Thursday, September 26, 2013

all the feelings, and then some.

Earlier this week the fab Sarah Bessey wrote a post about having ALL THE FEELINGS about conferences.
Which I loved. Because I too have all the feelings about ginormous conferences.

And ever since then, those words, ALL THE FEELINGS, have gone round and round in my head like a broken record. Because friends, right now, I find that I am having ALL the feelings about ALL the things. 

In the past week I have been convinced whole heartily that we should 
*Buy an old camper and turn it into a guest room/portable vacation abode/craft studio
*Buy an unfinished house on 20 acres 45 minutes from town
*Buy an almost mostly perfect farmhouse smack dab in the middle of the 'hood
*Plank the wall above our fireplace
*Knock out all the walls between the kitchen and living room
*Sell our house As Is and see what happens
* Buy a lake cabin
*Add on another floor
*Run Away

As you can see I might be having a bit of an issue sorting things out.
Also, here is a little quirk about walking the earth as me: My first instinct upon experiancing panic is always to want to change my physical surroundings. NOW. 
Depending on how desperate things feel, this can mean I make new throw pillow covers or completely rearraning the living room or search obsessively for the perfect rug online. 
Or something like the list above can begin to emerge.

This weekend is my birthday. I will be 39. 
The countdown to 40 begins.

My kids are literally, half grown. 
We are at the mid-way point as a family. 
There is an expiration stamp on our life all under one roof. On the time we have left to raise them.
My whole life I have wanted to have a family, and now I have them and within a decade they will be gone.
And I am lying about 3/4 the way under the bus right now and it's getting a little hard to breathe.

Thankfully, this weekend begins our Fall Break. 9 days off from work or school. 
Sweet Man and I are starting the breakby going to a cabin in the woods, beside a lake
 to be together, 
to read, to fish, 
to sort through ALL THESE FEELINGS, 
and to prayerfully consider what the next ten years might hold for us.

During this week I am going to also go on a little social media break-no tweeted, instaing, blogging, fb'ing etc.
 So as to not bombard you with my daily dose of crazy. 
And to create a little much needed space in my heart and brain to listen.
 And to really hear.
Because the good Lord knows, I cannot hear much right now. Not with the racket ALL THE FEELINGS are making.

Thank you for coming here and hanging out with me even on days like today. 
I really love you for it.
And I will see you soon.
Peace and blessings friends-

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

let's get's organized!

I once heard author Eleanor Brown give a talk about her book, The Weird Sisters, during which she said that every family has its own language, its own sort of shorthand, for communicating with each other. For the family in The Weird Sisters that shorthand was Shakespeare.  Growing up in my family, the language was twofold: part obscure movie and television quotes, and part family lore. Phrases and words and proclamations that have lived on, passed down through generation to generation.
One of our most favorite of the family-lore phrases is the always appropriate, “This year we are going to get organized!”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Crafting Retreat

Hi friends!
So sorry I missed our coffee date on Saturday. My weekend was a bit of a marathon and I didn't really catch my breath till Sunday evening. September has been one of those months when everything collided, but knock on wood, the busiest parts are behind me and things may just slow down to a steady trot instead of a marathon of sprints.
Even though this month has been intense, it has also been filled with wonderful opportunities to meet new people and share A Homemade Year

When my book first came out I said "yes" to each and every opportunity related to promoting it.
 Book signings, crafting demonstrations, speaking to church groups, and whatever else people asked me to do. And I was so excited and grateful for each and every invitation. But after a couple of months I grew a little weary of always being 'on" and on the go. Over the past few months I have learned a lot about what I really enjoy and what is honestly more work than I can afford to expend at this season in my life.  A season that includes working full time outside the home, and being a. mom, wife, friend, helping care for my elderly grandparents and doing this blogging thing.

I have discovered, through trial and error, that what I really love is getting to speak to a group.  Getting to share stories and lessons from the book and the experience of writing the book itself, and hopefully getting to shine a some light and grace in the process. I want to erase the idea that if we cannot do something perfectly (craft, cook, entertain, celebrate our faith at home) then we shouldn't even try.  I also love having the time to get to know those in the group. To see their eyes light up as they try new things, and hear words of freedom, is a beautiful thing. I try to pour out words that encourage instead of words that exhaust, and I pray before, during, and after each event, that every person will meet Christ's love and tenderness through something they hear or see or experience that day. 

