Thursday, May 21, 2015

.:Days and moments:.

My precious August Hope turned 4 last week. It still seems a little impossible to me that my little girl is four, but it's true. We had a special family party for her and the celebration was sweet.
She is one of my sweetest blessings. I could go on and on about her kind spirit, gentleness, the way she lavishes love and affection on me and her servants spirit. My middle girl is a gift. I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving her to me. When we asked her what kind of birthday she wanted her response was : "pink". No characters or details, just pink. So, pink it was! I whipped up a quick table cloth, make raspberry cream cheese frosted cupcakes and pink candies. Easy. Her only real request was to have birthday cake Oreo's at her party. :)

Her big birthday gift was her FIRST bike! She has spent the last few days trying it out, cleaning it, etc. But her favorite thing right now is pretending she's fixing it up. I gave her a few random tools and she spends so much time on the deck "working on it". It's adorable.

Oh sweet girl. I am so thankful for you and I love each and every moment we have together.
But, now can we freeze time?! The days are long but the years are so short. As with every birthday, I found myself stealing away now and again with teary eyes. Kissing her goodnight was emotional and while I truly rejoice that my children are healthy and growing... something hurts my heart as they get older and grow up.

Happy birthday August!

Speaking of growing up. I'm really preparing my heart for what comes next...
My (last) baby turns one next month.
 I can't even...
I waited my whole life to be a wife and mommy, and now I have these sad feelings about the fact that my baby days are wrapping up. Now, I know Miss Jane is still a baby and will be for awhile. But it seems like these days and moments are just flying by and it's more then my heart can bear. What will I do with my life once there is no longer a baby in the house? {sigh} I suppose many momma's go through such emotions.

Today Jane tried for the first time to hold her own bottle. I kinda wanted to stop her - but, that's our ultimate job, right? Training them to grow up. So I just locked eyes with her and we chatted during bottle time. She's such a perky little girl. I love her. How on earth am I so blessed three times over?!

We are gearing up for summer here and our first born finishes kindergarten on Tuesday. I'm praying and asking the Lord to give us a phenomenal summer together - really hoping the planning pays off! I would love your input on how you transitioned your school aged (in school) kids to a summer routine. I need some connection time with my first born and I think a summer together is just the ticket.

Life goes on around here. Our busy season of student ministry and life eases into a little more relaxed summer schedule. Time. We'll have more time to pour in and more time to slow down and just be. There are trips and plans mixed in - but I'm working hard at making sure we enjoy the days.
Yesterday I noticed this Cardinal nest in my front yard bush. THREE baby cardinals are coming!
It's little things like this that lately just cause my heart to soar. The Lord has put so much beauty around us and I just want to drink it up!

Tonight I was able to do just that - drink it in. The girls were in bed, the sun was setting and the deck was calling my name. Is there anything better then a warm spring night on the deck with a cup of coffee? I submit there is not. Listening to the birds get their families settled, watching the setting sun, and the general buzz of our neighborhood was so soothing to my melancholy heart. Sometimes I just crave those quiet moments whispering prayers and being thankful. It's good for the soul.

Days and moments, friends. That's what we have. Enjoy yours.
Blessings until next time. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Big Sky Wanted

I'm so thankful to live in Iowa. It's been mentioned before but I'll say it again - God was so kind to bring us here {almost} 6 years ago. The seasons change, there's enough city vs. country, and I am content as could be. We live just outside of the Des Moines metro in a small suburban township - all my neighbors are either retired or my parents age. It's quiet. Lawns are kept, back yard gardens are tended, and people keep to themselves but actually do care about their neighbors. It's not uncommon for me to see one neighbor getting another neighbors mail, or pulling their trash bins back to the house. Right at this minute I'm watching two neighbor men have a conversation... in MY front yard. And it's normal. Come winter it's normal to see people shoveling driveways not their own. We've been the recipient of that several times!

All this to say I genuinely feel content, I'm not the personality to see places in books and magazines and think "man, I have GOT to go there." Until... this weekend. And now that I've seen the pictures and they've seared into my brain, I can't get the Big Sky out of my mind. I blame this book: "Big Sky Cooking" by Meredith Brokaw.
I had an hour to myself this weekend so I took a whirl through our library. Without fail I end up in the cookbook aisle and feel overwhelmed and yet weirdly excited at all of the options! The title caught my eye and one glance inside won me over.

