Saturday, August 30, 2014

Peeping around the house with the best laid plans. Keeping it real edition.

It has been some time now, since we had one of our random chats about life, with random photos that I took five minutes ago, so that if you walked in you'd see pieces of our life (and yes you would see a few fall items peeping out already) and we'd probably talk about the following; Keeping it real. 

Yes, let's.

Yesterday, I brought home a 1000 piece puzzle, dumped it out on the dining room table, and then promptly forgot what kind of personalities exist in this household.  Type A, Git-er-done-now, creative thinker types.  We couldn't stop working on it because we were possessed with puzzle-itis, and once we had convinced the kids to release their grubby little fingers and go to bed, Adrain and I snuck back into the dining room and worked on it some more while yawning and trying to peel ourselves away from the magnetic pull of jigsaw addiction and go to bed ourselves.  We could barely keep our eyes open but we couldn't stop.  It was so fun it was almost stressful. 

Which brings me to this.  As parents... why are so many things in life like that?  So fun they are almost stressful?  Like going on vacation.  Or doing a fun day trip someplace, for instance.  Sounds so good on paper until you're on the way home and one kid accidentally makes contact with the other kid in the nose because they were playing some stupid slap game back there (why?) and now there's a bloody nose all over the backseat and their brand new hat just got ruined because they felt like taking it off in the midst of the bloody chaos (literally) and putting it in their lap (why?) and now I'm trying to staunch the bleeding while remaining sort of seat belted, hanging over the front seat yelling, "Did you see what you just did?!" to the smacker, (why?) (of course they saw it) while the smack-ee is totally freaking out now because they are sure they are dying through their nose. 

So fun it's stressful. 

Which I think, spoke volumes for our summer.  Don't get me wrong, we did some really fun things but most of those fun things were peppered with "other moments."  I'm coming to realize that those "other moments" don't mean my family is a freak, they just don't show up on Instagram feeds and the memory of them fades with time for the most part.  My friends all claim this same phenomenon.  Which is why we all try another vacation eventually.  You have forgotten those "so fun they were almost stressful" and "other moment" moments- kind of like labor.

We had such great plans for so many more really crazy fun events than we ever followed through on for this summer. Big plans.  Wild, far-reaching plans.  Impossible plans really, when you get down to brass tacks because who can fit that all in (and stay sane) with all of the pre-teen and teenage hormones raging in a toilet bowl-like swirl around you?  (I can't even imagine all the FUN we would have experienced had our every jaunt out of town, our every day trip and every gathering actually come to pass.) 

  And speaking of gatherings, we had this grandiose plan at the end of the school year, last spring, to invite people that we didn't know that well to come over.  We wanted to have someone over at least twice a month. For dinner or a campfire or something.  Guess how many times we did that?


We even went to so far as to make a list of potential people we wanted to get to know better!  I threw it away last week when I gave up all hope of accomplishing really any of those big plans over this summer since summer is practically finished on Tuesday when the hoodlums go back to school.  It makes me laugh.  Then it makes me cry.  Which I believe means that I am probably stuck in that swirling toilet bowl of hormones along with both of my kids.  

But fear not... because I have really big plans for October, New Year's eve and the 4th of July.

I'm convinced it will be really fun.  

The End. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From the Studio (and beyond of course.)

Hi Sweet things!! School is almost here...coming on Tuesday.  I'm kind of dragging myself across the start line at this point but we're going to get there one way or another aren't we?  (grin) Maybe if I hadn't decided I needed to marathon through Downton Abbey seasons 1-4 the last 2 weeks I might be better prepared.  Um. Yes, well, it is, what it IS.  Ha!

Will you bear with me today if we talk a bit of shop?  It's been ages since I did a post on this sort of things so I hope you don't mind so very much... That said, I've been working in my shop today, getting a few items underway for their Fall/Winter debut and I'm sharing them with you here right now! I recently decided to put a few prints away permanently and they are currently listed at half price, as "LAST CHANCE" items, until my stock is gone.  Most of the items I am showing you here are only available over the next few months, as "LIMITED TIME" items. 

I'm starting with my favorite.   This little acorn variety print.  I won't lie to you- it's already hanging in my hallway.  Yes, yes, it is. I couldn't resist!!

