Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

the front and back of our Christmas card this year :)

With fear of sounding cliche tossed by the wayside I'm just going to say it.  "Seriously, it's Christmas already?? This year has flown by!"  Alright, now that we've got that out of the way...

January 2011 began with Emmalyn being three months old, me staying home with her, and Chris still laid off from Hawker Beechcraft.  Lots of "family time" whether we liked it or not...  Most days we were Switzerland. 

I am so, so, so incredibly grateful to be able to stay home with Emmalyn.  I'm just as grateful for a husband that fully supports my desire to be home and raise our family.  This is what makes my heart come alive.  We don't live cushy.  We have one income.  But we're living in the purpose that God has called us to this moment, and that's all that matters.

In February, Chris graduated from the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Reserve academy.  He is almost done with his "field training", and will be soon be able to ride shifts on his own.  His heart is completely in law enforcement, and we are both excited for the day that he gets hired (either by Wichita PD or SC Sheriff) and paid for what he loves to do.  His enthusiasm and love for law enforcement is evident as several "higher-ups" have told him that they see it when he is out working.  

Ironically during the layoff, we had the chance to take the awesome Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class...  We chuckled at the end of every class saying "Yep, this will be a great resource to have once we actually have money to work with!" But now that we have a steady income, we are slowly working our way to become debt free.  The light feels far away, but it's somewhere down there at the end of the tunnel.

In March Chris was offered a job at a small aircraft company.  We decided he should take because it had benefits.  It actually paid less than unemployment, but insurance sure is nice to have around.

My baby sister got married in April.  The last of the four kids.  Crazy.  Because I'm pretty sure it feels like about 3 weeks ago when we were all eating macaroni and cheese, doing school in the dining room (we were home schooled for those who don't know) and tattling on each other.

In June, I (Ginny) started volunteering at our church's coffee shop, Jitters.  I continue every other week, and am enjoying taking on more responsibilities.  If you're local, you should stop by and see me some Sunday (it's in Asbury Church at 15th and St. Paul).  :)  Speaking of church, Chris took the position of "sound technician" for the Breakthru service at church.  It's a few hours on Sunday morning for service, but he enjoys it and is dang good at it - if I say so myself.  :)

I'm pretty sure it was June (but can't remember exactly because it's not written in my calendar that I'm looking through to write this letter) that Chris got a call-back letter from Hawker!!  Praise the Lord :)  He was literally on his way home from work [and was going to clean his car out to get it ready to sell] when I called him to let him know.  I could have kissed our mailman that day.  I restrained.  

July brought our five year wedding anniversary.  I can't honestly remember what we did, but it was nothing extravagant (dinner and a movie maybe?) as we had our nine month old sweet baby girl waiting for us to return ;)

August and September I filled my days planning and creating for Emmalyn's 1st birthday! Check out all of the fun we had :)

In September I started the process of switching to all natural beauty products.  I've had a really fun time with it, and continue to experiment with making my own products.  Here and here are a few of my trial and errors :)

Emmalyn had great fun being a peacock for Fall Festival this year, and I had great fun making her costume :)
As far as I can think, those are the highlights of our 2011...

Emmalyn is 14 months old now and keeps us on our toes.  "She wears me out just to watch her" is what my dad says :)  It's true.  She started walking at about 10 months and has yet to stop unless she's sleeping.  She knows a lot of animal sounds, and will repeat "da" if you say "dada" and "ma" if you say "mama".  She has always been an easy baby, and continues that trend.  She has most definitely and unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) inherited her mother's strong-willed trait.  I laugh as I imagine the future with laid-back Chris in the background and me and her forehead to forehead ;)  She's a friend to anyone most of the time, totally independent when she wants to be, but a complete mama's girl when the mood strikes. 

We continue to be in awe of God's abundant blessings poured in our lives.  "Blessed" is used so flippantly, but it's the one word that says it all.  It's been a year of many valleys, but many hills.  We've had some scary, not fun, "glad to not have to go back" times this year.  But coming out the other side we have our health, we have loving family and friends.  And above all else, we all have a Savior that came to this fallen and broken earth to show us His unfailing and unmeasurable love.

We pray that you will know blessings this season and this new year that is upon us.

Chris, Ginny, and Emmalyn

Thursday, December 8, 2011


is playing as I blog and browse other blogs filled with wonderful glimpses of Christmas...

