Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mom's Art Journal

I have mentioned in the past how journaling and art journaling have sometimes saved the sanity of this mama.
Two summers ago I attended my first class in a studio setting, with 11 other women looking for ways to creatively express themselves.  We started art journals that day, and I recently finished my own little project.

Here are my best tips about art journaling for those who may be stuck, haven't finished one yet, or are thinking of starting an art journal.

Juicy Soul art journal 

Don't worry too much about the book you use.  
I bought a spiral bound art book that has very thick pages, but truth be told I found the pages were a little too hefty at times. You can choose to embellish the covers (like top journal here) or leave them blank and smudged with the drippings of your works (like the middle gray cover that is barely peeking out).  Honestly, it will be easiest just find something you like the look and feel of.

Don't worry too much about page prep. 
 You can find a variety of opinions on page prep. Some people gesso pages, some people glue in other paint grade papers, some people leave everything as it is.  The most important thing I learned was that the page needs to be thick enough for supporting your layers of art.  If you are using a thinner page (like some moleskin journals or even just old books) a little Elmers glue or other paper bonding agent  of your choice is a great way to double pages up.  Just glue them together so each page is actually two pages glued together. Do this a few days before you start working in the journal, giving it time to dry.

Get something on that page. 
 Don't stare at the blank page for too long.  Slap down some color, stick on some washi or masking tape, or glue down some strips or torn paper....just cover up the blankness and go from there.  I have started some pages with the end in mind, and worked to make it happen, but usually I just start layering stuff I like, and building on that.  This is where it gets more creative and frankly, a little more therapeutic, as you just let yourself go without too many expectations.

mixed media background

Layered paper, drips of paint, acrylic sprays and stencils can just be used over and over until you get something you find interesting. The goal is to cover that blank page and freely start playing.  Sometimes the backgrounds are my absolute favorite part of the whole piece.  Sometimes I don't like how they end up, but that is beauty of working in an art journal- you are seeing what you like, what makes you happy, and what techniques you don't care for.  It is almost like a lesson manual for your creative time, because you are learning what your are comfortable with- and because you aren't swapping with any one else you really can be a little more free and expressive.

Put something you love on every page. 
This is where I usually get the most satisfaction from my journals.  I tend to be visual, enjoying interesting stamps or images, and so making them work on my page is what I find the most fun.

Lovely Life mixed media art journal page

Because I have a slight obsession with pretty phrases and inspiring quotes, I like to find ways to use them on my journal pages as well. 
Religious quote art journal page

Fill it with lots of small elements you are drawn too, and in the end you will have a nice variety of images that show the moods you had, as well the new things you tried creatively.  

Expressing myself on a bad day

Mixed Media art journal layout - Life as a Gift
Remember to take baby steps.
My first filled art journal took a year to finish.  I did other things on the side and sometimes didn't even open it for months.  Most days, I would sit down and throw one or two elements on, then walk away for a day or two.  Occasionally I would hunker down and do an entire layout while the boys all watched  a football game or on a  night when the house was empty, but even at that a good half hour at your table will make a lot of progress.  Find little bites of time and use them.  Put down the phone, don't check Facebook again- and sit down with the things you bought with the best of intentions to create with. (speaking from experience). It will add up to something beautiful.

Stencils, paint, printed images and stickers for this mixed media layout

If you don't like something- just push past it.
This is a hard one. We see gorgeous pictures on blogs (believe me, these are carefully picked!) and Pinterest and scoff at our own works.  Don't dwell on pages you hate.  Sometimes you may be inspired to go back and add stuff later, sometimes you will just flip past it quickly and be glad you learned that lesson. Either option is okay, and pushes you as someone who is trying to make pretty stuff. Keep going.

Luckily we live in a world of You Tube and Pinterest and there are more tutorials than you can dream of.  This is great for getting exposure to new things and seeing how other creative people use their supplies and make their pages.  I enjoy an occasional splurge on an Art Journaling magazine or book, and love the results I get when I learn from those sources as well. This is a pretty sight after only a 14 months of playing around in the art journal world;
Art journals and penpal smashbook

It probably sounds silly, but these artsy journals, smashbooks of creativity, are like  little peeks into myself, and they make me very happy. If you haven't started an art journal now is a great time to just make one little background. Use what you have- acrylic paint, magazines, favorite photos- WHATEVER- just start throwing something together.  If you started one already but have neglected it find a few minutes to dig it out and revisit it.  Put a little but of YOU down on paper.  I am sharing my entire journal flip through below.  

Leave a link in the comments to your images and pieces you have made.
And keep going. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Real Life Depression

I have had a little voice nagging me lately to share some of my personal thoughts about depression.  I have light-heartedly referred to it in the past, and most of those close to me have heard me discuss it, but I have never really publicly opened up about the struggle I have had off and on throughout most of my adult life with depression.