These  things, light and love, inspiration and freedom- these are the heart and soul of A Homemade Year.

 Two weekends ago, I had one of my most fun and sweet engagements to date related to promoting the book.  I had the honor of leading ten families from a local church in a Family Retreat that focused on preparing for Advent and Christmastide. I loved this event because I got to really dig in and encourage families as I helped them create their very own "Christmas in a Box" using crafts from A Homemade Year.

The event was held at a local church campground and retreat center, and the weather was nearly fall. Such a perfect day to spend with young families. We began by giving everyone a plastic tub filled with supplies for each craft - including these great log slices for their Advent Wreaths.

Then we set about making four crafts from the book:
The Advent Wreath with the elements (star, rock, bells, white feather, heart)
Collage Serving Trays
Family Paschal Candle
12 Days of Christmas Star Box Garland

The families that came had mostly young kids, primarily five and under, so I tried to chose crafts that I felt most of the kids could help with in some way, even if that meant that they "contributed" by tearing up magazine pages while their parents made their collages.

Note: I have never been so happy ever before to see all the Christmas items in stock at Hobby Lobby so early!  I usually fuss that the store is head to toe Christmas before Halloween has even arrived, but this year instead of complaining, I was singing their praises!

For the collages I gave each family the following challenges:

Look for an image that represents something you like about your family
Look for an image that represents a favorite holiday tradition
Look for an image that represents a holiday tradition that you would like to start

These trays- whether they used them as serving tray or as a decoration- are to serve as a sort of totem for the families during the hectic holiday season. A way to refocus themselves when they feel as if Advent and Christmas are spinning out of control. Each family can look back at their unique tray and remember who they are as a family, and what is most important to them.

It was fun to see what each family came up with. Which images the kids picked versus which images the adults picked, and then how each family put all of those ideas, image, and wishes, together.

After the trays we started working on the Advent wreaths and their elements. One of the projects related to this  included rock painting. In my opinion rock painting never goes out of fashion as it is such a classic camp activity and always a lot of fun for everyone.

For some reason I missed taking pictures of  everyone making the paper mache stars, the felt pillow hearts,  the hand stamped feathers, and the bells for their Advent Wreaths. I also didn't get any pictures of our star-boxes for the 12 Days of Christmas garland.
 I think we must have been having too much fun. I loved how everyone jumped right into all the sewing, gluing, glittering and stamping. Even the husbands got into the spirit of things!

We also made Family Paschal Candles that could be used by the families as the Christ candle with their Advent Wreaths, and then again for Easter, Pentecost, and on birthdays and other special occasions or feast. To put everyone at ease I showed them what the "book" version of the candle looked like and what our "real life" family candle (that my boys made)  looks like. Needless to say everyone felt a lot less pressure after seeing the "real life" version.
Next time I do a retreat like this I am going to try and get cute "finished product" photo's with the families so that you can see how everything came together.

After we were all done, families were able to take their bins home, filled with the crafts, activities and even their own copy of A Homemade Year.  Hopefully, they will feel a little less overwhelmed by their to-do list, and a little bit more prepared to enter this years Advent and Christmas season with fresh hope and joyful expectation.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about leading a full day retreat that included whole families with lots of littles, but the feedback afterwards was great, and I loved getting to spend so much time with each participant. Sweet Man said I came back the happiest I have ever been after a book related event, which is saying a lot. 

*(to inquire about hosting this sort of event for your church or community group please visit my Events page)


And guess what? Just in time for the holidays, you can now purchase A Homemade Year for your  Kindle (or as a gift for someone else's Kindle!!)
You can even see a preview of how the book has been laid out (once again, Paraclete has outdone themselves. So grateful for them!) for this medium.

Friday, September 20, 2013

ripe for freedom

You, my friend, are amazing. Completely, and utterly amazing. 
How do I know? Because you keep showing up here. And you keep coming back, even when I pull back the curtain a little bit further than Emily Post would like and show you some of the yuck hiding in my heart.
And sometimes you share a little bit of your heart and your story with me as well. 
And that is magic. 
The magic of freedom, born of grace.

