December 10, 2012

The Candy Cane

Candy canes.

I had every intention of writing yet another summary post of the goings-on here since my last post.
Then I had a candy cane.
[Guess that post (or those posts) will have to wait....]

Talk about taking me back in time in a matter of seconds!  What is it about these deliciously simple treats that scream Christmas and urge you to ponder the days of Christmas past? 

Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but notice that the second I started to enjoy that savory sweetness, I instantly thought of the Christmases of my youth.  I know that I'm only 25 and I'm relatively young, but this candy cane has me remembering elementary school Christmas parties on the last day before winter break.  Hours of consuming ridiculous amounts of sugar, causing my poor teeth so much agony.  Creating oh so many reindeer (Rudolph, of course) with pipe cleaner antler and pom pom noses, and trying to glue on those dang googley eyes.  Christmas music, lots of red and green, exchanging gifts (usually candy canes or something else equally as inexpensive), and drinking hot cocoa.

Those same Christmas memories blend with those I have of Christmas at home with my tiny family during those formative years.  We were quite poor, but my momma always found a way to make Christmas special.  So many memories have flooded my consciousness with just a single taste of that candy cane, yet I'm oddly giddy and glad that it happened in an instant.  After a day of taking two finals and preparing myself for three more, my weary soul wasn't in much of a Christmas mood.

That has changed, thanks to that sweet and simple little candy cane. :)

November 27, 2012

Post-Holiday Post

Thanksgiving has come and gone.
Lots of family, food, laughter, and love were very much a part of the day.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday flew by.
Work work work with a bit of family, friends, dinners, and football games (BOOMER SOONER!).

 My lovely in-law coworkers and I have worked ourselves silly and, although it has been exhausting, we've truly enjoyed ourselves! (Btw, if you're looking for a gift for yourself or a friend, stop by our shop!

I also thought that my [2] readers might enjoy a quick picture of the 3 of us on Thanksgiving day! And maybe another picture of me and Patrick. Enjoy the fabulousness...

(Rachel, me, and Bernice)
 (Me and the hubbs)

P.S. - It's officially the Christmas Season and I'm totally embracing it! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

November 20, 2012

Thoughts of Thankfulness - Day 20: My McIver Roots

This past weekend, I was blessed to be able to go visit my McIver family down in Small Town, Texas. It was a very quick trip and went by even faster than I imagined it would, but it was lovely.

We watched movies and played games. Lots of candy was consumed by all, per norm. The girls (excluding Cara, as she wasn't back from her trip to Houston yet) went to see "Breaking Dawn: Part 2" and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while Patrick and Joshua watched "Wreck It Ralph" in another theatre. April, Anna, Patrick, Cara, and I participated in the yearly jam-making process. Dad had to work overtime, which is pretty normal, but we got to spend a bit of time with him on Saturday morning and on Sunday. He and I played in the back and front yards as he showed me his garden, aquaponics, the benefits of watering with diluted ocean water, etc. He also ended up giving me his macro lens for his camera phone after he saw how much fun I had playing with it. To say that I am stoked is an understatement.

I love my little McIver family so much, and I miss them like crazy when I'm not with them. They are bursting with absolutely unique personalities that I couldn't love more.

My daddy is truly one of a kind - a brilliant, honest, hard-working man with the goofiest sense of humor that you ever did see. I could go on and on and on about how much I admire his strengths and the fact that he is always working on bettering himself.

My stepmom, April, has always been so much more than that to me and has been such a good friend for so many years. She works so hard and always has the cutest, coziest home, and her door is always open.

My 18 year old stepsister, Cara, is so ├╝ber smart and hilarious and beautiful, and she is definitely a young woman that marches to the beat of her own drum. She is full of a confidence that I wish I had at that age. She's going off to college next month and I can hardly believe that the bratty, adorable 3 year old that I met so many years ago has become a woman who I am so blessed to call a friend and a sister.

