Our Trip to Disney

Today is my first day back at work since we left for vacation.  Coming back to real life is rough, amiright?  Especially coming back from a place where literally everything is focused on you forgetting about the actual world you live in so that you focus on all the entertainment in front of you.  Not gonna lie, I love it.

I also love the first day of vacation.  I love taking in all the smells and sights. I love thinking about how we have the next several days to just be together and away from reality.  The second we got to the hotel, we threw our swimsuits on and jumped in the pool.  After the kids got their pajamas on, my parents volunteered to watch them while we went on a double date with my sister and her husband.  Beer and so. many. sweets in Disney Springs.

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The next day,  we hit up Magic Kingdom.  That’s kind of a must for us to do first.  Allll the character meet and greets.  And more sweets.  That evening we headed to my favorite park for sushi in Japan – Epcot.   I love Epcot.  I love getting to walk around the World Showcase and smell the different foods coming from all the different countries.  They do such a good job of letting you feel the vibes of each country.

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The next day was my favorite day this trip – Animal Kingdom.  It started with Mickey Mouse waffles and included spiked chai, a safari, an impromptu dance party in the street, popcorn, rides, and Rainforest Cafe. And, you guessed it, more sweets and character meet and greets.  I started to sort of be over waiting in the lines to meet the characters.  But then I see this face and it’s worth it.

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On the third day, we went to Epcot.  This day was also Nora’s birthday.  We went to a Princess breakfast and strolled around the World Showcase.

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We asked her what she wanted for dinner for her birthday and she said “I want a cheeseburger in Magic Kingdom because it’s magical there.”  Off we went back to Magic Kingdom for a magical cheeseburger (she changed her mind last minute and got magical mac and cheese instead), more sweets, and a firework show.

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Our last day was spent at Hollywood Studios.  It started raining around lunch, so we went back to the hotel, but not before we met Olaf, Princess Sofia and Jeff rode Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

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Disney is one of those trips you have to go into knowing that some parts of it will be stressful.  And we did have some of those moments.  Waiting in lines is hard, crowds are hard, spending $10 on a kids meal is hard.   Other than those things, though, it’s almost magical.   So many memories.  I will be treasuring them and living off of them for a while.

 

-rach

spring style wishlist on a budget

Last week was spring break and I wish I could say I spent it sipping fancy drinks on the beach, I instead spent it on the floor of my bathroom potty training my 2 year old.  I just want to thank all of you who did travel, I did spend my time living vicariously through all of your lives while eating more than my fair share of Easter candy.

_it's been a long week._

 

I did however get the closets thinned out (very much ignoring the soon to come snow), I zealously pulled out all of the sweaters and bulky coats taking up precious closet space.  I also created a spring wardrobe wish list.

I don’t want to, nor am I in the position to, break the bank, but who doesn’t need a little color added to their closet.  Here are some of the drool-worthy pieces I have my eye on to brighten up my closet and hopefully mom life. (I’m kidding, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…except maybe a beach vacation.)

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Tops & Dresses
Madewell knot front t shirt // Madewell tee’s are my current fav and I love the tie knot trend going on here.
Express ruffle crop top // This one I actually already splurged on and wore to date night last weekend. (see below). Everyone needs a little gingham in their life.
Leith ruched tank dress // This was actually a Racheal recommendation and now I am obsessed.  I have heard it fits a little tight so I will probably buy this one size bigger to be a little gracious to the mom-bod that I am working with. Ruched tops are going to be big, trust me.
Jeans
ASOS High Waist Skinny Jeans // Light blue wash, high rise, and a tight cut through the leg for a sleek shape. Umm, yes please.
White Distressed Skinny Leggings // I love this destroyed style, it’s pretty much what my kids would have done to my jeans any way.  White jeans just beg for warm weather.
Accessories
Rose Gold Bar Necklace // I currently wear the heck out of this rose gold bar necklace.  It looks good layered with a rose gold choker and minimal studs.
Peach Tassel Hoop Earrings // these are a fun little pop of color.  I feel like they ask for compliments.
Outerwear
Denim jacket // I love to layer jackets with both tops and dresses.  They’re flattering and hit in all of the right spots.  This is a good denim and the denim-on-denim look is growing on me.
Abercrombie Fitch mac coat // This is the “extra” piece, and not under $100, but this one is too darling with is blush pink goodness. A good, practical splurge.
Shoes
Express cheetah print loafer // Add a little flare to your tee & jeans.  Besides the fact that these are slip ons, I’m digging the cheetah so much.
Saks Fifth Avenue suede d orsay flat // I have been looking for a good cognac flat.  I’m all about the open sides and the small platform to these.  Such a good everyday shoe.
Open Toe Platform Wedge Heels // these are a fun date night wedge.
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 For now I styled my gingham top this weekend with a jean jacket, distressed jeans, block heels and the peach tassel hoops.  All ready for date night, making a long week so worth it.  If you’re really into gingham, check out this post on all things gingham.

