Monday, January 18, 2016

Sending Notes




There is nothing I enjoy more than receiving a letter.
My heart always skips a beat at the sight of a thoughtfully penned note.
In my 20's I did alot of letter writing.
This was pre-email, pre-smart phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc. etc. 
You get the picture.
You picked up the phone to call and chat...or you sent a letter.
Time was spent on words that blessed someone, made them happy, gave condolences, encouraged.
It is somewhat of a lost art these days.
Hand written notes tell someone you really thought about them and took a few minutes to send them a pretty card and thoughts.

It is so easy to find notecards.
Several of mine came from the local Dollar Store. 
I like to keep a small drawer full of pretty cards so I am ready at a moments notice to write.

I love, love this Etsy shop and all of their beautiful stationary.
Oh!
And how about a stamp to make sticking your address on the envelope that much more fun?
and what about stationary paper for those notes that might be a little longer?
The possibilities are endless and there are so many options available out there to find cards that refelect your sense of style.

Here is to a year filled with the chance to make someone's day with a simple note!


~Julia


Saturday, January 9, 2016

On Happiness....


This man. 
We have been together for almost 19 years now and I think I love him more today...if that's possible.
He'd be so embarrassed if he knew I was writing this....so I will keep things short and to the point :)
Has our marriage been perfect and easy all of time? 
Well...no. It wasn't supposed to be.
But he has made life easier for me with his constant forgiveness, his understanding, his guidance and protection over our family.
He puts our needs above his own. 
 Everyday.
Our thoughts and lives are so forever deeply intertwined that I find myself thinking of him throughout the day and anticipating seeing him again.
Even on a rough day.

Love is a multitude of emotions and experiences!

We have kids that are getting older, and I have found myself wanting to prepare them for the future.
I ran across this article and thought it was just so perfectly written.
Perhaps you have seen it?
I read it to all of my kids, because it is never too early to instill that kind of view towards God's intention of marriage and happiness.
More so, that happiness is there if you follow God's design.
Life is NOT perfect, marriage will never be perfect, because WE are not perfect.
But to try again.
To forgive, and encourage.
To bring the best out in our spouse and family.
To talk good about our family....to choose to love....that is where it's at.





Dear Children,
Should the Lord give you the good gift of a husband or wife, and I hope He does, there are a few things I want you to know. Things that you may not hear from anyone else, and certainly not on TV or other media. Sadly,… your church may not even tell you.
Marriage, sweet little people, is not for the purpose of your happiness. Happy as I want you to be and hope you will be, you must yet understand that marriage is God’s design and His purposes must be pursued in order for you to be truly happy. His end is holiness and He will use all things in a life devoted to Him to fulfill that end.
To my girls:
Marry a man whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, he is not hard to please. Admire him, cheer him on and show gratitude, and he will fall over himself trying to please you. Smile often, speak well of him always, and do whatever necessary to try and maintain a pleasant mood about you so that it transfers to your home, making it a place where he and your children love to be.
You’ll have bad days of course, crying days even, and that’s when you go to your bedroom, kneel on the floor and beg the Lord to carry you. Then get up, get a fresh perspective (crayons will come off the wall), and try again. Above all else, make a home.
To my boys:
Marry a woman whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, she may be hard to please only if you don’t know “the secret”. What is that? I’m glad you asked. The secret to pleasing your wife is to make her feel safe and treasured. You may have to move out of your comfort zone to do this at times. She won’t always readily translate the oil change to love, though it means that. But let me give you a “secret question”–a question you need to ask her often. It’s not just in the asking, though. Be sure to focus your eyes on hers, maybe even touch her shoulder or face, and then ask: “What’s on your mind these days? “ And then be ready to listen. She wants you to draw her out. She will perceive this as your protection over the matters of her heart. Tenderness, listening, protection. That’s what she wants.
To you all:
If your wife or husband does something really silly, forgive. If they do it again, forgive again. Forgiveness must be the propelling force in your lives each day. Dwell on the strengths, push out thoughts of their weaknesses. Take every thought captive–choose to love.
Here’s that part you are not going to hear often:
If you find yourself “not happy”, having lost attraction, disinterested, etc., you are not permitted to even think about a divorce. If you find yourselves arguing more and more, don’t think for a minute that “the children will be better off out of this”, because th
The vows you took on your wedding day were not suggestions. They were covenant vows, before a Holy God, family and friends, to stay with this person the rest of your life, even if you don’t feel like it. You swore a solemn oath and if you can’t live up to it, don’t get married. Decide up front that your marriage is irrevocable. There is far more motivation for getting along if your “marriage house” has no door.
Do not share intimate thoughts or feelings with anyone of the opposite sex. Do not find yourself alone for any length of time with such either.
Divorce is not a “private option”. It will affect multiple families for many generations. When you “separate what God has joined” you permanently injure far more than just yourself.
Guard your marriage as fiercely as you would guard your own life. Treat your spouse as an extension of your flesh, just as God sees you. Treat your spouse like other family members. You know, “you gotta love ‘em, they’re the only family you’ve got”.
I want you to be happy, I surely do. But I will pray for you to be holy.
Proverbs 19:14 – “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”
Proverbs 20:6-7 – “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”
To those of you who are in a troubled marriage, and are reading this, know you are in my prayers.
My intent in posting this is to encourage, because I found the letter uplifting, but I know some of us are hurting.
I also know that I would NEVER encourage someone to stay in a marriage if there is danger to their life or their children's lives! This letter does not state this thought....rather to forgive silly mistakes. Abuse is never a silly mistake.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!
~Julia


