29 July 2014

A Quick Peek At the Cost Plus Clearance Shelves

Last night I had about an hour to kill. I'd been out all day and didn't want to go home and then drive back out a few minutes later. So I decided to stop by Cost Plus World Market and do some window shopping for a while.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to get ideas for dining tables and chairs, light fixtures and other things for that "new home" that I have up my sleeve and we have in our future. I didn't get far when I turned the corner and ran into the clearance shelves. I was stopped in my tracks by visions of orange and bright color combinations. I am such a sucker for them even though I try to be so neutral. I think my neutrals are really just a base for all my bright colors in the end.

Loved this green, white and red/orange pillow. It feels of India to me. Which is where my very lovely sister is right now. You can follow her awesome service trip & adventures on Instagram here. Let's just say before she even got to India her trip had already turned into a pretty insane adventure...And now yoga on a rooftop overlooking the Ganges. Are you kiddin' me?! I have another India connection swirling around right now too that is inspiring me. More on that another day I hope.

Fuschsia and orange, another favorite combo. I see these two pillows working it together with a solid fabric friend (maybe cream colored rough woven linen?) on a sofa somewhere in my life. 
Mmm, yummy.

Lastly if you have a patio umbrella that needs a little upstyling from the blah beige fabric it came with check out the clearance aisle for these brightly colored umbrella canopies. There were varying sizes, colors and patterns. That would sass up the deck and your next dinner party, wouldn't it!

I had a great walk through the window treatments section. They have a lot of draperies that I very much liked. I would be very interested in several of them for that future living place. There was also a nice selection of rugs and runners too.

After this I started over to the lighting section and just as I saw a hanging light fixture that completely excited me I got a call from The Man and had to leave immediately because our time schedule had changed. I turned and left right then without ever getting a good look at that great light fixture. Needless to say I have a return visit on my agenda next time I am in that neighborhood. I didn't even get over to the furniture and art sections.

I feel happy for the shoppers who will get these great clearance items. Fifty percent off is a serious end of summer retail season sale. Good stuff. Watch your favorite retailers for end of summer savings right now. It's time for them to clear the shelves and pretend it's winter. Just think, Christmas stuff will be appearing in just a few weeks! Crazeeeeeey.

P.S. Speaking of the holidays. I still haven't given a blink of thought to Christmas gifts for this year. What will I make???? Hmmmm. It's almost August people. Time to get cooking on that.

28 July 2014

Now Is My Time #28: Stop Overusing "I'm Sorry"

Last week I was at the beach, playing Smashball. It was windy and we had a tough go of actually getting the ball back and forth to each other. I found myself saying "I'm sorry," or "Sorry about that" after every hit. My playing partner, who was a man didn't ever say sorry once for a ball that didn't quite reach me. He didn't need to. What bothered me was hearing myself apologizing to an annoying extent and I realized that this is something that is a bit of a bad habit. Over apologizing fo things that I have no control over.

I think many women do this. We say sorry many times a day when we almost bump into people in tight spaces or on blind turns in stores, on sidewalks, etc. We find a million things to apologize for that really don't require an apology. I have had several situations lately where people have apologized to me on sidewalks, in stores, etc. where no apology was necessary. They didn't do anything wrong.

This happens often when my kiddo is not paying attention and bumps into people or when she's standing in the middle of someone else's way. The other party, trying to pass but having a hard time of it often apologizes to me. I always reply with an automatized "No problem," or "No worries." but really they certainly need not apologize for my child causing them to have to step out of her way.

Appropriately placed apologies are an important if we are going to have peace and relationships in life. But getting into the habit of saying sorry for things that don't matter or really aren't our fault seems a little useless and silly. I think when women over-apologize for things, particularly around men, it also weakens their position, competency and leadership ability.

This article by Meredith LaPore speaks to that exact issue. I love the suggestion she gives to rephrase the sentiment rather than saying "I'm sorry." Genius! There is also some great insight into how men and women view and use apology differently and it's not because guys don't feel remorse.

Here is another great story, from Salon, by Kylah Goodfellow Klinge about the social use and meanings of "I'm sorry." It's such an interesting topic!

Anyway, after hearing myself say "I'm sorry" a ridiculous number of times while playing ball with a boy I decided I am going to start using that phrase with more meaning, intention and thought. I don't have to apologize for everything that is imperfect in the world. I certainly don't have to point out that I'm not the world's greatest Smashball player by apologizing EVERY time I swing my paddle. This is my year to quite being an "over-apologizer."

