Thursday, June 29, 2017

Guiding Kids in Social Media

This is a topic I have wanted to talk about for so long, and there are as many opinions on it, as there are people.  It seems like it is one of the big conversations that inevitably tends to come up when I'm with my mom-friends and seemed like a natural follow-up topic to my previous post on blogging.  We're all trying to figure it out, bouncing ideas off one another, seeing what works and what doesn't, aren't we?  We all seem to hit that wall when school is out for long breaks, or even weekends, when everyone in the room is "alone together," on their phones.  I know personally, I've walked around the room with a gallon-sized ziplock bag in hand and a grim look on my face, ordering people to power down and dump the phones into the bag.  (It tends to not be received well. Go figure.) I'm still learning.  But the truth is, we're all doing our best to navigate this age, and we're adults.  I mean, who hasn't gotten their feelings hurt by something they weren't a part of, or been fully sucked in to something entertaining or trendy?  Our kids are working through all of this with the lesser-formed coping mechanisms they have on hand, and it's up to us to lay down boundaries and guidelines and encourage them forward. I announced to my kids recently, that they will be leaving their phones at home when our family goes on vacation and I'm pretty sure they would have had the same reactions if I'd announced they would need to leave one of their arms behind.  (In all fairness, we'll be in another country with no cell service and no way to charge phones anyway, so bringing them is pointless.)  But... it's that FOMO mentality.  I didn't even know what that was until recently.  It's "Fear of missing out" because all they know is a world where everything is shared, from what someone eats to where and who they ate it with and when. 

Not long ago, I stood chatting, at an event with a mom of toddlers, and at one point in the conversation, she clutched my arm in a frantic sort of mother-panic, and demanded that I tell her exactly when she should give her children phones and Facebook accounts. I  looked at her askance and said, "Hey, I'm still figuring it all out, so don't look at me like I'm an expert on this!"  I'm a long way from having absolute answers or perfect responses, but the collective wisdom of my girlfriends who are walking the road of motherhood in this day and age have pooled into this post alongside me, and I hope that it is of some help to you! 

*Our first approach with kids and social media is (and should always be) one of compassion. As parents, we have this unique platform of seeing more of the whole picture because of our age and experience.  Because we know the pain a Facebook post can bring, PLUS the pain of adolescence in general, we can open our hearts and arms when our kids are mad as heck because they are hurt and can't pin-point why.  It's so easy to forget that they might be reacting to something they saw an hour ago on social media.  I've learned of things much later and put two and two together on why a situation went down the way it did.   

*Secondly, having too many rules can be overwhelming, so coming up with a few absolutes that can be bent when needed is really important. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron.  But what is parenting but that?  As parents, we're constantly assessing situations and making snap moves on what is needed. Kids love and need boundaries.  They feel safe with them.  But...we need to be able to see over our parentally-constructed boundaries enough to be flexible with our children, to keep them from sneaking or rebelling against what could feel like domination. (My kids never respond positively when they are feeling dominated.)  For example, in our home, we have a "phone on the chargers at seven pm" rule because bedtime is roughly around nine, and that gives enough time for decompressing.  But... often sports or work or even homework overlap that time where a phone may be needed, so we keep that a loose rule.  (Common-sense, loose "rules" tend to work really well in my experience, because if nothing else, it makes my kids feel heard, and gives them a chance to plead their case when it comes to different instances that don't work for blanket rules. When I was a teen, this was huge for me. I had thoughts and opinions on my curfew and went round and round with my father to get a case by case approach.) One child needs a reminder, the other watches the clock and doesn't need to be told to get the phone plugged in, so we work with that.  We also regularly enforce "no phones in bedrooms" with the reasoning that it's very isolating.  It's one thing to have everyone on the sofa on a phone... at least, they are together and can interact if they want to, but once in a bedroom, you could seriously not see or hear from a child for days!  Kidding.  Mostly. We willingly make exceptions when a child asks politely and respectfully (key!) to listen to music on their phone while cleaning etc.  I generally remind them that if they find themselves texting or on social media, the phone needs to come out and we haven't had much trouble with compliant attitudes.  All that to say, that there are days on end of non-stop phone-faces, and I finally say, "Okay everyone, we're phone-free this afternoon." Giving a little bit of a head's up so they have time to accept the impending isolation (wow, right?) is very helpful, as opposed to the power-down-and-dump-into-this-ziplock approach!

