September 29, 2014

eat, make, do | v. 04

We're about to turn the corner into October, people. Can you believe it? This is my birthday week, and the time of year I know we've finally arrived in autumn. We took a walk at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Saturday afternoon, and I saw this most magnificent display of pumpkins outside the gift shop that made my heart leap in my chest. I know it's time now to bring some pumpkins home.

eat make do | v. 04

EAT | Carrot Cake Baked Donuts by The Faux Martha
MAKE | No-Carve Pumpkins by Style Within Reach
DO | DIY Gold + Acrylic Clipboards by Design Sponge

I'll be baking carrot cake  for my birthday, but how about those donuts?! I'm tempted to try them out: you can stick a candle in a donut, can you not? I've passed the era where I get one candle for each year, anyway. I'm too much of a fire hazard now, turning 34 this year and all. I only have one year left before I start the decent to 40, and I don't know how I feel about that. On the one hand, 40 is the new 30. But on the other hand, our culture glorifies youth and it's hard not to feel the sting of growing older.

The good news is, I can honestly say I've never been happier than I am right now. I'm so sure that I'm going to look back on this season as the best of my whole life. I have an amazing husband and these two gorgeous kids. I don't have to spend my days pushing pencils in a cubicle anymore: I get to set my own schedule and make our house a beautiful home and lavish my family with all the love I can muster. I'm a lucky gal, indeed.

Lastly, I'm loving that clipboard idea as a creative way to keep all our scraps together. Our refrigerator is starting to look like a jungle. I might have to make a few of these! I have a strip of wall in the kitchen that would be a perfect place to keep them. I'd also really love to make a creative seasonal display so the no-carve decorated pumpkins are singing to me. It seems I'm having a hard time picking a project for this week! I might try them all.

I don't usually change up my decor by the season, except for Christmas decorations. This is something I'm wondering if I should feel guilty about. I'm just a practical person, ya'll. But I also love pretty stuff. I love looking at other people's pretty stuff and sometimes wish I had pretty stuff of my own, but when I'm looking at the stuff in the store, I think "Hmmmm, this isn't life or death (like, say... food), so maybe I'd rather keep this money in the bank where it can turn a little interest." That's just the way my brain works when I'm faced with buying things.

Money looks better in the bank than on your feet. (Sophia Amoruso in #GIRLBOSS)

This is the same reason I don't do DIY projects very often. I know I'll have a good time, but I don't want to buy the supplies! I broke down and visited the good old Hobby Lobby last week (just because, you know, there was a 40% off coupon in the paper...) and got me some polymer clay so I could make a clay bead necklace similar to the one I posted back in EMD v. 1. I spent $25 altogether on polymer clay, a chain, some jewelry making tools, and a few other things off the clay aisle that I'll be using soon.

And then, as soon as I got home I decided I needed to return some clothes I bought last week to make up for the expense. I followed through after church yesterday, getting back $28 and little bit of peace for my mind. But, goodness. Do I really have to be this way? Sorry, I guess, not sorry.

So, that's my long-winded story about why I put off clothes shopping, seasonal decorating, and DIY crafting, all because I'm a cheap-o penny pincher and overall worry wart. So then, how was your weekend?


Do you rotate home decor seasonally or does your house look the same year-round?

September 26, 2014

what's inside my laptop bag.

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Do you all remember a while back when I spilled my obsession for DAAME totes? Well, lookie what I got! The fine ladies and gents at DAAME sent this one my way, and I'm smitten.

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I needed a good way to stash my computer on-the-go. I don't haul it with me everywhere I go, but when I do, it's nice to feel like the hardware I've invested in is protected and secure! That my laptop tote is seriously beautiful is a big bonus. And look- it has room for so much more!