Just over a month ago someone close to one of my children committed suicide.  We cried. We talked about it. We went to the funeral...... and the years I have spent drifting above the spell of depression started to come to a screeching halt as that experience rocked my world.  It seemed ridiculous that it would trigger such a response, but it did.  Now that the clouds have somewhat lifted from that fall (although I cried about that funeral and that dear teenager who is now gone this very morning) the nagging is back.
You need to share this. 
So here is some sharing.

I am a survivor of depression.  This is what it looked like for me:
crying spells that lasted for days - thinking about death and imagining floating above my own funeral - thinking of all the ways I was a bad person - thinking about my shortcomings, my fights with people, my weight, my looks, my failures as a mother - attempting on several occasions suicide (although never successful and in retrospect I see these more as expressions but not true attempts) - telling myself and people around me things would be better if I was gone - losing energy to get dressed or get up - and more....
 in the midst of all of this I acted fairly normal around others.

In the midst of all of this I also stayed spiritual and consider myself to be pretty devout in my religion.

This is the strange thing..... it wasn't a lack of faith that triggered these episodes, which occurred on and off for over 20 years.  I have faith. I love my Savior and Heavenly Father.  But depression is different than that- it is like the riptide current of a beautiful ocean- just waiting for you to wade in too deeply and so it can pull you under.  It is sneaky and it is constant and you can not just shake it off.  I validate and understand this about the disease.  HOWEVER there are things you can do to fight the riptides depression.

For me, a year and a half on medication did wonders.  It took two tries to find one that worked well, but the right one was what I needed for a particular battle I was having a hard time overcoming.  It sounds weird, but over time I felt prompted to stop taking the medication, which I did gradually (please talk to your doctor if you are thinking about doing this.  I did it on my own but going off this type of medication can cause intense mood swings and you may need help with that).  Whether or not you are on medication the following things also helped me cope and endure my hard falls with depression.

1-) Realize hard times and sad thoughts are NORMAL and they are part of life.   Here's the reality- life is fair in that it is unfair to everyone.  The self talking that says your struggles are harder than other people's struggles is just a lie.  Life is supposed to be hard- it is a wonderful, brilliant learning ground for our souls, and would be ineffective if everything came easy. Stop telling yourself that your life is harder than anyone else's!   A better thought -
" this is a struggle for me right now.  I acknowledge it is hard, and that is okay."
Acceptance is a huge part of the journey. Resistance adds to the pain you are experiencing.  You hurt. You are disappointed.  You have had awful things happen. Welcome to life. Beauty is just around the corner....I promise.

2-) Escape into an uplifting and healthy activity.    There is a need to do things that make your heart sing and your soul happy.  Find those things, or if you used to have hobbies revisit them.  Spirituality is a big one for me, attending my church services and temple worship, plus home study of scriptures and gospel topics.  Art is another one- playing in paint and expressing myself on paper.  I also am an avid reader, a part-time (slow) runner, and letter writer.  All of these are good activities and many of them connect me with other people. Be wise and disciplined here.... video gaming alone (or on your phone), marathon Netflix watching and sad movie watching is not going to be uplifting or healthy.  Cutting, drug use, or alcohol use may feel like an escape, but these things are addicting and incredibly dangerous.  You want to heal, not get worse. The point is to do something that helps you celebrate life and makes you happy. I am sure we could talk about endorphins here, but really.....if it works the science behind it is just a side note.  Find something good to do and do it!

3-) Trust in God's timing.   I was a happy child.  Depression struck me smack dab alongside puberty.  Around 40 some issues in our family hit, and while dealing with those my depression literally subsided.  I am not going to go into details here, but suffice it to say some very spiritual experiences and sacred moments seemed to wash me, as they can you, and the obsession with death was completely taken out of my thinking patterns, almost 30 years after they were planted there.  I don't understand this and I can't give you a formula for success, but I can tell you this- one day all of us will be healed from our afflictions.  I have bad days, and emotional times, but the weight of blinding depression is simply gone.  This can happen to you.  It will happen to you if you are open, patient, and trusting in the will and timing of our God.  His timing is one of the hardest things for us to surrender to, but His timing is perfect.

In my journals I often reflect on 'highlights' of the past week or month.  While individual trials seem hard and certain days feel long, I am amazed by the sweetness of life.  When I take time to write down the magical, simple, and happy  moments I have had I am just overcome with the gratitude of a full life, a real life, and the chance I have to experience it.  I do this often now, and it instantly fills my heart with joy and makes me feel a little closer to heaven.

I hope something I have written speaks to someone out there.  I have no idea who you are, where you are, or how you are even coming to this blog- but it is for a reason.