*Thirdly, having grace when needed.  We all make mistakes in life.  In a few short years my children will launch to college and beyond and they may use up all their data or get addicted to a game and struggle with making themselves sleep.  My hope is that I've taught them what should be done, as well as that if it's not, there are always consequences and then it's up to them. I used to imagine all kinds of bad things happening.  Some of them have, and we've done our best. Not perfectly, but we have tried to have both love and respect for our kids as they fail and learn.  My husband is awesome at starting with grace and gets all the credit here.  (I'm more strict so I rely on his kind approach to balance the hammer I tend to want to lay down.)  That said, we have at one point, removed a phone from a child (when warning after warning went unheeded along with disrespect) and went back briefly, to giving them a nice flip phone, rather than a smart phone.  The thing is, we talked it out before hand, and worked through a way for our child to stay connected socially (since this is a much bigger deal than one might think when they have littles) thus saving face with friends. (This is important to us because our goal is never to shame our child but rather pull back their boundaries temporarily for the purpose of correction.) We made sure that the child understood this was temporary and could be earned back by changing or doing certain things.  It wasn't a cake-walk for us as parents, and the child certainly wasn't happy at the time, but it achieved the result we were hoping for and some things were learned and changed in the process.  Being gracious but following through is important. And really, not being afraid to pull a plug.  As parents we're the ones paying the media bill, and can remove a device or phone, convert to a lesser phone, install passwords that need permission, put restrictions on the plan, etc. I think parents can feel so powerless when they ask for a phone to be handed to them, and a teen stands there gripping the device and angrily blurts, "No!" Here's a little truth tip-We aren't ever powerless as parents, because we are the ones who generally front the dollars to pay for it and I think it's SUPER important to remember this! A teen can defy in the moment, and honestly, it's their right to choose to act that way, but they can't get away with it in the long run if you're calmly in control.  It's a simple thing to calmly say, "Well alright, it's your choice to be defiant (a wrong choice, mind you) so there will be consequences, one of which is that I'll be turning your phone service off until your attitude turns around and you willingly hand me your phone when I ask for it. You let me know when that will be."  We do have one other really good boundary in place in our family that has been great- after 9pm, we get email notifications of any text or photos being sent or received on kid phones. I'm not saying we've ever dealt with this...(ahem) but... I would strongly recommend this boundary. I'll leave it at that.

*Timing.  There is a delicate balance on how soon a child is ready to brave these waters vs. making your child wait and being the last to be allowed technology or social media.  If you put these tools in their hands before they are ready, you may be navigating hard things earlier than you plan.  (You'll be navigating hard things as time goes by regardless, I can almost promise you that, based on about every conversation I've ever had with my friends.)  We've all got a story.  If you wait too long, however, your child might feel left out and the spotlight may be on them because they are the only ones who are still being treated "like a baby" in their friends eyes.  Each child and situation is different and you've got to know what your child is feeling and facing to make this call. Before even getting phones, a lot of my friends have printed up contracts which can be found on the internet.  Some have worked well and some haven't.  Regardless if something is signed or not, a few things to consider are- preparing your child.  Maybe instead of signing up for every form of media, they pick one, that you monitor well, like Instagram.  Beforehand, you can share examples with them, of Instagrams gone wrong. (It's not hard to find some examples that are impolite, disrespectful, inappropriate etc.)  One thing that worked well for us, was saying that we'd like to see anything that was getting posted from our child, before it went live, just for the first month or so as we helped guide our child in learning what and how people should/could post.  It was very relaxed and agreed on beforehand and it's not an issue anymore.  (Talking about being kind, not naming names, being too personal or emotional publically, keeping things set to private and making sure they know every person who wants to follow them, can all be very good talking points BEFORE your kiddo embarks on a new account).

