Monday, October 31, 2011


Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart
As you may have noticed, I've been off the map for a bit. Mr. N. and I took a rare vacation to Washington, DC this past week and had a blast. It was a great getaway for our third anniversary, as well as a nice chance to getaway from all of the other real life stresses we've been dealing with lately. Sometimes you just need to step away and gain some perspective, which is not always possible when you're in the thick of things. 

In the spirit of improvement, I also had a realization that if I'm stressing myself out to keep entering posts to keep up with the 31 days series, then that in itself is not promoting improvement. When I post things it's because I feel inspired to do so. Sometimes, improvement is cutting ourselves some slack, which I'm not usually good at doing. So, I've decided to resume my normal posts, sharing about what's on my heart or something cool I've come across at any given time. I'll plan much better for next year's challenge. =] 

This week, our lives are all about our fertility treatments, so I'm a little nervous, and excited, and more nervous. It's finally time to see what happens. Okay, granted, we still have a few weeks before we know if things actually take this time around, but at least the ball will be rolling. 

Hope that you all are enjoying the beautiful autumn air this afternoon! Happy November a little early! More to come!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This morning, I talked to a new client on the phone. She asked me to take pictures of her parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. Now, I do not label myself a Photographer by any stretch. I know who I consider to be true "Photographers" and I do not fall anywhere close, so I don't give myself the title and cringe when other people label me as such. I studied mostly old school, black and white photography in college and would spend entire days locked in a darkroom  (one of my most favorite places in the entire world) processing film and printing pictures. I left school early, though, for various reasons, one of which being that I realized if I wanted to have a career in photography I would need to really sell my work...sell myself. The thought of yelling "pick me, pick me!" still is far too scary and doesn't interest me in the least. One of the appeals of photography is being able to hide behind the camera and secretly capture those things I see as beautiful, even if nobody else sees them that way. I also get to help people capture memories of their loved ones and that is quite a humbling gift. It's a quiet place, a safe place. A safe place that becomes not so safe when I put a price on my work. So, if asked, I take pictures for a few friends and others here and there for a small fee. I don't chase work, it usually finds me cowering in a corner trying to convince it to ask someone else. 

After finishing the phone conversation this morning, the insecurity began. It's always there, really, but it flares up a bit more when the pressure is on. Like water being in a teapot lying dormant until the heat is on. I haven't even met these people, but I'm already critiquing myself and fearing an unhappy outcome. This isn't the only area of my life where the critiquing happens. It's easy to allow the voice in my head, the one I think knows me best, to remind me again why I shouldn't even bother trying, why I'll never be anything worthwhile. It gives me another valid reason for not taking the risk and I listen. Why is it that this is the voice that I listen to so often? Why should it get stage time and be allowed to suck the energy, the joy, and the very life out of me?

Even in typing these words I realized that the voice in my head is NOT the one that knows me best. Why? Because the voice inside only sees things from my perspective. It may know my shortcomings, my past failures, my fears, my deepest desires, my quiet tears, but it can't see the whole picture of my life. Only God can do that. He can see my life from start to finish. He can see what I was created for, the lives He has ordained for me to touch in some small way. He can see my shortcomings and fears and knows exactly what I can handle. He can see those things I see as past failures in the context of my whole life and knows how those may have helped me change course to be right where I am today. He sees my deepest desires and longs for me to make His desires for me my own. He sees my quiet tears and is right there beside me in every moment. Why isn't it His voice that I listen for? Why isn't He the one I run to first? Sometimes I'm afraid to hear Him, what He might say. Not because I think His words will be ones of anger, but because I'm afraid they'll be what I know they'll be, words of love and encouragement. He would tell me that I'm His daughter, that I'm beautiful, that He loves me more than I could ever know, and it would be hard to believe Him, because I don't think I'm worthy of such love. And I'm not. But He loves me anyways. Without condition. Without fail. It's not about me, it's about Him. 

If only His was the voice that I listened to when the critiquing started. If only His was the strength I relied on when my fear is overwhelming. If only His were the arms that I fell into when I feel utterly defeated before even starting. I hope that I reach a point in my life where this is commonplace. Until then, it's worth working towards. Do you ever feel the same way? 

