Monday, September 18, 2017

Hello Rosy, Week 18: soul to-do's, swimming holes, and story-telling on blogs.

I've got my warm mug of lemon water and the house is quiet.  I've woken early to treat myself to such silence and to click away on the keyboard for a few slowed down moments before the switch of my day turns on.  This is about the tenth time I've attempted to write this blog post and after hearing that you'd probably quietly wonder why I don't just give it a rest.  Our rural internet is just so poor sometimes, hardly even loading up a website at all.  So you can forget loading gobs of pictures.  Exercise, football on (meaning noise), dishes and laundry calling-well, really there a million little reasons why this space gets harder to find my way back to sometimes. 

But something about actually sitting down with just the black words on the screen and my photos and me is a form of therapy you just can't find anywhere else.  I find my thoughts stop racing from the last to-do to the next and instead really ponder my days.  Blogging is such a lost art y'all. It truly, truly is.  I have a couple blogs I still read that feel like I'm sitting down with a dear friend to chat.  The rest are business oriented or have switched to the cooler, faster, Instagram.  I remember once upon a time blogs were for storytelling. 
This blog still is. At least that is my pure heart behind it and I hope that shows.  One of my favorite ways to change my attitude is to sit in gratitude.  Often life seems to be too still, too quiet, and too full of unknowns.  The vast expanse of the future stares back at me and without knowing what's coming next it feels empty and I don't dare even dip my toe into the pitch black.  I've always been such a planner, always known the next little million steps to take.  As you've heard me say so many times this year, this is the season in life where I'm truly waking up each day with an expectant "What's next Papa?" as the Message bible once put it.  It is SO out of character for me.  It is so nice though to have this blog to show up to and read back through and ultimately see the steady hand of God.  I often scroll through years past on this humble space and I see before my eyes the girls growing and the faithfulness of God showing up in my life.  I see the way He has woven beauty and rosiness in the everyday routine of my life to speak of His great love for me.  I see that He rescued me from my plans so that He could instead open my eyes to what He has in store and ways I can more fully meet the needs of those in my family and community.

All that to say, I'm so glad I've kept on trucking with this blog. 

How about you? Do you blog?  Or do you still read blogs that are written purely for enjoyment? 
Speaking of enjoyment, cooking is high on my happiness list!  It just brings me such joy! This wasn't always the case.  In fact, Brett and I were sharing with a newly married couple recently how horrible my cooking was when we first exchanged our vows.  I remember my first "meal" as a new wife.  I was also a teacher so I'd carefully left a piece of meat in the crockpot before scooting off to school for the day.  One thing I didn't take into consideration was the tiny piece of meat and the GIANT crockpot we'd registered for.  We came home to a black brick, unrecognizable really.  Needless to say, we ate out often in those early days.  Since then, I have truly learned to cook.  Even Brett would happily vouch for me and say I was a good cook.  Of course these days my cooking looks a lot more like dairy-free, gluten-free, and all the "free's" that come with being in your 30's. 

The "to-do" list gets mentioned quite a lot but the truth is there are quite a few things that need to happen on a daily basis for my family to be well taken care of.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning up the clutter are pretty important.  Hugs, kisses, prayers, fun, and eye-contact conversations are VERY important and high on the list.  I'm learning to sometimes let other things go because I've noticed how much better I feel when I place value on soul "to-do's" as well. 

One recent Saturday afternoon the windows in the house were open, the girls were playing in the yard, and Brett was in and out of the house with the football game on.  
I took an old skirt I'd been itching to get my hands on and cut it into strips, making this quick banner. How good it felt to get something crafty accomplished! 
I've also been trying to tuck into the craft room at least once a week to work on a new batch of lunchbox notes.  I keep 'em coming for the girls!  Anna Ruth has started a collection of them in the front pocket of her lunchbox, which I think is sweet. 

