Wednesday, December 30, 2015

a look back + a word for 2016

this past year i chose a word for 2015 & that word was REST. throughout the year, i followed my word by using the hashtag #findtruerest. i'm glad i did the hashtag because it's cool to be able to look back & see all of my thoughts in one place. the theme of finding rest in Jesus was very timely with a few things that happened throughout the year. 

going into 2015, we knew Thomas's job was ending (in 15 days) and we had no idea what the next steps were. all we knew was that no matter what happened, if Thomas was out of work all year, or if he found a new job right away, that God was faithful. because God is always faithful to us and in our corner, no matter what our circumstances are. He doesn't withhold difficulties if they push us towards Him. resting in that truth helped us to calm our fears about the future and just savor the season we were in.

what ended up happening was this. Thursday, January 15th was Thomas's last day of work. on Friday, January 16th Thomas had an interview, and he was offered the job on Tuesday, January 20th. which in the corporate world is a very fast turnaround and it was just amazing. while we were very excited about the turn of events & in awe of how God worked things out for us, we weren't really shocked because that is what our God does. He held us tightly through the months of fear and the unknown, and now He was still holding us tightly through the new opportunities.

Thomas has been at his new job for almost a year now, and he is already training new employees that join his department. he loves the job & it has been such a good thing, except for all of the overtime he's had to work. but now things are starting to (hopefully) level out for him. we weren't really sure what to expect with this job, but it has really opened some doors for our future and for that we are thankful. looking back on everything, we can see how God knew this would be better for us all along.

going into 2015, i was burned out at my job. 2014 was my year of working too much overtime and the latter part of 2015 has brought some relief. i even got to work downtown for 8 months & that was such an awesome opportunity. i pretty much became BFF with all of duck kind & honestly that's probably what i will miss the most. yes, i'm a crazy animal person but i'm not sorry that i am! ;) getting back to a normal schedule this year, and working closer to where i live has been a nice rest for me. and it looks like it was needed because 2016 seems to already be bringing lots of new changes at work. 

and now it's ironic because going into 2016, circumstances are so different, yet some things are the same as they were going into 2015. in a way, we are in a similar spot in life. 2015 held a lot of changes and challenges, and it's looking like 2016 may be the same. so in looking at our year ahead, i chose TRUST as my word for 2016. because i have a feeling that a lot of the changes coming are going to require us to trust in the Lord and what He is doing more than we ever have. but trusting the Lord through the waiting is definitely a privilege. and i can't wait to see what life is going to look like come December 2016!

what are you hoping to cling to during this new year?

Monday, December 28, 2015

a DIY Christmas

i put on my 30x30 list that i wanted to make all of our Christmas gifts one year. ever since i wrote that on the list i've been dreaming up ideas. we decided to tackle that this year & it was so much fun putting that personal touch on the gifts. we wanted to stick to our budget, but also give people good gifts so we bought 1/2 of each gift, and added a handmade element to go along with it. 

for the women i knew i wanted to do something that involved a mason jar because i just love giving jars filled with things as gifts. i debated for a long time on whether i wanted to do bath salts or Meg's vanilla sugar scrub recipe. in the end, i decided to just do both because i couldn't decide! ;) i even got brave and played around with coloring the bath salts purple. i think they came out more awesome than i imagined in my head & it was so fun to make these!

last Christmas i made a fabric flower wreath after seeing Lauren's cute DIY wreath she made. i absolutely love our wreath & we leave it up year round hanging in our living room because we don't use our front door. i decided to make mini wreaths for my mom & sister because believe it or not making those fabric flowers is kind of addicting! and i thought the small wreaths would be something fun to use as an indoor decoration!

for the men it was a little more tricky to come up with something. a lot of DIY handmade stuff is really geared towards women, at least the affordable ones. ;) but Thomas and i brainstormed and thought it would be cool to make personalized coasters. also it went perfect with the Stanley mugs we got for some of them. i have a woodburning tool from my Darby Smart DIY box and i've been itching to use it again so i had a lot of fun making these coasters! (i also made one for Thomas as a surprise, because he loved the way they came out. so i made him one in secret & stuck it under the tree for him!) plus i think they look pretty manly since we stained them, right?! 