The only light in my living room is that of the Christmas tree woven with strands of tiny twinkles, and the entertainment center garnished with berries, pine cones, Mr. Elf, and illuminated with a string of lights underneath old glass phone line insulators.  And the glow of the computer screen. But that kind of kills the mood I'm painting for you, huh?
My two loves are enjoying the peace of Dreamland...

I am overwhelmingly blessed.  I have a loving, hard-working husband who provides for us, and supports my desire to stay home and raise our child.  I wish all mommas who desired to stay home with their babies had a spouse who supported that desire.  I can't imagine if Chris didn't encourage me and want me to stay home and raise our children.  I have an amazing, healthy, hilarious, crazy dare-devil, mischievous, sweet baby girl.  I have an uncommonly close relationship with most of my family.  Wonderful friends...

But most of all, I have a Savior and Lord with whom I have a personal relationship with.  Who loves me more than I can even begin to imagine.  That's really hard to comprehend now that I have a child whose very being makes me love more than I could ever put into words.

Yes.  Truly blessed.  And beyond grateful.

Wreath "Wrea"-Do

I'm so clever, aren't I??  No?  Well alright.
If I'm not clever, then I can at least make over a simple red berry wreath that has sadly blended into my red front door for the last four years, right?  Right?? Alright then.

I don't have a before picture.  We all know by now that I jump into projects and forget about "before" pictures.  So thanks to an image search online, this is kind-of-sort-of what I had before, but picture it on a red door, not pretty weathered wood.
I wasn't about to part with my red door.  And heaven forbid I go spend money on a different color wreath, so I broke out the hot glue gun, some green ribbon, burlap (from my daughter's birthday party), and a metal "S" ornament (given to us our first married Christmas, *aww*)...
I cut wide strips of burlap about 2 and 1/2 times the length of the circumference of the wreath (or something like that), loosely stitched thick thread through the middle and pulled it to give it the ruffled/bunchy look.  I slabbed lots of hot glue on the frame of the wreath and laid it on my burlap circle.  Then went around and dabbed more hot glue in places that needed it.  My metal S had a string loop on it already (and I didn't want it to be attached permanently, I'm so noncommittal), so I just threaded it through a few berries.
Mission completion! ("Little Einstein's" anyone?) 

While you're here, check out my friend's adorable vintage ornament wreath she DIY'd!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Overnight Getaway

A couple of months ago there was a Groupon for a hotel in Oklahoma City near Bricktown (neat area downtown with shops, restaurants, bars, etc.) so I thought it would be a great little much needed (cheap) overnight getaway. Well it took a while to finally get it written in pen on the calendar since Chris has been required random overtime.  But we finally got it set.  The only thing he knew was that we were having "Family Time" and he couldn't plan anything Friday after work or all day Saturday.
I double and triple checked the hotel online, looked at the pictures, and was pretty excited.  It looked like a pretty nice hotel, and close to downtown.  My sister said she would take care of Emmalyn, everything was perfectly planned.

I packed and loaded our bags in the back of the car on Friday... Chris got home... Said hi to and snuggled with Emmalyn for a bit... Got in the shower... My mom came and got Em while he was in the shower... Which confused him - when he got in the shower she was here, when he got out she was gone :)

When he was ready to go, we got in the car and headed south.  I finally told him what we were doing after we were on the turnpike... That is, after him asking me every three seconds what we were doing, and not believing me when I said we were going to the booming metropolis of Rose Hill ;) 

About an hour away from OKC it started to rain.

We got to the hotel, and got checked into our room.  It smelled funny.  It felt gross.  I wanted to cry.  Chris got online to see if there were any other hotels nearby that weren't going to be a fortune.  But I had already paid for the Groupon, so we would have had to eat that money and shell out more for a new hotel.  So I went to the front desk to see if I could look at another room.  Perfect timing, because the manager (I assumed he was since he was in "normal" clothes, no name tag or anything) was right there and was super nice (as opposed to the front desk lady who was stabbing me with the darts her eyes were throwing).  Second room was definitely an improvement, so we switched.  We freshened up and headed downtown.  By this time it was 8:30 and we were starving!  Our appetizer was good, but I don't think you can mess up cheese fries, can you?  Chris liked his dinner.  Mine? Well, in a word it was disgusting.  I'm not anywhere close to being picky, but this was just gross.  Yes, I ordered meatloaf - which I never do unless I'm at Granite City, but I thought it would possibly be close?  Not even in the same galaxy.  My side of green beans was good.  My other side of sauteed mushrooms (which I love at Texas Roadhouse) not so much.  And the bill?? Oy vey! *Sigh*

