December 23, 2014

Five December Goals


Here we are at almost the end of December and I never posted my goals for the month! These last few months have gotten away from me here in Blogland, but I'm hoping to reboot next week.

Let's check on November's goals first and see how I did:

1. Read two new books. Done and done.

2. Write every weekday (besides Thanksgiving break). Done! November always inspires me to write, knowing that there are novelists writing thousands of words during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

3. Finish cleaning out the garage so I can fit my car in. Nope, didn't happen. *Hangs head* I still need to do that.

4. Write a letter. Done! I wrote a letter to one of my new favorite authors.

5. Get a new haircut. Done! Although I could really use another right about now.

Four out of five seems to be my sweet spot. Now for December! Since it's basically the end of December, I'm going to go ahead and tell you how I did:

1. Do something crafty. I made ornaments like the one in the photo above and it was super fun! I could do that all day.

2. Throw a Christmas party. Done! Though planning and preparing for parties is not my strong point, I really enjoy it once the party begins.

3. See the last Hobbit movie. Done! I got to watch it with a whole row of friends, so fun and a little sad that it's the last one, sniff.

4. Find or invent creative wrapping paper. I found the cutest wrapping paper with characters made to color in ~ the best of both worlds.

5. Enjoy time with family. Done and continuing! Savoring this Christmas break.

I really enjoyed writing goals down every month this year. It helped me accomplish some tasks I was avoiding and also some fun that I might not have taken the time for. Thanks for cheering me on and even joining in!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

{See November goals here}

November 17, 2014

Five November Goals



Well, nothing like setting goals for a month seventeen days into said month. But better late than never, yes?

First, let's look at last month's goals:

1. Rework my fall wardrobe. Done! I didn't get it photographed for you, but I'm happy they're hung in my closet and easy to access.

2. Write every weekday. I don't know if it's the fall air, NaNoWriMo spirit or knowledge of a year closing in on me, but writing has been strangely consistent!

3. Coffee on the porch. Yes, oh the lovely stillness of vibrant leaves whispering to me.

4. Create something autumn-y. Wha-wha-whaa. Didn't happen and I'm not really sure why. Too busy, I guess.

5. One fun, family adventure. Yes! I love crazy outings with my favorite people; they make me laugh so much.

Now for November:

1. Read two new books. I've been on a reading frenzy; it seems the cold weather always spurs me on.

2. Write every weekday (besides Thanksgiving break). I'm on a roll, might as well keep it up!

3. Finish cleaning out the garage so I can fit my car in. It's not too overloaded but I need to take things to Goodwill.

4. Write a letter. I love this old-time tradition because I adore getting real stuff in my mailbox. It's rare, but I love it.

5. Get a new haircut. I probably change my hair a tad every month but I want something that feels fresh.


How is your November going so far?


{See October goals here and December goals here}

November 5, 2014

Grasping Grace


Grace is an elusive word for me.

It's the middle name of my second daughter and it's a concept sitting far beyond my grasp. As much as I'd like to relish in what the dictionary defines as "free and unmerited favor"; I don't. Instead I find myself wrapped in rules and assumptions while running feverishly in the direction I hope is best with my measuring stick in hand adding up successes and failures.

Grace refuses to measure.

It can't be earned. It can't be won. It doesn't rest in the confines of any box. The idea of grace is foreign to those of us living in the land of comparison.

Cannot be measured? What kind of crazy talk is this? How would you know you're succeeding or failing?

You don't. Grace is the utter acceptance of it all, the absence of assumptions and the open arms of believing the best.

What if we had grace for ourselves? What if we lived our daily life not measuring ourselves against others or our own expectations? What if we took ourselves as we are, pouring out free and unmerited favor? What if we did that for others?

I imagine the world would look a lot more compassionate if we did.


October 31, 2014

Happy {Elvish} Halloween!


My theory is, you're never too old for dressing up. 

Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2014

Lately





I've been reading...
Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh Oxenreider
So Good They Can't Ignore You, Cal Newport
Speak, Nish Weiseth

I've been watching...
The Killing (second season)
Parenthood (first season)

Fun outings at...
Wedding decoration party
Hoedown

I love seeing...
Pumpkins everywhere
Leaves changing color in all stages


What have you been up to lately?



October 20, 2014

Seeking to Understand


When someone believes differently than us, why is our first impulse to criticize rather than seeking to understand?