Montana. This cabin. The rocking chairs. The plains behind it! That old rickety fence. Isn't that beautiful?
I could picture myself, coffee in hand, early in the morning watching the wild animals run through the hillside. It's fun to dream isn't it?

And then there was this picture. I'm not a cowgirl, though I do enjoy a horseback ride. But look at those mountains! Easily, I could become a cowgirl if it included strolls through these meadows with those mountains in the back drop.

I think I have Big Sky fever. 
The recipes in here are even better. It covers everything from simple recipes like Jalapeno Corn bread and pork tenderloin to the natives of that land, Chokecherry Jelly and Elk Pepper Steaks. I could go for some Elk!

I'm really looking forward to reading every single page. Aside from beautiful pictures and yummy recipes this cookbook also has personal reflections of the people living there, and the sweet story of how Tom and Meredith Brokaw made their way to Montana to live. You might recognize the name Tom Brokaw from the evening news.

Big Sky.
Ah, it just sounds wonderful doesn't it?

I'm also going to recommend two more cookbooks I found while at the library. Think Big Sky, but move south to Oklahoma for the first one. Yep, Miss Ree. :)

This isn't a new one by any means but I haven't read it yet. Sure enough it's full of great ideas and delicious recipes. And of course... amazing pictures of their cattle ranch under the Oklahoma sky. It is not helping with my Big Sky fever ;)

And the last one for today - she writes from under a sky obviously... only, not one I'm particularly fond of. Jessica Seinfeld's second cookbook is just as creative and cute as her first. There are a ton of good ideas for yummy ways to make healthy foods! This NYC momma has great quick ideas!

So there you have it. My weekend reading pile.
What are you dreaming about today? And, if you've ever been to Montana or Oklahoma - what did you love the most? Big Sky wanted!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

More fun with plates

It's the end of a busy Thursday and my eyes are tired. Maybe it's the weird spring weather or our current level of crazy or something else totally unrelated... but, I'm tired. I wake up tired, feel tired during the day, and fall asleep tired. Repeat. Needless to say, I'm ready for a nice weekend - and what a coincidence that it's Mothers Day weekend!

Many of you were able to see my dining room redo post a few days back. I had such a great time gathering things to make that room a little more lovely. I still have one empty wall but until something comes to mind that I can really commit to - I'm leaving it alone. In the meantime, I've been having a little more fun with plates. Tonight I'll share a quick little project I threw together for our high school banquet last weekend.

.:DIY mini-cake stands:.

First up, do some shopping. I found all of my plates in one rushed trip to Goodwill, all scattered throughout the dish section. I wanted a little variety and it worked out.

Then swing into your local Dollar Tree or even that same Goodwill store. I can always find these candle holders at The Dollar Tree. Consistently. Once you get everything home - give it all a good wash. I didn't run things through the dishwasher this time (no time!), but normally I would. In my opinion it helps glue and paint stick better when all the dust and whatnot is cleaned off.

Then, you'll want to notice your leetle baby who is always by your side trying to grab anything she can get her grubby hands on supporting you. I LOVE this little munchie crunchie faced baby. Love!

Once you've paused to smooch her baby cheeks 49,847 times... get back to work.

Glue the candle holders to the backs of the plates, flip upside down and let dry. I used hot glue this time which DID NOT hold well. Normally I would use Gorilla Glue or something glass specific. But, I was short on time and the hot glue worked for exactly the amount of time I needed it to - 1 night. :)

I suppose the ok-ness of the hot glue is that I can just peel it off and start fresh with something else.
Once the glue has dried its time to take those puppies to the garage and do some spray painting!

I chose to use a chalkboard spray paint because it's what I had on hand. It ended up being a great choice and the matte finish was perfect! This is the brand I used - very happy with it. {and make sure to get one of those spray things - unless you enjoy stained hands for days...}

The painting can be tedious as you have to wait until one side is dry to do the other, etc. I'd say this step took me about an hour or so with the waiting times in between coats. It was super warm this day so it helped to dry faster.

Once they are dry - voila! DIY mini-cake stands. I love the different patterns and how they turned out. The matte paint looked awesome.
This was an inexpensive and easy way to glam up a high school end of the year banquet. :) You could really do any color combination and use any kind of plates or candle holders. Endless options!

I topped them with white pillar candles and they made lovely little centerpieces. Of course I didn't get any pictures of the actual event or the tables... but snagged this shot from hubby's phone.
You can get the idea. :) Congrats class of 2015!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dining room re-do!

