My Thrifty Dress Re-Make

I’m famous! Well, at least, I feel like it!

Saturday, the lovely Marisa from New Dress A Day featured my dress re-model. I took it from this $5 Goodwill dress:

To this summery frock:

Check out the full post for how I did it, and while you’re there, check out all of Marisa’s amazing creations! With $365, she creates 365 outfits. You’ll love her thrifty finds and her sense of humor!

Hmm, this might just be the perfect dress to wear to a Memorial Day barbecue this evening! Brian and I  are planning to spend the evening with some friends of ours, so the guys can talk and we ladies can scrapbook.

While I’m all for enjoying the day off, remember that Memorial Day is more than sales and good food. Take time today to thank those who have served, remember those that have given their lives, and pray for those who are in harms way.

pleated poppy

Confession: I’m Not Cool

There, I said it. Out loud on the internet. You might have already noticed, but I’m not cool. And I’m beginning to come to terms with that.

Here’s what I mean.

She’s cool.

Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

She’s super cool.

And in a different way, she’s equally cool.

Source: via Lissa on Pinterest

Cool people can wear heels all day. They wear skinny jeans and blazers or fedoras, they do yoga and eat cupcakes without gaining weight. They get together with friends for brunch. They’re eco-friendly and drive hybrids. People with that “new vintage” look are cool. They look good with heavy bangs, red lipstick, retro outfits. They collect art and vintage dishes. They get manicures and go shopping every week. They’re witty, smart, and popular. Cool people drink soy lattes and eat sushi.

I used to think, “If I was just thinner, I could be cool.” But I’m beginning to realize that some clothes are made for boyish, flat chested figures, and no matter how thin I am, I’m always going to be curvalicious. I used to think, “I could just learn how to apply makeup better, or style my hair better, I’d be cool.” But the truth is, I have no desire to spend hours getting ready in the morning. And regardless of my beauty routine, I’ll probably still have pimples. I used to think, “If only I had more money, I could buy stylish clothes and be cool.” But I’m learning that it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it, and who’s wearing it. Meaning, coolness comes from confidence. 

And confidence, that comes from knowing who you are, and being ok with it.

You can’t be confident if you’re trying to be someone else. 

I can’t be those cool people. I love desserts too much, for one thing. I’m too clumsy to walk in heels, and I’m inept at fixing my own hair. And even though heavy bangs and red lipstick is popular right now, that look just makes me look like more of a geek than I already do. And it brings back memories of elementary through middle school, when I sported geek poster child bangs.

I may never learn how to make a messy bun. I won’t ever enjoy sushi. I may never dance without looking like a robot having a seizure. I may never get over some awkwardness in social situations. In the words of Emily Freeman, I’ll always be “allergic to small talk.”

But I will be sincere. I will be honest, sometimes to a fault. I will truly care about you.

I will be a geek. My heart will beat faster when I see a new font. I will cry when reading the Harry Potter books. I will also cry when watching America’s Got Talent and Extreme Home Makeovers. I will get goosebumps listening to beautiful singing. My feet will trip over themselves. My glasses will slide down my nose. I will listen to jazz and French music. I will read a good book anywhere and at anytime. I will write, and I will create. I will be emotional and laugh too loud and have a small circle of really, really good friends. 

I will be a work in progress, for the rest of my life. I will always be in desperate need of grace. 

Today is Geek Pride Day, so for all of you fellow uncool people, are you not at all, somewhat, or very ok with who you are? What about who you’re not?

Give Yourself Quick Mood Boost For $5

Sunday night I felt a little down about Brian starting work. Crazy, I know, but what can I say? I’m going to miss having him around! I got ready for bed early, and then a thought occurred to me.

It’s been months since I painted my nails.

Painting my nails is the only thing that keeps me from biting them, and they were all quite short. I broke out my favorite polish, e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Fire Coral.

I noticed yesterday that the color matched my strawberries.

The bright red makes me feel confident, pretty, and summery. This shade works well with my skin tone, and once I get a tan, I’m going to take a leap and try this hot pink that came in the three piece set!

e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish

Although, I’ve gathered that mint is the IN color this season. I’m tempted to spend $2 on a new color to try.

e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish

A couple minutes of pampering, and I felt ready to tackle the week. The best part is the price: I buffed my nails lightly to help the polish adhere, then put on a coat of clear polish.

  • buffer, $1 from the dollar store. 
  • polish, $2 (or $3 for a set of 3)
  • clear polish, $2
Forget dropping $15-30 on a manicure, I can do it myself for $5, multiple times!

And here’s a tip I’ve learned: if you don’t want to wave your hands around for ten minutes, get out your hair dryer before you start painting your nails. Use it on low or cool to dry your polish fast.

What do you when you need a mood boost? Share your tips in the comments!

