{Hi!}

I was lying in bed the other morning as my husband Ben was beginning to get ready for work.

owl in bed

From the hallway he said something really nice.  It was as simple as, “How are you doing?  You know I just love you so much.”

Saying something warm is not unlike my husband, but my response was a little unlike me.

The next thought in my head as I lay there smiling was–I wonder if there are any errands I can run for him today.

This is not a huge shocker of a story, ladies and gentleman, but let me finish.  When I had this thought enter my head about offering to do errands, I was extremely aware that the thought happened because he had acted lovingly to me first.

We tend to fall into cycles in relationships, and this is especially so in marriages.  We are reactive in nature, and one person’s kindness naturally fuels something positive from the other.  One person’s respect tends to fuel something positive from the other.

Trouble comes when we show love or respect hoping to get a nice gesture in return.  That isn’t really love…that’s something selfish.  We also run into problems when the cycle we’re on isn’t one of treating each other well, but instead we feel we were treated poorly so we respond by treating the other poorly.

In our reactive nature, it’s counterintuitive to respond to what we perceive as unkindness….with kindness.  Yet, it is this choice to love and respect someone when we feel wronged than can change…well…everything.

Ugly cycles of mean behavior fueling mean behavior can suddenly morph into beautiful cycles of redemption and forgiveness when one person recognizes what’s happening and chooses kindness although kindness may not be deserved.  Of course we tend to hope our partner will be the first to break the nasty cycle, when Christ actually asks kindness of us, no matter what our circumstance, for one short, sweet, simple reason:

We Love Because

What a lovely verse!

 Making the choice to love is powerful because it is Christ-like.  It can turn cycles of bitterness upside down.  It can be the light in someone’s dark patch.  It can change someone’s day or world–maybe your own.

These ideas are much better explained in the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs; I am thrilled to be giving away a copy. 

win love and respect

This blog post only scratches the surface at the type of insight you’ll gain from Love and Respect which does a pretty brilliant job of outlining what men and women want and need in marriage.  Win it for yourself or gift it to your engaged or married friends.

 

The winner will be notified March 23rd.  Good luck!


It has been quite some time since I featured a

{1) Minute Snippet

and I’m excited to bring it back!

Caution:  you might judge me for this post.

You’ll either think me terribly savvy or terribly lacking in hygiene.  I’ll leave that judgement call up to you–

What is it?

all I’m going to say is I have the thrifty cure for slightly greasy hair that needs a little love when time or circumstances don’t allow for a wash.

Isn’t the suspense killer?

It's baby powder
It’s baby powder!

How to de-grease yo-self

Pat a little baby powder into your hands and remove any excess if you poured too much.  You want to start with just  a little bit until you begin to get the feel for how much is needed.

Pat your hand on your head near your hair’s roots.  On dark hair, you will see the powder at first, but don’t worry.  As long as you didn’t go hog wild, it’ll be invisible in no time as you continue to work it in with your fingers.

Add as much as you need wherever greasy hair is visible.  You can’t go wrong as long as you don’t use too much powder.

Say goodbye

I promise, I really do take showers!  

Just think:  baby powder will last longer and cost less than dry shampoo while achieving the same affect in the same way.  Both utilize a starch to soak up or dry moisture and grease.

Ideas to try:

–  I most often use this trick before I go to the gym.  I’m a little bit vein and don’t like to look like I had a sweaty work-out before I even had a sweaty work out.  {But let’s be honest….it’s been awhile since my workouts have been all that sweaty}
–  Yes, your head will smell a little like baby powder.  If this bothers you, try Johnson’s Lavender and Chamomile for an alternative {and lovely} scent.
–  Throw a travel size bottle in your car or cosmetic bag.
–  You can find baby powder, especially off-brand varieties, at almost any dollar store.
–  Never buy dry shampoo again!

Have you done it?  Would you be willing to try it?


mittens from sweater

It’s a good thing I don’t have a say in nominating Nobel prize winners because I would make sure whoever thought of making cute mittens from an old sweater was in the running.

I saw this craft several different places on Pinterest and couldn’t help but think, “Can someone who isn’t really that good at sewing make these or will I cut up a completely donate-able sweater just to find out this craft requires skill?”

I am happy to report, these really don’t require much skill!

AND they turn out really cute!  Not perfect mind you, but rather charming and dare I say, they even seem quite durable.  Keep in mind the mittens will only be as thick as the sweater is thick; after making these from a J.Crew sweater, my husband and I agreed they are a better Midwest fall mitten than a winter one.

1.

The trickiest part:  getting a good mitten pattern.  Martha Stewart says to hold your thumb at a 30 degree angle and trace your hand on a piece of paper, adding a half inch.  I was nervous about how that pattern looked, so since I was making these for my husband, I grabbed a pair of mittens he owns and pinned them to the old sweater.  Then I cut around the mittens leaving a little less than a half inch border.

2.pin mitten

Once you’ve cut your mitten shape, line up each side of the mitten so the “right sides” or the nice sides are facing inward and touching each other.  Pin as shown.

Note:  I wanted to make the wrist part of my glove kind of long so it could be folded to display the cute ribbing of the sweater(seen in the final picture in this post.)  You can play around with and decide how high up your arm you want your mitten to go.

3.

Sew around the perimeter of your mitten using a sewing machine or by hand if neccessary.  I chose a stitch that seemed like it would be more durable than just your standard stitch.  Lift up the presser foot (with your needle in the fabric) and pivot your fabric to help with turns.

sew mitten

If you’re worried about the gloves coming apart, you can sew around the perimeter a second time.

4.

Flip your mitten inside out.  Now the nice sides are facing out and you have made yourself an adorable mitten in about 30 minutes!  Repeat for hand number 2 and enjoy.  :)

mitten thumbs up

 

It is undeniable–we were made by someone creative who allows us, even encourages us, to create.

I want to share with you a simple, lovely gift idea I came up with awhile back.  It allows you, the gift-maker, to create, and the young lass you gift it to will surely enjoy hours of creating, too.

how to make pencil bouquetsWhat young artist wouldn’t love colored pencils with coordinating paper flowers?

{Supply List}

1 box colored pencils (I got mine from the dollar store)

3-5 inch scraps of paper that coordinate with the colored pencils

a pencil cup (again, I got mine from the dollar store)

hot glue and hot glue gun

scissors

about 5 inches of twine or ribbon for each colored pencil

First you want to choose paper for each of your flowers.  Blue pencil needs blue paper, yellow needs yellow, ect.  The paper only needs to be a few inches inches wide, so this is a nice project for using scraps.

Let Emily teach you how to make the super easy paper flowers.  You can do this!

SONY DSC

Cut pieces of twine to be about five inches long and grab your first pencil.

SONY DSC

Add a dab of hot glue and stick one end of twine in it.

SONY DSC

Wrap the twine around and round, then secure the other end down with another dab of glue.  You may need to use the end of a pencil to smoosh the end into the glue.  It is, after all, hot glue.

SONY DSC

Dab a good amount of hot glue on the very end of the pencil and secure your paper flower.

pencil craft add flower

Toss each pencil in a pencil cup to make a bouquet.SONY DSC

Gift to someone who loves to draw or color–I would recommend age 4 and older since the pencil flowers are not super-duper durable.

SONY DSC

Start working on Christmas gifts for next year??

SONY DSC

Perhaps pin it for that time you need a simple, thoughtful gift. :)

{enjoy!}

I actively avoid cliche.

I do not enjoy doing things like most people do them.

I value unique more than the average person;  I’d rather not do a thing than do it like everyone else.

For these reasons, I have struggled with writing a “Happy New Year post.”  The holiday comes each year–has it all been said before?  Resolutions….getting organized….starting fresh….

Does anyone honestly want to know what my New Years resolution is?  Does anyone really keep New Years resolutions?

I don’t really care to add to the noise with a rant on new beginnings that 2013 promises to bring.

So I’m sounding kind of cynical and negative, right?  Actually, I’m feeling the opposite.

I think people get geeked for the New Year because it’s a fresh start.  It’s exciting to think we’ll make changes to our lifestyles.  It feels comforting to put the past behind us and open ourselves up to something new.

It seems to me that what’s offered to us every New Year is actually available to us every day.

