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The Time Has Come

January 3, 2017

Does anyone else remember Golly from Harriet the Spy saying:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things”.

That little bit that Golly says to Harriet has always stuck in my mind. It’s from a Lewis Carroll poem and while the poem ends up in a walrus and carpenter eating some oysters, the words have mean something more to me.

When I hear these words, I instantly think of turning points and change. Of course, with a new year, who wouldn’t find this phrase a little applicable?

So indeed, the time has come to talk of many things.

Last year when I began this blog, it was purely experimental. I figured I would run it for a year and see if I could make a go of it. If it didn’t work out, I’d close up shop and no harm no foul. A year has come (what!?!?) and I had to make the decision of whether or not I would continue on with this experiment.

I really hesitated to keep this going. There have been months at a time where I cannot tend to blog content because of school. There have been so many times when I haven’t been able to find my voice. There have been SO many times when I’ve worried that if I keep this going there’s a sort of narcissism or self-promotion in doing so. The last is my biggest concern however my goal is to use this site as a place for growth, inspiration, and encouragement.

However, as large as all of those concerns are, there is a greater reality. That reality is I can reach more people and offer ideas and encouragement by partaking in this experiment than not. So with that, I am pressing on with some exciting things to come in 2017!

There are some things I hope to bring to Louis and Elm in 2017 that reflect what I really love and value.

  • Adventure: Travel, new life stuff, all of it.
  • Authenticity: I try so hard to say what I mean and mean what I say. I want to promote that and promote that feeling within others. Anything here will be something I believe in, promote, or just ideas I love.
  • Aesthetic: I love pretty and beautiful things and events. Some of this beauty comes from things and some is human beauty. Good news… I plan to share both! Coming this year, I hope to provide a link to shop art that I make for the home for you to share in. I also plan on celebrating awesome human moments.

These are all areas that I want to continually focus on. Call me “triple A”.

For those who have stopped by and visited, “Thank you so much”.

I look forward to moving this forward with hope and joy.

Happy 2017!

Authentic

A BIG “thank you”

September 10, 2016

“My home and my space should be a functional and beautiful representation of life. It should allow comfort and should allow us to open the doors and make people feel welcome in our home. Some of that is the environment and some of that is the heart.”


I start this week mentioning this post by one of my favorite bloggers Emily.

I’m going to start with that because she just hit the nail on the head for how I feel about decorating and items.

Definitely read her post. Her family of six spent about 3 1/2 months traveling around the United States and sleeping mainly in an airstream trailer. They adventured and experienced tiny living. It sounds amazing! She came home to all of their things and rather than feeling shame or disgust, she embraced how certain items create home and aesthetic and thus one’s ability to open their door to others. That’s an oversimplified version at best.

Why do I mention this post?

I have been struggling for about two years with this concept. It started after we were in a bible study group. People would come into our small little apartment and make comments about my decorating. I tended to move things around a lot and acquire different things to make it more cozy or inviting – because let’s be real – studying God’s word while you are feeling uncomfortable or in a sterile space can be hard.

As God’s creatures, I think some or maybe even many of us appreciate aesthetic and beauty – why do people think instagram and pinterest are so popular?? – we LOVE the idea of comfort and inspiring beauty.

That’s the approach I took and still try to take with our space. I want things to be functional and aesthetically pleasing for our family. It allows us to feel comfort and functionality in our space and to feel inspired enough to get tasks done and to just sit.

However, after many bible study nights, after people left, I’d feel this horrible mixture of pride – how nice that they appreciate the vibe of my space – and a mixture of anger and deep cutting sadness – that person made kind of a dig at this or that or had a tone about my switching things around -. While some comments were nice, some began to cut deeper and deeper as intentions behind them felt pointed and like maybe somehow my likes and gifts were not okay and not glorifying to God.

Trust me – I examined this again and again. Did I spend too much money? Was I ungracious? Had I said something else to miff this or that person toward those comments? Should I tone it down? Should I just not buy or show up with anything different (even if I’d had a purse for ten years)? It became ridiculous.

I cannot describe how horrible this period of life felt. I constantly felt uneasy and judged. I didn’t like going to bible study outings or events because even if it wasn’t in my home, girls would make passive statements about my decor abilities (sometimes with kindness but often with a hint of just something else). Call it paranoia or call it well…

This really severed the relationship, amongst other things, with this group of people. Eventually to the point (culminated with some other concerns) that we left the church and have not really found a new church home.

