WFMW: New Seasons & New Art (and a Discount!)

WFMW: New Seasons & New Art

For the first time since beginning preschool, Annalyn is not excited to start the school year. Buying a new Frozen backpack helped a little, but she’s still not very pumped about the second grade. I think it’s because until back to school night, we won’t know who her teacher is or who her classmates are.

She adored her first-grade teacher and loved being in the same class as her kindergarten friend for a second year in a row. And the thought of losing both of those comfortable relationships in second grade has her worried.

We’ve had lots of conversations about it – about how she’s loved all her teachers and will probably love her new one, too; about how she might be in the same class as her favorite friends and there’s no sense worrying about it until she knows for sure; about how even if she’s separated from her friends, it will be okay (IT WILL BE OKAY!) and she might even make new friends. I even slipped in the fact that if she’s in a different class than some of her former classmates, that might even be a good thing. (Punk kid who picked on her AND taught her bad words? I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU.)

The truth is, though, that I understand her anxiety about the changes coming with a new year. I’ve been feeling a bit of that myself, as the release date of my book grows nearer. I feel like things are going to change in a big way next year – probably in a good way, but certainly in unknown ways. And while I’m as excited as a seven-year-old with a new Elsa and Anna bag, I’m also a little nervous, too.

This verse in Habakkuk is one of my very favorite and has been for the past decade. As my life has twisted and turned down a path that I never would have imagined, with changes and surprises around every bend, this verse has been an anchor. Yes, yes, I know the Lord has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me. And those words are big and bold on my living room wall.

But this little verse in a little book of the Old Testament? Well, they’re not just comforting but also exciting. I’m going to be UTTERLY AMAZED at the work He’s going to do! Something I never would have imagined! And I don’t have to. All I have to do is sit back and look – look at the Master’s creation and be AMAZED.

When my friend Jennifer opened a new shop and invited me to shop for a new print, I chose this one in about 8.3 seconds. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one I wanted to frame for my home, the one I wanted to place somewhere I’ll see it every day and remember to be still and know He’s God – but also to wait with expectancy and excitement.


The fun news is that Jennifer is offering all of my readers a special discount to her new shop! So even if these words don’t float your boat, you are likely to find something at Studio JRU that does. The thing I love most about Jennifer’s art is the variety and the heart behind it. I love reading her posts at (in)courage and learning the story behind the art, and I love that no matter what mood I’m in or room I want to brighten, I can find something in her shop that fits the bill perfectly.

To find your own piece of encouragement or inspiration, visit Jennifer is offering a 20% discount if you use the code newshop! (exclamation mark included). Happy shopping – and happy back to school!


What reassures you during seasons of change?

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

3 Things I Learned from the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse


On Mother’s Day Mark, the girls and I went to church and then to lunch. Then I left the ones who made me a mother at home and went out for the afternoon with my brother. In my defense it gave them time for naps and a quick trip to Target for their last-minute shopping. Also? It’s kind of what I wanted for “my” day anyway.

James and I went to the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, a gorgeous historic home in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Kansas City. The Designers’ Showhouse is a fundraiser for the The Kansas City Symphony and its youth programs – and it’s basically like seeing a DIY Network show in person. As we walked through each room and saw its unique design, it was a lot of fun to see so many different styles from various Kansas City designers. And even though design and decorating is not exactly my strength, I learned a few things.


First of all, it seems that “put a bird on it” is still a thing. Or maybe it’s not. But including little touches that fit into a theme throughout your home might be. James and I had fun trying to spot all the birds used in most rooms of the Showhouse (as well as an interesting armadillo, for whatever that’s worth).


Secondly, I was reminded that details (even those of the non-bird kind) matter. James is very tall, but even if it weren’t for his height, I am certain we would have noticed the beautiful light fixtures featured in each room. Each one was different – from what we expected to see and from every other room. It was those added touches that made this home a Showhouse.


Finally, I realized that when decorating, I’ve got to think more creatively. Out of the box, you know. On one wall, I saw wooden dough bowls turned into mirrors, and in another, I was intrigued by the way all the books had their spines facing the wall. The desk above was decorated with a book simply opened with its pages looped and folded. And don’t forget that armadillo.


