Tuesday, October 29, 2013

{so I've actually been reading...}

Hello there friends...sorry for the silence!

To say I've been overwhelmed the past week is a bit of an understatement. Between a super busy work schedule, keeping up with the boys and being sick with the head cold that never ends I have felt like crawling into a dark hole in the fetal position.

Yeah...that was a fun night. 

Buuuut...I went to the doctor yesterday, got some medicine, took a bit of time off of work to recoup and am feeling a tad better today. Thank goodness!

I wanted to share with you some books that I've read/been reading this month. The fact that the words "books" and reading this month" are in the same sentence is crazy for me because I think it has been over a year since I read ONE book, let alone THREE in one month. :)

With all three of these books, it has been a necessity to have a pencil/highlighter in hand while I'm reading because there is SO much good stuff to underline. SO.MUCH.GOOD.STUFF.

When I went to the Influence Conference, I was lucky enough to hear Shauna Niequist speak. Her talk was so encouraging, and I wish I had a recording of the prayer she gave to the group because it left me with mascara stained cheeks. 

And if that wasn't enough, she gifted everyone with their choice of one of her three books. I chose Cold Tangerines because it was her first and I had heard great things. 

You all. It is SO.GOOD. It made me laugh and nod my head and tear up and feel affirmed as a woman and a mother and a friend, page after page. 

This excerpt from the intro sucked me in...

Best read while eating hot cinnamon rolls on a weekend morning...

I read it in less than a week and quickly ordered her second book, Bittersweet

It was like picking up where I had left off with an old friend...just like Cold Tangerines...full of more laughs and affirming stories and confirmation that life is a good thing not despite the difficult moments, but because of them.

I guess you could say I have a bit of a girl/writer crush on Shauna at this point. I'm not sure if I should order her third book, Bread & Wine, because it is about cooking and I'm sooo not the cook in our house, but I may just because I love her writing so much.  

And last of all, the book I'm currently reading...A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman...

I'm only a few chapters into it but I've underlined a ridiculous amount and already had some major lightbulb moments like this one...

Oh, I hope so.

I really appreciate the fact that she is affirming those tugs we feel...the constant reminder of something we feel led to do...that it isn't a selfish thing. That God might actually be pulling us in that direction. I know I've been feeling a really strong tug these days. 

Oh, and one last book that I haven't started yet but I can't wait to dig in the minute I'm done with A Million Little Ways. I also purchased The In-Between by Jeff Goins, who was a workshop presenter at Influence. 

I also had the really great opportunity to chat with him for about an hour at the end of the day on Saturday. We talked about our kids and writing and our God-given talents and it was really wonderful. He was so genuine and that conversation is one of the highlights of the conference for me. 

So there you have it...my current reading list and I really think you all should try one or all of them. Like go add them all to your Amazon cart or put them on your Christmas list, OK? :)

What are you reading right now? What should I add to my list?

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Monday, October 21, 2013

{on being an artist...and seasons}

I have found myself on an exciting road over the past few months, as I've had custom doodle orders streaming in. It has been humbling and crazy and for the most part, very fun.

It all started with that Instagram photo up there. ^^^

But I have to admit that as an artist, I'm starting to miss creating for me...grabbing my supplies and just making whatever jumps out of my head and heart. Scrapbooking...art journaling...I miss those things. And I want to explore my creative talent in other ways.

I'm BEYOND grateful to the many friends and Etsy customers that have been keeping my pen and paper busy. SO grateful. I just need to take some time for me...to get back to my roots and let my creativity flow in whatever direction it wants to move.

After I finish up the few orders I currently have, I'm going to be taking a break. I'm not sure how long it will be...if I've learned anything about myself it is that I'm unpredictable and tomorrow I could change my tune. It has been weirdly a short season that has felt like a very long one...probably because I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon in my chubby little fingers.

But right now, in this moment, I'm craving creative freedom. I feel like God is nudging me to work toward something else. Who knows what it is but Him. But I know it has to be good if I'm feeling such a tight tug from Him on my creative strings.