It had stopped raining when we went into dinner, and I was praying that it would hold off until we did a canal boat ride through Bricktown - they had Christmas lights up and everything, it was so pretty!  Well, it started raining again.  No boat ride.  I had also hoped that we could just walk around Bricktown and enjoy each others company.  Next time check the forecast.  Got it.  *Sigh*

So we went to Bass Pro Shop.  Exciting right?  Well we didn't have much time before they closed, so it was quick.  As we sat in the parking lot of Bass Pro at 10pm, me not wanting to go back to the hotel, we decided to check out a movie.  It was either The Muppets or Twilight, and I really needed something light-hearted and happy, so we went to The Muppets.  Ehh.  Halfway through I thought to myself "I wish we were in Twilight".  *Sigh*

Not much else happened that night besides me praying I would fall asleep quick so I could stop thinking about the hair (not mine) I found on my pillow and wondering about everything that could be on the comforter.  Call me crazy, but this hotel made me start thinking that I should bring my own sheets everywhere we go from now on.  *Sigh*

The next morning as I'm getting ready to shower, I notice a puddle on the floor.  I really wasn't surprised, but I also didn't think I would utter the words "Hey Chris, careful of the puddle in the bathroom, the toilet is leaking" this weekend. *Sigh*

The only picture I took of the weekend :/
We set out to find a great little local place for breakfast.  The hotel offered a free continental, but I think you can guess I was more than ready to skedaddle!  Oh, did I say it was still raining? Like cats and dogs.  We didn't find a great little local joint, so we went to IHOP.  Fantastic.  Well, it had the potential of being fantastic, but our waitress was in her own little world that did not include waiting on us in a semi-decent fashion.  We are pretty patient people, but this was on the verge of ridiculous.  *Sigh*

After breakfast I insisted we get Starbucks since there was one nearby.  I'm not a huge fan, but I desperately needed it at this point.  Not the caffeine necessarily, but the familiarity.  Best $8 spend on the whole weekend ;)

Chris wanted to go back to Bass Pro since he didn't have ample time the night before, so we did...

We also checked out a new outlet mall... Well that is after we found it.  Love my husband (he was navigating since I was sad/gonna cry/just wanted to go home).  But there's a big difference between 7600 W. and 7600 E.  Like, ghetto/industrial area/different city difference :)  Yes, we will laugh about it later.  But it's not later quite yet ;)  *Sigh*

Best part of the day was when we got back home and I got to hold my baby.  Everything was automatically better :)  Chris said he enjoyed himself, so if that's true then it wasn't a complete disaster.  But I think a second try in the spring sounds good, don't you? :)

Au-Naturel: Take 2

Well it's been a few weeks since I posted about my natural product use, so I thought I'd update anyone that's interested :)

I'll be honest - in the week after I posted this, I had two hair meltdowns. Yes, I was back in junior high; teary because my hair once again had developed a mind of its own, and with a grimacing evil laugh pushed the "insta-frizz" button.  The second meltdown ended with my sister taking me to the "licensed professionals only" beauty supply store to find a remedy (she's the licensed professional if you're confused ;). We ended up with a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner for curly hair, and some hair oil with good ingredients :)  I'm learning that my hair is really dry. Like the desert is an oasis in comparison. So as much as I wanted to just use my baking soda for wash and apple cider vinegar for detangling, I most definitely need something with a deeper conditioner :)

I still use baking soda about every other wash.  I really love the way it makes my scalp and roots feel.  I always use some kind of conditioner, plus the oil after my shower, after my hair is dry, and at night before bed (the ingredients are better than some oils).  I still plan to try coconut oil, just keep forgetting when I go to the whole foods store.  So all of that to say, I'm still working on finding the perfect balance, but I feel I have made progress in my journey ;)

I still love everything else I posted about (vitamin E soap, almond oil, homemade lotion), and I'm really excited about some new homemade products that I'm testing out right now (one of which I made up all by myself, haha!). I'll let you know about them after I test them out a little bit longer :)

