Thursday, December 26, 2013

Grab Anomia

If laughing yourself to tears is your idea of a good time, pick up Anomia {Ah-NO-mee-ah} before your group gathers next. One of those games to begin playing before you get the hang of it and it's simple from there, my 7 y/o was slightly out-paced by the grown ups but the 11 y/o mixed in well.
 
Can I just mention how grateful I felt going to bed last night? How fortunate to watch healthy (& wide- eyed) children meet a room full of presents on a snowy Christmas morning! Sharing food & laughter with family that share our love for Jesus & each other fills my cup. 

I wish you the merriest week! 

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas, reader! 

The God who flung the plantes into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all-was making himself small. And coming down...as a baby.
"But it's too wonderful!" Mary said and felt her heart beating hard. "How can it be true?" 
"Is anything too wonderful for God?" {the angel} Gabriel asked.
...
Sure enough it was just as the angel had said. Nine months later, Mary was almost ready to have her baby. Now, Mary & Joseph had to take a trip to Bethlehem...but when they reached the little town they found every room was full. Every bed was taken.
...
And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift. 
The baby that would change the world was born
His baby son...
Mary and Joseph named him Jesus, "Emmanuel"-which means "God has come to live with us."
Because, of course, he had.

-from He's Here in the Jesus Storybook Bible 
(the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99 on Amazon)

One of our family's favorite songs for the season: You're Here
This one is beautiful too
"I'll hold you in the beginning. You'll hold me in the end.
Every moment in the middle make my heart your Bethlehem. Be born in me."
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Books for Christmas | Countdown to Christmas with Books

The book countdown is one tradition our kids start talking about as soon as there is any hint of Christmastime in the city.
This year we're going to start our countdown to Christmas a bit later because of some travel plans. I was wrapping up the books I collected from the library this week and wanted to encourage you not to skip it just because we're already in the 2nd week of December.
The 12 days or even 10 days before Christmas would certainly be memorable. I borrow mine from the library. I like to get some of the favorites that they come to anticipate and add a few new ones in the mix. You could certainly buy a couple of books too.
To make it entirely free, I use paper bags from the grocery store. Click here for a more detailed post on this countdown, including wrapping.
The point is: you can make this elaborate or not but chances are, unwrapping a book, laying on bellies under the Christmas tree and reading by its light will be memorable. 
Speaking of books, here are a few I've added to my gift list this year:

Because I'm completely intrigued by the Instagram Feed of the same name:
 
Because I love lists and the idea of recording life this way: 


Because moms want to leave something, simply:

Because I love piggy-backing off other people's tried & trues:

Because I love my kitchen table & dishwasher crowded:

Because my kids would immediately begin:

Because my son loves a good joke:

 Because I heard a bit on NPR one day & stayed in the parking lot for the whole program with my girls:

Because I love a pretty vignette, and the sophistication of a classic novel (30% off at B&N):

This was my favorite read this year, tragic and it instantly wraps you up, turning pages with hope: 


I ate this book up this summer, it was fascinating and arranged unlike any I've read:

This book is so very entertaining if you haven't read it yet. (I listened to the audio version, by Tina, herself, which I highly recommend)

For my fellow Bible-believers:
This inspirational book changed the way I look at my mundane life. 

This author and pastor has revolutionized the way I understand the Bible and it's most basic principles. My husband & I have spent many hours of this year discussing his podcasts. This book on counterfeit gods or this one on marriage would be worth a read, if following & loving Jesus is your thing. 

I keep meaning to read these books before they come out on film, especially 6 & 7. Have you read them? Pin It

Monday, December 2, 2013

My own Brian McKenzie | Lessons in suggestive gifts

Remember when Annie gets a blender from Brian McKenzie? The man of her dreams becomes, in an instant, a sexist jerk. She calls the wedding off in a fit, throwing herself on her bed in tears and Steve Martin is no longer Father of the Bride. I think I've got one that beats her blender.

