Wednesday, April 30, 2014

it's good i'm not married to me. but if i was…

Sometimes I ponder as I drive home from work. I think about things like running and work and life and faith. Sometimes I think about Jason and our marriage. I imagine our kids and our future and how wild and crazy and love-filled things will be. Sometimes I wonder what it's like to be someone other than me. I wonder what it's like to live in Africa, to work on a boat, to brave driving in the snow, or to be married to me. 

I wonder if I'm pleasant. If it's exciting to come home from work to me. If I can be frustrating. I'd wonder what it looks like when I'm all bundled in bed at night, how the bathroom smells when my soap and perfume dance together in my wake, the feeling of my wild, blond hair feels between the tips of two fingers. 

Then I think, if I was married to me, what would I see, do, say. I think, would I be able to handle all the emotions, words, noise. I think, oh how would I be, if I was married to me. 

If I was married to me, I'd be tired of watching her look in the mirror at those parts where she can't find beauty. I'd watch her pinch that extra around her middle and I'd want to tell her, it's beautiful, it's unnoticeable because I'm too busy being enchanted by the inside beauty. 

If I was married to me, I'd overflow with pride for the strength in that little woman beside me. Because though, at times, it makes me wince as she stands up for herself in bold, strong ways, I'd know she can hold things together should the proverbial shit ever hit the fan and life grow challenging. 

If I was married to me, I'd still be surprised by the tattoos. Surprised in the way a little peek of lace is: sexy, yet demure. Demanding attention, yet gentle. The way I'd adore them would be greater than a man like me, untattooed and afraid of needles, should. It'd surprise me to find myself staring at them in the best way that staring is -loving, affectionate. I'd wonder when that wonder should wear off and they'll be commonplace. I'd hope commonplace isn't ever word to describe her. 

If I was married to me, I'd ask all those questions over and over again. I'd ask about her books, her TV shows, her bible study. I'd ask -not because it's all interesting (especially those damn housewives)- but because she is interested. Because her feelings and excitement and ability to maintain endless conversation about them is infectious. I'd lean into those superfluous seeds of conversation that turn into rhetorical questions and a mini-intellectual journey to "decide" on our answer. 

If I was married to me, I'd know that helping with dinner means sitting on the couch and talking while she works. I'd pour my glass of wine and entertain all that talking she does after a day at the office. When she asked about my day, I'd wonder how our eight hours apart can be so full of noteworthy happenings for her while mine is always the same kind of days at work... Computers, coding, lunch, and workouts. I'll understand she likes that space to fuss over our food, to chop and cook and prep, I'll adore the way she wants to do it herself

If I was married to me, I'd join in singing out of tune and at the top of our lungs in the car. I'd hassle her about that terrible time she has with the lyrics and the harmonies in between breathes of making up my own. I'd still point out the songs that make me think of her especially the bits and pieces that speak her out loud. I'd make her listen to my favorites over and over even though she hates them, then I'd let her torture me with hers.

I guess, if I was married to me, I'd be him: Mr. T. Yes, I'd be Mr. T married to spitfire, just-the-right-amount-of-wild, sometimes insecure, always full of words me. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#thomashouse2014: two DIY projects from me and my pal.

One of our house buying bonus points was a fireplace. The #ThomasHouse happens to have, not only, a fireplace, but a gorgeous mantel to top it. A contrast between the country-chic brick and the minimalist, sleek white top begged for something beautiful to hold.

After hanging our faux-taxidermy moose head (my first purchase for our home) and setting my roosters on each end, I knew something was missing but couldn't put my finger on what. Then an evening at my mom's house made it obvious -lettered blocks. Obviously.

So, I set out to make my own with the help of Mr. T and his table saw. After getting hold of some wood scraps from our patio table, I marked where each board needed trimming and set to work sanding and painting.

The letters need some finishing before I set them with a dark waxy finish (to add a country, rough feel), but for the season of busy we're living through, they make me happy and finish the mantel. Plus, everyone knows our last name now.

For my birthday a friend picked up a tassel garland for me from Target. I loved it and left it hanging for weeks until Jason could no longer stand them. So I flipped the tassels on their side and let them be some flair around the base of the letters. Then my dear blogging buddy Katie told me she knows how to make these herself. Of course, I want tassels in ALL. THE. COLORS. So when she agreed to share her mad skills on Mr. Thomas and Me, I was ecstatic.

Without further ado, here's sweet Katie and her beautiful DIY tassle garland.
tissuepapertasslegarladcover
Hello Mr. Thomas and Me readers! My name is Katie and I blog over at A Beautiful Little Adventure. Amber was nice enough to allow me to take over today for Tuesday's annual #Thomashouse2014 post. I"m here to share a tutorial for a tissue paper tassel garland, perfect for any party, bridal or baby shower, or holiday decor. These garlands are everywhere these days and I never knew how easy it was to make my own.

I'm hosting my best friends bridal shower this week and I began searching on Etsy to buy one. As soon as I saw that they would cost me around $30.00 I said "no way!". I was not going to pay over $15 for something made out of tissue paper and something that would potentially arrive to me bent or torn. So, I decided to make my own! That way I could pick out the perfect colors as well and make it exactly how I wanted it to look. I created a video as I know I learn best visually, especially on small scale paper projects.

abaltissuepapertasslegarland1Please be in touch with me, you can find my email on my blog, if you have any questions!


What you will need:

tools needed
  • Tissue paper in various colors
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • String/Twine/Ribbon/Cord to string the tassels on to be hung from.
ablatissuepapergarland3
Some Tips:

  • Make sure to cut all of your strands in the same width. Use the ruler to hold up the already cut tassels so they are out of your way.      

ruler on paper

  • After rolling up the tasseled paper you have to twist the middle part. (this section was hard to see on the video). Simply twist the paper and wrap the twisted portion around itself until it forms a loop. Then secure the loop together with hot glue. 
  • The metallic paper looks AWESOME but is extremely hard to cut. It easily tears on its own, almost instantly (think of a thin pretzel or chip bag that tears open down the side after you rip it open).


