Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A (diy) happy SPRING bouquet!

Good morning friends! Are you warm and well? Last week was cold and even snowed randomly and oh, so grey outside. It felt like it was close to night-time all day long.  That combined with a headache a day or two had me almost desperate for something colorful and creative.  I was browsing Pinterest (my fave) and suddenly an idea began to take root in my mind for a happy, spring bouquet. I pictured colorful flowers, things like butterflies tucked in for extra whimsy, and tiny, fabric flags standing tall in celebration of spring. I simply couldn't put the idea to rest until I'd seen it come to life with my own two hands!
The best part? The bouquet won't wilt if the watering is forgotten.  
The girls and I headed to Hobby Lobby, where floral stems were half-off.
I started arranging a few yellow and pink stems in hand, tucking in a few extra treasures throughout the store, like the butterflies and bows.

Once home I made some yarn pom-poms (just search "yarn pom poms" on Pinterest) and attached them to colorful straws and kitchen skewers. I also cut some tiny, fabric flags and hot-glued them to skewers as well.  
Once I had all my bouquet components ready I began to do the arranging. My favorite part! 
I used a clean, recycled jar and put the bigger flowers in first, tucking yellow next to pink, and alternating between tall and short stems. 
Last I added in the pom poms, butterflies, and fabric flags. 

To make the jar a bit fancier I added two rows of ribbon and one of washi tape (the black and white stripes you see). I also hot-glued my last polka dot bow right in the middle of the ribbon. 
The bouquet now sits on my dining room table and the word that comes to mind every time I see it is "happy".  

We could all use a bit more happy, don't you think? 
*Hint-this would be such a joyful gift for a friend!*

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rhythms and routines to live my best life

I believe it was Oprah who first coined the phrase- "Live your best life".  This is something I've been thinking about lately, seeing as my health has been a smallish factor the past couple of years.  Many of you know that I've been working towards a natural healing from endometriosis, which seems to go hand-in-hand with little bouts of anxiety/depression as well.  The simple truth is when I don't feel well repeatedly, my mental energy isn't well either.   In turn, I can't serve anyone joyfully when I don't feel good.  And with my family, my heart for foster care, and other things like photography, I have a lot to steward! My people need the best me.

Over the past few months I've started going to the chiropractor and changed many of my eating habits, resulting in a much better feeling me!  I've fallen off the strict eating bandwagon more than a few times and I always notice the change, for the worse, in my body.  As I'm typing this now I'm purposing again to eat smart, drink loads of water, and exercise daily.  And I feel those best choices in my mind (it's clear!), my body, and soul. 

What I want to talk today about are the rhythms and routines that help us make our "best life". Each of us have worlds swirling with responsibilities, loves, passions, and callings.  For me, in order to fulfill what God has called me to do and to live as fully "Sara" as I can, I must make my health and self-care a priority.  Especially since making these a priority also help keep exhaustion, depression, and anxiety at bay. It is just so linked for me. So all that to say, in the midst of taking care of everyone else all day long, I also try to implement rhythms and routines that care of me. 

Can you relate? 

I hope so. 

Let's go through a typical day of mine and I'll mention a few things I do to stay well and often this means running my household as best as possible too.
I'll start by saying eating a healthy, kind of big breakfast is a must for me.  Think: a few hash browns, a fried egg with some avocado on top, and a cup of almost black coffee.  Add in a few stretches, a bible verse and prayer, and I'm ready for the day. I also pack a lunch for Brett each morning and write down or think about what we will eat for lunch and dinner and pull things from the freezer. If the girls need a lunch I pack that too.  On a lot of days, I write a blog post. 

Mid-morning I start both the dishwasher and laundry and tidy up the house/make the bed. I also start drinking my morning water. My goal is two water bottles (around 30 ounces each I think?) before lunch. This keeps my energy up and my snack cravings down.  

I like to eat a light lunch like a small portion of leftovers, a salad, smoothie bowl, or fruit and a handful of nuts. I struggle with lunch because either nothing sounds good or if I eat junk, I get lazy and tired feeling all afternoon.  

Sometime during the afternoon I try to get a bit of exercise, whether it be completing a few miles on the treadmill, or doing squats, crunches, or a plank for as long as possible. This time of year I'm also out in the yard pruning and gardening, which doubles as exercise too! 

Early evening I put on jazz.  THIS IS HUGE FOR ME. I've started putting a jazz playlist on Spotify to listen to once it's time for evening chores.  I look forward to it and it signals that it's time to start winding down. I put the dishes away, make dinner (and try to have extras for the next day), clean up the kitchen, and fold laundry.  

