Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31: Philosophy of Celebration

You might have noticed, but I don't have a book...or an e-book. I haven't done a book proposal, and I barely know how to use my iPhone. Truly. So, me, coming to Relevant, doesn't actually make sense. Except that being an event planner, lends itself to many different faces. So when my dear friend asked if I could be her event assistant at Relevant, I couldn't wait.

I only had one fear...that I would spend the entire weekend feeling out of place and battling the fear that I wasn't good enough. That my blog wasn't funny enough or meaningful enough. That my follower numbers were nothing compared with the greatness of others.

And there it was...waiting to steal my joy. The thief called comparison waiting in the darkness to swallow whole my excitement and enthusiasm.

But, I could ignore all those dreaded fears because my job was going to be focusing on assisting my friend with her event. I put on my event planner hat, and determined to only care about that role.

The only problem is that you can't really ignore your heart. So, even though I was ecstatic about assisting my sweet friend, the truth is I still wanted to matter to those around me.

So, as I was preparing to leave, I asked my friends to pray. Pray that I wouldn't fall prey to the lies that would keep me bound to my insecurities. Pray that I wouldn't compare myself or my blog to those around me. Or my clothes. Or my hair. Or (as stupid as it sounds) my laptop bag.

My hope was that instead of being anxious about not measuring up, that I could celebrate with my sisters. That I would be able to move towards others in freedom, free from what they might think. Free from the masks that we so easily pick up and wear out of fear of being rejected. To celebrate what a good God is doing around the world through this crazy thing called blogging.

And guess what happened. Instead of meeting famous writers, bloggers, and songwriters, I met amazingly genuine people, who love writing to encourage others. I saw real people who are gifted in incredible ways, and are sharing who they are with the world around them. I laughed until my sides hurt with people that I never knew existed. I cried at the words of the most profound thinkers. I ate lots of cupcakes and drank like 18 million cups of coffee.

More than any of that though, I met beautiful friends and was blessed beyond measure by their authenticity.

When we are able to move towards others with freedom and love, I believe we are finally able to celebrate. We are able to throw an outrageously awesome event, without fear that it might not be good enough. We are able to invite family over for dinner without being so neurotic about our house being clean that we wound our children in the process. We can plan a wedding without the thoughts that the next planner over has just done a better one. As we allow the fullness of who God is into our hearts, we are able to celebrate artful events, in every part of our lives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30: Entertaining at Home

If you're planning on entertaining at home this fall, you may find yourself turning your decorations up a notch. It's okay to glam it up once in a while, just make sure to stay true to yourself.

Using things that you already have to create centerpieces may seem mundane to you because you see these items all the time. The trick is to use your imagination! Place a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in a pitcher or a couple of clustered mason jars instead of a vase. Make a bouquet of cinnamon sticks to accompany the bouquet, or sprinkle a couple of nuts and/or cranberries around. Or even, put a bouquet of flowers inside of the pumpkin you just carved out (to make pie filling, of course)!

Casual centerpieces, with the use of candles or lanterns, are great for setting a comfortable and intimate tone. Turn up the volume with some sparkle and glam by using glitter pumpkins instead of plain gourds.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 29: Showcase Your Home

Mantels and front porches are the most prominent places to decorate year round, for special occasions and for holidays. Since these are usually focal points in a home, they do deserve special attention.

Displaying family pictures in your seasonal decor makes them more personal and tells a story, rather than just being there to look pretty.

If you like to lean towards holiday decor rather than seasonal decor, try to incorporate natural seasonal items (rather than fake greenery, gourds, pine combs and nuts) to keep your decor simple.

Instead of buying decorations, make some with your kids. The decorations will mean that much more to you, knowing that they were made with love.

If you don't have a mantel or a front porch (apartment living?), focus on areas in your home that are highly visible (your television console, kitchen island, windows, dining table).

