INSPIRE: The Beauty of An Ordinary Life

Hello, readers of Scribbles from Emily! I’m so honored to be here with you today. Thank you, Emily, for giving me this awesome opportunity and for trusting me with your online space.

The overarching theme of my blog is intentional living. More specifically, it’s where I share my own journey to live a more intentional life, because the good Lord knows that I don’t have it all figured out yet. So, I don’t write to sound like an expert; I write as a friend who has invited you over, sits across from you at my kitchen table, and just talks about what it means to live life on purpose.

So, friend-to-friend, let me paint you a picture of what my life as a full-time, stay-at-home mama to a 4-and-a-half-year-old Little Man looks like {and, if you’re a fellow SAHM – or work from home mom – this will probably look all too familiar}:

spilled milk, Legos and Lincoln Logs, loading the washing machine, Hot Wheels cars, unloading the dishwasher, picking up clutter, paying bills, stepping on toys, clothes in washer sour {left them in too long – oops!}, The Avengers {you know… Thor, Hulk, Iron Man…}, picking up more clutter, loading the dishwasher…

You get the point, right?

My life, by the standard of most people, would seem boring… ordinary… mundane. All those words that can mean “blah”. And I wouldn’t say that I could blame them for feeling that way because, I admit, most days I’m not thrilled with my life either. I mean, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I don’t exactly get an adrenaline rush every time I throw a load of clothes in the washer or have to play Legos for the umpteenth time.

But as uneventful as my life may seem, there is so much beauty to be found in it… IF I know what to look for: After all, the toys that cover my floor are proof that an active, growing, creative little blessing calls this place home, too. For some reason God thought me trustworthy enough to place him in my care… and I’m so thankful!

The mountain of dirty laundry and the stacks of yet-to-be-washed dishes in the sink are proof that we have more than enough clothes to dress ourselves and more than enough food to fill our bellies. We have been blessed with more than some people dare to dream of.

This life I live may not be glamorous or impressive and I’m not likely to win any awards or receive many verbal accolades, but I am a blessed woman. And because of that, I have a choice to make: Will I join society and scoff at my life? Or will I intentionally seek out and take note of the things that make my life beautiful? Will I also actively pursue ways to cultivate beauty in my home? Through décor, sure, but also through things like: the way I arrange our dinner on the plate or how complex my son and I can build a Lego tower.

So, this is my challenge to you… to us: let’s look for and appreciate the beauty within our days and then intentionally pursue ways to cultivate even more beauty in our lives, as well. If we will do this, we’ll find that our life isn’t as boring or ordinary as we might have originally thought and that we already have more than we could ever need.

Life doesn’t get more beautiful than that!

God Bless,

Alana Taylor is, first and foremost, a sinner saved by the grace of God.  She is a twenty-something full-time wife, mama, and homemaker, living in central Alabama with two of her favorite guys: her hubby and her four-year-old Little Man.  Her biggest passion is to creatively pursue a life of intention, as well as to encourage and equip like-minded women to do the same.  With her faith as the foundation of her message, she talks about how intentional living impacts everything about our lives, from the big things {such as motherhood and stewardship} to the seemingly small things {like decorating/organizing our home and getting dressed each morning}. 

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Emily here, thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Alana! Even though I don’t have children to pick up after, I can relate to feeling like my life is mundane and blah. Your story was a blessing and encouragement to me.

What about you, readers? Can you relate? How you you find beauty in the everyday? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! 

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LIFE: Interview on Sage Grayson Coaching!

