Love This Day

Kings Canyon Trail

Another Mother’s Day in the books! As is our tradition, my husband and boys and I spent the day together outdoors hiking/walking. My oldest son wanted to be there and planned to be, but he was under the weather and was unable to join us. We missed him!

I love Mother’s Day. I love that I get to be with my family and that they always make me feel loved and appreciated. When my boys were very little I decided to make it a tradition to spend this day doing something that they would always have fun doing – hiking. It happens to be one of my favorite things to do too! We have always brought our dogs along, but Sydney is too old now and Scooby is, well, let’s just say, not quite ready yet (he’s completely insane around other dogs!).

Kobe, me, and Eli
Some of the many horses we encountered at Washoe Lake
Horse watching
Two of my three sons at Washoe Lake

Our day was full of beautiful sights and shrouded in the warmth of the Spring sunshine. I loved every minute of it. Thankful, thankful.

Kings Canyon Waterfall in Carson City

Is There A Dog in Here?

I just had my 47th birthday! That morning I awoke with God’s tender reminder of how loved I am. The thoughts of Him covering me through every storm, giving me life and being my Rock and Hope for those 47 years washed over my mind and heart with force. Gratitude is a gift from God. His perspective and grace are what prompt every good heart-thought I have.

My sweet husband and boys all remembered to wish me happy birthday. They love me and I am deeply moved by that. My nieces, sisters-n-law and mother-in-law all sent me loving birthday messages. The day before my birthday, my parents drove 3 hours from California to spend the day with me before the storm was due to hit later that evening. My sister, two of her kids, and my youngest son were able to come spend the time together. The rest of the family was at work for Mom and Dad’s short visit.

Beauty in the little things which, to me, have always been the big things.

I am fortunate enough to have friends and family who are skilled in gift-making and gift-giving. I love handmade things, thrift store/garage sale finds, and words. When I was flooded with such things this birthday (Christmas too), I felt known and cared for.

My sister is incredibly talented to create stunning works of art – paintings, jewelry, clothing, custom clothes hangers, handbags, dresses and more. This journal with the two trees in the background and its vibrant color scheme was just a plain canvas before she put her beautiful touches on it. GORGEOUS!

I had told her what kind of earrings I would love to have, so what did she do? – she went to the craft store and bought what she needed to make these, my favorite earrings EVER!

My sister’s art fills my home with my favorite things. I will show just one more of her gifts to me real quick. She needle-pointed this two-sided pendant for me a couple of Christmases ago!

My mom is an artist as well. Her skills reach far (paintings, blankets, sweaters, purses, scarves, gloves and on and on and on!) This gorgeous pillow was my birthday gift this year. She made scarves for all the grandkids and with the remnants, threw this gem together. Oh, I wish I knew how to do that!

My dad is a great talent too! I know, I am so lucky! He built a chicken coop and shed that could be displayed in any home and garden magazine. Everything he builds is spectacular! He’s one of those people that can do anything and do it well. For Christmas (veering a bit from my birthday story, but I wanted to brag on him) he made my sister and me matching cutting boards out of walnut and maple.

My beloved friend of 37 years took me out for my birthday sushi lunch (she treats me every year!). She knows how to find treasures at thrift stores like no one else (my favorite) and she found and gifted me a ring that I have worn every single day since. So much love.

Another dear friend of my heart knows how much I love words and how deeply they move me. Here are two of the things she wrote to me in my birthday card that I will read over and over again.

And finally…the reason behind the strange title to this post – my living, breathing (puppy breath) birthday present — Scooby!

This post would be 50 pages long if I started in on how wonderful our new boy is. So, this is his introduction to you all. There will undoubtedly be many more appearances made by this sweet, funny, smart, playful…(Oh, shoot, see? There I go. I can’t stop myself!). Until next time. 😉

Inspire to Create, Create to Inspire

Inspiration is not always easy to come by, especially when you have been in a season of experiencing an all too familiar depression and an altogether new experience with anxiety.  Praise God I am not in that place right now, but I have been recently.  I may share some more about that in a post that I’m working on.  None of us gets to skate through life without reoccurring obstacles.  It has been a number of times in such conditions that I have been able to create the most beautiful things I know how to.  Doing and creating are great distractions, but they also show us how beauty can come from something broken and ugly.  Though far from a cure, these can provide a tangible path to focus on in those dark times.

