happy new decade. :)

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There's something nostaligically beautiful about the closing of a year, like the feeling of reading the last few pages of a book you love. Savoring the last few moments of a little journey you've come to know. It's nearly impossible for me to avoid looking back to the girl I was just 365 days ago, to marvel at how very much she had to learn about life, others, God, herself and love.

It seems that for me 2009 was a year of learning lessons of the heart. Here are just two lessons that 2009 taught me:

Always say what’s in your heart…even if it might mean an uncomfortable moment, some tears shed or the risk of sounding cliche.

I learned this in 2009 by not saying what was in my heart soon enough to a former teacher. In high school he was my theater teacher, but beyond that was someone who had always taken time to offer creative encouragement, offer a smile and very wise words. Even when he had so many important things awaiting his attention, when I'd drop by his office he'd set aside his work to ask me about what I felt inspired to do in life and we'd chat at length about musicals, plays and productions that we so loved. Several months ago, he was in his last few days of a battle with cancer. One night I, misty-eyed, sat down and wrote him a heartfelt letter telling how blessed I, and others, felt to have had his guidance and creative encouragement for so many years. Being busy with life, I set the card aside for a week until I could find an address, or a time to stop and see him. Within those few days, he passed away. Confidently I know my words don't matter now, as I'm certain he is in a heavenly place...boisterously singing in the skies (those who know him will smile at that sentiment), but I still feel sadness that I never told him how very much his creative encouragement meant to me. The card still sits on my desk at home, and at times I gingerly open it, reread it and tearfully wish with all my heart that I’d said those words sooner. Telling someone how very much they are loved, appreciated, cared for should never wait…no matter how busy life is, or how unnatural expressing that sentiment might feel.

Always do what is in your heart, and never doubt it…because life will suddenly mean so much more.

Even if it means rising before the sun several days a week, living on an (at times) shoestring budget to pay for tuition, nearly forgoing groceries for a week to buy bigger, better art supplies or majoring in a field in which the career outlook looks dim. Life comes alive when you’re chasing what you feel in your heart…and in the last few months of 2009 I’ve felt this fully.

Here’s a hope that 2010 brings you a year full of heart…and a heartfelt wish that you have someone to kiss, hold close, high five or toast with at midnight…for auld lang syne, my dear.


an epic moment (for me).

Something amazing and unexpected happened today.

After being told by several friends that my pants were too loose (true friends tell you these things) and by another friend that there was a sale on jeans at the mall (even truer friends tell you those things), I decided to spend my lunch break shooting for single-digit land. Planning to be disappointed at the tightness of the epic single digit pants, I stripped down to my unmentionables...meanwhile giving myself a pep talk so as not to be disappointed when buttoning the size 8's proved to be laughably impossible. I slithered into the size 8, shielding my eyes from mirror in fear of what I might see. Although a smidge more snug than usual, surprisingly, they buttoned without much hesitation. Preparing for the worst I slowly turned around and laid eyes on the mirror. Amazingly enough: they fit!

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(Thank you, 4" heels for your assistance. You are sooo painful, but so fantastic.)

A number is just a number, but this for me it marks a place I've not been in so very long. Truly, I don't remember my last "eights". My little weight loss journey doesn't stop here, because there is more to be lost and a healthier Bethany still waiting to be uncovered. However, moments like this are incredible reminders, affirmations that being healthy, and increasingly comfortable in my own skin, is better than any cheeseburger (wait, I'm a vegetarian) cheesecake I've ever eaten. And although I still plan to have a very close relationship with cheesecake, (hellloooo, cheesecake, do drop by on the weekends, love) I will not allow my body to become 85% cheesecake.

But beyond numbers and sizes, today I felt so fully the commitment I need to make to no longer waste time being dissatisfied with aspects of my body that are unable to be changed. No longer will I curse my light skin, freckled, broad shoulders, short legs or full face. Those little unchangeable pieces of me were put there by Someone for some reason. He formed me, and saw fit for my cheeks to always be childishly chubby, and for my legs to fall short of glamazon length. And if that's the worst lot I've been dealt? I guess I'm doing okay. So, thanks God. :)

And so tonight I celebrate quietly in my toasty little upper one-bedroom apartment, snuggled up in my thinking spot with a frosty Diet Dr. Pepper and a raspberry yogurt. It's no cheesecake, but at least I won't regret it in the morning...


