Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blogger Love: Friday Favorites



     I'm really excited to do this link-up for the first time.  Meagan from All the Joys asked us to post some of our favorite posts from OTHER bloggers.  One of my prayers for "Cartwheels Down the Hall" is that I'll be able to help other bloggers share their work, so this link-up was right up my alley!

Brittany from Happy is a Choice- How to Handle Disappointment Gracefully 

Camille from Friday We're in Love- Five Relaxing Date Ideas (hint: BRUNCH, YES!) :)

My Friend, Jen Weaver, wrote - 10 Things Not to Say to a Childless Woman  (She nailed it. So     helpful and so true).

I would really like to do a better job of reading blogs.  This link-up has totally taught me that I need to focus on writing AND reading.  Good writers are good readers. :)

Hooray for the weekend...
   
     This weekend, I'm going to Volunteer Orientation at The Humane Society.  I'm really excited about it.  It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time!  I've been looking at lots of before/after rescue pictures.  My  heart!!!

     We're also going to Tim's 5 year High School Reunion.*  He grew up in a really small town in Northern Kentucky.  You can park on the Ohio side of the river and ride the ferry over to town.  It's  a really sweet, unique experience.  We love going there to visit (and eat ALL THE ICE CREAM)!

It's going to be a great weekend.  All good things.

I hope you have a nice weekend.

* If you believe we've only been out of High School for five years, I will hug your neck and bake you cookies.

Love and tell me all about it,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Year's Worth of Rain

     It was a small farm, but it was also rather efficient, considering its size.  It consisted of a field, a barn, and a pale yellow house with a rose bush by the front door.  In the house, lived A Farmer and His Wife.




     They loved their lot in life.  So much so, that the townspeople took to simply calling them Farmer and Wife.

     One of the best parts about The Farm was that it sat on a hill, and Farmer and Wife could see all the houses in the valley from their enormous backyard, and behind every house, was a pond.



     Every morning, Farmer would wake to the sound of birds chirping, kiss Wife on the forehead and travel out to tend the fields, and every night, Farmer and Wife would sit on a quilt that Wife's grandmother had made and watch the people below as they swam,  fed the ducks and paddled their canoes in the ponds below.

  One night, while watching a flock of geese land gracefully onto a bright blue pond in the valley, Wife's eyes lit up.  She sat on her knees, locked eyes with Farmer and exclaimed, "We should dig our own pond!"

Her excitement was contagious, and Farmer quickly agreed.

They spent many nights, whispering in bed, making plans for their pond.

How deep would it be? How wide?  Where would they put it?

He bought her boots to dig in.  She bought him a shovel.

She would plant lilies.  He would build a bench.

For Farmer's birthday, Wife hired a man in town to build a canoe.

So. They started digging.  And digging. And digging.

When the last pile of dirt had been hauled away, Wife looked at Farmer, perplexed.

With sand in her hair and dirt on her cheeks, she placed her forearm on the handle of her shovel and stared at the large hole ahead.

"Now...how do we fill it?"

Farmer squinted in the sun as he replied, "Why, the rain, of course."

So they waited for it to rain.

In the meantime, Farmer bought Wife a red umbrella that matched the roses by the front door.

Every evening, they would sit on the quilt in the backyard, next to their hole and watch the people in the valley as they swam.

And as the sun started to set, they would take the laundry off the line, call the cats to the barn and close all the windows.

Because it was going to rain.  Of course. It was going to rain.

But still, they waited.

     Time passed, and they decided they were tired of waiting. They were going to fill the pond themselves.  As word spread, the people in the valley came to help.  They brought ropes and strong backs and buckets and drew water from a nearby well.

     But the hole was dry and full of sand and rocks and clay, and no matter how much water they poured in, the dirt seemed to drink it right up.  It was no use.  As the people left, they shook hands with Farmer and hugged Wife.  They didn't know what to say, but Farmer and Wife knew they were loved and that the people were sorry.

After everyone was gone, Wife sat on the quilt and cried softly into Farmer's shoulder.

