Thursday, March 31, 2011

crazy big dreams



I'm a bit of a dreamer.  Most of us creative types are.  I love being alone with my thoughts.  It gives me the time to think up big dreams.  I think about new designs, creative projects around the house, and just process life in general.  Lately I've been dreaming more than ever.  I've really had my head in the clouds. 

I have been getting out of the shower only to realize that I forgot to wash my hair, or that I only shaved one leg.  I have been missing my freeway off ramp and turning onto the wrong street on the way home. 

My head is so full of inspiration, I can't seem to keep up with it all.  I having been thinking a lot about creating the life I want and about being intentional when it comes to turning my dreams into reality.

Since I am so type A, I sometimes don't allow myself to dream things that are "not practical".  I like to see the whole staircase.  I like to work out in my head exactly how I will get from a to b, but sometimes you just have to take that first step in faith.  I have been trying to allow myself to dream crazy big and not to worry about what's "possible".  Life is too short. 

Some of the crazy big dreams that have been in my head lately are

Moving the {starfish} workshop and office to a barn - how cool would that be?

Spending a summer in a far off crazy amazing location with the boys.  I love the thought of taking three months to vacation in Bali or Europe.

Getting back to horseback riding.  Something I once loved.

Writing a book. 

Finding a way to help in my little community.  Lend a hand, do some good. 

What about you?  Have you been daydreaming anything big and crazy?

Monday, March 28, 2011

what i made monday: proof

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a relaxing weekend!  It's been a whirlwind of adventure over here.  We had my brother and sister in law in town, which is always nice, but I always feel a little sad when they leave because we don't get to see them as often as I'd like.  Between our visit and Reid's baseball game and lots of other odds and ends and running around, I'm not quite sure what happened to the weekend?  Wasn't it just Friday?

Anyhow, I didn't have time to do any spring crafting like I originally thought, but I did take some time to clear off my desk.  It was pretty bad. 

Remember my procrastination post from the other day?  I shared my method of setting the timer for 15 minutes to focus on a task.  I thought I'd show you the before and after photos of my desk as proof of what can really be accomplished in 15 minutes.  Plus I feel like when you read a post by someone telling you how to get organized and stop procrastinating you feel like that person has it all together.  This is proof that I don't.  I still struggle with procrastination and disorganization too.  But I have found a few methods that work and the 15 minute timer is a huge part of my strategy.

Okay, on to the photos...here is the before:


Wow...so embarrassing!

And the after...


Ahh...so refreshing!  Can you believe it?  It's like night and day!!  To be fair, I should tell you that I had to set the timer twice.  This clean up took 30 minutes total.

Just for fun I thought I'd share some of the random and interesting things I found while clearing off the desk:

Unopened package of Oreo's mini's
Frazee Paint Deck
Transformer Toy
11 {yes, 11} post it pads
2 dog toys
Phone from our bedroom
Checkbook {um, might need that?!}

I hope you have a wonderful Monday and I hope I inspired you to set your timer and amaze yourself with how much you can get done in 15 {or 30} minutes!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

spring DIY links

You all know how much I love a good DIY project, right?  I have seen tons of great DIY project posts out in blog world lately and I am feeling super inspired by all of them. 

Here are a few that I plan to tackle:




 
This is the best Gallery Wall post that I have ever seen.  They go step by step with how they prepped and planned this wall and show you how to arrange the frames on the wall with newspaper and then put them up.  They also added some clever, unexpected touches, which I love.  Hands down, one of my favorite blog posts of all time.  I want to make 5 or 6 or 7 Gallery Walls after reading this post.


Next Up...

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She plans to fill the frame with more letters to spell the word BLOOM...super fun, no?  I love the faux bois ribbon and I love the spring feeling moss.


And, check out these little beauties:


I know, I know.  There are lots of rosette tutorials out there.  I know what you're thinking 'Um, Amber?  We've seen the rosette tutorials'...I know, but this one is different.  Trust me.  This one is pretty cool.  And, seriously can you ever get enough fabric rosettes?  I say no.  I like that they are a little bit more tailored and I love that this is a no-sew-iron-and-hot-glue-gun-only project.  Right up my alley.


And, last but not least the crazy talented Emily of Jones Design Company {you know how I love her, right?}  cooked up this beautiful and simple spring wreath that I think would look so perfectly cheerful on the front door.

