DIY: Easy Watercolor Art

In high school, I received a set of watercolors, watercolor paper, and an instructional watercolor book as a gift. I was thrilled, but I never even opened the watercolors or put paint to the paper. I was afraid of wasting them, and I wanted to get better at painting before I used them. I pulled out that set of unopened watercolors a few weeks ago, and saw that the price tag was still attached. $6.99. I was afraid of “wasting”a cheap $7 set of watercolors!

Well, I’ve put them to use since then. Here’s one quick project I made yesterday, inspired by this easy artwork from A Beautiful Mess. It’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, plus you’ll have a personalized piece of artwork for your walls.

You will need:

  • Watercolors
  • A small paintbrush
  • Watercolor paper (you can use sketch book paper, but it will get all bubbled up)
  • Lyrics or poetry
  • Picture frame to

Lightly pencil in the lyrics or words, just so you make sure they’ll all fit on the paper. Then, paint away! I kept it simple and painted in my own handwriting, nothing too fancy. 
I chose a verse from one of my favorite old hymns, “It is Well.” 
I used blue paint, and purposefully allowed the color to go on unevenly. I think it gives a watery, tear stained effect and fits with the “river” and “ocean” in the lyrics. 

I embellished the corner with a simple anchor. Then I trimmed the edges to fit in my frame, and put it on display by my desk! I need the reminder that God is control and is working all things for my ultimate good. 
I also painted a bunch of leafy and flowery wreaths. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll use them for, but I think they could be incorporated into some neat wedding invitations or stationary designs!
I’ll let you know when those are added to the Watercolor Collection in the shoppe.
Happy painting!

Fashion For Freedom Closet Update

After my 31 day series last October of wearing only ten items all month and blogging about ethical fashion, I set a goal of downsizing my wardrobe to 100 items. To recap, when I started the series, I counted all the clothing in my drawers and closet except for socks and underwear, and came to a total of 354. By the end of the month, that number had dropped to 252. My goals going forward were as follows:

  • I’ll look for fair trade products first. 
  • If a fair trade option isn’t available, I’ll look for a used item from thrift stores or eBay. 
  • If I can’t find it there, I’ll buy it from a company that has a higher Free2Work grade or is made in the USA/Canada/Europe. 
  • I’ll buy less so that I can buy better. 
  • I will invest in multi-tasking pieces and high quality ethically made products that will stand the test of time.
  • I’ll continue to go through all of my clothes every season and objectively pare it down. 
  • My goal is to shrink my closet down to 100 items. I’ll continue to sell off and donate my clothing, anytime I buy or receive clothing as a gift, something else has to go. That’s going to be really hard. 
  • I will be a conscious consumer, thinking about the people behind the barcode who are affected by my purchasing decisions. 
And, I’ll keep the Fair Trade Pledge. 

“I pledge to consume responsibly. I recognize that as a consumer, my buying power matters. I understand that each product I purchase plays a role in a larger narrative, affecting the life of an individual. Because of this, I will do my best to purchase products that have been made by hands that are treated fairly. I will seek to support supply chains that treat farmers and workers fairly and demand the assurance that items I buy have been made responsibly from start to finish. This means no tolerance for child or slave labor, dangerous working conditions or substandard pay. I will no longer support systems of oppression and will insist that companies I trust operate with a conscience.”

So, now it’s February, four months later, and time for an update! 

It’s still hard to buy less so that I can buy better. It’s also still hard to get out of the mindset of just buying cheap clothes because they’re a good deal, when A, I don’t need them, and B, there’s a very high chance they’re made in less than desirable conditions. I’m still learning to rethink how I view pricing, and realize that cheaper prices often mean less pay for those involved in making it. 

