Monday, April 27, 2015

I enjoy disclaimers in parentheses

Hi Guys!!

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About the time that many of you are reading this I will most likely be on my way to Mexico with my man (or just about to be.)  (The company he works for has a reward system, and when you have what they consider a good year, you earn a company paid trip to an exotic location for a few days.) (YES... company paid!)

This is huge for us.  (Exotic getaways weren't in our 2015 budget, BUT this happens to be the year we will hit a few life milestones- 20 year anniversary in November and I turn 40 in September to name a couple. Which meant that celebrating sounded like a wonderful way to pass some of the time in 2015.) In fact, the one and only other exotic getaway Adrain and I have had over the last 20 years, was exactly ten years ago to Maui, for this exact same reason- a "good year," so sayeth his company.  (I am kind of loving his company right this moment. Just saying.) (That year we considered it kind of our belated honeymoon since we didn't have one of those and it was great to get away some place we had to fly!) (Except the leaving of a four and two year old at the time.  That part was actually horrible and didn't go so well for anyone concerned.) (We even got those dreaded phone calls to "discuss behavior" with a four year old while there. On the bright side, I was listening to the calming sound of waves hitting the sand, behind me, while trying to reason with a four year old over the phone.  So there was that.)

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So anyway.  This time we leave a fourteen and twelve year old (and we'd better not get those same phone calls or this Sasha-girl might not come back.) (Oh I'm kidding.) and we've got grandparents staying here along with various Aunties taking over all the shuttle duties for after school events and such.  That part is pure joy- that we have this little community of family who knew how precious and needed this was for us, and were so willing to take a shift in order to make it possible.  But... (not trying to be a pessimist here) our getaways do not have a good history of ending well.  I put this out on Instagram the other day and just asked for a covering of prayer for my family... I was blown away (and yes I may have even teared up) over the sweet responses.  Promises for prayers, well wishes and crazy heaps of encouragements poured in.

So, I'm asking for it here too.  We never do this... which is probably why I am so freaked out and nervous.  I know my kids are capable...and I know that they are in good hands... but.  You know... 
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Would you bless our little family once again... you have all been so faithful to support us these many years in so many ways... but would you pray for our kids, our family who is giving of their time to be with our kids, and also... pray for Adrain and I?  That we would have a LOVELY time- relaxed and connected and build our marriage stronger with this break?  Someone on Instagram even promised to pray for gluten free foods for me while there...  (Yes please, because nobody wants to be sick on vacation!)  I figure a few more prayers can't hurt, right?  I don't want any pressure on it... just want it to be lovely and sweet and it will be over in just a few short days so I want to make the most of it!  That feels like such a tall order, but I believe in a BIG God who cares over the small details. 
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Her love language...

This one will be short and sweet, in light of my most recent book-long post!

I love having a daughter. Don't get me wrong, having a son is also my favorite... but there is something I just get about girls... probably because I am one.  You know?

I always laugh at how Joe's birthday comes around and he cares a lot more about the food and gifts than he does about how they are all presented... but Ava lets me know that she cares just as much about how it's all presented.  I love that.  She is totally my kid in that way.

A few months ago, I kept seeing all these pretty florals mixed with black and white and so I started planning.  Then one day I walked through Target and they had a whole party section with that theme, so apparently, I'm right on trend. I grabbed some napkins and straws and tissue paper and a gift bag. Then I went home and found a long striped table runner on Amazon (I plan to cut it up and use it for patio napkins at some point because I think I'll use those more than a runner.) along with some black and white polka dotted wrapping paper.  Love that Amazon.  She wanted a naked lemon cake topped with a flower so I did that, and bought gobs of fresh flowers for the tabletop that I placed into blue mason jars.  It all delighted her.  Which delighted me.  

Here are some party decor pictures for your enjoyment... well they're really for our enjoyment, but you can enjoy them too since you're here and all.  (grin) Sources at the bottom!


straws, napkins, gift bag and tissue paper- Target
Flowers (mums, peach roses, pink carnations and eucalyptus)- grocery store
Vintage Mason jars-sourced locally
Pink Lemonade- Trader Joes
Cake details- box lemon cake + store-bought frosting + fake peony flower topper (JoAnns)
Cake baked in two 6" cake pans (JoAnns)
Cake Stand- Marshall's 
Wood slice- Michaels

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peeking inside- all my cabinets

I'm so excited about what I'm sharing with you today. But be warned... this will be a long one and I can't make it shorter because I have things I have to say about this topic.  Hang with me!!

Last spring, I got the unexpected opportunity to go to work for an amazing woman that I've admired for the last decade. She is a professional organizer.  We bumped into one another in a store, she asked me for some help on a job and it was just my favorite thing ever, so she hired me!!!  That's God fingerprints right there.

