Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Unexpected Pruning

My yard seems to be teaching me lots of lessons lately. It's a fact that pruning is often necessary in order to help plants thrive. Sometimes it might even seem painful and unnecessary and unexpected. 

I enjoy working in my rose garden but am not a huge fan of weeding. A couple Saturdays ago I decided it was time to devote my morning to our yard and once I began I made a lot of progress.

The perfectionist in me wanted to get EVERY WEED! After an hour in the front yard, I turned the sprinkler on our Dahlias and Black-eyed Susans, (we don't have an in-ground system at this house) and went to the back to prune the rose garden.

I lost track of time and totally forgot that I'd left the water running in the front. I immediately noticed the river of water flowing down the driveway toward our garage door, but then I saw that our tall healthy Dalhia plant was snapped in half and lying on the ground!


Do you remember the Charlie Brown Christmas movie when the tiny pathetic decorated tree bends over under the weight of the ornaments and Charlie yells, "I've killed it! Oh, everything I touch gets ruined!"

Apparently, the thick, strong Dahlia stems weakened due to too much water.   How could I be so dumb? How could my efforts of trying to beautify our yard turn into such a disappointment?! I said naughty words and almost cried. 

Unfortunately, there wasn't anything I could do to "save it." My husband was very understanding and said to enjoy them in a vase and that they would return next Fall.

Too much of anything can be overwhelming. When my retail position I loved came to an end, my friends began offering lots of ideas about what I might do next. They shared their thoughts and words because they wanted to help, and yet I began to feel that too many voices were speaking to me and I wasn't feeling stronger. 

 I really only want to hear ONE voice. God's voice.

It might be awhile before I "hear" where God is directing me to next. My pretty orange flowers are now bringing me joy inside the house now instead of out front. 
My hope is to bring joy to something new...

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19 ESV

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Even though Christmas is a few months away, watching this will bring you JOY!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Let's Not Be "Pretenders"

I love our Rose garden in the backyard. It was planted by someone who used to live here and we're so thankful. This summer, due to our extreme heat, the flowers have been flourishing.
As I pruned them the other day, I noticed something...

Sometimes, what looks good or pretty on the outside, does not have strength and stamina on the inside. Some of the roses looked SO pretty and smelled wonderful, but as I cut them and lifted them off the branch, all the petals would drop. (Picture the petals falling in "Beauty and the Beast")

How do you tell a good rose from one that is dying? Sometimes it's easy; the color is bright and vibrant. Other times the flowers can trick us and fall apart the moment someone touches them.

Have you met someone that seems really pretty until you get to know their character? Or maybe a friend seems like they have it all together, but at the first jiggle of circumstances, they tend to fall apart?

Do you know someone who pretends to be a Christian? Do they go to Church most Sundays and talk like they believe in Jesus? Or... do they really love the Lord and because of that (despite sin and failures) others can see a beautiful heart?

Colton Dixson sings a song about this...."Let Them See You."

Beautiful AND strong; a woman of "substance." That, my friends, is how I would like to be described. OK, perhaps beautiful is a stretch, but maybe attractive with a beautiful soul? I am still learning and growing and hope others can see Jesus in me.

Look around. As you see the people around you, consider if they are authentic, or just "pretenders." Don't be fooled by appearance~look within to their heart.

"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1Samuel 16:7

Who do others see when they look at you?

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Happy House Anniversary!

Labor Day weekend marked our third anniversary of living in our current home! Being the "name everything" person that I am, originally I named it "Cloud Nine" and then renamed it "Carver Cottage." Do you name your homes and cars?

My three teacher kids are back in the classroom, mornings are cool and darker, and Fall is in the air. (Right now smoke is in the air from the fires being battled in Cle Elum, WA. Praying for the firefighters and people who have lost their homes.)

We've had a wonderful summer here in the PNW, and even though I love Fall, I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to sunny days and riding around with my convertible top down...

My rock-star husband has continued to beautify the yard, he built a shed and is almost finished upgrading our deck railing to metal and cable. Here's how it used to look:

It is ALMOST finished...

Here are some things I LOVE about where we live:

 The view from our deck:

Beauty on my walks:

Living near the park and Civic center:

That one winter day we got snow.