...should have been left on the cutting room floor.

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(For the very first time in months, this is not my photo. Apologies, but the Anthro I visited this weekend did not have this beast in stock.)

Dear Anthro,

I love you sooo much, but what happened here? I thought you knew women better than this. We love the frivolous, and although the frivolous can sometimes be one wobbly side-step away from ridiculous, this has seriously crossed that border in a wildly heinous way. Was this just an intoxicated mistake made by your jewelry design team after last year's drunken Christmas party? Waist-length robot necklace? Four hundred dollar price tag? I cannot think of a single woman I know who would consider this a fantastic piece of frivolity.

Get it together...sober up and return to the drawing board. (I say that with love.) You have much to make up for here.


P.S. Maybe you can make up for this nearly unforgivable sin by knocking a couple bucks off of this blouse or this sweater? Just sayin'...I'm willing to make a deal.



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This is my second Christmas in Blogland, and marks the second year in which I promised myself to regularly post photos and words which would be positively sparkling with glittery Christmas creativity. (Cue a crooning Bing Crosby, fantastic gift lists and genius do-it-yourself-ornament ideas.) Hmm...fail. Fail of epic proportions. Can I play the "college student" card again? I only have a few uses left on that one...

So, I come baring nothing Christmas-themed in 2009 other than this little photo of my tree and and a truly heartfelt holiday sentiment:

Beyond brown paper packages, sugary sweet holiday treats and cups of Christmas cheer, I so pray that you're showered with real, true love this Christmas. No matter where you find yourself, I hope you take time to let those you love know how very much they warm your life. If we all did that on a regular basis, not just at Christmas, wouldn't life be so much more livable?

Sending oodles of holiday cheer,


cleaning house.

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(Just some of the clothing that is permanently leaving my life!)

Recently I marked a little goal: I've lost thirty pounds since last fall. Thirty isn't a jaw-dropping number, but to me it feels so significant. There is some more to be lost, but right now it feels amazing to be in a new, favorite pair jeans...just one size away from Single-Digit-Land. (Sometimes two...curse you, stores that run small.)

I imagine Single-Digit-Land is a magical place in which one feels no insecurities, eats bon bons nearly all day while looking fantastically sexy, and elicits uncontrollable whistles from the men around them. I realize this is neither realistic, nor the latter particularly desirable (have you seen the men in this town?) ...but I'm sure you're picking up what I'm putting down. Confidence is found in neither a size nor a number, however sometimes a number marks a small stop on one's journey to find confidence.

When I began sifting through the massive pile of "too big" cast-off clothing that has slowly grown for the last year, I was astonished at how very much I had. Suddenly it was so obvious that at my most weighty, I'd sought meaning, beauty and happiness in my wardrobe, spending $20 here or there in hopes that one silly item would somehow fulfill the "me" with whom I was terribly dissatisfied...thinking that a skirt, blouse or sweater could make me FEEL more attractive, intelligent or creative when deep inside I didn't much feel any of those things. And in honesty, I cannot say that I even liked half of what was lurking in that pile. It seems purchases of desperation rarely prove to be intelligent investments.

A small handful of the leftovers could have been managably tailored, or shrunk using the hot-hot-hot cycle in the washer, but the truth is that they represent something that I don't want cluttering my life and mind anymore: a period in time in which I was carrying not just extra physical weight but a significant amount of emotional weight and unhappiness with myself. And who wants that lurking in her closet every morning? Not this gal. So to the fated Goodwill stack these items went, while I made a mental note to adjust my budget to include a few more responsible clothing purchases each month. (That didn't take much convincing...)

So good riddance, old threads. I cannot wait to fill your space with new, increasingly smaller items which I now know will never fulfill or define me, but will certainly make life more flirtatious and fun. :)


from where i sit.

