Friday, February 28, 2014

Observing Lent

Droplet (c) 2013 KL Photography & Kristin Leamy

Matthew 6:1-34 ESV“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, is nearly upon us. As we go into this part of the year, I always try to think of what would truly be a sacrifice to give up for 40 days, and whether it is something I could realistically stick to for the entire time.

As the verse above states, whatever you abstain from during Lent isn't something to be public knowledge, and certainly isn't a bragging rights ideal. Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and reminding us of how close God is, if we would only turn and see Him next to us.

I am considering trying to find an Ash Wednesday service that I can attend during my lunch or sometime during my work day. Do you attend Lenten services? Total newbie question, but are there services other than on Ash Wednesdays?

Observing Lent is pretty new to me, as of the last few years, but I really, really appreciate it as an adult in a way that I don't think I would have as a younger me. I find the practice and observation of things like this to be very soothing, and the meditation aspect is something I've always really enjoyed. I feel that meditation and prayer are very close, and I feel very close to God during meditation, because I'm able to quiet my thoughts more and be open to listen. At the same time, it also allows the base desire or worry that's been underlying everything finally come to the surface. Being able to pinpoint that type of feeling is such a relief.

Do you observe Lent? How long have you done so? Do you find it a vital part of your faith? Why or why not?

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My new Erin Condren planner!

I'm back! :)

After a refreshing weekend at the Oregon Coast, it seems someone hit the Fast Forward button on my life!! A whirlwind of catching up at work after getting a little behind while I daydreamed about the beach, family gatherings, basketball practices and games, making time to just be with Matt, and oh yeah, sleep - all awaited my return.

As I posted previously, I also recently decided to get a paper planner and get back to putting pen to paper to keep my life in order. As you can see from the above, I kind of need it! I ordered an Erin Condren Life Planner, which arrived on Saturday, and I've been enjoying savoring the little bits of planning I do as I go through my days.

I can't have my planner be UNsparkled...fixed that right quick!

I'm working on a "dashboard" just inside the cover. Just a convenient spot to keep my sticky notes!

Instead of a birthdays and anniversaries list, since I'm marking those in the monthly spreads, this will be my Gratitude Journal
This far. Since taking this picture, stickers, more to-dos and a sticky note have made their way on here

Bacon washi...because BACON!

My savings plan, back in the Notes section of my planner.

The awesome zipper pouch at the back of the planner. Currently holding all my stickers and some sticky flags that won't stick to my dashboard. 

So! I love my happy colorful planner, and I am carrying it everywhere with me so I keep getting glimpses of happy peeking out of my purse! I really think this was a great investment, and will help keep the myriad of activities going on in our lives straight.

If you want a fun planner of your own, click my link at the bottom of the post for $10 off your first order!! (Disclosure: this post is NOT sponsored by or anyone else...I just love my planner and want to share the love!)

I've got the organizing bug in a BAD way, and this planner really helps me feel together, and like I can map out a decent plan of attack to the chaos in our lives. I've been having a blast using Pinterest to gather ideas for what I want to do when we have our place, along with ideas of how I can work with the space we're currently in.

Here are a couple of my favorite pins:

I've already dropped into our local Dollar Tree and picked up some fun bright green stacking bins to try the under cabinet storage for our bathroom vanity. It's a total mess down there, I'm excited to take care of it!!! I'm excited to try the sheet folding trick, I long for our linen closet to be neat and tidy again.

What is your favorite organization tip or trick?

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekend Getaway

After a week of craziness, between the snow days, preteen cabin fever and scrambling to catch up after the snow left, I'm a bit pooped! I stopped by our local library to get some new reading material since I knew I'd be going to bed early for a few days as I caught myself up as well. 

I've waffled a long time on whether to give the Doctor Who books a try, as I'm madly in love with the series, and I would be so so so disappointed if the books were awful.

Happily, this one isn't! I feel immersed in the fantastic world of Doctor Who when I read it, and I feel that it could be a 3 part episode or so. It's fun and well-written while still capturing the personality that David Tennant gave to the 10th Doctor. 

Then...I noticed the cover:

Well played, local library, well played.

Just before the snow hit, Kiddo was invited to a friend's birthday last weekend, with a 50's Hollywood Glamour theme...right up this mom's alley!! This was a gateway to introducing her to Audrey Hepburn....and well...

$5 at Salvation Army and a couple of accessories later, we have a mini Audrey in our house! The party was delayed to this weekend, thankfully, and while I won't be home tonight to help her do her hair (more on that in a moment), I demonstrated for Matt last night, and set out all the supplies he'll need. Hopefully he's able to recreate it for her!

In our wanderings through the Salvation Army, I spotted this beauty of a coat rack and umbrella stand. Growing up, my parents used to have one like this (but sturdier) on the landing of our split entry home. I actually miss having that, but there's nowhere in our current home for a coat stand. When I moved closer to the stand, I couldn't believe it...only $7.99!

I snapped this pic and texted it over to my dad.... "You can have a piece of your past for only $7.99!!" He totally got a kick out of that! :)

So, the reason I won't be here for party prep is because I'm headed off for our annual Girl's Weekend, in which I and three friends nip off to the Oregon Coast for a beautiful, peaceful, mostly unplugged retreat. 

This year I mixed it up a little and actually saved up beforehand, then went to the bank and pulled out my savings in CASH. This envelope has post-its on each section of cash and what it's for. I feel so prepared!!

