Sunday, March 24, 2013

Inspiration Sunday: What my shoes taught me

We recently had a youth activity with our girls that I thought was quite creative.  We called it "The Worth of 'Soles'" (as opposed to souls).  We gave each girl an assignment to bring a pair of shoes which would in some way describe them, had them all present their shoes to each other, then discussed how although we are all unique and different, we are all of equal worth to God.

Although us adult leaders didnt present our own shoes, I couldn't stop thinking about what I would have done if we had.  I would have brought my favorite shoes that I hardly ever wear:

I originally bought these shoes to be my wedding shoes.  I rarely splurge on something nice like fancy shoes, but I fell in love with these and hey, it was my wedding, right? They aren't the most comfortable to walk in, but I figured I'd mostly be standing around and just having photos taken, so it wouldn't be a big deal.  I had the perfect dress and the perfect shoes and it was going to be perfect.

So how do these shoes describe me? They describe me because I never did wear them for my wedding.  Now I can hear you thinking "Huh?" Let me explain.... Before I got married, I had this idea of what the perfect wedding would look like, of what my dress and my hair and my shoes would look like. Likewise, before I "grew up" (okay I'll admit it, I'm not totally grown up yet, but you know what I mean), I had an idea of what my perfect life would look like.  I would have this many (intelligent and well behaved) kids and that house and this car and everything else. 

Well, like I mentioned, my wedding didn't look the way I'd planned, even though I'd planned it for over two years.  I made the mistake of wearing my cute wedding shoes around town the day before - which involved walking for a couple miles.  The next day when I tried to put them on for my wedding, it hurt to bad to even put them on - there was no way I could wear them for the wedding!

Instead, I wore my favorite comfy tennis shoes. Flat, soft, roomy - and certainly not fancy or new.  But they were a birthday gift from my husband, and they were soooo comfortable.

After my wedding, my little sister asked if I was disappointed that I had to wear ugly shoes for my wedding.  She was pretty surprised when I said no.  I realized that even though it didn't look perfect, my wedding was perfect because I had all the essentials - I married the right person in the right place, surrounded by those who meant the most to me. Who cares that my dress was wrinkled and my slip kept slipping (haha as you can see in the photo) and my shoes were ugly? Who cares that we were late for our own wedding and most of our pictures didn't work out or that we were super uncomfortable because it was over 100 degrees?  What our wedding looked like didn't define our relationship or our love.
Okay so back to how this has to do with me.  My life so far hasn't turned out how my 'perfect' life plan looked.  I realize there are still plenty of years ahead, but I don't think it's going to turn out the way I expected.  Thats okay.  I am happy with the life I have because I have the essentials and because it is the life that God has given me.  It's okay if I don't have the right number of well behaved children.  It's okay if I don't have the right house or the right car or anything else.  It's okay that my house is a mess because I decided to play with the kiddo instead of clean, or that we're having macaroni and cheese (again) for dinner because thats just what sounds good.  Those things aren't what matters.
My wedding shoes taught me to be content with what I have and to realize what is most important.  I still own both pairs of shoes, and I probably will for a long time.  They remind me of this important lesson:

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
-Phillipians 4:11
"I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me."
-Alma 29:3


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Decor

I've always wanted to be one of those fun moms that decorates for all the holidays.  I'm just never on top of things, as anyone who hoped to have regular blog posts from me knows.
St. Patrick's day though, is one that I have been somewhat successful with.  To me, St. Patrick's day is the start of spring and a chance to celebrate our Irish heritage.  I usually make some traditional Irish food (we'll be having Irish stew and potato cakes tomorrow) and put out some simple decorations that brighten things up a bit.  Here is what I did this year:

This is our kitchen table centerpiece.  It was super cheap, super easy, and it's probably my favorite.  The dot fabric is a placemat I bought from the dollar store a couple years ago.  I intended on making a bag out of it but of course never got around to it. :)  The bottle is a sparkling cider bottle that I just took the lable off, and the shamrocks were cut out of paint samples from walmart then taped onto sticks. (I bought a 25 cent dowel and cut it up)  I am going to change the shamrocks to flowers this week to be an easter/spring decoration, maybe I'll post that too! Total cost (if you include the placemat) a whole $1.25. Sweet!