These little green tomatoes are the only things that I have ever planted that have grown. 
Have I mentioned that instead of a green thumb I have a black thumb? Not what you would expect from someone who wants to live on a farm someday is it? 
But it's true. I kill plants. Like ferns. 
Who kills ferns?? Me. That's who.

These funny little Green Zebra tomatoes were grown from seeds my parents gave all of us for Christmas. My grandmother started them in egg containers, and then I transferred them to peet pots, which I then watered until Sweet Man could get them in the ground. 
Later on, after they were all sprawled out and wild, I helped Nathan put the cages around them, and occasionally I even go out and weed a bit around the plants or water them.
It's not much, but for someone with a black thumb, this is VICTORY my friend!

The truth is, I am better with things that have blood, or breath, or wings, or at least two out of three. 
Mammals. Fowl. Fish. 
Maybe bees? 
Animals and people. 
That I can do.
Nurturing them is easy. Its intuitive. I know things.
Plants are a whole other story.
I have no instinct there, no intuition.

And therefore I have never really tried much to garden. I don't really like to do things I stink at. In fact, I work really hard at avoiding situations where I will look dumb, or clueless, or where I might fail, badly.
Which itself is really dumb and clueless on my part.
Because how else am I going to learn?

But these little ripe tomatoes are a little glimmer of hope that I can learn. 
That I can be taught. That I can muster the courage to risk failure. 
That if I just step out a little bit, and go slow, and ask for help, I can learn how to grow things from the earth. If I watch those who have experience in gardening. If I take the time to slow down and watch the way they handle the seeds, pat the moist dirt around them, tend to them with patience and care, I might just gleam a bit of knowledge from those who have gone before, learning themselves through trial, error, and advice.
And it helps if I am aware of how little I really know. 
I tend to be a better student if I can get honest with myself about my ignorance and inexperience.

When I wrote the Jen Hatmaker post (as it shall be always known, apologies to Jen) I suspected a few things would happen.
First, that somebody would remind me that I am on their list.
Secondly, that somebody would not be able to identify with my struggle.
Thirdly that my mother or my grandmother (or both) would worry about me.
And finally that some of you might have an inkling of what I was talking about.
I have proof of the first two, the third one I just suspect, and the last one, well, that one y'all blew out of the water.
Writing that post I struggled with how many qualifiers to put in. How many reasons to give for things I felt or things that I thought. Or things to clarify so that you wouldn't think that I had completely lost my marbles.

In the end, I decided to assume that if you have been around here for long enough you would probably understand where I was coming from. And you would know me well enough to hear my heart through my words. And of course, because you are AMAZING, you did. You totally and completely got it.  

But there are two things that I still feel the need to say. Things I want to have on permanent record for all time.

First, I want you to know that every blogger I named in that post I love. 
I respect them, I cheer for them, I am genuinely happy for all of their successes. Truly.
I also know that what we see is just a sliver of their lives and there is so much more mess and beauty in their worlds than we will ever know. 
Which is how it should be.
I chose each of those gals carefully because not only do I occasionally get trapped into wishing I had their lives/looks/houses/words/tattoos/kids but because  I do honestly love and respect them.
Some of them I would even call friends.
Friends with whom I talk via email and twitter and Instagram. Friends who cheer for me, love me, and counsel me whenever needed.
But then there are other gals that I named, who couldn't pick me out of blog line-up if they tried.  I am just another reader, peering in and gleaming wisdom and being challenged by their words and their hearts like so many of you.
 And that is okay too.
 Despite my crazy dreams,  I very much aware that the whole internet cannot be best friends.  
But regardless of whether I know them or not, I respect and honor each of those gals.because they are honest about so many of their struggles, even the struggles surrounding the enviable parts. And because I am pretty sure that at least a few of them, like me, from time to time, suffer from GGS (aka Greener Grass Syndrome.) 

The second thing that I want to say is that being on your list is incredibly humbling. And a gut check. 

I wrote about my struggles with GGS because I believe strongly in shining the big fat blinding, bone warming, light of grace and mercy on even the tiniest speck of darkness. 
And I believe that what that light brings is the opposite of what we fear it will bring. 
We fear shame and condemnation. And instead what it brings us is freedom. 
The kind of freedom that comes from realizing that we are not alone in our brokenness, and that forgiveness and mercy are ours for the receiving. All the time. Anytime.  
I wrote that post because I hoped it would do for someone what others have done for me, time and time again,  (Jen, Glennon, Meg, Shannen, Ann, Sarah, - just to name a few. )
Telling our stories is vital to erasing the aloneness we all feel, and light filtering through the cracks of our brokenness is how we find our way out of the dark and into freedom from shame.