Hosting fire pits:

These two seem pretty content:

 Our kids enjoy coming home to visit:

Thor is loved.

My favorite room is still our Master Bath:

We love being able to walk down to community events with friends:

Last night we celebrated the end of Summer by having our next door neighbors 
over for a Labor Day "shrimp boil!" New Tradition!

Note to self: Do not leave leftover food on the table, and the dog alone in the house while you have dessert on the deck...

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Choose and scatter JOY!

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Friday, September 1, 2017

What I Learned This Summer

At the end of each season, I think back to all I've learned, and link up with other bloggers on Emily P. Freeman's Blog called "Chatting at the Sky." What a fun summer I enjoyed! Highlights included being with all my kids during Hoopfest weekend, deck time with friends, learning to eat healthier resulting in some weight loss, spending four days in Napa, and celebrating my birthday with my family in Spokane. 

Here are ten things I learned:

1. The Grammarly App should have been put on my computer years ago!

Better late than never... Grammarly helps me stop making grammatical errors when I write. It underlines words in red that are misspelled, or if I need to add punctuation. Who knew all those Happy Birthday messages I sent on Facebook needed a comma...

2. My dog Sydney is NOT a good neighbor, so it's a good thing we live where we live, and not on 5th Ave in New York City!

Have you heard of the Good Canine Citizen test that is required in order to live in many NYC condos? Check out this article. There are so many behaviors that are inappropriate in my rescue puppy. Some days, (like yesterday when our Vet bill was over $300 for her allergies and eye infections) I get frustrated. Then, I look at this face and remember how sweet she is at home.

Sydney has loved napping in the sunshine this summer (so has her pet Mama), but one day she skidded off the deck by accident. We're thankful she landed in the Ivy and didn't hurt herself! The new railing goes up this weekend!

3. Even when you know your child is about to become engaged, when it happens it is SO EXCITING!

Our youngest daughter's boyfriend (now fiance') had asked "the question" of my husband, and we knew the ring was in Nick's possession. That did not take away from the surprise of where and when it happened, (at the top of a mountain in Montana on a Sunday evening) and their JOY made me scream cheer and cry when they Facetimed us.

4. Be specific when you ask Google to find "Mother of the Bride" hats.

When my son got married I got a cute white "mother of the groom" baseball hat. It is now a traveling hat; I loan it to friends when their sons are engaged and then they return it and I pass it on...Think, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". Anyway, I googled hats expecting to see baseball caps with lettering but instead, I got this:

Hmmm...perhaps if the wedding next Summer was happening in Great Britain!

5. Phlebotomists can tell if you're dehydrated by how hard or easy it is to stick the needle in your arm.

When I got some blood drawn, my Phlebotomist asked if I'd been drinking enough water because my skin was "tough" to poke. Great! I suppose since I finished Whole 30 last month my water bottle isn't always by my side... (You can read about my Whole 30 journey here.)

6. Even six years after a fall on your front teeth, followed by a root canal, you still should cut up your apples.

I wondered why my front teeth have been achy this week, and then I remembered I ate a whole apple on the way to church Sunday. Normally I cut them up because my teeth are still SO sensitive due to that ridiculous fall that happened years ago...

7. Some people move before they pack!

We've moved a lot over the 34 years we've been married. I'm a list-maker and  gather supplies person, who has the boxes labeled and ready-to-go before "Moving Day." Some of my favorite Millennials do not prepare this way. When we arrived to pick up our now 28-year-old from her Sophomore year in the dorm, she'd barely started packing! When we arrived to help our son and daughter-in-law move out of their apartment and into a rental home this summer, they also weren't packed. The moves still happened. 

My heart is hurting for ALL the displaced people in Houston who were forced to move out of their homes due to Hurricane Harvey and flooding. Even if they packed a few special items knowing the waters were rising, no one could possibly be prepared for the devastation that happened. 

8. Kirk from The Gilmore Girls has two big roles in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies.

The actor, Sean Gunn, not only plays the Ravager named Kraglin, but he is also the motion reference actor for Rocket the Raccoon. (Bradley Cooper only does the voice of Rocket.) Sean is really talented at moving about on all fours, is most likely less expensive than Bradley, and his brother James is the director and a co-writer for the Guardians movies.

