27 June 2014

Vacation Privacy: Try A Kids Tent In Your Hotel Room

We have spent some extended time in hotels and I know a lot of families are going to be on the road this summer. So I thought I would share one of the most genius things The Man came up with to make hotels stays more fun for The Bug, make it easier to put her to bed earlier at night and to give everyone a little more privacy.

He purchased a two-person tent for camping and when he saw it in his car he grabbed it, took it to our room and set it up. The "easy-up" tents now require only a couple of minutes to pull it out of the bag and pull up on the top until everything locks into place. This also makes it very easy to take the tent down when you're done. Our's is a rectangle shape so it's easier to deal with space-wise. I think a round tent might make this a challenge unless you have a very big hotel room.

We turned the door towards the wall, so she had a little walkway and it felt a little like a fun cave. We set it up on the side of the room and while it did make things a little crowded on that side she was in heaven and we realized we had just created a fantastic situation for everyone.

I don't think we had a mattress pad that first time but we used the extra blankets and pillows one can always find in the closet, along with anything we weren't using on the bed. Our kiddo also never travels without her own entourage of pillows, blankets and stuffed animals so she had plenty to keep things plush and cozy in there.

When we had the back of the tent to the rest of the room, it gave us a few benefits, including more privacy for dressing and made it easier to stay up later without disturbing her. Our tent is dark army green so it stayed pretty dark in there when we turned the lights down. It also kept her from popping her head out constantly to see what was going on in the rest of the space.

I pretty much always have a few glow-in-the-dark bracelet packs on hand during the summer, so I gave her two-packs, that's 30 bracelets she could connect together. That created two awesome party garlands to hang from the ceiling hooks. It was like a disco atmosphere inside the tent and they made a great nightlight too. It was really cool when she held one end and whipped them around in circles. Awesome light show.

This also gave us a place to throw her toys and blankets during the day so there was less clutter all over the room. She thought the tent was the coolest thing ever and I'll say we loved it too. It gave us all a little more space and freedom to unwind. If you're car traveling and have the space a kids tent is a great way to give kids a sense of home and space of their own while transitioning from place to place. It's also a great way to have more privacy for parents who may be a little weary by the end of a long day of "togetherness."

Tent by L.L. Bean
Image via Amazon

26 June 2014

Handmade Pink Thank You Cards

We needed a few thank you cards for a recent event and I remembered I had just bought a collection of pink card stock a few weeks ago. I thought the light pink cardstock would be a perfect base to layer other colors and patterns.

This was one of those moments where I could make use of the several zipper bags of paper scraps I keep on hand. It's amazing that I can use bits of paper that are even as small as a pencil top eraser in my paper crafting work. That makes it really hard to throw anything away but I try to not go too crazy hanging onto every minute scrap of paper that crosses my path.

I do always have quite a few long, thin strips of leftover papers in my bags. I thought it would be fun to use a variety of them. I thought they would make a great stage for a fuchsia heart with a little handwritten "thank you" written with my favorite fine point silver metallic pen. I have used that pen or one of its ancestors for more projects than I can count and it always gives things a little extra polish when writing on cards or gift tags.

I like the simplicity. I tried to make them more "complicated" but everything I tried just called out for more simplicity. So I cut down a bunch of different skinny strips of paper to card width, glued them on and then attached the heart with foam adhesive squares to give it a layered appeal.

Super simple, took just about half an hour. I think they are perfect for the occasion. Earlier this week we set a family activity to get these all written up, enveloped, stamped, addressed and out the door. That took far longer than it did to make the cards themselves. It was a good team effort and a great use of supplies I already had. 

Here are two past projects using a wide variety of bright colors and patterns you might enjoy a peek at.
Business Cards
Holiday Cards

It's so good for the soul to spend a few minutes doing something creative. Have you whipped up anything fun this week?

25 June 2014

Bracelets To Anchor My Soul

I don't know when I first started doing this, probably sometime in my college days, but anyway, at some point I started making little bracelets that I could wear to remind me of important things, to steel my soul, to help me get through challenging days.

