Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to melt my heart...

Cuddling with my 4 year old, I ask her to, please, stay this age.

        "Please stay as a 4 year old forever - be Mommy's baby forever and ever. You are so sweet and cuddly, and such a good girl. Could you please stay like this forever?"

The reply:

       " Well, I don't know about that! You'll have to tell God about that. Put it in your prayers, Mommy."

This little girl always melts my heart...

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Odyssey

Just finished Homer's The Odyssey last night. Well, actually finished the novel the night before, but last night finished out the Notes on the Translation, which were really interesting too!

So, where to start with my rambling thoughts on this epic? Well, it definitely goes down as one of the best books I've ever read. Wow! I was so nervous about reading it at the beginning - have you seen how thick the book is? Gasp!! But it was awesome. You just have to start and keep going until you reach that point when you don't want to stop. That probably came, for me, around Book 9 - In the One-Eyed Giant's Cave - wowza!!! What descriptive powers Homer has. I wasn't prepared for it, and subsequently, read this chapter right before going to sleep, so that made for an interesting night of weird dreams! Bwahahahaha!!! From that point on I didn't want to put the book down. Going to bed (I always read before bed) was now my favorite part of the day. I was hitting the bed by 10:00pm - haven't done that for a LONG time. I would read a book/chapter (or two) a night, depending how tired I was.

I started reading The Odyssey when I joined Edie's Book club, over at lifeingrace - you must check out her beautiful, awesome blog - I just love reading it - Edie has such grace, and beauty, and a peaceful nature about her. It is always so inspiring to read her blog, so when she decided to set up a book club I knew this was going to be great! You can still join - just click on the forum link up top right on the top of the blog page. It is a great opportunity to hear and discuss what others think about the book, and share notes/opinions. I love it because I get to hear from people who are way smarter than me. It makes you think about different aspects of the book you may have missed, or didn't understand. Oh, it makes me want to join a real live book club, to have discussions about Homer, about the themes of the book, about the ancient times in which the epic is set. But, none alas, so online book club it is, and so very thankful for it, too.

So back to my general ramblings:

1. Homecoming - what a beautiful theme indeed - after 10 years of war at Troy, Odysseus and his crew set sail for home, back to their families, back to their wives and children, back to their beloved Ithaca. However, the gods (particularly Poseidon) have different plans for them, and so the journey back is difficult, filled with danger and peril, death and destruction, and extreme hardship. For Odysseus, the home journey takes 10 years and tests every fiber of his dedication, devotion, and strength. His homecoming is not the hero's welcome you would expect for a king back from war, but is the homecoming of a husband and father, who has to come home to defend his family's honor, home, and rightful standing in his own kingdom.

2. Xenia - hospitality. Back before there were hotels or restaurants, travelers relied on the hospitality of the people they came across, for food and shelter. Xenia (good xenia) was expected by the gods - take the stranger/s into your home - feed them, be a good gracious host, lavish them with gifts, hear their story, and send them on their way, when they are ready to go, with everything they need to reach their destination, successfully. However, not everyone shows (good) Xenia - some are unwilling to let their guests leave, while others like to eat mere mortals! That is not good Xenia, people!

3. Questions - the first twelve books raise so many questions - Why doesn't Penelope throw the suitors out of her palace? Why doesn't Telemachus do something about the suitors? Why doesn't Telemachus just take over reign, or Penelope, for that matter? Why let the suitors waste away their resources so much? Why is there no one to help them? etc... - so here are my thoughts on these questions -  this sets up a confusing nature for the reader - frustration, questions, etc, and gives us a real insight into the turmoil of the palace and how Penelope and Telemachus are feeling. Also, if Penelope or Telemachus (or anyone else) were able to help (and did), and rectify the suitor situation then that would make Odysseus redundant. This is so important to the main theme of the book - homecoming. It would completely diminish his homecoming, undermine his importance, and the significance he plays in his family and his kingdom. The father figure, the king, is so important to a functioning family, and to a successful kingdom.

4. Telemachus is "sent off" by Athena (as Mentor) to mature/ rebirth and realize the scope of his role - Odysseus's true son. Yes, they are big shoes to fill, but his own journey lets him awaken as the Hero's Son, and gives him the courage to stand beside his father (later in the novel) to fight the suitors.

5. Real men weep...yep!

6. Strength - This book is mainly about the strength of character, of the mind. How strong is Odysseus in his devotion, love and commitment to his family, and country, to endure all he went through to get home? And he continues, without tiring, without ever giving up hope or determination. And, once home, he still continues, with his right mind set intact, focusing on the best way to deal with his homecoming/ family/ and finally the demise of those suitors.
He has strength - physical, yes indeed, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual. No wonder Penelope held out so long for her Odysseus! She knows there is no other man that even compares to him, and she would rather die then marry a lesser man.