in fact, i had so much fun making the coasters, i made some for my mom-in-law and sis-in-law as well! we got them both a coffee mug as part of their gift, so the coasters fit well with their gift too. plus, since i made the wreaths for my mom & sister, i wanted to make a 2nd thing for each of them also. i got a different cut of wood for their coasters that looked a bit more girly, and i think they came out looking pretty awesome too!

my parents gave us the idea of giving updated pictures to my grandma's for Christmas. my grandma on my dad's side is in a nursing home paralyzed on her left side from a stroke. since she can't really move from the bed we thought it would be cool to give her a picture that can hang on her wall. then, that idea developed into making a calendar full of different family pictures for the entire year! so, on Thanksgiving i took different pictures of people in the family & we made a 2016 calendar for her!
this is the front of the calendar with our chalkboard gift tags we made for everyone's gift!

and we actually had extra chances to make some DIY Christmas decorations this year, because Thomas's mom planned crafts for our Thanksgiving get together. we made our pallet Christmas tree i shared earlier, but we also made some woodburned wood slice decorations and hand-drawn ornaments! i love having unique Christmas decorations that we put time and energy into making. plus, i love that they are simple because it fits with our low-key decor!

do you normally make or buy Christmas gifts?
do you have any handmade Christmas decorations around your house?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Finn the bunny wanted to hop in & say Merry Christmas (Eve)! :)
enjoy time with your loved ones, rejoicing in the hope that Jesus brings!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

DIY pallet Christmas tree

i'm linking up with The Circle to share Christmas decorations & traditions!

over Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law was making a pallet tree to use in her classroom for Christmas decorations. my father-in-law got a few pallets from work, so he cut us and my sister-in-law a tree also! i had actually been talking about making a pallet tree to use as our #lowkeyChristmas tree, so it worked out perfect that 1/2 the work was already done for us! ;)

my mother-in-law painted her tree green, decorated it with red and white designs, and then put it on a brown stand so it looks like a real tree! i love the way hers came out & i think it's perfect for her classroom at school.

thomas & i wanted to do something a little different with ours, though. we are actually using it in our living room as our Christmas tree (#budgetfriendly), but we wanted it to be a decoration + tree all in one. we stained ours a dark brown & used white paint to add our words because i just love the contrast of those colors.

i wanted to write something meaningful on our tree, but also wanted it to be something that wasn't overused at Christmas time. one of our Christmas traditions is listening to Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb cd while we decorate & all throughout the Christmas season. so we decided to use the Bible verse that the title came from. John 1:29 "The next day he(John) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"

we realized we couldn't fit all of those words on our limited number of boards, so we decided to use the wording in Andrew Peterson's song instead & that fit perfectly on our tree. we added a yellow star at the top because it is a Christmas tree after all, and we just love the way it came out! we plan to use this as our Christmas tree for a while, but in the future if we get a real tree again, we will use this one as a porch decoration!

materials needed:

step 1) obtain a father-in-law that has access to old pallets
step 2) have father-in-law and mother-in-law cut pallet into a tree shape (by tracing lines with pencil & using handsaw to cut out a triangle)
*once the triangle is cut, you have a complete tree because all of the boards are already nailed together!
step 3) have father-in-law and mother-in-law offer you said tree shape
step 4) stain and/or paint the tree shape
step 5) once dry, add your stenciling and decorations to the tree
step 6) have said father-in-law build a stand for your tree
*he built the stand out of 2x4's using 2 vertical for the back board of the pallet to slip into for support, and then 4 boards act as "feet" to help it stand steady.
step 7) once paint is dry & stand is put on, display proudly in your house

do you have any handmade or out of the norm Christmas decorations?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

11 | project 12

Project 12 | a picture for each month of the year

- on November 6 we were supposed to drive up to Indiana for my friend's wedding. however, Thomas got in a wreck on the way home from work that day, so we weren't able to make it to the wedding. thankfully Thomas & everyone else involved in the wreck were fine! unfortunately our car was totaled though, which is sad because it was the first car we bought together. but it's just a car, and i'm glad that Thomas is okay!