Over the years I made them with different kinds of leather and beads to remind me to smile and look for joy, of happy vacations and beautiful summers or to comfort me after a friend passed away, or while The Man was away and in danger. I often wear bracelets The Bug made for me on days where superhero feats of mom or wife are required. Her simple pony bead bands remind me that life's greatest joys are just that, simple, and to not get too caught up in silly grown up things.

For some reason, tying something around my wrist is just the right place to be visible and comforting to me. Sometimes the bracelets are just tied on with a big square knot, or a slide knot or sometimes a nice clasp or toggle. Sometimes I will dismantle old bracelets to use the parts to make something new. I like the flexibility and being able to let go of reminders of the past and to be able to make something new and invigorating. Sometimes the bracelets just totally wear out, other times when I feel like I don't need their comfort anymore they find their way into my bracelet jewelry tray to be worn again in another time or to become part of something new.

I keep a small supply of bracelet making materials in my craft drawers so that any time I am feeling a little weak, I can rummage through my drawers and find something to make a bracelet from for myself that just perfectly catches the spirit of the moment.

Here are a few of the supplies I keep on hand:
  • Leather Cord: I keep a supply of cord in a variety of colors. My favorite is chocolate brown because it goes with anything, but I have pink, red and other colors too.
  • Alphabet Beads: It's always nice to be able to put together a little code word or initials or a word of peace with a few alphabet beads on hand. I like the round metal beads with raised letter.
  • Charms Of All Sorts: I keep shells, buttons, small stones, old charms, vintage trinkets of all kinds and have made jewelry out of many of them.
  • Seed and Wood Beads: I have a great variety of these and if I am in the mood for color or touches of nature they are just perfect!
  • Jewelry wrapping wire: Great for turning shells, stones and other little items into charms you can string onto a cord.
I was thinking last weekend I needed a new bracelet to remind me of my mantra "Now is MY time" and to remind me to stay in peace even when it seems things are difficult - and even more importantly to NOT look at everything as difficult but rather to expect joy and simplicity from life. It was nice to know I had all the elements on hand to whip up a little something I could hold close to my soul as I journey through this year. 

Do you have little amulets or some kind of talisman that you carry with you to remind you of your inspiration?

24 June 2014

Sewing Inspiration For Summer

Fleurs dress

One of the things that got me most excited about sewing this summer is looking at inspiration on Pinterest. There are so many people making so many lovely things. I have notice too that sewing pins seem very popular these days and I can feel that a lot of people would like to be sewing. So I thought I would share some of my favorite sewing inspirations for summer cottons. Hope they give you some good ideas.

Unfortunately this dress, above, is no long for sale on the Envelope website, but you can see it on Pinterest. It would be a great sewing project. I love the simple sleeves and detailing at the neck and hem. It would be pretty in a fabric with eyelet edging. A simple pattern like this wouldn't be too hard to find at a fabric shop.

image via mardiwinen blog

Mardi shared some details on making this dress/tunic and I would really encourage you to check out her post. I would like to have this as a tunic or slightly longer dress. Even though it is just barely beginning to be summer I am remember how nice it is to wear light cottons at this time of year and thinking about our real, warm summer which comes in August, September and sometimes October. 


I've been seeing DIY kimono tops online in the past few weeks. I love that the author of Nearest The Pin blog calls this a Finish What You Started project. This is a cute post and has a link to another site with more on the Kimono. I think we can all relate to having unfinished projects lying around. Great inspiration to finish up sewing projects. 

This leads me to another thing about people who sew. They are very willing to help each other out with tips and helpful hints. On sewing blogs I often see authors and commenters who will let you know where they had problems and they can save you a lot of headaches in advance. I remember that after jumping through some links to different blogs by women who had also made the tunic Mardi made, above, that there were some good helps on how to improve the fit. No one likes to be frustrated when sewing so I think the helping hands are great! 

drool. these patterns are fabulous. why have i not become obsessed with making my own clothes before now?? i'm blaming it on the fact that the piece of homemade clothing that sticks out the most in my mind from my childhoodwas the mc hammer-esque, long-pants, short sleeved jumper that had a lacy neckline. c'mon mom! why did you have to let the early nineties overtake your sewing machine??
One thing I love about sewing patterns is that there are often a few different options for lengths, sleeves, necklines, pockets and all the fun little details. This is a fun pattern that can be made as a shirt or dress. I love the pleated front. I also love that you can alter the measurements on everything when you sew. I would need to make this dress a good bit longer! 

image via suburbsmama

This is a fast and easy tutorial from Suburbs Mama, Rita, to make pencil skirts. Skirts are a great way to incorporate color and pattern into the wardrobe and when you can whip up a bunch of skirts you have instant wardrobe update if you have a few good basics to go on top.