Drum roll please. No, I'm kidding. It's not that exciting... but I am thrilled to FINALLY be 99% done with our dining room redo. This post has the potential to be a picture overload - so if you are up for it, join me. :)

When we moved to 1st street in October 2013 it was such a blessing to be in a home that for the most part was move-in ready. The previous owners did a great job with paint color choices and stayed with neutrals. Although there weren't many updates - it was at least done, no unfinished anythings. Even our basement has a half completely finished side, which I am so thankful for! But, the paint for some reason which I do not understand - is all flat. At first it was fine, but now that we've been in here going on 2 years this fall... the flat paint has absorbed nine trillion fingerprints and started looking gross. I repainted the kitchen a few months back and now it was the dining rooms turn.

I can't find a great before picture to share. But, just imagine fingerprints on flat painted walls and random whatevers hanging up just to make the room feel like home. :)

This little girl is my right hand man. She loves, loves, loves helping me with my projects and I think that for a 3 year old she does a pretty great job! It's important to me to try and include my girls in our household processes. They get opportunities to learn life skills and it keeps hands busy. August helped me out for a solid 40 minutes before deciding playing with her dolls would be more exciting.

See the difference here. I chose a few shades darker because 1) it hides more 2) the light gray seemed a little too light/white for us. The room took me an entire afternoon to finish painting. I think I ended up doing just two coats - thanks to Behr paint. It's the only kind I use and it covers anything! The color was called Anonymous. Oooh how mysterious.

Finally, finally, after barricading a baby and really getting into it - I got it all painted. Some decor is up, the hutch is moved in! If you missed the story on the midcentury piece you can read that here.

I made these earlier in the year with some salvation army frames, burlap and antique silverware. Super easy, fairly inexpensive and just what I wanted but couldn't find in stores!
There's just have one more wall that I cannot decide on.
The room is small so I don't want to fill up the walls too much and make it seem smaller. But, I also don't want to leave a big ol' blank wall. I have two white shutters that I'm considering hanging up with some kind of wreath. I dunno. For now it's just the pretty dark gray paint. :) I also need to make some curtains - for the window AND our deck doors. But, that's another day.

My favorite part of the room right now is the mini-plate wall. Eventually, over time, I'll keep adding the small plates - a new collection I suppose. Here's what I did for that.

First, recruit your cute and extra helpful middle child. Have her lay out the pop tabs. I used those for hangers on the plates. Hot glue + tabs = cheap hardware!

As far as plates go. You could really use whatever your taste is. I have been collecting them from Goodwill, Salvation army, homegoods, etc. Any time I see an inexpensive little white-ish plate I snag it. I'm also including one from my grandma's china :) Wash the plates and dry them well so the glue sticks better. 

Check the backs of your plates. Some of them are made in really cool places. :)
You can look up these companies online, it's actually really neat.

Once you glue the tabs on, let it dry a few minutes. Then go nuts! I chose a circular layout for now - but will add to it over time and probably just go abstract in the shaping. LOVE how it turned out.

And that's a wrap for now! New paint, new furniture piece, new decoration.  I'm thankful for this home the Lord has given us and the opportunity to create beauty within our walls. Here's to a summer of hospitality and many nights as a family around our well loved table. :)

Blessings friends! Thanks for joining me today!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Midcentury shabby should be a thing.

Happy Friday morning, friends! Another week is in the books and you, like me, are probably ready for a good weekend.

I've been busy around here as April has turned into project month. :) So I'll jump right into sharing what I've been up to. First up: Mid Century Hutch redo.

A few weeks back I found this beauty on Craigslist for $20! It was in worse shape then the ad showed, but it still had descent bones about it. I'm not a huge mid-century fan - I think the pointy legs are weird and all the glossy-weird-70's things kinda creep me out. But, I'm a fan of low-cost projects that I can make into whatever I want. So, much to the chagrin of the people I surveyed for ideas... I decided to paint it.

Here is a before picture and some progress shots.