What I did to make it easier:
Tape the top and sides of the paper down as I was cutting the strips. 
Evenly measure out the distance between the tassels on the cord. 

If you make your own, I'd love to see pictures of your garlands!
ablatissuepapergarland2Please share on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #ablatasselgarland

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Doubt&Devotion: Humble Knees and Mellow Hearts

Welcome to the first edition of 
Doubt&Devotion.
Kate from The Florkens and I are so glad to have you here, sharing your heart, and engaging in conversations about doubt, devotion, and all that's in between. 
The Florkens
You are invited to join us every Sunday for some talk on faith, religion, any and everything that lies heavy on your heart. We'll both post about our current struggles then at the bottom we'll invite you to join in the conversation either with a post of your own or in the comments section.

Our link-up goes live today! 
Oh how we're thrilled to have you. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I always get weirded out by those people who drop to their knees during worship at church. Like, we'll all be worshiping and enjoying the beat of the music, my heart will be in a place of focus on Him. And then, they drop to their knees. I immediately snap right out of the moment I'm sharing with Him and stare at their Floorfest. (Immature, yes, but it's truth)

It fascinates me the way others can feel so moved by Him they feel drawn humbly to their knees. And then, the other day, it clicked. I realized that their kneeled position illustrates an intense commitment to humility. And humility says something so beautiful about faith.

Our ability to humble ourselves defines the depth of our faith and trust.

Humbling moments allow our spirits to bow to Him. And, sometimes, as we bow to Him, we are also bowing down for those around us to see. Allowing others to see you in an emotionally vulnerable position is trusting in Him to protect you -be it from harsh words, emotional exploitation, or spiritual stresses.

So, next time when they kneel and I get distracted, I'm going to let myself be inspired instead of immature. Inspired to live a life for Him that abandons my worries about the opinions of the people around me -whether in person or online- and centers solely on Him.

Though, you'll most likely never find me kneeled in quiet submission, I hope a humility and kindness seeps out of my writing -and my attitude- in ways that point so boldly to Him.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

cadbury eggs. easter. emotions. all in one place.



Popsicle's favorite candy is Peanut M&M's. Always was, still is. He never failed to mention how much he loved the crunchy candy shell followed by delicious milk chocolate and then SURPRISE there's a peanut. They were his go-to movie theater snack, his stocking stuff (paired with Whoppers), his not-so-guilty pleasure. They are what keeps him coming back after he's wandered off at the memory care unit.
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Easter comes with Cadbury eggs. I've always enjoyed them, but this year they're a love. I crave them -something that is unlike my nacho, buttered popcorn self. I hold three in my hand and my mouth waters like a starving puppy standing over a steak. But, these sweet little chocolate eggs seem to be emotional this year. 

Those eggs hold memories of him in the way they harken to M&Ms while boasting festivity. They scream of his affection for his favorite treat, while reminding me that in my craving I'm as much like him as I am still me. That adorable oblong shape colored in beautiful pastels screams feminine joy. But that crunchy shell, just like M&M's, prefaces chocolate so sweet it overwhelms my palate. 

Their reminder doesn't stop at my taste buds. No it transcends to the deepest parts of my mind. Those colored shells remind me of the man he is now. One that's emptied of the chocolate -the element that provides depth and structure. Imagining that candy shell with no corresponding smoothness inside leaves me longing for more. Just as a visit with his body reminds me that the essence of him -the good sweetness like chocolate- is gone. 

And devoid of the innards, there allure goes missing.  
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Like the shell of the eggs, so was the tomb on that first Easter: empty. 

Unlike the emptiness that breaks my heart and saddens my soul here and now, that tomb void of a single body fills me with hope and joy. Hope of Popsicle's healing -though not here, it's a sure promise. Joy that I'll know him as he was again -candied shell and chocolate goodness reunited. The allure restored, the void filled, the gap bridged once and for all. 

Oh my soul. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#ThomasHouse2014: rainbows and unicorns and built in shelves


The rainbow bookshelf. The color-coordinated covers. It's that which has made our office it's own brand and bit of famous.

I suffered from OCD in college and color-coding was my way of finding comfort in the chaos. Though the compulsive thoughts rarely surface nowadays (though my superstitious self will worry I've beckoned for them with that statement), the color-coding is still beautiful. So, I do it. I code by color. It's in our closet, kitchen, library, my shoes and purses. All lined up in ROYGBIV with some black and white serving as bookends -quite literally.

But the books in rainbow order create an imaginary, inspirational window in the room where I write. They remind me of the vast distance a few words -or thousands of them- can cover. They illustrate how books make us more aware of the minor differences in color in our lives expanding our experience and emboldening the artfulness of life itself. They whisper to me sweet nothings as I put my own out for consumption. They beg me to spend my evenings with them, immersed in the characters, inspirations, encouragements they contain.

And that imaginary window expands as each page is turned, highlighted, dog-eared, water marked. It allows a little more sun to spill into the space where dreams are becoming a little bit of reality, thoughts recorded outside of the walls of my thick skull, words written, edited, removed. Those shelves covered by every bit of the spectrum of hues say possibility. They speak about their roots in a fear-riddled mind then scream excitedly about the rich possibilities before us.

All the while, I sit in that brown, leather chair wrapped in the t-shirt quilt from Mama Bird and listen as I sip my coffee. Sometimes you'll find me scribbling furiously away in a turquoise notebook, but mostly, I appear to be staring, sipping, and staring some more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beyonce & The 'Book

Facebook. We all hate it. Yet we can't get away from it. And somehow it's what seems to keep us connected, so then we don't hate it. Actually, come to think of it, we sort of love it. Oh the sickness.