We'd been married a few years, long enough for my husband to know that a gift to me, was only as good as the thoughtfulness and effort behind it. Some of his most-treasured gifts cost little (cookbook) and some cost a ton (stage-side seats for Coldplay). Money can't buy thoughtfulness.  Discovering that he'd acquired an AmEx card for the VIP access to a concert that notoriously sells out quickly, and knowing it was entirely his idea was the gift to me. It was sensational even before Chris Martin was within arm's reach.

On this particular Christmas, I'd had a baby 3 months prior and 'operation: lose the baby weight' was in full swing. And by full swing I mean: I started replacing a meal here or there with Slim Fast and resumed my regular gym visits. With a new baby, I wasn't getting much sleep and hormones were raging. I hadn't asked for anything, but I anticipated a gift to commemorate our new baby girl, and our 1st Christmas, complete, as a family of 4.
On Christmas morning, I opened exclusively:
exercise DVDs, a new pair of sneakers, South Beach Diet bars, and Slim Fast.
Yeah.
No, really. It's true.
Get this: he was grinning, proudly with every gift I opened. "See, I pay attention to you!" he said. "That's the kind you like."
I always wanted to be Annie Banks.
And no, I'll never forget our 1st Christmas as a family of 4.
~
My husband genuinely wasn't suggesting anything, he simply noticed what I was all wrapped up in at the time. Where he & Brian McKenzie went wrong was in this oft' overlooked layer of giving: the perception of the recipient. This is why sometimes cost matters and sometimes it doesn't; why re-gifting works sometimes and fails others. It's in the perception. Ah!

If you really want to win at giving, you can't forget to consider how your gift will be perceived.
Does a practical gift make them swoon or does practicality translate as laziness Does expensive make it valuable or does it make it uncomfortable to accept? Would an experience be more exciting than an item? Does overspending suggest overcompensating or last minute?

Furthermore, sometimes getting what your loved one would be thrilled to receive means spending hard-earned money on something you can't understand, you wouldn't have chosen yourself, and has you shopping where you wouldn't otherwise go. I went into a micro-brewing shop in town and couldn't have felt more out of place if I were in China. The bearded young guy was patient with me, while I wrapped my head around the malt, barley, & hops, oh my!

Resist buying for the thrill of the deal and not the the joy of the person on your list. 
Don't underestimate the power of suggestion that can ruin your well-meaning gift.
Unwrapping a Vitamix blender would have me cheering, but not so for Annie Banks. (was that too direct?) Pin It

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't you cry | Giveaway Winner

Today is chopping day in my preparation for the big feast here on Thursday. The onions had me watering at first slice. I was standing over the sink to remedy the situation when I realized I have a secret to share with you!
Onions got your eyes stinging & watering? 
Run your hands under water, 
work a squirt of soap into a lather between your palms 
and wave them closely, in front of your eyes for a few seconds. 
Bam! It's gone! No more stinging. No more watering. Works every time.
~
Speaking of teary eyes, my oldest daughter got her daddy's permission to get her ears pierced today. We made a mommy-daughter date of it this afternoon. And I made a rookie mistake.
The manager met us at the door and when I announced why we were there she asked, "Do you mind doing her ears one at a time because the other girl working isn't trained?"
If anyone can do it, this girl can. She's garnered shock & awe from nurses for years with her taking immunization shots & blood draws without so much as a flinch. She's brave. We're in.
Um, not so. Serious underestimation on my part. That striped lady's patience should earn her far much more than her hourly wage! She was wonderful with my girl. It was a very long time after her first ear was pierced before I finally got her in some version of the choker hold with her eyes blocked to get the second one done. She hopped up seconds later without a tear & totally over it. For the rest of the date, she was floating by my side. Individual attention and big girl treatment are her love languages.