 This is another one that I am going to change with the seasons.  Here is another one of the same placemats.  The "candlesticks" are fancy glasses that I got from the thrift store for 30-50 cents apiece.  The candles cost $1 for all at the thrift store as well (wish they matched, but oh well)  And the ribbon is just wrapped around and pinned in the back, spent a whole 10 cents on a roll of clearance Christmas ribbon (which I should have also put on the top candle, but never did).  So this was more expensive, about $3.50 for everything, but it is something that is a permanent fixture on top of the piano and I will just change the mat and ribbon with the seasons.

This is one that I actually made two years ago when I was stuck in bed after giving birth to the kiddo.  I hand sewed the shamrocks out of an old green t-shirt and stuffed them with the stuffing out of an old pillow.  The words "lucky" and "Irish" are embroidered in leftover ribbon and they are strung on more leftover ribbon.  Because it was entirely recycled, I'm going to say it was FREE! (my apologies about the bad photo, its pretty impossible to get a good photo of this wall.)

What kind of simple/cheap decorating ideas have you done for different holidays? I'd love some ideas!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fire Truck Birthday Cake

Okay okay I know I'm WAAAAYYY behind the times. I get it.  For some reason, I think I am busier now that I stay at home. Can't explain that one.  Anyway, it's definitely time to catch up.

This is just short, but I want to share with you what we did for the kiddo's second birthday party last month. (I CANNOT believe he is already two!)  We did a firetruck themed birthday (at his request) and just invited some family for cake and ice cream.  I did not go all-out on the decor like I would have wanted, simply because his party was two days after my last day at work, so I was a little preoccupied and didn't get as much done as I'd hoped.  I hung up some red, yellow, and white balloons (those are fire-y colors, right?) and some red and white streamers (I admit, leftover from Christmas) and we brought his ride on fire truck, fireman hat, and fireman jacket from his room (he refused to sit in the truck, wear the hat, or wear the jacket) But I'm still proud of the cake (my first ever decorated cake!), so I'll share that with you.

First, we got this firetruck set from the dollar store:
It wasn't quite as firetruck-esque as I would have liked, but when he saw it he knew it was a fire truck, so that was enough for me.  We actually ended up getting two of these sets, so that I could use the extra road signs. (and because he couldn't bear to part with the truck long enough for it to be on the cake)
I just used a cake mix, which I usually think is gross, but somehow this cake turned out really yummy.  Maybe because I let him make his own cake:
Yes, I let him dump all the ingredients together and do the mixing. I let him do this quite often now, he loves to help in the kitchen! I hope I have a master chef on my hands, I'd love some good food around here!
Of course, after it was baked, I mixed up the frosting and did the decorating.  Here are a few shots of that:

Like I said, I've never really decorated a cake before, so this was a fun adventure.  The road is chocolate frosting, and the rest is buttercream with food coloring. I'd give you the recipe but there isn't one. (Yes, that makes it very frustrating to teach and to learn) It took me years to master and I still usually don't get it right.  But this is one of those family things that is just passed down from mom to daughter and is totally done by texture, not measurement.
So anyway, hopefully you can see my artistic vision here... the truck is going to put out this mound of yellow frosting with orange and red sprinkles that is overtaking the mounds of green frosting. Ahem, I mean, a forest fire. (we put the candles in the "fire" for added effect, but I didn't get a good shot of that as the lighting was bad)
You know me, always trying to do things super-cheap! In total, his birthday party cost a total of...maybe $10, if you include the balloons and streamers (which I already had) and the plates and forks (leftover from hubby's birthday).
Now, I promise I'll be better about posting in March... but you know how my promises go... :)