I have to say that I'm proud of myself because I am such a people pleaser, and love validation, so to turn down someone that wants to pay me for my creative talent is one of the hardest things I could ever choose to do.

But for now I am. And I hope you all understand and know that I'm working on another good thing. And my shop is still stocked with printables and a few ready to ship prints!

With an infinite amount of thanks from this artist's heart...

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Friday, October 18, 2013

{hello friday}

It has been a very eventful week around here.

First I my doppleganger was on Jeopardy...

Isn't it ridiculous how much she and I look alike?! Even her facial expression is very me. I probably drove my social media friends crazy sharing this but I couldn't get over it!

And then apparently I came by that -400 score honestly because I did this to my phone...

SUCH a bummer. We just bought it and I love this phone. Not sure what to do but for now I'm living with the new crackled look. I know there could be A LOT worse things to be dealing with.

And I finished my most challenging house doodle to date...

Check out that ridiculous railing...whew! I'm still catching up on orders, so if you are someone that has asked me about placing one, just hang tight for another month or two, OK? :)

Oh, and just so this post isn't ALL about me {and my doppleganger}, I know two cuties that got their school pictures back...

Ben's smirk is just owning me, and Landon's big blue eyes...be still my heart. Oh how I love these boys.

How was your week? Have any fun weekend plans?

Linking up with...

life rearranged

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

{playing dress up}

Its October.

Which means lovely fall sweaters are everywhere...and I can't resist them. 

I need to do some serious sweater purging, but for now let's just talk about this crazy cute and cozy orange cardigan I picked up over the weekend at Target, shall we?
What don't I love about this sweater? It is the perfect color, length, softness and I love how the front drapes like a cozy blanket. 
Don't tell my other sweaters...but it is my new favorite. 

Top & earrings >> Kohl's
Cords >> TJ Maxx
Flats >> thrifted

Do you have a new favorite fall item in your wardrobe? 
Tell me about it in the comments!

Linking up with...
pleated poppy
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Monday, October 14, 2013

{hello monday}

Over the weekend Dan and I celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. To say that we don't see much quality one-on-one time these days is an understatement, as I'm sure most parents can understand. 

Now that the boys are in school and Dan is working a part time 2nd shift job, our evenings are full of homework, reading, Dan working, quick meals, and even more laundry than I thought was possible to keep both boys dressed 5 days a week. {Before kindergarten they spent more days than I would care to admit in their pj's.}

By the time the boys are in bed, it is usually 9 pm, we are both exhausted, and we zone out in front of the TV. Sound familiar?  

My Etsy shop has also been taking up a lot of time, but that's another story for another day. :) 

My point is that we have lost track of each other so much lately, so this past weekend was such good medicine for both of our tired souls. 

We ate lots of really good food... 

We went to IKEA and Target. What can I say...those things are both of our love languages. 

I even talked him into a photo!

AND we bought a new bed at IKEA! I can't wait to share it with you once we get our bedroom a bit more decorated. 

We talked more this weekend than I can remember in recent months. About all sorts of things. Deep things. And we didn't have to talk about poop or farts which is the typical conversation these days with two 5 year olds. 

Oh it was heavenly. 

{BTW...you can fit a queen bed AND a bookshelf in a Prius...just in case you were wondering.}

I'm hoping we don't have to wait 10 more years to have another weekend like that! What did your weekend look like?

Linking up with...

Wild & Precious

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Friday, October 11, 2013

{ten years}


Surely we aren't old enough for this.

A whole decade?

But here it is.

Ten years of being the Mrs. to his Mr.

I have to say that the second half of this decade together has been a bit rougher than the first. Parenthood and everything that goes along with it has tested us to our limits. I think the key is that we haven't given up on each other. We know that despite the bumps in the road we have each other at the end of the day to come back to. 

Boy am I proud of this man and what we have.

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

{the mocha club}

Today started out rough.