After dinner is time to finish up the laundry and then rest.  It is totally family time.  I know that will change as the girls get older, but for now we spend time together as a family first, and then I spend time with Brett once the girls are in bed.  
A few night time routines I like are: drinking a kombucha or tea, rubbing essential oils on, sitting in the dark and editing photos, playing music, reading (my FAVE), taking a bath, or having a date on the back deck with Brett. Maybe once a week I'll go into the craft room at night and paint. I also like to go to bed on time, a luxury I am enjoying while we don't have any newborns! 

Another HUGE part of my health during the day is how much I'm on my phone/the computer.  Lately I've been turning the computer off after I write my morning blog post and then I hide my phone in a cabinet or drawer.  This does mean I'm not real good with texting people back, but I've found my truest friends don't mind if it's hours later when I get back to them. 
I also like to do something creative every. single. day.!! I take photos every day and other days add in painting, reading a magazine for inspiration, sketching, etc. I exercise my creative muscle daily, even if it's just 5 minutes out of my day.
What originally got me thinking about all this too was discovering I am a "highly-sensitive person". No really, it's a thing! I'll blog more about it later, but you can read an article on it here: 12 signs you're a highly-sensitive person
I noticed when I was serving/around people all.the.time. I would start to feel like I was going to panic.  So, I've purposed to add in just a bit of quiet/dark/relaxing time each day.  I think I may be an extroverted introvert if that makes sense?! Figuring out my personality has also helped me live my best life. But more on that later. 

Where are you in all these thoughts? What rhythms and routines help you live your best life? How do you relax/unwind? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cousin Sleepover!

 The girls had their first sleepover last Friday!! This long-awaited event was actually planned well before Christmas, but sickness and other bits of inconvenient life kept getting in the way.  But finally last Friday night was the BIG moment for the girls' first sleepover with all their girl cousins! 
 Everyone arrived at our house around 4:00 and we had silly sunglasses waiting, as well as a pretty table and picture frames to paint later on in the night. It took the girls about two seconds to start giggling, talking, imagining, and having all kinds of fun! Oh, and running up and down the stairs and outside and then back inside again.  
 We first headed over to the pasture to get a look at the cows and see if we could spot any daffodils.  Sadly, the daffodils weren't ready to play, having been frosted over the week before. 
But that didn't stop us from making our own fun and capturing some fun shots too! 

 Then after plenty of playtime it was french bread pizza for the win! 
This worked great for everyone and was so easy to do for a small crowd. I cooked Italian sausage and also had black olives, mushrooms, shredded cheese, and homemade pizza sauce.  The girls loaded their french bread slice up with whatever toppings they liked and we stuck them in the oven at 350 for a few minutes to melt the cheese and get the bread crispy.

 These sweet girls LOVED the pizza! 
I adore this shot of them having their own prayer time before eating....and notice Anna sneaking a peek. 

 After a very giggly dinner the girls painted their picture frames.  We used grocery bags to pour the paint on and used regular acrylic paints, like you can get at Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart.  I also gave each gal a small cup of water and we used paper napkins to clean off the brushes. 

The frames are from Hobby Lobby and were bought when they were half-off!

 While the frames dried the girls went upstairs for a disco ball party, complete with percussion music (almost African sounding) and glow-sticks! I left them alone for this and heard through the baby monitor (yes, we still have one) the oldest gal organizing a "dance competition". 


To end this over-the-top night we had an Easter egg hunt to find candy and popped popcorn to eat while watching a movie. 

We made a giant blanket fort with twinkle lights for the girls to sleep under.
They finally all settled down around 11 and were up before 7 the next morning! 

I texted my sis and said "The only thing I can think of is-No talkie before coffee."
These girls seriously had so much fun though and we plan to do it again! 
Do your kids have sleepovers? 
I think I need to plan one for my grown-up girl friends next! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I missed painting the most.

My kiddos are getting older, as is evident by the fact that Anna Ruth has her first loose tooth.  Loose teeth actually, seeing as both her bottom, front teeth are loose. 

She's also registered for kindergarten and nap times are a thing of the past.  We still do an afternoon quiet time a few days a week, but it is short and sweet.  I've often said how much I adore my kids growing up, and I do! Creatively speaking I've found it very tricky to have time to paint, gone are the afternoons of tucking away in the craft room. 

I was reflecting on this new season and feeling like I might not ever paint again.  And that's what I missed the most, the painting.  But then I decided to change my perspective.  I could be like a lot of people and complain about the lack of _____________ or I could just happily roll with the seasons, instead focusing on what I can do.  Why bother, you ask? I've often heard moms say they just don't have time for anything for themselves or even say that they'll wait 'till their kids are grown. 

