute. She made them soft. And best of all... SHE made them.  There is something about giving a hand-made gift with meaning, made by a person you adore, for a wee little baby-type person you adore, isn't there?
 She made them in a sort of ombre color pattern.  I'm a big fan.  It didn't escape my notice. 
 
 (Please excuse the frumpy sweater.  I sometimes wear my man's sweaters -though they hang to my knees. Haha!)


Seriously, I'd never have had the patience to make these.  They are sweetly raw-edged and colorful.  I don't believe it gets any cuter. 
 My contribution was wrapping them.  (And yes, you can chain stitch anything.)  I told you I was in love with embroidery.  FYI if you are going to embroider wrapping paper, pre-poke your holes and it will work like a dream. 

 I sewed a package envelope out of brown wrap after embroidering her little monogram onto a piece of the wrap first.
 We wrapped the whole thing in gray and white string/twine... and I created a darling tag that has us all singing this song. (Which basically means that my hoodlums have been doing a Sound of Music mash-up for days.)
If you would like something as cute as these letters, Kearsie has a ton of creativity and can make play foods, rag dolls, tea sets and other fun things.  You can find her on her blog... or email her directly at kearsie@me.com.  Tell her I sent you! 




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fresh

I'm always surprised... though I really shouldn't be by now.  I hit the lowest of places and then a fresh new day dawns, full of promise and hope.  It occurred to me, (and many of you have encouraged me with this) that someday I will look backward.  And when I do, things that are bogging me down this very day, will have evened out.  They will have had purposes.  They will have come together and completed a picture.  I will look back. There will be meaning and answers and direction I couldn't see while in the midst of the maze. 
It hit me afresh. 

I actually apologized to God.  I was sitting on the couch, nothing major taking place, when this thought thumped me upside my head-  Someday... when it all makes sense in hindsight... and He's come through for me... been faithful... I'm going to feel like an idiot for all the crying, doubting and thinking that He went on vacation, instead of overseeing all the big and small details of my little ol' life. 

I am. 

That thought made me feel so good, you guys.  I wasn't sure how long that peace would last but I made a mental note to remember that for one bitty little second, I had it!  It was right there within my grasp.  I don't know if it was all of your prayers, your emails, your comments, your encouragement, your personal stories, your links to uplifting songs... or maybe it was all of it, but I felt lifted up.  I so appreciate being able to be real (as real as possible on a computer screen) and share my heart with you.  But... I really do hate to be a whiner.  And before you tell me I haven't been, trust me... I've been a really big whiner for way too long now.  I'm working on that.  I am counting my blessings, and that's a start.  Cause yeah... I'm gonna look back. 

I have so many friends waiting for something in their life to change. Sitting squarely in the middle of a place they didn't anticipate or want and they are begging God for a change.  Big things, little things and I know so many of you are right there too.  

Joyce Meyer says, "Sometimes we find ourselves in such horrible messes that it's hard to imagine waiting one more second. But we need to keep waiting on God and trusting Him with a sweet and simple faith. Then, in a way we never could've figured out—God moves suddenly!... Acts 16:25 & 26 say, "But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened." God answered them suddenly!  When people patiently and expectantly wait on God in the midst of horrible circumstances, suddenly God breaks through.  So don't give up! Don’t stop believing! Stay full of hope and expectation. God's power is limitless, and He'll break through for you!" 

 How's that for encouragement?  Hang in there. Be steadfast and don't quit.  He hears us.  He sees. 

Be EXPECTANT!!


 P.S. I might have a slight obsession with blood oranges.  I plan on making many yummy, fruity things with them in the future.  (Or maybe I'm just vitamin C deficient.  Ha!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When rain falls.

   I heard the rains are coming back to the Pacific Northwest tomorrow.  I have lived here since I was a teenager and the darkness of winter, the almost daily drizzle, and gray has never been an issue.  Until last year.  The stinky weather coincided with my heart's cry almost daily, and I hardly think I can bear another winter of this.  Today I am soaking up the last drops of sunshine as though I may never see them again.

I keep hearing tidbits of information here and there ".... seasonal depression... common..."  etc.  Maybe.  But as I drove around picking up items for my shop today I found myself reflecting.  Reflecting on my sadness, my loneliness, my heart right now.  I'm in a funk.  I'll just straight out tell ya that if you couldn't already tell for some reason.  We all go through them but this one is lasting a really long time and I can't seem to kick it.  I normally can!!  Frustrating.  I have people in my life encouraging medicine, others encouraging not to go that route and through it all I know that God is my rock... and my answer.  He can lift me up and out of the hole I've sunk into.