The winner of the Tiny Prints Giveaway is #38. 
She has been notified and will receive a $50 & Free Shipping code to get her Christmas Card shopping on this year! 
In case you're planning to get a snapshot of your crew over this holiday,
Tiny Prints has 100 inspiring Christmas Card ideas here.
A Cup of Jo posted a simple one today that I just love here


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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prepping your Place for Company | 1 Week timeline for hosts

Hosting is my favorite! I love using every dish & spoon & towel & the need for pot after pot of coffee brewing.  I love every seat filled & more being pulled from around the house, mattresses scattered & every blanket needed.
The truth is, I relish the prep as much as the time spent.
One thing I learned years ago from reading Ina Garten's book, if you are relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be too. Make every effort to make your guests feel that you've been to no trouble for them.
If you are anxious & afraid your real life will show through & blow your online persona, your guests will feel guilty & less likely to put their feet up & linger.
Can't relax if everything's not clean & needs aren't met? Prepare.
As a rule, I make EVERY effort not to HAVE to do anything more than the unavoidable on the day of arrival. I clean, wipe, chop, slice, cook, shred, stock everything days before so that I can enjoy our guests.
Here's a bit of a breakdown starting with 1 week before.

10 days to 1 Week before: 
Inventory Day
*As you go through today's task, make a list of all needed items
  
Take stock of house essentials: toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, garbage bags, dish soap, storage wrap/bags
Take stock of toiletries: hand soap, body soap, shampoo, toothpaste, extra (new) toothbrush

Linens:
Allocate & Clean towels for guest bath
Designate & Clean linens,
Allocate pillows & blankets

Prepare Guest Rooms:
Check air mattresses, if necessary.
Check lamp, add nightlight (to room, hallway, or bathroom, as needed-$1 store has these)

Make a meal plan & grocery list. Choose wisely, considering what can be made-ahead.

Day 6:
Cleaning Day
Dust, vacuum, & wipe all surfaces & wash windows & floors
Check lights at night outdoors, add bulbs to shopping list, if needed
pretty products with seasonal smells help!

Day 5: 
Shopping Day
Shop for needed household items.
Grocery shop. 

Day 4: 
Tidy front walkway & stoop
Finish any other cleaning that wasn't done on Day 6
Prepare Guest Room:
Clear space on dresser & night stand
Add hangers to closet & clear space
Make the bed if it is unused-if not, set aside cleaned linens & make day before/of arrival
Day 3: 
Food Prep Day
Chop, slice, cook anything that can be done ahead & store

Day 2: 
Sweep & vacuum again, if needed
Make Beds in guest room
Prep Guest Bath: 
Wipe sink & toilet
Empty all bath trash cans
Set out clean towels & wash cloths
Clear hooks & make space for their bag in a drawer or counter

Day of Arrival: 
RELAX!
Go for a morning jog, get a manicure, take a hot shower & blowout your hair

Make beds, if not already done.

Hours before arrival: 
wipe kitchen counters & sink
straighten a bit. just a bit.  
you live there, they know it. 
repeat after me: a pretentious host isn't a warm host.

Turn on outdoor lights if it's dark (4pm around here),
light a candle (I'm loving this one), smoosh your faces on the windows waiting for their arrival!
You're ready!!
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Tips for Natural, Glowing Family photos | S.J.Bridgeman Photography

I've got Christmas cards on my brain (have you entered the $50 giveaway?) and family photos are likely to be on yours this time of year. 
Recently, I caught up with Sarah, of sjbridgemanphotography, and today, I'm sharing her secrets to capturing natural expressions and un-posed images of families, that make her a favorite WNY photographer.

1. Getting dressed:
It’s more about what NOT to wear when it comes to getting natural, lifestyle photos. Steer clear of anything you’re unwilling to get dirty or you don’t feel comfortable wearing. I like clients to dress to represent their family-if that means wearing a costume, great!
Don’t be afraid to get dirty and the result will be worth the mess.
If you’re pulling & tugging, it can come through in the photos so be comfortable.
Because I like a more natural look, I love a mix of colors and patterns. Generally, sticking with a tone-cool or warm-is a good idea. Wearing neutrals with a few pops of color works too.

