Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apartment Decor Updates

Unfortunately I have a sick kiddo this week.  Most days we are on the go, out and about town, visiting friends and playing together.  Not feeling well, my little guy has been content to just hang out, which leaves mama with no opportunity to trek outside (more about outdoor trekkin' soon...the weather with a little one has meant I need to explore in other ways!).  So in the little windows of time when I'm not taking care of my guy, I've been working on a couple of tasks at home.  I have a craft project that will be posted about once I am all done, so I'm excited to get that finished!

I also updated my kitchen chalkboard...long overdue.  When we first moved into our apartment, I had a long space that needed "something."  I took an old mirror we had, painted the mirror with chalkboard paint, sanded the frame down to look more distressed and hung it up next to the cabinets.  It fit perfectly!  My next thought was that I would write the new menu for each week on it.  Yeah...right.  I haven't exactly kept up on that, and our friends probably think that we eat the same meals week after week. 

I decided to write something besides the menu and opted for some of my favorite herbs and flavors instead.

I also added a touch of Spring and Easter to my dining room.  When I was at Target recently, I found some blue and tan eggs with nests (vase filler) which I used around the room.  I'm loving birds as well...

  It's good to keep creative when I can't get outside as much--it keeps me in a good place and loving life!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Creative Inspiration

I am in awe of people who can draw, especially since I can't begin to get past a basic stick figure.  It amazes me how artists are able to extract images from their minds and send them through their hands and fingers, the ideas spilling out on canvas for the rest of us to enjoy and learn.  There are so many avenues of creativity that inspire me to try something new, allow me to relax and take in the beauty, or challenge me to think differently.  Whether the creative juices flow through writing,

through painting,

through cooking,

Photo courtesy of Country Living

through decor,
Photo courtesy of Country Living
through clothing design,

Photo courtesy of Real Simple

through architecture,

Photo courtesy of Mary Anne Sullivan

through His creation in nature,

or the countless other ways we see creativity displayed, God has given each one of us unique talents to share with the world.  How are we doing with using our talents--our own special brand of creativity--and blessing others today?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bright Spot on a Cloudy Day

The great mounds of snow are melting...for the first time today I got to my car without climbing any snowdrifts!  I wish I had some pictures of myself climbing the drifts juggling my son, my bags, my keys, and any other "necessary" equipment for our outings.  Needless to say, no sexy stilettos have any place here!  The weather has done a 180 degree turn and now we are climbing up toward 60 degrees--in February.  The day has been a bit gloomy outside and I've been enjoying the opening of my latest collection of blooms.  I'm also motivated to get acquainted with my Casio to improve the pictures I'm taking, even if it is a little point-and-shoot camera!

I'm thinking today of how the beautiful colors and designs of the opening petals bring brightness to a scene, even if the rest of the backdrop is gloomy and wet.  It challenges me to live that way myself.  Even if my circumstances are less than perfect, can I choose to shine anyway?  I hope I can walk through much of life like that...brightening a situation with a heart attitude of peace and joy despite my circumstances.  After all, that is TRUE beauty, isn't it?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Game Plan

Have you ever had a really bad day?  A crappy day, one of those days when it seems that everything, from the small issues like breaking a dish to the more destructive mistakes like losing my cool with my son, is incredibly discouraging?  Of course you have.  Of course.  We all have.

I had one of those days this week.  I was caught up in phone troubles, frigid weather, street parking issues (any of you who live in heavily populated urban areas can feel my pain), and terrible tantrums ALL DAY LONG.  I got frustrated, especially because we've been having a lot of tantrum issues, and forgot to be gentle and kind and patient with others and with myself too.  I'm not proud of the person I was that day.  I thought things and said things that were not loving.  I am ashamed, thinking of the terrible disease, poverty, and tragedy some people live through, and here I was coming unraveled over these comparatively small issues.

So the next morning, I was determined to change my attitude, no matter what circumstances developed.  I prayed for a while and took out my "whisper journal."  I like to record God's promptings--or His whispers--to remember and review as needed!  I titled my entry "Game Plan for a Tough Day."  Here is my game plan, with some specifics added for my current struggles.  The specifics will change with the person and the day, but the game plan remains the same:

1.  Cry out to God, My Savior.  How can I be patient with hours of tantrums?  Help!  Help!  It makes me so anxious about the future, although I shouldn't be worrying about that now.
2.  Confess to God, My Forgiver.  I lost my temper and was impatient.  I thought angry thoughts and wasn't loving the way I have been commanded.  I also spent too much time escaping from how bad I felt about myself by watching TV and surfing the net instead of coming to God right away.
3.  Accept Forgiveness from God, my Healer and Restorer.  Thank you Jesus for forgiving me, so many times over again.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally.
4.  Remember to be truthful but gentle with myself.  It's not easy to forgive myself. While I don't want to deny my sin and weakness, I also need to encourage myself with thoughts of starting over again.  I have to remember it's a new day with a fresh beginning!
5.  Find Truths for today from God, my Truthteller.  I picked verses from Galatians 5 to steer my thoughts towards living out the Fruits of the Spirit.
6.  Return to the Truth when I start to stray.  I decided to keep a couple of strategically placed Bibles open to scripture throughout our home so I could read them at a glance.
7.  Find something fun to do todayInject some brightness into a gloomy pattern by intentionally seeking joy.  We went to a fun playgroup, and I changed some of my tasks to different times so I could give longer stretches of uninterrupted time to my son.  I also set aside time during his nap to craft.
8.  Keep your mind engaged in the present.  I don't want to let negative thoughts creep in and distract me from my game plan.
9.  Don't go to my "default weakness" if I get down.  My default weaknesses are too much TV and internet.  Others eat, shop, drink, etc.
10.  Pray.  A LOT.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lovin' fresh flowers