     He would give her a year's worth of rain if he could. They both knew it, and that was their only comfort on that sad, dry evening.

     Many times, the townspeople invited Farmer and  Wife to swim, and they enjoyed it whole heartedly. Wife made pies filled to the brim with apples and peaches.  They spent hours swimming in the valley and floating in borrowed canoes.  The geese grew to recognize their voices and ran towards them with orange beaks open upon Farmer and Wife's arrival.  Small freckles appeared across Farmer's nose, and Wife's skin grew warm and tan.

But it wasn't the same.  It wasn't the same as feeding their own geese and manning their own canoe.

     Still more months passed with no rain.  But what made it worse was that it rained in the valley.  For days on end, large and plentiful drops fell from the sky.  The children in the town wore yellow raincoats and danced in the puddles.  Gutters cracked.  Fields flooded.  But all Farmer and Wife could do was sit on their hill, next to their hole and watch.

And wait.

      One afternoon, Farmer came home to find Wife sitting alone on the quilt, facing the hole.  He had decided, long ago, that he was finished waiting for the rain, but he stayed outside for Wife's sake.

He wanted them both to go inside together.  He loved her deeply, and he felt that was best.

He whispered, gently, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

Without turning around, she coldly replied, "I'm not coming in.  I'm waiting for it to rain."

But it didn't rain.

     And every night, Farmer would come home and whisper into Wife's dark, brown hair, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

And every night, Wife bitterly refused.

     Sometimes, he would make her tea with two lumps of sugar and a teaspoon of honey. Just the way she liked it.

But she never drank it, and she never brought the cups back in.

     He took her tea until he ran out of cups.  And when he ran out of cups, he bought new ones.  Because he loved her deeply.

     Wife's condition grew worse.  She begged the sky for rain.  She refused to come in.  If she just waited long enough, if she just believed hard enough, it would rain.  She knew it would rain.  Shame on Farmer for not believing.

Even still...

"I love you. I'm home.  It's time to come in."

     She dug her fingers into the dry dirt.  If the sky would not send rain, she would fill the pond herself.  She leaned over the edge of the hole and wept to the sound of splashing in the valley below.

But her weeping wasn't enough.

One day, Farmer whispered his usual greeting, "I love you. I'm home. It's time to come in."

And much to his surprise, Wife quietly collected all the scattered cups and followed him in.

     After that night, they began to busy themselves with other tasks in the evenings.  Wife took up knitting, and made things especially for Farmer.  She had absolutely no talent for it whatsoever, but Farmer wore each piece with pride.

He loved her deeply.

     Farmer took an interest in reading, and told Wife all kinds of stories.  They were great tales about knights and giants, science and flight.



     More time passed.  They gave the canoe to a man in town whose boat had been stolen.  Wife filled the bottom with treats from their garden, Farmer tied a bright blue ribbon around it, and the look on the man's face filled their hearts with joy.

     Farmer came home one day to find Wife tossing apple slices into the hole; her face twisted with worry.  A  goat had fallen into the hole, and she wasn't strong enough to pull it out.  Farmer bit into one of the apples and chuckled at her tender heart.  He puffed up his chest and rolled up his sleeves, ready to pull the goat to safety, but after a long day trapped in the hole, the goat was too afraid to approach him.

It didn't trust Farmer.  It was looking for Wife.

     Farmer glanced in her direction.  She was crying quietly.  He had mistaken her compassion for weakness.  

He needed her softness.  She needed his strength.  They would have to work together.

     Once the goat was free, Farmer built a fence around the hole so none of the other animals would fall in.




     After that, they didn't talk about the hole anymore, and it made Wife sad.  But there was nothing more to say.  It was a hole that they'd hoped would be a pond, but it didn't rain on the hill anymore.

      At one point, they considered filling it in with rocks and dirt and sand, but then it occurred to them that they didn't have enough of any of those things to really make much of a difference, so it stayed a hole.  To some, the story was short and sad, but Farmer and Wife would come to learn that the hole was helping them become better people.  