God is aware of you.
Everything is going to be okay.
Keep fighting and never, ever, ever give up.

go here for inspiring thoughts and insight
Sitting on the Bench - thoughts on suicide prevention
Hear LDS leader Jeffrey Holland speak with power and truth about depression HERE
Suicide prevention - go here to chat, read, or call someone for help

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vision Boards - Young Women activity

It is difficult as a leader to find activity ideas that fit the criteria we run on. Inexpensive, fun, meaningful, but good for uniting us as a group.  This activity works for all of those reasons, and was surprisingly a big hit with the girls too.

Lots of magazines, junk mail flyers and catalogs for cutting up
Glue Sticks
Scissors for each girl
Markers and any embellishments you like (stickers, journal cards, washi tape)
Poster or Paper to mount the collage on

Growing up me and my sisters would make what we called a "Goal Poster". A collage of goals and dreams and things we found pretty and personalized to our hopes.  I remember a poster of mine and happily realize I have completed those things that were only a dream to me as a youth.  This concept, of setting goals and working towards our dreams, is especially important to the our youth.  They will not end up with the dreams they have unless they fill their minds with those ends, thus spurring action.

We met at the church, but this would be great at girls camp or even an overnight retreat. As leaders we shared thoughts on the importance of setting goals.  This is a great talk you can refer to on why we simply MUST take control of our thoughts and put positive images there. (you'll remember the quote "Don't do dumb things with your smart phone" from this address).  It was given by Randall Ridd, and just a few thoughts from it will serve your purpose.

I printed up the following and handed it out to each girl and asked them to include it on their collage.
(Just right click and save, then use in your choice of document printer)

We also read from Preach My Gospel, where you will find great tips on goal setting on page 146.  With a short personal message on truly working for what we want we also handed out the following handout. 
"Don't give up what you want in life for something you think you want now"

Next, begin the search your magazine stash for images that reflect what you want in your life.  This can include words, phrases, pictures, and we even used scrapbook journaling cards for the girls to list and write on.  If you have more time you can fill a poster board (I would suggest cutting it in half) but we used 12 x 12 scrapbook paper.
Here is what mine looked like. (YES-do this with your girls!)

A couple of pointers; look for smaller images, and have a wide variety of magazines to flip through.  Include church magazines, fitness, home and garden, etc- even if it isn't something the girls are obsessed with right now, if it pertains to their future they will appreciate those pictures.  I was so impressed and humbled by the things the girls were picking to included on their vision boards.  Also, refrain from coaching them at all unless they ask for your opinion. An article on David Archuletta was found and it created a frenzy of cutting and gluing....well, I loved that.  There are certainly worse picks for girls to dream about falling in love with, right? (Funny enough, when we got in the car to leave his song came on the radio right at that moment. Proof to me that the universe has an incredible sense of humor!)

We just used glue sticks, but had scissors for every girl and lots of markers for their use.  This project can take longer than you might guess, because as the girls find things they love they will share their dreams with each other. This is probably my favorite part of the project.

Encourage them to hang them where they can see them every day and ask them to ponder what they are doing to work towards the desires of their heart. 

From one of my girls, the night of our activity

One of my cute girls shared her photo in front of her mini-poster on her wall. It included books, a guitar, the Manti Temple, and other small pictures (and a big cut out of David A) that interested her.  She was excited about it,and anxious to hang it up in her bedroom.  I believe it is very validating (and challenging) to really think about what we want out of life.

Hopefully this is an activity that you can use and benefit from. Keep living your dreams and enjoy the desires of your heart.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

After the Extensions

It has been a year and half since I added extensions to my hair.  I had a weft sewn in (a weave) for about 5 months, and then I switched to the Babe Tape-In extensions and had the same hair in for  a little over a year.
It was true love with my long locks.
I have never had hair this long, and certainly never had hair thick enough to look this long- or cute in messy bun, or pony-tail.  Let's face it, long hair is just PRETTY!

But this summer I was getting antsy over my hair.  The tape wasn't working well so I needed to invest in more hair, but wasn't sure I wanted to do it.  My ever patient and super flexible hair-dresser said "just take them out, and if you miss them put them back later."  Oh. Yeah. Easy peesy.  Why do we get so dramatic over our hair?

So with a slip of adhesive release and a few tangles to untangle I was extension free.  I had them in for 18 months, so my hair hadn't been cut in that long.  You can remember my short bob from this post.  I was struggling to grow it out.

We added ombres because I love them (especially for summer) and this was me on the drive home from my salon visit.

I was absolutely shocked at how long my hair looked, even with the extensions gone.
Here is another shot I took after coming home and re-doing my hair (gotta make sure I can re-create the style on my own!)

In spite of the weird lighting in this picture I really do love the way my hair looks now.  We barely trimmed up a few straggly ends, so it is still a little bit asymmetrical and a long, long A-line.  I like it. Here is a shot of the back. 

Again, just refer to my former pictures and you will see- this is a LOT of growth for 18 months.  If you are seriously in a rut growing out your hair get some good extensions and just give your hair a year or so to do it's thing.  I think the thickness helps protects it and let's that length add up nicely.  The best part is now I may just stick with my own hair and forget the extensions.  