My 13 year old sister, Anna, has always been the entertainer who just loves to laugh and have a good time, but she is growing up before my eyes. I am totally loving watching her become a young woman, remembering the angst and struggles that come with being a teenager.

The baby, Joshua at a ripe 11 years old, is ALL BOY and totally hitting that "gross" stage right on time, but he is still so much the little boy that I love - the boy that wants to ride on his daddy's back, play with his legos, tickle and/or annoy his sisters, and snuggle up to the nearest family member under a cozy blanket.

I do love them so. Today, I am so very thankful for my family away from home.

(The above photo was taken last December. Not a lot has changed!)

November 15, 2012

Inspiration from Days of Old

You may or may not know this, but I am in a small (but growing) business with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. What do we do? We make jewelry and accessories, of course! Those "ADKOF" links up at the top will tell you all you need to know - you can even check out our Etsy shop! There is so much to choose from (over 100 posted items at the moment, with more going up in lieu of the Christmas shopping season coming up!

We also have our very own blog ( Rachel is usually the one posting, but we switched it up a bit today.  Recently, she posted about what has inspired her while she's been living in the Bahamas (coming home on Sunday - WAHOO!). Feel free to hop on over there (and FOLLOW) to get the best coupons and follower exclusives, and to see what Rachel has found to be so inspiring! HINT: you get to see gorgeous pictures of  where she's been living... IN THE BAHAMAS..... if that's not incentive, I don't know what is.

I loved her post so much that I felt that I should do the same. And that's just what I did.  Following is the bulk of my post from our blog, but it is such a great glimpse at my style that I just had to re-post it here:

We 3 designers may be glued together by the law and by our honest-to-goodness love for one another, but we are also quite different when it comes to personal taste... so why not give you a little glimpse into what I find inspiring?

I am certainly the youngest of the Womack women, but I am quite the old soul in many ways - from my choice of movies, books, clothing, you name it. Funny story... after telling Bernice about watching "Leave it to Beaver" the other day and wanting to watch shows like that with my future children, she made a comment to me: "I can totally see you like that, wearing a 50's dress, pearls, and heels in the kitchen."
I just about died. I've tried to tell everyone for YEARS that, if I had the wardrobe, I would dress like that every single stinkin' day of my life. That style just screams classy to me. When I was younger, I would wear a dress every chance I got and the better the twirl factor, the better the dress. There was also a phase where I would only wear pink and black. Don't let me fool you, though; I was quite the tomboy in so many other ways, just not when it came to my clothing.

When I need inspiration for my home decor, my wardrobe, gift-wrapping, jewelry design, etc., I look no further than the days of old, especially those in Hollywood.  My favorite color palette is even classic; my husband's best friend commented to me about that several years ago, saying, "When I think of you, I think of red, black, white, and gray." While his statement couldn't be more accurate, the irony came in what I was wearing: red, black, and white. Ha!

There is a somewhat unexpected aspect about my love for the days of old, though. A huge part of me desires to be a prairie girl, living in the country wearing prairie dresses and aprons while enjoying life on a farm. I blame this on two things: 1) our living on a farm in Oregon when I was very young and 2) my mother reading to me the entire "Little House on the Prairie" series during my youth. A palette of whites, laces, burlaps, creams, and browns with a splash of floral pattern - that's my alternative dream wardrobe, country style.

So there you have it - a pictorial glance at what inspires me in so many different ways.  If you've stuck around this long, thank you so much for sharing a part of your day with me!

I would love to know what inspires YOU!

Linking up here:
Somewhat Simple 
Liz Marie 
At the Picket Fence 

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November 12, 2012

Thoughts of Thankfulness - Day 12: My Other Half

It's the twelfth day of the eleventh month - to you, that might not mean a whole lot. To me, it means something much bigger than a simple number on a calendar.

Today means that, in one month exactly, Patrick and I will be celebrating our 3 year wedding anniversary and our 7 year anniversary of being together. Can it really be so?

It's incredible, really, when I stop and think about it. I'm so insanely blessed that writing down in words just how I feel is quite difficult - I want to be mushy and ooey gooey, but my feelings for my husband and best friend run so much deeper than that.