easy date night outfit

Happy Spring!
-Erin

My Number One Travel Tip

Two years ago my family met my parents and my sister and her family in Disney World.  My parents are very generous and wanted to take us all – mainly to “watch Nora’s face when she  meets all the princesses.”  It was both magical and stressful.  There were countless meltdowns and temper tantrums.  There were also memorable moments, spiked chai, and fireworks.  Now that my sister’s little boy and mine are a little bit older, we are going again.  Nora will turn seven while we are there, and my parents wanted to celebrate her birthday there.

I am a trip person.  I would say a travel person, or a traveler.  But, let’s be real, “traveler” invokes the sense that the person doing the traveling is flying over large bodies of water to get to their destination and the destination usually includes people that speak a different language or sound very different.  I’m not yet a traveler, because, well, dollar bills and children. 

We do however, make 700 mile trips down to Mississippi to visit my family about three times a year.  I’ve noticed a rhythm to those trips.  About two weeks prior, I get a low grade panicky feeling.  That manifests itself in a myriad of ways.  I begin to think everyone in my family is sick with every illness I’ve heard of in the past few days.  To be fair, we’ve had quite our share of pink eyes, stomach bugs, RSVs, colds, flus, etc. on these trips.  I also begin thinking that our house will not be clean enough or that some force of nature will destroy our house while we are gone.  To be fair, we’ve had mice take shelter in our house as well as had our basement flood costing over 10k in damages while we’ve been gone.  All that being said, I feel like I can never prepare well enough for our health and home safety when traveling.

So those are all my feelings when I am going to my parents’ home.  Add those feelings to the feelings of planning to take my two young children to the “happiest place on Earth”.  So. Much. Pressure.  And it’s not only taking my two young children to the happiest place on Earth.  It’s also seeing my sister and her husband and her little boy who also looks just like Eli and my mom and my dad – all of whom I see about six times a year.  Last time we went, I was a little confused when I got home because I felt slightly guilty.  I couldn’t figure out why until I thought for a while and I realized it was because I had just spent six days around everyone and had no meaningful face to face conversations.  That’s just not the focus of the trip – which is okay and a little weird, because we usually try to cram in all the words when we see each other. I’d spent the whole time staring at the kids’ faces to take things in or managing meltdowns.  It was both magical and stressful.

Going into all of it a second time, I’m armed with my number one tip for traveling with kids. Low expectations.  Like, real low.  I have found that having low expectations on trips usually leads to more memorable experiences.  We will go on this trip armed with every snack the kids will eat, all the Mickey Mouse shirts, fast passes, and character meal reservations.  We will also go on this trip armed with perspective and low expectations. _I like Cinderella - she has a good work ethic and she likes shoes._- Amy Adams (1)

Having low expectations doesn’t mean we aren’t excited.  It just means our joy isn’t going to be found in the happiest place on Earth. I fully expect to find some happiness while sipping wine in Italy or eating my Mickey Mouse pretzel in Magic Kingdom.  I expect to find some happiness in watching the kids meet princesses or watching the terror on their faces on Splash Mountain.  I also expect to see tons of eye rolls and tears. While we will all find things we want and enjoy there, we won’t find anything we need.  