Monday, October 17, 2011


From Holly Mathis Interiors
It's so easy sometimes to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing. It's hard to let our own voice speak when it feels like we're getting whispers of, "That's wrong!" from every side. I know for me, that whispering voice is in my own head most of the time, rather than from the sidelines, but little by little I'm learning to embrace the things I love. This has been a huge learning process in everything from clothing to decorating. Most days, I feel like I'm about 10 years behind in the accepting myself for who I am. It's not easy, but it is freeing when those little breakthroughs come along. It's not about doing what everyone else is doing, anyways. It's about creating an environment YOU (and your loved ones) love to be in. It's about putting together a wardrobe that YOU love to wear. It's about taking a little risk and TRYING even if you might fail a few times. I'm convinced that the outcome will be far better than if we never try at all and live life full of regret. So, let's raise our glasses to risk taking and inspiration!


This WAS our mantle:

This IS our mantle:

(p.s. the old homeowners were the ones who painted our fire place except for the top two inches or so. we actually love the natural brick, so we're trying to figure out what to do, since once brick is painted it's a forever thing. *tear)

This is why:
Photo from Addicted 2 Decorating
We are hoping to follow this tutorial to make a new mantle that looks like an old hunk of wood. Supposedly, it only costs about $25 to make this transformation, which is incredible. We'll see if that's actually the case. Taking the old mantle off and leaving it that way is incentive for us to pick up the pace and tackle the project already. =] I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The next three weeks will prove to be a whirlwind for us. We will be taking the first big out of state trip we've ever taken as a married couple. Go D.C.! We will be coming home in time for Mr. N. to get ready for his next out of state work trip. If all goes well, we'll also be starting and completing our fertility treatment. In this small window of 15 days that it takes to start and finish this treatment, we realized that everything must happen exactly as scheduled in order for this to work this

We never take big trips. The biggest trip we've taken in three years was to Disneyland with my family (OHMYGOSHILOVEDISNEYLANDSOMUCH!!!!!!!!!!!). We wanted this one to be our 3 year anniversary trip. My monthly cycle is rarely on time these days and yet last month it was only one day late and we were able to get all of our fertility testing done with no problems. Now we wait to see if October will be as perfect, because if it's not we have to wait until next month to try for a baby. If all starts on time, I'll be on meds during our trip, and we'll come home to ovulation tests, doctor visits, and procedures. But there might be a baby this time.

I want so much to hope, to believe that THIS could be the time....our time. I want to believe that all the waiting, and aching, and tears, and trying to hope, and failing to hope, and picking names, and praying could finally be culminating over possibly the most awkward set of 15 days one could pick for such a thing. It would make an incredible story. A story only God could tell, only He could ordain. And so I hope, even though every ounce of me screams not to, reminding me of every disappointment of the past. I don't want to be disappointed, again. I don't want to stress about this, again. I don't want to wait another month, only to see it fail, again. I don't want to watch the next wave of pregnancy pass through our friends and church and leave us on the sidelines, again. I don't know that I could take all of this pain, again. But I do want to trust and be glad regardless of how this goes. I want to remember that I'm not guaranteed anything, but God still works ALL THINGS together for our good and His glory. I want to let God have His way and be stronger than the pain. I want to wish and hope with childlike anticipation that November could be the beginning of a new and very tiny life. It's such a scary thing to hope.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Autumn is in the air, my friends! Autumn is in the air! It's so exciting to starting to decorate and immersing ourselves in everything we love about this time of year, isn't it?! I've come across a couple of posts recently that have talked about decorating simply. Check out these two lovely ladies:

The Nester had this post called "Copy It With What You Already Have". I love how she talks about spending the most money on the pumpkins and gourds she buys and just using everything else that she may already have around the house.

Photo courtesy of the Nester

Melissa at The Inspired Room has been posting lots about how she decorates her house on a budget using more of nature, which I LOVE! Isn't the picture below brilliant!

Photo courtesy of The Inspired Room
This is my own attempt at simplicity in decorating for the fall, so far. Now, we have plans to change our mantle itself completely, but for now, here is how everything looks:

Hopefully, you can see here, that I used three gourds I got for $0.69 each (next year I think I'm going to try and grow some, though), and some whole coffee beans that we bought over a year ago that I've kept in a Ziploc bag and pulled out for decorating. I love the coffee scent and the rustic quality it brings. 