I really enjoyed the movie, and the soundtrack is SO good! "Alexa, play the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Soundtrack please..." Shoot, I have to be a member of Amazon Music unlimited. ($3+ fee a month)

9. My family is sort of famous.

My daughters and I peeked inside a Wedding Dress store while in Spokane last weekend. I grabbed the thick, free "The Wedding Resource Guide" magazine on our way out and flipped through the pages. All of a sudden I noticed familiar faces! What a fun surprise to see my son and his bride's wedding from October 2015  featured on two pages! Aren't they adorable? 

10. Something new is in store for me.
For the last four+ years, I have worked part-time at a baby boutique and loved learning about the business and meeting all the babies and their parents and grandparents. My sweet boss needs to be in the store more, so I have to move on to another adventure... I have ZERO ideas what my Fall will look like, but I DO know that God has a plan for me and I just need to trust, obey and wait. Are you in a season of waiting?...

Here's a bit of last-minute summer joy my daughters experienced on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho last weekend. May their joy be contagious!

Thank you for reading SJL, and please join me in praying for Houston. Our prayers matter as much as our financial contributions! 

In July, Max Lucado tweeted the following: "Our prayers may be awkward.But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do matter."

What did you learn this summer?

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Saturday, August 19, 2017

5 Favorites For Saturday...

Happy Weekend Friends! Summer is winding down here in the PNW and local schools start back on August 30th. As a former teacher, and Mom of three teachers, I know how much work it takes to prepare a classroom and lessons. Sending up prayers for all students, their parents and faculty; from Preschool age up through College!

I wasn't able to post yesterday so here's my list of favorites a day late:

1. Favorite Local Gift Shop: besides Charlie Barnes Kids, where I work...
I spied the adorable mug in the photo above at one of my favorite gift stores in Tacoma called Compass Rose. If you've never been, go! It's in the Procter District. I often wish I could Text Thor and tell him to COME HOME FOR BEDTIME!

2. Favorite New-to-me Beauty Product:
When I had my facial a couple weeks ago, my Esthetician told me I needed to use a gentle exfoliant three times a week. I found one that smells delicious, is gentle, affordable and all-natural. Fruit enzymes are good for skin too!
3. Favorite Sort-of-Healthy Snack:
Since finishing the Whole 30 program, I've continued to be mindful about what I eat. I saw the Kettle Avocado Oil and Himalayan Salt Potato Chips and gave them a try. Yum! When you want a salty treat, try these!

4. Favorite Inexpensive Find (Especially for Chi Omegas!)
My college sorority symbol was owls, (CHI OMEGA FRATERNITY) and I still love them. I found a $9.00 owl top on the SHEIN website and it is as cute as it looks in the picture. I decided to send it to the dry cleaner like the tag recommended. They have some other fun owl products too. I need to give a shout out to my undergraduate chapter at Ball State. Phi Epsilon was given national recognition as a Chapter of Excellence! Way to go Sisters!!

5. Favorite Worship Song:
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and a song is in my head. This is one of those songs... "O Come to the Alter" by Elevation Worship from their album entitled "Here as in Heaven." Such a great message and beautiful tune!

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading SJL and remember to extend love and grace to those around you.

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sip, Sunshine, Smile, Repeat: Three Days in Napa

"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou."
Omar Khayyam

Napa Valley California is our "happy place." Here's a recap of our long weekend:

I flew down to the Oakland Airport on a Thursday afternoon. My husband got a rental car and had arranged dinner reservations at Townhouse Bar and Grill in Emeryville, so we could let the city commuter traffic thin out while we ate. First time eating warm bread in 30 days... We split the Lamb salad and Prime Rib special. Our first night we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Vallejo. This choice was due to availability and using "points."

Day One: Calistoga and St. Helena 
Our breakfast was fruit and a Lara bar and we headed up to our first tasting in Calistoga.

Sterling Vineyards was a fun experience. (The $32 basic fee included the aerial tram, a self-guided tour of the lower portion of the winery, scenic views and a tasting of current release wines.) There were four stations ending on a sunny patio. (Make a reservation ahead of time.) 

