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Hello 2015: Welcoming Grace

Brave-2015

It’s been a little quiet around here with the whirlwind of celebrations and chaos commonly known as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Olivia’s Second Birthday. More to come on each of these topics, but for now, I’m savoring the sunshine. It was nearly 60 degrees today- in January!

Did you pick a new One Little Word for 2015? I’m keeping my word from last year, Light. I’m going to continue creating “Light” in my daily life by pursuing my passions, removing unwanted stress, staying in the present moment, and building healthy routines. BUT, I’m also adding another word: Grace. The pairing of Light + Grace together just feels right. 2014 was quite frankly a doozy- an incredible avalanche of deadlines, commitments, and uncertainties. By adding “Grace” to my yearly mantra, I’m going to give myself permission to embrace imperfection in the pursuit of Light.

OLW-2015-Grace

Emily Ley couldn’t have said it better: “I will hold myself to a standard of Grace not perfection.” This beautiful saying is now on my home screen as a daily reminder- it’s #16 on her collection of gorgeous FREE phone wallpapers.

I’m dreaming big for 2015- here are a few glimpses of my vision board for this year:

2015-Vision-Board

I couldn’t resist adding a few aqua and gold paper butterflies. Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year!

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One Little Word: January and February

Loving the process of making my word visible this year by participating in Ali Edward’s One Little Word Class.  Here’s a peak at January:

One Litte Word January

One of the writing prompts included finding a quote reflective of your word.  I had a hard time choosing just one so I created a full page of “Light” quotes.  In between several blocks of text, I scattered various sizes of silver, aqua, and vellum stars.

OLW Light Quotes

OLW Light Quote Detail

Download a copy if this visual resonates with you: Light Quotes Printable

Action cards for February are prepped and awaiting my text for specific measurable goals.  For the monthly reflections layout, I used pieces of a transparency printed with patterned clouds in 3 of the squares.

OLW February

In the process of preparing these pages, I realized that I wanted to create something that captured the word GROW for the prior year.  I wasn’t able to keep up with any of the monthly prompts in terms of creatively documenting our time.  To honor our big year, I created these pages:

OLW Grow 2013

I enclosed my word within a text frame documenting all the ways we were constantly required to GROW.  Thicker number letters, a delicate leaf die-cut, and flower punches embellished the layout.

On the backside, I created a text block of song lyrics that were particularly meaningful to me.  A few of my favorite pictures, polka dot washi tape, and a simple journaling card completed the look.  (Note: I used the weld function on my silhouette to make the “Grow” text appear more scripted.)

OLW Grow Song

A few favorite details:

OLW Grow Details

As February draws to a close, I’m really excited to see what March and the rest of the year brings!

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Valentine Recipe Idea

A few weeks ago, I attended a class taught by STL Veg Girl, Caryn Dugan.  I sampled tofu and seitan dishes… and actually LOVED them!  I tried recreating one of her amazing recipes at our annual Pinks and Drinks girls get-together before Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Mousse

The chocolate mousse was a hit!  After requests, I mailed the recipe as a Valentine.  I used Carina Gardner’s recipe card from Jessica Sprague’s digital shoppe as a base for the text.  On the back, I paired a journaling card from the Blowing Kisses collection with my favorite dessert quote about friendship.

Valentine Recipe Gift 3

Valentine Recipe Gift

This quick and easy Valentine gift idea also gave me the chance to test out the print and cut tools on the Silhouette… love the ability to cut out any digital shape I want!  I used this feature to make the little banner tags and scalloped recipe note!

Valentine Recipe Gift 2

Valentine Recipe Gift 4

If you ever have a chance to take one of Caryn’s classes, you won’t regret it!  Love having delicious ideas on how to accomplish my goal of incorporating more plant based foods into my diet.

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Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

In the spirit of making my word for 2014 visible and elevating my health, I wanted to share my favorite green smoothie recipe.  It’s beyond simple and requires just a few ingredients:

Green SmoothieIn a typical batch, we blend:

  • 2 large stems of Kale leaves
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 apple
  • 4 carrots
  • a small handful of grapes
  • 7-8 ice cubes

Green Smoothie 3This recipe yields about 2.5 full glasses of green juice.  What’s not to love about this simple snack?  Its delicious taste is only exceeded by it’s gorgeous green hue…. And, it’s Olivia approved!

Green Smoothie 2If you are short on ingredients, don’t worry!  I’ve frequently made this blend using only kale, spinach, and apple.  Guess what?  It’s still delicious.

