A blog written to inspire joyful girlhood for His glory!
Guess what? Winter's coming!
I didn't believe it....I refused to believe it....for most of the fall. I basked in the cool autumn sunlight, did my chem homework outside on a lawn chair, and desperately tried to stretch out summer. I went running outside. I walked to some errands. I kept the sweaters under my bed for as long as possible. I wore my thin fall jacket.
It worked, for awhile.
And then this month called November, which happened to be right after October, came. And then I couldn't play the game anymore. Winter is coming!
The night falls quickly now. The air is crisp and frigid. The wind blowing through my hair is no longer warm but frosty. Frost covers the once green grass. And so...
The sweaters came out from under the bed, warm drinks replace icy ones, and the thermostat is cranked higher. Out comes the puffy winter jacket.
Yes, it does indeed appear that winter is coming!
Having people over is such a blessing. You get to spend time with them, get to know them better, and just share your love. Here's a few things I've learned about having guests....think of them as ways to bless your guests. Pick two or three, or all:
~ A basket of personal care products. Y'know all those toothbrushes you get from the dentist? Yeah, save 'em. And put wrapped toothbrushes in a little plastic basket, along with floss, a boxed bar of soap, and other unused personal care products.
~ A folded pile of extra blankets to add coziness to any room and provide warmth and comfort for chilly guests.
~ A cozy, clean scent. Don't put it in the guest room, it can be too overpowering, but in the hallway just outside is perfect. Spiced grapefruit, white tea and cactus, or apple pie scent, anyone?
~ You might consider what I occasionally do: put out a pitcher of water and cups, or a hunk of wrapped chocolate on the pillowcase.
~ An alarm clock.
~ Easy snacks on the table (chips and dip, or veggies and dip, anyone?)
~ Offer tea or coffee. Almost nobody can resist a steaming mug of goodness!
~ A blazing fire in the fireplace, with wood crackling. Simple really is best.
~ Stacks of fresh towels and washcloths.
Hospitality is a tool to be used for God's glory. Embrace it!
Let's talk for a moment about the word expectations.
"He who expects nothing, enjoys everything" - St. Francis of Assisi
I've spent the last week buried shoulder-high in papers, deadlines, books, assignments, labs, music practice, studying, quizzes, homework uploads, and just about everything highschool-related.
One particular book I read over the past days is about St. Francis of Assisi, and while I don't agree with everything in that book (I rarely do), there has been so much food for thought. I find myself challenged by this particular man.
A quote I especially loved was the one above. And it really made me think. I had heard it said by S.M. Davis that when expectations are reduced to 0, everything becomes meaningful. And now, to hear Assisi say nearly the same thing, only differently worded, drives home a point.
How often do we race through life with expectations? Expecting to receive a good grace, expecting success, expecting breakfast tomorrow morning, expecting mom to do the laundry, expecting little brother to fix our bedroom door, expecting, expecting, expecting.... When we have so many expectations (especially lofty expectations), we suddenly aren't as grateful. Even when things go "the way we like", we just move down to the next expectation on our list. And when things don't go to the "way we like", we fall apart.
How much better if we keep our expectations to 0! I'm not saying don't have goals. But don't make these huge expectations. Keep them minimal, and watch how....
....everything becomes enjoyable.
5 Autumn Favourites
~Some Easy Ideas for a Fabulous Fall~
What are 5 of my falltime favourites? In no particular order, I enjoy...
-- Cozy, spicy fall drinks. My favorites this year have been vanilla maple steamers and pumpkin steamers/lattes.
-- Chilly fall evenings which grant the perfect chance for those tasks you've been putting off. Such as organize the closet. I spent some time picking out outfits, swapping out my seasonal clothes, and taking some photos of possible combos.
-- Spending time outside, enjoying the brilliant colors. There is nothing more stunning than red, orange, and yellow-hued leaves.
-- Fall DIY decorations! (Pinterest has some cute ideas, like a leaf bunting I made). If all you can do is hang a little fall sign on your door or put a few real leaves on your mantle, your house wil be tastefully decorated for the fall.
-- Scents. I love fall scents - from pumpkin latte candles to harvest apple perfume to coconut pumpkin wax, I love all things cozy and fall. There are so many easy ways to bring fall scents into your house: making a scent pot (combine pieces of orange, apple, cinnamon, cloves, etc. in a pot and let simmer, supervised); pretty candles (such as the ones at Bath & Body Works); Scentsy wax cubes, or simply open your window and let the crisp air flow through!
Autumn in a Cup
This just tastes like fall to me!
Here's a really delicious, super easy Pumpkin Latte (if you drink coffee), or Steamer (if you want a caffeine free version). Hint: I use an espresso maker for this and LOVE it. I got one for $10.00 and it works really well.
Make about 1 part strong coffee (dark roast), either in your espresso maker or with a French press. Let it steep for awhile. You can probably use decaf too.
Steam your milk. I eyeball it, approx. 3 parts milk to 1 part coffee. I used 2% because it's my family's staple milk. Once your milk is steamed/frothed, add about 1 Tbsp pumpkin. Froth until the milk turns a pretty pale orange. Pour your milk on top of your coffee. Add pumpkin pie spice, to taste, and 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar, which I used). This is autumn in a cup! To make the steamer, simply use more milk and omit coffee.
Here's some of the hair products I'm usin' right now...with my rating (_/5) next to each product. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a hair product experimenter. I like trying out different things and reading what works and what doesn't. I thought, why not harness that interest and share my current findings?
5/5 Paul Mitchell "The Conditioner" ...a leave in conditioner. Can I just say, this stuff is amazing? It smooths, controls frizz, and just adds bounce to hair without weighing it down. If you use the correct amount, your hair may go for a bit longer than normal between washes. Hands down, this works much better than any oil I've ever tried (and trust me, I've tried a variety!).