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(Me, in my very favorite spot in the entire world, peering out of the second-story window in my apartment.)

Sometimes life takes you for a whirl, and sometimes you just simply feel the impending whirl brewing. Currently I'm experiencing the latter. I love the fact that my life story is still unwritten, that there are pages and pages I have yet to fill, but sometimes I am easily overwhelmed thinking of all the decisions, the exhaustion and struggles that will fill each page. Isn't that amazing, though? Our God gives us this blank journal, a lovingly stitched together world, but then selflessly hands us the pen. With that, each of us receive the freedom to write the story. He allows us to move the setting, to change the characters, manage the conflicts, the romances, the development within those pages. But ultimately He's sitting right beside us as we pen, working steadfastly behind the scenes, there when we seek Him, always present within our hearts and woven so very intricately into our stories.

Lord, You are an truly artist, my most awesome creative Father. You simply overwhelm me. :)


(the ultimate) thankful thursday

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(Adorable Sex and the City-inspired keychain available at Old Navy for $3.50. Spotted it this weekend and couldn't say no!)

Maybe this is a simple, cliche sentiment, but this year I am entirely thankful for everything that surrounds me. I feel as though my life has gone through a little "flip" from last year to now...and although I find myself single, less financially secure (thank you, surmounting college debt), and pounding out homework hours like a crazed woman, I am so much more aware of everything I can count as a blessing.

Here are the largest of blessings I've found this year:

...my family, who when I am at my busiest knows not to call, but rather shows up at my office with a snack and a hug, or secretly drops by my apartment while I'm gone to wash my dishes.

...my friends, who are aware that I love them endlessly, despite my terrible ability to stay in contact beyond birthdays, anniversaries and a few calls in between.

...my co-workers, who feel like a mix between family and the closest of friends.

...a small disposable income, which allows me to meet friends for dinner or movies and buy new, fancy things which I truly don't need, but which bring me more happiness and cheer than I care to admit. :)

...the teachers who have, in their classes, taught me more about myself, the way I view the world and the creative process than I ever thought possible.

...my old car, and it's sticktoitiveness in the face of all the extra miles spent commuting to school this semester.

...my little one bedroom, upper apartment. A place that I have slowly found becoming home...walls and floors and doors that someday, when I move, I will miss so thoroughly, but will remember as a little space in which I defined my hopes and dreams.

...studio 301. A classroom in which I arrived most timidly, just a few months ago, nervously clutching my backpack and so wildly unsure of me. Now it is a room which I feel I've learned, thanks to several late nights and weekends, a room that has been a blank space for me to write, draw and create...to push away my timidity and cluttered thoughts and find myself.

Hoping, hoping, hoping that you have just as many, if not more, things for which to be thankful...and that today you are surrounded by those you love. This is truly the season for love, and I'm praying that each of you finds yourself positively drowning in it :)



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(Me, rocking out to music from Glee. And, yes. My legs are actually that white.
Feel free to tease...I'm a practically an albino.)

Whew. I've been completely swallowed up by work projects and nearly living at the office (including one 17 hour day...and one all nighter) and, yet since the peanut-butter sandwich episode of a few days ago I have been so very surprisingly happy. This, I suppose, is a little signal from above that the right decision was made, and that I will be completely and wonderfully okay just being Bethany. Yet, in my spare moments, I have again allowed shopping to occupy my time. Not buying so much...just trying on and oogling. Well, with a few responsible purchases.

My sis and I indulged in a little shopping last night, and this black and purple combo caught my eye. Infinite thanks to my sister who pushed me to buy this lovely number...and who also stomached my excited bra and panty dance in the changing room (only the truly resilient recover from that frightening sight). When something as silly as an inexpensive ruffled cami or a brand spanking new dress can make me feel as though I'm entirely and fully a new woman...I cannot control myself! The item must be purchased!

Hmm...that sounds like something only a shopaholic would say. I mean, I needed this dress. Um, I have a thing. You know, a swanky event...new dress required. (That is a lie.) :)


goodbye peanut butter. love, jelly.