7. Secret Signs - testing the heart. I love love love the significance of the wedding bed. Penelope tests Odysseus with her "secret code", all about their wedding bed made from/ connected to a live olive tree. Only Penelope, Odysseus and one single maidservant knows of the bed, which Odysseus made with his own two hands. It symbolizes the constancy of Penelope and Odysseus’s marriage. How wonderfully consistent - what devotion (I think it was outside pressure from family and kingdom that initially allowed the suitor to take their place at the palace, not necessarily from Penelope herself)! Penelope tries to trick Odysseus  - "Come, Eurycleia, move the sturdy bedstead out of our bridal chamber...", knowing it is impossible to move. Odysseus, outraged by his wife's harsh words, tells of the immovability of their bed—a metaphor for the unshakable foundation of their love, and therefore, at last, confirms his true identity to her - her husband is home!

8. I love how Odysseus reveals his identity to each important family member. First to Telemachus - he is disguised as a beggar, then revealed by Athena, all in the secret location of the swineherd's home (a devoted servant), to mastermind together (as father and son) the downfall of the suitors and the rightful return of the king and prince. For Penelope, it was their true undying devotion and love for each other - symbolized by their (immovable) wedding bed. And finally, for Laertes, his legacy to his son - the trees planted for him on the farm, and its connection back to Ithaca, his homeland. 

Okay, enough of my ramblings! It certainly sparked a desire to learn more, especially to revisit my ancient history lessons (which was my most favorite subject at school), so I hit up Half Price Books hard! Now, lots of extra reading to do :) Oh, and of course, continuing on with the book club - Antigone up next.

I found this wonderful book full of posters ready to frame - what a find!

I think this year is my learning year.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Day of Autumn...John Keats

Well, yesterday marked the official first day of Autumn, but I was not able to access my blog, so I'll post a nod to Fall today (via John Keats and his beautiful words):

To Autumn
John Keats (1820)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Autumn Table Display

So last weekend I got a little busy with my fall decorating and made a few things. I am so excited about Fall this year, maybe because we had such a brutal hot summer, or maybe just because it is my favorite time of year. But, then again, I do love summer too...and, I am really looking forward to winter (to get rid of all these deadly mosquitoes!). No, I think autumn is my favorite...the decorating, revitalization of the spirit, the colors, the temperatures (ahhh.....), the coziness (without the chilled-to-the-bone feeling).

It conjures up pumpkins, and hay rides, soft blankets, sitting by the fire-pit, toasting marshmallows, soft drowsy light, and golden sunsets, the crisp air, and apple orchards. I love those beautiful days when the air is so crisp, the light dances off the amber leaves, and the world just seems a little more radiant, more beautiful than the day before. Those days when His touch is more softer, and sweeter, and your heart fills with love and grace and happiness. Beautiful Autumn!

So to celebrate the season I made a sweet little centerpiece for the table:

I started with lovely supplies from Hobby Lobby - lots of items 40% - 50% off (who shops for anything else if it's not 50% off??). So we have a cute rustic little wooden box, some flowers, a pumpkin, acorns, pine cones, floral foam square, a candle and ribbon.

I cut the floral foam to fit in the box, with the candle.

Then I stuck in some flowers, leaves and berries. I filled in the space around the flowers with dried spanish moss - I bought a big bag for about $2.50 at HL, and it may have even been 50% off!! LOL!

Finished it off with some feathers, a pumpkin (in the center), some little wood acorns, pine cones, and a pretty bow. I could not get the bow to glue onto the box, so I made a hook to hook it onto the side of the box. Very simple, but so pretty! Really, you can do this - just stick them in there, play with them a little to get the balance right, and viola! Little things like the feathers and bow are the perfect accents and really make it something special, so don't forget the little things :)

I think the only thing I might change is the candle - change it to a non-flame one, because I just feel a little uneasy with live flame, plastic foliage, spanish moss, and kids!

Oh, and sorry about the pics - my camera ran out of battery so the iPhone had to suffice!

Next up - the wreath :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Photo of the Week...Roses

Red roses from my fresh flowers, especially ones you have grown yourself ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Falling for Fall

This weekend is the start of Fall, for me. Okay, I know I'm really a week early (September 22, 2012 is the official first day of Fall/Autumn), but I have to get prepared before Falls actually falls :)

Enough of the puns! Here are a few projects I'm considering working on - depends what I have (supply-wise), time, and space (do I actually have anywhere to put this stuff??). I need to change out the "summer" fireplace at home, change up the china cabinet a little, and add a few little things to the lake cabin. So here are my pinterest picks (all links go directly to the sites they were pinned from). I'll show you my projects/end results next week.