I sanded it down, removed the legs, got it cleaned up as well as it could be, discovered that the back was a pressed wood board that is crumbling in places {awesome}, sat down and drank another cup of coffee.
First few coats on!
The legs were pretty nicked up so I decided to go ahead and paint them to. Rust-Oleum makes some awesome metallic sprays and I use this bronze color on many things. I thought it would compliment the white paint and it did! 
Spray painted the legs a pretty bronze color
Once the legs were done and the hutch's paint was dry I moved it back so I could see what I was working with. Then I roughed it up with some sandpaper. :) The back of the hutch is this pressed wood - glorified cardboard material that would NOT hold paint. I even tried to sand the crumbling mess. So, plan B was to paint a layer of glue and add some burlap backing to it. Seemed easy enough, and burlap is pretty cheap. I already have several burlap pieces laying around, so it works.
Attached legs and moved in doors

Measuring for the burlap

Burlap applied!
Once the glue dried I was able to start playing around with what will go inside. I have my grandmothers china - that's the final step to this project. It'll be added in eventually, but for now I'm just testing it out with some odds and ends I have. I'm so happy I painted it and roughed it up. Shabby works in our dining room!

I think Mid Century shabby should be a "thing". For $20 and a little more for paint - it works! Project 1 - done! Three to go :)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

.:Vacation Wrap Up and what lies ahead:.

We are home.
When we left sunny Florida it was 91 degrees, humid, and ah-mazing. Upon arrival in Des Moines, it was 61 {barely}, raining, and the sky was a lovely shade of nothing-gray. Ho-hum. Back to life and reality. Vacation was fantastic but of course there's no place like home!

The rest of our week in Florida included a lot of time in the pool or poolside, quality time with our children and in-laws and one frozen yogurt trip where I won FREE yogurt because I got exactly 11.4oz of yogurt. A contest of sorts. I'm not proud that I got 11.4oz...but, it was FREE so there was a reason. {wink wink} Also, it was delicious. No regrets.

We stopped by an adorable little run-down fruit store off of an orange grove. Aside from our conference this was probably my favorite. It was old and chippy and the real deal. We tried some alligator jerky, bought real honey in the honeycomb and grapefruit right off of the tree! I'm 100% sure everyone there knew we were tourists.

Now I need to gush about my children and how awesome they are. The Lord really carried us through this week and I am so grateful! When we got home from church last Sunday my big girl had a high fever and seemed to be on the decline in a hurry. We had less then 5 hours until we needed to board a plane and my mind automatically went to "well, better prepare my heart for not going." I was convinced she had something awful and I would be forced to miss out and stay home to care for her. So I took a few minutes while my husband took her to urgent care and just cried {literally} to the Lord. Why I felt like I needed to brace myself for the worst is unknown. But I did, and I was so thankful that I serve a God who hears and has compassion. Several hours later, because urgent care doesn't live up to it's description especially on Sundays, Brad was home with our girl. She was still feverish but the Dr saw no reason for her to miss the trip, citing a weird virus they had seen a lot of that week. Lovely. So with that green light and a slightly loopy daughter we made our way to the airport and began our journey.

On our way back to Iowa
My girls were champions! Even with one who had a fever, one who got air sick {literally, gag}, and a baby - they rocked it! I got many comments from fellow travelers about how well they did and how they couldn't believe how quiet they sat. I agreed at this miracle. ;) Our second leg of the trip had us landing in Orlando at the ripe time of 12:50am. By the time we landed, found our rental car and made it to the hotel it was close to 2am. My girls were exhausted, one was still feverish and one had the results of air-sickness on her shirt, but they just walked and did what we needed them to do. They crashed hard once in the hotel room and slept until around 9:30 the next morning. Is that not perfect?! I was so thankful for my little brood.

I was also thankful they were heading to grandma's for a few days because sharing a room with them is not ideal as I discovered we have one that grinds her teeth, one that talks in her sleep and one that's a baby. :)