Lately I've been defriend-ing at an accelerating rate of speed. Seems my patience is running thin and I'm tired of the same old complaining, over-sharing updates from friends. So, to spare you the pain of being ditched on my least favorite form of social media, I put together the things that lead me to sever the virtual connection that you and I might have.

And who better to help me explain the madness of the situation than the queen of va-va-voom and dance moves and big hair and hot boots.

1. Too much talk about the intimate details involved with your lady parts. 
We all know Auntie Flo comes once a month and with her she brings a bag of bad attitude, but please, for the sake of all that is social, do not share that she's arrived on the regular.

2. You broadcast every time Baby Girl number twos in the potty. 
Your kid is the shit, fo sho, but let's let that be all the poopoo talk that goes on. Kids, regardless of how small, deserve some dignity. I know you're a proud mommy, I'll be the same one day too, but please for the love of all that is private share your pride in her "picking" out her first outfit or sharing a toy at Mommy&Me class or napping for two hours. 

3. Your posts are ALL. ABOUT. YOU.
I know, it's your life and you're the main character/rock star/rocket scientist. And, while I'm interested in what you're up to, it doesn't impress me that all you can do is talk about yourself. Pretend Facebook is a very large banquet table (Harry Potter-esque)… No one pays attention to the person who can't think, speak, understand anything but ME.

4. Check ins everywhere.
Need I say more? If I want to know where you are every second of every day I'd ask. But considering I haven't asked, please limit the check-ins to cool, random, hip places like Madame Tussaud's or Coachella or Disneyworld. Sorry but home, Starbucks, and work aren't thrilling or informative, just annoying.

5. Linked social media accounts.
If you can't think of an interesting way to post something -rather anything- on different platforms, then JUST DON'T DO IT. Also, never link Twitter to Facebook. The two platforms are separate and so different there should be no pretending they serve the same purpose.

6. Status updates that are more than two sentences.
Brevity is an art form. Anything longer than brief is blog-worthy. So, for the love of all things social media, blog it. Don't have a blog? Start one. Don't clog up my newsfeed with your rant on the missing vanilla in your morning latte, the poor customer service from your internet service provider, the lunch you loved and that reminded you of your grandma's cooking, the ridiculous traffic on your way home from work. NONE OF THESE.

7. Cryptic messages that allude to a messy emotional state.
You want my sympathy? Give me the deets. Or don't and expect me to wonder what in the world you're talking about specifically. Because you're right I don't know what you're feeling, what I do know is cryptic messages set off my need to be nosy and investigate ALL. THE. THINGS. on your page.

With that, me and my girl are out like Bonnie and Clyde.









Saturday, April 19, 2014

easter is for eggs and life and encouragement.


Happy Easter weekend dear friends. 

Though tomorrow is usually Doubt&Devotion, I hope you're spending it with your family and not wrestling through hard things.

I hope you feel overwhelmed with hope, renewed by the beauty of Spring and it's new life, and are binging on chocolate eggs. If you haven't, pick up a bag of Cadburys. I promise your mouth will thank you, though your tummy won't.

Today, and tomorrow, I'm thinking of you all, cherishing the community He's built here, thankful for your grace, honesty, sweetness. I'm praying for your lives, your hearts, your dreams. Thanking Him for the beauty I'm surrounded by and begging for you to feel the same.

He lives today friends. 
Despite our fear, our worry, our darkest of moments, He lives.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Never Should You Ever Say These 5 Things

This post's been sitting around in Drafts for a while. Mostly because I never felt like there was a good time to say it. Then, I realized, sometimes we have to talk about things that are awkward and, really, awkward never seems to have an appropriate time except in the month where vulnerability is central. So, let's delve into awkward, shall we?

My dad is dying. No surprise to you or me. But what is surprising? The way people react to the news. I've come to realize it doesn't make a difference how long or short someone's known the crazy, unfortunate circumstances we're wading through, there are wonderful reactions and painful cliches. In an effort to make you the former and not the latter, I've decided it's time to share how not to react by giving you 5 things never should you ever say these to someone who's losing a parent (or possibly even a spouse of sister or brother or child or friend). My hope is next time someone's dying, losing, diagnosed, you'll hear me whispering sweetly "say the right thing or say nothing and hold hands."

So then, we agree, this post should be titled: 
5 Things to Never Say to Someone who's Parent (or family member or friend) is Dying.

1. God won't give you more than you can handle. 
Surely, He won't. But life will. Especially life lived in a broken and chaotic world like ours. And, He provides strength and peace and hope, but you know what doesn't do so: cliches. Plus, what growth happens in the average? None. So, life has handed my family WAY TOO DAMN MUCH and, thankfully, God has handed us more than that. But don't even begin to think any of this is manageable or normal or easy, breezy, beautiful.

2. Your (fill in relational blank here too) will get through this. 
(This is more specific to dementia, but think it through before you try and offer impossible hope.) 
Actually, he won't. Dementia isn't something you conquer or fight or recover from, but thanks any way. If you don't know anything about dementia and/or Alzheimer's or any disease that someone in your life is diagnosed with please ask questions instead of saying things that are actually 100% impossible. Not only do I feel morbid correcting you that dementia is always fatal, but I also feel like a snot when you realize you've said something dumb. Sure, the mistaken optimism could open the door for a strong belly laugh -which is something I love-, but, in all honesty, there's no good response to such a statement when his disease is always terminal.

3. If it makes you feel better, my dad's an asshole.
First, this doesn't make me feel better. Second, are you implying that I'm avoiding possible Asshole Dad by losing him? Third, this actually breaks my heart because I spent a few years in high school thinking my dad was a no-good, all-mean dad only to realize he cared deeply for me and loved me sincerely but struggled with how to communicate that to my hormone-riddled brain. So, no, don't console me using your Asshole Dad, go home and humble yourself to have a relationship with him because, just maybe, he won't be around forever and chances are, he loves you deeply and sincerely but doesn't know how to show it.