Have you have any adventures or misadventures while experimenting with going all natural?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Dropcloth Goodness

I have a hard time remembering to take "before" pictures of my projects. I get so excited and jump right in, and remember a picture about halfway through... Case in point:

Yay, no longer an eyesore!  I'd say $12-ish dollars well spent (it took a little over one 6x9 drop cloth).  Even better, no sewing... Just scissors and staples!  I love my staple gun almost as much as drop cloths ;)

Now to decide what kind of throw pillow I want :)


I heart crafting.  I love seeing something and being inspired to recreate it in my own way.  Pinterest has definitely been putting the bug in me lately.  Here's what I've been up to...

This was a bright orange extra large mens pullover hoodie... Added some darts, took out some fabric in the arms, changed the color with some black dye.  Now it's my cute "loungey" sweatshirt :) 

"Sweater pillow".  Also used the sweater arms for boot "sock tops" 
(sweater found at thrift store for $1.50)

I've been looking for a red cardigan. Not burgundy, not maroon, just red (and not spend $50).  
Found this at the Goodwill for $1.50.  New buttons were $2 
(the new buttons are the top ones, in case you were wondering; jewel-studded isn't really my taste ;)

I've recently discovered the amazing-ness of painter's drop cloths.  Cheap. Neural color. But can be dyed or painted. Already hemmed (awesome for certain crafts and curtains!) 

Bought a large comforter at DAV ($6), drop cloth ($10), and velcro ($.79)... So for less than the price of one store-bought dog bed, I made two :)
One thing I love about crafting is being able to make things exactly the way I want them.  I sewed the comforter so it won't fall apart or clump when it gets washed, and I put velcro on one of the short sides of the cover so everything is easily taken apart and washed.  I'm thinking about stenciling their initial on the bottom corner. What do you think?
 I think they likey :) 

Projects in the making: new art for the living room, and recliner chair reupholstered... Coming soon :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Non-Chemical Beauty Regimen

*Right before I posted this, I realized I had written "regime" instead of "regimen"... Oh the power of an "N" :)

**Sorry for the wordy post... Apparently I have a lot to say, but I'm quite certain I don't know much.

*** I in no way claim to be an expert or professional on any of the topics mentioned.  This is purely my own personal opinion and what has worked for me.

If you know me at all, you probably know that I like to go against the grain.  If someone tells me I need to do something (or not do something), I'll promptly do everything short of killing myself to do the opposite.  One could say I have quite the pile of noses due to cutting them off to spite my face.  This is not normal, I know.  Well, in the last few months, I've been weeding out all of the health and beauty aid products that most of us have grown up thinking you need.  I like to stick it to the man (especially when "the man" is society and the lies they ingrain in our pretty little heads about what we "need".  Do we need expensive hair products to tame our hair? Do we need body wash laden with chemicals that end up drying our skin, so we use lotion laden with chemicals that absorb into our skin?).  At Bible study tonight, someone commented on my hair being curly, and that turned into me talking all about my new-found love of natural products. 

As for my hair, I'm embracing what my perfect, all-knowing God has given me.  After years and tears, flat-irons and blow-drying, and idontwannaknowhowmuch money spent on products that claim to tame and maim, I'm becoming okay with my crazy weird curly/wavy hair.  Right now, I'm in the process of "no-pooing" [no-shampoo], practicing methods from "The Curly Girl Handbook", and "plopping".  I don't use shampoo, as it strips hair of its natural oils.  No bueno.  It did take a couple of weeks to detox from shampoo.  {Before, I would rarely skip a day of shampooing, just because by noon on the "no shampoo" day, the grease would be more than I could take.  When I was working outside of the home, I even ran home on lunch break one day just to wash my hair.  I did shampoo on the day of my daughter's first birthday party.  I knew I'd be in pictures and didn't want to look like a Crisco ball.  But the next day I was nowhere near the grease-level as before.  I think I even went 3 days before I cleansed again.  We're making progress here people!}  My routine as of right now (which I'm still working on), is wash my scalp with a 2T. baking soda / 2C. water mixture whenever I feel I need to - at least every other, but more like every 3 days.  On the off days, I still wet my hair in the shower, use conditioner, and comb through it with a wide tooth comb while still in the shower under the water.  I have been using Redkin conditioner for now until I find something else (either homemade or non-chemical).  I've also thought about trying coconut milk or coconut oil.  Has anyone used either and liked the results?  There are a few non-chemical conditioners I'd like to try, just need to make it to Sally's beauty and pick them up. I'll keep you updated since I'm sure you're interested ;)  At night I put a palm full of sweet almond oil (more on this later) on the ends.  I also use a cotton t-shirt for my hair after the shower.  Terrycloth is extremely rough on the hair and causes frizz and possibly breakage.  Next on my to-do list is get a satin pillowcase.  I've heard they are so much more gentler on your hair as you toss and turn at night. 