4/5 Herbal Essences Shampoo/Conditioner 'Volume'. This clear shampoo works nicely, especially the Volume (white tea & grapefruit scent) variation. In the line there's two other scents, which I don't like as much as Volume, but they're still not too bad for a cheap, convenient shampoo :) I've been using these for ~ the past year and a half. I do find the conditioner is on the lighter side, which is good in the fact it doesn't make your hair oily, but you should supplement with leave in conditioner to relieve split ends.
4/5 Baking Soda. Baking soda? On hair? You better believe it! A cheap, easy, quick, accessible dry shampoo, folks! A few sprinkles will do ya. Just rub into your hair, watch that soda soak in, brush and massage through at roots, and enjoy the resulting volume.
~Just a tid bit for your Saturday~
How do you eat a proverbial "elephant"? One bite at a time. Though this is a figurative statement, it rings true in so many areas.
I have an essay of 1200-1500 words around the corner. It isn't devistatingly gigantic to me (since I adore words). Yet, it's still a hefty project, and I'm forecasting plenty of drafting, revising, and polishing sessions. The way I'll get it done, Lord willing, is by working a little bit each day. By carving even half an hour out of your busy life, you can work a little bit at a time on things. Whatever the mountain is in front of you, cover some of the distance each day. It won't feel so difficult because you are breaking things up.
Watch that insurmountable task shrink into small, bite-sized sessions....
and before you know it....
...your "elephant" will be gone!
Guess what? I have a pet peeve.
Actually, I have a few.
But one that really bothers me, is not being able to keep to a schedule. At the beginning of the school year, I drafted up a huge schedule with time slots. And every time I looked at that schedule, I twitched a bit. It looked so perfectly wonderful, but it was so terribly hard to keep. There was no "wiggle room" or space to breathe.
Today, I decided to draft up a routine. And my routine looks simple compared to that schedule. There are only five time slots. Instead of trying to make my life fit my schedule, I'm making my routine fit my life.
Hey! That's what a routine is anyway, isn't it? It's a tool! When did I forget that my schedule is a tool, something that works for me, not I for it?
I'm not saying your schedule can't be tight. I'm not saying you shouldn't learn discipline and stick to it. What I am saying, is sometimes, the best things (and the most sustainable things) in life are the simplest things. Don't get me wrong, there's a time to go all out with fancy dishes, cloth napkins, roast beef, and ballroom dresses, but I'm a paper plates and pizza kinda girl. :) The equation I like to keep in mind is: Simple + Flexible = Sustainable! Routines are a tool to help me get my work accomplished, and remind me to do the next thing, but I'm not a slave to it.
So here's how I set up my new routine. It's a basic outline of my day's natural flow. The "normals" (wake up, block of time for my schoolwork/classes, bedtime, music practice) are all outlined. Then there are the "variables" - the things I do in my free time, the evenings - which kind of fill themselves in and which aren't set in stone. I think it's a nice mix of order and and space to breathe.
Well, we'll see how this new routine goes ;)
So, I'm sitting here in denial that it's September 2. No, really. And I ask myself, how does time just get shot down into an abyss, and how does it leak out of that bucket so fast?
This week I'm planning to do some resting and reading. Summer can be a fun time, but it can also involve too much icecream, chips, late nights, endless activity, and little to no time for the gym. So, I'm hoping to get the basic healthy habits of life back up and running - a good sleep, a good diet, some exercise, and just overall wellbeing. It's all part of oiling the machine so the wheels run properly when the stresses (did I really say that?) of school enter :)
I'm also organizing myself for the upcoming year - filling out a new planner (which is actually kinda fun), tidying up my desk, organizing my supplies. I headed to WalMart last weekend and bought a few things. I'm continually amazed at how new supplies....even if it's just a new pack of highlighters or a package of tab dividers....get me ENERGIZED!
As of late, I've been working through the first chapter of James. To take a passage of Scripture and meditate on the TRUTH found therein has been a huge blessing.
Well, that's where September 2 finds me this year. Happy September to all!
Back to School but not Back to Learning
With a gentle tug, I release last year's stack of notebooks. And I can't help but think back to those January days I didn't want to look at math again. Or those May days I was just itching to be done with finals. Then it was over - then the studying, exams, and essays were done - summer had arrived! But just because summer had made a grand entry didn't mean my learning was paused.
Now it's the end of August, and a new schoolyear is about to unfold. Back to essays? You bet. But never back to learning.
I remember, with a bit of a frown, that billboard out near the community school. With sheer horror, my mouth formed the words: "Welcome Back to Learning". And I swallowed hard as though I had read a lie - because I had! Though I was young, I knew what was wrong. Just because it was September did not mean it was back to learning. I had been learning all summer! No, it wasn't "school" per se, but it was the learning that comes through everyday experiences like grocery shopping, road tripping, and baking!
In fact, this very summer I learned so much. Nah, it wasn't textbook learning. But it was life learning. Learning happens ALL THE TIME!! Learning is not restricted o a 9-4, Monday-Friday block of "school". I look at school as an organized time dedicated to studies. But my brain doesn't turn off when I've finished my last writing lesson for the day. In fact, some of the greatest lessons I've learned were not doing "school" (in the strict sense of that word), but in spending time with my family/friends, or being out in nature, or visiting a museum, or working, or travelling to another country. Yup, learning certainly happens while reading my biology textbook or performing a lab, but it also occurs when I meet with someone to talk about their job, or discuss theology with my friends, or gaze at the constellations in the sky. I think having an organized, set-aside time dedicated to studies is beneficial. But I also recognize that school is just one of the ways I learn.
Have a happy back to school, but don't forget - learning happens 24/7, 365 days of the year!