When I entered motherhood, I was filled with fear about not knowing what to do or about doing something wrong. Mothering can be full of judgments, ones that we heap on ourselves, ones that are put on us and ones we put on others. It's this underlying fear to ~ oh please ~ not be wrong. People begin asking questions that feel like a game of finding out which team you're on: Natural birth or epidural? Breast or bottle? Crib or family bed? Stay-at-home or work?

And suddenly you're on a side and that side feels crucial; as if your side will determine whether or not you're a good mom. Of course, no one wants to be a bad mom. So when we see others who are not on our "team", we criticize them for bad parenting.

We do this in every area of our life. Why did she take that job? Why did he cut his hair like that? What possessed them to buy a house in that area? What they chose was different than what we would've chosen so it feels wrong to us and often we equate wrong as a fact rather than an opinion. We think it is wrong rather than thinking it's simply different.

Seeking to understand each other's view is scary because it might cause us to doubt our own ideals. It puts a spotlight on how many choices we have and how many we've made. It makes it clear how many ways there are to do this life and that's terrifying because it feels like leaving ourselves open to failure.

But gripping our opinions so tightly that we don't leave room for another's thought is a terrible existence. It cuts off people we could learn from. I know, because I've been guilty of it.

What if, instead of jumping into criticsm, we sought first to understand? What if we made that our impulse? What if we reached out to see things from their eyes instead of assuming we know all there is to know?

I've have had friends love me through our differences but I've also been judged by others for my decisions; we all have. Feeling judged is yucky and pushes you away. It feels more tender to have someone love you through differences; that's magnetizing and draws you near. I want that to be my character; it's still a huge work in progress.

I still feel the pull of impulses to argue with someone and make them see my side. I still have those moments when I'm sure I know what that person meant by their comment. But I am learning to let go, not assume and walk in understanding. 

I want others to feel loved by me, understood by me and accepted as they are. I long for my first response to be seeking to understand. I'm not there yet, but I hope to be someday.


Why do we struggle with understanding?




October 14, 2014

Crooked River is a Must-Read!


To say that I've been dying for Crooked River to come out is the understatement of the year. I was thrilled to receive an advanced reader copy from Valerie this summer and could not put it down! I've been waiting to sing its praises ever since.

I am rarely surprised by a book but I was astounded by this one. 



I was swept away by the beauty of sisterhood and bravery between the two main characters. Two sisters, having survived their mother's death, are sent to live with a distant bee-keeping father who they've rarely seen. 

Within the first pages of the book, the girls come across a dead body floating in the river and must decide whether their father had anything to do with it. The suspense will keep you reading late into the night, while the tenderness between sisters will move you to tears.



I don't want to spoil anything about this delicious story, but I will say, it's a must-read! The writing, the story, the characters ~ oh my! Valerie Geary's storytelling is the stuff of magic. Crooked River is her breakout novel and I expect to read many more from this spellbinding author.



October 10, 2014

There is Much, Much More

Nature fascinates me. There's an intersection in our town where hundreds upon hundreds of birds congregate on wires and roofs. The reason this amazes me is because just a bit down the road there are no birds on wires, no sight of them anywhere.

It's as if they have an understanding that that's where they hang out or meet-up. And if you roll your windows down while waiting for the light to change, you can hear the intensity of them chattering to each other. Some fly in, while others fly off with their friends. It's a constant circulation of birds. It's like a bird coffee shop. There is a McDonald's at the intersection too, so maybe they're just waiting for a spare fry to drop on the ground. But nevertheless, I'm spellbound watching them at that light.

The photo above is something we found on a hike through the Colorado mountains. My kids found it and thought it looked a bit like a dragon's face, which made me love it.

I'm not really a camping type of girl, but even so, there has always been something about nature that calmed me. When I feel stressed, worked up or upset about something, stepping outdoors gives me relief. Just hearing the stillness of the air, the chatter of creatures or feeling the wind tickle my arm; there is something calming about it all.

It reminds me that I'm not all there is. There is much, much more.


October 8, 2014

Books I'm Reading



Seems like my latest reads have centered around women and/or leadership. I'm intrigued by both. I just finished reading Seth Godin's Linchpin and am currently reading Sheryl Sandburg's Lean In.

Linchpin shows cracks in  the workplace systems. It inspires us to flourish where we are and become indispensable. I love how he shows the fallacy in our ways of operating within a system that no longer works. He challenges us to think at the edge of the box. I highlighted half the book! So good.

I'm about halfway through Lean In; it's poking holes in how I think of women in the workplace (and I thought I was a forward thinker!). Her statistics are sobering and enlightening. She encourages women in all careers to lean in instead of pulling back. It's inspiring and uplifting. She also has an amazing Ted Talk that you should definitely check out!