*Help. it does take a village.  I used to be frantic about needing to be on any social media that my children were on... then I started to realize that my husband and most of my friends were out there too, having my back.  And I've got theirs since we all follow each other's children.  So important!!  Keep your kids close and keep your girlfriends' kids close too! Ha!

In closing, my only other thought is, that there are probably about a dozen more thoughts we could chat over on this!! For example, how summer is a game changer because they just want to be on a phone all the time. (We have a "rule" that if your phone battery is dead, it's time to put it away for the day, not on a strategically placed charger that buys you more sofa surfing.  This generally happens by noon in the summer so I bide my time... Ha!)

We are mostly pioneer parenting in this topic y'all so if you have anything to add to this, please share in comments so we can all benefit from your experiences and wisdom too. 

Stay diligent out there sweet things. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

REAL talk about blogging...

Over the last decade, I've gotten a lot of questions from people who were considering a blogging career or hobby, not to mention the many questions I've gotten on personal social media expansion.  I've answered those questions differently, depending on where I was personally, at the time and I thought it might be a great topic to share, since I've never actually talked about it like this before.

Just so you have some backstory, I began as a private, journaling blogger, documenting some motherhood ups and downs, which lasted for about a year, back in 2008.  I later deleted the entire year and made my blog a public site, focusing on lifestyle and faith blogging.  Another year passed and I changed my name to Lemonade Makin' Mama, purchased my own domain and monetized my blog through blogger.  Later still, I began accepting paying sponsors, became a BlogHer paid blogging affiliate, and started working with a variety of other affiliate advertisers. I was making a side income and I spent time doing a monthly project with Houzz which I was also paid for, along with some side photography for Etsy sellers who liked my style and random things that came up because of my affiliations.

I had my fingers in Facebook, was an artist, actively making a part-time income from Etsy sales, then Instagram became a thing and I found myself with about 10K followers that I mostly didn't know, all the while, still blogging regularly because of my sponsors. At some point amid all of that growth, my children became pre-teens and didn't want photos of themselves splashed anywhere. I lost my blogging mojo a little after that, unsure of who and what I should be blogging about and I spent a lot of time second guessing myself, panicking because my sponsorships counted on my blogging times.

And on a personal note, as my site and name grew, I started getting a lot of feedback about everything.  Most of it was awesome, some wasn't.  In wanting to give the big picture from my experience, here's some raw honesty about the not awesome. (And let me first say that 99% of it all has been awesome, but that darn 1% of not awesome has a loud voice.  That's on me, but it's still a truth many can relate to and if you're thinking of blogging it's good to be aware.)  I had a couple of followers that regularly said things rather critically, often reprimanding me as a mother-blogger, and I made the personal choice that I wasn't ever going to respond publicly to negativity of any kind.  That's just not my style anyway. Additionally, if I needed to put boundaries or blocks in place so I didn't drive my own mind crazy trying to handle it, I was going to do that unapologetically, quietly and as graciously as possible.  No need to call anyone out, or respond in kind.  My personal motto with this site, "This is my space and I set the tone."  I want this to be a soft place, not a drama-sink.  My husband reminded me that I could do whatever I needed to do because this is my space, and I didn't need to explain my reasons to anyone.  This is a great boundary to have in place before anything ever happens that hits you sideways. 

Anyway, it was about this time that I was getting more negative feedback in my blogging journey that I was also dealing with feeling overwhelmed by owing my sponsors regular blog posts that I wasn't feeling, and grappling with the very emotional and brand new diagnosis of my father having Alzheimer's. I was an emotional wreck that whole year (still have my moments) and the most overwhelmed that I've ever been in my life. I didn't feel the freedom to put that out there for all to see, so after assessing things, I made the choice to pull my public Instagram account, close my Etsy shop and stop blogging.  I needed a quiet space for a time.  I opened a private Instagram and hid from everyone but the friends who stayed by my side.  It wasn't very long until I knew that keeping by blog closed wasn't going to work for my creative mind but I decided that it was the perfect break away from sponsors and affiliates and I quietly reopened it just for me, pledging to blog when I wanted, how I wanted, and for whatever I wanted to say. I started making a few YouTubes and LOVE that!  It was just the change I needed.  As I've spent the past two years processing this diagnosis of my Daddy as well, I felt ready to jump back in on my own terms.  My kids are in high school now and gave their blessing to me, to reopen my Instagram account publicly if I wanted to, which I actually (surprisingly) did, after a much needed break.