 I am guessing, that all of us, in some area of our lives, are on someones list. Whether it is a neighbor, or a coworker, or a family member, or a blog reader, or a customer, or the lady who walks her dogs past your adorable front yard everyday, or the check-out girl at Hancock's, someone is looking at you and thinking that you have the exact ____ (fill in the blank) that they wish they could have, or be, or do.
And the more we all tell our stories - to each other, on our blogs, in our church small groups, during our girls-nights-out  - the more we can shine that grace light through the cracks, the less we all will feel alone. And the easier it will be to find freedom from GGS.

So, thank you for saying that I am your list. Really. I am not going to pretend that you saying that didn't give me a boost. Because it did. How could it not?
But it also challenges me. To keep being authentic every way I know how.
To continue to be a student of how to shed light on the darkness.
To continue to work towards being humble and vulnerable and willing to be taught.
To keep pushing little seeds into the earth, to continue pulling out the weeds, and pouring out water on dry ground. 
To continue to learn from those who have walked the road ahead of me, following the light that seeps in through all the cracks.

Thank you again my friend.
For listening. 
For sharing your heart.
For loving on me.
For showing up time and time again.
For shining the light when I am having trouble finding my way.

love and peace-

Monday, September 16, 2013

I am not Jen Hatmaker

As it turns out I am not Jen Hatmaker. 
I am not Sarah Bessey.
I am not Glennon Melton.
I am not Meg, Shannan, Ashley, Lisa or Ann or Ree.
I am not The Nester.

I have not purchased a funky dream house on dream property with a funky dream barn.
I do not have my own show coming soon on HGTV.
I have not adopted children from AfricaKoreaNextStateOver.
I don't have any tattoos.
I don't wear glasses. Not even cool ones.
I don't homeschool.
I haven't lost fifty pounds or overcome alcoholism or anorexia.
I don't have dreadlocks.
I don't have enough kids to make up a sports team. (Well, maybe Doubles Tennis.)
My blog isn't edgy.
My book isn't a New York Times Best Seller.
Anne Lamott doesn't know I exist.
Dayspring hasn't offered me a licensing deal.
Everyone in my family is white.

And I hate it. I really do. I am not even going to lie and say that I don't. I am not going to pretend that I am never jealous of families that adopt. That I don't look longingly at every family that has a rainbow of children trailing behind them. That I don't have to give myself a pep talk before reading a blog post about someones new farm or new dream house or new life adventure. That I never look at my Sweet Man and wish he was just a little more comfortable in front of a camera, a little more open to risk, a little bit better with chaos. That I never wish I was just flat out cooler in certain circles. 

Some days -many days -I manage to push this way down. I manage to walk in the light and choose  gratefulness and contentment and joy.

And then there are other days. The ones that I would rather not speak of.
Because here is the truth:

See that list up there? That is my list. This list is what Keeping Up with the Jones looks like to me. In my heart, this is the ladder I want to climb.
And it is dark and black and ugly. 

And yes some of these things are good, some are even noble.  Adopting kids for instance. That's a great thing. But as Jen will remind me, time and time again, adoption is not something you do because you are "into adoption." Adoption is something you do "because you are into parenting."

So this thing, this black, selfish, thief-of-joy thing, it's not about the kids or parenting.
It's about ME. 
It's about wanting to be cool. Noticed. Acclaimed. Liked. Promoted. 
To be popular among all the "right" people.
To complete some picture in my head that has nothing to do with being made in the image of Christ, and everything to do with being made in the image of The Cool Kids.

Seriously. I am grossing myself out even talking about it.
But it's true y'all. It's so true.

And it is so unfair to Jen, and Sarah and Glennon and Ann. What right do I have to take and twist their lives into idols for my own? How is comparing my journey to Shannan's, and Meg's and Ashely's showing them love?  How is coveting The Nester's wonderful new home and property showing her love? 
The answer is obvious. It's not.