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I am a creative person, but I also appreciate organization and structure.  Both creativity and structure feed my sense of well-being.  That is why I created an inspiration board in my office that includes a list of to-dos regarding my creative hobbies.

I rearranged my office for optimal function.  The items I have chosen to fill up that space are all special and meaningful to me.

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I bought and installed theses two pendant lamps at Ross for only 20 dollars a piece!

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My sister bought me an old camera for Christmas and I installed a shelf to display my prize!

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One of the items on my inspiration board to-do list was for me to attempt a self-photo-shoot.  Oh man!  Did I ever need this!  I learned several areas in which I was lacking crucial knowledge and technique.  There were a few other people there at the park that day.  The park is also overlooked by some mansions with a perfect view of me making a fool of myself.  It was a blast though!  I imagined how I must look, setting up the photo, pushing the shutter button, and then running full speed to pose (for no one) – sometimes making it there on time, sometimes twisting my ankle and nearly falling.  I laughed out loud to myself over and over.  Most of the pictures came out so-so, but I thought this one was good.  What you can’t tell is that I’m heavily winded and that I nearly broke my ankle getting into position before my 10 seconds was up. Hahaha!

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My son and I are collaborating together on a song.  I wrote the lyrics, he wrote the chord progressions.  We are working out a melody.

I also got caught up on some important scrapbooking.  As I was reminiscing I was reminded of God’s faithfulness through the years and how He has never stopped moving and working in our lives, always drawing us to His side.  Immense gratitude set in, and hope along with it.

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Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…Colossians 3:23

 

Old Things, New Cleaning Products, and Cozy Work Spaces

Here’s a quick little post under the Favorite Little Things category to hold us over until the next Reflections post.  I have been working on something, but I can’t yet get it quite right.  The message is very clear to me, but I’ve had a tough time expressing my thoughts to the point where I’m confident the message will be clear to you, the readers.  I hope to finish soon!

                                                                          LITTLE THING #1

I shared in a previous post about my love of a good find while doing shopping of any kind and ESPECIALLY a garage sale or thrift store find.  A couple of weekends ago my sister and I found the best sale we’ve been to in years!  It was an estate sale featuring mostly mid-century items.  Ah, it was a gold mine!  If we had taken a big truck with us there would have been an ornate jewel-toned couch and a few chairs featured in this post as well.  I was able to snag an unbelievable collection of post cards with generations of this family’s correspondence!

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I was taken immediately with the messages and dates on just the few I had quickly skimmed over.  This was a treasure trove of history at my fingertips, and I COULD NOT pass it up.  My husband was just as impressed as I was when I brought the box home and showed him what I had stumbled upon.  We’ve read through only a fraction of them.  There are so many notes from decades (1905 is the earliest so far) of travel around the world.  Jerusalem, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland are among the many locations these postcards were sent from.  Some include important historical references. I talked them down to $13 for the whole box and countless hours of entertainment!  I’m so excited to dive in and discover more about history through this priceless documentation.

                                                              LITTLE THING #2

That same day at another sale I found a box full of old music magazines.  Most are in great condition, dating back to the 1930’s (so far).  There is so much history in the magazine articles that put a sharp focus on the culture of that particular time in our nation’s history.  $1 for the whole box!

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                                                               LITTLE THING #3

I do love a clean house, but sometimes keeping it that way can feel like such a chore.  The maintenance is much more enjoyable when I have a brand new product to use.  There’s typically nothing to write about (haha) when we’re talking about dish soap and surface cleaner.  I don’t enjoy the lingering chemical odor left after a deep cleaning.  But since I bought these new products I actually try to find things to clean!  They leave my home with the fresh scent of fall and apple cider.  Need a motivator to go after your house-keeping chores?  Try a new cleaning product or two for inspiration!

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                                                               LITTLE THING #4

I love to make cozy spaces of functionality in my home.  At any given time you’ll find at leas two or three specially designated work (reading, music, scrapbooking, writing, etc.) areas that I’ve carved out in my house.  Here is my writing, bill-paying (yes, I still do it the old-fashioned way), menu and shopping-list making space.  In the morning the sun’s warmth saturates this back living room and creates a beautiful, streaming light.  (I can’t pass up an early morning because so many magical things happen in the morning light.)  It costs nothing to rearrange some furniture in order to refresh a room and make it more inviting.

