Thursday, November 20, 2014

A letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday



Nora,

There will be times in life that you feel tempted to surrender to the chaos around you. Everywhere you look you will see evil and suffering.

As your mother, I must tell you that there is good in this world, and it is enough. Look for it and savor it when you find it.

Just wait until you:

taste a fresh, ripe peach straight off the tree

kiss the man you love in the rain

watch a rushing river boast in its majesty

meet your future child for the very first time

see the world's patchwork landscape from a bird's eye view

realize the depth of God's love for you

summit that mountain after a grueling hike

feel the wind in your face from a jet ski

savor the first bite of a perfect meal as it melts away on your tongue

slip into a hot tub on a frigid day with aching muscles

laugh hysterically over something stupid with your best friend

come home to family after an extended time away

do good for someone without acknowledgement

be spontaneous for spontaneity's sake

hear your favorite band in a hole-in-the-wall venue


and, last but not least,


curl up in your mama's lap even when you're 40 because, as the book says, "as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


Love Always,

Your Mama



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pallete Wine Rack

A few months ago I salvaged some old palettes from the school where I work. They had a lot of character and charm and so I decided to release my inner Pinterest and make two wine racks.

Once I sawed them in half and constructed the basic wine racks (I'm too impatient to explain all that—see Pinterest!), I decided to stain one and finish it with polyurethane and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on the other to see which one I liked best. I'm only keeping one. I'm selling the other.

Here's what the wood looked like before I began:


Lookie, here I am using my new electric sander that my father-in-law, Rick, got me! :-) (Action photo compliments hubby.)


On the first wine rack, I used Sherwin Williams' Wood Classics Bistro Walnut. I went with the Wood Classics series, which isn't straight up paint, since I was working with a rougher wood. Here's what it looked like after two coats of the stain:


It was clearly dry looking so I needed to apply poly as a wood sealant. Here's how that turned out after two coats:

Glossy, glossy!

On the second palette, I simply applied two coats of polyurethane to accentuate the natural imperfections of the wood to give it texture and character. See:


Check that out up close:


Here's a close-up comparison:


At the end of the day (actually more like weeks!), we decided to keep the wine rack with only poly. I will be selling the stained wine rack locally. Message me for more information!

Now I've got to find a way to mount this on the wall because it is HEAVY. I might even add the wood attachment to the bottom that would allow me to hang wine glasses underneath. 




Cheers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Breakfast IS the Most Important!

After all my seriousness lately — not to mention all the gloom in the world — I felt like it was time for some levity!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Am I right??? That's why you've got to make it count. Having a great breakfast and avoiding general morning chaos sets the tone for my day. The last few mornings I haven't had a breakfast plan and I've been McCrankypants Moodybritches.

I've recently developed a mild obsession with oatmeal (is it because I'm in my 30s??). But I don't like ordinary oatmeal. What could be tastier than overnight steel cut oats in the crockpot? Thank you Dad for introducing me to this! First, steel cut oats is heartier and sticks to your ribs. Then, if you top your oatmeal off with green apples, pecans, and a touch of maple syrup, you might even want to skip lunch!



You can find a great recipe for this oatmeal here — except I didn't add barley or ginger and I prefer maple syrup to milk and honey. Don't be afraid to tailor the recipe to your likes.

My other go-to oatmeal recipe came from my sweet friend, Liz. If you've never tried baked blueberry oatmeal, you ought to! Like the first oatmeal recipe, this one is a super cheap, comforty food that can feed a crew.

If you're planning to host family or friends during these upcoming holidays, then I highly recommend trying these recipes. They're quite the crowd pleasers. And now's the time to freeze some of those fresh picked blueberries so you can have them for baking all winter long!

Serve with mimosas to die happy.

If you have any awesome breakfast recipes, please share them with me! Gotta keep it fresh, folks.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Die to Self

I recently shared on FB one of my favorite sermons of all time. It was one of the clearest articulations of the gospel I'd heard. Maybe it was also sweet because I was thirsty for God's grace.

Our church's interim pastor, Cameron Barham, has blessed me during this season of transition at Four Corners in innumerable ways — the main being reigniting my love of scripture.