* Now Is My Time is an initiative I set for myself for 2014. Each week I've written about goals and plans I'm making this year to put myself and self-care at the forefront of my life. You can learn more here.

25 July 2014

Get A Jumpstart On Fall Fashion Now

images via Boden

It's hot, it's the middle of summer. The last thing you want to be thinking about is sweaters, boots, wool pants and scarves. But it's the perfect time to wrap your head around what's going to be hot for the cool fall season. This is just a little reminder that summer clothing is on clearance and the fall deliveries are beginning to appear on store shelves around the country.

All the shops in the US are starting to roll our their new fall shipments and will continue to over the next few weeks. Best selections are available now so it's a good time to stock up on some distinctive favorites like a great coat or jacket. If you have an hard-to-find size this is an especially good time to go on the hunt for favorite fall wear like boots and blazers. Those sizes go fast! Hard to find sizes may be easier to find online and are so much easier to troll for from the comfort of your own couch, bed or desk.

Here are a few favorites from Boden's fall line for 2014. I always like checking out their distinctly British take on the four seasons best looks. Maybe you'll find some inspiration here too. I've seen some great blazers coming out for fall at different retail sites.

For those of us in warmer climates this is also a perfect time to take advantage of fantastic deals for clothes we can wear year-round. It's the ideal time to buy sandals and short sleeve shirts on clearance. If you have a family to dress it is also a great time to load up on family basics you can save for next summer like swimsuits, shorts and tees - as well as summer toys. Swimsuits can be crazy expensive at the beginning of the season but great deals are available as fall rolls in.

So get out there and shop, whether it's window shopping or spending a few well placed dollars. Having some inspiration for Fall 2014 fashions will perhaps make it a little easier to face those cooling temps when you are excited to start layering, pulling on a sweater or new boots. Happy shopping!

24 July 2014

Finding The Great Successes In A Mundane Day

Yesterday I just couldn't shake the words "mundane" and "menial" from my head. Those are the feelings I had. The day felt mundane and menial. Besides a few phenomenally great hugs from family and a great hour of Skype with the wonderful friend from the North, I just didn't get a lot of satisfaction out of the day. I felt blah mentally and physically. I was sweaty, dirty and dusty all day and didn't feel like I really did anything that had any real meaning or joy involved in it for the day.

My tasks for the day felt blah too. Cleaning the kitchen for the kajillionth time, folding laundry, cleaning the balcony (dirty, dusty, buggy work) and tidying up our outdoor garden, making dinner, making beds, brushing hair, driving the kiddo to afternoon lessons and more.

While I was cleaning the sink after doing the dishes I had a nutball conversation with myself about if I were dying that I might give anything to just have one more chance to clean the kitchen. I nixed that pretty quickly out of a sense of guilt for people who really are dying and that in all reality cleaning the kitchen wouldn't be on that list anyway. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who has these ridiculous conversations with myself.)

As I got ready to wrap up the day I started thinking about what I'd really done during the day. Not mundane or menial at all when rephrased. Yesterday I took care of the most precious little girl in the whole world to me. I got to help her with her hair, make sure she had good meals and snacks and stayed hydrated on a hot day. We worked very hard for a very long time to have this opportunity - must never forget that!

I helped her develop a talent by delivering her to her lessons with a hat, bottle of cold water and fees she needed along with clear instructions about what to do with all that money, the conversation she needed to have with the course manager about her lost club and to keep drinking cold water.  At the end of that I made sure she had a container of fresh strawberries and some goldfish crackers waiting for her when she came in off the course. I knew she would be famished.

I taught her the value and joy of hard work in the sunshine by working side-by-side with her on our balcony and in our little garden space. She got to re-pot a plant, shovel lots of dirt, kill many spiders, sort shells, shake rugs, smash bottles for recycling, stack dusty boxes, sweep and put her full effort towards real work. She enjoyed herself and we talked about how much satisfaction there is in hard work and working together with others.

I had also decided that it was high time she learn to make her favorite meal - spaghetti. So tonight we cooked together and I reviewed all the steps I take to make her most favorite spaghetti sauce in the whole wide world. She's a natural. For a long while now she's been helping me taste test the sauce and determine what seasoning it still needed. She's very good at that. Then she learned to make pasta. Then we had a lovely dinner.