Whether resolutions stick or are abandoned, Jesus Christ lived and died to provide a fresh start for the sinners He loves.  Any moment of the year can be a moment we choose to make changes–you could also call it repenting, turning away from wrong, seeking right.  All year long, there is an open invitation to put the past behind us when we accept God’s forgiveness and let His gift of grace change us.   Something new emerges when we experience sins of scarlet turn white as snow.

We’re a week into January, and maybe your new year is off to a perfect start.  Even if it is, at some point this year, we are bound to fall short–yes?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with embracing the newness and freshness of these first days of a new year.  But knowing our human track record of shortcomings, forgetfulness, and deviation, this January I’m a bit more excited about the future grace in 2013.

The God of the beginning and God of the end is somehow already all over this New Year.  For the first time in a long time, I am making a resolution this year that I have every intention of keeping.

But at the end of the day, my efforts to perform hardly compare with the gift of forgiveness, given by Jesus, which even my greatest efforts could never achieve for me.

  There’s no special magic reserved for the 1st of the year, and I find it rather amazing that despite our obvious inability to conquer and tame our sin, (though we can improve, of course) our sin has been conquered once, by One, and for all.

Through the triumphs and trials, may God be praised in 2013!  With a special heart for redeeming the broken, He is making old things new.  And to that I say…

Happy New Year!

….or can he?  Can she?

As much as I might like to try an all eggnog diet, I think my holiday entertaining and consumption will probably involve a little bit of variety.

If you’re still looking for some holiday snack and meal ideas, take a peek at a few of my favorites.   These recipes are EASY, inexpensive, and they’re crowd pleasers.  I wouldn’t lead you astray–anyone can whip these into shape quickly, leaving plenty of time to let your husband do the dishes relax with the fam and drink egg nog celebrate stress-free.

These recipes may not neccesarily scream holiday, but sometimes you just need a super-yummy, super-easy addition to round out a holiday meal.

{Scroll down for these A+ recipes with pictures and practical tips for perfect results}

  •  Spinach and artichoke dip

  • Twice baked potatoes

  • Egg drop soup

  • Quesadillas

Spinach and artichoke dip

Why you should make it:  There won’t be any left.  I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this easy-to-serve appetizer.  It’s a recipe from my mom.  Thanks, Mom!

Ingredients:

1 pkg cream cheese

1 can (14oz) artichoke hearts, chopped

1/2 Cup Mayo

1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you have handy)

garlic to taste (I use about a teaspoon)

1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained (optional)

1.  Mix all ingredients by hand or with an electric mixer.  It doesn’t have to be mixed super well, so I mix by hand.  If you opt to use spinach, you should add about 2 extra Tablespoons of mayo.

2.  Put in a 9 inch baking pan

3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Serve warm.  It’s not nearly as good cool.  Yummy served with pretzels, crackers, pita chips, and the like…

***

Twice baked potatoes

What my dad said about them during his visit last weekend:  “Those are so good.  Those are SO GOOD!”  And they are.

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes

1/2 Cup ranch dressing

1/2 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or whatever you have handy), divided

2 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 Cup chives (or diced onion works just fine)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prick potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet.  Bake 1 hour or until tender.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.

2.  Place potatoes on a cutting board.  Cut a one-inch strip horizontally off the top of each, like this:

potatoes sliced

Then scoop out most of the pulp from each tater and toss it all into a mixing bowl and set shells aside, like this:

scoop potatoe

3.  Add dressing, all but 1 Tablespoon of the Cheddar, plus cream cheese and chives to pulp in bowl.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand.  I personally don’t mind having the mixture be a little chunky.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Fill potatoe shells with potatoe mixture;  sprinkle with remaing Tablespoon Cheddar.

cheese sprinkled potatoes

Place on baking sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until tops begin to brown.

Sprinkle with additional chives if desired and enjoy!

beautiful cooked potatoe

***

Eggdrop soup

Why you should make it:  The recipe is so easy yet seems so fancy.  This one comes from my grandma–thank you Grams!  This recipe is gluten free.

Ingredients

4 Cups chicken broth

2 eggs, well beaten

2/3 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoon green onion (or any kind of onion)

1/8 teaspoon white pepper (I substitute black)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (I substitute olive oil)

1.  Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan and add salt.

2.  Mix cornstarch with 2 Tablespoon cold water and add to the soup.  Stir steadily until thickened, then turn off the heat.

3.  Add the egg slowly to the hot soup and stir constantly in a circular motion so the egg forms thin shreds.  I make a whisking motion with a fork in one hand while I pour in the egg with the other hand.

4.  Add minced onion and oil.  Serve hot and SLURP it up!

***

Quesadillas

Why you should make them:  They are SO simple and who doesn’t love CHEESE?!  You can use a griddle to cook multiple quesadillas at once.  I like to go around to my guests and “take order” of what they’d like on a notepad, then I custom make each ‘dilla just as they like.  Corn tortillas make for gluten free, others can have flour tortillas.

Ingredients

Corn and/or flour tortillas

Cheese, primarily shredded, but sliced cheese can work, too

Optional onion, cooked chicken, ham, or turkey…get creative :)

1.  Set your oven range to medium low heat.  Lightly butter one side of your tortilla and place butter-side down.

quesadilla 1

2.  Load it up with cheese, onion, meat, or whatever you like.  Try not to get cheese on the hot surface as it’ll burn and smell bad.

SONY DSC

cheesy

Sometimes when I’m running low on shredded cheese, I start with a slice of cheese.  You can really use whatever you have handy.  Experiment with onion and meats!

3.  When you’re done adding the middle goodies, butter another tortilla and place it on top, butter side up so when you flip the quesadilla, it’ll be butter side down.  Flip the ‘dilla using a spatula after cheese has begun to melt and the bottom tortilla is getting a little crispy, about three minutes.

let it fry

4.  Let the beautiful quesadilla fry another three minutes or so and remove from heat when the bottom tortilla is crispy good.

quesadilla doneServe with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  ‘Ole!

Sometimes it’s fun to write without a mission.  To talk without trying to end up at any particular point.

Welcome to five completely random things I wanted to say…just because I wanted to say them.  :)

1.

This is one of my best friends.  I got to visit her in Indianapolis, Indiana which turns out to be a really neat city, complete with an amazing canal through downtown. Charming gondolas?  Yep.

In other news, the sweater I’m wearing in the photo above was recently stolen from our apartment complex laundry room.  If you see anyone wearing it, send it back to me pronto.  :)

2.

I’m going to be doing a little sign language and dancing as part of my church’s worship service this Sunday.  It’s been years and years since I’ve danced.

Wait. Not true.

My last gig was learning Thriller for a Tipping Point Theatre fundraiser.  Just a titch different in style.  ;)

3.

My kissy fish lip face.

4.

The latest addition to my extended family.  The fifth niece is born!

5.

I used to be boring.

Then I started making mustache stationary.

{Well golly, that was fun!}

Things have been a little slow around the blog lately.  I hope you too are making time to rest, even if it’s rest from something you love.

No one else will work peace, rest, and something just-plain-fun into your holiday schedule unless you do.  :)

I keep thinking it’s too late to share this story.

That it should be a story I share next summer because the story happened in the summer.

Yet, it’s so mild in Chicago right now, I think I’ve changed my mind about holding onto the story for the summery months.  I’ve only seen a few scattered snowflakes this year and it’s mid-November.  Seriously?  It feels kind of wrong.  And yet SO RIGHT.

So, before it gets too cold to reminisce of the summer, let me tell you:  a funny thing happened at Vacation Bible School this year.

At my church, I got to be part of teaching the VBS children the Bible story each day.

I was particularly moved the day my co-leader and I taught about the gentile Centurian.

Do you know the story from Luke 7?

Jesus entered Capurnum, where there was a gentile Centurian solider whose beloved servant was sick and about to die.

Luke 7 says “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.”

When the gang came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, and Jesus decided to go with them to visit the sick servant.

Jesus was approaching the home of the sick servant when the Centurian sent his friends with a new message for Jesus:  “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.”

I love Ted’s commentary on this Scripture which can be found on HubPages in his article Bible Story:  Jesus and the Centurian’s Servant.  He says, “Jewish law would make Jesus ‘unclean’ for entering the home of a gentile. Implied is the (Centurian’s) humble courtesy of helping Jesus avoid this ritual uncleanness.”

And then the Centurian delivers the real kicker to Jesus:

“But say the word, and my servant will be healed. “

In other words, Ted writes, “you don’t even need to touch him; your voice will carry the healing to him. And your person will not be stained by my uncleanness.”

