31 January 2013

A Family Friendly Valentine's Mantle

This is not your magazine ready, professional photo shoot mantle. While I do definitely have my perfectionist, magazine-worthy, Martha Stewart-grade design desires, hearkening back to this post, I'm trying to be family friendly and more relaxed about how my home and life look. Simple, loving and homey are what I am focused on these days and I'm very happy with that.

After I put everything away for Christmas (in mid-January - it was one of those years), I left up the wood star and brought back out beachy elements. I also added this framed piece from this post. Then one of our resident artists added some of her own works. This is some of the creativity that flowed from this post.

In a past life I might have said, Nah, let's put those in your room for display. (Not on my pretty, manicured mantle...) But that's the old me. I can have a fussy mantle again later. This joyful, kid-filled time of life doesn't last long and I want to enjoy every creative, colorful moment. This is our family. You will notice that The Bug is so happy her feet aren't touching the ground. That was a very deliberate decision on her part about her joy at her new life here and how good and safe she feels now.

We do not have the two dogs but that is where fantasy comes into the artwork...and can stay. (We're not in a place for big pets at this point.) I love the flower bows on both girls' hair and the happy flower garden surrounding us. That is a bit how our life feels right now. She also built us a pretty house. Wouldn't it be fun to live in a world that is so colorful?!

I also worked up a little garland for a little Valentine's Day touch. It was super easy using construction paper cut to four inches by three inches. I used a punch for the hearts and foam squares to attach them to the dark purple construction paper. I cut in on the bottom for a little additional detail, grabbed some ribbon and a glue stick and a few minutes later I was done.

At night the wood star is charming and homey. I though it could definitely stay up a while. It is wintry and fun to turn on at night. It makes the living room very charming. We also left up the glitter stars from Christmas for a few extra weeks. We'll probably replace them with stained glass hearts soon.

It's simple but it feels like us and our life right now. I like that. Someday I'll have a stunning mantle, but right now I have a mantle that reflects us just perfectly. And I love that.

30 January 2013

Finding A Great Guestbook

 I hope that our home will be one with wide open doors for friends and family, filled with warm memories of wonderful dinners, long evenings of great conversation and overnight visits from loved ones near and far.

One of the traditions that I have always thought would be fun for our family is to have a guestbook so I went on the look for one. While searching online, I came across a post on Apartment Therapy about addion a guestbook to your home. While the post was positive and cheerful, many of the comments were downright rude and obnoxious. Check them out if you like, but I warn you, you might like human beings a little less afterwards. Haha. Needless to say some of those poor mannered responses made me wonder about my dreams of a guestbook for our home.

I was really disappointed at what I saw available in my initial guestbook searches but two weeks ago when I was in Santa Barbara, I passed a Papyrus store and decided to pop in to see what they had. It took me only a couple of seconds to find one that felt just perfect for our home and family. Simple, black and not too big. If you like this one, know that it comes in several other pretty colors too.

Happily we had our overnight guests last week be the first signers of our guestbook and inside it I tucked the beautiful thank you card they left upon their departure as well. I was happy to hear that they too had a guestbook at their home. I think a guestbook is a great way to keep a record of fun events and visitors in your home. I don't think it's a forced thank you card or anything like that. I would hope that guests would just remind us of the date they visited, what we did together and how much fun we had together. That's my dream for our family guestbook.

It's now at home on the table near our front door so it won't be forgotten. Just seeing it each day as I come and go is a good reminder to have people over and do my part to make sure we plan and execute those fun events we dream of with people we love and enjoy spending time with. I look forward to the fun memories we'll record there in the years to come.

Do you have a guestbook? Are you anti-guestbook? I love hearing people's opinions on these "controversial" topics. Leave a comment below if you like. I'm sending you warmest wishes for a fantastic day -- and if you come to our home, I really hope you'll sign our guestbook.

28 January 2013

A Pin Test #10: Stain Glass Hearts

It's Pin Test #10, inspired by this pin for Crayon Shaving Hearts by Skip To My Lou on Pinterest. I remember doing cravon shaving stained glass in grade school. The one thing I didn't remember or realize when I was a wee girl was how messy this project is.

Here was our process:

1) We started out by buying four boxes of 48-count crayons at the dollar store. We invested four dollars in those.

2) The Bug pulled out all the pinks, purples and reds out of each box of crayons. Hooray for a craft step a kid can mostly do by themselves. I opened the boxes, she did the rest. We ended up with a cereal bowl about half full of crayons.

3) Shaved the crayons. We used pencil sharpeners and had to experiment to find the best of the sharpeners we had in our house. Unfortunately the crayons were too big for our battery-operated sharpener. So we spent about an hour making pencil sharpenings with the crayons. It was ridiculously messy and we had sore fingers when we were done. This was the low point. There always is one in every craft venture I've found. Ha.

4) Using a cool iron we melted the crayons between to pieces of wax paper. Be sure to use kraft paper or a paper grocery bag between the wax paper and the iron and the ironing board. It's still likely your iron may get a little wax on it. Easy to clean up if you turn the iron to high and rub it on an old towel.

5) Cut the "stain glass' into heart shapes. This also can get messy as the bits of crayon break off  from between the wax paper and fall everywhere. So do this over a trash can or some surface that is easy to clean up.