For a long time, all of this because of my decor and my baking. In my heart, I internalized it as me doing something wrong to cause people to view me as shallow or uppity or whatever. It didn’t matter if I helped that person out in a million other ways – in my mind aesthetics must = self-serving.

This to the point that I hardly touched anything in our space for a year.

And you all, I was so upset. I still can’t fully think about some of our “past life” as I call it because the hurt is still there. It’s less and less with distance and time, but it’s time to let it go away.


So tying this back into Emily’s post.

When I read Emily’s words I just wanted to throw my arms around her and hug her sweet self. I wanted to say “thank you” and I will.

My home and my space should be a functional and beautiful representation of life. It should allow comfort and should allow us to open the doors and make people feel welcome in our home. Some of that is the environment and some of that is the heart.

That is my mission statement for our space. That right there.

Home should be home. It may involve mismatched items or perfectly collected antiques. In all reality, it doesn’t matter as long as it is something that creates beautiful joy and comfort.

My goal is to help others create this regardless of their space – rental, shared space, new home, old home.

My goal is also to let people in again. I know that may sound so silly, but I have literally and figuratively not allowed people into our space for quite some time. If I have let someone in, it’s because I really trust them and trust they will not make me feel like my love of colors and textures and comfort = the devil.

I know it’s rather a long and heavy post, but I just want to encourage others to do the same.

Please don’t shut off a God-given talent (like I did) if you can love others with it.

Please find people that support you and help nurture abilities.

Please don’t treat other’s talents as superfluous or silly. We are each given special qualities that can make the world or our communities better. Learning how to use those things in a humble and glorifying (not to us) way is important. Would I say that maybe I was so affected because some of my self-worth was tied up in my ability to make things nice – sure. I’d also say that some of it could be people inherently matter to people.

Words and tones and looks all affect others deeply. If you think they don’t go ask someone about a time that they were deeply hurt. I’d almost guarantee that how someone else made them feel, impacted them very greatly in whatever situation it was.

Above all, know that there is a bigger God out there that gave you unique and special gifts. The things that you are passionate about? The things that you daydream about? Those are potentially areas of your life that may be gifts that you can develop and share with others – not as idols or Gods themselves, but as ways to serve the community in which you live.

I end with this:

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Authentic

Jeep Wagoneer

May 16, 2016

Do you all remember Homeward Bound? Not only is that one of the quintessential movies from my childhood, but so many things in my life link back to that film.

For example: every time I see a golden retriever I think “Shadow” or any time I think of porcupine quills (because obviously this thought occurs frequently) I think “poor Chance”.

Then there’s the car. You know the one. The Jeep Cherokee with wood panelling….that looks like the magnificent wagoneer. Here’s a quick fact you need to know about me…I am obsessed with the Jeep Wagoneer. I cannot help it. I LOVE that wood panel, boxy thing it has going on.

Other things I love. Accessories or decor with wagoneer images associated. I can’t even.

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Crabandcleek

Crab and Cleek has the coolest totes. The totes have pineapples or flamingos on them. There are some with thermos images on them and crabs and more. I wish I didn’t already have a giant tote because I would be all over this.

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Erin Vaughan Etsy Print

Actually, while you are there check out Erin Vaughan’s entire shop. It has the cutest and most charming illustrations.

What things really charm you? What pictures or prints make you go “I must have that”? :]

Amusement Authentic

From the Mouths of Babe

April 5, 2016

You all. I just can’t even.

I’ve been watching kiddos for a long time now and the things that come out are just too great. It’s probably one of those situationally funny things, but for the sake of sharing, I must tell you the recent funnies.

Me: Do you still like that Shakira song best?

Kid (3yrs): Yes.

Me: How are you feeling about our girl Taylor Swift?

Yes: (Deadpan) She’s amazing.

 

Kid: Ewwwwwww.

Picks up a waffle fry but like a butt fry.

Kid: Here. You eat it Miss Meaghan.

Waits expectantly.

Me: Shake your booty, shake your booty (while dancing the fry around)

Kid: Miss Meaghan..just eat the butt.

 

Kid: Peeeeyoouuuu

Takes her stuffed animal and places the arm over the nose area

Me: What’s your bunny smelling?

Kid: The food I’m not going to eat.

-Bahahahhaha, well played

 

Me: Look! It’s just like Miss Meaghan!

I point to a panda bear because you know, white skin, black hair, dark circles around my eyes from tiredness.

Kid: Hmmmm

Looks at the panda.

K: Nope

Me: What do you mean nope?

Kid: You don’t have hairy ears. You aren’t a panda.