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Seriously adorable.  So chic and simple.  I am totally loving it.  I plan to cook up some Spring crafting of my own this weekend...stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

how to beat procrastination


If there was an Olympic event for procrastinating, I would totally win the gold.  I am an excellent procrastinator.  I can find a million excuses to delay and avoid any unwanted task.  Unfortunately, this quality doesn't really serve me. 

My most dreaded {but completely necessary} tasks?  Paperwork and filing.  The thorn in my side.  And, it never ends!  Those papers just keep on coming!!  Ugh!! 

But, I have found a way to beat my procrastinating-ness {I like using made up words}.  If you are like me, maybe you can benefit from the same simple tips. 

Here they are:


1. Set a timer
You can do anything for 15 minutes.  Really, you can.  Get a digital timer and set it for 15 minutes.  You will be amazed what you can bust out in 15 focused minutes.  It's astonishing.  Buying a timer changed my life.  I'm not even kidding.  I'm a total geek like that. 

Besides being completely amazed at how little time avoided tasks actually take, the other benefit to the timer method is that it helps you stay on task and focused.  If I know that I am on the timer, I am less likely to start reading blogs, surfing the web or responding to emails.  {Because I am a creative person, staying focused is a constant battle for me.  I constantly have ideas popping into my head and it makes it hard to stay focused on what I'm doing.  If I have the timer set, I will make myself a note and get to that other idea later and stick with the task at hand.} 

2.  Find a way to get happy and be enthusiastic
Before I sit down at my desk to work through mail, accounting, or whatever other paperwork has landed there demanding to be dealt with, I put myself in a good mood.  I light a candle and I usually shut my office door to prevent distractions.  Sometimes I play a CD, but usually I like to work while it's quiet.  If I am going to clean, I will put on energetic music.  Whatever your task is, just find a way to be in a good place. 


3.  Work quickly
This one is so important.  If you work quickly you can get tons done.  Think of the most productive person you know.  Chances are, if you have seen them work, they move from task to task quickly and efficiently.  Not frantically, but just quickly.  They aren't stopping to check their email or chat on the phone or look at a catalog while in the middle of their task, they are just getting the work done.  When you work quickly, you don't have a chance to get distracted.  Distraction is the arch enemy of productivity. 

Now think again about that super productive person.  Have you ever seen them relax?  When their work is done, chances are they will relax completely and be totally immersed and undistracted.  That is the beauty of getting done what needs to be done efficiently and without procrastinating.  It means lots of guilt free time to do the things you really want to do.  And, that probably isn't paperwork.

Monday, March 21, 2011

what i made monday: changes

Happy Monday, sweet friends!!  Guess what happened over the weekend?  The shop got a mini makeover!

I think it looks a bit more cohesive with the style of the blog and I like it...but since I am not big on change, I am still getting used to it.  I would love it if you would hop over there let me know what you think.

Also new is the addition of a 'testimonials' page.  I am one of those people who always reads the product reviews when I am shopping online and so I thought it would be fun to add a page to the shop where you could read some of the notes, emails and facebook posts left by other customers.

I have been keeping a file on my computer for quite awhile that I have been filling with the sweet testimonials that I've received from all of you.  I read them when I'm having a bad day, or just need a little encouragement.  And, now you guys can read them too.  Heck, maybe you'll even see your own comment over there!  You can find the new testimonials page here.

I would love to hear what you think of the new look!  I hope you have a wonderful start to your week!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

i'm ready for summer



Now that the days are getting longer and we've been getting sneak peeks of warmer weather here and there, I've decided that I am totally ready for summer to arrive.  Right now.

{family photo taken the summer Grant was born...aw, I miss that little pouch!}
  
I'm ready for flip flops and flowy sundresses.  I'm ready for laying around at the beach all day with my boys and I'm ready for mohawks made out of sunscreen.


  

I'm ready for a girls trip with my bestie to celebrate our birthdays...yeehaw!
{but I'm not so ready for the big 3-0...eek!}


 

 
I'm ready for adventures on the water, watching Reid at surf camp and spending a mellow week camping and hanging with my brother and sister in law.






I'm ready for blow up pools and messing around in the backyard.






I'm ready for our annual backyard campout and long unscheduled days.






Yep, I'm ready.  C'mon Summer!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

a fun new option

I have gotten quite a few emails lately asking if a gift message could be added to an order. 

Just in case you've never ordered from me before...every {starfish} package is sent out in a pretty box, beautifully tied with a bow, so it's all ready for gift giving.  Have it shipped directly to the recipient and you're done, right?  Except what about a gift message?  Oops.  I didn't offer that...until now! 