My niece really encouraged me to start reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner so that's next on my list! It sounds exciting.

What have you been reading lately?



October 1, 2014

Five October Goals



So I'm going to be completely honest here, last month was a bust. I achieved one goal, the end. But you know what? I'm okay with that. Sometimes life gets too crazy and what you thought would be accomplished, doesn't get done. I'm giving myself some grace here.

Let's review September:

1. Find a no-sugar recipe for Pumpkin Spice latte, or pumpkin bread (or pumpkin anything). I found one; haven't made it yet but I can safely mark this one off the list!

2. Write 5000 words on a secret project. I did get words written, just not 5000. That may've been a bit of a high goal since I'm just getting back into the routine of writing.

3. Read The Goldfinch. I checked this book out of the library and it's still sitting on my table (I've rechecked twice). I'm not sure what my hangup was on starting it but on the other hand, I read three ebooks. Can I swap points? :)

4. Put my books back on bookshelves. Nope. I have no excuse, we had beautiful weather but still didn't manage to get this finished.

5. Paint three more paintings (or more!). I got one more done, well that's a 1/3 of the goal!

Now on to October's goals.

1.  Rework my wardrobe for the fall. You know I love doing this! I didn't get a wardrobe capsule done for September, but maybe this goal will help me show you one for autumn.

2.  Write every weekday. I'm not setting a number on how much I write this time. I simply want my goal to be sitting in the chair and writing.

3.  Coffee on the porch. I do this in the Spring when everything is warming up and feels delicious after the cold, but I also enjoy doing it when the heat of summer fades and the cool of autumn is a welcome relief. There is nothing sweeter than having hot coffee in the morning wrapped in a blanket sitting on the porch. I love you, Fall.

4.  Create something autumn-y. I want to say a painting but also want to give myself free reign on this one. Maybe a wreath or something from the kitchen?

5.  One fun family adventure. There are so many to choose from: the fair, pumpkin patch, hayrides, gatherings by the fire pit....I could go on.


What about you, how did your September go? What are you hoping to do in October? 


{See September's goals here and November's goals here}

September 29, 2014

Lately...

I spent this weekend at a lake house getaway with four other friends. Yes, it was heavenly. Look at that view!










It's a good think I like my family so much or I just might've stowed away to stay there forever!


How was your weekend?






September 22, 2014

Writing/Daily Schedule



I'm insanely curious about how people schedule their days; I love seeing how others operate. Now that school is in full swing, I thought it'd be fun to share how I've been scheduling my three alone-time days. Obviously it never goes this perfect, but this is my aim:

Early Morning:
Morning routine, fix lunches. You'd think by now I'd have learned to fix lunches the night before but nope, I do it each morning.

Drop son off at school. My husband takes our daughter. Our eldest is in college.

Write and breakfast at my desk. I find that if I take coffee and breakfast to my desk; I get started right away. Don't worry, I set my coffee on a separate table not to chance ruining my laptop. I often write while standing up to keep myself from being seated too long during the day. I try to rock back and forth to add a little movement.

Mid-Morning:  
Walk/feed dog, get ready. After writing awhile, I need a break. Walking my dog is refreshing for both of us. I'm trying to make this a habit every day.
  
Walking usually revives my thoughts and puts them into some kind of order so I'm able to return to my desk with new vigor.

Noon: 
Lunch. I step away and go to the kitchen for lunch. Sometimes I check emails and social media or sometimes I just soak up the quiet. It's my reward for getting writing done.

Early Afternoon:
Housework (or errands). Clutter gets to me after awhile and it feels good to get things picked up before everyone gets home. If we've had a busy week, this is especially nice. Then I write or edit a little more.

Afternoon:   
Pick up kids from school, aka reading time! The schools let out just enough apart that I have a good amount of waiting at each place ~ perfect for catching up on my favorite book of the moment.

Evening:
From this point on, my focus is on family. Usually I'm fixing dinner or helping people with homework or just enjoying time together. I often get a little more writing/editing/painting done in the evenings when everyone is occupied with other things.


What's your schedule like? What would your ideal day be?




September 19, 2014

What I'm...




What I'm doing...helping kids with school projects.

What I'm reading...I Quit Sugar.

What I'm thinking...boundaries and how I'm learning to set them.

What I'm eating...toast with real butter.

What I'm dreaming...a revamp of my website.


