Five Fantastic Bloggers

Thanks to Trop 50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 fabulous wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to help grant a friend's wish!

Being a "Blogger" can be a wonderful thing. You get the opportunity to put something out there into the big World Wide Web and hope that it reaches someone who appreciates what you write, and someone who get's what you're talking about.

Today, I want to share five blogs that are my very first to read each morning (with fingers crossed that they've posted overnight). These blogs are written by women who have lived life, who share their experiences, who are continually uplifting, and who make me want to be a better woman.

1. Life. By Hand written by Rebecca Sower

If you've ever met Rebecca, I know you'd agree that her personality is one of sweet kindness. She is a wonderfully soft spoken, yet strong woman who is sure of herself. Her blog is full of gorgeous photos of both her home, her studio, and her art. She shares uplifting thoughts and encouraging words. Much of her recent time has been spent teaching women of Haiti to hand make items which can be used to earn a living.

I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for Rebecca. I invite you to visit her, feel her warmth, and enjoy her sweetness.

From Amy's Blog
2. inspire co. written by Amy Powers

Amy Powers lives in a life full of color, with a heavy dose of whimsy and it is reflected in her blog. She shares examples of how she incorporates creativity and fun into her life and with her family. She has shared her experiences with foster care, the ideas she has for her sons birthday parties, how she decorates her home (I feel like I want to hang out for a bit and enjoy it! So, I'm trying to incorporate some of her style into my not-so-stylish home!), her wonderful finds (who knew beets could be so tasty! I mean it!), and her all around generous spirit.

Amy is also the Editor and Producer of Inspired Ideas - a FREE magazine! It is one of the BEST creative magazines I have seen in quite a while. I wholeheartedly recommend that you stop by her blog and check out the last issue. I am not kidding when I say I've read it at least half a dozen times. It really is THAT good.

3. A Nest with a View written by Robin Thomas

Robin Thomas is someone I want to be when I grow up. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman with a wicked sense of humor that I adore. Robin writes with a wise and open heart, sharing the experiences and lessons that have made her into the woman she is today. She shares her art (and it is GORGEOUS), her creations, her humor, and her sweet friendship with Jemellia (her "bird" - and I am SO very jealous!!).

Robin is someone I love to be around, and I feel like I can be myself with. She is thought provoking in her choice of words, her photos are always beautiful, and her heart is pure.

4. no big dill written by Katy Dill

Katy is one of those women whose life appears to be a whole lot of fun. Her love of sewing and fostering sewing in others is admirable and encouraging. I love to read about her travels, about her 5 beautiful daughters (all with lovely clever names like Pearl, Clover, Divine, Azure, and Olive), and about the creative ways she puts coordinating outfits together for herself and her daughters.  Katy's photos are artistically composed and normally include either herself or one of her beautiful daughters. Each time I read one of her posts about food (Olive Oil testing), or about sewing (Her Girdy Belt? OHMYHECK!), or about her travels, I want to go and experience it for myself too.

(P.S. I was fortunate enough to enjoy Katy for a brief while when her husband and family lived here in North Texas. Steve and I remember them with much fondness and want to incorporate much of how their family "works" into our family too).

5. Good Grief Girdie by Jackie Peters

Jackie is another fabulously creative woman who currently lives in Oklahoma. I recently got to meet Jackie for the first time, when I attended Silver Bella. I didn't know it then, but Jackie is one amazing woman and I eagerly anticipate every time she updates. Her posts are full of her creative work, and she literally shares them with her blog readers on a regular basis! Jackie also posts beautiful and thought out tutorials on her blog. For those of you in Oklahoma City, she also teaches mixed media art classes at a premier paper arts store. Personally, I really love seeing the items she puts together for her students (custom name tags - HELLLOO!), and the recipes of the dishes she bakes and brings to them too. Seeing Jackie's love for teaching and enjoyment of her students encourages me to be a better instructor.

There are many, many, many more! There are scores of women (and men) who have inspired me, guided me, encouraged me, and have helped me travel along my crazy path of life.  I could, quite literally, type for weeks, and never get around to spotlighting everyone!


Don't forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to support a friend's wish. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.

Starting a New and Not Looking Back...

