Friday, September 28, 2012

Upcoming Projects

There is something about this time of year that makes my craftiness come out with fervor.  Do you ever get that way?  I think Pinterest just adds to the itch too, because oh my, I find so many things on there that I want to try!

Currently I am working on getting my scrapbook up to date.  I'm almost done (thank heavens!).  I do enjoy scrapbooking but it gets a little overwhelming when I get a year behind :)  Right now, finishing that project is taking priority (and all my available space), so another reason I am anxious to get it done is so I can clear out space and start other projects.

I have learned something about myself recently, and that is that I have to plan out fun time, whether it's crafting or cooking or just sitting down and reading a book.  I'm so type A and so to-do list oriented, that I often neglect the things that I want to do for the things that I need to do or should do.

Here are a few things I found on Pinterest that I am excited to try:


My mom taught me how to cross stitch when I was a girl and I have done some embroidery before.  I find it to be very therapeutic.  I found this little lovely over at Freckled Nest.  She has tons of great ideas and projects on her site.  I think this would be a cute gift or decor for a cute kitchen or little girl's room.



I am a big fan of making my own cleaners and soaps. To date I have made my own laundry detergent, fabric softener, face wash, body wash, lotion, and hand soap.  I found this idea for DIY cleaning wipes at Fabulessly Frugal.  She has some great recipes for all natural cleaners.  I love the idea of wipes because they are so handy and convenient.  And sometimes I have something I want to clean up that I can throw away and not gunk up one of my rags.


My friend Rachel gave me her old sewing machine, and I am so excited to learn how to use it. It will be the first thing to come out when the scrapbooking supplies are put away.  My mom was a fantastic seamstress, and I would love to learn how to sew some things for myself.  These place mats from Dana Made It seem simple enough for a novice like me.  Her site has some adorable ideas!  I pinned a lot from there the other night.  Hopefully sewing is something I can practice and eventually get proficient at.


Homemade Greek Yogurt is something I definitely cannot wait to try!  I love Greek yogurt.  It's definitely an acquired taste, but worth it because man oh man, is this stuff good for you!  It's also insanely expensive!  $7 for a big tub.  Our crockpot just died so I was excited when I found this recipe courtesy of In the Little Red House that doesn't require a crockpot.  I'll let you know how this turns out.



Fall is the season for pumpkin, and I love pumpkin everything!  Sarah's pumpkin cookies from Cooking on Clover Lane look fantastic!  I look forward to whipping up a bunch of these soon!

What projects have you been wanting to try?









Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Houses are Like Boys

House hunting is emotionally exhausting.  It reminds me of dating.  You think you've found the one for you, when BAM! --it goes to someone else who has more to offer.

photo courtesy of Clker.com
We've been outbid twice now.  Which really, is not that huge of a deal.  We've only been house hunting for a  little over a month.  It's not uncommon for people to search for months and months.  So, it's not bad.  It's just that I never expected it to drain me emotionally like this.  Our budget isn't big, so that makes things harder.  We are not looking for a forever home, and our list of what we want isn't long or detailed.  Learning of our second outbidding yesterday really upset me.

My sweet husband reminded me that we have everything we need right now.  A roof over our heads.  We're both working.  We're saving money for a house and working at paying off our debts as quickly as possible.  He's right.  If a year from now we're still without a house of our own, that's OK.  We will trust that God has us where His best is.

Oh, what an Israelite I am!  Manna falls from heaven every day, but still I worry about tomorrow.  God has never not been faithful to me, yet still I panic and worry, "Will it rain manna tomorrow?"  Oh how I have prayed for forgiveness of my sin of unbelief lately!  God is good, and I know it.  I am trying to let go of my plans and surrender my dreams to God.  He has proved Himself over and over to me.  How silly I am when I don't trust Him.  How thankful I am that I have my husband to help me keep my faith when I am so prone to doubt.

For now, we'll keep praying for the right house in the right time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Polyvore Addiction



Confession:  I had never heard of Polyvore before Pinterest. 