4. I mean, I know I'm not losing my dad, but... (in reference to any tough situation in one's life)
Never do I ever want to be the pity case or the girl who's got it worse than everyone else because, in all honesty, no one likes those kind of people. Your hurts hurt regardless of how trivial they might seem when compared to mine. I know money troubles suck, kids can be tough, work can drain us of all we have. Those things suck and hurt and no one wants them. So, let's make friends through the pain instead of making it weird by comparing whose life is the hurtingest.

5. Tell me everything so I can pray for you the right way.
Mostly this just makes me think you're nosey. When I'm really struggling the prayer is for strength, hope, peace, an awareness of His presence. None of those blessings hinge on how much Popsicle weighs or if he recognizes me (he doesn't) or when I'm headed to visit him next. Please for the sake of ugly-cry-avoidance, Popsicle's dignity, and our family privacy pray earnestly on our behalf knowing that He's got a handle on what we need most.

The lucky thing about making it through the five stages of awkward that's brought us to this point in the blog post is a prize. You get yourself a completely original, free-of-charge BONUS THING NOT TO SAY! 

6. You know, his body is healthy, he can live for decades.
If I had a quarter for every time someone said this to us I'd have no problem doing our 4 weekly loads of laundry at the laundromat for years to come. The intention is sweet in saying this, but we are exhausted -emotionally, physically, spiritually. Don't wish forever on us. PLEASE.

4 Things You Should Say
1. Shit that sucks. 
Because it does. And there are no words to describe the suckiness but that it sucks worse than a Hoover vacuum that's mated with a black hole in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle.

2. I can't even imagine how this feels for you.
Right. You can't. Just like I can't imagine the way your hurts feel for you. And, that's okay, the important part is that we're still participating in one another's lives regardless of how similar or different they might be.

3. Want a drink? A pedicure? To watch the Real Housewives?
Not that booze is going to solve this or that my comfort resides in the bottom of a bubbling bath for my feet, but more to say: life goes on, let's be normal. Because sometimes the last thing that life feels like is normal anymore so you treating me normal, enjoying happy hour and appetizers with me, partaking in pedicures served with Starbucks and gossip magazines, remind me that it's all normal still.

4. How is your dad? And how are you? 
Usually he's the same. Usually I'm not. And, sometimes this means I'll cry my eyes out, others I'll make a twisted joke and we'll continue on our merry Girls' Night Out way. Sometimes I feel stuck in a glass case of emotional turmoil and, quite frankly, others I'm obliviously enjoying the day in full denial of how hard all this loss is; regardless, it feels nice to know you care.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#ThomasHouse2014: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

It's no secret that Jason and I fell in love with doing it ourselves the moment we began searching for a home. The man had our headboards made before we had our priorities straight for goodness sake! And while we've agreed on tackling change after change with a "we can do it!" attitude, our choice in tools and tricks has surely differed the entire way! 

While Jason's busy with his table saw and router and drill, I've mastered the sand and paint. In fact, I managed to turn all my redoing into a bit of market research. 

But first, meet Annie Sloan. The queen of Chalk Paint. By chalk paint, I don't mean chalkboard. I mean, paint that is of a matte, velvety finish. Paint that lends that vintage color and an ease of application. You see, this paint sticks to anything and everything sans sanding. (Though I chose to do some to ensure flat, smooth surfaces) 
Jason's dad gave us three gorgeous pieces that were were from his childhood. We both adored the solid wood, beautiful legs, and family history that came with them. However, they were in desperate need of some paint and a little love. Nothing Annie and I couldn't manage. 

After sanding the top of the dressers and a few rough spots in the existing paint on the drawers I got to painting. Three coats of paint later and I've got a gorgeous piece of furniture. Finish that baby off with some wax (I mixed the clear and dark) together to give off that dirty-chic quality. 

This paint's more versatile than a chambray shirt. Check it out I redid my white rooster. 
The process of painting is simple: paint. Several layers that dry within a half hour (on mildly warm spring days - faster in summer, slower in winter) and smile because it already looks so damn cute. 

It's the wax where my mom and I got stuck. So we did what all smart girls do: YouTube. And that didn't help as much as we wanted so we took a class. And we realized the YouTube stuff was right we were just being shy. Because the trick with the wax is there's really no such thing as too much but if you feel like you're in that zone simply wipe it down with mineral spirits and try again. So shy we were. 
There's clear wax and dark wax. The clear is simply that: clear, see through, but gives the paint a little finished, soft finish. The dark wax looks like poop (seriously). But once you get it spread around and buffed just right it looks like vintage-country-dirty chic. Dark wax is intimidating and scary, but, once again, mineral spirits solve all those terrible situations you're worrying about, I promise. 

Evidence: our dark wood armoire turned blue and white beauty and my "new" pink craft dresser.
And white shelves turned black. And that adorable teal lunchbox transformed from a silver metal filler to an original Amber Thomas statement piece.
But my crown jewel: our bannister. The level of work and patience this required as ridiculous since the transformation from 1990's oak to 2014 #ThomasHouse shabby-country chic was so stark. We -you tea that both Jason and I- love the way it turned out so my pride is through the roof! I did gently scuff up the edges of everything to keep the shabby-country-chic scheme going. 
Here's a blurry(ish) Before and After shot for you. Mostly the contrast is what's important here and you'll get that in the blur! 
Some tips and tricks with the Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax system: 

-Rags in a Box from Home Depot (or Amazon) are your best friend ever. Though they appear to be paper towels they are not. These rags are single use, but so much more durable than their Bounty Quicker Picker Upper cousins. There's lots of apply then rub off that goes on and you don't want to have to worry about how to remove the wax from towels but you need something durable. Hi Rags in a Box. 
-Their color palette is bright, yet vintage. You can always mix in white to help tone things down. We did this at my mom's house and the only important piece there is to make sure you've got the portions noted so you can mix more should you need to.
-If the paint is wet, it'll come off. So when you've lost your mind and you're repainting your bannister and some of the paint gets on the white runner below the wood, wipe it off with a wet towel. Or better yet, with a damp Rag in a Box!
-Use their special paintbrush. When you buy the paint there's a paintbrush they'll suggest, yes the paint really does go on better with it. We used a different brush on one piece and I still can't help but notice how the dried texture of the paint is different (read: bugs me).
-Don't be shy. Just don't, no one likes a shy girl. Okay, not true, but I just made that up to encourage you to go for it.