You can see lots more sewing inspiration on my Pinterest Board Sewing Projects. Are you doing any sewing this summer? What are you working on?

23 June 2014

Now Is My Time #25: Creating Change In Our Lives

It seems that much of our lives are spent mourning the fact that things aren't changing in our lives or the fact that they are. We want things to start: like school, dates, marriage, family, jobs and so much more. And we mourn things ending like school years, relationships, vacations, summers, weekends, holidays, etc.

We have been in a position with a lot of change the past four years but it hasn't been the kinds of changes we would choose or hope for. Looking back things make sense and all has worked out quite amazingly, considering what we've been through. But it's time for some fresh new starts at a few things and we are working hard to make them happen. However, they are not happening as quickly as we'd like and we've been in a bit of a stupor about what to do because clearly we are on God's time here, not ours. (Isn't that so often how it goes.)

So to refresh my thirst for change, I've been doing some seemingly strange things to bring about change in our lives. We have been wanting to move for a while. Nothing has quite worked out on that note. So I decided to rearrange the furniture in the living room. It's a radical change because I moved everything. I decided to put all the big furniture pieces along one long wall. It's stunning how much it's opened up the room.

The room looks twice as big and now half our floor to ceiling south windows are no longer blocked which means lots more light for us too. Before the room felt like the walls were crumbling in on us, now it feels like there is lots of breathing space and room to stretch out. It's so nice after seven years to walk into the house and see the sofa on the side of the room where I never thought it would work. Hooray. We hopefully won't be in this place much longer, but we will enjoy a fresh view and home vibe until that moving day comes whenever that is.

I started shopping for a new bed. It's definitely time for a new mattress, but not the time to buy a new bed right now for several valid reasons, darn it. But I'm going to be ready when it is the right time. I've measured for our current space, decided what size/style of bed we need and I realize that just putting that plan into action makes me feel like things are in motion. I'm happy to know that we can fit a bigger bed in our current space if we need to with no problem whatsoever.

Another thing we need right now are larger nightstands. When I bought these years ago and refurbished them they were perfect for one girl. But they are so small you really can't fit a lamp, a book and a glass of water on top. Don't even think about trying to find a spot for jewelry for a framed photo. I've been doing my research in my spare minutes and I have a lot of good ideas now. I saw a pair in a thrift store a month or so ago that I keep thinking about. They're probably long gone but it might be worth a return trip. But at least I have a clear picture of what we need.

I've been meditating to two new guided meditations, one for a new home and one for having a life we love. I already feel a lot of gratitude for the life I have, but having a more comfortable, peaceful life is something I'm totally open to! Right?! It's nice to take a few minutes to think about what we want for our lives. I find that it always helps me to make clearer decisions as I go forward when I
have a good idea of what it is that I really want and what my top priorities are. 

Sometimes enacting happy change in our lives can be as simple as cleaning our car or rearranging a closet. I believe that even the smallest accomplishments can create momentum. Clearing up energy-zapping spaces allows good things to flow. So while I can't control everything in my life, I can help propel myself forward, be inspired about how I want my life to look, and take small actions wherever possible to get myself a little closer.

Life is a daily journey full of little steps forward. It's those little steps day after day that take us where we want to go. No one ever got to the top of a mountain on foot without lots of little steps and I think when we look back we are grateful for all those little steps and all the things we learned along the way. So I'm going to keep walking and creating change where I can.

20 June 2014

Wood Animal Art From Etsy

While doing a little research on Etsy I came across some wall art that really caught my eye and that I was so excited to share. I am constantly amazed at the fun things artists come up with and are selling on Etsy. I have high hopes for talented artists to succeed in their businesses and always love to support them. How I wish I had had Etsy, blogging and the internet maker community a few years ago when I was designing and making bags and other things I have created.