My work day was FULL from the minute I hit my office chair and didn't stop until about 1:30 when I had a gratefully scheduled coffee date with a friend. I was finding myself feeling wiped out and emptied out...irritable...cranky.

That coffee date was just what I needed. I find that one-on-one time with a good friend is the remedy for all of the above for me. Connecting with someone who is like-minded, supportive, encouraging. Such good food for my soul. 

And then as I was leaving the coffee shop I ran into an old co-worker that I miss dearly...just icing on the cake {or should I say whipped cream on my latte?} for an afternoon that helped to renew my spirit.

When I got back to work I had a fun email from The Mocha Club telling me I had won a scarf in a giveaway I entered last week. All I did was tweet out a message from them and I won a scarf from their new INA line. I have known about Mocha Club for about a year now, but learned a lot more about them at the Influence Conference.

This video they shared at the conference really touched my heart...

Winning the scarf seemed so superficial when I thought about their mission. So I decided I needed to do something I had been contemplating for awhile. I cancelled a beauty box subscription and went to the Mocha Club website and signed up for a membership. For only $9 a month I can help support their mission to fund development and relief projects in Africa.

It might not be much but... 

I'm sharing this because I think a lot of us feel that we can't help because we are on a tight budget, but this is something most of us can contribute to. I'm also thinking about doing a Purpose Project with them, but waiting to see what I feel led to do. I also want to make sure I do it when I have the time to commit to it.

Have you heard of Mocha Club? Do you have any favorite organizations you support?

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Friday, October 04, 2013

{hello friday}

This week has been all about getting back into our normal routine after my trip to the Influence Conference last weekend. I'm hardly ever away from Dan and the boys so to say I was grateful to be home on Saturday evening is an understatement. 

Giving the boys a bath on Saturday night was a bit like worship for me...

I soaked in their sweet smiles, the smell of their shampoo, the warmth of the water, and the feeling of my fingers in their soft hair, washing the dirt of the day away. 

Sunday morning Dan let me sleep in {until almost 11:00!} and he made us brunch like he is known to do...

Oh those potatoes. 

Sunday was a chilly and rainy day so I bundled up in my new scarf from flutterbyhannah and we set out for some adventure with the boys...

We had a fast-food picnic at the park under one of the shelters while the rain poured down around us and the fall leaves drifted down from the trees. I'm not a big fan of rain when I have to be out in it, but when I can be an observer it is one of my favorite things ever. 

The rain foiled our plans of going to the local Oktoberfest so after our picnic we ended up at Meijer to do some necessary grocery shopping. And like any good blogger I took an outfit photo in the men's shoe section...

Why so serious, Mandy? ;)

This week has also been filled with LOTS of drawing.

I have been blessed and to be honest a tad bit overwhelmed by the orders I've been receiving for doodles. I never thought I would say this, but I have a waiting list, and I have trouble telling anyone no, so that is starting to become a bit of an issue. I'm just trying to take my time with them, give myself breathing room, and be thankful that I'm being paid to do something that I love! 

We also took a trip to the orchard this week and the boys helped me pick out some fun pumpkins to decorate the house with...

It was SO hard to choose and I'll probably go back for me next week. :)

On Wednesday after dinner I started to decorate the dining room table and Ben jumped right in to help me. He grabbed a bunch of my milk glass pieces from the hutch and started turning them into pedestals for the little pumpkins and gourds and it turned out so cute!

He reminds me SO much of myself at that age...already into decorating and he really knows what looks good and what doesn't. And he'll tell you if it doesn't. Such a funny boy. 

Can I say how happy I am that it is Friday?! Tonight is our family movie night and our plan is to take the boys to the theater {a rare treat} to see the new Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie. We all loved the first one so I'm excited to take them. 

How is your Friday looking friends? Tell me about your week!

Sharing with...

life rearranged

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Thursday, October 03, 2013

{what's your thing?}

My Granddaddy wasn't much of a cook.

Whenever we took a vacation to visit him and Grandmother in their little post-war bungalow, he always fixed his chili. 