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I would love to hear what some of your favorite little things are!  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Yes, the Garden

Okay, yes, this post is about my garden. I assured my friend that I wouldn’t write any silly garden posts (this being my own self-imposed standard, not hers). Well, I should have known that my garden would make an appearance at some point. She (my friend, not my garden – haha) probably knew it would too. If I’m going to have a Favorite Little Things category, I just cannot ignore the miracle that exists right in my back yard. When I use the term miracle, I mean it! The fact that so much increase can come from a tiny little seed covered up in the dirt; add water and sunshine and healthy, sustaining food is born! Miraculous!

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For the last couple of summers it has seemed like my gardens have had a mind of their own, making little sense of all the little tricks I’ve learned by trial and error throughout the years. Finely ground eggshells that kept the bugs at bay last year seemed to bore the bugs this year. Tomato blossoms that typically promise a harvest of fruity deliciousness, this year selected their favored two out of three plants to produce, with no rhyme or reason as to why no fruit on the third (I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t know what it is). And the burlap that I would have written a book on last summer, claiming its magical garden powers, seems to look me in the eye this summer and giggle, yielding little of the same benefits.

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In spite of the unpredictable (and moody) personality of my gardens, there is always something redeeming about them. There will always be produce and beauty of some sort. Bringing in a harvest of any kind never ceases to thrill me. Gathering vegetables and taking them to the kitchen to wash and put up has a nostalgic feeling for me. Each vegetable has its own yummy recipe that inspires and nourishes. Seriously, is there anything more delicious and impossible to substitute than a bounty of fresh, vine-ripened, home-grown tomatoes? Sauces, salads, soups, pizza, sandwiches, tacos all taste their best with home-grown tomatoes. But I think I like them best just sliced with a little salt.

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Artichokes remind me a little of butterflies. Their transformation is nearly as drastic and surprisingly stunning. Like the butterfly, the artichoke starts out looking less than show-stopping. It has a prickly exterior and is a one-dimensional shade of green. Deep down in the center is the artichoke’s heart underneath the choke and surrounding petals. This center continues to grow after the artichoke has passed its prime, giving way to another one of its purposes; providing beauty. Soon the center grows out and surpasses the sharp tips of the leaves and bursts into the truest shade of purple that saturates the ever so soft-to-the-touch blossom. Right when it looks like it’s about to die, it becomes a vibrant sight to behold. I look forward to watching this unfold each year. One of my favorite garden perks!

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Thrift Stores, Dryers, and Swamp Coolers (Favorite Little Things)

Just for fun I am adding a category labeled Favorite Little Things where I will share some little thing(s) that just make me feel happy and thankful. We all have those little favorite items or everyday events that light up our days a bit.
We have a swamp cooler that keeps our house cool throughout the summer months. Yes, I am VERY thankful for that, but the location of the cooler is what makes this cool (no pun intended – ha ha) thing happen. Outside, right next to the window where our cooler sits throughout the summer months is our dryer vent. Every time I dry a load of laundry the fresh, cozy, clean smell of the clothes gets sucked right back the house through the blowing air from the cooler. No air freshener or scented candle needed! It’s a small thing, I know, but I love it!

IMG_3243I’ll share one more for today (not easy to cut it down to two things, but there will be plenty more in other posts, I’m sure). Years ago I started making hot apple cider for the fall and winter months. I make a special recipe that quickly became a favorite amongst friends and family and frequently requested. I had one of those big coffee makers that people use at potlucks and for large crowds. For the past 4 or 5 years I haven’t had one to make the cider in, instead making it on the stove top in a big pot. Whenever I need to take it somewhere I carefully pour the piping hot liquid into multiple thermoses. Yes, I could have bought a brand new one, but I never did. I prefer a unique find that is also a great deal. Well, look what I found at a garage sale with my sister two Saturdays ago!

DSCN5083 I paid $3.00 for it! As soon as I got home I cleaned it out and ran it through a water cycle. It works like it’s brand new and I am in love with the retro look. Fall is right around the corner and this gem will get more than its share of warm and cozy use!
Oh, (and I know this is technically three things, but since I got them at the same garage sale I think it’s allowed to sneak these into this post) and these amazing Jadeite plates, too!

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Feel free to share in the comments those things that you notice and love!