So when people ask if blogging is right for them, and they want my take on it... I feel tentatively qualified to share some pros and cons from my own experiences.

I have LOVED the dear people that I've gotten connected with over the past decade and there have been MANY!  One of my best friends in the whole world was someone I "met" through blogging back in 2008 and we met via comments we both made on Beth Moore's blog, started emailing, started talking on the phone, then met in person and have seen each other at least once a year ever since.  We talk regularly and I can't imagine her not in my life.  I have also loved keeping track of recipes, milestones, parties and life and faith lessons I've learned on this blog.  I've loved sharing my kids and letting people cheer them on as they grew up.  I've loved watching a few blogger's children grow up as well.  I've loved the outlet blogging has given me for creative writing and learning photography.  I loved that I got a chance to sell my artwork for a few years.  I've loved the people I've met- I've been recognized on vacations which thrilled my family, like I was almost famous.  It was cute.  I've loved being able to think like a blogger when on a trip, documenting and enjoying it as though I was taking friends with me.  I've loved the products I've been given to try and share, the encouragements people have sent me and there have been hundreds of letters that came to my hands at the perfect times, telling me to that God used something I shared in their lives.  I've loved the way God has grown places in my heart and the opportunity to document that in this space. I loved monetizing because it helped bring in income and we really needed it. 

Things I haven't loved, and might be considerations for you 1) sharing my kids.  It comes with risks and I know it was also a thing I loved so there you go. I'm of two minds on this but I wouldn't change the past.  2) Scary moments- I've had exactly two and I won't go into them but do be diligent, careful and watchful. 3) Monetizing comes with it's own pros and cons- the thing I didn't like was the pressure it put on me to put my creativity on terms.  Creativity doesn't work like that for me.  It has it's own timeline.  4) People assuming that I'm perfect because my house is always clean and the many assumptions they've made following that because of what they see on social media.  I've actually cringed when I've shared my house, nearly every time. God wired me to be a cleany-organized girl without trying.  My mother is like that and raised me like that, and it's all I know.  Yet, I struggle in other places that probably come easy to some women- We tend to compare our weaknesses to the strengths we see in those around us and then feel bad for falling short.  Here's a raw piece of truth if you can handle it... I used to have a friend (who I truly believe didn't mean to) who often made me feel terrible for being naturally orderly in my home. After being around her, I would feel so bad about myself that I would actually mess it up on purpose before she would come over just so she would feel better.  I can see now, the skewed way this killed the relationship in the long run.  I wasn't ever free to be my true, unique self with and the relationship ended.  Here's what you can know for a fact- I'm FAR from perfect. Spend an hour with me- the real me- and you'll see it yourself because there isn't a fake bone in my body and you may not like what you get that's so doggone real about me!  I vomit out things I shouldn't, share too much with no filters, cuss like a country girl sometimes, say things that aren't politically correct and talk about naked bike rides in mixed company (true story) (It's mostly endearing... I think?).  That's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm a heart on my sleeve, emotions out my tear ducts, girly girl and I've been told by dear friends, that I would drive any man but my own, stark raving mad.  Probably.  But man, my house is effortlessly clean and my meals are pretty awesome. (I really wanted to say "kickass" there instead of awesome, but good thing I didn't, or you might think I wasn't much of a godly woman, and you might stop liking me...) (grin)

We've all got junk.  When you blog, you put out pieces of yourself and some people like that, some don't. Some people get you, some put you on a pedestal that you fall off of the minute they hear your voice in real life.  In the end, be true to yourself and let others sort out their opinions of you on their own time.  As long as you know who you are, and can be steady in that place no matter what your blog does or doesn't do for you, you'll do great.  Every single person has a story and something to offer.  We are all here for a purpose and the greatest part- God ONLY uses flawed, broken vessels for His work. 

A cracked vase is the one that gets to display the beauty of the flowers. 