We watched a show together, talked and when it came time for bedtime we spent quite a lot of time together snuggling and talking again. She didn't want to go to bed, said she couldn't do it - that she missed Daddy and me too much to be away from us for the whole night. This from our kiddo who has been the most amazingly easy child to get in bed since she was tiny. She's the kid you put to bed who stays in bed and falls asleep within 3 minutes 99.9% of the time. I told her she could do it and that I had complete confidence in her. She nodded her head and closed her eyes and drifted off feeling peaceful and safe.

Beyond all this I took care of some bills, got hot and sweaty working away on this first day of the next heatwave, remembered to take my vitamins, got all the recycling bottles ready to take to the recylers, tossed four big planters & several little ones that were falling to bits, and down-scaled the patio garden to just four pots and cleaned the kitchen twice and spent an hour resting and meditating. Self-care IS supposed to be my top priority this year.

Looking at things from a different perspective it wasn't a mundane and menial day at all. It was a very successful day. I just needed to look up and see the light and smell the flowers all around me. I have accomplishments to be proud of and lots to be grateful for. Changing my perspective taught me that although my day may have seemed mundane there were many little things to appreciate and celebrate instead.

23 July 2014

Dreaming Up The Next Home

Monday I was in the waiting room of the car shop and was pleased to see that they had some legit ladies magazines on the table along with the "Car & Guy" selection. I only got through about 20 pages of House Beautiful before they'd performed a quick fix on my car...for free. (Wow, right?!) After the first few pages I had to stop and look at the year of the publication. It was from 2006 - okay. Amazing how dated so much of the upholstery fabrics looked!

One of the last things I saw was this awesome picnic table. Drool worthy modern. I've thought a picnic style table would be a lot of fun in a simple, sleek, modern home. This was designed by Scott Klinker. Since the magazine boasted that it was made from plywood and birch I was hoping it came with an IKEA style price, but not so. This table will set you back about $1300 according to 2006 prices. Updated pricing is about $1600. But I do quite like it and have a great respect for the artistry, design and science that went into creating it. No doubt it justifies its price. You can get all the details on the table here and benches here.

Yesterday I had to make a drop off trip to the airport and after a flight cancellation my day's schedule was rather off its hinges. So I ran some errands on the way home, including trips to two grocery stores. (Exhausting.) I popped into Home Goods as I passed and found quite a few lovely things as always. These two mirrors particularly grabbed my eye. We don't have one bit of empty wall space so mirrors are not something I need, but I like to imagine how I'd use them in "the next place."

First was this full length green mirror. Doesn't look like much until you see it up close and with detail. I love this color of green and the size of this piece.

 So gorgeous. This would be such a gorgeous piece in a master suite or large bathroom. This bamboo mirror also really caught my eye. I love the detail and the simplicity.

This would be so beautiful over a console table in a front entryway. Our front entryway right now has space for a console but above it opens out into the main living space so I do crave some space to hang something in an entryway. Some day.

I started brainstorming about bedding again yesterday. All my design inspiration right now is pouring into "the new place" wherever and whatever that is. I've been doing guided meditations about "the house of your dreams" on occasion.

The guide just walks you through the kind of house you would like to live in that would fit your style and needs. It's definitely not a "you need a mansion!" meditation at all which I really like. I like the idea of a small, highly organized space so that there's room for everything and yet not so much space that it owns us and requires ridiculous amounts of upkeep. Fun to dream.

My latest bedding ideas, of course start with a king size bed. Particularly important after nights like yesterday when The Bug felt the need to appear next to our bed at 2 am (scaring me so badly I screamed) and then she "needed" to get in with us. I was squished in the middle and not particularly comfortable. Looking forward with great excitement to that bigger bed soon.

I'm thinking again about upholstering the headboard which is wood but has a simple quilt hanging over it. If I made it king size I would add a new face to it before I upholstered it to make it a few inches bigger on each side.

For bedding I'm thinking a colorful quilt and pillows with neutral headboard, sheets and comforter cover - with a new very lightweight down comforter. It seriously never got cold this past winter so we didn't even use the regular comforter we have for winter. We also didn't ever get our coats out. People think it stays balmy here all year round but almost every year we do have a couple of weeks of near-freezing/freezing temperatures. So a very lightweight down comforter seems like it would be just perfect for most of the year here and I do like a bed with a comforter.