**This post was not sponsored in any way by Annie Sloan. I happen to love the paint that much and think you beauties deserve to know what rocks and what doesn't. For the record: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint rocks.**

Sunday, April 13, 2014

in which gates and dreams and foundations collide.

Welcome to another week of 
Doubt&Devotion.

Kate from The Florkens and I are so glad to have you here, sharing your heart, and engaging in conversations about doubt, devotion, and all that's in between. 
The Florkens
You are invited to join us every Sunday for some talk on faith, doubt, and all that's in between. We'll both post about our current struggles then at the bottom we'll invite you to join in the conversation either with a post of your own or in the comments section.
Our link-up goes live today! 
Oh how we're thrilled to have you. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I have an entire Pinterest board about dreams. it's supposed to feel inspirational. It's supposed to be a visual reminder of how to go and do and be and think and find. They tell me dream larger. Grow into my dreams. Run fast in pursuit of my dreams. Don't stop dreaming. There's always time for another dream. Dream, dream, dream.

For the better half of a year I've approached that board pleading for the answers to lie there. I've said to myself it's there in those boards that I will find the words to start writing offline. To start that book that fills so many of my thoughts. Because everyone is inspired by all those amazing words and pictures, right?

My words kept falling short. I'd sit down to write offline and I'd freeze. I'd be frustrated and scared and frozen. Doodles, scribbles, and anger, but not a single word.

Then John 10 happened to me again. It's happened before, it's been interesting and made that narrow is the road point. But this time it said something different.

"Therefore Jesus said again, 'Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep." 
-John 10:7

Jesus as a gate. Such an everyday object, such a functional bit, easily metaphorical. But then. Then I thought of how Christ was the biggest idea ever. He was a dream come true -quite literally- for all the ends of the earth. And yet, he was practical.

He wasn't the path itself. Nor was he the big, bold mountains through which you have to hike once you pass the gate. Nor the reward at the end. He was the practical difference between here and there.

Jesus provided a practical foundation on which the rest of God's plan, God's dream and design for His children, could be built. He served as a vehicle for greatness and for history to be made and for freedom and hope.

When I turn to write, I lose site of my practical foundation. I kick the gate and run the path wondering where it is that discovery occurs, words flow, creativity abounds. Until John 10. That begs me to see that gate, pause and take it in, find inspiration in its job.

So, I'm hanging on my hinges, rubbing against the long grasses, and letting the wind push me back and forth. I'm opening with a spirit of welcome, allowing in the ideas and creativity that shall provide the practical foundation on which this dream must be built.
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Practically, I don't know what this gate-li-ness looks like: other than awkward and ill-fitting for a girl that's more comfortable in the seeking than the observing. But, I do know that it'll be blessed and helpful and a change in perspective. It might mean my content is all over the place here, it might mean more quiet times, it might mean no notable changes as far as Mr. Thomas and Me. Regardless, bear with me? Better yet, join me.

Yes, join me. Because what better way to let our feet be the foundation on which our dreams are built. Because some days this will suck -this dreaming and doing thing- and we shall lift one another up, remind ourselves of the importance in the effort, the beauty in doing together.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

fridays call for coffee and honest words

If we were on a coffee date, I won't be drinking coffee. It's too hot around these parts to drink a latte, so I'd buy Shaken Passion Tea. I'd want a scone too, but probably wouldn't get one. I'd tell myself I can't get one because the tea is my treat. Because I'd feel guilty about the scone. I'd buy your drink because I like to be a good date.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you I'm guilty a lot lately. I don't know why, but I can manage to feel guilty about everything -food, drink, money, organization, time management. There's lots of guilt, but I can't put my finger on why. Obviously this is something to explore. I'd ask you if this happens to you, guilt -random and deep and frustrating.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that this vulnerability thing is hard. I have a lot of feelings, it turns out and, well, I'm struggling to sort through them. Maybe I opened myself up to them in taking on a month of being vulnerable? I'd ask you how you sort through the mess of emotions and get to those beginnings.

If we were on a coffee date, I might cry a little bit. I might cry about how I feel scared lately, but about what I don't know. I might cry about being tired, about the time of the month, about the cold mornings and hot nights. I might just cry about anything because I can. I'd ask you do you just want to cry sometimes, are tears what will make things feel all better?

If we were on a coffee date, we'd laugh at how annoyed I am by my neighbor's large dogs pooping on my lawn. As if Hazel's poop isn't fun enough to deal with, I now get to pick up after three. I'd tell you how I don't want to text the neighbors every time there's a poop when they're watching the DumpFest go down. You'd laugh at how I looked at coyote and cougar urine online to "mark" our lawn as a no-go zone because I've decided this is an angry hill I'm prepared to ridiculously die upon. I'd ask you what things bug you like this and how do you deal?

If we were on a coffee date, I'd rave my new bible. I love it. Leather, maroon, single column, fresh. Usually it takes me weeks to decide to finally use a new one, but this one is already loved. I'd ask you if you've used the single column format before because it's different, amazing, easy to read.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask about Lent. I am loving my Naptime Diaries 40-Day Journal and dreading when it comes to an end. My mom shared this from Kristin Schmucker with me the other day and I think I'm going to try it. I'd ask you how you study, what works best for you, how you hear Him best.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd compliment your shoes and ask where you bought them, then try and find them on Amazon. I do all my shopping there, unless I'm on American Eagle or at Target. I'm so predictable friend. I'd ask you where your favorite places to shop are because I'm always willing to expand my repertoire.