     Eventually, Farmer and Wife agreed that when they went to the valley, instead of fretting over the hole, they would tell people about how much they loved their little, yellow house and the rose bush by the door.  They didn't have a pond, but they were glad they had each other.

     They still sat on the quilt at sunset, but instead of looking at the people in the valley, they watched for wildlife instead.  Farmer bought a huge book about birds, and Wife wrote a list in the back of all the ones they'd spotted thus far. 


     One chilly spring morning, in the window of time between birds building their nests and laying their eggs, Farmer woke up concerned.  He whispered aloud, "Where are the birds?"  Gone was the familiar chirping; the sweet sound of flapping wings.

And then he heard the reason why.

He ran his hand through Wife's dark hair until her eyes opened slowly.

A smile spread across her face, and he was sure she heard it, too...

it was the sound of ...drip...drip....drip...on the window.






Images via here & here.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Speed Shopping: How to Grocery Shop without a List

   


Folks.  I gotta tell ya'...I'm really tired of making a grocery list.  

     I love to grocery shop - which is weird, I know.  Sometimes, I just don't have want to use the mental energy to make a specific list.  

     Last week, I decided to try something new and not make a specific meal plan/list. I know this can get dangerous in terms of budgeting, but just hear me out.  I decided to stay mostly in the meat, produce and dairy section and just see what happened.  Armed with a few coupons and a 1/2 sheet of paper detailing some non-food essentials (allergy meds., paper towels, etc.), I headed out.  

     I'm not sure I'll do it this way EVERY week, but it was nice for a change, kept us eating fairly healthy and was probably my quickest grocery trip to date.  It also kept me from wandering the aisles, picking up extra things ((**cough**cough**make-up**))

 Below, I've written some suggestions if you think you wanna try this! 

This will be especially helpful for all you "Back to School" folks! 

>> Make sure you already have some staple ingredients.  As I was shopping, I kept in mind that I already had our kitchen stocked with some canned veggies, "cream of..." soups, taco seasoning, onions, potatoes, etc.  You don't want to shop like this if all your supplies are running low.  

>> Go with some meal ideas in mind.  Like I said above, I didn't make an actual list, but I did keep in mind what our favorite go-to meals are like this one that has gained popularity on Pinterest (which I did end up making last week).  

>>Think about leftovers. I deliberately doubled the recipe above just so we would have leftovers.  We're really bad about not eating leftovers, but I hope we can make that more of a habit. 

>>Get ingredients you like.  I know this sounds pretty simple, but if you pick up some things you genuinely enjoy eating, you'll be less likely to let them go to waste.  We love zucchini (with lots of cheese, don't judge, ok?), so I was sure to pick up a few.   

By the time I left, I had grabbed lots of produce along with: 

Ground Chicken
Chicken Breasts
Chicken Sausages
Frozen Tilapia Filets 

90 minute brown rice

Misc. items from the dairy section (eggs, cheese, greek yogurt, etc.)  

And some various cleaning supplies/toiletries

(I'm also going to add that my main focus was just on making dinner.  I almost always have oatmeal for breakfast and usually just 'fend for myself' for lunch...this week I made chicken, sweet potato chips and guacamole...I know you were dying to know...haha).  

Here are a few meal ideas you can probably make simply by quickly grabbing lots of produce and your favorite kinds of meat (carnivores, unite)! 




Here's a list of good foil packet recipes!  //Six Sisters//

Use any of your extra veggies as side dishes to accompany the meals above.  

In closing...

>>  I've heard about recipe generating websites before but have never used them.  You plug in your ingredients, and it brings up recipes for you.  That will save so much mental energy!  I tried this one out and really liked it!  //Myfridgefood//

>> Here are some links to posts I've found about storing produce. 

                      //1//   //2//   //3// 

     I used the paper towel/baggie method on some romaine lettuce, and it lasted for a FREAKISHLY LONG TIME.  Seriously, I think we went out of town, came back and it was still good!

