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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ouch. How to set goals and fail with grace


Well, the last you heard from me, I was all set to walk roughly 30 miles in 30 days and then...crickets.

Am I right?  How did you do?

My progress didn't go so well.  For various reasons, guys. Excuses, Excuses, am I right?

Well, the good thing is, at least I got a post-idea out of the whole mess.

Aren't you so thankful for fresh starts and grace and the chance to just begin again?

Yes. Please. Forever and Ever Amen.

Well, this is what I've figured out so for...

Step One...

Realize that you are a terrible human being and then focus that energy for good.

Ha.  I'm totally kidding on this one.  If you've set a goal, and it's fallen flat, chances are, you're feeling pretty crummy.  Let yourself feel crummy for a while.  It's ok.  That's kind of the point of setting a goal, right?  You feel good when you meet feel bad when you don't.

Right now, the idea of getting over this hump and setting some NEW GOALS for the winter has me feeling weirdly excited.  Focus on the ideas below, and you can also find that strange balance of disappointment, excitement, and determination.

Let's be weird together. ;)

2.  Stay the course.  Think about your goal.  Did you accomplish anything at all?  My guess probably did! And congrats!  If your goal was to pay off all your debt by the new year, and you only made it half way, that's still cause for celebration!  Keep doing what you're doing.  It's working, my friend!

3.  Find something to celebrate.  In the midst of all this November Craziness, I did manage to up my vitamin game.  I have been the Vitamin Queen these days.

You guys.

What should my crown look like?
...a crown made of vitamins?
Who's going to make it?
Can we hire these kinds of things out?

All this to say, my overall goal is to focus on my HEALTH so...I'm happy about that.  Vitamin-taking was a habit I had really let fall by the wayside, but I'm back at it.  Folic acid for days, y'all.  ;)

4.  Time travel.  Uh... let's be honest.  I worry about my weight and overall fitness level in general.  When I think about giving up, I picture myself 30 years from now.  Heavy. Tired.  Bored.  When times get tough and I don't think I'll ever find a way to maintain a healthy/active lifestyle, I think about Future Me, and she wishes that in my 30's, I would have found a way to make it work.

Powerful stuff.

Don't worry, Future Me...I'm comin' to the rescue!

So.  What's next?

I went to the gym the other day, and it just felt really good.  It feels good to be surrounded by people who care about the same thing you do- maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.

My overall goal has been to "pick up momentum" in terms of exercise.  I had a health coach tell me one time that "A body in motion stays in motion."  It's so true.

I don't know that my momentum is back in full swing, but I do know that the ball is rolling...the wheels are turning, and such.

Good things are coming, and good things are already here.

Love and you can do it,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Old Joy #482

Guys. I wanna make this long. Like reeeeaaaallll long.

But, I ain't gonna.

Last week, Jen Hatmaker wrote about her mom's cancer diagnosis and how much she had feared  it would shake her faith...and how much it actually hadn't.  (I'm paraphrasing, obviously).

My friend (I wish), Jen Hatmaker is able to look her mother in the eye and declare that God is still good.

And I get it.  Kind of.

Tim and I have whispered the same prayer for about 2 years running.

Oh, for heaven's sake.

It is one of those requests that you never imagined having to pray over and over and over again.

But, you do.

It's the kind of request that ignites public weeping.  Very public weeping.  Sorry, Panera.

Do you have those, too?

Are you ready to give up?

Me too.

Wanna trade?  You pray for mine and I'll pray for yours, and it'll all come out in the wash.

'Cept when you accidentally end up being the one who gets blessed with a furry, brown dachshund, don't come whining to me.


But...imagine my wonder and surprise to discover, after all this time, that I can look my husband in the eye and declare that God is still good.

September 2007 

Forever and ever Amen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Autumn Walking Challenge Part 2

     In case you missed it, I'm challenging myself to walk for 20 minutes (a mile) everyday for the next 30 days.  It's not too late to join in!  Part one is here. This is Part 2.  I wanted to write about some suggestions I think may help us experience a higher rate of success.