It is so fast to wash and style my hair now, and it is easier to manage when styling.  I lost the thick, glamorous look, but I really am happy with this length and style for now.  You also can't beat the money saved (extensions add up, you know) that I feel like I can spend on other goodies in my life. So for now my love affair with my extensions has come to end, but I think back on them with fondness and will always love them for the time we had. <3 div="" nbsp="">

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Notes From a Massage Therapist

If you like massages you've been there. Slipping into what should be the most relaxing hour of your day and suddenly worrying.... Are my legs hairy? Do I stink?  Do I look fat today?

Well....let me share a few little secrets with you from the mind of a massage therapist.
I have been massaging for over 12 years now (and discussing massage that long with fellow therapists) and I can give you a pretty good idea of how our brains work.
Usually- and ideally, they don't work at all.  Let me explain.

Every therapist has a rhythm, or a flow to their work.  Their brain shuts off, they tune into your energy, and they instinctively find what you need and work it out, within their realm of practice.  I swear, I have never, I repeat never started working on a leg or calf and thought to myself ,"wow, she needs to shave." NEVER.  I am thinking "here is a tight spot, this feels fine, I need to watch the clock so I can work extra on the neck...." etc. I have oil, I work on men. A few little whiskers aren't even noticeable. (I have clients that wax and grow their hair out- same story. No big deal.) So relax.

Also- you DO NOT look fat.  The lighting is low, you are laying comfortably (no gravity working against your legs or back) your body is stretched perfectly.  Forget about it.  There is no cellulite to see or dimples to notice. Get over yourself and RELAX.

A normal day will not leave you stinky enough to even notice any body odors going on.  If your therapist uses essential oils (I do on every client) the air really is freshened and scented and you are fine.  Only ONCE in my many years of working did somebody smell bad....he had done a long run (over 10 miles) and his massage was the last stop. His 'moisture wicking' clothing smelled, and he smelled.  I simply doused him with oils and all was fine......but thank goodness that has only happened once.  A lot of people shower before they come.  It's a nice gesture, but unless you just ran a half marathon probably unnecessary.  If you have been working all day a swipe of deodorant is probably all you need before your appointment.

Now that we got that out of the way here are a few more tips.

A lot of people end up talking during their massage.  Afterwards they might say. "Oh, I guess I should have been quiet!"  Well.....not always.  Sometimes the very things you end up yapping about while I am elbowing the back of your shoulder blade is the very thing causing your shoulder blade to hurt.  So take heed to the things you share....they may be the things your subconscious is carrying and ready to work through, thus letting the stress go from your body.  Some people are completely quiet, and that is fine too.  Everyone relaxes differently.

One thing I find hard to deal with is critical talking- or critiquing- as I am working on someone.  Occasionally a client might ask, "can you tell I am tight right there?" or "wait! did you feel that knot?"...etc.... it almost feels like they are waiting for me to miss something, they are not enjoying the massage, or think I am not doing my job.  Now, let me say this very totally brings down the energy level and quality of the massage.  I once had a woman explain very detailed what she wanted me to as I was working on her back.  It was things her other therapist had done, or things her chiropractor had done, etc...but it was so detailed and so demanding I seriously (hopefully professionally) told her maybe I wasn't the right therapist for her.  I have a style- as does any massage therapist- and that is how I work. Just like you wouldn't tell your dentist to drill your tooth differently, or you stylist to blow dry your hair differently the same goes here.  I LOVE it when people let me know at the beginning what they are hoping  for or need a little more of. (Extra on my shoulders today- or just skip my feet and do my arms more- etc) But overall the demands during the session (can you do my hand again? It feels like you didn't get it good enough...) bring down my energy, confidence, and interrupt the zone.  Unless you are DYING over something that needs attention try to be very positive in your comments.

There's also more- most therapists, in spite of what you request, do their own thing anyway.  I had one therapist who was training me at a spa tell me, "Even if they say they want it deeper, I pretty much do the same thing anyway, because that's how I massage." This spa charged extra for their 'deep tissue' massages, but it was the same massage as the regular one. I was sort of shocked. Bottom line- ask at the beginning for what you want, and hope for the best.  If you are just finding a new therapist after leaving one you loved, give it a couple of sessions.  Sometimes I can't go deeper on a new client- they aren't relaxed enough for me to 'get in' to the muscles.  When they return and we aren't in the introductory phase, a lot of times they relax quickly and deeply and I can really work better. If you have given your therapist a couple of sessions with kind requests at the beginning of your appointment, and you still don't like what you are getting done, move on to a new therapist.  Not everybody will love the same session.

On the flip side, positive words add trust and energy to the session.  Often clients will say "Oh wow, that was so sore, I can tell it's feeling better already..."  or something like ""I can't believe you found that spot! I didn't even know I was tight there..."  etc.... Guess what- I am their best friend from there on out, because my energy believes I am helping them. Often times I may even go over on the clock with those clients.... just because I think they might need an extra few minutes.   Just a little something to keep in mind.