What led me to start my business? What does an average day look like for me? I’m answering those questions, and several more, on Sage Grayson Coaching today! Plus, there’s a free printable for you!
Sage is a life coach who motivates women to develop loving, respectful relationships; design a career that ignites your passion; and feel connected to their mind, body, and spirit. As Sage says, “It’s your life…make it sweet!”
How do you help women make their lives sweet? 
I help women make their lives sweet by encouraging them to find the beauty in the everyday. Because I believe that God has a purpose for each of our lives, each day contains His fingerprints—something beautiful. We just have to take the time to look for it. Life isn’t without storms and struggle, but I believe that even in the really hard times, we can find beauty. I’ve written about my struggles with depression, loneliness, and self-confidence issues with the intention of bringing hope and encouragement to others. 
Speaking of finding the beauty in the everyday…yesterday Brian had all of his wisdom teeth removed. I’m not sure who was more stressed about it, he or me. My stomach felt like one giant knot all day! He came out of the anesthesia very quickly, and hasn’t been in much pain. I worried yesterday that he wasn’t eating enough, or drinking enough, or taking enough pain meds, but he’s totally fine today….just sick of me trying to taking care of him! He doesn’t like me to tell him when to take medicine….or when to do anything, for that matter, and he just gets whatever he wants himself instead of letting me do it. I’m trying to anticipate what he needs and beat him to it, but so far, that’s not working out well. At least, I’m thankful that he’s a low-maintenance patient.
Yesterday, I worked on several projects nearby, trying to tune out the TV with headphones. I really felt like I needed to make progress on my lengthy to-do list for the week. Then I realized that it’s not every day Brian has surgery and we get to spend lots of down time together. Honestly, it was difficult for me to just sit with him and just watch movies. I really wanted to multi-task and write blog posts or planning for the trip we’re taking in a few weeks with the youth group. I finally made a decision to shut down my computer AND put my phone away, and be in one place at a time. 
After I finish this blog post, I’m planning to do the same today! Have a great weekend, and take time to slow down, relax, and do the most important things, one at a time!

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Beauty Find Friday: Kiss Slavery Goodbye

For this week’s Beauty Find Friday, I have a beautiful cause to share with you! 

Remember Radiant Cosmetics from October’s Fashion for Freedom series? Since January 1st is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation proclamation, yet there are more slaves in the world today than there were 150 years ago, this January has been declared National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Radiant is conducting a campaign to kiss slavery goodbye. Beyond the 20% of each purchase that they already donate to help survivors, they are also giving one lipstick for each purchased to a survivor of human trafficking!

I’m wearing my Radiant lipstick today actually. It’s a lovely shade of pink that’s not too bright, but definitely shows up.

Here’s how you can help kiss slavery goodbye:

1. Purchase a Lipstick.

2. Post a Picture – Print out and hold our #KissSlaveryGoodbye sign, wear your favorite Radiant Lipstick and take a picture.

3. Blog about it – If you’re a blogger, we’d love for you to spread the word. Feel free to use any and all information/graphics from our Website and be sure and include us in tags and send us the link so we can promote your blog as well. If you have questions feel free to email: info@radiantcosmetics.org.

4. Share our campaign via Social Media – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Help us spread the word!

5. Change your Facebook and Twitter Cover – You can find these on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

I’ll be watching Instagram for your pics! Have a beautiful Friday!

A Year of Celebration

“Everyday you’re alive is a special occasion.” I entered 2012 with a renewed desire to celebrate the beauty in everyday.

http://karlseen.tumblr.com/

It was a struggle sometimes, but looking back now, I can tell that I’ve begun to learn to slow down and celebrate small and large successes, milestones, and events. In 2012,

This year has seen changes here on the blog also. The posts you’ve enjoyed the most are as follows:

Quite the variety of topics there!

I started two new features this year, Waxing Poetic Wednesday, and just recently, Beauty Find Friday.

My photography has greatly improved!

I ran a month long series about materialism and ethical fashion,  Fashion for Freedom.

I started the year with 3,474 pageviews. Last month, I had 27,900 views. I noticed when I updated my November pageviews on my sponsorship page, my views had DOUBLED from October! Thank you SO MUCH for being here! Your presence and your comments are so, so, encouraging to me. You inspire me and challenge me to create my best and be my best. Thank you!

Goodbye 2012!

Last Minute Vacay, the Calm Before the Storm

At last minute, Brian and I decided to spend Labor Day weekend in California with my sister-in-law. We were feeling the pressure of all we needed to do before moving, plus the stress of finding a place to move to, so we took our last opportunity for a quick get-away.

Saturday we went to Seal Beach and had Mexican food twice.

I looked like a snowflake!

We also watched Harry Potter 6, since I just finished the books.

Sunday, Andrea painted my nails.

We watched Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and we tried to go to the Getty, but they ran out of parking. So instead, we went to Santa Monica, and drove for at least half an hour before we found parking there. It was worth it!

 The pier!
Man with a tiny dog in his murse.