Yes mamas of olders, I realize she may "grow out of this" eventually, but for now how I do love and embrace her enthusiasm! 
I do have to admit that the days are generally so full I often forget to slow down and let my eyes take in the art around me.  I've been trying to tell my mind to slow down when things like this cutting board of carrots catch my eye.  I think this must be a creative muscle that needs to be exercised just like anything else.  
We don't typically do a lot of decorating for the seasons.  Not because I don't like it but because it's something I freed myself from a couple of years ago when I realized how much time and energy I was putting into it.  But I will say this year the girls are older and REALLY into the changing of seasons.  So we're having fun with adding little touches of autumn here and there around the house, all the while having visions of Christmas decorations dance in our heads!

Betsy helped sew this banner and did such a great job! 
Fresh-cut bouquets continue to just be my absolute favorite. 
Real-life after school! I'm not sure what trick Betsy is up to, but there is truly never a dull moment around here. 
I'm still brewing my own homemade kombucha, which is a fermented tea.  Basically, it's a tea that is super good for your gut.  I really love fizzy drinks and lately my kombucha has been super, SUPER carbonated!  Switching to these swing-top bottles seems to have helped.  I also read a kombucha book faithfully from the library and adding a bit more knowledge to my mind and putting a few new things into practice also seemed to produce a better tea. 

Do you drink kombucha? Or make it? 

Betsy and I have adjusted just fine to Anna being at school.  Although sometimes it feels extra quiet and Betsy tells me she's thinking about Anna. I suppose we'll never fully recover.  Sounds dramatic, but it's just so true.  And next year Betsy joins Anna at school! 

How will my heart make it? 
I like the time and space when they're at school, don't get me wrong.  And I don't feel called to homeschool.  But boy how I miss them when they're gone.  I think I will always miss the days of them being little and home with me.  It was challenging, but so rich too.  
Autumn is starting to show around here! 

These days we are learning to embrace a new-found richness. 

One way we're holding onto richness is by choosing carefully what to say yes and no too.  I told Brett a year ago I didn't think it was hard at all what to commit too.  Perhaps there were less offers and less to consider.  I now find myself with lots of requests, offers, and invites each week and really having to choose carefully.  I don't want the girls to be run from the start of the day 'till the end every single day.  My INFJ personality really needs a bit of time at home with just the family, or out exploring with just our family.  It hasn't felt necessarily popular to turn things down to keep that in place, but it is doing us good by sticking with it. 

Last weekend we took a day trip to Cotter, Arkansas.  They have the loveliest park located by the huge bridge you see.  This is the swimming hole pictured above! 

Ok, I was really obsessed with the swimming hole as you can tell by how many photos I took of it! There were little fish swimming here but the sign clearly said "No fishing! Swimming hole".  There was also a huge rope swing children and grown-ups alike could swing off of into the water.  
We went into this store and got some fishing lures and the nice folks inside let us use their gravel ramp for our boat.  The water was moving right along and we wanted to be extra careful with the girls. 

The rope swing at the swimming hole! I didn't try it this trip, maybe another time! 

We went for a little boat ride, played on the playground, had the best local barbecue we've ever had, and then ended the day at the swimming hole. 

These are the rich moments of life that help balance the carpool lane and missing my girl. 

In other news, I'm super excited that This is Us returns to tv next week! I ordered Season 1 for around $20 on Amazon, FYI.  Just in case you're wanting to get ahold of Season 1 too! 

I'm reading Walk to Beautiful about Jimmy Wayne, country music artist and former foster kiddo.  You know how I hesitate to share what I read.  Some things, like this book, are just a hard read.  A really hard read.  Yet the book is opening my eyes once again, to the world so many kids live in that I won't ever even come close to.  Yet a world I feel deeply called to do something about and help with. 

We are looking forward to camping soon! We've hardly gone this year and I miss it. 

What about you?  What's making your life rich these days? 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hello Rosy, week 17: mission statements, the fair, and the story of Buck.

Good evening from your now 34-year old friend! Yep, that's right, I had a birthday last week!  My twin and I turned 34 and so far it feels just about like all of the other ages.  Although I admit that when I'm out and about and see college students I feel SO old.  Especially when I see them wearing high-waisted jeans and flannel, looking exactly like we did in the 90's maybe?  

