Book List #2

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HOWDY, FRIENDS!

I hope you have had a lovely summer full of fond memories and much-needed rest. School has just started (!) in my neighborhood, and I felt the compulsion to drift back into a more routine schedule and even try some writing.

I appreciate your grace and patience as I’ve continued to embrace letting go of some of the most time-consuming parts of my day. That release included this blog. Two years ago I would have been in full-on panic mode if I missed blogging more than three days in a row, much less only blogging TWICE in THREE MONTHS. HAH.

This post is a continuation of the reading list I shared in January and updated in March. I’ve always loved reading but I found the opportunity to do so dwindling in the past years. I missed it. Since making reading both priority and reward in 2014, I feel like I’ve finally found a balance that works for me and my days.

I’m sharing the books I’ve read these past months and what’s on tap for future reading. Check out the video below for details and a short list!

Book List Part 2 from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

Books mentioned in this segment:
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger
Son by Lois Lowry
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

I would love to hear your recommendations for this year. What’s the best book you’ve read this summer?

Happy Reading!

Ginger

How to have it all AND balance it all. (Maybe not.)

Greetings, Friends!

Much has happened since I last posted – joy and pain, rest and activity, visitors, weddings, Easter celebration, losses mourned, books read, sleepless nights, starting a new business (more on this to come!), and delightful moments with a quickly growing 10 month-old girl.

For a large chunk of this spring my heart has felt a little dry and a bit distracted. I’m still learning how to do life as a work from home mom. In the past few weeks several kind friends asked how the balance is possible – raising a kid at home while working.

The truth is that there isn’t much balance going on.

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photo by Crystal Morgan Photography.

(Do you remember the last time I blogged? I certainly don’t. Sometimes I feel guilty for my absence/silence. Other times it doesn’t cross my mind. At all.)

I’m LOVING this new stage my daughter has entered. I treasure being a mom and I’m thankful for the ability to be at home with her. I really don’t feel guilty for not producing material on my computer because I’m too busy trying to keep up with a baby. I want to work, but not as much as I want to play with Norah.

I don’t wake up early for creative or peaceful alone moments. I don’t sneak out of the house in the evenings to punch out writing pieces or prepare for upcoming engagements. I never find myself slaving away at 11pm. I don’t know whether I’m lazy or just adjusting to reality. Pinterest is full of pins that tell me about the realization of dreams. Those dreams don’t play out in your sleep. They play out and pay out when you are willing to work. So right now I hope to spend the baby’s naptimes well and try not to get frustrated when she wakes up too early.

The question in every women’s magazine seems to be how to have it all and balance it all. I even downloaded a few books on the very topic but stalled out on reading when I realized the author wanted me to pause and journal about all the thoughts and feelings going on. It just felt like too much effort. I barely have the time to READ the book.

I don’t really know how to balance so the scales rest evenly.

But here’s what I do know-

  1. Seek God’s Kingdom first.
  2. Come to Jesus and He gives rest.
  3. If I want wisdom in all of these areas I need to get wisdom.

”The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7, NIV

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 

I need time in the Word and in prayer. I need it daily. Even as an artist who feels compelled to create and dream, my first need is the most basic and nourishing. My soul is thirsty.

I started the year reading a daily devotional, Streams in the Desert. It’s a lovely book, a compilation of thoughts from L.B. Cowman, written in the early part of the last century. The thoughts are deep, enriching and succinct. I told myself the single verse at the start of each page was enough to see me through the day, but really, I was still thirsty. And then I started doing my Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred Workout DVD.

Hang with me.

It’s a 20-minute workout that is super intense. She talks throughout the sessions and about the fourth time I worked out, something she said shouted to my heart.

“No. You do not get to do a 20-minute workout and take a break in the middle. It doesn’t work like that. If you want to see results, you have to be willing to do the work. You’ve been told to just take the stairs. We are feeding a culture of lethargy. You can do a tough workout.”