Then we went to church. I wish I’d taken pictures, it was breathtakingly beautiful inside, but I felt like it would be sacrilegious. The music was beautiful, and the sermon just happened to be on the same passage as last week’s at my church: James 1:27. Then we went out to dinner with Andrea’s newlywed friends at BJ’s.

After incredibly delicious pizza, we ordered the Pizzooki Party Sampler, with triple chocolate, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter, and red velvet cookies with chocolate and vanilla ice cream on top. Heavenly!

Then we watched Harry Potter 7 Part 2, and went to bed.

Monday, we went to our favorite restaurant in Cali, Schooner or Later, for brunch. Looked at all of Andrea’s pictures from her Europe trip, packed up, and hit the road.

For the first time ever, we didn’t hit traffic leaving LA or coming into Phoenix! 
As always, the time went by too fast, but it was perfectly relaxing and wonderful. 
Now the storm has hit us, a storm of stuff to do before we can move, stuff to do on the house and cars for our landlord, furniture to fix up before we move, a desk to sell, packing, programs for my other SIL’s wedding, packing, stuff to do for church, cleaning, cars and hotels to reserve for the wedding, packing, a dress to find for the wedding, downsizing, lease to sign, laundry, projects, and so much more. Not to mention blogging, and all the things I want to plan for the coming months.
I mentioned to Brian that while we were in Cali, I fell asleep right away and stayed asleep every night, but here, I toss and turn for hours. His theory: I didn’t worry or stress while in Cali. I think he’s right, all I thought about were the one or two fun things we were going to do the next day. Here, my mind is in a constant swirl of to-do lists. 

It will pass. We’ll get through it somehow, and I will survive!

Moving: Hate it or Love it?

Newsflash: I really, really hate moving. In the last four years, I’ve moved four times: into the dorms, into an apartment, across the country to our first apartment in Arizona, then to a rental house, and now, back to an apartment at the end of September, an apartment that we haven’t found yet.

Whenever we look at an apartment and my first thought is “No way,” Brian loves it. And whenever I think, “This is the one!” Brian hates it. There’s been one exception, a beautiful apartment that was designed to be a condo, right across the street from Brian’s job. We’ve looked at 8-12 apartments in person already, and we have a list of five or six more for this weekend, but this one apartment stands far above the rest in beauty, square footage, location, and value. Unfortunately, they don’t have any openings for the end of September…yet. We found out yesterday that they have four renters who’s terms are up, but they fully expect them to renew their leases.

You know it’s bad when you’ve already started arranging your furniture and decorating the apartment inside your head. Sigh.

My mom helping decorate our old apartment. See the finished room here.

So to keep me from succumbing to discouragement, I’m trying to dwell on the positives of moving, and not the negatives.

Here’s the cons that fill me with the most dread:

1. Trying to find an apartment in the city we want, at a price we can afford. Since the last time we lived in an apartment, the prices have skyrocketed. We rented a large two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a fireplace for the same price that tiny one bedrooms are going for now. Yikes.

2. Packing. I hate trying to keep it all organized and cushioned, and I’m just not good at fitting things into boxes. I’ve never been good at puzzles!

3. Saying good-bye to Kopek. Yesterday, Kopek started his usual whining dance for attention while I was at my desk, so I set down what I was doing and sat on the floor. He curled up on my lap with a look of profound happiness. His owners are going to come get him while Brian and I are in Florida for his sister’s wedding in a couple weeks. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. “You’re going to love California,” I told him. I pictured him riding in the moving van, head out the window.  Then running along the beach, playing frisbee and jumping in the waves. My tears dripped down onto his black velvet ears while he went to sleep on my lap.

That’s by far the biggest con for me.

On the pro side:

1. Less to clean! We’ll be going from a three bedroom, two bathroom house to a one bedroom, one bathroom house. I’m SO excited to only have one bathroom to clean!!!

2. The opportunity to purge. Call me crazy (Brian does) but I love to get rid of stuff. We were looking through a cupboard yesterday, and found some things that I we moved to this house over a year ago, and never touched once since unpacking. And some stuff we haven’t used since we got married over two years ago. Now’s the time to mercilessly cut out the unnecessary clutter and “stuff.”

We had to purge Brian’s tee-shirts before we moved last time.  