To cleanse body and face, I use a vitamin E bar soap, (around $3 at local whole foods store).  I also use this on my 1 year old daughter.  I very much dislike using things on her skin that would be harmful if swallowed.  Your skin is your biggest organ, gotta take care of it! *steps off of soap box* - no pun intended ;)

I've also ventured into making my own lotion.  If your kid ingests some, no need to call poison control.  This is the recipe I use, and have really liked.  But I'm thinking next time I'll have to try this one.  You know, just to keep things lively around here :)

I mentioned sweet almond oil earlier... I'm becoming a huge fan of the stuff.  Not only do I use it in lotion and in my hair at night, but I also use it after the shower sometimes (in place of or in addition to lotion, depending on the day), at night for face moisturizer, and added to my bath water for a nice soak.  What I've found so far is about $8 for 16oz. at the local whole foods store.  Love, love, love the stuff.  Totally worth the moolah in my opinion :)

I contemplated writing about deodorant, but decided I'm just gonna lay it out there. Stink and all.  Maybe someone else is struggling with the "I've been told since I was twelve that I have to use deodorant, so if I don't people will think I'm gross, but if I do it doesn't help" conundrum.  I rarely use deodorant.  I've found that my smelly factor significantly decreases by not using it.  No matter what kind of deodorant I use (and trust me, I've tried every single one out there short of a prescription deodorant. *sigh* This has been a battle ever since high school), I will still get damp armpits.  I've finally come to terms with this and have instead focused on controlling the stink.  In high school I tried a deodorant that claimed to close off the pores underneath your arms... Worked great, but the small print said "you may experience increased sweating in other places".  Sweaty hands, anyone?  Nice, huh? :/  Half of the million billion deodorants I've tried end up giving me hives, and the other half just don't cut it when it comes to the smelly factor.  So sometime this summer I just decided to stop using it all together.  I mean, I found a deodorant that doesn't cause me to scratch like a flea infested orangutang, but it seemed that it was amplifying the stink (think stink + metallic smell), and definitely not helping the wetness. On the days that I didn't use any if I did start to smell, I would just wash them with a warm washcloth and soap and would be good the rest of the day.  From what I understand about underarm smell, it's not the wetness that stinks, it's the bacteria - or something - that starts growing from the wetness.  I know, I know, just call me Bill Nye.  I still use deodorant when I'm going to the gym and know that I'm going to work up a sweat, because it seems to actually work then, but not as a part of my morning routine. 

So there you have it.  I no longer use shampoo, body wash, store bought lotion, or deodorant.  My skin and HBA budget are thanking me.  Most of the information I've gathered for myself is due to hours of online research, then trial and error at home.  If you've ever thought about going more green when it comes to beauty products, I say go for it!  What do you have to lose?

Have you had any experience with any of the above?  Any tips or suggestions?? I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Birthday Party!

For Emmalyn's party, we invited only family because just that guest list was 50 people - yikes!  35 people showed up, and we were busting at the seams! But we had a great time anyway :)

vintage doily wrapped over invitation with ribbon
cupcakes and funfetti fudge
goldfish and fall mix
Found this sweet little vase at the antique mall - sure to adorn future babies birthday tables :)


the littles got their own cups

another view of the tables
display of her weekly pictures - framed pictures of her "birth" day - vintage blocks spelling her name out
party favors - apples & pictures

a HUGE thank you to my Momma who helped with all of the decorations!
I couldn't have done it without you, Mom!!
party skirt custom made by Grandma Shields :)
welcoming her guests

people didn't pay much attention to the request on her invitation regarding gifts

sporting her new chef hat

Happy Birthday to our incredibly sweet baby girl!!