1. You need a contingency plan.  I accidentally typed "contingency plant,"  Ha. I guess you'll need one of those, too.

You guys.  Let's not pretend.  I KNOW at some point during the next 30 or so days, it's going to be like, 9:46pm and I'll still be waiting to get my walk done.

Let's be at 9:46 at night, we're still ready to make the good and right choice.

Rain.  Kitchen catastrophes.  Traffic.  It's all comin' our way.  Let's be ready.

I found this walk on Youtube that I thought looked kind of cool.  Anything by Leslie Sansone is good, too.

I know some of these video can be kind of cheesy/not seem productive, but anything that keeps us moving is a GOOD THING. :)

Hang in there!

2. Create a visual reminder- I am using a really pretty fall photo I took on one of my recent walks as my phone's lock screen.  Take a picture of something you enjoyed seeing on your walk today and make it your wallpaper or phone lock screen.  Write a quote on a post-it and stick it to your mirror.  Pin something on Pinterest.  Just find something walk-related and PUT IT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE! :)

3. Look ahead at your schedule- This Thursday, I'm booked from least.  I need to figure out how I can get in my walk so I'm not dragging my feet around the block in the middle of the night...haha. (Not safe! Not safe!)   Which leads me to...

4. Consider splitting your time - You may have to decide that you're going to walk ten minutes in the morning...five minutes in the parking lot after work...and 5 minutes once you get home.  That's ok!  Just start moving!  One thing I'm considering is showering at night.  We're having some really beautiful, mild weather, so I really don't sweat on my walks.  I think I might shower at night and use the extra time in the morning to squeeze in a walk.  That way, when I get back inside, I'm just ready to change clothes and go.  Also, keep in mind that this can be really simple!  For example, today, I walked in my "work" clothes.  (My leopard print ballet flats are really comfortable)! :)

Don't trick yourself into thinking you have to change clothes and make a big production of it.   Yes.  You may occasionally want to change into gym clothes and really log some QUICK MILES, but don't overcomplicate it if you don't have to. :) As long as your comfortable in what you're wearing...just walk in it!

5. Track your progress- I'm using these super cute mini-calendars from Hello Cuteness to check off all the work-outs I've gotten in this month!

6. Think about WHY you're doing this -

Here's an article about 8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking !  I love it!  #1 and #6 BLEW me away. Wow!  Powerful stuff!  I'm trying to be a mature adult and not mention #2. ;)

I find, when I'm not regularly exercising, my body just feels really out of control.  I feel this way the most when I get in the shower in the mornings.  I just feel really soft and glumpy.  Attractive, I know.

Then this sparks a sense of urgency in me, "I HAVE to do something! I HAVE to get to the gym! Make it stop!!!"

Obviously, this is not a fantastic way to start my day.

Over the next 30 days, I'm really looking forward to waking up at peace and feeling a bit more solid in terms of my body.

I hope this list will help us experience success.  For me, I think the most helpful part pertained to the Youtube videos.  I know there will be days when the gym is crowded and the weather is bad, and I'll just need a change of pace.

What did I miss? How will you set yourself up for success? Let's help each other out!

My best to you, friends!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn Walking Challenge Part 1

Hi, my friends!

     Making time for the gym this season has been a struggle for me.  Or rather, making MYSELF make time for the gym is the struggle.  I've heard a body in motion stays in motion....and a body at rest stays at rest.  All this to say, I've struggled to pick up momentum.

So I started thinking about how I could "easily" get moving again.  The same old,

"I am going to the gym TONIGHT!"

"Well...maybe I'm NOT going to the gym tonight..."song and dance just isn't working.

Then,  I remembered reading about a group of co-workers who challenged themselves to walk at least a mile a day, every day.  Many of them did it for an ENTIRE YEAR.