On top of the instructing of your own therapist, remember they don't need help moving your body, either.  When you are getting a massage you will get many more benefits if you are RELAXED.  Don't try to lift your head when they move your neck, don't try to rotate your arms if they are stretching and working, and don't flex your fingers when they are working on your hands. It's hard for some people, but trust me, you will feel better afterwards if you just let your body be dead weight and let them adjust it as needed. Some of us may tell you, "try to relax here..." and some will just readjust, or shake a little, the body part until you stop resisting (this is my preferred method, because pointing out to someone they are tense usually makes them more tense). If you find your therapist telling you to relax or shaking out your limbs or neck a lot, you may check yourself to see if you are trying to 'help' by tensing your muscles. Don't do it.

And a pointer in leaving the session.  Drink water. Try to stretch later in the day.  The body truly does take time to rebalance and it can be in a state of homeostasis for 24-48 hrs, so some knots may not fully release for a day or two.  If you get sore be patient- drink drink drink and soak in a tub with a 1/2 cup mineral bath salts or Epsom salts. It helps.

Finally- if you like your therapist and you like getting on their schedule,  tip them.  Now I charge enough to make it worth my time, but most of my clients still tip me. Many tip a little, like a few extra bucks.  Some tip me quite nicely - up to $10 or $15 dollars.  I definitely notice this and always keep it mind when people are looking for a spot to come in-   there are some clients I will work in when I swore my schedule was full the day before. Those are the clients I give an extra 5 or 10 minutes to.  The ones I really strive to go above and beyond.  They seem to go above and beyond to be a valued and generous customer.  It is all about energy and value, and I feel it when I am with those clients. (Does that sound superficial? I don't mean it to.  I apologize if it does, but I am trying to give full disclosure here!)

 If your therapist booked you a month out when you needed a massage yesterday, consider these things and see how you might rate as a client (but remember, most good therapists may be hard to get into. Consider prescheduling your next appointment before leaving your last one).  I say these things only with honesty and because I have people ask me this all the time.  What I am thinking?

Now you know.
And if you are a 'good' client I am probably thinking..... I wish all my clients were like that.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Feeding my Creative Self

Over the last six months my creative self has had a jump start.  I owe it all to Instagram which instantly connected me to other artists and creative souls who are sneaking time out of their busy lives to create.  They are making ATCs, art journals, hand made postcards and other objects of beauty- and best of all, they are all eager to trade.  Bring on the mail. It has been great.
Snail Mail surprise received from an online artist friend 

I just stumbled upon a lovely artist who hosts an online 'summer camp' in which she gives weekly challenges and all her followers (camp participants) create and share their work. You can read more about the online Summer of Color camp here on the Twinkle Twinkle blog.

Right now I am planning on doing mostly collages for this summer challenge, just because I want the practice, but we will see if that is how it happens.

I am also putting together a thick chunky art journal inspired by a few fellow IGers- and will show you all about that when it is finished up. I am still working and waiting on pages and then I will be putting it all together stitching and sewing it to hopefully make something pretty.

Art Journal Pages for Instagram page exchange

For now, this post is jumping off point for the summer. I am hoping to paint, cut, paste, scrap and record whenever I get a few minutes to myself.  It is hard to sneak away and take the time to do it- and that is exactly why I love the fact that trades and challenges drive you to complete whatever little lovely thing you can.   
Mixed media Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)  made to swap by mail

Here's to taking time to create- even if it's a fun filter and a thought on a photo that caught your eye

Happy Summer. Chase the sun.  
Find the light.  Create and share.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Brave Girls Only- Young Women's Camp

Two years ago I was camp director, and after much prayer and discussion we decided to use the theme Girl on Fire.  That idea has taken off and I appreciate all the comments and support over the last two years- I feel like I have a whole camp sisterhood out there, most of you doing more with the idea than I ever could have!

I wanted to share last year's camp theme now.  Again we stewed over the theme, as it really makes such a difference to the girls and getting them to camp.  We decided to go with a theme inspired by an art group- "Brave Girls", and it all went from there.  The bird in bird cage symbolized the girls and their lives up to now, in protective care and be taken care of in their safe homes.  As they grow and prepare to make decisions about there lives and become more independent, sometimes they will need to be brave and bold in the choices they make.

Bookmarks were stapled to treat bags introducing our theme with a coordinating scripture and remind the girls be strong and brave.
(click and save the page to print on your choice of paper)

Once again, we bleached our theme into our own t-shirts.
The girls always love this because we have a theme, but they get to personalize each shirt and make it their own.  This year it worked out especially good because it was a stake camp with other wards, but we were able to personalize the shirts they provided us.