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I thought it'd be fun to list everything I carry with me on a daily basis. I like to keep the contents of my bag pretty low-key. Here's a list of the things I can stash in my DAAME laptop tote:
  • 13" Macbook Pro - (obviously). This is my sidekick. I need her to stay safe! She fits perfectly in the padded pouch inside this tote.
  • iPhone 5 - Surely this goes without saying. Here's the case I have on mine. I love it!
  • Date planner - I use this to keep my editorial calendar straight. Even when I'm not sticking to it!
  • Wallet - Never leave home without it. I've been carrying the same one for several years. I'm thinking about trading it in for this one soon!
  • Coin purse - You know, to keep the coins from getting lost in the bottom of the bag. That's so annoying! You've got to have something to keep it all together.
  • Zippered pouch - I like to have a medium sized pouch to contain all the other little loose ends that tend to get lost in purse bottoms: pens, nail clippers, gum, etc.
  • Lip balm - I am not much of a lipstick gal. But I have to have balm with me at all times!
  • Huggies Clutch n' Clean baby wipes
  • Diapers 
  • Baby food
  • Baby spoon
  • Lego Man
Those last few items, well, let's just say they go with the territory. I'm happy we're past the era of carrying the massive diaper bag everywhere we go, for sure! Usually, I can get by with just one or two diapers tucked down into my bag (depending on how long we plan to be out). As for the Lego dude- well, I can't tell you how he found his way down there. He's probably looking for some peace and quiet, and I can't blame him.

Luxury is not a necessity to me, but beautiful and good things are. (Anais Nin)

Speaking of quiet- I guess I can kiss that goodbye. This week, our house turned into quite the attraction for all the neighborhood kids! Seth has been pretty shy up until this year, so we haven't had to face this milestone yet. All the sudden, though, things have changed. The temperature went down and the bearable weather brought all the children outside. Meanwhile, Mr. Wallflower morphed into Mr. Popularity and the next thing I know, we have five kids running around the dining room, leaving Legos in their wake.

I had a momentary lapse of sanity and told two of them they can spend the night with us tonight. I don't know what I was thinking! It was an instinctive act of radical hospitality, and I intend to follow through with pizza and movies and all that jazz. Eric says he might crash with his parents to escape the chaos. I'm thinking I might try to follow suit with Mr. Lego and find a dark, cozy place to hide as well.

Is there one item you never leave home without? What's inside your bag? Can I come spend the night at your house tonight?

September 22, 2014

this is real simple.

I don't have an Eat-Make-Do post for you today, but I know you all are going to try your best to get over the disappointment. See that? That's sarcasm.

So how was your weekend, eh?! I got a taste of solo parenting over the weekend. For all the single moms and army wives with deployed husbands out there, I can't help but give you all serious props! I only have to do it every now and then. Maybe I just need more practice or maybe it's truly the hardest lifestyle in the world and I don't know how you all do it perpetually.

Fortunately, my kids are awesome and we just had a blast with ice cream and cherries on top. Says tired mommy who's had an extra dose of Prozac, haha...

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I jest because the weekend really did go pretty smoothly. Besides the fact I didn't get to prepare for this week's posts as I'm in the habit of doing on Saturday afternoons, I did get to do a lot of thinking about future content and the big question: how do I want to be perceived in the blog world?

A few months ago, I dove back into this blogging deal-i-o with a very minimal idea of the direction I wanted to travel. I decided I wanted to try a little bit of everything and see what worked. I'd had a blog before, of course, but I burned out on it from trying so hard to follow what everyone else was doing. It's tough out there- have you noticed? If you don't start this journey with a bit of armor on, you'll get sucked into a comparison trap quicker than you can say "I'm a hipster."

Comparison is that proverbial thief of joy, you know... All the sudden the succulents on your windowsill don't look as green as everyone else's and the white organic linen jumpers your kids are wearing begin to look a little worse for the wear. It's impossible to keep up if keeping up happens to be what you're trying to do.

Letting go of all expectations, I've been pleasantly surprised how things have turned out- it all seems much easier this time- like I've really turned a corner with this thing and got some traction to keep moving along without digging myself in a rut. I'm far more relaxed about  every little nit-picky thing that ever bugged me before: like, sticking to a plan or keeping track of analytics. Come what may, you know? I'm just sharing with you the exact same stuff I might share with my bestest bestie. There's so much freedom in that!