Of course I think he is handsome, eternally kind, ridiculously talented, extremely dedicated, level-headed, and always entertaining. Patrick is the kind of guy that has zero enemies... everyone loves him. I kid you not. I've never known a person who didn't like the man (I meet and exceed that quota five times over...). So many people admire, respect, and look up to him in ways that I don't think he will ever realize because he is just that humble. He works so hard to be the best he can be in everything he does.

My best friend, my husband, is the most supportive person I have ever had in my life. He always has my back and always, always believes that I can accomplish anything; he has way more confidence in me than I do myself. He is not that way with only me, though; Patrick is a wonderful friend to have in your corner. He will always believe the best about you, will always stand up for you, will always give you the benefit of the doubt.

I've loved watching him grow into the man that he is today. He has totally embraced the role of being the spiritual leader in our household - a role that he takes very seriously, and rightly so. Seeing him grow into this position and grow in his relationship with the Lord has been both a blessing and a personal challenge, exactly what it should be. He is always graceful, patient, kind, and loving toward me, even especially when I deserve it the least.

I could continue on forever, but the truth is that words cannot do justice in describing the man that I love with my whole heart. Sometimes I'm not good with words, but sometimes words just aren't good enough. All I can say is that I am so very thankful to call him mine.

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November 7, 2012

Thoughts of Thankfulness - Day 7: Perfect Moments

There aren't many "perfect" days in Oklahoma when you're talking about the weather. Often times, there is a ridiculous amount of wind or the weather changes on a dime from cloudy and cold to humid and warm or something of the like. Today, however, is not one of those days typical schizophrenic days.

Today is perfect.

The Lord has blessed me in so many ways today. He provided cancelled classes ahead of time. He provided a dear friend to help me conquer a seemingly-beastly assignment in record time. He provided just enough time for me to go grab lunch with that dear friend, and then gave me nearly two hours of free time - nothing to do in Edmond while waiting for my time to go babysit this evening. TWO HOURS OF MANDATORY FREE TIME. What is that?!?

I decided to grab some coffee and head to a local park. This park is gorgeous, filled with tall trees that are just now making the transformation from full and green to Fall and golden. The wind is virtually non-existent (I hate the wind, so I take notice every time the air is silent). There is a slight chill in the air as I sit in the shade and the sun slowly makes its early descent. The people here are quietly busy enjoying this perfect day: joggers pass almost silently as I sit at the concrete picnic table; dog lovers walk their cooperative canines along the path; a mom laughs as a photographer takes pictures of her loving, giggling, posing children against the Fall foliage; small children squealing with joy as they chase each other through the crispy, crunching leaves.

Seriously, I am choking back tears. I have SO needed this - quiet, peaceful time to myself (and by myself) to just sit and enjoy the world around me. Nothing to do aside from make notes and to-do lists as I relish these beautiful moments.

My life is so hectic and crazy so much of the time that I rarely get to do things like this. I can't even enjoy the world around me from my front porch - my street almost constantly roars with the noise and commotion of the ever-flowing traffic. I have nothing but a few trees to enjoy in my parking lot/junkyard of a backyard.

But the Lord has blessed me with these quiet, happy moments today which I am selfishly gobbling up as much as I possibly can. For that, I am thankful.

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November 1, 2012

Thoughts of Thankfulness - Day 1 - Small Blessings

Today is November 1st.  How the heck did that happen?? November brings so many things... cooler weather, shorter days, an extra hour of sleep (hallelujah!), but most of all it is the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving.

In lieu of seeing so many people posting their first day of their "30 days of thankfulness," I decided that I would do the same thing, but instead of posting a short tidbit on Facebook that will be gone from my newsfeed and eventually my page in a matter of days or weeks, I will be posting about them here and actually writing about them in my journal. Gasp! My journal AND my blog?! While this might prove to be a bit of a task on the busier days of my life, I think it's high time that I post about some positive, uplifting things. I have so much to be thankful for, you know.

