Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Upcoming Shows + New Products

I have two shows coming up in the very near future.  I'd love to see you or meet you and share my work with you in person!

Saturday, July 26th 10-5 (Historic Valley Junction)

This will be a smaller show behind Vintage No. 35 in Valley Junction.  There will be a mix of "junk" and handmade goods.  I went last year and am looking forward to being a vendor this year!  


The following weekend, I will be at my first Market Day!  If you are already going to be at the Downtown Farmer's Market, please come visit me at Market Day in the Kirkwood Hotel lobby (just down the street from Java Joe's)

Saturday, August 2nd, 8-1 (Downtown Des Moines)


Alright, now that we have your calendar filled out for the next few weekends, I wanted to show you my latest creations.  I'm really excited about both of these!  As an artist, it's so neat to grow and evolve over time.  I love thinking about what I was designing a year ago vs. what I am doing now.  I hope I am always getting better!  

First up, I was inspired to do some more chalkboard lettering.  I wanted to create a "Give Thanks" print that was versatile for all year round. I always want to be someone who is thankful, no matter what my circumstances are. 

 Located in my shop here.

I have been wanting to do watercolor designs for months now.  I tried it one day, wasn't feeling in the groove, and didn't go back to it for months.  This time, I was determined to make it work!  

I painted two watercolor backgrounds with this exact brush and paint palette. I also drew the "Be Still" phrase with sharpie and scanned them both.  In the computer, I put the files together and voila! 

I printed them for the first time today and am so encouraged by how they turned out.  The peacefulness speaks to my soul.  

These prints can be found in my shop here.

I'm now brainstorming other words I could do with a watercolor background.  "Abide", "Rest" & "You are Loved" come to mind.  What would you want to see in watercolor?


Monday, July 14, 2014

An awesome lunch recipe from my neighbor

As I posted recently, moving to the country has provided us some bumps in the road (literally!) but has also been a huge blessing and rest for our souls. One of our favorite things about where we live is who we live near. We have the sweetest neighbors "across the pond" that are so generous and loving.

They are also some of the most interesting and fun to chat with people I have ever met. We have lots of laughs together. Who knew the country is where all the cool people hide? :)

Last Friday, my neighbor Siobhan, came over to bring me lunch and we chatted for awhile.  It was a nice time, as usual.  She always comes bearing gifts whether it's goodies from the garden, farm fresh eggs, flowers when it's been a rough week (like the time Jared drove his car into the ditch) or chicken soup when I was nauseous and couldn't keep anything down.  I'm constantly amazed by our neighbor's giving hearts.  I thought I was a giver until I met them ;)  

But Friday. Siobhan brought over the best thing she's ever brought.  And I'm pretty sure she just made up the recipe and threw it on a tray to bring to me (she's that awesome!).  She made a sandwich that I couldn't stop thinking about and decided to recreate again today for lunch.  Not only is it SO yummy and healthy but it's beautiful too!  

It's different than most of the boring sandwiches I make, and not being a huge tomato lover, I was surprised by how much I liked it.  It was so good and fun to eat that I had to share it with you here:  

Open-Faced Tomato and Avocado Sandwich 
(Or as I will call it, The Siobhan)

Sliced bread 
Dijon mustard 
Sliced deli meat (turkey, ham, whatever you like)
Ricotta cheese
Sliced avocado
Sliced tomato
Salt and pepper 
Dill or chives 

Toast the bread and spread on the Dijon (I used my favorite kind, the White Wine Dijon by Grey Poupon).  Layer on the meat, avocado, ricotta and tomato (I didn't have ricotta so I left it off and still thought it was awesome).  Season liberally with salt and pepper and add your herbs (Siobhan had dill but I used chives-- both are great!).  

Make a gluten-free version by simply using GF bread. 

This sandwich is super simple to put together-- which is the honest truth because I am pregnant and exhausted and don't make anything that takes over 15 minutes right now ;)

I sort of want to recreate this recipe a lot of different ways.  Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil with balsamic?  Feta and kalamata olives?  I'll let you know if I do and if it turns out! 

Try this recipe, you won't be sorry!  


Friday, July 11, 2014

The joys and realities of living in the country

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be living in the country and loving it, I would have no other choice but to assume that you had me confused with someone else.  I grew up with a single mom.  I was spoiled to the hilt.  I was fifteen the first time I went camping and that was only because my two best friends were going.  My mom and I's idea of "roughing it" was shopping at the sub-par mall on the other side of town.  We didn't go outside a ton, except for the years we lived in Florida. Those were always the best years of my childhood which I attributed to the sunshine and beach within walking distance.  And like a lot of our culture, I'm also a convenience girl and have never lived more than five minutes from multiple restaurants, grocery stores and shopping opportunities.

Fast forward to two years ago.  My husband and I know it's time to move on from our little brick bungalow in the city, but we don't know where we are headed or what's next.  We know we want something that suits us.  Meaning something with character, a nice neighborhood, fun architecture, more square footage for a growing family and after lots of work in our old house, not a fixer-upper.

One day we were traveling back from my in-laws and I got a wild hair (I'm the wild one in the relationship, hubs is the safe and steady one).  "What if we moved to the country?  What if we bought an acreage?"  Jared had lived part of his growing up years on an acreage and I knew those years were special to him.  But I think what really inspired my idea that day was the beautiful view from my car window of the Iowa countryside and the desire to have more space to breath.  We talked for awhile about what country living would look like and what part of Iowa we would choose.  We weren't wanting to uproot our whole lives and move from friends, family, our church, his job etc.  We wanted a country feel but not too far of a drive to town.