6) Punch holes in the center top of the hearts. Then string ribbon, twine or fishing line through the hold and cut enough length to hang the hearts from a window or the ceiling.

I had been wanting to try this for a while and I am glad we did it. The mess factor was a little more than I was happy with. They are also very fragile and don't travel well. They're definitely not something you could put in the mail very easily for a fun gift. I think they would be crumbled. But it's fun to have something pretty to hang in the windows and we'll enjoy them while they last. Definitely a fun project to try, but I definitely learned some lessons, as always, on the way.

Sharing My Kindred Spirits

We've been watching the Anne of Green Gables movies around here regularly since The Bug first saw them last summer. She has become quite a student of Miss Anne Shirley with and "e". I love how The Bug will analyze Anne and other character's comments and behavior, what she thinks was good, was not good, etc. She frequently speaks of Mrs. Rachel Lind and how nosy she is and how bad that is. I had an experience this week that reminded me of Anne with an "e" and gave me great joy.

Kindred spirits are at the center of all that Anne Shirley loves about life and she seems to be continually finding people everywhere she goes who she ends up sharing a deep connection with. My life too has been graced with such wonderful people, who I too consider kindred spirits. I am so thankful for their influence in my life, however brief it may be.

I had never imaged though how joyful it would be for me to introduce so many of these kindred spirits and their children to The Bug. It amazes me to see her warm to them with the same fondness I feel for these dear friends. Last Thursday we had the chance to host a dear friend from college and her three children while they were on a short stopover in Southern California on their way to a grand five-month travel adventure.

Although our visit was short, it was deeply joyful for all. It was amazing what fond feelings can develop in such a short period of time where there is a foundation of love there. It was such a happy moment Saturday night to stand and wave like crazy as their shuttle bus to their flight drove away. The Bug was on my shoulders waving and blowing kisses. It was pure sweetness.

Grateful to see the blessing of kindred spirits being passed on to the next generation. Happily we have more kindred spirit friends, near and far, some that The Bug has met and some she has yet to meet. I'm looking forward to those meetings even more now that I've had a taste of the sweetness and appreciate even more what a blessing these relationships are to our family.

25 January 2013

Yes, We Need More Courage

image via

I've had the occasion to talk to several friends who are truly in need of more courage or are finding it necessary to amass great quantities of it at this passing moment. I can say I am at a similar standpoint. After a difficult week and a To Do list miles long and not too fun at that, I hit a rough patch the past couple of days. Not feeling well, not sleeping well, tired, frustrated, discouraged, a little overwhelmed - we've all been there.

It's so easy to let the fears grow bigger than they really are, to lose faith in the one thing you have put in God's hands to fix because you have no power to do so, to feel you will never be an adequate spouse, parent, artist, financial wizard, athlete, etc. It's so easy to fear that all the daily worries will overtake your ability to withstand the pressure. We all have tests we are given, a hand we've been dealt which no one else will exactly understand or experience in the same exact way and we have to maneuver our way through them without knowing how they will turn out in the end.

The more we talk with each other and spend time with people we value, the more quickly we realize that life is difficult and constantly challenging for everyone. But that is not to say that we cannot enjoy the benefits of courage, hope and positive thinking. Because life is full of joy, life is full of wonderful, fantastic little moments. Life is full of fantastic people to know and love and beautiful places to see and love. There is great power is courage. Having gratitude helps us have courage too because it allows us to see all the great things that have come to our lives and be less consumed with frustrations.

Today I wanted to share a great article I read from Psychology Today called The Six Attributes of Courage:  Quotes and Exercises To Be Your Best And Bravest Self  by Melanie A. Greenberg, Ph.D. It is full of inspiration. A great description of courage, attributes of a courageous people, amazing quotes, and even courage-building exercises. This is a powerful resource to anyone who wants to live in more joy, courage and peace and I pass it along as a gift from my soul to yours. I'm going to take it to heart and start working out my courage muscle a little harder. In our home we pray daily to be "brave and strong." A prayer I will continue to carry with me each day to weather life's storms and keep a joyful, grateful smile on my face.

It seems I've written about the need for courage quite a few times here. Here are a few of my favorites.

Joyful Tears For Ragnar Relay
Fighting Fear

Sending you warmest, bravest, strongest wishes for you in your courageous daily path. You are not alone. God bless!

24 January 2013

Stopping For A Vista Point

On the Saturday of MLK Weekend, while driving from Solvang to Santa Barbara, I decided to break up the short mountain drive by stopping to stretch our legs at a vista point stop. It was mid-afternoon and the lighting turned out to be so pretty under the trees.

We had a lovely stop for about twenty minutes, talking with some international visitors, enjoying the views and the sparkly late day sunshine. It was a great reminder to step off the trail occasionally because you never know what you will find, who you will meet or how much fun you will have.

Have you taken an unexpected detour or made an unexpected stop lately? What adventure did you find?

23 January 2013

Day Trip: Solvang

After much deliberation we decided to spend a day of our MLK weekend visiting Solvang and Santa Barbara. We got out the door early Saturday and made quick time of getting to Solvang. We found a public parking lot that is a little off the main drag and were wandering the town within minutes. We did make a pit stop at the public restrooms, a feature I always appreciate about the public lots in Solvang....that and the fact that there is no charge for parking.