I pin a lot of outfit ideas, so naturally a lot of Polyvore creations have been pinned to my boards.  I clicked to the site once to poke around but never created an account or anything.  Polyvore is a work of genius.  You can do many things with it, but one of the things I love is that you can create fashion collages.  It is like virtual paper dolls for grown ups.  And it is so addicting!

I lead a small group of 7th grade girls and two of my girls are on Polyvore and asked me to create an account on there.  So I did, and little did I realize how well and how quickly it would suck me in! It is my new time sucker, second only to Pinterest.  (Poor Facebook isn't even a favorite anymore now that I have these other internet friends to keep me company).

I have always liked fashion and putting outfits together.  I tell my husband that someday I  may have my own job helping people put clothes together and organizing their closets for them. *Bliss.

Anyways, I started pinning outfits on Pinterest to help me create outfits out of stuff that I already own.  Over the past couple of years I have tried to have pieces in my closet that can be combined with other things to create multiple outfits.  I try not to buy (or even keep anymore) things that can't be worn with multiple items.  That's why now most of my wardrobe consists of printed skirts, plain shoes, colored cardigans and tanks/tops that I can pair a gazillion ways.  If I can't think of a way to wear a certain item-say, a navy skirt or a teal cardigan--I can search that in Pinterest or Polyvore and come up with different ideas on how to wear it. I plan out all my outfits for the week on Sunday and hang them on a valet hook on my closet door.  I love not having to figure out what I am wearing the night before I need to have it on; it's a simple thing that eliminates stress!

If you need a good internet creative outlet and you like clothes, I definitely recommend Polyvore!  Here are a few more of my recent creations:

Chestnuts

Classy Lady

Farmer's Market

Rainy Day


Happy creating!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Childhood Revisited


Do you remember the Disney movie, "Robin Hood"?  If not, you are either really young, or you had a really sad childhood.  It is one of my favorite movies of all time!  

My friend Alex posted this little gem on her Facebook wall the other day.  I love Mumford and Sons, and I love this song.  A definite win-win.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Fashions!

Fall is coming!  Are you excited?  Fall is very bittersweet to me.  I love the cool crisp mornings and warm afternoons, and the changing color of the leaves.  So, in one respect, I love fall.  On the other hand though, fall makes me sad because I know that cold weather is coming.  I loathe being cold.  I hate wearing closed toed shoes and freezing in my car in the mornings because it doesn't heat up quickly.  Oh well. To every thing there is a season!

One thing that does get me excited about fall are all the fantastic layers and fallish outfits to wear.  I was browsing Pinterest and came across these goodies:

(Photo courtesy of Polyvore


From Pinterest/original source unknown


Photo from Polyvore



Photo source

Photo courtesy of Polyvore
Aren't these all just so cute?  I wear skirts or dresses most days.  (I cannot describe to you the depths of my hatred for jeans.  It is inconceivable to me how anyone finds them comfortable).  I love skirts because they are year round pieces.  Wear them with a light top and sandals in summer; throw on tights and boots and a sweater in winter; and wear cardigans and belts with them for all the in between times.  Plus, to me they are just the most comfortable thing to wear.  It's a win-win!

What are you most excited about wearing this fall?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DIY Wall Art (Poster Repurposing)

I love crafting and repurposing things I have.  I came up with this little project several years ago and thought I would share.

Like any good college student, I had an abundance of posters.  Here's one that I had.  It's called "Once Upon A Tandem". 

It has a great little poem/story on it and I loved it.  But after college, my tastes began to change and I wanted something new.  I was making about $1,000 a month at that time so I didn't exactly have a budget for home decor.  Having few or no resources forces ones creativity, though, so here's what I did.

I took the poster out of the frame and covered the backside with a piece of leftover wrapping paper.


This was a leftover scrap,but you could also go find some cute wrapping paper that had colors you wanted and use that.  (Target always has cute printed wrapping paper for great prices. Hallmark is a great place to look, too).  I glued the wrapping paper down, trimmed it to fit the poster, then got to work on the other part.