Adrain and I are questioning a lot.  We are terrified that when we were presented with a job choice a year and a half ago, we made the wrong choice.  Maybe we made the safe choice... not the faith-filled choice.  We knew it was a gamble of either transferring and losing a lot in the process, a loss we can't seem to recover from... or take the risk of losing the job itself.  Hindsight says he probably wouldn't have lost the job after all.  But we didn't know and we were scared.  We covered the thing in prayer and made the choice we thought was right.  We've been waiting for rescue since that day, doing our level best to accept... go...embrace... to be in the present while simultaneously begging for release.  We sigh, and then we thank.  Because in light of millions of other problems... it's not so bad. I often want to smack us. 

As I drove I listened afresh to the words of "Blessed be Your Name," playing on my radio.  It occurred to me that maybe we are in a season of "take away."  Sometimes He gives... sometimes He takes away but we are called to praise Him with full hearts, trusting He knows.  I'm finding it so hard to do this.  I must figure it out.  Must.

I'm sure I can trust you with this. Trust you to be kind.  I simply had to let it out.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:2
One foot, in front of the other, thanking, praising, trusting, waiting....  While the rain falls. 



Sunday, January 20, 2013

So very random...


 I was reading something the other day that encouraged me.  This is so random there is no way to really say it with any kind of lead-in... it was an article talking about the greatest mistakes women make when aging.  (for the record I'm 37 1/2) Among other things, it was reminding those of us approaching or experiencing our 40's (or 50's) to not think we should/could still use the same beauty products we used in our twenties.  But the thing that stuck... was when it also reminded women veering toward these mid-life decades to quit comparing your own self to your twenty year old self.  Don't compare your shape, your body, your energy, your whatever... to the "you" you once were.  Not that you can't be tons better... because to be honest I'd love to go back and give my twenties a bit of a do-over in places, but there are things I do look back on and wish for again.  (Or wish I'd appreciated more in that season of life. Amen?!) It was so encouraging because it reminded me that we are supposed to change.  We aren't supposed to stay exactly the same... better or worse, change happens.  I have no idea why that encouraged me. But it did.

 Random weekend shots...
 I read something else.  On a totally different subject.  It encouraged me too.  It was from the book I just finished, Plan B, (truly one of the best books I've ever cried my way through read through).  It was talking about another aspect of trust.  The book was referencing what someone had said about having an earthly father they could always trust.  If he said he would pick you up at a certain time, he would be there five minutes early.  That kind of trust being the kind you could count on happening the way you anticipated it happening.  I grew up with that, so I have often put that exact kind of expectation on God and trusting Him with portions of my story.  But then the "aha moment" came when they explained, "...that's not necessarily what trust is.  Trust is believing someone is going to be with you no matter what the road is doing in front of you or behind you." 

I bawled.  I'm not going to lie.  I've never considered trust to be anything other than anticipating it would go as you expected.  I even tell my kids, "You can trust me.  If I say I will pick you up at school, you can trust that I will be there."  Pete Wilson, the author says, "...trusting in God does not mean God shows up for you exactly the way you thought He was going to show up.  Trusting God doesn't mean His timing is going to be your timing."

(Sometimes I need that reminder.)

 It's blurry but so cute.  I can't help myself, since he rarely lets me photograph him! It's been a tough couple of years for my man, but he still has an easy laugh.  I love that about him.  (He was writing a poem in my brother's birthday card... and totally cracking himself up.)

Also.  My eyelashes fall out when I get into a very stressful situation.  They have to go through a weird falling out cycle where I literally end up losing almost every single eyelash over a period of time until a whole new set finally grows back in.  Basically I have bald patches over my eyes for months after deep stress.  Thankful that kind of stress rarely finds me... but we had one moment back in early December with our sweet boy.  Many of you know what I'm referring to and it scared the life out of me.  My eyelashes won't be back to normal for another couple of months... I look freakishly hysterical.  My friends are being very sweet and telling me it's not that bad.  They lie well.  Ha!

(I always wonder if anyone else experiences this weird phenomenon.)
 This blessed me.  In a huge way.  One of our sweet readers sent us sunshine in a box.  It literally spilled bright, happy fun all over my household for the entire weekend.  My kids were so excited and said, "You have the best blog friends mama!!" (As they devoured peanut m&m's from Miss Jennifer.  Thank you girl!  You couldn't have sent something more perfect...or at a more perfect time,  and it blessed us like crazy. You will honestly never know.) 
 I can't end such a random post with out saying a tremendous thank you to everyone who cleaned out my shop this weekend!  All the new items are completely gone, with the exception of prints, a few remaining napkin sets and one lone pennant banner.  I promise to make more of everything as we go along, and I do have some other new items in the works of course, but I am so blessed to be creating custom hoops for those of you who missed out.  I'll be focusing on that this week!!  What a fun chore. 

It felt like I was gift wrapping surprises for my dearest friends as I packaged up your orders and recognized your names and sweet comments! 

 Thanks for listening to my random rambling... now I'm off to enjoy some happy embroidering for y'all!

How was your weekend?!