So no, I didn't stick to the editorial calendar when I decided to publish this post. And I'm trying not to over-edit it as I start to wrap it up, either. Let this be my note to you: unfiltered, just as it is and with no fluff in the middle of you and me. Hear me, sister:

You are beautiful. You life is meaningful. Perfection is a lie. Don't try to please people: we can't be pleased anyway. Just love God and love your family/friends/neighbors and do the best you can but don't kick yourself when you stumble. Give yourself a break. Every moment is precious.

With that, I'm headed off to embrace another Monday. Mine shall include a playdate followed by the new issue of Real Simple, a bowlful of candy corn, red toenails, re-writing my editorial calendar for the next few weeks in my bullet journal, and -oh, if I must- probably some laundry, too.

Do you follow an editorial calendar for your blog?

September 19, 2014

casual friday | color for fall

So, here's a rundown of the week-

Monday: I cooked a big casserole and all of us trooped over to visit one of our good friends, who had just been discharged after a week's hospital stay. As for my sickness? It took up residence in my head (and on my mouth- a cold sore!) but I was sure it was on the way out.

Tuesday: Hawk had his well-child visit with our pediatrician. Afterward, I let him lick a lollipop to soothe the ouchies from his vaccinations and we went to pick up Seth from preschool. We spent the whole afternoon reading every. Single. Book. We own.

Wednesday: In the morning, I was faced with the option to catch up on comment replies and write a blog post- or nap. The nap won. That afternoon, Eric texts me: "I'm going to work out of town this weekend. Leave tomorrow."

Thursday: My brain still felt like Froot Loops. Eric and I were talking about it the night before- he'd still feeling under the weather a bit, too. The bug we both got had boomeranged back on us, and he told me he'd been feeling in a fog all week- taking twice as long to do normal things at work. I hope the infection hasn't been killing our brain cells! As horrible as that would be, I spent the day more concerned about the fact I'm going to be solo parenting this weekend.

Friday is here! Eric is four hours away in south Alabama but I'm happy he's got the opportunity to crank out some overtime this weekend. Mama's got some shopping to do!

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Clockwise, from top left: Aeropostale long-sleeve plaid button-down woven shirt | Brook Brothers foldable felt fedora |  Ralph Lauren leopard print infinity scarf | Keds Champion navy + dot canvas sneakers

These are the kind of things I'm hunting to spice up my basic wardrobe for fall. I need a little courage to be fabulous, will you send me some? I stood in the store the other day hovering over a cheetah-print scarf and I just couldn't do it. I know it's beautiful. I know it's fancy. I love it, but I just couldn't do it. Not yet!

But the time is coming, I promise you. As a matter of fact, I think it's coming soon. The past couple of mornings we've stepped outside into crisp, cool air. Damp but not at all humid. If it weren't for all this danged snot in my head, I imagine I'd have caught a whiff of fall- that heady scent of turning oak leaves and moss and green turning to yellow that signals the season's descent.

I've seen some pictures of bundled up babes and fireplace hearths popping up on Instagram lately. We'll be joining you in fall really soon, my northern friends! My heart is ready to settle into deeper nights and shorter days for a while. I'm ready for days and days of cookies and cocoa and the spices and socks instead of sandals. The deep colors of fall are calling me home!

My favorite color for fall is a Sangria-hued deep purple. what's yours?

September 18, 2014

froot loops.

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In terms of things to write about, I lack for nothing. But there are two categories of content on the table here: you've got the insightful essay intended to nourish your heart and feed your soul on one plate. But on the other, you've got useless mind drivel- a blog post composed of verbal vomit intended solely to fill space and bump me up in your feed so I can feel better about the number of site visits my blog received this week.

I don't want to give you mental Froot Loops, folks.

This week has flown by and I'm still not running at 100%, blahdy-blah-blah-blah... And yes, frankly, writing slipped down on the priority list from about #3 to #18 over the last seven days. So I unapologetically say to you this morning, "Whoa, hello! How are you today? I'm still alive over here. Nope, haven't gone anywhere. I'll be back tomorrow! Don't you go anywhere, you hear?"

What remedy helps you more than any other when you have a cold?

