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Friday, July 31, 2015

Bucket List Adventures // Paint Date








We have really been making it a point this summer to soak up some of this extra quality time we have together to go on a few new adventures. Last week we tapped into our artistic (or lack there of) side and decided to take part in a wine and painting evening at a local restaurant.



















We had an encouraging and enthusiastic guide (and no, I'm not just referring to the wine) that helped us through each step of the painting process. I have been to one of these events before with my girlfriends, and I am consistently amazed at what I can produce (when normally color-by-number is a bit more my gig) with just a little assistance. My husband and I had a lot of fun creating something together as well, and now we have two new pieces of wall art that have much more meaning, sweat and tears (okay that may be a little dramatic) behind them.



There are painting opportunities like this all over the country, and I feel like they are popping up more and more. I often see them on Groupon as well, for those of you who don't mind waiting for a good bargain. I must admit we both enjoyed the chance to be creative and productive while spending quality time together.

For more of our Bucket List Adventures, feel free to visit my "Bucket List" tab on the right sidebar.

Our Bucket List progress:

1. Take in the city at the top of a skyscraper
2. Hike along local waterfalls
3. Attend a hockey game
4. See a musical
5. Attend an outdoor concert
6. Go lawn bowling
7. Run a 5k
8. Go on a brewery tour
9. Shop at a local market
10. Get lost in the Skyway
11. Participate in outdoor yoga
12. Play in an ice castle
13. Ride a roller coaster 
14. Check out a local winery
15. Wine and painting date
16. Visit an aquarium
17. Go to the zoo
18. Go to a baseball game
19. Go snowmobiling
20. Check out a Holiday Village at Christmas
21. Go snowshoeing
22. Attend a Pride Parade
23. Bike along the city
24. Take a cooking class
25. Go on a local tour
26. Go fishing
27. Go hiking
28. Go on a dinner cruise
29. Jump at an indoor trampoline park
30. Wander around a new city in our area

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birthday Treat Jar

Earlier this month we celebrated my beautiful mother's birthday. As part of her gift, I decided to bake one of her favorite treats. To spruce up the packaging of these sweet delights just a bit (because a Ziploc bag just wasn't cuttin' it for me), I put together this blissful little jar. 


To make the jar, I used one mason jar (regular mouth but wide would work as well), a few scraps of ribbon and twine I had on hand, scrapbook paper, and this printable I created (you can size it as you wish). Are you drooling as well, after seeing the caramel turtles stacked inside? The recipe I used is actually paleo and can be found here.




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Love is a Coloring Book and Crayons


The other day after work my husband came home toting a Target bag filled with a Disney coloring book, crayons and colored pencils. For those of you that don't know us that well yet, I am going to be honest here - we do not have a 6-year-old art fanatic at home. The supplies were for yours truly.

The day before the hubs and I were chatting and I shared how much my college roomie and I (way back in the day) used to love coloring as it was a mindless, almost therapeutic act for us as soon-to-be teachers to do in between studying and paper writing. That very next day he surprised me when he came home with my bag full of day-brightening goodies.










For me though, it isn't really about the coloring book and crayons (as much as I enjoyed shading in Minnie Mouse as we watched a movie that evening), but it's about how much this simple gesture on the hub's part made me feel so incredibly loved. For a man who could not keep most dates I give him straight to save his life, he consistently reminds me in small ways such as these that he is listening - actively at that. Not only is he listening, but he takes the time out of his day to (be it even a small moment or two) to show me that he is, and he validates and reminds me that my thoughts and feelings are important. He reminds me that I am special - especially to him. I love and appreciate when he gets me a card to celebrate my last day of school before summer or sends me a text throughout the day just to say how blessed he feels to be my one and only. I love that he insists each morning that I say goodbye to him with a kiss (even though he is usually still conked out like a mummy) and will call me out if I don't.  I love that he consistently tells me to "go for it" or "try it" when I come up with another crazy idea to try some new venture (even if he may secretly think I've lost my marbles), because he knows I have to see for myself. I love how much he loves me.