3. White walls. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE this house. It’s beautiful. It’s just not us…we wouldn’t pick the elegant, rich, dark color scheme in the main rooms. That’s why the rooms we did paint are yellow and sky blue. I’m usually not a fan of plain white walls, but I’m looking forward to living in light and bright rooms!

4. A new place to decorate. I do love decorating, and while we have been able to add our own style to this house, because the landlords left all their furniture, curtains, and wall decor, just like with the colors, it’s not really us. So I’m excited to hone my personal style some more and bring life to a new place.

5. Saving money. We’d like to buy a house someday, and that’s a big part of the reason we’re moving. God knew exactly when Brian was going to get laid off, and he prompted us to save up for a house downpayment so that we had enough to live off of for several months while Brian looked for work. Because He’s in control, we know that He will provide us with an apartment that will enable us to save money again.

How do you feel about moving? Hate it, or love it? 

Beauty Begins With God

What does it look like to find beauty in everyday?

I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. That’s what this blog is technically about, but what does “finding beauty” really look like in every day life?

Asking myself that question led me to question my blog’s design, purpose, focus, and even the name. What is this blog really “About”?

When I chose the subtitle on March 28th, 2011, I wrote:

Ever since I got serious about blogging last summer, I have struggled to come up with a tag line, a pitch, a subtitle type phrase for this blog. I write about a such wide variety of things. This blog has changed from being a place for me to keep a record of events and keep up with my family, to a place to meet new friends, learn, grow, encourage, and reach out to make a difference. But I still write about my goings-ons and share craft projects and the occasional recipe.

For awhile I came up with “Encouraging and challenging women to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.” It’s a good purpose, but I didn’t feel like it fit with everything I posted, and it was really long, and hard to fit on the header.

This tag line came to me as I was reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I wish I could quote to you the exact moment when I it came to me, but I’m letting my sister borrow the book right now so I don’t have it handy. However, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Staci Eldredge discusses at length why beauty matters. Beauty speaks to us about who God is. Beauty says all will be well and gives our souls rest. Beauty invites, captures, and draws the viewer in. God has given us a desire for beauty, because He is beautiful. Beauty comforts and beauty inspires.

But in a life filled with difficult, hard, painful, and ugly things, we have to find beauty. We have to look for it intentionally. Where? In everyday. In the midst of the stress, the pain, the loneliness, the joys, and the blessings.


Beauty matters because it points us directly to the Author of beauty. 

We can “find” beauty by looking around us and being truly grateful for all the gifts from the Author of beauty.

But on some level, the Author of beauty has imprinted each of us with His image, so that we too long to create beauty. 

When DaySpring sent me the Outdoor Chalk Board and Outdoor Metal Yard Sign to review, I knew it was no coincidence. The yard sign states the simple message: “Everything Beautiful Begins With God,” and the reference Ecclesiastes 3:11. I chose that verse as the theme verse for this blog back in March 2011.

He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

Kopek loves to get in on pictures
There’s a connection between eternity and beauty in that verse. I think the connection is that there’s something in us that’s made for beauty, made to appreciate beauty, made to want to create beauty.

When beauty becomes in idol, it becomes ugly.

But when we long for beauty, maybe we’re really longing for the Author, God. 

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

       -Hans Urs Von Balthasar 

As far as beauty relates to this blog, I’ve crafted a more defined purpose statement:

Scribbles From Emily is a faith, lifestyle, and creative inspiration blog. I believe in making life beautiful, changing the world for the better, and celebrating everyday. That’s what I seek to encourage through craft tutorials, decor ideas, style tips, spiritual encouragement, and more.

 I want to inspire every reader to create beauty in their own way. I’ll share crafts, decor, and once in a while, style posts, but that certainly doesn’t exhaust what beauty looks like in everyday life. So, I’ll also share inspiration posts with lovely images, themes, and lots of links to inspire your way of creating beauty.

Along those lines, starting this Wednesday I’m going to have a new weekly feature here. To reconnect with my English Literature education, every Wednesday I’ll share a poem. In my signature cheesy style, I’m calling it “Waxing Poetic Wednesday.” We can all drink tea and read poetry and be inspired. 😀

I’m starting with my very favorite poems of all time, any guesses? The first poet’s initials are E.D.