Gabe moved today. So I don't have a lot of words, which is quite strange for me. (You are all breathing sighs of relief, I'm sure...for once, something has hushed me up!) But, I did take time to harvest my emotion by molding jelly into the shape of a heart, and indulging in a silly photoshoot with my peanut butter sandwich.

What can I say? I'm such an emotionally healthy individual. :)


falling away.

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Dear Fall,
You're slipping away so quickly, and all too soon I've found myself in a world of leaf-barren trees and frosty windshields! Please don't go away just yet...I feel I've barely had time to carve pumpkins, crunch through fallen leaves and indulge in your crisp temps. You are so very lovable, and all I'm asking is to love you a little while longer before wintry chills and swirly, whirly, twirly white flakes whisk you away for good. :)

All my love,

P.S. How are you all? I've been terribly absent from blogland, knee-deep in homework and housekeeping...but can't wait to make my reading rounds and catch up on each and every one of your beautiful worlds. :)

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why i will miss him.

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(It has snowed twice this week...and so this photo may be my very last of fall folliage 2009. Consider me heartbroken!)

Late yesterday evening, Gabe and I made a trip to the grocery store so he could pick up something to make for dinner. After staring blankly into the frosty doors of frozen goods, checking cook times and peeking at his watch, Gabe finally speaks:

Gabe: "I really want to make a lasagna. But it has to be baked."

Me: "You should totally just microwave it. It's late."

Gabe: "No. It has to be baked."

Me (witchily snatching icy lasagna block from his hands): "Gaberdoodle. This one takes an hour and forty five minutes to bake. That means you won't be putting noodles in your mouth until 10pm."

Gabe: "Fine. You don't get to play 'Lasagna' with me."

Me: "Um...did you just say "play 'Lasagna'"?"

Gabe: (defensively) "Yes. Playing lasagna is when we buy frozen lasagna, bake it in an oven and then eat it with Ned (our kitten) like a happy family."
Just one of the millions of reasons why, in a few weeks, I will miss him terribly. My funny bone will probably dust up and crumble into a thousand little pieces.


float away.

(Two of my favorites: leaves and puddles.)

I absolutely cannot believe that the weekend has come and gone. And at midnight on Sunday night, it isn't looking like my real "To-Do's" got completed...

The Completed Items:
  • Open all the windows and snuggle up in the crisp chill. Sleep in--twice.
  • Flip through September's issue of Lucky. Curse body type for looking like a lumberjack in oh-so-fashion forward plaid.
  • Catch a baseball game on TV, make concerted effort to watch and follow along. Wind up falling asleep. Pride self on effort, regardless.
  • Cuddle brand new little kitten at the humane society...fall in love, dream of adopting him and naming him Xander. Recall crushing reality that I live in a "no pets" apartment. Return little kitten to lonely wire cage.
  • Sneak in a little birthday shopping for my mom. End up shopping for self...decide this probably makes me a terrible, ego-centric person. Blame it all on the fabulous sales.
  • Share a glass of Honeycrisp wine with my sis, laugh uproariously at old episodes of The Office.
  • Spend the afternoon with fam + Gabe + cousin Chad for annual fall jaunt to a gorgeous local state park. Catch these three perfect leaves bathing in a parking lot puddle.

Items Not Completed (or, truthfully, attempted in the least...):
  • Wash and dry frighteningly massive pile of dirty dishes. Ew.
  • Put pencil to paper--finish two drawings for class. (Do not leave this until the night before...)
  • Clean out scary, scary fridge.
  • Catch up on 3+ hours of reading for class-take online quizzes and participate in discussion forum.
  • Wade through ginormous laundry pile, wash the filth...rid drawers and closet of the unwanted.
  • Visit the gym. At least once. (Wince. Epic fail.)

I will surely pay for all this "undone" later...but, oh, what a lovely weekend of procrastination. :)


the {not so} near and {oh so} dear.