Also, I might try re-growing my own lettuce. Thoughts?  I feel like that is something you would say to start up a conversation if you are TRYING to make it really awkward. "Hi. I'm Holly. I'm trying to re-grow my own lettuce.  It's nice to meet you."  Is that funny?  Or is it just me?  :) 

Eventually, I'd like to get away from using "cream of..." soups.  I've seen some DIY recipes but haven't taken the time to really do the research.  

Overall, I think it went well.  No one went to bed hungry, and its' nice to know I'm staying out of the frozen/box meal section.  

Do you shop like this all the time?  Suggestions?  

Love and get to it! 



Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Splurges

     I've got some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.  You guys. My birthday was in April.  With that being said, I thought it would be fun to make a list of ideas I had for how I might spend it.  So. Just a fun, little post about spendin' some cash.  Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend, everyone!



Nature Center Passes- We have a nature center pretty close to our house.  Good gravy. I keep saying I am going to buy a membership and I keep putting it off. I don't know why!!! Anyway, it's pretty affordable for just the two of us, and pets are allowed. We went back in April for Arbor Day (free admission), and it was so nice and peaceful.  I also hear people rave about "trail runs," and it might be nice to run there just for a change of pace.


Do you guys have passes to places like this? Do you feel like it is worth it?  Is there something you've been waiting to pull the trigger on? Let's do it together!



Foam roller- Uh....I already ordered this...and....it's fantastic.  It's kind of like a huge pool noodle that you roll around on.  It's like a self-inflicted massage.  And now, the most inarticulate review ever.

     Well.  I just feel like...before a dictator attacks another country or a warlord commits another act of terror, he needs to spend some time with a foam roller.  Cause then...he'd be so relaxed...he'd be like.  Never mind guys. I was just feeling tense.  Let's all go get Mexican food. Or something like that.

They look like this and I ordered mine here!

YOU NEED ONE!!!!!!

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak- I read Mindy Kaling's book, and it was cute.  I generally think books by comedians are cute/funny.  Tina Fey's Bossypants was a great read.  I'm looking forward  to seeing what Novak has to offer.  I love the genre of comedy in general so my hopes are a bit high.

Has anyone read this?





Ingrid Michaelson's New Album-  I heard her new song, Girls Chase Boys and I just keep putting it on repeat.  It's catchy!  I rarely buy CD's anymore (I usually just buy a song or two on iTunes), so I might have to splurge on this one!




Fold 'N File from Thirty One - I feel like Thirty-One has flown below my radar in the past, but my sister keeps showing up to family functions, play dates, etc. with all these really adorable, functional pieces and then I end up buying whatever she has- ha.

     I'm proud to say I'm a "convert," and this is a piece I found all on my own! I really love the positive message that Thirty-One embraces, and I'm all about supporting businesses that empower women.

With that being said, I am drooling over this Fold N'File.  I'd imagine it's pretty sturdy, and I love the pockets in the front.  I could see myself storing a "work in progress" project in the back and keeping all the little pieces in the pockets on the front.  Plus it's wayyyy cuter than anything I could ever find at Wal-mart/Staples/Office Max, etc.

Choosing between taupe and coral is going to be the hard part. ;)




Love and what did I miss?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Series of Dunkings

     I recently re-read the book, Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan by Tara Leigh Cobble.  She is one of my favorite authors, and writes about overcoming fear, loving Jesus, and finding your calling.  I wanted to share the following excerpt because, hello....were you here for my 2013?  ;)

     My Pastor, Tim Keller told a story once about a problem that some modern day shepherds were experiencing.  A rare kind of parasite started eating their sheep alive.  In order to protect them, the shepherds had to dunk the sheep in a tub full of disinfectant. 


     When they pushed the sheep under, the shepherds saw the looks of terror on their faces.  As far as the sheep knew, they were being forced into a slow, frightening death by drowning.   Even after they emerged from the tub, they still didn't have a full understanding of what had happened or why.  But without the shepherd to dunk them in the tub, they would've died a death far more painful than drowning.  The shepherd was saving their lives, making them stronger- but they had no way of knowing.  