I'm so excited to show you the new gift message tags!  I love how they turned out!  {thanks Emily!}

So, now when you send the Mother's Day, Birthday, Get Well, Graduation, New Baby, or Just Cause I Love Ya gift, you can add a fun little typed message. 

And, guess what?  It will only add $1.50 to your order.

And, in case you're wondering, we don't send packing slips with pricing so no one will ever know what you paid - it's our little secret. ;)

Here they are:






  





What do you guys think?  You can find them in the shop here.  Or just look under the "other fun stuff" category next time your shopping {Mother's Day is just around the corner!}.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

i'm a proud mama

I've always wanted to be a mom.  Growing up, I imagined being that mom cheering on the bleachers, standing up and clapping, and cheering on her baby.  And you know what?  Now I am. 

I am normally a bit quiet in a group; I am the type who takes a bit to warm up.  But, not at the ball field.  Oh nooo.  My baby gets up to bat and I crowd my way to the best spot behind the fence and yell at the top of my lungs, "C'mon Babe.  You got this.  Let's go Reid!" and when he hits the ball two feet I'm clapping and screaming "That's it Baby.  Run, Babe!  RUN!"

I love it, and there is no other way I'd rather spend our Saturday.












Check out that face!






He cracked two singles and a double and made a play in the outfield on opening day last weekend.  Not too shabby!



Man, I love that kid.

Monday, March 14, 2011

what i made monday: a gift for carrie ella


This is Carrie Ella with her Daddy.  Isn't she the sweetest, most beautiful little thing?



Carrie Ella's Daddy, Army Captain Ronald Luce.



Carrie Ella and her Daddy were inseparable. This photo of them was taken on the day he got his Green Beret and graduated from Special Forces.  As little girls, we adore our daddy; he is the whole world to us.  There is no one bigger, or stronger or braver.  We dream of the day we will wear a pretty white dress and he will walk us down the aisle. I'm sure Carrie Ella had these same big dreams. 

But, Carrie Ella's Daddy is an American Hero. And, sometimes, heroes leave this world to become our angels far sooner than we are ready.

In August of 2009, Carrie Ella's Daddy was killed in combat.

These photos were taken at his burial at Arlington National Cemetery:


 



Carrie Ella with her mom, Captain Luce's wife, Kendahl.


A few weeks ago, Carrie Ella's Aunt Jackie contacted me about designing a necklace for her.  She told me their story, and I told her that I would love to do it as my gift to this little girl.  I don't have a little girl, but I have a Daddy and I have a little boy the same age as Carrie Ella.  I was so touched by the bravery of this man and my heart broke for this little girl and this family.  We traded emails and came up with this:



It is by far my proudest work, the most inspiring and touching necklace I have ever made. 

The loss that this family and this child have endured is beyond words. 

Carrie Ella, I am honored to be a part of your journey.  You are a brave and strong girl and I hope you love your new necklace and I hope that it reminds you that your Daddy is still with you, just in a different way.  I will always think of you and keep you in my heart, dear sweet girl.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

tips for eating at home and my top 10 weeknight recipes

Picture of Parmesan Chicken Recipe
Parmesan Chicken via the Barefoot Contessa  {Scroll down for recipe link}

The benefits of eating at home and sharing a family dinner are endless.  It's healthier, cheaper and it can be easier if you work the right strategies.  But, sometimes life gets crazy and next thing you know it's hello McDonald's drive thru...for the third time this week...super size me please.  

We eat at home and as a family 5-6 nights a week.  It works for us and we have a system.  Here are my tips if you are someone who is trying to eat at home more regularly.  I decided to post it on a Sunday, since that is the day that I do my meal planning for the following week.

1.  Have a plan.
Sit down and plan the entire weeks meals the Sunday prior.  Write it on the calendar.  This is not a big drawn out activity.  Just 15 minutes to write down what you will have.  Knowing what you are going to have is half the battle.  Check your calendar the night before and take out any meats you need from the freezer, start a marinade and do any advance prep you can.

2.  Buy bulk meats on sale and get a vacuum sealer. 
There are certain meats that I use a lot, so when I see them on sale, I stock up on them and vacuum seal and freeze them into meal sized portions.  You can do the same thing when buying your meats at Costco or other warehouse stores.