2. Getting natural expressions:
Instead of “smile”, get them talking. I like to ask a few typical questions & throw a goofy question in the mix. For example: What’s your favorite color? Favorite Halloween candy? Do you eat bugs?
Be ready to snap at the end of their answer-on the last word. Snapping their reaction to the question & while they’re thinking of the answer captures great expressions too.

With couples, I will ask the man to whisper something inappropriate in the lady’s ear. I can’t hear what he says, but I’m ready to capture the exchange and her reaction. The same idea would work for kids too: have mom whisper something silly in kids’ ear.
 
3. Getting un-posed positions:
Give them a task to do & shoot.
Tell the kids to run & jump on their dad’s back. Ask a girl to twirl in her dress. Tell them to go pick flowers & give them to their mom.
With a toddler, you can hold out M&Ms and ask them to run toward you to get them. And tickling, there's always tickling at my shoots.

As the photographer: you've got to move! move down to their level, keep up with their movements, move around to get unexpected angles. And don't be afraid to get dirty or get yourself in a precarious position for the shot.

4. What to bring: 
A blanket is all I ever bring to a shoot anymore. We make tents & parachutes, play peek-a-boo, and lay on the blanket. If your kid has a favorite toy that will bring more playfulness to the shoot, bring it along.


*Mom tip: Try keeping the day leading up to photos light & stress-free as can be. Make sure your kids are well-fed beforehand. Resist putting pressure on your kids about the shoot; you’re more likely to get natural, playful kids if they aren’t afraid they won’t meet your expectations. I like to suggest “let’s go play with my friend, Sarah” over “you better smile and behave or else…”

5. Getting the glow:
For outdoor shoots, the best lighting is 1 hour before sunset (2, if it’s cloudy). Too many moms want to schedule around when their children are happiest, but the glow of this “magic hour” reflected on skin tones and the whole scene is worth any extra effort to cheer your child.
If it has to be mid-day, I head right for the shade.

If you have to shoot indoors:
Open all the windows for maximum natural light. Turn off artificial light sources.
Put your subject near a window.
If you want the whole body/group to be well-lit, place them facing straight-on toward the window light and shoot with your back to the light.
To get that “eyes-sparkling, rest of them faded darker” look, place them angled adjacent to the window, looking out and put yourself close to the window, shooting toward them-your back to the light.
I shoot with my camera wide-open (F/1.4-2.0) for portraits. (Keep your hand steady because there’s more risk of out-of-focus photos when your lens is wide-open)

And finally, for Christmas tree photos: shoot in daylight, tree lights on & turn off all other artificial lights (open the windows for the most natural light). Put your subject a couple feet in front of the tree, not right next to it for the best look.

Thank you, Sarah! 
For booking & inquiries visit: sjbridgeman.com
*Sarah is heading to Sierra Leone with the Let them Laugh Out Loud organization whose primary focus is bringing clean water to the people and empowering them through community efforts. You can help send Sarah to Africa by making a tax deductible contribution to her fundraising here.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankful when it's tough

What the first week lacked in opportunity to practice being thankful when it's tough, last week made up for in spades.
First, my husband's grandmother passed away.
Thankfully, her 90 years were full and she died pretty painlessly, with her loving children nearby.

Unfortunately, she died States away from most of her family, who couldn't make it to her funeral.
Thankfully, we had the flexibility and the finances for my husband to join his mom, to honor his grandmother.

With daddy out of town and school breaks, the kids & I headed a couple hours away to visit my mom. When we left, I was nursing one child with a cough and runny nose. 24hours later, the baby's ear drum had ruptured very painfully, we'd been to urgent care twice, where all 3 kids were prescribed antibiotics.
Thankfully, the waiting room was stocked with coloring supplies for the kids and a Keurig for me. We hardly waited and at $20/each per visit and $5/each Rx, it cost less than $100 (better than the ER).

So much for visiting the science museum and hitting up their uncle for a movie & theater snacks. Everyone was stuck in the house, which gets old very quickly. My drippy-faced, infected kids can still bounce off walls and each other, I don't know about yours.
Thankfully, Grammie took time off work and I had the pleasure of running errands alone, crossing quite a bit off of my list.