I'm back to debating if I make a comforter cover or just buy one. Since I'm thinking neutrals I'll probably buy one at some point. Then the fun part will be shopping for and/or making pillows and buying fun sheet sets.

It's interesting that since our trip (only a few days mind you) my brain has just been on fire with creativity. Painting, scheming houses in my mind and wanting to do DIY projects and knit and sew. That is always a sign for me that I am in a good place when my creative energy is on fire like that. It doesn't always stay in long spurts but it's great when it's here.

I'm going to use some of that energy to do some organizing and deep cleaning around the house. I'm doing everything I can to call upon "the law of attraction" to get us to our next and much better home. Being a good steward of what one currently has and being grateful for it are a critical component of that. Tomorrow it's the balcony we'll tackle. Boy does it get dirty and dusty and leaf covered out there fast!

Hope you are having a happy and creative summer. Thanks so much for coming by!

22 July 2014

Creative Play: Wax Relief Watercolor

Continuing on my "Play With Watercolor" journey over the past few days I wanted to experiment a bit with wax relief or in simpler terms using a white crayon to draw a picture on white paper and then painting over it with water color.

While just trying to come up with an idea of something to draw that I could play with, I was inspired by this torn paper art project I did of our little clan a few years ago. (Scroll down a bit to see the photo). This little cartoon version of our family has appeared in many different places over the years. We definitely needed an update since The Bug is significantly taller than she was years ago. So I decided to do a quick sketch of the family for my attempt at wax relief this week.

I did this orange version first. I used a white crayon from a 48-pack we picked up last year for another art project we did for Valentine's Day. First, it's very tough to draw white on white. I tried to sit so that the light from the window illuminated the crayon drawing on the paper, but it was tricky.

I also wasn't too impressed with the cheap white crayon. It didn't go on heavy enough and for the first few hours after I painted over it, it didn't look like it was really going to show up. By the next day, it was plenty visible but I was convinced I needed to get a better quality crayon. Thankfully we have a lot of old crayons around here.

My second attempt was the blue one above. This time I used a nice Crayola white crayon and it was so much easier to see and showed up so much better when I painted over it. At this point I decided maybe I should try doing a third picture and making a series of these. So I decided to try it in lime green.

This drawing was a little more random and as you can see it was still drying on the painting board when I took the picture. The proportions on this one aren't quite so good but I do like that each one is a little different. I thought about maybe framing these and hanging them together somewhere. We don't have room for them now, but maybe down the road, in the near future they might be fun hanging in a bathroom or something.

I have to think a little more about the possibilities. Maybe even for kiddo's bedroom they would be fun. I might need to do one more in pink, but I'm out of water color paper. Luckily we have two great art supply stores within walking distance of my house. Love that.

I would also like to experiment a bit with wax relief fabric dying. I blogged last fall about these scarves created by Elsie at A Beautiful Mess. This watercolor project was a good start to just wrap my head around how the color takes, what kind of crayon works best, etc. Simple and fun.

all images by kalanicut

21 July 2014

Now Is My Time # 27: Be A Good Guide

Recently we went on a river float trip. This was our guide, Reed Finlay. He was such a terrific guide and I've thought a lot about what made him a great guide. He was very personable and welcoming. He was also very relaxed, especially in a raft with six kids under the age of 12 and three sets of tired parents. 

Sidenote: It was on this trip that I realized how much more wearing parenting can be on grown ups while on vacation and with the kiddos 24/7. On any regular day at home there are lots of distractions that give everyone quite a bit more space than when riding in vehicles, staying in one small hotel room and trying to keep kids behaving decently in museums, on tours, during hikes, etc.

Thankfully we were with a big group of families so I saw that it was pretty much the same for every set of parents so I didn't take it so hard that it was tiring and sometimes frustrating for us. I'm sure in many ways the kids felt exactly the same way dealing with their parents all day every day. Haha.

Anyway, back to our guide Reed. He was great at fielding questions, explaining things we might like to know and watching out for wildlife and other things we would want to see. He was also very respectful to his clients. He acted as if he had every confidence that we would be good rafters, that is would be a great experience and that if we did have any challenges we would work together to solve them. He gave us the basic safety rundown and then we were happily off on our adventure.

I think it's easy for vacation tour guides to get tired of "dumb tourists" and lose that skill and ability to be gracious and respectful to tourists. His friendly, calm demeanor made interacting with him and sharing our homemade Snickerdoodles with him a real joy.