3.  Don't cook every night. 
I cook 3-4 times a week and I plan recipes during the week that will feed us for at least 2 nights, if not three.  Switch up the side dish, add a salad or some fresh bread and eat what you had the night before.  This is probably the biggest time saver in our house.

4.  Don't cook on a Monday.
What I am saying is cook on the nights that are less stressful and have leftovers on the nights you know will be hectic.  If you have ballet and soccer and a work meeting, knowing that dinner will be ready in a snap is a good feeling.  Mondays are typically a little more stressful around here, but Sunday's are mellow, so I usually cook a big dish Sunday afternoon and we have leftovers on Monday.  Find the schedule that works for your family.

5.  Double whenever you can.
Some recipes take hardly any additional work to double and you can either freeze the additional portion {like lasagna} or just cook up both batches and make it last a few days longer, take it for lunches, etc.

6.  Go to the store more than once a week.
Life changes quickly, so what you plan on Sunday doesn't always work on Friday.  If you only go to the store once a week, you will probably throw away a lot of food.  That's what we used to do.  Now I go to the store 2-3 times a week.  Just buy for the next one or two meals you will make.  You will be able to eat fresher produce and meats and you will be sure that you are not buying food for a meal that will spoil before you get a chance to make it.  Some people say that going to the store wastes money.  I disagree.  Just don't go hungry and don't buy anything that isn't on your list. 

7.  Have something in your back pocket.
Even with a plan, you never know what might come up.  You get stuck at work late, your child is sick and you don't want to drag them to the grocery store or you forgot Jimmy has baseball practice.  Whatever the case, have an emergency backup.  This can be as simple as keeping a block of cheddar, some tortillas and box of Mexican rice in the pantry.  You can whip up cheese quesadillas and a box of rice in a flash and still have dinner at home.  Same thing with those fancy pants soups you buy from the deli section in the store and a bag of mixed greens.  Soup and salad, anyone?  Fried egg sandwiches are another great one.  Just always have something ready to go...just in case.  Don't be afraid it will go bad.  It won't.  Something always comes up.  If you know you have the makings of an emergency dinner, you will use it.

8.  Have easy side dishes ready to go.
A box of rice pilaf, pre made mashed potatoes {I love the ones sold in a 2 pack at Costco}, a bag of baby greens, rice for the rice cooker, a can of ready to bake Pilsbury French bread loaf {these bake up in a about 30 minutes and there is nothing as comforting as fresh French bread}.


My Top Ten Weeknight Recipes:

Most of these are low prep, simple ingredients and low in effort.  The ones that take a bit more prep/effort I have noted in bold.  They are worth it though, because they are the ones that will feed your family for 2-3 nights or more.  Clicking on each dish will take you to the recipe.




4.  Seared Ribeye over Arugula {I eliminate the roasted peppers from this recipe when I'm in a hurry}


6. Shrimp Scampi {also a great recipe for entertaining}

7.  Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes


9.  Pulled Pork {serve with warm tortillas, lime wedges, cilantro and Spanish rice...yum}

10.  Five Cheese Penne Pasta {perfect for making on a Sunday and perfect for doubling.  These get individually portioned, stored in the freezer and bake up bubbly in about 20 minutes.  Add a soup, salad or bread for weeknight perfection}

Sorry, I can't stop at ten because my list would not be complete without the Barefoot Contessa's amazing Lasagna dish, so...

11.  Lasagna

I think that's everything.  I hope I inspired you to eat at home this week.  Happy cooking!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

hello weekend, hello spring, hello 24 hour sale!!!



The weekend is almost here and I cannot wait.  I am planning to...watch my boy's first baseball game of the season...sleep in...make some pancakes...and maybe clock some time on the sand if the weather stays as gorgeous as it's been. 

Spring is just around the corner and Sunday is the time change!  Yahoo!!  I am so ready for longer days, I cannot wait.

So how about we celebrate with a 24 hour sale?  For the next 24 hours, enter code SAVE24 at checkout to save 24% off your order.  Fun, right?  The code will expire Saturday morning while you are sleeping in, so grab it while it lasts!  Ready, set, go!!

Click {here} to get your shop on.

Happy Friday!!  What does your weekend hold?  Please share!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

thank you so much




I just wanted to pop in and tell you all how touched and overwhelmed I am at all the sweet comments on the blog lately.  Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and to share your heartwarming stories with me.  I read each and every one and they make my day.  I think you guys are the sweetest and I am so grateful to share our little journey with you.


Happy Thursday {Friday is just around the corner - yippee!!}
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