I have no idea how they made that happen, but I'm willing to try it for the next 30 days.

You should join me!  I've got a fun little group happening over on Instagram.  We're spreading the word and getting excited!

If you're interested, here are some ways we can connect.

- Leave a comment here with the best way to contact you (instagram/email/twitter?)

- Use the hashtag #walkyourheartout  Take some photos of your walks/work outs and tag me / us!  I'd love to see what an autumn looks like in your neck of the woods...cause here...these trees be' gorgeous!

 I know that hashtag has already been used a few times, but when I chose it initially, nothing came up!  The data on my phone must have been slow that day (?) Rats!  That's ok.  It will just make it easier for MORE people to find us, I suppose. :) 

- Connect with others! Follow people who have already expressed an interest in joining!  Let's encourage each other along the way! Elizabeth from The Young Retiree has already been a huge help in spreading the word!  Find her! :)

- I'll start posting to both my personal and blog FB accounts.  You can find my blog account here!

- If you'd like to see the initial instagram post, you can find it here! 

Here are my own, personal rules.  Feel free to set your own!

1. Starting Monday, October 27th, I will move my body for at least 20 minutes a day.  It takes me roughly 20 minutes to walk one mile.  Also, for the record, "regular" work-outs count...zumba, arc trainer, lifting, etc.  I just chose walking because in my mind, it's "easy."  On those days where I'm just not FEELING IT, I have to tell myself that ANYONE can squeeze in a 20 minute walk.

2.  I'm giving myself 3 "passes."  I figure if I only miss 3, I've still met my goal by 90%


3. For every walk I miss, I'm going to donate a pack of diapers to our local pregnancy center (including my 3 technically...I already owe 3 packs...haha).  Diapers are expensive, y'all. Money is a motivator for me, so this is gonna hurt. ;)

4. I want some loot!  If I meet my 90% goal, I'm gonna go spend some serious cash at Sephora (and at my house, like, 30 dollars qualifies as "serious cash," just so we're clear). ;)

Tomorrow, I'm going to post a Part 2 which will include some suggestions / a plan for success and the benefits of walking!

Love & forward, March!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Ye Who Are Weary

One thing I've noticed about the women online that I love and admire is their ability to rest.
They rest. 

They rest intentionally and they don't apologize for it. Not only to THEY rest..they encourage others to do so as well.

I rarely enjoy rest.

Don't get me wrong. I spend plenty of time just doing nothing...but I never actually call it rest.

It isn't intentional.  I often feel guilty WHILE I'm doing it and isn't actual rest, it's just procrastination.  #socialmedia  #candycrush #plantsvszombies

You guys.

So, it starts this vicious cycle.

     I know in my heart that I'm not well-rested.  So I'm emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.   So I struggle to accomplish the things I'd like to finish.  So I don't "rest" because I feel like "things" aren't getting finished.  So I procrastinate because I'm exhausted and overwhelmed.  So I struggle to accomplish the things I'd like to finish.

Um.  I'm not even going to try to edit that mess of a paragraph, but you get my point.

With that being said, Scarlett had (minor) surgery yesterday and came home today.

Tim and I are on the hunt for a new couch, and we already sold ours on Craigslist.  Whoopsies. File that under: Things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

We are currently lounging on an air mattress covered in my grandma's old quilts.

This is one of those times where I'm like...

Oooohhh...Girls.  When it comes to marriage, choose wisely. Who cares about the stinkin' wedding?

You want to build the kind of life where you and your husband can sit on a half inflated mattress that's covered in dog hair and Diet Coke* and still call it good.  :) 

And it is. So good.

My point?

Netflix just added House Hunters & Gilmore Girls.  I just bought Let's All Be Brave.

This afternoon, we are resting.  Forever & ever. Amen.