Getting rid of old items whenever I get something new is also a challenge. Especially last Christmas, when I received a couple sweaters and some shoes. Eventually, I parted with a couple sweaters and a pair of shoes I didn’t wear as often anymore. 
Shopping at thrift stores like Savers and Goodwill helps a lot with keeping clothing affordable. Speaking of Savers and Goodwill, a couple weeks ago I finished selling on ebay and took the leftovers to Savers. Then I purchased the ebook, The No Brainer Wardrobe, and now I have another “donate” pile waiting to go. As a result of all this purging and pairing down, I’ve accomplished two things: 
  • The total from selling my clothes and a few donations from friends on eBay came to $81! After fees and shipping costs, all the rest was donated to Polaris Project, 4 the 1, and Not For Sale
  • 108. The new total of clothing items in my wardrobe!!!
I’ll confess, there’s been many times I’ve despaired of ever reaching 100 items and having anything left to wear. But seriously, 108 doesn’t feel much different from 352, except that it’s easier and faster to get ready in the morning without all the unnecessary and unworn clothing clogging my space! 
If you’re curious about why and how I wore ten items for an entire month, or you’d like to know where to shop for ethical fashion, I recommend you start with this post that contains all the links to the entire month long series. 
And if you’re on Pinterest, be sure to follow my Fashion for Freedom board, where I still share fair trade fashion finds and articles. 
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement! Believe it or not, it’s not as hard as you might think to make a dent in human trafficking. You can make a difference, and I hope you’ll take the time to learn about the issues and support companies with a conscience, because it’s so worth it!

Beauty Find Friday: The Bright Side

After a rainy week, the sun is back out today and it’s beautiful outside! Inspired by the change in the weather, for today’s Beauty Find Friday I’m looking on the bright side. 
A lot of good things have happened this week. 
I received two long awaited packages in the mail. Yay!
I got some new fabric and lace!
What am I going to use black lace for? I’ve got a DIY in mind that I’m super excited to try. 
I got a plant that I won’t be able to kill!
That’s right, it’s fake. $2.50 at Hobby Lobby. 
Also from Hobby Lobby, I got some art supplies!

I’m also very close to finishing a sewing project I started in high school. Better late than never! 
While working on said sewing project, I found these in my sewing basket!

A long time ago, I was really into making jewelry. I’m pretty sure I made a necklace to go along with these, but I don’t know what happened to it. I love pearls and florals, so I’m totally going to wear these. 
Tomorrow is Brian’s 25th birthday! I made reservations at a nice restaurant, and I don’t think he has any clue what his birthday present is. I’m pretty sure he’ll be pleasantly surprised!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been doing a daily style challenge this month, #stylemefeb. It’s been fun, and nice to have inspiration when picking out what to wear every day!
And lastly, I have such kind and supportive blog readers. Seriously. You’re amazing. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. It means more than you’ll ever know. 
You can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain. 

Building Confidence Through Failure


Sometimes, the beauty of dark times in our lives is being able to clearly hear God’s voice.

Let me explain. For the past several days, I’ve been wallowing. You know, what you do after a break up. Sleep until noon every day, stay up until 4 am. watching youtube videos, and eat lots of ice cream. And cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes.

I feel like I’m going through a break up. Like my eight month engagement got called off at the rehearsal dinner.

That analogy isn’t my words, it’s how my former business partner described it. I planned to post an update on my confidence challenge today, about the confidence I’ve gained from starting a business. Not Scribbles Shoppe, this company started eight months ago and involved two other business partners. That’s what my second and final big announcement was all about. We were going to launch Saturday. Well…it just didn’t work out. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m not mad. We’re still friends. I totally agree with the decision. I’m just really, really, disappointed.

My confidence in my ability to be an entrepreneur is pretty much shattered right now. But I know that wallowing isn’t accomplishing anything, other than adding back those recently shed pounds. Did I mention the cupcakes? Help.

I need to find the good in this situation. I need to know it wasn’t all for nothing. I need to learn something from this.

  • Good: it ended when it did, not after officially launching.
  • Good: I learned so much about the modern crafting community that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about.
  • Good: I got to start drawing again, after a hiatus that was way too long. 
  • Good: I discovered that I really, really love drawing and painting, and I miss making art. 
  • Good: I rediscovered embroidery, and I’m actually tempted to get into quilting.
  • Good: I’m learning that it’s ok to fail. 
  • Good: I get to learn how to move forward after failure.
  • Good: I get to look for new opportunities. 
  • Good: I’m learning how to readjust my sails. 
  • Good: God is still faithful. 
The morning after this all went down, I sat at my desk and pulled out my Bible and prayer journal for my morning devotions. I started to unzip my Bible case, and then paused. I held it to my chest and closed my eyes. “God, I really, really need to hear from you today. Please.
I took a deep breath, and opened to my bookmark in Psalms. My reading for the day was Psalm 25. 

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

He reminded me that He is still good. He is still loving. And He is still faithful to me.