I want wisdom. I need wisdom if I’m to make it through any sort of day, pre or post having a baby. Life is complicated, challenging, and sometimes exhausting. So if my aim is gaining wisdom, the process includes time devoted to God’s Word for my daily fuel. It takes a different kind of effort and work.

God used a workout DVD to remind me that my lifelong pursuit isn’t to achieve some euphoric balance in my day. If I desire to see heart results: growth in my relationships, change in my character, and passion for the art I’m wired to make, I have to be willing to put in the work. Rather than balance- I want the scales to tip heavily toward Him.

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So the morning after my workout realization, I opened my Bible to the book of Isaiah. I fed Norah strawberries and cheese, poured a cup of coffee, and started reading outloud to both of us. There’s nothing quiet about our morning time. :) We read with vigor: “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns fo Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah…” (Isaiah 1:1)

Today we made it to chapter 37. I feel no more balanced than I did at chapter 1, but I feel as though my life is posed for a better alignment. (This post was super encouraging!)

Whether you are a student, employee, artist, spouse, single mom, working mom, retired dad, or volunteering grandmother- my encouragement for us all is to allign our hearts. Instead of worrying about balance, begin seeking after the Lord in His Word. “Open wide my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18

The beautiful result of quenching my soul thirst has been more peace, more quality time[!], and a stronger desire to create/dream than I’ve had in months. I don’t know if this means more blogging in the future or an extended “sabbatical” of sorts, all I know is what lies ahead of me today- and I’m at peace with it.

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Isaiah 26:12

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: My BF or My BFF?

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Dear Ginger,
Long story short: I asked a guy to a dance and didn’t know my best friend liked him. She was going to ask him! But I only learned that AFTER the guy and I  had a great time at the dance and decided to start dating. He is so sweet and is a great boyfriend.  My girl best friend thinks he has to make a choice between us now because she believes he could have had feelings for her if she asked him instead of me. She thinks maybe we should both be just friends with him, but if I break up with him now because of her I know it will hurt him. But if I don’t, I think she might get hurt. I’m so lost and confused… I don’t know what I should do. I’ve been praying so much about it, but every time I hang out with him I feel guilty now. I feel like there’s no right answer. Please help if you can!
-M

Dear M,

First of all – I REALLY feel for you. I hate that feeling of being in the middle of something, especially any relationship drama. Obviously both of these relationships are very important to you, as they should be. So again, I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion.

I have a group of high school girls who come to my house on Mondays for small group. I told them about your situation and they all agreed that this is a tough spot. I wanted to get their thoughts about the advice they might give a friend in the same situation. In the end we decided that the #1 first course of action is COMMUNICATION. This translates into some potential discomfort for a bit, but if you want to find yourself with both relationships, it’s the best thing. I think you have a few conversations in your immediate future.

1.) Pray for wisdom about which conversation to have first, that God would give you gentle words and a loving heart even if your girl BFF blames you for things. Sometimes we have to just listen and not try to defend ourselves- and that takes a ton of self-control. When someone accuses me of something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I want to lash back with excuses, reasons and a litany of defenses. The Gospel (the Good News that Jesus took my sin and punishment upon himself) reminds me that at the end of the day I’m a sinner and I mess up…  even when I don’t mean to. But it also means that I don’t have to defend my cause. I can choose humility and to lay down my wants and needs for someone else. Grrr – that can be really hard!

2.) Have a convo with you and your girl BFF. Start by praying WITH her. Then talk through the whole situation, tell her you want to hear everything from her perspective. Let her speak first. Once she’s had the chance to share everything, ask if you can tell things as you perceived them from your side of the story: “I wouldn’t have asked him if I knew you were going to, but I also can’t change the past. I can only move forward with the situation we have now. I value you and our friendship so much and want to do whatever I can to preserve it.” Also, ask your friend for permission to tell your BF what’s going on- if he’s in the middle of this situation, he deserves to know about it so he can respond however HE wants to. You two gals shouldn’t make all the decisions for him.

3.) If that feels intimidating, have the convo with a neutral 3rd party. I wouldn’t suggest someone your age. Instead consider asking an upperclassman you respect, a teacher, youth leader, even someone else’s mom. It’s important to have someone hear you and make sure you both are listening to each other.