(here is a look at the back of my t-shirt)
One thing to note- we bought a concentrated extra strength bleach this year- and some of the girls went a little crazy spraying the shirts and actually burned holes right through them.  Use the bleach sparingly and don't buy anything 'super strength'!  Click on the link for last year's camp to see our Girl on Fire shirts and for a few more tips on this project.

We took pre-cut strips with the words already cut out, but had stencils so the girls could make something else (or their name) if they wanted to. The bird was a sticker cut with a Cricket cutter. You could use any craft stencils you have.  I would also suggest cutting out your phrases or theme on a thin place mat- as poster board gets wet so fast.

For our craft we stamped necklaces- and the girls loved that.

These necklace supplies are all available at Hobby Lobby, but because we had such a large group we ended up using dog tags from Oriental Trading, and that was less than 50 cents a girl- plus more space for more words, if they want.  The girls LOVED this, more than I would have predicted. Occasionally (a year later) I still see one of them slip this little memento on and wear it to church or an activity. We used a practice tag for them all to try out a letter or two- that helped them get the feel of it, but this is a relatively easy craft. It just takes time because only one can stamp at a time per set. Have other activities going.

While at camp we also did "Brave Girl Bedtime Stories". We shared a variety of stories around the camp fire or after the girls climbed in their bunks. Some of these stories were from the leaders, times in their lives when they needed to be courageous and could share an experience. Some were from the scriptures, or from our ancestors. One night a leader shared the story of the Book of Commandments- an amazing recount of how two young girls hid the book from mobs trying to destroy everything....this book is now The Doctrine and Covenants.  (Read more about the story with references here.)

This motto started simple but seemed to tie into so much of what we wanted to teach the girls all week.  I had amazing leaders who also ran with the idea and found ways to emphasize the need for courage and bravery in every day life.

Girls camp is such a blessing- here is hoping that something here will inspire you to share the message you need to!

It does make a difference.
These little things we do matter.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Birthday Handout - Young Womens

I am now serving as 1st Counselor in the Young Womens. It is an amazing, albeit consuming, job.
We asked the presidency of our class what they wanted to do for birthdays this year, as we like to just give a small little something to each girl in our class on her birthday.

They all agreed it would be fun to give nail polish (and as they are the ones who get it, that made me realize they WANTED nail polish!) so we came up with this simple little handout.

As our theme for the year is "Come Unto Christ" we had to find a way to tie that in- so simple when you realize it is Christ that polishes our lives, makes them more beautiful, and adds more richness and color to every day! What better thought on your birthday?

We stapled the thought to our bag (that is paper grass from Easter supplies and candy bags from the craft area at Walmart).  You could just punch a hole in it and tie it around the bottle, add more goodies to the bag, or decorate it in some other way.

We found nail polish for $.99 - that's a dollar a girl.  I have loved this little handout and was so happy the girls came up with this idea.  Here is a JPEG- just save it, (or copy it), then paste it and  stretch it if needed to fit your program and print on cardstock.

Finally, I wanted to share this thought that has stuck with me over the years.
As an LDS member who fully relies on the grace of God, the mercy of God, and the saving powers of Jesus Christ I am always a little taken back when I bump into people who think we don't believe in these concepts.  I have even heard it said- recently, mind you- that we feel we must do things to "earn" the love our Savior and his holy Father.  Let me tell you this: that accusation couldn't be more wrong if it wanted to be.
We are fully aware it is only through Christ and his atoning sacrifice we have any way back to the presence of heavenly realms.  I am in full knowledge of my reliance on grace every day.  This is why I love the following thought. 

My received love is not conditional. It is not earned. I do not get more when I am good, or a concept of good.  I am loved always, every day, every thought, every sullen moment and every glorious celebration- because Christ is good and loved me first.

Let me be clear- I happen to believe if I want to walk, talk, and commune with him I will be more comfortable doing that if I am knowledgeable and worthy- (how else would I be able to stand in that glory) but none of those things qualify me for being loved.

That is a great thought, a beautiful thought, and an example to me on how I need to better love as a parent, a spouse, and a friend. We are all loved, exactly as we are, right now.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What is Merco Local?

Merco Local is a Utah based business promoter that hooks up local products and services with consumers. You can go to there website  anytime to check out what products they are featuring, look for discounts on local services, or find out how to feature your business through their promotions.

As a local blogger I was given a chance to review a box.  I was excited- not only do I love any kind of parcel waiting for me in the mailbox, but I was interested to see what would be in the box this month.

Here is the February box of the month.  Click here to see each item listed individually, as I haven't used all of them yet.

Let me start with the mineral make-up.  I am a make-up freak. I LOVE it.  I have always been that way.
I was giddy when Santa brought me make-up this year for Christmas, and one of the items was a Bare Essentials kit, which I have always loved.  Well, I had no idea a great Utah based company makes mineral make-up.  NS Minerals makes quality cosmetics you will love, and right now you can get $5.00 off and free shipping.