I absolutely love fresh flowers.  I don't care if it's cliche', it's true!  I'm decorating an apartment in an urban area and striving to create the ambiance of a true family home in a rental property,  so I try to add a lot of personal touches.  Since I love looking at flowers and savor the way they brighten even the smallest space, I've decided that I'm going to pick up a bouquet during my big weekly grocery shopping trips.  I often love the selection at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  This time I found some yellow, pink, and white flowers at Jewel Osco that feel "happy" to me.  I know it's close to Valentine's Day, so the proper colors for the season are pink and red with some white.  However, I'm doing my own thing this week!  Here are a few pictures on my dining room table in some glass jars I have collected at flea markets--and one glass container from Ikea.  I especially love the milk jug I found recently at a antique store!

Here is a small glass jar in my entry:

Lastly, there is a small bouquet in our library/office/craft space/sometimes air mattress-on-the-floor guest bedroom.

You can see  I indulged my occasional retro furniture crush for this chair.  I like that this room has a little different feel to it than the rest of our home.

What I love is that I am able to make all of those small arrangements from one bouquet and really spread the beauty throughout our home.  Well, maybe next week we'll do some seasonal colors.  They'll add some romance to the Surf -n- Turf dinner I'm making for my fantastic husband for our Valentine's Day dinner (after my 18 month old goes to bed for the evening!).

Stay safe trekking through the cold temperatures and mounds of snow!

Friday, February 4, 2011


I'm still trekking through my online class, Soul Restoration.  Love, love, LOVE it!!  Many kudos to Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins for sharing their creativity and expertise with so many people.  It's been a great experience to reflect on myself and gain new perspectives on both my history and my current place in life.

Today as I was journaling for class, my mind focused on heroines.  Who are the people I admire?  Who are the people that have inspired me and challenged me in some way over the years?  What characteristics about those people motivated me to think and act differently?  For some reason, I've never spent a lot of time chewing on this topic and since my son took a 3 hour nap today (woohoo!), I started listing those people.

I won't name all of them, but here are some women from all different periods and backgrounds who--for different reasons--inspire me and encourage me to be a little better:

1.  My aunt:  She worked so hard for many years without complaining and yet remained cheerful and constantly giving to others.  She listened to me as if I were the only person in the room and knew how to make people feel special.
2.  A friend and mentor, who shared her many years of wisdom with me.  After some terribly painful experiences in life, she kept pushing through the awful stuff to find God.  Once her children were grown, she went to graduate school, earned her doctorate, and found new avenues to help others and use her gifts.
3.  Mother Teresa, because she was unbelievably selfless and tireless in her efforts to serve others.  She started out with no resources but herself and her time, yet she gave what she had.  Her quiet example of service caught the world's attention, though she never wanted the spotlight for herself.
4.  Corrie ten Boom, because she lived through indescribable horror and pain in a Nazi prison camp, yet still chose forgiveness and love over bitterness and anger.  For many years after the war and her release, she devoted herself to sharing God's love with others all over the world.
5.  Sacagawea:  She was another tough chick!  A young woman trekking through the wilderness with a group of men, giving birth, hiking with a newborn, sharing her resourceful knowledge for survival, all in the untamed territory!   She puts the rest of us trekker--wannabe's to shame.
6.  Joni Eareckson Tada:  Given a disability that may seem hopeless to some, she has chosen to use that challenge as a vehicle to help others.  Though much of her body is paralyzed, her spirit is not!
7.  Sheila Walsh:  After suffering a personal and professional meltdown in a public way, she chose to be humble, search for God, hear some hard truths and put those to work in her life.  Now her gifts are being used in a powerful way to reach thousands of women with love and God's word.
8.  Kristin Armstrong:  She also experienced a public heartbreak when she and Lance were divorced.  She has found her voice with writing and running as well as speaking engagements. I have enjoyed reading her books and can appreciate her honest attempts to live with grace through parenthood and the adventures of daily life.
9. Rosa Parks:  Courage abounds here!  She bravely chose to stand her ground and do what was right in the face of an frightening and hate-filled atmosphere.
10.  Julia Child:  She took a cooking class at 36, and discovered a whole new passion.  Her unique character and love for cooking shone for decades after that first class.

I could go on...but I won't.  I feel so blessed when men and women share their gifts, their courage, and their example with others so that we can learn.  These women were truly trekkin' through some tough stuff but kept going anyway and they had the opportunity to see beauty rise from ashes.

Trek on, heroines everywhere!