4.) Keep your boyfriend in the loop. He should know what’s up! If he doesn’t know about your friend and her feelings for him, he can’t react/not react in a certain way. She will continue to perceive his behavior as flirting if he keeps acting the same way. This convo might need to happen with all three of you. YIKES. I know. But in order for your boyfriend to say how he feels and have your friend believe it, she might need to hear it in person. If this sounds crazy, consider bringing in the trusted person from step #3. Everyone needs to get everything out on the table.

None of this is easy, but it’s so vital for the health of your relationships. Drama happens when people ASSUME they know how someone else is feeling. Talk it out. Pray a bunch. Ask for wisdom. Hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Here are some other blog posts for you to consider in this situation!

Drama Free
Drama Free #2
Smokey The Bear
Losing a Friend
Strained Friendship

From dead sticks to new life.

 

I’m sitting outside on my back patio enjoying a gorgeous spring morning. The highs sit in the upper 70’s (SORRY REST OF THE COUNTRY!) and remind me why living in Arizona is worth any discomfort the summer may bring. The trees are green, a light breeze rustles the leaves, and a humming bird hovers near the bloom of my Aloe Vera plant. New life is all around me.

But out of the corner of my eye I can see which one of these things is not quite like the other. My failed potting attempts sit together on my patio. You might never have guessed that these brightly colored pots once held oregano, rosemary, dill, and even tomatoes as recently as last spring. The soil is dried and cracked and browned sticks poke out from the surface.

Do you know what would happen if I began furiously watering and fertilizing these pots for the next month? Do you know what you would see in those pots?

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[Read more...]

Reading List Update

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I know. It’s been dead quiet around here, but it has been anything but quiet in my house.

Who knew an 8 month-old would be so screechingly loud? Love my little ball of personality, but MAN she is a lot of work. I’m not saying anything earth shattering here, except to acknowledge that this ideal of “having it all” and “doing it all” is a pretty big myth. I can give 100% to what’s in front of me, but that means something else isn’t getting done. I don’t want to multi-task my whole life, I’m not very good at it. So my working windows are really when my child sleeps – but that’s also my window for cooking, cleaning, showering, e-mails, lesson prep, and blog writing. Something has to give everyday, and as you could probably tell, the blog tends to get the stiff arm. My goal was to write once or twice a week. I want to hold to it, so thanks for your grace in the midst.

That being said, I HAVE been making reading a priority this year. We turn off the T.V. earlier or keep it off, and spend more time reading. Thus, I have a quick roundup of the goods thus far. Check out the video update on the 2014 reads below and I’ll catch you afterward.

Good Reads from Ginger Ciminello on Vimeo.

So, here’s my original booklist for 2014 if you want to see the titles. I don’t know if I could really rank the books, because they’ve all been so good for different reasons. My husband and I are still reading “Dad is Fat” and I just started the Jeff Shinabarger book. So looking forward to vacations this summer to also get caught up on some fiction and memoirs!

What about you? Any good ones you’ve read this year? DO TELL.

Happy Wednesday!

Following,
Ginger

Why Waiting Doesn’t Have to Hurt.

 

I didn’t know how much my heart felt like it was waiting until the tears threatened to blind me on Sunday.

My husband sent me out alone (splendid!) for hours of writing and prep at a nearby restaurant. As I was walking out the door for my solo afternoon, I grabbed my copy of Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways. I ate my lunch in my spacious booth and turned to the pages I’d dog-eared in January. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I found it on the first page of chapter 9.

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The chapter title stood out from the page: WAIT.

“It is not important who does the planting or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

“Much good happens in the space where nothing is happening.” – Christa Wells

That’s all I read, the quotes before the chapter, and already my eyes welled up with tears. I didn’t even realize I was waiting. I glanced at the opposite page, the last paragraph of chapter 8 and read what I had underlined and starred earlier in the year.