 Luke 7 continues: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” (That is, even among the Jews, and this man is a Gentile.  Words in parenthesis are my clarification, not Scripture).

Then the men who had been sent returned to the house….

and found the servant well.

Sometimes I read scripture too fast.  Did you catch that Jesus was amazed by this guy’s faith?  Now there are a million occasions for people to be amazed by Jesus, but the idea of Jesus being amazed by a person’s unwavering faith really gets to me.

So, back to Vacation Bible School.

After taking a blow to the head playing outdoors, I witnessed a boy come inside and cry in a folding chair with an ice-pack on his forehead for quite some time.

He was obviously trying to be brave, working to hold back and quickly wipe away tears, but he couldn’t hide the pain.  Eventually a parent was contacted and the boy went home early.

I’m not going to lie, this kid was adorable, and it’s hard to see cute kids cry!  I felt sad, deeply sad, at the thought of him missing what the Lord might have for him to learn at VBS.  I felt sad knowing he was hurting so badly.  I wanted this week to be such a good experience for him.

That evening I was sitting at home thinking and something clicked.  The faith of the Centurian soldier.  Say the word, Lord, and he will be healed.  Jesus….amazed by someone’s pure faith.

And I prayed.

I prayed as boldly as I know how.  I prayed with as much confidence as I know how to muster.  I asked that this boy be healed.  And as I was praying, I was careful not to test God.  I said, “You don’t have anything to prove to me, Lord.  This isn’t about me getting what I want or feeling like I need to see a miracle.  I come to you believing that, plain and simple, you are the God of miracles.  You are the God of healing, both physical and relational, and probably a million other types of healing.  Hear your daughter….I ask to see this child at VBS tomorrow, Lord.

When I checked my email the next morning before heading to church, a message from the VBS director was waiting in my inbox.  This child has suffered a concussion and is on bed rest. 

Concussion?  Bed rest?  My heart absolutely sank.  I will admit, I probably doubted.  I thought, “Oh no–now what do I do if my faith wasn’t enough?”  Quickly I re-focused.  “No, this is not about me.  This is about God doing what he wants to do, and me trusting that He can do something amazing just by saying the words.”

  I left our apartment whispering, “I trust you Lord.  My faith is not going to waiver because of this news.  I’m still asking to see this boy today at VBS.”

During VBS set-up that morning, I felt like my eyes were glued open.  I was looking for this child.  I was expecting God’s faithfulness, wanting to believe I’d see this child today and trying not to think about what would happen if I didn’t.

Before kicking off the day’s activities, the VBS volunteers circled up to pray.  With eyes closed, we offered the day to the Lord.  With a concluding “Amen” we opened our eyes, and who is standing almost directly across from me in the circle of VBS volunteers?  Yes.  The child with a concussion who is supposed to be on bed rest.  Yes.  He has an enormous smile on his face.

Eyes welled with tears, I listened to him explain that he was feeling so well, his mom decided to let him come to VBS for the first half of the morning.

I know some will read this story and think, “Save that for Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “ever heard of a coincidence?” or “it probably was a very minor concussion.”

And you know what?  I’m fine with you having any of those responses.  You can have any ol’ opinion you want.

For me, this story is a personal one; I know my response.

I am humbled by the reminder that God wants to have a real relationship with me.  He wants to give good things to me.  He wants to take bad things off my back and off my heart.  Because I have a relationship with Jesus, I see this answer to prayer as a sweet part of our ongoing getting-to-know-each-other. It’s such a precious moment when the body is flooded with grace, peace, and goosebumps–almost like I’m tasting again for the first time that God is so real.

It’s kind of amazing to think about it….there’s nothing in God that wouldn’t make Him thrilled to answer our prayers.  (He doesn’t always, if they’re not best for us, but nonetheless He is on our side.)  The deep longings of our heart are extremely important to him.

In revisiting this story again today, I’m reminded that God is in a constant place of wanting to reveal himself to us.  Jesus’ birth was part of moving us closer to God.  His teachings and death were huge parts of it.  And now the Spirit in us and around us is the continuation of God’s dream to have us close by.  He even uses us and our stories of experiencing God’s presence to reveal Himself to others.

God is more powerful than I normally allow him to show himself in my life, and I grieve that thought.  To think of all the times my disbelief and shabby display of faith have hampered the Lord’s work of calling people to Him.  Yuck.

Yet despite my less faithful times, God is loving.  Just as the Bible chronicles the slow, patient story of God revealing His heart to humanity in bite-sized chunks, God is patient and kind with us now.  He doesn’t pressure or force, but in due time we just can’t see answers to prayer as coincidences anymore:  because we know and trust His voice, answers to prayer are evidence that God is still in the business of co-mingling with people.

He showed me a little part of Himself during VBS that I feel blessed to have seen.

He was a listener and He is a listener.  He was a healer and He is a healer.

A funny thing happened that summer day– I saw a bit of God mingling among a low, wretched, tired VBS volunteer.

I felt him say, in a flood of peace, grace, and goosebumps, “Oh sweet child of mine, I heard that prayer of faith.  I always do.”

Well, I have spent a good few minutes crying this morning.

Happy tears.  :)

May the Lord have all the glory that I’m able to invite you to my next theatre production.

A few years ago, I never would have thought this was possible.  Take a quiet moment to identify a fear you’re clenching on to…. and then read and be encouraged at what the Lord, in his power and patience,  can do.

{If you’re interested in skipping ahead to the details of buying tickets for my next show, please scroll down to find everything you need.}

* * *

My story….

Acting for me has been a very God-centered journey.  The very short story:  I went to a small high school where I was the star of the acting department.  I went to college and wasn’t!!  I got discouraged and felt like a disadvantaged underdog who was not as experienced or trained as everyone else.  In college I gave up on my dream of majoring in theatre, made theatre my minor, and majored in sociology.

During my first year of marriage to Ben, he’d ask me every so often, “Why aren’t you doing any auditioning?” to which I would answer with something ridiculous trying to cover up the fact that I was afraid of not being good enough.  The Lord, however, did not give up on me.  I have this deeply rooted connection to the performing arts that God is seemingly not letting me abandon.  I’ve come to recognize that fear of failure was spurring me to do nothing with my love for the performing arts–a love that I have known for a long time is something that God gave me.  I’ve tried to walk away from it but He keeps nudging me back towards art.

God has been so faithful and patient with me!  My insecurities have led me to the cross where I’ve had to stare into the face of Jesus and decide:  do I believe that I am loved, accepted, and enough because Jesus the Christ says so, or do I reject this acceptance–this position I’ve been adopted into?

I accept!

Truly living into this identity is a freeing and wild ride.  With a lot of encouragement from Ben (who has a great way of nudging me back to what God says, reminding me who I really am) I have stepped into Chicago theatre auditions with a sense of trust and dare I say fearlessness.  If I don’t get a part–that’s ok, that’s part of pursuing theatre.  The biggest obstacle was believing that the Lord would somehow, in some way, bless my efforts to trust that I was made for a purpose and that theatre is part of the purpose.   I began seriously auditioning about 8 months ago and have been cast in three shows to date!  This is more than I hoped for or imagined.

Yes, I’m crying right now.

Ok, now I’m balling.  :)

* * *

My current show….

I’m currently in a new play called 13 to 30 that has evolved from a concept created by Second-City trained actor David Wrigley.  After David cast a small ensemble for this play, we worked as a team to polish and add to his research and work.  The play parallels the life of a modern day boy (from age 13 to 30) with the life of Jesus from those same ages.  It’s an authentic journey, and the play has opened my eyes up to a world of new questions and ideas.

I really love the content and I’m eager to share this invite with you because I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

There is a little adult language and a few sexual references, so it’s definitely not something you want to bring your children to.  I think you’ll find these brief moments of adult material very much in line with the honest spirit of the play, and I would call the spirit one of exploration.  A young boy is earnestly wanting to know what it means for him in his young life to do what Jesus would do.  Not in a theoretical, haughty-taughty way, but in a real, practical, honest way.

The play is being performed at Gorilla Tango Theatre and for some reason, a lot of burlesque shows rent this space.  You won’t see anything like that in 13 to 30, but  I think it’s awesome that as a group of professional Christian performers (which is quite a rare thing!), we’re bringing the light of Christ into a dark place.

