Monday, February 29, 2016

The Studio Part 2

We began the Studio makeover on Friday. Today is Monday. It ended up not being nearly as bad as I had thought it might be. It did however cause my body to majorly rebel Sunday, which meant virtually the whole day in bed. :(  Thankfully my family stepped it up, and we were still able to get it done in a fairly decent amount of time. I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor sorting through things. :) We even managed to get the closet cleaned & organized. 

I'm proud to say I DID manage to get it done for just the cost of a can of wall paint!!! That was totally in keeping with both my budget and my historically cheap ways! I always up-cycle, paint, move, shift, and re-purpose if possible. Here's a little tip - take your old shoe boxes (when they are brand new), cover in scrapbook paper, and you have picture & sticker storage boxes that will match any room!

As we moved things into our hallway, so we could paint the walls & ceiling, we also began sorting, tossing, and downsizing. 2 boxes of stuff to giveaway, 2 bags of trash, and ton's of stuff that didn't need to be in there anyway. There is still a bunch of stuff in the hallway that needs to find it's new home, but I can do that a little at a time. 

The teen chose the palest blue for a wall color, which I thought was great! Every color will end up looking truer to its shade, it's light and fresh, and it covered my fave peachy color really well. We just need some sheers and the teen needs to get busy getting some art onto the walls!! I also ended up raiding my office, and moving and switching some items around a bit. It created some extra usable space in my office, but also means I have to go back and do a bit of re-arranging down there. 

From the doorway looking in. We ended up throwing a coat of white paint onto the floor to help brighten the space even more. In front of the window is my antique walking-wheel. Used to spin wool, you would turn the large wheel while drawing the wool away from the spindle (hiding behind the dress form). It takes up a ton of space! It has been repaired a number of times before it came to live with me, and is missing some things, like the original leather guide strip. It does still work though, and I have spun yards of wool on it. Takes forever!

The old buffet makes a great display surface. Plus, tons of storage inside for things you want to be able to find easily, but aren't as pretty to look at. A wire shelf from the dollar store years ago houses my fave stamps, markers, and all my stamp pads. I can just turn around an grab what I need. The 2 bright pink storage ottoman's originally lived under the window as a window seat. They were moved to make room for the walking wheel. Wall shelves above hold my calligraphy pens, and have some space for more art!

This table is a vintage enamel top with 2 drawers. I gave it a new lease on life last year with a coat of bright yellow spray paint, and we moved it onto our porch as a summer table. I HAD to move it back into this space though. We actually like the weathered look it's sporting. If you can grab an enamel top for your own space I strongly encourage you to do so!! First, the top is practically indestructible. Second, you can get everything off of it - paint, grape juice, whatever. Third, in your kitchen you can just put your hot items right down, AND it stays cool for making pie crusts!! Love them! (I have another one with a red rim and robin egg blue base in my kitchen currently, hence this one's new placement.)

A shelf and sewing area house the rest of our stamps, art papers, books, and misc 'stuff''. The sewing machine is my grandmother's and needs some TLC before it can be used again. I opted not to bring any of my treadle machines up into this space for now. When the teen leaves and takes some of her art supplies with her, I will most likely move at least one of them back into this space. For now, they will live in the spare bedroom (probably) where all my vintage clothing lives. 

The other thing that is really great about this space? It's new color palette means that we have some really great lighting and room for some much better photo opp's for the kids portfolio. So excited to see what she is able to stage and set up. All these pictures were taking on my phone, during the morning. I can't wait to see how it looks this afternoon, when the sun is setting through the window! Downside, until we can get some sheers up, there will be some minor sun damage to any art she does put up. I don't think I had realized just how strong it comes through even in the winter!