“It is possible for us to uncover the art we were born to make and show up to release it into the world only to be met with silence, inability to make progress, and a seemingly impossible artless road ahead. The lack of movement isn’t because of fear or sin or lack of belief. Sometimes it’s simply God asking us to wait. – Emily P. Freeman

I shut my eyes and whispered a short prayer, “Why is it so hard to wait? Why does waiting hurt? Why can’t I trust you to make the seed grow?”

Six months ago I released my art into the world in the form of a book. I didn’t grow up dreaming of writing. I was much more interested in performing on stage. But the more time I spent speaking, the more the words filled my journals and soon my computer pages. The words came and so I wrote them out over three long years. . . loving and hating the process. . . wanting the wait to be over so people would stop asking how it was coming. I wanted the wait to be over because I didn’t know how to answer, I didn’t want to talk about it.

The professional talker didn’t want to talk about the art.

I was passionate about the topic, sure of the message, and yet, so ridiculously terrified to write and then release it to the world.

As the final steps of the publishing process came together, I was in the final months of my first pregnancy. The due date came and went and soon the waiting became frustrating.

NOPE. STILL NO BABY.

NOPE. STILL NO BOOK.

And then, within a period of six weeks – I could hold them both. Everything changed. And nothing changed.

While my roles and resume took a new direction, the person inside of me stayed pretty much me. Life was more full and complicated, but I still felt like  the twenty year-old version of me, so what am I DOING WITH A BABY?

I still wake up every morning and eat breakfast – granted it’s not always when I want to.

I still attempt to keep the house clean and organized. I meal plan, e-mail, shop, check the mail, and occasionally write. I also change diapers, wash tons of laundry, and try to keep up with the demands of an 8 month-old.

But writing a book has brought little to no visible change in my every-day existence. I’ll be honest: sometimes it’s really discouraging. I don’t think I was hoping for fame or notoriety. I didn’t need a post to go viral – but I still have that very human desire to know the art I’m making matters. What should surface as hope tends to overwhelm with fear. The fear pushes me to compare my book and platform with others. The fear demands I measure success in numbers and failure by a lack of response from every avenue I thought was a sure-fire win.

In those moments where I get caught in a whirlwind void of hope, when my waiting is full of fear, I throw my hands up and shout through tears, “It’s YOUR BOOK Lord. I trust You. . . but why in the world aren’t you doing what I think you should?”

“Fear says I’m going the wrong way. Doubt says I won’t find it at all. But hope? Hope says, Wait. It’s just a little farther. You are not alone and this is not just your idea.

My goal is a finished book – I call that my art. Yet there is a deeper work happening. I chase what I think is the art, but really that’s just the evidence. . . The real art is the invisible work happening in the depths of my soul as I uncover, sink, see, listen and wait.

The book is just the souvenir.” – Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

When I’m halfway through my third cup of coffee on my solo Sunday date, I slowly begin to look for the invisible work happening in the depths and the truth coming from those who love me in my worst moments.

David plays the purpose on repeat: If only ONE who needs these words reads them, it will have been worth it.
Carey writes to remind me that Jesus left the 99 for the 1.
My small group calls me to chase the Gospel rather than the idol.
My family members have all become book dealers. Who knew so many seniors in a retirement home would need a copy? Pretty sure my sister has copies in her trunk if you need one.
Friends who have bought, shared and encouraged.
And my Savior, who says the hope, the prize, is Him.

“As you stare at the stone of the hoped-for souvenir, remember the deeper work happening within you, where your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Emily P. Freeman

Waiting doesn’t have to hurt, because waiting is part of the prize. In the waiting I’m given a window into my heart and all that still needs redemption. Jesus reminds us in Luke 7 that “…he who has been forgiven little loves little.” I know God is using this season to show me the depth of my sin and the abundance of His love through the cross.

The feelings of disappointment are real and powerful, but, as Carey tells me, in the disappointment I am reminded of my appointment. My purpose to share Christ is unchanging. I must remind myself that in the small God sees BIG. The point isn’t for me to see results, it’s to offer my art, my life, and my waiting to Him and trust that He will change me in the process.