(Click here to shop!)
     For those who wanted an "orange" pumpkin in the collection.  You know who you are! 
 I love this print so much I can't stand it.  And it's now found it's permanent home right here, over my jewelry.  Such a good reminder... and cute to boot! 
 I've also brought back returning favorites! 
 Always a best seller.  Get it while it's here.  It always makes me smile. 
 Another favorite... I have this available in a variety of canvas sizes and it truly is my very favorite Christmas decor item. 
Alright that's all for me.  I've worked so hard and I hope you just LOVE the new items (and the returning favorites!)  Happy shopping to YOU! (Click here to shop!)

Now wish me luck on getting my act together with school. (At least Downton season 5 doesn't start until January.)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Joy listing... as we wind down summer.

Goodness me, it's nearly school time once again. This summer has flown on wings, in my neck of the woods and I bet you'll agree- especially if the bright yellow buses are already ambling down your roads! In our area kids go back the day after labor day. We have so few rainy days in a year that I'm thankful the powers that be keep our kiddos out long enough for us to enjoy it, though September is often the most amazing month up here. We got all our new packages of socks, tennis shoes and jeans plus a few cute shirts (or handsome, if you're Joe) folded and ready to get the tags ripped off the day before. {So funny- my mama never let me take any tags off before the first day and I couldn't wear anything... and I'm just the same with my own kids. It's that first day anticipation and I can't help myself.}

 Ava and I have been doing a Downton Abbey marathon, and we're trying to get to the end of season 4 before school begins. In a way I'm totally ready for the routine, and the lunch making and carting them around to music lessons and dance and all that... and I'm ready to buckle down at 5:30 every day with homework around the kitchen table while I start thinking about dinner... but in a way I am NOT! I love letting them sleep in (and they SLEEP IN). I'm not quite ready for the chore of lunch making and the daily grind of homework every night and always carting someone around to their event while I scramble in my head over dinner plans. Ha!

I am a woman, and therefore, contradictory. I can own it.

I am however, ready for jeans, sweaters, pumpkin spice, candles and fur throw blankets.

Anyway, today I wanted to share some of our county fair photos (all taken from my phone and some showed up on Instagram, others would have if the day had been longer) along with more moments from my summer thankful list. What a treat it has been keeping track of these small moments and plugging them quickly into my phone.  I hope you enjoy reading them and they inspire you to capture a few of your own joy list thankful moments!  

Dahlias and the way they brighten any surface.

Going to my new doctor for the first time and having nurse Nicki sneak in to chat with me in the midst of her work day.

Sitting poolside with Alli and bumping into Jen and Hang.
Pre dinner lake swims and cheering joe on as he swam out to the buoy. The icy water that at first took our breath away and goggle wearing hoodlums with wide grins exclaiming "mom this is the best night!!"

A donut run that morning that turned into a wild and truly weird adventure we could only laugh about afterward- especially that part about having to rescue my bike from the bushes where we had hidden it.

Soft puppies the color of ginger that really wanted some of our tailgate party and delighted my children.

Catching up with Nate and Judy and blessing her by remembering that she prefers half and half in her coffee the next morning. Watching them love on my children in every way possible.
Summer mountain hikes that surrounded us with God's glory.

The galvanized bucket in my backyard exploding with petunias and vibrant color. 

Listening to his guitar being strummed on the front porch.

Doing jobs with Julie and Becca and laughing and laughing and deep talks in the car.

Rebecca's beet salad that made me want to sneak a third helping and then taking a plastic container home later that night at her insistence.

Ava making amazing cheeseburger pie for dinner.

Joe, winning 2nd place for his photo at the fair.

Realizing that sometimes compassion must be taught and taking the time to have that talk over dinner.

Driving beside him, struggling not to cry and having him push me gently to let my thoughts out and then marveling at how he can string broken pieces back together with his words and tenderness.

Four year old hugs.

Endings and beginnings.

 My husband's forearms when he holds my niece and watching him toss her in the air every time she gleefully says, "Again?" to him.  Then watching her kiss his cheek as a thank you. 
Being able to pay for the majority of my kids school shopping from my personal earnings and knowing that my contributions to what my man brings in are appreciated.

Polka dotted tee shirts on sale.

Sitting at my picnic table, pouring life out with my oldest friend in the world and the woman who was once my children's first babysitter.

Eating farm fresh blueberries by the handfuls.
Laughing at my son and my brother Jake, (Officer Mc Jakey) ride the zipper, then laughing again because they looked a bit green when they got off. 