I am so ready for Fall!! 

Three projects for the weekend - I think that is enough. Looking forward to getting them done, and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Mood Board...Sequins

3 dresses (source unknown)
Ring (not available - similar ring)
Gold Belt (sold out - from
Silver Tote - Gap (wasn't able to link at time of publishing)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some days really suck...

Strength for you
Lord, I come before you today knowing that all power is in Your hand. I know that you are the Lord and that you care for your people. Right now, our loved one is struggling with a difficult trial. I can see his strength is faltering, Lord, and know that you have all of the strength that he needs.
I pray that you will reach down and touch him right now wherever he is at this moment. Let your presence fill the room where he is and let him feel an extra portion of your strength that can help him to get through this day.
He needs you now, Lord, and I thank you in advance for meeting him where he is and shoring up his strength during this difficult time.
In Jesus name. Amen.

This prayer is for you...we love you so much xxxooo

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nothing Shabby about this...

I discovered Shabby Apple probably over a year ago now, when it was featured on another blog. Shabby Apple sells sweet little dresses, clothes and accessories, and have now expanded into swim & fitness, maternity & kids, and arts & crafts. Every time I browse their site there at least 3 or 4...or 5 dresses I'm in love with. I usually resist, but have caved in on the odd occasion :) One such occasion was today...shhhh, please don't tell anyone ;)

This sweet little dress was the one I could not resist - and what a great motivator to get back into shape :)

Hollywood Hills dress - Shabby Apple

Now to go work out on the treadmill for a few hours!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Preparing for New School Year...

School uniforms have been bought, shoes ordered, and supplies bagged up and ready to go to the classroom. School starts in 4 days!!

One will start Pre-K and the other will start GRADE 1!!! What!! This is just insane. Where did my babies go? Guess there is no turning back now, it is full steam ahead for these two little people. It is now their time to grow and develop and learn, and find their own ways to express themselves. It is such a hard thing to let go, though. I'm sure there will be a few tears, and that anxious, nervous pit in my tummy...but, hopefully just me, not them...praying they will be fearless and excited and happy to be starting school.

This week at home has been a fluster - we just got back from our beach vacation, I have been feeling totally worn out, and now have a cold. So, the motivation to do much has deflated to an all time low. The laundry is very slowly getting done. It has taken me three days to unpack our suitcase. The house is a complete mess! But, thankfully I had all their school stuff done BEFORE we went on vacation.

We have met the teachers - both very nice. Kids meet them tomorrow - they are super excited :)

So what to do now - PREPARE!

1. Iron uniforms and clothes for kids and hang in closet

2. Create Mad Minute Math sheets for Grade 1 kiddo (I know she'll love me for day! hahaha). You are free to print off copies for your own use.

3. Make up sweet little teacher gifts (we love to do this all together - the girls pick out what they want to do and I help put it together).

4. Clean up desk and playroom, ready for homework.

5. Work out breakfast and lunch menus.

6. Type up afternoon schedule and pep talk with the kids.

7. Remind Back-to-School fairy that school starts Monday ;)

I'm thinking that if I'm missing anything we will survive. Just want to spend these last few days enjoying my two babies...for just a few days more.

Hoping your back-to-school frenzy is going along okay, and that your kiddos have an absolutely fantastic year :)

The Importance of Being a Reader...

I'm very excited to have joined an online book club - Edie from Lifeingrace has started one for the classics! It will be great to read along and join in conversation with other like-minded people. So if you are interested, click on the pic below (Edie's gorgeous office/library/laundry room). You can also join the forum to follow along with the conversations - links are in the blog post. It will start in September, so you have enough time to contemplate, decide and order the first book. :)

In Edie's first email/post to introduce the book club, she links to this LA Times article The lost art of reading by David L. Ulin, from August 9, 2009. It highlights the current struggles to sit, focus and read, in today's society. The "book" is now in direct competition with the iPad, texting, the mobile phone, TV, the Internet.

What I'm struggling with is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there is something out there that merits my attention, when in fact it's mostly just a series of disconnected riffs and fragments that add up to the anxiety of the age.
The article highlights the importance of refocusing back to books. To quiet the mind, envelope ourselves in the written word, on real pages. Take the time to absorb the different experiences, emotions, and characters books expose us to.