We WAIT in HOPE for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

Following and learning,
Ginger

Stress-Free Living

Today I’m happy to share some words by Donna Gaines and the post could not be more timely. Who couldn’t stand to hear more about stress-free living? I hope you are blessed by her words! I’m looking forward to reading her new study, Leaving Ordinary!

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What keeps you awake at night?  What puts a knot deep down in your stomach? What is it that you have allowed to steal your joy?  Regardless of what it might be, God wants to set you free from all anxiety.  You may think that is impossible.  But God has commanded us to not be anxious (Phil. 4:6-7). I have described this “stress-free” living in my new book Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God Through Extraordinary Prayer.

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The Bible tells us, we are not to live as “mere men” (1 Cor. 3:3 NASB). We leave “ordinary” behind when we meet Christ and begin to live the Spirit life that only He can provide.  This extraordinary relationship leads to a stress-free life. In Philippians 4:6–7, we are commanded to be anxious for nothing (nkjv). But how are we to do this? By trusting the One who has called us and is preparing us for heaven. I did not say that you would have a “pain-free” or “trouble-free” life. Jesus said just the opposite. He said, “In the world you have tribulation,” then added, “but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 nasb).

If He has overcome, we can overcome through Him! The Spirit of God has the ability to lift you above the circumstances of your life so you begin to see them from an eternal vantage point. That means taking the intrusive thoughts of anxiety and worry that seem to bombard your mind at times and refuse them entrance. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (nasb).

Instead of worrying, turn those anxious thoughts into prayer requests. Jesus has told us to “cast all [our] anxiety upon Him, because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7 niv). As we do this, we can claim His peace that will literally build a fortress around our hearts and minds. Then Isaiah 26:3 will become a reality: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)

(Leaving Ordinary, p. xiii)

Faith and worry cannot coexist in our hearts.  We either trust the Lord, or we lean on our own finite, human reasoning, vainly seeking to solve our own problems.  Sadly, our “problems” are often the proverbial “what ifs” that never actually materialize.  Our adversary, the devil, is always ready and willing to provide his annoying “fiery darts” of anxiety, that send our minds into tailspins of speculations and vain imaginations. With these he keeps us distracted and spiritually disengaged while simultaneously robbing us of the peace that Christ died to purchase. Fortunately for us, there is a better way!

Choose to believe – trust Christ to carry your burden as you roll it over onto Him through prayer.  Then His peace will be yours and you will feel that all too familiar knot in your stomach relax as Christ takes over.  This, my friend, is the stress-free zone Christ has provided for all who believe.

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Donna Gaines –  In addition to InScribed’s Leaving Ordinary: Encounter God Through Extraordinary Prayer Donna is the author of two other books, There’s Gotta Be More and Seated: Living from Our Position in Christ. Donna is also the editor of A Daily Women’s Devotional. She is married to Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. Known as “Mom” to her son and three daughters and “Nonna” to her six grandchildren, Donna enjoys Memphis bar-b-que, Alabama football, and anything that you can douse with salsa. Leaving Ordinary is available now.

Just Ask

I have 11 cousins on my dad’s side of the family. We spent a lot of time together growing up, so we are a fairly tight-knit bunch. I’m in the older bunch of kids, so I spent a lot of time “mothering” the little ones. Carter was no exception. I’m sure would be pleased for me to share the fact that I helped potty-train him in one weekend. He was one cute kiddo and only slightly annoying. :)

He had a habit of asking questions. Lots of questions. ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Ginger: Carter, look at the bird flying so high!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because it’s pretty!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because God made it that way!
Carter: Why?
Ginger: He’s very talented.
Carter: Why?
Ginger: Because He’s the creator of everything.
Carter: Why?

And on. And on. Lots of what, why, and how questions from that little guy. He was so persistent in asking.

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I think Carter was onto something.

In the midst of feeding a baby, staying connected to my family and community, dusting end tables, and writing – God seems to be echoing the theme of asking.