I received two small samples of blush and a shimmery eye shadow.  I LOVE them.  Really, the eye shadow is beautiful and lasted all day.  I got a lighter color, which I used as a base and highlight, and the blush blended so great- but my favorite thing about it was the luminous quality to it.
 Sorry- crappy picture off my phone in the lighting of my bathroom, but I tried to show you- this has a very pearly quality, which I really love, it looks fresh.  On this day I was wearing the Cherry Rose blush, and that is the one I am planning on getting. I LOVE it. Goodbye to my chalk-like Cover Girl cheekers.

The next product I am checking out is the Drain Wig.  

This darling little flower on a chain sits in your shower or bath drain (at least my bath holds it nicely, which is good because I bath 90% of the time).  The chain has little plastic ties which catch all the hair that would normally clog your drains and pipes. They are affordable, the are easy, and if you have a lot of girls in your house this can be a real lifesaver.  After just two uses I checked mine, and sure enough, it had caught a lot of hair.  They ideally can be kept in for a month or two- or more- and then just pulled up and tossed. For just under 13 bucks you get two drain protectors. You can get 10% off with the merco local coupon code, too. Much cheaper than paying someone else to unclog your drains. 

Ok, twist my arm and make me eat some chocolate.
These are hand dipped, specially selected chocolates by Hatch Family Chocolates.
Divine. All of them. I love the dark chocolate, love the milk chocolate, even the caramel was soft and chewy and melted in my mouth.  The little chocolate guide lets you know what you are getting if you buy an assorted mix.   Can't wait to visit this little shop and hand pick my own favorite flavors. (Truffles, anyone?) Perfect for Valentine's Day.  Click here for the Merco Local feature.

On to the next delicious product. Crio Bru.
I have heard this brewed cocoa was amazing, and I am now a true fan.  This local company travels the world to pick the best cacao beans they can find, and then they brew grind them, just like a coffee bean.  The difference is no caffeine and no jitters, and no processed sugars and fillers found in hot cocoa.  It is rich, it is steamy, it is filling.  This Cavalla flavor is super decadent, with a hint of cinnamon and coconut undertones (sounds weird? It's not. It's just a little sweeter then a dark cocoa). I make mine in a french press, and I do sweeten it.  Maybe even a dash of creamer or almond milk and I am in heaven. 
You can use the link above to go to the Merco page,  click here to go directly to the  Crio webpage, or even snag some on Amazon when you place your next order there. Either is divine.

There are a couple more little products left for me to use and review- 
if you want to get a sampling of Utah's finest you can order a box anytime, or sign up for easy shipping and never miss a box they put together.  Go to Merco Local for more information. Happy local sampling!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ikea for my bedroom

My husband grumbles at the mention of Ikea.
He rolls his eyes if I want to go browse, and he complains about everything there.
I am not sure where his disdain came from, seeing as how one of our best set of bookcases, which we have had over 12 years, came from there.  He just has a chip on his shoulder.

I am lucky in that I have sisters that share my love for Ikea with me, and one sister came with me on a recent trip.  Before I knew it she talked me into buying 2 dressers that I realized would be perfect for organizing my bedside.  With an enthusiastic pep talk she convinced me we could build these dressers before my husband even came home.

Here are the details and my tips to you:

Don't be stressed when you start your project

This is what my dresser looked like out of the box. Yikes.
We sorted through the items and organized them, and worked together.  This pile of pieces brought me slight anxiety, I am not gonna lie....

Follow the steps, read the instructions

The images of the screws, nails, and bolts are actual size, so you can compare side by side and make sure you are using the right piece for the step.  I am not real big on building my own this helped me feel like I could break down each step and do the right thing.
There are steps that use two people for bigger items- definitely get a helper. Don't think you balance large items by yourself.  I did learn this one the hard way after my sister had to leave.

Stick with it - the final result is worth it

Ikea dressers used as bedside nightstands

Truth be told it took me 2 1/2 days to finish my dressers.  I only had my sister's help for a few hours,
and then I got sidetracked, so I had to step away from my project. (another reason to strictly follow the steps, so you can always pick up where you left off.) I was actually proud of myself when I finally got them finished.  Hubby was out of town, so only one of us had to tiptoe around the piles of dresser parts scattered around the room.

I fell in love with these dressers in the store because of the color- they match our walls and I love their clean look.  I tend to lean toward ornate and shabby items (thus the light board above our bed) and my hubby loves clean lines- these dressers made us both happy.  He was surprised and really likes the finished look the dressers added, which made me even more happy with the leap of faith it took to buy and build these.

A good idea he had, (which I adore more than I ever thought possible) a hidden mounted surge protector.