So, I'm pretty sure everyone who is part of my life (even if you're just a blog reader) knows by now that I'm taking Soul Restoration, an online class by Brave Girls Club.

I can already recognize a difference in myself.

Nuts, isn't it?

One of the things that has stuck with me so far, more than anything (and we're on day 2 here friends), is that one needs to accept things as they are. With no blame. With no shame. With no complaining.

My life (and the condition of my "house") are mine alone. And what they are at this moment in my life... is what it is.

It is up to me to change my life.

Starting today.

I saw the flick below on Stacy Julian's blog today. And, it is spot on for how I'm feeling.

It's time to move on.

To not look back. (and really... I am not going to be Lot's life... )

To start a new.

And I am determined to do it.

P.S. While I will be sharing insights and points from my Soul Restoration class here on my blog, I won't be sharing most of the art and projects I create. Many of them are already intensely personal, and I do not want to cheapen my experience by sharing it here. Some things are just meant to be kept to myself. Thank you for your support!

Restoring my Soul...

Today is the day.

It's the start of [what I believe will be an amazing, and much needed journey to] restoring my soul.

First things first, burning the fears we might have.

I have a lot of fears.

A whole lot.

But I have written many of them down, and have burned them in our fireplace.

A fresh start.

I have faith and trust that this process will work.

I have seen the changes that have happened in the lives of friends and women who I look up to and admire, after they've attended Brave Girls Camp.

I am taking Soul Restoration just for me.

But I believe that by restoring me, I will be a better mother, wife, and daughter.

Maybe even a better friend too.

And I am hoping to restore myself back to the happy me I once was.

Believe it or not... I used to be a VERY happy person almost all of the time. So happy in fact that my co-workers called me "The Happy Girl" and they loved me for it.

Somewhere along the line, I lost that part of me.

I need it back.

P.S. Not that I know this from personal (recent) experience or anything... but I would not suggest putting a piece of paper into the fireplace, and then realize that the flue is not open. Because then, (not that I know this) you might think that the gas knob is the flue knob... and you might turn it... which actually might turn on the gas.... and then you might have a HUGE ball of fire in the fireplace with NO where to escape to. And... then you would be VERY grateful that it was just one piece of paper that was initially put into the fireplace. (Not that I know any of this from personal experience or anything... and since I don't know this from personal experience... I didn't take a photo once the glass doors were shut.)

What a Difference 11 Days Can Make.....

When I set my goals for the year (err... I'm really hoping they'll become "lifestyle" changes and not just year long goals that go by the wayside on 1/1/2012), I didn't realize how great they really would be for me.

And really, for my family too.

My studio is well underway to becoming a tidy haven again. How I've missed the peace I can find in a tidy creative space. I can get in there, make things (AND tidy up my mess), and feel refreshed. I can hang out in there and know that when my adventuring son stops in (his room is RIGHT across the hall), he's not going to impale himself on a glue stick. He enjoys bringing his sweet (to him) treasures in (make that lots of little matchbox cars and Thomas the Train friends) and playing with them on the floor. Really... it's heavenly.

I've done well with some of my other goals as well. I'm pleased!

A few interesting things that surprised me while working on organizing paper in my studio this week:

  • Apparently I have a huge affinity for the color green. I have twice the amount of 12x12 cardstock than any other color. Green is quickly followed by blue and then yellow. Honestly, I knew I liked the color green, but thought I preferred red to it. Hmm. And, I am honestly shocked by yellow. It is a bright happy color for sure, and I must have continued to subconsciously purchase it for cheeriness.
  • Another observation is that I did not realize the huge number of differing adhesives that are available on the market. One day, I decided to review the adhesives I had in my "unopened" bin. (These are glues, glue sticks, sprays, tapes, and other types of adhesives that I procured for later use). Dude. I had 69 different kinds of adhesives. Different. Kinds. (I'm not even going to go into how many duplicates I had of those 69. SCARY day.) I'm bummed thinking about how many of them have dried up.  (Yes, for the record, some dry adhesives do dry to a point where they are no longer usable.
  • It's a very good thing that I'm trying to not purchase any craft or hobby supplies this year. It's definitely a GREAT thing that I'm really trying to not purchase any patterned paper. I have a sorting method that works well for me and when sorting out patterned papers, I realized I have entirely too many pieces of paper with just stripes or dots on them. For real. I also have a HUGE affinity for the scrapbooking manufacturer Scenic Route. I have by far more of their papers than any other manufacturer. Time for a clean out there, for sure. 
I've realized that I will never use quite a bit of what I have. As I go through things, I'm setting aside the things I know I will never use but are in new condition. I haven't decided what I'm going do to with them yet, but seperating them out from the rest of the items is helpful. It reminds me that I set a great goal for the year (more on the guilt of the goal later) and that I am on the right track.