When I think of other guides in my life I think of a friend from my church who I have watched and admired for many years. I have heard nothing but what an amazing woman she is. She rarely makes comments in lessons at church. She does not broadly offer her wise opinions and knowledge unsolicited. I have noticed that about other wise, older people. They do not feel the need to give their advice to others unless asked. They show love and caring and friendship. They leave you with the feeling that they have absolute confidence in you. But when these wise friends do speak, everyone stops and listens.

I think as friends and fellow travelers on this journey of life the greatest gift we can give others is our respect that they are the captains of their own ships. We can never know their life exactly or how they have come to certain challenges or blessings in their lives. Sharing unsolicited judgments or opinions is so harmful. Sharing love and confidence and when needed compassion and caring are beautiful blessings to each other.

As I think about our guide Reed and my wise older friends, I want to be the most loving, kind, available guide and friend I can be. I never want someone to feel I am trying to fix them or their lives. I hope I am always there when needed but I hope I also know when and where I am not needed.

Focusing on what others need, rather than what we feel we "need" to share when it's mostly serving our own selves is a big life lesson. It's a challenging step to take towards being more gracious and godlike. This is a life lesson I want to carry towards parenting, marriage, friendships, teaching roles and anywhere else it can be applied. An opportunity to build another's confidence in their own life and abilities is a great talent to work on and a great focus for my year of Now Is My Time 2014.

--- Now Is My Time is an initiative I set for myself for 2014. Each week I've written about goals and plans I'm making this year to put myself and self-care at the forefront of my life. You can learn more here.

17 July 2014

Watercolor Attempts: Mountain Memories

I mentioned last week having the opportunity to paint out in nature and that I would share the little work that I created. This is it. I am no trained watercolor artist! This was painted with two wonky brushes and a little grade school quality watercolor kit. So I didn't have a lot to work with, but it was really fun to challenge myself to see what I could do with what I had. No great expectations.

But in the end I kind of like it and it is very sentimental to me, imperfections and all. This piece is small. It's about seven inches by five-and-three-quarters inches. At the end of our watercolor session all three families and our two guides shared their watercolor creations of their favorite things about our trip. It was fun to see how different everyone's art was. It was fantastic to see each person's individuality from little six year olds to grown parents represented in their painting.

After looking at my photos from our trip over and over again, the visions of those beautiful mountains are still so fresh in my mind. So I pulled out my watercolors over the weekend.  I attempted another piece with a nice selection of great brushes, a more restricted watercolor palette to work (unfortunately) and a much larger sheet of watercolor paper (15" x 11"). I think this one is still a work in progress, I think it needs more color variety and some fine detail. I realized it's good to stop when you lose your vision for the piece and then give yourself a chance to go back and look at it later and make small adjustments as needed.

All the while I was painting I was hearing my sister who has cultivated a lovely watercolor practice saying to me, "A dry brush removes paint." I heard her say this a few times while we were working on a house painting project for my other sister recently. I actually used that technique to my advantage several times while working on this piece to remove paint in places where I realized it was a mistake.

I think I need to go back in and add some patches of wildflowers and snow, maybe a little more brown soil, etc. I had to try to make my own brown for this one, because I didn't have one, so it all turned out a little too gray looking. I see myself sneaking down the street with coupon in hand to my local craft store for a basic watercolor kit in the near future. I worked on this for quite a while to get it to this point and learned a lot of lessons about water and paint while I was doing it.

I think my best lesson from trying this again was that I could repair mistakes by removing paint or going in and adding more paint or washing areas out with a little more water. Still lots to learn but for someone who has had no watercolor training since Mr. Harward's 5th grade class, it was fun to just try and play around with the paint a bit.

I find so often when trying things I'm not very good at that just having the patience to try again and not put pressure on myself allows me to get a little better each time. So I think I will keep watercoloring when I am in the mood and see what becomes of it. No pressure. No competition with anyone else. Just a fun hobby to play around with.

16 July 2014

Inspiration For The Home: Our Kitchen Blackboard

Several years ago when I was living in a house not far from here, I made several large blackboards that I could use for art and inspiration around the house. One went in my bedroom where I could rotate inspiring quotes.

The chalkboards were easy to make out on the grass in the backyard with a tarp under them. I purchased, for about $12, three large 1/4" x 2" x 4" slabs of fiberboard from the hardware store and then spray painted each with black chalkboard paint. It took about three coats to get it thick enough but it was a very easy project.