September 15, 2014

eat, make, do | v. 03

There's been a virus going around these parts, and I was confident I'd missed it until it hit me like a freight train Friday evening. Saturday morning, I was wishing for death, but thankfully it had subsided for the most part by the time Sunday morning rolled around, and I felt well enough to bake some banana muffins.

My boys said they were good, even though the nutmeg was the only thing I could taste, and my coffee tasted like licking charcoal... but, whatever. Now my lungs feel like crumpled up brown paper sacks, but in the scheme of things, I'm happy my Saturday morning prayer for death went unanswered for now.

Being sick, paired with a Sunday morning sermon about overcoming stress from our church pastor- has pretty much convinced me this should be a pretty low expectations week. I picked some super simple inspirations for this week's Eat, Make, Do!

EMD-3


EAT | One Pot Lemon Orzo Shrimp by Damn Delicious
MAKE | Pretty Shampoo Bottles by Almost Makes Perfect
DO | Tips for cleaning and seasoning cast iron by Frugal Living NW

Last week, I successfully cleaned out my closet: paring down my clothing choices for a pretty functional capsule wardrobe! My initial inspiration was the 20 piece wardrobe remix from Greater Than Rubies, and I listed it as one of my choices for Eat, Make, Do last week. I posted on Thursday about the thoughts the process of cleaning out my closet dredged up- if you haven't read that post, you certainly should.

Instead of 20 pieces, I focused on the 37 pieces recommended by Caroline at Unfancy. The number I landed on was smack in the middle- a hanger check over the weekend revealed I now have 30 pieces in my core wardrobe. That number breaks down like this:

  • 10 basic tee shirts in shades of grey, white, black, and cool colors (navy, green and purple).
  • 4 jeans in varying shades of blue and black.
  • 5 knee-height dresses
  • 4 maxi dresses (all can be worn layered with a cardigan in early fall)
  • 2 long-sleeve button-up blouses
  • 1 short-sleeve cardigan (black)
  • 1 long-sleeve cardigan (grey)
  • 1 fleece pullover
  • 1 medium weight fleece zip-up jacket
  • 1 heavy coat for late fall

I also have a collection of layering tanks, tights and leggings not included in this count. And now I feel so much freedom knowing I really have more than what I need available to me already! I can save a lot of money over the next few months if I can remember that these basics are more than enough.

A better way to punch up my personal style will be to begin assemble a collection of fun accessories instead of adding more stuff to my closet. I actually have very few jewelry pieces, and I'll focus my shopping eye in the next few months on some versatile necklaces, bracelets, scarves and shoes.

Now, I'm only a few weeks away from my birthday, and my parents and in-law's usually give me cash. I'm turning 34 this year, and I still feel like a little kid anticipating that birthday present- except now that I'm a grown up it's not a surprise anymore and I can decide for myself how to distribute my newfound wealth! I'll probably add a couple of new Kindle books to my queue, but I'm also looking at this, this and these.

Have you been shopping for something special lately?

September 11, 2014

jesus, minimalist.

I sometimes drink from a Fire King coffee mug that belonged to my grandmother. It's comfortable, thinking of her. The way she smelled, her way of making me feel cherished, her constant busyness, the easy laugh. Grandma was a little woman, but the kind people tend to call a "spitfire". If you were to ask me to describe my childhood, it's her backyard that I think about first.

When Grandma died and my family went about the business of cleaning out her things, we joked that she was a packrat. Her home was full of boxes upon boxes of things- worthless things, really. Just bits and scraps from another era that she held onto for whatever reason- because she was too tired, or too busy thinking about others to clean out her old things, or maybe because of an attachment to the memories they held.

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I didn't think much about the things when I was growing up. I wasn't bothered by her clutter. I was entranced by it- that each thing on her shelves held a story, and I would tease the stories from her one by one as I handled each of her knick knacks. Her home was clean despite the tchotchkes. I couldn't say the same thing about my own home.

My parents are abysmal housekeepers. There, I said it. I love them deeply and we have a great relationship, but we are opposites. My tendency toward perfectionism and cleanliness is either a strong testament to nature over nurture or it's residual evidence of my adolescent rebellions against them. Some kids went to underage drinking parties and got tattoos. I learned how to scrub baseboards with an old toothbrush and organize my shoes by color.