I'm a lover of words, so wanted to frame some words that were meaningful to me.  For this particular piece, I chose The Message translation of Ephesians 5:1-2.  I opened up Word and typed out the verse, picking a font I liked, and making it a big size (I used 100 but it really depends on the size of your poster and the length of your quote or verse or whatever.)



Then I cut the words out. 

 

This does not have to be precise!  Don't worry about making perfect cuts and straight lines.  Just cut out the words, and then the letters and punctuation.  





Once I had everything laid out I arranged all of them on the poster and got them where I wanted them.  Then I just glued them down.




I used a glue stick but you could also use Modge Podge (or just watered down Elmer's glue).  Whatever you have on hand should be fine!




Once you're done, put it back in the frame, and TA-DA!!


Cheap, cute, made-by-you art!  This one hangs in my office, and I have another I did in here of another verse.  You could also frame a favorite quote of one of your kids for their room, or quotes about love for the bedroom.  Or even make something seasonal and do Christmas or Halloween themed ones and just switch them out.  Really, the possibilities are endless!  Happy Crafting!


Linking up at:
Living Well Wednesdays

Grace at Home












Monday, September 17, 2012

More Than Flowers

(Photo Credit)

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?   

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  

 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6: 28-34 

Sometimes, I need this reminder.  That God cares.  That He is involved in my life in a very real and intricate way.  That worry robs me of today's peace.  That my God can be trusted to provide abundantly.  

I challenge you to trust God today; to be patient for His plan; to expect His provision and live in faith knowing that He is faithful.  Be encouraged today! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Praying for Our House

My husband and I have started our house hunt!  I have lived in the little house above for over 7 years.  Seven years!  It's been a great place and I have many wonderful memories, but we are ready to move on to the next thing.  We aren't in a rush and are taking our time, though I will tell you I am anxious to be out of the tiny we space we live in, especially since last week we discovered evidence of mice.  (EEEK!)

(Side note:  My husband came home from work one day to find me wearing his shoes and armed with a flashlight in one hand and a vacuum cleaner hose in the other as I had just discovered their point of entry into our abode and their stash of (our) half-eaten goodies.  I was getting rid of all the candy they had evidently binged on.  The flashlight was needed as they are hiding out in Dave's closet and there is zero light in there.  Wearing his shoes was necessary because what if one was nearby, and my stars, I would not tolerate well having a mouse run over my bare foot!)
Anywho, that definitely sparks a fire under the house hunt.  We have looked at quite a few, and there is one we really want to get inside of that's a short sell and still occupied by people who are, let's say, not very keen on the fact that their house is up for sell.  We stood outside of it with our realtor for an hour this weekend.  We had an appointment but no one came to the door, even though we heard them inside, and the key in the lockbox wouldn't even fit into the front door.  We all think they changed the lock on the house because the listing agent says that they are being really uncooperative.  We'll get in it to see it someday, I suppose, whether it be now or 3 months from now when the bank kicks them out and the home goes into foreclosure. We have both said the more stubborn they are, the more it makes us want to look at it!

I'm excited about the house God has for us, and trust that He will get us in just the right house for us at just the right time.  We aren't too picky, as we know this is not our "forever home".  We are praying fervently for wisdom and direction, and patience to wait for God's plan.  It is our prayer that God would bless us with something that we can bless others with; that our home would be an extension of us wanting to honor God with everything we have.  I cannot wait to see not only the house he has for us, but the opportunities that will come from having it.  It's an exciting journey!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Did I Never Think of This Before?

Sometimes, I feel a little too true to my hair color.

I recently have discovered my love for grapefruit.  I hated them growing up; I thought them way too sour.  My brother would dump sugar on them and eat them up.  We were blessed enough to go on a cruise for our honeymoon and one of the things they had an abundant supply of on the buffet line each morning was grapefruits.  And I fell in love.

Grapefruits are tricky little buggers.  I cut them in half, dig in with a spoon, and pledge to wear goggles the next time because I always seem to get hit in the eye with the juice that squirts out like little torpedoes.  I sometimes have them as a snack at work and I kid you not, juice flies onto my computer, the phone, me, my stack of papers....