-I love that she really was evaluating if I WAS in fact a panda bear.

 

Me: Tell me your stuffed animals names.

Kid: This one is Monty. This one is “I Love Lucy”. This one is ….”Maury”.

Me: Do you know the paternity of all three stuffed animals?

Kid: Blank expression.

-I just couldn’t not with Maury as a name.

I am continually blown away by how serious and yet sweetly funny the things kids say are. I wish I could take photos of all the scenarios in which these conversations occur.

What makes you chuckle?

Authentic

Words That Matter

March 25, 2016

My family lost our very special neighbor this week. She was ninety-four years old and just quite the lady. I remember walking over to her house during high school and sitting down while she told me about being a principal during school desegregation in Louisville. She told me about her experience and about what she had learned from it. She had an incredible ability to reflect and to give through her reflections.

This lady lived her life consistent with being Jesus to others. She loved others and loved them well. She fed the groundhog that appeared in her backyard. Up until a few years ago, she pulled her own trashcan up from the bottom of her driveway…which was a hill. What a woman.

I will miss seeing her when I go to visit but I am so thankful that we moved next door to such an incredible person.

With all of this in mind, I thought I’d share some special words from this sweet lady and some from other mentors that have passed. My hope is that they make you think like they made me think.

“Just keep moving honey. No one can make you stop.”

From a teacher that passed:

“Mean what you say, and say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.”

From a holocaust survivor:

“Be a bandaid to the world. Don’t ever forget.”

From a college friend now gone:

“HEYYYY!!!!!”- usually accompanied by a hug and genuine grin.

From a grandma I married into:

“That is just the best!”- Always, always having a positive message about life and loving others.

 

You all. I have been incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. To have people that are so worth remembering and that their words have stuck with me for years is incredible. I hope that this gives you a little opportunity to remember the people and the words that have impacted your life.

And if you will…say a little thank you for the people that have loved you, believed in you, and really cared about you.

Authentic

Spring Forward

March 12, 2016

Losing an hour always feels a little heartbreaking to me. That is, until I realize that it will appear lighter outside later into the evening. Holler.

I am all about that.

With “Spring forward” comes some ideas about how I can mentally move myself in a direction that anticipates growth in my life.

So here are some things I am going to do to move and grow this spring:

  1. Keep working out.
  2. Try to cook a more seasonal meal at least twice in the Spring- this is legitimately the most I can hope for (insert that emoji with the crying tears)
  3. Get my oil changed. – It will literally keep me moving forward. Nuff said.
  4. Plan a trip to visit my Texas friends.
  5. Plan an actual vacation for me and my dude.
  6. Read a book or just anything non-related to school.
  7. Drink a little.

Okay, so I realize that may be a partially humorous list. The working out thing falls to the wayside at least four days a week due to busyness and school. I want to work out, but it would mean not eating. That sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not. That’s how packed my schedule is some days. #onemoreyear of school that is.

The trip component is also weighing pretty heavily on my mind. I have travelled quite a bit in the last year, but with school and various obligations, the relaxation factor has been low. I miss my college buddies a ton and could use the love and support that they have given me over the years, but in person. I miss them and want to give them legit hugs. I also miss time with my dude to just be and explore. As we are both doing graduate level work, we can’t do anything lately without feeling like we are wasting time for projects or homework- sad reality.

I should note though that I did have a nice trip to San Francisco recently to visit my childhood best friend and that was good though it rained and rained. It’s always nice to be with someone who just gets you.

I also had a nice visit with a pal and her man and that was also refreshing just to see them and chill a little bit.

The final two are to read and drink. I wish I could make this sound like I’m going to sit around with a special cocktail and philosophize on something but in reality I really will probably drink a Guiness and read some chick-lit.

In order to move forward a little, I need to allow myself to just be a person for a while. You know? It helps keep me grounded and helps me to make bigger and better goals.

So what are your plans to “spring forward”? Any fun upcoming trips or events to look forward to to refresh your life?

Authentic

Show I Love: Fresh Off the Boat

February 23, 2016

I will probably shame myself and my family as I admit this, but I love T.V. I watch so many types of shows and like the background news that T.V. offers.

I have shows I watch every week, but one in particular just makes me happy; Fresh Off the Boat. This show is just so great.

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This show makes me happy for a variety of reasons. The first is that it’s set in the 1990’s. It revisits some of the things that were culturally pertinent to me then and now, (never grow up). The second is that the family is so likable and funny. They have whims that they act on and flaws, but they also learn from their experiences. The final reason this show makes me happy, is that the oldest son, Eddie, is super into 90’s music. He takes on the personality of the music groups he likes and it just cracks me up.