What are you doing, reading, thinking, eating or dreaming today?



September 15, 2014

What I'm Working On...




It's been rainy and cool here which always seems to help my creative process. I'm not sure of why that is, but it just does. I create better/more often in the winter months.

This girl is a little something I've been working on lately. There is definitely some fall inspiration here, but since it's not quite a full-fledged fall, she's still in shorts.

Wishing you a great start to your Monday!

September 12, 2014

Book Baby Shower



My friends and I threw a book baby shower a little while back for a sweet friend. We had so much fun playing around with the book theme. I've been meaning to post these for awhile.








Wishing you a happy day!



September 10, 2014

How Am I Doing without Sugar? Well...


So I've managed to make it two and a half weeks with almost no sugar. But the other day I picked up a smoothie for my hubby because he wasn't feeling good and ended up getting myself one too. I only drank about half. Not long after, I felt sooooo tired. I thought I was going to have to lay down. I literally felt drugged and my mind was all befuddled, I couldn't think clearly.

Up until that point, I hadn't thought I'd seen any progress with the no-sugar perks. But when that happened, it dawned on me how energetic I've felt lately and how my mind has not been muddy like it used to be. I'd always chalked up my cloudy mind to thyroid issues, but now I'm really wondering if it's the sugar!

From that afternoon on, I've found a renewed reason to avoid sugar ~ to avoid that drugged, super-sleepy, cloudy-minded, yucky feeling. That was awful.

I also checked out the book, I Quit Sugar, from the library to see if it was something I'd like to have. It came in just when I needed some new recipes and guidance about how to do this. So far, I'm really enjoying the book.

What about you, would you consider giving up sugar? Do you think I'm nuts?




September 8, 2014

Thrift Store Loot


My daughter took me to a new antique thrift store she'd discovered recently, and we had the best time browsing together. I'm not an avid shopper, but get me in the thrift shop and I'm raring to go!

I LOVE these adorable white boots! I'll probably pair them with skirts but I think they'd be just as fun with jeans.


And these black boots (does it really surprise you I bought two pairs? I can't resist BOOTS!) are so edgy with a side of cool. I may live in them (if my daughter doesn't swipe them from me).


This purse was actually the first thing that caught my eye. I'm not a big purse person. I like looking at them, but I'm happy to carry the same purse for years (please don't call the fashion police). But this one was the perfect size with a big splash color and leather-ish skin, which means durable. For someone who keeps a purse for years, durable is kind of important.

That's my loot! Have you found anything cool recently?



September 5, 2014

Top Ten Picks of the Week



I thought it'd be fun to make a roundup of my top ten picks of the week: books, movies, articles or whatever. So here goes:

1. This web mini-series adapted from Jane Eyre was just what I needed after my last show ended. I haven't watched all of it, but so far it is full of amazing acting and a great story! Absolutely love the two main characters in this.

2. This book about boundaries came highly recommended and now I'll highly recommend it. Easy to read; it helped me see problems I have in communicating and how to better that.

3. This post about what Christians should stop saying.

4.  This easy art project. It's adorable and cool at the same time.

5. This free online personality test. The descriptions they gave were eeirly spot on. (Being a little obsessive, I took it twice to be sure.)

6. These photos. An interesting idea, although I wouldn't want to participate, ha.

7. This post on how to improve your writing. It's simple, but that's what I liked about it.

8. This organization, helping many around the world.

9. This lyrical story, written for children but beautiful enough for everyone.

10. This movie, which in my humble opinion, happily lived up to the book.


Do you  have a favorite I should see, do, read, or listen to?



September 3, 2014

Lately...


Life has slowed down lately and we're getting into a rhythm. Slow. Rhythm. Two words I like very much. This photo is a Stevia plant I bought in the Spring. It's still alive. This is a miracle for me; I tend to be a plant killer.




I cut my hair awhile back. I just couldn't take it; think I'm a forever short hair gal. The back is shorter than the front. I have these little wings of a curl on my ears. I kept straightening them down attempting to reign them in and I've finally given up. I'll just "go with the curl" as my niece adviced. :)




This photo is a major throwback, about twelve years ago; it sits in my kitchen window. We were at a friend's rehearsal dinner and I can still remember how delicious the food was! Isn't it funny what sticks out in your mind?



And of course, what would a September be without a pumpkin spice latte. I'm searching for a sugar-free one; but I may let myself have a regular one this mo. I've been (mostly) sugar free for ten days now. That's mind-boggling for a sweet lover like myself. I made some peanut butter cookies last night with no sugar and my family actually LIKED them! So I may be onto something.