The first shop I wanted to share is Stencilize from Dublin, Ireland. It is a collection of geometric, spray painted animals created by Aoife. Here are some of my favorite pieces from her shop.

I can see these used in a variety of spaces and rooms. They are a nice alternative to animal art that has been around for a while.

The other shop I wanted to highlight today is Sweet Bananas Art. This shop was opened in 2013 by Katy B in Jackson, New Jersey. I love to see that there are new creative artists who have joined Etsy in the past year who are helping it stay fresh amidst an overpopulation of a lot of copycats. I'm always saddened to see one persons idea show up quickly being made by a plethora of other shops. It's not very original but it's also sad that people steal other's creative pursuits rather than coming up with their own.

Sweet Bananas Art is especially perfect for a nursery or child's bedroom and I like that she features a variety of great art for a girls and boys bedrooms. The two pieces I am sharing would work in a variety of spaces in the home. They would be a very fun modern touch in a mountain cabin I think. Here are my favorites.

So that's my Favorites of Etsy post for today. Haven't done one of these for a while and I am so inspired to get back to doing them. I am very happy to share the art of makers on Etsy. I love the originality of both of these shops and hope you'll check them out of you like them too. Applause for creativity and bright colors! Thanks for coming by today. Sending you happy, peaceful wishes.

18 June 2014

Thrift Store Furniture Tour

Friday afternoon I was craving some creative inspiration and decided to take a tour at our local thrift store. It seems like the best time to check out thrift stores because they seem to put out a lot of stuff in anticipation of the larger Saturday shopping crowds. There were lots of great finds and I thought I'd share a few that caught my eye.

This petite sofa would be great for an apartment or smaller room and I was surprised to find a matching love seat on the other side of the store. I was happy to see that someone saw the potential and had snatched these up.

Sorry for the sketchy quality of this photo. This had "paint me white & call me Scandinavian" all over it to me. I've never been a fan of a round table for my home, but they are my favorite for entertaining because conversation flows so much easier between the entire group when everyone is facing each other rather than stretched out on a long rectangle table.

I thought these table legs might be a great salvage from this table to use on an updated surface. A great slab of reclaimed wood would be fun with these legs. They were sturdy and strong.

This great basic sofa was a good find too. It had a few smudges on it, but I think with a TLC it would clean up nicely. So many options with a good tan sofa...bright color options galore, seasonal changes, possibilities are endless.

This gorgeous brass and wood lamp caught my eye. It's hardy, amazing quality. Hate the shade but this beauty had a lot of potential. I'm hoping someone finds it and loves it.

This is a not a furniture find, but these caught my eye. There were about 10 of these gold paper mache holiday stars on a shelf. I thought these would look amazing hanging across a big window pane. I might be tempted to paint them silver and add some glitter. As usual at my neighborhood thrift store these were priced very close to what they cost new, which really sucks the joy out of thrift shopping.

This was my favorite find of the day. This would be so fantastic in a front entryway with an added upholstered cushion on top, or for a big screen TV in a living/family room. Would've been very tempted to buy this if I had the space for it. Again hoping someone finds it and loves it.

So that was my little thrift store tour. Hope it inspires you to head about and find some great quality furnishings at thrift store prices -- which are generally fantastic if you don't live in my neighborhood, ha.

17 June 2014

Pretty Design Features From The Retail World

I fell in love with these lights at the Banana Republic store at the Malibu Country Mart. They could be a fun DIY project with the right baskets. They would be so pretty over a dining table. I can just imagine what a cozy environment they would create for great meals and good conversation.

The Malibu Country Mart has been updated in the past little while and it so fantastically gorgeous. There is so much old, weathered wood and so many modern architectural details, great gardens and sitting areas. That is just the beginning. It's filled with gorgeous shops and very good food all around.

It's a great wander in every way. It's a fun place to check out if you are driving through Malibu. And don't forget to grab a GROM gelato while you are there. So amazingly good. There's lots to shop but also lots to just take in and enjoy at the Malibu Country Mart.

Tomorrow I'm going to go in the totally opposite direction and share some great thrift store finds from last weekend. Great inspiration and ways to save big money.

