4.12.2014

tapping into my creative side


Since February was all about becoming inspired, it only seemed natural that the next goal in my Happiness Project would be to channel that inspiration into getting creative. As someone who is lucky enough to be creative in my day job in marketing and on this little blog, I tried to challenge myself to be creative in areas that were a little outside the book. The result was one of my favorite months so far in my Happiness Project journey. By the end of March, I truly found myself bursting with creative energy and much, much happier.

Goals for March

Be an artist
Write a children's book
Design my next tattoo
Beautify my home

1. Be an artist. I have never been artistically inclined. I (for some unfathomable reason) took advanced art in high school (which I had no business attending) and my first boyfriend ended up doing some of my assignments for me because I was in way over my head. But this month I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and give art, specifically painting, a try. 

I went to Michael's where I scored some very inexpensive canvases, paintbrushes, and acrylic paint. Inspired by this DIY abstract art tutorial I found on Pinterest, I went to work creating artwork with the intention of putting them on my mantle in my living room. The process was way more fun and creatively rewarding than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed getting lost in the process of creating and it was so cool to see my art come to life. It was a total creative high and I totally understand why artists do what they do. 

Here are the finished products!





I'm pretty proud of how my art pieces turned out. The Walt Whitman quote from the first painting is one of my favorite quotes of all time and I love seeing it everyday. The second painting has a great mixture of color and texture that complements the rest of the decor in the room. If you are looking for a cheap way to not only channel your creative energy but also decorate your home, it doesn't get much better than creating your own work of art!

2. Write a children's book. Yeah. This didn't happen. I've had the idea for my children's book for years and just need to put pen to paper. So the kid's book didn't happen but I did come up with the basic story for...a fiction novel! The idea came to me in a dream and when I woke up, I couldn't get it out of my head. I let it marinate for a few days and then spilled the details to my husband. He think it's a great idea and I do too! Who knows when I'll actually get around to writing it, but I'd like to think it could come to fruition one day! 

3. Design my next tattoo. I have two tattoos (one is here) and I've been itching for a third one. I know I want my favorite saying and I know I want it in a script font, but I have no idea of the placement or the specific look of the font. So I scoured Pinterest for tattoo inspiration and stumbled across some amazing looking ink. I now have a better idea of what I want, but still need to figure out a lot more details before I take the plunge. 

4. Beautify my home. March marked one year since we moved into our first house and I decided it was time to spruce things up. My art project turned out to kill two birds with one stone as far as decorating my living room, so my focus shifted to my sad and neglected dining room. We have a tiny dining room that we barely use, but it is the first thing you see when you walk into the house so I knew that I should make it a little more aesthetically pleasing. 

The first step was investing in adult-looking table settings including new place mats, napkins, napkin rings (all from Pier 1), and even dishes (Ikea). The next step was putting together a simple, yet beautiful centerpiece. Thanks to a Pottery Barn gift card, I got a fabulous tray (on clearance!). On top of the tray are gold napkins I got from the grocery store, a candle I stole from my mom, and a thrifted vase. Hello, savings! 



After the dining table was complete, I added a little flair by styling a vintage bar cart I got as a gift over the holidays. Lucky for me, bar carts are super trendy right now so the Pinterest inspiration was abundant. The great thing about styling bar carts is that they can almost exclusively be decorated with items you already have. I already had the alcohol, shaker, ice bucket, shot glasses, picture frame, mini mason jar, and decorative items. The only thing I bought were the straws, napkins, and plastic drink cups. (Oh and that cute Cheers print is free from Aubrey at The Kinch Life.) I love the end result and love that it was such an inexpensive way to decorate my small dining room. 


After those few changes, the room really came to life and now I'm proud when people walk in and see it. 


My month of creativity went so well and I really do feel so much joy from expending so much creative energy. But the last few months have been very inward focused. As I am now in the last three months of my Happiness Project (ah!), I am spending this last quarter more focused on becoming happier by focusing outward. To kick this off, April's happiness theme is Justice

Goals for April

Try fair trade
Volunteer
Amplify other voices
Get educated

Justice has always been an important value in my life and I'm excited to dive deeper into what it means to live a life pursuing justice. I know that happiness doesn't come solely from focusing on myself, so I'm sure my life will be enriched through seeking justice. 

As always, thanks for following along and the next Happiness Project recap will be up next month! 

4.06.2014

obsessions | march 2014

Favorite Instagram: Spring is here! 

In comparison to the absolute insanity that was February, March was relatively calm. But that doesn't mean I was any less obsessed with some fun things that happened in March. Let's get to it!

1. My new blog design. Notice anything different around here? Thanks to my pal Kory, All Things Beautiful has a new look and I'm totally obsessed with it. The new design still captures the feel of the blog but now has made it a little more cohesive. I can't recommend Kory enough if you need a new blog design!

2. Meeting Clinton Kelly. As documented thoroughly in this post, I got to attend a fabulous spring fashion event at Macy's hosted by Clinton Kelly! I had a blast learning about all the new fashion trends for spring and got to snap a pic with Clinton! He even said he liked my outfit! SWOON. Definitely THE highlight of last month! 


3. Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn (inspired by Shutterbean). I was craving something sweet a few weeks ago, but didn't have any obvious contenders for dessert in the house. Naturally I took to the internet to see if I could whip up something quick. I came across this sweet popcorn recipe and could barely contain the drool coming out of my mouth. When I quickly realized that I only had TWO ingredients (sigh) I decided to improvise and the results were super yummy!

cinnamon brown sugar popcorn recipe

  • Mix 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon with 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • Pour mixture over freshly popped popcorn
  • Stir it up
  • Optional: Add extra sweets like chocolate chips, M&Ms, etc. Picture above contains chocolate covered toffee bites.
Let's just say, my sweet tooth was beyond satisfied and I've indulged in this little snack more than a few times since then! 

4. Music, Books, and TV

Music: My current favorite jam is the new one from Coldplay and I can't get this sweet song from Fm Radio out of my head after hearing it on the last season of Ugly Betty. As always, my list of running favorites can be found on my Sing Along playlist on Spotify. I also revamped my I Workout playlist and made it the perfect soundtrack for my morning runs. 

Books: Last month I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and was blown away from cover to cover. I can't recommend this book enough!

TV: In March, I fell in love with Ugly Betty as I binge-watched the show on a daily basis until I finished all four season. I haven't felt so connected to a character like Betty in a long time and I bawled like a baby during the series finale. Touching, hilarious, inspirational -- they just don't make TV shows like this anymore! It is such a gem of a show and I can see why it has such a cult following. Plus, what other network shows have THIS much diversity in a cast?? I have a Betty-shaped hole in my heart, you guys. It will be hard to find another show that compares!

On the complete opposite spectrum, my husband and I finished season 1 of Homeland and I literally had a panic attack during the season finale. CRAZY. Homeland is brilliant and insane, the perfect combination! Definitely not as good as Breaking Bad (AS IF), but it comes pretty close. 

5. Things I Retweet. The link list is short and sweet this month. Here is the stuff that made me laugh, cry, and reflect in March. 

On Marriage
Marriage is a Covenant, Not a Contract by Dianna Anderson
On Lust from a Man's Perspective (that Didn't Make me Want to Smash Things)
What I Learned About Lust and Beauty from a Flickr Voyeur by Alan Noble
On Church and Race
Urban Church Planting Plantations by Christena Cleveland
On Work
How to  Take a Pay Cut for a Job you Actually Love (and Survive) by Alan Henry 
On Frozen
Frozen Gets an Honest Trailer and It Is Hilarious from Offbeat


As always, I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer's What I'm Into. Have a wonderful April and, as always, thanks for reading! 



3.31.2014

when church feels like home




Back in September of last year, I wrote this post about how church gives me anxiety. In that post I revealed that I hadn't actively attended church since I was 18, mostly due to the spiritual dissatisfaction I felt after attending a private Christian college and the growing pains of figuring out what my faith really meant to me. But I ended that blog post with hope. My husband and I had just started attending a new church and had even joined a Bible study. At the end I wrote:

I'm not going to lie, we were both incredibly nervous and wary the first week we attended. We are brand new and haven't gotten a chance to form any meaningful connections with anyone so far. We had no idea what to expect or what people expected of us. And you know what? It was better than we thought. We went and it was better than we thought and we both breathed a little sigh of relief. It's only been two weeks so anything can happen, but that also means that good things can happen and that's enough for me to keep going.
It's been six months since I hit publish on that post and I'm happy to say that my husband and I not only continued to attend that church and Bible study, but now we are in the process of becoming official members!

I mean, this is sort of a big deal for us. After years of being burned out by vocational ministry, Christian leadership, and Christian subculture in general, we didn't really know if or when we would ever find a church to call home. Now that we have, it feels like a very momentous occasion in our spiritual journeys, both individually and as a couple. This will be the first time in my adult life that I am choosing to be a part of a church community. Whoa. Kinda cool, right?

We found a church home. We found a church that is racially, socioeconomically, and generationally diverse. We found a church that advocates for the poor. We found a church that affirms women in church leadership, CAN I GET AN AMEN?? We found a church where we feel closer to God and closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We found a church that was right for us and yes, it took four years but I'd like to think it was worth it.

There has been a lot of talk lately about Christians who leave the church, some temporarily and some indefinitely. If anyone understands, it's me. As someone who stopped formally going to church almost 10 years ago, I get it. I really and truly do. Churches are far from perfect and some are downright unhealthy and abusive. I understand fully and completely why many people stop attending church. But part of me is happy my story didn't end there.

Not going to church is part of my faith journey, but coming back to church is part of my journey as well. There is something very freeing about being able to say that I'm not going to church out of guilt or obligation or pressure or concern over whether or not I'm being a "good Christian." For the first time in my life, I'm going to church because I actually really want to be there. A healthy, thriving, supportive, and loving church community is not the myth I once thought it was. They exist, thank God. Amen and amen.

My anxiety about church is not completely gone. I'd be lying if I said there aren't times when I worry about opening myself up to a faith community. But overall? It feels good to be back in church. The scars are slowly starting to heal and our faith in church is being restored. Even if it is one Sunday at a time.


Do we have similar stories? Did you grow up in the Church but stop attending when you became an adult? Have you been struggling to find a church home? What do you look for when deciding to become part of a church community? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments!


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