I do love preparations.  I love making lists and packing the “park backpack” and planning what we will eat.  But my favorite thing to prepare for, on any vacation, is what I will wear.  I LOVE vacation outfit planning.  Disney World outfit planning was quite the puzzle because the number one concern is comfort because you literally walk all day.  Don’t worry, though.  I figured it out.  I planned a few outfits that I feel like are a good cross section of style and comfort.  I found some fun vintage style Disney shirts and I’m pairing them with shorts and comfortable but cute shoes.  Topping it all off with some cheap and fun sunglasses.  I’ll be packing the rose gold circle necklace along with some rose gold studs.  No clue what the kids will wear (I kid, I kid).

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mickey mouse shirt

jean shorts

sunglasses

shoes

_I like Cinderella - she has a good work ethic and she likes shoes._- Amy Adams

 

45 Minute Boot Camp Workout and Living Healthy-ish

I feel like part of growing up is having periodic “come to Jesus” moments with yourself.  About three years ago,  I had one of these moments.  I was annoyed that my jeans felt tight and I was annoyed when I saw other women eat things like pizza and sweets and it SEEMED like they never gained a pound.  I was grumpy and dissatisfied.  Then, out of nowhere, clarity came.  It sounded like this, “Racheal. This is literally your body.  You are wasting precious time comparing.  Accept and love what you’ve got.  If you want a fitter body, you’re gonna have to work for it.”   Here’s the deal.  I have a slow-ish metabolism.  I’ve not had that medically diagnosed or anything, but I just know.  And all those movies and shows where the cool girl is the one who can eat cheeseburgers all day and all the people love her because she’s cool and happy and not eating salads always used to make me eyeroll so hard.  But during my come to Jesus with myself moment, this weird thing happened where I realized that the hurdles I have to jump through to be a fitter and healthier version of myself would actually also change me for the better on the inside.  I could complain and stare at junk food all day and compare, or I could own who I was and the body I’m given.  And to me that meant changing how I ate and working out.  All the times I’d started in the past had lasted a few weeks and then just dissolved.  But this time, it was different because it started inside.  It was like I’d been given this body so that I could learn consistency and discipline in a real way.  Those things don’t come naturally to me, so it was like a lightbulb went off for me.  This was how I was going to learn to be more consistent and disciplined, which is more important than how I look, because those qualities trickle into every other area of my life. Since I started this whole journey, I’ve developed a love for exercise and eating healthy (read healthy-ish, meaning I also still love wine and Mexican food, among other things).

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My workout essentials are cute workout clothes, bluetooth headphones, and a good playlist.  I got an Apple Watch for Christmas, and while it’s definitely not necessary to have a fitness tracker to be fit, I have enjoyed seeing (read “ruthlessly competing with”) my sister and other friends’ workouts on the Activity app.  I also love being able to throw on a turban to cover up all the craziness happening in my hair after working out.

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I am in no sense of the word a nutritionist and I’m also not a fitness trainer.  These people work very hard and are much, much smarter than me in their specialties.  But I thought I’d share with you a workout that Erin and I did last week that I’m still sore from as I’m writing this.

Do each exercise for 1 minute, then rest for 20 seconds. (1)

I burned (according to my Apple Watch) 425 calories during this workout, so I felt like it was a good one!

 

-racheal

i think it's adorable they're putting jokes on the side of snacks now. like listen to this one_serving size_ 3 cookies

How to Style a Floating Shelf

We have been stuck inside this week as the “spring” weather here in Missouri has had its emotional breakdown.  Getting that cabin fever, I decided it was time for a little change. When it comes to decorating, I will be the first to admit that I am no expert.  But, I do love it!  I’m a firm believer that switching things up can add a little life back into a room, even if just to a small part of the room.  For something simple and quick, I usually start with a focal point.  We have this floating shelf in our living room that I decided that needed a little brighter update.  Maybe it will inadvertently bring on that spring weather.

SONY DSCWhat makes a shelf really cool is that it’s a collection of things.  In a way, it lets people see who you are: what interests you, what inspires you, what encourages you.  It’s really an act of sharing.  I’m inviting you in and in exchange you get to see a little glimpse of who I am.

SONY DSCHere are some guidelines I follow when collecting items for decorating a shelf.

Something inspiring:

The mountain range photo frame was given to me by my brother-in-law for Christmas. It says “An Epic Adventure” which tells so much about my hopes for how life can be, making the everyday our adventure. 