So what am I thankful for today, you ask?  A lot of small blessings, actually.

Patrick and I don't get to go out to eat together all that often because, honestly, we're pretty darn poor; when we do, it's usually because we're rushing around and didn't have time to make dinner OR because someone hasn't made it to the store to buy food for meals (guilty... wife failure #143,237) OR hasn't actually made a meal after all of the leftovers have been consumed (#143,238).  It is what it is.  However, tonight was a little bit different.  The Ginger Man was starving (starving, I tell you!) and I wasn't all that hungry because I ate lunch around 3:30 (surprise, surprise).  We decided to go to a local burger joint called S&B's Burger that we've been hearing rave reviews about for months.  It was nice to go to a small, quiet, no-frills place and not pay out the wazoo for a burger.  I actually was able to get a slider which is basically a mini burger - perfect!  The sweet potato fries were pretty darn delicious, too.

Today, I am thankful for the small blessing(s) of the Ginger Man receiving an actual paycheck today; without it, dinner would have been Ramen noodles and scraps, but the paycheck allowed us to eat such yummy food made by some other person's hands.  I am thankful for a husband who is willing to spend a few dollars in order to save my sanity.  I am thankful for a husband that doesn't criticize me or put me down for not living up to the ridiculous standards and expectations that so many other women have placed upon them (or expect me to live up to them, for that matter).  I am thankful for the fact that I have a car and can just hop on over to a burger joint and back (some people, like certain relatives living in the Caribbean, don't have that luxury).  I am thankful for delicious food at a reasonable price.  And most of all, I'm thankful for illegal live streaming television on the internet that allows this cable-less couple to watch the Thunder games.  Shhh.... don't tell! ;)

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October 23, 2012

Revelations, Big and Small

I haven't posted in a while.
Big surprise, right?

Life has been crazy lately - between school, the launch of A Different Kind of Flair, and just plain living, it's been kind of a whirlwind. This whirlwind has been different, though, and a bit sporadic.

I came to a revelation as I was getting ready for school after becoming a zombie for the entirety of last week: I have set ridiculously high standards for myself in a lot of areas of my life, but ESPECIALLY in school. Allow me to explain.

After the hell that was last Spring semester, I went into the Fall semester with the mindset that life is too short to stress out about my schoolwork. I planned on just going with the flow and accomplishing my tasks as they came; then I got sick... for THREE weeks I had a ridiculous cough, could hardly speak, and was completely zapped of energy. Homework and to do list items kept getting pushed back and began piling up. By the time Fall Break came, I knew that I had a massive amount of work to do; however, I had this crazy notion that I should actually take a break from school during my break from school. Ridiculous, right? Ah. So anyway, needless to say, last week was a nightmare - a very appropriate term since I got very little sleep. The weekend was spent camping as a leader with my high school youth girls and guys from church. It was a blast and true medicine for my soul, but I was completely worthless by Sunday afternoon. There was one point where I had fallen asleep while the Ginger in my life was trying to get me up to brush my teeth - I had fallen asleep so hard and fast that he scared the crud out of me when he lifted my hands to try to help me up. Like I said, I was worthless.

My revelation came on Monday morning. I hadn't had the chance to study for a test that I was taking on Monday afternoon and was stressing out about it big time. Seriously, at 8am my heart rate was increasing and my chest was getting tight.

Then it hit me: WHEN in my life has getting an A on every test/assignment/course been my norm?!? NEVER, that's when!! Never ever ever in my life have I been that perfect student. Not even close. I'm telling you, I didn't even graduate High School with a 3.0 (the many reasons for that can be discussed later). My first and second semesters in college were just about the same. It wasn't until I came back to college at the age of 22 that I even took my grades seriously. Even then, I was frustrated by the fact that I worked my butt off and got Bs every single stinkin' time... then the end of the semester came. For the first time in my life, I got straight As. I was so ridiculously excited. So guess what? I tried even harder the next semester and got all As and a B in College Algebra (a course that I originally failed - don't get me started on my hatred for mathematics). Again, I was stoked. Never had I been the student that the parents were proud of, but now I was. That's called success... right? Well, sort of.