16 June 2014

Now Is My Time #24: Good Summer Traditions

Based on the past weekend I think we've found our summer groove. I'm happy about that because that means, I hope, that we will make the most of this summer from start to finish. We're into a bit of a routine with the little person's days now that school is out.

She is settling in with a lot of reading, two books last week and a trip to the library to join the summer reading program. We are also getting in the flow with all of the things we hope to have her learn and master this summer, including some cooking, taking on more chores around the house and keeping the school skills fresh.

This past weekend was nothing if not relaxing. We slept an amazing amount, rested at home and had lots of chances to get out and see friends and do things too. We kept meals simple with lots of fresh fruit and salads.

Here are a few things we got into a groove with that I hope will stay with us for the summer.

1) Light, Healthy Eating: We always eat pretty healthily around here but I love the simplicity of our meals and all the fresh fruits, vegetables, nutrient packed smoothies and big delicious salads.

2) Rest: We need the rest. It feels good. Getting plenty of sleep is good and needed for all of us. Keeps the body and mind healthy and strong.

3) Time With Friends: We have a fantastic group of friends right now. In the past week we've spent time with single friends, married couples, an older widower and families with kids. It's good for our family's souls to spend time with friends and it makes our life richer. More of this please.

4) Nights Out: We have started going to the park in the evenings. I love living in a neighborhood where many of the kids go to the same school. This means that walking around our neighborhood or going to the park we get to see friends we know and The Bug has lots of kids to play with.

Now that school is out, the park is much more crowded as parents get their kids out of apartments now that they aren't in school all day. Every night there are friends at the park for The Bug to play with and it's good to get her running around at high speed burning energy and staying fit. I like taking a bag of magazines to look at and I can sit and enjoy myself on a nearby bench while The Man plays basketball and the little one runs with friends. I get a little me time at the same time after doing my workouts earlier in the day.

5) Walking & Riding Bikes: We are trying to use our feet more for errands and incorporate exercise into our daily routines. Our area doesn't necessarily feel like a neighborhood that has everything, but if you can ignore all the traffic, you realize we do really have just about everything we need within walking distance of our house.

There are fantastic restaurants, places to go for a treat, post office, clothing, hardware, craft and grocery stores all within a few blocks. We also find we enjoy the neighborhood a lot more when we can actually look around. Walking and on bikes we see and appreciate a lot more of the beauty around us.

6) Creativity: I have been on a bender to do some creative projects this weekend. It's always a little scary when I get in that mood because it could mean I get into all sorts of mischief. I have a little craft project I am going to do today with some clay I have tucked away in a drawer. We also have sewing to do.

We are getting the art supplies out more and I have a great list of fun projects I'd like to try. A mountain of rubber band bracelets were made here this weekend. It's a great time to make bracelets of all kinds, since we're a stacked bracelet loving clan. We have a full drawer of goodies we can play with.

7) New Things & New Places: We have been visiting new neighborhoods and doing things we haven't done before. I have really enjoyed this the past few weeks and want to keep it up over the summer. It invigorates me to do news things in the city I've lived in most of my adult life and in a city this big that is easy to do without going to far from home.

We had a lot of BIG hopes for this summer that so far just haven't worked out, but we're making the very best of it and trying to live happily every day anyway. These little things in small moments are bringing joy and happiness to our life and helping us live the fullest with what we have.

13 June 2014

Emergency Preparedness: Water Storage & A Stove

I thought I'd share a couple of valuable but inexpensive emergency preparedness items we picked up in the past few months. Since we live in a very crowded urban area and it IS earthquake country (amongst other possible disastrous scenarios) we know that if the you know what hits the fan, we are going to be on our own to take care of ourselves.

We have 72-hour kits, although the food needs to be a bit updated. But we do have food storage in the cupboards & could easily grab a few things in a pinch. Gear-wise we have a lot of what we'd need as well.

We got a large retailer gift card from a family member recently and I really pushed myself to get something meaningful and important with it, rather than just blowing it on laundry detergent and toilet paper. So I went to the store with the intention of finding something we needed that would last us a while and serve a valuable purpose.