The worst of all blows came one night while I was out running an errand. When I got home, my son told me that Grammie's dog had bitten his little sister and she'd screamed. Sure enough, he had broken the skin on her chubby little hand and it was red & swollen. I felt terrible for not being there.
I felt terrible that she was already in pain from such a bad ear infection and fever and now this. I felt terrible for so many reasons.
Thankfully, by morning the swelling and redness was gone & just the bite marks remained. She didn't complain about it.

We cut our trip short and drove home in the dark. While the kids slept, I listened to a Tim Keller podcast titled 'Peace' that was like balm to my soul, in desperate need. If you're interested in learning how to remain thankful & content long after the Facebook posts stop Nov 30th, give it a listen. Wow!

He reminded me of the inspiring story behind Horatio Spafford's hymn, It Is Well With My Soul (read it here.)

How about you? How are you doing with being thankful when it's tough?


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holiday Card Display

One of my friends is on top of Christmas cards each year. Do you have one of those too?
Anytime after Thanksgiving, her card in my mailbox signifies the start of actually going to my mailbox daily and anticipating which friend's handwriting will be on the envelopes inside. Our chalkboard wall, visible from the front door, at the center of our home is the perfect place to display their smiling faces.
These wires & clips from IKEA are installed, and kids' school work is displayed through the year (seen here). For the Holidays, I wrap them in fresh pine garland (secured with the red twist ties that it came wrapped in) and clip the cards to display. Easy peasy.
To create the chalk art above, I chose a fitting phrase from one of the greatest Christmas tunes and played around until it looked right. Nothing is permanent with chalk, so have fun with it.

In the past, I've used the same IKEA wire, wrapped in garland from Hobby Lobby.
For a nostalgic touch, I framed our family's previous Christmas cards on a brown paper bag background & hung them above the display.
For more details on re-creating this display, click here.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 1: Thankfulness | CountUp to Thanksgiving thankfulness garland

Welcome, November!
In the past, I've featured something I'm thankful for each day until Thanksgiving here on the blog (2010 starts here. 2011 starts here. 2012 starts here.)
With 2 of our kids well-able to understand what gratefulness sounds like, looks like, etc. we're making an extra effort at our house to focus on that with the kids this year. Typically, we go around the table over turkey dinner and share something we're thankful for each Thanksgiving. It's actually the way we shared that I was pregnant with our extended family a couple of times.

At home, during our nightly dinner routine, we each share a high & a low from the day. We'll add something we're grateful for to the list this month. We'll talk about miracles, answers to prayer, & the things that we easily take for granted more intentionally this month. Maybe throw in some Thanksgiving trivia too to keep it light!

I've cut out 27 leaf-shapes (loosely based on the 1,000s in my yard) from brown paper bags. Each night a different family member will write something they're grateful for on a leaf & we'll string them along some twine & burlap to create a count up garland. I'll share pictures as it comes along and can give you more of a visual.

The first thing that comes to mind for me this year is: my girlfriends!
A couple of weeks ago I was able to get away with just these girls that are more like sisters to me than friends. We're only together once a year-ish, and it's every bit as familiar and familial feeling as it was 13 years ago.  
For them, and for the girlfriends that, in spite of the changes in our seasons of life and the miles that separate us, remain a wellspring of support, prayer, and joy for me, I am grateful. 
For sisters, that share my love for Jesus and for a Poulsen man, I'm thankful.
This year has been pretty heavy for me and having faith-filled, supportive friends just a text or call away was a lifeline.
Thank you, bless you, girls!



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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Siri & Jesus


Carter asked me a question while I was driving last night. 
Me: I'm not sure, pal. Let's ask Siri. 
Carter: "Mom, Siri is kind of like Jesus. She knows everything. She gives us directions."
This boy has been asking loaded questions this year. Remember this biggie?
 I catch him reading The Jesus Storybook Bible often. I can't blame him. Have you read it?
I recommend it even for adults who are looking to learn the basic stories of the Bible. Every story whispers His Name, indeed. The stories are terrific launching points for further study and inquiry. I just cannot recommend it enough. You'll find yourself reading it and seeing Jesus as He should be seen, a loving, Rescuer & Redeemer. Read an excerpt here.