Solvang is a small town, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, that was originally settled by Danish immigrants. After spending time in Denmark during college it has been a fun day trip for me to get a Danish meal and a little Scandinavian flavor in my bones. I was a bit saddened this trip to see that the economy has forced more of the small Danish-themed shops out of business and more shops are being taken by mainstream strip mall type businesses. Really sad.

There were also many empty stores in the main shopping areas but it does seem that there has been growth in other parts of the downtown. It was a holiday weekend and by midday there were a lot of people shopping and eating ice cream and pastries on the streets. I have my fingers crossed that the town makes a nice Scandinavian comeback in the years to come.

We ate lunch at my usual lunch spot and then grabbed pastries to bring home with us for Sunday breakfast. I think next time I will try a new restaurant and one of the other bakeries in town just for fun. Those are the two businesses that seemed to have have stayed in business through the economic downturn: the bakeries and the eating spots. I did find a lovely shop that I had not seen before called Picket Fences. The Bug was very taken with the shop and had a great time looking at all the small details of this home decor shop filled with French inspired tin pieces and much more.

The little Scandinavian touches around town are fun -- like this etched window pane. Another classic shop to stop into is the shoe store filled with a fantastic selection of great shoes including many types of clogs. It's no secret I am a clog lover so it's always a fun stop for me.

It was a lovely little day in Solvang. I'll have a little more to share about our Adventure Day soon and two more stops we made. In the end we both ended up sick on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but it seems like The Bug was able to nip it in the bud very quickly and I have, I believe, finally, finally taken a turn for a complete recovery in the past couple of days. Feeling un-dead seems to be a very good start - haha.

all images by kalanicut

22 January 2013

Cutting Back On Hobby Time

image via

The new year does always bring an intense desire to reorganize and declutter. This year in particular I am thinking about simplifying a great deal. Running a household and raising a little one full time has changed my priorities quite a bit and I am very desirous to fine tune my goals and the use of my energies.

I have always had a bazillion hobbies that I have dabbled in. This has also brought with it a bazillion craft and art supplies. I have always had the luxury of space to keep them in and time to dabble away when I wanted to.

I am feeling itchy to make a change. I don't want to have all sorts of small boxes stored away just in case I need one anymore. I don't need plaster right now or drapey cheesecloth. I want to get rid of unwanted yarn, unused fabrics and tools and crafting toys that are of no use to me. Out with any paints or other products that may have dried out or gone bad. I am also willing to let go of some of the crafts I have made because they do begin to stack up and you only have so much space. I will keep the ones that mean something to me, but if it's clutter, it's gotta go.

I am also trying to impress upon The Bug the same principles of decluttering. She's like me, if she sees a one inch by one inch square of paper she wants to keep it because she knows she could make something of it. And we really do use those tiny bits. But they start to accumulate and take up a lot of space after a while. I have to draw the line somewhere -- for BOTH of us.

I will keep my basic supplies, for sure, but I can definitely slim down. I have a lot of paper I don't care for, that can go. I can really slim down to the hobbies I actually do regularly. That would be jewelry making, paper crafts and some painting to refurbish thrift purchases. I also will keep my sewing and knitting supplies.

This simplifying ache I'm feeling also extends to my time. I do not have time for a lot of crafty goofing around right now. My priorities have to be elsewhere. Every ounce of energy I have needs to be spent mainly focused on the family and taking good care of myself. Both take considerable time and thoughtfulness to do well. And I enjoy both, which is good. So I'm removing any pressure from myself to be too crafty right now in my life.

I can't be one of those bloggers who's redoing an entire room in her house every month to feature on my blog. I won't be designing and constructing my own couch, redoing a bathroom over a weekend or making anything out of pallets for a while. Not that I wouldn't love to be doing those things, but they aren't a priority right now. And as much as being part of the blogging world makes me feel a little deficient that I'm not doing all those things on a weekly basis, (ha-ha), I'm good with super simple. I know that is the best thing for my little family.

Now this is not to say that I won't still regularly be finding small projects that I am thrilled to do, but I will not be doing them to keep up with the Joneses. I'll do them when I really want to and when I have the time and energy. I'll tell you about one such project soon. An afterschool art adventure.

Can anyone relate to my desire to lay down my inner Martha Stewart for a while? Sometimes she does need a good spanking and a nap, haaha. Are you okay putting aside some hobbies for a while to focus on the family or other goals? I'd love to hear in the comments below how you felt and how you acted on your desires. Wishing you a spectacularly lovely day!

21 January 2013

Dad And Daughter In The Snow

Okay, how could I resist sharing a little bit about our winter wonderland trip to Utah for Christmas? I had actually forgotten about these photos and just looked at them for the first time last weekend. The "prayers" for snow began with all the family days before we arrived. We certainly had every prayer  answered! I rarely remember ever having so much snow when I was a kid living there.

This amazing park is in my parent's back yard is a paradise for snow play. You can see it in summer time right here. How I wish this park had existed when we were kids! Our parents would have had to come out and drag us in for dinner.

Once we were in Utah and were certain there would be snow in the valley, I put in a very last minute order to Santa Claus for a tube for sledding. Each day of our trip we gained several more inches of snow. In the park there was a perfect little hill for sledding, big open space for pulling sleds and tubes and so much snow you could almost bury yourself in it. There was also an endless amount of space for snowman building.