I don’t know what’s next. I’m really not sure what the future holds for this blog, my Etsy shop, or my job. I haven’t really figured out my options yet going forward. But, I can choose to still trust Him, and wait for his leading.

How can I build my confidence through this failure? By believing this:

For you, O Lord, are good.

Four Frugal Home DIY Decor Projects

Happy Monday! Let’s start the week off with a frugal home decor post by guest blogger, Mark Russell.

In these tough economic times, everyone is looking for new ways to save a few bucks here and there. A lot of people have started cooking their own meals every night instead of going out to dinner. Other people have sworn off movie theaters in favor of renting DVDs at home. Still others have stopped buying themselves new clothes or home décor, relying on what they already own to get them through. But just because you are trying to save money, does not mean you cannot have fun with your home décor and update it for the New Year. 2013 is a great time to do some great DIY projects in your home that are easy on your budget but make a big impact in your home. Are you tired of the way your bedroom looks? Think your living room could use a face lift? Don’t worry, there are plenty of home décor projects for the frugally minded. Below are four DIY home décor projects that you can use to get started.

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #1 – Paint the walls.

Wall castle
By Jolante on Flikr

Want to totally change a room without having to do the work or pay the money to really totally change it? The easiest, cheapest, but yes, time consuming; way to really make the room look different is to paint the walls. This can be done on the cheap, but you have to be ready to put the time and physical energy into the project. First go down to the hardware store and pick some swatches you like. Bring them home and look at them in the designated room at different times of day to make sure you always like your chosen color, no matter the lighting. Once you’ve made your choice, go buy the buckets, the brushes, the drop cloth, and the tape. Move all the furniture either out of the room or into the center, cover it all up, cover the floors, tape the edges of the walls, and start painting. It can take time, but it makes a huge difference!

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #2 – Turn old sheets into a quilt.

Emmett's Quilt
By Quiltsalad on Flikr

If you have a bunch of old linens that you don’t use anymore but can’t bring yourself to throw away, consider turning them into a quilt. All you need are some scissors and some basic sewing skills. You can pick and choose the parts of the sheets showing the least amount of wear and tear and you can also add other fabric sources like old t-shirts, old aprons, or even pieces of your old couch. It’s up to you!

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #3 – Paint a mirror.

[ B ] Louise Bourgeois -  Mirror Cell (12 Oval Mirrors) (1988)
By Cea on Flikr

Whether you already own a mirror, or you need to pick up a cheap one for $20 or less at a nearby home goods store, painting it can take it from boring and non-noticeable to beautiful and interesting. And the best part is that you really don’t need to be very artistic. Simply paint a pattern around the edges in your favorite colors, or choose one corner to paint something pretty like a flower or a tree.

HOME DÉCOR DIY PROJECT #4 – Reupholster your chairs.

Small Slipcovered Sofa with Outdoor Fabric
By Posh Living, LLC. 

Putting new upholstery on furniture is surprisingly inexpensive and easy. All you need is the new fabric (which can be repurposed old fabric, too!) and a staple gun. Simply pull the new fabric over the old fabric and staple it on! Yes, it’s that easy. Just try to hide the staples so that they are not visible when looking at the newly upholstered chairs. 

About the author: Mark Russell is an author for Apartment Guys of Chicago. Mark enjoys writing about apartment living and home décor. Mark spends his free time playing baseball and going on walks with his girlfriend.

Pink, Prints, and Paperman

Along with several others around the blogosphere, I swapped mugs filled with goodies with another blogger for Valentine’s Day! It was so fun to pick out a mug for Omega of Selby Lane. I wanted to wait until Valentine’s Day to open the package she sent me, but after a stressful day, I changed my mind in hopes of finding some chocolate. What I found was even better!

Omega made the drawstring pouch, lanyard, and rings for me!

I’ve already worn the rings several times to work. They add a fun and funky touch to my red and khaki.

You really should check out Omega’s Etsy shop, Selby Lane. Just look at these amazing prints and colors!

Thank you for such a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift Omega! And thank you Caroline and Alissa for hosting such a fun mug swap!

And now, here’s a Valentine-gram for all my readers whom I love so well – a sweet Disney short film known as Paperman. Enjoy!

Announcement 1: Scribbles Shoppe!

Remember when I launched the new blog design, I said that I was super excited about some big things coming up that I couldn’t tell you about yet? Well, here’s one of them!

Announcing: Scribbles Shoppe!