(My friend Andrea on the right, and me on the left. Totally jacked this photo from A's Facebook this AM. Hope she doesn't mind...I also whitened my teeth, because I'm vain like that.)

Last night was incredible, and exactly what I needed. My Washingtonian friend since Kindergarten, Andrea, popped home to visit a sick family member, and I was lucky enough to snag her Friday night. We caught up, chatting at breakneck speeds over dinner at Shanghai Bistro, where moody live jazz was playing. The place is so contemporary, which is fun for us...because, let's face it: Eau Claire, Wisconsin isn't exactly burgeoning with cosmopolitan-esque eateries. Then, after a conversation about exactly how YOUNG college students look, we decided to scope out a local band--the Laarks at the University. (The Laarks are quite good. Think Death Cab.) We felt so very old--but totally dug watching the awkward teens get their dance on.

It's remarkable what an evening with a soul sister can do to your heart. We've got a very solid 18 years of close friendship behind our belts, and I always feel like she's a person who can read my heart and mind. Andrea has an amazingly beautiful soul. A girl who is so real, so thoughtful and so compassionate. She's the girl who never forgets a birthday, an inside joke or that one time geeky Kevin Rezarch microwaved a twisty tie in 1st grade and nearly smoked us all out of the lunchroom. (Confession: I. Loved. Kevin Rezarch.) Someone who constantly seeks meaning, love and connections in everything around her. Not to mention she's quite hilarious... :)

Somehow--blessedly--I struck the friend jackpot when I was young. Although those dearest to me are not geographically the nearest to me, they are the ones who bring so much fulfillment and joy in ways that I feel no one else will ever hold a candle to. (Ooo. I know it's bad to leave "to" at the end of a sentence, but not quite sure how to restructure this one. So sorry grammar nerds.)

Very happy weekending to you! :)


it's the little things.

(I snapped this photo several weeks ago at Vino, an incredible local venue. It is an absolute must if you're in the area!)

Today was such a lovely mosaic of moments that left me feeling so warm and fuzzy...and on this frigid and drizzly 40 degree day, a little warmth went a long way! I'm still feeling sunshiney and thankful for...

...a blessed fire alarm that saved me from the last frustratingly uninspired 30 minutes of art class.

...sneaking in a snuggly afternoon nap in my favorite sweatshirt.

...an impromptu pasta dinner with two good friends and a co-worker resulting in near tears-down-face laughter. So heart healthy. (The laughs, not necessarily the pasta...)

...good news about what could have been a scary situation involving a family member's health.

...flirtation. (Or maybe it isn't? Ack. I don't know. What am I, a mind reader?)

...a fabulous stack of second-hand magazines from my boss, which I plan to devour tonight.

...the sweet woman at Old Navy who never fails to remember my name. (I picked up this sweater in aqua, which seemed like a great idea at time...but now I'm unsure. Too grandma-ish? Grandma-chic? Just plain chic? Help!)

...getting to look forward to a little Friday night date with an old friend.

Hope your Thursday was just as toasty and wonderful. :)


the quickest way to my heart...

...is through an apple orchard on a crisp fall day. There was finally a chill in the air today--cool enough to allow me to flirt heavily with the idea of donning a long-sleeved cardigan and shimmying up some trees in search of the perfect apple.

A friend also had the day free from work, so he and I headed off to the orchard. The Eau Claire Orchard is closest to us, offers the most kitsch (think...apple slinging, corn maze) and allows you to pick your own straight from the tree. Naturally it was our orchard of choice. As we pulled up, a cheery sign greeted us, "Pick your own Honeycrisp apples!". Love Honeycrisp, love picking my own. Love life.

But, oh, how quickly the tables turned when we stepped inside the barn and up to the counter to pay for the peck we were hoping to pick. It went a little something...like this:

Me: Hi, there...how are you?
Employee: Good. Are you ready to check out?
Me: We're actually looking to pick our own, today.
Employee: Umm...yeah.Me: Hmm? Is that okay?Employee: (Exasperated sigh.) Everyone always comes in wanting to pick their own. It's like--I have a whole store here of perfectly picked apples. And then they whine and complain that there's nothing out on the trees, cause they only want to walk about two rows in. It's like, no. Everything's picked over because it was just the weekend. Come back on Saturday...(Tirade continues.)
Me: (Meekly shrinking away from the counter.) We'll...go somewhere else...