It was a mostly good birthday.  We really kind of celebrated several times throughout the weekend.  I must share a story that made the birthday quite sad, but no worries, things turned around.  My twin had boarded her dog at the vet for a week while they were camping at the beach, kids and all! They have the most awesome handmade camper that I should really share pictures of on the blog sometime.  They had such a great week on vacation and were about to head home when they got word their dog had escaped the vet.  This was last Friday night.  Labor Day weekend was spent looking for him.  My parents, our family, and my sister's spent hours and hours looking.  She got word a couple of times of a "Buck sighting", a friendly person had fed him but wasn't able to get him inside.  Then there were the not so great sightings.  A woman had seen his leg hit in traffic.  The areas we were combing and yelling for him are high areas of traffic so we were fearing the worst.  Buck means the absolute world to my sister and her family.  He's in so many of their photos and is an inside and outside dog both.  He's definitely a part of their family. 

I was out at the garden yesterday morning, just still carrying around that sad pit in my stomach because Buck hadn't been found.  In fact on my birthday I prayed desperately he would be found, telling God that's all I really wanted was for Buck to be home.  I got a text from my twin while picking peppers that said she thought someone had Buck and was going to see.  I prayed and prayed while I picked those peppers, "please let it be him, please let it be him."  Not long after I got another text that said "I have Buck!".  Y'all, I just cried.  In fact, I can't even type this up without tearing up.  That sweet dog had been gone for almost a week, crossing high-traffic areas multiple times and he is ok! Grateful doesn't sum up my heart. 

We also took a trip to the fair last week and despite how it looks, we really did have a super time!  I happened to capture this hilarious moment when a chicken sent some poop flying down on the ground and the girls were just completely grossed out! We have gone to the fair every year since they were tiny babies! 

I actually gave the girls a choice of visiting our local children's museum or going to the fair and my country girls chose the fair.  No surprise there I suppose! 

The one thing the girls refused to look at? 
The pigs! They are scared of them every single time so this year we just skipped it. 

I must say the cows will probably always be our favorite!  Sometimes I wonder if the girls will grow up a bit and show animals at the fair.  I guess time will tell. 
My tall, grown-up girls!  These two are a delight! 

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon was watching the girls make friends with the teenage gals at the food counter.  We decided to order food from the Ozark Cattleman Association and these ladies were just the sweetest! They asked the girls all about school and what they liked on their hot dogs.  I thought the girls looked so grown-up sitting there, ordering their own food.  I feel like we practice being friendly and making conversation over and over so sometimes it's nice to see it pay off! 

One of my girls is a bit more of an extrovert than the other, but no matter what the personality we try to strive for communication.  
During a day date last weekend Brett and I had the most incredible salad.  It had cranberries, breaded goat cheese patties, and a balsamic reduction on it.  I admit, I stayed safe and ordered the chicken caesar salad and then spent the whole meal wishing I'd been a bit more daring and ordered what Brett did!  We just took matters into our own hands and made this salad ourselves once home.  In fact, we've had it several times since then, adding a few extra ingredients like walnuts and avocado.  It's even good without the goat cheese, as I try not to do too much cheese, if any at all. 

I think this would also be fantastic with roasted sweet potato and pumpkin seeds for some crunch! 
I picked this bouquet for my twin, in my slippers of course! It has started to feel cool in the mornings now and my hands and feet are almost always cold.  Combine that with an itchy throat and stuffy sinuses and I can tell one season is on the way out, another on the way in.
So basically I'll be cold until April.
(summer come back!!!!)
I'm a total summer gal, as you well know. I mean I love to be hot and at the lake, river, or campsite.  I adore summer time, like BIG-time.  As the dark creeps in a little earlier each night I've been trying to lift my spirits about fall.  

Any book recommendations for me? Or crafts I should try? 
I started a few banners for fun yesterday and still have my trusty loom I haven't worked on in ages.  