And if you’re looking to add a little beauty to your yard decor, you’ll want to click on that button above to see the entire Redeemed outdoor collection. And you’ll also want to use this code for 25% off: JOY2012

I’ll continue to explore and share what finding beauty looks like in everyday life, but I’d really like to know, what does it look like in your life? How do you find beauty in your everyday days? 


DaySpring provided me the with the chalkboard and yard sign free of charge for my review, but my opinion is my own 🙂

5 Beauty-full Must-Follow Blogs

When I took a mini-vacation from blogging last week, I did a lot of pinning, and a lot of reading blogs. In the process, I happened across some wonderful new places in the blogosphere.  They aren’t really “new;” I’m just now discovering them. If you’re looking for more great places of inspiration online, you  will love this bevy of five beautiful blogs:

1. A Beautiful Mess

Emma and Elsie

I spent the better part of two days reading this blog. My favorite topics are the craft and DIY projects, vintage fashion, hair and beauty, and decor, but they also share recipes and photography. These creative ladies share a continuous stream of wonderful ideas, all accompanied by gorgeous photo eye-candy. I just purchased their e-course, Blog Love, and I’m very excited about it. They also offer e-courses on sewing, decor, and small businesses.

2. The Tiny Twig

Also known as the awesome-hair-girl, Haley blogs about living with more passion and less fuss. She features inspirational stories about passionate women, and blogs about her own family life as well. This blog is full of all sorts of goodness, organizing, recipes, dressing with confidence, and a myriad of other topics. I haven’t bought her e-book yet, but it’s on my must-get list. Who wouldn’t want a no-brainer wardrobe?

3. Rags to Stitches

Alyssa is such a sweet soul. I love how real she is, and I think that knowing her in real life would be a blast. Alyssa blogs about faith, family, fashion, and of course, sewing. She’s a crafty lady who also loves small businesses She has her own too: Rags to Stiches Boutique, where I think I just found the MacBook sleeve of my dreams!

4. The Small Things Blog

If you’re on Pinterest, chances are you’ve seen some of Kate’s hair tutorials already! Kate shares hair, fashion, and make-up tips and tutorials, as well as her faith on The Small Things blog.

5. Gussy Sews

Where to start with Gussy Sews? I’ve been familiar with her shop for awhile, but never really read her blog until last week. And I’m addicted. I’ve read and re-read her blogging/indie business posts as well as her Creative Life series. If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own small business or taking your blog to the next level, or just cultivating your creative side, this is one blog you must read. Maggie shares inspiration, life, and faith with a contagious passion.

All of these lovely ladies have a few things in common:  they’re passionate about what they do, whether it be vintage clothing, sewing, or fixing hair, and they’re also passionate about making life beautiful. That’s why I encourage you to go follow their blogs, because if you’re reading this post, that probably means you’re already interested in finding beauty in everyday, because that’s what this blog is all about!

Let the love-fest continue: What are some of your “must-follow” blogs that inspire you? Share them with all of us in the comments so we can all check them out! 

Attack of the Monster Bugs

This week, I’ve been very grateful for my brave husband!
Apparently, black widow spiders enjoy a little pampering now and then. They like hanging out around our hot tub.  
This is a little scary for me, because our hot tub isn’t too far from the doggie door. I worry about Kopek, and also, the doggie door doesn’t close all the way. There’s a gap around the edges, a gap that a spider could definitely fit through if they decided to pay a visit to my cozy little office. 
That particular spider above took two days to kill. God really protected us, because we’d been wanting to use the hot tub for several days, but never got around to it. Then one night, I flipped on the porch light, and there she was. Brian tried to get it with this metal ended tool first, but it crawled up inside the side of the hot tub. 

The next night, we got her with a shovel. 