On top of it all, this show is so well-acted. It will keep you laughing and loving on the Huang family.

This show airs Tues. 8/7c on ABC. Definitely check it out.

Authentic Music

Mixed Tape

February 19, 2016

I am no musician. I super struggle with rhythm and the dexterity required to play an instrument. I can’t even play an air guitar..I always strum in the wrong direction lol. Though no musician. I love music. I love the feelings that music draw out of us.

I remember watching The Holiday in my teens and thinking that the character Jack Black plays has the coolest job. He composes music for movies. How cool is that!?! To be able to give background to a storyboard seems just amazing. I would so love to do that if I had the skill.

My civilian equivalent of that job is making a mixed tape- or a playlist as the young kids call it- to depict the moods and moments of life.

So without further ado, here is my February 2016 “mix tape”

  1. Ophelia- The Lumineers
  2. Pillow talk- Zayn
  3. All Night Long- My Morning Jacket (I only listen to this on YouTube)
  4. Sweet By and By: Miranda Lambert
  5. With a Little Help From My Friends: Joe Cocker
  6. Cry to Me: Solomon Burke
  7. My Church: Maren Morris
  8. Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked: Lennon and Maisy Stella
  9. Darlin’: Houndstooth
  10. Don’t Let Me Down: The Chainsmokers
  11. Southern Girl: Amos Lee

I do tend to listen to the same songs over and over again until I get sick of them. So, you know, take this with that in mind. I also like to pull some oldies, some country, alternative, pop, etc. I am not music specific at all. I like it all- except jazz and death metal. I strongly dislike both of those genres in general.

What songs or artists would you recommend?

Authentic DIY

Loving on the Significant Other

February 9, 2016

I met my husband when I took a Human Performance tennis class at Baylor. I had switched my scheduled class last minute to be with my friends. Hey, no shame. During class I kept lopping balls off toward other courts and this nice guy would toss them back as I ran like a dope after them.

That same guy thought I was doing it on purpose. I wasn’t…I am just miserable at tennis. Though I wasn’t purposefully hitting balls in his direction, I did notice that he was very sweet.

I was in my flirty stage that semester. I had a newfound confidence from working with guys at summer camp that I hadn’t had since coming from an all girls high school. I claim that that’s what made me open my big mouth and start chatting him up one day. Five and a half years later, we are married and still best buddies.

There’s your sap.

The thing about our relationship is that he always comes up with far better gifts for me than I do for him. I just can’t figure out what to give him. He’s humble, he’s not self-serving in any way, (aka humble), he likes tools, and he likes when I bake for him. These things go into finding a way to show him love.

Most often, I choose to go the baking route to show him love. For smaller holidays or every day little celebrations, I like to show him love with this simple gesture.

Though not every significant other is just like mine, I would suggest that most aren’t going to turn down your baked goods. 🙂

Today I’m sharing a little Valentine’s Day surprise that you can make very easily for your significant other.

Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Rolls

Here’s what you will need:

-One Can/Roll of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (I buy a smaller roll but feel free to go big!)

-A baking sheet or round cake pan

-Oven

-Red Food Coloring (optional)

It really is that simple.

Step-by-Step:

-The first thing I do is to crack open my can/roll of cinnamon rolls and lay them on a baking sheet. As I use a smaller package, I do not have enough rolls to fill a round cake pan so this is my method.

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-Next I preheat the oven to 375 degrees for my nonstick sheet. Follow the directions on the can as they differ for sheets used, etc.

-The cinnamon rolls should bake for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure the bottom of your rolls aren’t getting  too crispy.

-Once done baking, allow the rolls to cool for a few minutes before icing. While waiting you can add a few drops of red food coloring to your icing and mix with knife or spoon.

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-Use a knife to spread the icing onto the roll in a heart shape. Your rolls will still be warm enough to soften the icing. The heart will typically spread and drip a little bit but this is okay. Plan on serving immediately or freezing to keep the heart from drooping too much.

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-Serve to your beau!

This is so so stupid easy and just a fun way to add some Valentine’s Day cheer to the rolls. It’s a simple and nice gesture to feed to your person too!

Looking for some other simple love ideas for your significant other? Check these out.