A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. (1 Timothy 6:6-8, MSG)

That doesn't mean that the hoarding bug skipped me altogether. Actually, it bit me pretty bad, too. In college, every spare surface in my dorm room was covered with mementos. I was deeply sentimental and held onto things that reminded me of the people I loved and my life back home.

It wasn't until the first time I lived totally alone- no roommate, no boyfriend, no children, no family- just me and my two kittens in a shabby one bedroom apartment on the Southside- that I got the first taste of the thrill of decluttering. I'd just ended a bad relationship, and looking around, everything reminded me of my ex. I think I filled the dumpster outside my apartment complex halfway to the top that night. It was exhilarating.

My style has become more minimal each year since, especially since meeting the Holy Spirit head-on in my helplessness the week after Seth was born. I'm learning to clutch lightly to the things in this world: to hold my possessions with open hands. There's so much freedom knowing I can't take my things into eternity with me.

That doesn't mean I don't want things anymore. As a matter of fact, among my sins, covetousness is worst among them. I burn with envy when one of my friends moves into a home nicer than mine. I can't get really comfortable among people who I perceive to be richer than me- which is nearly everyone I meet.

Don't be fooled, we're just barely middle class over here. I'm struggling every day with a feeling of inferiority: a feeling that I fail everything I ever try, and chiefly because of our economic status. Now, thanks to the wonder of Facebook, I'm reunited with all the people I ever knew as a child, and once again I size myself up against them and I often feel like the report cards for our adult life are being handed out and I've once again failed to get an "honor roll" ribbon on mine.

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Yesterday, I pulled out every single thing from my closet and hung them on the doorframe in my living room so I could size up what I still need for a fall capsule wardrobe. Sarah recommended I check out the Unfancy blog for help with that project- and wow! She has so many great tips for a minimalist wardrobe, including a recommendation to aim for no more than 37 pieces in your closet.

I counted the hangers in my doorway. 39. How about that?! I thought. I'm already off to a good start.

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Somehow, I still managed to get rid of a bag full of stuff that I don't wear anymore. I eventually carried two big garbage bags to the thrift store to donate yesterday afternoon- stuff that the boys had grown out of and stuff that I don't wear. This has become a regular thing for us- I probably take two or three bags every couple of months, and I look around my little house when I get done and wonder how I had room for all that stuff.

When I stood back and looked at my closet after I finished, an impression passed through my mind- this brief sense that God allows us to be humble financially for a reason. That He's been taking me through a process of learning to live more simply for His glory. That living on the margin of what our society expects of someone with my level of education and ability gives me a special sensitivity for people who are grappling with true poverty. How blessed I am to have less!

I don't know where He's going with this, but I really wrote all that just to share that last paragraph. I'm far from expert on this kind of lifestyle (hence the tag I created on Instagram yesterday- #beginnerminimalist) but I want to share more about what I'm learning as I go. I'm a believer that nothing in this life is accidental and the impressions God gives us in passing can have powerful long-term implications if we honor them!

Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Jesus - Luke 12:15, ESV)

I'm just curious: how many hangers do you have in your closet?

September 9, 2014

a birthday boy.

Look who's getting older!

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Today marks one year with my littlest pipsqueak. Gosh, I love this boy! He is full of light, this kid. I wan't prepared for him and all the joy he'd bring. Thank you, God, for this most amazing year- I pray You give us many more wonderful years to come!

Here's what that boy looked like a few days after we'd settled in at home:

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How they grow. Babies don't keep!

And, just in case you thought I had an easy time getting his one-year portrait, I thought I'd make you an animation from the outtakes:


For those of you interested in things like, oh, nitty-gritty birth stories, Hawk's birth story was featured on our doula's website recently. His coming was much like the rest of his first year- exciting and eager to go!

Happy birthday, elias hawk!

September 8, 2014

eat, make, do | v. 02

I'm so thrilled that Eat, Make, Do has inspired some of you to put some action behind your intentions and get creative with your hands! Several of you reported to me over the last week via comments, tweets, and Instagram that you were more motivated to do some projects you've found online, instead of being passive consumers of digital inspiration. Hooray, all of us!