We also have space now to host our Girl's Night's for bible journaling, planning, and more. The table can comfortably seat more than just the 2 of us, and everything we need is right there so no hauling stuff down to the dining room. :) 

It was a bit funny, that as we were going through every single box, shelf, tote, and storage space, we kept finding things we knew we had, but forgot about. It's been a long time since this room got used to it's fullest potential. I kind of just want to go sit in the space and create something now! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mom Guilt

Did you know this is a real thing? If you are a mom, you of course said ‘yes’. If you are a dad, you smartly chose to ask the mother of your children if this was a real thing. If you are neither, you have no idea what I am talking about, so I warn you to read at your own risk.

I was chatting with a friend the other day. We both have teenagers nowadays. We were reminiscing about the ‘early years’ of being mom’s. She had a few extra kids on me – I just have the one. Yet, we both remember clearly the first time we turned on the television for our adorable little ones, just so we could take a shower by ourselves!

Ahhh, the ‘early years’ of wishing your children would just stop touching you. Trying to remember what going to the bathroom all by yourself was like. Dreaming of being able to sit down and read one whole page in a book YOU wanted to read. The day you woke up and realized that you might just have a nervous breakdown if you heard the Wiggles theme song one more blasted time.

Of course, you also didn’t tell one single soul that this is what motherhood looked like! You didn’t share your frustration with even your best friends. What would they think? After all, these beautiful little people where what you had hoped for, prayed for, wanted to have on purpose!

So, you lived with what I have deemed ‘Mom Guilt’. Guilt about the television, guilt about locking the bathroom door just to pee, guilt over the stupid lollipop you gave in and bought to stop the tantrum that was going to happen in the middle of the grocery store.

My personal favorite moment, was when the words ‘Because I said so’ came out of my mouth and I realized I honestly did not care one little bit about the ‘teachable moment’. I wanted obedience – and I wanted it right now!

I also had this silly notion, that I was somehow also responsible for ensuring that every Sue, Jane, and Martha (Tom, Dick & Harry never would have noticed…. even when the women told them!) were impressed with the job I was doing as a mom, housewife, business owner, etc… So I was super mom, Martha Stewart, Carol Duvall, and wonder woman all at the same time. And I never told a soul how nuts it made me.

Until now of course.

As we continued to chat, my friend and I realized that as mom’s, we need to start cutting each other some slack! New mom’s need to know that we ALL wanted to go potty by ourselves! (Yes, you will call it the ‘potty’ once you’ve had to train a little one and it will take years to remember it’s actually called a bathroom, and by the time you remember, you don’t even care what it’s called.) We all wanted to throw something through the television at some stupid toddler cartoon our children just adored, simply because that one song just never stopped playing.

Yes, we all wanted to run away from home, the laundry was never done (let alone folded, and never put away – there really was no point) we ate lots of hot dogs (vegetables were reserved for the dinner time fight), bribed our children with pudding, stopped caring if they were cutting the dogs hair (which was made possible by the stupid safety scissors that weren’t supposed to cut), we wrote with crayons (the only writing utensil we could ever seem to find), we stepped around the toys that we were sure we just said needed to be picked up, argued with our husbands over whose turn it was to read the bedtime story (how many times in one day can you read the same story), and spent a ton of time feeling as though we had just entered an alternate world. And no, we never told anyone, because we too were afraid that others would judge us.

I was so excited the day my one-year old began walking! We celebrated, encouraged, got excited, cheered....and then realized that this walking thing led to running, which meant she could get away from me faster! What we were thinking???? And the whole idea of teaching them words? That was just dumb. Once they learn to talk, they can talk! Did you know that once children learn stuff, they tell you stuff...and they don't stop telling you stuff until they become teenager's, which is when you WANT to know stuff? No one thought to warn me or prepare me for these things. 

Here’s what I can tell you many years later…. I now get to go to the bathroom by myself!! I no longer have to bribe anyone, I get eye rolls instead of tantrums, less laundry (although still never folded or put away), and I can sit down without having to watch any toddler television!!! We can even watch programs with a rating higher than "G"!! Life gets so exciting in the later years of momdom!

