March 27, 2013

Bread & Wine: A Review

I had the wonderful privilege of receiving an advanced copy of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist in return for a blog review. Such a wonderful way to get the blog community excited about her new book. I couldn't turn the opportunity down.

I have been a fan of Shauna's for years. My friend Allison introduced me to Cold Tangerines several years ago, and it continues to be a book that I read and re-read almost annually. Bittersweet is also one of my all time favorites. I've never connected with an author the way I have with Shauna. Maybe it's because my closest girlfriends all identify with her writing and we have read her books and celebrated her book releases together. I was even lucky enough to help with a Bittersweet event when Shauna was in town and squealed a bit when I saw that she mentioned it in Bread & Wine. The event she describes, in the rolling hills, under a ceiling of twinkly lights, I was there.

I knew I would like this book. I've known that Shauna treasures food and community since I first became a fan of hers. It was obvious this was the path she would take in her writing. I just didn't realize how much it would challenge me.

I'm a perfectionist by nature. I like things to look a certain way and feel a certain way, and while I love having people in my home, I almost never open my door to a dirty house. I learned the hard way that I had to change. When I was pregnant with Crosbi and consumed in pain and sickness, I wouldn't let those closest to me love me or take care of me. I didn't want them to see my mess. Food was left at our doorstep because I made excuses for why I couldn't come to the door. Either I hadn't showered or I was sleeping, or anything else I could think of because I just felt gross and embarrassed about what was happening to me. I think about that time, and I'm so sad that I put up such a wall. Thankfully friends called me out on it and opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn't hiding my mess, I was shutting them out.

But it isn't perfection, and it isn't about performance. You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you're too scared or too ashamed to open the door. - Shauna Niequist

Not only did Bread & Wine inspire me to open my door, not just to friends and family, but to anyone I come in contact with, it also rekindled my love for cooking. Nearly each chapter contains a recipe close to Shauna's heart and she writes in such a way that you can almost taste each dish as you turn the pages. She combines my favorite things - great autobiographical writing and cookbooks. I thought she brilliantly intertwined the two.

To celebrate this book, I invited my closest girlfriends over for a Bread & Wine themed brunch. I used my best serving ware, lit candles and shared an incredible morning with my best friends. I served Shauna's Blueberry Crisp, Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs (both in the book), and her Pumpkin Banana Anything Muffins, which can be found on her blog. We drank coffee and mimosas and celebrated our friendship.

I so highly recommend this book. If you are looking for a great read, full of encouragement, this book is for you. If you want to be reminded of how to love the people around you well, this book is for you. If you just need to be fed emotionally, spiritually, and/or literally, this book is for you. Trust me.

He's here! God is here, and he's good. Every time we eat, every time we gather, every time the table is filled: He's here. He's here, and he is good.

March 21, 2013

A Playroom Update

Last July I wrote about giving our playroom a makeover. That was back when Crosbi was barely crawling and I had a little more time to do things like daydream about home decor. The actual decorating part has been a slow process. For one, we are on a super tight, almost non-existent budget, and two, my daughter thinks naps are for the birds most days. All that to say, we're actually making progress. We have quite a ways to go, but I'm happy with the direction we're going in. I'd say we're 60% done. We need a few more things on the walls and one side of the room (not photographed) needs some major work, but we're getting there and most importantly, Crosbi loves to play in this room which is all I could really ask for.

I've stayed pretty true to the mood board I created last summer.

I tried to avoid too much pink in this room. Crosbi's room has enough pink for the entire house, and I wanted the room to feel youthful, but not girlie necessarily. Todd and I hang out in this room too, so I didn't want it to feel like a nursery either. That's not as easy to pull off as I imagined. This room does feel very childlike, though, so we've committed to making the downstairs living room more adult friendly. Basically all that means is that the toys stay upstairs. Most days. Except for her food and kitchen toys. Those are in the "real" kitchen so that we can cook together.

I love giant letters. They're cheap and easy to customize. They are now displayed in three rooms of our home. I got the ABCs at JoAnn.

The striped curtains were a Pinterest project that could have gone very wrong. Todd and I stayed up late one night painting the stripes. I might have stepped in the paint more than once. Thankfully they turned out exactly as I had hoped.

The framed children's records was an idea I stole from an ex-American Idol contestant that I follow on Instagram. You can literally find inspiration anywhere!

While the bookcase is filled mostly with Crosbi's toys and books, it contains a few of my things too. Like this adorable wooden sign from my sweet friend Renee. She gave it to me for my 30th birthday.

Just a few more accessories to help fill the room. I already have my eye on a print from Etsy to put by the door and some other ideas for the yet-to-be-finished side of the room. It may be the end of the year before we finish, but I'm in no hurry. It's fun to add things slowly, as we get to know Crosbi's personality and interests more each day.

The best part of this room - it has gotten me out of my boring, all neutral tones mode. I am loving bright colors these days!


March 12, 2013

Link Love + Other Happenings

Since it's Tuesday,  I can't really title this post Monday Links, so this will have to do.  Actually, I forgot all about blogging yesterday because we were enjoying time with family on their last day in town. While Monday was a bit cold and rainy, Sunday was warm and beautiful and we spent lots of time outside. It was sort of nice having our warm day followed by rain. It meant we had to stay inside where we devoured the best kinds of comfort food, (my dad's biscuits and gravy will always be one of my very favorites) played board games, and just enjoyed spending time together. I never get tired of having my house filled with the people I love most.

While my dad was here, he made Crosbi the cutest A-frame tent as her Easter gift. We used this tutorial. I may have to make one for all my friends. 

Sometimes I have trouble determining my priorities. This helped.

I have always loved pop-up books. Crosbi does too. When she's a bit older, I'll have to add these pop-up books to her collection.

In which God does not want to use me.  I've never thought about it like that. Great post.

Emily does it again. Maybe it's just where I am right now, but her words are such an incredible source of encouragement to me.

This made me laugh. It also made me miss my old job, but mainly it made me laugh.

Happy Tuesday!

March 4, 2013

Written All Over Her Face

Todd tells me all the time that you can tell exactly what I'm thinking by the expression on my face. Apparently I'm not too great at hiding my emotions. My face gives me away every time. Thankfully, I'm not alone. It appears I have passed this trait on to my daughter. I can't get enough of her silly expressions!


Happy Monday!