And if you're looking for something to explain Jesus and a relationship with him, on a more grown-up level,  I highly recommend listening to Tim Keller's A Covenant Relationship podcast. He addresses the question: "Is God's love unconditional or conditional?"  

The Bible spells out His laws and the blessings of obedience along with the consequences of disobedience. But, it also states clearly that salvation is a free gift, by grace through faith and not works. So, which is it? Or is it both? And what does that mean for my daily life? 
When you understand the conditions of the covenant relationship..it leads you to paradoxical obedience. If you understand the Gospel.."You resist sin like crazy, and you never have a sense of condemnation and despair when you fall into it." 
From someone who has graduated from Bible college and was raised in church, this single message explains the Gospel to me like I've never recognized before. Listen to it! 

Download A Covenant Relationship (FREE) to your iTunes (very quickly) by clicking here.
or you can also listen to A Covenant Relationship by clicking here.
Get your house The Jesus Storybook Bible here.

Both will help you answer your own questions as well as those that seem to pop out of your child's mouth without warning!
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Fun, Finds, & sales

It's Freeeeezing here in NY right now! The heat has been on all week and I've heard "snow" from the weatherman a few times already. Yikes!
Just a couple weekends ago I was wandering across the Brooklyn Bridge in a sleeveless dress in 80 degree weather!
My son has been pining for Halloween for months now, we've spent hours on the elusive task of raking leaves from our yard, but I'm only now accepting that I can't wear flip flops anymore.
I got in the spirit this week making some signs for tonight's Monster Mash at the school.
We visited a local Apple orchard earlier this month & my kitchen has never smelled better than with bowls of apples from the trees. It's looks like something out of a storybook, doesn't it?
Here are some of my Target finds for Fall: Their entire clothing section right now makes my black & white heart happy! (And quite tempted to fill my cart.)

 (I have the bag in Navy. It looks more expensive than $34 b/c it's that matte, soft leather.) 

Bath & Body Works has their 14.5oz 3-wick candles on SALE 2 for $22 right now. 'Leaves' comes highly recommended, which should I choose for my 2nd?


If your family needs warmer shoes, try Famous Footwear with this 30% off coupon and earn a $10 off coupon for a future purchase.

We're heading to our hometown to celebrate this cutie's 1st birthday. And I get to do some shopping with this brother, setting up his first place. Hope you have a lovely weekend!
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Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY Shelves for $100 | Dining Room Shelf styling

Open shelves are practical, fun to style, and easy to DIY!
We have one large open wall in our dining room that was crying out for a big statement.
Open shelving was the perfect choice for the space. It cost just $100ish (depending on what you already own), provides ample storage for hardly-used serving platters, and the neutral basics allow me to decorate seasonally.

The shelves are positioned higher on the wall to allow for a buffet below them, with plenty of space to set higher items on top of it. I'm still searching for the right buffet so imagine it under there with me!



You'll need:
Corbels: Home Depot
Pine Boards: cut to at least the depth of corbel (NOT shorter)
*Most Lowes & Home Depot will cut yours for free.
Primer: Kilz, water-based
Paint: Benjamin Moore, White Dove
Sand paper
Stud finder (optional)
Screw driver
Painter's tape (optional)

*Optional Prep step:
I used painter's tape to envision the shelves on the wall. This allowed my me to locate studs & map out my corbels. I used the painters tape to mimic the height of the corbels also & held platters up to the wall to be sure I could style & store what I had in mind. I don't recommend "winging" this project.

1. Sand corbels & pine boards (cut to size)
2. Dust with cheesecloth or other lint-free cloth
3. Prime corbels & pine boards, dry according to can
4. Paint corbels & pine boards
5. Use a stud finder, or just a stud who can find them, and map out placement.
6. Secure the corbels to the studs or with heavy duty anchors like these
7. Place shelves on corbels & style it up!