So, if you're someone who wonders if blogging is right for you, I really hope that my story, my opinions, experiences and encouragements are of help to you.  You've got a story that only you can tell and I think that's awesome.  You do you, I'll do me, and let's be blog friends.


(P.S. One little perk about blogging, is being able to go back through your own archives and glean ideas for celebrating that turned out to be fun.  One year we made a rainbow cake.  There have also been cupcakes and sugar cookies that were decorated with toothpicks and coloring while the icing was still wet. One year I learned how to use my camera in the BULB setting while the kids twirled sparklers, for some very fun photos. We've had some very easy decorating ideas too- Easy chalk art, filling any container with sand and plunking flags into it, or using a little vintage truck to display baseballs.  Our very favorite July 4th to date, was one where we went to a little resort and the kids played croquet, got their faces painted and ate popcorn and cotton candy.  I love that we've chronicled all of these holidays and memories... and I thought you might enjoy seeing a collection of them too!)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Moving dressers and such

 Well here we are...on Monday again.  Le sigh.

I for one, could have used another weekend, rather than a Monday, how about you?  Last week, I shared some soothing bedroom changes I had made over the last few years (and why) and couldn't have needed that little soothing space more over the weekend.  The dearest thing, was that various children (well, teenagers, not children) all seemed to make their way in for cuddles and cozy mom time at some point.  "If you cozy it, they will come," I always say.

I hadn't planned a blog post today, as I've got some very heavy-hitting-topic posts planned this week, from my heart, (on blogging and kids on social media) but pre-posting jitters forced me to add a lighthearted one.  (I can't believe a near decade of blogging, and I still get a bit jittery wondering how my words will be received when I speak on something of the heart. The consolation is that I'm not alone in this, I know!) Anyhow, on Friday morning, I enlisted the strong arms of my favorite teen boys to move this Ikea dresser from our closet, into our bedroom.  (Our closet is attached to our master bath, in that you must walk through the master bath to get into the closet.  It's odd and normally I don't mind but I have long wanted a place for a lamp and a way to move my jewelry.)

One evening last week (post, bedroom-post, of course, because that's life with Sasha) it occurred to me that moving this dresser here would be delightful!  I was thrilled to prove my own self right, and even more thrilled to have an agreeable husband, and triply thrilled to have teen muscle at my ready disposal. 

I gathered some favorite items from around the house-a jewelry box my husband gave me, special artwork, a gray glassy baby candle holder, which was a present from my husband. (and if you don't know about glassy babies, you must go look.  They are a handmade Pacific NW thing and so beautiful! Especially when lit, as each one burns with a unique color. I collect them, and have three, all gifts from people I love.)  I am really loving the addition of a pretty surface, as well as the evening lamp in this room.  It makes reading in bed so inviting. 

I would also like to say that hanging your hats as both décor and functionality is a great way to store them.  I love both of these straw hats and they work perfectly on this little side wall.  (I used some small, clear, 3M hangers for them so when I take one off to wear, the hook blends into the wall fairly well.)
(I hope you note the bathroom products on the counters... real life aspect. Ha!)

Next up, this week, my answer to the question that I get asked quite a bit... "Is blogging right for me?" I explained more fully my history with blogging, including why I stepped away from the bulk of public social media for a time.  I hope it's helpful!  Then we will round out the week talking about kids and social media. Yikes!! 

I am preparing to start a small series on my "ten item wardrobe" thoughts, now a year after employing this wardrobe mindset!  I hope it's helpful, and I hope to begin that in July for those of you who are interested in my take on that.  (It has been the best thing ever, by the way.)


Friday, June 23, 2017

Photo organization

I've been getting some sweet feedback over a photo I recently posted on my Instagram feed (which is now public, by the way- @sashabrodeur) on how to organize your hard copy photographs.

I wanted to share this great idea here because it's something we could all benefit from taking a couple short hours out of our lives to do.  My boss from my old organizing job gave me this idea/tip and it's been one of my very favorite take-aways from that job! (Thank you, Julie!!)  I even organized all of my mom's photos for her. (We moved a lot when I was a kid so I actually organized her photos by city which was fun and worked well.)