I know I felt really good after doing my project- a recipe. I put it off all week, and I really don't know why. It wasn't hard. It was even fun! But for some reason, I just didn't want to get my hands dirty- literally or figuratively. Finally, I carved out some extra time Friday evening before bedtime and invited Seth to help me mix up the ingredients. We had a blast, and when we were done, Saturday's breakfast was done! It was nice to wake up Saturday and already have breakfast waiting, instead of having to prepare it then.

Here's my inspirations for this week:

Eat, Make, Do | v. 02

EAT | Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Iced Coffee by Food + Words
MAKE | Rolled Magazine Flowers + Antler Chalk Art by Jones Design Company
DO | Fall Capsule Wardrobe by Greater Than Rubies

And a picture of my scones- find the recipe on last week's post! The original recipe is raspberry, and all my boys turned up their noses to the idea of raspberry anything. I compromised and used strawberry, and then I made a simple icing with confectioner's sugar, milk and red food coloring! The measurements aren't exact- just add a tablespoon or two of milk to a bowl of confectioner's sugar and combine until you get a good consistency. Add food coloring and there you have it! I used a tablespoon to drizzle the icing over the scones. It was delicious!

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I already know which of these projects I plan to work on this week, and I'll have a separate post about the results sometime soon. I can't wait to see what you guys have been working on! If you've completed a project from your Pinterest boards lately, tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #eatmakedo. I look forward to seeing your craftiness!

(Follow me on Pinterest)

Did you work on anything creative this weekend? Tell me about your projects in the comments!

September 5, 2014

casual friday | floral sneaks

My personal style is naturally very casual. Of course, I have two small children, and our idea of a social event is a playdate at the zoo. Comfort is paramount to fashion trends, and I often opt for a plain-Jane tee and a favorite pair of jeans! I think my ultimate goal is to have a simple closet containing a classic capsule wardrobe.

The past year, it seems my closet has had a revolving door, as I've cycled through maternity clothes, into thrifted jeans and baggy men's tees whose purpose was more to hide my postpartum belly during quick grocery runs, finally into some flattering (but cheap!) shift dresses and more fitted styles for summer. I'm still not where I want to be physically, but I'm about where I was when I first got pregnant with Hawk.

When I get closer to achieving my weight loss goals, I'd like to invest in some really nice clothing pieces that I can wear for years! I don't love fast fashion, but that just happens to be what's practical for me since I don't plan to wear the same clothes I buy this fall for much longer than one season. I hope to be several sizes smaller this time next year!

Lately, I've been buying basic tees, which I pair with basic jeans and cute shoes. I like my accessories to be more on-trend, and I'll be scouting out some cute cardigans this month! I love this flowy style: it's so forgiving for the mama belly. I'll be loving my sandals for a few more weeks, but soon I'll need to replace them with socks and sneaks. Aren't these flowery sneakers the sweetest thing ever? Seriously, my favorite.

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Define your personal style in three words or less. EX: Mine is modest, casual, and feminine.

September 4, 2014

gratitude | v. 06

Gratitude | v. 06

Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:2-3)