- we got a new bunny named Finn! he's a white holland lop with blue eyes and is super cute! we got him at 8 weeks old so he is still small right now. we stayed true to our harry potter naming convention and his full name is Finnigan Hedwig (taken from Seamus Finnigan and Hedwig the owl) and we call him Finn for short. we really wanted Albie to have a friend, so eventually they will share a cage, once they are bonded.

- for the first time in a year & a half, i had an entire week off of work! the week off was very therapeutic for my brain and body! Thomas had to work the first half of the week so i hung around the house crafting, wrapping Christmas gifts, and playing with our new bunny! #introvertlife then Thomas joined me & we took a day trip to Columbia friday, and then worked on things around the house over the weekend!

November 2 - our basset had surgery to remove a weird mass on her foot
November 6 - Thomas's car wreck
November 13 - Finn the holland lop joined our family
November 16 - lunch with my friend Samantha on my day off!
November 20 - day trip to Columbia
November 22 - family get together for my grandma's birthday
November 26 - Thanksgiving with my family
November 27 - Thanksgiving with Thomas's family
November 28 - we made a pallet Christmas tree

- a basset burrito
- a day at the Christmas tree farm (#redcupcontest submission)
- a slow Christmas morning (#redcupcontest submission)
- our blue-eyed bunny
- Christmas crafting
- nephews & bunnies
- family photos
- woodburning our own ornaments

- we went to Moscow, Russia for our passport to fun date
- we took a yurting trip over Halloween weekend & it snowed
- i swapped blogs with Jessa to do a guest post on the 7 arrows of Bible reading
- even though we were having a tough year, we knew there is always something to be thankful for

what are your highlights from this month?

Monday, November 30, 2015

to retreat.

Luke 5:16 "But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray."

I love Christmas, but if I'm honest I would have to say that it makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. I've realized the reason for that overwhelm is because of the culture's view of Christmas, and not Christmas itself. Making a budget for Christmas gifts alone is enough to make that anxiety flare up. Then there is all of the decorating, shopping, wrapping, family gatherings, packed weekends with events to attend, etc. Pretty soon I can become a frazzled mess exhibiting zero characteristics of the King I claim to serve.

So last year, I claimed a low key Christmas for our household. We spent less money and time on decorating, pinterest-worthy gifts, and having a packed schedule. Instead, we intentionally carved out some white space in our December. I took some time to dig deeper into Christmas by doing an advent devotional, spending time in prayer, and even creative writing. All of these things helped my conversations, thoughts, and heart focus completely on Jesus.

That low key Christmas is exactly what I needed, and I can honestly say that I felt lighter during the month, and I felt rested after the holidays were over. I also left the holiday season with a hunger for the Word. It was the first Christmas where I really feel like my heart got it.

As the holidays are approaching, I want to keep a low key Christmas as my practice to remind myself of that first low key Christmas long ago. I wonder if you are feeling heavy and weighted down as Christmas is approaching this year? I encourage you to take some time to retreat and focus your heart back on Jesus. Spend some time in scripture, praying, and meditating on who Jesus is this year.

We are told in scripture that Jesus would often retreat to pray and be alone with His Father. How much more do we need to withdraw and spend intentional time with the Lord? If you're anything like me, by the end of the year your soul needs rest. Let it rest in Him.

Jesus came to literally be with us and walk among us. He was all in. As this advent season begins, let's be all in this year. Don't be afraid to say no to some events or traditions, so you can say yes to Him!

what does retreating look like for you this Christmas season?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

dixie's corner | what i'm thankful for

last week my mom shared a thanksgiving acrostic poem, and i thought that was a pretty good idea! as a dog, i don't do a whole lot of thinking about what i'm thankful for. i normally just take every day as it comes and don't do a whole lot of reflecting. 

but this year, recovering from my surgery i've been laying around more than normal. (i know that's hard to imagine!) and during this time i've been doing some thinking, mostly about how i'm glad this mass is gone from my foot, and how i wish mom would stop telling me not to lick my incision. the thing itches, okay mom? but i know she just means well. so i thought i'd make a poem like she did!