I’m memorizing the book of James and keep returning to chapter 1 starting in verse 5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Feeling utterly without wisdom in so many areas of my life — big dreams to small tasks — I began to ask. But often I ask like Oliver Twist with my, “please Sir, I want some more” doubts. I don’t really expect my baby to actually sleep through the night or see total change in a life, or wake to a picture of how the dreams could become a reality.

And then my morning reading of Streams in the Desert took me to Psalm 27:13, and I realize I have not placed my confidence in the one who is completely trustworthy when it comes to my hopes and needs. “I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Throughout my days the theme echoes louder and louder.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

 Ask confidently. As a toddler questions or asks for their juice, we can approach our Father and simply ask for what is on our hearts. This simple concept is one I had failed to fully grasp until God began pulling on my heart. Ask, Ginger. Just Ask.
From Paul Miller’s A Praying Life
“Let’s do a quick analysis on how little children ask. What do they ask for? Everything and anything. If they hear about Disneyland, they want to go there tomorrow.
How often do little children ask? Repeatedly. Over and over again. They wear us out. Sometimes we give in just to shut them up.
How do little children ask? Without guile. They just say what is on their minds. They have no awareness of what is appropriate or inappropriate.
Jesus tells us to watch little children if we want to learn how to ask in prayer. After introducing the idea of bold asking in the Sermon on the Mount (‘Ask, and it will be given to you’) he tells us why we can boldly ask. ‘Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’” (Matthew 7:7, 9-11)
 This book, A Praying Life, has been the final shout to my heart. (I  recommend it!) I’m encouraged and challenged to ask my Heavenly Father for all that is on my heart. Paul Miller reminds me  to not “be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

I knew in my head the promise of prayer, the invitation to ask and receive, but I rarely took God up on it. My prayers were timid. I often talked myself out of asking, reasoning that if God wanted something to happen, He would just make it happen. I forgot about the relationship, and His desire to meet me in prayer. He loves to meet our needs.

So now I’m asking. I’m asking for the baby to fall back asleep, the parking place to free up, the neighbor to come outside, and my day to be directed by His agenda rather than mine. There is so much joy and freedom to be found when we stop giving excuses and simply take our everything to the Lord in prayer.

Just ask.

Following,
Ginger

Friday Finds: Etsy Corner

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I know. The posts here have been few and far between these days. I apologize for the fact that blogging has fallen lower on my priority list. But if you are anything like me, you don’t really mind having one less item to read each day! Consider it a gift. You don’t want to read something slapped together in 15 minutes, any more than I want to offer out scraps. I’m working on some new posts that are taking some time. . . time to live and process the lessons God is teaching me.

But in the meantime, I have another Friday Finds: Etsy Edition!

I’m highlighting two shops today that have helped to add warmth and character to my very NEUTRAL kitchen.

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1. Field Treasure Designs.

I’ve highlighted this great shop before, and not just because I’m friends with the owners. The products are unique, quality, and definitely personal. They have a great Instagram feed that shows the ins and outs of what they are making and why they feel called to create art.

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Andrew and Brooke actually sent me these pallet pieces as a gift. I was so surprised and thrilled to finally have the perfect pieces for my tiny corner. My heart will always stay deep in Texas, but Arizona has my new roots. :) Head on over to the shop, Facebook page, or Instagram feed and pick yourself out something for your empty wall!

2. Be Small Studios

My friend Carey gave me this Abide print for my birthday last year and it has made such a sweet addition to the corner. My house is full of a lot of neutral colors, so any pops of brightness are a welcome surprise. Glance through the other work by Annie Barnett and you will be pleasantly surprised. I love the mission behind her work. She also has a website you can visit here!

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I just received two more pieces of art for my birthday that might be making their way to this little corner. The signs are also from an Etsy shop, so stay tuned for next week’s shop recommendations.

Happy Friday, Friends!

-Ginger

Stitch Fix: For the Win

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I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for clothes. I’m not hardwired to spend the day floating through the mall and just browsing. Two times a year my husband and I go to the outlet malls for the morning and stock up on any basic needs. That’s typically all the shopping for my year. I’ll pick up an occasional item from TJ Maxx or Target if I’m looking for something specific, but generally, that’s it.