This clear case (almost like a small suitcase) was found at Michaels (DO use your coupon on this!) and contains many small photo sized boxes within.  Each snap closed and hold far more photographs than you imagine they will hold.

I organized mine into piles that made sense to me, and then I tucked each pile into one of the small boxes, labeled each of them, and filed them into the larger case.  The entire project cost me $20 and about two hours of my time.  The best part about having all of our family photos in one spot, is that when I need something for a (last minute) kid project, (who's with me on this?)  I can simply pull their box out, flip through it and get what I need.  The kids love this system as well and I was behind (as most people are) on putting photos into albums.  Nowadays, most of the photos I take tend to get put into a Shutterfly photo book, so this solved all the back log of photographs. As I organized these, I also took the time to quickly purge the ones with closed eyes, blurry images or unflattering angles that nobody would really want, I went. 

Our larger sized images went into a thin paper box that I've had for years and I stack that under this photo box in our hall closet.

Happy Organizing!



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hobby-driven decor

I have spoken here, many times, about downsizing "stuff" and how we've been making that a practical realization in our own home, over the past few years.  I veer toward minimalism in my heart and I've spent the past three years contemplating what we really need, want and like, and then deleting, over adding.  I had wanted to create a video tour showing where we made practical cuts while editing our belongings but the truth is, that would be a very long video and I've never figured out just where to begin approaching a topic so extensive.  I guess I more or less adopted the idea that we would only keep that which we use regularly and sell or donate the rest... if you're looking to downsize too much accumulation, that's a fantastic place to start.

One thing I've noticed, with all of the deleting of accumulated décor, is what I really tend to like. I tend to decorate with things that are of personal interest to me, and because of that, they have inspired my home colors, textures and style.  I love photography, so I have a vintage camera collection that I adore and it graces our bookshelves.  We also developed a love of kayaking and spending time near the ocean because of where we live.  We kayak regularly on the lake that is only about two minutes from our home, and I've been slowly curating a small displayed collection of antique wooden oars and paddles. (Painted a creamy white shade, of course!) I haven't shared many of these changes here on the blog for a while, and thought it might be a fun addition to the posts I've been working on. (I realized the other day, it may look like a much different home in ways, to some of you who are long time readers)

Blue is my very favorite color as so many of you know.  I'm not certain I could live away from the coast and the color blue feels seasonless to me which I like in decorating, because I really don't have any desire to completely redecorate an entire home around a season.  (Been there, done that, wrote the blogs, and it's exhausting.)  I now only want things that can be out and enjoyed year-round, and if they get moved around into new places within our home, it becomes a fun shuffle of change.  Personally, I enjoy changing some of our artwork with the season and often switch out a couple of throw pillow covers for different weather- like using a couple of sweater textured, creamy covers instead of the jute trimmed ones when fall arrives, etc. 

Overall, I've settled into a signature look that works throughout our home.  Each space is calm with notes of blues, grays, white and such.  Years ago, I heard a designer speak and she said that you'd know your signature style when nothing jarred against each other.  By that, she recommended placing all your paint, fabric swatches, hardware and elements into a pile and pulling out anything that jarred the look and didn't belong, and then removing it from your space. (Obviously if you're a color lover or have an eclectic style this isn't your method.) That spoke to me and has always stayed in my mind as I've chosen various décor.  It has all fallen into place with regular sorting, purging, planning, and identifying the objects and hobbies that inspire me.  I am excited to work white or blue moon pumpkins into the existing décor in the fall and add fresh evergreens in winter, while not having a closet crammed with décor-on-hold for the next season or "just in case."

If you're trying to figure out your signature look, perhaps this encourages you... start with your hobbies and go outward from that starting point.  You may find yourself starting a collection or home colors based on something you love, and find yourself settling in to that look!

Happy Decorating friends,

Monday, June 19, 2017

Marble swirl cookies

 Every so often, I have a cutting room floor post. 

That could be for example, when I take a few photos that aren't sharp or blogging quality.  Or I make a project and don't get photos because I didn't plan on blogging on it.  Or I take a great photo and want to share it, but don't have an entire post to accompany it. 

Today I have all three!