If we were on a coffee date, you'd fill my soul which is something I didn't even know I needed so desperately. But, friend, you did and, well, thank you from the bottom of my little heart.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

seeking one personal delusional system


I used to live in Pacific Beach. Daily runs on the boardwalk were a highlight of the location and the perks often came in the form of orange-robed Hari Krishna beating drums and clapping chimes together along the beach, musclebound men running about tossing footballs, and one SloMo.

Yes, I ran with, near, about the man in the movie circulating the internet right now. He was kind, interesting, sporting legs ripped like Carrie Underwood's. Always smiling, waving, enjoying the beach breeze and ballet-like movements. He fascinated me. And now, he fascinates many for good reason. His movie is interesting. Beautiful really. Challenging and inspiring. And, he says, he's got what a psychiatrist would call a "personal delusional system". It sounds bad, he says, but it's life-giving. And I believe him.

Because delusion is simply a conviction held that is contrary to popular belief (pathologically it's something more laden with meaning, but I'm keeping it Webster Dictionary simple here). By that definition it turns out we've all got them whether we'll admit it or not.

I heard his talk about his delusion and I thought, yes, Slo Mo, you know what you're doing. And, I know what I've got to do too. I've got to dive head first into feeding my personal delusional system. My personal system that is fighting the numbers, that begs for quality not quantity, that says you are more than any combination of digits can say. My system that says, yes, numbers are important for others in that they help define success, indicate growth, illustrate community. But, for me, they're monstrous, damaging, and ugly-breeding. 

It's hard and frustrating and near impossible to ignore stats -both online and in real life. I want to come here and see growth and understand how I'm doing it right. I want to make good food choices and run five miles and see the scale ticker move down. But that confused focus on nothing but the figure says I've forgotten why I come here, why I run there, why I this is art and not work.

This space is for the community. If my mom and brother are the only readers, so be it, we're interacting, communicating, pushing the ideas around in clunky, awkward ways. Should I be interesting to more than those two, it's a miracle. A miracle I'm glad to participate in and cherish. That's the attitude I want: one of thanksgiving for the ears that listen and the voices that speak back to me.

Like Erika, I want to make each little stat into a face, a person, a voice that has intrinsic value in the adventure that is my writing. Because there's nothing that bothers me more than a blogger too busy writing to hear what's being said back to their ideas. My sweet emails say there's more of you here than I can imagine. You're mostly quiet, but enjoying this place. And those emails are what make the difference for me in times when I wonder if this place is where my heart really wants to be, if I'm making a ripple in the waters of others' lives, if I've got things worth saying. You are making faces for me, assigning personalities and friendships, and I want to appreciate you by cherishing it.  

Instead of hitting the scale every day, I'm going to point out two things I love to myself morning and evening. A practice of cherishing, drying up the idea that numbers define me and feeding the delusion of being more than simple digits. I'm going to delete that spreadsheet with all those stats that say how Mr. T & Me is doing and going to create a folder in my email for you and your words. They are honey to my soul. 

No more wishing for more, better, grander. Call me crazy, mad, downright insane, but these delusions might just give birth to a more real life founded in the deep enjoyment of the color and taste and feel and sentiment of living well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#thomashouse2014: three choices and the house is a home.

A house is a huge space with so many parts. The yard, the garage, the bedrooms, the office, the entry, the staircase. Oh the house. 

When you are in the buying process you're seeing the good. You're wearing rosy glasses that highlight potential and beautiful. Then you own it. And you walk through your new home and wonder how the hell you loved it so much when the walls are yellow, the carpet matted, the kitchen floor linoleum masquerading as wood. You end up with a list of all the things that you hate about the house and goodness do you hate them. And how do you make them yours when there's just so much hate? 

Start with the paint. 
Change it to what you love because it'll reinvent the entire space (especially if there are five different paint colors that you can see from standing in a single spot). 
Some painting tips: 
-Use Frog Painter's tape. It's a bit more expensive than the blue stuff, but it has this special sealing stick to the back of it that keeps lines tight. Trust me when I say: it's a line-saver. 
-Test the paint color in a couple of spots. The light hits our house different in each room downstairs. One room has vaulted ceilings and a banister, the other a brick fireplace and more shade. So paint sample squares around the house. (This actually changed our choice from one color to another) 
-Rollers and the little attach-y stick. They save your life and your arms and your time on a ladder. 
-Don't be afraid to tackle it yourself. We were on a budget with the renovations and painting it ourselves was a major way to stay at our price point. It was exhausting and I swore off anything with bristles for weeks, but now I'm proud of us. 

Switch up the floors. 
Yeah, matted, dog-smelling carpet ain't going to make you feel at home. It won't welcome you with a happy little smile and a fresh whiff of homey air. Nor will it provide that soft, lovely padding under your bare feet. 
Some flooring tips: 
-Tile is cold. Like temperature cold. Our master bath has tile floors and our feet freeze on it in the mornings. Thank goodness downstairs is wood. 
-Click together engineered hardwood is beautiful and half the price of floating hard wood. We win. 
-Ask what's on sale. Our flooring girl was so awesome and when she brought out the samples she told us what was on sale. Happens to be our carpet was 50% off. Sold. 
-Carpet that is speckled hides stains. We haven't spilled anything on it yet but that was the advice we received from so many of our young family friends. Plus, it just feels more fun. 

Open the space. 
Now, this isn't "easy" or something people will all feel comfortable tackling without some professional help. However, we're insane in the slightest of ways and Jason and his dad conquered that mess. Oh how they did. But, it opened up our kitchen and dining room which has allowed for easy hosting. 