    I also wrote about TLC here and here. 

She also wrote Here's to Hindsight and Orange Jumpsuit, and you won't find a bad read in the bunch

Love and hold your breath, 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Old Joy #322 or A Post About High Heels & Body Image

I'm in an Online Bible Study/Community Group with some Mighty Fine Ladies, and last week, we talked a lot about our blogs and becoming better writers in general.

We talked a little bit about "word vomit."  While, I'm not a huge fan of that terminology...



and





It is a good way to describe, "Just Getting Things Down."

A lot of words in a small amount of time.  Little to no editing.

And I thought I'd give it a whirl.



     I don't want to give a lot of revealing details because I don't want to embarrass the ladies I'm about to (nicely) mention.

     Last week, I went to an exercise class, and there were two really, really pretty girls in the front row.

     They could have been gymnasts...or ballerinas...or movie stars.  Fit. petite. tan. blonde. skinny.

I mean.  Let's be honest, their attractiveness was noticeable.

So, I thought to myself, "What must it be like...to be the hottest girl in the room?"

And I know "hot" is a relative term.  Tim would probably say, "They're too skinny."

And God bless Tim Young.  He has a record of preferring "curvy" girls.  

Hello. Have you seen me?

But in my book, they were hot.

And I realize...we all have different strengths.  And I know I value "thin" and "pretty" waayyyy too much.

I feel like (maybe I'm exaggerating), but if someone could say, "Pick your weight."  I would probably say, "Hi. I would like to weigh 95 pounds."

Even though I know my husband would not find that attractive (on me, personally.  No offense to all you petite gals out there).

What does it say about me- the fact that I would rather look like what I think is "hot" rather than what my husband thinks is "hot?"

And I'm starting to think this whole "word vomit" thing was a bad idea. ;)

Why aren't I asking....

What is it like to be the most generous person in the room? The hardest worker?  The most organized?  The most financially responsible?

Like, I rarely say to myself, "She is so generous.  I need to grow in that area."  Or, "She is so well-read.  I need to ask her for book suggestions."

But I often think, "I would pay $10,000 for her thigh gap."

And that makes me sad.

So.  There we are.

I don't know.  I need to try to value inner qualities more than I value the way other women look.

It's like...oh, you're pretty?  Come sit by me.  

     You know...those surveys where they ask little girls, "Would you rather be smart or pretty?" And everyone is appalled because "OMG...96.8% of the little girls said they would rather be pretty and what is this nation coming to...we have to save the children!?!?!?"

You all. 

     I would totally pick "pretty."  I KNOW the "right" answer is "smart." But I also believe you can handle anything as long as it is dealt with in honesty.  Thank you to my friend, Susan Smith Riewerts for The Best Advice Ever circa 2007.  ;) 

Maybe that is the wrong question.  Because it is possible to be both. 

So. There's that.  

     Also, I've stopped getting on the scale (for now).  Because the number is never good enough.  If it ends in a 6, I BEG for it to end in a 5 and when it finally ends in a 5, I'm asking why the last number isn't a 4. 

And that is not the pathway of Jesus.  


Word vomit, word vomit. Hardy-har har.

     When you see me accidentally going left when everyone else is going right it's because I'm actually writing blog posts in my head as I exercise. ;)

If we're going to compare, it should at least be in a healthy, well-balanced way, I suppose.

In other news...

     Two weeks ago, I bought a pair of heels.  I haven't owned a real-life pair of high heels in a long time. In fact, I remember trying some on about a year ago, and joking to the lady in the aisle, 

"The year is 2013, and I'm no longer wearing heels."

In hindsight, I was tired.  I don't mean "tired from shopping" or "just needed a nap."

You all.


I was tired.


And I think also a little depressed.  And out of shape.  Ha.  

Do you get the idea or should I keep listing thangs'?