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Good Intentions















2016 rolled in with snow, snow, and more snow for us. The ground covered in a thick pillowy blanket, soft and quiet.
The freshness of a new year, Christmas tucked away in grand memories and plastic containers now.
I make a list.
 I like lists because they organize my time. 
They remind me of where I would like to go. 
But nothing too big for me this year. Rather, I would like to look at my days ahead and have a general direction, yet stay steady in my path. Plan my days, make my goals, with a little wiggle room to explore and discover more about the people I share my life with, this beautiful world around me, and to not take for granted time.

Time is such a precious gift, and I don't want to smother it daily with my own intentions.

Rather, this year will be full of consistency, walking ahead with anticipation of what God has in store for each day. I know by surrendering my day to Him, I feel more peace. Talking to Him about every little thing creates a smooth day, a filled day, and a blessed day.

Here is to a wonderful and blessed start to a new year!


~Julia

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing You a Blessed New Year




From our family to yours...wishing you a New Year filled with many blessings!

~Julia

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Few Things I Love Right Now...



A few things I love right now...{besides this girl and her steer, Soda Pop}

This lovely planner by Emily Ley. It looks perfect for my lifestyle!

Are you behind on family photos? I still love photo albums and HOPE I can catch up this year!
This album and these pages are on my list!

This book. If you don't have it, you really, really need it. The recipes are just delicious and there is a whole section dedicated to SALADS. Be still my heart!

I have been enjoying working out lately, and even joined a class that meets everyday at 5am. Yes, I said 5am. It has sure made a difference in my life....I feel not only more toned, but mentally I am less anxious and more energized for the day. When I can't make it to class, I work out at home to Erin's {the trainer} You Tube videos! She is fantastic! Maybe you want to give it a try, too :)

And last, I love this vest from Eddie Bauer :)


Have a lovely day!

~Julia

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015


Hoping that your Christmas was a special one this year...

Full of good memories...


and good food :).


That you were able to spend it with someone you love.


And if you were alone, I pray you know in your heart that the One who was born on Christmas Day was there with you and that He cherishes you beyond words :)


{Aren't those coasters cute? My sister in law made them for me!}

Wishing you a relaxing and peaceful Sunday afternoon!

~Julia

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Make Your Own Evergreen Wreath...It's Not Hard


Happiest THANKSgiving Day to you all!
Enjoy this special time together...and to get you in the mood for Christmas...here is a past post on making you own wreaths.
They really are simple to make and so beautiful!




The smell of fresh evergreen is tantalizing around Christmas time.
And truly...I promise...it's so easy to make your own.

If you have trees in your yard, or possibly have a neighbor willing to let you cut a few branches, the cost is virtually nothing.
Some tree farms will also let you have excess clippings.
Or, you can get a forest service permit to go cut in the woods.

To make the wreath you'll need: 
*a wire frame {you can find them at craft stores, or make your own from an old coat hanger}.
*floral wire {found at a hardware or craft store}.
*evergreen branches, other plant clippings



To start off, cut about 3-6 sprigs about 5-8 inches long and bunch together.


Depending how thick and fluffy you want your wreath, a fuller bunch of sprigs will give you a fluffy wreath. Less sprigs in the bunch will give the wreath a sparser look.

Lay the little bunch on the wreath, pointing slightly toward the outside.


Wrap your floral wire around 2-3 times, pulling tight.
Leave it just to the side outside the frame, the wire laying underneath....don't cut the wire!

Make another sprig bunch and this time lay it down about an inch below the first one, pointing slightly inside the wreath frame.


Wrap your wire around 2-3 times pulling tight.
Make sure you leave it underneath and to the side again.
That way you are ready for the next bunch!


Keep repeating this sequence....laying the next bunch about an inch below, and alternating pointing inside or out.