Anyway, we do things like organize people's pantries, garages, offices, closets etc, and we label and contain things in bins and we help them downsize what they don't need, and maximize the space they have for the items they keep.  We also redecorate, hang pictures, make every space prettier than when we got there and mainly, make it work best for their needs.  It's the loveliest job ever, and I adore it with all my heart.  The bonus is the ladies on my team who I enjoy and admire so much.  We love one another like family.  I still pinch myself that I get to do this.
I was cooking dinner the other night and started thinking about the fact that in all my years blogging, I haven't done an entire post where I show you all inside my kitchen cupboards and drawers and how I've got them organized and laid out. **DISCLAIMER- the reason for this is most likely because I do live in the real world where things are always subject to change, a work in progress and not perfect... but that is precisely the reason I'm sharing them today.  We are ALL works in progress, ever changing, imperfect creations! (And this isn't math... there is more than one right answer to every problem and I still haven't solved all of mine yet... like tuppereware.  Can we just have a collective UGH on that one?)**

 That said, having your space organized takes a huge weight off your shoulders and I am hoping that I can inspire you to tackle yours if it needs it. The coolest thing about becoming organized, is that anyone can do it.  Small tweaks, better choices and you don't have to be naturally wired this way- anyone can organize a drawer to work best for them right now.  Anyone. (And then you can change it later if you find a better way.)

So let's start the tour.  We're going clockwise as you enter my kitchen, from top to bottom, beginning above the fridge.  (above photo)
 (Apparently I'm out of sugar.) These cute jars work for me but they don't for most with all the fuss of decanting and space hogging. I keep the sugar and flour in those large sized canisters because I frequently put them onto the counter as decor.  I may be switching to more streamlined functional containers in the future but these are it for now.
 Junk drawer.  Gotta have one!
 This could be better but to be honest it works perfectly for me right now. 
 Above the microwave.
 I just moved these last week and moved the glass doors here. (more on that at the bottom of this post) Love having all my options visible.
 Potholders by the stove.
 Accordion stand up rack from Ikea was the the only thing that fit this narrow cupboard. 
 This cupboard used to house my glasses, being right  beside the sink... however when I did the flip flop of these two cupboards, I didn't realize how much I would love it... half of the cupboard is hidden so things like my seldom used tea set is back there.  And the best part- it's all right above my espresso machine!
 I love you an awful lot to share this one... it's where everything with no home goes to live, and very much a work in progress!!  It's an awkward lazy susan type cubboard and I've hated it since I moved in.  Wish it had those turning racks and I always think I'll put some in someday.  Again... real life.
 **I did not tweak any of my drawers or cupboards for you, this is real life...BUT thankfully the garbage wasn't overflowing the day I did these photos!!

Moving to my island drawers...

I live by one very simple question when it comes to organizing my own house.  "Is this the best way to do this for my family?"  That's it.  If it is, I leave it be.  If it's not, I change it. And I change it as many times as I need to, in order to make it work.  If you have always had those bowls on that shelf but it's inconvenient or doesn't work for the flow of your kitchen.. move them.  You aren't married to any of your decisions!

(These are the contents of that column of drawers next to my dishwasher.)

My favorite way to organize my cupboards/drawers, is to make a plan for what dividers I need first. 
Then once I've made or purchased them, take everything out of the space I need to organize.  
Wipe it clean.  
Line it if if necessary.
Toss or donate anything not needed.  
Place dividers, trays or containers into drawer or cupboard and then put everything back in an orderly way.  
Move to the next drawer or cupboard.

I like to line as many drawers as possible with non stick matting that you can buy in a roll and cut to fit.  It keeps things clean and in place.  I also like to label things but I do live in the real world where my kids don't read or care what my labels say.  That's real life.  The principle is that there IS a system... whether or not it gets followed to the letter or not, it's there and easily fixed.

My common sense rules of thumb - Keep things handy where they make sense to live.  So, I like to keep dishes near the dishwasher, potholders and baking pans near the stove, baking ingredients together, coffee and tea items near the coffee pot and a junk drawer for those utility items you need to grab occasionally.  I like to use above the fridge and microwave spaces for things I don't access often and I like to keep all of my dishes in the kitchen (even special occasion types) so that I can use anything at any time, rather than saving things for "special occasions," which means they are seldom used.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I keep utensils handy in a container beside the oven, I alphabetize my spices for quick grabbing and I stack pans vertically to save on space. I like to keep my lids with the pots they go with and I hide my toaster on a tray, in a cupboard along wtih other small appliances I don't use often, because I like my kitchen to feel clutter free.  The way our home is designed, the kitchen truly is the center and heart of our open concept home and this is a necessary thing or we all begin to feel closed in.  I don't keep anything extra and certainly nothing out of obligation (sentiment is different) and I only hang on to what I use and need because if I am not using it, someone else might be blessed by it if I donate it.  These are my guidelines.  Take what you want from them and make your own set of guidelines that work for your house!