On the way back it was even better. No air sickness and they slept the entire first leg (2 hours). The baby was magic and giggled and laughed at anyone who would look at her. And chewed on the seats and got any germs she possibly could into her little month. {geesh} She's a charmer, that one. I got many more compliments about how beautiful and well behaved they were. And if I can tell you the cold-hard-truth, it was nothing short of wonderful to see years of prayers answered after what felt like parenting in the trenches. Because not so long ago we wouldn't have even DREAMED of flying with my biggest girl again. We are seeing fruit of our labors in small doses and it feels so good. So maybe my mini lesson here is to encourage you mommas to KEEP IT UP! Be consistent, be loving, be firm. The icing on the vacation cake was our lunch today at Olive Garden. It was our last hurrah before reality sets in tomorrow - so we got a big, fancy meal and settled in. Our kids are 6, 3 and 10 months old so we are by no means silent. But the kids were so well behaved and we really enjoyed our sweet time around the table. I was already thankful for this fact - calm, eating, all sitting down family, when a lady walked up to our table. She began to tell us how much she enjoyed watching our family and how impressed she was with our children. {I may have looked around to make sure this wasn't a joke} She then went on to tell us how she's observed other families where the children aren't so agreeable but how she so enjoyed us today. We thanked her, confessed that it's not always this way, and showed appreciation for her kind words about how "pretty" our girls were. Then she and her husband went on their way and we wrapped up to go, too. A few minutes later the server came to tell us our bill had been cared for. Now, I can't be sure it was that couple, though we are assuming it was. Wow, what a sweet blessing to us! And what a blessing to Brad and I as parents to hear people speak of our children with as much joy as we feel about them. It was a booster at the end of an already incredible week - reminding us that the investment in our kids matters and the time spent is worth it. I'm reminded of a quote by Gloria Furman, who I got to meet this week {side note}:

"By God's grace, I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts he is using to shape me into his image according to his will for my life."

What a great end to a great week. I'm so thankful. I haven't even mentioned the quality time spent with my husband or gone in depth about the spectacular teaching I was able to sit under at the conference. Some things I'll just treasure all for me. :) But, needless to say, we had a blast!
And as I sit here typing, looking out my dining room doors watching it pour, I'm thankful to be home, too. My place. My mission. I'm refreshed, recharged and ready for another week. 

So what's next?
Life, mostly. Just life. I have a loooong list of to-do's, ministry responsibilities and a nice stack of magazines that came in the mail while I was gone. {Kidding.} {Not really kidding}
Tomorrow I'm planning a trip to The Home Depot to pick up paint for the dining room! I'll have a little peek at that later in the week. Stay tuned. I'll do a full write up about the paint job AND the plate wall I'm putting up next month on the All Things With Purpose blog.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Live from TGC

Before I get into how AWESOME our trip to The Gospel Coalition is going...
Let's talk about my new short hair cut + Florida humidity = disastrous results. Seriously. Terrifying. This hair was done up all cute and conference ready this morning. I had done a pretty good job {if I say so myself} throwing in some messy waves/loose curls, and was feeling pretty hip. Then we stepped outside to admire the morning and how it was 80 degrees at 8am and... the rest is history. After three children being birthed my hair has gone from soft and manageable to this new wiry, weird texture, multiple colored mystery. Ah, what a blessing. So, here's to bobbi pins, hair product and some time this afternoon for a redo. :)

Florida. This conference. This resort.
We are having a great time! Yesterday was impacting as we heard from Dr. Tim Keller, Dr. John Piper and little snippets from Don Carson. Great stuff! The worship has been beautiful and focused. I'm loving the classic traditional hymns and we even got to be led by Sandra McCracken a few times - whose voice I love. Our hotel room overlooks the resorts gorgeous golf course and I cannot complain about the view. Yea Baby! Sunshine, GREEN, and everything beautiful. Although we aren't spending a ton of time outside {did you just read about my hair issues?!} it's so pretty!

The teaching has been phenomenal and I have a full line up of GOOD things this afternoon too, starting with a workshop with Mrs. Gloria Furman AND another of my FAVES Jen Wilkin. Speaking of which... I met her. Jen. I totally met her and she's so real and friendly. I got a small case of the "meeting a celebrity" jitters and started just saying things... like my mouth had it's own brain and I could hear myself saying "STOOOOOP TALKING" but couldn't. {blah} But, she was still sweet and we eventually got to chat about her Judges study.

Today we enjoyed a panel with several super godly guys that my husband and I look up to. Jon Piper KILLED it at the conclusion! So great. If you have time, here in a few weeks TGC will release all the video - take time to watch the panel on Justice. Worth it. And then, go back and watch whatever else you can because it has all been so top notch!

And just for fun because FOR ONCE the men get to see what its like... This is what the guys potty line looks like around here because the genders are a little lopsided. Which, is working out great for me and the other gals.

Perhaps my favorite part of this trip is all the time I get {uninterrupted} with my guy. We are truly having a great time and are beyond thankful to be a part of a ministry who sees the need for couples to get away, get refreshed, and grow together! I love this man and I'm thankful to God for blessing my life with our marriage. He's special. In more ways then one. ;)

So there you have it! Live from Orlando, Florida and TGC!