Oh yeah, and the show is funny!

Tickets are $15, and 10% of proceeds are going to Charity Water which works to bring clean drinking water to all corners of the world.So is 13 to 30 not a perfect date night?

A one-hour Thursday night getaway, you’re supporting local professional Christian artists, supporting a charity, laughing a lot, gaining a new perspective, perhaps grabbing a bite to eat afterwards and chatting about the ideas in the show, supporting Stacy Ashworth…….I’m so seeing you there.

For more information about the show please visit

Only 5 Performances! {Buy your tickets here!}

Performances are:

Thursday 11/8/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 11/15/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 11/29/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 12/6/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 12/13/2012 7:30pm

Thank you for your support and love!  I hope to see you at the theatre.  For new readers, I also welcome you to subscribe to FoolishForLight.com–it’s an easy way to keep up with me and drink in a little weekly encouragement.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

If your dream is to peek into people’s homes, welcome to your dream come true!

Thank you to everyone who contributed a photo for the Favorite Place or Space Contest!  I feel like I creepily peeked into one of your windows know each of you a wee bit better.  ;)  Thanks for celebrating with me!  Thank you Lord for these spaces we love and call home.

First we feature Gretchen who shares her favorite space in her home–this lovely buffet table she showered with TLC!  I am loving Gretchen’s green living tips, charming photography, and other shenanigans over at New Fashioned Mom. 

Next you get to pop in to Ashley‘s pad!  She may be freshly relocated to a new state in a new corner of the country, but her classy country-meets-modern decor style traveled the miles with her.  She credits the blog Shanty-2-Chic for the twine letter how-to.

Maida is my new friend (yee haw!) via Brotherly Love Theatre Company, and I know she’d approve of me taking this opportunity to invite you to our company’s current project, the play 13 to 30.  Please feel free to click the links to learn more!

And now to Maida’s comfy-cozy living room…  :)

Maida says her apartment now dawns a “boy couch” and “girl couch” after a couch was mysteriously left abandoned in her apartment lobby for what appeared to be long-term.  Gotta love free!

Did you notice those great maps on Maida’s wall?  You’ll also notice some stellar wall art maps when you explore Autumn‘s children’s bedroom.  It is well-worth your time to click your way on over to her full-bedroom tutorial via her blog Space for Living.  Autumn’s blog name says it all–her kids have a great space for living, playing, crafting, and being a kid.  I am always getting ideas from Space for Living!

Well I’ll be honest, I’m drooling over Mayling‘s Craigslist-find writing desk pictured below.  She thanks her husband for getting it in working condition and says, “It is soooooo nice to have a space where there are no toys, school fliers, kid books, and bills.  It is where I journal about the day with the kids, prayer requests, and thoughts during my quiet time.”   Amazing.  (Like how I edited her writing desk with writing over top of the picture?  I admit to having way too much fun with this post, people.)

I love

this next

entry.

Matt shares with us a backstage pass to his favorite spot in his home–what could possibly on earth be cooler than….wait for it….a drum building studio?  He gives a really neat tour on his blog matt vs. the real world, both of which are worth clicking over to.  Thank you, Matt.  I feel so much cooler having seen this.

Next we’ll take a peek at Kaui‘s favorite place:  a kitchen DIY project that increased her kitchen counter space and made for a more organized place to feed her family.  So clever!  I’m a fan.  Click the image below to see how she made it or explore her blog Thrifty Military Mommy. 

I would love to one day steal this next idea from Kate.  I adore the nook created by the placement of her bookshelves!  She calls it her corner of coziness, which sounds absolutely right.  Kate radiates positive energy on her blog Kate Moving Forward and guess what?

Kate was randomly selected to >>>win win win<<< the $40 giftcard for this giveaway.  CoNgRats!

Next up is Kayla‘s favorite space, a painting done by our mutual and extremely talented friend Sarah Mathos.  The painting brings joy and elicits awwws while hanging on the wall of Kayla’s guest bathroom.  Doesn’t it make your heart all fuzzy?

And who can resist a charming nursery?  Angel‘s is filled with meaning, too.  The picture above the crib is a pastel drawing she made when she was 13 and  loved unicorns.  After having it framed in her 20’s she realized she wasn’t quite so enamored with unicorns and didn’t have a good place to hang it until being blessed with a sweet baby girl.   Angel also made the mobile which was inspired by a photo she saw in a high-end catalog.  So thrifty and so cute.

This next submission is a really fun one for me.  My mom, Kathy, has turned my old half-painted Hello Kitty/Africa bedroom (sorry Mom!) into a bright, clean, and modern guest bedroom.  The picture below and on the right was once a closet;  she removed the doors and created this neat pampering nook.  Do you not just want to curl up in this room and cat nap?

Thanks for sharing your favorite space with us, Sally.  Below you’ll see a snapshot from her bedroom which I, in my awesome photo-editing madness, turned into a polaroid.  I love Sally’s bold bedding choices and symmetrical wall art display.

And lastly we end with a place submitted by my Grandpa :).  Turns out his favorite place is one of my favorites, too.  The view from my grandparents’ backyard–a lovely shot of the lake they live on in central Michigan.  I have countless memories here;  this picture reminds me it’s the memories–the people–that really bring our favorite spaces to life.

What’s a favorite place or space without someone to share it with?

Have a GREAT weekend!

Love, Stacy

I earn most of my modest income through playing with kids, so just in case there are any discrepancies–it’s true:

kids say the darndest things!

{the collection of photos in this post feature some of the super-fly kids in my life.  the pictures are randomly dispersed;  the stories don’t correlate to the children’s pictures they appear next to.}

I watch a 3 and a half year old, and when she was 2, she would thank me for changing her diaper.  She’d say, “You’re a nice girl, you know that Stace?” and “Thanks for wiping me…every time!”

In her less-sweet moments, I would sometimes put the 2 year old in a time out to which she would occasionally respond by smiling.  I asked her once, “You’re in trouble–do you understand that?”  Of course I was seriously peeved that my discipline tactic didn’t seem to be working.  Her answer: “but….I’m so happy!”  Please tell me, how does a person respond to that?

The same girl, when she was 2,  had a book about animals with tails.

After reading the book:

Stacy:  Do you have a tail? Yeah.Stacy:  You do? No.  But I have a butt!

And another day:

Stacy:  I’ll be right back.  I’m going to go potty.  Go poop?Stacy:  Umm…no…? Oh.  You poop at your husband’s house?{wow….this one still cracks me up to no end}

I love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up.  A four year old told me once, “I want to be a firefighter because I’m very good at watering flowers with my grandma’s hose.”  Makes perfect sense, right?  Monkey, garbage man, and bee are other favorites I’ve heard.

As a 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday School teacher, I had my kids do a “get to know you” activity where they each wrote down something they did this summer and I had to guess who wrote each response.  A second grade boy responded, “I got to have a play date with my fiance and my mom said next time my sister could come!”  My first thought: this child doesn’t know what fiance means.  Second thought: but he has the correct accent mark in the word fiance (something my blogging software isn’t even doing for me!)  Unbelievable.

The one and a half year old boy I watch has been known to say, “My Stacy” which is really more like “My Say-see” when trying to get my attention.  Kills me every time.

A three year old once told me, “I don’t want you to go home yet.  I was looking for you yesterday and I couldn’t find you.”  There’s no better way to end a work day than that.

Taking a three year old to Vacation Bible School this summer, in the church parking lot she told me, “Dam* it, I left my monkey at home.”  Awesome.  :)

It blows my mind to consider how much a child really has to learn in those first sweet years of life.   Compared to most animals who are born with incredible instincts that just kind of kick in, humans mostly need to be taught in order to survive and thrive.  Language of course is a huge part of this.  Everything kids hear is a clue about how the world fits together.

What really got me thinking about the power of our words was when, for a period of time, the two year old I was nannying would walk up to me or someone in her family and randomly say, “I love you, too!”  I realized she was probably doing this because she heard the phrase said back to her so often.  The words she heard shaped what ended up coming out of her mouth….in a really cute way.  :)

Our words are shaping people’s worlds.  The phenomena is magnified with children, but it’s true across the board.  We’re either lifting our friends up with encouragement, or something like gossip is bringing them down.  We’re either communicating respect to our spouses when our opinions differ, or we’re degrading them by implying our own way is the right way.  We’re helping someone see the Light in herself, or we’re fueling her internal question: “what does my life matter?”