I was thinking about emergency preparedness items and came across this stove that is an ideal emergency tool. It's easy to set up, basically effortless except to connect the butane can which pops in the side compartment. At about $20 dollars it's a great deal and would be very stable and easy to cook on versus some tiny camp stoves. This would also be great for picnics for a night or when traveling to heat up some water or make a quick and easy meal in the outdoors.

The second things we purchased were two of these Reliance 7-gallon water storage jugs. These were about $18 each. After we got home we noticed that they had a few mixed reviews online but we liked that they were easy to store and held a significant amount of water. Fourteen gallons for the three of us could be rationed out to last at least half a week or more. If we got one more we would have enough emergency water to last us a full week at the rate of a gallon of water per person per day.

One of these would also be good to pack on long road trips in case of emergencies like a freeway closure (for an accident, fire, storm, etc.) where we would have to wait a significant number of hours before the road was passable again.

We will continue to add to our emergency supplies but these are two things I am really comforted that we have now. Food and water will be critical items in a bad situation. Over the years I've put out quite a bit of information about emergency preparedness. Below are some links that might be helpful.

Emergency Preparedness For A Blackout
72-Hour Kits
Food Storage
Be Comfortable And Safe In An Emergency

11 June 2014

Our Goals For A Fantastic Summer

Summer is officially on and it's time to get settled and organized. We've been doing a lot of partying the past few weeks and while I definitely want that to continue throughout the summer we also need to get a grip on the use of our days and getting things done.

Now that we've had birthday, holiday and family visitors in the past two weeks today is our first real day of summer vacation and the right day to get into a good rhythm for how we want our summer to go. Here is how I'm hoping to break things down.

1) Make A Daily To Do List: Things swirling around in my head include a daily To Do list for The Bug so that she has some structure in her days. This also means I feel like I'm nagging less because the sheet is guiding her every day instead of me constantly having to stop and give directions. She also likes to cross things off her list and I think she feels less bossed around and more independent.

2) Deep Clean And Refresh The House: We need to do a deep clean of The Bug's room and beautify it again. I feel like it got as tired as we did during the school year and needs a summer vacation refresh just like we do. While we share work on that we'll also work our way around the house bit by bit.

3) Update Kiddos Toys And Books: It's high time we again go through books and toys and weed out things she is getting too old for. I know we still have a few toddler books hidden on the bookshelves that should be packed away or given away.

4) Clean Out Clothes Drawers And Shoe Cupboard: I want to go through the clothes drawers and shoe cupboards and pull out things that don't fit or are totally worn out after a hard year on the school playground.

5) Keep Learning: We also want to keep that cute little brain fresh this summer so it's time for me to investigate apps for third graders! We definitely want to keep support for math learning high and of course reading is a must. I also want to try to plan in some learning day trips and other hands on adventures.

6) Appreciation For Hard Work: Growing up as an oldest child and on a farm there was just no other option than that I was going to learn the value of hard work. And I will say I probably only worked about one-third as hard as my dad and his siblings did when they were kids on the same farm. But living in the city in a small apartment there are not nearly as many opportunities for hard work around our home: no yard work, no garden, etc. So I am going to have to get creative. One of my objectives is learning to do the work we do have here well. That means effectively loading the dishwasher, doing a thorough job of cleaning, mopping, sweeping, learning to cook, etc.

7) Service To Others: This is a great time for us to work on things like letter writing, visiting others in need, cleaning up the beach when we visit and other opportunities for our little one to think more about other people and their needs than just being purely focused on "I want" all the time. Yesterday we visited a man we know whose wife recently died. It was a great experience for us! He's going to be a great friend.

8) Building Friendships: We have a great group of families in our community and I want to get together in as many ways as possible this summer. Beach barbecues, Friday adventure days with other moms and kids and hopefully lots of friends over for pancake dinners this summer too.

9) Time With Family: Seeing family is very important in the summers because it's about the only time we have to spend more than a day or two with our families who all live far away. We have no family close so we have to make it a priority to see them now.

10) Rest And Fun: It's time for some rest and regroup and I want to make sure we do that. Downtime is important and when the school year is so busy I believe it's very important that we get lots of sleep and quiet time during the summers. It's being built into the days along with some work and study and fun. We need more trips to the park, more walks in the evenings, more bike rides and more time at the beach.