Note: I just checked e.l.f’s website, and this is a good time to get some polish if it’s been a while! Buy one Best Seller, get one free from e.l.f. cosmetics! Use code BOGO,  now through 5/28.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy something after you click on it, a portion of the proceeds will go towards a good cause! See my complete disclosure in the footer of my site. 

Exceedingly Abundantly

I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. An engineering job in the area of the valley we want to move to, a medium-sized, established, growing company,  doing design engineering as well as hands on work in the shop. Plus, such a variety of projects as to ensure boredom was impossible. It sounded tailor made for Brian.

The call to set up an interview time with this company came the morning after my sleepless night of wrestling with God. I didn’t know what to think. It seemed too good to be true, too perfectly timed to be possible.

After the second interview, with a third scheduled for the following Monday, I allowed myself to hope that this job was the one.

On Monday, when Brian called me 15 minutes after the interview was scheduled, my hand shook as I picked up the phone. “They offered me the job!” Brian announced. And I cried with relief and happiness.

The three months and three weeks of unemployment are over! Even after a week, I can still hardly believe it. Brian starts Monday!

Thank you, thank you, all of you who prayed for us! God answers prayer beyond our expectations!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

My Graduation Surprise

 I mentioned in my last post that there was more I could add, since I meant to publish that post Saturday, but because of one of the things I’m thankful for, I didn’t get it finished until Monday. 
That will make sense in a second…
631. My lovely Gardenia! I snipped this bloom from the bush in front of our house, and it’s perfume has filled my entire office.  But wait, what’s that in the background? 
Yep! I’m now a Mac!
And that’s why Monday’s post took so long, because I’m still figuring out how to use it!
Here’s the story of how this baby came to be mine, starting with my graduation. 

Leading up to my graduation, I was preoccupied with planning a graduation open house and getting the house ready for guests, including Brian’s parents and my younger sister, who would be staying with us at the house. 
On Friday, my mother-in-law helped me decorate by buying me some plants and potting soil. I wanted to do mixed pots, as shown often in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. We picked variously shaped flowers in purple, yellow, red, and pink. 

I also got three little succulents! The’re like cacti, but without the needles!

Friday afternoon, my little sister arrived. She would be staying an entire week. My family arrived that evening, and I made Southwest Meatball Chili for everyone. We stayed up too late talking, and after I went to bed, my father-in-law late that night. 
Saturday was the big day!

The ceremony was wonderful. I didn’t expect to get emotional, but I definitely was fighting back tears as we walked in. My name was read, and I walked across the platform and shook hands with the dean, and I became an alumni!

Graduation party time! 
I had asked a baker and web design client of mine to make the cake, but I really didn’t know what I wanted. I had a BHG recipe for pink lemonade cake, and the graduation party invites had one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt and butterflies on it, and with that information, she created the most perfect cake! I almost cried when she lifted the lid of the box.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. The butterfly wings are molded gelatin. The frosting is lightly lemon flavored, and the cake has raspberry mouse filling! The pink, purple, and blue matched our mismatched paper products perfectly, and the pink roses my parents gave me! The cake also matched the bowls I used for the mints and nuts! 

I so enjoyed the reception. I’m so glad that many of our church friends could make it, even though it was on short notice. It was nice for them to meet my family, and my family to meet them.  I felt like both halves of my family finally got to meet each other, because some of my church family are truly family. 
After everyone had left and we’d cleaned up, it was time to open presents! 
Brian had let slip that he was planning a big surprise for me a week before, but I honestly had no idea what it could be. Deep down, I was hoping against hope for one thing in particular, but I knew it was impossibly expensive. A Macbook Pro cost $1,999, and there was no way we could afford that. But, my HP had been on the fritz for some time, and the blue screens of death, squeaking noises from the harddrive, and issues with Microsoft products on it kept getting worse. I casually let Brian know each time it did something strange, in hopes that after he got a job, he’d be persuaded to get me one. I even mentioned that you can sometimes buy them on ebay for much less, and they might even have software with them. 
After opening the other presents – several types of gourmet coffee, a delicate necklace, and handmade pottery, Brian brought out his gift.My heart leaped when I saw the package. It was large, heavy, and rectangular. It can’t be…Brian hovered next to the couch as I opened it.
I partly tore off the paper, and saw that it was our Wii fit box. But a piece of printer paper was attached to it, and I read: “Emily, your MacBook Pro is on the way…” and then my eyes were too full of tears to make out anything else. I hugged Brian for a long time before I could stop crying enough to say thank you, and read the rest of his note. He explained that he had planned to get it for me all along, and had asked his mom and grandma to contribute to it, and he had bought it off of ebay even before I had casually dropped that hint weeks before! 

I’m still getting used to it, but I LOVE it! Everything looks so sharp, it’s so fast, and really easy to use, once you figure out what the differences are. Yesterday I realized that I didn’t know how to copy and paste or download pictures, but with Brian and Google, I figured it out! ‘

I’m so thankful for this gift, especially because it represents Brian’s love for me! And if that’s not enough good news, I have more good news to share that I’m saving for my next blog post!

