Waltzing around the Interwebz

Just a quick pop-in to share some lovely things I found around the Interwebz!

  1. This post from Ann Voskamp – the idea of eating the Word as dessert after every meal, combined with the beautiful photos, made my heart full. Looking forward to having a family one day and making this part of our meal routine.
  2. From the sublime to the rather shallow… how incredible is Erdem’s Resort 2013 collection? The navy and plum colors, the florals, the cuts and tailoring… gah! I would wear every. single. piece. Except perhaps the bikini/high heels combo. Not so practical for the nanny of a toddler!
  3. Incredible, strong, honest, and TRUE article on why we shouldn’t be reading 50 Shades of Gray. Thank you, Erin, for being brave to voice the wisdom God gave you!

Be back later, folks! I have several posts planned and this time I mean to actually follow through!

xoxo,
Alanna

Blog re-design!

Well, looky-looky… I did a little blog-redesign coinciding with my blogiversary! I’ve been wanting a new look and decided it was time to just sit down and do it. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s very vintage-y and I think it suits me well.

The background of the header is actually one of my favorite skirts. It belonged to my grandmother – vintage Talbots! When she passed away a year ago, my mom sent me a bunch of her clothes. I have fun wearing them.

And that picture on the left side? I’ve been meaning to share this with you for quite a while. Back in March, my good friend and an amazing photographer Beth and I cooked up a really cool vintage photo shoot. I want to share more of the photos soon, but this is your sneak peek! Although if you’re smart, you might find some more on Beth’s blog.

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: A Blogiversary

Once upon a time, year ago yesterday, I wrote my first post. I thought very briefly about doing a big celebratory post with a giveaway, like many other bloggers do. But it seemed a better fit to the way I’ve blogged this first year to just mark it quietly (and a day late)… and anyway, with such a small readership there wouldn’t be anyone to vie for the giveaway. Haha.

I’ve never been a cannonball-into-the-water type of girl. I always inch myself in slowly, one toe at a time. And so it’s been with blogging. I don’t think I’ve been so much a half-hearted blogger as a cautious and hesitant one. Testing the proverbial waters, so to speak. Seeing if it’s safe to plunge in. And with such a crazy, up-and-down year, blogging suffered. I’m a routine girl. I have a hard time being consistent and disciplined when life is crazy and all over the place.

But enough of that! Life is moving on and I’m slowly settling into a new normal, although there’s still some change to come in the next couple months. It’s time to get serious about the blog. So that’s why I planned to hash out The Plan for year number two on the blog. Perhaps I’d give you a bulleted list of Big Goals like new post ideas (and I have plenty), so many shop updates per month, when in my week I’m going to set aside time to blog, etc.

And yet… looking back over the past year, and looking towards the future, that’s still seems not quite the right thing. Before those Big Goals will work, I need one thing.

I want to blog with PURPOSE.

I don’t mean narrowing a focus for the blog. I don’t mean setting goals and keeping myself on track. Those are important and they will follow. But this is what I mean:

I realized recently that in the past year, I don’t think one single time have I sat down to pray over my blog. To ask God what HE would like to do with Charlie + Lu. 1 Corinthians 10:31 say whatever we do, even eating and drinking, should be done for God’s glory. Eating and drinking are basic survival tasks. If I’m supposed to survive for His glory, how much more so should something like blogging be taken seriously for His purpose! Before I get to any goals or to-do lists, I need to sit down and spend some time praying over Charlie + Lu. And listening. My hope for this blog is that what you see in the coming weeks and months will come from a heart guided by the Lord. That doesn’t mean every post is going to be “Christian-y”! But I want Him beside me as I blog. Every time.

Even for a purposeless, hesitant first year of blogging, it’s been a good one. I wrote some heartfelt posts about things like Honduras and a special birthday. I participated in an art journal challenge, Indie Christmas, and the Spring Fling Blog Swap. I showed you a lot of Instagrams. I am beginning to meet some sweet and amazing fellow bloggers.

I’m excited just thinking about what another year could bring when I blog with purpose. For Him. Soli Deo Gloria!

xoxo,
Alanna

DIY Paper Files

So I’ve been super poor this year, blah blah, y’all all know this. 🙂 It’s actually kind of been fun to really stretch my creativity to make beautiful, nice things with a budget of $almostzero. Because I use recycled paper for my earrings, I have a large collection of found papers – wrapping paper, old envelopes, store bags, etc. I needed somewhere to stash it all.