This leads to a moment of inspiration when I was sitting at my desk last week, grapefruit before me, knife in hand, trepidation in my heart....when it dawned on me:  why don't I just slice it the way I do an orange and eat it as slices?

(enter sound of me slapping forehead as I ask myself, "Why did I never think of this before????"

Thus, brilliance was born:


I came.  I cut.  I conquered.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Dose of Perspective


 (Isn't this print so cute?  You can buy it from Etsy here.)


I saw this little activity on Jessica Chronicled, which is a cute blog I recently discovered, and thought it was fun.

First, think of your favorite color. Then explain it using only adjectives.
Second, think of your favorite animal. Explain it using only adjectives.
Then, think of your favorite natural occurrence (sunshine, hurricane, leaves changing color, etc.). Explain it using only adjectives.

*If you want to do this, do it now before you read what it "means" and end up letting that taint your answers

Here are my answers:
Pink:  girly, fun, bubbly, lively, chic
Giraffe:  tall, blond, adorable, gracefully quirky (or quirkily graceful)
Gentle wind:  hopeful, perfumed, calming, inspiring, invigorating

How to interpret:

Your favorite color reflects how you see yourself.
Your favorite animal reflects how you see your spouse.
Your favorite natural occurrence reflects how you see God.

The first is true: I do see myself as bubbly and girly.

The one about my husband is hilarious to me!  He's not super tall, he's bald (though he was a strawberry blond), and he definitely is more coordinated than me!  He's cute though and fun to watch, so maybe there's the connection--I don't know!

The third I can definitely see; I do see God in those ways.  And funny enough, if I had to describe God as an occurrence of nature, I would probably use wind to describe Him.  Many times in my life I've felt the presence of God in the wind as I sit outside and commune with Him.

What do you think?  Were your answers close to being "true"? 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Monument from a Cinnamon Roll

Sometimes, the goodness of God can be found and seen in a Cinnabon cinnamon roll.


Now at this point you're probably thinking, "Well, duh!  How can Jesus not be in something so fantastically scrumptious as a Cinnabon cinnamon roll!?"

Here's how:

I got an email from Cinnabon the other day saying that if you joined their email club you would get a coupon for a free Minibon.  I love Cinnabon, and I love free!  So, I signed myself and my husband up, and printed out our two coupons. 

We had to run errands last weekend and while we were out we enjoyed a cheap dinner at Chic-fil-a thanks to some other coupons I had.  We usually get refills on our drinks and thought that since there is a Chick-fil-a at the mall, and we were headed there, that technically we could just take our cup and get a refill at the Chick-fil-a there, to go with our free Cinnabon.  After thinking about it though, we decided that, even though it wasn't costing Chick-fil-a much for our refill, that it still was cheating the system and we wouldn't do it.  We threw out our cup and drove to the mall to finish our errands.

Finally, we stopped by Cinnabon to get our free little goodies and buy a drink.  We placed our order and the girl told us they were out of Minibons, but that she would give us 2 regular sized Cinnabon rolls instead.  Score!! We bought a container of milk to share and sat down to feast on our sweet, gooey, free blessing from God.  My oh my, was that blessing good!

I know it's a small thing, but it just struck me as a testament to God's goodness, and to his faithfulness to us when we honor Him.  Do you see how great a thing this is?  If we honor God, we will be blessed.  Sometimes with tangible things, sometimes with increased closeness to and understanding of Him, and sometimes with both.  Sometimes I forget to "seek firs the Kingdom", and look out for myself, instead of seeking to honor God and trust Him. 

I have a picture of a cinnamon roll on my bulletin board at work now, and below it the words, "Here I raise my Ebenezer."  In the Old Testament, (1 Samuel 7:12), Samuel built an altar to the Lord and called it Ebenezer, saying "Thus far the Lord has helped us."   The word "Ebenezer" literally means "stone of the help". 

The picture of that Cinnabon cinnamon roll is my way of erecting a monument to God; reminding myself of His help and his goodness that comes when I obey Him.  What a sweet (and cinnamony) reminder!