I must not be cut from the same cloth because I need to express myself artistically and creatively just as much as I need breakfast and my morning coffee.  It's good medicine for my mind and soul and life.  A book I read recently really inspired these thoughts (more on the book later) and so I've decided to embrace my art within the time frame I have.  One afternoon recently the girls and I set up our paints and paper on the back deck, each of us content in our own artsy world.  They painted for quite a while with me and it was precious.  Then they were off, running in the yard and I finished up this little painting. 

I don't even know why I like it, but I do. I really, really do.  This painting went through the normal creative cycle for me, meaning at some point I really DIDN'T like it at all, but I kept going. 

Once I felt like the painting was finished I almost literally heard it speak to me, as if to say "See, all that joy and color and art is still in there".  

What name would you give this painting? 
Do you share an understanding of the creative time crunch? 

**And please don't share/remind me that my time will shrink as my kids get older. :) I already get that and being reminded of it constantly sends my anxiety through the roof! Thank-you kindly***

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Make a photo book with Blurb!

Morning friends! I'm back with another Blurb photo book today! I'm a huge advocate for putting your photos to use.  I hardly see the point in having a phone filled to the brim with photos, especially since I am on a mission lately to spend less time browsing my phone.  With that said, it is rather convenient to tuck my phone into my pocket when the camera feels too big and heavy to lug around.  

I take many photos with my phone that simply stay there, never making it onto Instagram.  This is very intentional usually. But just because I don't share every single photo I take doesn't make them any less valid or valuable than a photo that gets 50 likes. They each matter to me and are a part of my story.  Last week I decided to load all my current phone photos into Blurb's bookmaking program and make a photo book.  

I picked a favorite photograph, from a favorite Indian restaurant in town, for the front cover.  I also chose the 8x10 trade book format. 

From there I knew I had two choices.  One, load my photos, choose how many I wanted on each page, and click "auto-fill".  Or two, load my photos, choose a different format for each page and design them on my own, and add text. 
 Although creatively speaking I really enjoy designing each page and combining memories and text to go along with it, that is also very time-consuming. So for this particular book I chose the two-photo a page format and clicked "Auto-fill." 
 The results were simply wonderful, all those rich memories tucked into one book! 

 Some of the photos were edited previously because I'd shared them on IG or the blog. Others were simply snapped on my phone and then included in the book, no editing done at all. 

(the back cover!)
Looking through my photo books is good medicine for my soul.  Although each day feels rather ordinary, having a record of the rosy in my routine makes me think and feel otherwise when I take a trip down memory lane.  The small moments are truly the extraordinary ones it seems. 

Are you new to Blurb? You can make your first book and save $15 (off a $30 minimum) purchase! Simply use the link here: Make my first Blurb book-Save $15

Time to empty the phones and fill up a book! :) 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Marching in with joy

We had our first full week of March and it was full of joy and surprises, like the snow we got this past weekend! Here's a little look at what we've been up to lately. 
We visited Grandma and Papaw's house and got to admire all the pretty things coming up in the yard, signs that spring is here!

Or so we thought! The very next day we got snow. I imagine winter was shaking its finger at spring saying "You're not rid of me yet!" .  Winter must have wanted to go out in joy and with a great memory too.  The girls loved the snow! Their excitement levels immediately ramped up to unbelievable. They kept yelling "Best snow day ever!" and "Best Christmas ever!" (who knows on that one).  Bless their Arkansas hearts. They have no idea this little dusting we got wasn't truly like a big snow, but it didn't make a bit of difference to their glad hearts.

My grandparents have the dreamiest yard! There are beautiful things growing everywhere you look. 

Wouldn't it be neat if we could say the same thing about our own lives? That we had beautiful things growing everywhere we looked. 

I tidied up the craft room (again) and got a teeny bit of time in here this weekend. I am always reminded how truly relaxing and lovely it feels to be tucked in here, especially if I have a time frame long enough to let my fingers and mind wander. Lately this has truly become a challenge, with the girls no longer needing naps like they did when they were babies. 

I'm trying to motivate myself to get up early and let the quiet of this space sink in before I need to start the busy day.
We started our hardest puzzle yet with the girls, a 550 piece Noah's Ark one! We all really like working puzzles together. 

I've also been reading a great book, working with the girls on their spelling, dreaming of summer vacation, trying to start painting at least once a week again, cooking the most delicious chili, and praying for our future foster kiddo. 

What does March look like in your neck of the woods? 
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