Here, I just put a pumpkin on an extra pot I had and put some pine cones we found out hiking around it. The possibilities are really endless. I'm hoping to bring in some branches I've found out and about, too, but I'm letting them dry out a bit. =] There are so many aspects of fall to draw from, and these two women, especially Melissa at The Inspired Room, have done a great job so far of pinpointing those aspects and helping us all breathe a little easier knowing it's okay not to go out and spend a fortune. Hope you enjoy their sites!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This morning, I came across a neat video by Ann Voskamp found on Emily's site at Chatting at the Sky. It's fantastic! Please take the time to scroll down on Emily's post and watch the video. You won't be sorry. In it, Ann talks about living life moment by moment and not rushing so much. Can you relate to the rushing around? And I don't just mean physical rushing, but also mental rushing. I sure can! My goodness, can I ever! I am not a moment by moment person. I'm an 'if only' person. If only this happened..... If only I had..... If only I was better at..... If only, if only, if only. That's an exhausting way to live.  It's a life of shallow breaths, an aching heart, and a weary soul.

Mr. N. once asked me if I thought I was an envious person. The answer is complicated. Or is it? I'm not really into "stuff". If people have nicer clothes, nicer homes, nicer cars that doesn't really bother me. What bothers me is when they have something that is a deep desire in my heart. It used to be a husband, now it's children. Especially if, in my limited and blinded judgment, it doesn't seem like they "deserve" it. Who am I to know that?! Epic fail on my part. So, yes, the envy is there and makes me constantly look forward to the day when I have that particular thing. It's hard to keep looking towards that moment and still appreciate the here and now. It's nearly impossible to look back on the day I just completed and list off the things I am most thankful for. That kind of existence is NOT what God intended for us. Yes, He has placed certain desires in our hearts. Yes, He has His own timing for when and if those are given to us and just how they'll look, which may not always be how we'd imagined them. But He has also commanded us not to worry about tomorrow. 
 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6: 25-34
 It can feel almost impossible not to worry each day, but it's a worthy battle to fight. We know God is faithful and that His character is absolutely trustworthy, so let's unclench our fists around those dreams we're sure will disappear if we hand the control over. Who are we kidding, really? We know that holding those things so tightly is more of a security blanket for us than something we're able to control. I can't magically put a baby in my uterus (that would be creepy and weird, p.s.) or know exactly where the child we're eventually meant to adopt is right at this moment, but I hold so tightly to these desires that you'd think I actually did have magical powers. Again, exhausting. 

Will you try some things with me? Try listing the things you're thankful for, no matter how small they may seem. Check out Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, if that will help inspire you, and take a look at her blog, just to see what in the world she's talking about. Keep things simple. Enjoy right here, right now. Take a deep breath. Try to soak up every moment of the story God is telling in your life right now, whether you feel like you're on board with it or not. HE LOVES YOU! It may not always feel like that, but that is a fact.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Photo courtesy of Trinity College Library

I have one word for you today: LIBRARY 

Have you been to your local Library lately? Have you tapped into the magic that it possesses? The endless possibilities? If not, then you are truly missing something in your life, let me tell you. =] 

When Mr. N. and I got married, we decided to forgo getting cable television and opted for the rabbit ear antenna and watching our favorite shows online. After the initial crumbling of my world, I realized that this was perfect for our lifestyle and was MUCH less expensive (Free always is). We also started using our local Library as a resource for renting movies. Did you know:
1. That you can get a sweet library card key chain now!
2. You can check out magazines......this must be new, because back in the day this was not allowed......seriously, my world is a better place because of this addition
3. Some Libraries have kid's story times and fun crafts for kids of all ages, as well as for adults
4. It's a swell place to have a mini date with the hubby
5. You can put various cds, dvds, and books on hold on their websites and be notified when they come in, and they have a current selection of movies. It's good not to be caught in the 80's. =]
6. You can have your choices of the above sent to the Library closest to you
7. They have fun and educational events that you can attend for free. We went last year for Halloween and they talked about the haunted parts of our city and had Librarians dress up as some of these local, but long since passed, figures
8. All the cool kids are using the Library (okay, I don't know this for a fact, but we use it and we like ourselves pretty well, so there ya go) =}

These are just some of the wonderful things I've learned about our local Library. Be sure to stop in some time and see what magic awaits you and your family!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It's funny how sometimes when you set out to do something it can seem incredibly scary and exciting at first, but the farther in you get the more defeated you can feel and sometimes just want to give up. Honestly, that's the way I'm feeling about trying to write 31 ways to improve right now when I'm not sure I'm the best one to talk about improvement. It's not even a full week into it, but I'm realizing just how difficult it is and how much I have to learn. My goal has changed from writing every single day to making sure I have 31 posts, period, regardless of if it takes me into November to do so. By golly, this will happen!