I challenge you this week to listen more deeply to the words that come out of your mouth. It’s more complexly faceted and important than just “trying not to curse too much” or “keep it clean for the kids.”   Do you mean what you say?  Do you speak words of encouragement?  When you have to confront someone, is it done flippantly in anger or thoughtfully and respectfully after prayer?

:: My “darndest” list that needs tweaking::

  • Saying “I’m sorry” when I haven’t wronged someone.  There are plenty of times I legitimately need forgiveness, but I’m trying to move away from apologizing when there is no need to.  When I sin, I need to apologize for the way I am.  When I haven’t sinned, I don’t need to apologize for the way I am.
  • On the phone, ending a conversation by saying, “I’ll let you go.”  I don’t like this phrase because it inserts the assumption that the person I’m talking to wants to be let go.  To me it reads, “I’ll do you a favor and end this conversation and we can make it look like I’m ending it even though I’m sure you wanted to.”   Who am I to assume they were ready to go if they didn’t say so?  Alternatively, I think it’s more positive to ask, “Well, do you need to go or do you have more time to talk now?” or if I need to go, I want to be more clear by just saying that I need to get going.
  • Saying things like, “If there were only more hours in a day!”  The truth is, we accomplish things we make priority.  We are completely in charge of how we spend our time;  time does not have some mysterious tight grip on us like we often imagine it does.  I don’t need more hours, I need more discipline!

At a recent play rehearsal, the director asked in his cool way of asking icebreaker questions, “What’s one thing you said today?”

My answer after a day of nannying: “I don’t know why your poop is green.”  Ha–I guess we all say the darndest things!

Won’t you share a comment?

What’s something funny you’ve heard a kid say?  What do you need to fine-tune in your own vocabulary?  What’s something you said today?

 

Thanks for checking in for a little more home tour goodness.

Today we’re looking at the kitchen and dining room.

Yummy.

 

I have a dream to buy a home with terribly outdated cupboards so I can paint them in chalkboard paint and write the cupboards contents on the doors.  When I look at homes for sale that have nice kitchens, I don’t like them.  I want a bad kitchen so I can paint it.  Anyways…. :)

In a rented apartment like we’re in now, I’m not about to paint cupboards because there would be no easy way to get them back to normal.  It’s hard to work with a plain ol’ kitchen knowing you can’t do many alterations.

This is the area above the stove.  Look how plain and sad.

Looking around, I realized one problem with our kitchen is the lost, dead, white space above the cupboards throughout the room.

So I decided to acknowledge this awkward extra space with a little pop of fun.

More painted wall stripes?

No.

This time I cheated.  :)

This project took a total of 20 minutes.  How so?

I used something called artist tape.  I selected this tape because it came in red and didn’t seem too heavy duty.  I want to be able to pull it off the wall hassle-free when we move out.

 

 Not bad!  I really don’t think you’d guess it was tape.  I probably wouldn’t make this choice in a house, but it’s the perfect non-commitment decorating move for us apartment dwellers.  It gives height to the room and adds a little interest.  I did double lines along the entire perimeter of the kitchen.

The picture below shows the main entrance into the kitchen.  I spray painted an old bathroom shower curtain red and loosely tied on some fabric remnants from a yard sale.  The twine ball is from where else?  Hobby Lobby.

I used a tag from a new pair of Ben’s pants for one of my favorite little details…

I painted the canvas below after finding it at Goodwill for $2.99.  The awesome sunflowers were from my Daddy after he saw me in Wind in the Willows.

In the microwave station picture above, you might recognize the tower of plates and glasses from my post about keeping crafts organized.  It’s a versatile little thing!  Right now I’m loving it in the kitchen as a catch-all.

The soup bowls above were something I always admired at my Grandma and Grandpa’s home.  And now I admire them at mine by keeping them out on the counter.  :)

The utensil holder below used to be brown and look a little outdated.  Hello, gray spray paint!

And are we ready for the dining room?

Gotta love the ugly fan.  :)

The display along the gray wall is a work in progress and something I randomly dreamed up.  It’s a cork board with a piece of material {$1 at a yard sale} stretched over the front and stapled to the back.  (Thank you, Jess M, for the assistance of your staple gun).

Black hooks:  Hobby Lobby

White birds:  from my wedding decor, ordered from Etsy

Orange striped material:  garage sale find

Green moss cabin:  Anthropology catalog

Other additions:  twine, scraps of lace, random flowers made of felt and paper

Since it’s a cork board, Jess-with-the-staple-gun suggested displaying holiday cards on it when that time rolls around.  For someone like me who is constantly moving things around and changing things up, cork is a dream come true–yet, it doesn’t look like a cork board.

I have to admit, I don’t feel quite like the dining room is “done” yet, but the process of taking pictures of my home to share is teaching me that it’s not about perfect, it’s about progress.  Most importantly, I keep finding myself reminded that it’s really about people.  (Whatever “it” is).  I’m so grateful for the man I get to share this place with and the friends and family I get to welcome into it.

I heard somewhere that if your blog is perfect when you finally share it with people, you waited too long to start sharing it.  Our homes are similar, right?  That’s why I’m hoping you’ll join the sharing boat and open up a little bit of your world to us too! 

{click below to learn more}

Thanks for hanging out with me and my imperfect blog and imperfect home tour.  I hope you find yourself lifted up in some way each time you visit.  Look how happy your being here makes me:

There are so many words out there on websites, blogs, magazines, books….my dream is that {Foolish for Light} is like a most desirable little check-in point where you step in for good words–true words–silly words–life giving words–that help inform and shape the rest of the things you participate in for the day.

I hope getting foolish fuels you to feel lighter.
A little freer.
A little more in tune with the Light of the world.
A little more aware that you house the Light in you.
May that awareness make you a little happier.
May your joy ignite something a little brighter.
I think your radiance is going to make people see the world a little differently.
And I think different can be very good.

.:. .:. .:.

I do pray for you, my reader friend, and I thank God for the ability to create and share with you.  Really.

Do what you love today and do it well!  Do it with the confidence we can have from knowing how Jesus Christ feels when we looks upon us.  He sees you with the utmost loving gaze of grace. Really.

Until next time,

♥  stacy

what next?

 

Howdy and welcome!

I have decided to unveil my one bedroom apartment home to you during the month of September–not because my home is so trendy and neat that it should be featured in magazines–but that’s kind of the point.

It’s a work in progress and heck, aren’t we all?

Click below to play catch up if you need to:

.:.:.:.  .:.:.:.

When it comes to our homes, there is always something more we could touch up, straighten up, fix up, sew up, or whatever-up, and I have to admit that I do sometimes struggle with perfectionism.

While I’m confessing, I’ll also throw this out there for kicks: for some reason I also get into patterns of thinking that if I am not the best at something, I just shouldn’t do it.  (For instance, I lived in Chicago for a year and a half with the dream of acting and never auditioned for a thing because  I couldn’t stand to think of myself failing.  It seems so….dumb….in retrospect.)

The problem is, if we resolve to only share the parts of our lives that feel polished, or the rooms of our house that feel photo worthy, or the weaknesses that seem not too bad–we’re not really sharing ourselves.  It’s like when Ben and I got married, he told me that if we hold back secrets from each other, we’ll always wonder, “I know he loves me now, but what if he knew this one thing I’d done?  Would he love me then?”  And so he and I have committed to share.  Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful, sweet, sweet thing.

Sooooo….. maybe I’m getting a little too deep with this home tour thing, but I have this weird condition where I see metaphors in almost anything so please, bear with me and my medical issues.  ;)

It’s been…well….freeing to share my place with you and I have truly appreciated the warm response.  Don’t worry, the last leg of the home tour is on it’s way in just a couple days.

But….from the beginning I’ve hoped this conversation might turn two way.  That is, I wonder if you might share part of your home with me and fellow Foolish for Light readers.

.:. I hereby announce the .:.

{you could win a $40 giftcard!}

 

I’d LOVE to see a picture of your favorite place or space in YOUR home!

It could be a desk you’ve refurbished.  The view from your backyard.  A whole room that you love.  A quiet reading nook.  A link to a home tour on your blog.  It could be ANYTHING.  It just has to be a place or space in your home or yard that you love–and my challenge is just to share it for what it is–even if it’s not perfect.