The Bug, such a California girl, was a little surprised to remember how cold snow feels. That cracked me up. Well bundled, she could've very easily spent the entire day out there even though the temperatures were extremely cold. The very best part of sledding has to be having a big, strong, fun Daddy to pull you, push you and spin you around, roughhouse with you and throw snowballs. These two were absolutely meant to spend their lives together. God knew what he was doing when he paired them up. So darling. Love them to pieces!

18 January 2013

Heartfelt Valentine's Day Creativity

image via Paper Source

I think we may need this darling pillow from Paper Source. "Love You More" is one of our big family sayings. This would make such a cute Valentine's Day gift. It's also a good reminder to have around the house to act in love.

Paper Source is a great resource to find charming things for Valentine's Day or any special occasion. The stores are filled with pretty papers, ribbons and craft supplies. You can also find a lot of charming cards and gifts if you need a pretty treat for friends or family members.

Valentine's Day has to be the sweetest holiday of the year. Who can resist all the pinks and reds, pretty papers and wrappings plus the cute candies. It's a great holiday for projects too. Frosted pink cookies, handmade cards and more. I bought a big pack of Spring themed papers this week full of pretty pinks and reds that I can't wait to start playing with.

We're putting together a little Valentine's Day box for The Man this weekend. We are making a few fun little crafts and sugar cookies are a must. With a little girl around the house it's a great time to just jump right into all the pretty pinkness of this holiday and have a blast making things and enjoying every bit of it. I'll look forward to sharing some projects with you soon. Hope you get a chance to enjoy all there is to love about Valentine's Day.

Here are links to a few past Valentine's Day posts that might give you some inspiration for your own projects this year.

Etsy Valentines Inspiration
More Etsy Valentines Inspiration
It's Valentine's Day, My Cookie
Valentine's Stamps
A Simple Embossing Technique
A Nod to St. Valentine - Blogger Inspiration

17 January 2013

Space Bags & Thrift Store Bags

image via

I went through my closet two nights ago and it didn't take long because I don't have that much clothing -- and yet I was able to fill a grocery bag with clothes for the thrift store.

Here's what I'm getting rid of:

1) Clothes that have a bad vibe about them. This includes clothes that I wore a lot or purchased at times in my life where things were very hard. I just don't like the mental/emotional association with some of those pieces and I have no inclination to wear them because of that. There are just a couple of these but I really had to own that I am not inclined to wear outfits that have sad memories attached.

2) New items I have never worn. Thankfully this pile only consists of a couple of items. Sadly one was a knit bolero that is now ruined because it was hanging badly on a hanger and has totally stretched out in the front and looks awful. Bad.

3) Clothes that feel super frumpy. I had to let go of a few old favorites that have lost their shape or now just look worn and haggard. Some had become a bit discolored on the color or the color had faded out a bit. Not so badly that they were a huge embarrassment but they just no long look sharp. Some never fit quite right. They do not make me feel joyful, attractive or pulled together. There is no point having clothing like that in your closet. By old friends. God bless.

It has felt really great to put the focus on the wardrobe the past two months. On Tuesday I stopped by Gap and got the blue version of this new favorite. I should get lots of great wear out of it, since it appears that this is not a cold snap but rather a cold winter we are having her in SoCal. I feel like I am having an easier time making decisions about clothing pieces to add to my closet and I'm shopping faster and smarter.

I think I've made a couple of decisions that I regret now, but that is bound to happen and they are still pieces that I can wear and get use out of. One is this Navy Striped Top. I bought it in my size but it feels like it's grown at least another size maybe two since I got it. I'm hoping that maybe throwing it in the dryer will help shrink it up. I wish I'd gotten one size smaller. Another is a floral blouse with a weird ruffle at the neckline and elastic at the sleeves. Trying to stay open minded but we'll see what happens. May do a little altering.

The next thing I'm going to do is put a few items in Space Bags. These are the items that I am saving because of a bit of inspiration I heard from Ralph Lauren. He keeps high quality, very stylish classics he knows will come back in style again. I have a few of these items I know I will love having when the trend comes around again.

After that I am buying new slim profile flocked hangers. I keep seeing them being used by organization buffs and clean freaks on TV. I'd love to see how much space I can save in my closet with a thinner profile hanger. I actually saw a 50-pack of Real Simple hangers I almost bought today at Bed Bath and Beyond. I am so glad I didn't after reading the bad, bad online reviews of them all breaking to pieces within weeks of purchase. I am also pretty disappointed to see two trusted brands names marketing these apparently horrible hangers. It reminded me that I bought a little card case from Target that was Real Simple brand and it feel apart within weeks. Disappointing to think this may be a trend.  I will definitely have to make another choice.

So tomorrow morning it's off to the Thrift Store with a few bags of goods. It feels good. I'm thinking about priorities this year and realizing more than ever that I really need to streamline my life and my time. I want to keep it as simple as possible now that I am spending so much time being a mom. It's a great joy, but wow is is a lot of work. Even though the man is away there is much to do for him and to keep other things afloat while he is gone. I'll have more to share with you about my goals for this year and how I'm feeling about my hobbies. It may shock you. Have a fantastic day. Thanks so very much for coming by. God bless!

