Inspirational Rock Art-Coming Soon Our Etsy Store

Jules and I have been busy working on a new project and will be opening our Etsy Store soon featuring inspirational art.  We are putting all of those rocks Jules has collected to good use with inspirational sayings and creating rock art.  Here is a sample of one of our encouragement rocks.

Inspirational Rock Art

We have been having a ton of fun with this and can’t wait to share it with you!

Blessings!

Jen

New Year, New Ideas?

 

 

Don't give upGreetings,

First I want to say thank you to Jen who has been carrying the load lately. I have been  lucky enough to travel to Georgia twice this month, so I’ve been very busy!

I had planned on this post for the beginning of January…but since I was so busy I’ve decided January was a practice month and I’m going to make February 1 be my new year!!

This year I want to be more organized, more in tune with myself, and bring a little deeper meaning to my life. I want to set goals for the year. Things I want to accomplish. This is an assignment I gave to all of my clients the first part of January, so I decided I had better get to practicing what I preach!

Some of the goals I’ve set is to spend more time in the bible and daily devotions. Get SOME kind of regular exercise into my life. Be more productive with my time. I said the other day it seems I’m either working or tired, and frankly….I’m kind of “tired” of that. So I need to spend some time with that. A couple of years ago I came up with a word that I wanted to focus on for the year. Truthfully, I don’t remember what it was now, but rather than one word for the whole year, I think I will just work on one word a month. I’ve chosen my first word  to be “mindfulness.” I think if I’m more mindful, it may straighten out some of the other stuff.

The other tool I think I need to start using….something my sister has done forever….and I have made fun of forever…is  lists. I found a really good list pad at Barnes and Noble last night so I’m hoping that will help. Of course, again I will be honest with you and admit that I am a gadget person and my house is full of all of these “tools” that I’m always sure will help me laying in all corners of my house! Maybe my first task should be to gather them all up and use them!

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I guess the message I’ve trying to convey here, that we always have to keep trying. You can make a plan, set a goal, and create lists…..but sometimes life interrupts and things don’t get done. What I’m really working hard on, is not letting one incident derail me from the whole project. One interruption doesn’t mean the whole idea needs to be scrapped. This definitely applies to weight loss too. (Another of my goals to accomplish this year!!). I need to stop getting in my own way. Do any of you struggle with these issues? It’s hard, isn’t it. I have faith though if we never give up, eventually we will all meet those challenges and goals.

It isn’t always easy, is it. But perseverance is the word! Hey, maybe that can be next months word!

One final word on this….after everything I have written…I do have one motto….if it comes to choosing fun or choosing house projects…FUN will always win. Even if it puts me behind! Fun feeds my existence! I hope you ALL take time to put fun in your life!

Take care, stay warm, and thanks for listening to my rambling!

Julie

Quick and Easy Patriotic Fruit & Pretzels

I had to throw together a quick dessert for a party recently.  I wanted it to be on the healthy side since I knew there would be lots of other sweets at the party.  So I went to where I usually get most of my ideas, Pinterest! I am a bit of a Pinterest addict and I am always so happy when I actually make something from the hundreds of ideas I’ve pinned.  My dessert is a variation of this one I found on Pinterest.  If I made it again, I would try to use strawberries or watermelon for a brighter red color, but the cherries were what looked best at the market so we went with that!

This is a super easy dish to make and it was wildly popular at the party!  You can’t beat fresh, Michigan cherries!  I just washed the fruit, arranged it on a tray with yogurt covered pretzels and it was ready to go!

Fruit and pretzels

So if you find yourself scrambling for an idea for a 4th of July party, give this a try!  Simple, easy, healthy and delicious!  A perfect combination!

Happy 4th of July!   I hope you enjoy some good food, family, fireworks and fun!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Lessons From Vacation Part 1-Enjoying the Detour

You may have noticed the blog posts have been few and far between this summer.  Jules has been down for the count with pneumonia and I have been out of the country for five weeks!  I am home now and Jules has thankfully made a full recovery so hopefully we will be posting more regularly.  The girls and I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Germany this summer.  We have had so many amazing adventures and created so many special family memories.  I won’t share all 1,200 of my vacation photos with you 🙂 , but I will show you a few of my favorites.  I have been in awe and amazement over and over on this trip with the absolute beauty in this world!
I titled this post “Lessons From Vacation” because on this extended stay out of the country,  I learned some things about myself, my family and people in general that I wanted to share with you.  I have been inspired to live my life a little differently and I hope this series of posts inspires you too.

This trip was different from any I have ever taken.  The Mister was responsible for most of the arrangements and it was very last minute.  I did not have months and months to plan and overthink things.  We basically packed up and left for five weeks without many set plans of what we were going to do.

My first stop when we got here was the local library to check-out some travel books.  We had an idea of the places we wanted to go, so I spent some time a couple of days before we left for the trip and researched the area and made a tentative list of things we might want to see and do. Normally, when we travel, I have planned it out weeks in advance and we have a tight schedule of all the things we want to do and see.  We did hit many of the “hot tourist spots” and I really enjoyed them, but I found some of my most memorable and happy moments of the trip were during the unexpected “detours” or last minute plans.

