4.18.2014

MY FAVORITE WAY TO START THE DAY

I am, unashamedly, a morning person. I always have been, and I don't think that's going to change. I am in love with the peaceful still of the world early in the morning. I was in love before I had kids, and I am addicted now that I do. It's when I feel most calm and most productive, strangely. I married a night owl, he does just fine staying up late into the night. To me it's like a punishment to have to stay up past 10pm. ;) I have always been an early bird, but I have never been a coffee drinker. I like herbal tea, but I'm not crazy about it. What I really love is a chai tea latte with vanilla soy milk. We bought a Nespresso milk warmer/frother with some gift cards after we got married so I could make my chai lattes at home. My absolute favorite way to start the day is on my couch, with tea in hand. 


Sometimes I read my bible or devotional, sometimes I journal, sometimes I look over my calendar and plan out the day, sometimes I just sit quietly and think or pray. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with life and othertimes incredibly grateful, usually a mix of both. But whether I get 5 minutes or a glorious 45 minutes this is undoubtably my favorite way to start the day. 


I've spent a lot of time trying different combinations and ratios to get the perfect chai (for me). I like mine on the sweeter side, but not too sweet. If you'd like to try your own, here's what I reccomend.


I love the Original Oregon Chai, it has a great consistency and isn't too overpowering. There are so many alternative milks on the market it can be overwhelming. I like soy the most for it's froth. Obviously tons of soy isn't great for you and it's one of the foods that's commonly GMO, so I only buy organic (which to have the label Organic cannot be GMO). I also prefer vanilla, but unsweetened, which can be tricky to find. But Westsoy has a great organic, unsweetened, vanilla. I've found it at Trader Joe's and Fred Meyer in the health section. 


So it's pretty simple. Just pour half soy and half chai into the frother and turn it on. Mine holds about 5-6oz. so I usually fill it twice. 


Mmmmm...frothy, spicy-sweet perfection. Of course my quiet time on the couch usually ends with a visit from the other morning person in the house. 


He's been an early riser since birth, and all my attempts to alter this fact have amounted to nothing. So I'm learning to embrace it. 


I shared a drink of tea with him once, and now in his mind it's "our" tea. In fact, I think he thinks I get up early just to make "us" tea and sit on the couch with him. :) I hope he always remembers it that way. I try to remind myself that he will not always come sneaking down the hall and jump on the couch with me. I want to treasure these times. Especially since we have some of our sweetest moments together during these early mornings.




My favorite way to start the day, and one of my favorite people to start it with. 


4.16.2014

SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL SPACES {LIGHTING}



As I've mentioned, in the last 6 months we have cut our square footage in half. Of course with any new space there are different quirks and challenges with settling in, all the more so in a small space. Our townhouse has an open living concept downstairs, with lots of windows which is wonderful! It has one wall that is large enough for our couch and there was just enough space for a tall, narrow book shelf on each side. We opted for the shelves since we need the storage (more on that later). But that left us with a lighting conundrum. 


In my mind, one of the greatest mysteries in first world homes is the glaring lack (pun intended) of builder-installed lighting in living areas. Did they all just get together and make a pact not to install any sort of lighting fixtures in the main room of the house? Seriously, if someone out there knows the answer to this deep life question of mine, I would be forever in your debt. I digress.

The shelves we chose pack a lot of storage punch, but left us with no place for table lamps. Floor spaces as well is at a premium, so a floor lamp was out of the question. Those are a questionable endeavor with young kids anyway. Our last floor lamp didn't fare so well. After looking at and weighing the pros and cons of different solutions we ended up choosing these simple swing-arm, wall mounted, plug-in sconces (that's a mouthful) from Lowes. 


At $40 each they are reasonably priced and the perfect solution for our space! I've also seen this style used as bedside lights where nightstand table top space is limited. If you have a small space, and especially if you are renting, this style of lighting is a great option! Here are a few of my favorite options, from ultra budget friendly to more high end. 