  • Last Friday evening, we went to see the Birmingham Barons play. Every year, the company that Eric works for hosts all the employees in the executive skybox at Regions Park and feeds us more hot dogs and barbecue than anyone can handle! We enjoyed taking the kids to the ball game and definitely plan again to go to several games next season.
  • Every town has to have at least one iconic Instagram-able locale, wouldn't you agree? For Birmingham, I'd pick the rainbow-hued LightRails at the 18th Street viaduct downtown! After the ballgame, we walked to the rainbow tunnel with a couple of good friends. Hawk fell asleep in his stroller, of course (it was very much after bedtime!) but Seth really enjoyed the visual treat. If you ever visit, you must stay for a while! The lights are constantly changing color: you can't stand there watching them and not smile.
  • Sunday, we had a party to celebrate both Eric's and Hawk's birthdays. I love having our family all together in our home!
  • Homemade buttercream icing on chocolate cupcakes.
  • I really can't believe how much Seth is already learning at school. It's been a little less than a month and he's already reciting and recognizing letters and their sounds... before long he'll be reading on his own. That's my big baby there... just, wow.
  • Small groups! Our church offers groups in semesters, and there's always a break in summer. But the fall semester began this week, and I was so ready to get back into the habit of meeting with other believers.
  • I ordered Halloween costumes for my boys from Zulily this week. Yes, early. Deal? Couldn't be beat. Now it's time to start knocking out the Christmas list!
  • I downloaded the Acorns app this week. What a great idea! There's no better time than now to get serious about making good decisions with your money.
  • For people with the audacious vision to provide an affordable, ethically-made children's capsule wardrobe to regular moms like me (with neither money nor time to research every stitch that goes into my children's clothing but a heart to know my money is well spent)... can't wait for the debut of Wildly Co.! The Kickstarter campaign ends tomorrow night- the goal to produce a boys' line has been met but let's help them meet the $30,000 goal so they can roll out the girls' designs as well!

Do you dress up for Halloween? What was the last costume you wore?

September 3, 2014

alice (a story of mercy).

If you pay even minimal attention to world news, you've likely heard that a deadly Ebola outbreak is sweeping through the villages and cities of West Africa. Like many news stories, it's easy in our position of privilege to hear the stories coming from this continent that seems so distant and return to our everyday lives unchanged. Last week, I heard the voice of a woman telling her story for an NPR reporter, and I was shaken to my core.

The country of Niger, West Africa: 002

Alice is a widow, 72 years old. Her daughters have cared for her for years: going to the market to buy her food and making sure all her needs are met. That is, until her family came face-to-face with the epidemic.

Her oldest daughter grew ill first. After the first bout of terrible nausea passed, she lay on the floor looking up at her concerned mother, and said, "It's going to be alright, Mama. You are going to be OK." She knew death would come soon.

Then her youngest daughter succumbed to the disease. Both grandchildren. Finally, her son-in-law. He laid in the house where he died for five days before a crew came to remove his body and disinfect the house. No one has entered the house since. And Alice has no one.

She says she goes to the market alone now, but no one will do business with her. The vendors won't take her money. "No, No," they say. "You have the Ebola."

Pariah.

"I cry every day," she says. "I ask God, Why am I alive?"




Sweet Alice, I want to say. Alice, God's not done with you yet! God is using you, my sister. You have a Loving Father and he is the Great Comforter and an Almighty Healer. Alice, you are breathing so you can tell this story and I can hear this story and I can pray for you now!

I can be humbled in the midst of my wealth.

I can be broken in mercy for your pain.

I can exhort my brothers and sisters to uphold your cause.

I pray Alice's voice continues to be heard across the world. I pray she will not be forgotten. I pray safety and comfort for her and all our brothers and sisters suffering in West Africa now, and interceding daily for the missionaries who are living among them now.

The stories of American aid workers who've contracted the Ebola virus and been rushed home for treatment are uplifting: we find hope knowing that doctors are helping them to recover and perhaps developing ways to combat the outbreak, finally bringing it to a stop. I rejoice knowing that Jesus is working through His hands and feet and my prayers directly serve the body of Christ. God will be glorified in this!

But please, in the celebrations, never forget Alice.

One day, I will meet Alice in heaven and I will hug her neck with joy. I prayed for you, AliceI can say. God used you in ways you couldn't fathom! You felt totally alone, but He was there with you, and I was, too!

As long as you are breathing, God's not done with you yet. Your life has meaning and purpose. You are beautiful, complete and deeply loved.

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

Image credits: top, Steve Evans via Flickr (Creative Commons license) | bottom three via CNN

Will you pray for Alice, and our brothers and sisters in West Africa today?

September 2, 2014

my 5 favorite things about fall.

In case you missed it- the calendar page has flipped again, and now the buzz has started. Did you hear it? Everyone's talking about it. Fall is in the air! Farewell, summer. You won't be missed.

I can think of many reasons fall is my favorite season of them all. Today, I thought I'd tell you about the top five reasons I love fall!