I moved quickly for the door, all the while trying desperately not to meet my pal's glances for fear that I would come unglued and LOSE IT right there in that seemingly sweet little autumnal barn.

The two of us...barely made it out alive. The second we burst through the doors, he and I ERUPTED with giggles, impressions and what-we-should-have-said-isms. His response was by far my favorite: "Hmm. Didn't know life on the apple orchard could be so darn tough..."

We spent the next two hours driving through the back hills, stopping so I could snap photos of picturesque pastures and popping in to various orchards to see if they allowed self-pick...to no absolutely avail. A friendly woman turned us on to a little orchard called Nibbletts (Nibbletts. For real. And yes...I giggled at that, too.) where pick-your-own is the only way, but unfortunately they were closed for the day.

Regardless, it was a wonderful day that will not soon be forgotten...but I can't help but feel slightly disappointed at the day's lack of apple picking. Is picking your own apples really that taboo? I have so many memories of trips to the orchard as a child, but is it becoming a thing of the past...something my (very, very future) children will never, ever believe we paid to do?


cheery blooms.

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(Backstory: Gabe and I started dating three years ago. Gabe moved to Wisconsin from California to be with me, and has lived here for the past two years. Gabe and I broke up two months ago. We're still best buds. Gabe is now moving back to sunny CA in the beginning of November. I think that sufficiently sets the stage...action.)

Yesterday morning I went to the farmer's market--something Gabe and I did together nearly every week for the last three summers. He would buy baked goods from a cheery rosy-cheeked woman and I would peruse the perimeter in search of the perfect bouquet. We'd order Iced Thai Teas and giggle at the strange musical artist playing in the middle of the pavilion, throwing the crumpled cash we had left in the "tip" canister. It never got old.

But yesterday I was there. Alone. And the darn music began to play. It all came in a giant wave--just how very, very lonely I will be in just one month when Gabe is gone. How my family says that it feels strange now that he isn't around as much. How "candy" will no longer mysteriously appear on my refrigerator shopping list, that I'll be watching The Office by myself, and how the person who can always make me laugh, who keeps me honest and who knows exactly how loony I am and loves me regardless will permanently be two thousand miles away.

With raspberries and enormous bouquet in hand, I slid my sunglasses down, soggily headed back to my car and drove to Gabe's apartment...where I proceeded to fall apart. (I won't recount the event. I'm not an attractive sobber.)

Being the lovely gentleman that he is, Gabe wrapped me up in a giant bear hug, put on his shoes and took me back to the market, where he bought me the largest ice cream cone I've had in quite some time.

Rarely, rarely do I cry. Well, at least about my own life. I cry over movies, or about sadness in the lives of others. So, I still feel rattled by yesterday's massive tearshed. I'm at peace with being single and the end of our romantic relationship...I can't be upset about that. And I don't mean to throw myself a pity party--really and truly. But coming to terms with what all of this means for our friendship is leaving me a little watery and lost.

Are break-ups always this terrible? Maybe they're just terrible when they're with a wonderful person?


back to college: week 1

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Confession: I was so, so very nervous for my first class (Drawing 1-the bridge that any art major must cross before beginning more major-specific courses) that I tossed and turned the entire night before...and wound up only snagging about two hours of sleep in between reading, endless rounds of solitaire and a few cups of tea. Upon waking, I had the second-most-ferocious case of butterflies I've ever experienced, and started to wonder if this was all a terrible, terrible idea. But, to the studio I went.

Can I just remark at how very beautiful the studio is? It's nothing special, but it's so very tall, white, chilled, clean and beautifully lit. A perfect circle of drawing benches hug the walls of the room. It is almost as if it were designed specifically to be a blank canvas for the imagination. (Alright, that's exactly what it was designed to do. I know.)