Alright let's close with this... So Ava had a sick day last week and I decided to tackle a project I had been wanting to do for a while.  I painted the backside of this cabinet the same shade (Peacock Plume by Sherwin Williams) as my island.  I loved it so much that I pulled the doors off, thinking I would probably get tired of that and put them back on soon...

Only...I loved it! So did my family.  Open shelving bliss where you can simply reach and grab what you need without banging a lot of doors around.  (And I wondered... are we THAT lazy? Ha!)
The thing was... I LOVED those glass doors and wanted to see them someplace.  This cabinet was the only one that made sense so I moved them here and swapped the glassware with the coffee/tea items and LOVED that even more!  It's so light and airy and I'm thrilled with the change. 

And if you're still reading... good job!  Whew that was a long one!

Go fourth and be inspired to tackle those kitchen projects and organization.  It's the heart of our homes and where everyone typically gathers so it's worth it! 
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Saturday, April 18, 2015


I'm sitting here while kids fill my garage for "band practice" letting brownies cool, after a day home with a sick Ava yesterday where I busted out a ton of projects.  I painted the back of one of my kitchen cabinets the same shade my island got painted, and that led to a lot of shuffling around, door moving, etc. Best day ever!  I'll be sharing more about that, along with the organization of all my cabinets and drawers soon.

But...I just realized that my blogging anniversary came and went and I didn't even think about it. I've been blogging since March of 2008. Seven years of documented life... wowza.  That's a lot of words... and pictures... and heart outpourings... and faith fumbles and recoveries... and musings... and inspiration sharing... and DIY-ing... and friend making... and creating... and recipe trying.  A lot.  

I was clueless.  I didn't know where it would take me and how it would change me and shape me.  I became a blogger.  People who knew me were shocked and wondered why on earth I would do that.  They feared for my privacy to which I replied, "what privacy?"  I'll tell anyone anything, pretty much.  They shrugged and said things like, "well just be careful."  And then I met you.  And you loved on me, encouraged me, grew with me and pushed me to open my Etsy shop.  Pure joy in the discoveries.

That was a whole other ride starting in January of 2011 with some cute little "I Heart my man" tees.  Do any of y'all remember those?  They were crudely made but oh-so-sweet and I never meant to sell them, just wanted one for me and then so did others.  I sold them so fast it made my head spin.  It took me a while to find my feet in Etsy but everything I tried sold out so I just kept making things.  I made camera strap covers and chicken wire memo boards... I tried out jewelry and these adorable owl messenger bags that were perfect for my daughter's demographic.  One of my favorite things were screen printing and I taught myself how to make screens with emulsion and light.  It was crazy fun.. but so much work.  I made ball jar dishtowels and sold hundreds.  Eventually I shut those down because I saw too many copycats and that's not my scene. I made printed napkins and so many other items... then the company I purchased all my supplies from stopped making things and I didn't like anything else I tried so I put all the screen printing stuff away.  I hand-stamped hundreds and hundreds maybe even thousands of Christmas garlands.  It was the most wild thing ever.  They had the different Names of God on them and they were the bulk of my yearly income.  I stamped until my fingers almost bled.

Then came my niche.  Art.  Mainly watercolors but a few acrylic paintings remained.  I loved getting inspiration and then taking it to get scanned and printed.  That was my favorite and I loved being asked what I did for a living... I felt like I could actually say, "I'm an artist." What joy.

As seasons change, so did my schedule and I picked up a super creative part-time job. After two years of taxes that crushed us, I decided it was time to close my shop so I prayed over it and God specifically answered with a confirming "YES close it." Joy in the change.

So now I'm ready to say goodbye to Etsy as of next Friday morning, April 24th. (Don't worry, I'm not closing down my blog... I'll still be here!) You've fulfilled my wildest dreams of helping me sell my own artwork.  Your kind reviews knocked my socks off.  Your purchases floated my family in ways you will never, never, never know.  You made a difference in my world through my shop.  I have such joy in my heart as I close it down next Friday morning because I'm right where I am supposed to be right now and because of YOU.  You all are just the best.  Thank you for making my shop a success and for being my cheerleaders.  There is no way I could or would have ever done any of it without you. You can still place orders between now and then by clicking here.

I just adore you all so very much.  Thank you.