It sits right at the side of my headboard, so we can light our wall mount and my night stand lamp with the switch.  You know those nights when you get cozy, only to realize someone needs to get up and turn off the light, or sit up and switch off the lamp.  No more. Now all it takes is a stretch of the hand to switch it all off, although let's be honest...some nights even that feels like a chore......
(note: don't use this to charge your phone if you turn everything off at night. Plug it into a wall so it is charged in the morning...duh.....I learned that one the hard way)

For my birthday I was able to convince him to take me back to Ikea for matching shelves.
I have always loved the thought of a reading nook, and I need a place for my books to make that happen.

We ended up not only getting 2 shelves, but also new curtains for our windows.

I am still in the process of sorting through my books and arranging my shelves, but this little space has already made me so happy. (note- side desk found on the curbside on garbage day- I used spray paint to make it over)

side by side book shelf corner

After moving to our home over two years ago it has been a process to make it feel like ours.
These projects weren't that expensive, and I sort of have to ask myself why I waited so long.
If you need a few basic furniture items  to help you complete your space don't forget the awesome deals at Ikea that can be used as your staples.  If your hubby is the type to roll his eyes...just do it without him, but don't tell him I said that.

and don't forget to enjoy your space

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Birthday Mini-Service Project

This year, my birthday came quick.  It is true, what they say- that as you age time goes by much more swiftly.
At my niece's wedding this summer with my man 

When I went to my eye appointment (new glasses needed) my eye doctor joked with me..."27 years old, right?"  I laughed, but took this chance to sort of be a warrior of happy thoughts.

"No way- I would never go back. I have earned these years, and I love my life!"

So 43 it is.  I never understood people who didn't want others to know how old they are, or seemed embarrassed because they aren't a young thirty-something.  I am a grown-up, and on a good day I might act like one! But it is bliss.

Anyway, I had heard about people doing acts of service for each year on their birthday.  This adorable blog shows a man and his family making his random acts of kindness list come true on his birthday. I love that!

Recent articles, however, about how the food banks are getting low due to pay and job changes (less then 30 hours a week to avoid healthcare costs) have bothered me.  We have an amazing woman nearby who literally woke up and decided to open a food bank- without government help. I wondered how I could help her out before Thanksgiving.

I felt like this was my birthday act- give her little pantry a boost.

A Facebook post and Instagram shot got the ball rolling, and then I asked clients coming over if they would be willing to bring a can or two of food.

After 2 days the box I had set out was completely full- and someone left a flat of soup on my porch too.  That was also a fun thing about this project, people did it anonymously for me.  I had no idea which one of my friends and neighbors were leaving goodies.  It was a fun element I didn't expect.

I had a goal to get 43 items- but that was done within 3 days.  I had planned a week of gathering food.
I even picked up items from a few people who couldn't make it to my house. The boxes got more full, and the flats stacked up.

We went to a store and bought cold supplies, fruits snacks, just random things that looked like they would add variety to our donation.  I am 'couponer' so that was full in affect, to get more for my money!

The day we took our donation this is what my stash looked like:

I was probably well over 200 items, including toiletries and personal care items.
It was actually sort of overwhelming to see it all gathered up together- took our family of 5 two trips each to get it all loaded, as food isn't exactly light!  This small little goal reminded me of how much we can do when we help each other.  Had I tried to save up for all of these things I would have gotten a little overwhelmed, but when a few handful of people just brought a little bag of things it really accumulated fast.

We delivered the items with very little fanfare.  The workers at the pantry were busy hanging clothes (there is also a thrift store there) and serving the line of people waiting for their turn to get food.  We dropped it all off and were on our way.  I liked that, because I think it's important for my kids to serve without a lot of hype.

So my project is over and done.  But I had to blog about how it affected me.

First off, I loved that people who know me were so willing to support me.  Every day I would walk out to my porch to see new bags set quietly in my box, with no idea who brought it.  I kept thinking to myself 'People are so good- we just need an excuse to SHOW IT!' I felt happy all week as my project grew.

Second off, I wasn't thinking about my birthday.  I attached the number to it just to do it, but all week I kept looking at what was brought, thinking about buying a few more little things to add, and trying to decide when to take it.  I had a friend ask me- what are your big plans for your birthday? And I didn't have any...and that didn't bother me.  I honestly just didn't care that week about what I was doing. (Don't worry, I am no saint- I found plenty for my hubby to do for me! Can you say 'bookshelves and curtains'?)  It was just refreshing to arrive on my birthday and not really care.

Third- and last- was that I DID IT.  It was more then just cleaning out my closet and donating the no longer wanted stuff (although that is great, too) but it was ON PURPOSE.  I guess it was easier than I thought it would be, and took little effort.  I know, as a mom especially, there were things in there that will bless lives who are in need of it right now.  And having done this successfully, I can say...I will tackle this (or some other fun project) again next year.

I am grateful for the blog I found and the birthday acts of kindness and how they have inspired so many people to do the same thing- here's to hoping my birthday will make your next birthday a little better.

  I call that grown up.