Speaking of feeling prepared, I have a couple of fun vodkas, and junk food. Why no, I didn't spend any formative time in Russia...why do you ask?

Then of course, is the project that I'm taking. This year is a year of blankets, it would seem. So, I'm taking my beachy colored blanket that's super fun, and I'm hoping to get a big chunk of it done. Progress is slow on this because I've only worked on it on my breaks at the office, but I'm loving it.

Well, loving it except for one thing. Bobbles.

Bloody freaking bobbles.

They can go die in a fire. 

Stupid bobbles.

Anywho! See you lovelies early next week when I'm back! :)

Click here to save $10 on your first order!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Newest fixation

I am a person for whom a new interest takes over and sometimes turns into a short-term fixation or obsession. My OCD certainly plays a part in that, but I also think having the Internet at our fingertips (and being snowed in for days on end) allows for a gluttonous amount of research in a short period of time.

Case in point: I visited a fellow SITS blogger's post on Saturday, and ended up falling down a rabbit hole. I could blame her, but really? It's not her fault that she posted a fabulous, inspiring post that makes me want to join the ranks of Erin Condren Life Planner users!

Having read that post yesterday (or Friday? My days are quite muddled together at this point!), I've since been Googling reviews of EC planners, looking at alternatives (there are definitely lots of choices out there, but this particular planner looks like it fits my needs), and watching videos of EC users showing how they use their planners. Aside from the decorating aspect that comes with any planner, the way these planners are laid out seems very useful to me, and a few small changes would make it into something that I would carry and use daily.

For this girl with a collection of journals (mostly not filled...OK mostly not used) and a fascination with planners who has never found The Perfect Planner, I'm going to give this one a shot.

The personalization options are fun, you can request color changes (PURPLE!) on the vast design choices you have, AND the biggest bonus to me is the fact that when you order, you can specify the starting month of the planner.

For example, it's currently February, so when I was playing around with having one in my cart, I had the option of having it start in February, March or April of this year. I think you always have that three hour window, and it's brilliant. I never remember to pick up a planner at the end of one year/beginning of a new year. The ability to start this planner at any point in the year is a huge bonus to me.

I haven't bought one yet, but I made a Pinterest board to collect my ideas of how I'm going to be using it, and I already found a few washi tape rolls on Etsy that I want for my specific themes (Photography, Blogging and Health).

Oh dear....and here I thought maybe blogging about it would help me climb out of the rabbit hole!

P.S.  Remember that OCD I mentioned? I just peeked at my Pinterest boards, and for some reason they're no longer in alphabetical order, even though I spent over an hour doing that the other day! ACK!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

More Snow!

It would seem that Mother Nature thinks we here in the Portland area just LOVE snow and can't wait for more of it to come!!

Frankly, she's right. At least in this household...we love the snow! Waking up to a gentle snow globe wonderland outside was so fun, and then to find a burrowing squirrel friend on our back patio...well I had to grab my phone for some silly stop-motion so I could share with you all!

It's short, I know, but the big wind gusts ended up scaring our little furry-tailed friend away, sadly.

Kiddo has been having a bit of cabin fever going on, and finally got to venture the few blocks away to her BFF's house to play in the snow. Of course, now that I've seen her safely there and gotten back to our house myself, I've heard that freezing rain is on the way!! Coating everything in ice makes a snow day NO FUN, you guys. It hurts combined with the wind, and you usually can't get to the snow underneath before the weather changes and it all melts away.

So, I'm thankful Kiddo has had several chances to enjoy the snow and revel in the beauty it brings!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow day fun

Yesterday and today our area was hit with snow and wind. Many of you from locations outside of the Northwestern part of the US might giggle at our reactions here, but we only get any snow on the ground about every 4 years. Most of us are not prepared for any kind of slickness on the streets of our town aside from rain, and even the smallest hills become big obstacles for drivers like myself.

Thankfully, my boss was very understanding and allowed us to leave for home early. Even leaving at 2:15 in the afternoon, traffic was pretty snarled, and it took about twice as long to get home. Thankfully, I only lost traction a few times, for only an inch or two before my tires would grab again, and arrived home without incident. Happily, I don't have to take freeways to get to or from work, so I was able to bypass that parking lot and take surface streets.

Today we were blessed with even MORE snow, and kiddo and I braved the wind to head to the park down the street for some photos. I was excited, because it was her idea and I wanted to do some but hadn't wanted to ask her to go out in the crazy wind that drive snowflakes into our faces. She was totally game, and we got some fun photos!

Warming herself on my coat, and kind of shielding herself from the wind

This girl was even willing to stand in the wind while it whipped her hair around her face!

Blizzard! Only not really, but it felt like it!

We finally came home after 15 very long minutes, and warmed up with hot cocoa and marshmallows. After a fairly relaxing afternoon, we are now cozied up on the couch as a family, complete with delicious blankets, watching the Olympic opening ceremonies. It's been so fun seeing bits of Russia, that I miss so much, and wishing I could be there for this momentous event. Kiddo is having fun staying up WAY past her bedtime, and we're hoping the Olympic torch is lit soon. It's currently 10:57PM, and so far, no torch! Boo.

Ripply goodness!

Tonight I finally gave into the itch, and started the fabulous Lucy's Neat Ripple Blanket. Mine will only have red, white and black in it, and will probably become a Portland Thorns themed blanket. I love having blankets going, and especially ones like this ripple, that grow so quickly and are fun without requiring vast amounts of concentration.

*Yawn* I certainly hope you're enjoying your night, and staying cozy wherever life finds you!