Friday, June 27, 2014

Havens, Boy Rooms, Courage and Chicken Salad. The End.

Hi Dear friends!

Doesn't it feel like our chats are few and far between lately?  I'm still settling into the groove of Summer, not to mention having my new part time job so when I had this week mostly "off" to do swim lessons with my kiddos I brought my camera along and got reacquainted with it.

Being on Summer break and having the hoodlums around has caused me to think about homes being our havens.  How I want our home to be a haven- and what that means.  My main goal is always welcoming others in and making my family feel soothed and restful, but I've also been carving our my own little haven for sipping iced tea and chatting with my man or anyone else who wanders into it, each evening. It's my front porch. I don't know why I have never used it much- probably because it's narrow and kind of an awkward space.  I potted some plants in an inexpensive planter (which I spray painted with a color I had on hand) and also in a hanging basket.  I put out some pillows stolen from the backyard, along with a camp blanket and moved an inside chalkboard and metal stool outside.  I love it! 

 And that's my mama's iced tea recipe- the one I cut my teeth on.  (2 bags "Lipton" and 4 bags "Constant Comment."  She used to make hers in a milk gallon and set it in the sun to brew.  I use the cold water brew and do it in the fridge but it still tastes like home to me.)
 Now.  My boys' room has a been a bone of contention with me for some time.  He is the hoarder in the family. Ha!  I finally convinced him to let me help him lighten his load and transition it from little kid toy-hoard-land to teenage room that speaks about WHO he is.

He loved it!  I used some of the techniques we use at my new organizing job- a bin for donations, trash, and items for him to sort and it worked like a charm!  All of his Lego creations are on the shelves in his closet rather than all over his floor.  Much safer because when they get stepped on, it's like the sky is falling.  They are his prized possessions! (And for good reason too- this kid is a Lego wiz!)
 We made him a music wall- though he plays upright bass at school in the orchestra and we don't have one of those expensive babies... yet.  I keep hunting Craig's list for a used one.  Still, this represents JOE very well.

 The gorgeous sign that hangs in his room came from my good friend Tara, over here.

 And let's talk for a minute about his bookshelf.  I might have a bit of a love for bookshelf organizing and styling... and making books flow in a color pattern... see below...
 See?  The one in my bedroom....
 And the shelf in our little cozy bedroom nook area.  (More on the progress of that space soon.)  I just love books.  Adrain scored a set of antique volumes at an estate sale last weekend and I'm working on a shelf/display for that in my head.  Can't wait to make that a reality as well!
Here are some of our swim lesson pics.  Some of them were beautiful and some were inspiring. This kid's eyes blow my mind.

He is so fearless. 
 This one needed to work up her courage just a bit.  First dive of the season... in the rain!  She stood there with her toes curling over the edge, shoulders curved in nervous giggles...  Made me think about how often I do this.  Stand before a big jump in life, drawing together all my courage and then... mentally regroup and plunge.  It's always worth it!  So easy to hesitate though and worry for just a minute. 

 But then... when you let go and jump, it's that blissful moment of freedom and joy. She came up smiling. 
 Now, before I go... my mama's chicken salad.  It is THE perfect summer salad to serve.  You can use leftover chicken, or rotisserie or whatever you've got.  It takes five minutes to whip up and you can serve it on lettuce, on a croissant if you're not opposed to those, or in a sandwich.  There is really no recipe but you'll want about 3-4 cups chopped cooked chicken, a small sweet onion chopped, and a bag of dried cranberries.  Then, just stir in some mayo, enough to make it wet, and salt and pepper to taste.  It's the best.

Happy Weekend all... may you have courage and chicken salad!
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

That time I didn't understand the word "blessings."

So yeah it's Summer.

I just completed a discipleship class on the book "Good and Beautiful God" and am digging in to the She Reads Truth study on Ruth.  What I love about She Reads Truth, is that it's a fork.  (You know, as in, they hand you a fork and you feed yourself some meat and potatoes right off the figurative plate?) I don't know about you, but I have been needing that. 

I've been quiet here because I've been working my way through some things.  Hard things.  And I am emerging out the other side and hope that I can encourage you today.  The first thing I actually struggled a long time with (even though I knew it wasn't right while I was in the midst of struggling with it and trying not think that way) was thinking that my hubby's downsize and our subsequent losses of incomes, freedoms, perks, flexibility were God punishing us for not being more grateful or for not being better stewards with what we'd been given, when we were living in a time of "blessing."  You can't imagine the guilt I have batted around these past few years over this one.  And that should have been my first clue... since God doesn't heap guilt on our heads.  If He did we'd all be crushed by it, from all the wrong we do in this life!  Which leads me to the second hard thing I finally worked through.  My mistaken view that God's blessings were only in the forms that I perceived blessings should be in- alongside the rest of the world and how they look at "blessings."  Such as financial breathing room, vacations, good times in our jobs (not necessarily just financial gain but enjoying it and such) etc.  The third hard thing I have been chewing up one side and down the other, has been a relationship thing.  Realizing that some relationships really are seasonal and you have to let some of them go even if you're not ready for that to happen. A side to that, was realizing that as long as I still wanted something from that person, I was tied to them and until I forgave them, I would always be tied to them.  Hardest lesson yet.  (When I forced myself to think through what exactly it was that I still wanted from them it came down to prideful silliness.  Pride makes a fool of us all if we let it, I suppose.  I wanted them to know the ways they hurt me and made me feel insignificant and less than the other friends they have, and people they make regular time for that I see splashed up all over facebook (collective Ugh right here) or some sort of apology for not listening to me when I tried to tell them all of this.)