Sitting at a work bbq for adrains crew and laughing at their stories.

Saving two window sills worth of heirloom tomatoes after a wind storm snapped off both plants at the bases.

Laughing about life, over the most yummy steak salads on date night, at a favorite restaurant, with cafe lights strung overhead, and wearing a pretty necklace just for him.

His hand grazing mine as we walk and how he always wraps his fingers around mine.

That night ava came out of bed way past her bedtime to talk about how she was concerned that her fish was overweight and it was all I could do not to laugh as adrain admonished her to get back into bed and discuss issues like that in daylight hours.

Joe spontaneously singing vanilla ice with Nate at the picnic table that night after dinner, and how they knew every single word and how we laughed until our bellies hurt.

Raspberries which are and always will be, my very favorite.

Watching a horrific yet compelling reptile show and rolling my eyes every time they asked for a volunteer to drape snakes all over, because my son, sitting in the front row, would shoot his hand straight up and wave wildly.  Then breathing a sigh of relief when they didn't choose him but trying not to show it.

Staying until the sunset, even though I really wanted to go home and being so grateful for my man who pushes me to be a more "fun mama" than my instincts want me to be and leaving happy and full of memories.

How about you... what's on your joylist?   

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Throw-together ideas that hit me in the middle of the night...

Do any of you do this?

I'm laying there, wide awake in the middle of the night, when everyone else in the house is fast asleep... the soft hum of fans blowing the warm summer air all around, and I'm mentally going down a list of thoughts?

Sometimes I've got so many that I have to get out of bed, find a notebook and write them down.  (I saw a pin on Pinterest that said, "I don't trust people who go to bed and fall immediately to sleep- don't they have any thoughts?"  Indeed.  My man is like that.  Right to sleep!) (Secretly envious.)

The other night I was going through one of those nights and as I checked things off in my head I realized I was supposed to host bible study the following night.  I normally love hosting things and yet for whatever the reason, I've been more of a clean out the fridge-throw-it-all-on-the-table phase of life.  And it hasn't bothered me in the slightest because those are often the best parties anyway.

Good hostesses know it's far more about how your friends and loved ones feel IN your house, than how they feel ABOUT your house and the common denominator for making them feel relaxed and comfortable IN your house... is you... not what you do or don't do, not what you serve or how you serve it and for that matter... you can be a good hostess anywhere because that is the definition of hospitality in my humble opinion;  Drawing people out of themselves, setting them at ease in your presence and making memories while doing it... and you can do that anywhere, under any circumstances. 

Though pretty straws and napkins never hurt.  I'm just saying. 
So I'm laying in bed thinking... "What can I feed these girls on the hottest week of the year, without heating up the kitchen or spending much at the store?" and it hits me.  Popcorn!  Who doesn't like popcorn?  Then it hit me even harder... EASY throw together buffet style popcorn bar with a sweet or savory style seasoning shaker and DONE!  Boom!

I loved it.
 I got the cute little buckets years and years ago when we were homeschooling and I stored our markers and such in them- I've used them with parchment paper liners for fries and other fun goodies ever since.  I knew they would make the sweetest containers.  I tossed napkins and straws leftover from a weekend BBQ onto my potting bench over a cut of cheap picnic looking fabric, tossed some drinks in the drink bucket and added some fresh flowers.

Then, I scribbled the "menu" on my chalkboard and popped two bags of microwave popcorn.  Once I filled a big canister with that and added a scoop, I whipped together a sweet and savory topping and filled inexpensive grocery store shakers with them. The "savory" was simply an envelope of ranch dressing mix and the "sweet" was cinnamon and stevia mixed together. (You could do cinnamon and sugar, obviously.)

I ripped some brown paper and stamped it with "sweet" and "savory" and tied them on with twine... and that was it.  

I'm going to tell you something.  Often, I drive myself crazy with open windows in my head at night, but every now and then... that staying awake and thinking business leads to a simple and quick, good idea that makes it's way on my blog.

The popcorn idea was a hit and I'm definitely going to use it again when I'm in a time pinch because I've always got a few bags of it on hand.  And bible study was lovely because we took a million rabbit trail conversations and went where they took us...

Hmm... kind of like the same way my mind works when I'm trying to fall asleep!  Ha!

Do you have any middle of the night "Aha-ideas?" 
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