If you haven't had a chance to check out his sermon, you can take a listen to the podcast here! His sermon from today (8/17) was amazing, too, and will be posted on the church's website in the coming days.

These recent sermons have led to powerful revelations in my own life. If we're being completely honest with ourselves, we've all been in a place where we've taken our blessings for granted.

That has always been a struggle of mine, to lose sight of what I have — what God has given me — and to seek new ways to satiate my discontentment or restlessness.

Especially when satan whispers low. And you better believe he does.

It is a despondent place to be, indeed, when you allow yourself to say, I have everything that was supposed to make me happy, and it isn't enough.

But when we believe that, we are believing a lie as old as time, just as Eve believed the serpent when he whispered that God was holding out. King Solomon said it best — There is nothing new under the sun.

But, Jesus is the Bread of Life, the true Passover Lamb. He is enough. We are broken cisterns and He is the fountain of living water. He is the Word made flesh. His work is finished; therefore my joy is complete.

Sometimes the tension between God's spirit in me and my fallen flesh is palpable. I pray to die to self as I struggle between the now and not yet.

Father, help me to know only Christ and Him crucified. Help me to boast in Christ alone. Help me to seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.

Amen.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Feast Your Eyes

So....enough about Black Raven Hollow (except to say thank you all for your support and a successful launch Friday!)...

Know what I did to celebrate my first Friday of having freelance work rather than a mandatory 8 hours???

It's silly — I know — but I had my heart set on cooking a ham (I never have before) and some country sides. I ended up making corn soufflĂ© and green bean casserole. Maybe when I have more energy I'll share the recipes. For now, feast your eyes on this meal:


Several of you have enjoyed my recipes in the past, so I'm hopefully going to be sharing a few new ones on the blog during the coming weeks! School starts back this week, so wish me luck in my new position!!!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Black Raven Hollow

I've long known I am married to a man of many talents.

I've only just recently learned about what it is that makes his world go 'round:

It's Halloween.



Yup. Taken out of context of knowing my husband, that might sound strange. You might even be tempted to judge him. Don't. With Jonathan, themed holidays — Halloween in particular — are just extensions of his warm and loving heart. It ultimately boils down to family and community for him. And the process of bringing others enjoyment during these special times of the year brings him inexplicable joy.

Also, he's sort of an expert on Halloween. He is first and foremost a Halloween consumer — and when he couldn't find enough of the things out there that he likes, he decided to take matters into his own hands. And now he's going to share those things with you.

But wait, let me back up for a moment.

For those of you who don't have the privilege of knowing Jonathan, he is an IT director at a newspaper (yup, the very same one where I used to be a reporter). He also operates a freelance web development business (JonathanMelvilleDesign). His most recent project (Serenbe.com) turned out amazing. It also tested the limits of his knowledge and patience. We are both so grateful for his side work and I'm thankful for his talents and his willingness to work hard for his family. But, after this last project wrapped, we had one of those "life is short" conversations where you have to ask yourself what it is in life that brings you joy. And that is how I came to learn what Halloween has always meant to my husband.

And then he made me watch a documentary (American Scream) and I'm starting to understand a little more. And be a little more scared.

This is all strange and new to me. It's not every day you learn something new about the person you've been married to for nearly four years. And so I'm trying to be supportive of this hobby. More than that, I've become his business partner. Yay, Halloween!

That is why I am the most proud of him I've ever been that in the few short weeks since that fateful revelation, he's already putting his talents to work with his passion to bring you his new Halloween Etsy shop:

Black Raven Hollow



The first three people to share a link to my blogpost on their Facebook page will receive a free vintage book print of your choosing.

It's a little crazy to be talking about Halloween when it's still a couple of months away, I know. But, I'm dying to see what my husband comes up with next. Like a Salem witch, he's on fiya.

Happy Haunting. XO

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Encouragement

My church is in a period of transition — at times painful — and so is my community group (again!). In general, I don't have to look far to find evil, suffering and death.

But, for the Christian, even when we suffer we suffer with hope. We know that even as the squishy parts of us get gouged out by this world, He will fill us up with Himself. And, over time, we become more Him than us and can bear all things. To God be the glory.

God is constant and unchanging. His mercies are new each morning. Philippians 2 has been my constant source of encouragement:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.