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 28: The Heart of The Home

For most people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. To add warmth and comfort to your home this time of year, incorporate your senses to create an inviting fall atmosphere in the most important room of your home.

You can start off with simple solutions. Switch out hand towels, kitchen mats, and rearrange your china cabinet to display harvest colors.

But the simplest solution to bring fall into your kitchen is (duh!) by showing off fall's gorgeous seasonal veggies and fruits. (Don't just display your gourds, use them too!)

Candles are, of course, one of those sensory items you can use just as well; be sure to choose a food/fruit scent for the kitchen! (Floral scents compete with the natural smell of food cooking in your kitchen!)

Just remember, there's no need to go over-the-top in your home, just make it special to you and your family- sometimes simplicity is the best way to achieve happiness.

images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 27: Trigger Your Senses

When fall starts rolling around, you can really feel it. It becomes chilly out and the leaves start turning colors... those senses that you associate with fall start coming back to you.

In order to celebrate your home, it needs to be personal to you and your family. Using obvious and over-the-top holiday decorations may not necessarily be the way to go, for you. Some great ways to bring fall into your home can be achieved by triggering your senses.

Cozy knits, pillows, and throw blankets in your home are the sweaters, scarves and boots of your fall wardrobe! Why not wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket while enjoying some good family time?

You know you've been excited about the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte! Try out some recipes on your own with seasonal gourds and spices; you might end up with a drink or dish that'll become a new fall tradition.

Pumpkin Spice, Apple Cinnamon, Orange Clove.... whichever scents take you back to fall as a child or remind you of your favorite fall holiday, can really transform the way you feel in your home. Try burning candles in your fireplace or creating your own perfect potpourri mixture!

If you like to rotate your home decor (ie. switching out throw pillows, artwork, hand towels, etc.) you might want to try out a seasonal color palette. Use whichever colors come to mind when you think of fall- the colors that make you happy.

Decorating your home for the holidays (and any occasion) should be a direct reflection of who your and your family are, by incorporating your senses, you'll feel at home in your home.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26: Loveliness

When I think back to my childhood, my picture of "home" was many things. It wasn't always warm chocolate chip cookies when I got home from school, but it was sometimes. There weren't tons of presents at Christmas, but there were still so many surprises. It was a rugged picture of real, brokenness, chaos, struggle, support...but there was always love.

Being from a broken home, I convinced myself early on that I had it made...two families, two houses, two Christmases, two get the picture. It wasn't until later that I realized I would have told myself anything just to get through it. But, even as difficult as the split was, I always knew deep down, that the love in my home(s) was genuine.

Through the years, I have seen how easy it is to portray the picture of joy and celebration, hope and faith. But much more difficult to "celebrate" the failings. The hurt. The pain. The doubt and fear. It almost sounds like an oxymoron to even say that "c" word when you think of those wounds from the past. Though, I believe that when we join our voices together, we are truly encouraging and celebrating our lives, be it good or bad. Fun or...not so fun (for lack of a better word). There is good that comes through it, even though just to admit that sometimes brings tears to my eyes. I would have chosen a much different road to walk down if I could have, but yet, I wouldn't change a thing about where I am now.

Today is my mom's birthday. I'm celebrating her life, in ways that I can't even explain, but I know it's true. Last night while I was getting dinner ready, I told the kids that Grandma Beth's birthday would be today. It was the first year that my daughter started asking me questions about it. She's heard all the answers before, but never asked with such sincere interest. Here's the recap.

Me: Tomorrow is Grandma Beth's birthday.

River: Awww. How old would she have been?

Me: 61.

River: That's young! Did she die young?

Me: Yes.

River: How old was she again?

Me: 48.

River: 48?? That is young!!

Me: I was 21 and had just married Daddy.

River: Right after you got married?! That must have been really hard. Really painful.

Me: Yes, it was. But, God was with me, and even though it was really hard, he helped me get through it.

River: We'll have to sing her happy birthday to her tomorrow!

Me: I think so, too.