Friday, September 7, 2012

How to grow out your hair


I saw this photo on Pinterest (no idea who to credit it with), and thought it was so fitting, and so, so true!


Like many women, I have a love/hate relationship with my hair.  It is stick straight, which up until now I have never enjoyed or appreciated.  Straight hair wasn't "in" until I was in college, so from 8th-12th grade I hot rolled my hair every. single. day.  I probably looked a lot like Shirley Temple as I really did not understand how to style my hair.  My mom's hair has a totally different texture and consistency, so what she could do with hers didn't translate to mine.  Thus, I stuck with what I knew, which was hot rollers (my mom even had her old steam ones that heated up via the boiling water inside and gave you 2nd degree burns on your fingers each time you got one out; ah, good memories).


Anywho, now I've embraced my straight hair.  I still curl it sometimes, even use a straightener every once in a while to get it super-straight.  Most of the time I go for the "I washed my hair last night and am in a rush so all I did was brush it out" look. 

I usually keep my hair a little longer than shoulder length.  At times, though, I get these random urges to do something different, so last summer I hacked off all my hair.  And it was reeeeaaalllly short (for me anyways).  


Here is me last June sporting my brand new do.  It totally freaked me out at first to have such short hair, but I ended up loving this cut.  Very cute, and very easy.

But...I started to miss all the fun things I could when my hair was long.  So, I decided to let it grow out again.  (Plus, my husband really likes my hair long, so that's a plus for growing it out, too.) 

Here is my hair as of today, about 15 months post-chop experience:




(I am a bit of a doofball when it comes to taking my own pictures, if you haven't guessed that by now.)

I didn't do anything but wash and dry my hair last night and it's got this weird wave like thing going on at the bottom.  It gives my hair character I suppose.

Normally my hair grows really fast.  I only wash it every other day, and I try to eat really well (I say that as I snack on M&M's and a Sunkist--hypocrite!). I have learned that outside beauty starts on the inside; my skin, nails, and hair are better when I eat really well and take care of myself.

I have also learned to become a student of my products; meaning, know what's in the products that you buy.  Most shampoos have phthalates (which totally mess up your endocrine system),and sodium lauryl sulphate (which is in everything and known to cause skin corrosion!).  Our skin is our largest organ, and you shouldn't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth and swallow!  I recently found Renpure Organics at Food City and LOVE them.  Their shampoo and conditioner are fantastic and they are affordable.  You can purchase their stuff online at amazon.com or at select Walgreens. 

As another natural alternative, I also rub coconut oil into my hair as a leave in conditioner before I wash it about once a month.  Holy smokes, will it make your hair ever so soft!  I also recommend taking Biotin supplements if you are trying to grow your hair out (as well as a good multi-vitamin, which, if you aren't taking, you should!). 

I am hoping to grow out my hair a few more inches by next summer, so that it will be really long and lovely and I can (attempt to) make it look like this:

(from Hello Giggles)   

(source unknown)

(from Beauty Click)


Until then, here's to vitamins, lots of jello (for the gelatin), and lots of prayers that my hair grows quickly!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Whales and Dolphins

I am really good at getting overwhelmed.  

My brain constantly buzzes with all these things that I have to get done and I can get a bit crazed really easily.

Example:  I want to get laundry done.  So I gather laundry up from the various places it is and gather clothes from my gym bag.  That's when I notice that I should go through my makeup bag that's in there and clean my brushes because they haven't been cleaned in ages.  So, I wash out my makeup brushes in the bathroom sink.  The sink is pretty dirty so I decide to clean it.  While I have my cleaner out, I might as well clean the toilet and bathtub.  While cleaning the bathtub I notice that I am almost out of shampoo.  So I go write it down on my list.  This will remind me that we also need lemon juice for the recipe I want to cook later this week.  Where did I put that recipe?  Is it on the table?  No, but there is my camera.  I should upload those pics from vacation.  While on my computer I check Facebook and remember that I have a wedding shower coming up.   Which reminds me that I need to make sure the outfit I want to wear is clean, which reminds me that I need to do....LAUNDRY.  Which is the one and only thing I had intended on doing. 