In trots our professor...British, rather handsome. We proceed to share the information our instructor finds most important: name, handedness, astrological sign and favorite cultural experience. I glance around, and am suddenly aware that I'm the oldest in the class. The handsome Brit proceeds to fill two hours just talking about the creative process...and I remain surprisingly riveted (and not only due to the accent).

I'm excited. I'm intimidated. Insecure. Terrified that I might just be the absolute worst in the class. Beginning to clip coupons since my beginning art supply pick-up trip nearly cleared out my grocery budget for the month. (No one tells you in advance how many different types of pencils you must buy...) But still--beyond my anxieties and insecurities, I'm jazzed beyond belief to have the opportunity to learn, experience and create. Even if my creations are sub-par and uninteresting...they are still, at the end of the day, mine and an oh-so-important stepping stone in my little artistic journey.

Thank you for all of your back-to-school well wishes...very much appreciated! Also, thank you to the wonderful Carissa of The Lovely Dove for a sweet and thoughtful blog award. (I promise to play along once I get caught up, here in Blogland!)

And by the way, George is still blushing over all your hellos. :)


a new friend.

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Readers, say hello to George, a succulent who won my heart at IKEA yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately IKEA didn't feel it necessary to share what type of plant George is or allow him water and sunlight during his shelf-stay. After a little research, I've determined that he is from the Echeveria family. (Yes, I researched my 99 cent plant. Nerd alert.)

George, say hello to my readers, who have won my heart many times over. (George waves a leaf in your direction.)

Is it silly that a little 3" plant can bring me so much joy? Perhaps. But, hey...it's the little things.


giveaway winner...

Eek! This is going up much later than originally planned...today was a whirlwind. My apologies! So, without any further ado, the giveaway winner is...

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...the lovely Jessica of Living the Swell Life!

Not only do I have the pleasure of knowing Jessica in "real life", but hers was the very first blog I read regularly and one that I return to oh-so-frequently...it is jam packed with beautiful handmade items, recipes, stories and a brand new (handsome) baby boy. So, I'm pleased as punch to be shipping this little gift her way, as I know it will probably see much use! Jessica, e-mail me your address as wwrinserepeat(at)gmail(dot)com, and you should find a package on your doorstep shortly!

SIDENOTE: Please, please forgive this photo. I normally never attempt photos taken in anything but daylight, because...well, yikes. But today was a little limiting and at 9pm I found myself atop a chair, balancing over a sink in an effort to grab any last bit of light the day had to offer. As you can see...it offered little.

Thank you all for playing my little game...we'll have to do it again soon!


(closer to) conquering the art of domesticity.

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I was not blessed with patience. This can be seen in my multitude of craft failures and minor emotional breakdowns that follow crafting attempts. Once, after my fifth failed attempt to purl, I threw a knitting needle across the room in a fit of rage. (Not my proudest moment…but since when do I only share my proud moments here?)

But, I may have found a foolproof craft. Embroidery.

Yesterday, feeling a smidge bored and lonely, I picked up the Stitch-It-Kit, compiled by the lovely Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. It was a jackpot: inside I found an unbelievably down-to-earth instruction booklet, two tea towels, seven basic colors of embroidery thread, a needle and 35 vintage and retro-inspired embroidery patterns. Pluckily, I jumped right in…ironing on patterns, quickly picking up the split and stem stitches and even giggling at Jenny’s humorous comments in the instruction booklet.

And I did it. I embroidered. No breakdowns, no flying needles. And all within an hour or two! Now, I know it’s not perfect…that ‘l’ is a little wobbly, and my French Knot still needs some work. But to me…it’s proof that I’m not a complete craft-school dropout!

As a last minute bonus...leave a second comment on my
giveaway post by midnight tonight, and you’ll be double entered to win! (You can thank the hilarious Erin for requesting this!) Be sure to pop back in tomorrow...


true love.