16 January 2013

Must....Have More....JOY!

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There are two different emotions that I have been thinking a lot about in my life lately. One is being "happy" and the other is experiencing "joy." I find that for me personally the two are different. They may very well be the same for other people. Perhaps a better word for "happy" might even be "content." Yes, that rings more true to me in this conversation I'm starting here.

I have always had an easy time finding happiness and contentment. When I was younger a friend had a joke with me that I would be able to find something to be happy about in hell because that's just who I am. I am against wasting any time being grumpy or sad if at all possible. So it's easy for me to find contentment in my life, with people I love, in my home, etc. However, joy is something different and I do believe that my ability to be easily contented and happy can often overshadow my joy and even keep me from it. Being content and seeking and experiencing joy are two very different things. Contentment is about being comfortable. Joy is about seeking higher things, doing things that invigorate the body and soul.

I need more joy in my life right now. I am very busy and have a huge amount of responsibility on my shoulders, big changes in my life and a to do list that is very long of pretty important tasks. I am still sick, although I have been told this too shall pass by a trained medical professional. I know my immune is worn out right now, with good reason, but I am really trying to pump it up. Circumstances are not ideal for experiencing a lot of joy. And yet...AND YET...I know it's my decision, my use of time, my priorities that determine if I'm living joyfully or just comfortably fine enough.

I have been doing a few things that are bringing me joy. Here they are:

1) Simplifying the home. Clearing out clutter, making it all feel roomier and easier to organize. My living room already feels more spacious, now that we took down the art area that is now too small for The Bug. She's even outgrown our darling little art table that I upcycled in 2010.

2) A morning ritual. A little inspiration first thing in the day makes a world of difference. I'm starting a gratitude journal again this week too. Trying to keep my eye on the good things of life.

3) Exercise. I've been much more diligent the past few months and it's been a plus in every way from the way I feel to how I look. This has suffered a bit since I got sick.

4) Connecting more with friends. It's great to spend time with friends. I always learning something new and inspiring from our conversations. Plus it's always something nice to look forward to.

5) Spending time outside, even when it's been very cold here lately. It's hilarious and very strange to pass by everyone here bundled up in winter coats and scarves. And we wimpy Californians aren't even exaggerating, it actually really is in the 30-50s here right now. I keep forgetting to bring The Bug's gloves with us for the morning walk to school. So not a part of my California life. Walking to school and back is a nice breath of fresh air. I'm trying to walk more in the neighborhood. It makes so much more sense but requires a little more preparation to get out the door in time to actually make the walk.

Here are a few things I want to be doing more of:

1) Going to inspiring places. There are so many inspiring shops, museums and things to do here in my fair city. I need to get out and do more of them even if it's for just a few minutes once a week.

2) Simplify. I am still doing too many things, own too much stuff, am going in too many directions. But I know that every time I lighten my load I feel more free and calm. These are things I want more of.

3) Service for others. I know when I do things for other people I am blessed. I already do a lot for the people here at home, but I would like to reach out that front door a little more.
4) Waste less time. I know there are still lots of small ways I use my time better. Efficient use of time is one of the best ways to make room for more joy in life.

Do you find yourself caught somewhere between content and joyful? How do you approach this in your own life. I'd love some suggestions from you, dear readers. What else can we do to bring joy into our lives? Please give me and other readers some ideas in the comments below.

15 January 2013

Inspiration from Fantastic Blogger Friends

image via

After taking a couple of weeks off from reading any blogs during the holidays - sounds shocking, right?! -- I have been so happy to reconnect with blogger friends. I have loved opening up the doors to their worlds and reading what they did for the holidays, about their surprise Christmas gifts, and especially about how they are looking at last year and facing the year ahead. It's so fun to learn things from them that I have not thought about before and to connect with them on the things they've been thinking about that have been rambling around in my head too.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorites with you, because chances are that things I'm thinking about and learning may be on your radar this January too.

Kelly at EverKelly has the best post about how we look back at last year and how important it is to look back and recognize our successes. Kelly had an amazing year last year and I remember how hard she worked in 2010 and 2011 to make those things happen. Great inspiration for looking at our own accomplishments with pride and appreciation for our blessings

My dear friend Glenda from GG - Notes On The Journey wrote a beautiful post on making good friends. Life had changed a bit for me and I  know that I need to make some changes to allow new and needed friends into my life. So I loved her inspiration, it came at just the right time.

Jane at Borrowed Abode and owner of the pretty shop Janery is focusing 2013 on her own Happiness Project. I am so excited to follow her journey. Happiness is a topic I have often studied and always appreciated in my life. My Dad taught me the joy of being happy and it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I know Jane will have lots to teach me this year.

Jenn from A Home In The Making had a great post on making resolutions. I can totally relate to her hope for a more peaceful, relaxing 2013 after a few very busy years. Check out Jen's review of all their projects from 2012 too. The home she and her husband Chris have creatd together, their home in the making, is amazingly beautiful and I love so many of the projects she's done this past year. I especially love their kitchen counters and her update to their front door.

Lastly, Steph from Stephmodo is one of my biggest organization gurus. She always seems to post something on clutter and organization just at those times of year that I am most itching to reorganize everything. I loved her recent post on Clutter & the Modern Family. Very inspiring, especially as I prepare to rent a small storage unit to put my long-term storage in. Definitely thinking I once again need to revisit each box and decide it if the contents is really stuff I need to hang onto.