When I moved into this apartment I hung one on a narrow wall in the kitchen between the fridge and pantry and wrote a favorite quote there that stayed for years about gratitude. Recently I changed it to an Abraham Lincoln quote about happiness.

The chalkboard has taken a beating and with little hands and sometimes messy Man, it now has some grease stains and other imperfections on it -- but I like things a little rumpled up, so until I make a new one or move somewhere new, it will stay as is. I have chalkboard paint in my painting supplies so it wouldn't take much to polish it up a bit.

While reading this Living With Kids post over at Design Mom, I was inspired to change our blackboard to Fruit Of The Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. If you have time to read the post, Leah says something really inspiring about meeting one's needs as a mom. I loved it and it's stayed with me.

I think I ended up with a more modern bibical version on my blackboard, which I had found in multiple places online. When I checked it against the King James version there were some differences. But this works for now. It's a good reminder for all of us to think more deeply about the spirit we contribute to our home and our influence on the mood and happiness of every person living here.

If you don't have a chalkboard but would like a version of this to hang on your own walls there are some beautifully designed versions for sale on Etsy. Here are a few of my favorites. From Made By Katy Designs, a lovely green pear on a black background. Miss Mo Design created this lovely black, gray and yellow tree branch design. Wall To Wall stencils sells this pretty green pear as the frame for the verse. I also like the black and white simplicity of this text version.

As I was working on this, The Bug requested that we change the blackboard every month. I think that is a great goal and I am looking forward to switching up our inspiration and the visual focus of our kitchen every month now.

Do you have a place where you leave little inspirations for your family? Where is it and how do you work it?

15 July 2014

It's July -- Let Knitting Season Begin

Knitting pattern "The Burton Bear Cowl" by Thevelvetacorn at Etsy
image via Elle Dekoration

On Friday July 11 I officially got the annual knitting bug. It's the time when it's become hot to the point of uncomfortable and I start thinking about how nice fall will feel. That reminds me that if I want to make anything to wear for fall or gifts for others, now would be a great time to start working on those projects.

It's also a great time to start working on Christmas projects. I should start gathering ideas. Over the past few years I feel like gift giving has sort of slipped around here, thoughtful, creative gift giving. So I would like to amp that up again and start making real keepsake gifts, rather than getting stuck buying gifts that you just hope the receiver wants and isn't just clutter for them.

Let's save Christmas gifts for another time and get back to knitting. That reminds me that my sister wanted to take me to a great knitting shop a friend of hers owns last week while we were together and we didn't do it. Darn. Next time.

I thought I would share some knitting inspirations from my Pinterest board Knit and Pearl.

1) The Burton Bear Cowl (seen above)


2) Eternity Scarf From Scraps: From the blog Conifilo.

Bandana Cowl - the purl bee

3) Bandana Cardigan from Purl Bee.

scarf for beatrice, hannah, mom, courtney, jordi, sydney, lyss, jodi, meghann and clauds

4) Scarf. This giant knitting stuff just totally intrigues me!


5) Turtleneck Nordic Poncho-Capelet previously found on Dewanda.

 HiKoo Pine Bough Cowl (Free)

I have a feeling I'll be picking up a knitting project soon. It's such a good, peaceful activity. Maybe this is the year to teach The Bug to knit. She's been weaving rubber band bracelets like crazy lately so I think she would get the concept. We'll see how it goes.

Do you get knitting fever or holiday gift making vibes in the summer time? What feeds your fancy at this time of year?

14 July 2014

Now Is My Time #26: Rest Builds Energy & Enthusiasm

I'm half done with my year of Now Is My Time initiative. You can learn more about Now Is My Time here. It is basically a goal I set for myself this year to make taking great care of myself my top priority so that I was a better me in all facets of my life.

After a recent vacation I can say that getting away is great for the soul, great for self care and great for the creative mind. It was wonderful to take time to enjoy and appreciate things we often miss in our busy days. I had moments to drink in big, beautiful views like this one above from a high hilltop and others from mountainsides.

I appreciated small things in all their splendor.

I admired old and nearly forgotten creations backed by big, blue skies and settings that reminded me so much of my childhood.

The smell of alfalfa growing, being cut and baled was so familiar, strong and heavenly for a while... until I couldn't take the itchy eyes and runny nose any longer. When we finally left the beautiful farm country, as much as I love it, I was a little bit glad to lose the allergy symptoms. But still, so beautiful.