Moving Forward

I have been in a very dark place. I’ve written several posts during the last few months, but never published them, because none of them fit well with the theme of this blog, finding beauty in the everyday. I was in such a dark place mentally and spiritually, I honestly didn’t think I could find any beauty whatsoever.

During the days leading up to my graduation, a thick, dark cloud of discouragement settled in over me. I thought graduating from college would be different. I thought I would be different. When I was younger, I assumed that by the time I graduated from college, I would know who I am, what my purpose is in life, and have a pretty good idea of how to accomplish that purpose too.

But I never really known what I wanted to do in life, what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” And I thought by the time I graduated, it would all be clear. But it isn’t.
Over and over, people asked, “Aren’t you excited to be done with school?” I smiled and said, “Yes, it will be so nice to be done…” but honestly, I dreaded it. I would have a degree, quite possibly the most vague degree ever in existence, with lots of little bits of knowledge and experience. The fact that Brian is still unemployed gave me feel the added stress of wanting to provide financially.

Also, I’d been a student since I was four. It became part of my identity, and goal I was constantly working toward. When I reached that goal, what next?

And I was angry. I was angry at God for not making my future even a little bit more clear, for not answering my prayers for direction, for being silent. I was angry that he had allowed circumstances in my life that seemed completely unnecessary. Trickles of distrust wound through my thinking without my realizing it. All of my frustration, hurt, and discouragement boiled down to a few questions: was God really going to provide for us? Was he really good?

Did he really have a purpose for my life? 

One sleepless, tear-filled night, I asked God all of those questions and more. I confessed that I felt like my life was a cosmic mistake, that my aunt’s death made me question his goodness and plan, and that I felt stuck- spiritually stuck, relationally stuck in relationships that never seemed to get better, and directionally stuck without a plan – and I wished he would just do something. I was tired of waiting.

By no accident, our pastor began a short series of messages about seeking God’s direction:

…You may not know why you’re here – but God certainly is very clean on why you’re here…Everyone grab your wrist and feel if you have a pulse. Here’s the deal, if you have a pulse, God’s not done with you yet! You’re not on the shelf! By the way, most of God’s choice servants in scripture demonstrate times of fuzziness on the particular mission God had sent them out on (Abraham, Joseph, Elijah, David, Moses, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, etc…) He made you and redeemed you. That means he has gifted you….On this point we can go to God’s Word. Notice Paul says it this way in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Pastor Joel Tetreau

 I read ahead in his notes, and the conclusion questioned:

“Where are you headed? Do you have direction this morning, or are you floating in the sea of wind and emotionalism?”

Talk about conviction. “Floating in a sea of emotion” pretty much summed it up.

One of the main texts for the sermon was Philippians 3:13-14,”…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching toward those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal…” That verse stuck with me. Pressing toward the goal…moving forward.

To move forward, I would have to repent and let go of my anger. I would have to grieve the loss of my aunt.  I would have to seek out God’s purpose for me, one step at a time, one day at a time. I would have to stop allowing myself to be overwhelmed by my circumstances and just deal with them.

And, I would have to remind myself constantly of God’s goodness and love for me.

And that brings me back to the purpose of this blog.

That’s exactly what I set out to do with my blog posts: recount God’s gifts to me and the myriad of ways He displays his creativity and beauty in the world.

I checked my journal, and discovered that I hadn’t recorded a single gift or cause for joy since November 21st.

So I’m back. I’m working my way out of this dark cloud, one gift at a time.

611. My new shoes, purchased with my graduation money. I’ve wanted a pair of Converse for a long, long time. I found this pair for $20!

612. A wonderful time with my little sister, and that she made it safely home flying by herself. And, that she is a big reason I was inspired to start recording gifts again, since I got her started on it and she is still doing it faithfully.

614. My friendship bracelet from Melissa, one of my youth group girls. It reminds me of our Mexico Missions Trip, my material blessings, and the blessing of friendship.

615. Since the beginning of my struggle, Brian has had two interviews with a company here in AZ, both of which went very well, and another one on Monday!

618. A fun evening with the youth group over at our house for a end of the school year/almost end of the school year party with pizza, frisbee, Toy Story, and lots of laughter.

620. A beautiful Arizona day.

621. Summer is here!

622. Another day with the dog. In a few months, he’ll be returning to his real owners, but until then, I can enjoy his unconditional love and constant enthusiasm.

623. Another day in this house, enjoying the opportunity to have the youth group over while we still can. We’re planning to move in two months and find a studio apartment to lower our rent costs.

625. Good news from our landlord! To save them the hassle of finding new renters, they offered to work with us on the rent price!

628. Finally being able to put into words in this blog post what I’ve been experiencing during the last several weeks.

There’s more I could add, but I’m saving it for another post!

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14