Inspiration hit when I saw a box my roomie had set out for the trash. It was nice and sturdy, having originally held a couple bottles of toilet bowl cleaner. It even had a handy-dandy finger hole. And it was the perfect width – I’d tried a cereal box before, but they were never wide enough to accommodate the catalogs in my collection. I picked up a roll of pretty wrapping paper and some spray adhesive from Wal-Mart for maybe $7. Then I followed the process loosely outlined in the photos below!

1. Find a good sturdy box, with enough depth to hold your papers without smashing them.
2) Cut off the flaps, then decide where you want the down-side of your slanted side to end. Measure and note the distance from the bottom of the box to your desired end-point. Then use a ruler to draw a line from the opposite corner to the end point, wrap straight around the back, and then up to the opposite corner, parallel to the original line (I hope that makes sense).

3) Now you’ve got the finished shape – the cut lines probably make more sense know.
4) Because of how dark and patterned the box was, I knew it would show through the wrapping paper so I first covered it in white contact paper. I didn’t measure exactly but used the grid on the back of the paper to cut my pieces. I covered the bottom first, then the front and back, leaving an inch or so on all sides to wrap over the edge. I made small cuts at the corners to help it not wrinkle and bulge.

5. At this point, the front, back, and bottom were all covered. Don’t worry that where the pieces overlap, it’s a more opaque white. The wrapping paper will even it out.
6. For the sides, the only overlap went over the top (the slant). The other sides of the contact paper piece were square to the edge of the box.
7. Up to this point, the finger hole had been covered in paper. Using an xacto knife, I poked through the paper and folded it back, using a lot of little cuts by the corners to help it lie flat. Then I covered everything with a piece of contact paper to keep the ends secure.

 8. I wrapped the box in the wrapping paper the same way I did the contact paper. I first tried modge podge before the spray adhesive, but it made the paper wrinkly.
9. I folded the corners like one would wrapping a present.
10. I didn’t wrap around the finger hole again – I just cut very carefully next to the edge (on the front)

And then it was done! I liked it so much I did another one in a box big enough to hold my 12 x 12″ scrapbook paper. My craft hutch has always been somewhat organized (I couldn’t stand it if it wasn’t), but I’m trying to further sort/purge and use pretty containers. It’s a good start, wouldn’t you say? Oh, the little metal bins are from the Target $1 spot a couple years ago, but I see them again every now and then.

xoxo,
Alanna

2012 Spring Fling!

AllGloriousWithin I participated in the 2012 Spring Fling hosted by Erin and L! I was paired with the fabulous Evanne to exchange packages of encouragement with the rule that we must send each other flip-flops! I love sending packages of goodies to people so this was so much fun. In addition, I got to meet another sweet blogger friend. Evanne has a fun blog with a mix of craftiness, DIY, fashion, and life. I can tell she has a strong passion for life and a bubbly personality. Please go check out her blog; I highly recommend it!

And… it was a pretty good deal for me on the receiving end. Look at the wonderful contents of my package from Evanne!

Adorable giraffe-print flip-flops (with an added bow!); personalized mini-pail (holding some of the ribbons that had adorned some of the items); two spring nail polish colors; the mini Smashbook (more on that later); feather earrings from Evanne’s shop; little bird earrings, tabs for the Smashbook; a blue wood bangle (and it actually fits my thin hands and wrist!); cute post-its and notepad; and a pretty card with a sweet message.

I have to show you close-ups of the pretty earrings:

Aren’t they both beautiful? You really should check out Evanne’s shop; in addition to fun feather earrings, she has many other beautiful pieces. Also make sure to check out all the other participants and their fun packages!

I’m so glad I got to participate! It truly was so much fun to pick things out and pack up Evanne’s package. And I’m not going to lie: receiving her package was pretty great, too! I have found great contentment and peace in my financial situation this past year and of course I don’t think that “stuff” means happiness. That being sad, I’m like any girl and pretty new things put a smile on my face. It was great to receive the package just as I was starting my new job. It felt like a celebration of the difficult year past and the new beginnings! Thank you, Evanne, for the thought you put into everything!

xoxo,
Alanna

P.S. I found a great online, FREE photo editor – iPiccy.com! All the photos in this post were edited using iPiccy. And, no, they didn’t pay me to say that, I just wanted to share this with you!

Once Upon a Time: Personality

Gratuitous cute pic of baby me – look at that enormous forehead!

I know the whole reputation of “terrible twos,” but, really, toddlerhood is one of my favorite ages. The blooming of a little person: exploration of their world, exploding verbal skills, learning to pretend and to be funny, and establishing a personality. All of the kids I’ve watched this past year are within a few months of each other. My nephew is nearly 2, and I have several good friends with toddlers. It’s so fun to see how crazy-different and how strong these little people’s personalities are!