My husband shows me daily how to give and receive love. His simple acts of kindness be it in his words or actions are moving to me. He reminds me that I do not have to do fancy things or purchase lavish gifts to show others around me that I care. It's the little things. The time spent listening - really listening. It's the card with the heartfelt message or the phone call just to say hey I was thinking of you today. It's bringing your coworker a coffee or telling your friend you believe in them - and meaning it. You see all many of us really need to feel loved is just the smallest of gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a coloring book and crayons.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Restaurant Jar

After moving to a new city this past year, the hubs and I have been wanting to take advantage of the array of new restaurants that are now surrounding us. Try as we might, I will admit that while we venture out on occasion, we seemed to find ourselves continuing to return to the same local spots that we found palette pleasing within the first months of our move.
This past week as we were feeling adventurous and driving to a restaurant (that we hadn't yet experienced), we noted along the way the variety of other restaurants and locales that looked like they might be places we should check out as well. I took out my phone and began adding the names to a new note to reference later when we arrived home. 
To inspire us to try out some of these new places, instead of always reverting back to what we know, I decided to add the names of these gems we haven't yet sampled to popsicle sticks and pop them into a mason jar we had hanging out in our cupboard. Our plan is to now select a stick (no peeking allowed) each time we are in the mood to eat out. We also plan to add new sticks as we come across new places or recommendations so our jar stays full.





Monday, July 13, 2015

In with Reality


This summer a dear friend recommended I read the book "Carry on Warrior: The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life" by writer and blogger Glennon Doyle Melton.

I am about 3/4 through the book, and I cannot help but find myself laughing, connecting, understanding, sharing and wanting more the entire way through. The writing and life stories she shares are so real. She isn't afraid to give us as readers a true glimpse into her life (good, bad, all of it), and it is this brutal honesty that I appreciate most about her writing. 

As I have been reading the text, I have been reflecting on my own blog writing. I started thinking about why I wanted to start this blog in the first place and my intentions for myself and my readers. I found myself rereading what I had written on the day I began this dear little blog of mine, and I was left with two overwhelming and simultaneously contrasting feelings: disappointment and inspiration. 

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote in that very first post:

I love perusing blogs that inspire me to strengthen my faith and my character. I love finding project ideas that motivate me to be creative and recipes that encourage me to pretend I'm on Top Chef. I love learning ways to lead a healthier lifestyle both inside and out and ways in which I can enjoy and spread joy to those around me. Most of all, I love to hear about the stories and lives of others in this great big world of ours. We can all grow and learn so much from one another. 

And this, my friends, is why I have decided to start this blog. I'm excited to have a place to share my story. My hope is that this blog is a space that does all of those things that I have listed above for those who chose to follow along with me. 

So why the conflicting feelings of disappointment and inspiration upon reading this first post?

Disappointment because I know that I have not truly succeeded in achieving the purpose I had intended in beginning my blog in the first place. And inspiration because I do believe in this purpose I had set forth. It encourages and motivates me just like Glennon's writing and many of the other blogs and stories I read that pursue similar directions. 

It has been awhile since I have written folks, and I know this. I could make an excuse in saying that I have been extremely busy with other things. I could say that I didn't feel like I truly had anything worthy to blog about. But these reasons, are what have led me to feel this disappointment within myself in the first place. Instead of "embracing my messy, beautiful life" as Glennon would call it, I fell into the trap of comparison and thinking that what I have to share a) does not measure up to what some of my other favorite, esteemed bloggers are writing about  b) has to be impeccably written, photographed and put on display (which seems like a lot of work sometimes) and c) must fit in with the theme that everything in our lives is "happy" because that's in the title of my blog is it not?

What I have realized over this past lack-luster blogging year and in reading the words of whom I'd like to deem my dear friend, Glennon, is that the stories and blog posts I have read throughout the year that resonated with me most were often not the ones where everything looked like it had come from a Better Homes and Gardens magazine or where the family had come from Walgreen's "Land of Perfect", but where the writer was being brutally honest (good, bad and all of it). Now don't get me wrong, I love me my fair share of DIY ideas and recipes that I would never in a million years dream up on my own, but I also love when I can get a sneak peak into the "real" life of the author. Not only the parts that are beautiful, but the ones that are messy too. When I read these types of posts it makes me feel like I am listening to a friend; like I am not alone. It gives me an opportunity to connect with their joys and heartaches -  many of which either I or someone I know has or is experiencing as well. 

It is my goal to get back to where I began with this blog. It is my hope to let go of this idea of perfection and be brave and honest with myself and in my writing. I am inspired and looking forward to sharing my "real" life story and our "happy" as we truly know it. 

Thank you Glennon and the rest of you who are the "warriors" doing this real life sharing thing each and every day. I look forward to joining your ranks.