I also learned that it’s okay – and sometimes brilliant – to mix styles, interspersing traditional and contemporary pieces throughout a space; that the Nester knows what she’s talking about with that vignette business (I get it now! … Yes, I’m slow.); and that I really love abstract paintings by Kansas City artists (but, sadly, will never be able to afford the original pieces!).

Local friends, if you’re looking for something to do this month or would like to support the symphony, I definitely recommend checking out the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse. The Showhouse is in Hyde Park near 39th & Gillham, and you can purchase tickets at the door. It’s open 10-4 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10-8 on Thursdays, and 12-5 on Sundays through June 7. You can buy tickets and find more info at

I received complimentary tickets to the Designers’ Showhouse but all elementary design lessons were my own!

Organize Your Life {$250 Giveaway}

Organize Your Life - a $250 giveaway to!

Last month my friend Kayse wrote an extremely thorough review of several great family and business planners. It was awesome. AND it introduced me to Erin Condren.

Maybe you already know her (I do tend to be the last to hear about awesome things…), but in case you don’t, Erin is a designer who makes the prettiest, most colorful things to organize your life. Planners and calendars and labels and address books and note cards and SO MUCH PRETTY PAPER GOODNESS.

That’s why it was a no-brainer when Kayse asked me to partner with her for a big giveaway to Erin Condren’s store. Of course I will!

That’s right – one lucky reader will win $250 to Erin’s shop. (That’s a lot of pretty things to organize your life!) Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 Ways to Use Lemons


We’ve talked about all the many things you can do when life gives you lemons. But I noticed as I clicked around the internet that lemons are useful for a lot more than just food. As it turns out, there are lots of practical uses for lemons, too. You can Google or search Pinterest and find details and instructions for all of these, but I thought I’d get you started with a list.

I still say lemonade is a good go-to use of lemons (not to mention the Lemon Chicken dinners), but here are 21 more things you can with the fruit:

  • Freshen the fridge
  • Refresh cutting boards
  • Keep ants out of the kitchen
  • Keep guacamole green
  • Keep fruit from turning brown
  • Make soggy lettuce crisp
  • Freshen your breath
  • Clear up dandruff
  • Remove berry stains (on skin)
  • Soothe poison ivy rashes
  • Whiten delicate fabrics
  • Clean tarnished brass
  • Rid clothes of mildew
  • Whiten your nails
  • Freshen your garbage disposal
  • Highlight your hair
  • Shine your sink
  • Exfoliate your feet
  • Disinfect wounds
  • Keep rice from sticking
  • Soothe a sore throat

How do you use lemons in your home?

Photo source

31 Days Lemonade Footer

This post is part of a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a single post by subscribing to this blog. Once you confirm your email subscription, you’ll be entered into an exclusive weekly drawing [during the month of October] for a Daily Grace pitcher from DaySpring.

Choosing the Right Person to Help You Declutter

Last week I sat on the couch while Mark and Smitty finished putting dinner on the table. And then I stood at the counter while Smitty loaded my dishwasher and made the no-bake cookies I was craving. I felt guilty . . . a little. But at nine months pregnant I’ve reached my limit of pretty much everything, and just have to face the fact that I can’t do it all. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

We all have times like that, right? When life is hard or complicated or overwhelming. For me, decluttering anything of substance is also a time like that. Probably because various parts of my house look like this way too often:

cluttered table

Or this:

Dirty Kitchen

Or, SIGH, this:

messy desk

And every year after Christmas (or, really, any kind of break or vacation or long weekend or sickness or busy season or, FINE, regular week with no excuse), it’s even worse. The clutter builds up – sometimes on my dining room table, sometimes on a piano bench or desktop, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes ALL OF THE ABOVE! – and I simply cannot DEAL WITH IT by myself.