My parents have told me many stories of how early many parts of my personality and tastes appeared. And if I look back to early, preschool memories and feelings, I can see the strong thread of Me all along.

  • I think I was 18 months old, or younger, when my mom saw me line up all my Fisher Price Little People on the edge of bathtub facing me… in age order from grandma to the baby. Yep, an organizer from the beginning.
  • I have always been a touchy, affectionate person; I can remember finding my way into every houseguest’s lap by the end of their visit.
  • I used to iron my doll clothes. For fun. Yeahhhh… that’s actually one I’ve outgrown!
  • Always the fashionista, I was just as happy to wear my tutu and leotard or dig in the dress-up box for daily wear.
  • On a visit to my grandparents before I could walk, I crawled away unseen and was finally found sitting in my grandma’s closet, sucking my thumb, cooing, and stroking all her long dresses hanging down around me. I still often unconsciously reach my hand out to touch and stroke clothes as I walk through a department store. Color and texture (and clothes!) have always fascinated me.
  • Anytime a new American Girl or J.C. Penney catalogue arrived, I couldn’t wait to look through every page with someone. I didn’t want to just look at the pretty things, I wanted to discuss everything. My patient mom spent a lot of time debating which shower curtain on a particular page was her favorite (yeah, I mean the whole JCP catalogue – I was in to decorating even then!). It was never a question whether I was an extravert or not.
  • My tender heart was easily manipulated by my family. It wasn’t uncommon that I would “sorry” myself instead of a family member when we played Sorry! I couldn’t bear to send someone back to the beginning. And I’d like to point out that they certainly took advantage of this play-pouting any time I tried to do it! To be honest, I still have some level of anxiety with competitive games; I’m normal and don’t like to lose, but winning makes me guilty.
  • I can remember how much I loved the magical days when a bath, clean jammies, and clean sheets all happened on the same night. It was such a wonderful feeling of CLEAN.
  • I have never been a morning person. On Sundays, my dad used to come into my room and make my dresses dance around and talk to me, competing to see which one I’d choose to wear to church. Eventually I’d start to laugh and join in, but without that I think I was a dreadful grumpy bear.
  • I can remember playing a game with my Playmobils where I would organize them on the floor into massive family trees (and yes, that was it). People, relationships, and organization. 🙂
  • Although I knew my stuffed animals were just fake fur and polyester filling, I couldn’t bear to say which one was my favorite. I just couldn’t risk hurting their feelings. It still doesn’t take much for me to impute feelings to animals and objects!

What about you? Did you have a personality that showed itself early on? Do you remember things which you know can see as “you”? Have your parents told you stories?

xoxo,
Alanna

A dream that will need all the love you can give

“April showers bring May flowers,” so the saying goes. April 2011 certainly brought more than showers… a seeming monsoon in the form of being fired from my job (although I soon realized that rain can be a good thing). In terms of employment, it took a full year of rain for those May flowers to bloom. Here I am, May 2012, just over one year from being fired, and one week into a job I didn’t imagine filling 365 days ago, but one I am now incredibly thrilled to have.

I’m a nanny. I’ve mentioned that one of the ways I’ve stayed afloat this year is short-term and part-time nannying. But now it’s turning full-time. I am taking over for one of my closest friends as she steps down from her nanny position to have her own baby. My new charge is “almost two,” as he’ll tell you. I couldn’t ask for a sweeter, cuter, more enjoyable little companion. The family is wonderful and I feel so blessed to have such great employers (it feels weird to call them such a former title). May and June are transition months, as A and I work together to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Days are filled with trips to playgrounds and parks, finger painting, snack-eating, and playing ball of any kind. Singing songs and pretending. There’s a carseat installed in my car. It’s not where I imagined God would take me after this year of pondering and praying over my future. But let me tell you, it is 100% right and I truly could not be happier. I honestly couldn’t imagine anymore going back to an office job. Maybe some day again, but for now I find this a million times better! I guess the Father does know best, doesn’t He?

For obvious reasons of privacy and safety, my little buddy won’t be appearing on the blog, nor will my job be much of a central topic. But as I’ve shared some of the trials and blessings of this past year with you, I wanted to tell you this great joy! I kept having moments last week where I reminded myself just what amazing things God has done and I felt giddy. I had almost stopped believing that my life would have an upswing and yet now I’m back with a steady salary and making plans and dreams again.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:1-3

xoxo,
Alanna

P.S. Gold star to you if you know why I picked the title of this post.