I know this doesn't really have to do anything with an artful event, except that I don't really believe that you can have an artful event in your home, without having love. If you just throw everything together, and even if it looks beautiful, without love, you'll be missing the most important thing of all. So here's my tip for today on artful events in your home...don't forget about love...even when it brings a tear to your eye to remember.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 25: It Has to be You

The most important element of any event is that it represents you. If you feel stuffy and uncomfortable, than it's not really you. If it's not you, you're not going to be able to really enjoy it.

The most important place to celebrate is in your own home. It doesn't have to happen through a party, though it definitely could. It doesn't have to happen through elegant and extravagant decor. It doesn't have to be through a grand dinner with all your friends and family. It can be in the simplest and smallest ways. But, it has to be you. Real. Honest. You.

Not your best friend. Not your favorite designer. Not your favorite DIY blogger. You.

I'm a lefty, and so as you might imagine, my handwriting has never been beautiful. I remember when I went to a Creative Memories class years ago, hearing that it didn't matter if you had pretty handwriting or not...all that mattered was that it was yours. I didn't really like this "rule" because I wanted my pages to look pretty. And unless I wanted to sit there until Christmas, my handwritten story page was not going to look "pretty".

However, I think about my silver serving platters. Every time I use them, I turn them over to see an old handwritten label that my mom had placed on them over 30 years ago. I see her handwritten name on that old faded white label, and every time it makes me smile. It really does.

So, I have to go back to sticking with the rule myself. It has to be you. If your home does not feel like you when you look around, find out what will make it feel that way. Talk to your spouse or loved ones. Take some time to listen to your own interests and likes. Then, begin to showcase it in your own home. You'll be surprised at how your home will open into a new phase of celebration, and burst forth with artful events!

Catch up on the previous 31 days posts starting here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 24: Worth the Wait

Sometimes without knowing it, I'll catch myself humming a familiar Christmas tune. Then, I hear myself, and gasp, and tell myself to wait!

I think I've always been one to savor the moment. On trips I always want my last day of vacation to be spent going out one more time to enjoy wherever we were. I hate just packing up and feels like wasting the entire "day" that you could have still been wherever it was you were.

The holidays are no different for me. Last year, I did a whole series on this principle! So, yes, I agree 100% with Nordstrom's policy, and am glad they took my advice last year.

All this to say, that this last week of our 31 days journey, I'll be sharing some fun tips to fall festivities around the home. To celebrate this wonderful season we're in, and to encourage you not to miss the glory of Fall around your home. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 23: The Stuff of Amazement

Today is Sunday, and even though I'm getting to it late, I wanted to have my weekly inspirational post. Now, I originally was going to have a fun storyboard about weddings to wrap up this week, but after our weekend, I couldn't think of anything more inspirational than what I'm going to share with you.

Sometimes you hear the words, "they're an amazing person." Or, "They're really a good guy." But this weekend we celebrated the life of possibly the most amazing man I've ever known. Not just because he was my husband's sweet grandfather, and not even because he treated me like his own granddaughter, though, those things did make him wonderful. But, because, his story is one like I've never known, and their truly do not seem to be men like him anymore. And, as my father in law said at the memorial service, if he could even be half the man he was, than, he'd be doing pretty well.

The stories of Grandpop's life, are stories that sound almost made up. And words like "integrity" and "honor" almost feel too watered down to use for him.