For a couple months, we didn’t have any problems. In May, the webs were back. I washed them away almost every day when I watered my plants, but they always came right back. I tried to catch them out at night, but they seemed to know I was watching for them, and stayed away. 
So Monday night, Brian was working on the car, and I decided to hang out in the garage with him. Cool night breezes wafted through the open garage door. I brought my laptop and got comfortable on the carpeted area of the floor, and worked on some research, occasionally reading out loud to Brian. The dog curled up contentedly next to me. 
BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Thunk! 
I saw it crash into the garage light and fall to the ground for a split second. “It” was the the largest bug I’d ever seen. In a flash, I knew “It’s coming for me!” But before I had time to react, it flew STRAIGHT AT ME. I shrieked and almost threw my computer, but instead I set it down, and in that split second, it landed on me! I smacked it off, screaming at the top of my lungs “BUG! BUG!” 
I ran to the door into the kitchen, but before I could get inside, IT ATTACKED AGAIN. It flew at my legs, at which I shrieked even louder and shook it off, and slammed the door shut behind me. This whole time, instead of defending me, Kopek was every bit as terrified as I was. He squeezed into the kitchen right behind me. 
“Babe?” 
I heard Brian’s voice on the other side of the door. 
“BUG!” I sobbed uncontrollably, hyperventilating.  
“OH. Yeah…that’s a BIG bug!” 
“IT GOT ON ME…” I lost the ability to form words, and trailed off in a whine. 
Brian came inside and hugged me. “I thought you got stung by a scorpion and we needed to go to the emergency room,”he started laughing, and I started laughing through my tears, realizing how utterly pathetic I must sound. 
The bug had crawled under a pile of furniture, bikes, and tools. I begged Brian to kill it. But how? He asked. He insisted it was too big to step on, it needed to be killed with a baseball bat. But he didn’t want to get any of his bats messy. And he wanted to finish working on the car first. 
We didn’t know what sort of insect it was. I was sure it was a cockroach, but Brian thought it was too large. I did some research while Brian went back to working on the car, and discovered that Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are the largest roach. Maybe one escaped from a zoo? 
But they don’t fly, and this bug had definitely been flying. I called my friend Tara, who studied animal ecology in college. Her husband answered, and told me Tara was busy putting the kids to bed. I said she could call me back, and I must have still sounded panicky, because he asked, “Is everything ok?” 
“Um, there’s a giant bug in our garage. I wanted to find out from Tara about how to kill it.” I started laughing, imagining how pathetic I sounded.
“Like, how big?”
“Three to four inches long, and an inch wide.” 
“Wow! Sounds like a borer beetle. I killed one of those in our garage with a 2×4. But you could just step on it.” 
So Paul talked to Brian, who told him it was only 2 1/2 to 3 inches long (I disagree), and told Brian to tell me to cut off its head, quarter it, and bury it in four corners of the backyard, or else it would come back to life.  So helpful. 
Tara determined that the bug was indeed a Palo Verde borer beetle. “Although they look super scary and they CAN pinch you, they are not really that dangerous as long as you don’t stick your fingers in their pincers.” 
Not that dangerous. But still dangerous! 
I couldn’t get close enough to take a good picture, but this is what it looks like. And no, I don’t know why this crazy person is holding it:
After Brian finished working on the car, he went after it with a long board. Unfortunately, it scurried away, further underneath the stuff. I started getting ready for bed, resigned to hoping that he had wounded it and it might die of injuries, or run out in front of the car sometime and get run over. 
But Brian backed out the car, and started removing the items one at a time. Twenty minutes later, he marched inside triumphantly. 
“VICTORY IS MINE!!!” 
Sure enough!

The next day, Brian emailed me from work and mentioned all the things he wanted to get done once he got home: “….finish cleaning the car parts and put them back in, workout, kill more monster bugs as needed, maybe we can figure a way to drain the hot tub.”
Darkness had fallen by the time we went outside to drain the hot tub. I’d barely stepped out onto the patio when I saw something moving. 
“There it is! The black widow!” Sure enough, it was crawling around in it’s web, trying to get away from the light. 
“Yeah, I saw that.” Brian had been working on setting up the hose. 
“Well, I’m glad this one’s so much smaller than that last one.” 
“Smaller? What spider are you talking about?” 
Then I saw it. 
“THERE’S ANOTHER ONE.” 
And it was big. 
I showed Brian the one I’d seen first. Without hesitation, he took off his flip flop and smashed it into the patio. I held my breath as he raised the flip flop again, and before I could say anything, he’d smashed the big one!
I should be able to sleep a little easier, knowing that their bodies are smashed on the cement as a warning to any other spiders who might think it was a good idea to hang out at the hot tub. 
But with the borer beetle Monday, two black widow spiders Tuesday, I’m a little apprehensive about what we could find today. 
I’ve still never seen a scorpion. 
Knock on wood. 

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!

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