Be sure to check in on my goal blog (Organizing my Life...One Week at a Time) to see how I did this week with organizing and to see the photos. I think it's quite impressive!

What's Cookin'? January 2010

I intend to have our family menu plan ready to share on the first of each month. Today's the 2nd, so that's not too bad, right?  I'm trying to learn how to imbed hyperlinks into graphics so that you can click on a date and see the recipe I'm using for that meal (if it's available online).

Yes, I try to plan my menu's a month at a time. It's easier for me, and when I was working it was the only way I could get everything done. I try to do the bulk of my shopping at once (all non-perishable and frozen items) and then shop every other week for perishable items.

Without any futher adu, here is this month's menu!

Here's how I figure out what we're having each month...

I have 14 slips of paper with food categories on them (Mexican, Soup, Italian, New, etc).

I also have a spreadsheet (compiled from several years of menu plans) that lists our favorite meals and what we've had that worked out well for us. Each of those meals have been categorized into the types mentioned above.  The category of "New" is either a recipe I've been given, or one that we've found and would like to try.

I draw a piece of paper, pick something from the category and write it in for the day. That piece of paper gets set aside until all 14 have been used. Then, they all go back into the bowl to re-select for the next 14 days, and so forth.

Next month, I'll share how I handle doing the grocery shopping for everything and how I keep it all straight.

What are your favorite meals to fix for your family, or to have?

Clean Slates and Fresh Canvas'

There's just something about a new year, and a clean slate that makes me feel good. Granted, a clean slate doesn't erase the actions from the previous year, but knowing that the future is currently clean with the canvas ready to be worked on gives me hope. (You'd think that I'd see each day the same way. Hmmm... something to think about!)

With the new year, and aside from the enormous challenge I'm undertaking this year, I've also set a few other creative goals for 2011.
  • I want to push myself to create something at least once a week. I'd love to create something every day, and I may be able to do that on a small scale (in a tag, card, or other small item), but I have other priorities. So, if I can do something at least once a week, I'll be happy.
  • I would like to introduce a series of online soldering classes. I've been working on the functionality and feasibility for a while. I think I may have finally found an answer to the limitations I was encountering.
  • As hard as this is going to be, I am going to limit the number of art events/retreats I attend and classes I take. Now that I'm a SAHM, it's even harder to find the time, finances, and care for my little man. I will be balancing our family schedule now more than ever. I'm already mentally starting to feel the loss of missing out on the fun! But, I know it's for the best.
  • I want to do better about sharing our bi-monthly/monthly menu plans and sharing the recipe's for them. I have plans on how I'd like to utilize the page features here within Blogger, to make it much easier for you to navigate. So many of you have asked questions about how I make it work for my family, and how my system flows. I'd like to make sure I share what I do. 
  • This year, I want to participate along with and support my creative friends in their blog challenges. One of the challenges I am planning to participate in is Jemellia's Style Stitches. Are you?
Another thing I am excited about in 2011 is an online course taught by Melody Ross of Brave Girls Club. It's called Soul Restoration and starts on January 11. Several of my art friends and I are in a small group together. The plan is to support and encourage each other through the course, but enjoy each others company most of all! (Are you taking Soul Restoration? If you're local, we'd love to have you join our group!)

Finally, the next thing I'm excited about in 2011 is a club that my friends over at A Gilded Life have put together called "Gilded Girl Stash Society".   From what I've seen, it is going to be an amazing, over the top club that is in true Gilded Girl fashion.

What are you looking forward to and what are your creative goals for 2011?

A New Year... a HUGE Challenge

(Be forewarned, this is a long post, with many personally revealing flaws within myself. It.Is.LONG.)


It's 2011 already.