Treats, and tons of them!
Hugs from my parents & grandparents!
A comfy serta to lay on! (this is very important because i do a lot of laying!)
New chew toys, like this Benebone Wishbone chew toy (pictured below)!
Kisses, giving them & getting them!
Food that my parents leave laying within my reach!
Understanding parents when i steal their food! ;)
Long hikes and adventures with my people!

so, that's what i'm thankful for, this year and every year!

i received the Benebone wishbone compliments of for review purposes. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

the great lake erie

the cool thing about my business trip from last month is that the office is only an hour drive from Lake Erie! i mean Cleveland is cool and all, but the real reason we drove up there was to see the lake! it's the only Great Lake i've ever seen, and Thomas had only seen it in the snow so it was cool to be up there without snow on the ground! (although it was 32 degrees and super windy!)

we went to a few different places on the lake while we were up there. we made it the first night just in time for the sunset at Huntington Beach. the next morning we went back to Huntington Beach to get some pictures and there was a guy and his dog playing frisbee out on the beach. i love Huntington Beach because there's a really cool view of the city in the background! 

Thomas found this other place on the way into Cleveland called Edgewater park where we stopped to watch the waves crash against the rocks and hang out with the seagulls. there were tons of seagulls just flying around in the sun and over the city scape. it was kinda dreamy and tons of fun for this animal lover! 

how many of the Great Lakes have you seen?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

the circle | thanksgiving acrostic poem

remember back in elementary school when the cafeteria served pizza? it was always the best day of the week! but if you think about it, when we were kids... pizza days were just given to us & we didn't really have any say in it. now that we're older, we are able to create our own "pizza days" that can be the best day of our week! and that's pretty cool too! or maybe that's just me trying to convince myself that i don't miss being a kid!

and do you also remember acrostic poems from elementary school? where you use each letter of a word to begin a line of a poem? well, that is Kiki's prompt for The Circle this month and i just think it is so fun! i have always loved cute little poems & kinda wish i got to spend all day doing fun stuff like this again! so, here's to creating my own "pizza day" & having child-like fun again! 

Thomas comes to mind first when i think about what i'm thankful for
Having family and friends to go through life with.
An ability to make pretty things and craft words together.
New experiences and adventures.
Knowing how amazing chai tea lattes taste. ;)
Furry little animals, especially our basset, our elder rabbit, and our baby holland lop Finn
Unconditional love from God who showers us with grace upon grace.
Little things in life like lazy mornings, cuddles, and a good cup of coffee.

so tell me, what are you most thankful for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

a bunny named Finn

this past weekend, we added another bunny to our family! ever since the first time i laid eyes on a holland lop, i've thought they were super adorable. and it worked out that we were able to get one, so i jumped at the chance!

it all started when Thomas brought up that he'd like to keep Albus the bunny outside. i don't really like the idea, but it would no doubt make things a lot easier, so i agreed on the condition that Albus could get a friend. and Thomas obliged.

so, we researched how to bond rabbits, and then we started looking around for holland lop breeders. we found one in North Carolina and started the journey to Finn becoming our newest pet!

he is a blue eyed white holland lop and i just think it's so cool that some rabbits have blue eyes! they are super pretty with his white coat and he is just so cute with his lop ears and smooshed face. he was 8 weeks old when we got him and he is so tiny!

it worked out really well that we were able to get him this weekend because i'm off work this week and will be able to spend lots of time with him! we had a really fun weekend hanging out and getting cute pictures of him! and i'm even taking him to meet my coworkers one day this week. 

we named our first bunny after Harry Potter characters, so we decided we'd keep that same tradition. we decided on Finnigan Hedwig as his full name. Finnigan comes from Seamus Finnigan, and Hedwig is Harry's snowy owl. we will call him Finn for short! :)