FAVORITE-FALL

  1. I love pumpkin everything.
  2. Pumpkin cream cheese muffins. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pancakes. Pumpkin kabobs. Fried pumpkin. Pumpkin sandwiches. Pumpkin-stuffed pumpkin. Pumpkin bagels. Pumpkin gazpacho. Pumpkin rice. Pumpkin stew. Pumpkin and shrimp latkes..... I digress, Forrest Gump. Do you get the idea?

  3. Fall is birthday season.
  4. You know what happens. The weather gets cold, mama and daddy get cozy under the covers, and next fall- the babies are happening! That's my guess about why so many people have birthdays in the fall, anyway. Today is Eric's birthday. Next Tuesday is Hawk's birthday. Then my mother-in-law gets her day in the sun, followed by me, quite a few of my friends, my aunt and my dad, and then Eric's dad. What can I say? Let us eat cake!
    DSC_0069

  5. Layers are my jam.
  6. Fall fashion is the best. In the summer, you can only strip so much in public before you've become highly inappropriate. When it's hot, the only thing that can help is to take a dunk in the closest body of cool water, and that's not always feasible, right?! But when it gets cool in the fall, it's perfectly socially acceptable to pull on that cute little cardigan and a pair of fleece-lined leggings. And when you've got a little extra pudge from all that pumpkin eating? The layers are super forgiving and flattering, even. I always look best in the fall! 

  7. the cozy quilts come out of hiding.
  8. I love my cozy quilts, and I hate looking at them stacked neatly and abandoned, gathering dust in my dark closet all summer. Quilts make me feel like cuddling with my boys. They remind me to slow down and embrace the day more, and at night they remind me to be grateful that I'm safe and protected. The ones handed down to us connect us to our family history.
    IMG_9013
    Last, but not least...

  9. college football has returned.
  10. Come on, folks. I live in Alabama. You know I've been ready for this! We Southern folk take SEC football pretty seriously, and rare is the person that hasn't claimed a side in one college rivalry or another. As for me, I bleed Crimson red for the University of Alabama- ROLL TIDE! I have to be honest: watching every game has taken a back seat since the kids came along. But there's not much I love more than having the sound of a football game play background to our Saturday activities- the festive marching band music, the shouts of the fans! Few things are as nostalgic for me as college football.

What is your favorite season, and why?

September 1, 2014

eat, make, do | v. 01

I'm terrible about saving project ideas on Pinterest and never doing them. Do you do that, too? As much as I love Pinterest- almost as much as coffee, only a little more than chocolate cake- it can be like a black hole for time and motivation. I know I don't want to be a passive consumer of images and ideas, so I thought I'd challenge myself to complete at least one project from my Pinterest boards per week.

Every Monday, I'm going to post three project ideas from my Pinterest feed: one to EAT, one to MAKE, and one to DO. I'll link to a recipe, a crafting project, and a housekeeping or organization project. I'll pick at least one to complete, and next week I'll let you know how it went so you can hold me accountable!

I know there are going to be some weeks when I won't be able to keep up with this personal challenge: life with kids is unpredictable, often chaotic, and things don't always go according to plan. But I'm also sure a little effort will pay off in the sense happiness and pride of accomplishment! Would you like to join in with me? I bet if we make this a habit, we can make some great memories (and maybe learn some new things along the way)!

emd-1

EAT | Raspberry scones by Flourishing Foodie
MAKE | Clay bead necklaces by designlovefest
DO | How to Organize and Print Years' Worth of Pictures by Lil Blue Boo

***

Today's a holiday here in the States, and Eric is off work and Seth is out of school. We'll surely be barbecuing at my in-laws' house and hanging out poolside for perhaps the last time this year. I'll get started on my project of choice tomorrow. And if I'm really productive this week, I may be able to tackle all three!

And here's a new thing I'd like to start doing on every post- let's see if I can keep it up...a discussion question! I hope doing things like this will get us all talking and help strengthen this growing Hello Hive community. Love you guys! Have a happy Labor Day!

Where do all your family photographs "live"? Do you print hard copies of your digital photos or do they remain inside your devices?

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