So, to every young, new(er), overwhelmed mommy - cut yourself some slack! Right now you can't imagine the idea of missing these days. You can't even imagine surviving these days! First of all, no one wants to be Martha Stewart anymore anyway, so there is an unrealistic pressure you can get rid of right now. Secondly, none of us has ever caught up on the dishes or the laundry - still! Even if we do, a glass or a spoon or a towel always seems to appear out of thin air. (Actually, they appear out from under things where they were hiding all along just to torment you!) Third, little people do grow up eventually, and you DO begin to wonder why you thought that would be better. Fourth, eventually, as I am now doing, they begin to prepare to LEAVE your home! Even if you are ready for it, it is a little bit sad because it means a new season of life you forget was coming. 

And lets stop putting so much pressure on each other to have it all together shall we?

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Studio

It was inevitable! I knew as soon as I sat down to 'tidy up' my craft studio it was all over. It must be re-done!!!

Over the past few years, one of my spare rooms has been used as a guest room, an office, a craft room, a school room, an office/craft space, etc... Primarily though, it has been the 'studio'. Called this because much of what happens there is beyond simple crafting.

My everything creative lives in this space. About three years ago it was the first room to undergo my living colorfully season. 

Now however, it needs to be a functional studio space for my art major daughter, my year of creativity, and my own sanity.

I find that I connect best with God in the midst of creative pursuits. Whether this is landscaping and gardening, or redecorating, or stamping, or sewing, or now bible journaling, I just seem to find Him there.

To re-do this space however, I must also be willing to part with even MORE of my carefully collected craft stash! Over the years I have managed to pare down my fabric, stamp sets, tools, baskets, etc... Now it is time to once again sort, re-home, up-cycle or gasp....toss! It is a little bit scary for me as I have been getting rid of 'stuff' for the last few years and BOXES of items have left this room!!

I have two, yes TWO treadle sewing machines that I can't bear to part with. Time to clean them, refurbish them, and I guess also get rid of one....larger gasp!

The walls need patching and painting, the floor needs painting. We definitely need more shelves, and storage... And I need to do it the way I always do all my home decorating projects - for barely any dollars! 

This project needs to be done as quickly as possible, and most assuredly before my child graduates high school, which is just a mere year and a half away! This means working at a productive pace, so that I can once again enter the room for all my craft and art needs. 

I then made the mistake of asking the teenager for her views. This normally super creative person has drawn a blank, and what is not blank is far more colorful than any version of life I can support! The room should inspire creativity and be a space that we can work in, not necessarily a piece of mixed media art! 

There will be NO before pics, as we have also been using the space for storage of items that need to find new homes. It is a mess in there right now. Not even a neat, tidy, organized craft room kind of a is a disorganized, makes me tired, I don't wanna, kind of mess. 

I will however provide after pictures only because if it goes the way I really hope it will, I will adore it. This means I will want to do my happy dance and share it with the world! :)

Wish me luck, and if you don't hear from me within the next four weeks, I either am still working (and will be grumpy) OR I finished it and do not want to come out! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Overwhelmed - In A God Way

I wasn't planning on writing again this week. Ordinarily I "save" up a week's worth of thoughts, prayers, lessons, whatever, and then sit down to write.

God however, decided that I needed to be sitting here again. Writing again. The "why" I'm not clear on, but the heart and the who and the need I am very clear on. 

If you read earlier this week, I wrote about my word for 2016 - Creative. I wrote about my revelation turned realization. I knew that I was expecting an amazing week of creative pursuits. I knew that I had a new Bible journaling devotional coming from Illustrated Faith called "Created to Create". I knew that I would be taking my daughter to pick out some high quality art supplies for her educational and career goals. 

Yesterday, my box came from DaySpring, Illustrated Faith's new partner. It got here just before we left for our shopping trip, so OF COURSE, I had to open it right away and do my 'happy dance'. Yes, I truly and for real have a happy dance I do over things like this. My family just laughs as a hop around - but it's all due to my joy over small things. 