I think we can safely say that putting other humans on pedestals is a toxic epidemic in our current culture. Whether it is our pastor, our neighbor, our favorite blogger, politician, or celebrity, our hearts - my heart - is so easily eaten up with idolatry for those whom I think have it all together. Who have what I think I want. 

When will I stop thinking in terms of Me and Them and Everyone Else?  
Them being those who have what I want. 
Everyone Else being those whose opinion I do not regard as highly. Whose lives I do not want to emulate, or even really notice. The ones I look straight past, searching for the acceptance of Them
And Me, of course, being Me, Me, and Me. All the damn time.

When will I think in terms of Christ. In terms of Love. In terms of His Love?
Where there is no famous or not-famous. 
No average or popular or uncool. 
No successful or marketable or profitable.

I think I am ready. Lord, help me.

 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13

Peace my friends-
here is to loving more

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Morning Vlog

Please excuse the wonky recording and my obviously frazzled self.
Just wanted to catch up with my peeps.

Hope your weekend is lovely!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

on a rainy April day

43 years ago my parents were married in this chapel at Ferncliff Camp.
This past weekend I stayed at the camp for the Arkansas Women Blogger's Unplugged Conference, and I went inside the teensy tinsy chapel for the first time in a decade or two. I had forgotten how small it was. I cannot tell you how holy the chapel felt. I left wishing I could worship and experiance the eucherist between it's stone walls each and every week.
Before I left, I snapped some pictures of the chapel and posted one of them to Facebook via Instagram.
Below is what my mother wrote in the comments about that April day, all those years ago.

Rain, no electricity only candles lit up the interior as the crowd scrunched in as close as possible on the wooden pews. My mom had made my dress with bell sleeve's my veil was a simple half a yard of sheer tulle bobby pinned to the back of my hair with daisies. I held handful of daises with a ribbon around them. My dad walked me over the field under a golf umbrella. My "curled" hair went straight and one of my maid's went curly; only Aunt Teija's was perfect. The only music was a flutist playing classical music as we entered and then during the ceremony Johnny who sang "Bridge over Troubled Waters" to me with his guitar and the flutist accompanied from the top perch. Grandaddy and Uncle Jim sat side by side like two rocks. My mom cried and I remember being momentarily sad that I had not even thought about waiting until my brother, serving in Vietnam could be there. The people who show up at a wedding in a chapel in the middle of nowhere are your true friends whether you ever see them again or not. We walked to the small reception area past a cabin that housed a bunch of girl scouts on a camp-out. Their faces were pressed up against the screen to see this strange occurrence. As we passed I said hello to them and wished them well and wasn't this great, I just got married. Just the type of greeting I do! Many years later I found out our pastors wife who taught anthropology at UALR was always telling her classes about that wedding. I used to get the "Oh, your the girl who got married in the rain" comments. I was only doing what I thought all girls did, have the wedding they dreamed of. In the chapel, in the back of the camp property, in Arkansas, on a rainy day in April.

- Tanya Beverly Jackson, September 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

Oscar and Me

I have to say, there are worse ways to for a gal to spend her lunch hour than with a bunch of her favorite pals getting a guided tour of Oscar de la Renta couture. 

I don't talk about fashion too much on this blog, because mostly, it isn't a huge part of my life anymore. I think I dress decently cute about 75% of the time. I know what I like , what is "me," and I do what I can with my budget, my figure, and resources to stay true to that style. I don't wear heals, skinny jeans, or a lot of synthetic materials. I like cotton, denim, linen, and t-shirt material. I like cheap plastic vintage jewelry, cowboy boots, and bags big enough to hold a small child. 

(these flowers are made from hand cut feathers)

But when I was a girl things were a little bit different. 
You see, I thought I was going to grow up and be a fashion designer. 
When I wasn't reading I was sketching. I sketched and sketched and sketched ideas for fashion shows. 
When I was 11 I discovered Style with Elsa Klensch. I bought W Magazine and watched documentaries about Christian Lacroix and Marc Jacobs and ordered information about New York City from their tourism department, mapping out exactly where Parson's School of Design was.
When friends went to the Big Apple for Vacation I begged them to bring me back shopping bags from Macy's, Saks, and any designer store they could manage to get into.
My bedroom walls, like many teenage girls, where completely covered with pages of Seventeen, Allure, Sassy, Vogue and W.
And then I got a job at my favorite clothing store (the only one who carried ESPRIT in my tiny town,) and the magic began to fade a bit. I also discovered that in Fashion School I would have to cut and sew my own designs. And that it would require math. And somewhere along the way, I just kinda fell out of love with being a fashion designer. It wasn't dramatic. It wasn't a big deal. It just happened. And it has never really bothered me. 