Hope you enjoy checking these great posts out and get some good ideas and inspiration for this year. I am so happy to know these ladies. I know Kelly and Jane in person but I have enjoyed long distance friendships with all these ladies and so appreciate all they have each taught me and how they have inspired my own actions and success. Sending you warm wishes for a great day!

14 January 2013

A Warm French Striped Top For Cold Weather

image via Gap

Thursday night I decided it was time to get out of the house, run a couple of errands and give me a night off of cooking dinner. So we headed to one of our favorite hang outs to return some items I bought for The Man over Christmas that didn't work. I thought I'd do a quick spin around the Gap store again looking for more tops because they have had so many that I liked.

This shopping center is an outdoor two-story place and for some reason the walkways because canyons for nasty wind and it was shockingly cold last night. One thing I've been missing in my wardrobe the past couple of years is warm, stylish, long sleeve tee shirts. Maybe it was the freezing cold that lead me to it but I fell into some pretty serious like with this long sleeve Harbor Jersey knit top. Besides the fun French flair, it has the cutest dark gray patches on the elbows. I have always loved elbow patches.

I like stripes but sometimes don't like the appearance of added width around the middle. I thought this light gray might minimize that effect. I was so happy the next morning when I slipped this on. It is super comfortable, fits perfectly and the heavier weight made it perfect for wearing with a jacket to stay warm on a very cold morning.

I paired it up black flats and leggings, a dark gray knit skirt, dark gray felted wool jacket and then wrapped my favorite Michael Stars navy and heather gray wide-stripped scarf around my neck. It was a great combination of lots of comfy warm knits and neutrals. I felt like I should be stopping into a  French bakery for hot croissants and a street market for a bouquet of springy yellow daffodils that I would put in my wicker bike basket. Instead I was trying to keep up with a scootering Little Bug as she zipped her way along to school. An equally happy way to start the day but not quite as glamorous.

I give this top a big thumbs up. I like the heavier weight, it's super comfortable, the sleeves are nice and long, it hits just right at the hips without being too long and "draggy" around the tush. I like the little details like the elbow patches, the stitching on the sleeves and the v stitching at the neckline. It's a simple top but it feels a little more special with a few charming little touches. It layers well with lots of options, is a nice simple print you could wear all sorts of fun patterned scarves with and it's a cut that works great with pants or a skirt. I am definitely happy wearing something that is actually keeping me warm without having to wear another layer on top even when indoors.

I think I may pick up another one of these and maybe one in the navy blue stripes it also comes in. A good deal, especially when Gap is constantly having online and in-store sales. Hope you are staying warm if you are in winter now. It's been unusually cold here and my family in Utah just got buried in snow at the end of last week. Winter wonderland indeed. Sending you best wishes for today. Hope it's a good one for you. Cheers!

11 January 2013

A Cute Lesson In Self-reliance

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Thought I'd share a cute story that happened yesterday. It's all about the "building blocks" of teaching kids self-reliance. This opportunity to teach totally just fell in my lap, all I had to do was go with it.

The Bug has been playing with her small Lego kit quite regularly for a couple of weeks and I realized that she would probably enjoy adding more blocks so she could more easily make things. I thought that perhaps as a reward for doing such a great job with her first week of school I would take her out and buy her a new box of Legos this weekend.

At Christmas time The Man's very kind and generous dad gave The Bug and me Amazon gift cards. I've been thinking about what we would use them for. Yesterday after school it hit me that this would be the perfect thing to use her gift card on.

So she and I snuggled up and started shopping online for new Legos. She deliberated quite thoroughly on her options, changed her mind a few times and finally settled on a large box, two horses and a dog and cat set. When we got to the check out process I explained to her that we would be spending five dollars more than her gift card amount, but that I would gladly pay that for her.

Then she piped up, "Hey, how about I pay for it with my money?" I almost said no. When I looked at her excited face I saw the moment for a confidence building and learning opportunity. So I said, "That's a great idea. We have to use a card to pay online. But you can give me five dollars in cash and I will then put that money in my bank account and we can use my card to pay. " She ran to her room, got her money that she had was all organized and clipped together with her Dad last week and brought it out, unclipped it and counted out five dollars.

She arranged it nicely on the table them took the rest of her money back to her room. Then we sat down at the computer and made the purchase. She was so proud of herself it just touched my heart. We also wrote a very nice thank you email to Grandpa to thank him for his kind gift. Later as we ran a couple of errands she talked about how I should buy myself something because she had bought herself something really great. 

I was so glad I caught myself and didn't just take the fast and easy way out. It made the entire experience so much more joyful to watch her excitement. Plus I think she will value those Legos a lot more when she remembers that they came from Grandpa and that this was the first big thing she helped pay for. You just never know when  a nice moment will show up in your day.

10 January 2013

Relieve Your Symptoms With Reflexology

image via handsole

I've been sick for a couple of weeks now. No doubt it has something to do with the crazy schedule I've been keeping and all the big changes that have been happening around here. But I found myself stalled and not getting any better. Last week I had the good chance to visit our friends in San Diego. The husband is a medical doctor who also uses a lot of homeopathic methods.