  • To enter, you may email your photo or a blog post link to foolishforlight@gmail.com.
  • A randomly selected participant will be announced the fourth week of October and will receive a $40 giftcard to the home improvement or craft store of your choice!
  • Please make your submission by Wednesday, October 17th with the understanding that your photo and/or link will most likely be shared on FoolishForLight.com.  If you don’t want your photo shared on a future Foolish for Light post, please do not enter.  Won’t you feel so famous to have your name in lights online?!  (Only your first name will be published.)
  • All past giveaway winners, my family, friends, strangers, enemies, acquaintances, and everyone else are welcome to enter.  I will be using random.org to generate the lucky duck winner.

I can’t wait to see your pictures.  Thanks for reading.  And sharing.

♥  stacy

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

 

Welcome to part 2 of the {Foolish for Light} Home Tour.  I feel like I’m kind of really hosting you….. and I kind of really love that.

Follow Me on Pinterest

If you missed last week’s installment of the bedroom tour, you better get caught up and readthe bedroom tour post or watch the virtual tour.

Imagine:  it’s a cool fall day and I’ve invited you over for coffee.  Your favorite scarf wrapped loosely at your neck, you knock and hear me say “Come on in!”

First, a charming little addition to a not-so-charming door.

Is your door >>naked?<<

Go here:  (DIY wreath alternative how-to)

Swing that door open and….

The yellow “hello” canvas (which you can actually read in real life) started as a blank artist canvas from Goodwill for $2.99.  Originally $25.

You never ever know what you’ll find at a thrift store!  A coat of yellow paint and some inexpensive stencils from Ace Hardware of all places and I’m in love.

You can even grab it off the wall and pose with it if you’re cool like my sister.

Alright, so entering the apartment and turning left, you see yourself in these big fun mirrors.

I’m not even going to comment on what I might be doing in the picture above.

Those mirrored doors open up to a nice big closet with shelves!  Hallelujah for closets and shelves.

Did you catch the perfectly painted wall stripes tutorial?

I swear they’re not hard to do and they add such a fun (but not too crazy) modern flare.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about our shoes being on display so publicly, but it frees closet space, makes it easier to get out the door, and reminds me I own killer rain boots (thanks, Mom!):

Now you could go into the bedroom, towards the left, but you’ve already seen that, so you turn right.

Pause.

This light switch protector is NOT the original one that came in this bland, off-white, life-sucking apartment.  ;)  The original cover was that creme manilla color you see every switch cover in every apartment everywhere.

I found several switch covers for 99 cents at Goodwill and a coat of gray spray paint was a super easy fix for them.  Goodwill didn’t have enough of the right sizes to cover all the switches, so this particular silver one was purchased at Home Depot for 3.99.  To me the price was right considering this switch is in such a visible location.  True, this is just a rented apartment, but when we move out, the nice switch covers are coming with!

A trend I see in my decorating?  Start with a thrift store find and then finish the project with retail store purchases if necessary.

Come on in to the living room, friend.

Guess what?  I made those curtains and did not sew a single stitch!  I owe it all to Stitch Witchery and I promise to share a tutorial soon.

If you enter the living room and turn left…..

you’ll see our wall art above the couch.

 

A natural sprig of something from outdoors adds an unexpected organic touch.  My berry twig is displayed in a small yellow vase I picked up from a dollar store years ago.

And did you notice those snails on the shelf?

I am a huge fan of the juxtaposition of pairing something classic with something silly.  I think it makes for such surprise and visual interest.

Does your classic look need to remember that play is ok?  Get a little silly.  You might like it.

The framed piece by the snails was a wedding gift from my husband’s cousin.  (She actually pounded the metal to make the frame!)  Inside is a drawing of my husband’s grandparents’ ranch home which is full of history and legacy.  The snails are a fun punch of color but also remind me of playing “Snail Race” with my sister as a child.

So let me ask:  What do you already own that inspires you?  Is there anything you just haven’t been able to make yourself throw away?

The picture below shows a framed piece of scrapbook paper that was used to make leaves for my wedding invitation embellishments.  It was supposed to be trash, but I just couldn’t throw it away two years ago and I’m glad I didn’t.  I love it on the wall!

This Decemberists poster is something my husband has hung onto for several years–he went to the concert in college and we both think the poster art is way too fun.

 

Want custom framing on a budget?  Here’s what I found:

  • When I looked into custom framing for this poster at Michael’s, the estimate was close to $200 ON SALE for what I considered to be a pretty basic frame and matte!  Budget friendly alternative?  Find a frame in the frame aisle of the store that’s slightly larger than your image and ask the custom framing department for assistance picking out and cutting a matte.  Labor plus the frame and matte came to $30 this route.  Now that I can swallow.
  • Don’t forget most craft stores consistently have pretty decent coupons on their websites.  40% off a large picture frame can make for a lot of savings.
  • Also–keep a list of the frame sizes you need on a slip of paper in your purse or wallet and keep an eye out at Goodwill for cheap frames of the correct size.  Thrift stores will typically have a tape measure you can borrow–just ask!

Below you’ll see a shadow box I’ve hung on the wall.  I love this medal my husband won at a “5k Spring Gallup” last year.  The medal was hand-made at the pottery barn on the farm where the race was held–how neat is that?  The cherry image is simply clipped from a catalog and pinned into the box.

Care to step outside for a moment?

We have a humble little patio that I’ve tried to make the most of.  Here, let me refill your coffee.

I’ve found that September is a great month to snag clearance garden pots and supplies.

The tree art is from the dollar store in Clare, Michigan :) and is tied with rope to the porch rail.  The watering can is a Goodwill find.  The sweet little wicker chair that holds our basil plant was a gift.

And thank you husband for having a bike luggage rack.

Let’s head back in, shall we?  I want to show you a few other highlights.

The sweet bamboo mirror below is a Goodwill find.  It weighs about 60 lbs so I’m going to wait to hang it in our future house instead of messing with hanging it now.  The wreath moonlights as Jesus’ crown of thorns during vacation Bible school.  haha.

I adore our bookshelf, which came from Hobby Lobby and was around $75 on sale.  Not bad, right?

My sister has inspired me to stack and organize our bookshelf in non-traditional, non-boring ways.  I personally love the inclusion of glassware that we already owned.  Feels grown up and fancy.

Ben’s parents gifted me Ben’s childhood copy of Wind in the Willows–one of the most thoughtful gifts imaginable considering I was in the play this summer.  Love.

And, on top of our bookshelf I display our small but growing vintage board game collection from Target.

Are you thoroughly turned around now?  Here’s a look back at where we came from.

Enjoy a strong cup of something warm for real now, come visit me for real whenever you want, and I’ll see you next time, either online or for real!

Sometimes I worry my Facebook followers will miss a post if Facebook decides not to show my post in your feed.  I’d truly be honored to have you as an email subscriber.  Then I won’t have to worry about you.  :)

Love!

♥  stacy

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Who doesn’t like to peek in other people’s houses?

Before I swing this bedroom door open, let me just say….

starting the bedroom tour

I have often wished away my creativity.  I’m not proud of it, but there are times I’ve genuinely thought, “Why can’t I just want to be a doctor?  The future would be so planned out for me!  Instead, I have too many ideas to write down and want to work in one of the hardest industries to break into… that doesn’t pay enough to live off of.  Awesome.

It’s easy to look at other people’s gifts, talent, and stuff, and then idolize it.

Many years ago I learned a nugget of truth that’ll be with me forever.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  Man is that true.

Every moment we spend wishing for things to be different is a moment we could be rejoicing over what God has done for us or is doing in us.  Every moment we spend cutting down our strengths and wishing for someone elses’ is a happy-dance moment for Satan who has succeeded in distracting us from the truth:

You were made as God intended you to be.  Yes, you are sinful, but there is grace to sufficiently cover every sin.  You were created in the image of God, to be alive right now, to do good works like only you–with your spirit, personality, and gifts–can do them.

When I realize God loves me as I am–like really, passionately cares for the things I care for–I realize I can live free if I choose to.  Christ died for freedom!  I am loved by the omnipotent God who knows my needs before I ask; do I really have much to worry about?

You can be free from the chains of comparing your home decor to others’.  Your children’s maturity to others’.  Your financial picture to others’.  Your marital relationship to others’.