But still inside there is an itty bitty part that still enjoys certain aspects of the fashion world. The part of me that now watches Project Runway, and Rachel Zoe, the Oscar Red Carpet. The part of me that looks forward to the September Issue of Vogue each and every year.
So when I received the invite to spend my lunch break at the Clinton Library's new exhibit of Oscar de la Renta couture, you better believe I jumped at the chance!

As you can imagine the exhibit, though small, was exquisite. Oscar himself had been here (in my town!) at the grand opening a few weeks before and had seen to all the styling of the dresses and accessories.
(He was there along with Anna Wintour I might add. My Facebook was LIT up the day after the event with pictures of Oscar and Anna and the Clinton's with friends and friends of friends. I have to confess to being the tensiest bit jealous of them all!)
This is the Red Carpet section of the exhibit, featuring dresses worn by celebs like Taylor Swift and Jennifer Garner.

This is the dress that Anne Hathaway wore when she hosted the Oscars a few years ago.
Remember that dress? This is it.
And yes it was BEAUTIFUL up close. All the dresses were.
But do you see how small that mannequin is? Guess what?
The mannequin was TOO BIG for the dress.
That's right. Anne Hathaway is tinier than that mannequin.
"But she looks average-thin in that photo" - that is what you are saying to yourself isn't it?
Yep. She does. She looks great. And healthy. And perhaps she is.
But man oh man, no wonder women and girls are killing themselves daily.
They think THINNER than this mannequin is the standard.

Here I am attempting to make the uber-serious mannequins laugh. I am doing my best pouty-French model face.  What do you think?

Of course, despite all the fancy gold and silver of the shinny Red Carpet dresses, my very favorites were the colorful pieces.
I love how timeless they all seemed. I could see several of these pieces being worn for years. Of course it also cracked me up a little because the two coats are considered "Day Wear."  Which is great because they are both fancier than anything in my closet that could even come close to being categorized as "evening wear." 

And let's not forget why we have Oscar in my hometown to begin with. The First Ladies who have  worn Oscar, and generously lent these dresses to the exhibit. The middle suit in creme is made of cashmere and was perhaps the piece we all coveted the most because we would actually be able to wear it places! Legend has it that Oscar's own wife has been begging him to make her a version of this suit and he won't do it.
Apparently the man likes to keep moving forward.

(Oscar and me, we are like this!)
If you live anywhere near Central Arkansas, or if you are just passing through, I would encourage you to stop off at the Clinton Library and check out this fun exhibit (closes December 1,) and learn a little bit more about the man who has dressed women, on both sides of the aisle, the orphanage he started and visited, and his life in fashion.
Or you can watch a great short video following the link below.
Either way :)

Huge thanks to Joy Secuban for putting this exhibit together and for inviting me on this tour! What a fun way to get reconnect with my childhood dream. And thanks friends for taking this little fashion detour with me. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

hi friends

Hi friends. Thought I would check in a bit and see how things are.
I just spend the best weekend at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. This was my second year to go and it just keeps getting better.The AWBU gals are the most supportive women in the world, and I just adore being with them all. If you are feeling a bit adrift in the blog world I would really encourage you to look for a group in your area, state, or region that you can connect to. 

My partner in blog conference crime, Melissa, and I snuck out of AWBU a little early so that we could get our families to church this morning to kick off the new Sunday School year. My boys have not been a part of a regular Sunday School class in years and the fact that they are even slightly excited about this year's new program was enough to motivate me to come home a tad early. Of course I was still checking Twitter for all the AWBU news before and after the service to see what I was missing.

The rest of the day has been about being mellow, lots of napping, and recovering from all the fun.

I meant to share these links earlier in the week but I was thwarted in my efforts. If you have the chance go check out my Interview at Catholic Mom and see the Red Cross Pillow Craft just in time for Holy Cross Day (September 12.) 