Some wall-tearing out tips: 
-If you're changing a major wall (not like tearing out three feet like us), make sure it isn't load-bearing or that you need to have permits to do so. This stuff can affect safety, structure and resale. 
-Know what's in the wall. We were surprised with a sealed off pocket door. It was like winning the lotto, but not quite so rich and positive. There was really no way for us to know before Jason went to work with the hammer, but if you have the chance to ask the sellers, do it. 
-Buy texture. Our walls have a texture to them that is bumpy, yet smooth (so fancy). I swear it's called orange peel. And you can buy the stuff in a can at Home Depot. You just spray it on like paint, but it's bumpy. Then paint over it to match the rest of the wall. This ensures patching will be smooth and unnoticeable.
-When the patch doesn't turn out well, decorate. Jason doesn't love one spot he patched, so I painted a canvas and covered it. Now you can't tell it's less than perfect.  

Be prepared for dramatic tears and moments of pure fear. I mean really, I suddenly freaked out and thought what the hell are we doing knocking the drywall with hammers?!? It all turned out okay, actually, great. The house turned into a home as soon as the paint and flooring were changed even without furniture! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Oh to be Satisfied

Welcome to another week of 
Doubt&Devotion.
Kate from The Florkens and I are so glad to have you here, sharing your heart, and engaging in conversations about doubt, devotion, and all that's in between. 
The Florkens
You are invited to join us every Sunday for some talk on faith, religion, any and everything that lies heavy on your heart. We'll both post about our current struggles then at the bottom we'll invite you to join in the conversation either with a post of your own or in the comments section.
Our link-up goes live today! 
Oh how we're thrilled to have you. 
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We all know the stories of Jesus taking a handful of loaves of bread and turning them into provisions for thousands. It's part of the story shared in Sunday school.

He preaches for days.
People listen with rapt attention.
Jesus realizes they might be hungry by now.
So he provides for each of them though his supplies are minimal.
They eat and there's extras.
They were satisfied.

They listened, they're hungry, he provides, they eat and they are satisfied.

He's not here preaching to us in literal, physical ways. But He's here, present, aware of our needs. He sees our hunger and our thirst and He longs to fill those needs, satisfy those appetites. But, what am I hungering for?

Lately, it's more of Him. Pouring through His words, reading memoirs about faith, hungering for grace and love and mercy. But it's also more clothes in my closet, more money in my bank account, more beautiful, decorative things.

Last week I talked about being satisfied with my friendships. And I meant it. But, in being satisfied there, I realize I'm hungry, oh so hungry, elsewhere. I guess, in the majority of life, I'm hardly satisfied. Hardly. I'm sure it's about contentment, about counting one's blessings, about forgetting the comparisons. But, it's also about focus. 

Where am I looking? For His preaching for days? Am I so busy being in His presence I'm no longer looking about for something, anything?Because that state of rapt attention on Him shall bring me His blessing, shall ensure He is watching over me, shall bring provision.

And then I wonder: what is today's equivalent of that bread and fish?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dry Shamps. How To.


Shamps. Like champagne. But more practical. Much less fun. Regardless, this is a skill that I've mastered and a skill I believe every Renaissance woman should know (especially because it could add a good 15 minutes to your beauty sleep). You can thank me later.

Please realize this is an early morning (pre-coffee) rushed vlog. BUT, it's got the good stuff in it.

Also note: the camera is sitting below my mirror which I need to use for confirmed shamps success. So, it's not pretty or perfect, but neither are greasy roots.

At the end I happened to throw out a WHOLE lot of random names and information.

Good news: I've learned how to put together a graphic that holds all the brands of which you might need to know the name. As well as the notes I have to share with you regarding them.

1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7

These are my shamps confessions: I have not yet tried out number 3: Not your Mama's. A bottle is on the way from Amazon and I'll share those results later. I also haven't used No Drought (number 7) mostly because I don't want to have to use my fingers. But I've seen it around and heard it rocks. 

Cheers you little shamp-ions! 
(See what I did there?) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All for the Sake of Vulnerability



So, how'd being engaged in March go? Good. Not better or best. But good. I did better with comments -though in doing better I realized that some comments are left in auto-pilot with little meat for me to tend to and with those I allowed myself a pass.

I tried to engage more at home with Jason and was proud of my effort. Though, as a wife (and probably later as a mom), I will always strive to be more and better. What's marriage without pursuit and excitement? I'd say naught.

The #SayYesProject Instagram challenge was fun and beautiful and inspiring. But I'm glad it's done. The prompts pushed me to look for things, to be creative, to find differences in my days, but there's a responsibility there that made me nervous I'd forget one. And I did. But that's okay because I'm human.

Faith talk has become a regular weekly segment where I'm letting my doubts be known -something I've struggled giving a voice to until lately. Doubt&Devout has really changed the way I think about God, church, myself, all the things in relation to one another. Kate's pushed me to talk, to think, and you've all worked so lovingly to add such dynamic to the conversations.

Twenty-five came and went in happy, fulfilling festivities. I only took one picture the night of my party. And it was the poor selfie above with birthday cards in hand. That's just how important blogging felt that night. I realized as I sat around our dinner table laughing with friends that I love my life and the people in it. Though in January I wished for more, I don't now. Maybe it's maturity, maybe it's my schedule saying there's no time, maybe it's because I want quality not quantity. Either way I'm satisfied, not hungering and that's freedom.

In the act of engagement came some realization that I lack the ability to be vulnerable. So, that leads us into April. The month that will be vulnerability. As I've been thinking on how to tackle such a large area of prospective growth, I came to the conclusion I could "work" on this for years. But, one step Grasshopper, I can only manage April for now, so I am working on being honest with myself about my emotions and feelings. Not just those surface tears or scowl or smile, but the deep, motivating drives and desires that bubble up as this sadness or that joy.

How about a heaping load of honest evaluation of myself to ensure we're doing this right? I have a mouth that's sweet as cherry pie and venomous as snakes come. Be it grumbling, under my breath frustration or outright ugly gossip, I can be mean. I grow short with Jason and spout off ALL. THE. THNGS. he does that bug me. Irritation with one of the guys at work turns to a full-on grudge just because I can. Get me started on that girl I can't stand and, well, I'll be sure to finish it.