If you use the internet, Facebook, Pinterest, ect. to look at glimpses into other people’s lives and destructively compare yourself to what they have, then this is me calling you out on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it too.  That’s why I know it’s a problem.  :)

Part of me doesn’t want to show you my home because I look at other people’s amazing design skills online and think “I’ve got NOTHING on them.”  But there I go comparing myself to “them”…which is really lame and unhelpful.

So here I am showing you my humble apartment even though some of the pictures make me cringe because there are little things I want to add and change.  But you know what?  I’m choosing to rejoice in the great apartment we have and my God-given ability to create!  I’m rejoicing that with a little creativity, we can follow God’s example of redemption and make old things look like new things! I come to you as the real me with our real home, hoping you’ll ditch the alluring voice of comparison and maybe pick up a few ideas on the way.

Home Tour: week 1:  the bedroom

I’m not sure why, but we’re starting the tour with our bedroom.  Here she is, ladies and gents, as you enter from the hallway.

Curtains can make or break a room.  Check out the detailing on the top of ours:

Our beddy-bye.  I just don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this quilted blanket.

When you enter the room and turn right, this is what you see along the right wall:  an inviting place to make stationary and do taxes!

There are three appropriate, non-cluttering places to toss paper.  My husband has an “inbox” on top of the printer (pictured under the cork board), we have labeled folders in a file holder on the desk……

….and my scrapbook/stationary paper finds a happy home hanging in this gray file holder which came with holes in the back for mounting on the wall.  I heart paper, but if I don’t keep it organized, it gives me a headache to the point of not wanting to make stuff.  And then I cry.

So, here is the wall opposite the bed in the area above and to the right of the desk:

If you were to walk into the room and head left, you’d see the craft shelf along the left wall.  Well, it mostly holds crafts.  At the bottom are old video game guides that Ben never uses….BUT….he lets me have a whole craft shelf in our bedroom so I smile and don’t ask why we need those.  :)

To the right and left of the craft zone are the his and her closets.  They’re big and we love them!  What I don’t love are these thumbs down super-cheap brass knobs.

Thank you, Lord, for Hobby Lobby!  Hobby Lobby is owned and managed by a Christian family, and I love to support them when I can.  Originally $3.99 each and on sale for $1.99, I picked up four of these yellow cuties for about $8 total…..

Knobs are VERY easy to install.  It’s an inexpensive upgrade, yet makes a big difference to the overall feel of the space.

Feel like you couldn’t visualize how the room fits together?  {Watch the virtual tour!}  That’s right, I put a video on YouTube for ya.

Speaking of simple upgrades to spruce up a place, consider experimenting with how you make your bed.  Or if you’re a beginner, just start making the bed.  :)  Anything is better than nothing!

Have you ever wondered how hotels and hospitals get those crisp looking corners?  Watch and be amazed….

How to make “Hospital Corners”

1.  Put on the fitted sheet and drape the non-fitted evenly on the bed.

2.  Tuck the bottom end of the sheets under the bed.  It’s so much easier with the help of another person.  One lifts the mattress, the other tucks the bed sheet.

3.  Pull the corner fabric towards the head of the bed and downwards, like pictured below.  Tuck fabric (where my hand is) an inch or two under the mattress.
4.  You’ll be left with a little flap of fabric up top.  Lift it up like so:
5.  And drape it down, like so:

You don’t have to limit yourself to sheets, either.  You can use hospital corners to give a nice polished look to comforters and blankets.

As I was preparing for this tour, I realized my sheets were extremely wrinkled and not exactly photo-worthy.

Here’s a little trick:  Downy Wrinkle Release works VERY well on cotton, and quite well on other materials, too.  In the picture below, the section of sheets behind the bottle were treated with the spray.  You can see quite the difference from the non-treated area on the left.

Just as the bottle indicates, spray your material and then smooth the fabric with your hands.  I suggest giving deep creases an extra squirt or two.

After Downy-ing-up the visible sheets….I’ve gotta admit….they look pretty good.  I wouldn’t want to make this a normal routine, that would be silly, but if you’re having company over, why not pretty things up?

Remember before?

Relish in the after!

And while you’re at it, if you see loose threads, give them a trim.  You’d hate to put in all this work and then have someone get distracted by a darn loose string.  Towel strings need trimming when you notice them, too.

 

Thank you for swinging by our pad! 

Psssst….did you catch the video? of the bedroom tour?

{the living room tour is here.  the kitchen tour is here.}

♥  stacy

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

 

Know something I love?  People sharing great products with each other.

To me, a product is worth talking about if it’s an off-brand that delivers just as well as a name-brand, or a name-brand that is so excellent, it’s worth shelling out a few extra dollars.

FrogTape is worth the extra dollar or two.

The short version product review:

FrogTape is a magical painting must-have.  At under $5 a roll, it completely blocks out paint where you don’t want it.  Painting can be a long, tedious process–I highly suggest FrogTape to ease some of your painting stress!  (And no one is paying me to say that.)

  • The key to having no paint bleed through the tape is to make sure the tape is pressed down very well.
  • I’ve seen FrogTape at Walmart and home improvement stores.
  • Use FrogTape, submit a review of the product, and be entered to win a $100 Visa giftcard during the current promotion on the FrogTape website.

{how to paint wall stripes: tutorial}

I have used FrogTape in the past to help create clean, crisp lines where two walls meet in the corner of a room or at the baseboards of a wall.  I seriously doubt I’ll ever try another brand of painters tape.

Recently my husband and I moved to a new apartment.  The apartment is great in a handful of ways that we’re thankful for, but it definitely has that just-yer-average-apartment feel.

Character equals zero.

The color pallet is off-white and more off-white.

The window blinds are exactly the same ones I’ve seen in every apartment ever.

My first thought:  can’t stand this.

Second thought:  blank canvas.  Bring it!

Our entry way that used to look like this…

got a little face-lift, ladies and gents.


 

There is one stripe that changes color and then swings around to cover a wall of our living room, like so.

The swing-around stripe is my husband’s favorite part, and something about it does look kind of math-ey and statistical (and therefore something he would like).  Reminds me of a bar chart maybe?  I don’t really know.  :)  But we both like it.  yay!

So this is what the stripe looks like in our living room before hanging any decor on the walls:

To get the striped look, be prepared for some measuring, and lots of eye-balling if your ceiling isn’t straight.  I measured by leaving small hash marks on the wall with a pencil that were then painted over or erased.  The Frogtape I bought was one inch wide.  Remember to factor in that one inch when you’re doing your measurment calculations.

I was truly surprised how quickly the process went.  And really–you don’t use that much paint if you’re only using one color.

In the picture below, you’ll see how I’d press the tape down lightly, let the roll hang, and then step back and see if it looked level from a distance.  If it didn’t, I’d lift the line of tape and readjust.  If it did, I’d press the tape down very well and continue with another foot or so of tape.

Look at that clean, crisp line!  And it’s so SO easy.  Shortly after painting, gently remove at an angle as pictured below.

But c’mon, what’s a great looking living room without great people to share it with?

I’m a little nervous but really excited to tell you something:  during the month of September, I’m going to give you a home tour of our one-bedroom apartment.  I hope you’ll find inspiration in some of the simple {like seriously, really simple} and truly inexpensive {we’re talking garage sale and free!} ideas I’ve incorporated into our home to make it a place we love coming home to.

Talk to you soon!

♥  stacy

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

then comes toothpaste in a shopping carriage.

 

This post comes to you from one of my favorite people in the world–the wise, the beautiful, the best sister and friend imaginable–Ashley Trompeter.  Enjoy….

I’m not going to attempt to convince you that after two years of being married, I’ve mastered the art of marriage.  But—I have learned one thing I truly believe has helped in minimizing our tough days: be willing (and excited!) to change your brand of toothpaste!

(I hope you either just laughed or raised an eyebrow).

Before you think I’m completely crazy, let me explain…

I am blessed to have a husband who enjoys enjoying life together! The laughter and adventures we’ve shared have filled the last few years with more joy than I thought possible. I’m smiling now (and let’s be honest…getting a little choked up) just thinking about how much fun we have together!

Like all marriages, ours too has days and sometimes weeks when we just don’t seem to “click.” Whether it’s because our work schedules are poorly aligned, or one of us isn’t feeling well, there are just days marriage is rough.