So. I bought heels.  And I'm in love, I'm in love.  And I am like, 2 months, "off the nail."  
(I'm a 32 year old recovering nail-biter).

All good things.

I'm gonna be honest. I don't know how to end this...and I'm worried that I am making myself out to sound self-conscious and, as the kids are saying these days, "Cray cray." Read: Crazy.  When, actually the opposite is true, I suppose.  

So. Hooray.  

In my next post, I'm going to be like, "HEY GUYS!  LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW WELL BALANCED AND NORMAL I AM!  EVERYONE ACT NATURAL!"  ;)  

One of the hardest parts about getting married is that sometimes, you will take a picture that you like of yourself...but your husband has one eye 1/2 way closed.  



Tim Young. Get with the program.

So you will have to post one of each. ;)



Also, this dress is a size 14.  I haven't worn a size 14 since Bush was in Office

Hold my coffee while I cartwheel down this here hall... in my new heels.  

Love and be kind. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hey, You: a post about prayer and your babies

So. Hi.

     Moms are on my heart.  I wish I lived close enough to every single mom I know on twitter and/or instagram just so I could squeeze their babies while they go to Starbucks/buy new shoes/ take a nap.

     On any given day, babies are either 100% on my radar or not on my radar at all. Uh. One of those statements is a lie.  Honestly, I keep my baby-related cards pretty close to my chest, but if you watch closely enough, occasionally, some small truths start to  trickle out.

So. There's that.

     Right now, my focus is on my physical and mental health & wellness.  Hardest ambition ever.  Am I right?  I hope there are lots of demons The Lord has helped me tame before we have kids. I'm terrified of having a daughter and not knowing how to help her love her body because I don't love my own. Double Yikes.  Is that the most difficult truth on the internet?  My most difficult truth. Yes.

With that being said, I've started running.

I love it.

I hate it.

I love it.

I sent my friend a text message from the arc trainer the other day.  After a sweaty 60 minute workout I actually asked her if it was possible for me to request a medically induced coma.

Ha.

Before I started running, I was super scared, guys.  I actually cried in the parking lot of the park. I'm not even kidding.

It is scary being out of shape and trying something new.  It just is.

In a moment of absolute desperation, I wrote Lucy's and Lucas' initials on my hand because they're my faves. and they make me want to be a better human being.  And those six little letters gave me courage.

LMJ
LGJ

On my first day back at the gym after an almost two week break (no one wants to sweat when they're covered in poison ivy), again I wrote their initials on my hand...along with a few other sweet babies I know.

And praying for those sweet souls gave me courage.  So I started to do it during every run, and when my hands ran out of room, I wrote them down on paper.

Awhile ago, I connected with a sweet gal via the internet.  She was having a hard time. I understood.  I reached out.  She  wrote back and offered to add me to the list of women she was praying for.  I agreed and it was the most humbling experience I've had in a long time.

It was one of those experiences that leaves you crying to your mother in Panera.  So. This is me paying it forward.

I will tell you this...

I've got a whole list of babies and new moms and women struggling with miscarriages/infertility that I'm posting on the treadmill when I run.  Run. Breathe. Pray. Run.

If you need baby-related prayers, I'm your girl.  I'll even write it on poster board if I run out of room.

I can't help but think of this, and it makes me giggle.



If you are struggling with infertility or a miscarriage or you have a tiny baby at home, hit me up.  I'd love to add you to the list.

You don't have to tell me any specifics, and I promise I will never publicly publish your name.

You can even anonymously leave a comment below with your initials or you can find me at cartwheelsdownthehall@gmail.com 


It's just that...now I'm running over 10 minutes at a time.

It's easy to give yourself a motivational speech for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Not so easy for a minute and 540 seconds.

You guys.

So.  While I drag myself another 1/10 of a mile, I will pray for you and your babies and those of you with "resting in peace" babies and even your waiting-to-be-made babies- cause dang' if that isn't the stinkiest road to walk, right?

Love and I'm here if you need me,