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30 During My 30th Year

A simple Google search of “30 [Goals] Before [Turning] 30” generates an impressive array of hits.  With my venture into a new decade mere weeks away, I couldn’t resist creating a set of action steps that will hopefully help guide my year of feeling LIGHT.

Inspiring-Quote1.  Dress the Part.  I’ve definitely succumbed to “mommy-mode” attire this year and frequently wear black yoga pants and a comfortable top.  Kelly Rae’s post on her decision to switch up her wardrobe really resonated with me.  Check out her thoughtful Wear Your Joy project HERE.

2.  Schedule Date Night.  James and I have miserably at carving out time for our relationship during the prior year.  I think we went on maybe 3 date nights and 2 additional group events?!  This pitiful number needs to change asap…(this Dating Diva needs to take her own advice…)

3.  See the Ocean.  I love the feeling of infinite possibilities that arises when I stare out at an endless ocean horizon line.  I am craving the sounds, light, and vastness of the sea.

4.  Go on a Trip as a Couple.  We have at least one trip scheduled in June sans baby.  I’m sure it will be incredibly difficult to leave Olivia for a couple of days, but I am looking forward to having time to be just Candice and James– for a few days, we are ditching the titles of Mom, Dad, Financial Provider, and Blogger.

5.  Organize the Craft Room.  My Mom and I typically work on a postage stamp of space- it’s time to find practical solutions for storing a wide range of mixed media.

6.  Submit a Piece to a Major Blog.  Time to step out of my comfort zone.

7.  Finish Olivia’s Baby Book.

8.  See a Concert Live.

9.  Cultivate a Morning Ritual.  Eliminate the chaos and carve out some time for me before Olivia wakes up.

10.  Exercise.  Vague and simple: find a routine that works for me.

11.  Start Meatless Mondays.  I’m a big fan of Kris Carr and haven’t looked at dairy or meat in quite the same way since reading her book Crazy Sexy Diet.  James and I are committed to exploring more plant based meals this year.

12.  Make and Send 30 Cards. 

13.  Pay It Forward.  Try buying someone’s coffee behind me, etc…

14.  Complete a Photo a Day Challenge.  I participated in Heidi Swapp’s Holiday Foto Find in December on Instagram and loved how the prompts helped me observe and document more.

15.  Write Letters to My Daughter.  My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a lovely book for Christmas: My Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Daughter.  So far, I’ve glanced through the pages and started thinking about some of the prompts.  I can already see this collection becoming a treasured reference for both myself and Olivia.

16.  Complete a Healthy Juice Cleanse.

17.  Start a Dinner Club with Friends.  We’ve talked about this one for a long time.  As we’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that our circle of friends meets less regularly- everyone is simply trying to stay afloat with their own responsibilities!

18.  Invest in My Blog.  Craft regular content with a predictable schedule of postings.  I’m going to aim for a post each Monday and Thursday.

19.  Juice, Blend, Repeat.  I truly hope to incorporate more delicious green juices and smoothies into our daily diet.

20.  Cultivate a Sunday Ritual.  Establish a routine to take care of practical household matters and set clear intentions for the following week.

21.  Reorganize My Cookbooks.  Many of the recipes in my collection just don’t make sense given what I’m learning about eating a whole foods diets that is abundant with veggies and lean protein.  It’s time to clear the deck so the most flavorful and healthy ones are easy to find.

22.  Plant an Herb Garden.

23.  Restaurant Tour.

24.  Experiment with Vegan Recipes.  Buy, cook, and eat tofu and tempeh!  Learn how to use my food processor.

25.  Establish Boundaries with Social Media/Technology.  Facebook has evolved into a tool to keep connected to many blogging ventures though the use of private and educational groups.  It’s been increasing difficult to put my phone down and not “check-in” several times a day.

26.  Less Pinning, More Doing.  Simple attitude adjustment: choose action over perfection.

27.  Read a Book for Fun.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve carved out time to read something that wasn’t related to child care, parenting, blogging, etc… I’ve got my eye on Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.

28.  Investigate Volunteer Opportunities.  I’ve been on the board of several organizations that have fizzled out over the course of several months due to a lack of staff support and organizational readiness.  I’d love to utilize my skill set to help a local nonprofit– I’m on the search for a match.

29.  Be Present with Olivia.  Sing, laugh, dance, practice sign language… So many adventures on the horizon to savor.

30.  Spend Time with My Grandparents.  Distance has always been a barrier to seeing them in the past.  With their recent move to an assisted living facility in our area, I’m hopeful that we can make Sunday night dinners a weekly tradition.  Love watching them light up around Olivia.