He served it over spaghetti which was the only way I had ever seen chili served... until I married into the Ford family and discovered the gloriousness that is chili over Fritos.  

We joked that it was basically spaghetti sauce with a bit of spice mixed in. 

He would pull the noodles straight from their boiling pot, so when we were handed our bowl it had a ring of water separating the chili from the edges of the porcelain. 

It wasn't phenomenal eating by any means. 

But it was his thing. 

And it was reliable. 

And it was comforting. 

I miss him and his chili. 

I hope that one day when I'm gone, my children and grandchildren will remember my "things." The parts of me that were reliable and comforting. The things that might not have ever earned me awards or recognition outside the four walls of our home, but connected us together like invisible strings. 

What is your thing?

Maybe you are always on time. Maybe you are the one that brings a pie to family get-togethers. Maybe you are a great listener. Maybe you always have gum and kleenex in your purse. 

I just want to tell you that those things matter. Keep doing them. 

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

{playing dress up}

So last week I was OBSESSED with figuring out what I was going to wear to the Influence Conference.

OBSESSED I tell you.

I bought new clothes and shoes and accessories.

And I was uncomfortable in about 75% of everything I wore. 

Yeah...so there's that. 

And then on Sunday I changed back into my uniform + my new amazingly comfy infinity scarf from my new friend and Influence roomie Hannah...
And all was well with the world again.

I'm kicking myself for not taking this dress to the conference. It is my favorite piece because I feel 100% comfortable in my own skin in it. But I wear it so often that I thought I would feel frumpy in it. 

I was going through my notes from the conference tonight and this phrase stuck out at me...

Do your own thing and do it well.

So if your thing is a thrifted Target dress...wear it, and wear it well, right?

Right. :)

Next time I go to a blogging conference you can be sure I'll stick to what I do well. 

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

{still processing...or #InfluenceConf recap #1}

I'm struggling a bit with putting into words my experience at The Influence Conference.

If I can be totally honest...conflicted is the best word I can come up with since coming home on Saturday. I don't want you all to think I had a negative experience, because it was far from that. The women were...amazing. Not one time did I encounter someone with less than a welcoming smile on her face.

The workshops were inspiring. My roommates were total sweethearts {and put up with the fact that I had a horrible cold the entire weekend with so much graciousness.}

But my head and heart...now they are a different story.

I'm going to be super honest with you all right now and say that I would bet money on the fact that I might have been the only girl at the conference that doesn't attend church. And not because I haven't found the RIGHT church. I don't WANT to. So you can see why I felt just a tad bit conflicted being at a Christian bloggers conference. I know...it makes me giggle a bit as well.

As a super quick backstory for those who don't know me personally, I grew up a minister's child in a Disciples of Christ church. When I was 21, my dad was fired from his position. He had been at that church for 22 years.

It was our home. It was our family. It was our entire life. And just like that...in a matter of a few months, it was gone.

The experience left me cynical. It stripped away the trust I had for others. It left me looking at everyone around me, including my friends, with a highly critical eye. My heart was broken.

But I will tell you what wasn't broken.

My faith.

Over the past 14 years it has grown stronger. And deeper. I've become a mother and gone through family trauma...clinging onto God and his grace and mercy to carry me through.

Working at a seminary for the past 6 years I've been surrounded by people that show me such a true love for God, which has really helped to heal many of my wounds. I get my church at work...most people can't say that.

But still...being around so many women who lead a different spiritual life than I do really threw me into a place of discomfort and questioning. I found myself on so many occasions asking why I was there. And then someone like Lara Casey or Jeff Goins or Shauna Niequist would say something SO darn brilliant and remind me that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be. Whether or not I share the same spiritual path as everyone else.

I'm on God's path. Or at least I'm working every day to stay on it.

I still feel conflicted, but I'm so glad I went.

And here are just a few reasons why...

I hope to share more about my experience at the conference, digging deep into the truths I heard and the lessons I'll carry with me. More to come!

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