*I'm exaggerating.  For those of you who plan to spend the night at our house, it's a perfectly good, almost new mattress. No spills. ;)  

Love & the weary world rejoices,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Influence ReCap

Hi, my friends!  I wanted to write a quick post that sums up my experience at The Influence Conference in Indianapolis last weekend!  There was so much amazing truth and wisdom shared.  I'd love to unpack more of it on the blog as time allows.

I had the amazing opportunity to listen to...

Jamie Ivey
Jesse Connolly
Hayley Morgan
Jen Lula
Nancy Ray
Lara Casey
Sammy Rhodes 

Here were my "top ten" take-aways!

    1. You have to preach to yourself until you BELIEVE whatever it is God is telling you.  Choose three sentences to sum up what YOU “need to hear” and repeat those as often as needed. (Hayley/Lara) 
    2. We are chosen people. We should not be ashamed. (Jamie) 
    3. I love my Influence friends. Those Network members are just my people.
    4. Never underestimate the power of a young woman, up past her bedtime, who's been given a microphone ;) 
    5. You can never know how people really feel about you. You always know how Jesus feels about you, and He loves you. (Sammy)
    6. “But God...” We are sad. We are afraid. We feel ashamed...But God... (Hayley)
    7.  God hates "MY" kingdom.  God LOVES HIS kingdom.  (Jesse) 
    8. My identity is always secure because I am a child of God.  (Jamie) 
    9. The impossible is possible with God. (Lara) 
    10. When we confess our sins, God promises to heal us. (Lara)

I got a lot out of Jen and Nancy's talks as well, but their advice was more practical/business-related.  Their infinite wisdom will come out in bits and pieces, I'm sure.  I'll tweet them both when I make my first million. ;)

I had the chance to meet some of the ladies from my online community group.  So much love.

From Left to Right

Jenna // A Mamma Collective
Frances // The Living Letter Chronicles 
Kristen // When at Home

I was also able to room with my friend Katie again, and we met up with Lauren who we met on Twitter through Katie's An Inspired Life Book Club.

More! More! More! :)

I'm sad that it's over, but I'm excited for what's next.  I know this time has a purpose.  How amazing is that?

The Conference has inspired me to take one night off a week just to work on the blog/book/business side of things.  No cooking. No cleaning.  Just Biz-ness.  Tim is really supportive of this which is sweet. I just hope I can give up a little control for one night (he's a great cook). :)  I'm excited to see what comes of this.  I need a new word for "excited."

Love, and Scared is the New Brave,*

* (I can't take credit for this quote, if you remember who said, it, feel free to share!)

Also, thanks to Kirsten and Katie for the photos!  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Influence Conference 2014

Hi, my friends!  I am so excited to write this post and link up to The Influence Network for a quick meet and greet!

Just wanted to do a quick intro. and say, "Hello!"

My name is Holly, and I'm a hugger.  :)

I live in The Midwest with my husband and our two dogs.  We've been married for six years, and we love to travel, cook together, and watch like, ALL THE NETFLIX.  #Fringe.

I also like riding my bike and working on crafts.  Also, did I mention Netflix?  ;)

I went to The Influence Conference last year after having left my job after 9 years.  It was such a refreshing change of pace and a safe place to find community.  I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into...I literally just bought my ticket and hoped for the best...haha.

I am so excited to see what God is going to do this year, and I'm super stoked to meet YOU!

I am hoping to do a "meet up" on the first night for people who are attending alone.  It is super scary to walk into these kinds of events without knowing a soul.  I'm planning to send out a tweet on the first night with an offer to buddy up with anybody who may need it!  It doesn't mean we have to be "besties" all weekend, but at least you'll have somebody to sit with the first night!  :)

I am totally splurging on a notebook and pen for The Conference, and I'm also bringing a tumbler for ice water. Those have become like, my security blankets.  Weird. I know.  My mom and sister are the same way. They always show up with a lil' glass o' ice water.  Bless.  