I hope your weekend has been just what you needed it to be.

Wishing you peace my friends.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

living room fluffing

So first if you look closely you will see how dirty my couch is. So don't look. One day I will have a white slipcover for it. Yes, I said white. White I can wash. And bleach. And wash and bleach again. But I am not complaining. I spent $60 on our couch at Goodwill and it is by fair my favorite couch we have ever owned. In fact, I should spend more time there. On the couch. Not Goodwill. I spend plenty of time at GW as it is.

Okay, the second thing. My rug. (Yeah, I know. It's white.) I bought it for $16.99 at Atwood's. A farm supply store. The embossed pattern is of corn stalks.  Which I didn't notice till I unrolled it at home. 
$16.99 people.  Corn stalks. White. What is not to love? I feel as if somewhere Jonathan Adler is smiling at my luck.

This is my most recent curbside find. I tend to prefer round coffee tables, but hey, it was free! I think I am going to paint it, just toying with color ideas.  Should I go for the color in the lamp base? The background of the nest painting? The coral red in the quilt? Leave it like it is? I can tell you what will happen. One day, who knows when, I will get a wild hair and paint it whatever color is closest to my hand in the moment. This is how things get done around here. On whims. Using what I have on hand. Because chances are, the whim will strike at 10 pm or during a snow storm or right before a party. Because wet paint is always fun at parties. Right?

Third, here is my mantle. I keep thinking I am going to simplify my decorating.And then I do something like this.
This is my "Back-2-School" mantle. Remember how I said whims may strike at 10PM? Yeah, this would be the result of one of these moments. I found this banner when I was putting away our Happy Birthday banner. Every now and then I miss my banner making days. I still have all the supplies. Every now and then I think I will pull everything out and make half a dozen or so. This was one of my all time favorites.  Even though we have been in school for almost two months, most other schools just started, as did the college football season. I am not quite ready for Fall and Halloween decor right after Labor Day - the temperatures are still close to 100 degrees after all. So the Back-2-School theme seems a good way to transition from Summer to Fall.
I love clean lines. I like a mixture of industrial and farmhouse and cottage.  I like for things I purchase to be both functional and lovely. I can't stay away from color. AI like whimsy. I like banners and vintage kids toys and chalkboards. It is just how it is. So simple or cluttered...I don't know. This is just who I am. Go figure.
Guess what?? It's almost the weekend!
I am heading out to the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference Unplugged! I cannot wait to meet up with all the new friends I met last year, spend time with some of my very best IRL friends whom, and meet new friends as well.  Will I see you there? 

Peace friends!

Monday, September 02, 2013

the process of scraps

Almost a month ago, my friend Kim and I went to the hills of North Carolina for the Wild Goose Festival. This festival is held outdoors over the course of about four days, which meant camping. While we were there it rained. A lot. One day in particular I got caught in a downpour so heavy, I had to keep wiping sheets of rain out of my eyes in order to see. I also happen to have my stitching bag with me, which was completely soaked by the downpour. Since I was camping, and the rain was going to keep coming off and on, I had to find ways to lay out or string up all my scraps in the tent so they wouldn't mildew.

I am currently working on some ideas for another book. I am piecing together the proposal, the first few chapters. Quite often, I feel like I am am back in that tent, water logged, with scraps all around me. Unable to move without tripping over one or two or twelve scraps, everything always just this side of chaos.

Trying to turn all these scraps into something whole can be maddening. I have to force myself to sit in the chair. To slog through sentences. To just put ideas to paper, whether they make sense yet or not. To write those "shitty first drafts, bird by bird," as Anne Lamott would say.

Other days I just stare at the scraps, baffled. I read other writers. I clean out closets. I go slow. I mull, and chew, and turn the ideas over and over in my head. I watch British crime dramas.  I say formal prayers and have rambly conversations with my maker. I go to Target. I research Bee Keeping. I read the evening Psalm. I give my computer the evil eye. I daydream of a writing shed in the backyard, convinced that if I had one like Ann Voskamp's all of this would be so much easier.

Eventually, I come back. I  brave my self-doubt, and impatience, and I  dive in, dig deep and gather up a few of the scraps, doing my best to piece them together. Bit by bit. Bird by bird.

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