It is amazing!! I'm so excited to get started. First though, off to my daughter's day. I finally arrive home last evening, get everything settled, chat with my hubs, and can actually sit down to 'play' with my new journaling supplies. I'm so ready, especially since the box came a day earlier than expected, and I had held off doing anything the day before. 

Since I am a reader, and a planner, and always look ahead, I read the whole devotional. Just 12 days worth, but still. And as I read, I'm struck - well, overwhelmed really - at how Shanna has addressed some of the EXACT things I had summarized in my post on Monday! My stick-man Jonah is even in there!!

So, I instead go to highlight and read the verses included so that I can work on them and reflect throughout the next few weeks. And again, overwhelmed to discover that they ALL correlate to some of the very topics not only in my blog post, but the very topics God and I have been chatting about for a bit now. She even has a line in there that is an exact quote I used during the day!

Out comes my new "Ideas & Inspiration" journal, which I had not intended to actually journal in...and I wrote over 3 pages filled with all that God was speaking to me about. Joy and peace washed over me as more and more spilled out. How God is so faithful to confirm His plans, words, promises, whispers. 

Well, I decided that I needed to get busy on the journaling I had been putting off while waiting for my box of goodies. So I begin and realize that I had highlighted much more than just one verse. I had highlighted a whole paragraph....and hadn't really read it through or allowed it to sink in. Boy howdy did God know what He was doing the other night when I began. MORE CONFIRMATION!!! As I sat and meditated, back to my journaling again, with another 2 pages of thoughts, praise, wonder, and awe.

This morning God spoke to me. He gave me the plan instead of me making the plan. He is working here, and He is asking me to be faithful also. Today a new journey begins for me. Today months of God's prompting, whispering, waiting, patience, growth, and so much more is put into place. Today is a new day filled with the hope and promise that 'He who began a good work in ME, will see it through until the end".

Let me encourage you to also begin today - begin journaling, begin living creatively, begin letting go of all that hinders you - let go of all that is holding you back. Discover who God made you to be. Embrace the gifts He has given you. Time is too short to waste your days living in fear of what other's may think, or to compare yourself to what other's are capable of. Instead, live out your dreams, discover what's in your hand, embrace color, and fun, and laughter, and love and joy!!

PS - Thank you Shanna Noel for following God's call to you! Thank you for speaking your heart and all He laid on it!

Monday, February 8, 2016


My word for 2016 is CREATIVE. Not just merely 'create', but creative. Webster's defines each, in the simplest terms, as follows:

Cre-a-tive \ adjective
1) having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas;
2) using the ability to make or think of new things : involving the process by which new ideas, stories, etc., are created;

Cre-a-te \ verb
1) to make or product (something) : to cause (something new) to exist
2) to produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination

(FYI - did you know that 'creativity' is defined as a noun? I didn't either!!)

So to 'create' is the process, or action...the DOING of the thing. Creative however is descriptive of the object....the BEING of the thing. I AM creative, therefore I create. Now that I'm done with the Language Arts portion of this post, onto the meat of it!

I chose this word because as I have aged, (ahem, I mean matured) I truly discovered who I was created to be, what fills my soul with joy, how I connect with God and other's best, and who I WANT to be when I 'grow up'.

I have always been creative. I can do almost all of the trendy, crafty things. Some so much better than others! I also always held myself in check by that rigid box of 'must do it perfectly'. Rigidity does not supply the necessary oxygen for the creative person. Expression and feeling are the source of true creative potential.

This year I decided enough was enough. I got rid of my Franklin Planner (best planner ever, seriously!) and traded it for a more creative solution, The Happy Planner. Even the name is amazing!! It has been a freeing experience, as they just divide each day into 3 sections, with tons of room to write, doodle, journal, whatever. Inspirational sayings, colorful, useful, and so much fun! My collection of colored pens grew, so now I can plan in color!