Sigh.

So, to help with this craziness, I have adopted what I call my "whales and dolphins" philosophy.  Meaning, when all these little things clamor around in my brain, I remember that I have bigger fish to fry.  So, the only fish that get fried in my life are the big ones:  whales, dolphins, maybe a shark though they are hard to wrangle :)

Here is what a typical to-do list for me looks like, filled with all the things I "have" to do:


And this is what it looks like pared down, with only the big fish--the whales and dolphins--on it. 


So many times when I ask myself, "What really needs to get done today?", I end up realizing that so many things can wait.

So, if you feel overwhelmed today by all of your tasks or things to get done, remember, you have bigger fish to fry!  Figure out what those whales and dolphins are and fry them up!  Leave the minnows and trout for another day :)


Linking up at:
Works for Me Wednesdays
Grace at Home

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Being Debt Free Before Kids

I've talked before about our plan to be debt free (or at least mostly) before we have kids.  I thought I would share a little more of our story and ideas on why we want to be debt free. Even though it is common in the US today to have debt (both credit card and student loans), it is not something that we as a couple desire.  The Bible says that the borrower is a slave to the lender.  Debt keeps you from so many things; from buying a home, from being able to be a stay at home mom (if that is your desire), from spending money on other things that you want, or even things that you need.  It's a trap that we do not want to be in.
(photo credit)
 (this is about what I look like each time a medical bills arrives in the mail!)
 
Debt is an enslaver.  We want to get out from under the snare and be free to use our money in a way which honors God. We want to be responsible with all that we are given and fight the temptation of greed and lust and wanting more and more. We want to be debt free so that I can be a stay at home mom while my kids are little. Thus, paying off our debt and living below our means are essential to making that happen. 

We both love the principles of Dave Ramsey.  If you haven't heard of Dave Ramsey or his principles before, I highly encourage you to check out his website (he also has a radio show and several books available).  His provides a lot of wisdom, tools, and encouragement for getting out of debt and following good financial principles.  There are a couple of "rules" of his that we don't follow (for example, mortgage as debt is OK to us as long as we can comfortably afford monthly payments on Dave's income alone; and we use credit cards that we pay off each month to get cash back rewards)

Now, though getting out of debt is a noble goal, I have seen far too often where being debt free becomes an idol to many people, especially Christians.  Here's what I know:
  • Getting out of debt is impossible without God.  It is He who provides (not me or my paycheck)
  • Getting out of debt is not my number one goal.  It's one goal, but following Jesus, loving people, my health and the health of my family, etc are more important.
  • Ideally we would like to be debt free before having kids.  But you know what, I am not willing to put off having kids until we are debt free.  Because what if being debt free takes 5 years?  We are 30 and 36, and don't want to wait that long.  And what if we need fertility treatments or something and adds to our debt?  Having kids trumps being debt free, because at the end of my life I will regret not having kids way more than I would ever regret having debt, no matter the amount.  
 Our current stats:
Currently we owe:
  • $3,015 from my undergraduate loan
  • $20,656 from Dave's recent loan (which paid for rent/groceries, etc while he was in school these past 2 years because I don't make enough to cover our bills)
  • $5,400 of medical bills because our insurance is deplorable  (we are switching soon--woohoo!)
=$29,071 total debt

That's a pretty hefty number.  Our goal was to pay off all of that in a year.  But, we recently learned that group health insurance through my husband's job is more than our rent each month (yikes!).  It's good insurance, but we were not expecting to pay that much when we were putting together our budget/pay off plan.  So, right now our goal is to have all of the above debt paid off by December 2014.  Which, is still a lofty goal considering that our combined gross annual income is around $64,000.  But, as I said before, with God all things are possible.  We are committed, we have a plan, and we will do what we can, and leave the results up to God. 

I hope that someone can get encouragement from our financial journey.  I'll definitely update things as we go along!  May you be encouraged to work hard, live within your means, and let go of the things you can't change or do anything about (easier said than done I know!)