Brett surprised me with this pop-up easel for my birthday! Now I no longer have to be concerned with neck pain from looking down so much.  I wouldn't have thought to buy this for myself but I am just loving it! This fall-inspired painting is waiting its turn to show up in the shop.  

I am currently painting with a combination of Goldens and cheaper, craft-store acrylics. 

Anna has almost been in school for a full month! It is going so fast, as I figured it would.  I get asked often what she thinks about school and she truly loves it! 

A fun daily tradition I've been doing is sending a lunchbox note.  Every. Single. Day. 
Somedays I draw something, other days I use a cute sticker, like this one.  I always write "I love you Anna Ruth!".  Betsy gets notes on her school days too.  We're about a month in and Anna hasn't tired of the notes yet, in fact I think she looks forward to them!

This is the time of year where if you threw a glance at our garden you would think it terribly neglected and you'd be right.  Although, it isn't a total waste! The garden always teaches me so much when it is overgrown with weeds and not that lovely looking, yet still producing wonderful things to eat.  As I pick the peppers and tomatoes it reminds me that things can still flourish and grow even if the surrounding areas aren't that lovely or eye-catching.  Growth can happen anywhere, even in the least likely of places. 
The shadows are so playful at the start of September.  I think they're trying to beckon me into fall!

I've still been purposing to paint more.  This little stack was a handful of thank-you notes and lunchbox notes I was working on one afternoon.  Of course any creating I do is really done in little bits of time here and there.  I got the first layers of paint on these and hope to finish them up sometime this weekend.  
See what I mean about the garden? These peppers helped make this gumbo, even though the weeds have taken over our little plot. 

I've gotta be honest, this gumbo was amazing.  Even the rice was good! I loosely used a recipe I found off Pinterest, which is how I do most of my cooking.  I typically use a cookbook though, because I don't like having to refresh the computer screen or worry about spills. There is just something much more satisfying about an actual cookbook. 

A tip for the rice-we rarely eat white rice and typically when I make it it's for sushi and rather bland.  For this rice I added a bit of EVOO, garlic, (ok, a lot of garlic) and salt to a saucepan and cooked it for a couple of minutes.  I then added the dry white rice and stirred that in with the EVOO, garlic, and salt for another few minutes.  Last I added homemade chicken broth to the pot to actually simmer the rice and finish it out.  It was so, so tasty all on its own! 

With life in full swing in a totally new season (meaning busy!) I wanted to nail down my thoughts about what it feels like my purpose is, as far as God's heart for me.  I don't know that I believe in balance in life.  At least striving for it in every area of life usually makes me come up short.  Do we always have a clean house, laundry caught up, Bibles read, exercise done, homemade meal cooked, learning time done, friends and family time in perfect timing? Not even close.  But I found myself being so disciplined with the school lunches, nightly dinners, and carpool lane that I started to wonder what else this season of life may have to offer.  
So I began to scrawl down the words, messages, and soul stirrings God had spoken to me and came up with a mission statement for myself.  Just something to center my days around. 

I hesitated to share this mission statement because it's concepts are large.  I don't know that anyone could hit ever aspect of the statement every day! But the concept of it is what I'm striving for. 

"I vow to-
A light-filled life where love does,
where small stirrings in the unseen matter. 
A life where both discipline and dreams have value
 and where wonder and whimsy are given space to grow. 
I vow to create a home that is a haven in both the physical and supernatural world. 
A life that is made by hand, one daily stitch at a time."

Speaking of a "made by hand" life, I added these to my Etsy shop last week!  The canvas above is an original painting with tons of fun layers of color and paper. 
This fall idea list is also available as an 8x10 print! 
You can find it in the shop  too! 

Last, I wanted to share a fun announcement with you! For all you locals, my art and photography are on display at the Springdale Public Library for the month of September.  This Monday (Sept. 11) there will be an artist's reception from 5-6 p.m. and I would love to see you there! 

What are you looking forward to this fall? 
Do you look forward to cozying up by the fire or do you prefer the sun on your skin? 

I hope this weekend brings something yummy for you to eat, 
a good book to read, 
and time to drink your tea or coffee slowly. 

Blogging tips