Let's get real here, a girl CANNOT live more than 15 minutes from Target.  Cannot.

That conversation opened the door to our living in the country.  And our search began not long after.  It wouldn't be for another year that we would move but it was an idea that stayed in our hearts and minds until we felt God calling us to the home we believed to be ours, the home we now live in.

I still remember the first week we moved into our special house in the Iowa-not-so-far-from-town-countryside.  It was magical.  Like a fairy-tale.  I woke up each morning in awe of my surroundings.  I'd look out the window at the lake shimmering like diamonds and be so moved by God's beauty. We would find secret rooms to play in around the house and I felt like a child again.  My kids and I laughed and played and rolled on the floor.  We went on walks and made new discoveries.  I saw animals I had never seen in town, just a short commute from here.  I could walk to the top of the hill and see countryside for miles.  I remember being overwhelmed by God's blessings.  Even the noises were breathtaking.

All I know is that week was confirmation of a very complicated moving process that required a big leap of faith on our part (I promise I will share this with you eventually).  I felt we were now in a sacred place but we also knew there were complications and struggles ahead.  I love this quote from Beth Moore because I have learned it to be true in this phase of our lives, [When facing a challenge] "To the extent that it is hard, it will be good".

We absolutely love it out here.  I have realized that those special years in Florida were so magical because I am a nature girl at heart.  I connect with God when I see His creation.  The way He paints the sky & grows flowers just for His children's enjoyment.  Every day I see something that reminds me of His sovereignty or grace.  Just today, in a rainstorm, I looked out to see a small fawn curled up under a tree in our yard and I thought of Psalm 91, "He who dwells in the shelter of the most high, will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty".  I feel God speaks to me through what I see out my porch door.

So, I can honestly say, there is something beautiful out here, something sacred, something that fills my soul like never before and I do believe it's because we are right where God wants us to be in a space He designed uniquely for our family, because He is awesome and loves each one of His children enough to care about the details.

We really do have nights that embody exactly what this photograph looks like:

We have had special moments with many people we love.  

We have embraced joy and nature.

Learned to slow down and rest more.

And have had a special time getting to know our neighbors. 

It's almost a spiritual experience for me out here.

But if I ended this post there, that would not be the whole story. Like I quoted before, "To the extent that it is hard, it will be good".  It has been good, so very very good but also equally very difficult.

The past year that we have lived out in the country has brought on more anxiety, stress, hardship and fear than I could have ever imagined.  We have had so many random and strange things happen to us in just a year that it's now becoming a joke among friends who know us.  Besides the huge leap of faith I referenced earlier that has become a burden I constantly have to lay down, we have had numerous other difficulties along the way.

Shortly after moving here, I hit a deer with our van and totaled it.  Jared did a complete roll into a ditch and totaled his (brand new-to-us) car.

We had the coldest winter in years and, coupled with a propane shortage, have a very very high propane bill at the moment.  I had multiple scares with people coming up to our property and even had a young man flag me down on the road with a white kerchief, roll up his window as soon as I slowed my vehicle, waited a minute for me to approach (which I didn't) and drove off in reverse when he suspected that I suspected something.  I know he was up to no good and shudder to think of what his plans were if I were to have gotten out of my car.

We've had a pipe burst in our garage, tornado warning with no basement, and a bat infestation earlier in the spring. One morning I was backing out my car, felt a nudge in my soul to stop, and got out to see my precious daughter two feet behind our van.  Recently, I was riding our mower and it fell down a set of landscaping stairs, I was thrown off onto the ground.  It was super scary as I am pregnant and could have really gotten myself or the baby hurt.  

And none of this even begins to mention the incredibly difficult pregnancy I have had this go-around.

So a lot has happened.  And those are just the big things.  I have to be honest with you, there are times it's really hard to not live in fear-- fear of my kids falling into the nearby pond, fear of what looms next,  fear for my safety, the baby's safety, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear that we didn't really hear God right and we aren't supposed to be here at all.  Hence, why there has been a lot of anxiety even in this peaceful country place.

However, (and this is completely honest and not me trying to wrap it up in a pretty bow) each time something "bad" happens, I sense God telling me not to focus on the "what-if's" but instead the fact that He rescued us each and every time.  I sense Him allowing us to see a little danger so that He can get the chance to prove His protection during this unsure season of our lives.  At this point, when something bad happens, I have started to go "OK, God, what are you out to prove now?  How will you turn this into something good?".  Because He has. Each and every time.

He's growing our trust in Him and I have a feeling we will need that trust when the time comes.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

We are never promised an easy life but we are always promised a Jesus who loves us and walks beside us in the dark times.  I'm starting to understand that more and more out here.  

So it's a mixed bag.  It's incredible and gorgeous, a true oasis.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel thankful for my surroundings, which I know God created on purpose.  He painted a view, just for me, out my window, to remind me of His peace in the storm.  There are days I don't know how I would make it out here without these special reminders of His love and plan for us.  Because similarly, not a day goes by that there isn't fear of what's ahead or stress from a new way of living.  I know that this is a season and eventually won't be as extreme on either end of things but because of our life out here, I am seeing beauty in the pain and learning how to give over my fears completely to Him.  

A Tale of Two Cities simply states, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", but there is no place I would rather be than here and I haven't ever regretted our crazy country life for one moment.  Grieved the simplicity of the past? Yes.  But adored where I am and what I have learned along the way? Completely. I've just had to come to the decision to put on my helmet and continuously trust Whose in the driver's seat.