We recently had an end of school BBQ that was super casual, but I wanted to make a sweet treat for all the teens hanging around. These marble swirl cookies could not have been easier to make and took only a few moments. I don't have any step-by-step photos, but after I was finished, I decided that they were too cute not to share.  I could have smacked myself  for not snapping photos along the way. All I did was melt some white chocolate in a bowl. Then dropped in some food coloring paste (I used Wilton brand in purple and teal) with a toothpick.  I swirled the colors around the chocolate just a little, using the same toothpicks.  Then I dipped each cookie into the chocolate, and twisted it slightly, creating this marbled effect as I pulled it out to cool.  I dropped them onto parchment lined cookie sheets and popped them into the fridge for a few minutes to chill.  *Note- Toward the end, the food colors were harder to distinguish so I stirred them in and added a bit more of the purple to create a solid color.  (The kids gobbled them up way too quickly and I'm not even sure they truly appreciated the pretty factor. Ha!)
 I found this (really inexpensive, $3) round vase in my grocery store floral department and felt a little giddy over the price tag.  It was the perfect size for just a few fragrant bedside table blooms.  I have always loved the look of round vases in designer homes but never thought about purchasing one to use in my own home or some reason.  It's not a high quality photo (stolen from my instagram) but I wanted to share because I loved how the round shape sparkled in the light and showed off the flowers, and all for a few dollars!  (Apparently, never overlook inexpensive grocery store finds.)
 Finally.  I probably could come up with an entire post on this if I really thought about it!  This little beauty just graduated 8th grade and (sob!) is now a freshman!  I snapped this on my phone and couldn't love it more!  The twinkle in her eyes...her sweet expression, darling bangs, and the icing on the cake was the antique emerald and pearl necklace that has been passed down from my beloved Grammy to her, which she wore with a long, mint green dress. She was honestly the prettiest girl I saw all evening.  She was in ASB leadership this past year, so she participated in a special poem reading at graduation and I loved seeing her quiet confidence and clear voice.  (See? I could write an entire post.)

Anyway, I needed to share this because I couldn't be prouder of her.  Beauty from the inside out, with this one.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Creating a Soothing Master Bedroom

You know what they say about change, right?  That it's the only thing you can truly count on!

I feel this so deeply, as we continue to press forward in a journey I never expected, with my daddy being an Alzheimer's patient at such a young age.  It often drains and exhausts me on a physical as well as emotional level.  I've got active teens in the home and sometimes as a mama, I really need a soothing escape to crawl into and hide from the world for just a while.  A space I can go to, with my phone ringer turned and enjoy a soul refresh... Can anyone else relate to that?

When I am overwhelmed, I often create nooks and spaces in my life, calendar, and home, without even realizing I am doing it. I believe it starts from inside, and then my subconscious actions reflect what my heart has been craving or needing.  I tend to think that perhaps our bodies tell us what we are in need of, if we become still and pay attention.  I always joke around with my girlfriends when I feel overwhelmed, and use the phrase, "I'm at capacity!"  It seems like everyone can relate to that and we can't often recover unless we forge ahead with a bit of intentionality. 

Our calm and neutral master bedroom transformation has been a great example of this. And I'd like to stress how little the imperfections matter here, in the real world, where I live.  In fact, that's what this post is mainly about.  At first glance it's very soothing.  But my sheets, shams and quilts aren't the same, and aren't even the same shade of white.  My side tables aren't either.  The wonderful thing, is that it certainly doesn't affect the soothing, restful quality of this space so I'm showing this to inspire you. It doesn't have to be perfect, expensive, or even matching!

  You don't have to spend gobs of money or wait until you can find or make everything just how you want it.  The transformation in both this room (and my heart) occurred slowly, over the last couple of years.  I used to have more color in this room as many of you long-time readers may remember, but I craved the peace and tranquility of a boutique hotel room and longed for textures to define the room's personality.  Fresh bedding, washed weekly, with a simple color-scheme and spa-like feel have done wonders to make this my own personal haven and I'm in a season of life where I very much need that available to me.