I started Bible Journaling. This was my biggest struggle. Those people COLOR in their Bibles! They even add stickers and paint! I tried it anyway, in a Bible made for just creative people. I discovered a richness in God's Word I had never seen before. The verses have been settling in my soul much deeper, and with a fresh perspective. My study Bible remains just that, but my journaling Bible - I may go through it faster than I thought and I may end up with a journaling Bible collection!

I redid my office in muted vintage tones, even though sunny yellow is still my favorite color. (Here's another FYI - there is NO lovely shade of vintage yellow! And no, butter cream is NOT a lovely shade of yellow for walls or furniture! Go with cream or vanilla or ivory.) The more relaxing, 'me' kind of space invites calm, serenity, thoughtfulness, and makes me happy to 'go' to work. I feel inspired, creative, joyful and motivated in this space.

Three weeks into this creative adventure and my rigid self came out. I started wishing I was as capable as others. Then, out of the blue (not really, it was more a series of events) I had a revelation: I just enjoyed being creative, and I really do not care what anyone else thinks of my talent. I don't have to be 'good' at it in my own eyes. There are those that wish they could see the potential in an old writing desk; or envision a chair without its arms, re-upholstered; or accidentally paint their walls so they look like old leather.

On goes the list of my creative pursuits that happened to work out well in the eyes of others. Even when I was disappointed in my ability or in how they turned out. (My walls were not supposed to look like leather. I was sponge painting, which was all the rage at the time, and I was very disappointed that they didn't turn out 'right'. Many years later, the walls are still the same, simply because everyone that looks at them thinks they are amazing. Happy accident right there despite my own opinion of it. I do like them now so I guess it worked out okay in the end.)

The revelation didn't stop there though. It continued on through other area's in my world, where I had been creative, or compelled to create something, and then stopped myself for fear of how other's would see it. Instead of living in the joy of the creative process, I stopped it to be practical. The best lie I ever told myself - be realistic.

I am sure you have heard that lie yourself, at least once before. If you haven't it sounds something like this: "What are you doing? You can't do that, you have no talent! You were a business major, what makes you think you should be hand-lettering in watercolor? No one else will think you are any good at that! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - behold, what you did does NOT look like beauty!" It goes on and on.

As I thought and prayed, I realized there was still more to what was now becoming a realization. When I denied my creative side, due to my own insecurities, I was also denying a very real part of who I truly am. Part of who I was created to be. I was diminishing the very real joy and peace that came from merely doing things that are part of who I am. They provide me with an outlet, a connection to God, a way of seeing beauty in things.

So what if my watercolor lettering looks like I have never done it before? I did not even try until one week ago! Who cares if the big fish that swallowed Jonah did not end up looking like a whale or even a very big fish, and Jonah had to be a stick figure? I already know I can NOT draw people or fish....I'm REALLY good at drawing tree's. No, I am not James Patterson, but I did write a pretty great short story that I even sent to someone for editing...and then chickened out letting anyone else read.

I realized that I was denying a very real, true part of my DNA. To deny this area of myself was to say that it was not important enough to live out. It was if I was telling God, the one who created me and gave me the ability to be creative, that He really did not know what He was doing...He made a mistake. How could I be both rigid and creative at the same time? Was He just trying to confuse me?

The answer of course was no. He gave me the ability to be creative, which has led to some of the most meaningful things I have done in my life. I can look at things and see the long range beauty in them, whether a desk, or a person, or a ministry. He have me an entrepreneurs heart and vision. I can start, fix, mend, encourage, re-purpose, paint, decorate, and move things around until they too are beautiful and functional and meaningful to other's.

Entrepreneurs are creatives who also are type-A's. I'm going to be creative and use my 'A' to stand for ABILITY - the ability to create something any good 'creative' person would do. I shall paint the antique desk, color in my Bible, decorate my home, and plan colorfully!!!

(English Major's take heart - I wrote this much more 'creatively' than I usually do....on purpose!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


When you are a first-born, only female, raised by TWO first-born parent' become a Type-A, perfectionist, who believes that House Beautiful & Ms. Stewart ARE the goals in life!