I feel like 2010 just whizzed by me, and when I look back over what we did during the year, it seems like a lot, but also so little.

I'm hoping that 2011 is a banner year for me, full of personal accomplishment, goal achieving, overcoming lifelong obstacles, and a new financial freedom.

I've set several goals, most of which I'm keeping to myself. (There's nothing worse than someone reminding you of your failure if you don't meet them.)

One of the goals I've set is intertwined with other goals set to assure that I meet it. Achieving them will likely take up most of my blogging time over the next 12 months.

I would, really truly, like to go a full year without purchasing any crafting supplies.

I know that to many of my creative friends, this likely sounds like blasphemy and not likely to be achieved. I also know that several of you are wondering why on earth I would set such a redunkulous (love the word - deal with it) goal.

I've been handling our budget for the last few months, and when I realized the amount of money I've spent on creative supplies, I am astounded. Really in awe of myself. There is no reasonable explanation, at least nothing that sounds really realistically reasonable to me. I have a room overflowing (quite literally) with of things I don't use, but think that I love.I have boxes, bins, and shopping bags of new items that have never been opened or used stacked, piled, and laying around. 

Honestly, it is embarrassing. I've taken photos to document the current state of chaos but I'm not sure I am willing to share them with the world.  Though many of my friends laugh and joke about their "rooms" looking like an episode of Hoarders, I really feel like my room honestly is. Right down to the internal causes and issues that bring others to the world of hoarding. (In hindsight, it would be wise to share one photo, so that you have an idea of the level of support I will need to accomplish this feat.)
I truly have an internal urge to purchase things I like, but don't need and may certainly never use. I can't really explain it other than I just HAVE to HAVE these things. I am not proud to admit this, but I have gone to extreme lengths to acquire some of this stuff. Admitting this overwhelming need is also embarrassing - but oddly freeing as well.

Of course, this need poses several immediate issues. First, now that we are a one-income family (and really, before too), it puts an unnecessary strain on our budget. While funds may have been allocated to fill the "need" (note, the need not the want), the amount of money I've spent exceeds the allocation. Second, I have so many things that I don't know what I have or where to find them if I wanted to use them anytime in the near future. Third, really... (and this is rhetorical question, not a question for which I need a response)... how healthy is it to feed your desires every time you have them? Third, I feel that I am by far less creative when I have everything at my disposal.

One of the challenges I know I will face is finding ways to "get around" my goal. I know this will be a challenge because I am already thinking of ways to accomplish it.  With that in mind, I have set a few caveats that need to be met prior to any purchases being made.
  • Everything in my art room/studio/scrapbooking/craft room must be put away. This means, every box must be identified, every bag opened the items put into their place, every stacked bin emptied. In short, the room must be organized.
  • I cannot already own something that will do the same task. For instance... I will not purchase a set of rub-on's if I have a rubber stamp that does the same task. I will not purchase a glue stick because it smells better than another, if I have a glue stick that will work. I will not purchase an embossing template or metal die, if I have the same shape pattern electronically. 
  • If both of the above are met, the final caveat is that I must be using the item within the next two weeks. Gone are the days of purchasing things to collect them. 
I need to rid myself of the need to "have" things, and bring back (or bring forward) the need to create everyday.

At this point, aside from thinking I have lost my ever loving mind (which I assure you, I have not), you may be wondering how on Earth I plan to accomplish such a high and lofty goal. Here's what I'm thinking (so far):
  1. I'm going to take organizing my studio (and my home) one week at a time. It's a big project. I'm going to set weekly goals and tasks that I need to accomplish within that time. If you're interested, you can follow me along that journey on another blog I've created and have titled "Organizing my Life... One Week at a Time." I plan to take before photos, after photos, and share what I did to meet my goal. Once I have my studio completed, I plan to move onto the rest of my home. (My "room" is completely different from the rest of my home. My husband would have left me years ago if I had kept house the same as I have maintained my "room".)
  2. I am going to blog when I have the urge to purchase something, if only to journal out my feelings and get down to the very root cause as to why I have this insane urge.
So, that's it folks. A year long challenge for 2011 unlike anything I've ever tried to accomplish before. I know that it will be the most difficult challenge yet, but I also know it will yield great benefits for my family, for my creativity, and most importantly, for my mind.