  • Do a chore for them that they don’t enjoy. Every one of us has a chore we do not like to do. Mine is vacuuming. His is ehhhh probably laundry. When you serve the person you love in some way it says to them that you are thinking about them.
  • Write a nice card or note. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to do this. I love to surprise my husband with a note in his wallet or his car visor that tells him I’m proud of him and hope he has a good day. He even saves them which is sweet but embarrassing when I write it on a scrap of paper.
  • Block out a time when you can be together with no distractions like phones, homework, tasks, etc.  How often do we give people only part of our attention? I touched on this with loving on kids, but the same goes for adults: listening and spending time together makes such a difference. You can play a game together or just eat and chat.
  • Hugs.
  • Give a little gift. I enjoy this probably more than he does, but I love getting little presents and tokens. I also like to do this for others…especially when it’s a surprise or not required. Little tokens like someone’s favorite coffee or a new book by an author they like can make someone’s day. When you give gifts that demonstrate thinking about that person, it shows you care about them.

I’m not sure if any of you all noticed, but these suggestions actually align with a VERY popular book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages. This book talks about how we each experience love in different ways. My crafting and baking for both the kids and hubs in my life suggest I really like to show love through gifts. This is because I often experience love through gifts – yep. I like stuff, experiences, all of that jazz. My husband, though he likes my baking, shows his love and experiences love in different ways. For him, though the baked good is nice, he likes that I am fulfilling a need for him -that of eating. I am serving him in some way. I know that may sound old school, but it really is a super interesting concept and something that can help you better understand those around you.

I hope these suggestions help as you look toward making the special person in your life feel valued this Valentine’s Day. I recommend checking out the book if you haven’t already and seeing if you learn something new along the way.

What are ways you like to show those around you love daily?

Authentic DIY

Loving on the Kids in Your Life

February 5, 2016

Valentine’s Day is coming up. There may be a lot of pressure for romance or big gestures on Valentine’s Day, but I’m here to tell you how small gestures can make those in your life feel special and cared for this Valentine’s Day. Today’s topic is how to make the kids in your life feel an extra little dose of love.

Even if you are not a parent, chances are you may be a relative, family friend, or caretaker for a kiddo. I don’t have any kids, but I do have beautiful nieces and nephews and two great kids that I nanny for. One thing I’ve figured out from being around kids is that kids LOVE special days. There is so much excitement for them. I love the excitement they bring to a special day and I also love them – hence I try to do a little something for each of them.

This year I plan on using these cute mailboxes I found at Target’s dollar spot to hold sprinkle cookies and little notes for the kids I nanny for.

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On the little chalk heart, I am going to use a silver Sharpie to write their names. Then I am going to use my heart shaped cookie cutter to trace out note cards for each of them.

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On each heart, I am going to write something I think is special about them.

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This is just a little token to surprise each of them and to tell them why they are special to me. It’s a way for me to show them love, but it’s also a ‘thank you’ gift. I am so thankful for the joy and the curiosity these two have brought to my life. They have made my transition to Chicago so much better (and while I won’t tell them all of that) I do want them to feel the care I have for them.

While this is just one way to show the kids in my life a little extra love, here are some other small gestures that can make kids in your life feel special:

  • Listen to them. This sounds so simple but how often do we check our phones or fiddle with something rather than giving a child a chance to tell his or her thoughts and stories. Ask questions and give them some eye contact. It really does make a difference.
  • Surprise them every now and then. I know it can be a concern that kids are going to be entitled if you give them everything or never say “no”. I certainly understand that. With this in mind, I would suggest surprising them with something small every now and then. It could be a little visit to a favorite place, a treat, new art supplies, or a movie they’ve been longing to see.
  • Hugs. Not all kids are touchy-feely so I say this with a grain of salt. A lot of kids do like hugs or high fives as encouragement. Much like an adult, respect kids’ boundaries, but know that they may need a hug every now and then.
  • Play. You don’t have to be a big kid, but nothing says you care more than getting on the floor and making dinosaur noises. Use your imagination to be there with them.
  • Set boundaries. We may not all be able to do this, but if you are heavily involved in a child’s life then love them and set boundaries. This is both a little and big gesture. I know this may sound counterintuitive, but kids tend to feel safer when there are some rules and expectations. You can check out what expectations may be age appropriate here, or here.
  • Encourage them! I don’t know about you but I tend to be in my head a lot. I have to remember to communicate to those around me what impresses me or brings me joy. Catch a kid doing something good. I mean it. Catch them doing something good. Tell them how great it is and maybe even why. This helps build a kid’s self-worth and make them feel awesome.

I hope you enjoyed this little look on how small things can make the kids around you feel loved. I will be back later next week with ideas on how to make significant others feel loved.

Happy Thursday!