I appreciated our beautiful world on foot, by car, in a canoe and raft.


Along with all that beauty, we made new friends, tried new things, rested and put cares of home aside. I came back feeling energized. My soul felt renewed and inspired. I came home ready to tackle challenges and wanting to try new projects and to live life a little differently. I felt more adventurous and more at peace. There were so many things to enjoy and love about our trip, but the one that surprised me most was coming home feeling excited about life and ready for change. 

Downtime, quiet time, rest time, time away from our daily cares is so good for us and sometimes we forget that. This trip taught me that lesson in new ways and I want to keep incorporating those lessons into my life on a regular basis. I want less feeling run down, tired and discouraged and more feeling excited, adventurous, fearless and brave. Leaving the comfort of home gave me all those things and more. I am going to take more adventures so that I can feel this way on a regular basis.

What lessons do you take away from time away from home? Is there anything you've pushed yourself to do to feed your adventurous, brave self?

all images by kalanicut

10 July 2014

A Refreshing Visit To The Mountains

image by The Bug

We are back after some time in the mountains. It was fantastic to be "off the grid" somewhat and I have to confess that I didn't miss having a phone on me 24/7 and being so tied into the electronic world. It was fun to just be able to interact with people, face-to-face and enjoy nature.

We had the chance to hike, canoe, river raft and eat S'mores and all those good outdoorsy things. We also got a lot of mosquito bites, had a chance to watercolor out in nature and just live a quieter life for a while. We spent most of the week with two other families we were matched up with and they turned out to be dear friends by the end. We miss them. The entire experience was so good for every soul.

The watercolor time on one of our hikes was serious inspiration for me to do more painting. The images of those mountains will inspire me for a while yet. Later this week I'll share my little watercolor I did.

I thought today I would share this little piece of art The Bug created on our drive home on the iPad. We kinda went ga-ga for its modern take on the gorgeous mountains we had just left. We are seriously considering figuring out a way to enlarge and frame it. I'm in the mood for modern and this is beyond sentimental for us too. This is what a sunset behind the mountains and lake looked and felt  like. A sight to behold.

It's nice to come home with some fresh energy and inspiration. I appreciate the new friendships we made and the great experiences our little family was able to have together. Even though I'm tired today from the adventures, and just getting resettled and back in the groove, it feels good to be home. I am looking forward to some fun new blog posts and projects to come. Hope you've been well. Look forward to catching up with you here again soon.

01 July 2014

Fashionable Outdoor And Travel Pants

As I was packing for a little adventure recently I realized a little too late that I really needed some lightweight outdoor travel/hiking pants. The fabulous kind that hide dirt, keep you cool, wick water and have four-way stretch so you can move. That lead me on a pretty desperate last minute hunt and a quick lesson in what is available out there that is a lot more stylish than they once were.

I thought I would share four pairs of lightweight travel pants that give camping and trekking a fresh new look.

I like these because the convertible isn't super short "man-looking" shorts but instead a pretty nice just below the knee capri cut. The waistband detailing is nice, so much better than elastic with a pull-tight nylon belt like one would find on outdoors pants in the 90s.

This is another pair of Prana pants. The Man is crazy for Prana brand pants and the greatest laugh I've had in a long time was reading the online reviews for men's Prana pants where man after man (we're talking pages and pages of reviews) gush about how much they love their Prana pants and say they would wear the same pair every day if people didn't notice.

A lot of the guys say Prana are the only pants they wear now. That is definitely the case at our house. These pants don't come cheap but people are passionate about Prana pants and I have seen that they hold up well to all kinds of abuse, keep their shape and are super practical for an active lifestyle.

This is a new to me brand I found on Zappos. I really like the cuts and styling and the online reviews for these pants are positive too. These babies look comfortable.

These are pants you could wear to all sorts of occasions and are more travel than hiking. But they look great, come in a multiple color options.

All these pants are easy wash, fast drying so you could easily rinse them out, hang them up overnight and be ready to wear them again the next morning if you needed to. The comfort stretch material means you could wear them for long hours without dying to change into something else. They are also abrasion resistant, stain resistant and made to take the abuse of travel.

No more camping in cotton denim with all the great new options for comfort, easy care and built to last capabilities. They roll up easily and are easy to pack too so more room in your backpack or suitcase for treasures.
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