Early this morning, after a 40-minute commute to college orientation, and while frantically flipping a campus map to and fro in an effort to find parking lot 29, I received this thoughtful text message from my parents. Dictated by my dad to my mom, I'm sure this took my dear, diligent mother at least 13 minutes to tap out on her phone...how sweet.

Have I mentioned that my parents are incredible (and more hip than I thought)?

(If you haven't dropped your name in the giveaway hat, please do so...I'll post the lucky winner on Monday!)




As you may have noticed, life has been a little roller-coastery as of late (wait--what?). I've been putting a lot of words on this screen. Paragraph after paragraph of WORDS and LETTERS and EMOTIONS (um, see here, here and here). So many of you have sweetly taken the time to stop by and read these nervous, giddy, anxious, jumbled and unsure thoughts. Some even drop a comment or an e-mail to say, "Hey. It's gonna be okay.". I know I've said it about five times, but I can't quite express how much that means to me. At the risk of going full-on cheeseball...it actually warms my heart. (I'm sorry. That's disgusting and I will now commence cutting that phrase from my vocabulary.)

Ladies, you all deserve a reward for bearing with me! Rough news: just checked my wallet and it looks like that won't quite be possible. However, here's what I've got:

Whether you've been reading for a while, or whether it's your first visit, leave a comment on this post by Sunday night and you'll be entered to win this a-stinkin'-dorable Anna Maria Horner apron! This giveaway is very, very warmly open to all (hello, Ireland!). I'll announce the winner on Monday, September 7th, so be sure to pop back in a week!

I desperately wish to share another long-winded thank you and spend more time persuading the friendly-yet-shy lurkers to de-lurk...but I'll keep this short seeing as I've written your eyes off for the last few posts. So, drop a little hello and this beaut could be yours!



the return of the prodigal blogger.

Oh my-very-merry-goodness...it's almost September.

I wish I had a humdinger (?) of an excuse for why I've been MIA in Blogland...like, I just inherited a multi-million dollar estate and have spent this time inventorying the property. Or I've recently married into royalty and have been positively overwhelmed assuming the new duties as Dutchess of Bedford.

Admittedly, the real reason is quite dull. Several weeks ago I had a panicked moment in which I realized how little time I had left before I officially began school, and was planning to spend most of the remaining weekends out of town. And since that day, I've been lost in wild attempts to check off all the big and little things I'd promised myself I'd complete before school began (like attempting to create a budget before my nosedive into poverty).

Today I checked off a big one: visit my new campus.

Nerding out with a teenage-like excitement about my return to college...

Until today, I had only been on campus once...and that visit was nearly three years ago to see a good friend. Should I have visited prior to planning to sink THOUSANDS of dollars into this school's educational system? Probably wouldn't have been a bad move. But seeing at it was the the only college offering an interior design major within a 90 mile radius...I didn't have many options. On top of it, my boss, a Stout grad, promised me that I would probably love it...which made me feel secure in my decision.

So, I convinced Gabe (who is a total trooper considering that our recent relationship change to 'just friends' allows him to wriggle out of these outings) to join me on a drive up to my new school today, so that I could time the drive and find my orientation building. My excitement multiplied tenfold, when I actually saw the campus: flowers and sculptures aplenty, several gorgeous grassy knolls, a handful of sweet brick-paved pathways, a clock tower that chimes on half the hour, as well as a few lovely late 1800's/early 1900's buildings. Unbelievably beautiful.

I realize that I'm beginning this journey a few years behind my peers. Sometimes I feel embarrassed, as if my current lack of degree makes me less intelligent...less valuable and very unaccomplished. My unbridled excitement about my return to college at times makes me feel so silly, since I'm wildly behind the curve. But, tonight my parents said again what they've reminded me so many times, "You do all things in your own time, and on your own timeline." And it's true. God bless my parents for their understanding, patience and encouragement. They really, truly are tops.

(And may I feebly offer a very belated, yet gracious thank you to all those who left comments on my last post? Thank you, thank you...a million times thank you. Revealing the truth about a rough life-patch was a little intimidating, and yet, once again, you were all so very lovely and thoughtful. You are also tops!)


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