Straight A's, Master & Doctoral degrees, overachiever with tons of ribbons and trophies, and a HUGE insecurity that you STILL could do it better!! You probably also own a least one book on every subject imaginable, and you could loan out self-help books by the box and still have some left over.

The struggle is real my friends! It spills into everything - marriage, parenting, work, our faith. The verse: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might", is a life verse that we memorized when we were 2 years old. We quote it, live it, and have it highlighted in all 10 translations of the Bible that we own. (Why would you only own one version or translation? You might miss something!)

We do not believe in rest, creativity, mistakes, or failure. We will always get it right, or kill ourselves trying. God help the person in our world who doesn't not GET this is a reality and dares to squeeze the toothpaste tube from the wrong end, or folds the towels the wrong way (even though after five years of you patiently showing them very single time they are washed!), or forget that garbage night was moved because of a holiday and now you have to set bags of trash next to the cans because there is no room!! What will the neighbors think!?!?

For 2016, I picked the word 'creative' as my life word. I also discovered some truth's about myself that are very uncomfortable. I ADORE the creative process! I also HATE the results of virtually every creative thing I do! I want it to look exactly like the picture in my head, and yet somehow, my hands can not re-create it. The need to get it right, or do it PERFECTLY, messes with my head and my heart!

Let me share an example: I discovered Bible Journaling. It is beautiful, creative, and so much less type-A than I am. I watched picture after picture pop in my feed, all done by my very creative friends and acquaintances. I studied, thought, watched, and finally decided I wanted to do it too! Then the dread struck! My handwriting wasn't as pretty. I can't draw anything but tree's and vines, really. I don't 'do' messy art, it has to be lined up, all neat and tidy. I didn't think my 'notes' lined up with the beauty I was seeing.

Worse yet....I realized I was becoming very envious of my friends who had the magical gift of hand-lettering. So began the descent into not living up to the ideal. Perfectionism was taking over my experience. I fought it valiantly at first! I practiced, pondered, thought, and then practiced some more. I doodled, watched more video's, and lost the joy I had begun with!

I told a friend about this journaling thing I was doing, and she wanted to see pictures. Since I trust her, I willingly shared. She kept going on about how amazing everything I had done was, while I sat there embarrassed because my doodles didn't even come close to the amazing ones I had seen. She thought they were all amazing. Sigh....

As I struggled with this, I realized that something I read early on in my research was a BIG truth - this isn't about perfect. It's about the meaning. It's about the expression. My uber-creative daughter reminded me, after a chat with some of her friends, that art is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I will never live up to my own expectations of myself. The bar will always be set too high, too far, too extreme. I thought I had conquered this a few years ago, but realized it will be a life-long battle.

I had a second example of this, after I finished up a project that came to me in the middle of the night. I liked what I had done, carefully 'staged' everything for the photo, and still saw flaws in it all. After posting online for God and everybody to see, other people responded with amazingly positive statements. I realized that once again, I was judging myself by my own impossible, perfectionism.

My goal for the remainder of 2016, is to remind myself everyday, that creativity is a gift from God. I may not be great at hand-lettering, or staging the 'perfect picture' for everyone to see. I CAN be creative though, and find beauty and meaning in my world. I can release the need for perfect and relax into the contentment and joy of a moment or a meaningful experience. I can embrace the truth that I don't have to excel at everything....and remember that there are other's that wish they could possess some of my talents.

We all have different strengths, gifts, abilities. We should embrace what we CAN do, and not worry so much about what we can't. We should be as willing to treat ourselves with kindness, as we treat others. We should always remember that someone else may be envious of OUR strengths...the ones we think we still haven't mastered.

Here's to 2016 and CREATIVITY!!!

Stuffed Mushrooms

'Tis the season for baking, cooking, roasts, etc… The cold weather always leads me into my kitchen, with a need to create hot, warm, fi...