Being born to a young couple who had recently stepped off a boat from Poland, meant that you didn't exactly have it made. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, he worked with his dad at the steel mill, after school to be able to help provide for the family. Losing his father at an early age, meant that he had to continue working at the mill for pennies an hour. He rode a horse to school, and then back home in the afternoon. In the cold Philadelphia winters, there were times when he and other boys would go down to the railroad and jump aboard moving trains just to knock a few handfuls of coal off the train cars, so that they wouldn't freeze to death. As he continued working and living in this small outside town of Philly, he met a pretty Polish girl, who with much persistence finally said yes to going out on a date with him. He fell in love, and as many stories go, was married before the war. Even though he was playing in the basketball league that became what we know as the NCAA, he went on and enlisted in the service to protect our country during WWII. He fought on a ship in the South Pacific for 3 years of excruciating combat...and in his own words said felt like a nightmare. Upon arriving home, he returned to work at the steel mill for 9 hours a day, then went to night school to get a degree. And oh yeah, while he literally built his 3 bedroom 1 bath house with his bare hands and simple hand tools. He stayed there the rest of his content as a millionaire in a mansion.

He was a man committed to doing things exceedingly well, and without an ounce of compromise. He was always faithful to his wife, loving to his children, and was always a man of character. This past January, he finally became complete.

He had always struggled with how a loving God could allow so much evil to persist in our world. Being exposed to what he had been, I can't blame him for a second for the struggle. He had always asked why, and wondered about faith. He was willing to wrestle with God. And, this past January, about 45 min. before he turned 91, he finally surrendered the match. He chose to give up his fight to understand it all, and simply believed the good news and received a good God into his heart and life.

The past few months were not easy for this sweet man, as he battled cancer til the end. But finally, after such a long journey, he is at rest. And now, he can fully see, even as he is fully known.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 22: Weddingland Wrap Up

We had a blast pulling this wedding together. It came together beautifully, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with Abby and Allan to make their day become a reality.

I loved watching them ride off together. They are such a sweet couple, who (as you can tell) have a blast together!

The amazing photographer who stepped in just hours before the wedding, truly saved the day. She tells more of the story with her creative genius here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 21: Decor & Design

One thing that Abby really wanted were balloons. She mentioned it in one of our first meetings, and I knew it was the "thing" she wanted the most...that and frozen yogurt, which we also accomplished.

We rented a helium tank, and ordered a bunch jumbo balloons, (begged WinMock to let us use them!) and for hours on the day of, blew up her big beautiful balloons. And, they really were fabulous.

That gray sky was perfect for those pictures...and thankfully the reception was inside the barn. Those dark clouds soon turned to a tornado warning, but we just kept right on dancing!

Abby and Allan had a poster board with their silhouettes holding balloon strings, where guests used stamp pads to stamp in their thumb print as the balloons. So cute and personable!

For the tables we used a collection of wine bottles and antique milk jugs to display fresh wildflowers. We had twine globes, so I stuck mason jars into the middle of the globe, and had the candles inside for a different version of a votive. We scrunched a little burlap under each centerpiece to give it some texture and interest. They turned out great!

Remember all those beautiful bridesmaids? Well, we put their bouquets to good use and repurposed them as centerpieces on our smaller hi-boy tables. They were just the right size, and allowed us to save a little, too!
My favorite florist, Farm and Filigree, did a great job designing the bouquets! They were rustic enough to go with the barn feel, but still extremely elegant.

We loved all the little touches that made this wedding feel like Abby and Allan. All day, I kept hearing people say,"It's just so Abby!" Unknowingly, they were giving the perfect compliment to me. It was such a fun design scheme, and yet maintained the sophistication we wanted for their wedding. Mission accomplished!

Linking up today with In the Studio!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 20: Now for the Gals!

Yesterday, I showed you all about the guys dapper outfits, but today, we'll see how cute those bridesmaids were...all 13 of them!!

Abby requested for the girls to get a black dress that they liked and would feel comfortable wearing. And, as you might have guessed with the theme thus far, she requested that they all wear cowboy boots.

It was cute as pie, and they pulled them off beautifully!

My sweet friend and her daughter were the maid of honor and flower girl.
Both are beauties!

Abby's shoes were the exception. Her shoes of choice were a pair of white glittery Toms! So fun...and definitely her!

We'll continue unwrapping this wedding tomorrow. We only have 11 days left on our 31 day series...can't wait to continue celebrating with you!