DSC02830.jpgSomething meaningful:

Actually, the shelf itself was a gift from my dad.  I go heavy on the meaningful guys.  (But, you don’t have to.) The older painting of trees behind it was a yard sale find with my grandma (who shares my love for collecting things), so it will always be special to me.  The photo in front is our family (taken by my sister in law). I love how,in this photo, we are all holding hands.  We look strong.

Something living:

I am quite “extra” when it comes to plants.  My friends sometimes call me a crazy plant lady but you just gotta own it.  I love the tropical leaves on this plant, defying the weather outside.  I also love the height that it brings to the collection. 

DSC02826.jpgSomething with texture: 

My sister gave me the pot for the plant. The pottery on this shelf blends in well with the colors and ads a fun texture with its cement material and its free form patterns.

Something Fun:

I am loving this llama trend right now.  I found a bright little pink and yellow llama table place card holder at Pier one and took her right home.  I removed the wire for the card and now she lives here on the shelf.  She makes me smile.

how to style floating shelfTips for Styling

Layer

I tend to like the more asymmetrical looks.  I stacked the 4 frames more toward the left side of the shelf.  You don’t have to play by the rules.  If you like the way something looks, then it’s right.  I kind of love doing weird things and this shows through the feather print in the back on it’s side. In this case I like the height that this print brings and how the horizontal gold line almost frames the corner of the items on the shelf like a display.  Its gold & white coloring also compliments the round plate on the other side, bringing the whole shelf together.

Compliment Colors

I usually try to stick within a color palette of maybe 2-3 colors that really go well together and blend well into your room.  I have hints of different shades of blues throughout my living room.  I tried to bring in a little of those to compliment the surroundings.  I also added in a pop of pink with the candle and the llama to tie in my favorite sofa pillow.  A little pop of color goes a long way. 

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This is the part where I like to stand back and look at it.  Walk around the room.  Leave the room and come back.  Move, take away.  NOTHING is permanent.

In the end there are no right ways to spruce up a shelf.  This is your house.  You’re going to be the one who sees it on the regular; show off and let it be an expression of you.  

Invite others in, be you. 

Check out this styled look 

minimal boho shelf

Getting in the Frame

We had our last (for now) photo shoot with Lexi at Brighton Road Photography at the beginning of February.  She’s been taking our pictures since August 2014.  She gets us.  She knows our brand almost as well as us and can make it come to life with her art.

Our first shoot with her was over-the-top-amazing. We had a horse and a couch, outside, by a lake.  There were outfit changes and on site hair and makeup.  There was even a person with a clipboard.

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Over the years, the shoots have been near the Missouri river.

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At an art museum.

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At Lexi’s house.

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Outside in downtown KC.

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At the local coffee shop.

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On a roof in KC.

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In an office building.

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And in our homes.

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The last shoot we did was in Weston, MO in a photography studio inside of a barn.  This last shoot focuses on our rose gold line.  We constantly strive to create pieces that easily fit in a busy woman’s closet.  We want our accessories to be able to go with a plain black tee, leggings and a jacket, or a funky pair of overalls.  We feel like this line really came out the way we intended, with versatility and whimsy.

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We had a throwback but modern vision for the shoot that only included us.  No props, no crazy beautiful scenery in the background.  Just us.

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Erin and I each have our own insecurity issues that come with standing in front of a camera.  From body image to hair to wrinkles, you name it, we’ve been insecure about it.   Add those insecurities to standing in front of a white background with nothing else for an eye to fall on, we were a bit nervous.  In the end, the pictures came out beautifully.

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You know what, though? As pretty as a picture is, if your own self is the focal point, I’d like to meet one woman who doesn’t first criticize herself.   I get so excited to get the email from Lexi, “Your pictures are ready!” Our first thoughts are, “What will our products look like? Will our vision and inspiration come through in the pictures?”  Then our second thought is, “I hope I look okay.”