Sources:
farmhouse table: Ana-white farmhouse table (free plans here), stained Minwax Jacobean, sealed with Minwax Polycrylic
jute rug: RugsUSA.com
Bamboo shade: custom, selectblinds.com
Sheer panels: IKEA
Chandelier: Lowes, discontinued
Owl cookie jar: Home Goods
Turkey platter: Target
EAT: DIY anthro letters, tutorial here
Other dinnerware: assorted Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Macy's
Chairs: craigslist collected, spray-painted Rustoleum Heirloom White (placeholders for slipcovered chairs!) Pin It

Friday, October 4, 2013

you may lose a lot of things but you cannot lose my love

My mind goes down a morbid road when I'm preparing to leave my kids overnight, go "under" for a medical procedure, board a flight, or any other scenario with perceived heightened potential for harm.
I begin with "Nobody would love & nurture them to their potential like I will. 
No one else should get to raise them. 
I should leave a letter permitting them to accept a new wife for Daddy, respect his choices, trust his judgement."
Tell me you do this too? 

With a lump in my throat, tonight, I sang each child this song as I tucked then into bed. The song I sang to them when their whole body fit into my one arm. Perhaps, no lyrics convey a mother's love quite as well. Affectionately called "baby teeth" in our home, You Cannot Lose My Love:

You will lose your baby teeth.
At times, you'll lose your faith in me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.

You may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right.
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.

You will lose your confidence.
In times of trial, your common sense.
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.

Many things can be misplaced;
Your very memories be erased.
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love.
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose my love.  

This song (& many of my favorites) is included in Sara Groves' newest recording: The Collection, download here.
Single available for download here
Have a listen to this live recording I found:

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Setting Up House Checklist: Kitchen, Cleaning, Linens

My little brother just bought his first home! And like many in his generation, he's setting up home without a wedding registry. Lucky for his big, opinionated sister there isn't a girl filling the cart with him. After 2 cross-country moves, I am experienced in setting up a house from scratch. And after 10+ years of housekeeping, I have quite a collection of tried & true, everyday basics. I compiled a list of basics for him and included a FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST for download (below).

My favorite brands & specific items are pictured but,  I did NOT include specific brands in the download, so you'll want to jot those in the margins, if you want to try my tried & trues. Nicholas, you have to use the brands I use, at least at first.

I worked at Williams-Sonoma, so most of my kitchen basics come from there & I'd buy them all over again (minus the discount..eek!). TJMaxx, Marshalls, Homegoods would be my second choice for finding close replacements at a reasonable price.

Kitchen Starter Kit



clockwise from top left: 
All Clad 8qt Stockpot, All Clad 4qt saucepan Williams-Sonoma *FREE gift with purchase includes another favorite of mine: the Lasagna pan!; Calphalon Unison 12in & 10in pan set: Williams-Sonoma, Everyday large baker: Crate & Barrel, White Traditional Dinnerware: Pottery Barn

Pyrex glass storage w/lids: Target
Wusthof Santoku knife; Spoonula & Spatula, OXO tongs, kitchen shears & paring knife set, half sheet pan, antibacterial cutting board, measuring cups & spoons, kitchen towels: Williams-Sonoma

This is the Cleaning Starter Kit I recommend, pictured are specific brands I prefer.
All items can be found at Target, excluding pop up sponges: Williams-Sonoma or Trader Joes.

Not pictured but necessary: Folex carpet cleaner (Bed, Bath, & Beyond), Lysol wipes, hand soap, a broom & dust pan, garbage bags & cans. I interchange Mrs. Meyers Clean Day with Method cleaners and sometimes fall for Gain detergent. *Bar Keepers Friend: for caked on dish grime, ceramic scratches, shining stainless steel.

Linen Basics
shower curtain & bath mat: West Elm
bath & hand towels: Thomas O'Brien, Target, Bed sheets: Threshold, Target 


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