Next we headed to Main Street in downtown St. Helena. There are so many cute boutiques to explore. Some of my favorites included Napa Valley Vintage Home, Fideaux, and Allison in Wine Country.

I highly recommend you make a reservation for lunch at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. The grounds are beautiful and our food was unique and delicious. We enjoyed Heirloom Tomato salad, cheddar biscuits, little meatballs with tomato marmalade, and split a pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw, avocado and a fresh farm egg... We should have stopped after the meatballs! Mike ordered the “BIG EASY” Beignets with bourbon caramel sauce for dessert. Should have ordered the chocolate cream pie. Their Farmstead wine was very good and it would be a fabulous place for a wedding!

Next we checked into the Shady Oaks Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast for our second night. The hosts treated us to a wine and cheese hour, and we even played Boucce ball. 

We headed to the Rutherford Auberge du Soleil Resort for drinks at the patio Bistro Bar and to watch the sun set. Couldn't afford the over $1000 hotel room, but we could enjoy their view! Get the pommes frites with aioli! My "Sidecar" was delicious and we met an adorable group of girlfriends from Chicago on a Bachelorette trip. 

We shared a late pizza at Tra Vigne Pizzeria

Day Two: Eat, Drink and be Merry in Yountville and Napa
After a delicious breakfast at our Inn (baked apples, waffles and sausage, lots of coffee and juice), we checked out and headed to Yountville.

We explored the shops at the V Marketplace. Afterward we chose to do a tasting at Hope and Grace. We walked in without a reservation, and had received a 2 for 1 tasting coupon at the Chamber of Commerce. The name drew me in...the staff and wine were AMAZING! They were very generous and gave us samples of MANY varieties. How fun to talk with wine servers  from Bulgaria, and Wales! We loved the Pop up piano in the middle of the community center in this cute town!

Rock "mushroom garden"

At the recommendation of one of our Inn housemates, we called the Vincent Arroyo winery to reserve a time slot. There was no tasting fee and if you're a dog lover, you'll love the Labrador.

We checked into our third and final hotel, the Napa Marriott, and enjoyed some lounging poolside and listening to live music.

Dinner Saturday night was at Bistro Don Giovanni. If you love Italian food, go here!

Day Three: Bubbles!
We popped over to the Oxbow Public Market after scarfing down a donut from Happy's Donut Tree Too. As good as Pao's! Cash only...Fun to walk around, but we were ready to head outside.

Where to next? Why MUMM of course! We'd been here six years ago and it's one of our favorite spots. SO beautiful and such delicious sparkling wine! We sat in the vineyard patio and enjoyed the Blush and Cuvee'. The Reserve Pino Meunir, which is only available on site was our favorite!

Just like our last trip, six years ago, we ended up at the Rutherford Grill for lunch. Bubbles, Focaccia Bread, BBQ Ribs and Key Lime Pie!

 Our last tasting was at right next door at BV. A nice young man named Beau served us.

A few tips if you're planning a trip: 

  • Book places to stay WAY in advance before prices increase and Inns and Hotels fill up. Location matters.
  • Get winery recommendations from friends, but be flexible! It's all good!
  • Make some reservations ahead of time for both restaurants and tasting rooms.
  • Drink LOTS of water in between sips and pack some protein snacks.
  • I was comfy in sundresses and only needed a sweater for the morning "Marine Layer."
  • Drive safely and defensively...
  • Don't forget your sunglasses and "readers" or you'll have to buy them at the airport!!
  • Most hotels will ship any purchased wine home for you for a nominal fee.
  • Be open and willing to engage in conversations with the people you meet.
  • Expect to have FUN and be blessed by the beauty of God's Wine Country!
"Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book, and a good friend." Moliere

As I re-read ALL the food I ate over our four days in California, it's no wonder I gained five pounds! The Whole 30 authors would shutter if they knew how we reintroduced ALL the food groups ALL at once! Time to cut back again... Even so, I can't wait to go back!

Foggy San Francisco

Thanks for reading "See Jane Learn!" 

In His Grip,
xo Jane