You can also tuck in different foliage to give the wreath more dimension.
Just include it in your little sprig bunch.

When you get to the end, you will want to "tuck" the remaining bunches underneath the overlapping sprigs.



They will overlap and create a seamless overlay.
Cut the wire and lace it through the back and twist to tie off.

That is it.
Easy peasy and such a great gift for neighbors...or just for you!

You can add ribbon by twisting some floral wire around the wreath and attaching it, or pine cones, Christmas balls...the possibilities are endless!

Hope you find this holiday season filled with joy!

~Julia



Friday, November 6, 2015

Rolling In


The fog looms down the field, rolling its way up to blanket us.
Meanwhile, I enjoy rays of gold streaming on my kitchen table.
Sprinkling a delightful light across my still-blank to do list and cup of chocolate hazlenut tea.
A creamy bowl of oatmeal inspired by this book  to go along with the plans for today rolling in steadily.
One by one, the page fills, brimming with the possibilities of today.
Some large, some small. My day seems like a rolling jumble of to-dos and good things to come.
I've learned to pare down to only 3 big tasks in the day and then a list of other things that might get done.
Today?
A pie to bake for an FFA auction, outside gardening to finish up for the year, a fun movie night to plan, a Christmas card to design....
things to work on at a steady pace with a peace about it.
Just having this day?
That's the blessing.
And finding small moments like the early morning to enjoy it...there is the treasure.

Hope your Fall is off to a lovely start!



Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Foggy Tea


Sometimes you just have to brew a good cup of tea. 
In fact, my kids and I regularly have tea time about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
I love the time we all spend around the stove creating the perfect cup of tea.
I fell upon a delightful tea recipe recently.
It's called a London Fog.
A drink rich and creamy, perfect for Fall days.
The recipe is made to my own liking and has just a smidge of half and half to enhance the flavor.
It has been the perfect compliment to breakfast and a go-to drink for the car.
You just have to try it...especially on a foggy day :)

{ Cup from the thrift store. No name on it, just a little bird design.}

London Fog

Brew a 1 1/2 cups of Earl Grey Tea {let it steep for at least 3 minutes.}
2 tsp. half and half
Sweetener of choice {I use stevia}
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Fill to the top with almond milk

Stir and enjoy hot!

~Julia


Friday, September 25, 2015

Grief and Gratitude



We are going fishing soon to a place that is part of my make up.
A place that Dad loved and took us to several times a year.

 The year he passed, we started a tradition of getting together as a family once a year in the Fall for a camping trip to our favorite fishing spot.
A chance for the cousins to make memories.
A place to feel closer together and closer to Dad.





 It's a small piece of iconic America.
Unchanged since the 60's.
Maybe even before.
Where the kids bug the poor owner for candy in his shop all.day.long....until Mom and Dad have to tell them to take a break.


 We hike and take in the sweetness of leaves crisp and colored.
The kids play, swing, and ride bikes.
But mostly we fish.


And run from too-friendly raccoons that think you have a treat for them.


I can feel him there...my Dad.
He is on the dock with us, sitting on the bench, baiting his hook.
Just there, the happiest with his family. That was his love and his legacy.
And that gives us joy.

{2009....my Dad and his brother top right. Both went home 2011 & 2013}.

I think all too often we think that grief goes away, and we tuck it away it deep down inside...
carrying on with life and getting used to a new normal.
I am not sure that grief ever does elude a person who loses someone they love so much.
 I still shed tears almost daily because I miss my Dad.
I can feel his heart strings tied to mine all the way to heaven.
But I am grateful for that.
 I am grateful for love that transcends.
Pain dulls a little over time, but that empty spot is still open in my heart.

A friend shared this quote with me the other day, and I think it sums up what God means to do with our grief.

The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other
 and to be stretched large by them.
How much sorrow can I hold?
That's how much gratitude I can give.

I am so grateful for the gift my Dad is even to this day.
That hole in my heart if filled with a certain warm cup of thankfulness that I am stretched farther in my faith, farther in my empathy and understanding of others, widened to what it means to have another day together.

It's true: grief really can fill a heart with gratitude :)



~Julia
.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Very Favorite Fall Soups

Maybe it is the harvest from the garden, a sort of finishing round of applause for the vegetables.
Maybe it is just the cooler nights
The sweater weather around the corner.
Soups beckon to be made this time of the year, providing a simplistic meal, a quick meal to put together, and even a perfect meal for guests.
Paired with a crusty bread and salad...maybe a pie for dessert...you have one fantastic meal.

Here are some of my favorites...









And bread....who can live without it?
Here are some great recipes...



And dessert....every bite screaming Fall.




~Julia

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