I really tried to compile a list that didn’t contain any fillers and wouldn’t add to my stress load.  I will admit- it’s a bit scary putting all of this “out there.”  Actually writing it out means that I’m more accountable and [hopefully] on the path to manifesting these goals.

What would be on your list, friends?

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One Little Word 2014

On December 30th, I saw a Facebook status post from Kris Carr that stopped me in my tracks.  She eloquently wished her followers a year of ease.  Her words truly resonated with me.  She said:

“For me, ease at work and at home equals joy, health, creativity and contentment.  Ease connects me to my internal life.  The more ease I feel, the more grounded my decisions become.  I welcome those things into my life in 2014 and I invite you to join me.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

2013 was so h-e-a-v-y… ripe with a murky matrix of extreme emotions ranging from pure joy to sheer terror.  We welcomed our most precious gift into the world and were forced to entrust her care to strangers almost immediately.  Nothing about the first couple of months of 2013 was normal.  We waited.  We prayed.  We slowly figured it out and mourned the loss of traditional family bonding moments.

Each milestone was celebrated.  Life simultaneously moved at 500 mph and stood still as we practiced patience, grew confidence, and learned to be Olivia’s health advocates.  GROW was such a fitting word for 2013.  On some days, we stretched to our max and redefined our breaking point.

We are so blessed to come out of this year with a healthy baby girl, a stronger marriage, and deeper friendships.

In the spirit of ease and Kris Carr’s eloquent words, I hope to embrace all things LIGHT for 2014.  To me, the word light encompasses far more than just sunshine– it’s a mental attitude that combines a sense of ease and confidence that ultimately manifests in one’s physical body and spiritual faith.

OLW 2014 Light

What do my LIGHT GOALS for 2014 look like?

Lightness of Body:

  • losing the weight I don’t need any more
  • taking exquisite care of my health

Spiritual Light:

  • developing a self-care practice
  • being intentional with my time

Daily Life:

  • laughing more
  • not taking things too seriously
  • practicing gratitude
  • trusting more
  • staying in the present moment

What word is guiding your year?

 

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Happy New Year!

A bit of radio silence for the past few weeks.  In the short span of 3 weeks, the following was accomplished:

  • finished post projects related to The Dating Divas blog and the Jessica Sprague community.
  • planned Olivia’s first birthday and completed over 10 handmade projects to complement her theme.
  • hosted 11 people at our house and cooked for 14 over the course of a week!
  • transformed our kitchen mess into a beautiful and practical space.
  • cleaned the entire house.
  • endured and recovered from the stomach flu!

I’m starting to feel tired even reading this list… phew!  I’m really glad the month of December is behind us.  It was filled to the brim with amazing memories…. and enough stress to power a small city.  It was a fitting end to an incredibly intense year.  Adios, 2013- you were filled with the brightest highs and the darkest lows.  I am so looking forward to exploring a new season of calm and clarity.  I finally picked my word for this year- Light.  More to come on what this word means to me and how I hope to embracing it’s multiple meanings.

OLW2014

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Reaching…

Motherhood-Reaching

It’s the end of September and this lovely clematis plant is still blooming.  It survived a grueling pruning in July and rewinding of its delicate stems.  Currently, one of its purple blossom gracefully swoops out underneath the mailbox and waits patiently for its daily dose of afternoon sun.  As I was pulling into the driveway a couple of days ago, the thought hit me that the vine is literally reaching for what it needs.

I keep noticing this little plant and thinking about the concept of reaching.  This past year has been full of so many “reaches” for me.

Reaching for patience.  Reaching for normalcy.  Reaching for grace.  Reaching for inspiration.  Reaching out for help from pediatric specialists.  Reaching for information.  Reaching for answers.  Reaching for certainty.  Reaching for strength.  Reaching for joy.

At the beginning of December of last year, I had full plans of following along with Ali Edwards’ project One Little Word for 2013.  And, then Olivia came early.  Our hearts overflowed with love for our precious new baby while our brains raced to manage the myriad of challenges that are associated with prematurity.  Scrapbooking plans in the early months obviously flew out the window.  But, I knew what word I would have chosen for 2013 immediately and without hesitation: GROW.  James and I were expected to grow up, grow stronger, grow faster than we ever thought possible.

Today, we are still reaching.  But, with a little more grace, humor, and wisdom along the way.

When I see that gorgeous clematis bloom, I smile.  Yes, it’s reaching.  But, from another vantage point, its graceful stretch serves to welcome me home, a beautiful reminder that I’m returning to my incredible family.

There’s beauty in the reach.

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