I have launched an Etsy shop! This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, but I didn’t anticipate happing for a year or so. With the support of friends and family, I finally buckled down and did it!

As you can see, I’m selling customizable wedding invitations. I’ve so enjoyed being able to provide friends and family with stylish invitations while saving them a lot of money by helping them DIY their invites. With Scribbles Shoppe, I create a design, brides customize it by choosing their text, fonts and colors, and I send them a PDF and image file for them to print or take to a local printer. It’s a growing trend for wedding invitations, especially for budget conscious brides, since it allows them to have a great design at a fraction of the cost of buying them from a traditional invitation supplier. Here’s a few of my favorites:

I’m hoping to add response cards, menus, programs, and shower invites eventually, and I have so many more ideas for invitation designs. I’ve got to remind myself constantly to slow down and take it one step at a time.

As far as how this shop will affect the blog, there won’t be much change. I’ll still post about all the same things as usual, with the addition of occasional shop updates, like when I launch a new collection. I’d also love to receive pictures from the brides who use my invites, so I can see how they tie in with their wedding. I’ll ask them to send me pictures of their invites or their wedding, and if they do, I’ll feature them on the blog. Maybe I’ll do some more wedding DIY tutorials too, like this wedding photo booth.

I’d love it if you took a look around and let me know what you think! If you see something you like, it would be greatly appreciated if you’d click that little pink heart to favorite it 🙂 Also, if you have an Etsy account, I’d love to add you to my circle!

So, this is announcement number one. Announcement number two is coming later this week, so stay tuned!

Style: Two Romantic Valentine’s Day Looks

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to indulge your feminine side with pink, frills, and sparkle.

Sweet Pink Valentine's Day

Racerback dress / Mid heel wedge / Heart ring / Earrings / Emi Jay hair accessory /Radiant Cosmetics

This romantic frock, ring, and shoes are all from Ruche, one of my favorite places to online window shop. These earrings from Hovey Lee on Pure Citizen are ethically made using fair trade and recycled materials in LA, and they’ll add some “frosting” to your outfit. The lipstick and blush are both from Radiant Cosmetics, and proceeds fight human trafficking.

Pretty in Peach Valentine's Day Look

Women’s retro, modest dresses / Chain necklace / Earrings / Lucky Brand yellow gold jewelry / Women’s retro, modest dresses

How lovely is this dress from Shabby Apple?! I love the layer of lace, and I love that a percentage of proceeds provides micro loans to women in third world countries. I think this glittery bow necklace (Go Jane), statement ring (Shabby Apple), and pearl earrings (Hovey Lee on Pure Citizen) are the perfect accessories for it.  These shimmery pumps, also from Shabby Apple, are perfect for any special occasion.

How are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day? Even if you’re staying home, I hope you have fun adding a little sparkle and pink to your outfit in celebration of the day!

Waxing Poetic Wednesday: How Do I Love Thee?

Today, I’m hoping to start something new with Waxing Poetic Wednesday – instead of posting a poem and image separately, I’ve combined them into one image. Feel free to use these for quote or mood inspiration boards. Also, instead of every week, Waxing Poetic Wednesday seems to work better once a month. Now, here’s one of my favorite love poems of all time: 
The first Wednesday of the month, I indulge my English Literature minor by sharing an inspirational poem. Share your favorite poem, it could end up on a future Waxing Poetic Wednesday!
What’s your favorite  love poem? Share it with us in the comments!

Who You Are

This is a blog about finding the beauty in everyday. But we both know that some days, it’s hard, if not impossible, to find the beauty in a situation that seems senseless, that’s tragic, and that’s painful.

Last Wednesday night, Brian and I learned that a couple we know from our hometown in Iowa were in a car accident. Micah is still in ICU, badly hurt, but Becca didn’t make it.

Not only are we from the same hometown, we also grew up at the same church. Micah is my best friend’s brother, Becca is also the sister of one of my very good friends.

This is a picture of them at my friend Ami’s, Becca’s sister’s, wedding last fall. I know it’s a goofy picture, but I’ll always remember them as a very fun loving couple. 
Please be in prayer for Micah, as he recovers, for their families, the community, and especially for these three, who still very much need their mom: 

During the last several days, one particular song keeps coming to mind. JJ Heller’s, “Who You Are.”

Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense
Full of war and pain and accidents.
He’s praying,
I don’t know
I don’t know what You’re doing,
But I know Who You are.