Here’s where we are at in all of it though.  It’s not about us.  We don’t know all of what “it” is, but we do know it isn’t about us.  Our job is to keep doing the next right thing.  And so much of the time, that next right thing is getting over ourselves enough to put one foot in front of the other.  For this, it was getting over ourselves enough to get in front of the camera.  And maybe that will encourage someone else to do the same.  We know that we are not different from other women in this.  We are all afraid to put ourselves in front of the camera.  I think that so many pictures are missing some very important people in them because of fear and insecurity.  I want to be able to sit with my kids years from now and pull out pictures and go through all the memories with them and feel apart of all of it. Have you ever noticed how much joy you get from watching someone you love be proud of themselves?  When we watch our little girls hop around on a ballet stage and smile.  Or when we see our little boys running as fast as they can on the field.  It breaks our hearts when they aren’t confident, and we do everything we can to build them up.  I imagine, even if our kids can’t articulate it, they feel a similar joy when we feel confident enough to be in a picture with them. Maybe the next right thing is jumping in the frame a little more often.

 

Rock Party

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photo cred: Kaylee Hoeflicker
i like to make my friends cry on my birthday.
two years ago, i started a tradition where i gave my friends a little gift and a note.  i’m not sentimental until i am.  this past year, i was inspired by our own kaylee hoeflicker.  she is a huge part of the visual creativity around here.  she posted a picture on her social media feed of a rock with her beautiful writing on it.  i had been thinking how i would make my friends cry on my birthday and this popped up.  it was perfect. i loved the symbolism… giving a rock to all of the “rocks” in my life, to the people who keep my grounded.  and so i spent some time reflecting on these people and what they meant to me.  i thought of one word for each of them, one word that really embodied who they were to me and what i saw of them as an individual in this season.
lifting others up does something right inside of me.
i’ve been thinking lately how we make everything about us.  and how that is set up to be our demise.  if someone is doing well at work or killing it as a mom or looking super hot, we can’t get over ourselves enough to say “you’re killing it.” we make it about us and we compare.  insert eyeroll. i’m over it. i can’t live like that anymore.  someone else’s success has nothing to do with me.  and me making it about me makes literally no sense and benefits no one.
here’s what i want to start doing.  i want to start lifting others up more.  because here’s the deal – i’m a human. i will be for the rest of this life.  so i’m still going to make stuff about me.  that’s what humans do.  but… BUT… if i can be changed more on the inside by lifting people up and making it about them and not me, i’m gonna give that a shot.
erin and i are really into this. we keep talking about it and can’t quit thinking about it.  we want to be changed and be different. not for the sake of either, but because it’s our next right thing.

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come hangout at the shop and have a glass of wine, some chocolate, and create a unique (and very simple…we promise) gift.
our hope is that you get to spend some slow time thinking about the women in your life.  thinking about your tribe. that maybe this could be a still space in time for you to have fun and reflect on the people that are making you into the person you are and walk away with a small token to give them.
you’ll simply paint/decorate a rock and our own rockstar letterer will write on the rock a word that you feel embodies the person that is receiving the it.  we will have some pretty stationary for you to write a letter explaining why you picked that word for that person.
you can purchase as many rocks as you want… they will be $3 each.
rsvp with how many rocks you’d like to purchase and we will have supplies ready for you.

New Year, New Items!!

With the new year comes new beginnings and fresh starts, which I happen to be a sucker for in all honesty.

We are so excited for what this year has in store.  We have big plans and new items we can’t wait to show you.  To start off the year, we wanted to brighten your wardrobe with some new colors of our popular items.

Our boho tassel necklace now comes in champagne pink.  We couldn’t love this shimmery and classy color more.  It’s a subtle rose gold-like hue and oh so perfect in time for Valentine’s.

These tassel hoop earrings have been a hit! We love the statement they add and how easy they wear with your everyday looks.  We now carry them in coral and navy.  More to come too, (wink wink.)

In the baby accessories we wanted to offer more neutral leather bow colors.  These are such a little lady hair piece.  We now have four new leather bow colors.  Bronze, pale blush, champagne and a fun design in wicker.  All of the leather bows come in either a nylon headband or clip style.  Perfectly versatile.

We look forward to all 2018 holds.  Happy New Year all!!

Erin

A Meaningful Gift

I wanted to share with you a tradition that my family has done over the last 10 years now.  We started out of a story & tradition that our pastor shared with us.  It is my most favoritist tradition and I wanted to pass along in case any one wants to try.  (I am sure there are other much similar traditions out there, feel free to tweak and fit it to your own family.)