As the semesters went on, I kept getting all As and the excitement grew - I had finally found my niche in the education world and I found it in English Education. The courses were more interesting, the professors were incredibly knowledgable about subjects I was interested in, and the standards began to rise - both those applied by professors and by myself. After all, I couldn't let my professors down and get a B in their course, right? I couldn't let my mom down and not get perfect grades again, right? I couldn't mess up my transcript now that it looked so good, right? Ugh. Talk about stressful.

I have come to the realization that my grades don't matter in the long run. If I get a B in a course this semester, my transcript still looks WORLDS different from my HS transcript. If an English professor doesn't approve of me or I don't perform as well as expected, I have to remember that it's not the end of the world. I have failed many a test on my academic road, but I'm still here and doing really well.

I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I should never expect myself to be that perfect student - if I do, I will fail eventually and the imaginary world that I have created will come crashing down upon me. Lessons are learned by both having successes AND making mistakes. I won't always manage my time perfectly. I might not fulfill all 27 parts of an assignment because spending time with my family and friends is far more important. AND THAT IS OKAY.

I have to keep telling myself that it is okay. That I am not a failure if I don't do it all perfectly. That it's not the most important thing in my life.

So do me a favor... be sure to remind me of that every once in a while when you see me stressing the small stuff. Pretty please. It will make us both so much happier. :)

***P.S. - PLEASE, to anyone that reads this, please do not think that this post is me taking a chance to brag about myself. There are years of deep-rooted self-esteem/worth issues that feed into this self-inflicted notion that I somehow have to be perfect at something. Years of trying to be the best at SOMETHING because that's all that was recognized. I am in NO way trying to flaunt my very recent development in the academic world; this is simply me working through my thoughts and trying to make sure that my priorities are not completely out of whack. I WAS that student that didn't give a jimmy crack corn about school, who wouldn't study for a test, who showed up simply to be there, but now I've realized that I hit the opposite side of the pendulum. This is my realization that I need to be balanced somewhere in the middle.

August 28, 2012

Learning How to Sail My Ship

(Thank you, Louisa May Alcott, for writing out even the simplest of my emotions!)

The past week or so has been a little rough for me.  I am 25 years young and am at the point in my life where everything is changing.  It seems silly now, but I thought that would be the case when I turned 18 or 20 - I just thought that everything would magically be different... you know, I had finally become a legal adult or I had finally left my "teenage" years behind.  The truth is, though, that change is gradual for the most part; there are spurts, surely, but things just change over time.

The Fall semester has officially begun and I am feeling completely overwhelmed already - this means that I am only doing the absolutely necessary tasks and neglecting all others.  It's not due to lack of time but rather a lack of motivation.  Why am I feeling so overwhelmed?  For several reasons, I suppose, but I don't have the energy to fully explain them all. 

“Such hours are beautiful to live, but very hard to describe.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

One of the reasons, though, is because I am feeling a bit....... well, I don't really know how I feel.  Sorrowful.  Joyful.  Nostalgic.  Anxious.  Thrilled.  Nervous.  Maybe a tad bit jealous, along with a tad bit lonely - but lonely is the wrong word.  I feel as though my soul is in the midst of an ongoing storm.  Let me explain.  Readers that know me personally know that two of my very best friends have moved two completely different places in the past 24 hours, but both are quite far away.  One (Grace) moved to Washington D.C. (for location references, I'm in Oklahoma City) to end the "long distance" part of her two year relationship - a very good change, indeed; the other (Sarah) moved to Cambodia to become a part of a very special team helping to bring clean water to the villagers - she has been three times prior to this move and has been aching to move there for such a very long time.  My "sister" (we call each other kindred spirits) moved away from Oklahoma to San Francisco a little over two years ago to be with her new husband; they now have a beautiful baby girl, but I haven't seen her since Christmas.  I'm used to Livy (my "sister") being so far away, but I still don't enjoy the ridiculous amount of distance between us.  As I have mentioned before, my brother- and sister-in-law have moved to the Caribbean in the past month or so.  While I am used to there being a large amount of distance between us (they lived in Houston, TX prior to the move), Rachel and I have become much closer over the past year and my heart breaks knowing that I will only see them via Skype for the next two years after their brief visit in November/December.  We may or may not be in Oklahoma by the time Jonathan and Rachel come back to the states (who knows where they will be living for J's residency!), and we may or may not be in Oklahoma when Sarah comes back from Cambodia.  Praise God, I get to see Livy in a little less than a month, and Grace will most likely be visiting over the holidays.