I’m also the gal who if I like something, I will just buy it in 2-3 colors. I own the same cotton dress from Wal-Mart in both black and red. If you find a good $15 win, why not make it last that much longer? Hah!

This year is providing so many opportunities for me to speak to my peers. I’m honored for the chance to address Mops, Moms, and various women’s ministries in my area. More engagements also means a need to dress like an adult, at least occasionally. (I’ve told you before, a daily goal is to be out of my pjs by noon -> perks and curse of working from home.) A quick survey of my wardrobe and you would discover lots of solid-colored cotton tops and pairs of dark-wash blue jeans. Nothing wrong with those items, just not always ideal for my job.

Enter Stitch Fix: an online personal stylist.

The Stitch Fix Website will summarize the process better than any lengthy paragraph I could write! Here’s how it works:

1. Create your style profile.
2. Pay $20 styling fee toward your box. (You can use toward your final order – any of the 5 products you keep!)
3. Schedule your box.
4. Open you box and try on the clothes. Take awkward selfies in mirrors and send the pic to your friends and family members. (Each item also comes with styling tips on how to best wear the products.)
5. Once the box arrives you have 3 days to decide what you are keeping and what you are returning. The returns are all free and super easy: drop the prepaid envelope in any USPS box.

Other noteworthy pieces of info: If you keep all 5 items you get 25% off. The more info you provide on your style profile, the better matches your stylist will make. Most items are about $65.

My initial qualms: $65 is a lot for a gal used to buying at TJ Maxx. What if I don’t keep anything?

My answers: This was a birthday gift to myself (using $ from grandparents! THANK YOU!) – I was hunting items for speaking, pieces I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. Worse case scenario, I’m out $20. Best case, I find something I love.

Without further ado, here’s my box experience!

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My box arrived on a Thursday afternoon. I had until end of mailing day on Saturday to figure out what I was keeping and what I was returning. (Forgive the cell phone pic from the floor of my daughter’s room.)

The five items in my box were priced between $32 and $88. I liked the looks of everything and was very pleased at the various fabrics and prints. The dress was really the only thing I would have picked up off a rack and tried on. It just also happened to fit the best out of everything. I text my friend Carey and said, “I HOPE THE DRESS FITS!”

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Although I liked the vest and bird shirt, they were just too big. I’m not sure if it was the fit or if I’ve gone down a size, both just looked like big boxes on me. I also really liked the floral shirt, just not $58 like it. Had it been less than $40 I might have considered it.

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In the end I kept the necklace and the dress. I almost talked myself out of the necklace, I’m not big on flashy jewelry, but it just went so nicely with the dress. The work was already done. My husband told me to keep it just so he didn’t have to hear me say that I WISHED I’d kept it. The $20 styling fee went toward my purchase, essentially making the necklace $12. I can do a $12 necklace. :)

All in all it was a good experience. I didn’t get a speaking top, but I also hadn’t bought a new dress in almost two years. Well, I had, they were just maternity dresses. I would definitely do this again, I’m just going to wait for a credit to do it.

A credit, you ask? Why yes! If you sign up for Stitch Fix using this link, I get a credit toward my next box. (OR use this referral code: 3310293). Lovely, right?! That’s what I thought.

Here’s what I will do differently next time:

1. Update the Pinterest board I shared with my stylist to include exactly what I’m looking for: dressy tops. (DO make a board!)
2. Measure myself so I can better determine my current size.
3. Remove jewelry from my next box. (Check out the profile, you can be super specific!)
4. Request a certain color palate. (I own too much navy.)
5. Stay away from winter clothes – rarely is it colder than 60 degrees here. How often will I really get to wear a warm vest?

In summary: fun, unique experience. I don’t have the cash flow or need to do it monthly, but I might do this for myself each Birthday.Thanks for indulging this random post. So many people were interested in the process that I just had to share.

Happy Thursday!

Ginger