Found Gifts

Here are the rules: 1. It has to be found (not bought) 2. It must represent the person or a character trait of the person to whom you are giving it.

The purpose behind this found gift is to be intentional.  I usually try to think about the person who’s name I have drawn, throughout the whole season.  (I also aim for tears…the best.)

Our Tradition: We draw names and we do this on both sides of the extended family.  And we save the found gifts for after all the gifts have been opened.  Everyone fills up their plates again and cozies up all together to share the meaningful and intentional gifts they have found.

Last year my Pops drew my name.  We had no idea that we would lose him this year so, going back through my gift of photos of the two of us and the words of encouragement he gave me, now means more to me than I could ever begin to explain.   I think this is one of the best parts of the “found gifts,” they will last so much longer than candles, lotion, socks, you name it. 

This year I got lucky enough to draw my husband.  I’m excited to give him something and have been thinking on it all throughout this season.  I feel like we have been in a “grind” over the last 5-6 years in just trying to survive little ones and all of the things that entails.  I am excited to take a little time to encourage him and share what I love most about him.  I am not all the way finished with it yet but it’s something like this: 

Justin.

I was so excited to get you for found gift this year because I feel like I never take the time to really tell you how much I admire who you are.  I know sometimes we put those we love most last on the priority list and I loved the chance to just take some time to really reflect on how much I am blessed by who you are as a person.

For your found gift this year, I thought on it for a long time, but during a church service (when I probably should have been listening), I kept picturing a light bulb.

Ok, I think this isn’t just any light bulb.  This is a Christmas light bulb.   Here are some reasons it came to mind

1. I love your “festiveness.”  Just like this colorful bulb, little did I know that I hit the jackpot with you.  I basically married Clark Griswold.  Especially this holiday season I have noticed just how “festive” you like to be.  From your Christmas sweaters & shirts to singing Christmas Songs at the top of your lungs, you put the magic into the ordinary things.  This isn’t just for Christmas.  All the holidays and birthdays have a tradition that include some sort of good old-fashioned family fun.  This is one of my favorite things about you.  (I should have known when you grew a beard for your CRU Halloween Lumberjack costume, that I was getting the deluxe deal.)

2. Another reason that I chose this particular bulb, was because it is a replacement bulb.  Most strings of lights need to all be working together to function.  If one goes out, you have to replace it.  I feel like this is one of your best strengths.  I watch you fill in and hold up so many people in your life.  I am the closest and the one you hold most of the weight for. (Not a fat joke).  But I also see this in your job at Shoal Creek.  You step in and take action to make sure all of the pieces are connected and in working order so that as a unit it can function.  I love that God created you to see both the small and the big pictures.  You know which areas need a little lift or snip or rewiring and you are able to take that and work it into a well-functioning system.  Without the replacement bulb, the strand is no longer usable.  I see you as such a crucial part in so many people’s lives, especially through Shoal Creek.

3.  Finally, I love the connectedness that this string of lights represents.  I know we have talked a lot over the last few months about “surviving” baby stage and that we are entering into a new phase of life where the dust has began to settle and a vision can be faintly seen on the horizon.  I have loved talking with you about the people in your life that you want to make meaningful connections with. I love that you gave a network and a tribe of people from whom you give and receive life.  I am excited about the strengthening and growing of that “line” especially what I can see you already placing inside of each of our kids.  You have a light in you that shines and shares.  It is beautiful and with the network of others lights up the way.  

I’m proud of the affect you make daily on so many people. A number I think will surprise you one day in Heaven.  

Love you and Merry Christmas.

Erin

Our “Family Christmas Card”

I got a lot of the things crossed off the holiday list this year, but family Christmas cards were NOT one of them.  I have it on my life’s bucket list to get to them one of these years, but 2017 won’t be that year.

If I could, I honestly would, send each and every one of our customers a little love and thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  Wild Juniper was a dream I didn’t know would ever be and each and every time (I’m not kidding) someone comes into our shop or buys something from us online I am so honored and humbled that they believe in us.  

As we close out this year, Racheal and I both want to say “thank you!”  We take not one of you for granted.  We are so grateful.

-Erin