I've come to terms with the fact that words are powerful. Sweet as honey, acidic as vinegar. Not only have I seen the way my words hurt another person, but I've felt that deep sting in my own soul when words are hurled like grenades into the foxholes of my already tender heart.

Harsh words aren't attractive, funny, or fair. Actually, it reflects something deep within myself that feels inferior, envious, and downright mean. And those aren't things I want to nurture or grow in my soul. Because, in reality, I don't want ugly to describe any part of me.

When conversations come to a lull I don't want to lean on the crutch that is gossipy, hurtful, and hate-spreading. I'm more interesting than that. And, maybe, instead of talking poorly of someone else, I can begin talking about some of the wild ideas that are rolling around in my head.

What does this all mean?

It means for the month of April I'm working on being nicer in speech. Less caustic. No grumbles or slander or gossip, but instead, life-giving-ness. I'll talk more about ideas, interests, and fun, less about people and their choices with which I might disagree. Because, if we're honest, encouragement is far more beautiful than judgment.

I'm sharing my feelings of inferiority to you, to friends, to family in hopes that such vulnerability will shake me to the depths of my soul. Opening those windows and doors will allow the sunny, warmth of hope in to remind me how important it all is for my soul.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#thomashouse2014: the yard, the garden, the growth

Welcome back for another week of talking about the home that now holds the Thomas two. And, though the house feels like it's finally coming together, it's the yard that brings us much fodder for the day.

Our previous living came with a beautiful yard, one so large it was tended by landscapers and not by us. We always undertook a little veggie growing adventure as soon as the winter freezes stopped and the sun started to shine. (Those were years we used to have cold-ish weather here in California.) But, #thomashouse2014 has just the right amount of yard for us to keep and work and love. So, the last few sunny weeks we've done just that.

We threw down some seed in the spots in the lawn gone bare. The muddy path through our backyard became stepping stones (which make me think of the yellow brick road). And we planted fruit trees, flowers, and a garden.





First thing was first for us: fruit trees and flower bushes. Jason wanted to be sure we had some fresh produce growing in the yard. I grew up with beautiful roses for every occasion. Thus it was solved: we should plant a pattern of rose bushes and fruit trees. Rose bush-fruit tree-rose bush-fruit tree all along the edges of the yard. Some important fruit tree facts:

1. They need water. More than the lawn -per say. So you've got to give them some extra water loving -we did that with drip line run to the base of each tree.
2. The lawn will steal their souls. Okay, maybe dramatic. But it's really important to give the trees some space -especially when they're babies. Grass will cozy right up to the base of the trunk and steal some of the life-giving agua. We did this with some bricks round their base and mulch (you can see it in the pictures above).
3. Sun-shade-sun. We have mature trees in our yard. Very mature trees. So it's important to ensure there's some good hours of sun coming through the larger trees' branches and shining down on them. This was a little bit tricky for us and required watching the way the sun and house and big trees interact with one another.

As far as the roses: they need sun. That's the big thing -at least for now. Once they grow larger we can talk pruning and blooms.

Next (and probably more interestingly), the garden. We bought bags and bags and bags of manure. Then turned it into the soil in our little garden area. The man at Home Depot who helped us load them asked why we'd bother with manure when there's far more advanced technology available. Mostly, sir, because it's a quarter of the price of the other stuff. But also because manure worked for farmers many years ago and it'll work for our humble selves today. (Do be warned: it stinks.)

Jason ran drip. And I planted the seedlings as well as some seeds. Zucchini never disappoints. Herbs are my guilty pleasure. Tomatoes abound. We're trying our hands at eggplants. And then we lay down beet seeds. These have always done well for us.

My plants are fancy plants. So fancy -in fact, they are Starbucks fans.
Yep, those are Starbucks coffee grounds. I picked them up for free on Saturday while grabbing my regular Vanilla Misto. Check your local coffee spot and see if they will save grounds for you -usually they make their way into the trash and then local landfills. They make amazing compost or, in my case, soil additive. I used the entire bag throughout my garden sprinkling it atop the ground and then mixing it in with my fingers (so no to disturb the plants). Talk about a lovely smell. This is new for me, so I'm not sure if it's going to do anything amazing or not, but why not give it a go?!?

Finally, we have a shade-flooded spot in our yard. Literally it gets no direct sunlight. So, I headed to the local store in search of hydrangeas (thanks Mom for the recommendation) and other shade-loving blooms. They had a whole section for me to pick from. It's been two and a half weeks and these babies are kicking -though one plant is starting to wilt a bit because it gets less than a half hour of rays. They're finicky I tell you!
Google is the world's biggest helper when it comes to planning your yard. It helped answer questions like: which brand of trees would tolerate our local climate and the amount of sun available to them? What flowers are hardy in case I'm not as good at this garden thing as I thought? How do you prune and care for roses? All answers courtesy of the good ol' Google.

My favorite gardening gear is important because without it I'm a muddy, blistery mess. Nitrile gardening gloves are a must. They're cheap and come in sets of three or four online and in store. They keep a good grip and aren't too bulky feeling.

Get some sweet galoshes. Hunters would be adorable and amazing but we don't have the rain to justify them here in CA, so I've got these black beauties. Just hose the babies down when you're done and they're clean. Win-win.

A little hand shovel. Planting seeds or seedlings can be tricky. So use a hand shovel to get the perfect hole, then fill it in nice and compact. This will allow your plants to be closer together since you're not in danger of tearing up other plants with a bigger shovel head.
And when you're all done it's time for sweet tea, good reads, and sunshine at the patio table.

Whoa. This. is. too. long. Obviously I could have done a better job breaking it up. You win lots of knowledge as your prize for surviving the wordy madness!
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Please tell me: 
what are your garden tricks that'll bring me all kinds of food-growing success?

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