My plan is to make an action sheet each day with a few cleaning tasks, reading periods and study activities along with rest and fun planned in. Even though we want the summer to be relaxing, fun and less structured, I find I have to plan that all if it's going to happen in the most beautiful and relaxing way. So a little thought now should help make the summer a richer one in every way for us.

09 June 2014

Now Is My Time #23: Make The Most of Summer

Well it's officially summer and we have kicked it off with a flurry of activity beginning right off the bat with Memorial Day Weekend and my birthday celebrations and continuing on. I always love it when summer starts off with a bang. Sometimes summer can slip by so quickly.  If you let a few weeks go before you start enjoying it, it's almost over before you know it and you're trying to make up an entire summer of missed opportunities in the last three weeks of August.

Now is the time to make plans to make the most of this short but lovely season of the year. It's time to schedule in the big stuff. But I find that my best and boldest summer memories are often the days when a decision is made on a whim to have a party, pack a picnic or meet up with friends at the last minute. Those spur of the moment activities are often some of the most fun.

My family is here this weekend and we have been making the most of every day to the point we are all quite tired. Today we are out on another BIG adventurous day. This is the first time I've been with my sisters and my parents in almost two years so it's great to have them here. Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast and then drove up the coast to the Ventura County line. We went off the beaten path a bit around Zuma beach and around Point Dume and then wandered around the very beautiful Malibu Country Mart for a while. The best of both worlds, planned and unplanned adventures.

So my Now Is My Time goal for the summer is to live it to the fullest. While I'm doing that I'm also trying to stay conscious of the steps I've taken this year to live my life more fully. I am still meditating regularly and loving it. Still making time for friends and having awesome interactions and chats. Trying to do less and enjoy more. Being kind to myself in thoughts and words. Focusing on what is most important to me. Living more in the moment and living to do my best each day had made daily life much more peaceful, happy and meaningful. It has also reduced how much I carry stress with me. I seem more able to avoid anxiety and letting it weaken me - even though there are things to worry about and changes we are hoping for and need quickly.

Living for the current day makes fears of tomorrow and failures of the past less important and gives them less power over my life and my happiness. I like that a lot. Another blessing I feel from this year has been greater friendships. I have made quite a few new friends this year and I attribute that to being more present in my days, opening up and sharing more of myself, asking for help and doing service for others. All things I've written about as part of the Now Is My Time series. Glad to see things are working out and working well. The year is nearly half over. It is exciting to think about what great things there are to come in the second half of the year.

05 June 2014

Spin Class Wisdom For Life: Just Start Again

Today I felt like sharing a bit of inspiration I got a few months ago from a spinning class teacher. It was pretty brilliant. For some reason it really clicked with me that day and I have thought about it many times since that day in the bike studio at the gym.

She said that if you are cycling along and find you have slowed down, tuned out, or are not with the program, stop that and start pedaling hard again. Such a simple concept. If you're not headed where you want to go just stop and start again doing what you intended to do.

So often when we find ourselves not headed where we intended we slow down for long periods of time. Sometimes we sulk, get mad or go full bore into a massive specially personalized guilt trip and into self-defeating negative talk which then drives us into a downward spiral. We fret, throw out our plans, consider our efforts a failure and try to reinvent the wheel that will get us to where we want to go.

In many cases it is far simpler. Just stop the distraction and then start again as you intended. That's it. Takes no more than five seconds and "boom" you are on your way forward again in the manner you intended. No muss, no fuss.

I've tried to remember this and put it into practice in my life. Just stop what wasn't working and start again in the way I wanted to go. It's much easier than making every little misstep a major detour to our success. Little daily course corrections are so much easier when you give yourself the right to just stop and start again. Thanks spin class teacher for that little gem of wisdom!

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03 June 2014

Birthday Bargain: Rockport Meja Lime Green Clogs

It's no secret around here that I love a good pair of wood clogs. I do still vividly remember my first pair of clogs, red, cork heel. Heaven. I got to enjoy a little birthday shopping spree last week and for the money I had I got some great deals.