Someday, I will be used to using technology (oh, woe is me!) as a means of keeping communication alive with all of these dear people and probably more.  I will be able to keep up to date with their lives one way or another.  I think that one of the hardest parts about this whole period of my life, though, is the fact that I'm not used to being the one that is left behind - I'm the one that is normally giving people updates about new happenings in my life.  I have almost always been the one moving away... but, alas, that is for another post altogether.

This post seems so splotchy and patchworked, but that's precisely why I haven't been functioning well - that's how my brain feels.  I have begun writing/reading/journaling/prayer-journaling/blogging more, but it needs to become even more frequent.  I cannot think properly.  My concentration is waning.  It is for that reason that I am abruptly ending this post with two more quotes from the dear Louisa May Alcott in one of my favorite books of all time, Little Women.  How my heart longs for the chance to delve into the wisdom of this book once again.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” 
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

“I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it's good for me…” 
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

August 15, 2012

DIY Williams Sonoma Home Fragrance

It's a fact: old houses have a sort of "funk" about them.

Another fact: my duplex is old. We also have trashy neighbors (don't get me started) that smoke.

Old house funk + smokey draft that wafts in = an especially funky smelly home. Ugh.

I am especially worried any time someone comes over that The Funk is in full force. Of course, living at my house, I am slightly accustomed to The Funk, so I take multiple steps to try to cover up/get rid of any lingering stink.

I found this blog post (via Pinterest) that offered a fabulous, super easy stovetop simmer that was supposed to make my house smell awesome all day long. Say what? And guess what. It was only four ingredients! Lemon, rosemary, vanilla, and water.  Five ingredients if you include the pot.  Six if you include the stovetop.  I'm getting carried away, here...

Fill a small stock pot about 2/3 full. Cut one lemon into slices, disposing of the ends, and add to the pot. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, as well as 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla. Bring the water to a simmer and let it simmer all day long, adding water when necessary (you don't want your pot to burn, nor your house).

I would like to go on record and say that this Williams Sonoma-ish simmer is all that it claims to be and more. However, there is a problem. My house almost always has The Funk as far as I am concerned - I have a rosemary plant (two, actually), so that is no problem, but I definitely don't always have fresh lemons on hand.

Well, I figured out the solution to my problem. Because I am a genius... clearly.

I had purchased some lemons the other day in preparation for this very recipe; however, I didn't realize at the time that I really didn't have plans for anyone to come over any time soon. Hmm. What to do with the lemons? They won't keep forever. Brilliance then struck - DUH. I will just slice up the lemons and freeze them, that way I have them ready to go whenever I need to make the simmer to get rid of The Funk! All I had to do was slice them up and stick them in the freezer on a cookie sheet.

And then I had another idea: freeze some of my rosemary for the very same purpose! I just had to go snip the rosemary and cut it into small enough sizes that would fit into muffin pan cups. Why? Because I was going to fill them with water to make them ice cubes.

That way, when the time to get rid of The Funk comes, I just need to pop some of the rosemary cubes into the pot!  Hallelujah.

Linking up here:
The Shabby Nest
Liz Marie Blog
Be Different Act Normal
Hope Studios
A Diamond in the Stuff
Lil Luna