So what I learned over the past few weeks and couple of months about all these hard things all boil down to this one key thought for me.  It's all a blessing.  

Stay with me okay?  I wrote this in my She Reads Truth journal today and I wanted to share it.  "Thank you God, for never leaving or forsaking us these past four years, even if outward circumstances made me feel that way.  I looked around (mistake) and saw the great bounty bestowed on others around me and mistook that as favor on them and therefore lack of favor on me by comparison.  I missed that a blessing can actually be in the midst of lack OR of plenty.  I missed that "being very blessed" is often what we say in reference to having a lot or being successful or in reference to material MUCH.  But that's not really what it is and we're kind of wrong when we say that... "Blessing" is anything poured out on my life that is meant to bring about the ultimate GOOD in my life. It makes me want to start seeing "blessing" in a new way.  He gives plenty to some and less to others but He promises to give us a hope and future, so I want to be a woman who takes all things- good or bad as a BLESSING NOW (not down the road, when the bad has worked itself out.)"

It helps me look back at my man's job and think huh... that was all meant for something for our ultimate good.  We can see things that wouldn't have come about without those squeezes.  And you know what?  They are GOOD!  When I look at relationships I can apply this too... if there is painful relationship that God is bringing to an ending... it's a blessing. How can I not forgive the hurts it has caused if the entire thing has been meant for my ultimate good?  Both the having the delightful friendship... and the losing what I thought I would never actually lose?  All blessing.

This majorly helps me and if there is anything that encourages you in whatever you're swimming in, or fighting to hang on to or shaking your fist at the sky over, take it from God as blessing and give thanks, because He loves us so... He doesn't want us to see him as a great punisher up in the sky but rather a loving father that keeps us safe by giving us boundaries.  (Which sometimes hurt, in the moment.) Praise Him!  

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 *And on a lighter note...Don't forget there are only a couple more days to join our party and get your Disney princess eyelashes on!  (See my previous post)  You can order your Younique products here...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's talk eyelashes, shall we?

A few months ago I was introduced to a product that I fell head over heels in love with.  Which admittedly, happens frequently.  I'm a product girl.  I can't help it.  This time, it was Younique's Moonstruck 3D fiberlash mascara. 

Normally I like to wear about 3 coats of mascara and my eyelashes are fine... but when I saw some before and afters on facebook I flipped!  I had to try it out.  My facebook friend Carli sells this stuff and I figured that since I was no longer coloring my hair, maybe this could be an occasional Sasha beauty splurge... I didn't count on loving it so much that I can hardly imagine my life without it.  It's that amazing.  I took a pictures below with my regular coat of mascara- just one coat.... then I showed an after picture with the fiberlash mascara and I think you can really see a difference in length and volume.  I've had tons of people ask if my eyelashes were "mine" or "real"... and gotten tons of compliments from strangers- I kinda loved that!

It's super easy to apply.  (You get two tubes- one has little natural green tea fibers on a wand, and the other one is the transplanting gel which goes on just like mascara.  Basically you use that to get your eyelashes coated, then you swipe your eyelashes with another mascara-like wand filled with little natural fibers that lengthen and build on what you've already got.  (I was worried about  them getting in my eyes and causing issues but they didn't at all.  And if you use too much, they just fall off on your cheek and you can wipe them off with a fingertip  No major mess.) After the fibers are added, you seal them in with another swipe of the transplanting gel (just like putting on another coat of mascara) and you're done.  You can wash your face as usual and they wash right off.  Easy!)

 I loved it so much I wanted to share Younique with you guys and if you want to order some for yourself for a little summer pick me up... please go here, I'm having an online party! 

(Which I almost never do... that's how much I loved it!  Just wish you were all here in my house for the real thing and we'd have snacks and visiting like girls do, and check out all the other Younique products.  They all seem amazing, but I've only tried the Fiberlash so far.  If everything else is as good... we're in for a real treat!)
See? Fiberlash (aka AMAZING) results above. (I know I just shared this same picture but I forgot to do the regular mascara on one side and the fiberlash on the other so hopefully these three photos will help you get the general idea plus I wouldn't steer you wrong on this girls.  It's soooo good. Get ya some! 

Okay so party with me here if you want, and we'll all have disney princess eyelashes together!!  (grin) (And don't tell my husband this but they work exceptionally well in the eyelash batting department, of which I consider myself quite an expert.  Never underestimate the power of pretty eyelashes. Ha!)

