Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Decade

Photo from
This weekend I stepped through the birthday gateway into my fifth decade of life.  That's right, the big 4-0.

I'm not the kind of person who anticipates a big party with lots of hoopla.  I tend to feel self-conscious and instead of enjoying a large celebration I squirm and fidget inwardly, eager to escape out of the spotlight.  When I was a child, my well-intentioned father always brought out the servers performing the big song and dance with everyone in the restaurant turning to watch.   Ugh!!  It was dreadful for someone like me.

I have made this very clear to my husband over the years so he honored my wishes and took me out for a date night to my favorite restaurant in Chicago, Frontera Grill,

with this famous chef at the helm.

Photo by Chicago Tribune
Unfortunately I  (once again) was not good with pictures so we didn't get any from the evening.  But I had a fabulous dinner with a Mango Mojito, jicama salad, shrimp taquitos, pork loin with mole and white corn cakes, and a tamarind-chocolate cake.  Divine.  Simply divine.  I suggested that we do this every weekend but somehow my husband did not see that as very realistic.  Oh well.

He also presented me with tickets to one of our absolute favorites--U2!

Photo from
I am so excited about the concert, but it will be a practice in delayed gratification as I have to wait until July.

Not surprisingly, as I enter a new decade I have been asked by a few people about the topic of being in my 40's.  Does it bother me?  Do I think about the number?

My honest answer is no!  I truly don't devote much time to thinking about the number of my age.  If I'm going to reflect, it's usually in the context of seeing where God has led me--the extreme ups and downs and everything in between.  I think about where I've come from, what I've learned, and what I'm still striving to do with the life I've been granted.  As I mature, I notice the inevitable life changes that come along with increasing years.  I can't easily bounce back into shape like I did 15+ years ago, I'm realizing that no amount of moisturizer is going to stop the crows feet from multiplying around my eyes when I smile, gray is creeping into my hair, people gently refer to me as an "older" new mom, and it is not likely that I will be having more children at this juncture of my life.  So...that's reality.  Here is more reality:  I have a relationship with God that never existed this way in years prior, I have a wonderful husband and an adorable son, I have an opportunity to spend extra time home with my son, I have supportive friends in my corner, I get to live right across the street from the beach and a great lakefront path which we use extensively, I go to a church I'm blessed to be part of, and I have the chance to continue my education and keep growing in so many ways.

I was thinking about what I might like to do in the next ten years...possibly...
  1. Finish my Masters degree
  2. Work on a second language
  3. Do more skiing
  4. Find a niche with serving
  5. Take a missions trip with my husband--and possibly my son
  6. Join a cooking club
  7. Run another marathon
  8. Grow in my own identity and build confidence in who God has created me to be
  9. Travel to more national parks
  10. Learn to sew
  11. Find more ways to reach out to others
  12. Plant a garden
Well, that--along with returning to work at some point--should occupy a fair amount of my time so perhaps I should save some thoughts for 50.

My biggest thought about being 40 is that I am GRATEFUL.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Trio of Projects

As my husband knows well, I cannot go very long without finding a new project to work on.  This past weekend I had to go to a location of the IL Secretary of State to renew my drivers license.  Unfortunately my notification got stalled at the bottom of a pile and I missed the time frame to do it online--darn. My Mr. graciously called and offered me the free ticket to stay out and enjoy myself for a while after I finished the lovely waiting line and beautiful new license picture.  When I told him I'd like to go to the fabric store, he was concerned that I was "running errands" and not doing something fun for me.  Ha!  Can you believe that? 

So...the first of my trio starts back with our January trip to Florida.

I guess sometimes I'm just a grown-up kid because I still love to collect shells.  After scrambling all over the beach while my dad entertained my son by the waves, I brought my goods home to IL.  I used them to make the wreath to remember my little guy's first big vacation/beach trip.  I bleached the shells, broken sand dollars, and other interesting beach pieces because...WOW!  What a smell.  Then they were stored for several months while I got sidetracked with other projects.  Recently I picked up a styrofoam disc for a couple of dollars and used a straight edge to cut out the middle for a wreath shape.  I used my hot glue gun to adhere the collection to the shape base and wrapped an old piece of linen fabric around the wreath to hang it up. 

  Earlier this month, I made the jute "vase" you see in the above photo.  I wanted something to pull in the color of our couches on that wall, but also maintain a vintage beach cottage style as well.  So I started with the orange juice container we had just finished, some jute rope, Mod Podge, a foam brush, hot glue sticks and the glue gun, and a straight edge.  

I started wrapping the jute around the base of the container, using Mod Podge and a foam brush.

As the shape of the container began to change, I switched to the hot glue gun since I needed the extra hold around those tricky curves.  I continued wrapping and gluing all the way to the top.

I also changed my dining room board from the farmhouse toile below

to a more clean, simple background.  I removed the stapes and fabric from the canvas and stretched out the new white fabric across the frame.  When the new fabric was stapled to the canvas frame, I pressed in upholstery tacks to the canvas around the border.  I changed out some of the decor for summer as well.

I find myself shifting with the seasons and craving new colors as each season rolls around.  However, I want to be careful not to be too caught up in the acquisition of stuff just to satisfy my desire for new eye candy at home.  In order to be wise with what we've been given, I do a lot of recycling with old materials and items.  I like to shift the decor around from room to room, rearrange vignettes, purchase a new piece of fabric on sale for a few dollars, use my craft supplies to make something new, or hit up a flea market or thrift shop with a bargain or two to bring home.  I'm striving to be more careful about purchases in general, and to donate items we will not be using any longer.

I'm a woman who loves color, style, and design.  I'm not proud of this, but it can be particularly hard for me to exercise restraint with both clothes and home decor.  This past year the word "discipline" has popped up for me quite frequently so I've been challenged in this area.  I don't believe that means I should never buy anything or never spend any time working on my home, but I am learning to live more creatively and carefully with the blessings God has provided for us.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Proverbs 31:27