. . . The real world dissolved and I was free to drift in fantasy, living a thousand lives, each one more powerful, more accessible, and more real than my own.
It takes willpower, dedication and commitment to read, especially the classics with their more complex language and subject matter.
In order for this to work, however, we need a certain type of silence, an ability to filter out the noise.
So I am ready to start filtering out the noise, the busyness of my everyday life, to expand the horizons of my mind. Even though I do read and have read a lot of the classics, they are still so many more I wish to experience.  I have not yet read The Odyssey, so as the first book on the list I am excited to start off in the book club with something new and challenging.

What are you reading? Want to join us?

True Love...

Do you remember this post when I professed my love of these j. crew capris?

They just went on sale!! WOOT! WOOT! ...awesome :) I am one happy gal tonight!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creating a Home...Inspiration

This morning, I stumbled upon a picture (on pinterest) of a room in Reese Witherspoon's Ojai home - a beautiful, simple entry area, featuring a sweet little desk in front of a window, nestled under a graceful staircase. So, of course, I had to go check out the ELLE article.

The article features Reese's stunning home nestled in the foothills north of Los Angeles - it is definitely worth drooling over checking out all the photos in the ELLE spread.

But what struck me most about the article (yes, please read the article - the history of the house is almost as amazing as the house itself) was this paragraph:

"It reminds me of growing up in Tennessee, where we spent all day outside," she says. "I wanted my children to have that experience, to get muddy and hang out with the animals."
Indeed, Witherspoon has turned Libbey Ranch into a menagerie. A Friesian horse and a chestnut pony share the paddock. There are donkeys, goats, pigs, chickens, and four whimsically named dogs: Hope, Nashville, Coco Chanel, and Hank Williams. Neff fashioned animal silhouettes that are perched on wooden fences around the property. Witherspoon's favorite, a dog and cat on a courtyard gate, serves as a gathering spot for family photos.

It is the fact that they know what they love (animals) and have incorporated it into their home in a beautiful, tasteful, but also playful way - how gorgeous! That really is the essence of what makes a house a home. I would love to see a pic of the animal silhouettes on the wooden fences...but I guess imagining them is just as sweet. I also love how this allows them all to connect to their home - making memories with family photos by the wooden fence silhouettes, having animals to tend to, having the space for the kids to run around outside, playing in the dirt, and gathering together in the evenings for games, or just talking around the fire.

I know we all don't have this big fancy house, but that should not stop you from making your house a real loving beautiful place where you and your family can make many happy memories together, for many years to come. It is all how you see it, perceive it and what you do with it. Maybe start with a place you would like to take family portraits - make it something special for you and your family. I think I need to get out my sketch book and start on my own.

Thanks for the inspiration, Reese! ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - it starts you off with the right energy level to tackle whatever comes your way. This is especially true for kids. They really need a good breakfast to fuel their brains and prepare their bodies for school. It would be difficult to concentrate in class if you were hungry. Breakfast also needs to be balanced - not all sugary foods - it is best to provide a decent breakfast that will last all the way through to lunch time.

I know, it's the time factor. We are all time pressed in the morning, so quick easy breakfasts are a must. We like to do eggs, waffles (wholegrain), cereal, but after a while we need something to jazz our mornings up a bit. So what about a smoothie!

So this morning we tested a new smoothie recipe to add to our weekly meal list, just in time to be ready for our new school year. Smoothies are quick, easy and nutritious - the perfect breakfast. And what a great way to start the day with a "milkshake".

Here is the recipe we tried this morning, but I think I will add some honey next time:

(makes 3 glasses)

8oz coconut water (I found this in the fruit and veg section of the grocery store)
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed berries
1 scoop of whey protein powder
1 cup plain organic yoghurt
1/2 cup milk

I used the Ninja to mix it all up. Delicious!

You can also add banana, 1 tsp peanut butter, honey, other frozen fruit (strawberries, mango), fresh kale, or spinach, etc. I'm sure there are lots of ideas out there on the internet to pick from, so you would be able to come up with your own favorite combination. Have fun with it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Look...

I'm all rested and revived after our wonderful summer vacation, so I am testing out a new look for the blog. Please be patient with me - I have no idea how to get posts onto the tabs (anyone know??? - please let me know if you do). Slowly and surely...

Please let me know what you think. It is nothing drastic, but it did take most of my day to figure it out ;)

Black, white and a pop of color

Love this dress, purse combo from Anthropologie:

Wonder if I can find a little less expensive version?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Photo of the day...

We absolutely loved our beach vacation this year. Only thing wrong was it was too short. By Thursday you just start to relax, then it's time to head home again. But it was wonderful, especially since we got to spend it with both sets of grandparents (for the kids). This is one to remember...