I had looked at these Rockport clogs (hello super well made!) for a while. Then when we were out shopping I had about five minutes to wait for The Man and as I was standing waiting I looked across the mall hallway and saw my favorite clogs on the clearance rack for $9.99. It was the perfect way to use my five minutes of waiting time. I swooped in, grabbed that shoe box went right to the register a few feet away, slapped down a little cash and was on my way back to wait for The Man with plenty of time to spare.

I haven't worn these babies yet, but I envision that they would be so cute with a white cotton summer dress with a small lime green print or a white embroidered cotton top and jeans. It's a great color to play off of navy or a deep pink too.

I love having a pair of clogs with a heel that I can wear for every day running around. It just picks things up a notch from say, flip flops or flat sandals all the time. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it but I always wear toe socks with my clogs. You can buy toe socks but they are hard to find. So I started making my own.

I just buy a pack of white ankle socks from the dollar store and then cut off the heel. If you try it, cut them longer than you expect because they curl up a bit and shrink. I try to cut mine to be about four inches long. Super easy way to get three or four pairs for a buck instead of paying five to seven dollars for two pair, especially since toe socks are small and can easily get lost around the house or in the laundry.

Looking forward to start sporting these cuties around. I am also feeling inspired to maybe make myself that white and lime green cotton dress to go with them. I do have a little special event coming up that I could wear an outfit like that to. Hmmm. Maybe a trip to the fabric store. I've seen some awesome pattern ideas on Pinterest the last week or so.

Maybe a dress like this might be perfect, in white and lime green of course. Or this one. Do I really have time to sew a dress before the weekend? I did just pull my sewing machine out last night so it is all set up. But this sounds just a little crazy. Hmmm. If I'm going to do it, it has to happen today. Trip to JoAnn's anyone?

Here are a few other clog favorites I've posted over the years.
Cape Clogs: Three happy pairs
Embroidered Clogs
Green Suede Clogs
Ugg Clogs
Swedish Hasbeens

02 June 2014

Now Is My Time #22: Try Some New Hairstyles

Thankfully, Now Is My Time is not always about some great emotional "life lesson" journey all the time. Sometimes it's just sitting and letting someone else make you pretty! Hooray for that. One of my birthday presents last week was a haircut and color. I just found a new stylist that I was really happy to have met. She did a great job and taught me some fun new things about styling my hair.

Knowing that I am one busy lady without a lot of time on my hands to get ready most of the time, she gave me a great cut for my long hair that is basically wash and wear. We also whacked three to four inches off the back and layered the entire back and added more choppy pieces in front. I've tried this before and it never really worked but this time I made sure to get the right amounts of product in the right places and based on comments I got at church on Sunday I guess I did a good job.

I love a good hairstyle I can sleep on that looks better after a good night's rest than it did the day before! The wavy curls are working for me. She straightened my hair with a round brush before I left the salon on Friday and it looked great that way too so I think I am really going to like this haircut. I even got a few experimental long bangs and I think that I want more. My hair feels fresh and new now even though we didn't make a very drastic change. The color is so perfect for me and an interesting transition as my hair color changes as the years pass. Keeping it spunky!

We looked through my Pinterest hair board in the salon while we were coloring my hair and it was funny to see how many of the hairstyles were exactly what she was doing for me. Her great suggestions were clearly exactly what I was wanting.

Next time I am going to have her teach me some skills for getting some root lift. My hair is so heavy that sometimes it becomes very pyramid like. This darling girl is from Florida and she honestly said "You know what we say in the south, 'The bigger the hair, the closer to God!'" This girl knows how to tease. We laughed good and hard about that. But I think she may be just the girl to give my roots a little lift. Can't wait to go back & go Southern, haha.

I've been experimenting with some other fun hairstyles the past few months and thought today would be a great day to share links to some favorite hair posts.

Low Messy Bun: This blogger is from Copenhagen, what's not to love!
Longer Fuller Ponytail: I used to do this trick in high school. Totally forgot about it. Must do again.
20 Best Hair Tips: This is a collection, but I've tried this clip option. Still need to work on my skill.
Grown Up Topsy Tail: This hybrid braid/ponytail is so super chic. Love it.
Three Braid: I like this twist on the traditional big, lose side braid.
Heidi Klum Bangs: I'm having a little crush on her long, straight bangs with a middle part.

Do you have some favorites right now? I'd love to hear what you're doing with your hair.

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