Before our wedding day, we completed pre-marital counseling. It was by far the healthiest thing for our marriage, and I highly recommend it! With a few years of marriage under my belt, I look back on those sessions where we discussed marital expectations and healthy compromise and realize the counsel we received was spot-on.  Here’s where I think we, as spouses (and yes, I’m talking to myself here, too), can begin in the development of healthy marital expectations:

 

If we individually go into marriage with pre-calculated ideas of exactly how to live life together, we’re not leaving room for new adventures, traditions, and opportunities for pure fun with our spouse.

Growing up, my mom always bought Colgate toothpaste. I never even glanced at other options in the hygiene aisle until I met Ben (sisters Stacy and Ashley each married men named Ben. haha!), the avid Crest user.

He opened my eyes to shelves upon shelves of other options. Plaque control, nighttime health, fluoride anti-cavity, sensitive and enamel shield, whitening gel, gum protection, invigorating clean mint…the options are nearly endless.

Any hesitation I might have felt tossing my first tube of Crest into a shopping cart has long been overshadowed by how much I’m enjoying a new brand of toothpaste!  As silly as it may sound, I view my small change-of-expectation in toothpaste purchases as a fun, exciting new twist in my life. It took letting go of a twenty-two year old Colgate tradition to allow a new and better one to emerge.

Since I’ve only ever seen my mom buy Colgate while I was growing up, I just assumed she’d always been a Colgate-lover.  She recently told me that she actually grew up using Crest and it wasn’t until she married my dad that she discovered the world of other brands.  Like mother, like daughter!  It’s a silly, unexpected comprise, but the idea behind it can be a life-changer and a marriage-changer because sometimes in marriage it’s the littlest things that drive people crazy:  our natural response to change in our routines, habits, and lifestyle is often combative.  It takes intentionality, but you can become excited about the changes that marriage brings.

Be willing to branch out. Try new sports. Eat new foods that your spouse loves. Use a sponge instead of a dishrag. 

When you find yourself excited about trying simple new things in marriage, the days when you find yourself thinking, “…but that’s not how I’ve always done it” lessen, and your lives together are more enjoyable.

Take it from a girl who, two years later, still gets really excited when purchasing Crest products!

I’ll see you in the hygiene aisle,

Ashley

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

I’m a little actress, short and stout. Here is a silly picture, here is my spout.

{I’m actually not short at all. Try 5′ 10″}

{I also don’t have a spout, sorry I lied…I just have this song in my head.}

 

If you’ve come out to see Wind in the Willows somewhere in Chicagoland, thank you so much! I am thrilled to connect with you!
If you’re planning to come see the show, please say hello afterwards. Let’s take some pictures, shall we? If you give me permission, I’d love to post ’em here on the site.

I am generally drawn to behind-the-scenes footage on just about anything.  If there’s a “making of the movie” selection on a dvd, I watch it.  It’s incredible how much unseen work goes into making a production happen.  Plays, films, television shows, even dance recitals….they remind me of what can be accomplished by the work of many–so much more than could ever be done by one.  Collaboration.  Community.  You can’t convince me we weren’t designed to be a part of them.

And with that, I share with you a little behind the scenes peek at a Wind in the Willows rehearsal…. plus a few things I am undeniably oh-so-grateful for.

*****

Behind the Scenes: Wind in the Willows Fight Scene Rehearsal

The picture below is one of our first rehearsals with props and costumes.  Clearly not everything was ready at this point, but here you see Chris, Mike, and Sally trying out some new toys.  Building a character becomes easier and starts to feel more real when hats, wigs, and masks start showing up at rehearsals.

As you can imagine, fight scene rehearsals are pretty stinking fun. This was my first fight scene ever, so I enjoyed it extra much.

*Willows trivia question:  Which actor choreographed the final fight scene?  The one who plays little Portly bunny, Mr. Badger, or the Chief Weasel?  Keep reading for the answer.*

Even when you’re fighting with plastic weapons, you’ve gotta be careful. I’ve learned that eye contact is important–you don’t want to catch your fellow actor off-guard. Of course the idea is to have the actors make it look like they were surprised by the blow.

I love these pictures of Julia and Mike. Something went a bit wrong as they rehearsed their moves….but nobody was hurt, and they shared a tender moment exchanging apologies. :)

Who will win the fight? The good guys or the bad guys? Isn’t the suspense just killing you?!

Be sure to also take note of what a glamorous rehearsal space we’re in.  An old pile of mattresses.  A floor that has maybe never been washed?  Heat–oh Lord, heat.

I love it.

*Trivia answer:  The actor who played the Chief Weasel, Mike, choreographed the final fight scene.*

Please leave a comment and let me know something you or your kids loved about the show. 

We love bringing the story to life for you.  :)

5 Things I just have to tell you I’m grateful for:

  • ben being a quarter of the audience the day the show opened.  don’t worry, numbers have been up since then.  :)
  • a surprise visit from my mom and sister an hour before the show started a few weekends ago!  can anyone picture me screaming?
  • my new cast friends.  i really like them.
  • friends who have come from near and far to see the play, including college friends and some amigos from my days at summer camp….ah….summer camp….
  • my father-in-law and niece are flying in from the east coast to see the play this weekend.  wow.  isn’t that sweet?  3/4 of the kids in our wedding will be in the audience Saturday.  how’d i get so blessed?

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

I am a dangerous person to take garage saleing because I find inspiration in so many things.  Too many things.  Way too many things.
I am a dangerous person to take to Hobby Lobby for the same reason.
Heck—Jewel-Osco.  For the same reason.

I live in a perpetual state of seeing things I want to use to make others things.

For example:  I have not been able to throw away the paint stirrers I used to mix the paint cans we used to paint our apartment.  They inspire me and have been hanging out on my craft shelf for a good year and a half.

So guess what, ya’ll?  I made something with ’em.

And I really love it.  And I’d really love to share it with you.  Don’t scroll down to the pictures yet–you’ve gotta wait for the big reveal.

I love this creation because my apartment door was white and boring and just like everyone else’s until I whipped up this beauty.  I love it because I wanted something like a wreath, but it’s summer, so I didn’t really want a wreath.

I wanted something artsy.

But not freaky.

Cool.

Not too weird.

Happy.  Playful.  In colors I love.

 

{ta-dah}

Maybe you will want to make one, too.

Or maybe you will want to stalk me because now you know I live in Apt #403 in some building somewhere near Chicago.

****

How to Make a Letter Hanger Wreath Bojangle (plus little tricks to make it super easy)

{Start with a 3D letter from Hobby Lobby or your local crafty store.  I believe I bought my “A” for $2.99.  Dip your letter in an old paint can.  It will need to drip for awhile as a LOT of paint will want to stick to the letter….but the effect is awesome.  It looks dipped, not just painted.  I rested a hammer on the bugger so the letter wouldn’t blow away in the Chicago wind.}

{Blow drying the paint helps the whole process go faster.  I found I needed to blow dry the letter so I could set it down to let it dry the rest of the way.  Can I just say…gray and yellow–YUM–you can’t go wrong.  Unless you don’t shake your paint cans.  Then you’re going to get gray and yellow globs.  Shake your paint cans!}

{I already had these painty paint stirrers, but of course it’d be easy to make your own if you’ve tossed the ones you actually used for a project.  I love that mine aren’t perfect.  Take a moment to gaze upon whatever inspires you and dream up how you want them to fit together.  I’m happy to say my legs are more tan now than when I took this picture.  FYI}

{Hot glue and twine makes for a nice little hook to hang your creation from.  Obviously, your less-pretty side is going to be the back.}

{Lay out the paint stirrers at the heights you want them to hang.  You’re going to use fishing line to secure them in a mobile kind of way, but first you’ve got to get a vision.}

{Cut your fishing line to the length you want and use a squirt of hot glue on the back of your letter to secure them in place.}

{A bit of felt can cover up the glue job if you like}

{Of course you need to tie the fishing line to the paint stirrers–right in that little groove}

{Perfect.}

Like a wreath.  But maybe better.

For a few bucks and maybe an hour of work….you’ve got yourself a pretty neat little bojangle.

I have no idea what bojangle actually means–please leave a comment if you can use it correctly in a sentence.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

{hello}

It doesn't always make sense-the way we live. We decide that's ok. People don't have to get it. Welcome to Foolish for Light, a place for exploring the counter-intuitive life of a light-chaser.

{foolish?}

Foolish for Light is a place for anyone willing to challenge the way things have to be done. I'm kind of perfectly fine being called foolish as I chase the Light of the world. You?