Also... my baby girl did great in her recital last night.  Thought you'd enjoy a couple of photos.  (She's the one standing on the far right.)  And then she had her little graduation from 5th grade assembly today and I didn't cry.  I was sitting all by myself and somehow that helped.  Which is good since I cried plenty yesterday and all through the end of this recital.  Transitions.  Goodness.  (But at least my eyelashes looked nice.)

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kids, housey-house, and my shop, Oh MY!

My hoodlums are ending their year in the category of "awesome."  Last week, Joe performed a solo on the bass for Orchestra (I didn't take a photo because I was too far back in the audience) and did a great job!  Ava placed first in the triple jump, (look at those ballerina legs. They blow me away.) out of all the 5th grade girls in the city-wide track day.  I could burst.  She is performing in her ballet recital tomorrow night and I know it's going to be precious, though I could literally go years without ever hearing Enya's "Sail away" song ever again.  It haunts me at two am, and plays in my head the rest of the night. Ha!

I just keep chanting "We are out on Tuesday... we are out on Tuesday." Never been more ready.

 My mother's day gift of subway tile is finished.  I never want to leave my kitchen.  My man knows me deep down, in my very core and knows exactly how to bless my socks off. I might have wept at one point.

I made an art print that rocked my world.  Well, it was actually Adrain's idea.  I told him that I really wanted to make some kind of poster sized artwork that read, "you are just my type."  He suggested that I use the image from one of my typewriter prints... well, yeah. I loved it so much that I listed it for YOU just in case your heart had the same pitter patter that mine did and I am offering it for the first time ever, as a poster, on thick, delicious poster board material.  It's amazing.

(My 30% off sale is still going and Wednesday is the final day you can use the coupon code "SUMMERLOVE" for that discount so make sure and use it peeps!)

You can shop here.

 Now. Do y'all follow me on Instagram? Cause I'm there... and I love it.  I know that I Instagram way too much according to the "experts" but it's my fave so I don't really care about the "rules."  I could give up all forms of social media and blogging in an instant (more on that later as I've been chewing on a new "plan" for myself and some changes are taking place in a month or so like maybe getting rid of comments completely? I'll want to chew on that with you and get your thoughts) but I'd cry if I had to give up Instagram.  I would.  Here's some of the daily moments that I shared lately....  including what I said on Instagram, in italics... and some commentary from right now, below that. 
"Isaiah 58:11" The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." {Desperate for this promise and His encouragement this weekend as we still wait on our car issues.} {Trusting His plan -3 weeks and counting...}"

God is good.  All the time.  Yes, He is.  My life is proof. This was an old picture but a verse I stumbled up on about a week ago. 

"Heading off to work in my mama's car. We should be back in our own cars this weekend after a month of breakdown nonsense! Praising God for miracles... and for all your orders from my shop! Y'all love sales..and I love you! ♡ Thank you for blessing us so deeply."

(Okay we have another week of borrowing but things should level back out to some form of "normal" this time next week.  Praise the Lord.)

 "Cleaning out desks...found this treasure from Christmas after graduation in 1994. Spiral perm anyone? #crazyhair #highschoolsweethearts"

Found this when I was moving my studio into the guest room.  (We won't even talk about my pre-child-bearing hips in these itty bitty levis.  My goodness.  I wish I could smack some "You're not fat sense" right into this curly headed ninny. For crying out loud.)

 "They weren't even on their tip toes for this shot!!!!! I am going to be the shortest one in this family soon. Bah!"
(The hips were worth giving up for these.  They really were.  Still... wish I'd enjoyed them just a bit more.  But- I sure like myself better here.  It was a journey worth taking.)

"Yeah. My favorite way to pass the time!!"  

Can we talk about how much I love my new job working for a professional organizer?  I love the ladies I get to work with and the clients are amazing.  It's been such a perfect thing.  I feel myself bursting constantly, at the way God blesses and works it all out.  I told my boss, as I was working on styling these shelves with my coworker, that I'm pretty sure "this would be what heaven was going to be like for me"... and she laughed and said she wished she could put some of my quotes on facebook.  I love my new job. Have I mentioned that yet? So fun!

"My devo today was on this verse and I took it as a promise of encouragement; "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed" (Joel 2:25-26, NIV)"
And then a miracle happened and God made everything right again.  It took us four weeks of praying and hoping and reconfiguring things but it is all working out, and someone out there needed to hear that, I think.  He's got it. Whatever it is.  He will repay the years the locusts have eaten.  I'm going to paint that right into my journal this week.  Because it was a promise and I took it as such that morning.  

Hours later, I wept as I felt Him whisper, "See?  I will repay.... beloved.

I think I could feast on that truth for a really long time.  Well, probably until the next crisis if I'm totally honest.  Then I'll most likely panic and question it all again.  I don't want to... but I often revert to that.

Regardless of my mistakes...  I hope you are encouraged today.  He's got it and He will repay those years.  Hold fast to that.

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