1 / 2 / 3 


Another lighting challenge we ran into right away is layered lighting. I'm all about ambience and to me that means mood lighting. We have three main lights in our kitchen/dining/living area. In all our previous homes we've installed dimmer switches on our main lights. That is one of the quickest, least expensive ways to add ambience to your home, in my opinion. But we aren't allowed to make any electrical changes here. So for now we have a small lamp on the kitchen counter. It's basically in the center of the downstairs and provides some great low light. 


First thing in the morning, or in the evening, the kitchen and dining lights go off and the lamp goes on. I feel like it makes the room instantly feel more peaceful and relaxing. My next plan to layer the lighting even more will be switching out the wall sconce lightbulbs for 3-way bulbs. That way we can have them nice and bright when needed and perfectly dim whenever we like. 


So there you have it, our lighting solutions for our smaller, rented space. Are you facing any lighting challenges? Or do you have suggestions for creative lighting solutions?


4.09.2014

JACK {18 MONTHS}

My baby is 18 months old today! I am so crazy about this boy!!


He has the most amazing hair and the most kissable cheeks and lips around. 


He LOVES to be outside. Loves it. He will bring me his shoes anytime of the day in hopes for outdoor playtime. 


He is funny and cute and he knows it. He likes to pose and make faces. 


He's a wild man. Always climbing, exploring, opening, emptying, discovering. 


Most of all, he's our best little wild man and we're wild about him! 






4.04.2014

UNEXPECTED GIFTS

The winner of the spring cleaning giveaway is...Rachel!!

Congratulations!! I'll get you your goods!

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I shared in January about my word for the year. I'm learning how to find the gifts of joy in the simple, everyday things. 


A few days ago I posted this picture on Intagram...13 days into Ross' last business trip. I woke up that morning bone weary and overwhelmed. A walk to the park, the smell of spring, my kid's joy in running outdoors, all these simple gifts changed my attitude, filled me with joy, strengthened my heart. 



I'm learning to find gifts where I once saw burdens. I am grateful for two week business trips. They mean my husband has a job. They mean he works hard. 


As I was sweeping under the table the other night I found another gift. Not the in the actual pile I swept up, which was large enough to feed a colony of guinea pigs. (Do guinea pigs live in colonies??) Suddenly it hit me that I was greatful for so many crumbs and sticky spots on the floor. It means I am blessed with little people. It means my house is lived in.

 

So take a look at your life. Be in love with it. Find gifts in the challenging places. 





4.01.2014

GOOD NEWS: HE WILL DO IT

Can I tell you a little secret? I'm not a great mom. And I'm not saying that for shock value, or as a backhanded way to garner compliments. I really am. I'm incredibly impatient, selfish and unkind. And I've spent way too much time trying to make sure people think I'm not. But my kids have this magical way of forcing my true colors out of the closet. They don't create the impatient, selfish, unkind me. They reveal it.

But there's this thing called the gospel, the joyful news. And I've heard it said that it's only really good news when I see how really bad I am.


The gospel is about setting us free from the things we don't even realize control us (fear, anger, worry, etc). A gospel life is a free-flowing life; it's like rivers of living water that flow wherever the need is. It's not a behavior-modification program, it's a heart-transformation process. Religion wants to create boxes, checklists and structures. It makes a mountain out of things that are a molehill to God. That isn't "gospel". The gospel is that my checklists and structures will never be good enough. Only Jesus is. The gospel is that my mountains aren't that big. But Jesus is.


All I can cling to is the greatness of Jesus. My failures as a mother are about seeing my need for Jesus. No routine will make me a good mom. No amount of behavior modification will really change my heart. Only Jesus can. 

In Matthew 20 Jesus talks about what it takes to get into his Kingdom. A man asks, "What good thing must I DO?" Jesus says "Why do you ask me about what is good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you." 

I spend so much energy worrying about what I do being good enough, forgetting it's not what, but who. Only God is good. 

Jesus ultimately tells the man to sell everything and give to the poor. But it says the man walked away dejected because "He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go."

What am I holding on tight to? 

Jesus' disciples ask what chance they have if this young man couldn't do it? "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."

That is the joyful news. We cannot pull it off ourselves. But we have every hope in the world, because God can. And if you trust him, he will.

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If you haven't all ready, be sure to enter our give away that closes on Thursday!