My husband helped me make this headboard inexpensively because a new one wasn't in the budget, and I honestly love everything about it! (The DIY is here)  The lamps are a few years old, from Target and are great for reading in bed.  Fresh garden clippings on each bedside add interest, though I prefer flowers most of the time. I love turning my head on the pillow in the morning and seeing a pretty bloom first thing. 

A long pillow that pulls soft color from the walls down, was made by me with simple straight seams and stuffing. It was a quick project because I couldn't find anything in a store that I liked.  I love the subtle fabric texture.  The mixed metal mirror was in our guest room but found a new home above our bed and I love it there.  The white wood sign was stenciled by me and was a project that took very little time. None of the bedding matches or was expensive yet it is all neutral and works together in a calming way.  The soft blanket at the bottom works to add some texture and not pictured at the foot of the bed, is a white sheepskin rug that moves around our home, but makes me smile in the middle of the night if I must get out of bed and cross it with my bare toes.

I also enjoy diffusing restful oils in this room, like lavender, as well as spraying my pillow with lavender pillow spray each night before bed.  I burn candles and though we do have a television in this room, it points away from the bed, and into the small nook off the end of the room where a loveseat is placed.  I also have a gray glassy baby candle holder, which was  present from my husband. I love keeping our wedding photo in our bedroom as well. 

Things that I've found that create a tranquil bedroom are;
soft textures
a warm blanket or throw at the end of a bed for naps
soothing scents
a clean space with minimal or no clutter
favorite candles
white noise machines
a good book or journal
flowers, fresh greens or a low maintenance plant
simple wall hangings
a soothing wall color (ours is Revere Pewter)
time spent praying or meditating

Things that I've found don't create a tranquil bedroom are;
clutter on flat surfaces
too many things on the walls
jarring wall colors
desks used for work
workout equipment

I hope this inspires you to create a soothing master bedroom for yourself.  It's so lovely to  have a quiet and calm place in your home to hide in when the occasion calls for it. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Easy Italian Soda Bar

My kids, especially my daughter, love Italian sodas.  I think their sweet daddy is responsible for this.  In fact, I remember very distinctly, a date with him back when he was my brand new boyfriend, when I admitted to never having tried an Italian cream soda.  He was shocked, and bundled me into his truck and hit the first drive in coffee shop we came to.  He ordered me a strawberry Italian cream soda with whipped cream on top.  I think I realized then, that he was always going to give me to good stuff in life.  (And I was so right.) 

So when it came to making Ava's 8th grade graduation plans, I decided I wanted to treat her (and whatever other teens we have hanging around) to a little Italian soda bar this weekend.  It turned out so cute that I decide to share here in case you were stuck on a unique beverage idea for kiddos, beyond sodas.  (And actually, I know quite a lot of adults, like my man, that will dig this idea as well!)

It was really easy to polish this up a bit for my personal hosting style, and took very little time to take things an extra step, making it all cute. I love when things look like you cared enough to go to some trouble or effort, but really didn't because they couldn't have been easier!  (This is that sweet and easy even if you left the labels on and placed things on a table.) 

For ours, I removed the labels from unopened syrup bottles by soaking them briefly and then scraping them off with a small plastic scraper I've had for years.  (It came with a pampered chef stone and I've used it for everything under the sun.)   (The labels came off very easily but if you have trouble with any sticky residue, you can always hit it with a shot of Pam nonstick spray and a souring pad, then wash with a soapy sponge and it will be label-free.)  I finished the bottles off with a white paint pen, and hand-lettered the flavors onto them.  I set everything up on our outside table, and it's a great self-serve treat which kids of all ages seem to love.    

What you'll want to assemble in order to create this festive and cute soda bar, are the following:
Striped straws & Clear drinking cups
Instructions (I used a little sandwich-style chalk board but you could easily type and post them.)
The ingredients;
Ice, flavored syrups, club soda and cream.
(You could also add a can of whipped cream for fun.)

The nice thing, is that you can do as many or few of the syrups as you want, and you can customize this little bar idea however works best for you and your crowd.  The kids get to mix flavors and enjoy different combinations.  (You could also post a few combinations for them to try.) (I was able to get my syrup pumps at the grocery store alongside the syrup selection but you may have more luck finding yours on Amazon.)

Enjoy & Happy sipping!