September 1, 2014

Five September Goals



This upcoming season is my favorite of the whole year! I love the explosion of colorful leaves, the cooler weather, the cuddling and hot drinks. It just all feels so homey. Sweet, beloved, autumn.

But first let's see how well I did last month:

1. Read Show Your Work and get super inspired!  I did! And it lived up so much. I may re-read it this month just to let it soak in further. I highly recommend this book!

2. Paint three new paintings (at least!).  Three was a good number because I accomplished that no problem. {Here are a few of them}I really hoped to do much more, but with my kids starting school that didn't happen.

3. Add one new movement to my day. Yes! Honestly I figured yoga would be the new movement, but dog-walking ended up being my most consistent activity! It's good for me and good for Ron Weasley (my dog).

4. Go on an adventure to see the blue whale.  I didn't get to the blue whale this month. The heat rose incredibly around the time we were going to go and no one wanted to visit in the melting heat. Maybe when it's cooler...

5. Open a business bank account. Done! I don't know why I was procrastinating this, it was painless. The lady at the bank was so fun, we just clicked. I ended up staying there awhile because we were chatting so much. May've made a new friend in the process!


It seems 4/5 may be my groove, ha. But that's better than zero, right?

Now, on to September!

1. Find a no-sugar recipe for Pumpkin Spice latte, or pumpkin bread (or pumpkin anything). I'm trying to break my sugar addiction so I'd like to have some options when my favorite foods tempt me.

2. Write 5000 words on a secret project. I haven't written much in the last few years except for here on the blog. There was a time I was writing a LOT but then needed to let go of it for a season (or several) for other priorities. Now, I'm free to pursue writing again and I've been enjoying it!

3. Read The Goldfinch. I've heard great reviews about this book. I love a story I can lose myself in! I limit my fiction reading because I'm obsessive on finishing a book once I start it. But sometimes I indulge my love of fiction and this is one I want indulge! 

4. Put my books back on bookshelves. Since we had work done on our house in the Spring, I still haven't put all my books back. I've reduced my library quite a bit, but still have a few boxes of books I need to go through or put up.

5. Paint three more paintings (or more!). I'm really hoping I'll have time for much more than three, but we'll see. :)


What are you hoping to do in September?

{See August's goals here and October's goals here}


August 29, 2014

Mini-{Sister}-Style: 10 = 16


Today I've got a special treat! My sister volunteered to let me create a mini-style capsule from her wardrobe. She generously allowed me to photograph her and post it here on the blog. That's a sister for ya! Most of you know, but if not, she's my twin sister. :)

We created these looks from ten pieces: a checkered blouse, tank top, floral blouse, bohemian blouse, polka-dot blouse, red jeans, shorts, maxi skirt, dress, and cardigan. Here are some closer shots of the outfits:





I love her various patterns, they were so fun to play with! Patterns are fantastic, especially if you enjoy a more monochromatic wardrobe. They're easy to mix because the consistent colors tie outfits together but the pattern creates interest. It's a fun way to spice your wardrobe capsule and help it stretch further.

Hope you enjoyed this month's mini-sister-style! Wishing you a great weekend.


August 27, 2014

No Sugar? Wha--?


Year of No Sugar caught my attention because it's something I would never do -- give up sugar for a year? No! I love my pancakes and brownies too much. So naturally, I was highly intrigued.

The author, Eve O Schaub, tells how her family abstained from added sugar for an entire year. Impressed that she talked herself into it, I was completely enthralled that she convinced her family to do it with her! I couldn't resist knowing how they survived, so I snagged a copy. 

I finished it in two days. Yeah. It was that good.

Reading their story pricked my sugar loving soul. Her writing was so fun and engaging, dang it! I was in the middle before I realized she was changing my mind.

I won't spoil her story for you but she has powers; I've gone three days without added sugar. And I'm a girl who can put a block of fudge away by herself! No sugar?? Oddly, it's not been as difficult as I imagined, but then again . . . it's only been three days.

All I know is my happy little sugar world has been shaken; now it seems more bitter than sweet.

This book is a delightful, humorous read full of foibles and honesty. She doesn't preach, but her story is persuasive and compelling. As for your relationship with sugar, well . . . consider yourself warned!


August 25, 2014

Favorite Summer Posts

Now that summer is winding down, I thought it'd be fun to do a roundup of favorite summer posts here on the blog, in case you missed them.







Hope your week is off to a great start!