Below is a picture of the girls during one of our spontaneous stops on our way to another bigger destination.  We found this parking area near the Black Forest and we got out to explore.  We had so much fun running around the forest looking for the “Big Bad Wolf” and taking silly pictures.

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Here is another unplanned outing.  We intended to go an Alpine slide area that afternoon and it was closed because of rain.  We saw this Palace (King Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace) on our way back and decided to stop and check it out.  It was a fabulously beautiful discovery as you can see.  We made it in time for the last tour of the day and there were no crowds because of the late hour and rain.  We had so much fun running around the garden area taking pictures and just having fun!  We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits.

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(King Ludwig had this grotto built behind the castle, it is a man-made cave hidden at the back of the estate.)

We had visited a lot of castles and climbed a lot of stairs and the girls decided they needed a break so at the last minute we decided to tour this chocolate factory in Cologne, Germany.  We had a blast trying samples from the giant chocolate fountain and learning the history of chocolate and how it is made.

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These are just a few examples of the “detours” we took on this vacation.  Had we been so intent on following a schedule or being a stickler for “the plan”, we would have missed out on these fun, family times.  In fact, I think our family was the happiest and most content during these detours because there were no pre-existing expectations.  We just jumped in and had fun!

I am a planner, organizer and list maker and living this way was so freeing! I definitely want to take this experience from vacation and apply it to my daily life.  It is okay to have plans, but when they don’t work out or there is an opportunity for a detour, I want to embrace it, instead of feeling stressed or disappointed. Who knows what fun could be around the corner.  I want to be more open to the plans God has for my life, which may be very different than my plan.  

How about you?  Are you a planner or do you just see where the road takes you?  I would love to hear how you spend your vacations!

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!


~Blessings,
Jen

Summer Vacation Sanity Saver!

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Tomorrow is officially the first day of Summer, but many of you with school-age children have already started your summers with school ending for most students this week (Finally here in Michigan!  We all had a lot of snow days to make up!)  I am a teacher so I am very blessed to be able to enjoy lots of time with my kids during the summer.  Those endless days can seem pretty dreamy at the beginning of summer vacation, but I find that all too soon those free days result in restless kids hanging around saying they are bored, or the temptation of too much TV or electronics creep in.

I’ve seen a lot of ideas floating around on Pinterest that are great ways to schedule your child’s summer, but I wanted something a little simpler.  What if we just couldn’t make every Tuesday “Take a Day Trip” Day?  I just didn’t want to commit to that much of a schedule all summer long.

The first day of vacation I tried to just “go with the flow” and see how things went and it was okay for a little while, then Little One became grumpy when I asked her to do some chores and practice the piano.  She had not planned on that in her day!  It continued with endless requests to do things that were not really feasible at the time.  We both just seemed a little out of sorts.

So today I tried something different.  I knew we had things we had to get done, but I also wanted some time for fun.  So in about two minutes I wrote out a tentative list of how her day would go.  It included some chores and some school work (I know, I know-school work?  the teacher in me just can’t help myself!) as well as plenty of outdoor time and a bike ride with Mom.  Oldest has a full week of marching band practice and seems to keep pretty busy on her own, so only Little one got an agenda list. I presented it to Little One after breakfast and she read it over and got to work on the first item, no complaining or grumbling to be heard!  I think she really liked knowing what to expect from her day and the fun things to look forward to made the chores and schoolwork bearable.  We have already had to adjust the list a little because we had lots of outside time planned and it turned out to be a rainy day, but she was okay with some substitutions.  Instead of a bike ride, we may do a board game or art project.

I know this type of thing might not work for all families, but as a teacher, I find that most young kids do better with at least some structure.  Little One really liked checking things off of her list and I think she felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

How about you?  How do you fill the extra time at home during summer vacation?  We would love to hear your ideas.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Just For The Fun of It!

Last night I took some time to do something just for the fun of it, and I had a blast!  It wasn’t easy, it involved  a little pre-planning for arranging kid swaps with the Mister, making dinner ahead and making sure things were all set at home, but I made it happen.  Jules is always saying how important it is to take some time for self-care (see this post) and I think she is right.  The happy feeling of the evening lasted well beyond the actual event.  So what did I do? Here is a little clue:

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My niece arranged for a group of us to attend a painting class at a place called Painting With a Twist.  We could bring our own snacks and beverages and the instructor gave us step by step directions on how to paint this picture.  It was a light, fun, creative atmosphere and it was great just to hang out and spend time with family and friends.  No painting experience was needed, all that was required was the ability to follow simple directions and willingness to let go of perfection and have some fun!  Here are Jules and I having some fun!

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The finished products.

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If you look closely, we even had some face painting fun!   So if you have been thinking about doing something just for fun, I encourage you to go ahead and do it!  Who knows, you might just discover a new passion or hobby!  What do you think of our “masterpieces”!

~Blessings,

Jen