Talking with him and his wife, I was reminded that there are so many things I could've been doing to help myself suffer less and get better faster from this sinus infection. One was Ti Tree Oil and another was a humidifier (did I ever tell you how I destroyed my expensive and wonderful humidifier last year...oops). He also gave me some other options rather than antibiotics to get me better. 

I like that a lot because I think we have really forgotten that our bodies are made to self-heal and usually will if we let them. See The Secret chapter on Health. It's very inspiring! Our job is to keep our immune system strong by doing the basics like eating well, getting plenty of sleep and living in positivity so that the body is capable of doing that work. Too often we run ourselves into the ground then run to the doctor for drugs to put us back together. Basic self care is the very best medicine of all.

Last night it hit me that I should try reflexology and I was amazed at how quickly I saw results. So I am passing that onto you with the caveat to use common sense. If your seriously ill take appropriate steps including seeking medical treatment. Consider trying reflexology along with other appropriate treatments the next time you have any physical discomfort and you may be amazed at how quickly you can find some relief. I massaged the locations assigned to the sinuses last night and was amazed at how fast my passages relaxed and opened up. Natural processes and old treatments sometimes can be very effective. The Man has had quite a bit of experience with reflexology and the day before he left he went and got a reflexology treatment. I think it has a lot more power than we may give it credit for.

Here is a great interactive map of the feet and hands. Try it and let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear about your experiences! Happy massaging!

08 January 2013

Fresh Spring Tops

images via Gap

As part of my 2013 refresh and since the holidays I've been looking for new tops. I was really happy to see that Gap now has some great tops for the coming season. I am always on the hunt for good tops to layer. They are pretty ideal for a warmer climate where I usually only need a sweater or light jacket most of the time.

I picked up the the navy striped top and the pastel floral top and find them great to wear with lots of things I have. I'm thinking about popping back by and picking up a couple more in other patterns and colors I also picked up a couple of tops at The Loft Outlet. I'm still on the prowl for a few more shirts and sweaters, but it's fun to see some nice colors and easy to wear shapes out there for Spring 2013.

My next chore is a great pair of jeans. I want some that are a little longer than what I have now. So far I've been frustrated that I either can't find them in lengths long enough, or I don't like the cut or the wash, the amount of stretch or lack of stretch. It's a tricky business, finding a great pair of jeans. My search so far has been frustrating. But I'm hopeful that something great will pop up soon.

It's been a fun adventure updating my wardrobe this time around. It's always refreshing to do a couple of times a year. I've been broadening my horizons and trying new options and looks. I think the thing I've done this time with more diligence is trying lots and lots of things on. You really don't ever know if something will work or not until you take the time to put it on. I've had tops that I didn't really like at all that ended up looking great on and ones that I really liked that looks abominable on. So it's a necessary evil, that visit to the fitting room. But in the end it saves time, money and frustration.

So if you're looking for fun tops, try Gap for a great range of colors and options. On another note, I am leading a workshop on Vision Boards tonight with a group from my church. Should be fun. I have really felt desire for a new vision board this year and am having fun working on it. It will be fun to get together with a fun group of people to work on them together. I'm sure I'll learn some fun things in the process. It's always interesting to see how other people approach things. Hope you're having a great week. Sending you my very best wishes for your success, peace and happiness!

A Brave New Year

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It's been a very, very big past few weeks for the clan. Yesterday was the first day to really get back to some semblance of a routine after immense hoopla, a ton of To Dos, holiday celebrating, travel, family time, a court visit and so much more.

It was so nice to have last weekend to catch our breath. It was wonderful to have time with friends and neighbors, time to get caught up on a little cooking for the week, clean the house and continue working on that ever expanding To Do list. We have had friends offer us such kindness the past few weeks and particularly since The Man left again. Such a lovely and surprising blessing.

I am happy to say that I've been stock piling fun little things for me to look forward to after The Man left. I had stashed away two of my favorite chocolate bars - Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars, the latest Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, a saved episode of Parenthood to watch and I kept some clothes shopping money in my wallet from the holidays. I knew I would be grateful for small pleasures and a little quiet time after such an intense and immense two weeks as much as I hated to see The Man leave.

The Bug and I are finding our way into our new life here together with school, extra-curriculars, play dates and more. Homework every night. I realized last night that if I'm going to get her in bed on time, I really have to start watching the clock at about 5:30 and planning well how we use our time throughout the evening. It's a little intimidating to try to figure out 1st grade homework. Just don't want her to miss anything that I may have overlooked.

I still haven't taken down the Christmas decorations. I think it's because once I take them down, I'm not sure where I can put them. I'm going to aim to do that tonight. Also today I am starting work on my new vision board. Tomorrow night I am leading a Vision Board workshop for the women's group at my church. So I want to get a head start. Should be really fun.

I think my theme for this year is definitely connected to peaceful, joyful calm. I feel a new sense of peace about life and my place in it. Big things that were causing me worry and frustration have resolved and now I can move forward in new ways that I was held back from before. That feels so good. It's important that I take this time to enjoy where we are and live in gratitude and happiness.

How about you? What has changed for the better for you this year and how it is changing your daily life? It's something fun to think about.