I don't want my attempts to improve to seem trite or sugar coated. Lord knows, there are more days than not that I want to stay in bed with the covers over my head. I'm reading Grace for the Good Girl right now and Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming A Woman of Faith and Confidence while I'm reading Kathy Reichs murder mysteries and going through the Harry Potter series. I struggle with going to church every single week and with planning my day so that I make the most of my time. And I never feel like I'm really succeeding at anything, which doesn't mean I'm not, of course, but it would make things simpler if the feeling was there sometimes. All of that to say, sometimes improvement doesn't have to be huge. It can be blasting Christmas music on your ipod in the beginning of October to brighten your mood enough to get you through your tasks. It can be memorizing a scripture every couple of weeks. It can be choosing to do laundry on one day a week rather than doing tiny loads all throughout the week to save water and energy. It can be incorporating your crock pot into meal planning more so that you get four meals for the price of one. It can be telling a friend how much you love them or giving your spouse an extra squeeze. It can be going to God with your struggles to trust Him in every situation, allowing those struggles to push you towards God rather than away from Him. It can be cutting yourself some slack sometimes and realizing that you don't have to do it all or reach this unattainable goal of something near perfection to be beautiful, or loved, or to matter in general. It's not easy, but it's not impossible. And every improvement, no matter how small, is a victory. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn
A few months back, Mr. N. and I were brainstorming about some simple changes we could make in our home/life to improve the way we use our resources. In particular, we realized that every day, right before bed, we would take the glasses on our night tables, dump the old water in them down the sink, and fill them up with fresh water. Not to mention, looking around the house we found that there's at least always one or two old water cups from the day before. We started thinking about how much water that's actually adding up to in the long run just being wasted. Mr. N. had a fantastically simple idea: To place a pitcher next to our sink and poor the old water in that and then transfer that water to our watering can outside to use in the garden. We found a pitcher very much like this one at a garage sale for about $2. It's decorative enough for us to leave on the window sill above our sink, but fully functional enough to hold the water we need. It has been a great success for us so far and it's another small step in making the most of the resources God is giving us. 


This weekend, we had the chance to visit with Mr. N.'s parents for a casual dinner. We haven't had much of an opportunity to just go up for the day and relax with them, so this was a nice change of pace. My mother-in-law had scanned in some family pictures for me, so that I could start incorporating Mr. N.'s family into our gallery walls and such. She knew how important this was to me, and in talking to her I began to realize even more just why remembering our family matters.

 This is my great grandfather. He was killed when he was about 22 years old, so he lived just long enough to get married and have my grandmother before he died. It was in 2009 that after years, and years, and years of searching we found the rest of his family and were able to piece together the story of his life and discover what a remarkable man he really was. It made me realize that without all of these individuals in our past, take away just one, we would not be here. They had hopes and dreams and loves, too. And it's important to remember their humanity and continue to honor them in passing on their memory to future generations. We have a couple of small gallery walls in our hallway where we display old and new family photos and it's a neat thing to be able to share with people as they take a turn around the house. 

Now, maybe you don't have any old photos from your ancestors for whatever reason. Not everyone does, and not everyone can trace back their family history. If that's you, maybe just thank God from time to time for the people in your past, whether you know their names or not. Thank Him for each of their lives. If your past is a more painful one, maybe thank God for redemption and forgiveness. I don't say this lightly, because I know that some family wounds can run extremely deep and last for some time. However, God is a God of restoring the broken and He can use the past for good. Do you have children who you've adopted? Maybe teach them about their country of origin if you have no record of their birth family. We have no control over where we come from or who helped to put us here, but God knows. Each life is precious and is worth remembering in whatever way we can.

One of the things I'm looking forward to when we have children, is teaching them about all of these people in their past. It's important for us to honor them. I like to think that maybe somewhere they can see us and know that they're not forgotten. That their lives mattered and matter still. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn

Happy October!!! Well, not only is this the beginning of glorious October, but it's also the beginning of the 31 Days challenge. My goal is to post 31 ways to improve, both in your household and personally. I'm finding that I'm learning a lot in my own life lately about ways to frugally decorate, new recipes, and not to mention lots about who God is as He unfolds His own story in my life, so hope to share some of these with you.  

I'm still learning how to make all the fancy buttons and such, so there may not be too much technical savy over here, but perhaps that can be one of my posts later in the month, "How to make fancy blog buttons". =] You just never know.

Be sure to check out the blogs to the right and see what they've got going on for the next 31 days, as well as this link to a whole lot of other talented people out there. Enjoy!