**UPDATE- I had to close my shop early because I sold out of everything.  What a lovely way to end. Thank YOU friends.  You are so dear to my heart. 

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Break "Plans"

I have this thing about finding unnecessary quotation marks- as in... I "love" them. They make something inside of me laugh from way down deep.  There is even an entire site dedicated to the improper use of quotations (kind of like my opening statement).  We ran across one, over the week of spring break on a big painted sign, and I should have photographed it.  It was advertising something like fresh hot "food."  I died.  So did Adrain, when I pointed it out. Not sure what was fresh and hot... but apparently... it wasn't food.

It's the little things in life.

Anyway... the quotations around "Plans" in my title aren't unnecessary.  They are intended.  You know what they say about the best laid plans.... (well I don't know what they actually say- I'd have to google that to get a proper quote for you, but I know "they" say something about those plans!) (Whoever "they" are.)

 *from my rain splattered window as we bumped down the road.

Adrain surprised us all by booking a couple of nights stay in a town a few hours away, during spring break.  He never does things like that, and it wasn't in the budget, but to be honest, after the week we had before spring break, we needed it so badly.  So badly.  Adrain knew a guy who owned a lodge in a vacation spot and thought it would be a fun getaway and he got a screaming deal on the price. We got there and everything that could go wrong, did, pretty much from the start, up to an including the worst hotel room I've ever stayed in.  We had been told there were bike and kayak rentals next door.  (Except that they were closed until the season opened in a couple of weeks and they failed to mention that part when we booked.)  We tried to find other places but they were also closed until the start of the "season."  All of the restaurants nearby were closed except for between the hours of 4 and 6 which I found really weird.  The hiking trails were closed, we couldn't find the one spot that was open, and we called 3 numbers for horseback riding but they were all discontinued. Probably wasn't yet the SEASON. The pool was closed as was the hot tub, though we had been told it would be open, and everything we came up with to do, was closed or unavailable for the few days we were there.  It set off a flurry of {understandable} teenage anger and one kiddo was sick in the mix for extra fun, so by the middle of the second day we packed up and just drove back home.

We had decided that driving home was the most fun we could come up with at that point.  I put it out on Instagram asking for any vacation stories gone wrong so we could laugh a bit as we drove home because frankly, we needed a bit of a laugh.  Or at the very least, to simply know this was common to someone other than us.  We immediately got blasted with a ton of hilarious, sad, sweet, and even emotional stories.  Most were laughable in hindsight.  Some were even remembered as the best vacation ever.  Apparently everyone has one.

And it made me think- it was my chance to practice what I had been preaching in my previous post.  DO I wanna be an egg or a potato?  I could look around at all the fabulous instagram feeds of people in exotic places over spring break, and feel jealous... and hard... and look back at the many times my family has attempted a TWO DAY GETAWAY for crying out loud and had it end poorly.  This was not our first rodeo in this regard but it was better than coming home early to bury a beloved dog.  That trip still holds the record as the worst spring break ever.  I wanted to be soft though... so I embraced the chance to say thank you... thank You for protecting us from whatever could have gone down if we'd been able to do all the fun things we originally planned.  Thank You for getting us home safely.  Thank You for a man who cared enough about us to try.  Thank You for the hotel graciously not charging us for that second night we didn't stay. Thank You for the glorious apple trees in bloom and the beautiful drive.  Thank You for a family, in tact, a healthy husband, and the specific frustrations, hurts, joys, glory moments and trials I was given in this life because these ones are all mine, specifically designed to shape me. Thank You that I'm never alone in my heartaches, no matter what they are.  Thank You. Just thank You

It always starts and ends there, doesn't it? Praise Him.  So yeah...maybe it wasn't the "fun trip" we had planned in our mind's eye... but it was our story and we'll always have that memory.   Thank You Lord for what you give me... let me be a softened potato when the water in life starts to boil...not an egg that hardens. Amen. 

  Then we bookended the week with a family wedding- Adrain's little brother and his longtime sweetie.  I got to do hair, makeup and photos.  And I had basically no good places for photos at the site the wedding was held, and about 30 minutes. And when I say no good places... you have to take my word.... there was nothing.  A pool shed with a bright blue wall... and a tiny patch of trees that if I angled it just so, you didn't see what was around it.  Whew!!   I came up with about 30 of the prettiest shots and I would have never thought it possible but I learned how to fake a good angle in a few places to make it look lushly wooded and prayed over the whole thing like crazy.  I wanted to bless these two so much but photographing people is not my thing... not my comfort zone at all!  In the end, I was jumping with relief that I got the shots I did.

I'm so glad God cares about the details of life.  
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