So. I always THINK I take too many selfies until I actually need a selfie.  And then I'm like, "WHERE ARE ALL THE SELFIES?"

Um. This was our Christmas card last year.  I'll try to do better, guys. ;)

You can find me on twitter and instagram! 

Over & Out!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Listen. Shoot. Run.

This is a post about listening.

I told Tim the other night that I had a dream that we saw a bear and Tim told me not to move and I moved and it ate me. #runonsentence

Last year, Tim started watching the Walking Dead, and after one particularly gruesome episode, he calmly greeted me at the door with the following information...

He said, "New family rule.  When I say, 'Shoot!', you shoot.  When I say, 'Run!', You run."

(I have no idea what the punctuation should look like in that sentence, but I will give you five dollars if you can figure it out).

You see, by now, Tim knows that I need the reminder.  Listen. Shoot. Run. Repeat.

So. With that being said, my prayer has been that I will listen to Tim when I am supposed to listen.  I'm sure that's the most "repressed-1950's-housewife" statement you've heard all week, but the truth is, I can give Tim a run for his money, and we both know it.

For some reason,  I've gotten into the habit of thinking that I just know better than he does, and that, my friends...

is stinky.

My prayer has also been that I will just listen whenever I am supposed to listen, in general.   Cause I think that's a pretty good habit to get into.  #idowhatiwant #justkidding

 Uh. I'm workin' on it.

There are so so so many deeper issues I'd love to address...honor...respect...the way our love for Christ is mirrored in our marriages and how our unwillingness to listen reflects that...but... I don't know about you all, but right now, my clock reads 10:36 PM.  At night, folks.

So.  Feel free to add to the topic in the comments.  Seriously. Tell me all about it.

In closing, here we are at a High School Football Game last weekend.  This was about 6 minutes before it absolutely dumped rain on us.  Tim kept telling me that the radar was calling for tons of rain.  Do you think I listened?

Love and don't move,

Monday, August 25, 2014

11 and 1/2 Minutes: A post about prayer in disguise

  I used to have a 45 minute work commute (at least). It was hard, y'all.  Sometimes, people handle these things with beauty and gratitude and grace.  My mother in law is one of them.  Her commute is  similar, and she handles it well.  

Uh...I am not one of those people.  

During those dark, dark mornings, as my 29th year turned to 30, and 30 turned into 31, I often pleaded (read: complained), "Lord.  I cannot have a baby and do this."  

Do you ever tell The Lord what you "can" and "cannot" do?  Sometimes, I do.  It's probably not a good idea, and I don't recommend it at all...yet, I still keep doing it in my own life.  Do as I say, kids.  Do as I say.  But...with that being said...

Now I have a new job (pure joy).  I am about 5 days in, and the other night,  it took me 11 minutes and 28 seconds to get home (I totally timed it and squealed with joy in the driveway).  And I think sometimes, maybe our pleading is also praying in disguise, we just don't know it at the time.  

     I'd say 75% of my semi-decent ideas come to me in the shower.  Um. And this post was one of them.  You know how cartoon characters always get an idea and yell, "TO THE LAB!,"  Well, I would yell, "TO THE SHOWER!" 

So,  I love this verse from Samuel, although it's not even remotely applicable to my life right now.  

 I think we all have examples of "this child" in our lives. For me, it was an 11 and 1/2 minute commute.

The Lord has granted me what I asked of Him, even though I didn't really know I was  asking at the time. closing...

When I am Being Ridiculous, I often find myself saying, "Everything is going to be ok."  But I want to live my life expecting good things.  I don't want to just settle for "ok."

The Bible says we can have "joy unspeakable and full of glory."

So.  Whatever  you're waiting for, keep waiting.  Don't you love that answer?  Ha.

And I'm not going to tell you, "Everything is going to be ok."  Because I want better for you than that.  I want better than that for both of us.

Love, and the half has never yet been told,

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.

" 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'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!


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?