Even this week, as I’ve been trying to cram a nursery into a tiny little office slash storage space slash cat room (I KNOW. A CAT ROOM. It’s not really. Whatever. Just go ahead and mock.), I haven’t been able to make a lick of progress without Mark or Annalyn holding my hand.

Yes. I’ve been reduced to decluttering and organizing with my six-year-old.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though she mostly spends her time asking if she wore a certain outfit and squealing over how cute Everything Baby is. Her “help” has made me laugh, really, and think about a few other people who aren’t exactly IDEAL for assisting in the decluttering process.

craft clutter

A Few People to Avoid When Decluttering:

1. The Vicarious Hoarder: You’ll recognize this person by her ability to think of a use for every little ribbon, button or paper scrap in your craft closet. “Oh, but what if you need that later?” is his mantra. STAY AWAY FROM THIS PERSON.

2. The Callous Tosser: On the other hand, this friend or family member has no connection to your stuff whatsoever and doesn’t have patience or interest in your desire to control the chaos with a system. “Just throw it away!” she’ll say, rolling her eyes at your insistence on organization. It’s true; if you haven’t missed it in all the time it’s been in that pile, you might not need it. But this is YOUR stuff, so proceed with caution.

3. The Over Organizer: “I’ve got a bin for that. Oh, and let me bring you the filing cabinet I’ve been saving. Yes, and I’ll just bring that stack of crates I found on sale in case any of them work for you.” Heard any of that before? I have. And it’s just enough to slow down any decluttering momentum I might have accumulated, as I put every single thing from one messy pile into a neat one, waiting for my friend’s miraculous organizing systems.

There’s nothing wrong with accepting help or adopting others’ ideas for organizing your things, but if you’re just swapping one mess (or system that doesn’t work for YOU) for another…well, you’re better off just lugging all that junk to the trash bin or Goodwill!

Of course, your decluttering partner needs will vary from mine. Because STUFF overwhelms me, pregnant or not, I mostly just need someone to listen to me think out loud while answering the occasional not-so-hypothetical question. My husband, my mom, my best friend – who those categories may or may not be loosely based on – are helpful despite their own organizational or decluttering challenges when they simply lend a listening ear and extra arms to carry things from one end of the house to another.

And that silly six-year-old, giggling over THE TINY BABY SOCKS, MOM! THEY’RE SO TINY!? Well, she’s actually been the perfect helper the past few days as I’ve turned our little catch-all room into a passable nursery.

Just in time, too!

I’m scheduled for a C-section this coming Monday, although I’m feeling more and more nervous that this baby won’t wait that long. Over the next few weeks, look for a few guest posts, a few written-before-the-baby-arrived posts, and – fingers crossed – baby pictures! My hope (though nothing resembling a hard and fast plan) is to be back to normal blogging in February, but we’ll just play that by ear.

Until then, I have something to help you with your own decluttering. (Because, seriously, after the Winter Break That Never Ends, you can’t tell me your house is all Everything Has a Place. Even if it is. Don’t tell me that!)

We all need a little help getting rid of clutter and then keeping it away. And UGH, let’s not even talk about actual cleaning. (No, really. Even if I could see my feet these days, I wouldn’t look down there. My beautiful hardwoods are basically covered in a snow and salt layer of grime and topped with a liberal sprinkling of crumbs. I think. I’m not looking.)

So my friend Dana – also known as Nony at A Slob Comes Clean, a blog with realistic cleaning and organizing tips for real people (like us!) – is offering you and me a special deal on her incredibly helpful and fun-to-read ebooks. (Yep. I said cleaning ebooks are fun to read. THEY ARE. Because Dana is hilarious, smart and a super fun person who manages to make even the worst chores – AHEM, cleaning – enjoyable. For real.)


28 Days to Hope for Your Home and Drowning in Clutter? are each $3, and the set of both books is just $5. Just use the code PERFECT between now and Monday, January 13.

I have both these books and have read them more than once. They truly are hugely helpful when it comes to getting your STUFF under control and finding a few simple cleaning routines that aren’t too annoying and really do make a difference.

Who helps you with overwhelming decluttering projects? And, really, what’s the state of your house after the holidays?