07 January 2013

The Amazing Trimmed & Beaded Silk Dress

Hi! I've missed you so. It was so fantastic to take a break and be able to focus exclusively on family this last two weeks. But that break also has me super energized about coming back here and I feel like I just want to whip up a few cups of tea and sit down and get caught up with you all. I have to share this gorgeous dress with you that The Man brought home with him from his travels for The Bug. It is amazing and she could not look cuter in it.

The fabric is silk and the entire dress is covered with the most amazing collection of trims and ribbons. The waistband and shoulder plackets are beaded. The fantastic part is that her dad bought her about five of these so she has quite an array to choose from. The funny part though is that even though she loves wearing these dresses, she doesn't like going out in them because she gets noticed and it makes her uncomfortable to have people making a fuss about what she's wearing. But they are amazing works of art and it's so great to check them out in detail looking at each section and each kind and color of material used. Such fun. What creativity went into these.

I had bought the boots early last fall, never anticipating they would have such fantastic outfits to go with them come Christmastime. I also found a very pretty blue velvet, fur lined vest with red embroidery at our local thrift store a couple of months ago that goes with this dress phenomenally. Amazing how it all came together.

By the way, The Bug does have hands. I don't know where they are in this photo, but rest assured she does have them. So that's my share for today. I'm working on my list of upcoming posts and itching for some fun projects for the new year. There will definitely be some Pin Tests and projects coming as well as lots of good beginning of the year inspiration. I'm working on a vision board this week and I can't wait to share a conversation I had last week with a friend about what you do when everything seems to be going exactly like you didn't want it to.

I am so excited about life right now. That energy is probably coming from several different directions including big changes for our family this past couple of weeks and feeling like we can look ahead for good things to come in a few months once deployment ends. Then there is the new year and all the excitement of refocused goals and dreams. Life is so full of adventure and things to learn. I really want to make the most of this year and live the life I really want for myself. I hope you'll join me on that journey and do the same in your life. What a grand year it will be!

04 January 2013

2013 Endings & Beginnings

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Hi friends. Just wanted to pop by today for a quick hello. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least. We have welcomed The Man back for a quick two week visit, gained custody of the Bug (yes, that's what I said!), traveled to Utah for a winter wonderland Christmas, skied together for the first time as a family and on top of that two of the three of us have been sick - of course I've had the worst of it. I was sick Christmas week and then this week got a little sicker. It has been a very wild schedule where some nights where we all fell into bed at 8 p.m. and some nights where we were up far past midnight. Other days we were out the door by 5 a.m. and going all day long. I think we all need a big rest after this very eventful holiday.

There are big changes a foot as we get The Bug in school here Monday, send The Man off for the second half of his deployment tomorrow (so sad) and adjust to many changes in life. Plus I have all those 2013 goals to make happen. One of the things I am most looking forward to is connecting with you here. This blog community with you is one of my great joys, a place for my creative expressions and where I can retreat for my own inspiration and lots of fun. Hopefully you find some entertainment and inspiration here as often as possible. Looking forward to continuing to connect with you. As always I love hearing from you and all that I learn from you. If you are on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest let's connect. My handle on all three is (surprise!) kalanicut.

Hope the new year is going well for you so far. So far we are 100% for our family daily reading, and I have again begun to spend time each day with Simple Abundance. Once things settle down next week I look forward to getting my morning ritual established for this year, blogging each day, working on some fun projects and connecting with you here. I am very interested to see where this year takes us and what fun adventures come our way. Thanks so much for being here and for your support and friendship. It is so enjoyed and appreciated. Warmest wishes for a wonderful weekend and year to come.

01 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

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It's New Years Day. A day that can bring many mixed emotions as we review the past year and look with excitement and maybe a little nervousness toward the year to come. I have seen friends post on Facebook comments glad to see 2012 go and excited for the things they know are coming. On Sunday in church a fellow congregant gave a beautiful talk about goal-setting for the new year. Her wisdom was inspiring as she spoke about priorities, simplicity and the things that are truly important in life.

This New Years Day I am thinking about focusing on some family goals this year and most importantly to do a better job at self care. That for me this year means focusing on doing things that will keep me sane, relaxed, happy and excited about life. On a daily basis, those thoughts speak to me in directions of keeping a better daily routine, starting my day out with an inspirational morning ritual, daily exercise, healthy eating.

On a weekly and monthly basis I want to make sure I am taking time out for myself, doing things that inspire me, making time to get together with friends and taking good care of myself physically including continuing to improve my wardrobe, get regular haircuts and facials, buy the right kinds of products for my hair and skin, etc. I guess the great battle this year and every year is to avoid getting in ruts. That seems to be the big derailing point that brings low energies, lack of efficiency, frustration and taking one to a place of "less-than-ness". It's so good to keep shaking things up.

Sure it's easy to get into a way of doing things that seems easy, inexpensive and effortless, but that often leads to stagnation, especially as we get older. If we want excitement, new energy, new people and change to come to our lives, we have to change. We need a new dress, a new inspiration, a new goal, new associations, new ways of doing things. So this year the goal is growth, improvement and fighting stagnation.

I hope you have each had a wonderful holiday season and found joy and gratitude in your relationships and life experiences. I send you my fondest wishes for this new year, that you will have new blessings and happiness come to you and yours. Happy New Year!

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